The Inquisition against free thought, the practice of censorship in New Spain
The Catholic Church had great power in the New Spain era, and anything that went against it was punished. Against this background, the Inquisition issued an edict in which it ordered to denounce people who had books that were not written in Spanish.
At the time of New Spain, the Catholic Church had great power, and anything that went against it was punished. Under this context, the Inquisition issued an edict in which it ordered to denounce people who had books that were not written in Spanish. On the other hand, sellers and individuals had to present a list of their books and had to make an inventory with the printing data under penalty of excommunication and a fine of one thousand ducats. Thus, the judges in charge drew up a list of forbidden books and many of them ended up at the stake.
The process of the Conquest meant a rupture for the original cultures of Mexico, which saw their evolutionary and cultural process interrupted, not only through arms and the plundering of lands but also with the subsequent subjugation they lived for nearly 300 years through the institutions that were established during the Viceroyalty, such as the Inquisition, one of the main oppressors of ideas, knowledge, and thoughts of the population.
One of the tools used by the Holy Office to get its message across to all the people of New Spain was the inquisitorial edicts. These notices or decrees were published to exhort the inhabitants to denounce those who attempted against the Catholic faith through blasphemy, heresy, and resistance to religious imposition. It was also one of how the Inquisition prohibited the circulation and reading of books.
By 1613, from Mexico City, an edict was issued ordering, regardless of social status or caste, the denunciation of any person in possession of books written in languages other than Spanish and that the order is circulated in all cities, towns, and ports, as there was news of the sale and possession of various texts that were against the ideals of the Church.
This measure also requested that anyone who owned any writing or library should present it before the Tribunal for examination by specialized judges, regardless of whether the texts were in indigenous, Romance, Latin, or any other language, to have total control of the content of the books circulating in New Spain, and whoever was found to have any considered prohibited would be punished with excommunication and a fine of one thousand ducats, and the expropriated copies would become part of a purge.
This edict also gave shape to rules for sellers and private individuals. They had to present a list of the books they were about to sell and those they had, as well as those they would acquire within the first seventy days of each year, they also had to make an inventory with the printing data of each title and in that same document declare and sign under oath that they did not keep any that would go against the good faith of the Catholic Church. This would create a catalog of forbidden works that would be used by the commissioned guards to review everything related to publishing merchandise throughout the length and breadth of New Spain.