Rare Puebla de los Ángeles Imprint with Handsome Engraved Portrait

With Two Chapters on the Beginnings of Permanent Settlement in the Coahuila Borderlands Region

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552. TORRES, Miguel de. Dechado de principes ecclesiasticos, que dibujò con su exemplar, virtuosa, y ajustada Vida el illust. y Exc. Señor Doctor D. Manuel Fernandez de S. Cruz, y Sahagun. Collegial, que fuè, en el Mayor de Cuenca, Canonigo Magistral en la Iglesia de Segovia, Obispo electo de la de Chiapa, Consagrado en la de Guadalaxara, para su govierno, promovido à la Angelica de la Puebla, nombrado Arçobispo de la Metropolitana de Mexico, y Virrey de esta Nueva España, honor que renunciò en vida.... [Colophon] Puebla de los Ángeles: Imprenta de la Viuda de Miguel de Ortega y Bonilla, [1716]. [32], 1-64, 69-268, 268-331 [misnumbered 231], 333-431 [5] pp. (text complete), title within typographical border; wood-engraved coat of arms, head- and tailpieces, initials; 2 large wood-engraved text illustrations (allegorico-religico) at p. 211 and 227; copper-engraved portrait (opposite p. 1): Verdadera Efigie de el Illmo.| Exmo. y Venerable S.D.D. Manuel Fer | nandez de Sta. Cruz y Sahagun, | Obpô de la Puebla đ los Angeles (portrait of Bishop Fernández de Santa Cruz y Sahagun writing a book, set within an allegorical border including Bishop’s hat, crozier, etc.). 4to (21 x 15.5 cm), eighteenth-century full rose silk with floral design over wooden boards, later black ink notation “41o” on spine, edges gilt and gauffered. Old ink notation on preliminary blank. Fragile silk binding slightly worn, head of spine worn with slight loss, tail of spine slightly worn, ties absent, but given the format and fabric truly fine. Interior very fine, engraving fine except slightly trimmed at right edge (slight loss). Exceedingly rare.

     First edition, dated from page [21]. A second edition was published at Madrid in 1722. Medina, Puebla de los Angeles 283. Palau 337205. Porrúa Catalogue 5 (1949) 8368. Sabin 96249.

     Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz y Sahagún (1637-1699), a native of Puebla de los Ángeles, served as Bishop in Guatemala, Chiapas, Guadalajara, and Puebla de los Ángeles. An influential New World Bishop in many areas, he was instrumental in spreading Spanish civilization and the Roman Catholic Church northward into the Borderlands. Beginning as early 1585 Luis de Carvajal attempted to establish presidial colonies in the far north, such as Coahuila. These “colonies” were more along the lines of military garrisons, established to make the area safe for the Spanish to develop mines and mining. The soldiers in these early ventures are described by one author as “neither elite troops nor raw recruits, but hard-bitten, home-grown vaqueros who were at ease in the saddle, inured to the harsh and lonely terrain in which they served, and accustomed to the cruel and unconventional tactics of Indian warfare” (Max L. Moorhead, The Presidio: Bastion of the Spanish Borderlands, University of Oklahoma Press, 1991, p. 178). Between cupidity, jurisdictional disputes, hostile nomadic tribes, crop failure, drought, and other disasters, these military colonies had short lives. It was Bishop Fernández who was responsible for initiating the permanent settlement of colonists and their families in the present-day area of Saltillo and Coahuila in the 1670s (discussed in Chapters 17 and 18 of present work). Bishop Fernández obtained permission from the Viceroy to remove Tlaxcaltecan families from the Pueblo de San Esteban de Saltillo and resettle them in Coahuila. The Tlaxcaltecans, Spanish allies since the conquest of Tenochtitlan, were traditionally used as precursor settlers as examples of an agricultural and sedentary way of life for the nomadic natives.

     In December of 1675, Bishop Fernández embarked on his colonization expedition with ten presidial soldiers and fourteen Tlaxcaltecan families. In the north, a member of the Aguayo family joined the group. (A later member of this titled family would establish the first permanent settlement in Texas, the Marqués de San Miguel, José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, (d. 1734). The Aguayo family owned most of the real estate in the vast area and successfully protected the region against French encroachments. The Bishop founded the village of San Francisco de Tlaxcala just west of Guadalupe for the Tlaxcaltecan families and gathered more native families, settling them at San Miguel de Luna, which the bishop renamed San Francisco de Coahuila. Concurrently, he formed a presidio nearby and named Fernando del Bosque as its captain. Problems arose, and many of the natives left to rejoin their nomadic tribes and occasionally attacked those same settlements in which they had lived. Bosque moved the few Spanish families that were left from Guadalupe to San Francisco de Coahuila, where in 1678, the official founding of Presidio San Francisco de Coahuila was enacted. With this difficult beginning he laid the foundations for permanent settlement in the Coahuila borderlands region. See Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial, (Mexico: Editorial Porrúa, 1978).

     This work includes a discussion of Bishop Fernández’s active support of education for women and the establishment of more institutions for women wishing to take the veil. Bishop Fernández was involved in intellectual circles in Mexico and is famous for having engaged in polemics with America’s first feminist, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651-1695). Sor Juana named the Bishop as one of her confessors, and considered him her long-time friend. In 1690 she discussed with him her critique of a famous sermon given forty years earlier by the eminent Portuguese Jesuit, Antonio de Vieira. The Bishop was impressed with her argument and requested her to put her thoughts into writing. He then, without Sor Juana’s knowledge, published her work, accompanied by his admonishment of her brazen engagement in intellectual matters.The Bishop was not the friend Sor Juana thought him to be and this left her open to attack from the Archbishop. The short remainder of her life was miserable, including the loss of her library of about four thousand volumes, probably the largest private library in Mexico at that time. Sor Juana died of plague while ministering to her sisters. The one bright light in this tragedy is Sor Juana’s celebrated reply to the misogynist bishop recounting her intellectual history and defending her right—and every woman’s right—to an education and an intellectual life. For more on the relationship and influence of Bishop Fernández on Sor Juana, see Octavio Paz, Sor Juana, or, the Traps of Faith (translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, 1989), in which Paz observes that the Bishop had two passions—theology and nuns. Gourmands might be thankful to the Bishop as well, because it was for him that the nuns in Puebla first made mole in March 1681 to thank the Bishop for building their convent.

     This book pleases on the aesthetic level. Mathes (La Ilustración en México Colonial Register 283) seems to give the only notice of the atypical copper-engraved portrait of the noteworthy Bishop. The anonymously engraved portrait is arresting and technically complex, exhibiting an instinctive artistic sense and a bravura command of the burin, yet the lettering below is rather primitive. Romero de Terreros (Grabados y grabadores in la Nueva España) does not list the plate, nor is it noted by Francisco Pérez Salazar in El Grabado en la Ciudad de Puebla de los Ángeles (Puebla: Gobierno del Estado de Puebla, 1990).

     Last, but not least, this book was printed by the Widow of Miguel de Ortega y Bonilla (Manuela Cerezo), who at times was the only available printer in Puebla for obituaries and other official printing. Imprints from the press of Manuela Cerezo included several works on nuns and women in the religious life of colonial Mexico. These works were written in the classic style of the time, with relevant quotations in Latin. This is interesting to consider, since women were generally excluded from the public realm of discourse, which in turn represents power. These women not only challenged the patriarchal system but were accepted and validated by the same system. See: Circe Hernández Sautto, “Impresos poblanos en la Biblioteca José María Lafragua: Siglos XVII-XVIII” Revista de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras No. 6 (2006), pp. 206-219.


Sold. Hammer: $4,400.00; Price Realized: $5,390.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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