The original hardback edition, 1984

      The original hardback edition, 1984

This book, with the title The Inquisition: The Hammer of Heresy, was my first full-length book, published in 1984 by The Aquarian Press (part of the Thorsons Publishing Group) under the guidance of the excellent editor Michael Cox - alas no longer with us - who also became a good friend. It has seen several reprints, and several US editions, including one by Dover, New York, in 1993. It was also translated into Spanish as Los Segretos de la Inquisition (Barcelona: Martínes Roca, 1988) and into Chinese as 宗教裁判所:异端之锤 (Beijing: Liaoning Education Press, July 2001). It was well received, used in many university history courses - even in China - and was continuously in print into the new century. It is gratifying to find it cited in theWikipedia article on the Inquisition as well as in several bibliographies of more recent books. 

Alastair Hamilton, a scholar of the Inquisition writing in The Times Literary Supplement, found errors of interpretation and criticised the lack of original research (Henry Kamen also criticised the lack of use of primary sources), but this was supposed to be a popular book based on serious sources and although there was no manuscript work involved many of the printed primary sources were in fact used. Nothing more. Even Professor Hamilton agreed that it serves its purpose as a popular history, and observes: “One of the problems in writing about the Inquisition is the historiography of the past, the prejudices and convictions of the historians who dealt with the subject in the last century and transmitted valuable material which has since disappeared. Edward Burman is, on the whole, objective." That seems to me high praise.

                          The Chinese edition 

                         The Chinese edition 

In pre-Internet days as far as serious research was concerned, it was based on library reading in the major European languages in the Seeley Historical Library in Cambridge and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. The original edition was footnoted, but in the new one in preparation as an e-book the footnotes have been left out to make the book easier to read. It will, however, contain the full original Bibliography of works consulted, where the books of authors mentioned in the text may be found. I shall not add website references, but fortunately for new writers on the subject most of the primary sources are now available online.

The text has been lightly edited and corrected, but remains substantially the same. It seems to me that nothing essential has changed in the story since then in spite of recent specialised research which I see mentioned from time to time. But I have cut some phrases in the final chapter which prompted unfavourable comments from reviewers who were also Christian believers.

The most useful brief guide in English to the history of the Inquisition.
— Times Literary Supplement, 1984
There are excellent items on ‘The Inquisition’ in the major encyclopaedias, but so far no general studies beyond those by Turberville, over 60 years ago. The present book is an honest, reliable summary, based only on secondary sources, of all aspects of the inquisitorial phenomenon from the beginnings of heresy repression in the thirteenth century to the demise of the Spanish Inquisition in the nineteenth, with a final section on the Roman index of the twentieth century. Burman has used all the standard studies and has created a fair outline with few obvious errors.
— Henry Kamen, History