Mexico City: 1576.  leaves. Folio. In a contemporary, wallet-style vellum binding, with fastener on front covers. Minor wear and staining to vellum; upper corner of closure flap slightly chewed away. Title leaf loose. Light wear at text edges, a bit heavier to initial leaves. Light tanning and foxing. Accomplished in several secretarial hands; in Spanish and Latin. Very good. Item #2250
A significant manuscript compilation of laws and decrees that related to the Convent of Our Lady of the Conception in Mexico City during the late 16th century. The volume contains at least fifteen papal bulls and apostolic letters translated into Spanish and transcribed in Latin that contained directives relevant to the convent, one of the first established in Mexico. The manuscript itself, according to the title, was ordered to be compiled in 1576 by Pedro Moya de Contreras, the first Inquisitor General of New Spain, the third Archbishop of Mexico, and the sixth Viceroy of Mexico, from the edicts that he received and promulgated, and comprises a fascinating example of manuscript record keeping in early Spanish America. The laws themselves stretch from the early 1500s, following Cortes' landing in Mexico, to the mid-1580s, showing that the record book was kept for over a decade.
Roughly the first half of the manuscript was transcribed in 1576, and comprises important decrees and regulations affecting the convent up to that point. The text is first in Spanish with extended passages or entire documents quoted in Latin, and was copied and authenticated against the original by the same scribe, Francisco Garcia, in a Spanish secretarial script and a more straightforward Roman one. The style is uniform and somewhat artful, with scattered flourishes and manuscript imitations of the "crossed keys" papal seal. The documents transcribed are foundational -- they authorize the establishment of the convent, place it under the supervision of the Franciscan order, and relate some of the existing and newly promulgated regulations for such institutions.
The second portion of the manuscript becomes somewhat more varied, as different hands take up the scribe's pen. The first document of this section, a 1579 apostolic letter from Gregory XIII offering plenary indulgence to convent visitors and donors, requires three attempts on three consecutive leaves to reach a successful conclusion. The remaining eight transcribed documents, dating from 1579 to 1588, are a mixture of additional indulgences, privileges, and edicts relative to the convent, including several that reference the native population and conversion efforts, such as instructions for the foundation of additional establishments under the Franciscan order for these efforts. In all, the present manuscript is a rare and vital contemporary record of a 16th-century religious institution in colonial Mexico, with an extent and substance not usually seen on the market.