Peruvian Inquisition

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A watercolored painting by Francisco Fierro illustrating an individual held by the Inquisition and being paraded through the streets of Lima.

The Peruvian Inquisition was established on January 9, 1570 and ended in 1820.[1] The Holy Office and tribunal of the Inquisition were located in Lima, the administrative center of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Unlike the Spanish Inquisition and the Medieval Inquisition, in the Peruvian Inquisition both the authorities and the church were dependent of the Crown's approval to carry out jurisdiction.

Although the Indigenous people were originally subject to the jurisdiction of the inquisitors, they were eventually removed from the control and not seen as fully responsible for deviation from faith. They were still subject to trial and punishment by the inquisition.[2] In the eyes of the church the Indigenous were seen as gente sin razón, individuals without reason.

As a result, their trials were separate from other inquisition cases. In spite of that, it still did not stop other people that were of non-Indigenous descent from being accused of other crimes that were against the Church. These crimes could range from heresy, sorcery, witchcraft, and other superstitious practices.

People accused of these crimes were generally individuals who came from a lower status of Peruvian society. Among them were individuals of African descent, mestizos, women, and Jewish or Protestant Europeans seeking refuge from religious persecution.

In 1813 it was first abolished by virtue of a Cortes decree. In 1815 it was reconstituted but their target was now the ideas from the French Encyclopédistes and similar texts, and most people who were accused of crimes were only given probation. With the promotion of Freemason José de la Serna to the viceroyship, which coincided with the rise of the nationalist faction (as both factions prepared to fight each other in the Peruvian War of Independence), the Inquisition fell apart of its own volition.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Teodoro Hampe-Martinez, p. 43.
  2. ^ Benjamin Keen and Keith Haynes, p. 106.

Further reading[edit]

  • Böhm, Günter. "Crypto-Jews and New Christians in Colonial Peru and Chile." In The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West, 1450-1800, edited by Paolo Bernardini and Norman Fiering, 203-212. New York: Berghahn Books, 2001.
  • Cross, Harry E. "Commerce and Orthodoxy: A Spanish Response to Portuguese Commercial Penetration in the Viceroyalty of Peru, 1580-1640." The Americas 35 (1978): 151-167.
  • Hampe-Martinez, Teodoro. "Recent Work on the Inquisition and Peruvian Colonial Society,1570-1820". Latin American Research Review. Vol. 31 No.2 (1996).
  • Lea, Henry Charles. The Inquisition in Spanish Dependencies; Sicily, Naples, Sardina, Milan, the Canaries, Mexico, Peru, New Granada. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1908.
  • Lewin, Boleslao. El Santo Oficio en América: y el más grande proceso inquisitorial en el Perú. Buenos Aires: Sociedad Hebraica Argentina, 1950.
  • Liebman, Seymour. "The Great Conspiracy in Peru," The Americas 28 (1971): 176-190.
  • Medina, José Toribio. Historia del Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición de Lima (1569-1820). 2 vols. Santiago: Imprenta Gutenberg, 1887.
  • Roth, Roth. The Spanish Inquisition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1964.
  • Schaposchnik, Ana E. The Lima Inquisition: The Plight of the Crypto-Jews in Seventeenth-Century Peru. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015.
  • Silverblatt, Irene. Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.
  • Ventura, Maria da Graça A. Mateus. "Los judeoconversos portugueses en el Perú del siglo XVII: Redes de complicidad." In Familia, Religión y Negocio: El sefardismo en las relaciones entre el mundo ibérico y los Países Bajos en la Edad Moderna, edited by Jaime Contreras, Bernardo J. García García, e Ignacio Pulido, 391-406. Madrid: Fundación Carlos Amberes, 2002.

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