You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

June 30: Burned to Celebrate a Royal Wedding

Lawrence Bush
June 29, 2016

Francisco_Ricci_Auto_de_FeTo celebrate the marriage of Spanish King Carlos II to Marie Louise of Orléans (granddaughter of Louis XIII of France), an enormous, 14-hour auto-da-fé was held in Madrid on this date in 1680, at which eighteen “Judaizers” were executed, eight were burned posthumously, and twenty-two fugitives were “executed” in effigy. “Those who had given some tokens of repentance were to be strangled before they were burnt,” wrote an English contemporary, “but . . . the rest, for having persisted obstinately in their errors, were to be burnt alive. These wore linen sanbenitos, having devils and flames painted on them, and caps after the same manner: five or six among them, who were more obstinate than the rest, were gagged to prevent their uttering any blasphemous tenets. Such as were condemned to die were surrounded, besides the two familiars, with four or five monks, who were preparing them for death as they went along. . . . The whole ceremony lasted till nine at night; and when they had finished the celebration of the Mass the King withdrew and the criminals who had been condemn’d to be burnt were delivered over to the secular arm, and being mounted upon asses were carried through the gate called Foncaral, and at midnight near this place were all executed.”

“This date’s event was very far from the last auto de fe in Spain, but it’s seen as the last of the classic, public-festival spectaculars evoked by the term. They would, in the future, become (mostly) smaller, (usually) shorter, and (somewhat) less garish affairs conducted not on public plazas but on church grounds.”

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.