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Historian Richard E. Greenleaf presents an authoritative compendium of the historiography of the Mexican Inquisition.


  1. The New Magic.
  2. Fe cristiana y sentido del trabajo;
  3. Out of Her Hands.
  4. Reassessing Democracy: A Rebels Guide.

Professor Greenleaf traces the evolution of diverse interpretations and methodologies applied to the Inquisition in New Spain, from its earliest primitive period — when Spanish Catholicism first clashed with native beliefs, through the establishment of the Tribunal of the Holy Office — , whose main function was to control the influx of seditious literature, to the Inquisition in Bourbon Mexico — and its preoccupation with non-Catholic foreigners. This thoughtful essay devotes specific sections to scholarship published both on Indians' cases before the Inquisition, as well as on cases of crypto-Jews.

Whether exploring the uses of the Inquisition, its limitations, or scholarship that has been published on it, the essays in this collection provide a unique analysis of the Inquisition as a forum for the meeting of diverse and, at times, even opposing cultures. Despite the violence of the encounters and the inexorable changes that ensued, what emerges from. Although the immediate scholarly purpose of the anthology is to reach a more profound knowledge of the Inquisiton, analogies are certain to be drawn between events in the sixteenth century and those of our own, as the Spanish Inquisition's power is representative of oppressive institutional forces that exist to this day.

For a clearer understanding of the systematization of this power, attention must be given both to the means of repression and to its reception and subversion by those groups it intends to constrain.

Teología y Derecho Canónico en Comillas

The essays in this volume not only expand in great measure our comprehension of the Spanish Inquisition and its interrelations with Hispanic and Native American cultures, they also point to the larger lesson that cultural difference cannot be sustained without a continual process of social resistance.

When you tell someone your secret, your freedom is gone. On a November morning in don Carlos Ometochtzin, the native leader of the former city-state of Texcoco, was taken out of the prison of the Holy Office garbed in the typical sanbenito cloak and cone-shaped hat of the sentenced offender. He was paraded through the streets of downtown Mexico City, candle in hand, to a scaffold surrounded by the multitude that came to witness his sentencing and abjuration, and later to see his strangled body burn at the stake.

In less than a decade, the stake where individual bodies were set ablaze was replaced by the local controls of provisors or vicars-general of the dioceses or archdioceses [2] and, even more important, by the confessional, its penances, its magical threats, and its very real capacity to command the submission of tens of thousands of wills to the nascent colonial structure.

The two related processes alluded to by these events—the failure of the Indian Inquisition and the consequent rise of penitential discipline, whose control mechanisms played a leading role in the colonization of the Nahuas the Aztecs and their linguistic and cultural neighbors —are the subject of this essay. From the beginning of the colonial effort in New Spain, ambivalence about the Holy Office limited its utility as an instrument for the domination of natives.

The Indians, however, continued to be processed by the Inquisition throughout the decade. And although official warnings to avoid treating the natives with severity were heard, no official prohibition against trying them outside the local dioceses or archdioceses was issued until , when Philip II formally removed the Indians in the Spanish colonies from the jurisdiction of the Holy Office. Given the seemingly endless possibilities—painfully brought home to us by the experiences of some contemporary nation-states—for forcing subordination through a "culture of terror," [7] why were so few natives tried, tortured, or executed by the Inquisition?


  1. Comentario sobre la carta de Santiago;
  2. Cultural Encounters!
  3. Universidad Pontificia Comillas.

And why was colonial policy so inconsistent that the Indians ended up beyond its grip altogether, although no law demanded that that be the case until , while the need for maximizing control was fully recognized as critical, by both Church and Crown, prior to this date? But the implementation on humanitarian grounds of these instructions could not have been the primary force that led to the exemption that was generally observed. Table 1. These facts point to the difficulties that undermine any categorical conclusion concerning the timing and role played by the toleration movement in the collapse of the Indian Inquisition.

Thus, when it comes to measuring the relative strength of the forces that acted to remove the Indians through the Holy Office, it may be more profitable to pay attention to the everyday exigencies of colonial control than to the royal fiats or the juridical or theological arguments that sometimes informed them. Although its ostensible function was to safeguard the orthodoxy of the faith, the Holy Office was recognized to be and constantly was used as an important tool for social and political control since its founding in the thirteenth century.

One edict, aimed at Europeans, opposed heretics and Jews; the other, whose vagueness was more a license to prosecute than a guide to proper behavior, was "against any person who through deed or word did anything that appeared to be sinful"!

PDF Fe cristiana y sentido del trabajo (Teología comillas) (Spanish Edition)

In New Spain the regulatory possibilities of the latter ordinance were especially clear to those who interpreted the culture of the Nahuas as a satanic invention, and who used this as a justification for persecuting indigenous religious and sociocultural practices as criminal. Indeed, as the military and political hegemony of the Spaniards solidified, this popular interpretation was implemented as an apparatus of control by turning. The tracing of both European and New World moralities onto the same penal map resolved the problem of cross-cultural national jurisdiction immediately.

By his zeal was such that he had four Tlaxcalan leaders executed as idolaters and sacrificers, [19] even though the previous year the Franciscans had lost control of the Inquisition to the Dominicans. It is hard to imagine a more difficult project: political and religious resistance, demographic ratios, language barriers, cultural distances, and extensive geographic spaces stood in the way, and the Spaniards had few precedents they could follow with confidence.

Neither the confrontations with heretics, apostates, or non-Christians back home, nor their experiences with the far less socially integrated tribal and chiefdom communities in the circum-Caribbean area, prepared the Spaniards for the encounter with the city-state polities of New Spain. In Central Mexico cultural, regulatory, and security concerns contrasted sharply with those faced in Spain; there, not only did a variety of effective mechanisms of social control exist that could not be duplicated in the New World, but the problems of ethnic diversity in the peninsula tended primarily to affect civic unity rather than to challenge political stability or cultural viability, as was frequently the case in Mexico.

All these data had to be elicited, translated, interpreted, and ordered within familiar conceptual categories that could make practical sense of the land and the people in order to form the New Spain out of highly ethnocentric and aggressively self-interested city-states. After all, it enjoyed overwhelming support on the part of Church and Crown, and it appeared to have access to the maximum force needed to extract confessions, draw forth information, and punish those who remained silent or otherwise resisted its claims.

A close study of trial records nonetheless suggests that the efficacy of the Holy Office as a punitive system and the quantity and variety of information the inquisitors could elicit were limited by a number of factors. First, quite apart from the ruses and manipulations that sometimes precipitated inquisitorial accusations denuncias or informaciones , charges were formally restricted to the types of crimes and breaches legally recognized as within the competence of the Holy Office.

These included a significant but extremely small number of categories of acts that needed to be controlled by the colonial powers see Table 1. Second, there were legal restraints upon the interrogative procedures used that made it difficult for important but excludable information to enter the record. Third, the extreme and public nature of the penalties could serve as a warning to many but did so at the price of moving the key rebels who resisted the colonial order further underground, where it became more difficult to uproot them.

TABLE 1. Together, these restrictions contributed to making the Inquisition a poor mechanism for meting out the type of punishment needed to effectively regulate masses of unacculturated Indians. But what ultimately marginalized the Holy Office from the efforts to subjugate the native populations was the widespread deployment, during the first half of the century, of two related practices: sacramental confession and missionary ethnography.

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Because each of these was far more pervasive and intrusive than the Inquisition, together they were more efficient at gathering the kind of information needed to transform the Nahuas into disciplined subjects. Elsewhere I take up the role of the penitential system as an inciter of discourse on the self and as an apparatus of self-formation; [28] here my sole concern is to study how, in the first half of the sixteenth century, a shift took place from the inquisitorial techniques of random investigation and selective punishment to a technique of penitential discipline that sought to affect each word, thought, and deed of every individual Indian.

The responsibility for the forced acculturation of the Indians moved from the Holy Office to the seemingly less stringent local offices of the bishops known as the provisorato del ordinario in see Moreno de los Arcos, this volume. The archival record attests to the timing of this de facto shift in jurisdiction because only one relevant case [29] appears between that date and , [30] by which time the Holy Office had already lost its official jurisdiction over the indigenes see Table 1. Translated into today's analytical language, the critical points in the instructions to the archbishop could be summarized—and were justified then—as follows:.

That is, instead of torture, rigorous punishments, or scandalizing executions, what was needed was for the Indians "first to be very well instructed in and informed about the faith.

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The source and end of the discipline are to be invisible. For instance, "the little property they possess" should not be confiscated "because. The discipline is to be made imperceptible by appearing to be evenly applied throughout the whole social body. In effect, instead of teaching them a lesson through rigorous persecution, "the Indians would be better instructed and edified if the Inquisition proceeded against the Spaniards who supposedly sold them idols, since they deserved the punishment more than the Indians who bought them.

I will continue by analyzing the meaning and implications of each of these points. Scholars have made much of the humanism the first point seems to imply. The call for tolerance is an echo of the arguments developed in the late s by Las Casas [32] to attack the superficial and sometimes violent means with which the Spanish officials and Franciscan friars sought to impose the new faith on the Indians.

However, a survey of the. The popular idea that natives needed to be treated in a special manner because they were new to the faith, because they had a weak understanding, or because they were inclined to vice, etc. However contradictory, policy was primarily driven by the pragmatic requirements of the colony, although, as is the case today, in official discourse the need to control was frequently masked by lofty language that expounded on the humanity of subordinates.

In effect, the movement toward leniency was less the product of the reformers' rejection of the spectacular punishment of criminal acts, which continued for the Indians in an attenuated form at the local provisorato del ordinario level, and more a recognition, on the part of most priests and secular officials, that what colonial order called for most was the eradication from Indian life of the myriad of seemingly banal deviations from Spanish cultural habits and social customs.

The friars, in their letters, sermons, doctrinal works, and detailed manuals for confessors, were quick to argue that every gesture and thought, from those associated with sexual life and domestic practice to the magical and empirical procedures employed in agriculture, the crafts, and social relations, had to be disciplined, retrained, and rechanneled, so as I would add to serve the interests of those who wielded power in the colony.

To discover and punish these minute illegalities, systematic and pervasive forms of intervention were necessary. In this situation the Inquisition's attention to the scandalous cases of a few indigenous cult leaders [36] was clearly a dangerous and wasteful display of colonial power. Furthermore, too much delinquency went unperceived by most Spaniards and. Meanwhile, as these minor infractions continued to escape the grip of the authorities, they helped to reinforce and legitimate sociocultural and political alternatives to the habits and practices necessary for the formation of a homogeneous, predictable, and submissive population.

Although the need to impose some form of consistent and uniform discipline had been coming to light since the early s, a substantial division in the Spanish perception of the level and nature of native resistance to Christianity made it impossible to implement one. On one level, these representations were slowly being challenged by the ethnographic studies undertaken during this time, primarily those begun by Olmos in The Indian Inquisition, however, did end. And, in particular, its demise came about because it had been organized to function only among the baptized, who presumably already shared with the inquisitor the basic idea of what was and was not an infraction.

If this is the case, it follows that the Holy Office was ill suited to discipline a people who did not share its basic cultural or penal assumptions. Before the spectacle of the stake could move beyond striking fear in the hearts of the natives to transforming their behavior permanently, they had to know the prohibitions of the Holy Office and accept the illegality of the things prohibited.

Only an efficient system of indoctrination could make these prerequisites a reality. But an effective proselytizing strategy had to go far beyond violent or physical coercion, the performance of baptisms, or the teaching of. It had to penetrate into every corner of native life, especially those intimate spaces where personal loyalties were forged, commitments were assessed, and collective security concerns were weighed against individual ambitions.

Thus, "the invasion within" [40] could not be done by scare tactics, whose ultimate result would more likely be resistance than acquiescence, but rather by shifting the moral gears to produce social and political effects that favored the interests in stability and productivity of those in power. An operative indoctrination that could produce such results had to begin with the widespread, but localized, imposition of a constant regime of moral calisthenics through corporal and magical punishments like the threat of the first of Hell.

These exercises, backed by the threat of the provisors, had to have as their aim the retraining of the individual in order for him or her to internalize a Christian form of self-discipline that would ultimately make external force secondary or unnecessary. And where this failed, as it very frequently did, it excused the policing intervention of the priest, with his threats of supernatural punishment, corporal penance, and public shaming and ridicule.

It also permitted pious neighbors to force the sinner to behave properly by threatening to exclude him or her from the moral and civic community. It was a brilliant experiment in mass subordination: the costly punishment of individual bodies by colonial officials or the Inquisition could be replaced, for the most part, by the economical disciplining of myriads of souls. The authorship and end of inquisitorial punishment were always evident. The source was obvious to all: Spanish hegemony—a force coming ultimately from the same external apparatus that inflicted innumerable other penalties and burdens.

To the Indians, almost all of whom remained unacculturated in the s, its ends were equally apparent: to deprive the accused of his or her traditions, the guiding memory of the ancestors, personal liberty and dignity, corporeal well-being and temporal property, and life or so it must have seemed after the execution of the cacique don Carlos.