The Italian Inquisition

Diarmaid MacCulloch writes:

In the 1530s, it looked as if Valdesianism might shape the future of the Western Latin Church. That it did not was largely thanks to the institution that is the main focus of Black’s book: the Roman Inquisition, founded in 1542 as one solution to the crisis that engulfed the Western Church after its mishandling of the case of Martin Luther. Behind this deliberate imitation of the Spanish Inquisition placed firmly under the control of the papacy was a Neapolitan nobleman and career cleric, Gian Pietro Carafa. He became the nemesis of the Valdesian movement, and anyone whom he suspected might be part of it, even unto the third generation. Black does not indulge in character sketches, and only gradually does it become apparent that Carafa, later Pope Paul IV, was one of the nastiest men of the 16th century, even by the exacting standards of Reformation and Counter-Reformation nastiness. Cardinal Pole privately called the Roman Inquisition which Carafa masterminded ‘satanic’.

(LRB 13 May 2010)