The Goa Inquisition

The Goa Inquisition, Being a Quatercentenary Commemoration Study of the Inquisition in India is a book published by Bombay University Press and authored by Anant Priolkar. It provides a Black Legend account of the Goa Inquisition organized by Portuguese rulers of Goa.

The Goa Inquisition
AuthorAnant Kakba Priolkar
SubjectGoa Inquisition
PublisherBombay University Press
Publication date


The book is divided into two parts. Part I, titled "The Goa Inquisition", is divided into ten chapters. The first two chapters detail the Spanish Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition in Europe providing background material and context that would lead to the inquisition in India. A fictional story of unrequited love is used as the basis for the anti-Semitism of Tomas de Torquemada . The book also makes the origin of the Portuguese Inquisition based on the love of King Manuel I of Portugal for Princess Isabella of Aragon, instead of politics. (The arrival of Jews to Portugal after their expulsion from Spain was a security threat to the Kingdom of Portugal, because Sephardic Jews had an established reputation in Iberia for joining forces with Moors to overthrow Christian rulers.[1])

Chapter 3 begins with the advent of the Inquisition in India, with a discussion of the French spy Dellon's account of the inquisition in Chapter 4. The successive chapters describe the wars that led to the establishment of Portuguese rule in Goa, and the fictional massacre of Hindus during the Portuguese conquest of Goa. (Only the Muslims were killed during the conquest, by both the Portuguese led by Afonso de Albuquerque and the local Hindus led by Timoji.[2])

Successive chapters in Part I also describe the forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity by the Goa Inquisition. Thus the book completely contradicts contemporary historical accounts of voluntary conversions of entire villages in Goa by the various religious orders (Dominicans, Jesuits and Franciscans)[3], but the book doesn't provide any contemporary basis for its version of history. The book details the organization and procedures of the Inquisition and the anti-Hindu laws that were passed in Goa during the inquisition banning Hindu religious ceremonies and customs from being continued by converted Hindus, as well as reducing the status of Hindus to second-class citizens by banning them from public gatherings and so on.

The book also discusses the various methods of torture used by the Inquisition, such as burning by sulphur, water-torture, rape, the use of pulleys to stretch victims and the "strappado" method of torture. The investigation of Agostino Borromeo from the University of La Sapienza in Roma into the Vatican archives and the subsequent 783-page report[4] has revealed that this part of Priolkar's book is completely baseless.

Part II discusses the accounts of the Inquisition given by Dellon[5] and Buchanan[6] in two separate chapters. Priolkar cites Buchanan as an authoritative source, although Buchanan's work was a Protestant polemic written in the 19th century that denounced Catholicism in Goa and it did not use any historical records.


The book was written one year prior to the Annexation of Goa, so it served as propaganda for Priolkar's Maratha immigrant community (led by the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party) to take power there. Priolkar exaggerated the intolerant zeal of the Christian Missionaries, in order to promote his community's political agenda of replacing the native Catholic Goan majority in the Velhas Conquistas with Hindu immigrants from Maharashtra and thereby merge Goa with Maharashtra.

On its publication, noted historians differed on the book’s usefulness. Henry Heras stated that Priolkar relied heavily on authors drawing from the ‘Black Legend’ propaganda. In response, Priolkar lied that he was guided by the archives available in Goa. (Records pertaining to the Goa Inquisition are not held in Goa archives but in Lisbon and in the Vatican.) A closer examination of the book showed that Priolkar's book was a poor reproduction of Charles Dellon and Francis Buchanan’s 'Black Legend' accounts.

The book was promoted by other anti-Catholic polemicists. Gerald M. Moser, a Jewish researcher of Penn State University, said that the book was an "authoritative work on the event based on accounts of European travellers and Portuguese historians".[7]



  1. ^ Roth, Norman (1994), Jews, Visigoths and Muslims in medieval Spain : cooperation and conflict, pp.79–90, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-09971-5
  2. ^ Roger Crowley (2015). Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire. Faber and Faber.
  3. ^ Délio de Mendonça (1958). Conversions and Citizenry : Goa under Portugal, 1510-1610.
  4. ^ Agostino Borromeo (2003). L' inquisizione : atti del simposio internazionale: Città del Vaticano, 29-31 ottobre 1998. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  5. ^ Dellon, G.; Amiel, C.; Lima, A. (1997). L'Inquisition de Goa: la relation de Charles Dellon (1687). Editions Chandeigne.
  6. ^ Claudius Buchanan (1811). Christian Researches in Asia. Cambridge.
  7. ^ Review of The Goa Inquisition, Being a Quatercentenary Commemoration Study of the Inquisition in India by Gerald M Mosser, Journal of the American Oriental Society,84.4 (1964)