Two of the central issues in the history of Latin America have been the nature of the great rural estate and the geohistorical evolution of regions with cities at their centers. It is only fairly recently, however, that the growth of an urban culture in Latin America has begun to be viewed as the complementary process of regional agrarian and demographic development. On the one hand, we now know a good deal about the historical evolution of the great estate in Latin America—the plantation, the hacienda, and the estancia in their many incarnations. The old, monolithic model of the feudal, noncapitalist large rural estate has disintegrated into a confusing welter of different types and subtypes of rural production units. The roles of land, labor, capital, and ecological conditions have received considerable attention from modern historians, and entrepreneurial studies have enlightened us concerning the internal organization and economics of great estates.1 One of the most important elements in refining our understanding of the way in which various types of large rural estates functioned in the past is the role of markets in world and regional economies.2 Yet it is precisely this key factor which is the least well understood of the constellation of variables making up the historical definition of the great landed estate.

On the other hand, the sociopolitical identity of regions, especially within the context of political conflict and civil war, has long been recognized in Latin America and even considered an important characteristic of the weakly integrated national states in that area of the world. There is an old and rich historiographical tradition based upon the Latin American patria chica. Yet the economic structures which have defined regional differentiation have only recently been studied in a systematic fashion, partially because of the development of the primate city pattem which has obscured the course of local and regional economic history.3

The object of this study is to sketch the growth and structure of a particular urban market in New Spain in the critical late colonial period roughly corresponding to the eighteenth century, and especially from 1760 to 1820. We will also be looking at the institutional structures which developed to organize that market, though not extensively at considerations of social policy or local politics which infused the actions of local and royal governments. We will develop an historical geography of Guadalajara’s area of supply, or food-shed, during the eighteenth century by looking into the questions of how urban demand grew, what producers met the demand, how food was marketed, and how these relationships changed in the last half-century of colonial rule.

The conclusions of such a study can illuminate both of the larger historical questions outlined above. In the first place, by examining the way the Guadalajara urban market was supplied from its agricultural hinterland, we can attempt a case study in the bases of regional integration. The Guadalajara region was of course defined by a multifaceted relationship between the city and its outlying areas, involving the movement not only of agricultural produce, but also of capital, credit, manufactured articles, political decisions, cultural influences, and people themselves. But one of the most important of the city’s integrative functions was that of an urban market, the locus of a trade in commercialized agriculture which drew distant areas into its orbit. In the second place, by looking at the needs of that market and the way they were met, we can take the study of hacienda market participation beyond the entrepreneurial level, beyond the focus on one or even a few particular properties, to the level of a major geo-historical region embracing hundreds of rural production units. We can thus delineate some of the variables which encouraged the growth of commercialized agriculture in general and some of the dynamics of change within a regional agrarian economy dominated by large estates producing for an urban market. The growth of the urban market, of course, is only half of a complex development involving alterations in patterns of ownership, capital investment, use of labor, rural social relationships, and the general economic context. In sketching the outlines of urban supply and demand in a limited space, we must perforce deal only with broad implications for the life of the countryside. The marshaling of evidence and the analysis of actual changes in rural economic and social life itself must await later efforts and a larger canvas.4

City and Region

Virtually since the date of its definitive foundation in 1542, Guadalajara has been one of the dominant cities of western Mexico. Its cultural, economic, and politico-administrative hegemony took time to develop, however, and has not gone undisputed by other urban centers. Only near the end of the colonial period, for example, did its population finally overtake that of Zacatecas. Nor was the development of the city uniform or without interruption—it experienced stagnation, slumps, and depressions. But by 1810 Guadalajara was clearly in the heyday of its colonial splendor and influence. Its judicial authority covered all of western Mexico and stretched up the Pacific coast to the Californias. The intendancy of which Guadalajara was the capital, though much less extensive than the old kingdom of New Galicia which Nuño de Guzmán had established, nonetheless embraced a huge chunk of western central Mexico and a population of approximately 600,000, the third most populous entity in Mexico (after the Intendancies of Mexico and Puebla).5 Guadalajara’s economic influence, however, extended far beyond the administrative boundaries of the intendancy, and the city itself was strongly tied to the imperial and extra-imperial commercial network by means of the flow of goods and credit.6 The cultural efflorescence of the city in the late colonial period made it not only a desirable place to live for those with the means and social background to enjoy urban cultural life, but also a lodestone for the provincial elites of western Mexico. In many different ways, then, the city of Guadalajara was the center of a far-flung region: it functioned as a political capital, a bank, a market, a node of commercial distribution, and an intellectual point of reference.

Guadalajara, in its early development and until the recent past, was preeminently a commercial and administrative center and not a primary producer of wealth, either in the form of industrial goods or minerals, although it did develop a good deal of light industry toward the end of the colonial period. Its function was mainly, though not exclusively, that of a broker: commercial, financial, political, and cultural. Despite the reverses of the mid-sixteenth century associated with the turbulent conquest and settlement of western New Spain, the city continued to grow, if slowly, and by the late sixteenth century was firmly established in its role of intermediary in the west. The motors of the city’s development were its commerce and its politico-administrative power. Until 1600 and after, the importance of administrative activity somewhat outweighed that of commerce, though the balance began to shift in favor of the latter after the turn of the century. In the early years of the seventeenth century, about half of the 500 Spaniards living in the city were officials of some kind—judicial, administrative, fiscal—or their dependents, and the Audiencia of New Galicia was complaining to the crown that it required more.7 The outstanding fortunes in the city were those of wholesale merchants trading through Mexico City, and by the 1620s there were some forty stores.8 In 1800 the city was still primarily a mercantile and administrative center. Its official life was dominated by the audiencia and the intendancy (the latter established in 1786), the protocol connected with them, and the lawyers and notaries who thronged to transact their business in the provincial capital. But the real lifeblood of Guadalajara was commerce, with upward of 500 merchants in the city, most admittedly small, but also 50 or more large wholesalers, the merchants making up the third largest occupational grouping after laborers and textile workers.9 After 1790 a movement in the direction of import-substitution in cotton and woolen textiles stimulated the growth of industry.10 And although Guadalajara was not a mining center comparable to Guanajuato or Zacatecas, nonetheless silver strikes in Rosario (in what is now Sinaloa), Bolaños, and other lesser reales de minas contributed to the formation of local capital and to the growth of Guadalajara’s commercial market.

The most important social fact in the history of the Guadalajara region in the late colonial period was the growth of population in the countryside, in rural hamlets, villages, towns, and in the capital of New Galicia itself. The spectacular growth of urban populations in particular after about 1750 was common both to the Old World and the New.11 The physical growth of Guadalajara and the increase of its population were at once contributing factors and by-products of the expansion of trade and government. The modest, almost desolate city of 1600, so countrified that the vecinos ran hares through the streets with their hunting dogs, had been transformed by the end of the following century into a handsome urban center with some 350 city blocks and a large suburban area.12 The number of inhabitants in the city grew from about 1,500 to some 40,000 by 1813. Before the beginning of the eighteenth century, the growth of Guadalajara’s population was slow by any yardstick, an unequivocal increase in the number of Spaniards becoming obvious only with the count of 1586. Despite its administrative and commercial importance, the city remained relatively small during the seventeenth century, at least in comparison with Mexico City, Puebla, or mining centers such as Zacatecas.13

The growth of Guadalajara was strikingly concentrated in the eighteenth century. While the population roughly doubled between 1600 and 1700, it increased sixfold in the period 1700-1800. The decade of strongest growth for the city was 1760-1770, when its population approximately doubled. By the time of the famous census of 1793, Guadalajara’s population of over 28,000 ranked it fourth among the major cities of New Spain.14 Moreover, the number of people living in the city increased by almost 50 percent in the next two decades and continued to rise thereafter. It is clear from even the roughest calculations that at least in the period after 1760 much of the city’s growth was the result of immigration, primarily from the rural areas within the Guadalajara region. To produce the doubling of the city’s population which occurred during the decade of the 1760s, for example, the established population of 1760 would have had to sustain a net rate of natural increase amounting to 10 percent per year, a patent impossibility. Even at the reduced rate of growth in the decade 1793-1803 (25 percent total, or 2.5 percent yearly), the city must have hosted a constant stream of immigrants.

The growing urban concentration of Guadalajara was the center of a specific regional system defined not only by certain types of places with similar intrinsic characteristics, but by location as well: a spatial relationship to the city. Conceptually speaking, the functions of Guadalajara as a central place can be visualized as a series of concentric rings, the most inclusive of which was its judicial authority, followed in successively diminishing size by its financial-commercial influence, its political and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, its market area, and the immediate urban zone itself.15 Of these specific and overlapping systems, the subject of our immediate concern is that defined by the market area of Guadalajara, and the influence exerted upon that area by the expanding urban demand for meat, grain, and other foodstuffs during the eighteenth century. The region, which might be called central Jalisco or, broadly speaking, the Guadalajara Valley, was the major supplier of those mundane products without which the urban inhabitants could not have survived, and whose availability underwrote the growth of the city. In descriptive terms the expression “area of primary supply” roughly conveys the meaning here proposed, as does the more technical notion of “food-shed.” The major distinctions between Guadalajara’s area of primary supply and areas which lay further out were that the former was closer to the city, that it possessed a degree of physiographic unity and therefore accessibility, and that producers within it enjoyed a much greater and more regular frequency of contact with the urban market.16

In the last years of the colonial period the agricultural region of Guadalajara embraced an area, roughly oval in shape, of about one hundred by two hundred kilometers, bounded on the south by Lake Chapala, on the north by San Cristóbal de la Barranca, on the east by Tepatitlán, and on the west by Ameca. The basic unifying feature of the area is that most of it lies within the basin of the Lerma River, after it emerges from Lake Chapala rechristened the Río Grande de Santiago. That the region has a physiographic identity has long been recognized by geographers although they differ as to its precise boundaries.17 The physiographic region of Guadalajara is more readily definable than the historical or human region. There were no walls to keep people in, but within the region Guadalajara tended to act as the center of gravity politically, socially, and economically. A major pattern of migration at the end of the colonial period, for example, was from the near countryside into the city. In 1822, a third of the adults living in Guadalajara whose origin was specified in the census of that year as being elsewhere in the State of Jalisco came from within a day’s travel by foot or horseback.18 We are dealing here with a sphere of influence mediated by the city’s area of primary agricultural supply. Human contacts in the region naturally tended to center on Guadalajara, particularly in economic matters. Outside the region people’s economic activities gravitated toward other centers. Jalostotitlán and, to some degree, Tepatitlán, were drawn toward Lagos and the Bajío; Teocaltiche fell within the orbit of Aguascalientes; the towns beyond La Barca lay within the sphere of Valladolid (Morelia); and the trans-Chapala towns centered around Sayula.19

The city of Guadalajara required ever increasing quantities of foodstuffs dining the eighteenth century. The most basic among these products, and those which absorbed the greatest proportion of the budgets of urban consumers, were meat and grain. These commodities represented by far the greatest part of the value of agricultural produce marketed in the city. Their supply was dominated by large rural production units. The grain and meat trades were mediated by various institutional arrangements with the ostensible goal of allowing governmental regulation of these vital sectors and of insuring a constant food supply for the city. Through a study of these sectors of the urban market, therefore, one may trace the commercialization of agriculture which took place over the course of the eighteenth century. Furthermore, the institutional arrangements—the city meat monopoly, the public granaries for maize, and the wheat trade—are interesting in themselves and reflect the ideas of the time on economics and social utility. It was widely accepted that governmental agencies were justified in regulating the market in the interest of the public good. The fiscal real of the Guadalajara audiencia remarked in an opinion of 1747, apropos the city meat monopoly, that:

although any individual may dispose freely of his own property, nonetheless, for the basic necessities of life sellers should not be allowed absolute freedom to set and raise prices.20

The City Meat Monopoly

Nowhere is the interplay between public and private interest clearer than in the history of the city’s meat monopoly, the abasto de carnes. Under this system, which prevailed in Guadalajara at least from the early seventeenth century until its abolition at the end of 1816, the exclusive right to supply the city with beef and lamb was contracted out to individuals for a specified term of years under competitive bidding. When, as frequently occurred, there was no private bidder, the cabildo itself directly administered the abasto. The ostensible justification for this system was to provide the city with a constant supply of meat at a reasonable price by making one individual responsible and thereby eliminating as much as possible the random play of market forces. In addition, the city government thus sought to regulate the sale of meat in the city and to realize an income from the premiums which contractors paid under the terms of their bids.

In fact, the goals of the system were realized to a considerable degree. The city was never without the supply of at least some meat although meat consumption tended to be concentrated among those residents with high incomes.21 Prices were stabilized and under the longer contracts were not subject to fluctuation since the contractor had to supply meat at an agreed upon price throughout his term. But the forces of the market did come into play, chiefly at the supply end. Meat prices rose substantially during the latter part of the eighteenth century (see figure 1) and the number of animals slaughtered in the city during any given year varied considerably. Furthermore, the abasto system was used to advantage by the greatest stock raisers of the Guadalajara region to insure their unimpaired access to the largest local market. The great landed magnates, often themselves city officials, frequently obtained the abasto contracts either directly or through their agents. The primary object of the entire institution, for both the municipal government and those stockmen who obtained the contracts, was to eliminate risk.

The irregular but very notable increase in the consumption of grain in Guadalajara dming the eighteenth century does not have a counterpart in the figures on cattle and sheep butchered in the city. In part this is due to the sporadic nature of the documentation on the city’s meat supply since die abasto was sometimes administered by private contractors who presumably kept their own records, and sometimes directly by the city government itself. Such figures as can be gleaned from die existing documentation appear in Table I. The most one can say on the basis of these data is that the level of meat consumption in Guadalajara remained roughly stable or perhaps increased slightly during the latter half of the eighteenth century.22

The question arises as to why meat consumption in the city remained stable from 1750 to 1820 while maize consumption doubled and wheat consumption quadrupled during the same period. The probable explanation for this lies in a number of factors. First, the consumption of meat and other animal protein in the city was not precisely equivalent to the number of cattle and sheep slaughtered under the auspices of the abasto de carnes. There was a good deal of contraband livestock coming into the city at all times, especially during the late colonial period when prices rose. Although by the very nature of the trade, it is impossible to evaluate the role of contraband meat in supplying the urban market, the logistical difficulties of moving large numbers of animals into the city covertly and the strictly imposed schedule of fines make it unlikely that the illicit trade in meat reached significant levels. In addition to contraband, pigs, goats, and chickens were not subject to the abasto monopoly. These forms of animal protein, as well as dairy produce, were generally marketed by small independent producers, many of them living on the edges of the city and occupying pieces of land rented from the city itself, or by Indians or small rancheros living further away from Guadalajara. A variety of fish, including the dried charoles used as a characteristic local condiment, came from Lake Chapala and were especially important during the Lenten season.

Second, the price of meat, especially of beef which constituted the major share of the meat consumed in the city, rose considerably during the last quarter of the eighteenth century as indicated by figure 1. Except for the quinquennium 1797–1801 (during which the abasto contractor may have gone bankrupt because of his low price bid) beef prices, as reflected by the abasto contracts, rose steadily from about 1770 until 1820. Lamb prices showed a similar tendency to rise during the same period, though not quite as drastically. Urban consumers, therefore, particularly those in lower income groups, curtailed their consumption of abasto-supplied beef and lamb. Nor were the abasto prices artificially high: they simply reflected the general rise in the price of live cattle evident from about 1780.

The major reason for rising livestock and meat prices was alteration in the pattern of agricultural production. The extension of grain cultivation had by the last third of the eighteenth century displaced livestock production from its place as the dominant form of rural economic activity among large production units, a trend which continued during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Live cattle exports from all of New Galicia to New Spain declined very significantly after mid-century. Why this was so in the Guadalajara region is not yet clear, but its earlier substantial livestock exports to New Spain probably declined along with its livestock production as a whole.23 Logically, livestock producers would have marketed their animals locally, if possible, rather than take on the trouble, expense, and risk of the long-distance cattle trade. Meat, then, quite literally lost ground in its competition with cereal production although the pull of the urban market was sufficient to keep both grain and meat prices rising throughout the late colonial period. In the face of ascending prices many city dwellers cut back their consumption of the relatively more expensive animal protein in favor of wheaten bread and maize.

A very basic and intriguing question arises with regard to urban consumption patterns and the demand these created for agricultural and livestock products. If meat prices were rising in the late eighteenth century, why didn’t local producers take the opportunity to profit from this trend by reconverting arable to pasture, or increasing their production of meat in other ways? The answer lies at least partially in the limited budget elasticity of most urban consumers, who would not have been able to afford much meat even at the slightly lower prices which would have resulted from an increased supply. Under the conditions of the late colonial years, meat was too expensive a form of nourishment. For the Guadalajara of 1800 to have returned to its protein-rich diet of 1600 was simply not feasible. Given the possibilities for farming in the region, and the lack of transport facilities, there was not enough good land to sustain a city of meat eaters.

The pattern of the city’s meat consumption demonstrated a marked short-term or seasonal fluctuation. A particularly rigorous dry season could severely reduce the overall supply of meat in the city since large numbers of livestock died on the range under such conditions. Most cattle came into the city for slaughter in the spring before the start of the rainy season, when it was easier to round them up. In a normal year the city’s population embarked on a veritable orgy of meat eating after Easter. In the 1780s and 1790s during the few months after Easter, the city sometimes consumed two hundred cattle and even larger numbers of sheep every week. For example, the combined weekly per capita consumption of beef and lamb in the city from March 31 to April 6, 1780 was about 1.5 pounds. By the last week of the accounting year, in April 1781, the per capita figure had declined to about half a pound.24 In actuality, of course, the consumption of beef and lamb was terribly skewed in favor of the more prosperous inhabitants of the city. The city administrator of the abasto in 1789 remarked that even in years of low prices lamb was not generally eaten by the gente común, but only by people of means.25

An analysis of the geographical origin of the livestock purchased by the abasto points to the role of the predominantly creole landowning oligarchy as the major supplier of the city’s meat. By its very nature the meat monopoly was more concentrated than the grain trade, and a very few haciendas normally kept the city supplied with meat. In the year 1780–1781, for example, of the 4,080 cattle legally slaughtered in Guadalajara, nearly a third (thirty-two percent) came from the Hacienda de San Clemente near Autlán, owned by the city’s regidor alférez real Bamón Fernández Barrena, the son-in-law of the great silver baron Francisco Javier Vizcarra, Marqués de Pánuco. The Hacienda de Huejotitán, of the Villaseñor family, supplied some twelve percent. The Hacienda de Toluquilla, owned by Vizcarra himself, provided eleven percent of the live cattle butchered in the city, Miguel Portillo’s neighboring Hacienda de Santa Cruz, nine percent, the Hacienda de Santa Lucía, seven percent, and an assorted group of other estates, the remaining animals. Thus five haciendas contributed over seventy percent of the beef consumed in the city in that year. The supply of sheep was, if anything, even more concentrated, with the great Hacienda de Mazatepec sending in thirty–seven percent, the Hacienda de la Sauceda, twenty percent, and Atequiza and a limited number of other estates, the remainder.26 Thirty years before, in 1750, the same basic pattern of origin had predominated although the supply was less concentrated than in 1780–1781.27 By 1811–1812, the same haciendas were prominent in the trade, but there had occurred a perceptible outward displacement of the supply area to more peripheral districts, due primarily to the ascendancy of grain production in the environs of the city.28

Although it was in theory completely open to public bidding, the abasto contract was effectively limited to those large landowners who could themselves supply the necessary livestock or to those individuals who had sufficient capital and connections to purchase what they needed. The dominance over the city’s abasto de carnes by the elite group of important hacendados is clearly illustrated by a look at eighteenth-century contracts.29 In the middle of the eighteenth century the most important local haciendas which concentrated heavily on livestock production generally supplied by themselves the meat consumed within the city in any given year. The owners of the great haciendas of Mazatepec, Miraflores, Atequiza, El Cabezón-La Vega, Cedros, and Cuisillos, with a few others, directly assumed the abasto contracts themselves. After mid-century, however, the great landowners appear much less frequently as the holders of the monopoly, and the formal leasing of the abasto, when it went to private individuals at all, was much more likely to be taken on by city merchants or other men who were not themselves landowners.

This separation of the functions of production and marketing strongly suggests that hacendados were reluctant to assume the legal responsibility of supplying all the city’s meat themselves. The reason lay in the relative decline of stock raising which began to manifest itself sometime after mid-century. Single great landowners who had no difficulty in committing themselves to supply two or three thousand head of cattle per year before 1750 could, with rare exceptions, no longer meet such needs by the last quarter of the century. It is not fortuitous that the fall in live cattle exports from New Galicia to New Spain dates also from the middle of the eighteenth century.

Because of the high prices, especially for beef, in the latter part of the century and into the 1820s, there was really no question of profitability; demand was not the problem. Indeed, the abasto itself continued to be a desirable economic plum, but toward the end of the century contractors became less willing to accept the sole responsibility for the city’s meat supply. In 1790 the fiscal of the city pointed to the profitability of the meat trade despite the “shortage of livestock, of which there has been a recent example in the present year.”30 The real problem was the insufficiency of livestock from which to meet the urban demand, given the continuation at a much reduced level of the export trade to New Spain and the retention of livestock in the rural districts for the consumption of the local population. A very revealing lawsuit clearly indicates that the reason for this situation lay in the shift in land use patterns within the hacienda economy. In an intrafamily suit of 1803 involving the disposition of the Porres Baranda entail centering on the great estates of Mazatepec and Santa Ana Acatlán, the lawyer for the holder of the entail, Ignacio de Estrada, disputed the claim of the opposing party that the rent charged for the Hacienda de Santa Ana could be significantly raised through an extension of its cultivated lands. He dismissed the suggestion as patently foolish since the supply and price of grain for the city were already reasonable, while the price of meat had risen exorbitantly precisely because cultivation had been extended to the prejudice of stock raising.31

One sign of the growing inelasticity of supply in the last decades of the eighteenth century was the frequency with which the city government itself assumed the administration of the abasto for want of private bidders. The shortfall in the supply of live animals continued through the remainder of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. In an effort to circumvent this problem by casting its net more widely, the city government attempted after about 1800 to open the bidding for the abasto to stock raisers outside the immediate area of Guadalajara. The traditional districts in which the pregones (publicly cried notices) of the abasto bidding had been given were La Barca, Sayula, Ahualulco, and Cuquío.32 At the beginning of the nineteenth century the area of notice was extended to include Puebla, Zacatecas, Mexico City, Querétaro, Valladolid, Lagos, Zamora, Colima, Tepatitlán, Autlán, and Zapotlán el Grande.33 There is no evidence to indicate that this solved the problem, however, or even that bidders could be found in these distant precincts.

The abasto, when directly administered by the city government, continued to serve as a conduit for the livestock of major regional producers even if none of these men could assume responsibility for the entire meat supply themselves. Political power thus insured access to the urban market. The landed interest was always prominently represented in the cabildo, and so it was that major hacendados like Fernández Barrena, Tomás Ignacio Villaseñor (1789 junta), and José Ignacio Basauri (1790 junta) should take their places on the governing junta of the abasto as city officials and as members of the landowning group. Nor was this apparent conflict of interest of recent origin. Early in the seventeenth century, the six or seven regidores perpetuos of the city, all of them prominent hacendados, were fixing abasto prices for their own profit, and the situation remained unchanged despite repeated royal cédulas forbidding such dealings.34 The irony is that the fiscal real of the audiencia, in recommending the formal establishment of the junta in 1777, had argued for it on the grounds that private contractors were traditionally interested only in their own profits as opposed to the interests of the public.35 The junta, then, was at least in part intended to moderate the influence of stock raisers on the urban market for meat. Under such circumstances, placing men like Fernández Barrena, Villaseñor, and Basauri to regulate the meat monopoly was like setting the mouse to watch the cheese. That this conflict of interest was often resolved to the benefit of the landowner is demonstrated by a junta transaction of 1789. In that year, Tomás Ignacio Villaseñor, a regidor and owner of the magnificent entailed estate of Huejotitán, was presiding officer of the junta de abastos. In the course of the year the junta purchased several hundred head of cattle from Villaseñor at suspiciously elevated prices.36

The history of the city meat monopoly is peculiarly fraught with indecision, ad hoc administrative arrangements, and crises. The same was true of the trade in wheat and maize, but not to such a great degree. Two facts emerge clearly from a study of the abasto de carnes. The first is that the system functioned effectively as a conduit for the livestock of the area’s major haciendas. The individuals who made what may be called city policy regarding the abasto were very often landowners themselves or had strong links with the landowning elite. The system insured a monopolistic access to the urban market although there is no consistent evidence that it kept prices artificially high. Second, the change in the rural economy of the late eighteenth century, characterized primarily by an increasing commercialization and the shift in favor of cereal production, imposed new strains on the old monopolistic system and turned it from an asset for the great landowners into a liability. In the last years of the colonial period the abasto de carnes had become a tar baby which few wished to embrace.

The Wheat Trade

The demands of Guadalajara’s growing urban market for foodstuffs encouraged the development and spread of commercialized agriculture during the eighteenth century, particularly after the 1760s. One obvious sign of this phenomenon was the increased flow of grain, both maize and wheat, into the city in the last decades of the century. A number of sources, including hacienda inventories, commercial correspondence, and city records, indicate the growing importance of Guadalajara as a market for wheat after about 1750. Not all locally produced wheat was consumed in the city in any given year—indeed, substantial amounts of it appear to have been sold in the tierra adentro and the coastal area.37 But the growing population and prosperity of Guadalajara near the end of the eighteenth century encouraged capital investment in many landed estates, particularly with regard to irrigation works and storage facilities, with the object of increasing the production of wheat and flour for sale in the city. Figure 2 below presents data on the total entries of wheat and flour into Guadalajara in the last years of the eighteenth and the first years of the nineteenth centuries. As figure 2 shows, the yearly flow of wheat and flour into the city of Guadalajara increased from approximately 2,000 cargas at mid-century,38 to about 8,000 cargas in the 1780s and some 15,000 cargas in the years just before the outbreak of the independence movement. Overall, the figures indicate a seven-to-eightfold increase in the wheat and flour consumption of Guadalajara between 1750 and 1815.39 The precipitous drop in entries into the city in the years 1816–1818 may have been due to a combination of weak harvests and the renewal of insurgent activity in central New Galicia.

The increase in the urban consumption of wheat can be attributed to the population growth of the city and the prosperity of the years around the turn of the century. Guadalajara grew from 28,000 in 1793 to 35,000 ten years later and something over 40,000 by 1820. But the structure of urban demand for wheat and wheaten bread is difficult to determine, and the increase in the city’s population alone after 1800 is insufficient to explain the rise in demand during the same period if the same level of per capita consumption continued into the new century.

The documents of the time contain intriguing if all too brief hints at who ate wheaten bread and how much of it. In 1786 the procurador síndico general of the cabildo estimated that the city’s convents accounted for about forty percent of the wheat consumed every year.40 While this may be an exaggeration, it is certainly reasonable to assume that people of means and European background were the ones who ate wheaten bread most regularly and in the largest quantities.41 According to the census of 1793, the portions of the city’s population classified ethnically as European or Spanish amounted to nearly 10,000 people, a not insubstantial market for bread.42 In fact, the consumption of wheaten bread extended surprisingly far down into the lower social strata of the city.43 The city’s bakers acknowledged on several occasions that their profit margins were greatest on white bread of the highest quality sold to “personas de conveniencias,” rather than the cruder sort of bread known as “de segunda clase.” Yet as early as 1752 bakers were engaged in sharp practice, selling bread to the urban lower classes. At that time they were accustomed to divide half loaves into four “pedacillos muy pequeños” normally sold at five for a half-real, but at only four per half-real to the poor and Indians. By 1806 the bakers were asking that a separate pricing scale (calicata) be established for the “pan de segunda clase” relied upon by the city’s poor. In this same year the síndico of the cabildo noted the general rise in bread consumption in the city.44 It seems likely that in these years the per capita consumption of bread was growing.

Turning from consumption to supply, we see that records of wheat and flour entries for the years 1779, 1784, 1791, and 1818 indicate that the major haciendas within a forty to fifty-mile radius of Guadalajara consistently supplied about sixty percent of the city’s needs. Table II shows the percentages by regional origin for grain coming into the city in these four years. Except for the year 1791 when their total share dropped to five percent, the principal wheat-growing haciendas nearest Guadalajara supplied a very consistent one-fifth to one-quarter of all the wheat consumed in the city. The major haciendas of the Toluquilla Valley, forming a rough semicircle to the south of the city, were those of Toluquilla itself (called El Cuatro after the turn of the century), Santa Cruz, San José, San Nicolás, and La Concepción. With the addition of the great estate of Santa Lucía which lay to the north of the city, these haciendas formed the group which has been designated “close-in” in Table II.

A group of haciendas located further from the immediate environs of the city, and designated as “other local haciendas” in the table, accounted for an even more stable share of the city’s wheat supply. The dominant producer among this group was the entailed estate of the Porres Baranda family, Mazatepec, with its sister establishment Santa Ana Acatlán, which together supplied a remarkably consistent twelve percent of the city’s wheat and flour in all four of the years for which detailed information exists. Also accounting for large entries of grain in at least three of these years were the haciendas of Cedros, Atequiza, Miraflores, El Cabezón-La Vega, Huejotitán, and Cuisillos, with substantial quantities from a variety of other local estates as well.

The role of the Altos and Bajío regions as wheat suppliers for the city clearly increases in importance in the late years of the eighteenth century and the first years of the nineteenth. These two producing areas took up the slack in local production in the year 1791 and continued to make an important contribution through the first decades of the following century although their share had declined by 1818. The decrease in the share of smaller and unidentified Guadalajara-area producers is very notable in the last years of the century, and this slack was compensated by increased reliance upon the Altos and Bajío regions.

It is not clear why the share in the total wheat supply of “other local haciendas” should have increased even slightly in 1791, the year in which that of the haciendas of the Toluquilla Valley and local small producers declined. But with the return of the close-in estates to their formerly strong position in the years before 1820, the proportion of grain coming from smaller local producers in the area around the city remained at a much reduced level. This suggests that the major wheat-growing haciendas had garnered a proportionately larger share of local output at the expense of smaller producers, thus concentrating the benefits of an increasing commercialization of agriculture in the hands of fewer people. This same tendency is evident in the production structure of maize, but was even more pronounced in the case of wheat since the latter was preeminently a cash crop whose production depended upon the mobilization of greater capital resources.

Such an interpretation is corroborated by evidence from the entry books themselves. Whereas at mid–century much of the wheat and flour introduced into the city came from small producers, primarily from the area of Jocotepec and Santa Ana Acatlán, by the late years of the century this group had almost completely disappeared from the urban grain market.45 The same is true of those producers of wheat specifically designated as Indians. Nor is the change over the course of the century due merely to alteration in the classification of those who introduced grain into the city since the categories seem to have been consistently applied throughout the century. The participation of smaller producers in the market may have been masked to some extent by the fact that on certain haciendas, among them Mazatepec-Santa Ana and Atequiza, renters produced much of the wheat. In 1779, for example, of the 1,100 cargas of wheat sent to Guadalajara by the Hacienda de Mazatepec, nearly two-thirds bore names other than that of the owner, Bernardo Porres Baranda. In the same year the grain remitted to the city from the Hacienda de Atequiza was almost entirely produced by renters.46 Nonetheless, the large producers clearly increased their share during the latter part of the century, mostly from what may be termed demesne farming.

Further evidence confirming the trend toward concentration of wheat production pertains to the city’s flour mills in the early decades of the nineteenth century. There were four major mills (“los cuatro molinos de esta ciudad”) all in or near the city along the Río de San Juan de Dios, from which they derived their power.47 From the documentation it appears that millowners most frequently realized income from their mills by leasing their operation to others. The most complete records of leasing transactions exist for the two mills belonging to the Colegio de Niñas de San Diego de Alcalá. With the price of wheat and flour generally rising in the city and the total urban consumption having grown eightfold from about 1750 to 1810, one would expect the rents charged to lessees of the city’s mills to have increased considerably during the course of the eighteenth century. In fact, however, rents remained roughly stable at about 400 pesos per year and, if anything, showed a tendency to decline in the last quarter of the century.48 Nor was this decrease due to any particular deterioration in the condition of the mills since leases stipulated the maintenance of the plant and equipment and were renewed frequently enough to insure this condition.

The decline in the rentability of the city’s flour mills in the context of the enormous increase in overall urban consumption suggests that the mills were not receiving their proportional share of the grain coming into Guadalajara. This was related to the increasing concentration of local wheat production in the hands of haciendas near the city to the disadvantage of smaller producers. Most important wheat-growing haciendas had their own mills, or milled their flour at neighboring estates, while most small producers could not afford such substantial capital outlays. The only year for which data allow a discrimination between shipments of unmilled grain and flour entering the city is 1779.49 Even at this early date, before the dominance of the hacienda in wheat production became obvious, most wheat coming into Guadalajara was in the form of flour, and most of this flour originated on the important wheat-producing estates.

Another fact which emerges from the study of grain entries into the city is that Guadalajara relied relatively less on the regions of the Altos and the Bajío for its wheat supply than for its maize supply. Whereas the city’s dependence upon nonlocal sources of supply for maize reached forty-one percent in 1817 (all of it from the Altos), it counted upon nonlocal producers of wheat for only twenty-seven percent of its consumption needs at about the same time. Even in very difficult years for some local producers, such as 1791, the Altos–Bajío area (including Zamora) accounted for only thirty percent of the city’s wheat, while the reliance upon all outside sources was some thirty-five percent of the total supply.

This contrast between the wheat and maize supply suggests that wheat occupied an increasingly advantageous position relative to maize in terms of the amount of land and capital devoted to its production. While maize consumption in Guadalajara hardly doubled in the seventy years between 1750 and 1820, that of wheat increased about eight times over during the same period. The amount of land put down to wheat, therefore, assuming reasonable yields, increased relatively much faster than that in maize. Moreover, wheat cultivation, since it depended on irrigation, displaced maize to some degree from the most favored, level soils which composed but a small proportion of most rural estates. It thus becomes clear that the development of urban demand for wheat exerted considerable pressure on the economy of maize production and was tending to displace maize from its earlier primacy in terms of land use, even while maize production was itself increasing in absolute terms.

After their entry into the city of Guadalajara, wheat and flour were distributed to urban consumers by means of a marketing system at once more complicated and chaotic than that which existed for maize. Indeed, because of its comparatively high value (the price of wheat was roughly ten times that of maize, though the relationship varied) and the number of hands through which it had to pass before it reached the consumer, wheat never came effectively under the control of the city government despite periodic efforts to regulate the trade. The attempts of the city government to manage the wheat trade took two forms: the control of bakeries and bread prices and the establishment of a public granary for wheat and flour, neither of which succeeded.

Most wheaten bread consumed in the city was made by bakers in commercial establishments of varying size although the convents and monasteries baked their own breadstuffs. The exact number of commercial bakeries in Guadalajara was said to be twenty-seven in 1786 and nineteen in 1810.50 But these numbers must have applied only to the largest establishments since in 1788 it was noted by an oidor of the audiencia investigating abuses in the production of bread that bakers were so numerous, many of them being unknown to city officials, that the trade was impossible to regulate.51 In fact, governmental efforts to control the bread and wheat trades stemmed not only from a concern over the wheat supply, but also over abuses perpetrated by the bakers and the many shopkeepers who bought from bakers and resold to the public. Although the preoccupation of the audiencia and the city cabildo with bread prices and quality dated back at least to the beginning of the eighteenth century, active governmental intervention was particularly notable from the 1760s onward.52 Attempts at such regulation took on a positively obsessive tone after the famine year of 1786, and it is surely no accident that the establishment of the bakers’ guild dated from that year. A particularly elaborate regulatory mechanism was the calicata, a sliding scale which pegged bread prices to wheat prices and the costs of labor and baking materials. The calicata was periodically revised by the city government, in 1701, 1752, 1768, 1774, 1786, 1806, 1809, and 1814. It is clear from contemporary documentation, however, that the calicata and the regulations concerning the quality and sale of bread were more honored in the breach than in the observance.

Such attempts at regulation brought vociferous and chronic complaints from many sides, but especially from the city’s bakers. It was not so much the price of wheat as the price of other primary materials and the rising costs of production which were most often cited by bakers in their complaints about the injustice of city regulations.53 The price of wheat and flour had always varied greatly, even at the beginning of the century when the calicata was first instituted. The wheat prices on the sliding scale ranged between five and twenty pesos per carga throughout the century. Thus, although wheat prices showed some tendency to rise during the eighteenth century, it was a modal increase within an already well established range of variation, and it was not as sharp a relative increase as maize prices experienced during the same period. This suggests that the supply of wheat to the city was more elastic and tends to reinforce the view that the cultivation of wheat was displacing that of maize to some extent during the eighteenth century in the area around the city.

Although the supply and price of bread in Guadalajara was a constant preoccupation of both municipal and royal governments, there was an obvious ambivalence present, especially on the part of the city officials who often proposed elaborate regulatory schemes only to drag their feet when it came to enforcing them. Furthermore, there are hints of conflicting policy aims between the city government and the audiencia, and the latter often reproved the former for its laxity.54 The prominence of major landowners in the city government all during the late colonial period suggests that there may have been a very real conflict between the avowed goal of the city government in attempting to regulate the prices of foodstuffs and the interests of individuals who stood to benefit from the development of commercialized agriculture and rising prices.

The second means by which the city government attempted to regulate the prices of wheat and bread, the establishment of a public granary (alhóndiga) for wheat, was an even more conspicuous failure than the calicata system. The project first emerged in 1751, when the city’s cabildo applied to the audiencia for license to use the lower, vacant rooms of the casas reales for the central deposit and public sale of wheat. The current practice was for producers (labradores) to bring their grain or flour into the city, store it in privately owned buildings, and sell it at their convenience. This made the enforcement of the calicata virtually impossible and the collection of taxes very difficult.55 The proposal apparently never came to fruition since in 1764 the same considerations of public good led the city government to apply to the audiencia for another license. But again the plan came to nought, and four years later the same proposal was again under discussion.56 The interminable temporizing, false starts, and resistance on the part of both the municipal government and major producers prevented any effective action for the remainder of the colonial period.57 As with the city’s unsuccessful attempts to enforce the calicata, the various alhóndiga projects failed, probably for much the same reasons. Oscillations in the cabildo’s performance are not remarkable considering the conflicting interest of some of its most powerful members with the avowed policy of protecting the city’s grain supply against speculation.

In actual fact the city’s supply of wheat and flour depended upon a complex structure of marketing arrangements which were intimately linked to the system of rural credit. Thus the functions of market distribution and credit mobilization (banking) were in some measure interdependent. The development of many of the major rural estates of the Guadalajara region in the late colonial period hinged not so much upon a change in this system (though it did grow and rural credit expanded with it), as upon the tapping of additional sources of credit (most notably the Church).

The wheat supply of Guadalajara was mediated by various types of city merchants through two basic arrangements, direct sales and commission sales. Of these two systems, the latter was the more important throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In contrast to the ad hoc arrangements characteristic of direct sales from producers to bakers, or even consumers, stood the system of encomienda, or commission sales, which was very often only one aspect of more inclusive commercial relationships of long standing between hacendados and city merchants with considerable capital resources.58 Most of the major wheat-producing haciendas of the area around the city were represented by encomenderos who handled large quantities of grain. Such relationships frequently were reinforced by ties of friendship, kinship, or compadrazgo. This personalistic aspect of an economic relationship is illustrated by the commercial correspondence between the administrator of the Hacienda de Cuisillos and his factor in the city of Tepic just after the turn of the century. In a letter of June 1802, the administrator, Ordóñez, commented to Mestas, the Tepic merchant, “although many people in that town [Tepic] have asked for commission business from me, I only have confidence in you; and you should remember that Asturianos of the Villa of Llanes should always remain on good terms with those from Cabrales.”59 The commission sales of wheat and of other agricultural produce were also commonly linked to the system of avíos, the supply of working capital by urban merchants to landowners.

The most striking fact which emerges from this discussion of the place of wheat in the economy of late colonial Guadalajara is the magnetic effect of the growing population of the city upon production. Whatever distortions, changes, or difficulties may have arisen in the agricultural sector due to the growth of urban demand for wheaten bread, it is clear that the demand was largely met through an expansion of traditional agriculture rather than through any revolutionary transformation. The increasing commercialization of agriculture during the late colonial period was primarily a matter of adjusting the factors of production rather than changing the technology of farming. The complicated and anarchic commercial system which mediated the city’s supply of wheat served well enough, but supply and price levels were subject to fluctuations which were built into the farming and marketing system. This inherent precariousness could not be eliminated despite the efforts of municipal and royal governments to regulate the grain trade.

Maize and the Public Granaries

The movement of maize into Guadalajara during the second half of the eighteenth century can be traced in some detail through the extant records of the public granary, the alhóndiga, which had existed in the city at least since the end of the seventeenth century and was administered directly by the cabildo from 1748. As with the meat monopoly and the wheat trade, the city government attempted to regulate the maize trade not only with an eye toward realizing revenues from it, but also to eliminate sharp practice in the selling of grain and to insure at least minimum standards of quality. But beyond this the local government sought to assure for the urban consumer a steady supply of maize at a reasonable price through the direct purchase and sale of the grain from its own granary, the pósito.

The most striking fact about the yearly flow of maize into Guadalajara after the mid–eighteenth century is that it almost doubled, rising from about 45,000 fanegas per year in the 1750s to some 80,000 in the second decade of the nineteenth century (see figure 3). During these same years the population of the city grew from 10,000 to about 40,000.60 The magnitude of the oscillation in the city’s maize supply between one year and the next also increased after 1805, so that yearly totals swung wildly compared to the mild changes of the latter half of the previous century.

Aside from the absolute increase in the amount of maize entering the public granary, there was also a notable tendency for the pósito to account for a larger share of the total maize after 1780. Briefly, the purpose of the pósito was to control the price of maize in the city to some degree and to insure a constant supply throughout the year, moderating the fluctuations of the harvest cycle. Special commissioners from the cabildo used city funds annually to purchase the amount of maize which they estimated would be necessary, given the prospects for that year’s harvest, to satisfy the city’s need for maize in the following year. In a year of scarcity and high prices, pósito grain would be sold at a slightly higher price than privately owned maize, thus tending to stimulate the entry of privately stockpiled grain into the city. Toward the end of the summer, generally beginning in September, pósito maize might be sold to urban consumers in large quantities to make up for the dwindling supply coming into the city from private sellers.

Before 1780, even in years of marked scarcity and high prices, the share of the pósito in the city’s maize supply appears never to have risen above 10,000 fanegas. The increasing difference between the maize needs of the city population and what could be supplied by the private sector becomes evident after 1780, and especially noticeable after 1800. Beginning in 1801, and continuing until about 1815, there was a huge discrepancy between the consumption requirements of the city and the maize available from private sellers in the alhóndiga. This gap was filled by pósito purchases and sales of maize which in most of these years far outstripped the participation of the private sector. Of the ten out of fourteen years from 1802 until 1815 for which information is available, the purchases of maize by the pósito never dropped below 35,000 fanegas per year and in six years rose above 50,000 fanegas to account for more than fifty percent of all maize sold in the city. This tendency reversed itself after 1815, but the proportion of publicly purchased grain remained high.61

The increased share of the pósito in urban maize sales simply reflected the fact of an expanding urban demand relative to the productive capacity of the agricultural heartland around the city and the shift in the maize trade from a buyer’s to a seller’s market. This is indicated by the growth of both rural and urban population, by the general rise in prices toward the end of the eighteenth century, and by changes in the market area from which Guadalajara drew its subsistence. As rural population grew, more grain, especially maize, was retained in the countryside to feed the larger population, but at the same time the city of Guadalajara increased its demand with its own population growth. With a backward technology and a limited supply of suitable agricultural land, the areas around the city which had traditionally supplied it with its staple grain were unable to meet the larger demand by themselves. This situation was exacerbated by the decisions of large agricultural producers to increase their production of wheat and at least to maintain their position as producers of livestock.

Dating from the last years of the eighteenth century, the city of Guadalajara embraced an ever larger supply area. The largest regional beneficiary of the demand was the Altos, especially Tepatitlán and Arandas. Before the last years of the century, when Guadalajara was amply supplied with maize at normally low prices, producers in the Altos region were excluded from a share of this market by their distance from the city. Tepatitlán lay forty–five, and Arandas some seventy–five, miles to the east. On the other hand, most of the traditional major maize–supply areas fell within a radius of thirty miles of the city with Ameca located at the greatest distance, forty–five miles. With prices relatively low in Guadalajara, it was not profitable for more distant producers to pay even the marginally higher transport costs for access to the urban market. The general rise in prices after the 1780s, however, enabled maize producers in the Altos region to compete more successfully, and in these years scattered references to maize shipments from the Altos begin to appear in the alhóndiga records. Certainly Tepatitlán and other Altos towns had been relied upon as breadbaskets in emergency situations, as in 1782, 1783, and 1784, when the pósito commissioners bought substantial amounts of grain there to alleviate shortages in Guadalajara.62 But only very late in the century did maize from the Altos begin to show up regularly in the city in significant amounts.

For the period prior to 1808, at which date the records begin to permit the analysis of the city’s maize supply by geographical origin, there is little useful information on the origins of maize shipments into the city. Of those suppliers who can be readily identified, most were property owners from the area around Guadalajara, whether larger renters, independent rancheros, or hacendados. Some names prominent up to the 1770s and even into the 1780s are conspicuously absent from the more detailed records after 1808. Their displacement by renters or sharecroppers as direct suppliers may be partially responsible, but in a number of cases their properties simply drop out of sight as important sources of maize in the city. This is true of several of the smaller but important haciendas of the Toluquilla Valley, for example, as well as of the great Hacienda de Santa Lucía to the north of the city which seems to have turned its productive capacity almost exclusively to wheat by the end of the century. On the other hand, several larger haciendas such as Mazatepec-Santa Ana, Huejotitán, and El Cabezón, which were active in the urban maize market in the middle of the eighteenth century, remained prominent as sources of supply in the first decades of the nineteenth. The fact remains that the city’s maize supply, until after the 1780s, was overwhelmingly if not exclusively drawn from its immediate hinterland.

The detailed entry books existing for the years 1808, 1812, 1817, and 1819 indicate an important change in the pattern of predominantly local supply. The Altos region came to control an increasingly large share of the urban grain market as indicated by the figures in Table III. The Altos’ share of this supply was some six percent in 1808, that of the Bajío region (normally not a source for Guadalajara) fourteen percent, and Zacoalco twenty-three percent, with the remainder of city-consumed maize deriving from local producers including the haciendas of Mazatepec and Santa Ana Acatlán with eleven percent between them. Of some 30,000 fanegas of privately owned grain entering the city in 1812, nineteen percent originated in the Altos, four percent in the Bajío, and the rest locally. By 1817 Tepatitlán and Arandas together accounted for forty–two percent of total grain shipments (including both private and pósito consignments), and in 1819 Arandas, Teocaltiche, and Tepatitlán, with dribbles from other Altos towns, accounted for thirty–four percent of all maize introduced into the city.63 Although the share of the Altos seems to have declined slightly in 1820, it still approximated twenty-five percent. This is not to say that maize production remained stagnant or totally fixed in quantity in the traditional supplying areas. The area of Zacoalco, for example, doubled its absolute contribution to the city’s supply of maize between 1812 and 1817 and again between 1817 and 1819. But most of the additional demand for the staple grain of the city’s diet was met by shipments from the Altos.

In the case of shorter-term movements, maize entries into Guadalajara demonstrated a marked seasonality. Behind short-term cycles lay seasonal variations in the price of maize sold in the city, in the share of large and small producers in the urban market, and in Indian supply of grain to the city. The harvest year was of course not coterminous with the calendar year since maize was harvested generally during November and began to flow into the city in the following month. The inflow of grain tended to be strong (depending on the nature of the harvest) through March, then to decline steadily to its nadir in June. The entries picked up again for the months July to October as previously purchased pósito stocks began coming into the city in large quantities and as larger producers sought to reap the advantage of the higher prices which prevailed toward the end of the harvest year. The yearly cycle is illustrated by figure 4 which presents an average based on data for twenty-seven years between 1753 and 1818. In gross terms, the yearly movement of maize prices within the city was the inverse of the supply pattem, as might be expected. Prices tended to peak about the middle of the year or slightly thereafter.

Linked to the seasonal movement in the quantity and price of maize was the market position of small versus large producers. Strong evidence indicates that smaller producers of maize flooded the urban market with their salable surpluses in the months immediately after the harvest, but that larger producers took over an increasing share of the market as maize became scarcer and prices rose later in the year.64 Smaller grain producers were under considerable pressure to sell their surpluses as quickly as possible for two reasons. First, they generally lacked the storage facilities to keep any significant amount of maize protected from the weather for very long. Second, and more importantly, small agriculturalists needed the cash which they could realize through the sale of their grain immediately after the harvest and could ill afford to hold back their maize from the market until the price rose later in the year. Indians needed to pay their tributes in cash, renters needed to pay their rents, local merchants required the payment of debts contracted during the preharvest period of dearth, and often seed, tools, and dry goods had to be purchased for the coming year. Small producers thus typically lacked the capital or credit to await the higher prices which almost inevitably came with the advancement of the year.

Larger producers, on the other hand, possessed ample storage facilities and generally had sufficient capital of their own or access to credit to allow them to wait out the period of low prices which accompanied the flood of grain into the city after the harvest. Thus the share of large producers in the market increased from just over ten percent in December and January of a typical year to about thirty-three percent of the total maize shipped into the city in the late summer and early fall. Their large share of the total in the months July through October is primarily explained by the fact that most pósito purchases were made from large producers. The overall share of large producers actually increased from the 1750s to the 1770s. Several times in the late 1760s, the share of large producers exceeded fifty percent in some months, and scattered evidence indicates that this trend continued through the latter part of the century. In addition to the seasonal pattern of maize introductions themselves, the variations in price quotations suggest the tendency of larger producers to speculate in the maize trade. Very often (and particularly in the case of Indians selling their own maize in the alhóndiga) smaller consignments of grain had lower prices set on them. Sometimes this difference amounted only to a real or so per fanega, but larger producers definitely tended to peg their selling prices higher than their smaller competitors.

An even more marked seasonal variation characterized Indian maize introductions than those of small producers in general. The profile of Indian participation in the urban maize market presented in figure 5 is substantially accurate for the 1750s, 1760s, 1770s, and 1780s when it quite consistently amounted to about twenty-five percent of the total on a yearly basis. The share of urban maize supply reserved to Indian producers may have been even higher earlier in the century. The yearly pattern of Indian maize shipments into the city was governed by the same rhythms of rural life—the harvest and the need for cash early in the year—as that of other small producers. But long-term forces at work in the rural economy during the last years of the eighteenth century substantially reduced the Indian share in this grain trade to the point that after the turn of the century Indians had almost dropped out of the Guadalajara market. The evidence for this is scattered, but its import is clear enough. For most of the years from the 1750s through the 1770s, the Indian share of introductions stood at about twenty-five percent of total transactions, but was very consistently about half that amount by weight. In other words, when Indians accounted for seventeen percent of all introductions into the city granary in the year 1765, they brought in only about nine percent of the total maize by weight.

By the early 1780s, a certain weakening in the market position of the Indian producer was already in evidence. The Indian share of total introductions dropped to five percent in 1782, recovered somewhat in the next two years, and dropped back to nine percent in 1785, largely due to the failure of the maize harvest at the end of that year. Data for the following years on this point are lacking, but a reliable figure for the year 1808 is one percent, and for 1812 less than one percent. There is no reason to believe that during these years most Indian producers would have ceased to take advantage of the exemption from taxes on the introduction of their grain into the city. In fact, the “Reglamento para el mejor gobierno de la alhóndiga” of 1810 specifically continued and reinforced the old practice of the exemption of Indian-produced maize.65 It must therefore be concluded that the figures represent a real drop in Indian market participation. Up to the 1780s, the Indian economy apparently produced a surplus of maize which was available for consumption in Guadalajara. With the continued growth of Indian rural population and the increased competition for agricultural land between Indians and others, the production of the Indian sector came to be needed there for local consumption and seldom reached the city. With the curtailment of their productive capacity for the urban market, Indians reentered the money economy largely as sellers of labor or of labor intensive agricultural products.

The persistent and rather elaborate attempts of the municipal government to regulate the grain trade, in the form of the alhóndiga for maize and the calicata for wheat, were essentially passive. That is to say, they sought to impose some order on the play of market forces, but strictly within the limits set by the already existing system in which decisions about production, prices, and sales were in the hands of private individuals. The existence and legitimacy of these regulatory institutions were accepted from very early in the history of the city, and they were adjusted after the middle of the eighteenth century to accommodate the growth of urban demand. There were other, more aggressive means, however, by which the municipal and royal governments tried to insure Guadalajara’s food supply. The chief among these was the pósito, through which the city government itself actively participated in the provision of maize, the vital staple, to the city’s population. This institutional arrangement was also present from a very early period, but it took a quantum jump in importance during the last third of the eighteenth century, in the period when Guadalajara’s increased population put new strains on the traditional structure of supply. In addition to the growing importance of the pósito, the efforts of the cabildo to insure the city’s food supply relied upon a number of ad hoc measures taken in times of scarcity. Such expedients included interdictions against the export of grain from New Galicia, the seizure of private hoards of grain, and the forced sale of privately owned maize and wheat in the city.

The primary avowed purpose of the pósito of Guadalajara was to guarantee the city’s maize supply through the manipulation of prices. This was to be achieved not through direct price setting by the municipal or royal government, but by the sale of grain within the city at prices which would encourage the introduction of stored maize by private individuals. A secondary function was to supply urban consumers directly while awaiting an adequate volume of private maize and to smooth out the seasonal variations in supply which occurred even in good harvest years. As in the cases of the meat monopoly and the wheat trade, however, the attempts of the city government to realize these ostensible goals exposed contradictions inherent in the fundamental opposition between the interests of private agriculturists and those of the consuming public.

Before 1770, the pósito very rarely sought to purposely undersell private suppliers in the alhóndiga if the amount of maize available from the private sector was thought to be sufficient for the needs of the city, even if the price was high. The municipal government was not perfectly consistent in this policy, especially around mid-century, but after 1770 there is no evidence that the cabildo or the royal government seriously tried to lower urban maize prices in this manner. To do so would have been in keeping with the increasingly common moral condemnation of excessive profit-taking in the late colonial period, but inconsistent with the ideal of homeostasis to which the pósito administration was committed out of practical necessity. Those in authority generally acknowledged that in times of scarcity it was proper that prices rise.66 Indeed, the pósito relied upon this very mechanism to fulfill its function of spurring the flow of privately owned grain into the city.67

Yet the legitimacy of profiting from scarcity was under attack in the last decades of the eighteenth century, particularly after the abysmal year of 1785—1786, and speculation began to be roundly condemned by officials at all levels of government. Certainly the political instability which appeared to be endemic in the world at the time played its part in persuading officials that public unrest, even in the form of grain riots, must be forestalled at all costs. Then, too, the reasons for the rising prices of the last years of the century were imperfectly understood by those making policy. Despite the obviously expanding orbit of the urban market represented by Guadalajara and the equally obvious increase in rural and urban population, most city and royal officials acted as if they believed the grain supply to be perfectly elastic and infinitely expansible. The corollary of this assumption was that the price rise which began in earnest after about 1780 was the result of conscious decision-making by large landowners. This, in fact, was only part of a more complex situation. Nonetheless, the city’s pósito policy reflects an increasing concern that urban consumers, particularly the poor, were being gouged by large-scale sellers of grain.68

Under such pressures what had formerly been the lesser purpose of the pósito, to directly supply the city with maize, became in the last decades of the colonial era its primary purpose. Up until about 1780, when its regulatory function had been dominant, the pósito was simply an appanage of the alhóndiga. That the tail had begun to wag the dog after that date is obvious. By 1810 the alhóndiga regulations referred to the pósito, rather than the private sales sector, as the “principal and essential part” of the urban maize market.69 This shift in the role of the pósito from regulatory agency to major supplier of Guadalajara in most years is very evident when one looks at figure 3. The city’s available local supply of maize was becoming ever more finely tuned to its consumption needs, leaving less and less margin as population grew during the late colonial period. In the view of the municipal and royal governments, at least, this necessitated a more aggressive procurement policy on the part of the city, and the pósito naturally filled this vacuum. The signs of recovery in private maize entries after 1815 probably reflect the city’s increased dependence upon the more distant Altos area, as well as good harvests. Furthermore, the wholesaling trend in pósito supply is already quite clear by the 1760s. Entries into the alhóndiga specifically earmarked for the pósito account were generally much larger on the average than entries of privately owned grain and were concentrated at those times of the year when private maize introductions were at their weakest. By 1800, procurement for the pósito had become concentrated within a very restricted group of large producers.

That the grain supply of colonial cities and towns was prey to the speculative manipulations of large agricultural producers emerges clearly from eighteenth-century documents and was a matter of much concern at the time.70 Large grain producers held their grain off the market until prices had risen during the normal course of the harvest year. Alternatively, they could hope for conditions of scarcity resulting from a poor crop which might push prices up even beyond the peaks associated with ordinary yearly fluctuations. It is arguable that such profit-maximizing behavior was essential in an agricultural economy characterized by a backward technology, exiguous surpluses, and precarious profitability. In any case, such a policy was universally practiced by hacendados of the period, and was even considered legitimate as long as it remained within reasonable limits.

The distinction between such large producers and the small producers who found themselves at a competitive disadvantage in terms of the urban market was clearly made by the oidor fiscal of the Guadalajara audiencia in 1799:

Farmers may be reduced to two classes: some sow considerable quantities, from which they not only supply their annual cash expenses, but also, from the sale of large surpluses, increase their fortunes; and others sow small quantities in proportion to their very limited resources without having any other property, business, or means with which to support their families and provide them with other necessities. From their limited sales they supply themselves with the indispensable food, shelter, rents, and clothing which very often they would lack, thus subjecting themselves to further hardship, if they held back the harvesting of their small crops.71

The group of large producers, on the other hand, did not need to rush their grain into the city immediately after the harvest. Because of the greater variety of their production and their substantial capital, they generally harvested their maize bien sasonado, retaining it even for years at a time in their granaries to sell when maize was at its most scarce and prices at their highest, or sending it outside the area to places where prices were even more favorable. In fact, the evidence demonstrates the existence of both these practices—the stockpiling of private grain for sale during times of scarcity and the sale of grain and other foodstuffs outside the immediate area of production. Both practices were to play a part in aggravating the famine of 1785-1786.


The three case studies on the problems of urban food supply in a late colonial city lead to several conclusions regarding the nature of the urban market itself and the integration of city and hinterland. The most obvious point to be grasped is the very substantial absolute increase in the demand for basic foodstuffs in Guadalajara, especially in the latter part of the eighteenth century. The growth of urban demand thus constituted a major growth pole in the regional economy to which the agricultural sector was able to respond more or less successfully. Another important point to be kept in mind, however, is that the response of the agricultural sector, organized to a great extent on the basis of large production units, was facilitated by quantitative changes in production, not qualitative ones. The food supply of the city, based upon an agriculture of low productivity and technical backwardness, remained essentially very precarious and exposed to the forces of nature. Partially this was a result of economic decisions by large producers seeking to maximize their profits, but it was primarily due to the inherent conditions of the economic and natural environment. If this vulnerability was true of the supply of meat and grain, it was equally true of the structure of urban demand itself. A quite notable characteristic of that demand was the income specificity of urban consumption which introduced a certain rigidity into the possibilities for supplying the urban market. While these conclusions are hardly surprising, they do confirm the view of Latin American cities as sources of dynamism within the economy, yet themselves perched precariously on the edge of the Malthusian abyss.72

In terms of agricultural production and commercialization, three major aspects emerge from the data presented here: institutional, geographical, and productive. In the institutional sphere, the preoccupation of the city and royal governments with insuring the city’s food supply was already in evidence by mid-century. Yet the theoretically strong interventionism on the part of the local and royal authorities resulted in actual policies which had a distinctly ad hoc quality. Conflicts of interest between producers and makers of urban policy, often the same people, who ostensibly defended the interests of urban consumers, lent the process of policy formation and enactment a marked schizophrenia. The geographical part of the picture was the very notable increase in the size of Guadalajara’s area of primary supply during the last century of colonial rule. The expansion in the size of the city’s food-shed laid the bases for a concomitantly expanded regional integration. Lines of credit, capital, and human movement followed those of the foodstuffs flowing into the regional metropolis.

The structure of agricultural production was profoundly affected by the growth of the urban market represented by Guadalajara. The equilibrium in the demand for the three major commercialized products —beef, maize, and wheat—shifted dramatically in favor of the cereals. This shift in turn implied altered production arrangements in the countryside, a more intensive use of the existing resources of land, labor, and capital. The production of livestock became somewhat less concentrated than it had been in the early eighteenth century while the production of both maize and wheat, but especially the latter, became more concentrated. The comparative facility with which the agricultural system adjusted to the growth of the regional market, even if that adjustment was for many reasons an imperfect one, suggests that large landowners thought seriously about agriculture as a source of profit in the late colonial period and rationalized their operations accordingly.

Such a conclusion would hardly be surprising were we discussing Mexico City or the mining centers of the near north of Mexico, but it does put the role of provincial cities in a clearer perspective. The case of Guadalajara and its hinterland suggests that the integration of a city or town with its region in the colonial period was not an anomaly to be explained away by the specialized function of the city in question, but was rather to be expected, in varying degrees, because of the nature of cities per se. This underscores the vital role of urban concentrations in the overall development of Latin America, and in particular as points of economic crystallization in the countryside.


A relatively early example of such entrepreneurial history is Richard Pares’ study of the Pinney family’s sugar plantation on Nevis, A West-lndia Fortune (London, 1950). More recent studies are those of Ward J. Barrett, The Sugar Hacienda of the Marqueses del Valle (Minneapolis, 1970) and Charles H. Harris A Mexican Family Empire: The Latifundio of the Sánchez Navarros, 1765-1867 (Austin, 1975), both on Mexico.


For example, Arnold J. Bauer, Chilean Rural Society from the Spanish Conquest to 1930 (Cambridge, 1975) and Marcelo Carmagnani, Les mecanismes de la vie économique dans une société coloniale: le Chili, 1680-1830 (Paris, 1973), both on Chile; and Jean Piel, Capitalisme agraire au Pérou, 2 vols. (Paris, 1975), on Peru. For a theoretical treatment of the role of markets as a variable in the development of the Latin American great estate, see the article of Eric R. Wolf and Sidney W. Mintz, “Haciendas and Plantations in Middle America and the Antilles,” Social and Economic Studies, 6 (Sept. 1957), 380-412.


Mexico has proved to be a particularly rich field of inquiry for regional studies. Among recent works, for example, are William B. Taylor, Landlord and Peasant in Colonial Oaxaca (Stanford, 1972); Ramón María Serrera Contreras, Guadalajara ganadera: Estudio regional novohispano, 1760—1805 (Seville, 1977), dealing with the region discussed in this article; Ida Altman and James Lockhart, eds., Provinces of Early Mexico: Variants of Spanish American Regional Evolution (Los Angeles, 1976), mostly a sampling of dissertations on Mexican regional history; and David Brading’s recent study, Haciendas and Ranchos in the Mexican Bajío: León, 1700-1860 (Cambridge, 1978). For an interesting and very heterogeneous collection of studies on Latin America as a whole, see the volume edited by Jorge Hardoy and Richard P. Schaedel, Las ciudades de América Latina y sus areas de influencia a través de la historia (Buenos Aires, 1975).


See Van Young, “Rural Life in Eighteenth-Century Mexico: The Guadalajara Region, 1675-1820” (Ph.D. Diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1978).


On the population and the evolution of administrative entities, see Alexander von Humboldt, Ensayo político sobre el Reyno de Nueva España, ed. by Juan A. Ortega y Medina (México, 1966), pp. 99-106; Edmundo O’Gorman, Historia de las divisiones territoriales de México, 4th ed. rev. (México, 1968), pp. 1–29; and Serrera Contreras, ’’Estado económico de la Intendencia de Guadalajara a principios del siglo XIX,” Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Centro Regional de Occidente, Lecturas históricas sobre Jalisco antes de la independencia (Guadalajara, 1976), pp. 200-201.


Richard Lindley, “Kinship and Credit in the Structure of Guadalajara’s Oligarchy, 1800-1830” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Texas, Austin, 1976), passim.


J. H. Parry, The Audiencia of New Galicia in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, 1948), p. 83.


Alonso de la Mota y Escobar, Descripción geográfica de los Reynos de Nueva Galicia, Nueva Vizcaya y Nuevo León (Guadalajara, 1966), p. 25; Domingo Lázaro de Arregui, Descripción de la Nueva Galicia, ed. by François Chevalier (Seville, 1946), pp. 66-67.


Archivo Histórico Municipal de Guadalajara, Guadalajara (hereafter cited as AHMG), caja 15, 1793 (summary of census data). More precise citation of materials in the AHMG is generally impossible owing to the disordered state of the early documentation.


Jean-Pierre Berthe, “Introduction a l’histoire de Guadalajara et de sa région” in Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Villes et régions en Amérique Latine (Paris, 1970), p. 73.


For the world in general, but particularly for Europe, see E. A. Wrigley, Population and History (New York, 1969), chapters 5 and 6; T. H. Hollingsworth, Historical Demography (Ithaca, 1969), passim; and B. H. Slicher van Bath, The Agrarian History of Western Europe, A.D. 500-1850 (London, 1963), pp. 77-97; for Latin America, Richard M. Morse, “Patrones de la urbanización latino-americana” in Morse, ed., Las ciudades latinoamericanas, 2 vols. (México, 1973), II, 12, and the article by Alejandra Moreno Toscano, “México,” in Morse, Las ciudades, II, 172-196; Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz, The Population of Latin America: A History (Berkeley, 1974), passim; and Jorge Hardoy, ed., Urbanization in Latin America: Approaches and Issues (Garden City, N.Y., 1975), pp. 1-32.


Mota y Escobar, Descripción geográfica, pp. 24-26; Arregui, Descripción, pp. 62-63; José Cornejo Franco, “El paseo del pendón” in Lecturas históricas sobre Jalisco, p. 141; Lindley, “Kinship and Credit,” p. 37.


Berthe, “Introduction,” p. 71.


AHMG, caja 15, 1793; Humboldt, Ensayo político, p. 38.


Ronald Abler, John S. Adams, and Peter Gould, Spatial Organization: The Geographer’s View of the World (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1971), pp. 183ff, discuss the concept of geographical region. For the notion of market area, see Brian J. L. Berry, Geography of Market Centers and Retail Distribution (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1967), pp. 15-16.


Lindley, “Kinship and Credit,” p. 75, applies similar criteria: the frequency with which residents of the region visited or lived in Guadalajara, and the frequency and volume of produce shipments by haciendas within the region.


José Vicente Negrete, Geografía del Estado de Jalisco (México, 1926), pp. 42-43, refers to the Guadalajara region as the “región media en la alta planicie de Jalisco;” Angel Bassols Battalia, in Recursos naturales: Climas, aguas, suelos, 2d ed. (México, 1969), p. 79 and La división regional económica de México (México, 1967), pp. 1–48, considers it to be a well-defined area within the major zone “centro-Occidente” of Mexico; and Héléne Riviére D’Arc, Guadalajara y su región: Influencias y dificultades de una metrópoli mexicana (México, 1973), passim, designates it as the Valley of Guadalajara, though she would extend its eastern limit as far as Pénjamo, in the Bajío.


Sherburne F. Cook, “Las migraciones en la historia de la población mexicana: Datos modelo del occidente del centro de México” in Bernardo García Martínez, ed., Historia y sociedad en el mundo de habla española: Homenaje a José Miranda (México, 1970), p. 367.


See the discussion in Lindley, “Kinship and Credit,” p. 84.


AHMG, caja 34.


For some contemporary comments on the importance of meat in the diet of Mexicans, particularly city dwellers, see Serrera Contreras, Guadalajara ganadera, p. 93, n. 45.


It is true that between 1810 and 1812 the supply of livestock, as well as grain, was vulnerable to destruction, theft, and expropriation by insurgent and royalist forces. The effects of such disruptions by military or criminal activity are difficult to gauge, however, like those of contraband trade, both because of their illicit or ad hoc nature and also because much of the documentation for these years is missing.


For a somewhat different view of the trend in livestock exports from the region, see Serrera Contreras, Guadalajara ganadera, pp. 84–93 and passim, who asserts that the livestock export trade was growing in this period. Serrera’s data do not cover a sufficiently long span of years to represent the secular trend in the stock-raising sector, though he does acknowledge an overall decline in the numbers of cattle, particularly, all over New Spain in the late colonial period. In fact, the volume of livestock exports out of the region and New Galicia as a whole appears to have been much smaller at the beginning of the nineteenth century than at the beginning of the eighteenth. Serrera would ascribe this to the overkilling of cattle herds and a racial degeneration of livestock rather than to shifts in the pattern of rural economy. For a more detailed discussion of this matter, see Van Young, “Rural Life in Eighteenth Century Mexico,” especially chapter 9.


AHMG, caja 8. This is a very rough estimate based upon an assumed total population for the city of some 20,000 people.


AHMG, caja 34, 1789.


AHMG, caja 25.


AHMG, caja 34.


AHMG, caja 24.


See AHMG, various cajas; Archivo de Instrumentos Públicos de Guadalajara, Guadalajara (hereafter cited as AIPG), various notaries public, and the Libros de Gobierno of the Audiencia of New Galicia, various volumes; Biblioteca Pública del Estado de Jalisco, Guadalajara (hereafter cited as BPE), Bienes de Difuntos, various legajos.


AHMG, caja 13.


BPE, Archivo Judicial de la Audiencia de la Nueva Galicia, 235:2:3080 (citation follows the form box number, document number within box, serial number).


For example, AHMG, caja 34, 1779.


For example, AHMG, caja 20, 1803.


Chevalier, La formation des grands domaines au Mexique, terre et société aux XVIe–XVIIe siècles (Paris, 1952), pp. 214–215.


AHMG, caja 4, 1777.


AHMG, caja 25.


See, for example, the commercial correspondence between the administrator of the Hacienda de Cuisillos and the hacienda’s factor in Tepic, 1800–1806, AHMG, caja 20.


See also AHMG, caja 3, 1760–1762.


The totals for the years 1794–1816 are derived from peso values of the taxes collected by the city on entering wheat and flour. The effect of a tax differential favoring grain and flour originating in certain areas close to the city as opposed to more distant areas has been corrected for on the basis of known proportions for several years. The general accuracy of the derived figures is confirmed by direct figures by weight for several years in the early nineteenth century.


AHMG, caja 11, exp. 2.


The high consumption of the religious establishments, if it was so high, is not easy to explain. Certainly the regular clergy ate well, but even so, the few hundred monks and nuns in the city could not have consumed so much wheat and wheaten bread. It is possible that they exercised some sort of welfare function, disposing of large quantities of bread by simply giving it away to the urban poor.


AHMG, caja 15.


At the consumption levels of 1803—some 10,000 cargas per year, with the city’s population at about 25,000—the per capita consumption of wheat would have been very roughly about 80 pounds per year. It must be borne in mind, however, that that is an average figure, and that the diet of the vast majority of the urban population was supplemented with the cheaper and more plentiful maize.


AHMG, caja 21, 1806; caja 6, 1771; caja 1, exp. 52, 1752; caja 21, 1806.


AHMG, caja 35, 1753; BPE, Archivo Judicial de la Audiencia, 203:1:2525; AHMG, caja 10, 1784; caja 31, 1791, 1818.


BPE, Archivo Judicial de la Audiencia, 203:1:2525.


AHMG, caja 27, 1814. With the exception of the Molino del Batán, all were mentioned by Matías de la Mota Padilla in his work of 1742, Historia del Reino de Nueva Galicia en la América septentrional (Guadalajara, 1973), pp. 196–197.


See, for example, the leases for the mills Las Beatas and Sierra during the eighteenth century, in AIPG, various notaries public.


BPE, Archivo Judicial de la Audiencia, 203:1:2525.


AHMG, caja 11, exp. 5, 1786; caja 24, 1810.


AHMG, caja 12.


AHMG, caja 3, 1767.


See, for example, AHMG, caja 27, 1814.


For example, AHMG, caja 21, 1804–1818.


AHMG, caja 1, 1751.


AHMG, caja 3, exp. 1.


AHMG, caja 6, 1771; caja 12, 1789; caja 21, 1804.


For example, BPE, Bienes de Difuntos, leg. 109, exp. 1, 1764, and BPE, Archivo Judicial de la Audiencia, 138:9:1489.


AHMG, caja 20.


The discrepancy between population growth and food supply was partially made up by the increased consumption of wheat in the city.


Though in several years there were large residual stocks of pósito maize from the previous year (particularly 1803 and 1810), the figures for pósito entries are quite close to those for actual sales. As to the possibility of a contraband trade in maize, even more than in the case of meat it seems unlikely to have played any major role because of the bulkiness of maize in comparison to its commercial value, though a statistical approximation is impossible.


AHMG, cajas 14 and 15, 1782, 1783, 1784.


AHMG, caja 24.


See Enrique Florescano, Precios del maíz y crísis agrícolas en México, 1708–1810 (México, 1969), and the same author’s Estructuras y problemas agrarios de México, 1500—1821 (México, 1971).


AHMG, caja 24.


AHMG, caja 11, 1786.


AHMG, caja 11, 1787; caja 23, 1807; caja 24, 1810: alhóndiga statute, paragraph 13.


AHMG, caja 11, 1787.


AHMG, caja 24, 1810.


For a general discussion of this phenomenon in eighteenth-century Mexico, see Florescano, Precios del maíz and Estructuras, passim, and for the Valley of Mexico, Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810 (Stanford, 1964), pp. 324-327.


AHMG, caja 19, 1799. This constitutes a quite explicit distinction between capitalist farmers and peasants; see Eric R. Wolf, Peasants (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1966), passim.


For a recent perceptive review of some of the major historical issues concerning the role of cities in preindustrial societies, see E. A. Wrigley, “Parasite or Stimulus: The Town in a Pre-industrial Economy” in Philip Abrams and E. A. Wrigley, eds., Towns in Societies: Essays in Economic History and Historical Sociology (Cambridge, 1978), pp. 295-310.

Author notes


The author is Research Fellow at the Center for Latin American Studies, University of California, Berkeley.