Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision

Article excerpt

The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision. By Henry Kamen. (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. Pp. xii, 369.$35.00.)

The dust jacket correctly notes that "thirty-five years ago Kamen wrote a study of the Inquisition that received high praise." But nowhere, not even in its bibliography (which includes four other books published by Kamen since 1980), does it mention Kamen's 1985 work, published by Indiana University Press, entitled Inquisition and Society, in Spain in the 16tb and 17th Centuries (a revised Spanish version appeared one year later). The author's unusual act of self-censorship seems oddly appropriate in a world-class expert on an institution which boasted old Europe's most effective censorship machinery, Because a great deal of scholarship, much of it good scholarship, has appeared in this past dozen years, the work reviewed here represents exactly what its subtitle suggests: it is an extensive revision of Kamen's previous book,which in turn was a major reworking of Kamen's original book on the Spanish Inquisition from the 1960's. A quick comparison should help scholars and libraries who own the 1985 Kamen (or its 1986 Spanish version) decide whether or not to purchase the 1998 edition.

Both books are almost exactly the same length and divided into fourteen chapters, most of which bear either the same or very similar titles in 1998, although often in different order; one of then) (chapter 7 in 1985 and 11 in 1998), dealing with Spain's notorious "purity of blood- laws, actually has very little to do with the Inquisition, which neither originated these laws nor applied them consistently. Between 1985 and 1998, Kamen has rewritten a great deal of his text in order to produce an updating of what was then and is now the standard English-language. …

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