B'nei Anusim Center for Education

Bringing Together and Educating Descendants of Sephardic Conversos

Early Inquisitional Cases in New Spain

Amidst the momentous events of 1492, the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were looking to the future. Christopher Columbus’ adventure was endorsed by the Crown, and an uncharted voyage across the Atlantic ocean began. Columbus’journeys and the subsequent Spanish conquest of the New World included many Conversos who were at various times were legally ineligible to travel and settle in the New World. Despite the prohibitions, the history of Spanish conquest in the Caribbean and eventually Mexico was full of Spanish adventurers, soldiers, and merchants who all heralded from Converso backgrounds. Some of them were Judaizers, while others were indifferent to their Jewish pasts.

Spain’s discovery and conquest of the New World provided a venue for Conversos to find refuge and avoid the Inquisitional authority, though this proved short-lived. Several Conversos had accompanied Christopher Columbus on his initial voyage and many other Conversos were active in exploration. Luis Torre is the most famous, purportedly knowing Arabic and Hebrew. He accompanied Columbus on the first journey. One of the three ships Columbus used during his first voyage was the Pinta. This ship was owned by the Converso Gomez Rascon. The Rascon family had been punished by the Inquisition for Judaizing. The Converso Juan de Penalosa accompanied Columbus on his first voyage. He was a courtier and was responsible for uniting the crews under Columbus’ leadership, presumably because of Columbus’ Genoese origins.[1]

  In 1511, restrictions on Converso emigration to the New World could be circumvented by a payment of 3 million maravedis. Some Conversos opted not to emigrate but maintained positions with ties to the New World. Francisco de Alcazar, for example, became Treasurer of Seville, the city most active in commerce and exploration in the New World. Alcazar achieved his position despite being reconciled by the Inquisition in 1493. Alcazar was owned a vessel that traded in the Indies. A fellow Converso, Alonso Gutierrez de Madrid served as a counselor in Seville along with Alcazar.[2]

There were plenty of Conversos directly active in the New World, however. Cristobal de Santa Clara served as treasurer of Santo Domingo. His brother Bernardino fought alongside Cortes. Juan Fernandez de Varas and Rodrigo de Bastidas were successful Converso merchants in Santo Domingo. Another Converso Pedro de Maluenda from Burgos served in Cortes’ army as commissary. He died in Tenochtitlan shortly after the conquest. Alonso Caballero, another Converso, served as Cortes’ admiral after 1520.[3]

Though the Inquisition was not formally established in Mexico until 1571, the first victim of Judaizing in the New World was Hernan Alonso, burned in 1528.[4] Alonso was among Hernan Cortes’ conquistadors who participated in the conquest of Mexico. In the case of Francisco Pizarro’s conquest of the Incan empire, at least three Conversos, Machine de Florencia, Pedro del Paramo, and Pedro de San Millan, have been identified among his small army. So significant was the presence of Conversos in the New World, which the Inquisitor would report back to his superiors:

“I attest to your Excellencies [certifico a U.S.] that Lima and the entire realm has been full of a great many conversos and sons and grandsons of reconciled persons. In relation to the few Spaniards who live in these parts, there are twice as many conversos as in Spain.”[5]

In 1574, the first auto da fé was held, and between 1574 and 1593 nine autos were held. The auto da fé held on December 8, 1596, included 60 penitents and victims including members of the famed Carvajal family. [6] The auto de fe of March 25, 1602, included more than 100.

In 1608 Jorge de Almeida was excommunicated and in 1645 Gabriel de Granada was sentenced. In 1646, 71 persons, primarily accused of Judaizing, appeared at the auto da fe. Two additional autos da fes were held in 1648 and 1649. In 1659 Diego Diaz and Francisco Botello were also burned for Judaizing.[7]

Inquisitional tribunals were also established in Lima and Cartagena. One of the first victims in Lima in around the year 1581 was the physician Juan Alvarez of Zafra. He along with his wife, children, and father, were executed for Judaizing. The same was the case for Manuel Lopez, also known as Luis Coronado. An auto da fé was held in Lima on January 23, 1639. 63 Judaizers appeared, and 11 were burned. Included among these were  the famous cases of Francisco Maldonado de Silva and Diego Lopez de Fonseca. In total, 129 autos da fés were held in the New World.

Conversos in New Spain

From the start, the Spanish Crown prohibited New Christians and their descendants from reaching the New World. Nevertheless, Conversos were often able to circumvent this prohibition during the initial conquest and colonization of the New World in general and of New Spain in particular. Until 1571, Inquisitional authority was active with bishops only, though this did not deter them from imposing penalties on blasphemy or Judaizing.

According to Alexandra Uchmany, many of the Conversos among the Conquistadors involved in the conquest of Mexico were known to Hernan Cortes, but he turned a blind eye to their presence. As evidence of this, Uchmany points to the testimony given in 1529 and received by Nuno de Guzman, Gonzalo de Mexia declared that Cortes has not published edicts originating from the island of Santo Domingo as well as Spain.[8] The orders stipulated that the descendants of Jews and Moors should be expelled from New Spain and all territories in the New World. Cortes was accused of protecting them and favored them with property.

The accusation against Cortes was likely connected to his cousins from the De Paz y Nunez family. These cousins were the descendants of Ines Gomez de Paz, a sister of Hernan Cortes’ father, Martin. Inez married Francisco Nunez de Valera de Salamanca. The younger Cortes had resided with Francisco during his time in Salamanca. Nunez was likely a Converso and served as Cortes’ attorney in the latter’s various legal troubles. Francisco Nunez, Cortes’ cousin, was eventually penanced by the Inquisition. There were other Converso connections. Cortes was indebted to Juan de Cordoba, a silversmith, and  merchant. De Cordoba had loaned Cortes a substantial sum in 1519 during the latter’s initial endeavor to conquer Mexico.[9]

The historian of the conquest, Bernal Diaz noted that any individual who was a descendant of Jews or Moors who had been burned or reconciled by the Inquisition to the fourth degree was to leave New Spain within six months. Failure to do so would result in the loss of their property. Despite the proclamation, Bernal Diaz reports it was not strictly enforced. According to him, only two individuals, a merchant from Veracruz and a scribe from Mexico left. The scribe apparently had a license to travel to New Spain and had even brought his daughter with him.

Diego Morales

The first Converso prosecuted in New Spain was Diego Morales. He was sentenced for blasphemy in 1525. He was judged by the commander Leonel de Cervantes.  Morales was accused of various blasphemous statements including “I deny G-d” or “ I desecrate G-d” after becoming angry. When angry he was also known to deny the saints, the holy chrism, the apostles, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus. While initially denying these statements, Morales was acutely aware of the consequences of a conviction, and he finally relented and confessed and promised to never do so again. He paid a hefty fine.[10]

Uchmany argues that conquistadors who were Old Christians by ancestry were never known to blaspheme against Jesus, though some incidences against the Virgin, apostles, and saints were known occasionally. Despite the proclivity of soldiers, adventurers, and slaves to curse and blaspheme, Uchmany suggests they had greater intimacy with the Catholic intermediaries than they did with G-d, the Father.[11]

Diego Nunez

Fray Domingo de Betanzos, Vicar-General of the Dominicans, was the first to use his inquisitorial powers intensely. In 1527, Betanzos prosecuted seventeen men for blasphemy. Of the seventeen accused of blasphemy, some had desecrated the holy chrism, the saints, and the Virgin. One of the accused, Diego Nunez, originally from Villa de Gibraleon in the bishopric of Seville, had thrown stones at a crucifix. This type of behavior leads Uchmany to question a possible Converso connection to Nunez and others. Betanzos attempted to establish a Converso connection but was unable to. This was partly tied, according to Uchmany, to the political turmoil in play between the pro-Cortes faction  on the one side and the royal officials on the other. Interestingly, the Franciscans supported the conquistadors while the Dominicans supported the royal officials.[12]

Nunez had fought in the great siege of Tenochtitlan. Five of his fellow conquistadors testified on his behalf. They testified that Nunez was a good Christian and that he was descended from a well-known. Old Christian family. Confronted with this testimony, Betanzos was incapable of expelling Nunez from New Spain. He was able, however, to impose a hefty fine on Nunez.[13]

Gil Gonzalez de Benavides de Avila

Another individual who was penanced by the Inquisition was Gil Gonzalez de Benavides de Avila. He arrived en Terra Firme in 1514 with Pedrarias Davila, the governor. Pedrarias Davila had his own Converso background. Pedrarias and his brother Pedro Arias Davila were the sons of Pedro Arias Davila, the chief accountant of Castille. Pedro Arias Davila senior was also the first count of Punonrostro. His wife was Marina de Mendoza. The senior Pedro Arias Davila had a brother named Juan de Arias Davila who served as the bishop of Segovia for thirty years.

Incidentally, Juan traveled to Rome to defend his brother Pedro Arias Davila against the attacks of Juan de Torquemada, the Inquisitor General. Juan and Pedro were the children of Diego de Arias y Elvira Gonzalez Davila. Before his conversion, Don Diego managed the royal leases (rents). After his conversion, he was named the chief accountant for Castile and orchestrated a program of economic reform. Alonso de Avila, Fernando Alvarez, and Fernando del Pulgar were Conversos and served as secretaries during Queen Isabela’s reign. Many Conversos moved and changed their names to hide their pasts.[14]

Gonzalo Gomez

In 1528. Bishop Juan de Zumarraga arrived in New Spain. He was named Inquisitor and immediately began to search out Judaizers, but his first prosecution was not until 1536 against Gonzalo Gomez.[15] The Avila clan were close friends of Gonzalo Gomez. Gomez was a mayor and property holder, and a merchant in Michoacan. He was accused of Judaizing in 1536. His property was seized in 1537 by the authority of  Fray Juan de Zumarraga.[16] Gomez had arrived in La Espanola (Hispaniola) in 1507 at the age of nine. He had accompanied his merchant father, Juan. Juan was originally from Santa Cruz in Sevilla, the old Jewish quarter. Gonzalo’s mother, Beatriz, had been punished by the Inquisition. Gomez eventually joined Pedrarias in 1514 and journeyed to Terra Firme. In 1523 he arrived in Cuba, and the following year he joined Alonso Zuazo to journey to New Spain. Zuazo served as a judge under Diego de Velasquez, one-time patron of Cortes, but later a bitter rival. Despite the ties, Cortes was friends with Zuazo and Cortes appointed him alcalde of Mexico City. Gomez, in turn, was assigned Michoacan, Tamazula, and Zacatula and he served as the major of these regions.[17]

Gomez was granted an encomienda en Iztepec or Yztapa. The land grant he was given had been desired by Cristobal de Valderrama. After Gomez had been accused of Judaizing, Valderrama attempted to seize the property that Gomez could no longer legally claim. Gomez was an early colonizer in Michoacan. He was an active farmer, rancher, and miner. Gomez was an avid entrepreneur, and he included various mercantile businesses. His business acumen, as well as his official posts, brought him resentment from many of his business rivals. Among his most bitter enemies, were Valderrama, the corregidor Lope de Saavedra, and the accountant, Rodrigo de Albornoz.[18]

Gomez was eventually accused by thirteen witnesses of blasphemy. He was accused of renouncing and desecrating G-d. He was also charged with mocking the baptism of Indian children. When an older Indian was baptized in his presence, he was said to have remarked that it was of no consequence and achieved nothing. Gomez denied the first accusation. He effectively admitted the incident regarding the baptism of the older Indian but defended his comment based on the view the Indian had not received any significant instruction in the Christian faith.[19]

Among other accusations, Gomez was also said to change his bed linens on Friday. He also changed his clothes in anticipation of the Sabbath. Gomez, furthermore, was accused of not working on the Sabbath but did work on Sundays and other Christian festivals. The Indians that worked for him did the same.

On a hunting trip in Michoacan, Gomez was said to have suspended his activities once the Sabbath began and did not start his activities anew until after the Sabbath had ended.[20]

Gomez reportedly had a church on his property, but he was said to use it for mundane purposes like storing wheat. There were even beds in it and he and Alonso de Avila were accused of using frequently as a rendezvous point with their mistresses. Gomez was also alleged to have broken several crosses, three alone on Holy Friday. Gomez had a cross but had thrown on to the roof of his home, where he dried garlic on it. Gomez defended his doing so by nothing that he did not want passersby to step on the Cross. He had even received tacit approval for doing so by Quiroga.[21]

If these accusations were not enough, the most damning claims were yet to come. Several witnesses including Alonso de Carrion had known the family from Castile. Gomez was accused of being the son of Juan Gomez Parholero, a Converso and heretic  who had been penanced and reconciled by the Holy Office of the Inquisition. A brother had apparently tried to become a fraile [friar?] in Cordoba but had been ousted by the other friars because he had been reconciled.  The last charge against Gomez was that he was a vile man prone to vice and feasting.[22]

From the beginning, Gomez had argued that his father was a laborer. During his trial, he eventually confessed that his father was trained as a tailor though he had never worked in this profession. Tailoring was seen as a Jewish occupation. Alvaro de Mateos, originally from Seville and a tailor by trade was accused of Judaizing in 1539.

Gomez had defenders who testified that he was a benevolent man who treated Indians well. His supporters noted that the church on his property was used as a way station of the religious pilgrims. Despite the accusations against him, Gomez was able to launch a vigorous defense. Gomez and his defenders denied he had ever observed a Jewish custom. Various friars from Patzcuaro and other monasteries provided letters  attesting to his proper observance of the Christian faith.[23]

On the 9th of November 1539, Gomez received his sentence. Gomez’s life was spared. He was fined the enormous sum of 400 gold pesos and required to perform various penitential prayers. Despite his release, accusations continued including that he failed to attend mass and was a bad Christian. Gomez even made several attempts to have further Inquisition investigations against him quelled.[24] He was successful, and in 1554 an order was directed to the mayor of Vihirila in Michoacan, Lope de Saavedra, to desist further investigations. Gomez sought to live out a quiet retirement. An attempt to blackmail his children was ultimately tried.[25]

Diego de Ocaña

Diego de Ocaña initially arrived in Indies in 1509 as a merchant with Diego Columbus. Ocaña was described as a  practicing Jew  who had converted to Christianity. Ocaña  was said to have originally been from Sevilla from a family named Zuarez de Benedeva. He was said to have a son named Hernan Zuarez. Ocaña arrived in New Spain in 1525 from  Santo Domingo, Hispaniola. Ocaña was said to have had a sister in Hispaniola. She had been burned. A royal decree issued in 1527 ordered that all who were descendants of Jews or Moors up to the fourth generation or who had been reconciled by the Inquisition were required to leave New Spain.[26]

Ocaña was accused of various ceremonies believed to be in observance of the Law of Moses. He was said to eat meat on Fridays. He was charged with eating shark and slaughtering chickens by removing their spinal chords. Neither of these accusations reflects traditional laws of Kashrut and reveals a measure of confusion on Jewish practices by Inquisitional authorities. Bartolome Gonzalez, an older conquistador, recalled that Ocaña was a descendant of Jews and dressed like a Jew.[27] Gonzalez testified that Ocaña was a friend of the “factor” Gonzalo de Salazar. He was also tied to governor Alonso de Estrada. These ties, according to Uchmany, saved Ocaña from the stake.[28]

If we assume the veracity of Gonzalez’s testimony regarding Ocaña’s Jewish behavior, we can draw the conclusion that the Conquistadors and other early colonists in New Spain cared little that Conversos had settled among them.[29] Ocaña was aligned with those conquistadors that were against Cortes. Contrary to what might be expected, Ocaña like other Conversos of the period, saw no contradiction regarding their identity and support for the royal prerogative.[30]

Ocaña was acquitted by the Dominican Inquisitor Fray Vicente de Santa Maria. Santa Maria was aligned with  the governor, Alonso de Estrada. Santa Maria was accused of actively helping Ocaña by pressuring witnesses to renounce their accusations and even by recommending Ocaña to not admit to anything.

The purity of blood statutes were largely ignored in New Spain.  Juan Fernandez de Castillo served as a public scribe from 1525. He was originally from Seville and had journeyed to the Indies in 1516.  Fernandez held the post in Mexico city as well as in Santo Domingo. He served in this role despite that fact that many knew he was ineligible to serve because of his Converso status. Fernandez’ Converso background surprised Marcos de Aguilar, the governor of New Spain from 1526-1527. His surprise was apparently mixed with some admiration. Fernandez was said to descend from a family in Sevilla. His father had been executed for Judaizing. Others claimed that Fernandez was not a faithful Christian and was lax in the commandments of the Church.[31]

Fernandez’s luck ran out when he was accused of promoting idolatry among the Indians in 1528. Fernandez was charged with allowing Indian youths engage in pagan rituals which were purportedly tied to human sacrifice. Fernandez quickly confesses his wrongdoing and asked forgiveness. He was reconciled in August 1528. Fernandez was arrested again and brought before the Inquisition in 1536.  He was accused of denying G-d’s existence. He was penanced and fined.[32]

Hernando Alonso

The Converso background of Hernando Alonso has been recently challenged by Shulamit HaLevi. Alonso was initially from the city of Palos in the county of Niebla. He arrived in Cuba by 1517 and raised cattle and pigs during his time there. By 1519 he had been awarded a contract to provide meat to the island. He supplied Cortes’ expedition. In 1520, Alonso sold his business interests in Cuba and joined the expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez.[33] Narvaez had been ordered by Diego Velazquez to apprehend Cortes.  Like other adventurers, he joined Cortes’ army once Narvaez’s fortunes had fallen. He participated in the siege of Mexico and in the construction of the brigantines used in the assault. In 1526, he was awarded the contract to supply meat to the City of Mexico.[34]

Alonso was eventually arrested and burned at the stake in 1528. He was accused of Judaizing. The charge was that he had prohibited his third wife, Isabel Ruiz de Aguilar, from attending mass for forty days following her pregnancy. According to several witnesses, Alonso had forbidden his wife to attend mass. She responded that his prohibition was based on ancient Jewish ceremonies which were no longer observed  under the grace of the Gospel.[35] Hernando reportedly said nothing in response.[36] Uchmany notes that Hernando had effectively conflated the synagogue and church, a syncretism often found among Conversos.[37]

One of those who denounced Alonso was Anton Ruiz de Maldonado. Maldonado was a prosperous merchant from Sevilla and was reportedly present during the interchange between Alonso and his wife. Maldonado also claimed that in Cuba Alonso had also done the unspeakable. He reported that Alonso had taken a recently baptized child and nullified the chrism by pouring wine on him. Maldonado claimed Alonso had done so while reciting Psalm 114. Alonso was tortured and while he confessed and begged for forgiveness his actions were considered too heinous to merit absolution.[38]

Diego y Gonzalo de Morales

The auto de fe of 1528 saw other individuals of Converso backgrounds punished. Two brothers, Diego y Gonzalo de Morales, were punished. Diego had his property confiscated, while his brother Gonzalo was burned.  The Morales brothers had been merchants. They were originally from Seville.[39]

Gonzalo had arrived in the Indies 1520s. Gonzalo eventually owned  a store in Mexico City. He was initially arrested by Fray Vicente de Santa Maria in his capacity as Inquisitor in the summer of 1528. The initial charge was fornication, but the Bishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Alonso Manso sent word regarding a sister of Morales that had been executed under his authority. Gonzalo, according to his sister’s testimony had violated a crucifix.[40] A witness against Hernan Alonso also claimed that Gonzalo had violated another crucifix.[41]

Uchmany points that the desecration of religious symbols was often carried out even by individuals who were believers in them. Crypto-Jews were often accused of these practices as were black slaves. Occasionally, some natives were also charged with this practice.

Diego was arrested on various charges. He was charged with denying the holy chrism, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the saints and the apostles. He was also charged with drawing an imaginary cross and then beating the “image” with his hand. Diego did not deny any charges but argued that he did not remember the incidents. He accepted the charges based on the testimony given. The witnesses again Diego alleged he was the son of Conversos and his father, Hernando de Morales originally from Seville had been penanced by the Inquisition. His mother, Leonor Marquez, formerly from Utrera had been relaxed to the secular authorities by the Inquisition.

Despite all this, while the alleged desecrations were serious, Uchmany points out that no specific “Judaizing” charge was levied against Morales. Morales was reticent to admit his Jewish background but was forced to recognize his mother’s Jewish background. Regarding his father, he maintained that he was from the mountainous regions near Seville. His father, he admitted had married a Conversa. Uchmany, however, notes, that Conversos often claimed to be the descendants of peasants or mountain folk. Definitively proving the background of these individuals was hard if not impossible. Diego’s live was spared. All his belongings were seized, and he witnessed the death of his brother.

Diego attempted to hide the shame of having been sentenced by the Inquisition. He moved to Oaxaca. In 1538, he was arrested yet again by the Inquisition, this time for blasphemy. He was fined but escaped with his life. Diego’s misfortunes pursued him wherever he went. The stain of having been arrested and penanced by the Inquisition could not be undone. [42]

In 1558, he was again denounced to the Inquisition. Antonio Nunez, a tailor, testified that Diego had cursed the king for taking everything he earned. Nunez also claimed that Diego had stated that he “did not have a fever like his brother…who had been burned in Mexico.” He also accused Diego of selling on Sundays and holy days.

Juan de Victoria testified that Morales had renounced G-d, three times. Morales was also accused of having fathered a child with a Morisca. Morales was purportedly proud of the fact that the boy could read the Bible and the Koran.[43]

Many of Morales’ accusers were business competitors.[44] The tailor Fernando Marquez claimed that Morales had attempted to force a slave to renounce the Christian faith. He also argued that Morales belittled the last unction and even stated that the person who entrust their soul to the devil. Lope de la Pena said that Morales had denied G-d had a son. He also claimed that if indeed Jews had treated G-d poorly, he had more than amply paid them back for their sins. Nunez de Gibraleon also stated that Morales mocked the host by using a tortilla. Morales was accused of violating sacred objects including crucifixes. A former servant declared Morales never ate pork and grew enraged if it was ever placed in a pot. He pretended to eat it only to spit it out. He was also said to have a crucifix under the saddle of his horse as a means of desecrating it. He was said to have called the Virgin Mary, “that woman.” During his stay in Guatemala, a failed attempt to escape his notoriety as a reconciled penitent, his neighbors were said to visit him in the hope of determining whether he ate pork or not.[45]

Diego was sentenced in July 1558. Surprisingly , he was not relaxed to the secular arm. He was fined heavily once again.[46] His entanglement with Inquisitors would continue, though he was able to garner support from various procurators of the Audiencia Real which ultimately secured his absolution of the religious charges levied against him.[47]

Other Individuals

The Converso Gonzalo de Vellosa was involved in the early development of the sugar trade in Cuba in 1515. Miguel de Ballester was a Converso and the first sugar exporter to Europe. Francisco Hernandez, originally from Bejar del Castanar, was the first leather hide preparer in New Spain. His son, Pedro Hernandez de Albor was arrested for Judaizing in 1538.[48]

Cristobal de Miranda, the first dean of the Cathedral of Merida and the commissary of the Holy Office in Yucatan, arrived in New Spain in 1551. His father Juan Miranda accompanied him.  Despite having letters showing his Old Christian heritage, he was accused of being a descendant of Conversos. His maternal great-grandparent, Diegeo Donaire, and Isabel Garcia were burned at the stake in the port of Santa Maria near Seville for Judaizing in 1516. His paternal grandparents  Diego Lopez and Leonor Rodriguez were also penanced.[49]

[1] Hugh Thomas, Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan (New York, Random House: 2003), 86-87.

[2] Hugh Thomas, Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan (New York, Random House: 2003), 530.

[3] Ibid., 530-531.

[4] Philip II authorized courts in Lima and New Spain. The tribunal in Caratgena was established in 1610. Joseph Perez notes that American indians were effectively grandfathered in as Old Christians. They were not subject to the Inquisition. Joseph Perez, The Spanish Inquisition: A History (London: Profile Books, 2006), 111.

[5] Salo Wittmayer Baron, A Social and the Religious History of the Jews: Volume XIII (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1969), 139.

[6] Seymour Leibman, The Jews in New Spain: Faith, Flame, and the Inquisition (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1970), 178-179.

[7] Americo de Castro, “Historia de los Judios en España,” 214; Puigblanch, “Inquisition Unveiled,” 106.

[8] Eva Alexandra Uchmany, “De Algunos Cristianos Nuevos en la Conquista y Colonizacion de la Nueva Espana,”Estudios de Historia Novohispana Vol. 8, No. 008 (1985): 266.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., 267-268.

[11] Ibid.., 268.

[12] Ibid., 268.

[13] Ibid., 269.

[14] Ibid., 271.

[15] Seymour Leibman, The Jews in New Spain: Faith, Flame, and the Inquisition (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1970), 119. Despite his desire to eradicate Judaizing, Zumarraga was relatively lenient at times. Juan de Baeza was arrested in 1540 for circumcizing indigenous children with his fingernails. Despite the the serious of his crime, he was only fined. Ibid., 120.

[16] Ibid., 273.

[17] Ibid., 274.

[18] Ibid., 274-275.

[19] Ibid., 275-276.

[20] Ibid., 276.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid., 276-277.

[23] Ibid., 277-278.

[24] Ibid., 278.

[25] Ibid., 279.

[26] Seymour B. Liebman, The Jews in New Spain: Faith, Flame, and the Inquisition (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1970), 117.

[27] Seymour Leibman, The Jews in New Spain: Faith, Flame, and the Inquisition (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1970), 115.

[28] Eva Alexandra Uchmany, “De Algunos Cristianos Nuevos en la Conquista y Colonizacion de la Nueva Espana,”Estudios de Historia Novohispana Vol. 8, No. 008 (1985): 281-282.

[29] Ibid., 282.

[30] Ibid., 282.

[31] Ibid., 284-285.

[32] Eva Alexandra Uchmany, “De Algunos Cristianos Nuevos en la Conquista y Colonizacion de la Nueva Espana,”Estudios de Historia Novohispana Vol. 8, No. 008 (1985): 285-286.

[33] Ibid., 286.

[34] Ibid., 288.

[35] Leibman claims that Alonso’s third wife was “apparently a convert or a daughter of converts.” Interestingly no prosecution against her for being in New Spain illegally occurred. Seymour Leibman, The Jews in New Spain: Faith, Flame, and the Inquisition (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1970), 114.

[36] Eva Alexandra Uchmany, “De Algunos Cristianos Nuevos en la Conquista y Colonizacion de la Nueva Espana,”Estudios de Historia Novohispana Vol. 8, No. 008 (1985): 290.

[37] Ibid., 290. In the 1480s, a pamphlet was published anonymously in Seville. The Converso author argued that there was nothing preventing Conversos from practicing Judaism and Christianity simultaneously. In fact, incorporating Jewish practices into Christianity improved it. This fact, the author argued showed that Judaism was superior to Christianity. The pamphlet is known by Friar Hernando de Talavera’s response to it in his work titled Catolica Impugnacion. Joseph Perez, The Spanish Inquisition: A History (London: Profile Books, 2006), 20.

[38] Eva Alexandra Uchmany, “De Algunos Cristianos Nuevos en la Conquista y Colonizacion de la Nueva Espana,”Estudios de Historia Novohispana Vol. 8, No. 008 (1985):  290-291.

[39] Ibid., 292.

[40] Seymour B. Liebman, The Jews in New Spain: Faith, Flame, and the Inquisition (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1970), 115.

[41] Eva Alexandra Uchmany, “De Algunos Cristianos Nuevos en la Conquista y Colonizacion de la Nueva Espana,”Estudios de Historia Novohispana Vol. 8, No. 008 (1985): 293.

[42] Ibid., 296.

[43] Ibid., 298.

[44] Ibid., 298.

[45] Ibid., 299.

[46] Ibid., 301.

[47] Ibid, 310.

[48] Ibid., 311.

[49] Ibid., 311.

Posted by Rabbi Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez the director of the B’nei Anusim Center for Education. For a more complete review of Iberian Jewish history and the Crypto- Jewish Experience see The Rise of the Inquisition and Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism


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