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John F. Chuchiak IV, Ph.D.

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Honors College
Missouri State University
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The Penitent: Doña Mariana Núñez de Carvajal

Relaxed in Person at the Auto de Fe of 1601

 

 

On December 4, 1600 Mariana Núñez de Carvajal was arrested for the heretical crime of crypto-Judaism a second time by the Mexican Inquisition, along with Antonio Diaz de Caceres. 

 

Due to her fragile state of mind and her gender, she was placed in the home of Doña Maria Peralta, the older sister of the Senior Inquisitor Don Alonso de Peralta, and mother of Bernardino Vazquez de Tapia, a familiar of the Holy Office.

 

The Mexican inquisitors, who had spared her life in 1596, waited this time with patience for her to recover from her precariously unstable state of mind.

 

Arrested a second time as a relapsed heretic and a recidivist for the crime of judaizing, as a repeat offender only one possible outcome awaited her sentencing: a penalty of death.

 

In the tragedy that became her second trial before the Mexican Inquisition, the young woman, out of desperation or perhaps feigned or legitimate contrition, made a full confession and then went on to denounce many other people. 

 

Whether still plagued by the mental breakdown that she had suffered in 1596 after having witnessed the burning alive of her parents, or out of a hope for a reprieve, she claimed to have made a full conversion to Catholicism.  

 

As proof, she offered testimony against many of her own friends and relatives.  She testified against her younger sister, Ana de León, and against her niece, Eleanor, both of whom had been arrested earlier with her and had also witnessed the burning at the stake of their mother and father in the Auto de fe of 1596.

 

All three women where later brought to the secret prisons of the Inquisition in the spring of 1600.

 

Collaborative use of Documents, Descriptions, Designs and Interpretations:

The Creation of Doña Mariana Núñez de Carvajal