The Inquisition Arrests a Dead Horse.

An apparently true story about the Spanish Inquisition.

The GREAT RED DRAGON; or the Master-Key to Popery

formerly one of the Roman Catholic Priests of Saragossa, Spain

Published by Samuel Jones, 86 Washington Street, Boston, 1854
Sixtieth Edition

pages 190-192

Of the Order of the Inquisitors to arrest an Horse,

and to bring him to the Holy Office.

The case well deserves my trouble in giving full a account of it; so I will explain it from the beginning to the end. The rector of the university of Saragossa has his own officers to arrest the scholars, and punish them if they commit any crime. Among their officers there was one called Guadalaxara, who was mighty officious and troublesome to the collegians or students; for upon the least thing in the world he arrested them. The scholars did not love him at all, and contrived how they should punish him, or to play some comical tricks upon him.

At last, some of the strongest agreed to be at the bottom the steeple of the university in the evening, and six of them in the belfry, who were to let down a lusty young scholar, tied with a strong rope, at hearing the word war. So the scholars that were in the yard, and at the bottom of the steeple, picked a quarrel purposely to bring Guadalaxara there, and when he was already among them, arresting one, they cried out war. At which sign the six in the steeple let down the tied scholar, who taking in his arms Guadalaxara, and being pulled up by the six, he carried him almost 20 feet high, and let him fall down. The poor man was crying out, O Jesus! the Devil has taken me up. The students that were at the bottom had instruments of music, and put off their cloaks to receive him in, and as he cried out, the Devil, the Devil, the musicians answered him with the instruments, repeating the same words he pronounced himself, and with this, gathering together great numbers of scholars, they took him in the middle, continuing always with the music and songs, to prevent, by this, the people's taking notice of it, and everybody believed that it was only a mere scholastic diversion:

So, with this melody and rejoicings, they carried the troublesome Guadalaxara out of the gates of the city into the field, called the Burnt Place, because formerly the heretics were burnt in that field. There was a dead horse, and opening his belly, they tied the poor officer by the hands and legs, and placed him within the horse's belly, which they sewed, leaving the head of Guadalaxara out, under the tail of the horse, and so they went back into the city.

How dismal that night was to the poor man, anybody may imagine; but yet it was very sweet to him, in comparison to what he suffered in the morning; for the dogs going to eat of the dead horse's flesh, he, for fear they should eat of his head, continually cried out, ho! ho! perros, i.e., dogs, and that day he found that not only the scholars, but even the very dogs were afraid of him, for dogs did not dare approach the dead horse. The laborers of the city, who were a most ignorant sort of people, but very pleasant in their rustic expressions, going out to the field, by break of day, saw the dogs near the horse, and heard the voice, ho! ho!, perros. They looked up and down, and seeing nobody, drew near the horse, and hearing the same voice, frightened out of their senses, went into the city again, and gave out that a dead horse was speaking in the burnt field; and as they affirmed and swore the thing to be true, crowds of people went to see and hear the wonder, or, as many others said, the miracle of a dead horse speaking.

A notary public was among the mob, but no one dared to go near the horse. The notary went the inquisitors to make affidavit of this case, and added that no one having courage enough to approach the horse, it was proper to send some of the friars, with holy water and stola, to exorcise the horse, and find out the cause of his speaking. But the inquisitors who think to command beasts, as well as reasonable creatures, sent six of their officers, with strict orders, to carry the horse to the holy office. The officers having an opinion that the devil must submit to them, went, and approaching the horse, they saw the head under the tail, and the poor man crying out, help, take me out of this putrified grave; for God's sake, good people, make haste, for I am not the devil, nor ghost, nor apparition, but the real body and soul of Guadalaxara, the constable of the university; and I do renounce, in this place, the office of arresting scholars forever; and I do forgive them the wrong done to me, and thanks be to God, and to the Virgin of Pilar, who has preserved my body from being converted into a dead horse, that I am alive still.

These plain demonstrations of the nature of the thing did not convince, in the least, the officers of the inquisition, who are always very strict in the performance of the orders given them, so they took the dead horse and carried it to the inquisition. Never were more people seen in the streets and windows than on that day, besides the great crowd that followed the corpse, which I saw myself; the inquisitors having notice beforehand, went to the hall to receive the informations from the horse; and after they had asked him many questions, the poor man pushed up the tail with his nose to speak, to see, and to be seen, still answering them; the wise holy fathers trusting not to this information, gave orders to the officers to carry the speaking horse to the torture, which being done accordingly, as they began to turn the ropes through the horse belly, at the third turning of them the skin of the belly broke, and the real body of Guadalaxara appeared in all his dimensions, and by the horse's torture, he saved his life. The poor man died three weeks later, and he forgave the scholars who contrived this mischief, and an elegy was made on his death.

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