The literary life of EDWARD JAMES, author,reviewer, occasional poet and former pension adviser to the government of Kyrgyzstan
Today we recoil at the idea of public executions, but imagine a public holiday called to celebrate a mass condemnation and sentencing of scores of prisoners, culminating in a series of executions by burning at the stake. This was an Auto de Fe, an ‘Act of Faith’ organised by the Spanish Inquisition, repeated for 400 years not only throughout Spain but across the Spanish and Portuguese empires.
As a background piece to my novel Freedom’s Pilgrim I have written a page on the first Auto de Fe in Mexico in 1574 and about the subsequent Autos throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Although the victims of this first Auto were supposedly Lutheran English sailors the principal mission of the Inquisition was to root out crypto-Judaic practices among the population of Jewish descent who had converted to Christianity to escape discrimination and persecution.
See my page Auto de Fe which has been published on the website ‘Let us talk of many things…’ on 4th November. Also in my series published on my own website ENGLAND’S HOMER about Richard Hakluyt and later I intend a piece about the two ships Jesus of Lubeck and Minion that pioneered England’s slave trade.