The Goa Inquisition was the office of the Inquisition acting in the Indian state of Goa and the rest of the Portuguese empire in Asia. It was established in 1560, briefly suppressed from 1774–1778, and finally abolished in 1812. The Goan Inquisition is considered a blot on the history of Roman Catholicism in India. Based on the records that survive, H. P. Salomon and I. S. D. Sassoon state that between the Inquisition's beginning in 1561 and its temporary abolition in 1774, some 16,202 persons were brought to trial by the Inquisition. Of this number, it is known that 57 were sentenced to death and executed in person; another 64 were burned in effigy. Others were subjected to lesser punishments or penance, but the fate of many of those tried by the Inquisition is unknown.
The Inquisition was established to punish apostate New Christians—Jews and Muslims who converted to Catholicism, as well as their descendants—who were now suspected of practicing their ancestral religion in secret.
In Goa, the Inquisition also turned its attention to Indian converts from Hinduism or Islam who were thought to have returned to their original ways. In addition, the Inquisition prosecuted non-converts who broke prohibitions against the observance of Hindu or Muslim rites or interfered with Portuguese attempts to convert non-Christians to Catholicism.
While its ostensible aim was to preserve the Catholic faith, the Inquisition was used against Indian Catholics and Hindus and also against Portuguese settlers from Europe (mostly New Christians and Jewish but also Old Christians) as an instrument of social control, as well as a method of confiscating property and enriching the Inquisitors.
Most of the Goa Inquisition's records were destroyed after its abolition in 1812, and it is thus impossible to know the exact number of those put on trial and the punishments they were proscribed.
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