History •  Latin America and Women

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Lives of the Bigamists: Marriage, Family, and Community in Colonial Mexico

Abridged Edition

Richard Boyer

This abridged edition of Boyer's award-winning examination of bigamy in colonial Mexico reveals the lives, routines, and networks of ordinary people caught in extraordinary historical circumstances. From the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, the Inquisition held the power to investigate breaches of the law on monogamy and to recommend punishment for violators. The pursuit of bigamists provides a fascinating picture of both Catholicism and the colonial state.

The author, drawing from his close reading of Inquisition files, includes extensive testimony of defendants, plaintiffs, and witnesses in Holy Office tribunals, and situates his subjects in the web of daily life--in families as they grow up
and in communities as they learn the ways of society. With vivid glimpses of courtship, loss of virginity, marriage, adultery, domestic abuse, and failed marriage, he also follows them in their private lives.

The many stories recounted here convey emotions and relations rarely preserved from past centuries. From a young child enduring abuse and rape by relatives to the wily suitor who plots elopement by tricking a father with a tale of lost loot stored in a robber's cave, we hear the voices of hitherto invisible people.

"A distinguished book."--Professor William B. Taylor, SMU

Part of the Diálogos Series of Latin American Studies


Richard Boyer is professor of history at Simon Fraser University and the author of a book on seventeenth-century Mexico City as well as of a number of articles on colonial Mexico.

Lyman L. Johnson is professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is also the general editor for UNM Press's Dialogos series.

6 x 9 in. 216 pages 6 halftones, 3 tables