Coyoacan Region, 1575: Municipal Land Grant

This manuscript was first published in Beyond the Codices, eds. Arthur J.O. Anderson, Frances Berdan, and James Lockhart (Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center, 1976), Doc. 13, 94–95. However, the transcription, translation, and a new introduction presented here come from Lockhart's personal papers.

The original is found in the McAfee Collection, UCLA Research Library, Special Collections.

[Introduction by James Lockhart:]
Formal written grants of land inside indigenous entities are known across the postconquest centuries, but they are not very common. The present example is quite like a Spanish grant of the simpler kind, but the joint action of the unnamed group of citizens and/or authorities of the tlaxilacalli affected is more typical of indigenous procedures.

The land in question is a piece of irregular shape amounting to less than half of the standard size of 20 units square, located in the grantee’s home tlaxilacalli. The grant is justified by the fact that the plot is presently unoccupied, as the local people testify. Note that the terms altepetlalli, “altepetl land,” and calpollalli, “calpolli land,” both apply to the same piece (as Charles Gibson long ago presumed that they would). We see here also that although tlaxilacalli is the greatly dom¬inant term in Nahuatl records of postcontact times for constituent parts of an altepetl, calpolli as here is often preserved in frozen compounds.

No particulars are given here about the recipient of the grant, Joaquín Flores of Atepotzco. Elsewhere in the McAfee Collection is the 1602 testament of don Joaquín Flores of the same place, Atepotzco, described as in Santo Domingo Mixcoac, one of the subaltepetl of Coyoacan. His properties are not closely specified, but he had held high office and been responsible for the payment of tribute, and the notary calls him tlatoani, with some implication that he was a hereditary lord or ruler. Possibly this is the same person, who, as he rose in life and usage became more generous over time, acquired the don and high municipal position. Just as possible is that the testator of 1602 was the son of the grantee of 1575. Either way, it is clear that the grant went to a person of local prominence and that formal grants like this would not have been handed out to just anyone in the Coyoacan of that time.

In line 5, note the reversal of b and v in “fenabides” for Benavides and the substitution of f for v, all expectable phenomena in that none of the sounds these letters represent existed in Nahuatl before contact.

In line 11, “ça¯nihuetztoc” = çaniuh huetztoc, “it lies just as it is,” unimproved, fallow or unused.

In line 12, the word tlaxilacaleque can equally well mean inhabitants of the tlaxilacalli or tlaxilacalli leaders; in contexts like this one, we expect the meaning to be the district heads, but the other possibility still exists.

In lines 29–30 we see the indigenous term amatlacuilo, “writer on paper, notary,” as well as the loanword escribano. The latter quickly and generally displaced the former, but the native term still surfaces at times in texts of Stage 2, and in several Coyoacan items here from around this time.

Title variants: 
Beyond the Codices, Document 13
Principal editor: 
James Lockhart

Transcriptions and Translations

Analytic Transcription English Translation Spanish Translation
yn ipan altepetl coyohuacan . yqueylhuitl quitoca yn itlapohual y metztli d[. . .] mill y quinientos yn setenta yn cinco año—s NEhuatl don loreçō de guzmā t[latohuani] yhuan gouernador . yhuan tehuatin . baltasar de leō alonso fenabides . allde—s [ycatzinco] toteo dios yhuan yn tohueytlatocauh Rey su magtt . Etc . yn yehuatl juachin [flures] chane ateputzco . ynic nican tispan ohualla . nican audiencia ynic otlaytlan yni[. . .] petiçio . ynic cenca otechtlatlauhti . yn ipampa yn altepetlaltzintli . yn quitlani oncā mani ateputzco. [. . .?] .calpolali . yn aoc ac . ytech pouhqui . yn çānihuetztoc ynic o no nican tispan necico . yn otlatolmelahuaco yn tlaxilacaleque yn huel nelli amo ac ytech pohui . yn tlalli . ipampa yn axcā . ticmaca ticascatia yn yehuatl jua¯chin . flures . ynic patlahuac . chicuhnauhquahuitl . auh ynic huiac . castolli omey quahuitl . yn tonatiuh ycalaquianpa . auh yn tonatiuh yquiçayanpa ynic chicocalactica . yn tlali . cenpohualli omome quahuitl . auh ynic patlauac macuilquahuitl . ytech açi yn otli . ymiltitlā . josana yc tonatiuh iquiçayāpa yxquich in . yn ticmaca . huel quimopieliz amo ac quistoquiliz yn oc huecauhtica . yhuan yniquincahuilitiaz . yn ipilhua yn iquac momiquiliz . ca yuh ticneltilia yn totlanahuatil yn icatzinco rrey su magt . ynic titlanahuatia ponsensiō . quimacatiuh yn alguacil mayor . luis caravajal . ynic ticneltilia ypampa nican tictlalia . tomachiyo tofirmas don lorēço de guzmā balsar de leon allde— Alonso benabides allde— yntencopanco señores gouernador allde—s nicneltili . amatlacuillo ytencopanco su magtt . augustin de galiza escrivano . [Transcription by James Lockhart] In the altepetl of Coyoacan on the third day, following the count of the month of [December] of the year of 1575, here in court before me don Lorenzo de Guzmán, ruler and governor, and before us Baltasar de León and Alonso de Benavides alcaldes in the name of our lord God and of our great ruler the king His Majesty, etc., there came Joaquín Flores, citizen of Atepotzco, to make a [. . .] petition with which he greatly implored us concerning a piece of altepetl land that he requests at Atepotzco, calpolli land no longer belonging to anyone, but lying idle; since the tlaxilacalli leaders have also come to appear before us and testified that truly indeed the land belongs to no one, therefore now we give it to Joaquín Flores and make it his property, 9 quahuitl wide and 18 quahuitl long on the west, and on the east, where the land enters at an angle, 22 quahuitl [long] and 5 quahuitl wide, reaching the road next to a field of Susana on the east. This is all that we give him. He can keep it; no one is to claim it from him for a long time to come, and [it is given to him] so that he will leave it to his children when he dies, and we carry out our order in the name of the king His Majesty by ordering the chief constable Luis de Carvajal to go to give him possession, wherefore to verify it we put here our rubrics and signatures. Don Lorenzo de Guzmán. Baltasar de León, alcalde. Alonso de Benavides, alcalde. At the behest of the lords governor and alcaldes I verified it: notary by order of His Majesty, Agustín de Galicia, notary. [Translation by James Lockhart]