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October 26, 2007

The War of the Virgins
With Copper-Engraved Plate of Celestial Phenomena

47. DÍAZ CALVILLO, Juan Bautista. Sermon que en el aniversario solemne de gracias a María Santísima de los Remedios, celebrado en esta Santa Iglesia Catedral el dia 30 de octubre de 1811 por la victoria del Monte de las Cruces, predicó el P. Dr. don Juan Bautista Díaz Calvillo, Prefecto de la Doctrina Cristiana en el Oratorio de San Felipe Neri de esta corte. Con licencia. Mexico: En la Imprenta de Arizpe, 1811. [Second title on p. {61}]: Noticias para la historia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios desde el año de 1808, hasta el corriente de 1812. Ordenabalas el autor del sermon antecedente. Con licencia. Mexico: En casa de Arizpe, año de 1812. 269 [1 blank] pp., folded copper-engraved plate (untitled and unsigned, showing celestial phenomena). Small 4to (20.5 x 15 cm), original limp vellum, sprinkled edges. Vellum darkened and wrinkled, lining papers separating, faint erasures on title, internally very fine, the engraved plate strong and very fine.

            First edition. Beristain I, p. 384. Medina, Mexico 10628. Palau 72318. Sabin 19974 (quoting Stevens: “An extraordinary volume of considerable historical interest. According to this pious author, Our Lady of Mexico, between 1808 and 1812, seems not only to have taken an active interest in the spiritual welfare of the faithful, but seems to have done her best to thwart the schemes of the rebels and republicans in the various provinces of Mexico. She set her face firmly against the spirit of Mexican independency, and became quite a politician, but always attached to the royal party. The pious political frauds contained in this volume must ever give it a prominent place among the books relating to the history of the Mexican Revolution.” Copies are sometimes found with only the first 59 pages (e.g., California State Library).

            The Sermon (pp. 7-59), which was delivered on the first anniversary of the Royalist “victory” over Hidalgo’s forces at Monte de las Cruces, attributes the retreat of Hidalgo to the intervention of Virgen de los Remedios, the patroness of the City of Mexico. The Noticias (pp. 67-269) contain a history of events in Mexico City and of the course of the insurrection from 1808 to 1811, beginning with the miraculous intervention of the Virgen de los Remedios during a terrible drought in 1808. This work is an example of the rather sophisticated type of propaganda used by the government to bolster its position, to discredit the rebels, and to portray divine intervention on its behalf. The unusual copper-engraved plate, for example, illustrates three heavenly phenomena that appeared in the skies during the course of several battles and are shown as further proof that the Virgen de los Remedios supported the Royalist cause.

                     Díaz Calvillo was one of the propagandists for the Royalist cause and previously had published a pamphlet warning of the consequences of a rebel victory. Ironically, the Virgen de los Remedios ended up in Mexico City only because her shrine was in the path of Hidalgo’s invading army and She was moved there for safety. Hidalgo’s symbol, of course, was the Virgin of Guadalupe, a choice that caused considerable controversy. Although the Viceroy had called for both symbols to be moved into the City, the keepers of Guadalupe decided she was not in danger and left her in her chapel. Thus, the Virgen de los Remedios was really an accidental symbol for the Royalists. For an overview of the psychological warfare waged by both sides at this time, see: Hugh M. Hamill, Jr., “Early Psychological Warfare in the Hidalgo Revolt” (The Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 41, No. 2, May, 1961, pp. 206-235). ($750-1,500)

Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $881.25

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