"We must not fall into the terrible trap of thinking that because certain printed or manuscript materials have been photostated or photocopied or microfilmed, or digitized that we are relieved of our responsibility for preserving the original." — Terry Belanger, retired founding director of Rare Book School, University of Virginia



Library acquires collection of manuscripts from the archives of the Duke of Abrantes y Linares

Thu, 13 Nov 2014

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The library has recently acquired a collection of twenty-five manuscripts in Spanish from the archives of the Duke of Abrantes y Linares, many relating to a lawsuit over lands in Mexico.  These are probably connected to the lengthy and complicated suits brought by the heirs of the last Aztec ruler, Montezuma, over their just inheritance, which dragged on throughout the colonial period.

The Dukes of Abrantes, ennobled in the 17th century, were descended through the female line from Montezuma.  The Duke’s opponent, the Conde de Valle, was descended from Hernán Cortes, ennobled as the Marques de Valle after the Conquest.  This archive consists of letters to and from the Duke of Abrantes, with reference to his financial affairs and his lawsuit against the Conde del Valle.  The majority of the documents are dated 1782.  References to the Valle case are found amongst the Duke’s correspondence.  For instance, the draft of one of his letters contains the following personal commentary on the litigation (here in translation): “In spite of my administrator’s best efforts and copious documentary evidence, the Count, being well aware of the justice of my claims, seeks to delay the verdict, in which conspiracy he is assisted by his aunt, the Marquesa de Salvatierra, who, I think, has much influence with the ministers, and they are hoping to fleece me of large sums.” [from the William Reese Company catalogue]

duk doc copy

The documents also relate to other matters in which the Duke was directly or indirectly concerned, including an estate and the Hospicio de Nuestra Señora de Cobadonga.

The collection consists of 55 manuscript pages, 36 folio and 19 quarto, written in several different hands including signed letters from the Duke, Pedro Alonso de Alles, Juan Antonio de Elosua Abarratequi, Agustin de Compaxan, Antonio Francisco del Rio, and Fray Antonio Blanco Valdes.

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Reviewed May 25, 2012 by Special Collections staff.