“Of great importance for the official attitude toward problems involving the Indians”

First & Second Mexican Councils of 1555 & 1565

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83. CATHOLIC CHURCH. PROVINCE OF MEXICO CITY (MEXICO). CONCILIO PROVINCIAL. LORENZANA Y BUITRÓN, Francisco Antonio de (Archbishop of Mexico (1766-1782) & Alonso de Montúfar (Archbishop of Mexico, 1551-1572). Concilios provinciales primero, y segundo, celebrados en la muy noble, y muy leal ciudad de México, presidiendo el Illmo. y Rmo. Señor D. Fr. Alonso de Montúfar, en los años de 1555, y 1565. Dalos a luz El Illmo. Sr. D. Francisco Antonio Lorenzana, Arzobispo de esta Santa Metropolitana Iglesia. Mexico: Con las licencias necesarias, En la Imprenta de el Superior Gobierno, de el Br. D. Joseph Antonio de Hogal, en la Calle de Tiburcio, año de 1769. [10], 1-34, [2, section title], 35-38, 41-184, [2, section title], 185-396, [12, chapter indices] pp., title printed in red and black, decorated initials, head- and tail-pieces, with 8 historical-allegorical copper engraved text illustrations (ship landing at Cozumel, allegorical illustration of America, and fanciful images, such as an angel holding a map of Mexico, a weeping putti holding a skull, and other such caprices), all engraved by Villavicencio. Top edge with marca de fuego (SN and crest). Folio (27.5 x 19.7 cm), contemporary vellum over boards, title in contemporary ink on spine, edges tinted red. Lower joint neatly strengthened. Except for a few lightly scattered fox marks and minor worming in gutter, a fine copy.

     First collected edition of the first and second provincial councils, to which is added biographical sketches of the archbishops of Mexico and bishops of Puebla, Guatemala (Antigua), Antequera (Oaxaca), Michoacan, Guadalajara, Yucatan (Merida), and Durango. First printing of the second provincial council. The first provincial council (1555), consisting of 93 chapters, was published by Juan Pablos, first printer in the New World, in 1556; see JCB I (1, to 1599), p. 190 & Medina, México 26. The second provincial council (1565), with 28 chapters, consisted primarily of clarifications of the first council, except for some regulations with the potential to impede the ministry of the Mendicant Order in New Spain. The second council also declared fidelity to the decrees of the Council of Trent. The work is preceded by Lorenzana’s brief history of the Mexican councils and their objectives. On p. 29 is Pope Paul III’s “Bula...dada en favor de los Indios,” followed by the Pope’s 1537 bull declaring American Indians as rational beings. Bancroft, Mexico III, pp. 379-380. Beristáin de Souza, Biblioteca Hispano Americana Setentrional (1883), Vol. II, p. 188. JCB III (1, 1700-1771) #1686. Brunet III, col. 1167. Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol. 13, Part 2 (Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources), p. 89 (see also pp. 36, 92, 377-380): “Of great importance for the official attitude toward problems involving the Indian.” Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1867) 910. Medina, México 5299. Palau 142387: “Bella edición.” Sabin 42063.

     Wilgus, Historiography of Latin America...1500-1800, pp. 240-241: “Lorenzana...was best known for his compilations of the records of the provincial councils of México, which dealt with the relations between church and state and the conversion of the Indians. The first volume was published at Mexico City in 1769 entitled Concilios provinciales primero, y segundo, celebrados en la muy noble, y muy leal ciudad de México... An account of the first council had been published at México City in 1556 but was immediately suppressed and it is not found elsewhere... After publishing the records of the three councils, Lorenzana called a fourth meeting in 1771. The records of this meeting were sent to Spain, but disappeared in the Royal Archives.” In 1869 a London bookseller sold the manuscript to the North American historian Hubert H. Bancroft, and they were consequently included in the collections of the Bancroft Library. “Through a partially unknown process, these records have ended up in the Bancroft Library at Berkeley. The Bancroft manuscripts include the acts of the three sixteenth century provincial councils (1555, 1565, and 1585) and various other documents that are bound together in four volumes without any strict internal order” (p. 83 in Magnus Lundberg’s, Unification and Conflict: The Church Politics of Alonso de Montúfar OP, Archbishop of Mexico, 1554-1572. Uppsala, Sweden: Swedish Institute of Missionary Research, 2002). Lundberg’s work includes some fascinating research on the early history of the Virgin of Guadalupe relating to Archbishop Montúfar.

     These Mexican Councils are extremely important, documenting one of the most notable events in sixteenth-century Mexico, the assembling of the Mexican Provincial Councils to formulate special ecclesiastical policies to accommodate the requirements of the New World and Native Americans. These two councils addressed all issues relating to the organization of the Catholic Church in Mexico, canon law, confession, teaching the Indians, how to treat and minister to the Indians, consolidation of Indians in villages, prohibition of Indians owning books or taking excerpts from sermons in Spanish or in their own language (since it was thought they did not understand their content), extirpation of idolatry among the indigenous population, prohibition of some indigenous music and dances, barring Indians, mestizos, mulattos, and descendants of Muslims from ordination in the priesthood, questions relating to slaves and free blacks, etc. In preparation for conductingthe fourth provincial council (1771), Archbishop Lorenzana collected and published the acts of the first three provincial councils of Mexico held respectively in 1555, 1565, and 1585. The present work contains the first (1555) and second (1565) councils and biographies of clergy as noted above. A volume containing the third Council was published the next year, but this volume is complete in itself.

     This beautifully printed volume is from the press of Hogal, considered one of colonial Mexico’s greatest printers who is often referred to as the Ibarra of New Spain (see herein). The wonderful engravings are by Manuel de Villavicencio. Mathes, La Ilustración in Colonial Mexico (Register 5299): “A major engraver, Manuel de Villavicencio [created] an allegory of Faith and allegorical vignettes in Francisco Antonio Lorenzana, Concilios Provinciales by José Antonio de Hogal, 1769, repeated in 1770 in Concilium Mexicanum Provinciale III.” Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores en la Nueva España, p. 549.


Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $918.75.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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