In the evening of March 17, 1611, the priest of the remote Andean town of Pampachiri, Juan Bautista de Albadán, died without a will. He had arrived in the region a decade before, and during his time as priest Albadán had amassed a small fortune in an otherwise impoverished region. Because Albadán died without a will and at that time there were no known heirs, the local governor (corregidor) was left with the task of drawing up an inventory of his belongings and auctioning off what could be sold. The wealth of the priest was distributed across three different houses and included a large collection of silver utensils and a 62-volume library. The governor's intent was to pay off the priest's presumably few outstanding debts and then donate the remaining funds to the community. However, the claims that came from...

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