Diary Entry of a Protestant Woman During the Spanish Inquisition

I do not remember much of what has happened to me in the past days. All I can recall is that while I was mourning for my husband a group of men stormed our house and violently shoved me around till I did not have the ability to think straight. When I woke up I was in this cell. The cell is dark, covered with stone wall on three sides and an iron door with firm steel bars in which I presumably entered through. The floor of the cell is completely covered with earth and the ceiling low. I am wearing the same clothes I was wearing from the time I was praying for my husband, now dirtied with dust. My hair is removed. When my sanity came back to me, I could not comprehend what was happening. I heard a terrible scream filled with horror in which I suspect to be of a man’s. The scream was followed by a vulgar shouting of another man except this man had a thunder like voice booming down a hall like structure. I was shocked for a long time. An hour or two. I felt suffocated. To relieve of stress, I started to write on floor.

 

I did not have a pleasant sleep. I explored this place more. Where I was was a basement of a building. The cell I was at was attached to a corridor with rooms to both sides of the way. I also realized there was another cell attached right above me from the same corridor. My room was covered with two doors. The inner door had a barred window through which I could see through and an opening where they handed me food and water. The outer door was solid with no window. They opened the outer door at six every morning to ventilate and deliver rations. That is the only time I can see light. Not sun light but a torch light. The room contained a straw bed where I had to sleep. They brought me two pots of water to drink and wash. In here, I cannot do anything but write.

 

The next day a man took me to another room, my eyes covered up. When he uncovered my eyes, it was a larger room with a table at the center and a wooden chair on two sides of it, another man sitting on the other end of the room. The man who took me there held me by my side and pushed me down on a chair. He shaved my hair. The shame that I felt was indescribable. The man opposite me asked about my name and age. Then they asked me about my husband: his name, his occupation, his faith. I told him I did not know much about my husband’s occupation. They took me back to my tiny cell. I thought over the questions that the man asked. Then I realized why I was here.

My husband and I originally lived in a small town at the very end of the Holy Roman Empire. My husband worked with books, from binding to delivering to the market. He read lots of books that came to him in request to be bound. However, all our lives changed when a book written by a man named Luther was requested to be bound and delivered to Castille. My husband bound the book by a night and read it by the next one. After reading, he became desperate to go to Castille. When I asked him for explanation, he just said that the God was calling. I simply could not understand. We traveled for days and nights to reach Castille. When we journeyed far enough, we realized that we have reached a town named Seville. We had to learn their language and culture. My husband traveled around the city delivering the books to people. We also went around the city helping the poor and curing the sick. When we were on the verge of adapting to the new society, my husband was arrested for accused heresy. The next day, I heard from neighbors that my husband was being burnt on stake. I did not understand the situation. A close friend of my husband told me that he was supporting a revolution of churches, supporting a new group called protestants and he has been arrested because of his criticisms towards the church.

I sat in my room thinking about my husband and in memory, I write.

 

Next day the same man covered my eyes and took me to the same room. The same man was seated opposite the table and asked me again of my husband. I told him I did not know of him much. However, this time, he took out a familiar book, the book that my husband has bound. The book that carried the ultimate reason that we came to Seville. The man said, holding the book, that my husband has committed an act of heresy by saying things against the Church. I kept on denying the fact that my husband would have done such a thing. When his questioning subsided, he scribbled some words on a paper. I could not read but as he finished writing, he stood up and announced I was accused of witchcraft for seducing a man to heresy. It did not make any sense. I was dumbfounded with the situation that I stood up and sat down with a thump. Other man who seemed like guards came in and dragged me back to my cell.

 

Next morning, even before they closed the doors after ventilation, two men came to my cell to take me to a different room. This time, a man, presumably a doctor, wearing a knee length gown stood. The man inspected me touching my limbs. When he was done, he said I was okay. They shoved me into the next room where the

 

It has been three days since I last wrote. I did not expect such horror. I was brutally taken by two men to a totally different room, clothes on my eyes. When they uncovered my eyes, a man, presumably a doctor, wearing a knee length gown stood. The man inspected me touching my limbs. When he was done, he said I was okay. It was then when a scream came from next door. I was on my nerves trying to figure out what was happening to me. They shoved me into the next room where the scream came from. I still cannot forget the sensation. The room was filled with wooden apparatus glimmering under the dimly lit torch light. There were half naked men hung on ceiling, and men gargling water, rolling about on the floor. The two men grabbed me from behind and threw me on the floor. They striped my clothes till I did not have any clothes on except the undergarment. I could not bear the moment. The air around me felt heavy. The men tied me to a wall and started lashing. It was about 14 lashes that I lost count of. I fainted. The next day I woke up, my body was covered with red strips. I felt an awful pain scorching through my back. I could barely manage to write.

 

The lashing continued for few days. Then for another few days, I could not do anything. I slept and ate. Nobody payed any visit. Even the men who came day by day to take me to the inspection room did not come. Days and days passed by. Then one day, a different man came to the cell and led me up the stairs. Where the man took me, I saw other prisoners like me. Since it was the first time to meet people other than men dragging me and pushing me, I felt a sudden joy. However, the heavy air pushed me not to express. A man dressed in lavish cloth descended from the stairs to the end of the line and led us to a hallway covered with cobblestone, with carpets, pictures and other luxuries. The man told us to stay quiet and calm. However, he did not look at any of the prisoners. When his speech was complete, the man opened the door at the end of the corridor and led us to the outside air. The light shined and made me blind. When I opened my eyes, I saw hundreds of people, quietly sitting. They all stared at me. As I walked to the center of attention, a man standing at the podium spoke in demanding voice. With an unforgettable voice. “These heretics, accused of defying the Lord, shall be punished, by the Lord.” The crowd screamed. They shouted “burn, burn, burn.” I could not comprehend what for. However, my husband’s image passed by. I was overwhelmed with terror. I could not see or listen straightly. When the line moved on, I could not move. A man who dragged me through grabbed my arm and shoved me through the door, into my cell room. I instinctively realized that I would be dead by tomorrow. However, I did not know what for. I did not do anything. All I did was watch my husband work, and help him. But now, I am convicted of witchcraft and heresy. I did not do any of that.

I do not know who or how this words will be delivered to but in hope of this to be found.

 

 

These diary entries were found in 1559 in a prison cell under the Inquisition headquarter of Valladolid by a catholic inspector named Xavier who found literary values in the entry to be conserved and published as a message to criticize the brutality of the Spanish Inquisition.

For the Full Document click Diary Entry of a Woman During the Spanish Inquisition

For the Bibliography click Diary Entry of a Woman During the Spanish Inquisition Bibliography

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