When the Ley de Consolidación de Vales Reales was published in New Spain in 1805, A provoked consternation and fear among thousands of property owners. A note handwritten at the margin of a copy of the law by some irate person expressed the feelings stirred in many: “Toda esta trápala del malvado Godoy, Soler y sus secuaces . . .”1 The private reaction of the clerical corporations, the direct target of the law of Consolidación, is not known to us, but it was probably quite similar. The law provoked such strong feelings because its enforcement disrupted a long and well established socio-economic relationship between the Church and the laity in New Spain.

As enacted for the empire in 1804, the law was based on one existing in Spain since 1798, decreeing the forced sale of clerical property. In the American possessions, a provision for the repayment and consolidation of clerical debts was added. This point affected the most influential social groups in New Spain, which throughout the colonial period had become accustomed to borrowing money from the funds of clerical corporations. The law established that the capital of those clerical loans and mortgages which were then overdue was to be returned by the borrowers to the Caja de Consolidación, the royal agency in charge of collecting them. The Crown would continue to collect pious debts as they fell due, and would pay the clerical corporations affected 5 percent on the value of the property sales and the capital funds taken over by the Caja de Consolidación.2 The majority of the debtors were not able to repay the money they or their ancestors had borrowed, hence their dismay.

On extending the law of Consolidación to its overseas possessions, the Spanish Crown was assuming that clerical property there was similar in nature to that in Spain itself, where it was extensive and consisted mostly of real estate. The sale of clerical holdings was regarded as beneficial because it would free mortmain property and thus redistribute the wealth of the Church among lay owners.3 During the seventeenth century, clerical property in Spanish America had become extensive enough to provoke the complaints of lay corporations to the Crown, and to induce the Crown to issue several cédulas to restrict the development.4 These decrees proved ineffective, and by the end of the eighteenth century ecclesiastical property was of considerable value. Some religious communities owned large haciendas, sugar or flour mills, ranches and smaller plots of land. Others, such as nunneries and many confraternities, had invested largely in urban real estate.5 In all instances, much capital had been diverted towards lending purposes, since this type of investment, if efficiently administered, rendered profits comparable to those yielded by real estate, and with less expense.6

By encompassing in the articles of the law of Consolidación both forms of clerical investment, the Spanish Crown was clearly aiming at reducing the economic power of the Church. The law was, in fact, the last of a number of steps taken by the Crown in that direction. It was also a very practical means of obtaining money at a time of fiscal crisis in Spain. Growing foreign debts and cumbersome paper money circulating in the Peninsula had placed a heavy burden on the Crown, intensified by political and military commitments to France. After trying several schemes to alleviate this situation, the Crown enacted the law of Consolidación, which would make the Church play a major role in the task of bringing the kingdom out of its economic muddle.7

The study of the execution of the law of Consolidación in New Spain has received only passing attention from most historians. Among the early writers, Alexander von Humboldt, Lucas Alamán, and Carlos María Bustamante devote only a few paragraphs to the law, mostly expressing ideas similar to those of Bishop Abad y Queipo,8 whose representación against the law was printed by José M. L. Mora in 1837, and has provided the most widely repeated arguments against Consolidación. In addition to Abad y Queipo’s Representación, there were others by several lay and clerical corporations and regional landowners, stating the opinions of those groups which felt threatened by the forthcoming law.9 These documents have never been printed and long remained relatively unknown. Recently studies by Romeo Flores Caballero and Brian Hamnett have enriched the historical literature on the law. Flores Caballero has made an exposition of the thought and reaction of the several socio-economic groups affected by Consolidación, analyzing the several available representaciones, and linking the execution of the law of Consolidación to the political events of 1808.10 Until the representaciones are printed, Flores Caballero’s study remains the only source of information about them for those who cannot visit the archives. Brian Hamnett has described the connections between clerical funds and the economy, and has given us a general view of the manner in which the law was carried out.11

In the present study I should like to analyze the economic aspects of the execution of the law, i.e., how it affected clerical and lay corporations as property owners, and how the lay property owners who were indebted to the Church managed to cope with a law which they so feared. Contrary to the expectations of those affected by Consolidación, the Church suffered only relatively small losses of property, and the majority of the lay property owners did not lose theirs either. On the other hand, the pious funds of some clerical and civil corporations, and innumerable chantries, did suffer significant depletion. This can be regarded as the most harmful economic effect of the law of Consolidación. In addition, the enforcement of the law created a negative impression in New Spain and elsewhere. Although the acts of taking over clerical funds and forcing the sale of clerical property were by themselves shocking, what made the issue a really sensitive one was that the transfer of clerical funds to the Crown was potentially damaging to the private interests of the numerous wealthy laymen bound to the Church. The Crown was destroying that group’s deep-seated feeling of confidence in the availability of clerical funds and in its financial associations with the Church. Thus, although the Crown had struck a blow at its traditional ally, the Church, resentment was most felt by a very important segment of the civilian population.

Prior to the enactment of the law of Consolidación for the American possessions, the Spanish Junta de Consolidación had provided the royal treasury with money to cover expenses incurred by the naval squadrons in Cartagena, Ferrol, and Cádiz. Once the law was applied in America, the colonial treasuries were expected in their turn to provide enough money to repay the Caja de Consolidación in Spain. Drafts issued from 1805 onwards against the royal treasury in New Spain give evidence of the urgent need of funds by the Spanish government.12 Between December 1804 and November 1807 the Crown issued numerous drafts (libranzas), totalling well over 10 million pesos, to be paid by the treasury of New Spain.13 According to the correspondence of Viceroy Iturrigaray, from October 1806 to September 1807 more than 12 million pesos were sent to Spain to serve the cause of the Spanish wars on the continent.14 Such heavy demands for money were probably spurred by the knowledge that from 1804 to 1806 the minting of silver in New Spain had reached very high levels.15 There is no doubt that the Crown was planning to use any money eventually provided by the enforcement of Consolidación to cover military expenses and foreign debts. A royal cédula of November 22, 1806, urged the Caja de Consolidación in Mexico City to cooperate in the quick repayment of 3.5 million pesos owed by Spain to the French public treasury.16 Between 1806 and the end of 1808, 4,516,092 pesos were sent from the Caja de Consolidación to the Peninsula, and 4,000,000 pesos were sent in 1809, as stated in the accounts of the Caja.17

As the Crown’s need for money was so pressing, bureaucratic machinery to supervise the execution of the sixty-one articles of the law of Consolidación in New Spain was organized very quickly. The law was issued in Spain on December 28, 1804; by January 21, 1805, a diputado general, Antonio José Arrangoiz, and an accountant, Diego Madolell, had been appointed. The Council of Indies and the Spanish Junta de Consolidación established the frequency of the meetings of the Junta in New Spain. All institutions affected by the law had to provide lists of their properties, chantries, and pious endowments so that the sale of real estate and the return of pious loans could be carried out promptly.18 By the middle of 1805 the machinery of Consolidación had been put into movement, and the first collections were registered in September 1805.

As seen above, the execution of the law did not take place without protest from several of the clerical and civilian groups affected. Their representaciones, or petitions for the suspension of the law, met with quick denial at the hands of the viceregal authorities, who dealt with them between September and November 1805. The protests did not deter the law’s enforcement. Nor did they disturb the Deputy General, Arrangoiz, as much as what he considered the obstructionist tactics adopted by the religious communities and regional governmental officers. Already by October 21, 1805, Arrangoiz found it necessary to write to the Archbishop of Mexico that many religious corporations were evading the law by claiming exemptions without proper legal justification, by submitting vague and incomplete lists of their properties and pious endowments, and by claiming lack of funds in their coffers. He dismissed all these arguments and asked the Archbishop to order all religious communities to cooperate in the execution of the law.19

At the beginning of December of the same year, the Deputy was involved in a bitter exchange of correspondence with the Intendant of Oaxaca, Antonio de Mora y Paysal, whom he accused of inertia in the administration of the law, with consequent loss of income for the Caja.20 Mora y Paysal rebutted the charges, and the matter was allowed to rest. However, Arrangoiz had further complaints about other officials. In October 1806 he vented his displeasure with the regional Junta of Mérida and its lieutenant deputy, accusing them of inaction and lack of interest in complying with the law.21 In February 1807 the Deputy reported to the Junta Superior in Mexico City that in Valladolid the ecclesiastic Juzgado had not provided the lieutenant deputy with the necessary information for him to carry out the duties of his office. In the same year the Junta Superior of Mexico harshly scolded the notaries of Veracruz for their alleged sluggishness in processing the expedientes of Consolidación, and threatened a fine of 200 pesos for any notary who might refuse to cooperate in the enforcement of the law.22

Despite these petty animosities, the enforcement of the law of Consolidación was well on its way by the end of 1806, and the majority of the religious communities and lay citizens were reconciled to the new situation. Enforcement of the law entailed the application of its Article 12, which provided for the forced sale of properties purchased by clerical corporations after their foundation, and those which they had received from donors. The only properties exempted were those classified as dotales, that is, acquired with the founding funds of the religious establishments, and considered absolutely necessary for their sustenance. The properties of Third Orders, confraternities, hospitals and houses of mercy were also liable to sale. The holdings of Indian confraternities were exempted as long as they did not admit members of other castes. Sales were to proceed as swiftly as possible after a fair assessment of the value of the property was made. In case of lack of buyers the property would be reappraised or even subdivided; unsalable property would be provisionally left under the care of the owner. All sales were to provide at least three-quarters of the assessed value of the property; payment in installments would be acceptable; and payment of the alcabala was suspended.

Article 12 posed a serious menace to most clerical corporations. Nunneries, monasteries, schools, and other religious institutions had traditionally invested in real estate. The income from some property was devoted, sometimes in its entirety, to pious purposes such as the sustenance of a chaplain, the celebration of masses, or supporting religious feasts. Of course, much income from clerical property was not tied to pious ends, being spent in the maintenance of the communities. Most corporations were reluctant to lose the right of ownership as a matter of principle.

In addition, there were practical reasons for opposing the measure. If the sale was for any amount considerably less than the true value of the property, then the interest paid by the Caja would also be considerably less. For example, a property valued at 30,000 pesos could be rented at 5 percent of its value and would produce 1,500 pesos yearly. If it was sold for 25,000 pesos, the 5 percent paid by the Caja would be reduced to 1,250 pesos and thus the income of the corporation would be reduced. Articles 16 and 22 of the law of Consolidación attempted to alleviate this situation by stating that if the sale of any given property would seriously curtail the income of the pious end to which it was destined, then it should not take place. Although in practice many of the properties sold in New Spain from 1806 to 1808 suffered some devaluation, losses rarely extended as far as 25 percent. In many instances property was sold for more than the assessed value, and some properties were in fact not allowed to be sold because the bids did not cover the required minimum three-quarters of their value.23

From the outset, the largest and wealthiest corporations tried to prevent the sales. They challenged those assessments which they considered would reduce the price of their property and asked for reappraisal or for exemption from the application of the law. Nunneries, for example, claimed that properties purchased with the dowries of nuns should be considered dotales.24 Other clerical corporations argued that the income from most of their properties was vital for their survival.25 The claims of the corporations were studied by Deputy Arrangoiz, who rejected most of them, and also by the attorney of the royal treasury, Francisco Javier Borbón, who gave a verdict against them in August 1807. However, from decisions taken by the Junta Superior in October and November 1807, it appears that it was finally decided to ask the Crown for a clarification of Article 12 with regard to some specific cases.26

From the official point of view, the sales of clerical property resulting from enforcement of the law left much to be desired. They did not yield the revenue expected; the income obtained lagged substantially behind that obtained from the collection of pious loans and liens, as Table I shows. In the Archbishopric of Mexico the ecclesiastic corporations most affected by these sales were the Archconfraternity of Santísimo Sacramento, attached to the Cathedral; the Ramo de Aniversarios of the Cathedral, with endowments for masses; the pious foundation of the Countess of Peñalva; the Ecclesiastic Cabildo Metropolitano and the Basque confraternity of Nuestra Señora de Aránzazu. These corporations sold their properties at reduced values, the loss ranging from 7.7 percent to 16.5 percent of their appraised worth. Only the Confraternity of Aránzazu sold its houses for more than the appraised value.27

The sales of rural clerical property within the Archbishopric contributed very little to the Caja. Only six ranchos belonging to pious endowments or confraternities were sold, for the sum of 20,500 pesos. Some cattle belonging to pious funds were sold for 6,108 pesos.28

As to the sales of urban property, those who purchased houses in Mexico City often seem to have been fairly well-established figures of medium wealth, merchants, or members of the upper strata of society. Twenty-four of the recorded sales involve houses worth over 10,000 pesos. Sixteen sales account for houses between 5,000 and 10,000 pesos. Thirteen sales include houses under 5,000 pesos. Among the buyers there was a nobleman, the Conde de la Cortina, one intendant, Paysal y Mora of Oaxaca, several knighted individuals and military men, more than half a dozen women, and a couple of priests.

In the Bishopric of Puebla the sales of clerical property consisted mostly of urban properties of confraternities in Puebla and Veracruz, and ranchos and cattle in the rural areas. The confraternities and pious endowments of Veracruz were particularly affected by the enforced sales of their houses. Such corporations as the Santísimo Sacramento, San José, Santo Cristo, Jesús de las Tres Caídas, and La Concepción were among the hardest hit. During 1807 La Concepción sold 40 houses for over 50,000 pesos. San José sold property worth over 40,000 pesos.29 Cases of one buyer purchasing several houses are frequent, since the value of the houses sold was much less than those in the capital. For example, seven houses of Santo Cristo were sold for 11,503 pesos. Smaller confraternities of the lesser towns in Puebla were forced to sell ranchos and cattle or sheep. The value of this kind of property was rarely over two or three thousand pesos.80

The majority of the buyers of corporate properties in the Bishopric of Puebla were merchants of Veracruz, with some government officials, professionals, military men, and several women also represented. The confraternities’ loss was the gain of the economically most influential social classes of the area, who in this case appear to be closer to the concept of a middle class than in the case of Mexico City.31 The transfer of these smaller rural and urban properties of the confraternities to laymen helped to diversify the character of ownership in Puebla. On the other hand, several small lay property owners were forced to allow their houses or land to be put on sale, as they were unable to enter into composición.32 Thus it seems that in this area, unlike the Archbishopric of Mexico, the smaller landowner suffered more from the enforcement of the law.

In other areas of New Spain the sale of clerical property contributed relatively little to the coffers of Consolidación. In Valladolid one large hacienda was sold, providing the bulk of the collection for 1807, but otherwise the sales consisted of several houses and small ranchos belonging to pious endowments. That the sale of pious property yielded so little in this area seems to warrant the claims of Bishop Abad y Queipo that in his diocese the vast majority of clerical investment was in the form of censos and depósitos. In Guadalajara, although an early sale of a sugar mill was reported in 1805, the majority of the sales did not take place until 1807 and 1808. The majority of them were of houses of pious endowments, chantries or confraternities, with a median value of under 5,000 pesos.33

Although the majority of the rural estates sold during the years of Consolidación were of small size and value, several large properties were sold. In Querétaro, a large mill, Molino de la Cañada, sold for 50,000 pesos in 1807.34 The hacienda Los Portales, belonging to the tithe collectors (jueces hacedores) of Mexico City, was sold for 32,000 pesos, a price higher than the appraised value.35 The hacienda Nanacamilpa was purchased by the Marquis of Guardiola for 76,742 pesos.36 The Conde de la Cortina, who had purchased several houses in Mexico City, bought the hacienda Tenguedo for 60,000 pesos.37 Sales of such large estates, though, were rather infrequent. The evidence seems to indicate that there was no significant change in the pattern of ownership of large estates in New Spain due to the enforcement of Consolidación. With few exceptions, those large estates sold did not belong to the Church, but to heavily indebted laymen who could not repay their loans.38 The number of smaller rural properties exchanging hands was much larger, but neither the extent of the sales nor the value of the property sold were large enough to warrant any assumption of extensive change in the ownership of land.

Regarding urban real estate, with the exception of the confraternities already cited, corporations which owned considerable urban property hardly lost any of it. Such is the case of the nunneries, whose properties throughout New Spain remained unsold.39 The majority of real estate sold during the execution of the law was cuban in character, and located mostly in the archbishopric of Mexico and the bishopric of Puebla. The property sold belonged, in the main, to confraternities, pious endowments administered by clerical corporations, and a limited number of indebted lay property owners.

Most of the lay rural landowners retained their property. With regard to the Church, only certain corporations were affected; the bulk of its component organizations managed to preserve their property. These results seem to support the allegations of several representaciones which suggested that there would be too many properties for sale and too few prospective buyers with cash to buy them, since there was little cash circulating in New Spain.40

While the sale of clerical property fell short of expectations, the return of capital from pious endowments produced a high yield, and also a great stir in the Viceroyalty. Articles xo and 15 of the law of Consolidación established the compulsory character of the return of overdue clerical loans. The capital of clerical loans was provided by endowments for chantries, masses, religious celebrations, nuns’ dowries and similar personal donations. All ecclesiastical corporations within the Church used the interest accruing from these loans to fulfill their assigned pious ends and to sustain themselves. Borrowing from the Church had become such an extensive practice that not only laymen, but municipalities, schools, lay corporations and the government itself accounted for clerical debts. One of the major fears of those dependent on the Church for loans was that if the law of Consolidación was thoroughly applied for long enough, clerical money would no longer be available to laymen. The Crown would eventually drain ecclesiastical funds, leaving the laity without one of its principal and most reliable sources of cash.41

The laity affected by this aspect of Consolidación were either property owners or persons who needed credit in the line of business, such as miners and merchants.42 Their properties, rural or urban, or their business investments, were used as collateral for their loans. In the agricultural areas, labradores (a term used for agricultural entrepreneurs of all kinds, most often small or medium holders) formed the bulk of debtors. However, in both urban and rural areas, all social types were represented: regidores, captains of the militia, officials of the government, lawyers, members of the Audiencia, priests, widows, merchants. In addition, a significant element of the Creole nobility was heavily indebted to the Church. Both criollos and peninsulares were well represented in the long lists of clerical debtors. Ecclesiastical institutions also appeared as debtors, for many convents had mortgaged their land or properties with hens or had borrowed from other religious communities. The Augustinians of Guadalajara, for example, had mortgaged their properties for 128,750 pesos.43

Most of those who had borrowed heavily from the Church had no means of repaying the total capital of their debts at once. In fact, many property owners had acknowledged, at the time of purchase of a property, a debt or lien incurred by a previous owner and had not themselves received any money from the Church. They were, nevertheless, accountable for those debts. The wealthiest debtors did not differ from the lesser ones in their reluctance to repay their debts.44 Thus the prospect of the forced return of clerical loans provoked considerable fear among the propertied classes, expressed in the Representaciones of the municipalities of Mexico, Puebla, Valladolid, the miners and merchants of Mexico and the ecclesiastical cabildo of Valladolid. As mentioned before, their concerted efforts to stop the enforcement of the law were quelled by the colonial authorities.

In the execution of the law of Consolidación, however, the juntas in charge of enforcing it offered a way out of the catastrophe the debtors feared by negotiating the repayment of pious loans and liens in yearly installments after an initial down payment. The composición, as this process was called, was the legal device which made the law of Consolidación acceptable in the Viceroyalty, and averted the possibility of a major social and political upheaval. Although there were many cases of people who voluntarily redeemed their debts in full, most debtors accepted composición as the only feasible means of repayment. As a consequence, after the cash funds already existing in the coffers of some corporations were turned over to the Caja, the enforcement of the law of Consolidación became a gigantic process of recording composiciones and payment of interest due.45Labradores, merchants, noblemen, and others took the only path open to them and complied, albeit reluctantly, with the law. There were, to be sure, a few rebels, particularly in Valladolid, who refused to accept any composición or repay their debts. The Junta Superior prescribed the appropriation and forced sale of the property of these obdurate owners.46

Although composiciones were widely accepted, the repayment of loans through this device was still slow. Civilians used evasive tactics to postpone the final settlement, absenting themselves or claiming sickness or inability to pay. Despite menacing statements from the juntas against such practices, there is no evidence that any violent action was taken against those who indulged in them. A year sometimes passed between notification by the junta and the presentation of the down payment.47 Successive payments could take longer than the prescribed year. As a result, by the time of the abrogation of the law, the number of annual payments made by debtors was rarely more than three, and the largest part of most debts remained unpaid.

In collecting the capital of pious endowments, the Juntas Subalternas showed a willingness to accept any terms of payment feasible for the debtors, with especially benevolent treatment to certain ‘distinguished’ but otherwise economically declining families.48 In some instances, the lieutenant deputies made use of their benignidad to arrange for terms of payment of 25 years or more. For example, in Durango, a merchant owing 24,500 pesos to several religious corporations arranged to give 500 pesos down and 1,000 pesos yearly to redeem his debt.49 This was not an isolated example. Many similar cases were accepted by other regional Juntas. In 1807 one regidor of Atlixco was paying 3,000 pesos annually in order to repay 124,600 pesos mortgaged on his estate.50 Some landowners, however, went too far and offered terms which were clearly inadmissible. Such was the case of the two brothers González de Silva, of Tlaxcala, who made an offer to repay a debt of 27,740 pesos in terms that would take them 136 years to fulfill!51

The generosity of the local juntas could not fail to be noticed by the Junta Superior. Such long terms could do little to help a Crown which was in urgent need of funds. As a result, the Junta Superior decided in May 1808 that composiciones exceeding 15 years for repayment should not be accepted. This decision was taken after reviewing a case in which the Junta of Puebla accepted 2,900 pesos as down payment for a pious mortgage of 147,802 pesos held by José M. Rayas on his hacienda in San Juan de los Llanos.52

The juntas had approached the subject of pious redemptions in a realistic manner and had tried, especially in the provinces, to protect the property owners,53 with the result that while the law of Consolidación was fulfilled, it did not produce the expected economic chaos. Yet there is no doubt that for many, even very modest terms of payment created a budgetary crisis. Most of the debtors did not expect to repay the capital quickly—if ever—if the debt was large. For many small property owners the payment of the annual terms took away their meager profits. Thus the law continued to be a source of resentment, and was later blamed for all sorts of economic ills.

Indians, as a social class, might have been among those least expected to add to the funds of the Caja de Consolidación, especially since their confraternities were exempted from returning capital funds of a pious nature. However, by virtue of Article 14 of the law, which suggested that community funds (bienes de comunidad) be turned over to Consolidación, Indians made a significant contribution after all.54 In a meeting on June 25, 1806, the Junta Superior resolved that two-thirds of the existing funds of Indian bienes de comunidad should be turned over to the Caja. Throughout the years some Indian communities had accumulated large amounts of money, which they occasionally loaned to the Crown, as did the communities of Yucatán in 1795.55 The total sum collected from Indians for the Caja de Consolidación between 1806 and 1809 in Yucatán, Valladolid, México, Oaxaca, Puebla, Guadalajara, Guanajuato and San Luís Potosí amounted to over 750,000 pesos.56 This contribution is comparable to that made by all the nunneries of New Spain.

Indian communities were much harder hit than clerical groups. Few of the latter lost as much as two-thirds of their assets, while depletion of Indian bienes de comunidad led to their ultimate impoverishment. The extent of the loss can be measured by the example of the communities of Valladolid. It was reported that the bienes in this province yielded 21,800 pesos in 1810. In 1822 they were yielding 6,500 pesos. The funds invested as loans or liens had amounted to 29,762 pesos, but only four endowments worth 1,450 pesos were yielding interest in 1822.57 In addition to the forced contributions of bienes de comunidad, personal or communal pious debts were returned by Indians, particularly in agricultural areas. Several Indian caciques around the Puebla area entered into composición to redeem debts which in some cases were over 6,000 pesos.58 Indian towns also came forward to return mortgages on their communal property.59

Hardly any school, confraternity, hospital, or lay corporation escaped the careful probing of the Deputy of Consolidación. Schools such as Santa Rosa Viterbo in Querétaro, the Colegio de Niñas de Belén in Mexico City, the Colegio Seminario de Santa Cruz in Oaxaca, the Colegio de San Francisco in Celaya, and even distant primary schools in Culiacán are recorded in the volumes of Consolidación.60 Alongside the sometimes small contributions of lesser provincial confraternities were the large sums of money returned by such powerful confraternities as Nuestra Señora de Aránzazu, which maintained one of the most reputable schools for girls in the capital, the Real Colegio de San Ignacio de Loyola. From 1805 onwards Aránzazu was obliged to turn over substantial amounts of money to Consolidación, in addition to the direct returns many of its debtors made.61 In trying to save some funds from the Caja, the Basque confraternity became involved in litigation with the Deputy over 55,000 pesos which it had lent to the Consulado of Veracruz in 1805. Although it lost the case, it obtained an exemption for 21,000 pesos destined for the architectural refurbishing of the school.62

Another corporation which succeeded in saving some of its funds from the Caja was the Tribunal de Minería. The Tribunal had lent the Crown considerable sums of money in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. In the performance of this duty, the Tribunal had borrowed money from both lay and clerical sources, and it was liable to be asked to return the pious capital borrowed for the royal loans. This Deputy Arrangoiz did in 1806, when he requested the Tribunal to return 179,465 pesos of pious loans already overdue,63 part of a larger loan of 369,198 pesos. The Tribunal refused. In a letter to Viceroy Iturrigaray, the miners pointed out that the Crown owed them the capital and interest of several loans collected between 1793 and 1805 and amounting to at least two million pesos. They suggested that the royal treasury pay the Caja de Consolidación the 179,465 pesos demanded by Arrangoiz out of the money owed to the Tribunal by the Crown. The Deputy, however, did not appreciate the irony of the situation, in which the Crown was both a debtor and a creditor, and he rejected the appeal. The debate between the Tribunal and the Deputy continued throughout 1807 until the attorney of the royal treasury settled the matter in October of that year by advising that the case against the Tribunal be dropped.

By the end of 1807 the Caja de Consolidación had obtained a considerable amount of money from the disamortization scheme. Had the law continued in force for perhaps a decade more, it might have reduced to a much larger extent the economic influence of the Church in New Spain. However, political events in Spain disrupted enforcement. Shortly after the Napoleonic invasion, the Spanish government judged that the execution of the law in time of war was nearly impossible. By a royal order, issued in Madrid on April 25, 1808, the functions of the Spanish Junta de Consolidación were suspended.64 Iturrigaray received news of this decision on June 24, 1808, but it was not until July 22 that the Junta Superior of New Spain decided to suspend the execution of the law in the Viceroyalty,65 making redemption of debts to the Caja voluntary. After the overthrow of Viceroy Iturrigaray, his put on sale but remained unsold, and in its meeting of October 8, the Junta Superior ratified the complete suspension of the law.66 All pious successor Garibay continued to loosen the grip of Consolidación. In September 1808 he ordered the release of property which had been funds were free to be loaned or invested outside the Caja de Consolidación. Despite this decision, the Junta recommended on October 25th that two-thirds of the funds of Indian bienes de comunidad of Guadalajara should be turned in to the Caja, judging that this measure was “beneficial” for the Indians.67

Early in January 1809 the Junta decided to make a large remittance to Spain. Disregarding the prohibition of the original instruction of the law, which forbade the shipment of unauthorized funds from the Caja, the Junta sent four million pesos by the end of March, although Deputy Arrangoiz objected to its dispatch.68 The official abrogation of the law of Consolidación was issued in Seville on January 26, 1809; news arrived in New Spain on April 7 and was rapidly circulated. The suspension caused general expressions of happiness, among them a statement of thanks by the Ayuntamiento of Mexico City.69 April 30 was set as the date for the termination of the accounts of Consolidación, but the task took much of 1810 and 1811.70

On May 27, 1811, Viceroy Venegas reported that the Caja de Consolidación had collected 10,509,537 pesos. Of these, 9,644,493 pesos had been sent to Spain, either through drafts or by direct remittances.71 Other estimates offer differing figures. It is probable that the total sum shipped to Spain was not higher than 10 million pesos.72

After the abrogation of the law of Consolidación, interest on the amounts collected continued to be paid by the royal treasury to the clerical beneficiaries.73 However, as soon as the Hidalgo revolt broke out and funds were needed to cover military expenses, the treasury began to default on such interest payments. In 1812, the Intendant of Valladolid reported that the Caja of his area already owed 101,910 pesos in accumulated interest, corresponding to 1,044,344 pesos collected. The tobacco and alcabala duties were not yielding enough to pay the troops combating the insurgents, much less the arrears of Consolidación. The matter was considered by Viceroy Venegas and several of the ministers of the royal treasury, who deplored the situation, especially since it left many chaplains, orphans and smaller convents without income, but had no suggestions as to what other sources of revenue could be used to pay the interest due.74

There seems to have been a certain callousness in the attitude of the authorities toward clerical debts, as the relations between the Church and the State were passing through a rather critical period.75 By 1813, the default in the payment of interest was general. The number of claimants was large, the majority being chaplains or priests who depended on the income of their chantries. Their petitions were reviewed by members of the royal treasury and passed to Viceroy Calleja. Although in some instances the former advised some small token payment to the claimants, Calleja denied all petitions. He personally wrote marginal notes on the expedientes, explaining that payments for the troops were above any other consideration. No claimant was better than any other, and until the revenue of the treasury increased sufficiently to pay all beneficiaries of pious endowments, no exceptions would be admitted.76

The payment of interest of funds collected by Consolidación was never resumed. The clergymen and laymen depending on this income remained a frustrated group of people engaged, in the ensuing years, in the task of trying to obtain some compensation from the government. As the republican government took over the duty of repaying colonial debts, the claims were maintained, both by individuals and institutions. Nunneries and other clerical corporations kept bonds of Consolidación for decades after independence in a vain hope that someday they might be honored.77

It is undeniable that the law of Consolidación made a very bad impression among the propertied classes. However, enforcement of the law did not lead to any immediate open manifestation of political discontent. Had the law been imposed without the alleviating conditions of composición, it might have led to a strong reaction from the vast number of holders of pious liens and loans. But, as this was not the case, and the majority of the people affected were conditioned to respect the authorities, they accommodated themselves to the alternative of term payments. The nobility and upper classes, which had shown great concern when the law was issued, also quietly accepted composiciones, although they wished to see the law revoked and were very pleased when it was.78 The Chinch, the target of the law, had never been inclined to promote any rebellion against the Spanish government, and accepted the inevitability of the situation, especially since Archbishop Lizana y Beaumont supported the Consolidación scheme in the belief that clerical funds were safe in the royal treasury.79 After the abrogation of the law, these social groups were quite willing to organize patriotic loans for the Crown’s peninsular wars, and to contribute large amounts of money for this purpose, as long as the loans remained voluntary and they could contribute comfortably.80 However, the original feelings of ill-will toward the law of Consolidación were renewed after 1813, when the payment of interest on the money turned over to the Caja was defaulted.

The collection of eleven million pesos by the law of Consolidación was criticized by contemporaries such as Bishop Abad y Queipo and the historians Alamán and Bustamante. Archbishop Lizana y Beaumont, in his role as Viceroy, stated in a letter that agriculture, mining and trade had been weakened by the decrease in the amount of circulating currency resulting from the enforcement of Consolidación. He also added that, in general, the treasury had suffered large withdrawals during the Viceregal periods of Garibay and himself estimated at 11 million pesos.81 Alamán, however, introduced a contradictory note in this picture by stating that in 1810 there was still an abundance of money in New Spain, as suggested by the generous contributions to patriotic loans and other private drafts sent to Spain.82 This wealth, however, must have been mostly in the hands of the rich upper classes, and not in those of the more numerous smaller merchants and landowners who had depended on the capital of pious funds and who were financially the most hurt by the disruption of the well-established clerical credit system. In addition, it must not be forgotten that, after 1813, clerical institutions themselves were also weakened by the loss of payment of interest on the cash turned into the Caja de Consolidación.

The law of Consolidación may be regarded as a contributory factor in the depletion of capital in New Spain, but by no means as the only one. After September 1810 other factors contributed just as much, if not more, to the impoverishment of the economy. The harmful economic effects of the insurrections of Hidalgo and Morelos, which took place in some of the richest agricultural and mining areas, cannot be disregarded. Alamán and Bustamante gave enough evidence as to the losses.83 The maintenance of a standing army in New Spain and the expenses caused by the military campaign throughout 1815 burdened the treasury beyond its capabilities, and led the government to force loans from the citizenry and clerical corporations.84

The enforcement of the law of Consolidación exposed the extent and depth of clerical economic influence in New Spain at the end of the colonial period. It is apparent that the value of clerical rural property has been exaggerated, while the value of ecclesiastical urban property has been underestimated. The Society of Jesus had been the great clerical landowner of the colonial period; after the Jesuits were expelled from New Spain, there remained several other orders who owned valuable rural property, but their number or value was not as high as that of the Jesuit properties, or comparable to the large haciendas of the many lay mayorazgos,85 The sums which the clerical corporations lent—and sometimes lost—to civilians should redeem the Church from the stigma of having contributed to economic stagnation. It is possible to say, nevertheless, that the Church as an economic entity was conservative and privileged, and that it contributed to the preservation and strengthening of the traditional patterns of investment in New Spain. Clerical institutions were either landlords or enjoyed the product of hens on lay properties. Their financial mentality was akin to that of the large property owners. They were similarly conservatives in their lending policies, as they preferred to grant their loans to the members of the social establishment. An analysis of the execution of the law of Consolidación indicates these facts, revealing how many people were tied to the system and how few wanted to see it changed. The many persons indebted to the Church disliked the State’s cold intervention in what had been widely accepted as a mutually beneficial relationship, and resented the transfer of money to Spain. Those who lost property or money to Consolidación did not forget it easily, and did not cease to single out the law and blame it for the economic decline which afflicted the Viceroyalty in the succeeding years. Notwithstanding, the harmful effect of Consolidación upon the economy of New Spain was not irreparable, and certainly not as destructive as the events which ensued after 1810.


Cedulario, Morfi Documents (3 vols.), I, fol. 179, at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


Although the text of the law stated that 3 percent would he paid, the Crown granted the viceroys the faculty to pay the interest which was commonly accepted in each posesión de ultramar. In New Spain 5 percent was the accepted interest and, as the account books kept throughout the years of enforcement prove, 5 percent was paid.


These ideas were implicit in the text of the law, and derived from some of the best exponents of the Spanish Enlightenment. See Ricardo Krebs Wilckens, El pensamiento histórico, político y económico del Conde de Campomanes (Chile, 1960), pp. 144-150; Richard Herr, The Eighteenth Century Revolution in Spain (Princeton, 1958), passim; Archivo General de la Nación, México. Reales Cédulas, Vol. 191, fol. 292-308. (Hereafter cited as AGN.) The ramos Reales Cédulas and Correspondencia de los Virreyes were consulted in microfilm form at the Bancroft Library.


Antonio Muro Orejón, Cedulario americano del siglo XVIII (Seville, 1956), p. 299; Manuel J. de Ayala, Disposiciones complementarias de las leyes de Indias (3 vols., Madrid, 1930), II, 122; Gil González Dávila, Teatro eclesiástico (2 vols., Madrid, 1649-1653), I, 16.


François Chevalier, “La formación de los grandes latifundios en México,” Problemas Agrícolas e Industriales de México, 8:1 (México, 1956), Part III, Chapter I; Asunción Lavrin, “The Role of the Nunneries in the Economy of New Spain,” HAHR, 46:4 (November 1966), 371-393; AGN, Templos y Conventos, vol. 23, exp. 22; vol. 43, vol. 57, vol. 63.


AGN, Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1029, exp. 9, 12; leg. 1767, exp. 1; Templos y Conventos, vol. 45, exp. 2, 14, 16, 17; vol. 78.


José Canga Argüelles, Diccionario de Hacienda (5 vols., London, 1828), IV, 5, 19, 24-25; V, 8, 227, 234; Jaime Carrera Pujal, Historia de la economía española (6 vols., Barcelona, 1945-47), IV, 319-350, 572-590; Earl J. Hamilton, War and Pnces in Spain, 1651-1800 (Cambridge, Mass., 1947), pp. 55, 78-86.


Manual Abad y Queipo, “Escrito presentado a D. Manuel Sisto Espinosa,” and “Representación a nombre de los labradores y comerciantes de Valladolid de Michoacán,” in José M. L. Mora, Obras sueltas (2 vols., Paris, 1837), I, 70 ff.; Alexander von Humboldt, Ensayo político sobre el Reino de la Nueva España (México, 1969), pp. 317, 504; Lucas Alamán, Historia de Méjico (5 vols., México, 1968), I, 93-95; Carlos María Bustamante, Suplemento a la historia de los tres siglos de México (4 vols., México, 1836-38), III, 212-224. Later in the nineteenth century, Manuel Payno also criticized the law of Consolidación. See his La reforma social en España y México (México, 1958), p. 17.


AGN, Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1667.


Romeo Flores Caballero, La contrarrevolución en la Independence (México 1969), Chapter II’


Brian Hamnett, “The Appropriation of Mexican Church Wealth by the Spanish Bourbon Government: ‘The Consolidación de Vales Reales,’ 1805-1809,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 1:2 (November 1969), 85-113.


In a royal cédula of September 5, 1804, the Crown thanks the viceroy for sending 13 million pesos, while 4.5 million more were prepared for delivery. AGN, Reales Cédulas, vol. 191, fol. 194.


AGN, Reales Cédules, vol. 195, fol. 87, 96; vol. 196, fol. 123, 179, 198, 204, 239, 252; vol. 197, fol. 43, 87, 353, 356, 362; vol. 199, fol. 366, 378; Correspondencia de los Virreyes, Series I, vol. 224, no. 161, 766-67, 838-39; vol. 229, no. 932-935, 938; vol. 232, no. 39; vol. 233, no. 1268-69, 1328, 1362-63.


Of this sum, 6,829,835 pesos were transported by the English firm of Gordon and Murphy. Drafts for 5,586,229 pesos endorsed to Colonel Lorenzo F. Guardamino, of Tlaxcala, had also been paid. The accounts of Consolidación for 1806 give as paid 1 million pesos in drafts to Diego F. Pereda. See AGN, Correspondencia, Series I, vol. 229, no. 952, 1107, 1159; vol. 232, no. 39, 1328, 1363; vol 236, no. 1461, 1510; Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 244; John Lynch, “British Policy and Spanish America, 1783-1808,” Journal of Latin American Studies 1:1 (May 1969), 1-30.


Humboldt, Ensayo político, p. 609; Alamán, Historia, I, 339.


AGN, Correspondencia, Series I, vol. 233, no. 1268.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 244, 301, 380, 467-68, 498.


AGN, Reales Cédulas, vol. 195, fol. 61-63.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 1, fol. 209.


AGN, Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1776, no. 6, loose correspondence; Consolidación, vol. 20, fol. 79v-81.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 502-507.


Ibid., vol. 20, fol. 110, 113v.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 395-96v; vol. 10, fol. 15; vol. 11, fol. 134.


Asunción Lavrin, “Problems and Policies in the Administration of Nunneries in Mexico, 1800-1835,” The Americas, 28:1 (July 1971), 62-65.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 6, fol. 320-45; vol. 9, fol. 199-204.


Ibid., vol. 6, fol. 320-43; vol. 10, fol. 14, 25; vol. 20, fol. 142v-143.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 274 and following; 327 and following; 395-96v.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 327-76, 395.


Ibid., vol. 2, fol. 222v, 225, 232-33, 306-308v, 313; vol. 4, fol. 191v, 194 198, 221, 238, 253, 337.’


Ibid., vol. 2, fol. 224, 229-30, 236; vol. 4, fol. 195, 370-72.


Ibid., vol. 4, fol. 217-18, 223, 238, 253, 337.


Ibid., vol. 4, fol. 222, 232v, 369-70.


Ibid., vol. 2, fol. 3v, 16, 55v, 56, 60-69; vol. 5, fol. 23, 69v, 70v.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 322v.


Ibid., vol. 20, fol. 161.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 469. See also vol. 10, fol. 45-46. Some land in Tlaxcala sold for 25,000 pesos in 1807. See vol. 11, fol. 21.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 272; Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1667, exp. 8.


The haciendas Xochimanca and Barreto, which had belonged to the Jesuit Order, located in Cuernavaca, were sold for 42,000 pesos in 1807, on condition that the new owner accept composición for their many mortgages. See Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 326. See also vol. 11, fol. 21, for sale in Tlaxcala.


Ibid., vol. 10, fol. 25; vol. 6, fol. 320. Some clerical landowners were able to halt the sales of their property by legal devices. The convent of Santo Domingo, in Mexico City, owner of a flour mill in Tacubaya, contested the validity of the sale order and managed to have it suspended pending a royal ruling on the case. See Consolidación, vol. 10, fol. 14. Other convents contested the reimbursement of loans which they had taken. See vol. 20, fol. 120V, for allegations of the Augustinians of Guadalajara.


Estimates of the amount of cash circulating in New Spain in 1805 were mostly conjectural, and varied greatly among themselves. The Ayuntamiento of Mexico gave a low figure of 6 million pesos. The Tribunal de Minería’s estimate was of 14 to 16 million. The Consulado gave a very high and improbable figure of 78 million pesos. See AGN, Bienes Nacionales, Representaciones in leg. 1667; Canga Argüelles, Diccionario de Hacienda, IV, 221; “Noticias de Nueva España en 1805,” Boletín de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, Primera Época, 2 (México, 1850), 39-40.


AGN, Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1667. Representación del Ayuntamiento de Puebla. The Ayuntamiento itself had borrowed 65,467 pesos from pious endowments. See Consolidación, vol. 20, fol. 117.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 4, fol. 152v, 153v, 155, 190, 215, 232, 239-240, 324; vol. 5, fol. 309v, 314, 383v; vol. 6, fol. 82; vol. 8, fol. 29, 106, 388.


Ibid., vol. 20, fol. 120v. See also Brian Hamnett, “Dye Production, Food Supply and the Laboring Population of Oaxaca, 1750-1800,” HAHR, 51:1 (February 1971), 51-78. Hamnett cites the example of the Dominicans of Oaxaca, who had borrowed heavily to improve their haciendas.


Some members of the nobility and many landowners were so heavily indebted that a return of their total debt was beyond their means unless they sold a portion of their property. See AGN, Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1802, exp. 20; Consolidación, vol. 4, fol. 160-169v, 216, 340v; vol. 5, fol. 267v, 270, 304, 310, 383, 469, 520.


Several nunneries and at least one confraternity were exempted from turning into the Caja money which they used to refurbish their buildings or to provide dowries for orphans. See AGN, Consolidación, vol. 1, fol. 156-160; vol. 6, fol. 211-16; vol. 7, fol. 3-261; vol. 9, fol. 167-74; vol. 10, fol. 9, 33v, 45; vol. 12, fol. 53-59; vol. 20, fol. 28, 103v. Examples of composiciones are found by the thousands. See vol. 4, fol. 235; vol. 10, fol. 45-46; vol. 11, fol. 5.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 20, fol. 27v, 28, 30-30v, 32, 89; vol. 4, fol. 198.


This is especially true in agricultural areas such as Puebla. See Consolidación, vol. 4, fol. 245v, 248, 311, 336; Templos y Conventos, vol. 44, exp. 18, 20, 21.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 11, fol. 143-44; vol. 4, fol. 336.


Ibid., vol. 2, fol. 105v.


Ibid., vol. 4, fol. 160. See also, vol. 4, fol. 147-48, 324, 340v; vol. 11, fol. 73, 106, 233, 280v; Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1667, exp. 8; leg. 1802, exp. 20, 31.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 11, fol. 163v. This composición was denied, of course. The junta allowed a 26-year term.


Ibid., vol. 4, fol. 158-59; vol. 12, fol. 44-52.


Ibid., vol. 10, fol. 6. The Junta Superior reversed an order of sale given by the Lieutenant Deputy of Puebla, considering that he had been biased in his decision.


Bienes de comunidad consisted of private property belonging to the Indians and administered by the subdelegates. They could consist of ranches, haciendas, huertas, pasture land or even capital given on loan at interest. See Juan José Martínez de Lejarza, Análisis estadístico de les provincias de Michoacán en 1822 (México, 1824); Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule (Stanford, 1964), pp. 256-99; Hamnett, “Dye Production,” p. 55.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 10, fol. 47v; vol. 20, fol. 59-60, 163.


This total sum breaks down as follows: Yucatán: 203,522 pesos (Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 256, 257v, 552-53); Oaxaca: 161,924 pesos (Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 167v); México: 163,321 pesos (Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 249v, 259v); Valladolid: 41,609 pesos (Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 18v); Guadalajara: 67,270 pesos (Consolidación, vol. 2, fol. 7); Puebla: 105,070 pesos (Consolidación, vol. 2, fol. 184v-85); San Luis Potosí: 4,590 pesos; and Guanajuato: 16,774 pesos (Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 10-10v); Hamnett’s “The Appropriation of Mexican Church Wealth,” was also used in this compilation. In the records of Consolidación for Yucatán the term cofradía is used when referring to the contribution of Indian communities. Since Indian confraternities were exempted from the law, it has been suggested that these so-called cofradías were loose regional or hacienda religious associations, and not duly registered confraternities. Personal communication from Nancy Farriss.


Martínez de Lejarza, Análisis estadístico, Tabla No. 5.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 8, fol. 25-26, 119, 170, 173; vol. 4, fol. 150v.


Ibid., vol. 4, fol. 219v, 225v; vol. 8, fol. 144, 179; vol. 11, fol. 30v, 48v.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 249v, 251, 257v, 259, 266, 309, 312-16, 382, 388v-89. There are not too many records for hospitals in Mexico City, but among those found the Hospital de San Andrés seemed to have lost the largest amounts to Consolidación. It turned over to the Caja 111,000 pesos in October 1807. See vol. 5, fol. 267v, 302, 312, 320v.


Ibid., vol. 5, fol. 247v, 250, 263v, 270v, 322, 390.


Ibid., vol. 1, fol. 460-73v.


Ibid., vol. 9, fol. 2-146.


AGN, Reales Cédulas, vol. 200, fol. 146: Lucas Alamán, Historia, I, 111, 115.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 10, fol. 55-56, 60-61; Alamán, Historia, I, 133.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 10, fol. 58, 60.


Ibid., vol. 10, fol. 63.


AGN, Correspondencia, Series I, vol. 239, no. 55; vol. 241, no. 138; Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 498; vol. 12, fol. 238-42. Another 9 million pesos sent in December 1808 did not come from Consolidación, but from the profits of the royal mint and other ramos del erario. See Correspondencia, Series II, vol. 52, no. 7, 19, 29, 31.


AGN, Correspondencia, Series I, vol. 239, no. 49; Reales Cédulas, vol. 201, fol. 33; Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1667, exp. 3.


AGN, Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1667, exp. 1; leg. 1776, exp. 14; leg. 1802, exp. 1, 7, 10, 20, 29; Templos y Conventos, vol. 44, exp. 21; Consolidación, vol. 28, fol. 419, 482, 491, 500.


AGN, Reales Cédulas, vol. 247, fol. 155. The total collection of Consolidación was higher than the amount of money sent to Spain. My estimate for the total collection is over 11 million pesos. (See Table II.) The Anualidades Eclesiásticas and Nuevo Noveno Decimal, ecclesiastical taxes collected in conjunction with Consolidación, remained unspent up to 1809 but it is uncertain whether they were sent to Spain.


The Consulado of Mexico estimated the collection at 10,507,951 pesos. See, Boletín de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, Primera Época, 2 (México, 1850), 45. According to the accounts in the books of Consolidación, collection up to April 30, 1809 totalled 10,246,800 pesos. To this 75,000 pesos existing in provincial Cajas should be added, making a total of 10,321,800 pesos. All figures rounded. The income of two clerical contributions, the Anualidades Eclesiásticas and the Nuevo Noveno Decimal had been collected by the Caja. Originally, they had been destined to pay for the interest of money collected by Consolidación, but in all existing accounts expenses are deducted from the money collected. The product of these two contributions amounted to 774,000 pesos as of April 30, 1809, with some bishoprics still to be tabulated. Adding these two figures the total amounts to slightly over 11 million pesos. Salaries, interest paid, appraisal fees, debts to provincial Cajas and other expenses incurred by Consolidación amounted to roughly 923,700 pesos and should be discounted from the total collection. The figures of the account books of Consolidación differ considerably from those quoted by the Memoria de Hacienda de 1872 (See, Flores Caballero, La contrarrevolución, 31). By comparing both sources, it appears as if the figures of the Memoria have been computed without deducting expenses and some are of dubious origin. See, AGN, Consolidación, vol. 5, fol. 232, 244, 301, 380, 467, 498. Prof. Hamnett in his “The Appropriation of Mexican Church Wealth” presents as the total income collected by Consolidación the figure of 21,373,310 pesos. (Appendix III, pp. 104-110). However, it is clear that to the income from each year he has added the net revenue from the previous year. As a result, much income is counted twice, producing the high total figure, rather than the 10.5 million suggested by the Viceroy and other contemporary sources, and by Hamnett himself in page 101 of his work. The figures given as the total collected from Anualidades and the Noveno Decimal have been calculated with a similar error, and add a balance of pious funds from provincial bishoprics.


Ibid., vol. 10, fol. 75; vol. 12, fol. 243.


Ibid., vol. 27, fol. 507-591. See also vol. 28, fol. 354-56, 363-66 for a statement of a debt of 9,095 pesos of interest by Consolidación to the convent of Santa Catalina de Sena, in Valladolid, which requested repayment of this debt in order to survive.


See Nancy Farriss, Crown and Clergy in Colonial Mexico, 1759-1821 (London, 1968), Chapter X. The ecclesiastical fuero had been suspended and the government was clearly irritated by the number of clerics supporting the movement of insurrection.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 20, fol. 343, 346, 348, 353-56, 388, 397; vol. 28, fol. 257, 354, 369, 405, 411, 443, 450, 455, 467.


Michael Costeloe, Church Wealth in Mexico (Cambridge, England, 1967), pp. 113-115; Lavrin, “Problems and Policies,” p. 73.


AGN, Consolidación, vol. 4, fol. 88-89; vol. 5, fol. 9, 248v; vol. 10, fol. 212v; Flores Caballero, La contrarrevolución, p. 48.


Alamán, Historia, I, 211.


AGN, Correspondencia, Series I, vol. 247, no. 4. As of September 30, 1810, a total of 2,716,910 pesos had been collected through voluntary loans; Flores Caballero, La contrarrevolución, p. 63; Alamán, Historia, I, 196, 368. Bustamente cites large personal loans granted in 1810 to Viceroy Calleja by rich citizens for waging the military campaign against Hidalgo. See his Cuadro histórico de la Revolución Mexicana (3 vols., México, 1926), I, 39.


AGN, Correspondencia, Series I, vol. 242, no. 86, no. 138. See also Canga Argüelles, Diccionario de Hacienda, II, 9. According to this source, from December 1808 to February 1811, about 20,660,000 pesos (rounded figures) were sent to the Peninsula by the royal treasury of New Spain. The minting of money in the Viceroyalty declined rapidly after 1810. See, Alamán, Historia, I, 339.


Alamán, Historia, I, 185, 196; II, 152. When Viceroy Lizana y Beaumont sent four million pesos to Spain in 1810, he stated that most of it came from private sources. See, AGN, Correspondencia, Series I, vol. 242, no. 138.


Bustamante, Cuadro histórico, III, 31-33. In Oaxaca the losses in the production of cochineal were estimated to be over 2.5 million pesos. See Alamán, Historia, I, 246, 280-84, for an estimate of losses in Guanajuato during the sacking of the alhóndiga of Granaditas. See also his vol. II, 151-152, 157; Martínez de Lejarza, Análisis estadístico, pp. 29, 40, 64, 94, 190, 222, 253, gives an appraisal of damages in Michoacán; Hamnett, “Dye Production,” pp. 70-72.


AGN, Bienes Nacionales, leg. 1708, exp. 24, 44, 45, 46; leg. 137, exp. 205; Alamán, Historia, II, 340; III, 248, 272-273, estimating the cost of the siege of Cuautla alone at over half a million pesos; Bustamante, Cuadro histórico, II, 61-63.


Enrique Florescano, Estructura y problemas agrarios de México, 1500-1821 (México, 1971), pp. 91-97; Hermes Tovar Pinzón, “Las haciendas jesuítas de México,” Historia mexicana, 20:4 (Abril-Junio 1971), 563-617, and 21:1 (Julio-Septiembre 1971), 135-189; see Jan Bazant, Los bienes de la Iglesia en México (1856-1875) (México, 1971), an excellent and exhaustive study, for estimates of clerical wealth, in particular, pp. 134, 139, 186-187, 215, 293-294, and 315.

Author notes


The author, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, has written several articles on the economic role of Mexican ecclesiastical institutions in the late colonial and independence periods.