Marquesado del Valle Codex

This exceptionally valuable file contains 28 separate petitions from different leaders and towns of the Marquesado del Valle, protesting seizures of lands and sugar mills by Hernán Cortés, the first marquess. The Marquesado comprised the present-day Mexican state of Morelos as well as parts of the states of Puebla, Oaxaca, and Mexico. The great sugar plantations that Cortés created were organized by renting, buying, or seizing gardens, fields, and other lands that had belonged to the caciques (Indian nobles), towns, and districts since time immemorial. Throughout the 16th century, the indigenous and European economies functioned alongside each other. Indians tried to retain what was theirs while the Spaniards were forcefully expanding their holdings. The petitions, principally concerning agriculture, were written in the middle of the 16th century. They generally contain a text in Náhuatl that explains the nature of the complaint and a rough drawing or map made by tlacuilos (Indian painters). Full of symbolism, information, and indigenous knowledge, these drawings indicate ownership of land parcels; show place names with topographic glyphs; show the size of parcels according to Mesoamerican calculations; indicate the type of production and the quantities; and give the names of ruling chiefs and other assorted facts. These documents provide important detail about the geography of vast zones of central Mexico at the beginning of the viceregal period, a time when the region was undergoing rapid transformation. Currently, the Marquesado del Valle Codex is in the Archivo General de la Nación de México, Record Group Hospital de Jesús, volume 487, bundle 276.

Techialoyan Codex of Cuajimalpa

The Techialoyan Codex of Cuajimalpa is one of the Techialoyan codices, the generic name for a group of documents produced by the same team of people in a wide area of central Mexico, mostly from 1685 to 1703. The codex describes a meeting of the notables of the town of San Pedro Cuajimalpa, held to confirm the territorial limits of the town, the places it included, its districts, and its tributary towns. The object of this ceremony, a fusion of the ancient Mesoamerican and European cultural practices, was to legitimate possession of the land. The text and pictures complement each other and include the signatures of the notables present. The iconography is rich in representations of plants, architecture, and people, both indigenous and European. Throughout its history, San Pedro Cuajimalpa used this document to prove its rights to its lands, which it retained until 1865. In that year, Maximilian of Hapsburg, and his wife, Carlota, visited the Convent of the Desierto de los Leones (Desert of the Lions), where they spoke with the residents and the neighboring towns. As a result of this meeting, the residents of Cuajimalpa presented this document to a court to be translated, from Náhuatl to Spanish, and authenticated, which was done that same year by the paleographer Francisco Rosales. At the end of the 17th century, the indigenous populations of Mexico had grown, and as a result were trying to recover lands that had been absorbed by haciendas, ranches, and other towns, and the viceregal government was searching for mechanisms to regularize land tenure. Indigenous documents were used as probate records to prove the antiquity of towns and their possession of lands. Towns sought to provide evidence that they were cabeceras (judicial seats), not subject populations, and old settlements with long-established borders. Fifty examples of Techialoyan exist. Many of these documents are written with ink of European origin, in the Náhuatl language, using the Latin alphabet in capital letters and rough script, and often on amate (bark) paper. Iconographic elements repeat from one codex to another and most use a dense opaque watercolor. Among the motifs that appear with great frequency are indigenous people, churches, hills, and plants. Texts also repeat in many of the documents, although in each case making reference to a particular town. The settlements that ordered a Techialoyan codex made sure that it contained essential information on the founding and history of the town. It is for this reason that these codices contain descriptions or pictures of agricultural lands and woodlands, geographical elements marking property lines, and information about noble leaders or their representatives and the size of settlements and neighborhoods. Currently, the Techialoyan Codex of Cuajimalpa is in the Archivo General de la Nación de México, Record Group Tierras, volume 3684, file 1, sheets 1-27.