Mexican Colonial Illuminated Art on Paper & Vellum
The Berdugos ofSeville, Arevalo, Zacatecas, & Mexico City
(Don Martin Entered America Illegally & Became an Hidalgo Anyway)
Berdugo de Avila Haro y Velasco, Martin, & Agustin Berdugo de Avila Haro y Velasco. Manuscript on paper, in Spanish. Carta de hidalguia. Seville, Zacatecas, Mexico City: 1788.
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Brothers Don Diego, Don Juan, and Don Manuel Berdugo, citizens of Seville and all legitimate children of Agustin Berdugo and Doña Isabel de Torre y Espinal, petitioned on 2 December 1697 for themselves and on behalf of their brothers Don Martin and Don Agustin Berdugo, living in the Indies, to have their status as hidalgos confirmed as represented in this volume (fol. 71r–84v). That confirmation was granted in the town of Arevalo on 4 January 1698 after the usual provision of documentation and the taking of testimony from witnesses.
The brothers living the the New World were in Zacatecas where Martin was the Tesorero Juez of the Royal Treasury and Agustin a captain in the Army. Beginning on 13 January 1700 they began the process of presenting, for authorities in the New World, copies of all of the documents generated in Spain and also offering the testimony of people living in Mexico who could bear witness that they were the Martin and Agustin of the Spanish documents, personally speaking to their nobility, purity of blood, and legitimacy of birth (fol. 85v–140v). The American resident members of the family are certified as to their nobility on 9 May 1710.
Other documents in the volume (especially those before fol. 85) relate to the histories and genealogies of the Berdugo, Avila, Haro, Torre, and Velasco families in Spain, with folios 129 to the end relating to the children and grandchildren of the Mexican Berdugos.
It is discovered in this volume that Don Martin had emigrated to Mexico without the required license to do so and on 31 December 1689 availed himself of a royal indulgence, paid a 30 gold peso fine, and was legitimized in his status in the New World (fols. 64v–66v). Curiously, also copied into this compendium isthe will of Doña Maria de Haro, the widow of Agustin Berdugo (fol. 66v–71r).
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All documents are certified copies by notaries, and written in a standard public notarial hand liberally and interestingly usingblack, blue, red, and gold ink with calligraphic touches. The originals dated from 1652 to 1788.
The painted and illuminated Coats of Arms: The volume begins with a full-page accomplishment onvellum, in full color, of the Berdugo Avila coat of arms. The coats of arms of ancestors that are incorporated therein are found in the text in appropriate places:Berdugo (fol. 8v), Avila (fol. 13r), Haro (16v), and Torre (21v). These are accomplished inreds, gold, silver, blue, black, and white, and each is followed by a full heraldic explanation of its symbolism and origins. All of these coats of arms are worthy examples of Mexican Colonial illuminated art on paper and vellum.
Binding: Acid-stained Mexican calf (ca. 1790) with single gilt rope roll on periphery of boards; gilt spine extra, no raised bands. Bright blue-striped floral/foliate “wallpaper” pastedowns, all edges red.
Provenance: The Berdugo Avila Haro family; in the 20th century in the library of Dirk Stenger of Dusseldorf and then later in the stock of the the Antique Book Shop in Buenos Aires.
New World cartas de hidalguia are much rarer than those done in Spain, and are as yet a little-studied area of Colonial art.
Binding as above; free endpapers lacking and poor quality paper ones substituted for the “wallpaper,” with some old “repair” to pastedown “wallpaper” at gutters. Bookstore label on font pastedown; Stenger's neat round ownership stamp on front free endpaper and verso of the vellum coat of arms. This is a meaty example of an iconic kind of Spanish-world document offering social history, legal history, and painted and illuminated art, with the text presented in an attractive and readable hand and the whole in a good, attractive original binding. (37599)
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