Torquemada, Tomás de (tōmäsˈ dā tôrkāmäˈħä) [key], 1420–98, Spanish churchman and inquisitor. A Dominican, he became confessor to Ferdinand II and Isabella I and in 1483 was appointed inquisitor general of Castile and Aragón, charged with the centralization of the Spanish Inquisition. He was largely instrumental in bringing about the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. His great authority was contested by colleagues and was diminished in some measure by the pope, but he remained preeminent until his death. Torquemada owes his reputation for cruelty to the harsh rules of procedure that he devised for the Inquisition and to the rigor with which he had them enforced.
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