PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]

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Lot 55
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE. 1600-1659.
[Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]

US$ 80,000 - 120,000
£ 57,000 - 85,000

Fine Books and Manuscripts

17 Jun 2021, 13:00 EDT

New York

Americana
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE. 1600-1659.
[Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
8vo. (206 x 148 mm) 93 pages. A-F8, with F8? transposed to front (see below), without title-page as issued, including the three cancel leaves specified by Church and cancel C4, tipped in on the stub of the original leaf, inserted modern leaf with stenciled title. Watermarks and chain-lines match those in the Irwin copy, purchased by the Morgan Library in 1900: cross inscribed in a circle, two circles. Early 20th century red morocco gilt, spine in six compartments elaborately gilt, inner dentelles gilt, stamp signed Lortic Fils.

Provenance: Contemporary inscription on upper margin: "dio me lo el Santo Obispo de la Puebla" ("given to me by the holy bishop of Puebla" on blank F7? rebound to front of book); author's name Palafox written below printed "El Obispo de la Puebla de los Angeles" in a contemporary or near-contemporary hand, as seen in other copies (on final leaf); Vicente Salva y Perez (1780-1849), who formed one of the greatest 19th-century collections of Spanish books (4070 titles), and whose posthumously published catalogue by his son Pedro Salva y Mallen (1872) set new standards in Spanish bibliography, and is still cited for its outstanding number of rareties; purchased en bloc by Ricardo Heredia, Conde de Benavis, and, much enlarged, sold at auction in Paris 1891-94; Sotheby's London 3 May, 1971, lot 137; Voyages, Decouvertes, Luttes, et Conquetes des Européens dans le nouveau monde ... Ancienne collection J. Ferreira Das Neves, June 24, 1976. Pierre Beres Expert. Laurin, Guilloux, Buffet and, Tailleur, commissaires-prieurs number 202; by decent to the present owner.

FIRST EDITION, exceedingly scarce, clandestinely published memorial addressed to King Phillip IV by Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, bishop of Puebla (1639-49), the largest diocese in New Spain, in defense of the Indians against unlawful cruelties, slanders and misrepresentations perpetrated against them by colonial Spaniards. For this defense, in part humanitarian, in part pragmatic, Palafox has been widely hailed as "a second Las Casas" (Church 503). Almost certainly the scarcest book of importance on the market concerning colonial Mexico, and not present in numerous prestigious institutional collections.

"Las Casas found a worthy successor, in his advocacy of the rights of the native Indians, in Palafox, Bishop of Puebla, the writer of the present work; which is a memorial to the king respecting the virtues of the Indians, and was probably printed for the use of the King and Council of the Indies, as it is written without date, place of printing, name of printer, or any of the usual privileges." — Church 503.

Palafox' case harkens back to the human dignity of the Indians espoused by his Dominican predecessor Las Casas as well as the early Franciscan missionaries, but the practical exigencies of colonial rule, if not abstract theology, led him to part company by endorsing the Spanish Crown's rationale for its colonization of New Spain, namely, evangelization. In recompense for this invaluable gift bestowed by the Spaniards upon the Indians— conversion to Christianity—, the Spanish Crown was fully entitled to compel Indian labor and the privilege of levying and controlling the tithe of the richest and most profitable colony in the Hapsburg empire. "The Indians are the vassals who have cost the Crown the least, yet they are not the ones who have helped least to enrich the Crown," writes Palafox with considerable understatement. In addition to its staggering financial benefit to the Empire from the Mexican silver mines, the opportunity to spread the faith was considered providential, thus redounding not only to the Crown's financial but also as spiritual glory. As noted in the recent translation and critical study of Fee and Caneque, the work also forms an invaluable historical source for the in-fighting among the diverse interest groups responsible for the administration of the colony: Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, the Viceroy and his own administration, the official Visitor sent from Spain, and finally the official church as represented by its bishop Palafox. Recent years have seen a veritable surge in English language Palafox scholarship, which reassessment has only magnified his importance, leading the normally sober historian Jonathan Israel, to declare him "the most interesting and arguably important single figure in 17th-century Mexican history." — Race, Class and Politics, p 200.

Divided into 21 chapters, here is a summary of the grounds for which the Indians deserve the King's protection: (1) the meekness with which they accepted Christianity; (2) the fervor with which they practice the Christian religion; (3) the mildness with which they came under the King's dominion and constant fidelity (eg no costly and bloody rebellions to suppress, as in Europe); (4) their courage and vigor and the fact that their loyalty and submission is not due to oppression but to their virtue; (5) their utility to the Crown; (6) the innocence of the Indians, and their freedom from the most common and harmful vices: tyranny, ambition, envy etc.; (7) the vices they do have—sensuality, laziness and gluttony, above all a tendency to drink—can often be attributed to colonial exploitation: selling addictive alcohol at inflated prices etc.; (8) poverty; (9) patience; (10) liberality, especially in generously donating to the Church; (11) honesty; (12) frugality; (13) obedience; (14) discretion and elegance; (15) intellectual acuity and wit; (16) industry and ingenuity in the mechanical arts; (17) justice; (18) bravery; (19) humility, courtesy, silence; (20) cleanliness and peacefulness; and (21) replies to objections.

Palafox was born illegitimate to noble parents but recognized by his father, the Marquis of Ariza in 1609. This afforded him a privileged life, the opportunity for advanced study, and eventually a position at court. He was ordained as a priest in 1629, and held increasingly powerful positions as a member of the Council of the Indies. In 1640, he was ordained as Bishop of Puebla. (Concurrently, he also served as interim Archbishop of Mexico and even Viceroy, exposing him to the brutal realities of colonial politics.)
His most enduring achievement was the building and completion of the Cathedral in Puebla, the first in Mexico, built largely by Indians, which he consecrated in 1649. In 1642, he established the first printing press in Puebla, the first outside of Mexico City, and published a number of titles in his decade as Bishop, both by himself and others, and in 1646 requested permission from Philip IV to print books in his own house. During his tenure as Bishop, he brought between five and six thousand books from Europe, forming a public library which was most likely the largest in the New World; it exists to this day as the Biblioteca Palafoxiana. As bishop, Palafox adhered adamantly to post-Tridentine principles, above all claiming the highest religious authority for the bishop, and thus quarreling violently with the mendicant orders and especially the Jesuits over his proposed reforms, which would have gravely affected their entrenched material interests. It was owing to this radical reform of episcopal authority and power that he was recalled to Spain in 1649, where he briefly served on the Council of the Indies, before being dismissed in 1650. He died as bishop of Osma, an obscure if not insulting position for a man of his rank and achievement.

Printing: Since the heyday of 19th century booksellers such as Stevens (Nuggets 1862), given the clandestine nature of the book and its lack of a title page, there have been questions regarding its date and place of publication. Was it printed during Palafox's tenure as bishop (perhaps on his own printing press in Puebla?) and brought to Spain, or was it printed upon his return, most likely in Madrid? The latter certainly makes sense and forms the current state of opinion: as a summary of his experience in the New World addressed to the King and the Council of the Indies, the negative reception it received, which may have caused his dismissal from the Council—all make peninsular printing plausible. But while the burden of proof is certainly on those who would advocate a New World printing, the question remains open. While the work's circulation in Spain was closely guarded until the publication of Palafox' collected works, excerpts were included in Melchior Thevenot's Recueil de Voyages (1650-92), the first French travel anthology, which received wide circulation throughout Europe in three editions. Further, these texts entered the English speaking world by means of a review in the Philosophical Transactions (1672) and by Thevenot personally distributing fascicles of the text to well-placed English erudits (Robert Boyle).
Census: while the book is held by important U.S. Americana collections, it is NOT held by Yale, Bell, Berkeley or, the Hispanic Society of America. Its scarcity on the market can be attributed to the alleged small number of copies printed for its limited circulation; a majority of American copies were acquired or donated early, in the heyday of Americana collecting. Rare Book Hub lists two copies at auction since 1925: the present copy, and another sold at Sotheby's London 1947.

References: Church 503; Alden/Landis EA II.650/161, p. 521; JCB (3) II.399; Sabin 58307; Medina (BHA) 7680; Streit II.1837; Palau 209,711; Fee, Nancy H., ed/tr. & Caneque, Alejandro, Palafox y Mendoza, Juan de; Virtues of the Indians (2009).

Contacts
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
PALAFOX Y MENDOXA, JUAN DE.  1600-1659.  [Virtudes del Indio....] N.p. (but Madrid?): 1650/51?]
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