J. Michael Francis, Ph.D.
Adrian O’Connor, Ph.D.
Frances Ramos, Ph.D.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
June 27, 2019
Gabriel Carrasco, Francisco González, and Luisa de Abrego each faced the charge of bigamy within one decade of each other in Mexico City, between 1565 and 1575. Together, their cases tell a micro-history of bigamy, marriage, and community in New Spain and on its frontiers, one that illustrates the centrality of community. Historians have pointed to the importance of studying community in bigamy cases, and more broadly to the connections between community and marriage. However, a close reading of these three cases takes the connection further and brings together disparate conclusions about why and how bigamy took place. First and foremost, a desire for community membership played a critical, if not principal, role in each individual’s motivations to marry. All three moved between numerous locations, living both in the centers and peripheries of empire in New Spain. As they transitioned between places, they sought membership in their communities, and marriage was one critical way that they integrated into the communities they desired. Moreover, community informed how each individual negotiated the legitimacy of their marriages, throughout their lives and before the court. Their communities also played a role in either condemning or condoning their decisions, ultimately influencing the outcome of each trial. Community infused every element of these three cases, showing that marriage, and what made it functionally legitimate or illegitimate, depended on the people involved and the processes of negotiation at play.
Tweet, Hannah, "Marriage and Community in New Spain, 1550-1580: The Bigamy Cases of Gabriel Carrasco, Francisco González, and Luisa de Abrego" (2019). USF St. Petersburg campus Master's Theses (Graduate). 183.