A Letter Confirming Nobility


This manuscript from Mexico City is the record of testimony offered by Sebastián Vizcaíno (1550?-1615) in 1597-1600 to prove the noble status of his wife, Magdalena Martínez Orejón, and her brother, Francisco Martínez Orejón. Vizcaíno was a prominent Mexico City merchant and an explorer of Baja California. The proofs of nobility were important to defend Vizcaíno's brother-in-law, Francisco Martínez Orejón, in a lawsuit that put him in debtor's prison. The text is written in an italic style in black ink within ruled frames, on both sides of leaves of paper. Two leaves of illuminated miniatures on vellum are bound in at the front, with illustrations facing. The first leaf has two half-page miniatures. The upper illustration shows Mary with the Christ Child, surrounded by clouds over a landscape. The lower illustration is of Christ speaking to a saint in a Franciscan habit in what appears to be the same landscape. The full-page miniature is a full-length portrait of the Martínez family patriarch, Ferrán Martínez, in full armor and with eyes fixed on the family coat of arms. The Mexican tooled leather binding is contemporary with the manuscript.

Last updated: September 25, 2015