I began working in this just about twenty years ago. Since that time I have published a number of articles and monographs on various related aspects of humanism (Erasmism) and "Lutheranism," and one volume on Judaism and the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition.I have to confess that about live years ago I reached a stalemate. I felt that I had arrived at a point of diminishing returns, that each new Inquisition document I read was but a dreary repetition of those which had gone before. I had no taste for milking this general subject any further.
According to academic mythology I had reached the point where I was ready to distill, from all the knowledge I had accumulated, that synthesis born of maturity and reflection. During the last five years I made several hopeless efforts to do just that, only to find that I could not go through with it. I could see no grand pattern, I experienced no sudden flash of insight, and the bits and pieces did not click into place to reveal the Ultimate Truth.
Besides, I was weary unto death of the whole subject. I was tired of the grinding dialectic of theological dogma. 1 was tired of the sickening degradations visited upon men who could not accept other men's Truth. I was tired of those awful notaries who calmly recorded the agonies of heretics. And above all, 1 was tired of pretending to a scholarly "objectivity" which treated these things as though there was a roughly equal amount and reason on both sides.
I really have no idea why [ suddenly decided to write this book after these five years. But since 1 abhor self-analysis, it hardly makes any difference. The fact that 1 now have my own press, and am my own (vanity) publisher, may have something to do with that. At least it means that I can write as I please, without glancing over my shoulder to see if some nameless editor or potential reviewer objects to my style, my manner, my point of view, my organization, my interpretation, my objectivity, my failure to take something into account, my failure to point out in whatever euphemistic manner that there are two sides to every question, or my willful pertinacity and inability to take honest criticism.
This book is not my swansong, although it may be the last thing I shall write on the subject of the Spanish Inquisition. I can fairly say that I am happy that the gods have granted me this one final fling, which has been such a long time coming, because I do believe however much I sin against modesty - that future students are not likely to pore over the appalling mass of Inquisition documents that I have studied. Anyone who wishes to use the materials in this volume for his own research purposes has my enthusiastic blessing and encouragement, as well as my assurance that the worm of academic conscience has not allowed me knowingly to omit, suppress, interpolate, extrapolate, or in any way distort the factual material from which this book is made.
John E. Longhurst