Cataloger’s Corner: A Jesuit Legal Entanglement from the Far Reaches of the Spanish Empire

John J. Burns Library's Blog

The Burns Library Cataloging Department recently processed a remarkable addition to our rare books collection. Bound in limp vellum, the folio-sized volume contains a set of 17th-century legal documents produced during a lengthy conflict over the payment of ecclesiastical tithes in the colonies of Spain. Broadly speaking, the conflict and ensuing lawsuits grew out of a discord between the Catholic religious orders and the diocesan clergy. The latter group, along with agents of the Spanish Crown, sought with increasing fervor to collect tithes from the various orders who were operating abroad in the colonies. The feud eventually came to a head in New Spain, where the Jesuits, one of the orders claiming exemption from the tithe, were operating a number of particularly profitable estates and schools.

While it may sound like an esoteric matter of bureaucratic Church history, tithing was actually a critical financial issue in the debt-ridden Spanish Empire. The…

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About bibliodeviant

This is the journal of Jonathan Kearns Rare Books & Curiosities, and all who sail in her. Information, updates, rantings, musings and pretty pictures related (loosely I would imagine) to the world of rare and antiquarian books will be brought to you by a number of different personalities, some of whom cohabit in the same person's head. We welcome queries, comments and contributions of virtually any description, and in return we will attempt to rein in our multitudinous personality disorders and deliver wonders and joys beyond compare. At least that's the plan. View all posts by bibliodeviant

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