Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage.

Chapter 4

Authors: Beatriz Cabezon and Louis Grivetti

Title: Chocolate and Sinful Behaviors. Inquisition Testimonies.

A linkage between chocolate and the Spanish Inquisition is one that is not immediately obvious. It is recorded, for example, that Charles II, King of Spain, sipped chocolate while observing Inquisition victims being put to death. Another less obvious connection was that Inquisitors in both Spain and Portugal drove Jewish chocolate-makers into France, where they subsequently established businesses at Bayonne. It is with Inquisition documents from New Spain, however, especially those that identify individuals participating in presumed anti-Christian behavior, where the documents reveal the interplay between magic, seduction, and witchcraft. The present chapter examines 23 Inquisition documents, not previously published, where individuals —some chocolate-makers —living in Mexico and Guatemala were accused and forced to present depositions to various tribunals. Some of the accounts are trivial, where an individual confessed that he had drunk a cup of chocolate prior to receiving the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Other accounts reveal the tribunal powers of censorship where the accused left behind tablets of chocolate, and vinegar, along with "forbidden" writings, and was charged with heresy and prosecuted. A number of the Inquisition documents examined reveal that chocolate was used to seduce, where men sought the assistance of 'knowledgeable women," i.e. witches, to prepare chocolate beverages that would secure sexual favors. Conversely, others report how women mixed menstrual blood with chocolate, then served the beverage to their "target" in order to achieve affection. Still other documents relate how priests extorted payment from parishioners in the form of cacao beans; how the flesh of a hanged man (criminal) was mixed with chocolate and discovered by the Holy Office of the Inquisition; and the religious execution of Jewish nobles whose supplies of chocolate cakes were confiscated by the Inquisition. Persons also could be accused and condemned for selling "crude religious images" in chocolate shops, a practice considered to be sacrilegious. Perhaps the most unusual Inquisition documents encountered dealt with the identification and denouncement of a lesbian chocolate-maker. The chocolate-associated Inquisition documents identified serve as relics from a distant era, where distrust, fear, and suspicion influenced human behaviors and practices. Most individuals accused and deposed in the documents examined were poor and powerless and the theme that linked most of the testimonies was witchcraft where presumed magical ingredients mixed with chocolate were used to seduce or to restore affection of one's mate. Chocolate was used to mask the ill-flavors that resulted from the addition of crow's hearts, excrement, human flesh, menstrual blood, and other substances identified in the various recipes. Further chocolate would have a thick texture that could hide ground powders or substances. But chocolate was used mainly as a means to defuse suspicion and offset any potential fear, since chocolate was regularly offered to acquaintances, friends, even enemies, as a token of hospitality. Consumers of the "blended" chocolate, therefore, would be off guard.
Charles II, King of Spain, sipped chocolate


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