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Marquesado del Valle de Oaxaca

Marquesado del Valle de Oaxaca

Marquesado del Valle de Oaxaca, the vast estate encompassing 23,000 indigenous vassals granted by the crown to Hernán Cortés in 1529. By the end of the sixteenth century, the marquesses enjoyed the rights to tribute, justice, and administration in seven major jurisdictions: Charo, Coyoacán, Cuatro Villas de Oaxaca, Cuernavaca, Jalapa, Toluca, and Tuxtla. The marquessate's administrative structure was very similar to the royal government's, and until 1771 its indigenous citizens had recourse to either bureaucracy. The estado, as the marquessate was also known, was frequently embroiled in litigation concerning the exact scope of the grant, and it was sequestered by the crown on several occasions. In 1629 the marquessate passed to the fourth marquess's niece, wife of the duke of Terranova, and by the end of the century, by a similar process, into the hands of the Neapolitan Pignatellis, the dukes of Monteleone. Thereafter, the marquesses, and the dukes of Terranova and Monteleone, resided in Spain and Italy, leaving the direction of the state to its chief administrator in Mexico.

The marquessate weathered the wars of independence and early national period with difficulty, and in 1825 the duke of Monteleone and Terranova asked his friend, Lucas Alamán, to oversee the liquidation of the estate, which was completed by the end of 1849.

See alsoAztecs; Cortés, Hernán.


An excellent source for the administrative history of the marquessate is Woodrow Borah, Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aides of the Half-Real (1983). There have been studies of several of the estado's jurisdictions and enterprises, including Ward Barrett, The Sugar Hacienda of the Mar-queses del Valle (1970); G. Micheal Riley, Fernando Cortés and the Marquesado in Morelos, 1522–1547 (1973); Cheryl English Martin, Rural Society in Colonial Morelos (1985); and Robert Haskett, Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca (1991). The basic study of the estate remains Bernardo García Martínez, El marquesado del Valle: Tres siglos de régimen señorial en Nueva España (1969).

                                           Robert Haskett

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