By the beginning of the second millennium, Christianity was so dominant in Europe that non-Christians such as Jews or Muslims had virtually no rights, although they were allowed to live and function within Christian society. Unbelievers or agnostics, considered heretics, were subject to persecution. Christian society was so authoritarian that the process of seeking out infidels and heretics created great abuses. So early in the 13th century, the Church created a permanent tribunal manned by Dominican friars to control abuses of power. But the tribunal, which became known as the Inquisition, only made things worse, allowing church courts to scrap principles of trial law in the endless search for heretics. To be accused of religious wrongdoing amounted to proof of guilt, and the accused could be tortured as part of the process or jailed until either admitting guilt or denouncing others. (This tactic reappeared during the Salem witch trials of the 17th century, and again during the Communist “witch hunt” led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.) Only a small percentage of those tried were actually put to death, ut many were imprisoned and forced to hand over money and possessions to the tribunal, which led to further abuse of the process.
St. Augustine’s concept of the “just war” held that war was justifiable if it was waged at the implicit command of God, and subsequent popes developed the notion that death in battle for the sake of the Church would result in heavenly rewards similar to those for martyrdom — a concept shared by Muslims today. These beliefs created a fertile theological ground for the Crusades. The large armed escorts sent to accompany pilgrims to the Holy Land with Muslims approval often ended up murdering Muslims, Jews, and even other Christians, and engaged in looting and gratuitous destruction. The First Crusade was set in motion by Pope Urban II in 1095; the crusaders set out and took Jerusalem in 1099. The Second Crusade in 1147, led by King Louis VII of France and Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III, was a failure. Forty years later, Saladin took Jerusalem back from the Christians, instigating the Third Crusade by the three principal monarchs of Europe, Including Richard the Lionhearted. They failed to capture Jerusalem, but worked out a truce with Saladin allowing passage to the Holy Land. The Fourth Crusade was carried out not against Muslims but the Eastern Orthodox of Constantinople in 1204. It succeeded in permanently alienating the Greek and other Orthodox from the Roman Church.
In Spain, Tom6s de Torquemada was named Grand Inquisitor in 1483, and persecution not only increased, but also was aimed at the Jews, who were expelled from Spain in 1492. The Spanish Inquisition continued to operate in one form or another into the 19th century, stopping only after it ran out of money as wealthy targets of confiscation began to dwindle.