There are few events in history more misunderstood and misrepresented than the Spanish Inquisition. The numbers of people supposedly killed by “the Catholic Church” grows every year…50 million, 95 million. Never mind that the number killed is larger than the population of Europe at the time, just pull out a number–the bigger it is the more people are likely to believe the Black Legend. Here’s a good article by a reputable historian which briefly explains the historical context for the Inquisition and in particular the reason the Spanish Inquisition is so reviled. This brief article and this longer article give more background and explain the relationship between the Spanish state and the Catholic Church. The best way to learn the facts about the Spanish Inquisition is to take time to watch the BBC documentary posted here. You can watch all five parts on YouTube.
I should say that I’m not whitewashing the Inquisition. That one person endured any form of torture or was killed by overzealous Catholics is terrible. However, facts are facts. Those who want to know the truth and understand the Spanish Inquisition and how it compares to other things going on in Europe at the same time should watch this BBC documentary. BTW–Lest I be accused of bias–all my links are to non-Catholic sources.