Library Exhibits
Melchor Pérez de Soto, a Book Collector Faces the Inquisition

Curated by Kenneth Ward and Patricia Figueroa


This exhibition was available from June through September 2010 at the John Hay and John Carter Brown Libraries.

Melchor Pérez de Soto, a Mexican astrologer and architect, built one of the most impressive private collections of printed books in 17th Century Mexico. According to an inventory of its library made by clerks of the Inquisition, the collection contained 1,592 volumes, covered various disciplines, and represented authors from the classical to contemporary periods.

During the last five years of his life, the Holy Office gathered evidence on perceived heretical activities carried out by Pérez de Soto which included practicing astrology and owning prohibited books. He was arrested by the officers of the Inquisition on January 13, 1655, and spent several weeks in solitary confinement. He was found dead in his prison cell on March 17 of the same year.

This exhibit illustrates the depth and breadth of the Pérez de Soto private collection and provides a glimpse into one of the finest minds among humanists in colonial Mexico.

This exhibit was sponsored by Brown University Library, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the John Carter Brown Library.


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