The Spanish Inquisition was until yesterday an antiquarian diversion. The events of the past few years… have converted it into a dreadful warning. The author must request the incredulous reader to believe that, however contrary appearances may seem, this book is based on authorities, manuscript as well as printed… and is not intended as a satire on present-day conditions.
Chapter IX (Alarms and Diversions) begins:
Protestants, Moriscos [Muslims] and Judaisers constituted the major preoccupation of the Spanish Inquisition. But there was nothing too small… for its notice. There were so many pitfalls for the faithful: so much from which he needed protection: so many seemingly innocent statements the theological implications of which…were of the most serious nature. With all these matters, the Holy Office occupied itself: and, as time went on, its tentacles extended over the whole of Spanish life, secular no less than ecclesiastical.
Readers should draw their own conclusions about the contemporary relevance of this history. I am just in middle of reading this marvelous work. It combines mastery of the history, literary panache, telling anecdotes, and moral insight. It is well worth reading if you are in any way curious about the Inquisition.