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John F. Chuchiak IV, Ph.D.

212 University Hall
Honors College
Missouri State University
Springfield, Missouri  65897
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JohnChuchiak@missouristate.edu

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The Inquisitor: Don Alonso de Peralta y Robles 

(Senior Inquisitor in New Spain, 1594-1609)

Early Family Life

 

Born a sometime in 1555 in the Peruvian city of Arequipa, Perú (a town founded initially by his father who had served as one of the conquistadors of the Inca empire and an encomendero), Don Alonso de Peralta descended from a long line of lesser noble soldiers and hidalgos.  

 

His mother María Alfonsa de Robles y Solier Dávalos de Valenzuela was considered one of the most noble women in the Kingdom of Perú. Her family belonged to old Castilian nobility and eventhough she was a creole born in Lima, her family in Spain had deep roots, and she enjoyed considerable privilege and wealth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1574, Alonso's father Don Diego de Peralta y Cabeza de Vaca sent six of his children to Toledo Spain, to be raised and cared for by his sister.  Don Alonso, one of these six grew up mostly in Spain.  However, a creole by birth, he must have somewhat faced some descrimination for his non-peninsular birth.  

 

Nevertheless, Don Alonso de Peralta made history in one other way, he was the first creole (American born) Inquisitor in any of the New World's inquisitorial Tribunals. All of his predecessors, both in New Spain and Peru, had necessarily before been peninsulares (born in Spain).

 

The unique fact that Don Alonso returns to the New World with such an important commission as the first non-peninsular Inquisitor is a testament to the wealth, power and connections that his family held.  

 

One of the few Spanish conquistadors to live long enough to enjoy his wealth and share of the spoils from the conquest of the Incas, Don Alonso's father Diego de Peralta y Cabeza de Vaca by the 1570s was one of the wealthiest men in the Kingdom of Perú.  

 

In fact, his father's residence in Arequipa was so wealthy and sumptuous that Don Alonso's father hosted the visit of the Viceroy Don Francisco de Toledo during his royal visitation of the southern Peruvian city.

 

 

The Peralta Family Coat of Arms

(16th Century)

Collaborative use of Documents, Descriptions, Designs and Interpretations: The Creation of Don Alonso de Peralta

 

 

The skills of our combined interdisciplinary research and design efforts can be seen in the sample preliminary design and 3-D recreation of the Inquisitor of New Spain, Don Alonso de Peralta y Robles, whose 3-D character exemplifies our shared interdiscplinary methodology and international collaboration in terms of combining the results of the historical research team, with the preliminary sketches of our artists and digital designers.

The creation of the historical character of Don Alonso de Peralta y Robles was the result of painstaking archival, art historical, and image design work.  Our international team of scholars and designers worked in real time using a shared Google Drive Folder, to share information, imagery and historical documentation.

 

The design and 3-D character created by our Art Director, David Gibbons, evolved from archival descriptions of the historical figure, in combination with the physical traits of later 17th century portraits of known relatives from Peru and Spain.  All of these various factors were combined to re-create the facial structure, appearance and physical features of the Inquisitor based on the available evidence using some of the similar techniques used in forensic facial reconstruction by crime scene sketch artists.  

 

The textiles, textures and even the detail of the golden crucifix are based on documented crosses donated by Peralta to the Tribunal and other crosses similar in style worn by 17th century inquisitors in known portraits.

 

All of these factors, both art historical, archival and technical, were combined by the team working in tandem to create the most probable physical appearance of the Inquisitor as he might have looked in 1601.   Based again on composites of the known facces of one of his cousins and a brother, and then age graded with changes to document physical descriptions of the Inquisitor in the archival sources which were adjusted for his documented age in 1601.