Lot 49 of 96:
Letter on Jesuit expulsion from California 1768  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$3,250
Estimate:
$4,000 - $6,000

Title:
Letter from the Bishop of Guadalajara to Charles III of Spain on the expulsion of the Jesuits, the 1767 Revolt and the evangelization of northwest Mexico and California

Author:
Rodríguez de Rivas y Velasco, Diego

Place:
Guadalajara, Mexico

Publisher:

Date:
c.1768

Description:

[20] pp. on five 4-page conjugate folios numbered 13 through 17 (lacking sheets 1 through 12 and at least one concluding sheet). Ink manuscript. 30.3x21 cm (12x8¼"), unbound, in custom cloth & boards folder.

Rare and significant unpublished manuscript letter from the bishop of Guadalajara setting out his views on the evangelization of the northwest of New Spain, particularly California, following the expulsion of the Jesuits and the 1767 Revolt. While incomplete, it is extensive and remarkably detailed. Diego Rodríguez de Rivas y Velasco (1707–70), bishop of Guadalajara from 1762 to 1770, describes to Charles III of Spain the vacuum left by the expulsion of the Jesuits and his efforts to fill it following accusations from the local secular authorities – allies of the aggressively reformist José de Gálvez, the inspector general of New Spain, and the viceroy marquis de la Croix to both of whom Rodríguez de Rivas was bitterly opposed – that he had been unhelpful in this respect. The bishop also took the opportunity, based on his extensive experience with missions and evangelization, to set out his vision, in great detail, for the manner in which the Christianization of the northwest of New Spain, including California, was to be achieved. Curiously, this is largely the method that was followed in ensuing decades – the height of Spanish missionary efforts in California – once Gálvez became minister of the Indies.

Rodríguez de Rivas had been against the expulsion of the Jesuits and the violent measures taken to suppress the protests, known as the 1767 Revolt, that subsequently erupted throughout Mexico. This opposition had put him at odds with Gálvez, Croix and various colonial authorities in Guadalajara and, in this letter, he complains of his ill-treatment at their hands. He also accuses them of exaggerating the recent disturbances and of attempting to provoke the local population into revolt.
 
Gálvez, taking command of a small army of 600 men, had crushed the revolt harshly, setting up criminal courts and dealing out summary justice. ‘Those involved in the 1767 revolts suffered execution, whippings and amputations in “uniquely cruel” style and on an unprecedented scale. The old give-and-take of Habsburg rule – the necessary corollary of its modest repressive capacity – faded into the past; “delicate divide-and-rule” policies gave way to exemplary, root-and-branch repression. The mediating role of the parish priest declined, as civilian (and military) officials usurped the role once dominated by the local clergy, who now found themselves caught between querulous parishioners and unsympathetic bureaucrats’ (Alan Knight, Mexico: The colonial era, CUP, 2002, p. 240).
 
Rodríguez de Rivas’ opposition to this situation grew to the extent that in 1769 he asked permission either to be allowed to return to Spain in order to explain the situation to the king directly or for the king to accept his resignation. In the end, however, Rodríguez de Rivas died the following year in Guadalajara before receiving an answer.
 

Lot Amendments

Condition:
Incomplete as noted, and the surviving sheets all torn and lacking portions of text.


 
Item number:
343857
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