Friday, February 03, 2006

The Inquisition in 17th Century Peru

The Inquisition in 17th Century Peru - The Spanish Inquisition claimed many victims in Europe. However, what most people do not know is that the Inquisition was also carried out in Spanish territories around the world.

The text of this report of the Inquisition in South America (Peru) is provided by the Modern History Sourcebook. It is from the book by Henry C. Lea (1829-1909) The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies from 1908.

The Inquisition in Peru would appear to have concentrated on the discovery of Jews who coverted to Catholicism who were suspected of going back to the Jewish faith. No mention of witch hysteria is noted in this text. Although not noted on this page, natives who refused to become Christians also suffered at the hands of the Inquisition in Peru.

From the site:

The most serious business of the tribunal, in the line of its proper functions, was with the apostasy of the Jewish New Christians. From the very foundation of the colonies . . . restrictions were laid on the emigration of Conversos and a law of 1543, preserved in the Recopilacion, orders that search be made for all descendants of Jews who were to be rigorously expelled. In spite, however, of the jealous care observed to preserve the colonies from all danger of Jewish infection, the commercial attractions were so powerful that the New Christians eluded all precautions. At first, however, they occupied but a small portion of the energies of the tribunal. . . . The first appearance of Jews is in the auto of October 29, 1581, when Manuel Upez, a Portuguese, was reconciled with confiscation and perpetual prison, and Diego de la Rosa, described as a native of Quito, was required to abjure de levi and was exiled - showing that the evidence against him was very dubious. . . .

The conquest of Portugal, in 1580, had led to a large emigration to Castile, where Portuguese soon became synonymous with Judaizer, and this was beginning to make itself manifest in the colonies. The auto of December 17, 1595, gave impressive evidence of this. Five Portuguese - Juan Méndez, Antonio Núñez, Juan López, Francisco Báez and Manuel Rodriguez - were reconciled. Another, Herman Jorje, had died during trial and his memory was not prosecuted.

There were also four martyrs. Jorje Núñez, denied until he was tied upon the rack; he then confessed and refused to be converted, but after his sentence of relaxation was read he weakened and was strangled before burning. Francisco Rodríguez endured torture without confessing; when threatened with repetition he endeavored unsuccessfully to commit suicide; he was voted to relaxation with torture in caput alienum, and under it he accused several persons but revoked at ratification. He was pertinacious to the last and was burnt alive. Juan Fernández was relaxed, although insane; the Suprema expressed doubts whether he had intelligence enough to render him responsible. Pedro de Contreras had been tortured for confession and again in caput alienum; he denied Judaism throughout and was relaxed as a negativo; at the auto he manifested great devotion to a crucifix and presumably was strangled; in all probability he was really a Christian. . . .

1 comment:

Rodrigo de Piérola C. said...

I do not want to say "only", because any wrong death is wrong, but for all its alleged rampant brutality, the Inquisition in Peru, in its almost 300 years, sent for execution (for the Inquisition itself could not do it) only 34 people. I'm sure that Peruvian civil judges killed far more people under even more dubious circumstances; ditto for any civil judges in any country for such a period.
Still 34 may be 34 too many.