“His Majesty’s Prosecutor v. José Soller, Mulatto Pilgrim, for Impersonating a Priest and Other Crimes”: A Study, Critical Edition, and Translation


ACLS Fellowship Program


Foreign Languages and Literatures


“His Majesty’s Prosecutor v. José Soller, Mulatto Pilgrim” is a previously unedited and unpublished legal case from 1693-4, the final days of the Hapsburg Spanish empire, that illuminates the discrimination people of black African descent could face—that Soller did face—while attempting to cross the rigid lines of estate and caste. This project, which will take the form of a bilingual edition and study, is the first to treat these criminal proceedings comprehensively and reveals how Soller’s hybrid identity as a mulatto and pilgrim—two types of liminal figures in and of themselves—made him a double threat in the eyes of the authorities in baroque Spain. This critical presentation of the prosecution against José Soller is significant as an example of the lived experience of black Africans and their descendants in the early modern transatlantic Iberian world.