Philip II, Orellana de Chaves, Spanish Inquisition


On 19 December 1592, Philip II of Spain composed a letter to Diego de Orellana de Chaves, a royal governor of Spain's northern coast. At war with England and France, Philip's concern in this instance was neither strategy nor war logistics, but rather books. Orellana de Chaves notified Philip previously in two letters chat Spanish privateers had captured a French ship carrying books. The king expressed concern chat the books be turned over to the proper authorities, the Inquisition, reminding his governor chat not all books contain proper messages for Spanish readers. Eager to maintain the religious purity of his people, Philip "ordered and mandated" that the books be inventoried and delivered to the office of the Inquisicion. In Philip's letter, he explicitly instructed Orellana de Chaves co keep the books away from prying eyes until they reached their destination as well as co watch for other cargoes containing books in the future.The letter closes with the threat of punishment should Orellana de Chaves fail to follow Philip's instructions. As This episode demonstrates, the Spanish Inquisition intensely targeted books and other scholarship, both secular and religious. Works published outside the empire were scrutinized and possibly censored before being deemed appropriate or prohibited.