Coyoacan Region, 1575: Land from Baltasar Esteban for Church

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. 21, 116–117. However, the transcription, translation, and a new introduction presented here come from Lockhart's personal papers.

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

[Introduction by James Lockhart:]
In the introduction to Doc. 20, originally titled "Juan Alvaro sells or dontes land to church, COyoacan region, 1575," it is asserted that direct sales to the church were rare, yet this very next document is another such sale. On close examination, however, we find that the two are related, part of a single operation by the Dominicans of Coyoacan. The sale takes place less than two months after the one in Doc. 20; present as a witness is Juan Alvaro, the seller in the other transaction, and the plot borders on the holdings he sold then. In this case we are told that the land of the friars is in the same place, confirming the nature of the whole operation as it already appeared from the other instance. Again the price is high; 20 pesos in cash for a plot 15 quahuitl by 10 (well under half of the normal 20 by 20 parcel) is three or four times what one would normally expect.

The land being sold came into the marriage through the wife, named only Isabel. (It is interesting that man and wife list themselves as associated with different tlaxilacalli; chane can mean either citizen of or born in, or both. The plot is called the wife’s “woman-land,” -cihuatlal, which is here most usefully defined as having been left and given to her by her father and mother. Emphasis is placed on the assent of both man and wife to the sale.

The style as well as the notary and witnesses are the same as in Doc. 20. The seller Baltasar Esteban again has a humble name, but we do know from elsewhere that he was constable of the Dominican church and monastery (alguacil de la iglesia y monasterio: Carrasco and Monjarás-Ruiz, Colección de documentos sobre Coyoacán, 1: 159.) Instead of drawing a cross like Juan Alvaro, he makes a signature. He may mean the rubrics only, which are fluently done; the name written alphabetically would be hard to distinguish from the notary’s writing. Usually when a person actually signed the name, the record speaks of itoca, “his name.” In any case, even though the land came from his wife, the husband is treated as the primary seller, and there is no mention of any signature by the wife.

Title variants: 
Beyond the Codices, Document 21
Principal editor: 
James Lockhart

Transcriptions and Translations

Analytic Transcription English Translation Spanish Translation
Sabado . a 6 dias del mes De agusto . 1575 años . v NEhuatl balthasar Estephan nicā nichane tlalxopā tlaxillacalpā Auh yn teoyotica nonamic ytoca ysabel chane ycçotitlan yn cecni huel yçihuatlal quicahuilitiuh quimacatiuh yn itatzin ynantzin nican mani ycaltitlan . Joan aluaro yn itech pouhqui ocatca oquinamacac yn çan ye no oncā yn teopisque yntlaltzin onoc . auh y¯ totlal amo cēca quesquich ynic huiac . caxtolli quahuitl yc patlahuac . matlacquahuitl huel ochpātli ytenco . Ca huel tascauh . totlatqui y¯ tlaltzintli y¯ tomestin y¯ teoyotica nonamic . ysabel Auh yn ascā toyonllocopa tictomaquilia yn totlaçotatzin padre fray franco de loaysa vic.o yn ipā santa yglesia villa de coyohuacan yn ipatiuh yn totlaltzin ynn oticcuique cempohualli pos yn tos . huel oticpaccacelique yn imispan y¯ quiz yn tos . testigos mochiuhque yispan Señor Don turibio siluestre fiscal yglesia yhuā vicente Ramirez . balthasar pz– alguaziles yglesia yhuā yispā juo aluaro . chane apçolco . Nehuatl balthasar Estephā ynic nicneltilia y¯ notlatol ypampa nicā amapā nictlalia nomachio nofirma ynic aocmo çeppa aquī tlein quitoz . y¯ çatepā Balsar esteban don toribio silvestre fiscal balthasal . pz– . teopā topile vicenten Ramirez alguazil yglesia v Ytencopa balthasar Estepha yhuā teoyotica ynamic ysabel yn tlacpac omoteneuhque ynic omotlalnamacaque nicneltilli nehuatl onitlacuillo thomas feliçiano Escriuano [Transcription by James Lockhart] Saturday, 6th day of the month of August of the year 1575. v I am Baltasar Esteban, citizen here in the tlaxilacalli of Tlalxopan, and my legitimate spouse is named Isabel, citizen of Icçotitlan; there is a separate piece [of land] which is truly her woman-land that her father and mother left and gave her which is here next to the house of Juan Alvaro, that used to belong to him and he sold, and at the same place lies the land of the friars; and there is not much of our land, 15 quahuitl long, 10 quahuitl wide, right at the edge of the highway. The land is truly the property and possession of both of us, my legitimate spouse Isabel and myself, and now voluntarily we give it to our precious father fray Francisco de Loaysa, vicar in the holy church of the town of Coyoacan. The price of our land, which we have taken, is 20 pesos in cash; we have indeed gladly received it. The money was brought out in the presence of those made witnesses: in the presence of señor don Toribio Silvestre, fiscal of the church, and Vicente Ramírez and Baltasar Pérez, constables of the church, and in the presence of Juan Alvaro, citizen of Apçolco. I Baltasar Esteban, in order to verify my words, place here on paper my rubric and signature so that no one will ever say anything again afterwards. Baltasar Esteban. Don Toribio Silvestre, fiscal. Baltasar Pérez, church topile. Vicente Ramírez, church constable. v At the command of Baltasar Esteban and his legitimate spouse Isabel, who were mentioned above as having sold their land, I Tomás Feliciano, notary, have verified it and done the writing. [Translation by James Lockhart]