Renunciation case against Gertrudis de Escobar, Mexico, 1659
This document is the proceedings of an 1659 Inquisition case brought against a 14 year old girl. The girl, named Gertrudis de Escobar, was accused of the crime of renouncing God. Gertrudis de Escobar was the child of a black person and a white person, termed at that time a mulata. Renouncing God was a fairly common crime that blacks and mulattoes were accused of. Many of these individuals were servants either enslaved or free and it was common practice for owners to beat them. The enslaved individuals knew, however, that if they renounced God, which was a crime, the beating would theoretically have to stop and they would be brought to the Inquisition thereby giving them some respite from the beating. So what often happened is an owner or a master would come in and say “my slave did this horrible thing—he or she renounced God.”. Scholars have argued that this was a strategy to get the beating to stop and to get a hearing at the Inquisition. Gertrudis de Escobar was actually a free mulata servant in a convent. She was brought to the Inquisition by her mistress, Juana de la Cruz, who was a nun. She had heard that there was a possibility that Gertrudis was thinking of running away, so her mistress was punishing her.
This source is a part of the Analyzing Inquisition Documents methods module.