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Casa de Fray Melchor de Talamantes

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Casa_de_Fray_Melchor_de_Talamantes
Photo: Mexch on Wikimedia Commons

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The Casa de Fray Melchor de Talamantes is a historic building, and the former home of one of the proto-heroes of Mexican Independence. The Monk, Melchor de Talamantes (1765-1809) came to Mexico in 1799 as part of the Mercedarian order. He’d arrived from Lima, Peru.

He’s known to have stayed in the Merced cloister for at least the initial part of his stay. But he later relocated to this building and stayed for some years. Some years later, he was appointed the Censor for the Diario de México newspaper. The paper, the first daily in the country, began publishing in October of 1805. The position required Talamantes to meet numerous poets and writers and to attend many of their meetings and gatherings.

A political crisis in 1808 accompanied the French invasion of Spain. In New Spain, the Viceroy himself, José de Iturrigaray, asked Talamantes to write several essays outlining a political re-organization of New Spain in light of the events on the Peninsula. Talamantes involved himself in numerous political activities at this time that would have drawn strong attention from the Spanish authorities. Eventually, they did.

Both Iturrigaray and Talamantes were arrested in 1808. Talamantes was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. In 1809, he died in Veracruz of yellow fever while en route back to Spain. Such was his notoriety though, that his residence has been remembered ever since.

Today Casa de Fray Melchor de Talamantes is a historical monument. Talamantes is considered an important precursor to the Independence movement that would sweep Mexico just a year after his death. Outside, Talavera street is also known as the Calle del Niño Jesus y los Santos (Street of the Christ Child and the Saints). This is for the numerous religious statues and figures placed here. It’s part of the Alhóndiga pedestrian corridor.

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