The Roman Inquisition was a system of tribunals developed by the Holy See during the second half of the 16th century, responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of a wide array of crimes related to heresy, including sorcery, blasphemy, Judaizing and witchcraft, as well for censorship of printed literature. The tribunals covered most of the Italian peninsula as well as Malta and also existed in isolated pockets of papal jurisdiction in other parts of Europe, including Avignon, in France. The Congregation of the Holy Office, one of the original 15 congregations of the Roman Curia created by Pope Sixtus V in 1588, presided over the activity of the local tribunals. While the Roman Inquisition was originally designed to combat the spread of Protestantism in Italy, the institution outlived its original purpose, and the system of tribunals lasted until the mid 18th century, when the Italian states began to suppress the local inquisitions, effectively eliminating the power of the church to prosecute heretical crimes.
Roman Inquisition in "But It Does Move"
In 1633 the Roman Inquisition required Galileo Galilei to travel to Rome to be questioned on suspicion of heresy. Galilei became a prisoner in a palace used by the Inquisition during the course of their investigation. While fearful, he did acknowledge to himself that his quarters in the palace proper were substantially better than the dungeons in the basement that could have been his residence.