1481 February 12, FIRST AUTO DA FE (Seville, Spain)
Six Marrano men and six women were burned alive for allegedly practicing Judaism. The Auto da Fe (Act of Faith) combined the Judicial ceremony of the Inquisition with vociferous sermons. An individual could be denounced for having lapsed back into his old religion or committing heresy. Although the Inquisition and the Auto da Fe was used on anyone accused of heresy, its main victims were Jews. The inquisition accused people of backsliding or heresy for actions such as not eating pig (for whatever reason), washing hands before prayer, changing clothes on the Sabbath, etc. Over two thousand Auto da Fes are said to have taken place in the Iberian Peninsula and its colonies. The number of victims in Spain alone is estimated at 39,912, many of whom were burned alive. Some were burned in effigy. Others, convicted posthumously, were dug up and burned - and the property they left was confiscated from their heirs. Approximately 340,000 people, many of them Jews, suffered at the hands of the Inquisition, although the vast majority were given lesser punishments. The last Auto da Fe was held in 1790.