The Inquisition called a number of institutions of the Roman Catholic Church that were called to fight heresy. The maximum that threatened the apostate was excommunication.
Gradually, the bishops receive more and more power, starting from the XI century, the church is already using violent methods. Since the 15th century, the Inquisition began to deal with the trials of witches, exposing them in connection with evil spirits. The courts of the Inquisition raged across Europe until the 17th century. Thousands of people were burnt in the fire of the church, the church courts brutally treated Giordano Bruno, Galilei and many others.
According to modern estimates, the number of victims of the medieval inquisition is up to 10 million people. The last time has been characterized by the official recognition of the mistakes of this institution by the church. It seems to many that the Inquisition is a sea of blood, a fire, warlike priests. However, it is not entirely correct to perceive this institution as such. Let's look at some of the misconceptions about the Inquisition.
The Inquisition existed in the Middle Ages. In fact, it was during this period that the Inquisition was just beginning its activities. Its heyday falls on the Renaissance, which for some reason is considered humane. In the historical period called the New Time, the Inquisition also flourished happily. In France, Diderot and Voltaire were already working, and the bonfires that burned witches were still burning. The last burning of a heretic by the judgment of faith dates back to 1826. In this enlightened time, Pushkin wrote his Eugene Onegin.
Only the Inquisition dealt with witch hunts. Witches have never been held in high esteem. Until the 16th century, almost all cases related to witchcraft were conducted not in church, but in secular courts. In Germany, after the Reformation, there was no trace of the Inquisition, and fires against witches blazed with no less force than in the rest of Europe. The infamous Salem Trial, in which 20 people were killed on charges of witchcraft, took place in America in the late 17th century. Naturally, there are no traces of the Inquisition in this event.
The inquisitors were particularly brutal, using the most sophisticated torture. Cinematography often depicts how the holy fathers torture the victims of confessions. The instruments themselves seem awful. However, the truth is that all these tortures and instruments for their accomplishment were not invented by the priests, but existed long before them. For any judicial investigation of that time, the use of torture was common. The Inquisition itself practically did not have its own prisons, executioners and, accordingly, instruments of torture. All this was "rented" from the municipal authorities or seniors. It would be naive to assume that the executioners were especially cruel when serving the priests.
An incredible number of people became victims of the Inquisition. They say that statistics do not refer to lies or to the truth, located somewhere at a distance. In this case, the statistics of the victims are really scary. Until you start comparing them with others. For example, secular courts during the same period executed an order of magnitude more people than the Inquisition. And the French Revolution, with its idea of revolutionary terror, sacrificed more people than the French Inquisition in all the years of its existence. So the numbers can and should be treated with doubt, especially since everything is known in comparison.
Those who fell into the hands of the inquisitors were always executed at the stake. According to statistics, the most common sentences of the Inquisition Tribunal were not execution by burning, but confiscation of property and expulsion. Which, you see, is much more humane. The death penalty was used only in exceptional cases, for heretics who particularly persisted in their sinful views.
There is a book "The Hammer of Witches", which describes in great detail the procedure of torture by the Inquisition of its victims. Many have read the Strugatskys, but few delved into history. In fact, this book tells about the theological and legal nuances of the inquisitorial service. Naturally, there is also a speech about torture, since in those days the investigative process took them for granted. But there is no trace of a passionate description of the process of torture, any sophisticated details of torture in "Hammer of Witches".
Burning at the stake was used by the Inquisition to save the souls of sinners. From the point of view of the church, such an act as execution will in no way affect the salvation of the soul of a sinner. The purpose of the courts of the Inquisition was to lead sinners to repentance, even if by intimidation. The execution was applied exclusively to the unrepentant or to those who again became a heretic. Bonfires were used as a capital punishment, and in no way for the salvation of souls.
The Inquisition methodically persecuted and destroyed scientists, in every possible way opposing science. The main symbol of this myth is Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake for his beliefs. It turns out that, firstly, the scientist was conducting propaganda against the church, and, secondly, it is difficult to name him and scientists, since he studied the advantage of the occult sciences. Giordano Bruno, being, by the way, a monk of the Dominican order, while reasoning about the transmigration of souls, was clearly a target for the Inquisition. In addition, the circumstances developed against Bruno, which led to a sad end. After the execution of the scientist, the inquisitors began to look suspiciously at the theory of Copernicus, as Giordano Bruno skillfully linked it with the occult. The activities of Copernicus did not raise any questions, no one forced him to renounce his theory. The example of Galileo is widely known, but more famous scientists who suffered from the Inquisition for their scientific work are not remembered. In parallel with the church courts in Europe, universities coexisted peacefully, so it would be dishonest to accuse the Inquisition of obscurantism.
The church has introduced a law that the earth is flat and that it does not turn, punishing dissent. It is believed that it was the church that approved the dogma that the earth is flat. However, this is not true. The author of this idea (it is also called geocentric) was Ptolemy, which at the time of its creation was quite scientific. By the way, the creator of the theory himself outlined current research in the field of sphere geometry. Ptolemy's theory gained widespread acceptance over time, but not at all because of its advancement by the church. After all, the Bible does not say anything at all about the shape of our planet, or about the trajectories of heavenly bodies.