Spanish Archives

Spanish National Historical Archive, in Chamartin district in Madrid. Building from 1953.

Researching the Spanish archives can be something of a nightmare. The archives are not well-organised, little is digitised and – over the centuries – large parts have been lost. In particular, Napoleon transported the Inquisition archives to France. Much was returned, but much was also destroyed.

You need a research strategy.

PARES (Portal de Archivos Españoles) is the main online catalogue, but not the most user-friendly.

A number of catalogues of Inquisition processos – including for those accused of judaising have been collected are available for free online. These include for the Tribunals of:

ToledoCatálogo de las causas contra la fe seguidas ante el Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición de Toledo

CórdobaColección de los Autos generales celebrados por el tribunal de la Inquisición de Córdoba

MurciaCatálogo de procesos inquisitoriales del Tribunal del Santo Oficio de Murcia

As well as the catalogues, you can often find other useful documents online. Here are some examples:

Relacion histórica del auto general de Fe: Que se celebró en Madrid esto año de 1680

Instrucciones del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición, sumariamente, antiguas y nuevas

Madrid parish archives

The map below shows the administrative divisions of Spain in 1757. It is worth emphasising that Spain was (and maybe is) more of a patchwork of identities, languages and loyalties that the unified state that we foreigners see from the outside. The Kingdom of Aragon had its own parliament and spoke Catalan. The Basques in the north had their own identity and language. The Galicians in the northwest were remote – except for visitors by sea – and had their own language. Navarre and Leon had existed as independent kingdoms. Even in Castilian (Spanish) speaking Spain there were different dialects. Individual cities also had their own rights to defend. Local identity – and the defence of traditional laws and privileges – were hugely important.

Spain 1757