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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Persecution of the Jews: The inquisition of the church against the Jews 1481-1834

How criminal Catholic "Christian" church and the criminal Pope justified anonymous allegations against the Jews and New Christians with torture, degradation, and burning - and confiscation of the property

from: Inquisition; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 8

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)

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The Inquisition in the Spanish Colonies

12. The inquisition in the colonies of Spain: Mexico 1528-1820

[Only Christian with four generations of Christians behind are allowed to enter the colony]

<MEXICO. Greater still was the importance of the Conversos in the Spanish possessions in America. From 1502 to 1802 the Spanish crown and the pope issued numerous briefs aimed at prohibiting the entry of Jews and Moors to the New World. Anybody who arrived in the colonies had to prove that he was a Christian, with four generations of Christians behind him.

[Conversos in Mexico - foundation of the "Suprema" in Spain - stake at Mexico City in 1528]

Nevertheless numerous Conversos succeeded in settling in the New World. Thus in 1519, apostolic inquisitors were appointed for the American colonies by the "Suprema" in Spain, and in 1528 an auto-de-fé took place in Mexico City in which three Judaizers - among them a Converso "conquistador" or companion of Cortes, Hernando Alonso by name - lost their lives. Thereafter, activity was slight and only sporadic, though a New Christian named Francisco Millan was reconciled in 1539 and a couple of non-Judaizing heretics in the subsequent years.

[1571: Establishment of an own Inquisition tribunal in Mexico City - stake 1574 - inquisitor Alonso de Peralta - stake 1596]

In 1571, however, the zeal of Philip II secured the establishment in *Mexico of an independent tribunal for the purpose of "freeing the land, which has become contaminated by Jews and heretics, especially of the Portuguese nation." On Feb. 28, 1574, an auto-de-fé was conducted with great pomp. At this, only one New Christian appeared, but thereafter the number grew rapidly.

Activities, at first lukewarm, greatly increased with the appointment of Alonso de Peralta as inquisitor. On Dec. 8, 1596, there was a great auto-de-fé at which 66 penitents appeared. Of these, 41 were accused of Judaizing, 22 being reconciled, 10 burned in effigy, and nine in person. Of the latter, one was the illustrious Luis de *Carvajal, governor of the province of Nuevo León, who was burned alive as a relapsed heretic, together with his mother and five sisters.

[Stake 1601 - world connections of Portuguese crypto-Judaizers discovered]

On March 26, 1601, another great auto-de-fé took place, at which 124 penitents appeared and four were burned. In the preceding 25 years no less than 879 trials had taken place in all. After this date, however, there was a period of comparative quiescence for nearly half a century. Up to 1642, only about 20 more Judaizers were reconciled, one being relaxed in person as against six relaxed in effigy.

When in 1605 the general pardon for Judaizers of Portuguese extraction reached Mexico, there was only one to be liberated. However, the subsequent attempt to exterminate the Portuguese crypto-Judaizers in Spain led to the discovery of widespread connections in the New World.

[since 1642: New investigations - two stakes in 1648]

From 1642 there was a period of relentless activity. A mere child, Gabriel de *Granada, arrested in that year was made to give evidence against over 80 persons, including the whole of his own family (the record of his trial, published in AJHSP, 7 (1899), is among the most complete inquisitional records available in print in any language). In 1646, partly (col. 1392)

in consequence of these disclosures, 38 Judaizers were reconciled, bringing a very considerable profit to the coffers of the Inquisition, and 21 in the next year. In 1648, there were two autos-de-fé, in one of which eight Judaizers were penanced, eight reconciled, 21 burned in effigy and one in person; in the other 21 Judaizers figured, though no burnings took place.

[Stake 1649 - Marran connections discovered - effects against Judaizing - stakes in 1659 and in 1712]

The climax of the Mexican Inquisition was reached, however, in the great auto general of April 11, 1649 - the greatest known outside the Peninsula - when out of 109 convicts all but one were Judaizers. Of these 57 were burned in effigy and 13 in person, including Tomás *Trevino of Sobremonte. This terrible lesson went a long way toward checking Marranism in the country, Judaizing occupying a less and less prominent position in the following period.

Thus in the auto-de-fé of 1659, only four Judaizers figured among the 32 victims, and in later years the proportion was even lower. In 1712, however, a Judaizer was reconciled; and as late as 1788, the trial of Rafael Gil Rodriguez, a cleric, took place.

[Abolition of the Inquisition in Mexico in 1820]

The Inquisition continued to protract its inglorious existence for a few more years, being finally abolished in 1820, after having held upward of 60 autos-de-fé in all.

In the Mexican state archive 1,553 files of the Inquisition, belonging to the period 1521-1823, together with many others found in different places, show that the Conversos were present everywhere in the country and were represented in every section of society.> (col. 1393)


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