The Inquisition

In order to understand the investigation process and Galilei's trail we recommend to look at - Lexicon Galileo's trial.

The term inquisition comes from the Latin word for enquiry. The Inquisition was the investigative and judicial arm of the Catholic Church. As such, it acted against ideas and beliefs that the Church leaders considered contrary to the tenets of the Christian faith. Its main activity was the investigation and exposure of Christians which held and distributed such ideas, it didn't act against Jews and Muslims.

The Inquisition was formally instituted in the 12th century, in the context of the Church's struggle with the sects which had sprung up from among its ranks, and which refused to accept central parts of the Christian dogma. The inquisitors were sent from Rome to fight heresy that, in the view of the Church Fathers, was defined as any distortion of the Christian faith. Their main goal was to prevent the dissemination of these ideas among additional people and to convince the heretics to return to the true Christian faith. If the Inquisition was not convinced that a certain person under investigation had repented, he or she was sentenced to a period of imprisonment and sometimes even burnt at the stake. The sentence was carried out by the secular authorities. The Inquisition operated a widespread system of investigation which kept track of everything said or printed, in order to discover pockets of heresy and atheism. All of the Inquisition's proceedings, including the very fact of the trial itself, were secret and their disclosure was prohibited. In the course of its investigation, the Inquisition occasionally used torture, an acceptable practice of the period.

The Roman Inquisition was established in 1542. Its main activity was to fight the Protestants and the new movements that threatened the integrity of the Church. The Inquisition was mainly active in Italy and contributed to the ousting of the Protestants from the peninsula. Following the split of the Church with the appearance of the Protestant movements, the Catholic Church tightened its rules. More ideas were considered - heretical in the eyes of the Church, and the Inquisition fought various thinkers who diverged slightly from the Catholic dogma, as formulated at the Council of Trent during the years 1545-63. This institution investigated and judge Galileo.

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