Fundo Legal

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Fundo Legal

Fundo Legal, a minimum endowment of corporate lands for indigenous communities of Latin America from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries officially recognized to ensure their survival and viability as sources of agricultural goods and human labor. The sizes of central area pueblos were subject to legal guidelines. In 1567 the area of a fundo was 500 varas (1,375 feet) in each cardinal direction; in 1687, 600 varas from the last house in town; and in 1695, 600 varas from the parish church. Other factors in fundo size were the availability of resources and the density of population. The larger allotment seems to have overlapped with the concept of the Ejido (commons), better known today yet fairly rare in many colonial indigenous towns, at least in central New Spain.

See alsoAyllu; Encomienda; Hacienda; Repartimiento.


The legal endowment (not given the name fundo legal until the late eighteenth century) is best studied in Mexico. Stephanie Wood critiques old assumptions about the allotment in "The Fundo Legal or Lands Por Razón de Pueblo: New Evidence from Central New Spain," in The Indian Community of Colonial Mexico, edited by Arij Ouwensel and Simon Miller (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, and Miguel León Portilla, Ordenazas de tema indígena en castellano y náhuatl (2003).

                                    Stephanie Wood