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Treason or Travesty: The Martín Cortés Conspiracy Reexamined

Shirley Cushing Flint
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 39, No. 1 (Spring, 2008), pp. 23-44
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20478750
Page Count: 22
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Treason or Travesty: The Martín Cortés Conspiracy Reexamined
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Abstract

In August 1566 two brothers, Gil Ávila González and Alonso Ávila Alvarado, were executed in New Spain for their presumed participation in a revolt to overthrow royal Spanish rule. This article reexamines the legal procedures followed in the Martín Cortés conspiracy case to justify the death sentences imposed on the Ávilas and other defendants as well as the harsh punishments for coconspirators. This reexamination has been stimulated by location and analysis of a lengthy document, not previously consulted in study of the case. Despite strenuous objections by the accused, the judges of the audiencia accepted questionable claims against them. In this, the judges were driven by pressures from the crown and personal dislike of don Martín Cortés, as well as a belief that the encomienda system should be abolished. Mean-while, the accusers sought political and economic control of New Spain and to minimize the influence of the American-born elites in society.

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