Coffee Pot Book Tour: M. Lynes / Blood Libel


Excited to host a Coffee Pot Book Tour stop for M. Lynes Blood Libel. We have a guest post that is sure to whet your appetite for this novel set during the Spanish Inquisition.

The Details:

Blood Libel by M Lynes
Publication Date: 31st January 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 260 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery

Author Bio:

Michael is an author of historical mysteries who writes under the pen name of M Lynes. He has a particular interest in early 16th century Andalucia. He is fascinated by the interplay between cultures, globalization and religious intolerance of that period in Spain’s history. The ‘Isaac Alvarez Mysteries’ are set against this rich background. He won a prize for his fiction at the 2020 Emirates Literature Festival and is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course. 

His debut novel ‘Blood Libel’, the first full-length Isaac Alvarez Mystery, was published in January 2021. Isaac, a lawyer working for the royal estate, must solve a brutal child murder to protect his family and his faith from the Spanish Inquisition. 

Michael is hard at work on the second novel in the series and planning the third. He is originally from London but currently lives in Dubai with his family. 

Connect with Michael:

 Website • Twitter • Facebook

 The Blurb:

Seville, 1495 

The mutilated body of a child is discovered behind a disused synagogue. The brutal Spanish Inquisition accuses the Jewish community of ritual child murder - the ‘blood libel’. The Inquisition will not rest until all heretics are punished. 

Isaac Alvarez, a lawyer working for the royal estate, is a reluctant convert to Catholicism who continues to secretly practice Judaism. When his childhood friend is accused of the murder Isaac is torn between saving him and protecting his family. Isaac is convinced that solving the murder will disprove the blood libel, save his family, and protect his faith. 

As the Inquisition closes in how far will Isaac go to protect both his family and his faith?

Guest Post:

Effect of the Inquisition on society in Seville – M Lynes 

Blood Libel explores the impact of the Spanish Inquisition on a family of conversos. In the Catholic Kingdoms of late medieval Spain repressive policies and attitudes forced many Jews to convert to Christianity. These conversos were suspected of continuing to practice Judaism in secret. Powerful Christian families were suspicious, and they were accused of poisoning wells and abducting children. They were labelled ‘crypto-Jews’, or even worse marranos, meaning swine. The religious establishment sought to save the souls of these heretics by persuading them to return to the right path.

Friar Alonso de Hojeda, a Dominican Friar from Seville, convinced King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile of the existence of crypto-Judaism in 1478. As a direct consequence the Spanish Inquisition was instituted in 1481 and a royal decree in 1483 expelled the Jews from Spain. Tomás de Torquemada, Queen Isabella’s confessor, was appointed as ‘Grand Inquisitor of All Spain’. Pope Sixtus assented to the formation of ‘The Holy Office of the Propagation of the Faith’ as he required continued Spanish military support to defeat the Ottoman Empire.


Real Alcazar, the Royal Palace

The Inquisition announced itself by issuing an ‘Edict of Grace’ posted on the Cathedral door. This invited citizens to relieve their consciences by attending the tribunals of the Inquisition and denouncing the heresies of their fellows. The Church would, in its great benevolence, afford citizens thirty days’ grace in which to offer information to avoid severe punishment. If someone failed to make use of this grace period, and was later accused of heresy, they would be severely punished. Heretics were not allowed to face their accusers, received no legal representation and were often falsely accused. 

In Blood Libel Isaac explains the impact of the Edict of Grace to his son, Gabriel: 

“ 'So, you don’t think it would be fair if Catalina were to publish a notice regarding your failure to follow her instructions and ask the neighbours to tell us if there were any other bad things that you had done? And to tell them that if they didn’t let us know of your misdemeanors, they themselves might be punished?'

      'No. Papa, that’s unfair. That is too much, and my friends might start making things up just for fun or to get revenge on me. Pedro has still not forgiven me for stealing his apple and ....,'

      Isaac ignores the admission and continues, 'If Catalina were to take such a course of action, this would be “disproportionate”?'

      'Yes if “disportionate” means too much, yes it’s very disportionate.'

      'And that, my dear Gabriel, is what an Edict of Grace is: a disproportionate response to a crime, inviting neighbours and friends to tell tales against each other, with a threat to punish them if they do not. It turns friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour and tears families apart. It is one of the worst things.' ” (p55) 

The Inquisition used torture to elicit confessions and delivered judgment at public ceremonies known as autos da fe, ‘acts of faith’, before they gave their victims over to the secular authorities for punishment. During the first auto da fe some thirty-thousand men, women, and children, were condemned to death and burnt alive. Their gruesome fate was intended to set an example to others. In 1480 Jews in Seville were forced into ghettos separated by walls from Christians. The most well-known former ghetto in Seville is Barrio Santa Cruz. In 1481 more than 20,000 conversos confessed to heresy and were forced to name other heretics. Hundreds of conversos were burned at the stake.


Barrio Santa Cruz

 After fifteen years as Spain's Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada died at the monastery of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ávila in 1498. His tomb was allegedly ransacked in 1832, his bones stolen and ritually incinerated in the same manner as at an auto-da-fé.1 The Spanish Inquisition was not finally abolished until 1834. The decree expelling the Jews from Spain was only formally rescinded by the Spanish government in 1968. 

The effect of the Inquisition on the Jews in Seville was a litany of suffering, continual fear, religious suppression and murder. Blood Libel attempts to recreate that experience by examining the lives of one family. I hope this will resonate with many modern readers.

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