1570: The Spanish Inquisition in America

Auto-da-fé in Lima (Pancho Fierro, 1807-1879. Public Domain)


In 1570, the Spanish Inquisition opens two independent tribunals in America: One in Mexico City (New Spain) and one in Lima (Peru). A third tribunal opens in Cartagena (Columbia) in 1611. By 1700, the tribunal in Lima has investigated 1176 cases and convicted 46 to death. The tribunal in Mexico City has investigated 950 cases and convicted 59 to death. The most frequently prosecuted crimes are heresies and blasphemies, closely followed by Judaism. Protestantism and Islam are also illegal.


Sancho de Aldana is convicted of blasphemy in 1572. He is sentenced to declare his crimes in public, naked to the waist, with a gag in his mouth and a candle in his hand. He is then paraded through the streets of Mexico City on a mule before receiving 100 lashes and being kicked out of Mexico for four years.