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Abstract

The name Tomás de Torquemada has become synonymous with the Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition, and a symbol of religious fanaticism, hatred, oppression of minorities, and even sadism. Throughout the centuries since his death, he has been co-opted by writers and artists as a representation of cruelty and persecution. Although contemporaries praised him (albeit somewhat carefully), and he certainly enjoyed the favor of his monarchs, Isabel and Ferdinand, after his death Torquemada quickly gained a nefarious reputation as a fanatical zealot and a torturer, a characterization which lingers today. How did an (admittedly) austere Dominican come to so powerfully embody and personify the Black Legend? This paper will explore the historiography of Tomás de Torquemada, attempting to understand and explicate these cultural representations of the man which continue to thrive.

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