MAÑOZCA, Juan de Santo Matía Sáenz de, et al.


MAÑOZCA, Juan de Santo Matía Sáenz de, et al. Nos los Inquisidores contra la heretica pravedad, y Apostasia...

Mexico, [n.p.], [c.1650].


Folio. ff. [6], last blank, A6. Roman letter, all pages within typographical border. Woodcut with Crucifixion and Inquisition motto ‘Exurge, Domine, iudica causam tuam’, decorated initial. Ms date ‘15 February 1650’ at end, 3 inquisitorial autographs ‘Don Francisco de Estrada y Escovedo’, ‘Dr. Juan de Santo Matía Sáenz de Mañozca’ and ‘Don Bernabé de la Hig[uera] y Amarilla’, and final ms ‘Por mandado del S. Officio. E de Saravia’ and illegible calligraphic signature, original wax seal covered by paper slip. Untrimmed, traces of folds, a few tiny ink spots to first, light water stain to upper margin, light age yellowing, a little soiling to fore-edge. A very good copy in modern cloth.

An exceptionally rare witness to the operation of the Inquisition in C17 Mexico, and ephemeral Mexican printing, in fine condition. This is a 1650 printing of the ‘Edicto de fe’, published every year before Easter, and read by priests in church, within Spain and its colonies, on the second and third Sunday of Lent. ‘Its aim was to urge parishioners to denounce to the Inquisition the heresies they witnessed’ (Willemse, p.30). It provides invaluable evidence on the presence and customs of Jewish, Muslim and Protestant communities in Spain and Mexico. Francisco de Estrada y Escobedo, also bishop of Havana, Guatemala and Puebla, Don Juan Saenz de Manozca, later bishop of Santiago de Cuba, and Don Bernabé de la Higuera y Amarilla were inquisitors c.1650, involved also in the arrest and trial of Don Guillén de Lamport, an Irish Catholic adventurer. Only one other copy of this edition, preserved at the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico, is recorded, signed by the same Inquisitors on the same date (see Chuchiak et al.).


The public reading of the ‘Edicto de fe’ was a major annual event. Copies were sent to all the bishops and heads of religious orders in New Spain, so that the Edict could be proclaimed and hung on the door of all monasteries and churches. Extant invoices from the early C18 suggest a print-run of c.100 copies (cf. Ward), though it is unclear how often such documents were reprinted. ‘In Mexico City, the Inquisition announced a week early, with town criers, the public ceremonies […]. Most times they included a procession of the functionaries of the Inquisition’. The population and major officers were expected to be present, albeit the political tension between Inquisitors and Viceroys caused the Edict not to be read for several years in 1620-40 (see Chuchiak et al., pp.7-9).


The first section concerns practicing Jews and ‘the law of Moses’, and provides a list of suspicious activities. ‘While crypto-Jews were to be found in almost every region of New Spain in the mid-C17, Mexico City served as the focal point. […] from 1610 until 1642 there was very little attention paid by the Inquisition, or by any other body, to the crypto-Jewish element in New Spain. […] The period of vigorous activity against judaizantes [went] from 1642 to 1649’ (Hordes, pp.209-12). The suspicious activities Christians should look out for included: wearing clean clothes for the celebration of the Sabbath, using no lamp lights, preparing for a feast on Friday evening, washing blood from meat, consuming meat during Lent, praying in Hebrew, visiting each other in the evening with a ceremony of blessing, reciting the Psalms without the ‘Gloria Patri’, denying the coming of Christ, not allowing women to visit the church until after 40 days from giving birth, circumcising babies, putting out a basin with gold, barley, wheat and other things after a birth, and preparing the dead in the Jewish manner (washing the body in hot water, shaving the beard).

 The second part concerns the ‘Secta de Mahoma’. ‘Although they were removed geographically from peninsular fears that they would aid the Ottoman sultan in invading Spain, negative images of Moriscos and Muslims circulated in the Americas and contributed to their perception as disloyal subjects. As Spanish authorities increasingly linked political loyalty to confessional identity, Morisco presence in the New World was seen as a threat to the creation of a model Catholic community’ (Cook, p.80). Their suspicious activities include stating that Islam is the only way to Paradise, stating that Christ is not the Messiah but a prophet, celebrating the weekly feast on Friday, having meat on days forbidden by the Church, killing animals for meat by cutting their throats, taking oaths ‘by the Alquibla or Alaymincula’, fasting during Ramadan, washing their bodies frequently, praying in Arabic, not drinking wine, singing Zambras or Leylas on prohibited instruments, following the rules of Mohammed, treating and burying the dead in specific ways, or invoking Mohammed.

The third section concerns the Lutherans. ‘In the C16 and C17, inquisitors were preoccupied with a feared Protestant menace in Mexico even though the new doctrines of the Reformation never constituted a threat to orthodoxy’ (Greenleaf, p.253). Most worrying were the Lutherans’ denying the priest’s role in confession, stating that the Pope or priests cannot absolve from sin, that the sacred host is not truly the body of Christ, etc. The fourth section concerns the ‘Secta de los Alumbrados’, established in the C16 and considered a protestant heresy, although this label, regularly revised, came to include sundry kinds of behaviours (see Fowler). In particular, their statement that ‘prayers said in one’s mind’ were equivalent to uttered prayers and their denial of the role of priests. The fifth concerns other heresies: those who deny paradise or the existence of God, invoke the devil, are against the saints, practice sacraments without being friars or priests, or engage in astrology. The last section focuses on prohibited books, i.e., Luther’s works, the Qur’an, bibles in the vernacular, and all other books in the Inquisitorial Index. 

A copy survives (now at BSB), signed by the same Inquisitors in 1658, and printed with the same woodcut and border. The first and last couple of ll. appear to be identical to our copy; however, A3r-v were reset to remove a reference to Gregory XV’s bull ‘Universi Dominici gregis’, issued on 30 August 1622. It was part of a section on the crime of solicitation, i.e., when priests seek to convince parishioners to commit impure acts, before, during or after confession. As the Inquisition insisted on having sole jurisdiction on the judgement of this crime, in 1629 Urban VIII ordered that a few lines be added to Edicts of Faith on this matter (Lea, p.103). It is unclear why the lines are absent in the 1658 ed., only to return again in the 1708 ed., with the same woodcut. This continuity may point to the Calderón printing press, and Antonio Calderón in particular, c.1649-50.

One other copy of this edition recorded (AGN), signed on the same date by the same Inquisitors. Not clearly identifiable in Medina, USTC, Palau or Iberian Books. D.Willemse, Un \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"portugués\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" entre los castellanos (1974); B. Liebman, Jews and the Inquisition of Mexico (1974); S. Hordes, ‘The Inquisition and the Crypto-Jewish Community in Colonial New Spain and New Mexico’ and R. Greenleaf, ‘Historiography of the Mexican Inquisition’, in M.E. Perry, ed. Cultural Encounters (1991); K. Cook, Forbidden Passages: Muslims and Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America (2016); J.J. Fowler, ‘Assembling Alumbradismo’, in After Conversion. Iberia and the Emergence of Modernity, ed. M. García-Arenal (2016), pp. 251-82; Los edictos de fe del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición de la Nueva España, ed. J. Chuchiak et al; C. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain. We would like to thank Dr Ken Ward for discussing this document with us.
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