Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts Company
Manuscript on paper in Nahautl and Spanish. Tehuacán, 1624. Bookseller's description: "Soon after the completion of the conquest of Mexico, the native populations learned the importance of Spanish law and quickly learned to use it to their advantage as much as the system would allow. In this legal proceeding the Nahuatl-speaking citizens of the towns of Coculco and Tempatetetzintla seek redress via the courts for actions of a Spanish neighbor named Antonio de Padilla who lived in the neighboring area of Tehucán in Central Mexico. The man from whom Padilla purchased his land had settled a case out of court with the indigenous townspeople herein for the sum of 100 pesos and an agreement to cede some of his land to them. Padilla, however, respected neither the [indigenous peoples] nor the legal process; he continued to plant both on the ceded lands and to plant on land that the [indigenous peoples] alleged was always theirs, while deforesting some other of their land and also denying them their longheld access to water, including use of an irrigation canal that had been created by the [indigenous peoples] themselves with great difficulty. In a region with little water, water rights were extremely important. Three officials from the affected towns brought this lawsuit against Padilla in 1624. The testimony gathered by the plaintiffs, in both Spanish and Nahuatl, is presented in 18 documents (most in Spanish translation via a bilingual court official), and they convinced the contador of Tehuacán, who served as judge, to rule in favor of the [indigenous peoples]."