Chapter 7 Prophecies in Early Modern Spain: Deceit, Scandals, and the Spanish Inquisition

In: Early Modern Prophecies in Transnational, National and Regional Contexts (3 vols.)
Monika Frohnapfel-Leis
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Prophecies in Early Modern Spain appeared in a variety of shapes: in a collective form when performed by street preachers and others like Lucrecia de León, whose predictions and prophetic dreams were directed to a multitude of potential listeners or readers. They also arose as individual forms of divination, when fortune-tellers answered one’s very personal, individual questions.

After giving an overview of the situation in early modern Spain in the introduction with a focus on prophecies’ social potential the chapter presents two previously untranslated sources: first, some chapters of Juan de Horozco y Covarrubias’ Treatise of the Truthful and False Prophecy, which was printed at Segovia in 1588. This deals with the difficulties that contemporaries faced discerning true from false prophecies, a widely discussed contemporary issue. Second, the proceedings of an inquisitorial trial against the tertiary nun María de la Concepción at Seville in 1645. She had made individual forecasts and was accused of having agitated the people with her predictions. Although very different in their character, both sources give an insight into the potential for prophecies to bring about scandal and disruption in early modern Spain.

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