PARAMO, Ludovicus de

De origine et progressu officii sanctae Inquisitionis

Madrid, Juan Flandrum, 1598.


FIRST EDITION, fol. pp (cxxxvi) 887 (i). Double column, mostly Roman letter, some Italic, engraved panel on t.p. with allegorical female figures, woodcut initials. Light waterstain at foot in places, t.p. a little dusty, final leaf a bit creased. A good clean copy in contemporary limp vellum, lacking ties; interesting bibliographic notes of Julius Kronek, Milan 1843 on front pastedown.

First and only early edition of the first historical work dedicated exclusively to the Inquisition, by Luis de Paramo, Archdeacon and Canon of Leon and Inquisitor of Sicily from 1584 to 1605. This monumental work is divided into three books, themselves subdivided into separate sections, beginning with the way in which God dealt with the sin of Adam, which Paramo describes as the prototype of inquisitorial procedure and judgment and how heretics and idolaters were dealt with in both the Old and New Testament thus justifying the origins of the inquisitorial process. Book 2 deals first with the juridical establishment of the Inquisition, its processes, officers and authority and secondly surveys its development and activities, literally throughout the world, from the East Indies to Ethiopia to Mexico to the Caucasus. It is interesting to note how the Inquisition’s primary concerns varied according to local circumstances. The concentration on the conversion, or expulsion of Moors and Jews being a specifically Spanish phenomenon – elsewhere, witchcraft (according to Paramo the Inquisition had condemned some 30,000 witches), child abuse and clerical discipline were more pressing concerns.

The last part of book 2 constitutes an apologia for the activities of the Inquisition explaining it’s usefulness to both God and man and describing the benefits that their hard work and vigilance bring both to civil and spiritual society. Book three is more specifically legal, dealing with the nature and extent of spiritual and temporal jurisdiction delegated to the Inquisition, its legal forms and procedures in relation to different cases, subject matters and accuseds. Paramo wrote with considerable pride in his work and it is ironic that he should have become one of the sources of the ‘Black Legend’ so beloved of the Anglo Saxon world. In fact Paramo’s work was so comprehensive and on a scale so different from anything that had gone before, that it could not be ignored by later historians, pro or con. The Abbé Morellet summarised or translated the part dealing with the Portugese Inquisition in 1762, revealing it to the new world of the enlightenment and resulting in the scathing satire of Voltaire’s article ‘Inquisition’ in the Dictionnaire.

BM STC Sp p. 148 (only ed.) Palau XII 212156 “Esto libro, que luego se mando expurgar, siempre ha tenido apprecio”. Not in Alden.


Print This Item Print This Item