Martín Enríquez de Almanza

Martín Enríquez de Almanza

Don Martín Enríquez de Almanza (died ca. March 13, 1583) was the fourth viceroy of New Spain, who ruled from November 5, 1568 until October 3, 1580. He was subsequently viceroy of Peru, from September 23, 1581 until his death in 1583. His birthplace and origins are uncertain. Some historians speculate on possible Sephardic origins of this viceroy, but that has not been confirmed.

Government and actions

Having been chosen by the Council of the Indies (Consejo de Indias) as viceroy, his first actions upon arrival in New Spain, at Veracruz, were to dislodge the English pirates from the Isla de Sacrificios, a base they had been using to raid the coast and Spanish shipping. When he arrived in Mexico City, he immediately took steps to end the turmoil left by the former president of the Real Audiencia, Alonso Muñoz. Enríquez de Almanza also acted as a mediator between the bishops and the religious orders operating in New Spain. The dispute between these two religious groups dated from the viceroyalty of Gastón de Peralta, marqués de Falces, when a royal disposition stipulated that the administration of the parishes was the responsibility of the secular clergy, obliging friars, nuns and members of the regular clergy to retreat to convents. The regular clergy refused to obey this disposition, beginning the conflict. The Franciscans threatened to abandon the city, and in fact began a march to Veracruz. They were threatened by Indians and ordered to return by the viceroy. After receiving some concessions, they returned to Mexico City.

In 1570 the viceroy personally led an expedition against the Indian tribes that had been devastating the interior. He established presidios at Ojuelos and Portezuelos, on the road to Zacatecas. He founded the Villa de San Felipe (Guanajuato) and many other towns and villages, as well as colleges and convents. In 1573 he began the construction of the Cathedral of Mexico City.

Establishment of the Inquisition

Martín Enríquez de Almanza

During the government of Enríquez de Almanza, the Inquisition (Tribunal del Santo Oficio) was formally established in New Spain. Pedro Moya de Contreras, the first inquisitor in New Spain, arrived in 1571. Composed of a group of high-ranking bishops and sometimes led by the archbishop of Mexico City, the Inquisition had special instructions to oversee and control the religious practices of Spaniards and non-indigenous residents in the territory, and to persecute and eradicate any Jewish communities or communities of Marranos (judaizantes), as well as any Protestants.

This religious court became quite active. The first victims of the Inquisition in the New World were two Englishmen and an Irishman, burnt at the stake in Mexico City April 15, 1574 for "Lutheran heresies". An estimated 200 people were tried in 1574, the year in which the first Autos de Fe were held. Most of these 200 people were burnt alive in public plazas or tortured to death in secret dungeons, both scattered throughout what is now downtown Mexico City. The viceroy was required to attend these ceremonies.

Enríquez de Almanza brought medical attention to the unprotected and helped those in critical conditions. He established hospitals in the city to treat the victims of a terrible epidemic (thought to be chicken pox or varicella) that left 3,000 people dead. He published regulations in which the social protection of the Indians was guaranteed against their Spanish patrons, and a fair salary was assured for those who worked as peasants and farmers.

Viceroy of Peru

King Philip II of Spain received outstanding comments about this viceroy, and he was aware of the obvious improvements made during his administration. In recognition of his labor, he was designated viceroy of Peru, Peru being a richer colony. Enríquez de Almanza sailed from the port of Acapulco on the Pacific in 1580. He died in Lima, Peru in 1583, still in office. The Audiencia governed New Spain until the arrival of the next viceroy, Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza, 4th conde de la Coruña.

In Lima people knew him as el Gotoso (The Goutish One) because of his ill health. He was unable to do much as viceroy of Peru and he is thus not counted among the great viceroys.


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Government offices
Preceded by
Gastón de Peralta, marqués de Falces
Viceroy of New Spain
Succeeded by
Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza, 4th conde de la Coruña
Preceded by
Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa
Viceroy of Peru
Succeeded by
Cristóbal Ramírez de Cartagena
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