Cuernavaca, 1607: Testament of doña María Ximénez

The Testament of doña María Ximénez, Cuernavaca, 1607.
Transcription, translation, and analysis by Robert Haskett.

The Nahuatl testament created on behalf of doña María, daughter of the sixteenth-century Nahua lord don Juan Ximénez (whose will also is found in the ENL) have survived thanks to an alleged embezzlement of tribute funds by one of her descendants. In 1694, the long-time gobernador of Cuernavaca, don Antonio de Hinojosa, was held responsible for several thousands pesos worth of the villa’s tribute, leading to the sequestration of his estate. The extensive records of the resulting investigation includes the testament as well as a Spanish translation doña María’s memorial, since it provided proof of the legitimacy of at least some of don Antonio’s property holding; his own claims of indigenous nobility and political power rested on his descent from this noblewoman (as well as her father) on the maternal side.

The testament describes an extensive an extensive ancestral estate and presents as well information about familial relationships, the probable effects of epidemic disease, and of course inheritance patterns, making it an excellent ethnohistorical source. Doña María’s will adheres more or less to the genre’s standardized format, most memorably laid out in the model testament of fray Alonso de Molina. She was a consequential figure in Nahua Cuernavaca, the inheritor (after her mother—whose will has not been located--passed away) of the vast majority of her illustrious father don Juan Xinénez’s properties. It was the political and social prominence of the family in the altepetl that attracted the attention of a male Hinojosa, who may have been an upwardly mobile mestizo making his way in the indigenous rather than Spanish world. According to her grandson don Antonio de Hinojosa, “I have some papers which I am presenting to your worship [that include] a testament made by . . . my grandmother doña María Ximénez. In these said papers they left me some houses in which I now live, and lands in different locations.” In fact, most of don Juan Ximénez’s did end up in the hands of doña María, who bequeathed them to her daughter, doña Juana Ximénez, who in the fullness of time married a Hinojosa.

Doña María, whose will was made just about a generation after don Juan’s, was married to a man named Juan Ximénez, a potential point of confusion save for the notary’s scrupulous use of kinship terms to differentiate him from her father. Accordingly, don Juan was called either notatzin (“my precious father”) or, at one point, notecuiyotzin catca (“my late, precious lord”), while Juan (who was never referred to with the lordly title “don”) was nonamic (“my husband/spouse”). Doña María seems to have venerated her late father, to the point that she requested “that my body be buried where my late, precious lord don Juan Ximénez lies buried,” which would mean a high-status internment inside Cuernavaca’s monastery church.

Doña María’s will, drawn up just about a generation after her father’s, is not much different from most other Nahuatl testaments as far as its basic format is concerned; like her father’s, it is written in what James Lockhart has called Stage 2 Nahuatl. It opens with the same kind of formula about life, the inevitability of death, and her burial preferences. And like her father, she had one principal heir, her daughter Juana, though she also left a small amount of property to her two younger sisters. Doña María, who unlike her father could not read or write, relied on the notary to “sign” her name, and on four male witnesses to endorse the veracity of the proceedings. Typically, she or the notary added standard perorations such as the warning that any earlier will of hers would “count as nothing.”

While doña María claimed in this testament to have no money, her extensive properties in the Cuernavaca area included some calpullalli (usufruct property distributed to citizens by district—calpulli—officers) that the family may or may not have been holding properly; the cautious language in the text, which seems to be answering some unvoiced criticism, suggests that there may have been an attempt by the Ximénez to transform it into their own private land. But Doña María actually may not have been too badly off in terms of liquid wealth, since she left the financial part of her dictates to her husband, perhaps trusting that she did not have to spell this kind of thing out for him. The lands still held in 1607 are usually glossed with the terms milli, tlalli, calmilli, one parcel is singled out as an amilli (an irrigated field), and as in her father’s testatment others are described as tlacpactlalli. In doña María’s will the property known as Teoquauhco is classed as tlahtocatlalli (ruler’s land), while the entirety of her landed properties are referred to as yn ixquich tlahtocamilli (“all the ruler’s cultivated fields”), still retaining the status adhering to her father’s station in life.

In contrast to her scrupulous concern for land, doña María’s testament lacks bequests of material or household goods. There is no mention of the pre-contact-style feathered headdresses, shields, and musical instruments featured in her father’s will, so it is impossible to know if doña María still possessed any of these heirlooms, if they had been lost, sold, or destroyed over the years, or if they were specifically “male” possessions she would not have retained. Yet a woman of doña María’s status presumably had clothing, jewelry, a range of household goods, and probably even various kinds of saints’ images. She must have expected her husband to make sure that her daughter and heir Juana would receive these kinds of domestic and personal items.

The Ximénez, a noble indigenous family that seemed to lack legitimate male heirs for three generations, finally found them through marriage to the Hinojosas. While the testaments of these Hinojosa men have yet to be discovered, it is clear that they bequeathed and continued to hold most of the landed properties that had belonged to their Ximénez ancestors in the later sixteenth century and early seventeenth centuries.

Principal editor: 
Robert Haskett

Transcriptions and Translations

Analytic Transcription English Translation Spanish Translation
/423r/ Yn ica . yn itocatzin . dios . tetatzin . dios . tepiltzin . dios espu— . Sancto . nicpehualtia . y¯ notestamēto . ma quimatican . yn ixquichtin . y¯ quitazque ynin . Amatzitli . Ca y¯ nehuatl . dona . maria . ximenez . Nicã nochã quauhhuac [sic] tecpã . nipohui . notlahxollacalpã [sic] ohtlip ā . Nicchihua . y¯ notestamēto maçoyhui y¯ mococohua . Nonacayo . yeçeh y noyollo . y¯ noçializ . y¯ notlalnamiquiliz . y notlahcaquiya . amo quē ca . ca pactica . auh . nicchixtica y¯ miquiztli . yn ayac huel ixpāpah yehua . yn ayac huel quitlalcahuiya . yc nictlalia y¯ notestamēto . y¯ ça tlatzaccā . notlanequiliz . yc ninocauhtiuh . ynic mopiyaz . ynic ayac quitlacoz . Ca yehuatli ye nocōpehualtiya . y¯ huel notestamēto — v huel achtopa . y¯ nanima yÇenmactzinco . nocōtlaliya y¯ tto . dios . ca oq’mochihuili . yhuã Çēca nicnotlatlauhtilia . ynic nechmotlaocoliliz nechmopopolhuiliz . y¯ notlatlacol . yhuā Nechmohuiquiliz yn ichātzīco . yn ilhuicac . yn iquac . nanima . oquitlalcahui . y¯ nonacayo . yhuã y nonacayo ytech nicahua . y¯ tlalli . Ca ytech oquiz . Ca tlali . ca çoquitl yoā nicnequi . Ça çe tilmatli . yc moquimiloz . y¯ nonacayo . yhuan . nicnequi ma ōcan tocoz y nonacayo . y¯n ocã toctitoc y¯ noteCuiyotzin . catca . don Juā . ximenez . Ca yuh catqui . tonenonotzal . Ma yxipātiloz [sic]. y¯ yehuatzi[n] padre . guardia . fray . Juo de ollohua Auh ca amo tle . tomines . ninopielia . ca çan yehuatl ytech ninocauhtiuh . y¯ nonamictzin . Juo ximenez . yehuatl . quimomachitia . ca nechmotoquiliz yn iquac y¯tla onechmopolhui y¯ tot.o dios ca yÇenmac niccauh [sic] yn ixquich tlatocamilli ca huel yaxca . y¯ notatzin . catca . don Juo ximenez . ca tel ye nictecpanaz . yn ixquich . tlahtocamilli . y¯n ac [sic] huel quixitiniz . Ca huel taxca . ca huel totlal [continues on the next page; transcription by Robert Haskett] /423r/ In the name of God the father, God the child, and God the Holy Spirit, I am beginning my testament. Let all know who see this document that I doña María Jiménez, whose home is here in Cuernavaca, in Tecpan, belonging to my tlaxilacalli of Otlipan, make my testament. Although my body is ill, yet nothing is wrong with my soul, will, mind, and understanding, which are sound. I am awaiting death, which no one can flee or avoid, so that I set down my testament, my last will, trusting that it will be observed and that no one will violate it. It is this that I am now beginning, my true testament. — v First of all I place my soul entirely in the hands of our lord God, for he made it, and I urgently implore him to favor me by pardoning my sins and carrying me to his precious home in heaven when my soul has left my body. And my body I leave to the earth, for it emerged from there, for it is earth and clay. And I want my body to wrapped just in a cloth, and I want my my body to be buried where my late lord don Juan Ximénez lies buried, for thus is for such is our agreement. May [the matter] be put before the father guardian fray Juan de Ulloa. I have no money, and I am just trusting to my spouse Juan Jiménez to decide; he is to bury me when our lord God has effaced me. I am leaving entirely in his hands all the ruler’s fields that were truly the property of my late father don Juan Jiménez. although now I will make the arrangements about all the ruler’s fields; no one can undo it, for it is really our property, really our land. [continued, next page; translation by Robert Haskett]
/423v/ v Auh Niz catqui . y huel nixcoyã . naxca nocal ynic manic . Nechcahuilitiuh . notatzin . catca . do¯ Ju.o ximenez . mochi nicnemactia y¯ piltzintli . Ju.a ca o¯-cat [sic] . yn itatzin . yehuatl quimati . ca quimo¬pieli[z] v yhuã . nictenehua . y nomil . teoquauhco . tlahtocatlalli huel ypadrimonio y¯ notatzî . catca dō Ju.o ximenez . Auh yn ixquich yn [. . .]milli . macuillpohuali . ynic hueyac . auh y milpatlahuac napo[hualli] õmacuilli . mochi nicmacatiuh yn piltōtli . Ju.a mochi cōcuiz — ynic ontetl . tlacpactlali . atl y nepillohuaya . ytocayoc Necoc pohualli . mochi ytech pohuiz . y piltontli Ju.a — ynic yetetl ytocayoc . tlatzalla . tlacpactlalli . ca ye çacayo[. . .] mochi ytech pohuiz . Ju.a — auh . nimā yehuatl . Nictenehua . nomil nic tepepa tlalli . chiuhcnauhtetl . ynic çtetl . tzaqualp . ynic tetl . olactzinco – ynic yetetl . quauhchiltco . ynic nauhtetl . ahuacaquauhyo ynic maCuiltetl . yaoohtlica . ynic chiquaçtetl . techialco . ynic . 7 . tetl . tepetitla . ynic . 8 . tetl cohuatepec . ynic . 9 tetl . tzaqualpa amilli . yzquitetl in . huel nomil . notlal — auh . yoã . niquitotiuh . xochtla . milli ç quexquichto . aço qumaniya moCuepaz . ytech pohuiz piltontli Ju.a — Auh . niz catqui . niquitohua . yehuātin niuhctzitzhua . omtin ynic çe . ytoca . Ju.a tlahco . ynic ome . an teyiuch . niquinemactitia çeçenmecatl . qumomaquiquiliz [sic] nonamictzin Ju.o ximenez yehuatl . quimomachiltiya . cpa quimomaquiliz . Auh yn ixquich . nocalmil . ca huel naxca . nechcahuilitiuh noteCuiyotzin . d . Ju.o ximenez . auh calpollali . analco . ca ye omixiptlat[i] ytocayoc . quaquauhtztla . ayac tle huel quitoz . ca mopiya . Senteçia yn ip . mixipatlatiz — v yzquitlamatli . notestamto . yn ipa nictlalitiuh y . auh tla oc çentetl . notestamto . Canapa neçiz . yntla noço . aca quipiya . no [continues on the next page; transcription by Robert Haskett] Here is something that is fully my own property, my house as it now is, that my late father don Juan Jiménez left to me. I bequeath it all to the small child Juana. Her father is there; he knows about it and will keep it [for her]. And I mention my field at Teoquauhco, ruler’s land, truly the patrimony of my late father don Juan Jiménez. The entire field is 100 [quahuitl] long and 85 wide. I am giving all of it to the child Juana; she is to go ahead and take it all. — A second parcel is high land at the place called Atl ynepillohuaya[n], 40 square; all of it is to belong to the child Juana. The third parcel is at the place called Tlatzallan, high land, grown up in weeds; all of it is to belong to Juana. Next I mention my nine fields that are Tepepan land here. The first is at Tzaqualpan, the second at Olactzinco, the third at Quauhchiltonco, the fourth at Ahuacaquauhyo, the fifth at Yaotlica, the sixth at Techialco, the seventh at Tepetitlan, the eighth at Coatepec, the ninth an irrigated field at Tzaqualpan; all of these are truly my fields and lands. — In addition I say that the field at Xochtlan, just a bit of [land], will perhaps be returned sometime; it is to belong to the little child Juana.— And I say this, that to my two younger siblings, the first named Juana Tlaco and the second Ana Teiuc, I bequeath a mecatl [of land] each. My spouse Juan Jiménez will give it to them; he can decide where he is to give it to them. And all my house fields are truly my property; my lord don Juan Jiménez left them to me. And there is calpolli land at Analco; it was already exchanged [for land] at Quaquauhtzontlan; no one can say anything about it, because [we] have a judgment about [how] it will be exchanged. — These are all the things in my testament, which I issue in it on departing. But if another testament of mine should appear from somewhere or someone has [continued, next page; translation by Robert Haskett]
/424r/ Notlahtol . [sic] ynic niquilhui . yn iquac . nimiquiz ytla nicmacatiyaz mochi . nicpollohua / Atle yp pohuiz . Çan ixquich neltiz . mochihuaz yn axcan / onicchiuh yn imixp . testigosme Auh ytla qumania yxp neçiz . Justiçia . ca yehuatl i . notestamto . huel noyollocacopa onictlali . axc . martes . a 9 . de octobre . de 1607 / . ynic amo quiximati . amatl yn amo huel tlaCuillohua . nictlalia nomatica nehuatl . matheo de los angeles . nictlaliliya yn ifirma . yhu yn itoca + maria ximenez Nican micuillohua ynin testigosme . yn intoca yn izquintin yn imixp . omotlali . testamto ynic çe ytoca Ju[o?]achin . gomez . ynic ome Ju.o huitznahuatl ynic yey . thoribio mollarez . ynic nahui dio ximenez . ytlahxollacalpa . texihuac . auh . ynic tlaneltilia . nica . mofirmatiya yn intoca . quitlalia . matica huaxtla thoribio mollares tecptzinco Jhuã huitznahuatl nixpã barthasal tetlacatl nixpan Matheo de los angeles escr o [Transcription by Robert Haskett] /424r/ my word that I gave him/her that when I would die I would give him/her something, I cancel it; it will count as nothing. Only the one I have now made before witnesses is to be carried out and executed. If it should appear sometime before the authorities, this is my testament that with my fully voluntary will I issued today, Tuesday the 9th of October of the year 1607. Because she is not acquainted with documents and cannot write, I Mateo de los Angeles with my own hand am setting down her signature and name: + María Ximénez Here are recorded the names of these witnesses, all those in whose presence the testament was issued. The first is named Joaquín Gómez, the second Juan Huitznahuatl, the third Toribio de Morales, the fourth Diego Jiménez of the tlaxilacalli of Texihuacan. To verify it, here they sign their names, set down by their own hands: Huaxtla: Toribio de Morales. Tecpantzinco: Juan Huitznahuatl. Before me, Baltasar Tetlacatl. Before me, Mateo de los Angeles, notary. [Translation by Robert Haskett]
Spanish Translation of doña María Ximénez’s Testatment, 1674 (AGN Tributos vol. 52, exp. 1, fols. 430v-431r) /430v/ Trasunto del testmto de doña maria ximenez [in the left margin] En el nonbre de dios p.e dios hijo dios espiritu santo enp[...] mi testam,to Sepan todos los que uieren este papel como yo doña maria ximenez que naci en esta uilla de Cuernauaca donde tengo Casas Y pertenesco atupan y[...] de cuarrio nonbrado otlipan como ago mi testamto Y aunque estoy enferma mi corason Y mi mirar Y mi entendimiento y el oyr esta bueno Y estoy esperando la muerte porque nadie se escapa de ella Y no ay quien se aparte de ella Pongo mi testamentoY a le auo[...] mi uoluntad paraque se guarde Y que ninguno la enbarase y enpieso mi testamento, lo primero de[jo] mi anima a dios nuestro señor que tengo misericordia de ella pues la creo Y le Ruego me perdone mis pecados y que la lleue a sutanto y reino quando mi anima Se aparte de mi Cuerpo Y de mi carne Y mi Cuerpo lo de[...] a la tierra de adonde salio por ser lodo Y tierra Y quiero que con Una manta de algodon Se a mortape [mortaxe?] mi Cuerpo Y quiero que mi Cuerpo Se entierre adonde esta enter[..]do mi querido don Juo ximenez que asi quedamos co[n]sertados Y conuinidos [?] Y esto Sea delanto de nuestro pa[..] guardian fray Joan de ulloa Y no tengo dineros que so[] [continues on the next page; transcription by Robert Haskett]
/431r / me dexo en las manos de mi marido Juan ximenez que el saue que el me a de enterrar quando Sea dios seruido de que me dixo mi pe don Juan ximenez porque eran suyas que yo las dexa[..] en este mi testamento declaradas. Y nadie Lo enbarasa porque son nuestras las tierras Y declare que me pertense[n] las casas que me dexo mi pe que era don Juo ximenez todo se lo dexo en erençia a [l]a doncella que se llama Juana que tiene pe y el sabe que Se lo a de guardar Y nonbro por mis tierras las de teoquaco Y son tierras de patrimonio de mi pe don Juo ximenez Y tienen Sien baras de largo Y de ancho ochenta Y cinco todo Se lo dexo a esta muchacha que Se llama Juana Y se las tome __ Y las segundas tierras de arriua que Se nonbran Atlynepiloaya Y an por nonbre necou [?] ompoali todo Se lo dexo a esta muchacha Juana = de las tres tierras unas que se nonbran tlatzalan que estan con mucha Yerba todo Se lo dexo a Juana y aora nonbro las milpas que me pertenuen aqui en el uarrio de tepepan nuebe padasos el primero tzaCualpa – olactzinco = quauchiltoco – ahuaCuauYo – Yotlica – techialco – tepetitlan ohuatepec – tzaCualpa que todas estas tierras aqui nonbradas son mias y tanuien nonbro por mis tierras las de xochititlan que son un pedaçillo tanuien Se las dexo a Juana declaro que tengo dos ermanas la una se llama Juana tlaco, Y la otra se llama ana teyc a las quales dexo a un cordel de tierras acadauna Y mi marido Juan ximenez Saue en donde les a de dar el cordel de tierras Y todas las tierras Son mias que me dexo en erençia mi querido don Juo ximenez Y estas tierras pertenecian al uarrio de analco Y por ellas Se dieron otras que se nonbran quaquautzotlan Y coable nadie en esta rrason porque Se guarda la sentencia deste concluso [?] Y todo lo que ba nonbrado en este testamto es mi uoluntad Y si aCaso Pareçiere otro testamto Y si alguno lo guarda o alguna rrason que aya dicho en rrason de que Cuando me muera / [continues on the next page; transcription by Robert Haskett]
/ 431v / que les dexare algo Lo Reuoco Y anulo Y quiero que no S[..] este act. Sino deste que aora ago delante de testigos Y si en algun tienpo pareçiere ante la Real Justiçia que solo este es mi testamto que yse con todo mi corason Y mi boluntad oy martes a nuebe de otubre de mil Y seiscientos Y siete años Y por no Sauer firmar rrogue a mateo de los angeles firmase por mi doña maria Ximenez aqui Se esCriuen los nonbres de los testigos delante de quien Se yso este testament Joachin gomez – Juo huiznahuatl toriuio de morales diego ximenez del uarrio de tecxihuacan y por ser uerdad la firmaron de sus nonbres toriuio de morales = Juo huiznahuatl delante de mi baltasar tetlacatl delante de mi mateo de los angeles esCriuano == Los quales dhos dos trasuntos* saque a todo mi leal Sauer Y entender Y asi lo Juro a dios Y a la Cruz Y lo firme en CuernaVaca a diez y ocho de nouienbre de mil y seisçientos Y sesenta y quarto años = Diego Rodríguez [Transcription by Robert Haskett]