The Inquisition, intended to root out Catholic heresies and heretics, was created through a papal bull at the end of the 12th century. Although the Inquisition of Spain is most well known, the bull was intended to track down and put an end to heresy throughout all the lands of Christendom. The Jews of Europe were under constant pressure to convert, were forced to wear identifying clothing, to sit in church as observers of Catholic services. Since conversion was typically coerced, sometimes at the point of a sword, the converts were always suspected of insincerity. Those “Jews” most likely to be targeted by the Inquisition were the Conversos, suspected of secretly remaining Jews, of practicing the religion secretly at home while passing as Catholic in the street. But this was not always the case. The head of Poland’s Inquisition, St. John Capistrano, also known as the “Scourge of the Jews,” targeted both Jews and converts (See, Grosser, Paul and Halperin, Edwin, 1978, Antisemitism: Causes and Effects, p. 136).
In addition to its mission to track down heresy, the Spanish Inquisition was also used to unify Spain and consolidate Catholic power under the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. Its primary target was the expulsion of the Moors from Spain. The Jews, that other foreign population, were given the choice of expulsion or conversion.‘Purity of Blood’ and The Spanish Inquisition (1492) – The Jerusalem Post