Analyzing Evidence presents case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. On this screen you see a record from the Mexican Inquisition, a tribunal created in Spain in the late 15th century to prosecute people who committed crimes against Christianity. This record is a summary of a case in which a nun, Juana de la Cruz, accused her 14-year-old servant, Gertrudis de Escobar, of renouncing God three times. Gertrudis de Escobar was a mulatathe child of a white person and a black person. On this screen you also see a painting of a mulata woman selling fruit in New Spain (Mexico). Though there were large numbers of Africans and then Creole blacks and mulattoes in New Spain at this time, little information about them exists.
As you examine these sources, think about how they were produced and whom they were produced for. What can they say about New Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries? What can we learn from these documents about people whose stories do not usually appear in the historical record? How might this story have been told in other contextsoutside of an official Inquisition case?
Now listen to Professor Joan Bristol analyze this case from the Mexican Inquisition.Note: This site uses Flash. For slower connections, visit the non-flash version.