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Putting the Fact in Fantasy Expert Advice to Bring Authenticity to Your Fantasy Writing by Dan Koboldt Book

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Putting the Fact in Fantasy Expert Advice to Bring Authenticity to Your Fantasy Writing by Dan Koboldt Book Read Online And Epub File Download

Overview: A collection of essays from historians, linguists, martial artists, and other experts to help you write more compelling fantasy by getting the facts right

Whether it's correctly naming the parts of a horse, knowing how lords and ladies address one another, or building a realistic fantasy army, getting the details right takes fantasy writing to the next level. Featuring some of the most popular articles from Dan Koboldt’s Fact in Fantasy blog as well as several never-before-seen essays, this book gives aspiring and established fantasy writers alike an essential foundation to the fascinating history and cultures of our own world, which serve as a jumping-off point for more inspired and convincing fantasy. 

Putting the Fact in Fantasy Expert Advice to Bring Authenticity to Your Fantasy Writing by Dan Koboldt Book Read Online Epub - Pdf File Download More Ebooks Every Category Go Ebooks Libaray Online Website.

Putting the Fact in Fantasy Expert Advice to Bring Authenticity to Your Fantasy Writing by Dan Koboldt Book Read Online Chapter One



Both Monty Python’s and Mel Brooks’s modern portrayals of red-robed men with funny accents exploit the brutality and hatred derived from the Spanish Inquisition for laughs. All joking aside, this powerful medieval and Renaissance institution born of antisemitism and overzealous religious fervor offers an invaluable resource for any fantasy, alt-history, or sci-fi author in world-building. Want a disturbing way to torture your characters and/or build an oppressive regime? Look no further than the Spanish Inquisition.

The first inquisitor general to receive a royal appointment was Tomás de Torquemada, who had been one of the seven inquisitors commissioned by papal letter in 1482. He was made inquisitor of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia by Pope Sixtus IV on October 17, 1483. The appointment of Torquemada was a crucially important event in the development of the Spanish Inquisition.

Rigid and unbending, he would listen to no compromise of what he deemed to be his duty, and in his sphere he personified the union of the spiritual and temporal swords which was the ideal of all true churchmen. Under his guidance the Inquisition rapidly took shape and extended its organization throughout Spain and was untiring and remorseless in the pursuit and punishment of the apostates. —Henry Charles Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, vol. I, 174

As the Spanish Inquisition gradually gained independence from the crown, it rose in power and influence to become an institution virtually equal with the Spanish crown, with supremacy over all other governmental bodies.

The Spanish Inquisition dealt with heretics in many disturbing ways. Under the Inquisitorial Process,

the accused was assumed to be guilty and . . . the object of the tribunal was to induce or coerce him to confess his guilt; that, for this purpose, he was substantially deprived of facilities for defence and that the result, for the most part, depended on his powers of endurance which the judges, at discretion, could test to the utmost. —Lea, History, vol. II, 465

The accused was virtually helpless. The individual was taken to a secret prison, confined to a cell and excluded from all outside contacts for days, weeks, or even months, and left wondering about their fate. Inquisitors were not only attempting to punish the body; their holy mission of saving souls, though the means were quite questionable, was of the utmost importance. An Inquisitional Procedure was to be based on the ideal of the inquisitors being able to judge all cases based on truth, justice, and impartiality.

The evidence of witnesses is scrutinized in the light of their character and quality and those who are found to bear false witness are most severely punished. The accused, while detained in the prisons, are treated kindly and liberally, according to their condition; the poor and the sick are abundantly furnished with food and medicines . . . and are favored in every way . . . and . . . as Time is the revealer of truth, cases are not hurriedly finished but are prudently prolonged, as is requisite when there is such peril of the life, fame and property, not only of the accused but of his kindred. —Lea, History, vol. II, 483

The inquisitorial ideal remained only that, an ideal that was never truly attained. The holy mission of saving souls was attempted by inhumanely harsh methods, including the extraction of confessions by torture and various punishments for recompense.

The crime of heresy was exceptionally hard to prove, and the Inquisition’s most effective means of ascertaining the truth was through confessions brought about by torture.

The conditions held to justify torture were that the offence charged was of sufficient gravity, and that the evidence, while not wholly decisive, was such that the accused should have the opportunity of “purging” it, by endurance proportionate to its strength. From the inquisitor’s point of view, it was a favor to the accused, as it gave him a chance which was denied to those whose condemnation was resolved upon. —Lea, History, vol. III, 7

Certain limitations were supposed to be placed on torture. No torture was allowed to intentionally put life or limb in peril. Technically, torture was allowed only to be applied once. However, it was often stopped, suspended for a time, and resumed later.

Without going into their gory details, the varieties of torture employed by the Inquisition can often be judged solely by name: water torture, the pear, the heretics’ fork, the rack, and the saw and the pendulum were all methods employed, ranging greatly in severity. The meticulous reports maintained by the Inquisition reveal the stark reality of their tactics.

The secretary faithfully recorded all that passed, even to the shrieks of the victim, his despairing ejaculations and his piteous appeals for mercy or to be put to death, nor would it be easy to conceive anything more fitted to excite the deepest compassion than their cold-blooded, matter-of-fact reports. —Lea, History, vol. III, 18

The punishment system utilized by the Inquisition was as harsh as the torture system used in gaining confessions. There were several minor penalties implemented by the Inquisition. Reprimands, sometimes verbal, other times as severe as lashings, were used often. Those accused of even minor offenses were also exiled at times. The more peculiar of such lesser punishments included the razing of the house of a heretic, and such spiritual penance as requiring fasting and pilgrimages.

The harsher penalties usually resulted in severe wounds or death. Lesser penalties, if they can truly be called such, were imposed with great zeal. Scourging, when a public lashing took place while the victim’s charges were read aloud, was common. Some of the unfortunates who were convicted by the Inquisition were sentenced to man the oars of the Spanish fleet’s galleys. Others were imprisoned permanently.

The harshest of all punishments were the burning at the stake and the auto-da-fé. Those who were burned at the stake were the heretics who were turned out by the Church and handed over to the secular authorities to take over the criminal’s punishment.

The auto-da-fé became the Spanish Inquisition’s largest show of authority, and it generally spared no expense to ensure impressiveness and vast amounts of public attendance. Most, but not all, auto-da-fé ceremonies were held as public exhibitions. Some private ceremonies were held in churches, away from the public. During the auto-da-fé, the sentences of those heretics to be punished were read to the public after a procession of those condemned, the inquisitors, and all officials involved into the public square. The inquisitors preached a sermon followed by a general celebration. The burning of the condemned took place at the end of the day, after all the minor penalties had been administered.

The Spanish Inquisition gradually came to an end due to European political factors, internal corruption, and general public hatred. It was officially abolished on July 15, 1834. Yes, it lasted that long.

The Inquisition’s fanaticism grew in Spain out of the enmity between Christians and Jews. However, during its operation, it gradually became a completely independent body, functioning not to oppress the Jews but to finish the holy quest of saving the world from heretics of all sorts. It was efficiently organized and became quite effective in accomplishing its purpose.

The memories of the horrid accomplishments of the Spanish Inquisition are often selectively forgotten. Such atrocities should never be justified or allowed to continue by society, whether committed in the name of religious fanaticism, politics, or individual prejudices. Alas, we all need to learn from the past so as not to repeat it. That doesn’t mean fiction writers can’t or shouldn’t utilize the dark and insidious institution to forge meaningful and powerful conflicts in their stories. Substituting fantasy, or alien races, or practitioners of magic or other forbidden arts as the driving forces behind an Inquisition in fiction offers an untapped wealth of conflict for any author and opens wide meaningful opportunities to memorialize and learn from man’s extensive inhumanity against man. Your characters will never see it coming. After all, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”


Henry Charles Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, vols. I–IV (London: Macmillan Company, 1907). 

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