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(MEXICAN MANUSCRIPTS.) Royal decree protecting the Mexican estate of Cortés while he was in Spain. Manuscript document, signed by Luys de Soto as Royal Scribe and Notary. One page, 12 x 8 1/2 inches; disbound, minor edge wear. Mexico, 3 April 1529
Seven years after having conquered Mexico, Hernán Cortés traveled to Spain to curry favor with the king and to defend himself amidst the controversy that had arisen regarding the conquistadors. Charles V issued this decree to ensure that the Cortés properties would not be robbed or encroached upon while the conquistador was away. It takes particular care to note that the Indian subjects were to be left alone; Charles V specifically ordered that no one make novedades or mudanzas ("changes" or "transfers") to any of the Indians in the communities over which Cortés had jurisdiction. Cortés undoubtedly feared that in his absence, his rivals might try to exploit his Indian vassals or induce them to move to their own estates. The original decree was issued on 12 September 1528, and this official Mexican copy was made several months later on 3 April 1529, after the original made its oceanic crossing. That the king's original sobrecarta was copied indicates that care was taken to disseminate these orders. In rough translation: "The King decrees: Directed for the Real Audiencia in Mexico. Hernán Cortés was in this court, and I decree that none of his villages and none of his Indians can be touched. I order that you take care that none of his villages and none of his Indians, nor any other of his property that he had at the time he came to Spain, be affected, and if it was, that it be returned to him as it was. Cortés requested that a Royal Cedula be given to him so that his orders may be better obeyed, and this was done. The King orders the Audiencia to obey this decree, and to make everybody obey it, and to restore to Cortés all his property, and all people who work for Cortés must be respected and treated well. Dated in Madrid, 12 September 1528."
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