Although the Spanish Inquisition was established in the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1569, it did not investigate Crypto-Judaism there until 1635, when one man’s apparent adherence to kashrut set off a flood of trails that soon engulfed Lima. The Inquisitors’ interest in Conversos was prompted by Dutch incursions in Brazil and the suspicion that New World Conversos might conspire to overthrow the local authorities to gain religious freedom. On the pretext that Antonio Cordero had eaten only an apple and a piece of bread for dinner one Friday night, they began to prosecute the city’s merchants for heresy. As Irene Silverblatt shows in her book, Modern Inquisitions, the defendants in the so-called gran complicidad (great conspiracy) colluded to confess to a variety of heretical practices, only to later recant, thereby undermining Inquisitorial procedure. They also implicated vast swaths of the Lima population, including numerous Old Christians. The records from Manuel Henríquez*, Sebastián Durate, Juan de Acevedo, Doña Ana de Córdoba, and Feliciano de Valencia’s trials expose the radical incommensurability between the Inquisitors’ imported paradigm and the cosmopolitan Limeño community evoked in defense testimony.
The following trials records have been edited, glossed, and translated by Lawrence students Christina Hughes (’12) and Thomas Matusiak (’13):
*Manuel Henríquez’s trial is analyzed in Silverblatt’s book.