The inquisition was established by the papacy in during the Middle Ages. Their mission was to seek out, try, and sentence persons guilty of heresy. In the early church the usual penalty for heresy was excommunication. But as the need for the church to eliminate heretics increased so did the penaalty.
In 1478 that need to eliminate heretics increased. The Spanish Inquisition was approved by Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I. The Roman Catholic Church then set out to seek out and punish heretics. Working in secret, the inquisitors often misused their power. Many people were tortured and killed. The most sought out of groups were Jews, Muslims and Protestants. These people were imprisoned without hearing the charges against them, and kept in stinking dungeons, dark and vermin infested, alone with their excrement. Few people criicized the inquisition and the actions of the church but it slowly died donw during the 1500's.