Don Quixote: Pioneer of Religious Freedom – Learn Liberty

Don Quixote is also about freedom of
religious conscious the freedom to think or believe what you want in your head. That’s the first amendment
to the US Constitution. The founders knew this. Freedom of religion, freedom of press, that’s all about
the freedom of what goes on in here. The founders knew that without that
freedom, all the others are worthless. How do we know it’s
about religious freedom? Because Don Quixote is all about
criticizing the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes Hated the Spanish Inquisition. What’s the Spanish Inquisition? It’s a bunch of dudes who go around
the country burning people who don’t conform to Catholic Orthodoxy. They are burning people for thinking ideas that the Spanish
Inquisition decides are threatening. Now, Don Quixote is driven mad
by reading books of chivalry. His friends want to save him. They want to cure his insanity,
they’re worried about him. So, they go into his library and
start pulling down his books. What do they do with the ones
they think are driving him crazy? They burn them. They burn them like the Inquisition. Sometimes they aren’t sure. Well, we need to think about this one,
they put it over here. Other times they’re quite
sure that that’s bad. And what’s really sad about
the way they burn his library is they start off trying to be precise,
trying to have rules for distinguishing between heretics and
non-heretics. The problem is they very
quickly get out of hand and end up burning all of his books. So, all of his books go to the flames. If the inquisition is supposed
to only burn heretics, what Cervantes is telling us
is that it inevitably fails. You can’t open a person’s brain. You can’t open a person’s mind like a book
and figure out what they’re thinking and figure out whether or
not they’re heretics. So, you end up burning innocent people,
inevitably. It’s the essence of the novel. It’s a big deal. It’s about freedom. It’s beautiful and it’s brilliant. Cervantes is actually doing
something very dangerous. But he does it in such a comical,
farcical way. And he does it in such a subtle
way that no one caught it. The Inquisition couldn’t figure out where
to start censoring, what to censor. They were stuck, they were stuck with it. So Don Quixote is all about religious
freedom, freedom to your own ideas, freedom to think what you want. We all have a right to our
own thoughts and beliefs, and that’s what this novel is about. If you want to keep learning about
the ideas related to liberty, subscribe to Learn Liberty. If you are interested in
this beautiful novel and see more videos about how Don Quixote
has to do with freedom, click here and enroll in the University of
Francisco Marroquin MOOC on Don Quixote.

7 thoughts on “Don Quixote: Pioneer of Religious Freedom – Learn Liberty

  • This was a good video. However, burning was one of the least common punishments during they Catholic-led portion of the Inquisition. Most often the punishment was building a church or going on a pilgrimage. It was only when the Spanish state stepped in that most of the torture and atrocities took place. Like the state so often does, it hijacked religious doctrine to justify persecuting political opposition. So while I believe the idea of the inquisition was ridiculous from the start, it's important to note Cervantes' anger was mostly directed at the Spanish government and not at the Church. Just some food for thought. 🙂

  • The inquisition killed between 3000 to 5000 people over the course of 350 years. Nothing too big when you look into the time period. Less than burning anyone who disagreed with them, they were more like Catholic censors, and technically couldn't do anything to those not claiming to be Christian.

  • whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence. Whensoever therefore the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society; and either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who. have a right to resume their original liberty………. John Locke ….

  • Cervantes' position on religious freedom was, in my opinion, more influenced by the Islamic Caliphate than the inquisition. Cervantes fought on the side of the Catholic Church against the Muslims in the Battle of Lepanto where he was permanently maimed earning him the nickname "El Manco de Lepanto". Cervantes was kidnapped with his brother and held for ransom by Muslims in Morocco for over 5 years. It was the Catholic Church (The Trinitarian order to be exact) that raised the funds to pay for Cervantes' ransom because his parents were only able to raise enough ransom money for his brother's release. Cervantes' appreciation and loyalty to the Catholic Church was such that he requested to be buried in the habit of the Third Order for the Trinitarians (The Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of Captives), and in his will asked that his remains be kept in the Trinitarian monastery. His remains were found in the basement of a Trinitarian convent in Spain less than a year ago.

  • Cornell University professor Maria Antonia Garces' book "Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive's Tale" gives a very thorough analysis of the impact of captivity on his writing. Perhaps this was more of an impact than the Spanish Inquisition.

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