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The catalog of punishable crimes expanded with the passage of time, and the Tribunal of the Holy Office gained enormous importance and respect. It is worth remembering here that "inquisition" simply means "investigation. The encounter with the New World created many problems. To understand what occurred jurisdictionally, we must refer to the theological underpinnings.

The Holy Scriptures, dictated by the Holy Spirit, say in the New Testament that Christ's apostles preached throughout the entire world. In the face of such a reality, some explanation had to be found. The most ingenious theologians postulated that the intentionally lost apostle, St.

La legislación rural de la Revolución Mexicana (Biblioteca Jurídica Porrúa) (Spanish Edition)

Thomas, had preached in the Americas. This thesis, which also occurred in Peru with some variations, arose in the sixteenth century and was expunged by the nineteenth. The practical solution was to declare that the existence of the New World was a mystery and that the Indians were "gentiles" that is, without ever having received Christian doctrine , and to set about evangelizing them.

The Church was able to do this because they deemed the Indians "idolaters," among other negative things. Idolatry is an unpardonable error for Christianity. It consists of offering latria , or worship and service owed solely to God the worship of the saints is called dulia , to an idol, an image created by human beings.

That the Indians were idolaters provides one of the principal justifications for what Spanish historiography continues to call the "just titles" of the conquest of the New World. This implies that if Spain had conceded the existence of the Indians' own religion, it would not, in terms of what has been said above, have had Christian jurisdiction over them. As far as civil jurisdiction was concerned, the Indians were alleged to be, among other things, drunkards and sodomizers.

In spite of some heroic attempts to slacken the zeal, Spain proceeded with the conversion of New World Indians. The process turned out to be more difficult than had been anticipated. The main problem is that, in spite of the friars' investigations which are our principal sources, the Indians had their own religions and were unfamiliar with Christianity, unlike the Moors and the Jews, who had centuries of contact with Christians.

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The two religious mentalities confronted each other without mutual understanding: one exclusive, that of the Christians, and one inclusive, that of the indigenous peoples. This reality has been conceptualized in terms of "syncretism" or "nativism," and yet these terms are not completely satisfactory. The fact is that the Christian Church expanded its battlefronts. It did not simply have to contend with the heretical deviations or the apostasies with which it was familiar in the Old World, but now saw itself forced to employ its imagination regarding the novelties that the Evil Spirit manifested in America.

The Church held that the Devil was the guilty party. I have already compiled some notes toward an essay that could be entitled "The Devil in the New World. He had fooled the Indians into worshipping him with excrements in place of the sacraments of the Church of God and as a mockery of divinity. He was responsible for the fact that the Indians committed crimes against the faith after having been baptized. All of this resulted in the primary necessity of exorcising lands, animals, plants, and people.

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This resulted, I believe, in the initial Franciscan practice of limiting the baptismal rite. It also resulted in indispensable and constant vigilance in order to detect and punish all deviations, that is, to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction. This privilege. The first generated a peculiar conflict that lasted for almost three centuries regarding the Spanish state's efforts to secularize the Indian parishes, finally achieved with great effort around The second concerns the topic I am now addressing. The first twelve Franciscans received episcopal jurisdiction as well as jurisdiction of the Holy Office and that of inquisitors of the Indies, on their passage through the West Indies.

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I do not know whether it was intentional, but everything seems very well thought out. The Spanish Crown sent to Mexico Franciscans whose vocation was conversion, as we noted earlier. The "elect one," as he was called, arrived in New Spain with episcopal jurisdiction in In this capacity he carried out dozens of trials, among which many of the published ones are of increasing interest. The following and third chapter on jurisdiction concerned the inspector Tello de Sandoval, who, between and , was employed as apostolic inquisitor and carried out various trials.

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Between and , jurisdiction reverted to the bishops, since the Holy Office had not named any inquisitors. Very little is known about the trials during these years. At any rate, the Omnimoda bull was not abolished, and the evangelists were able to exercise their authority in areas without bishops. After much hesitation, the Spanish Crown resolved to reestablish the Inquisition in American territories in In the document regarding the creation of the Holy Office in America, the king expressly prohibited interference in Indian cases and preserved the bishops' authority.

Consequently, after , when the Holy Office of the Inquisition was formally established in Mexico, two tribunals of the faith existed until , at which time the first tribunal was definitively closed and the bishops published edicts proclaiming their recuperation of total jurisdiction. It is well worth our efforts to make a thorough study of it.

As an ethnologist, I have focused my interest on the curanderos, or folk healers, of colonial Mexico in order to explain both their persistence and their continuity in medical practice. I also wish to define the role of the curanderos and to examine their importance within this evolutionary social process, for the curanderos' knowledge and skills contributed to the health of the oppressed and led to the formation of a traditional mestizo medicine that syncretized Indian, black, and Spanish folk medicines.

These categories of analysis confirm the important social function of traditional medicine and its practitioners who offered a solution to the health problems of the majority of the population of colonial Mexico. The necessary existence and function of the curanderos in New Spain can be attributed to the scarcity of doctors. The Crown was politically conscientious in establishing a legal medical system for Spaniards, thus protecting the health of the group in power.

The Indians, and eventually the blacks and mixed castes, were assigned the practices of the curandero. Yet this division along class lines went ignored; Spaniards frequented the curandero as much as the other groups. Given its social dynamics, traditional medicine permeated the entire New Spanish society.

The contradiction presents itself in ideological terms: on the one hand, their services were required as experts on the human body, as able surgeons, and as superior herbalists; on the other hand, they were harshly repressed for the magical part of their treatment, which frequently contained hallucinogens and which the authorities, according to the Western world view of the time, viewed as superstitious.

From the very beginning of the conquest of New Spain, the Spanish Crown attempted to impose a Catholic world view upon which to base a system of normative practices that would organize the entire society within the framework of religion. The problems presented by the social and ideological heterogeneity of New Spain were extremely difficult to solve. The colony's reorganization was carried out along administrative, economic, and political lines, but resulted in a different dynamic on religious and cultural levels. The goal was to unify the entire society under the Catholic faith, which in actual practice was interpreted and molded according to each social group's conception.

Despite the Church's efforts to disseminate its official doctrine through regular and secular clergy with the support of the civil authorities, the various social groups—mixed castes, Indians, and marginalized Spaniards—perceived Catholicism as an ideal impossible to live up to on a daily basis. Thus, the religious beliefs of New Spain reveal a process of syncretism reflecting popular religion and culture. At times even unconsciously, civil and religious authorities strove to achieve their assigned goal of social integration; unity, however, was at best superficial in a society where diverse ideologies coexisted and interrelated, ultimately resulting in a less strict and orthodox situation than in Spain.

To maintain order and to ensure the system's equilibrium, constant vigilance was needed via the institution created in Europe in the thirteenth century and adopted by the Catholic.

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The first missionary friars were invested with the powers of the secular clergy where there was no priest or bishop, and they were responsible, among their other duties, for the detection and punishment of all violations of the faith. Under his supervision, which lasted until , twenty-three cases of witchcraft and superstition were tried, probably including some cases of traditional medical practices. Petitions first circulating in the middle of the fifteenth century explained the need to establish a Tribunal of the Holy Office which, like that in Spain, would have total disciplinary control, thus avoiding the frequent abuses and jurisdictional equivocations of the civil authorities.

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Philip II authorized the tribunal in with royal letters-patent, and it was established in New Spain in November, As in Spain, the New Spanish inquisitors were, above all else, men of law who scrupulously carried out their duties in order to maintain social control. Although the royal decision was respected, inquisitorial commissioners did receive accusations against the Indians. For some of these commissioners the separation of jurisdictions was quite clear; [13] for others, confusion, jealousy, or the belief that the crime merited inquisitorial punishment incited them to apprehend, reprimand, and threaten the Indian curanderos.

During the course of the trial, it was discovered that he was an Indian; nonetheless, he was sentenced, and it remains unclear whether sentencing occurred because he was part of the same trial as Manuela Rivera, "La Lucera," or because the inquisitors decided that the punishment was appropriate for a mestizo.

Proof of this racial status was furnished in a document not included in the proceedings. He was sentenced to be paraded in a cart preceded by a town crier who announced his crimes, to receive two hundred lashes, and to labor eight years in a mining hacienda. Of the seventy-one delations and denunciations which the Holy Office received against curanderos, fourteen warranted attestations and were dismissed after being considered inappropriate.

Twenty-two cases were tried which called for testimony; in fourteen cases the inquisitors decided in favor of public or private reprimand, two suffered public humiliation, only one had a public auto de fe in the Church of Santo Domingo, and one was exiled. These were the maximum punishments suffered by the curanderos. The first cases specifically recorded in the registers of the Inquisition as offenses of curanderos were those of Francisco Moreno, a thirty-year-old Spaniard accused of healing by incantation in , and the mulatta Magdalena, for having taken peyote as a divinatory aid.


From this time until the beginning of the nineteenth century, the accusations against the superstitious curanderos give descriptions of the therapies that identified specializations and the use of herbs and hallucinogens in the curative ceremonies. Most importantly, they attempted to understand the practitioners of traditional medicine and their patients, disclosing the latter's reactions and fears regarding the unknown, the mysterious ways of those who dealt with their health, and patients' belief in their powerful supernatural faculties.

It was also a common belief that bewitchment and all incurable illnesses resulted from hatred or unrequited love. Between these two poles revolved the relationships of New Spanish men and women; seeking good health, they appealed to the curanderos, yet when undergoing treatment, sometimes positive and other times negative, they often fell into the contradictory position of thinking they had violated the norms imposed by the Holy Office.