Edited and annotated by John F. Chuchiak IV, this collection of previously untranslated and unpublished documents from the Holy Office of the Inquisition in New Spain provides a clear understanding of how the Inquisition originated, evolved, and functioned in the colonial Spanish territories of Mexico and northern Central America. The three sections of documents lay out the laws and regulations of the Inquisition, follow examples of its day-to-day operations and procedures, and detail select trial proceedings. Chuchiak's opening chapter and brief section introductions provide the social, historical, political, and religious background necessary to comprehend the complex and generally misunderstood institutions of the Inquisition and the effect it has had on societal development in modern-day Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras.
Madre Maria de San Jose (1656 - 1719) -- mystic, chronicler, and co-founder of an Augustinian convent -- inscribed her life story within the model of spiritual autobiography set by St. Augustine and Teresa of Avila, but at the same time included her individual story as a seventeenth-century woman of the landowning classes in New Spain. The resulting manuscript records in intimate detail her family life, convent surroundings, and social milieu; it introduces us to a combative and engaging person and gives us a rare and vivid glimpse of a complex society.