Drunken Torturer…A Note on the Etymology Behind the Name “Torquemada”
I just discovered something really creepy concerning Tomas de Torquemada, noted inquisitor-general of the Spanish Inquisition. (Basically, he was an extremely paranoid old friar who believed legions of Jewish and Muslim spies were treacherously undermining the Catholic faith in Spain. This paranoia led to hundreds of people getting tied to burning stakes.) Well, as it turns out, his surname is related to the Latin verb “torqueo (torquere, torsi, tortum)”. Cassell’s Latin-English dictionary lists the definitions of “torqueo” as: to twist, wind, curl, wrench; to distort; to hurl violently, whirl; to rack, torture, torment, plague, try, test.
Now there’s irony.
Being an educated Catholic clergyman and all, Torquy might have even been aware of the Latin meaning of his name. I wonder if he would have turned out any different had his surname been Dominguez or something.
I investigated to see if the “-mada” part of his name meant anything in Latin, but all I could find was the verb “madeo, madere,” which means “to be drunk” (among other things).
On a side note, there is a conquistador with the name “de la Vaca,” or: “of the cow.”