Early Modern Inquisition Database

The Early Modern Inquisition Database is an ongoing project to register trials from the Spanish, Portuguese and Roman Inquisitions. As of October 2021 it contains more than 108.000 entries with information on  100.000 trials from Portugal and Spain.

The first version of the database is planned to be released in the first half of 2022.


The first detailed statistical study of the Spanish Inquisition was the brainchild of Gustav Henningsen. Together with Jaime Contreras he registered 40.000 trials from the case summaries known as relaciones de causas, and supplemented these with data from Jean-Pierre Dedieu to publish a statistic of 44.000 trials. The resulting physical card index file had a basic statistical purpose, in accordance with the Inquisitorial historiography and the limited technical resources of that time. It was case-typological, and every trial record was therefore reduced to date (or year), court, main offence and sentence class. Most notably, defendants’ names and gender were excluded.

The EMID is the initiative of Gunnar W. Knutsen who started registering trial data from the Spanish Inquisition in a database in 1997. Using the index cards provided by Gustav Henningsen as a starting point he expanded the registration to a wider range of data and added more information from dispersed sources.

In 2011 this was supplemented by data from Jean-Pierre Dedieu’s registration of trials from Toledo, and the information was migrated to a new database structure originally designed by Dedieu.

In 2013 Mauricio Drelichman became involved in the work, and the decision was made to replace all the data registered by Henningsen and Contreras by registering everything from the start again from the original sources; so as to include names and details on proceedings, in accordance with newer historiographical guidelines. By so doing, the EMID shifted the emphasis of the database from statistical purposes to a documentary tool which made possible a far broader range of analysis

Since 2013 data on tens of thousands of trials has been registered by researchers and research assistants working in the AHN. At the hight of activity five people were working full time in the archive. The work is still in progress in this and other archives.

In 2015 data on more than 31.000 trials in the Portuguese Inquisition was added from the records of the Portuguese National Archives. Cleaning and coding of this data is ongoing.

After registration the registered trials are checked for errors, and duplicates are coded so that the various sources point to a single registered instance of a trial. Complicities, multiple trials, and family relationships between defendants are also registered. This is time consuming work that will have to be completed before the publication of EMID.


The EMID does not have permanent independent financing, and is dependent on the participants’ discretionary funding and money from research projects that use data from the database in order to continue the registration process. The Hosting and maintenance of the EMID is funded by the University of Bergen. The following researchers and institutions have at some point contributed resources to produce data that is currently part of EMID:

Research Council of Norway (RCN)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS): Institut d’Asie Orientale and Huma-Num

Telemark University College

University of Bergen

University of British Columbia Hampton Fund

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Hans-Joachim Voth


EMID contains data that has been produced by the following persons and institutions:

Gunnar W. Knutsen

Gustav Henningsen

Jean Pierre Dedieu

Mauricio Drelichman

Ignacio Sánchez Ayuso

Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo

David González Agudo

Ana Vargas Martínez