Marriage, bigamy, and the Inquisition : power and gender relations in seventeenth-century New Spain
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“Marriage, Bigamy, and the Inquisition” explores the formation and dissolution of intimate marital partnerships in seventeenth-century colonial Mexico. This report is a preliminary investigation into the formation and regulation of family life through the language of lived experience depicted in bigamy cases from the Inquisition. The trials of María de Figueroa, Juan de Lizarzaburo, Baltasar Márques Palomino, Mariana Monroy, and Pedro de Valenzuela depict the way in which the accused, their family/witnesses, and the court contested what family meant during inquisitorial interrogation. In other words, this report examines the application of marriage law to these specific family histories and the accused bigamists’ interpretation of what they deemed acceptable within Spanish society. In order to accomplish this analysis, this paper focuses on four key elements of marriage and family construction: 1) mala vida; 2) power relations between men and women; 3) the role of race and honor; and 4) the role of the Inquisition as an institution and site of debate about family.