Fugitive Freedom: The Improbable Lives of Two Impostors in Late Colonial Mexico by William B Taylor - review by Rebecca Earle

Rebecca Earle

Priests on the Run

Fugitive Freedom: The Improbable Lives of Two Impostors in Late Colonial Mexico

By

University of California Press 220pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

The past offers many examples of men and women who used impersonation to exploit a power they were otherwise denied. In the 1620s, the Spanish soldier Antonio de Erauso was revealed to be a woman who for decades had enjoyed the freedoms accorded to men. Three centuries later, Stanley Clifford Weyman passed himself off as any number of US government officials, successfully gaining access to an elite world of money and privilege to which his modest background would not have given him entry. A similar logic motivated the two men whose stories lie at the heart of Fugitive Freedom. The powerful figures they chose to impersonate were Catholic priests and, even more daringly, Inquisition officials.

Fugitive Freedom chronicles the careers of Joseph Lucas Aguayo and Juan Atondo. Each led an unsettled and largely unsatisfying life in 18th-century Mexico. Aguayo was born in 1747 in the grand city of Guanajuato, built on the revenues of the nearby silver mines, though he saw little of

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