The Spanish Inquisition (Monty Python)

From Academic Kids

The Spanish Inquisition was one of the most popular Monty Python sketches. The principal catchphrase in this sketch was "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

Nobody in their right mind could have expected this form of Spanish Inquisition, in which the inquisitors proceed to use such extremities of torture as poking with soft cushions and forcible seating in a comfy chair as a means of forcing a heretic (a housewife) to recant. This Inquisition has a hard time starting to inquisit, as they get bogged down in recitations of their chief weapons, among which are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms. (Listen: 15 seconds audio sample .ogg file.)

This was a recurring sketch, always predicated by an unrelated sketch in which one character, expressing irritation at being questioned by another, would announce "I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition!" At this point the Inquisition, consisting of Cardinal Ximinez (Michael Palin), Cardinal Biggles (Terry Jones), and Cardinal Fang (Terry Gilliam) would burst into the room and Ximinez would shout, with particular emphasis on the first syllable, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" This has become a fairly widespread catchphrase.

In the original Monty Python's Flying Circus TV episode (episode 15), the Spanish Inquisition makes several "unexpected" appearances, until at the very end of the show they were caught by surprise. As the closing credits roll the Inquisitors race to where they weren't expected, only to arrive just as the words THE END appear, Ximinez crying "Nobody expects the Sp...oh, bugger!" (which, incidentally, was a pretty strong word for a BBC comedy show at the time).

This sketch may have been an inspiration for "the Inquisition" portion of the movie History of the World Part I.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" appeared as an In-joke in a Batman comic book; Robin is fighting desperately against terrible odds when Batgirl unexpectedly arrives to help. After the villains are safely dispatched, in the panel at the bottom right corner of the page Robin unleashes a barrage of questions at Batgirl, asking "What are you doing here? Why did you come? How did you know where I was?" and so on, causing the overwhelmed Batgirl to reply with "Hey, slow down, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" When the reader turns the page, the first panel on the next page features the Spanish Inquisition arriving on horseback, shouting "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!". In a clever bit of plot twisting, this unlikely event was actually worked in as a rational part of the overall plot.

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