Lot 97 of 221:
Philip IV writes his Viceroy in New Spain 1651-1653  

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Archive of 26 manuscript letters signed by King Philip IV of Spain, to Luis Enríquez de Guzmán, 9th Count of Alba de Liste, his Viceroy in New Spain, written from February 1651 to February 1653

Philip IV, King of Spain

Madrid, Spain




26 manuscript letters, signed by King Philip IV of Spain, “Yo El Rey” (I am the King).  On 4-page folios of Sello Quarto (sealed paper), except 4 are on plain paper. Approx. 30.5x21.5 cm (12x8½”), in early 20th century folder lettered in gilt “Twenty Six Letters from Philip IV to Conde de Alba His Viceroy in New Spain.”

Rare and significant archive of letters from the King of Spain to his representative in New Spain, now Mexico, with instructions for governing, with particular attention paid to reforming the colony’s treasury and tax collection, to maintain a better stream of revenue back to Spain. The necessity of maintaining the revenues from the New World was of particular importance during this stage of the Spanish Empire, as the Thirty Years War and ongoing domestic turmoil were putting pressure on the financial stability of the realm, and foreshadowing the slow but steady decline in the fortunes of Spain. The letters reveal the detail-oriented management that Philip tried to exert over his American dominions, and the difficulty considering the time and distance affecting communication. Luis Enriquez de Guzman,  IX Conde de Alba de Aliste, to whom the letters are addressed, was appointed Viceroy of New Spain in May of 1649, assuming office on June 28, 1650 and serving until August 15, 1653. He was later to serve as Viceroy of Peru. During his tenure in New Spain, he is credited with stabilization of the hacienda real (i.e.  the royal estate and its financial liquidity) of the colony due in part to the mining boom in Mexico. This is reflected in the letters by the many references to the silver shipments being made to Spain. There is also mention in the letters to auditing the finances, in an effort to curb graft and corruption (one solution was to ban auditors from contracting marriages with daughters or relatives of officers of the Royal Treasury).  Other details include the setting aside a portion of the overall revenue to help maintain the Almaden quicksilver mine in Spain, so a supply of the necessary ingredient in refining silver would always be available for shipment to the New World; asking for an investigation of friars in the province of Mechoacan, where there was dissension; the sale of various bureaucratic offices to raise money; payroll moneys sent to  the Philippines, religious matters, coinage, smuggling out of silver, and more. Also, an announcement of the birth of Infanta María Margarita, dated 8 August 1651. The letters have not been fully translated, but there is a handwritten summary list, prepared evidently by Goodspeed’s Book Store where the archive was purchased, it is believed in the 1920s or 1930s. A typed transcript of this list is available. Provenance: Edward Hohfeld/Jane Hohfeld Galante.

Summary of Letters from Philip IV to his Viceroy in New Spain

1. Informs of arrival of fleet with silver send by Viceroy and gives instructions to collect all moneys due the Royal Treasury and to send by two vessels to Havana, there to await a convoy of galleons. 11 February 1651.

2. Asks for report on violations of decree forbidding auditors of the Exchequer from contracting marriages with daughters or relatives of officers of the Royal Treasury, or of the latter with daughters &c. of auditors. 25 February 1651.

3. Requires senior auditor of the Exchequer to be present whenever moneys are paid into the Treasury or paid out of it. This was to have some check on speculators who bought up orders on the Treasury from persons needing money without delay. 8 May 1651

4. Refers to No. 1. Officer who was to command the two vessels left without proper papers. 22 June 1651.

5. Asks Viceroy to investigate present state of affairs among friars of the order of St. Augustine in the province of Mechoacan where there had been some dissension. 29 June 1651.

6. Countermands appointment of D. Juan de Erenchun to be superintendent and chaplain of the College of San Juan de Latrán in Mexico City. 2 July 1651.

7. Announces birth of Infanta María Margarita. 8 August 1651.

8. Orders 25 million maravedis in silver to be set aside in each yearly shipment for upkeep and improvement of Almaden quicksilver mine, so that there will always be a supply of quicksilver to ship to America to for use in the silver mines.  23 November 1651.

9. Answers regarding petition of D. Antonio Urrutia de Bergara for disposal of his officers. 23 November 1651.

10. Orders sale to highest bidder of office of regidor and trustee of Puebla de los Angeles, which office has been held by D. Juan de Carmona for ten years, although the Council of the Indies has never approved sale to him for 4000 pesos. 12 February 1652.

11. Refers to No. 1. Silver collected for quicksilver mine to be at the rate of 15,000 maravedis of silver per quintal. 12 February 1652.

12. Orders D. Juan Manjarres, judge of the Royal Court at Guatemala City back to his post. He had come to Mexico to audit accounts and report on administration of the Duque de Escalona, but had been challenged and another appointed in his place. 11 March 1652.

13. If D. Juan Manjarres is still in Mexico and has not left yet to take up judgeship in Guatemala, give him one month’s notice. At the end of that time, if he is not at his post, it will be declared vacant. It is highly important that court officials be present at their courts for the best and briefest dispatch of business. 12 July 1652.

14. Don Pedro de Galvez, royal inspector, has reported that the Viceroy has worked in harmony with him. Charges Viceroy to continue to help him in every way in the performance of his duties. 22 July 1652.

15. Acknowledges arrival of treasure and reports and compliments Viceroy on his performance of duty. Complains that private individuals have not been registering enough silver and urges Viceroy to encourage merchants to declare their silver. Although expense of fleets is great, has ordered only 12% tax on silver shipments for protections tax (averías). Comments on payroll moneys sent to Philippines, religious matters, coinage, smuggling out of silver, &c. 15 August 1652.

16. Same as 14. 22 August 1652.

17. Acknowledges report of Viceroy on seizures in Vera Cruz of some 13,000 pesos in silver. 22 August 1652.

18. Don’t allow courts to hold up sale of benefices in the administration of the Crusade bull. 22 August 1652.

19. Approves confiscation (and not simply fines) of 103,800 pesos in unquinted  silver seized and rewards criminal judge of tribunal of Mexico City with 4000 ducats for his part in seizure, confiscation and reward both to serve as stimulus to payment and collection of taxes. 30 August 1652.

20. Orders Viceroy to reprimand General Deputy for the Indies of the Order of St. Francis for having disregarded King’s decrees in disposing of case arising from sending of certain friars to the Philippines. 30 August 1652.

21. Viceroy must send larger amounts to meet payroll requirements in Philippines. Important for conservation of islands that people there get their money. 14 September 1652.

22. Asks for report on progress of building of cathedral churches in Mexico City, Puebla, Mechoacan, Oaxaca, Yucatan. Wants the finished as soon as possible, they being so necessary for public worship. 20 November 1652.

23. Wants coming meeting of Order of St. Augustine to be held quietly and without disorder that arose once before due to factions among the friars. 30 December 1652.

24. Income from encomienda formerly paid to Doña Josefa Bazan y Castro is to go into Royal Treasury of Mexico henceforth, as she is now receiving an equivalent sum in the Kingdom of Naples. 30 December 1652.

25. The Inquisition since 1570 has been borrowing money for salaries, &c. from the Royal Treasury, and owes now more than 550,000 pesos. This money was to be paid back out of confiscations, fines, penalties, &c. when they should be sufficient. In the last two years, large sums have been paid in to the Inquisitions coffers. Wants them to pay what they owe. Asks Viceroy to investigate and obtain an accounting. 1 February 1653.

26. Informs Viceroy that fleet will leave Spain in February and must return the same year due to great need. Have silver and merchandise ready at Vera Cruz so there will be no delay. 12 February 1653.

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Just modest wear, very good or better condition.

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