Llerena is a municipality of around 5,700 people located in the south of the province. During the Moorish period, the town was known as Ellerina. It was finally conquered by the Catholics in 1243 by Pelay Pérez Correa after a period where it changed hands several times. It was then repopulated by people from other parts of Spain. The Cortes of Rey Alfonso XI de Castile sat in the town in 1340.
The Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición was installed in the Llerna in 1508 as a result of the influence of Luis Zapata de Chaves. The proximity of a Jewish community in Lower Extremadura aided in the town’s section to host a tribunal. It was the third tribunal established in Spain during the Inquisition, and oversaw the bishoprics of Ciudad Rodrigo, Plasencia, Coria and Badajoz.
The Inquisition was its most aggressive in the whole of Spain in Llerena, where auto-de-fe became one of the primary features. Coupled with the expulsion of the Jews and Moors who moved through the area and faced the Inquisition on their way to exile, the locals were terrified by the process as it found witches, bigamists, sodomites, petitioner priests and other heretics. These victims sometimes disappeared by secret courts, burned alive at the stake, had their property confiscated, were tortured in front of family, and had their relatives punished as a result of their alleged crimes. The harshness of the Inquisitorial District was known throughout Spain.
The Santo Tribunal de Llerena referred to same-sex sexual activities in their records as vicio nefando and sodomía. The court understood sodomy as the physical act of two people of the same sex having sexual intercourse, and included both women having sex with men and women having sex with women. There was often a struggle in this period as to who had competency to try sodomy related charges brought before the Inquisition, with both the civil and ecclesiastical courts claiming jurisdiction.
A 30-year-old slave woman named Francisca from Salvatierra de los Barros went before the Inquisition for having sex with two women. She had thought it was a minor, venial sin and not a huge deal as the priest she saw for confession only asked about sexual relations with men. She was given 200 lashes in Salvatierra de los Barros as she committed the crime there, given another 200 lashes in Llerena where the Inquisitorial District was based. Francisca faced further punishment of perpetual and her master could further punish her as he saw fit.
Given the culture of the time, responsibility to her master likely included not just housework but likely sex work, with many female slaves having two or three children with their masters; the baptismal records of these children said the father was unknown. This process of siring children on female slaves allowed masters to have a new generation of slaves without having to pay for them. When the female slave was banished, the master often accompanied her to the edge of town and then further flogged her and then put her up for sale so he could try to recover the cost of the slave. Her new master would often then use her the same way, for housework and for sexual activity.
Oficina Registro Civil, located at Plaza de Libtertad, 1, is the government office that processes things like marriage applications and birth certificates. In 2005, the first year that same-sex marriage was legal in Spain, one same-sex wedding was performed by the Registro Civil.
Ayuntamiento de Llerena, located at the intersection of Plaza de España and Calle Aurora, is the local townhall and government offices. In 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, the rainbow flag flew for a week in June from the townhall in honor of Orgullo.
Calle Victoria Kent is a street in the town located off Calle Catalaina de Bustamente and Camino de Maguilla named after Victoria Kent, a lesbian and one of the first of three women elected to the Congreso de Diputados in the Second Spanish Republic. She was also the first women in the world to represent someone before a military tribunal. Unlike some of her contemporaries, she gained fame for opposing universal suffrage because she believed women’s votes would be too easily swayed by men in their lives.
Calle Zapatería was where the one of three permanent headquarters of the Llerena Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición was located. The priory’s palace was located on the street.
The casa maestral was located on Calle La Cárcel. It was where the one of three permanent headquarters of the Llerena Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición was located. The building was used for this purpose until the Inquisition was abolished in 1834.
Palacio de los Zapata, located on Calle Corredera, It was where the one of three permanent headquarters of the Llerena Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición. The building is now used by the Juzgado De Primera Instancia E Instrucción Único.