The Fiscal, D. Alonso de Guevára, announces to their Reverend Paternities that his denunciation of Yucé Franco is prepared, and he solicits them to order the prisoner to be brought into the audience-chamber that he may hear it read.

The apparitor of the court introduces the accused into the presence of the inquisitors and their notary, to whom Guevára now hands his formal accusation. This the notary proceeds to read. Thus:

“Most Reverend and Virtuous Sirs,—I, Alonso de Guevára, Bachelor of Law, Fiscal Prosecutor of the Holy Inquisition in this City and Diocese of Avila, appear before your Reverend Paternities in the manner by law prescribed, to denounce Yucé Franco, Jew, of the neighbourhood of Tenbleque, who is present.

“Not content that, in common with all other Jews, he is humanely permitted to abide and converse with the faithful and Catholic Christians, he did induce and attract some Christians to his accursed Law with false and deceptive doctrines and suggestions, telling them that the Law of Moses is the true one, in which there is salvation, and that the Law of Jesus Christ is a false and fictitious Law never imposed or decreed by God.

“And with infidel and depraved soul he went with some others to crucify a Christian boy, one Good Friday, almost in the manner and with that hatred and cruelty with which the Jews, his ancestors, crucified our Redeemer Jesus Christ, mocking and spitting upon him, striking and wounding him with the aim of vituperating and deriding our Holy Catholic Faith and the Passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

“Item, he contrived, as principal, together with others, to obtain a consecrated Host to be outraged and mocked in vituperation and contempt of our Holy Catholic Faith, and because amongst the other Jews—accomplices in the said crime—there were certain sorcerers who on the day of their Passover of unleavened bread were to commit enchantments with the said Host and the heart of a Christian boy. And if this were done, as said, all Christians were to enrage and die. The intention moving them was that the Law of Moses should be more widely kept and honoured, its rites and precepts and ceremonies more freely solemnized, that the Christian Religion should perish and be subverted, and that they, themselves, should become possessed of all the property of the Catholic and Faithful Christians, and there should be none to interfere with their perverse errors, and their generation should grow and multiply upon the earth, that of the Faithful Christians being entirely extirpated.

“Item, he committed other crimes concerning the Holy Office of the Holy Inquisition, as I shall state and allege in the course of these proceedings as far as I may consider necessary.

“Wherefore I beg you, Reverend Sirs, that you pronounce the said Yucé Franco, for the said crimes, to be a malefactor, abettor of heretics, and a subverter and destroyer of the Catholic and Christian Law; and that he shall be deemed to have fallen into and incurred all the penalties and censures prescribed by canon and civil law for those who commit these crimes, and the confiscation and loss of all his property, which shall be applied to the royal treasury, and that he may be abandoned to the secular arm and justice that it may do with him as by law befits with a malefactor, an abettor of heretics, and an extirpator of the Catholic Faith....

“Wherefore I petition your Reverences to proceed against the said Yucé Franco simpliciter et de plano et sine estrepitu judicii, as runs the formula prescribed by law in such cases,177 to the end that justice may be fulfilled.

“And I swear to God on this Cross on which I set my hand, that this petition and denunciation which I bring against Yucé Franco I do not bring maliciously, but because I believe him to have committed all that I have stated, and to the end that justice may be done and the wicked and the abettors of heretics be punished, that the good men may be known and that our Holy Catholic Faith may be exalted.”178

It will be seen presently that at this stage of the proceedings Yucé had not the slightest suspicion that the pretended Rabbi Abraham who had visited him in his prison of Segovia when he lay sick was other than he had announced himself. Nor did the accusation afford him the least hint that any of his associates had been taken, or that Benito Garcia had been examined under torture. So carefully had they managed things that he was not even aware of the arrest of his old father.

Therefore it must have come as something of a shock to him to hear this matter of the crucifixion of the child at La Guardia included in the indictment. Nevertheless he unhesitatingly pronounced the denunciation to be the “greatest falsehood in the world.”

Guevára answered this denial by petitioning the court to receive the proofs which he was prepared to present.

Being asked whether in the preparation of his defence he would require the services of counsel, Yucé replied in the affirmative, and the tribunal appointed as his attorney the Bachelor Sanç,179 and as his advocate Juan de Pantigoso. The usual form of oath was imposed upon these lawyers, and Yucé empowered them to act for him within the narrow limitations imposed by the Holy Office, which afforded them no opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution or even to be present at their examination.

The notary of the court was ordered to supply the defendant with a copy of the indictment, and Yucé was allowed a term of nine days within which to prepare his answer.

Five days later the accused successfully petitions the court that to the advocate appointed him be added one Martin Vazquez, to whom he gives the necessary powers. And it is this same Martin Vazquez who on that very day—December 22, 1490—presents to the court the written repudiation of the indictment, prepared by the Bachelor Sanç, in his client’s name.

The advocate begins by respectfully submitting that this court has no jurisdiction over his client on the score of the crimes alleged against him, since their Paternities are inquisitors appointed—Auctoritate Apostolica—for the Diocese of Avila only, and only over persons of that diocese. Yucé is of the Diocese of Toledo, where there are inquisitors of heretical pravity, before whom he is ready to appear to answer any charges. Therefore his case should have been referred to that court of Toledo, and their Paternities should never have received Guevára’s denunciation.

He proceeds to reprove their Paternities for having done so upon sounder grounds, when he protests that the accusation is too vague and general and obscure. It does not state place or year or month or day or hour in which, or persons with whom, it is alleged that his client committed the crimes set forth.

Further, he objects that since his client is a Jew, he cannot with justice be accused of having fallen into the crime of heresy or apostasy; and therefore it is not right that—as may be done in the case of a heretic—the full expression and elucidation of what is charged against him should be withheld, since thus it is impossible for his client to defend himself, not knowing what precisely are the charges made.

The advocate very rightly denounces it as against all equity that the Fiscal should thus prejudice Yucé without particularizing his accusation, and he warns their Paternities that it may prove hurtful to their consciences if, as a result of Guevára’s generalizations, Yucé should come to suffer and die undefended.

It is very unsatisfactory equity which says to a man, “You are accused of such-and-such crimes. Prove your innocence of them, or we punish you.” But it is not equity at all that can say, “You are accused of something; no matter what. Prove to us that you are innocent of all the offences for which this tribunal may proceed against you, or we find you guilty and send you to death.”

This, however, was precisely the method of the Holy Office, and being aware of it, the advocate is forced to confess that in a case of heresy secretly committed the Inquisition may admit an accusation that does not specify time or place of the alleged offence.

But this, he insists, does not apply to his client, who, being a Jew and not having a baptized soul, may not truly be denounced as a heretic. He appeals to the consciences of the inquisitors not to admit the accusation, and finally he threatens that if they do so, he will lodge a complaint where by right he may.

From all this it appears that so completely—as completely as his client—is the advocate in ignorance of the mainsprings of the prosecution that he does not even know that the trial has been ordered by Torquemada, himself, to take place in Avila. That warrant-letter of the Grand Inquisitor’s has not been divulged to the defendant, lest in learning the names of his fellow-accused he should learn too much, be put upon his guard, and equipped to set up a tenable defence.

But in any case, and to be on the safe side, the advocate offers a categorical and eloquent denial of every count in the Fiscal’s indictment.

He scoffs at the absurdity of accusing Yucé Franco of seeking to seduce Christians into embracing the Law of Moses. He urges the lad’s youth, his station in life, his general ignorance (even of that same Law of Moses by which he lives), and the fact that he has to work hard to make a living by his cobbler’s trade; and he adduces that his client has neither the time nor the knowledge necessary to attempt any such proselytizing as that with which he is charged.

He declares that if at any time Yucé did expound any part of the Mosaic Law in answer to questions addressed to him (this being obviously inspired by Yucé’s recollection of the statements he has made under examination concerning Alonso Franco) he did so simply and frankly, with no thought of proselytizing, nor could it so be construed. In fact, save for the answers returned by him to questions asked by Alonso Franco, the lad does not remember ever to have done even so much, which would have been no real offence in any case.

Full and formal, too, is the denial of Yucé’s participation in the crucifixion of any boy, and of having procured or attempted to procure a Host. The advocate ridicules the notion of this cobbler-lad being a sorcerer, or having knowledge of, or interest in, sorcery.

Finally—burrowing ever in the dark, and seeking to undermine possibilities, since he is given no facts that he may demolish—he suggests that the depositions received against Yucé are perhaps susceptible of being interpreted in different ways, and may refer equally to good or evil, and that since he is accused and arrested the things he has, himself, deponed (i.e. concerning Alonso Franco’s Judaizing tendencies) should be interpreted in his favour, and not against him.

Therefore he petitions their Reverend Paternities to order the witnesses to declare with whom, where, when, and how Yucé committed these things which are deponed against him. Failing that, he begs them to declare his client acquitted, to release him, restoring him his good fame and all property that may have been confiscated by order of their Paternities or any other judges of the Inquisition.180

The court commanded the notary to prepare a copy of this plea, and to deliver it to the Fiscal, who was instructed to reply to it within three days. And they further commanded that at the time of the delivery of the said reply, Yucé Franco should again be brought before them that he might learn what was determined concerning him.

The only matter of interest in the next sitting181—and this from the point of view of the illustration which these proceedings afford us of inquisitorial methods—is the Fiscal’s repudiation of any obligation on his part to precise the time or place of the crimes with which Yucé Franco is accused, and his insistence that, in spite of all that has been advanced by the defendant, the case must be considered one of heresy.

The court evidently takes the same view, for it commands both parties to the action to proceed to advance proof of their respective contentions within thirty days. Meanwhile, to clear up the matter of the venue, the court communicates with the Cardinal of Spain. The Primate very promptly grants the requisite permission to transfer the action to Avila from his own Archbishopric of Toledo within whose jurisdiction it had lain. This was the merest formality; for considering the explicit commands in the matter left by the supreme arbiter, Torquemada, the Cardinal could hardly have proceeded otherwise.

The methods now adopted by the Fiscal to obtain the proofs which he requires, or at least to build a more complete and overwhelming case—for we cannot but suppose that already he had sufficient material upon which to have obtained a conviction—are eminently typical.

We know that Ça Franco, Benito Garcia, Juan de Ocaña, and the four Francos of La Guardia were all at this time in the hands of the inquisitors; and it is not to be doubted that these men would be undergoing constant examination. But it is obvious, from the absence in the dossier with which we are concerned of any document relating to this particular period, that no avowals were made by his fellow-prisoners to increase the incrimination of Yucé.

Without wishing to set up too many hypotheses to bridge the lacunæ that result from the absence of the records of the proceedings against the other accused, we would tentatively suggest that in preparing that portion of his denunciation relating to the crucifixion of the child, Guevára had simply adapted details extracted from Benito to Yucé’s vague admission in the prison of Segovia. This conclusion is eminently justifiable. It is based upon the fact that Guevára altogether overstepped the limits of any evidence brought to light in the whole course of the proceedings when he said that Yucé “contrived as principal ... to obtain a consecrated Host.” Further it is based upon the circumstance already mentioned that if in any deposition of Benito or of any other of the accused, Yucé’s slightest participation in the affair of La Guardia had been mentioned, such a deposition—or at least the respective extract from it—must have found a place in the dossier of his trial. And we know that no such document is present.

Still further, we have the fact that the month prescribed by the court for the submission of proof was allowed to expire and another month after that, and still Guevára had no proofs to lay before their Reverend Paternities, beyond the depositions we have already seen. Meanwhile, Yucé continued to languish in prison.

And here the following question suggests itself: In view of the admission made by Yucé to the false Rabbi in Segovia, why was he not closely and directly questioned upon that matter? and in the event of his withholding details, why was he not put to torture as by law prescribed?

Instead of that direct method of procedure, he was left in complete ignorance of his self-betrayal and of the source whence the inquisitors had derived their knowledge of his association with the affair of La Guardia.

The only answer that suggests itself is that Torquemada desired the matter to be very fully elucidated, that the net should be very fully and carefully spread—as we shall see—so that nothing and no one should escape. And yet this answer is hardly entirely satisfactory.

If Guevára allowed months to pass without being able to lay the required proofs of Yucé’s guilt before the court, on the other hand Yucé himself had been similarly unable to supply his counsel with any proof of his innocence—as indeed was impossible in the absence of all particulars of the charges against him.

Thus for a season the case remains in suspense.

Attempts to extract incriminating evidence from the other prisoners having meanwhile failed by ordinary judicial methods, the tribunal now has recourse to other means. Having failed to compel or induce the prisoners into betraying one another, the inquisitors now seek to lure them into self-betrayal.

A well-known scheme is employed.

Benito is moved into a chamber immediately under Yucé’s. To while away the tedium of his imprisonment, and with a light-heartedness that is a little startling in a man in his desperate position, Yucé sits by his window thrumming a viol or guitar one day towards the end of March or in early April. The instrument may have been left with him by the gaoler who was in the plot.

What was no doubt expected comes to pass. Yucé’s music is abruptly interrupted by a voice from below, which asks:

“Can you give me a needle, Jew?”

Yucé replies that he has no needle other than a cobbler’s.182

The speaker is Benito Garcia, and it is certain that spies have been set to overhear what passes. We know that their conversation took place through a hole in the floor contrived by the gaoler, who was acting upon the instructions of the inquisitors.183

Yucé is very circumspect in all that he says; but Benito is entirely reckless during those first days of their intercourse. And yet, whilst he admits that he considers himself lost already through what “that dog of a doctor” (by which he means the Reverend Inquisitor, Dr. Villada) extracted from him under torture in Astorga, he shows himself at other times not without hope of regaining his freedom.

He mentions a man named Peña, who is the Alcalde of La Guardia. This man, he says, is interested in him, and has—or so Benito fancies—influence at Court which he would exert on Benito’s behalf did he but know of the latter’s position.

At another time he vows that, if ever he gets out of prison, he will quit Spain and take himself off to Judea. He is convinced that all this trouble has come upon him as a punishment for having abandoned the Law of Moses and denied the true God to embrace the religion of the Begotten God (Dios Parido).

But apart from these, there are no lamentations from him; more usually he is sardonic in his grievances, as when he complains that all he got in return for the money he gave for the souls in purgatory were the fleas and lice that all but devoured him alive in the prison of Astorga; or that all the recompense he enjoyed for having presented the Church with a holy-water font was to be subjected to the water-torture by “that dog of a doctor in Astorga.”

He vows that he will die a Jew, though he should be burnt alive. He inveighs bitterly against the inquisitors, dubbing them Antichrists, and Torquemada the greatest Antichrist of all; and he alludes derisively to what he terms the frauds and buffooneries of the Church.

It was from Benito that Yucé, to his surprise, received news of his father’s arrest and of the fact that Ça Franco lies in that same prison of Avila. He was informed of this during their first talk, when Benito reproved his music.

“Don’t thrum that guitar,” Benito had said, “but take pity on your father who is here and whom the inquisitors have promised to burn.”184

In the course of another later conversation between the prisoners Yucé asks Benito what has brought about the latter’s arrest. And when Benito has related the happening in the inn at Astorga, Yucé questions him on the subject of the consecrated wafer—and his questions certainly betray the fact that the young Jew had previous knowledge of it and generally of the affair that was afoot. He becomes so importunate in his questions that Benito—perhaps finding them awkward to answer without betraying the extent to which he has incriminated his associates—sharply bids Yucé to leave the matter alone, assuring him at the same time that he has never mentioned Yucé’s name to the inquisitors.

Photo by Donald Macbeth.

From Limborch’s “Historia Inquisitionis.”

At first glance this statement appears untrue. But it is obvious that Benito means that he has never mentioned Yucé’s name in connection with the Host or in any other way that could incriminate him. And in this he is truthful enough as far as he knows, for he could not suppose that what he had said about his own offences against the Faith committed in Yucé’s house at Tenbleque could in any way be construed against the lad or his father.

Passing on to other matters, they refer to a certain widow of La Guardia, of whom Benito says that he knows her to be a Judaizer, because she never ate anything containing lard or ham, and he has frequently seen her eat adafinas (the Jewish food prepared on the Friday for the Sabbath) and drink Caser wine.185

In the dossier of Yucé Franco there are no depositions of the spy set to overhear his conversations with Benito. But it is probable that some such depositions will be found in the record of the trial of the latter, where they must belong, since from the frankness which he used he incriminated himself to an extraordinary degree and Yucé not at all. And it is not to be doubted that the inquisitors made use of information thus obtained when they came to examine Yucé Franco on April 9 and 10186 and in a subsequent examination of August 1,187 when they drew from him a deposition which embodies all the foregoing.

On the margin of the last of these depositions there is a note drawing attention to what was said by Benito concerning the widow of La Guardia, which shows that the inquisitors do not intend that this piece of chance information shall be wasted.

Acting no doubt upon the report of the spy, and having at last obtained information upon which they could go to work, the inquisitors, Villada and Lopes, accompanied by their notary, pay Yucé Franco a surprise visit in his cell on the morning of Saturday, April 9. Having obtained his ratification of what he has already deponed at Segovia and in this prison of Avila, they draw from him by vague and subtle questionings the following additions to those admissions:

About three years ago he was told by a Hebrew physician, named Yucé Tazarte, since deceased, that the latter had begged Benito Garcia to obtain him a consecrated wafer, and that Benito had stolen the keys of the church of La Guardia and so contrived to obtain a Host; that in consequence of that theft, Benito was arrested—upon suspicion, we suppose—two years ago last Christmas (i.e. 1488), and detained in prison for two days.

Tazarte told Yucé that the wafer was required “to make a cord with certain knots,” which cord, together with a letter, Tazarte gave the witness for delivery to the Rabbi Peres of Toledo, with which request Yucé had complied.

But beyond this, he adds, he has no knowledge of what became of the Host, nor did Tazarte tell him; and that not only Tazarte, but also Benito Garcia, Mosé Franco—his own brother, since deceased—and Alonso Franco of La Guardia, were mixed up in the affair, according to what had been related by Mosé to his wife Jamila. In this last particular he presently corrected himself: it was not, he says upon reflection, to Jamila that Mosé had related this, but to Yucé himself.

It is a curious statement, and would no doubt be made in answer to the trend of the questions set him as to what he knew of a certain Host that had been used for purposes of magic. And there is reason to believe that—as we shall see presently—Yucé was deliberately lying, in the hope of putting the inquisitors off the scent of the real affair.

But it is noteworthy that in this, as in other depositions, he is careful to betray no Jews whom his evidence can hurt. His brother and Tazarte are dead; Alonso and Benito Garcia are already under arrest, and the latter has admitted to Yucé that he has already said enough to burn him. Moreover, they are Christians—having received baptism—and their betrayal cannot be to Yucé as serious a matter as would that of a faithful Jew. Particularly is this emphasized by his retraction of what he had said concerning the slight connection of his sister-in-law Jamila with the affair, having perhaps bethought him that even so little might incriminate her—as undoubtedly it would have done.

The inquisitors withdraw, obviously dissatisfied, and later on that same day they order Yucé to be brought before them in the audience-chamber. There they recommence their questions, and they succeed in extracting from him a considerable portion of what passed between him and Benito in prison—matters of which, beyond all doubt, they would be already fully informed.

Twice on the following day, which was Sunday, was he haled before their Reverend Paternities. At the first audience his statement of yesterday is read over to him, and when he has ratified it he is again pressed with stealthy questions to add a little more of what passed in those conversations with Benito. But in the course of the second examination on that Sunday, Yucé is at last induced or betrayed into supplying the inquisitors with information nearer their requirements.

He says that four years ago he was told by his brother Mosé that the latter, with Tazarte, Alonso Franco, Juan Franco, Garcia Franco, and Benito Garcia had obtained a consecrated wafer, and that by certain incantations they were to contrive that the justice of the Christians and the inquisitors should not have power to touch them. Mosé invited him to join in the affair, but he refused to do so, having no inclination, and being, moreover, on his way to Murcia at the time. And he knows, from what Mosé told him, that about two years ago the same men repeated the same enchantment with the same Host.188

We do not know whether Yucé is now left in peace for a whole month, but we cannot suppose it. And we have to explain the absence of any report of an examination during that period by the assumption that whatever examinations did take place were entirely fruitless and brought no fresh particulars to light. As the dossier does not anywhere contain a single record of a fruitless examination, this assumption—although we admit its negative character—does not seem unreasonable.

Anyway, on May 7 it is Yucé himself who begs to be taken before the inquisitors to tell them that he remembers having asked Mosé where he and his associates assembled to do what they did, so that the wives of the latter—who were Christian women—should have no knowledge of the affair, and Mosé had answered him that they assembled in the caves between Dosbarrios and La Guardia, on the road to Ocaña.189

It is difficult to suppose such a statement to be entirely spontaneous as following upon depositions made a month earlier. Much rather does it appear to be the result of some fruitless questionings such as we suggest may have taken place in the interval. Similarly we assume that the examinations steadily continue, but another month passes before we get the next recorded one, and this—on June 9190—contains a really important admission.

He says that he doesn’t remember whether he has mentioned that some four years ago, being ill at Tenbleque and the physician Tazarte having come to bleed him, he overheard a conversation between his brother and Tazarte, from which he learnt that the latter, together with the Francos of La Guardia, had performed an enchantment with a Host and the heart of a Christian boy, by virtue of which the inquisitors could take no proceedings against them in any way, or, if they did, the inquisitors themselves would die.

His statement that he doesn’t remember whether he had mentioned a matter of so grave a character is either a foolish attempt to simulate guilelessness, or else, in itself, it suggests a bewildered state of mind resulting from the multiplication of examinations in which this matter of the heart of a Christian boy—contained, as we know, in Guevára’s indictment—has been persistently thrust forward.


He is asked whether he heard tell whence they procured the Host, and where they killed the boy to obtain the heart. But he denies having overheard anything, or having otherwise obtained any knowledge of these particulars.

We have seen Eymeric’s prescription for visiting a prisoner and assuring him that the inquisitors will pardon him if he makes a frank and full confession of his crime and of all that is known to him of the crimes of others. Although it is not positively indicated, there is reason to suppose from what follows that this course was now being pursued in the case of Yucé Franco. To play the part of the necessary mediator, the inquisitors have at hand the gaoler who must have been on friendly terms with the prisoner, having contrived for him a means of communication with Benito at the time when the latter had occupied the cell immediately beneath Yucé’s. That Benito no longer occupies this cell may safely be assumed; for having served his turn, he would of course be removed again.

Whatever the steps that were taken to bring it about, on July 19—a little over a year after his arrest—Yucé is brought before Villada and Lopes,191 at his own request, for the purpose of making certain additions to what he has already deponed.

He begins by begging their Paternities to forgive him for not having earlier confessed all that he knew, protesting that such is now his intention, provided that they will pass him their word assuring him of pardon and immunity for himself and his father for all errors committed.192

It certainly seems that without previous assurance that some such consideration was intended towards him, he would never have ventured to prefer a request of this nature, at once incriminating—since it admitted his possession of knowledge hitherto withheld—and impudent in its assumption that such information would be purchased at the price he named.

The inquisitors benignly answered him that they agreed to do so upon the understanding that in all he should tell them the entire truth, and they warned him that they would soon be able more or less to perceive whether he was telling the truth.193

(This pretence of being already fully informed is the ruse counselled by Eymeric to persuade the person under examination of the futility of resorting to subterfuge.)

Reassured by this answer, and deluded no doubt by the apparent promise of pardon conditional upon a full confession, Yucé begins by offering, as an apology for his past silence upon the matters he is about to relate, the statement that this has been due to an oath which he swore not to divulge anything until he should have been in prison for a year.

Thereupon he is sworn in the Jewish manner to speak the entire truth without fraud or evasions or concealment of anything known by him to concern the Holy Office of the Inquisition, and he addresses himself to the task of amplifying and rectifying what he has previously said.

His confession is that once some three years ago he had been in a cave situated a little way back from the road that runs from La Guardia to Dosbarrios, on the right-hand side as you go towards the latter place, and midway between the two villages. There were present, in addition to himself, his father, Ça Franco, his brother Mosé, since deceased, the physician Yucé Tazarte and one David Perejon—both deceased—Benito Garcia, Juan de Ocaña, and the four Francos of La Guardia—Juan, Alonso, Lope, and Garcia.

Alonso Franco had shown him a heart, which he said had been cut out of a Christian boy, and from its condition Yucé judged that this had been lately done. Further, Alonso had shown him a wafer, which he said was consecrated. This wafer and the heart Alonso enclosed together in a wooden box which he delivered to Tazarte, and the latter took these things apart, saying that he went to perform an enchantment so that the inquisitors could not hurt any of them, or, if they attempted to do so, they must themselves go mad and die within a year.

At this point the inquisitors interpolate two questions:

“Does he know whence the Host was obtained?”

“Does he know whether they sacrificed any boy to procure the heart?”

His answer to the first is in the negative—he has no knowledge.

To the second question he replies that he remembers hearing Alonso Franco state that he and some of his brothers crucified a Christian boy whose heart this was.

Resuming his statement, he says that some two years ago all the above-mentioned assembled again between La Guardia and Tenbleque, and that on this occasion it was agreed to send a consecrated wafer to Mosé Abenamias of Zamora, and that such a Host was delivered to Benito Garcia enclosed in parchment tied with red silk. This, Benito was to take to Abenamias, together with a letter which had first been written in Hebrew, but which—lest this should excite suspicion in the event of the letter’s being discovered—was replaced by another one written in Romance.

The interpretation to place upon this seems to be that, doubts having arisen as to the efficacy of the enchantments performed by Tazarte, it was deemed expedient to have recourse to a magician of greater repute, and to send a consecrated wafer to Abenamias in Zamora, that he might accomplish with it the desired sorcery.

The inquisitors press Yucé to say whether he knows if Benito did actually deliver the wafer to Abenamias. He replies that he doesn’t know what Benito did with it; but that he has been told by Benito [in the course of their conversations in the prison of Avila] that he went upon a journey to Santiago, and that in passing through Astorga he was arrested by order of Dr. Villada, who was the provisor there at the time.

As for the heart, he doesn’t know what happened to it; but he believes that it remained in the possession of Tazarte, who performed his enchantments with it.

Questioned as to who was the leading spirit in the affair, he replies that Tazarte invited him together with his father and his brother Mosé, and that they all went together to the cave, whilst he believes that the Christians (i.e. Ocaña, the Francos, and Benito Garcia) and David Perejon from La Guardia were also summoned by Tazarte.

Finally he is asked whether Tazarte received any money for his sorceries, and whether Benito Garcia was paid to convey the Host to Zamora; and he answers that money was given by Alonso Franco to Tazarte, and that Benito too would be paid for his trouble.

From a ratification on the next day (July 20) of a confession made by the octogenarian Ça Franco, it becomes clear that immediately upon dismissing Yucé, his father was introduced into the audience-chamber for examination.

The inquisitors are now possessed of the information that Ça was present in the cave when Alonso Franco produced the heart of a Christian child. Working upon this and upon the other details obtained from Yucé, they would now be able, by a clever parade of these—and a seemingly intentional reticence as to the rest—convincingly to feign the fullest and completest knowledge of the affair. Thus does the “Directorium” enjoin the inquisitor to conduct his examination.

Believing that all is betrayed, and that further concealment will, therefore, be worse than useless, Ça at last speaks out. He not only confirms all that his son has already admitted, but he adds a great deal more. He confesses that he himself, his two sons and the other Jews and Christians mentioned, assembled in a cave on the right-hand side of the road that runs from La Guardia to Dosbarrios, and he says that some of them brought thither a Christian boy who was there crucified upon two timbers rectangularly crossed, to which they bound him. Before proceeding to do this, the boy was stripped by the Christians, who whipped and otherwise vituperated him.

He protests that he, himself, took no part in this beyond being present and witnessing all that was done. Pressed as to what part was taken by his son Yucé, he admits that he saw the latter give the boy a light push or blow.

It is to this mention of Yucé that we owe the inclusion in the present dossier of this extract from Ça’s ratification of his confession, which reveals to us so clearly the method pursued by the tribunal.

Ça is removed, and Yucé is forthwith brought back again. Questions recommence, shaped now upon the further information gained, and betraying enough of the extent of that information to compel Yucé to amplify his admissions.

No doubt they would question him directly upon the matter of the crucifixion of the boy, insisting upon this—now the main charge—and depending upon Yucé’s replies to supply them with further details than they already possess, so as to enable them to probe still deeper.

Unable to persist in denial in the face of so much obvious knowledge on the part of his questioners, Yucé admits having witnessed the actual crucifixion in the cave some three or four years ago. He says (as his father had said) that it was the Christians who crucified the child, and that they whipped him, struck him, spat upon him, and crowned him with thorns.

So far he merely confirms what is already known. But now he adds to the sum of that knowledge. He states that Alonso Franco opened the veins of the boy’s arms and left him to bleed for over half an hour, gathering the blood in a cauldron and a jar; that Juan Franco drew a Bohemian knife (i.e. a curved knife) and thrust it into the boy’s side, and that Garcia Franco took out the heart and sprinkled it with salt.

He admits that all who were present took part in what was done, and he is able to indicate the precise part played by each, with the exception of his father: he doesn’t remember having seen his father do anything beyond just standing there while all this was going on; and Yucé reminds the inquisitors that his father is a very old man of over eighty years of age, whose sight is so feeble that he couldn’t so much as see clearly what was being done.

When the child was dead, he continues, they took him down from the cross. (They untied him, he says.) Juan Franco seized his arms, and Garcia Franco his legs, and thus they bore him out of the cave. Yucé didn’t see where they took him, but he heard Juan Franco and Garcia Franco informing Tazarte that they had buried him in a ravine by the river Escorchon.

The heart remained in the possession of Alonso until their next meeting in the cave, when he gave it, together with the consecrated wafer, to Tazarte.

“Did this,” they ask him, “take place by day or by night?”

“By night,” he answers, “by the light of candles of white wax; and a cloak was hung over the mouth of the cave that the light might not be seen outside.”

He is desired to say when precisely was this; but all that he can answer is that he thinks it was in Lent, just before Easter, three or four years ago.

They ask whether he had heard any rumours of the loss of a child at about that time in that district, and he says that he heard rumours of a child lost in Lillo and another in La Guardia; the latter had gone to a vineyard with his uncle, and had never been seen again. But he adds that, in any case, the Francos came and went between La Guardia and Murcia, and that on one of their journeys they might easily have found a child and carried it off, because they had sardine barrels in their carts, and some of those would be empty—by which he means that they could have concealed the child in one of these barrels.

Urged to give still further details, he protests that he can remember no more at present, but promises to inform the court if he does succeed in recalling anything else.

He is dismissed upon that with an injunction from Dr. Villada—which may have been backed by a promise or a threat—to reflect and to confess all that he knows to be the business of the Holy Office concerning himself or any others.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook