Skip to main content Accessibility help

Prosecuting the French: patterns of trials against French defendants in Valencia, 1566–1686



A serial study of court records from two different jurisdictions in early modern Valencia shows that during the years 1566–1686 there was one single period with significantly higher numbers of trials against French defendants. This coincided with the period of the Spanish monarchy's greatest worries about outside influence in Spain. However, the increased number of trials is only traceable in one of the two courts under study, that of the Inquisition, which was under the control of the central government. The locally controlled court of criminal justice (Justicia) did not show any such increased activity against Frenchmen.



Hide All


1 There is no study of the city of Valencia in English, but James Casey's classic on the Kingdom of Valencia is useful and contains a wealth of information on the city: James Casey, The kingdom of Valencia in the seventeenth century (Cambridge, 1979).

2 Ibid., 6–7. See also Poitrineau's article on French immigration in Valencia: Poitrineau, A; Abel, ‘La inmigración francesa en el reino de Valencia (siglos XVI–XIX)’, Moneda y Credito 137 (1976). Frenchmen comprised 10 per cent of the elite immigrants who became avecindados in the city of Valencia between 1479 and 1611, and 15 and 24 per cent of the poor who were treated at the hospital in Valencia in 1557 and 1600 respectively; see Esteban, Emilia Salvador, ‘Avecindados en Valencia (1479–1611): estado de la cuestión’, Saitabi: Revista de la Facultat de Geografia i Història 53 (2003), 66, and Sánchez-Blanco, Rafael Benítez, ‘La inmigración en Valencia según las fuentes del Hospital General (1557–1849)’, Saitabi 53 (2003), 89.

3 The best introduction to the Spanish Inquisition is Helen Rawlings, The Spanish Inquisition (Oxford, 2006). For the tribunal in Valencia there are three general studies: Ricardo García Cárcel, Herejía y sociedad en el siglo XVI: la Inquisición en Valencia, 1530–1609 (Barcelona, 1980); Ricardo García Cárcel, Orígines de la Inquisición española: el tribunal de Valencia 1478–1530, 2nd edn (Barcelona, 1985); Stephen Haliczer, Inquisition and society in the Kingdom of Valencia 1478–1834 (Berkeley, 1990). For the Justicia, see Pablo Pérez García, El Justicia criminal de Valencia (1479–1707): una magistratura urbana valenciana ante la consolidacion del absolutismo (Valencia, 1991); and Pablo Pérez García, La comparsa de los malhechores: Valencia 1479–1518 (Valencia, 1990).

4 The sources used here are from the fiscal accounts in the section ‘Maestre Racional’ (hereafter ‘MR’) in the Archivo del Reyno de Valencia (hereafter ARV), in Valencia.

5 These are case summaries (relaciones de causas), preserved in the section Inquisición in the Archivo Historico Nacional (hereafter AHN), in Madrid.

6 The other two were the archbishop's ordinary and the Real Audiencia, neither of which has left sources that can easily be exploited. For the Audiencia, there is a study of the institution, but not of its activity; see Teresa Canet Aparisi, La audiencia valenciana en la epoca foral moderna (Valencia, 1987).

7 The districts covered by the Inquisition's various tribunals were deliberately constituted so as not to coincide with those of other courts. This was done to make the Holy Office less vulnerable to local pressures, but it also makes comparative studies more difficult, since there will always be differences in the areas covered by the different courts. See Contreras, Jaime and Pierre Dedieu, Jean, ‘Geografia de la Inquisición española: la formación de los distritos, 1470–1820’, Hispania 40, 144 (1980), and ‘Estructuras geograficas del Santo Oficio en España’, in Joaquin Pérez Villanueva and Bartolomé Escandell Bonet eds., Historia de la Inquisición en España y America, vol. II: Las estructuras del Santo Oficio (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1993).

8 AHN, Sección de Inquisición (hereafter Inq.), lib. 936, fols. 37v and 50r.

9 Haliczer, Inquisition and society, 24–42; García Cárcel, Herejía y sociedad, 40–4.

10 For the Moriscos in general, see Louis Cardaillac, Morisques et chrétiens: un affrontement polémique, 1492–1640 (Paris, 1977); Louis Cardaillac, Juan Aranda Doncel, and Bernard Vincent, Les Morisques et l‘Inquisition (Paris, 1990); and Antonio Domínguez Ortiz and Bernard Vincent, Historia de los moriscos: vida y tragedia de una minoría, 2nd edn (Madrid, 1978). For Moriscos and the Inquisition in Valencia in particular, see Sánchez-Blanco, Rafael Benítez, ‘¿Cristianos o bautizados? La trayectoria inicial de los moriscos valencianos, 1521–1525’, Estudis: Revista de Historia Moderna 26 (2000); Carrasco, Rafael, ‘Historia de una repression: los moriscos y la inquisición en Valencia 1566–1620’, Áreas: Revista de Ciencias Sociales 9 (1988); Tulio Halperin Donghi, Un conflicto nacional: Moriscos y cristianos viejos en Valencia (Valencia, 1980); García Cárcel, Herejía y sociedad, 52–60, 75–88, 98–113, 8–24, 221–43; and Haliczer, Inquisition and society, 244–72.

11 Haliczer, Inquisition and society, 98–9; García Cárcel, Herejía y sociedad, 171–6.

12 Jorge A. Catalá Sanz and Pablo Pérez García, ‘La pena capital en la Valencia del Quinientos’, in Conflictos y represiones en el Antiguo Régimen (Valencia, 2000); Catalá Sanz, Jorge A.andGarcía, Pablo Pérez, ‘La pena capital en la Valencia del XVII’, Estudis: Revista de Historia Moderna 24 (1998).

13 See for instance García Cárcel, Herejía y sociedad, 74; Ricardo García Cárcel and Doris Moreno Martínez, Inquisición: historia critica (Madrid, 2000), 266; Joseph Pérez, The Spanish Inquisition: a history (London, 2004), 42.

14 Emilia Salvador Esteban, ‘Mercaderes extranjeros en la Valencia de los siglos XVI y XVII: entre la atracción y el rechazo’, in Luís Miguel Enciso ed., La burguesía española en la Edad Moderna (Valladolid, 1996); Poitrineau, ‘La inmigración francesa’, 203–46.

15 ‘… que lo que el papa hazia en la tierra no era hecho en el cielo porque era hombre como nosotros’, and ‘confesso el hech o y nego la intencion y credulidad’; AHN, Inq., lib. 912, fol. 490v.

16 ‘… pues no hauia infierno no hauia para que tratar de peccado mortal’; AHN, Inq., lib. 936, fol. 178r.

17 The studies by García Cárcel do not indicate substantial numbers of trials against Frenchmen before 1566; see García Cárcel, Orígines de la Inquisición and Herejía y sociedad.

18 Trials against Dominga Deuxi, dated 2 March 1566, and Barbara, dated 12 December 1621, respectively; ARV, MR, 6261.

19 AHN, Inq., lib. 911, fols. 750v–751r; lib. 938, fols. 79r–79v; and lib. 937, fol. 295v.

20 Gunnar W. Knutsen, Servants of Satan and masters of demons (Oslo, 2004).

21 We have included figures for French defendants in the Justicia despite our reservations as to how complete they are, because we believe them to be representative of the pattern of gender among the defendants.

22 Poitrineau, ‘La inmigración francesa’, 105–6.

23 The claim was made by the French ambassador in 1621, when five French merchants were tried; see Poitrineau, ‘La inmigración francesa’, 109.

24 Letter dated 28 May 1569, AHN, Inq., lib. 912, fol. 50r.

25 AHN, Inq., lib. 912, fols. 390r and 454r.

26 AHN, Inq., legajo 4660, no. 1.

27 Stephen Haliczer gives the figure of 82.6 per cent unmarried, but does not give any source reference or time frame for this information; see Haliczer, Inquisition and society, 285.

28 The number of cases recorded by the Justicia are so few that they do not justify detailed statistics of accusations and sentences.

29 AHN, Inq., lib. 938, fol. 183r.

30 Haliczer, Inquisition and society, 290–4.

31 AHN, Inq., lib. 912, fol. 408r.

32 ‘… importava mucho tener más cuenta con los françeses que venían de Francia que con los moros de la tierra’; AHN, Inq., lib. 912, fols. 108r–109r.

33 AHN, Inq., lib. 325, fols. 16r–18r.

34 William Monter certainly thinks so: ‘Across Northern Spain, the great Protestant hunt of the 1560s involved little more than tracking down Frenchmen’, and ‘Along the French border from San Sebastián to Barcelona, the Inquisition ordinarily equated “Protestant” with “Frenchman,” even during the hunt for Spanish heretics.’ See William Monter, Frontiers of heresy: the Spanish Inquisition from the Basque Lands to Sicily (Cambridge, 1990), 234, 5.

35 The last moment of great tension in Valencia was during the Germanías revolt in 1519–1522, which combined social, political and religious motivations and led to open warfare against the monarchy.

36 The ‘viraje filipino’: see Joan Reglà, Felipe II y Cataluña (Madrid, 2000).

37 García Cárcel, Herejía y sociedad, 74.

38 AHN, Inq., lib. 325, fol. 46r and 58v.

39 Sebastián García Martínez, Valencia bajo Carlos II. Bandelorismo, reivindicaciones agrarias y servicios a la monarquía (Valencia, 1991), 289, 94–5, 98–9, 302.

40 Examples of royal orders from 1638, 1667, 1673, 1683, 1689 and 1691, Biblioteca Històrica de la Universitat de València (hereafter BH), Mss. 0168(13), 068(28), 0818(60), 0818(62), 0818(13) and 0168(50). See also Daniel Muñoz Navarro, ‘Comercio de tejidos al por menor en la Valencia del siglo XVIII’, unpublished dissertation, University of Valencia, 2007, 54–63.

41 Henry Charles Lea, A history of the Inquisition of Spain (New York 1906–1908), vol. III, 463–8:Croft, B; Pauline, ‘Englishmen and the Spanish Inquisition 1558–1625’, The English Historical Review 87 (1972), 343, Henningsen, Gustav, ‘Los daneses y la Inquisición’, Annuario dell‘Istituto Storico Italiano per l'Eta Moderna e Contemporanea 37–8 (1985), 36–7; Knutsen, G. W., ‘Religious life in seventeenth-century Norway seen through the eyes of the Spanish Inquisition’, Arv: Scandinavian Yearbook of Folklore (2005), 61; Knutsen, Gunnar W., ‘Religious life in seventeenth-century Norway seen through the eyes of the Spanish Inquisition’, Arv: Scandinavian Yearbook of Folklore 61 (2005), 723; Knutsen, Gunnar W., ‘El Santo Oficio de la Inquisición en Barcelona y soldados protestantes en el ejercito de Cataluña’, Estudis 34 (2008).

Prosecuting the French: patterns of trials against French defendants in Valencia, 1566–1686



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed