Hacienda Manuscript Sheds Light on Colonial Mexican History

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/28/09


Barbara Robinson and Dorothy Samuel display a page from the hacienda manuscript.



Samuel and the lavishly illustrated title page from the manuscript


L.A. designer Dorothy Samuel recently donated a rare manuscript to the USC Libraries detailing the agricultural and commercial operations, as well as daily life, at the Hacienda Santa Anna Atoyasole about an hour east of present-day Mexico City between 1673 and 1722. The manuscript joins the Historia de Nueva Espana and other important resources at USC's Boeckmann Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies documenting Mexico's colonial history.

The beautifully illustrated manuscript includes business records, legal documents, and a variety of other historic materials. Librarian Barbara Robinson of the Boeckmann Center said that it was a significant addition to the center's growing collection of Mexican hacienda and Inquisition manuscripts from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Robinson writes:

It was originally given to Dorothy Samuel by close friends who brought it to California from their travels in Mexico many years ago. Last year, I invited Dorothy to bring the manuscript to Special Collections to share with students and their professor in a class on colonial Latin American History.  By happy coincidence one of the items they were studying that day in Special Collections was the post-conquest Lienzo de Tlaxcala, created by the Tlaxcalan Indians to document their support to the King Philip II and hopefully protect their lands from distribution. The 17th century hacienda manuscript provided the students with an interesting physical connection to the Spanish presence in Tlaxcala and a lesson on paleography.

The leather bound manuscript contains the archive of records of the daily business of the Hacienda Santa Anna Atoyasole, covering 1673 and 1722. It has 16 separate documents and 386 leaves. During this period between the late 17th and early 18th centuries, all commerce and business in Tlaxcala was centered in its haciendas. The haciendas were dedicated to agriculture, cattle raising, and pulque. This particular hacienda was owned by Don Francisco Mateo de Luna, Knight of the Order of Calatrava and Retired Counselor of the Royal Tribunal of Accounts of the Kingdom of New Spain (which we now know as Mexico).

This hacienda was located in Tlaxcala, the smallest of the Mexican states, about an hour east of Mexico City. During pre-Columbian times the area of Tlaxcala was unique among the indigenous territories. It was an independent nation, never conquered by the Aztecs. When Cortes arrived in Tlaxcala in 1519, the Tlaxcala joined him in battle against their common enemy the Aztecs. It is known that the Tlaxcala were the main indigenous allies of the Spanish, and without their extensive military support the conquest would not have been possible. For many years after the conquest, the Tlaxcalan lands were protected by the Spanish crown from distribution to colonists. However, within a century many large Spanish colonial landholdings called haciendas dotted the Tlaxcalan landscape.

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