In the Year of Our Lord, 1560, The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, met in Córdoba, Spain, to consider a case of manifest apostasy. The issue had drifted on for over two years, and all of Europe eagerly awaited the outcome. The fortunes of many, especially in England, would depend on the verdict.

Elizabeth I had been Queen for only a year and she had daily transcripts delivered to her. The whole affair, which became known as “la evaluación de Milly”, transfixed the English court and in English taverns and hostels, little else was discussed.

Some of the letters from Córdoba to the Queen have survived and an early one describing the commencement of the Inquisition on the 14th June is particularly poignant.

“The Tribunal met, as was its custom, in the Prison of the Inquisition, Córdoba. The Inquisitors, awesomely adorned in robes of high office, sat, all five of them, on a raised dais at the east end of the building under magnificent stained windows. They called for the prisoner and the poor wretch was dragged before them. They asked his name and if he had knowledge of the crime with which he was charged.

He spoke through the blood that was dribbling from his mouth and was barely audible. “Dugdale, Eminence. I am an innocent man and have committed no crime”

The assembled crowd gasped and some, despite the danger of committing the act, uttered the forbidden word. “Damo!”. The multitude could not restrain themselves and spat at him, “Heretic, Fraud.” They called for his death at the stake.

The bailiff called for order and read out the charge. “Damian Dugdale, you stand accused of the heinous and vile crime of Apostasy and Heresy in that you, on various days, did utter, on the Villa Blog, the treasonable opinion that James Milner, professional footballer employed by Aston Villa, was not worth twelve million duckets. How do you plead? Damo raised his head and spoke “I am an innocent man.”

The leading judge, The High Inquisitor, spoke to him softly, “Dugdale, I have read your blasphemies. You said it was too much to pay for a winger – God forgive you! Why even Lord Ferguson of Lancaster has opined that Milner is worth thrice that sum. Our very own Camarero Gordo, Duke of Scouse, has offered to purchase this man for twenty five million duckets. How can you deny your crime?

Dugdale sobbed piteously. “I always said he’d make a wicked central midfield, Your Eminence. I pray you, mercy”

Ten days later another letter tells us of the verdict.

“Dugdale, it is the verdict of this Tribunal that you are guilty of a great heresy and you will be sorely punished for it. The Bailiff has recommended you should be burned alive at the stake, but your crime is too great for such an act of mercy. We sentence you to stand on the terrace at St. Andrews on match days for no less than fifteen fixtures. On these occasions you will paint your nose blue. Let the people of Europe know we will not tolerate these despicable fictions to be spoken among the great footballing nations of our domain.

I caution visitors and bloggers to guard their tongues in the pursuit of the great and glorious truths of O’Neill.