So begins the labyrinthine legal tale and engrossing drama of an explorer and his two wives, skillfully reconstructed through the expert and original archival research of Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook. Drawing on the remarkable records from the trial, the narrative of Francisco’s adventures provides a window into daily life in sixteenth-century Spain, as well as thementalite and experience of conquest and settlement of the New World. Told from the point of view of the conquerors, Francisco’s story reveals not only the lives of the middle class and minor nobility but also much about those at the lower rungs of the social order and relations between the sexes.
In the tradition of Carlo Ginzberg’s The Cheese and the Worms and Natalie Zemon Davis’The Return of Martin Guerre, Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance illuminates an historical period—the world of sixteenth-century Spainand Peru—through the wonderful and unusual story of one man and his two wives.
Alexandra Parma Cook is an independent scholar.
Noble David Cooks is Professor of History at Florida International University. They are coeditors ofThe Discovery and Conquest of Peru, also published by Duke University Press.