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(MEXICAN MANUSCRIPTS.) Nava y de la Mota, Nicolás de. Edict against the drinking and production of alcohol by Indians in Puebla. Manuscript broadside, 17 x 12 1/4 inches, signed by Geronimo Ruiz de Cavallero as notary public; moderate wear including a square 1/2 inch of loss at intersection of folds, minor dampstaining. Puebla, 25 March 1643
In 1643, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, the Bishop of Puebla issued an edict against the consumption or production of pulque and tepache, traditional Mesoamerican alcoholic beverages, by Indians in Puebla. Spaniards widely believed that, as a result of being demoralized by the Conquest, Indians were prone to alcoholism. Nicolás de Nava y de la Mota, commissioner of the Holy Office of the Inquisition and judge of the jurisdictions of Calpan, Huaquechula, and Ahuatelco in Puebla, wrote this document to reaffirm the edict in his district. He states that pulque caused Indians to engage in lewd behavior, including (bizarrely) incest. He orders the closure of several taverns preying on susceptible Indians near the fields and work sites, and reminds readers of the severe penalties to be meted out to Indians who were caught drinking or producing pulque or tepache: 500 gold pesos, 200 lashes, and exile. Stubborn repeat offenders faced excommunication. Nava also made it clear that knowing about the consumption or sale of the drinks without informing authorities was itself a punishable offense. Given that pulque remained an extremely popular drink and that Indian drinking never ceased to vex authorities throughout the colonial period, it is likely that Nava's excessive punishments were ineffective or were never even carried out. Historians such as William B. Taylor have found little evidence that increased pulque consumption translated into excessive levels of violence or disorder during the early colonial period.
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