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Inquisition Transcripts or Procesos

By: Genie Milgrom
Director of Crypto Jewish Research

  • The Inquisition judgements called Procesos are considered a genre of their own and we can see the format and the way of reporting change dramatically from when the Inquisition started to the later years.
  • However, they have a very similar reporting format. Covering the background of the person, their accusers, the genealogy of the person (of most interest to us) their “crime” ,lists of their belongings, heirs, tortures and finally, their punishments

  • Many of these procesos are 250-500 pages thick, hand bound, and written on parchment on both sides of the paper. Some were written hastily and not as complete as others, thus leaving a gap in what we can garner from them
  • Also, many of these cases have been transcribed and studied and especially of more famous individuals such as the Mexico Crypto-Jew , Luis de Carvajal
  • Most of the thousands of these cases have yet to be transcribed or even digitized and hence, not studied.
  • There is a lot of different opinion and disparity among researchers as to who really got copies of the Procesos.
  • My experience is that in some countries the scribe wrote each proceso out twice. The only time it went back to Spain was if the prisoner or family appealed. Then the Proceso would be sent back to Spain in full and from that moment on, that particular file let’s say would be missing from the Peru or Colombian records. This was common. If it had been made twice then Lima would still have a copy.
  • Also, it would never be sent back and this is why when we look at the Inventory of the Inquisition archives in different countries archives in Spain and Portugal, we see random countries in the archives sometimes and that explains how they got there.
  • Through the years, Procesos were stolen and even sold on Ebay
  • Sometimes the town priest kept the files pertaining to his town safe in the Church to protect the families and their Descendants. Such is the case of a family I know. The family had an elderly priest in the Galicia region and he had all the Inquisition Procesos of the region until 3 years ago. He died and no one knows where these are nor kept including the family.

INQUISTION TRIBUNALS IN THE NEW WORLD

  • The Spanish Inquisition took hold in the New World and Inquisition Tribunals were set up in Cartagena, Colombia, Mexico City, Mexico, and Lima, Peru. Simultaneously Inquisition offices were set up in every major city such as Santiago Chile and many others. Only the three cities with the tribunals could actually have people in front of an Inquisitor. The others would collect information before a lower Inquisitor and then send to a  tribunal along with the prisoner
  • Important to note is to find out which Tribunal was overlooking the country you are interested in so that you don’t go chasing in the wrong direction
  • Mexico City was responsible for overlooking Mexico,North America, all the countries in Central America and down to Panama. In their jurisdiction also were the Philippines.
  • The one in Lima, Peru for most of South America including Brazil. And the one in Cartagena, Colombia for the northern coast of South America and the Caribbean islands.
  • Madrid holds correspondence between those three Tribunals and themselves. 
  • Mexico has Procesos that are for the most part intact, Cartagena seems to be missing but a lot of their information is on line and Madrid has a few of their cases and Lima has some 70 Boxes available.
  • Cartagena de Indias judged 59  people between 1610 and 1660
  • 12 imprisoned in 1626
  • 20 in 1636
  • 8 in 1641
  • 8 in 1654
  • The other 11 in scattered years
  • Cartagena started in 1610 and the first process was in 1612

Last Update: 11/05/2020   Avraham Groll
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