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Luis Carvajal y de la Cueva
Luis Carvajal y de la Cueva was born in Magadouro , Portugal, in 1539 in a family of Jewish converts to Catholicism. When he was 8 his family took him to Sahagún , in the Kingdom of León (Spain), and after his father died his tutor, Duarte de León , sent him back to Portugal. After spending thirteen years in Cape Verde, Africa, as a royal accountant in the slave trade, he sailed to Seville and married Guiomar de Ribera , a lady from Lisbon. In 1579 Phillip II, King of Spain, granted him the title of governor and captain-general with the mission to “discover, pacify and settle” a new province in the Americas to be called Nuevo Reyno de León, 200 leagues inland from the port of Tampico, in the New Spain (nowadays Mexico).
He sailed onboard the Santa Catarina with 100 families, most of them recruited from his own and his wife's kin. After his arrival and a hard expedition trip inland, he founded a settlement called San Luis Rey de Francia and the New Kingdom of Leon.
In 1590 Luis Carvajal y de la Cueva was accused by the Spanish Inquisition of heresy. The envoy of the Spanish viceroy found that members of his extended family had reverted to Judaism, notably his niece Isabel Rodriguez . He was condemned to a six year exile from the New Spain, but while waiting for the execution of his sentence, he died in prison. On December 8 1596, most of his extended family, 121 of the original settlers of Monterrey (the capital city), were executed in Mexico City’s main plaza.
Monterrey still bears the customs of his Jewish heritage, particularly the cuisine (cabrito, semitas), popular Sepharditic family names (like Garza) and some local festivities.
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