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Below is an article of Romanist Persecutions, but more particularly on the numbers slain/persecuted, especially,  in the Reformation, but not there only. It appears, written with the declared intent of keeping history clear, and not allowing its intellectual demise amid many, ignorant of facts, lest they become ready to suffer for unawareness, all over again.


It is not only an error which is in view, but a type of error.


After this article, the place of the numerical, numbers who suffered, is briefly considered, in the light of the cause underlying such events, as it is both wise and practical to understand such things  - whether the case be earthquakes or slaughters, in seeking to avoid them.




Estimates of the Number Killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages

David A. Plaisted


           For two or three centuries, many Protestants have given figures concerning the total number of people killed directly or indirectly by the Papacy during the Middle Ages.  The numbers given include 50 million, 68 million, 100 million, 120 million, and 150 million.  Roman Catholics typically give much smaller numbers.  Frequently the figures are stated without any information about where they came from or how they were computed.  The purpose of this note is to describe where some of these figures come from and to comment on their reliability.  Surely nearly all Roman Catholics as well as Protestants disapprove of past religious persecutions, so this discussion should not reflect negatively on current members of the Roman Catholic church.  However, events in Nazi Germany show how easily persecution can revive, so it is necessary to be on guard against it and maintain an awareness of its history.  Of course, many other groups besides the Papacy have persecuted.  And all of us, without Christ, have the roots of sin in ourselves.  The reason the Papacy stands out is that it has ruled for such a long period of time over such a large area, exercised so much power, and claimed divine prerogatives for its persecutions.  The magnitude of the persecutions is important for the following reason:  One can excuse a few thousand cases as exceptional, but millions and millions of victims can only be the result of a systematic policy, thereby showing the harmful results of church-state unions.


           In order to consider this subject, it is necessary to recall many unpleasant events.  The dreadful totals, computations, and examples that follow, one after another, are not for the faint hearted.  These atrocities should convince us not so much of the evils of a particular religious system as of the depravity of the sinful human heart, and lead us to turn to Christ for repentance and salvation that we might have new hearts and be cleansed from sin.


           Here are some of the places where figures about religious persecutions are given.  Dowling in his History of Romanism says


"From the birth of Popery in 606 to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand religious murders for every year of the existence of popery." -- "History of Romanism," pp. 541, 542. New York: 1871.


Commenting on this quote, a fundamental Baptist web site says the following:

For example, it has been estimated by careful and reputed historians of the Catholic Inquisition that 50 million people were slaughtered for the crime of "heresy" by Roman persecutors between the A.D. 606 and the middle of the 19th century.

This is the number cited by John Dowling, who published the classic "History of Romanism" in 1847 (book VIII, chapter 1, footnote 1). Only seven years after its first printing, it could be said of Dowling’s book, "it has already obtained a circulation much more extensive than any other large volume ever published in America, upon the subject of which it treats; or perhaps in England, with the exception of Fox’s Book of Martyrs." Clark’s Martyrology counts the number of Waldensian martyrs during the first half of the 13th century in France alone at two million. From A.D. 1160-1560 the Waldensians which dwelt in the Italian Alps were visited with 36 different fierce persecutions that spared neither age nor sex (Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists, "Post-Apostolic Times - The Waldensians," 1890). They were almost completely destroyed as a people and most of their literary record was erased from the face of the earth. From the year 1540 to 1570 "it is proved by national authentic testimony, that nearly one million of Protestants were publicly put to death in various countries in Europe, besides all those who were privately destroyed, and of whom no human record exists" (J.P. Callender, Illustrations of Popery, 1838, p. 400). Catholic historian Vergerius admits gleefully that during the Pontificate of Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) "the Inquisition alone, by tortures, starvation, or the fire, murdered more than 150,000 Protestants." These are only small samples of the brutality which was poured out upon "dissident" Christians by the Roman Catholic church during the Inquisition.

W. E. H. Lecky says:

"That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history. The memorials, indeed, of many of her persecutions are now so scanty, that it is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no power of imagination can adequately realize their sufferings." -- "History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe," Vol. II, p. 32. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1910.


The following quotation is from The Glorious Reformation by S. S. SCHMUCKER, D. D., Discourse in Commemoration of the Glorious Reformation of the Sixteenth Century; delivered before the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of West Pennsylvania, by the Rev. S. S. Schmucker, D.D., Professor of Theology in the Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  Published by Gould and Newman. 1838.


Need I speak to you of the thirty years’ war in Germany, which was mainly instigated by the Jesuits, in order to deprive the Protestants of the right of free religious worship, secured to them by the treaty of Augsburg? Or of the Irish rebellion, of the inhuman butchery of about fifteen millions of Indians in South America, Mexico and Cuba, by the Spanish papists? In short, it is calculated by authentic historians, that papal Rome has shed the blood of sixty-eight millions of the human race in order to establish her unfounded claims to religious dominion (citing Dr. Brownlee’s “Popery an enemy to civil liberty”, p. 105).


Estimates range up to 7 to 12 million for the number who died in the thirty years’ war.  Concerning the Irish rebellion, John Temple's True Impartial History of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, written in 1644, puts the number of victims at 300,000, but other estimates are much smaller.  The figure of 68 million appeared in Schmucker’s talk in 1838, in Brownlee’s book of 1836, and also in a book “Plea for the West” by Lyman Beecher (Cincinnati, Truman and Smith, 1835), pp. 130-131:

And let me ask again, whether the Catholic religion, in its union with the state, has proved itself so unambitious, meek, and unaspiring so feeble, and easy to be entreated, as to justify-a proud ,contempt of its avowed purpose and systematic movements to secure an ascendancy in this nation? It is accidental that in alliance with despotic governments, it has swayed a sceptre of iron, for ten centuries over nearly one-third of; the population of, the globe, and by a death of violence is estimated to have swept from 'the' earth about sixty-eight millions of its inhabitants, and holds now in darkness and bondage nearly half the civilized world?

The exact quote of Brownlee referenced above is as follows:

In one word, the church of Rome has spent immense treasures and shed, in murder, the blood of sixty eight millions and five hundred thousand of the human race, to establish before the astonished and disgusted world, her fixed determination to annihilate every claim set up by the human family to liberty, and the right of unbounded freedom of conscience.

-- Popery an enemy to civil liberty, 1836, pp. 104-105.

Also, in another work Brownlee states

Papal Rome has shed the blood of fifty millions of Christians in Europe!

-- The Roman Catholic Religion viewed in the light of Prophecy and History, New York, Charles K. Moore, 1843, page 60.

And later in the same work,

The best writers enumerate fifty millions of Christians destroyed by fire, and the sword, and the inquisition; and fifteen millions of natives of the American continent and islands; and three millions of Moors in Europe, and one million and a half of Jews.  Now, here are sixty-nine millions and five hundred thousands of human beings, murdered by “the woman of the Roman hills, who was drunk with the blood of the saints.”  And this horrid list does not include those of her own subjects, who fell in the crusades in Asia, and in her wars against European Christians, and in South America!

-- page 97.

These quotations make it clear that the figure of 50 million refers only to Christians in Europe, and does not include Christians killed elsewhere.  It is also clear that Brownlee is taking these figures not from just one person, but from at least two, “the best writers,” and ignoring others that he feels are less qualified.  Many others must have been convinced of the reputation of these individuals as well, judging from the frequency with which the figure of 50 million is quoted.

Brownlee further comments on the number killed by the Papacy in another work as follows:

When Laguedoc was invaded by these monsters, one hundred thousand Albigensees fell in one day!  See Bruys vol. iii. 139.

-- page 346

There perished under pope Julian 200,000 Christians: and by the French massacre, on a moderate calculation, in 3 months, 100,000.  Of the Waldenses there perished 150,000; of the Albigenses, 150,000.  There perished by the Jesuits in 30 years only 900,000.  The Duke of Alva destroyed by the common hangman alone, 36,000 persons; the amount murdered by him is set down by Grotius at 100,000!  There perished by the fire, and tortures of the Inquisition in Spain, Italy, and France 150,000. … In the Irish massacres there perished 150,000 Protestants!

To sum up the whole, the Roman Catholic church has caused the ruin, and destruction of a million and a half of Moors in Spain; nearly two millions of Jews in Europe.  In Mexico, and South America, including the islands of Cuba and St. Domingo, fifteen millions of Indians, in 40 years, fell victims to popery.  And in Europe, and the East Indies, and in America, 50 millions of Protestants, at least, have been murdered by it!

Thus the church of Rome stands before the world, “the woman in scarlet, on the scarlet colored Beast.”  A church claiming to be Christian, drenched in the blood of sixty-eight millions, and five hundred thousand human beings!

-- W. C. Brownlee, Letters in the Roman Catholic controversy, 1834, pp. 347-348.

Brownlee apparently revised the 69 million figure downwards to 68 million.  So the figure of 68 million has several sources in the early 1800’s.  It appears again in a later work:

Alexander Campbell, well known religions leader of the nineteenth century, stated in debate with John B. Purcell, Bishop of Cincinnati, in 1837 that the records of historians and martyrologists show that it may be reasonable to estimate that from fifty to sixty-eight millions of human beings died, suffered torture, lost their possessions, or were otherwise devoured by the Roman Catholic Church during the awful years of the Inquisition.  Bishop Purcell made little effort to refute these figures.  (Citing A Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion, Christian Publishing Co., 1837, p. 327.)

Walter M. Montano, a former Catholic priest, asserts in his book, Behind the Purple Curtain that it has been estimated that fifty million people died for their faith during the twelve hundred years of the Dark Ages.  (Citing Walter M. Montano, Behind the Purple Curtain, Cowman Publications, 1950, page 91.)

n     From The Shadow of Rome, by John B. Wilder; Zondervan Publishing Co., 1960, page 87.

Campbell may be referring to the martyrology of Samuel Clarke, written in 1651.    Perhaps this figure of 68 million came from Brownlee or somewhere else, possibly the writings of Llorente or Clark’s Martyrology, cited above. 

Such figures sometimes appear in recent books, such as Wilder’s, but in general, all the figures about the number killed by the Papacy go back many years and have reputable sources.  It is interesting that Campbell implies that the figure of 68 million includes many who were not killed, but just persecuted, while the three earlier references, including Brownlee, state that this number were killed.  Campbell may have taken the earlier figure and misread it as including those who were persecuted but not killed.  Here are more quotations about the number killed by the Papacy:

For professing faith contrary to the teachings of the Church of Rome, history records the martyrdom of more then one hundred million people. A million Waldenses and Albigenses [Swiss and French Protestants] perished during a crusade proclaimed by Pope Innocent III in 1208. Beginning from the establishment of the Jesuits in 1540 to 1580, nine hundred thousand were destroyed. One hundred and fifty thousand perished by the Inquisition in thirty years. Within the space of thirty-eight years after the edict of Charles V against the Protestants, fifty thousand persons were hanged, beheaded, or burned alive for heresy. Eighteen thousand more perished during the administration of the Duke of Alva in five and a half years.

-- Brief Bible Readings, p. 16.

Let us keep a sense of proportion. The record of Christianity from the days when it first obtained the power to persecute is one of the most ghastly in history. The total number of Manichaeans, Arians, Priscillianists, Paulicians, Bogomiles, Cathari, Waldensians, Albigensians, witches, Lollards, Hussites, Jews and Protestants killed because of their rebellion against Rome clearly runs to many millions; and beyond these actual executions or massacres is the enormously larger number of those who were tortured, imprisoned, or beggared. I am concerned rather with the positive historical aspect of this. In almost every century a large part of the race has endeavored to reject the Christian religion, and, if in those centuries there had been the same freedom as we enjoy, Roman Catholicism would, in spite of the universal ignorance, have shrunk long ago into a sect. The religious history of Europe has never yet been written. 

 --  The Story Of Religious Controversy Chapter XXIII by Joseph McCabe (an atheist) who lived from 1867 to 1955.

'The church,' says [Martin] Luther, has never burned a heretic.' . . I reply that this argument proves not the opinion, but the ignorance or impudence of Luther. Since almost infinite" numbers were either burned or otherwise killed,' Luther either did not know it, and was therefore ignorant, or if he was not ignorant, he is convicted of impudence and falsehood, —for that heretics were often burned by the [Catholic] Church may be proved from many examples.

-- Robert Bellarmine, Disputationes de Controversiis, Tom. ii, Lib. III, cap. XXII, “Objections Answered,” 1682 edition.  (Bellarmine was a Roman Catholic.)

Some have computed, that, from the year 1518 to 1548, fifteen million of Protestants have perished by the Inquisition. This may be overcharged, but certainly the number of them in these years, as well as since is almost incredible. To these we may add innumerable martyrs, in ancient, middle, and late ages, in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

(from the commentary on the book of Revelation in Wesley’s “Explanatory Notes on the New Testament,” 1755, in which the comments on the book of Revelation are translated from the work of the German scholar John Bengel, and Wesley stated that he did not necessarily defend all of Bengel’s statements.)

A final figure:

Mede has calculated from good authorities “that in the war with the Albigenses and Waldenses there perished of these people, in France alone, 1,000,000.”


-- Christ and Antichrist, by Samuel J. Cassels, 1846, page 257.


And many similar figures could be given.


           Now let us consider in particular the Spanish inquisition.  Quoting Schmucker,


According to Llorente, this fearful tribunal [the inquisition] cost Spain alone 2,000,000 of lives, and the amount of torments suffered by these, and the other victims of papal persecution, was probably greater than that of all the generations that ever lived and died in God’s appointed way, by natural death.


Llorente had access to the records of the Spanish Inquisition.  Overall, Llorente in his “A Critical History of the Inquisition of Spain,” 1823, gave a much smaller figure.  He calculated that more than 300,000 suffered persecution in Spain, of whom 31,912 died in the flames.  Here are two passages from “The Reformation in Spain,” 1824, by Thomas M’Crie, p. 66 that also illustrate some of the discrepancies in such figures:


In the course of the first year in which it was erected, the inquisition of Seville, which then extended over Castile, committed two thousand persons alive to the flames, burnt as many in effigy, and condemned seventeen thousand to different penances.  According to a moderate computation, from the same date until 1517, the year in which Luther made his appearance, thirteen thousand persons were burnt alive, eight thousand seven hundred were burnt in effigy, and one hundred and sixty nine thousand seven hundred and twenty three were condemned to penances, making all in all one hundred and ninety one thousand four hundred and twenty three persons condemned by the several tribunals of Spain in the course of thirty six years.  There is reason for thinking that this estimate falls much below the truth.


According to Puigblanch, “Inquisition Unmasked,” the number of reconciled and banished in Andalusia from 1480 to 1520 was a hundred thousand, while forty five thousand were burnt alive in the archbishopric of Seville.


Cecil Roth in “History of the Marranos,” page 143, cites Amadeo de los Rios as giving the figures of 28,540 burned alive, 16,520 burned in effigy, and 308,847 punished in other ways.  These figures are exclusively for Jews up to 1525, in less than half a century of existence, implying that the true figures are larger even than Llorente quoted.  Speaking of Llorente’s figures, Roth says


these huge figures are open to suspicion.  However, they are exceeded by the indications given by the intensely Catholic Amadeo de los Rios, usually most moderate in his views.


Wilder (page 86) presents the figures in a way that can explain some of the misunderstanding about the number killed.  Quoting Llorente, page 5,


The horrid conduct of this holy office weakened the power and diminished the population of Spain, by arresting the progress of the arts, sciences, industry, and commerce, and by compelling multitudes of families to abandon the kingdom, by instigating the expulsion of the Jews and the Moors, and by immolating on its flaming piles more than three hundred thousand victims.


Brownlee states


The number of victims of the Inquisition will never be known until the day of final retribution.  Various have been the numbers set down.  “Authors of undoubted credit,” says Jones, “have affirmed, and without any exaggeration, that millions of persons have been ruined by this horrible court.  Many were banished from Spain, a million at a time.  From six to eight hundred thousand Jews were driven away from it at once; and all their property seized.”  Jones’ Church History ii page 98.


Then after citing Llorente’s figures, he writes,


This number fixed on by this unusually accurate historian, is far below the truth.  It is generally admitted that under the first Inquisitor of Spain alone, namely, Torquemada, no less than 100,000 human beings suffered: under the above three classes, that is, they were burned; or they perished on the rack, or by it; or in exile; and perpetual confinement!


-- Brownlee, pp. 339-340.


There is also indirect evidence of the magnitude of the victims of the inquisition:


No secrets could be withheld from the inquisitors; hundreds of persons were often apprehended in one day, and in consequence of information resulting from their examinations under torture, thousands more were apprehended. Prisons, convents, even private houses, were crowded with victims; the cells of the inquisition were filled and emptied again and again; its torture chamber was a hell.


-- Romanism and the Reformation by H. Grattan Guinness, lectures, London, England, 1887, lecture 4, page 101.


To make the subject personal, here is the testimony of one of the victims:


Before we let fall the curtain upon this awful subject, let us listen for a moment to some of the words of William Lithgow, a Scotsman, who suffered the tortures of the Inquisition in the time of James I. After telling of the diabolical treatment he received, which was very similar to that I have just described, he says, “Now mine eyes did begin to startle, my mouth to foam and froth, and my teeth to chatter like the dobbling of drumsticks. Oh, strange, inhuman, monster man-manglers!. . And notwithstanding of my shivering lips in this fiery passion, my vehement groaning, and blood springing from my arms, my broken sinews, yea, and my depending weight on flesh-cutting cords, yet they struck me on the face with cudgels to abate and cease the thundering noise of my wrestling voice. At last, being released from these pinnacles of pain, I was handfast set on the floor with this their ceaseless imploration: ‘Confess, confess, confess in time, or thine inevitable torments ensue.’ Where, finding nothing from me but still innocent, — Oh! I am innocent. O Jesus, the Lamb of God, have mercy on me, and strengthen me with patience to undergo this barbarous murder — ’”


Enough! Here let the curtain drop. I should sicken you were I to pursue

the subject further; it is too horrible, too damnable.


-- Romanism and the Reformation by H. Grattan Guinness, lectures,  London, England, 1887, Lecture 4 pp. 103-104.


Lower estimates for the number of victims of the Inquisition also exist, as cited by a Roman Catholic on a discussion board:


The best estimate of the total number of executions under the Spanish Inquisition comes from the Encyclopedia Judaica (not a Catholic source) which estimates the number at around 7,000.  It should be remembered that the Inquisition was a court charged with hearing cases for all crimes committed on Church property or against the Church, clerics, or professed religious.  There were several capital crimes under the Inquisition's jurisdiction besides heresy.  These included murder, rape, kidnapping, assault on a bishop, and others.  Might I recommend that you get Henry Kamen's recent book  The Spanish Inquisition : A Historical Revision   (N.B.- Kamen's estimate is that there were only 3,000 executions.) 


So there is considerable disagreement in the figures concerning the Spanish inquisition.  And such disagreements occur in the larger context, as well.  The figures are rapidly decreasing with time, and our memory of past persecutions is being lost.  Because records and memories are lost with the passage of time, in general the earliest records and those closest to the source are to be preferred.


           Another quotation helps to explain some of the discrepancies.


And Walter M. Montano, writing in Christian Heritage, says:

Spain has had a long history of intolerance. The number of victims sacrificed by the Inquisition in Spain almost exceeds credulity. Yet it has been shown by Llorente, who carefully examined the records of the Tribunal, and whose statements are drawn from the most authoritative sources, that 105,285 victims fell under the inquisitor-general Torquemada; 51,167 under Cisneros; and 14,952 fell under Diego Perez. It is further reckoned that 31,912 were burned alive! Half that number, 15,659 suffered the punishment of the statute, and 291,450 were sent to penitentiaries. Half a million families were destroyed by the Inquisition, and it cost Spain two million children!’


n     INTOLERANCE—BIGOTRY— PERSECUTION by Loraine Boettner D.D. (taken from his book “Roman Catholicism” first published 1962), Chapter 18.


This quotation explains where Schmucker’s figure of two million comes from, though it is still unclear what it means.  The figure of 15,659 (which perhaps should be 17,659) represents those who were killed before being burnt.  Many were also expelled from Spain; this could explain the figure of two million.  Roth in “The Spanish Inquisition,” page 251, discussing those who were expelled from Spain, says


The number of the exiles has been estimated variously between 300,000 and 3,000,000.  It probably lies much nearer to the first of these figures.


He also refers to the exiles as “her children,” possibly explaining Schmucker’s statement and Montano’s statement about Spain losing 2 million children.  Some of the exiles had to leave their children behind to be raised as Roman Catholics, which can explain the comment about destroying half a million families.


Commenting on Llorente’s methods of calculation, Jean Dumont in his book L’Eglise au Risque de l’Histoire (Limoge: Criterion, 1985) states


Professor Gerard Dufour shows that the impressive numbers of Llorente which are almost universally accepted are "not at all convincing." They are in no way a reasonable statistic, but only the naive imposture of purely conjectural numbers established on the basis of insupportable fragility and exaggeration. How did Llorente arrive at his figures? The answer is quite simple. Totally ignorant of the number of victims of the Inquisition, he fabricated them from conjectural accounts available to him with regard to the tribunal of Seville during the first years of its activity, numbers provided by the early chroniclers and historians and a lost inscription.  As Mariana, one of the ancient historians, pointed out, Llorente did not take note of the fact that these numbers were only rumors. Moreover, carried away by his passions, Llorente quoted inexactly and exaggerated greatly in his additions. For, as Gerard Dufour noted, among the 2,000 victims mentioned by Mariana were included some added up by Llorente, and the 700 mentioned by Bernaldez, the anti-Semitic chronicler who moreover had inflated the number to satisfy the needs of his cause. Llorente did not take all these facts into account.


Having thus taken "entirely erroneous numbers," and these only from Seville during the early years, Llorente tranquilly multiplied them by the total number of Inquisitorial tribunals and by the number of years they functioned.


But as he arrived by means of this method of blind multiplication of inflated figures at a total figure that was so enormous as to be absolutely unbelievable, he reduced them on a completely arbitrary basis by 50% in general, and by 90% for the first year after each tribunal was established because they would not have had sufficient time to pronounce sentence on anyone during the first year.


Dumont is a non-Catholic professor of history at the Sorbonne in Paris and argues for very low figures.  But at least from his explanation it is clear that Llorente made use not only of the records of the Inquisition but also oral accounts, which he considered as reliable.  Perhaps Llorente did not believe that the written records of the inquisition were complete.  Dumont also cites unfavorably various other estimates of the number killed, including that during the term of Torquemada 100,000 were decimated by fire in five years, from La Grande Encyclopedie, Inventaire Raisonne des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts, par une Societe de Savants et de Gens de Lettres / sous la direction de MM. Berthelot, Hartwig Derenbourg [etc.].  Paris: H. Lamirault, 1886-1902.  This echoes the figure of 100,000 from Brownlee, but with a different meaning.


Another problem with interpreting such figures is that of language.  Wilder’s figure of 68 million apparently includes those who were not killed, but persecuted and lived.  If a writer says that there were 68 million “victims” of the Papacy then it could be misunderstood that they were all killed.  Obviously the sources from the early 1800’s interpret the figure of 68 million as those who were killed.  The same problem occurs with Schmucker’s statement about Llorente;  Schmucker says that Llorente asserted 2 million were killed in the Spanish inquisition.  Other sources claim that Llorente asserted 300,000 were killed (which was probably due to a translation or copying error as explained by Dumont).  However, Llorente himself gives a smaller number that were killed, and a large number that were punished but not killed.  It is not clear whether these disagreements result from a misunderstanding of the text or whether Llorente’s history has been modified in some way.  The latter seems unlikely because M’Crie refers to Llorente’s figures at a very early date.


           What is the basis for such a large overall estimate, whether it be 50 million, 68 million or 100 million killed?  Dowling does not say where he obtained his figure.  Brownlee, at least, breaks the figure into categories, but does not say where the estimate of 50 million comes from.  Another source also gives some information about this topic, namely, M. D. Aletheia, The Rationalist's Manual (1897):

Let us look for a moment at the number of victims sacrificed on the altars of the Christian Moloch: -- 1,000,000 perished during the early Arian schism; 1,000,000 during the Carthaginian struggle; 7,000,000 during the Saracen slaughters. In Spain 5,000,000 perished during the eight Crusades; 2,000,000 of Saxons and Scandinavians lost their lives in opposing the introduction of the blessings of Christianity. 1,000,000 were destroyed in the Holy(?) Wars against the Netherlands, Albigenses, Waldenses, and Huguenots. 30,000,000 Mexicans and Peruvians were slaughtered ere they could be convinced of the beauties(?) of the Christian creed. 9,000,000 were burned for witchcraft. Total, 56,000,000.

The source for this quote is “Letters from Rome” by Middleton.  Conyers Middleton lived from 1683 to 1750 and in 1729 wrote his “Letter from Rome, Showing an Exact Conformity between Popery and Paganism.”  He was a rationalistic theologian, and denied the occurrence of miracles in the church.  Of course, Protestants as well as Catholics have implemented witch hunts.  But perhaps Middleton was the source of some of these figures of millions killed by the Papacy.  Because he was not an orthodox Christian, some Protestant writers may have been reluctant to cite him.

           From the information given it is possible to give a plausible explanation for the origin of some of the common figures.  Bengel’s figure of 15 million seems to be general knowledge, passed down from the time of the persecutions themselves, and obtained by some method of computation.  Perhaps the same people who computed this figure also computed the figure of 50 million, or perhaps someone extrapolated from this figure to the 50 million figure for the entire history of the Papacy.  Brownlee shows how the figures of 68 and 69 million derive from the 50 million figure.  Middleton’s figure of 56 million does not include the figure of 50 million Protestants, except for an overlap of 3 million.  Adding these to Middleton’s figure gives a result of about 100 million.  The figures of 120 and 150 million for the number killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages are still unexplained.  Voltaire apparently estimated that 20 million witches were killed; perhaps using this estimate and the casualties for the thirty years’ war explains some of the higher figures.

It is noteworthy that these figures of millions killed by the Papacy do not derive solely from nineteenth century scholarship, as is sometimes claimed, but also go back to sources in the eighteenth and even seventeenth century (Clarke).  If Clarke cited two million killed of the Waldenses alone, surely he would have reckoned the total killed by the Papacy at many millions.  The question remains whether these figures about the magnitude of religious persecution are trustworthy.  Even though the figure of 56 million is broken into categories by Middleton, it is unclear where the individual figures come from and how reliable they are.  It is possible, at least, to give a partial answer to this question.  Middleton gives a figure of a million killed among the Waldenses, Albigenses, and others; Mede (cited in Cassels) gives a figure at least as large.  Clarke doubles the figure.  For this figure, at least, Dr. Middleton had some basis, and did not invent it out of thin air.  The same is true of the figure of 9 million witches killed:

Gottfried Christian Voigt (1740-1791) extrapolated from his section of Germany to calculate 9,442,994 witches killed throughout Europe. From this came the common estimate of 9 million.

-- Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century, by Matthew White. 

Therefore the figure of 9 million witches killed also has a source and was not made up. From these two examples it is possible to infer Middleton’s approach: All of the figures he gave were obtained form another source.  None of the figures were increased; in fact some of them may even have been reduced.  Even the figure of 30,000,000 Mexicans and Peruvians killed, for which we do not have a source, is not too far off from the estimate of 15 million given by Schmucker, cited above.

           However, it would be useful to look at one of these figures in more detail, to see how reliable it is.  This can help to give insight into the reliability of the entire estimate.  It is possible to reconstruct how Voigt arrived at his figure.  This is from a German publication, Sepp-Depp, from July, 2001.  Quoting Voigt,

Ich habe aus dem Zeitraume vom Jahre 1569 bis 1598 also ungefähr in 30 Jahren einige 30 Fälle nachgewiesen. (...) Ich schätze die Anzahl derselben noch einmal so hoch. (...) Ich will nun annehmen, dass in dem genannten Zeitraum von 30 Jahren wenigstens 40 Personen durchs Feuer als Hexe hingerichtet sind; ob ich gleich glaube, dass ich die Zahl auf 60 annehmen könnte. Nach diesem Verhältnis würden in jedem Jahrhundert in Quedlinburg 133 Personen als Hexen verbrannt worden seyn.

The publication is highly critical of Voigt’s estimate, calling it “statisfiction.”  Nonetheless, from the surrounding text (also in German), one can infer Voigt’s method of computation.  In a 30 year period he found records of 30 cases of witches being condemned.  He estimates the actual number to be at least twice as high, but for the sake of  an estimate supposes that 40 witches were burnt during this 30 year period.  At this rate, in a century there would be (100/30) times 40 or 133 witches burnt, and in the period from 1100 to 1600 (five centuries) there would be 665 witches burnt, approximately.  He then notes that the population of this part of Germany is about 1/15,000 of the population of Europe (actually slightly more), so multiplying 665 by 15,000 one obtains an estimate of somewhat less than 10,000,000 witches executed in Europe in 500 years.  The population of Europe was about 50,000,000, so Voigt’s area of Germany would have had somewhat over 4,000 people.  One or two executions of heretics a year would have only been a tiny fraction of the population, but no less serious thereby.  This number is conceivable, in a sense.  If two percent of the population were witches, and half of them were caught at some time during their life and executed at an average age of 40, then 1/40 of one percent of the population would be executed as witches each year, which is one person per year in a population of 4000.

Now, the number of witches executed may have varied from time to time and from place to place, so the above estimate is not necessarily correct.  However, Voigt felt that his area of Germany was representative of Europe as a whole for this 500 year period.  Modern rebuttals to his figures mention that not many records exist of witches being executed.  But this ignores the fact that records are often lost or destroyed; even Voigt realizes this in his discussion.  Some executions may never have even been recorded.  Also, the fact that so many of Middleton’s sources gave numbers in the millions adds credibility to Middleton’s overall figures.  Concerning witches, it is interesting that many of those debating the 9 million figure have no idea where it came from, and those ridiculing the figure act as though it were invented out of thin air.

Some say that these high death toll figures are tinged by anti-Catholicism.  One could just as well say that arguments against these figures are tinged by pro-Catholicism.  The figures are so large that even Protestants probably found them hard to believe and preferred smaller rather than larger figures.  Wesley or Bengel, at least, did not find the figure of 15,000,000 killed in 30 years to be ridiculous, though he admitted it might be somewhat too large.  Many other well-regarded authors also found these figures to be reasonable, as cited earlier.  Of course there are also instances of cruelty of Protestants toward Catholics that could be mentioned.  And Protestants as well as Catholics have mistreated Indians.

There is also a plausible source for Middleton’s estimate of 30 million killed in the New World.  In 1542 Bartoleme de Las Casas wrote "Brevissima Relacion, "  a short description of the atrocities committed by the Spanish on Native Americans in America.  In it he states,

 "I affirm it as very certain and approved that during these forty years (1502-1542) owing to the aforesaid tyrannies and infernal works of the Christians more than twelve million souls, men, women and children, have perished unjustly and tyrannically; and in truth I believe I should not be overstepping the mark in saying fifteen million…two ways have in general been used by those who come to the Indies calling themselves Christians to extirpate and root out these wretched people utterly from the land. One, by unjust, cruel, bloody and tyrannical wars: the other, after they have killed off all those who could long or sigh for liberty, that is to say, all chiefs and warriors, they oppress those that remain, being commonly only children and women, with the most horrible and relentless and pitiless slavery to which ever men or beasts were put."

In a version of this work translated in 1699, the title reads “An account of the first voyages and discoveries made by the Spaniards in America, containing the most exact relation hitherto publish'd of their unparallel'd cruelties on the Indians, in the destruction of above forty millions of people ; with the propositions offer'd to the King of Spain to prevent the further ruin of the West-Indies.”  Las Casas spent the last forty years of his life trying to improve the conditions of the native inhabitants in the lands under Spanish control.  Many historians believe that the population of Mexico and South America decreased by 20 to 30 million during the Spanish conquest.  Later accounts assigned more of a role in this population decrease to the introduction of diseases, such as smallpox, to which the Indians did not have immunity, than to the cruelty of the Spaniards.  However, even the Black Plague, which has a higher mortality rate than smallpox, is estimated to have killed only a fourth of Europe’s population, so it seems unlikely that most of these Indians were killed by disease.   In severe smallpox epidemics, 30 of every 100 attacked may die, and not everyone will even be exposed.  In 1944 historian Rómulo Carbia linked Las Casas' work to the "black legend", which portrays the Spanish as cruel and bigoted. Carbia felt that Las Casas had exaggerated the brutality of the Spanish.  But at least Middleton’s figure of 30 million has a reasonable source.  However, there is still a question about whether the Papacy was responsible for these deaths.  Another issue is that this figure does not even include those who died after the Spanish conquest, either by inquisition or mistreatment or wars instigated by the Papacy.


           Concerning Middleton’s estimate of 5 million killed in Spain during the eight crusades, the crusades took place from 1095 to 1272 to recapture the Holy Land, and during this time there were also persecutions in Europe.  Therefore Middleton’s figures do not even include those killed during the later Inquisition.  Wesley or Bengel accepted a figure of about 15 million or more killed from 1518 to 1548 for this, and many more killed later, which other authors may have added to Middleton’s total figure.  Spain had been conquered by the Moslems, and the reconquest by Papal countries took many centuries.  The Crusades were not only directed against the Holy Land but also towards the reconquest of Spain, which the Papacy strongly promoted.  This explains the meaning of Middleton’s figure for 5 million killed in Spain during the crusades.


           As for the Crusades themselves, H.Wollschläger (Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zürich 1973) estimates that there were probably 20 million victims in the Holy Land and Arab/Turkish areas alone, with all figures taken from contemporary Christian chroniclers.  This book includes a full list of original medieval Christian chroniclers' writings.  Of course, other estimates for the Crusades are smaller, but such original sources deserve a high weighting.  Wollschläger also estimates that a million Albigenses were killed, exceeding Middleton’s figure because the latter also includes other groups.  Concerning the crusades, Brownlee states


“The last, in the Holy Land, commenced in the year 1096, and it raged with fury, for two centuries; causing, according to Mons. Voltaire, the death of two millions of men, in the flower of their youth; and ill prepared, we fear, to meet their Judge.


-- Brownlee, page 341.

Let us consider the estimate of 9 million witches killed, in another way.  Our main concern is not with the number of witches killed, but with the total number executed by the Papacy.   It is reasonable to assume that the total number executed by the church was much larger than the number of witches, probably by a factor of at least 2 or 3 (at least, we read much more about Bible believing Christians being executed than about witches).  If Voigt felt that 40 (or even 60) witches executed per 30 years was a reasonable rate, he probably would have felt that 80 total executions by the church of witches and others per 30 years was reasonable, as well.  This, extrapolated to Europe for 500 years, yields 18 million executions.  Extending the argument to other regions dominated by the Papacy (especially Central and South America and India) may at least double the figure to 36 million, and then extending the figures to the full 1260 year reign of the Papacy or adding in the 15 million mentioned by Wesley or Bengel would undoubtedly bring the total over 50 million.  This gives added support to the oft quoted estimate of 50 million.  This does not even include those executed in special circumstances such as crusades and wars, and does not include those who died in prison due to illness or maltreatment or suicide.  Voigt’s area of Germany must have had a prison, so it is reasonable to assume that there were the equivalent of nearly 15,000 prisons in all in Europe.   If each year, four people died in each prison due to illness or mistreatment or suicide, then there would be 60,000 deaths per year, and extended to a thousand years this gives 60 million deaths, but not all the responsibility of the Papacy.  Though we will never know the exact number this side of eternity, it is reasonable to conclude that the estimate of 50 million is in reality many times too small.

Lyman Beecher stated that the Papacy “has swayed a sceptre of iron, for ten centuries over nearly one-third of the population of, the globe.”  Currently about a third of the world population professes Christianity.  The world population is estimated to have grown from 200 million in 600 AD to 545 million in 1600 AD.  One third of this population would have grown from about 70 million to about 200 million in this time, with a reasonable average of about 100 million.  Voigt felt that 2 witches executed per year for a population of about 4000 was a reasonable number, even in an area that had been Christian for hundreds of years.  This amounts to 1/20 of one percent executed per year.  Assuming this proportion of executions of all heretics, not just witches, for a thousand years for an average population of 100 million ruled by Rome, gives about 50,000 executions a year or a total of 50 million deaths.  Whenever Rome encountered other religions as the Papacy extended its domain, the death toll was higher, so it is reasonable to assume that the average number killed was larger than this.  This does not even include those killed during crusades and wars instigated by the Papacy.  It is also a steady state figure and would not include those killed during intense periods of the Inquisition.  Perhaps this reasoning explains the origin of some of the estimates.

Beecher stated that the Papacy extended its domain to nearly half of the civilized world by 1800.  The world population in 1800 was estimated at 900 million, so the two centuries from 1600 to 1800 would have an average world population of about 650 million.  Half of this would be about 300 million, and at the rate of 1/20 of one percent per year would lead to an average of 150,000 killed per year for 200 years, or 30 million more for a total of 80 million deaths.  This quantity would be reduced to some extent by the dying down of persecutions, but would be increased by the violence associated with new conquests in the New World and elsewhere

It is also possible to make the estimates of persecutions smaller by reasoning as follows:  Suppose that the persecutions took a while to gather strength, then peaked for a short time, then dwindled away.  This could have happened because of the natural reluctance of humans to persecute others.  Also, after a period of intense persecution, there may not have been many “heretics” left.  Furthermore, the Papacy may have seen the reaction against its persecutions and tapered them off.  Thus the 15 million or so that Wesley or Bengel accepted may be close to the total.

This reasoning seems to be invalid.  In the first place, many respected Protestants and atheists for the last several hundred years accepted the high figures, and at least one Roman Catholic supports a high figure.  In addition, any organization as powerful and corrupt as the Papacy was for so many years would continue to gain enemies.  This would continue to supply opponents for the church to persecute.  What we know of the fierce hostility shown in the past by the Papacy towards Bible believers, Jews, and other religions suggests that the intense persecutions continued in force for many, many years.

In support of the extended nature of the persecutions, Deschner notes that in Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain in Chmielnitzki in 1648 (K.Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987).  In 1349 in more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews were murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians).  In 1257 and 1267 the Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others were exterminated. In the 17th century Catholics sacked the city of Magdeburg, Germany and roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain (D.Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992).  Many other similar incidents could be cited.  Thus the persecutions continued for many centuries.

The Waldenses sent out missionaries on tours of several years, and only about half of them ever came back.  This suggests that of the “heretics” existing in the population, at least 10 or 20 percent were executed per year, not necessarily by the Inquisition and not necessarily mentioned in historical records.  There must have been a significant number of heretics, or else the Papacy would not have set up the machinery of the Inquisition.  Just one percent of heresy would hardly have alarmed them.  It must have been a life and death struggle with the Papacy to set up such an elaborate mechanism and maintain it for such a long period of time.  So the percentage of heretics must have been at least two percent and probably significantly higher, on the average.  If five percent of the heretics were executed each year and two percent of the population were heretics, then 1/10 of one percent of the population would be executed each year.  .  From 1100 to 1600 the average world population would be about 350 million of which on the average about 100 million would be in Roman Catholic countries.  With 1/10 of a percent each year killed there would be 100,000 killed each year, for 500 years, for a total of 50 million killed just during this time period.  If the percentage of heretics were four percent and the proportion of heretics killed each year were 10 percent, the total killed during this 500 year period would be 200 million, which appears to be much nearer the truth.  Persecutions before 1100 were probably smaller, and persecutions after 1518 were probably considerably more intense.

As evidence of  the number of “heretics,” Brownlee states

“These Waldenses,” says Rainerus, “were in nearly every country.”  “They are multiplied through all lands,” says Sanderus.  “They have infested a thousand cities,” says Caeserius.  “They spread their contagion through almost the whole Latin world,” says Ciaconius. … Says Newburgh, -- “They became like the sand of the sea; without number; … .”

n     Brownlee, page 351, Appendix 1, citing Newburgh, ii page 13.

Thus there would have been many “heretics” to persecute.   And as the Waldenses existed throughout the period from 1100 to 1600 and continued to send out missionaries, the population of the Papal countries would have always had an exposure to Bible truth.  Along the same line, Brownlee states

I repeat the words of Edgar, whose testimony I prefer to Malte Brun, or any modern papist, who has not entered into the estimates of the comparative nuimbers in ancient times; nor examined the statements of these fathers, and travelers, now quoted by us:  “The European, the Asian, and African denominations that dissented from popery were four times more numerous than the partisans of Romanism, when, prior to the Reformation, the papacy shone in all its glory.  Popery, instead of universality, which is its vain boast, was never embraced by more than a fifth part of Christendom.”  Variations of Popery, p. 67, Dublin edition.

-- Brownlee, Appendix 1, pp. 352-353.

The Papacy must have had a very efficient method of eliminating heretics, as Bellarmine stated:


-- Robert Bellarmine, Disputationes de Controversiis, Tom. ii, Lib. III, cap. XXII, “Objections Answered,” 1682 edition. 

Bellarmine states that these three groups were “annihilated.”  This must also have been the fate of almost all the Waldenses, who were “like the sand of the sea; without number” at one time, and were essentially Protestants.  How many other groups were annihilated, swelling the total figures to many millions?

           Concerning the ferocity of the persecutions, Guinness writes

This part of the prophecy began to receive its fulfillment at the end of the twelfth century, when, at the third Lateran Council (A.D. 1179), the Popedom roused itself collectively to a war of extermination against heretics. Previously to this, separate members of the system, acting alone and independently, had opposed the truth by force and cruelty. But in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, Romanism, then in the plenitude of its power, gathered itself together for a great, determined, united, and persistent effort to crush out all that opposed its supremacy, and to clear Christendom of heresy.


-- Romanism and the Reformation, Lecture 8, p. 200.


Instead of eliminating heretics, the persecutions often only increased their number:


So Sismondi, the historian writes: To maintain unity of belief the Church had recourse to the expedient of burning all those who separated themselves from her; but although for two hundred years the fires were never quenched, still every day saw Romanists abjuring the faith of their fathers and embracing the religion which often guided them to the stake. In vain Gregory IX., in A.D. 1231, put to death every heretic whom he found concealed in Rome. His own letters show that the heretics only increased in numbers.


-- Romanism and the Reformation, Lecture 2, p.  45.


Concerning the effectiveness of the persecutions in rooting out heresy over a period of many centuries, Guinness writes further


Hear Mosheim’s description of the crisis. “As the sixteenth century opened, no danger seemed to threaten the Roman pontiffs. The agitations excited in former centuries by the Waldenses, Albigenses, Beghards, and others, and afterwards by the Bohemians, had been suppressed and extinguished by counsel and by the sword. The surviving remnant of Waldenses hardly lived, pent up in the narrow limits of Piedmontese valleys, and those of the Bohemians, through their weakness and ignorance, could attempt nothing, and thus were an object of contempt rather than fear.” Milner, the Church historian, says that at this date, though the name of Christ was professed everywhere in Europe, nothing

existed that could properly be called evangelical. All the confessors of Christ, “worn out by a long series of contentions, were reduced to silence.” “Everything was quiet,” says another writer; “every heretic exterminated.”


-- Romanism and the Reformation, Lecture 8, p. 202.


But of course this was only a temporary situation, because the Reformation began soon afterwards.


           Bible religion has always been attractive in comparision to the Roman Catholic faith.  It was so in the days of the Waldenses, when they were greatly multiplied.  It was so in Bohemia at about the time of the Protestant reformation, and also in France, in which a large proportion of the population were Protestants.  And of course it was so in the Protestant countries during the Reformation, and remains so today the world over.  It is reasonable to assume that Bible religion has always been popular and that a significant fraction of the population of Papal countries has always preferred it.  Therefore the number of heretics, by Rome’s definition, would always have been a large fraction of the population.  And persecution, instead of reducing the number of heretics, often only increased it, as witnessed in New Testament times and also later.  Because Rome waged such a bitter war against Bible religion from 1100 to 1600 and onwards, the number of those killed must have amounted to many, many millions of persons.


Adding up the figures that either have multiple sources of support or seem reasonably well documented, gives 20 million killed in the Holy Land and surrounding areas during the crusades, 1 million Waldenses, 1 million Albigensians, at least 18 million witches and others killed during steady state persecutions of heretics in Europe from 1100 to 1600, about 10 million in the 30 years’ war, 20 million Protestants in the Inquisition (not just in Spain) from 1518 to 1548 and onwards, and 15 million Indians in the New World for a total of 85 million, even ignoring many small events.  This also ignores 9 million from the figures given by Middleton, plus 7 million for the Saracen slaughters. There is some evidence that millions of Saracens in Spain were killed, which could not have any reasonable military justification.  However, Middleton’s figure of 7 million may refer to those killed in the Crusades in the Holy Land, which are already included.  Neglecting these, and adding 9 million would put the total over 94 million.  All these estimates appear to be reasonable, and many more persecutions were left out, according to Bengel:

To these we may add innumerable martyrs, in ancient, middle, and late ages, in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Obviously the figure is open to debate, but at least one can see how such a large figure can be computed.

           It is also possible to estimate the magnitude of the persecutions using population figures.  The world population from 900 to 1600 is estimated as follows (McEvedy, Colin and Richard Jones, 1978, "Atlas of World Population History," Facts on File, New York, pp. 342-351):


World population

Percent growth

European population

Percent growth


240 million



















































Growth deficit, world, percent

Population deficit, world

Growth deficit, Europe, percent

Population deficit, Europe





5 million








71.1 million




















146.5 million


63.5 million

Adjusted total


106.5 or 51.5




The crusades began about 1100, the inquisition in 1231, and the Protestant Reformation in 1517.  In between these dates persecutions were most intense.  The population growth from 800 to 900 was 9.1%, from 900 to1000 was 10.4%, from 1000 to 1100 was 20.8%, and from 1100 to 1200 was 12.5%.   The population growth from 1500 to 1600 was 28.2%, but without the 30 million killed in the New World it would have been 35.3%.  Averaging these numbers gives a population growth of 19.75% during periods of relatively little persecution.  From 1200 to 1300 the population growth was 0%, from 1300 to 1400 it was –2.8%, and from 1400 to 1500 it was 21.4%.  This corresponds to deviations from the average of –19.75%, -22.55%, and 1.65%.  Attributing these to persecutions and the Black Death gives a total of 146.5 million people that died in excess of what one would expect based on average population growth.  The Black Death is estimated to have killed a quarter of Europe’s population, and about 40 million people total.  Subtracting this from 146.5 million gives over 100 million excess deaths due to persecution during the Middle Ages.  This figure is a mute testimony to numerous persecutions all over the world that were never recorded and soon forgotten, except for their effect on world population figures.  This is a low estimate because there were persecutions from 1100 to 1200 and from 1500 to 1600 as well, which would not only increase the total, but would give a higher average population growth in the absence of persecution.  It may be reasonable to subtract about 55 million from this figure due to the estimated 40 million who died in the Mongol conquests and the 17 million killed by Timur Lenk.

           Beginning the computation of persecutions at 1100 instead of 1200, the average population growth would be 22.2% in the absence of persecution.  The deficit in population growth from 1100 to 1200 would be 9.7%, from 1200 to 1300 would be 22.2%, from 1300 to 1400 would be 25%, and from 1400 to 1500 would be 0.8%.  This amounts to 203.7 million persons in all.  Subtracting 40 million for the Black Death gives over 160 million persons killed by persecutions in the Middle Ages.  Of course there were also persecutions before 1100 and after 1500 that are not being considered, such as the 15 million Indians that died in the New World and the estimated 15 million or more killed in the inquisition from 1518 to 1548 and onwards.  Perhaps 55 million should be subtracted from this quantity, as well.

           However, the population growth in Europe presents a different picture.  In 1000 AD, the population was about 36 million, then grew by 22 percent by 1100 and by 31 percent by 1200 and by 36 percent by 1300, reaching about 79 million.  In 1400 it was about 60 million due to the Black Death and in 1500 about 81 million and 100 million in 1600.  The population growth from 400 to 800 was significantly slower.  To explain this increasing population growth in the light of persecution, recall that whenever the Papacy extended its dominion, as in South American or the Crusades, there was much bloodshed.  The same would have been true as the Papacy extended its dominion over Europe.  Afterwards the persecutions within Europe would have decreased and the attention of the Papacy would have been directed more towards extending its domain beyond Europe.  But even a population growth rate of 36 percent is not necessarily high; the entire world population grew by almost 50 percent between 1700 and 1800.

           From 1400 to 1500 persecutions in Europe had largely died down, and the population growth rate was nearly 36 percent.  The population growth from 1200 to 1300 was almost identical, suggesting that persecutions had largely died down then as well because most of the “heretics” had been eliminated already and the Inquisition had not really gotten started.  Therefore the value of 36 percent from 1200 to 1300 can be taken as a base value in the absence of persecution.  Thus the deficits in population growth due to persecution and the Black Death would have been 14 percent from 1000 to 1100, 5 percent from 1100 to 1200, none from 1200 to 1300, 60 percent from 1300 to 1400, none from 1400 to 1500, and 12 percent from 1500 to 1600.  Adding these up gives a total of 63.6 million people, of whom 20 million can be attributed to the Black Death and 43.6 million to persecution.  Actually, because Europe had less than one fourth of the total world population, it seems doubtful that half of the worldwide deaths from the Black Death would have occurred in Europe.  A figure of 10 million instead of 20 million for this would mean 53.6 million deaths were attributable to persecution.  This is not too far from the common estimate of 50 million killed in Europe.  Adding in 15 million for the New World almost exactly duplicates Brownlee’s estimate of 68.5 million.  Of course, the total would have been higher because there was also persecution when the population growth was 36 percent.   In addition, the persecutions before 1000 when the Papacy was extending its domain over Europe are not counted.

           Despite the differences, there are remarkable similarities in the population growth patterns in Europe and the world as a whole from 1000 to 1800.  In all centuries except the twelfth through fourteenth, the population growths were very close, except possibly for the fifteenth.  The population growths of the fourteenth century would have been very close but for the Black Death.  This suggests that there was some common driving force for these rates of population growth.  It seems unlikely that this could have been climactic or political or technological in nature because of the considerable diversity all over the world.  However, the global reach and policies of the Papacy provides such a unifying factor.  An increase in persecutions would affect population trends the world over.  Furthermore, the worldwide decline in the power of the Papacy from the sixteenth century onwards would have had a global effect.

           The differences in population growth in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries may be attributable to the tremendous growth of the Waldenses, who became like the sand of the sea, without number.  By following a Biblical lifestyle, they would have had low infant mortality and disease rates, long lives, and substantial wealth.  The entire world population grew by nearly a factor of four in the twentieth century, and the Waldenses may have been increasing at about the same rate in Europe.  Thus there could have been over twenty million Waldenses throughout Europe.  Such a large population group would have posed a tremendous threat to the Papacy and would have motivated the setting up of the Inquisition.  Even in the thirteenth century, many millions of them may have been killed in the Inquisition, in addition to the 25 million estimated to be killed by persecution in Europe in the fourteenth century.

           These population figures may actually underestimate the death toll by a significant factor.  If someone is killed who is past child bearing age, his death will likely have only a temporary effect on the population.  Someone who is killed after having half of their children will have half of the long term effect on the population as someone who is killed before having any of their children, on the average.  Therefore, the total death toll could easily be double that indicated above.  Furthermore, the possessions of those who die will be redistributed among those who remain, which will tend to cause the population to grow somewhat faster than normal.  In addition, the base figure for population growth could easily have been taken as 50 percent or higher instead of the values given above.  Therefore the population figures permit, and even invite, the conclusion that the death toll due to persecution in the Middle Ages is astronomical, and many times larger than 50 million.

There is also indirect evidence that many were killed by the Papacy:

However the Pope had his own inquisition at Rome. He ruled what is known as the Papal States of Central Italy directly from 756 to 1870. So the responsibility for the persecution and destruction of "heretics" in that region rested with him. When he was finally deprived of these states in 1870 it was thrown open to the inspection of the public. Letters appeared in the London Daily News at the time. The Daily News correspondent himself, visited Rome only to discover the grim truth of those horrors imposed by the Papal authorities. He reports to have seen skeletons and human remains in huge underground vaults, as they were removing masses of decayed and stinking animal matter. Attached to some of this decaying flesh, he saw silken hair clearly identifiable as human. He reports to have been thoroughly sickened by the sight. A report of his newspaper article was given by Robert Roberts of Birmingham in 1893 in the course of four town hall lectures.

This information comes from a Christadelphian web site.  The lectures were given Sunday February 12 through Sunday March 12, 1893 in the town hall of Birmingham, England, and entitled “Christ in the Earth Again.”  The above quotation is from the fourth lecture.  I received the following message by email concerning the above quotation:

The information that you have queried came from the fourth of a series of Town Hall Lectures given by Robert Roberts of Birmingham. He was the editor of the Christadelphian magazine at the time, and contemporary with the events he relayed in his lecture. They were from reports in the London Daily News by a correspondent who was an eyewitness of what he reported to have seen in the vaults under the Vatican.


The Christadelphian Editor, Michael Ashton, currently has a copy of those lectures given and edited by Robert Roberts himself, in his Birmingham office. They have been preserved there, and were also published in a booklet form in Australia when Robert Roberts himself was residing in Australia and was able to authenticate the contents of the booklet, entitled “The Town Hall Lectures.”

Another evidence of massive persecution is a statement made by Colonel Lehmanowsky who had served in Napoleon’s army sent to Spain under the command of Marshal Soult.  This statement was included in History of the Old Albigenses, by Jean Paul Perrin with additions written in the 1840s, 1991 edition, Ages Digital Library, Book 3, pp. 311ff.  Col Lehmanowsky commanded three regiments of soldiers who took part in the destruction of a secret prison of the Inquisition at Madrid, Spain in 1809.  Here is a portion of the account:

From this room we proceeded to the right, and obtained access to small cells, extending the entire length of the edifice; and here such sights were presented as he hoped never to see again. Those cells were places of solitary confinement, where the wretched objects of inquisitorial hate were confined year after year, till death released them from their sufferings, and there their bodies were suffered to remain until they were entirely decayed, and the rooms had become fit for others to occupy. To prevent this being offensive to those who occupied the inquisition, there were flues or tubes extending to the open air, sufficiently capacious to carry off the odor. In these cells we found the remains of some who had paid the debt of nature; some of them had been dead apparently but a short time, while of others nothing remained but their bones, still chained to the floor of their dungeon.

In other cells, we found living sufferers of both sexes — and of every age, from three-score years and ten down to fourteen or fifteen years — all naked as when born into the world! and all in chains! Here were old men and aged women, who had been shut up for many years! Here too were the middle aged, and the young man and the maiden of fourteen years old. …

About a hundred, who had been buried for many years, were now restored to life. There were fathers who had found their long-lost daughters, wives were restored to their husbands, sisters to their brothers, and parents to their children; and there was some who could recognize no friend among the multitude. The scene was such as no tongue can describe.

Clearly those who died in this prison would not have been included in the official records of the Spanish inquisition.  Col. Lehmanowsky and his soldiers also discovered many instruments of torture in this prison.  But Cecil Roth states, “It is a waste of time to point out the absurdities and incoherences in this egregious account, which was foisted on the horrified public at the height of a period of mid-Victorian respectability” (History of the Inquisition, page 251). Because he does not point out these “absurdities,” it is difficult to evaluate his statement.  A historian of Napoleon’s wars, describing the capture of Toledo, Spain by Napoleon’s army, discussed the opening of another Inquisition prison:

When the French took Toledo, and broke open the Inquisition prison there, we read, "Graves seemed to open, and pale figures like ghosts issued from dungeons which emitted a sepulchral odour. Bushy beards hanging down over the breast, and nails grown like birds claws, disfigured the skeletons, who with labouring bosoms inhaled, for the first time for a long series of years, the fresh air. Many of them were reduced to cripples, the head inclined forward, and the arms and hands hanging down, rigid and helpless: they had been confined in dens so low they could not rise up in them: .
. . in spite of all the care of the surgeons, many of them expired the same day. The light of the sun made a particularly painful impression on the optic nerve. . . . On the following day General Lasalle minutely inspected the place, attended by several officers of his staff. The number of machines for torture thrilled even men inured to the battle-field with horror; only one of these, unique in its kind for refined cruelty, seems deserving of more particular notice.

"In a recess in a subterraneous vault, contiguous to the private ball for examinations, stood a wooden figure, made by the hands of monks, and representing the Virgin Mary. A gilded glory encompassed her head, and in her right hand she held a banner. It struck us all, at first sight, as suspicious, that, notwithstanding the silken robe, descending on each side in ample folds from her shoulders, she should wear a sort of cuirass. On closer scrutiny, it appeared that the fore part of the body was stuck full of extremely sharp nails and small narrow knife-blades, with the points of both turned towards the spectator. The arms and hands were jointed; and machinery behind the partition set the figure in motion. One of the servants of the Inquisition was compelled, by command of the General, to work the machine, as he termed it. When the figure extended her arms, as though to press some one most lovingly to her heart, the well-filled knapsack of a Polish grenadier was made to supply the place of a living victim. The statue hugged it closer and closer; and when the attendant, agreeably to orders, made the figure unclasp her arms and return to her former position, the knapsack was perforated to the depth of two or three inches, and remained hanging on the points of the nails and knife-blades. To such an infernal purpose, and in a building erected in honour of the true faith, was the Madonna rendered subservient!"

-- Thiers & Bowen, The Campaigns Of Napoleon, cited by H. Grattan Guinness, The Approaching End Of The Age (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1878), 205-207.

Another such account is given by Roth, who as explained on a web site, “records the opening of the Office in Lisbon before it was made into the Opera House. The accounts from eyewitnesses (printed in the Annual Register of 1821) show beyond doubt, that there were human remains found in the dungeons, which were in use (from an inscription on a dungeon wall) as late as 1809. These included monks whose garments were found among the human and other remains lying in the tiers of dungeons and among the evidence of murder both old and recent, committed there” (Cecil Roth, The Spanish Inquisition, Robert Hale Ltd, London, 1937, pp. 84-85).  Though somewhat suspicious of this account, Roth states “In the main, nevertheless, the picture is probably as reliable as it is vivid” (page 86).

There are also quite a few independent witnesses to the fact that in the cloistered convents of the past, nuns sometimes died from mistreatment and sometimes bore children to priests; the children were often killed.  Note that cloistered convents are not the same as open convents, where the nuns can come and go.  In a cloistered convent, the nuns cannot leave, and there is a much greater potential for abuse:

There were even then sixteen convents, but now there are over four hundred of these barred and bolted and impenetrable prisons, in which fifteen thousand

Englishwomen are kept prisoners at the mercy of a celibate clergy, who have power, unless their behests are obeyed, to inflict on these hapless and helpless victims torture under the name of penance.


-- Romanism and the Reformation by H. Grattan Guinness, lectures,  London, England, 1887. Lecture 1, page 14.


Rome has, on the other hand, persecuted on principle, and steadily from the seventh century right on to the French Revolution and to some extent almost to the present time. She does so still in the secret recesses of her nunneries and monasteries, under the name of penance. Why else does she require shops for the sale of instruments of bodily torture, such as exist this day in London?


-- Guinness, Lecture 2, pp. 41-42.


St. Ligori himself asserts a fact which, as Mr. Smith justly observes, strongly corroborates the Revelations of Maria Monk; namely, that refactory, incorrigible nuns are punished by imprisonment for life. "A nun (says he) who is guilty of a grievous or pernicious crime, and who appears to be notoriously incorrigible is to be confined in perpetual imprisonment." But they are not expelled as some monks are. The reason is obvious. Nuns, if expelled, would reveal the licentious and brutal treatment they have received from the priests, whilst the latter would be careful not to inform on themselves. Smith’s Synopsis of Ligori’s Moral  Theology, p. 231, 232. Now let it be remembered, that the writings of Ligori were approved by Pope Pius VII. and by the Sacred Congregation of Rites so late as 1816: and that, as Dr. Varela, the priest of New York asserted three years ago, are in the hands of almost every priest, and therefore also of those at Montreal; and there will be nothing incredible in the following narrative of Maria Monk. …


-- Schmucker, Glorious Reformation, page 17.


The position of the cloistered nuns, those committed to certain convents for life, is quite different from that of the regular nuns. They usually have gone into this seclusion because of some great sorrow or disappointment. Dr. Montano says concerning them: 

'There are 100,000 nuns in the world living in strict seclusion in convents. Subsisting in these retreats are nuns who have retired behind closed doors for life. Young women, who accept the vows of the cloistered nuns renounce their homes, their loved ones, their families, never to see them again. They will stay behind bars for the rest of their lives, shut away from the world.

'These unfortunate souls have cloistered themselves, thinking that the fact they are not in touch with the world will save them from temptations. But again and again, throughout my lifetime, some of the most prominent nuns and monks have confessed to me that it is precisely behind the walls of these convents and monasteries that temptation has tortured them more than it ever did when they lived in the world. Here temptation has beset them until they have finally succumbed, because of the unnatural life they lead. Many poor souls have become tools of Satan, victims of the most monstrous sins.

'Severe discipline is inflicted upon these nuns by the Mother Superior, and flagellation and mortification of the body is practised. Self-inflicted suffering is for the purpose of gaining indulgences by works, a striving to achieve salvation by merits. These poor souls are taught that they are putting treasures in the bank of indulgences....

'The psychological disturbances that have resulted from this type of existence are such that not a few of these poor creatures have had to live out their days within the walls of mental institutions. To confirm this, Father More, of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., states: “Insanity among priests and nuns (compared with a general population ratio of per 100,000) . . . among sisters who were cloistered rather than active showed a rate of 1,034, nearly twice the general population ratio.”  …

Throughout the world there are some 100,000 cloistered nuns. Speaking of one of the more extreme orders, and quoting the regulations under which they live, Dr. Montano says: 

 'The discalced (barefoot) Carmelite sisters, for example, neither teach, nor nurse, nor care for the old, the orphans, the infirm. They take a vow of silence--complete silence.

'At 5 :30 A.M. the nuns arise from their pallets, which are wooden boards across saw-horses, covered with a straw-filled tick--for they have also taken a vow of poverty.

'At 8 :30 A.M. they eat a slice of bread and drink one cup of black coffee. The table is set with plain wooden utensils and a covered water pitcher. The mask of death, a skull, is on the table, to symbolize thoughts of death, that we are mortal beings, soon to pass into the unknown.

'Their main meal may be of fish and vegetables, and their evening meal is soup and bread. Their day ends at 11 P.M., when they silently return to their cells furnished with only pallet, table and chair'. 

(from Celibacy, by Loraine Boettner, D.D, taken from his book “Roman Catholicism”, 1962.  He was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.B., 1928; ThM., 1929), where he studied Systematic Theology under Dr. C. W. Hodge.  Dr. Montano’s quotations are from “Christian Heritage,” September, 1959.)  Also, Cardinal Peter D'Ailly said he dared not describe the immorality of the nunneries, and that 'taking the veil' was simply another mode of becoming a public prostitute.  (Henry Charles Lea, A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, vol. 3, 1888, pp. 629-631.)

Here is one example of many testimonies about problems in cloistered convents:

I wish to make a statement for those who may think that I am an ignorant protestant who knows nothing about the Catholic Church. I have received numerous e-mails by indignant Catholics who think I don't know anything about what I am writing about and putting on this site.

First of all, I am old enough to be able to say that I attended Mass for years in LATIN! Not English as most today! I am quite familiar with all the Catholic doctrines, traditions and rituals, from the rosary, the stations of the cross, praying to Mary the Mediatrix to not eating meat on Friday.

Moreover, I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, living about 6 blocks from a large Catholic Church that was once a Cloistered Convent. Most today don't know about them. My step-father was an altar boy at the church, planning to go into the priesthood, until the government forced that Convent to open up. Then they found the bones of babies under the floor that came from the sex escapades of the priests (who represent Christ) and the nuns (who were 'married to christ'), which was supposed to mean that when the nun had sex with the priest, they were having sex with Christ and it was not sin. When a priest came wanting a young nun, the Mother Superior lined them up for the priest to pick out his victim of the day. They then went into a private room with a bed and he got what he didn't get at home, since priests are not allowed to marry. This is one of the greatest errors of the Catholic Church and violations of the Word of God and is the source of all the affairs with women (many times with one who came to the confessional and was forced into the abomination called auricular confession) or homosexual encounters you have read about in the papers over the years. And they have only touched the tip of the iceburg of the sexual perversion within the priesthood (and these men are supposed to be 'men of God')? When a baby was born, the Mother Superior would suffocate the baby and bury it within the Convent. Now to the sex sin is added the sin of murder! All for the sexual pleasures and fulfillment of the lusts of the priests.

I personally met a dear nun who was enslaved within a cloistered convent in the United States. She managed a daring escape and ran for her life, then began to speak out and was a part of the governments finally forcing them to be opened and stop the terrible farce of religious piety and holiness behind those walls (she testified before Congress). As soon as she escaped and begin to speak out so that the other enslaved nuns being held against their will might be set free, (for to enter the convent was to be sealed within it's walls until death without ever being able to leave), they began trying to murder her. While in the convent, all mail was checked and censored and there were no outside contacts allowed. They were slaves to Rome! Not bringing Glory to God! But of course the poor little nuns didn't know what awaited them once they entered those walls because of the lies, hypocracy and cover-ups of the church.

The nun referred to may have been Edith O’Gorman, who was still alive in 1947, or Eva Moss, who spoke to thousands in Washington, D.C. in March, 1928.  Sister Charlotte gave a similar testimony about abuses in convents.  She left her home in the USA for a convent overseas in 1910, and later escaped.  Afterwards she accepted Christ and began giving her testimony, from which the following excerpt is taken:

I saw scores of babies born in the convents. Most were abnormal and deformed and seldom was one normal. With my hands I have delivered many, many of them, therefore I know. With my eyes I have seen the horror of it all and the world must be told of what goes on in those chambers of horrors.

Many have said I exaggerate and that these things are not so, but I have yet to be hauled into court to refute the charges. They would have to open the cloisters and this they dare not do. After being snared in this rotten system for twenty-two years, I know whereof I speak.

Normal young expectant mothers eagerly anticipate the arrival of their precious baby. Everything is ready, nursery, crib, clothing, and everyone is happy with her. By contrast, a little nun in the convent dreads the moment when she gives birth. The child is the product of a shameful, illicit union with a drunken priest which was forced on her. She knows from bitter experience that the baby will only be permitted to live four or five hours at the very most. It will never be cleaned or wrapped in a warm blanket for Mother Superior will put her hand over its mouth and pinch its nostrils to snuff out its life.

This is why there are lime pits in all the convents. Babies' bodies are tossed in these holes to be destroyed. Pray for the government to force the convents to open their doors to release the prisoners and let the whole world see what horrors are hidden behind those doors of cruel religious hypocrisy.

If this happens, I assure you that even the Catholic people will agree to the closing of the convents as they did in Mexico in 1934. They have no idea what is transpiring there either, or they would never expose their daughters to such barbarous debauchery and torture.

The convents in old Mexico have been turned into government museums which you can tour for a modest fee. You should go and see with your own eyes and touch with your hands the things of which I speak. Go down into the dungeons, through the tunnels and torture chambers and see all the fiendish devices, demonically conceived, to inflict suffering on the bodies of helpless nuns. See for yourself the cells in which nuns were locked each night and examine the beds, and the prayer boards.

Convents were banned in Mexico in 1857, but one, the Convento de Santa Monica, continued to operate secretly until it was discovered in 1934 and abolished.  It is now a museum.   A web site of a homosexual order of hospitaler Friars contains the following statement:

The sexual-orientation and/or inclination of the priesthood has been scandalous and so very damaging for a very long time. With the rest of the world, we shamefacedly have to look at the "lime-pits" that academic archeology has unearthed close to almost every convent while the "official church" feigns zero tolerance for birth-control or abortion.

In a sermon “Wisdom versus Faith,” delivered on Sunday, 1st April 1962 at the Branham Tabernacle in Jeffersonville, Indiana, U.S.A, William Branham stated,

I went down there in Mexico myself and seen them lime pits … . That's what made communism spring up in Mexico. They broke up that tommyrot. That's what made communism spring up yonder.

It is hard to believe that all of these statements could result from anti-Catholicism without some basis in fact.

Here is a particularly sad example of a nun who escaped from St. Joe’s Convent in Tipton County, Indiana and was sent back by the sheriff:

Menace, Feb., 1927

Rome has won another victory, a victory which forever places a dark blot upon the history of one of the strongest Protestant counties in one of the strongest Protestant States in the Union Tipton County, Indiana.

Little Nellie Fortune, a girl of twenty years, Convent Number 096, saw a chance to escape. Although the night was bitter cold she made her way across fields, through woodlands and over streams, finally reaching a farm house a distance of five miles away, before the coming of daylight forced her to seek shelter She crept into an out-building and was found by a kindly farmer and was taken in and given food and clothing. This man was preparing to move and Nellie was taken to the home of a neighbor, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Fuller of the Rock Prairie community. Here she was welcomed and given a home by this good Protestant family.

She related the many things which take place behind the convent walls of St. Joseph's Convent, and said she could stand the conditions there no longer and resolved to escape or die in the attempt. She had come to America from Northern Ireland, and stated that conditions in the convents here were far worse than they were in Ireland.

She was happy in her new home, telling her benefactors that "it felt good to be a Protestant." Plans had been made for her to attend church and "be a real Protestant", as she expressed it.

Life was beginning to take on a brighter aspect for poor little Nellie Fortune. She had a good home. she had freedom, and what was more, human love and companionship. But her joy was to be short lived. The unrelenting hounds of Rome were hot on the trail. At last she was located. Sheriff Claud Louks, of Tipton, (elected on a 100 per cent ticket and sworn to defend the American home, etc.) was called and without a warrant or any authority, save the request of the church of Rome, went straightway to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fuller and seized the pleading, crying defenseless girl, who begged for her liberty and fought with her last ounce of strength to be permitted to remain with those who had befriended her. Mr. and Mrs. Fuller also pleaded and begged but to no avail.

Nellie was dragged back to the convent of St. Joseph, to face God alone knows what.

Some more information from the introduction to the 1957 edition of “The Convent Horror: The Story of Barbara Ubryk” reveals the mistreatment of nuns in some of the cloistered convents:

The following items are taken from recent American dailies:--

London, May 23, 1892.--Two huge petitions were wheeled into the House of Commons this afternoon. They bore the signatures of 13,305 members of the Protestant Alliance and 101,408 members of the Loyal Protestant League and others, praying for the appointment of a commission to inquire into the conditions of the convents and monasteries in the United Kingdom.

City of Mexico, Dec. 26, 1891.--It is probably difficult for people in the United States, where church and State are quite distinct in their spheres of action, to understand the recent forcible closing of convents in Puebla and Cholula by an armed force, and amid a popular tumult which resulted in the killing of soldiers and rioters.

But here everybody understands the difficulty to be the result of the clandestine establishment of convents, in defiance of the laws governing religious establishments.

All convents, or other associations of persons under religious vows, are forbidden by law, and a convent of high church Episcopalian nuns or monks would be as promptly closed by the authorities as similar associations of Catholics.

Naples, Oct. 21, 1890.--The judicial authorities have instituted proceedings against the superior of the monastery popularly known as the "Convent of the Buried Alive," where the dreadful discoveries of the existence of starving and demented nuns within its walls was recently made. Another domiciliary visit has been made by the police to a conventional refuge of a similar character at Tencuraboli, where no opposition was made to their entrance. From information obtained at this establishment, it was found that institutions, for the "Sepolta Vive," or "Buried Alive," under the rule of St. Orsola, are not uncommon. In vatican circles it is asserted that at the next consistory the Pope will enter a protest against the violation of the monasteries here. In the meantime the priests of this city are sending in their adhesions to the remonstrance by Cardinal San Felice, Archbishop of Naples, against the recent visitations.

Another account says: "Sixteen nuns were found within a state bordering on insanity. They were covered with rags, and their surroundings were of the most filthy description. Many had forgotten how to speak, and the demeanor of all of them was more like that of animals than human beings. Those who were induced to talk expressed themselves perfectly resigned to their fate.

"The cause of the raid upon the nunnery was the desire of the parents of a young girl who had entered the convent to recover her. She had been banished to a nunnery on account of a love affair objectionable to her family. The latter, being unable to communicate with her, had complained to the police, and an order from the Minister of Justice for her removal was obtained. She was found to be a mere skeleton, and her parents became half-crazed at the condition in which she was discovered. The nunnery has been closed and a strict investigation ordered by the Governor of Naples.

"Later intelligence states that ten more nuns have been released from the subterranean dungeons of the nunnery of 'The Buried Alive' at Naples which has just been opened by order of the Minister of Justice. Among them were eight young women who had been incarcerated against their will by order of their parents. The police have been ordered to visit all nunneries in Southern Italy which are closed to the public. Cardinal Sanfelice left Naples for Rome to obtain further instructions from the Pope on the subject. Immense excitement has been created by the disclosures."

An article written in 1886 and found at the http://www.ianpaisley.org/main.asp web site states:

So late as the 25th of last January, a gentleman writes to a London journal of great repute, as follows:—"In your paper of the 17th you have inserted a letter from ` C. F.,' relative to a strange occurrence, in 1829, at Charenton-sur-Marne. May I be allowed to state that your correspondent has made a mistake as to the locality? It should have been at Charenton-sur-Seine, near Paris. I was engaged on the works of Messrs. Manby and Wilson, under Mr. Holroyd, the engineer of the works, when time after time large numbers of infant skeletons were discovered in all parts of the premises, which, I believe, had been, a convent of a very strict order of nuns. At first we did not take much notice of the circumstance; but when the attention of Mr. Holroyd and Mr. Armstrong was called to the singular affair, we were directed to count the remains; and from that day we counted, and placed to one side, no less than 387 entire skeletons of infants. We took no account of parts of skeletons, which if they had been all put together, would have far outnumbered the entire ones which were counted. I speak far within bounds when I say that there were found not fewer than the remains of 800 children, and there was not a single bone of an adult person among them. The mayor came to the premises, and had the bones placed in boxes and privately buried in the cemetery, and orders were given to hush up the affair."

It is difficult to believe that such things could still happen in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  What is especially disturbing about these accounts is that the Papal hierarchy must have known what was happening, but did not take effective steps to stop it.  Not only this, but they demanded that poor Nellie Fortune be returned to the convent!  These abuses also demonstrate another danger of church-state unions.  At least in countries where the government is not controlled by the church, such abuses can be controlled, but when church and state unite, there is little hope of improvement.  Probably the convents are much better today than in the past.  But in computing the number of persons killed by the Papacy, if one includes all of the nuns and children who died in the convents, surely the total would increase by many millions.

           There were also many killed in wars instigated by the Papacy.  Chiniquy, “Fifty Years in the Church of Rome,” chapter 60, quotes President Lincoln as follows:

The common people see and hear the big, noisy wheels of the Southern Confederacy's cars; they call they Jeff Davis, Lee, Toombs, Beauregard, Semmes, ect., and they honestly think that they are the motive power, the first cause of our troubles. But this is a mistake. The true motive power is secreted behind the thick walls of the Vatican, the colleges and schools of the Jesuits, the convents of the nuns, and the confessional boxes of Rome.

There is a fact which is too much ignored by the American people, and with which I am acquainted only since I became President; it is that the best, the leading families of the South have received their education in great part, if not in whole, from the Jesuits and the nuns. Hence those degrading principles of slavery, pride, cruelty, which are as a second nature among so many of those people. Hence that strange want of fair play, humanity; that implacable hatred against the ideas of equality and liberty as we find them in the Gospel of Christ. You do not ignore that the first settlers of Louisiana, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, South California and Missouri were Roman Catholics, and that their first teachers were Jesuits. It is true that those states have been conquered or bought by us since. But Rome had put the deadly virus of her antisocial and anti-Christian maxims into the veins of the people before they became American citizens. Unfortunately, the Jesuits and the nuns have in great part remained the teachers of those people since. They have continued in a silent, but most efficacious way, to spread their hatred against our institutions, our laws, our schools, our rights and our liberties in such a way that this terrible conflict became unavoidable between the North and the South. As I told you before, it is to Popery that we owe this terrible civil war.

If indeed the Civil War was partly caused by the Papacy, then the Papacy was partially responsible for its victims.  The Papacy may also be partially responsible for some of the deaths of World War II; the following quotation is from a web site:  “'Father' Petar Oajic, in the publication organ of the Archbishop of Sarajevo, Katolicki Tjednik, No.35, August 31, I941 has these 'Catholic' words to say from the place of power … :

Until now God spoke through papal encyclicals, numerous sermons, catechisms, the Christian Press, through missions, through the heroic examples of the saints, and so on ... And ? They closed their ears. They were deaf. Now God has decided to use other methods. He will prepare missions. European missions. World missions. They will be upheld, not by priests, but by army commanders, led by Hitler. The sermons will be heard with the help of cannons, machine guns, tanks and bombers. The language of these sermons will be international. No one will be able to complain that he did not understand it, because all people know very well what death is, and what wounds, disease, hunger, fear, slavery and poverty are. (Bold italics added.)

The archbishop was not dismissed, his words condemned as heresy; it was not secret; it was read; meant to be read. Its language was soon to be followed in fact by the deeds of its doctrine.”  Considering all wars instigated by the Papacy in the Middle Ages and at other times, the total number of victims would be large indeed.  Adding these victims to those killed in persecutions and those who died in convents would result in an enormous total.

We need to be careful not to show hostility to Roman Catholics today because of the sins of the past.  I am sure that many of us know many wonderful and loving Roman Catholic priests and church members.  But it is important to know the facts of history, or else we may repeat them.  As church and state grow ever nearer to a union in the USA, it is vital for us to be familiar with the dangers of religious persecution so that religious liberty can be guaranteed for many years to come.  Because of the dangers of cloistered convents, they need to be prohibited or else regularly inspected and opened.  We also need to beware of religious influences that lead to wars.  For these and other reasons, it is important to preserve the facts of history, or else they may be forgotten altogether.  There is hardly any knowledge of the facts of religious persecution among American citizens today.  But Lecky, at least, in his day felt that the knowledge of such persecutions was so widespread as to require little justification.  This shows that the facts of history are rapidly being eroded away, and there is a continual need for men and women to search out and make known the truth so that it can be preserved for future generations.  Without such efforts, in a generation or two, it may be commonly believed that hardly any persecution occurred during the Middle Ages, and the stage would be set for a repetition.  In fact, such persecutions could begin much sooner than we realize.

© 2003 by David A. Plaisted





World Wide Web Witness is pleased to accede to the request from David Plaisted to point to this matter of numbers in the Inquisition. This concerns chiefly the arithmetic side of the religious issues involved, and its portent for the future.

Let us here add another phase. Concerning the results of spiritual pathology, there is thus ground to seek for understanding. Concerning the cause of it in its highly systematic formulations, there is therefore even more concern, as we to come to the actual Romanist teaching which has been confirmed at Vatican II (cf. SMR pp. 1057ff.,  1086ff.).

The nature of the continuing idolatry involved in this Romanist system is considered in the two references immediately above, and this amid the broader treatment of dominant errors of that system of doctrine,  in biblical perspective,  in the areas of SMR pp. 1032 -1088H. Further on some of the concepts in imperious action is to be found at SMR pp. 911ff.. The Romanist system of thought and the Gospel are as shown, at war, and idolatry is no way to salvation (I Corinthians 6:9).

The reason for this is manifold, but not difficult to discern.

It is however not our work to make personal judgments (I Corinthians 4:1-5), but to present what the Bible has to say, and show clashes between its glorious gospel of grace and whatever else assails, assaults, alters, compromises, qualifies or tortures it. Where a given person is, remains with the Lord. Notwithstanding, what the Lord does with departures from His singular lordship and gospel, He makes clear (as in II Peter 2, Jude, Luke 22:1-14, with emphasis on 12-14).

If by Paul we are told, with the elders of Ephesus, as in Acts 20, that wolves are coming to gobble up the flock, we do not need unduly to dwell on their numbers or the lambs, though the facts are important as an outward testimony and a subject for mourning. We do need to dwell on what has animated this assault, and seeing as in all things what the Bible has to say, avoid its errors, and as we may, warn or exhort others concerning such deviations from the Bible; for the Gospel is not subject to man, but man is given it not only freely but as the best of medicine, without other option. When God pardons, it is on His own terms.

That these are glorious is a marvel; and therefore, to circumvent, add or invade them at any point is potentially fatal.

THIS Gospel, Paul indicates in Galatians 1, is intractable truth, in nothing taught by man or inculcated from culture, but supernatural in source and hence immutable as it is beautiful, as intransigent as it is intractable, as ineradicable as God is, and as open in its loving offer to the race, as was His heart to it in the first place (Colossians 1:19ff.). Indeed, what Paul had already preached was it (Galatians 1:9), and even if he himself were to present any other gospel, he declaimed, he too would be accursed! ALL ministers of God, the God of the Bible, are absolutely under, subject to, emissaries for the word of God, both written, as it is His, and incarnate who endorsed it as it was and would be known (Matthew 5:17-20, John 14:26).


In Galatians 1 then, we learn that the Gospel is of supernatural origin, authority and is indefeasible. Paul is not an agent to bargain between God and man, and if He were He would be a fraud. Not the servant of man to God but of God to man, is he, and his integrity rests in this point. NO representation to God will  alter the Gospel. On this see further. When a mixture kills, love warns as it may, and the medicine of immortality, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, inviolable in itself, but often violated by various mutations, is shown apart from computations, contradistinct from the offerings of man. It is like a map showing enemy trenches. If you do not care to check, then results accrue. Paul to the Ephesians elders made clear the dangers of many other paths, like so many mouths (which brings us back for a moment to the computation side), threatening the flock. Bad trees produce bad fruit. These are not only a testimonial to the state of the tree, but may kill others who choose to eat them.

Paul in speaking to the Ephesians elders, speaks to us all (bold added):


"I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God , which He purchased with His own blood.

"For I know this, that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you,
not sparing the flock.

"Also from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves."

Be not deceived therefore, or rest in any false confidence, but as the word of God speaks, listen, as the Bible declares, heed; and when another voice is added, that of man, whether one or many, remember always that another teacher than Christ, or Father than His everlasting Father is prohibited (Matthew 23:8-10). We relay and create in the Gospel, NOTHING (Proverbs 30:6, II Timothy 2:2). Another Gospel, says Paul, is not another; it is merely misnamed. Whatever anyone says or does, and whatever false Gospel source may be conceived or consulted - and there are many such (cf. Errors), there is one God, one Master, one Gospel, everlasting and invariant, one Word of God (Galatians 1, I Corinthians 2:9-13, cf. Barbs ... 17), one way to come home to the Father (John 14:6, Acts 4:11-12), ONE name, one Teacher, and "all you are brethren."


NOTE: See on the Inquisition also - Ancient Words and Modern Events Ch. 14.