One of the most relevant places in this novel is the hospital of blood. The full name of this building is “Hospital de la Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo” and was built in 1485 to cover the area in the Santiago neighbourhood.
We learn that executions took place in Arenal Square. The “Plaza del Arenal” is in the centre of Jerez. It was the stage for duels and battles, and also shows and executions.
Near the Arenal Square there is Palace of Justice, where Gaspar used to keep guard and Pedro de Alemán went to as part of his work. It was built in the eighteenth century and was the house of the governor.
We also read that those executed were buried in the area called “La Alcubilla” outside Jerez.
One event that has important consequences in the novel is the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, which was felt in Jerez and caused damages in different parts of the town. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon earthquake, occurred in the Kingdom of Portugal on Saturday, 1 November, the holy day of All Saints’ Day, at around 09:40 local time. In combination with subsequent fires and a tsunami, the earthquake almost totally destroyed Lisbon and adjoining areas. Shocks from the earthquake were felt throughout Europe,
The house where Pedro, Adela, and Merceditas move to after the earthquake is in Gloria Street, which at present is called Pozuelo.
In 1755 according to the events in the book, there was an auto-de-fé and the inquisition came to judge those who didn’t comply with the edicts of the Catholic faith. An auto-da-fé or auto-de-fé (from Portuguese auto da fé, meaning “act of faith”) was the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition, Portuguese Inquisition or the Mexican Inquisition had decided their punishment, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed.
Familiar of the inquisition was the name given to those members within the organisation whose function was to inform as if they were spies.
Pedro de Alemán manages to save his friend Bartolomé Gutierrez by using some important respected people who were involved in future telling. One of them is Diego de Torres Villarroel. Diego de Torres Villarroel (1693 – 19 June 1770) was a Spanish writer, poet, dramatist, doctor, mathematician, priest and professor of the University of Salamanca. His most famous work is his autobiography, Vida, ascendencia, nacimiento, crianza y aventuras del Doctor Don Diego de Torres Villarroel (first published 1743). in Madrid, he became so poor that he decided to take up smuggling to make money but he was saved by the patronage of the Countess of Arcos, whose house he had tried to rid of a poltergeist. His nom de plume was El Gran Piscator de Salamanca.
Part of the legend of this man is related to his prophesies. In the 1724 almanac he predicted the death of the young king Luis I, who died on August 31 that year.
Another man was Padre Feijoo. Friar Benito Jerónimo Feijóo y Montenegro (8 October 1676 – 26 September 1764) was a Spanish monk and scholar who led the Age of Enlightenment in Spain. He was an energetic popularizer noted for encouraging scientific and empirical thought in an effort to debunk myths and superstitions.
Pedro de Alemán also adds D Juan Ruiz de Alarcón to the list. Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1581? – August 4, 1639) was a Novohispanic writer of the Golden Age who cultivated different variants of dramaturgy. His magic plays include astonishing instances of the occult at a time when such practices were frowned upon. See, for example, La cueva de Salamanca and La prueba de las promesas. Quien mal anda, mal acaba may be the first Spanish play that dramatizes a pact with the devil. Indeed, even in social comedies such as Las paredes oyen we can encounter extensive astrological allusions.
Pedro also mentions D Francisco de Rojas y Zorrilla, who was married to Dª Catalina Yañez Trillo but committed adultery with Maria de Escobedo. Francisco de Rojas Zorrilla (4 October 1607 – 23 January 1648) was a Spanish dramatist.
We learn about some of the tortures the Inquisition used. Water cure is a form of torture in which the victim is forced to drink large quantities of water in a short time, resulting in gastric distension, water intoxication, and possibly death. Often the victim has the mouth forced or wedged open, the nose closed with pincers and a funnel or strip of cloth forced down the throat. The victim has to drink all the water (or other liquids such as bile or urine) poured into the funnel to avoid drowning. The stomach fills until near bursting and is sometimes beaten until the victim vomits and the torture begins again.
The strappado, also known as corda, (tortura de pendulo) is a form of torture wherein the victim’s hands are tied behind his or her back and suspended by a rope attached to the wrists, typically resulting in dislocated shoulders. Weights may be added to the body to intensify the effect and increase the pain. This kind of torture would generally not last more than an hour, without rest, as it would likely result in death.
Isabel Ruiz Vela is poisoned with mercury chloride.
Gaspar, Lucia’s boyfriend, is a dragoon. The word dragoon originally meant mounted infantry, who were trained in horse riding as well as infantry fighting skills. However, usage altered over time and during the 18th century, dragoons evolved into conventional cavalry units. In most armies, “dragoons” came to signify ordinary medium cavalry. Dragoon regiments were established in most European armies during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.