Pedro Moya de Contreras

Pedro Moya de Contreras

Pedro Moya de Contreras (sometimes "Pedro de Moya y Contreras") (c. 1528, Córdova, Spain – December 21, 1591, Madrid), prelate and colonial administrator who held the three highest offices in the Spanish colony of New Spain, namely inquisitor general, Archbishop of Mexico, and viceroy. He was the sixth viceroy, governing from September 25, 1584 to October 16, 1585. During this interval he held all three positions.

Ecclesiastical career

Moya de Contreras received the degree of doctor of canon law from the University of Salamanca. Later he became head of the cathedral school in the Canary Islands, and then inquisitor of Murcia.

In 1571 he became the first inquisitor general of New Spain (and thus the first inquisitor general in the New World). He established the Tribunal del Santo Oficio in Mexico City in 1571. As inquisitor general he required people of New Spain, from the oidores (members of the Audiencia), nobles and religious to the most humble members of society, to solemnly swear to defend the Catholic faith and persecute heretics "as rabid dogs and wolves, infectors of spirits and destroyers of the vineyard of Our Lord." He celebrated the first auto de fé in New Spain in 1571.

Two years later, on June 15, 1573, Moya de Contreras was chosen Archbishop of Mexico. He served until 1591, the year of his death. In 1585 he convoked and presided at the Concilio Mexicano III, which established standards for the Church that endured to the end of the colonial era. This council banned the enslavement of the Indians. As both archbishop and viceroy, one of his major concerns was education of the Indians. He founded the Seminario de Indias, to teach the Christian doctrine, reading, writing, singing and trades.

Political career

In 1583 Moya de Contreras's predecessor as viceroy, Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza, 4th conde de la Coruña, asked King Philip II to name a special visitador (royal inspector) to help resolve a conflict between the viceroy and the Audiencia. Philip named Moya, then the sitting Archbishop of Mexico. As visitador, he took up the accusations against the corrupt oidores and other officials of the viceroyalty. He dismissed the former and punished the latter, some by hanging. In a letter reporting to the king, he praised those officials who had honestly met their obligations, and castigated others.

Suárez de Mendoza died in June, 1583. The Audiencia was formally in charge of the colony for 16 months, until the installation of the new viceroy. However, Moya de Contreras continued in the position of visitador during the interregnum, with much influence. In 1584, he was named viceroy to succeed Suárez.

He took up the new position on September 25, 1584. He now held the three most important positions in the colony. With this concentration of power, he was able to remedy many of the prevalent abuses, with immediate punishment for those found to be transgressors of the law or of decency. This resulted in much enmity among the governing class, but the lower classes proclaimed him as their defender. He was able to increase rents and payments to Spain considerably.

In 1584 he resigned as viceroy, but retained his other positions (including visitador) for a little longer while he wound up his affairs before returning to Spain. Upon his return, he became president of the Council of the Indies, a position he held until his death.

Moya de Contreras died in Spain in December, 1591, so poor that the Crown paid for his funeral. His body was interred in the parish church of Santiago, in Madrid. He left various writings which were collected in the book "Cartas de Indias", published in Madrid in 1877.

ee also

*Luis de Villanueva y Zapata, interim viceroy who preceded Moya de Contreras


*es icon "Moya de Contreras, Pedro," "Enciclopedia de México", v. 10. Mexico City, 1988.
*es icon García Puron, Manuel, "México y sus gobernantes". Mexico City: Joaquín Porrua, 1984.
*es icon Orozco Linares, Fernando, "Gobernantes de México". Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985, ISBN 968-38-0260-5.
*en icon Stafford Poole, C.M. Pedro Moya de Contreras: Catholic Reform and Royal Power in New Spain, 1571-1591. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987, ISBN 052-00-5551-9.

External links

* [ Catholic Hierarchy]
*es icon [ List of Archbishops of Mexico]

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