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An ecclesiastical tribunal established by Pope Gregory IX c.1232 for the suppression of heresy, at a time when certain heretical groups were regarded by the Church as enemies of society. It was active chiefly in northern Italy and southern France, becoming notorious for the use of torture; condemned heretics who refused to recant were handed over to the civil authorities and could be burned at the stake. In 1542 the papal Inquisition was reinstituted to combat Protestantism, eventually becoming an organ of papal government.

Inquisitor General the head of the Spanish Inquisition.

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