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John F. Chuchiak IV, Ph.D.

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Missouri State University
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Don Alonso de Peralta

and the Palace of the Inquisition

in New Spain

 

Peralta's Role in Redesigning the Inquisition Palace (1596-1609)

 

Shortly after arriving in New Spain as one of the newly appointed Inquisitors, Don Alonso de Peralta y Robles began a series of building and construction works, expanding the previous palace of the Inquisition, and adding a new series of prisons with the purchase of several neighboring buildings.

 

The chronicler Don Dionisio de Ribera Flores in his book Relación Historiada de las Exequias Funerales de la Magestad del Rey D. Philippo II  in 1600 wrote in reference to the palace that Don Alonso de Peralta:

 

"...re-edified the palace which was threatened with great ruin...and he did it mostly at his own expense...and he renovated it by means of adding a chapel, and an altarpiece, dedicating it all to the glorious Archibishop of Seville, Saint Ildefonso, whose life's history he had painted with the figure of the Holy Virgin and with the saint receiving his chasuble from her sacred hand, all made to life-size" [1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mexican painter who Peralta hired to execute these paintings, the famous Baltazar de Echave Orio, also served the tribunal in less noble ways, by holding the contract to produce the feared "garments of shame" or sambenitos for the victims of the autos de fe of 1596 and 1601.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Baltazar received the contract to execute the painting and fabrication of the sambenitos in which Doña Mariana Núñez de Carvajal's mother and brother were burned alive in 1596. [2] 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inquisitor Peralta's influence over the construction and redesign of the Inquistion palace continued long after he left New Spain in 1609 to become the first consecrated Archbishop of Charcas in modern day Bolivia.  

 

Even after his departure, he continued to send donations of money and supplies from South America for the continued elaboration of the Mexican Inquisition's palace. [3]

 

 

 

Obras y reparos de las casas del Tribunal de la Inquisición de México hecho por orden del Inquisidor Don Alonso de Peralta, 1604,

Archivo Histórico Nacional,

Ramo de Inquisición, 4814,Exp.37

A mural of the Inquisition seal and coffered mudejar style ceiling in the palace of the Inquisition.   

 

This mural was one of those commissioned by the Inquisitor Don Alonso de Peralta y Robles in 1596.

During the reconstruction works on the Inquisition palace, the Inquisitor Peralta ordered the replacement of the flooring and had tiles of marble added to the hallways

Art Design Director, David Gibbons' recreation of Don Alonso de Peralta "walking the halls" of the Palace of the Inquisition.

[1] Joaquín García Icazbalceta, Bibliografía Mexicana del siglo XVI, pp. 365-374.

 

 

[2] See Carta de pago y libranza de 65 pesos de oro común a Baltazar de Osorio Echave, pintor, por las cosas que hizo para celebrar el auto de fe de 1596, Archivo General de la Nación, ramo de Inquisición, Legajo 77, folio 144v.

 

 

[3] See Donación que hace Alonso de Peralta, arzobispo de Charcas, de 1,500 pesos para la construcción de la portada de la casa que alberga al tribunal del Santo Oficio, 1610, Archivo General de la Nación, Indiferente Virreinal, Real Fisco de la Inquisición, Caja 4935, Exp. 54, 6 folios. 

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