Mark A. Schneegurt

Jan 30, 2023

Anthology of Religious Poetry from the Mexican Inquisition Trials of 16th-Century CryptoJews

OpenCharm LLC 2020

A century after being expelled from Portugal, cryptoJews in Mexico, false converts to Christianity, could not speak of their beliefs for fear of becoming embroiled in the imprisonment, torture, and death in flames that characterized the Inquisition. Without written texts, the Jewish liturgy lost, clans of cryptoJews created a unique body of religious poetry, connecting them to the Laws of Moses, seeking redemption from sin, or hoping for an escape from their embittered lives. The Carvajal clan was led by Luis el Mozo, an alumbrado, a mystic, and his Judaizing sisters. Once discovered to be secretly practicing Judaism, years of suffering at the hands of the Inquisitors were meticulously recorded in the transcripts of their long demeaning trials. The Carvajal's friends, spouses, children and grandchildren were implicated as Judaizers, with many being reconciled by the Church to secular authorities to be burned alive at massive public ceremonies. The burning of Luis and his sisters was the main attraction for cheering crowds at the auto da fe of 1596 in Mexico City. The cruelty of the Inquisitors was matched by their attention to legal detail and testimonies made at trial. Buried within thousands of pages of transcripts, hiding in library special collections of rare books around the world are the only remnants of the religious poetry that sustained cryptoJews hiding in Mexico. Mark A. Schneegurt's Anthology of Religious Poetry from the Mexican Inquisition Trials of 16th-Century CryptoJews uncovers these hidden treasures.

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Ari Barbalat

Ari Barbalat holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of California in Los Angeles. He lives in Toronto with his family.

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