The Spanish: Inglorious Bastards

Compared to the cruelties inflicted by the Spanish in the 16th Century, the systematic torture, drownings, burnings and beheadings perpetrated by the Rhineland authorities on Anabaptists were downright civilized, according to the Martyrs Mirror. The German authorities, it seems, are still concerned with saving the souls of the heretics, interrogating, cajoling and even attempting to bribe their prisoners to return to the fold of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Spanish, on the other hand, just seem concerned with beating the hell out of their victims.

One of the worst examples I’ve seen so far concerns a quartet of fellows (Jan van Paris, Pieter van Cleves, Hendrick Maelschalck, and Lauwerens Pieters) picked up by authorities in Ghent in Flanders. The four weren’t even Anabaptist church members yet, but proclaimed their faith anyway. They were sentenced to be strangled and burned.

However, the Spanish army was stationed in Flanders at the time, and they were carrying out the executions. The executioner ignored the sentence and decided to burn the prisoners alive, but not before softening them up a bit:

In the meanwhile the executioner fetched a basketful of chains. When the brethren heard that they were to be burnt alive, they raised their voices and sang, “I call upon thee, O heavenly Father.” Then the Spaniards beat them so dreadfully with sticks, that the eye of one fell out on his cheek. And thus they were burnt alive, the Spaniards loudly vociferating, and throwing sticks into the fire at a rapid rate, as desiring to have part in this madness, as though they thought to do God service thereby.


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