For those who have never studied, the Spanish Inquisition is one of the most fascinating examples of religion and government combining to control a population. The monarchs of Spain were devoted to Christianity of the time, and they were often swayed in their decisions by their priests. While some of them made choices not in line with the wishes of the church, most did their best to follow the dictates of Rome at a time when heresy could lead to torture or death.
There are accounts of people dying by torture, but one of the often missed aspects of this time is the forced religious conversions. Jewish people were often those forced to choose between their lives or changing religion, yet it was still a difficult decision for some. Many would go to the local Catholic church, offer their tithe and prayers, but they continued their own religious traditions at home. Hidden behind closed doors and curtains, suspicion was always on their mind as to what others would think or do about their situation.
Getting caught could mean at only converting for show was a risky business in those times, and many of them lived in fear. If their neighbors observed them doing something that might possibly be linked to Judaism, they could be reported to the local priest. A visit by the enforcement arm of the church was likely, and those they suspected of heresy were often taken away. Inquisitors were allowed a certain amount of torture, but many people actually died in the harsh conditions of their confinement.
It was not an easy time for even those who had been raised within the religion, and converts were always suspected of reversion. The atmosphere was grim during this dark time in European history, and it only was only officially ended two centuries ago when it was finally absolished.