New christian family networks in the first visitation of the inquisition to Brazil: The case of the Nunes Brothers (1591–1595)

Jessica O'Leary

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter provides a case study of João and Diogo Nunes during the First Visitation of the Inquisition to Brazil (1591–1595). The Nunes brothers were part of a broader commercial network of New Christian merchant families who controlled the sugar trade in northeastern Brazil during its rapid expansion in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. However, the social ascendency of New Christians in colonial Brazil threatened the existing elite who used the Inquisition to banish them via spurious denunciations. Using Inquisition testimony, this chapter will underscore the importance of New Christian networks to the sugar trade. It was their success, which both brought them to the attention of the Inquisition and saved them by virtue of royal intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKeeping Family in an Age of Long Distance Trade, Imperial Expansion, and Exile, 1550-1850
EditorsHeather Dalton
Place of PublicationAmsterdam Netherlands
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789048544257
ISBN (Print)9789463722315
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Sugar tradce
  • colonial brazil
  • Cristão-novo
  • Bahia
  • Pernambuco

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