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to practice established in New Spain since the seventeenth century, ¬scal
authorities commonly solicited the aid of church of¬cials in the collection of
donations, especially in wartime.43 Parish priests were particularly effective
agents for this purpose as they were ideally placed to collect small donations

39 F. Fonseca and C. Urrutia, Historia General, vol. 5, p. 192.
40 The Tribunal de Miner´a received considerable sums from Temporalidades to complete its loans to the
±
Crown. W. Howe, Mining Guild, pp. 84“85, 118“119, and 372“382.
41 Detailed studies on the sale of these haciendas are lacking, though it must be stressed that there
is much unexplored documentation in the section of Temporalidades at the Archivo General de la
Naci´ n which could serve for future analysis. Based on a preliminary review, we can suggest that
o
the sales of old Jesuit properties tended to increase toward the end of the century, accounting for an
increase of remittances to the metropolis. See AGN, Temporalidades, vols. 4, 5, 93, 114, 117, 130,
136, 151, 161, 171.
42 See the “Real C´ dula sobre el destino de los fondos y bienes de Temporalidades a remitirse para la
e
amortizaci´ n de vales reales, dada en San Lorenzo a 2 de noviembre de 1798.” AGN, Reales C´dulas
o e
Originales, vol. 171, exp. 163, pp. 204“205.
43 This was quite typical of Catholic societies in this period. In France, from the sixteenth century it
was standard practice for the clergy to provide a substantial donation to the monarchy every ¬ve
years and special contributions in times of war: Michel Bottin, Histoire des Finances publiques (Paris:
Economica, 1997), p. 16.
Royal Church and the Finances of the Viceroyalty 133

in the several thousand peasant towns and villages of the viceroyalty.44 A
study by the historian Thomas Calvo on a donation requested from the
Catholic Church in New Spain at the time of the War of Spanish Succes-
sion at the beginning of the eighteenth century highlights the importance
of this ¬nancial collaboration: the colonial authorities reported in the year
1709 that the clergy had helped to garner the very considerable amount
of a million silver pesos sent to Spain.45 Additional examples of church
contributions were the 1743 Mexican donation (to ¬nance Spanish troops
in Italy) and that of 1777 granted by the Archbishops of Mexico and Val-
ladolid (Michoac´ n) providing 160,000 pesos to help the naval rearmament
a
program championed by Viceroy Bucareli.46
In the case of the donation decreed by Charles III in August 1780 to
pay expenses for the war against Britain, Viceroy Mayorga made special
appeals to the archbishop of Mexico as well as to chapters of the main
churches, convents, religious colleges, and other ecclesiastical institutions.
The upper level prelates instructed parish priests to gather the residents
of their urban and rural parishes and persuade them of the bene¬ts of
the war contribution.47 Funds directly donated by cathedral chapters and
other religious institutions amounted to barely 4.7 percent of the total
donation,48 but parish priests “ in contrast “ played a very active role in
mobilizing Indian peasants to comply with the Crown: the latter provided
some 400,000 pesos, approximately half of all monies collected for this
purpose in the viceroyalty.49
Numerous religious organizations made substantial and direct subscrip-
tions to the 1782 loans that were managed by the Mexico City Merchant
Guild and the Mining Tribunal, bearing good ¬scal guarantees since they

44 “Donations were collected with the help of religious personnel in 1624, 1636, 1647, 1696, 1703,
1710, 1723, 1765 and 1780, just to mention some cases.” Quotation from A. Lavrin, “Los conventos
˜
de monjas en la Nueva Espana,” in A. Bauer, La iglesia en la econom´a, p. 195. For a more detailed
±
review of the Mexican church support for the donation of 1703, see Tom´ s Calvo “Los ingresos
a
eclesi´ sticos en la di´ cesis de Guadalajara en 1708,” in P. Mart´nez L´ pez-Cano, ed., Iglesia, estado y
a o ± o
econom´a, pp. 47“59.
±
For a review of the Mexican church support for the donation of 1709, see Tom´ s Calvo “Los ingresos
a
45
eclesi´ sticos en la di´ cesis,” pp. 47“59.
a o
AGN, Archivo Hist´rico de Hacienda, vol. 223, exp. 5, fs. 252“257 and B. Bobb, ViceRegency of Antonio
o
46
Mar´a Bucareli, pp. 112“114.
±
See, for example, the letter, dated March 1781, from the archbishop of Mexico City to the viceroy,
47
reporting that “instructions have been given to every member of the diocese concerning the dona-
tion. . . . ” AGN, Donativos y Pr´stamos, vol. 10, ¬le 30, pp. 263“270.
e
For exact ¬gures, see C. Rodr´guez Venegas, “La sociedad novohispana,” Table 2, p. 107.
±
48
C. Rodr´guez Venegas, “La sociedad novohispana,” Chapter 4 offers detailed tables on the sums
±
49
collected for the 1781“1783 donation, showing that half of the funds were private contributions
(among which there where very few clerics) and the other half came from peasant villages.
134 Bankruptcy of Empire

yielded an annual interest rate of 5 percent.50 The principal ecclesiastical
investments came from convents that provided a total of 147,000 pesos,
plus 200,000 pesos from the ¬nancial branch of the Inquisition (Real Fisco
de la Inquisici´n).51 Other individual investors also participated actively in
o
the loan, alongside the religious institutions.52 Additional evidence of the
relevance of ecclesiastical contributions can be found in the case of the 1783
interest-bearing loan, the service of which was guaranteed by a mortgage
on the tobacco monopoly: of a total sum of 523,000 pesos lent to the gov-
ernment, almost 462,000 pesos (88 percent) “ a huge sum “ came from
ecclesiastical institutions in Guadalajara, including the cathedral chapter,
the local foundation for charitable works (juzgado de obras p´as) and various
±
religious organizations. (According to one modern index that sum would
be equivalent to almost 200 million dollars of 2005.)53
In the case of the 1793 loan the Catholic Church mobilized its followers
with extraordinary rapidity, following Charles IV™s appeal to gather funds to
¬nance preparation of an imminent war against France. The Spanish author-
ities greatly feared the radical turn of the national assembly in Paris “ still
dominated by the Girondists “ which had carried out the prosecution and
execution of King Louis XVI (January 21, 1793). Actually, war prepa-
rations had begun from mid-November 1792, when the young military
of¬cer and lover of the queen Manuel de Godoy was named prime minister
of the Spanish Cabinet. Godoy initiated secret negotiations with British
authorities to explore the possibility of coordinating actions between the
Royal Navy and the Spanish naval forces in order to constrain French trade.
But it was not until March that the war actually broke out when French
troops made incursions into northern Spain. To their surprise, the Spanish
Army was prepared and fought off the invading troops. The Spanish troops

50 See the suggestive and thorough discussion by G. Valle Pav´ n, “Consulado de Comerciantes,” Chapter
o
3, on the role of ecclesiastical institutions in loans negotiated by the merchant guild in 1782 and
1793.
51 G. von Wobeser, “La inquisici´ n como instituci´ n crediticia,” pp. 865“866 includes a study of this
o o
operation and concludes that the from this moment the church became more amenable to loans
to the royal treasury even though they did not carry real estate guarantees: G. Valle Pav´ n, “Las
o
corporaciones religiosas,” in P. Mart´nez L´ pez-Cano, Iglesia, estado y econom´a, pp. 232“234. For
± o ±
additional references on ecclesiastical loans administered by the Consulado de comerciantes, see Pedro
P´ rez Herrero, Cat´ logo del ramo de Consulados, vol. II (Mexico: Archivo General de la Naci´ n, 1982),
e a o
p. 540.
52 AGN, Miner´a, vol. 63, fs. 145“146 includes the complete list of suscribers. In addition to the
±
investment by the Inquisition, we should mention the large loan of 110,000 pesos lent by the
˜
presbyter Juan Francisco Castaniza, member of a noble family from New Spain and rector of the San
Idelfonso university seminary.
53 For data on the loan, see J. A. Calder´ n Quijano, Virreyes de la Nueva Espa˜ a, vol. 2, p. 147. The
o n
subsequent calculation is based on the EH Net (http://eh.net/hmit/compare) complete index of the
money wage rates paid for common or unskilled labor from 1774 to the present.
Royal Church and the Finances of the Viceroyalty 135

later advanced into the Rousillon on May 18, 1793, where they won a major
engagement. As the historian Blanning argues:
From that point, the fortunes of war became more mixed . . . but when peace was
signed at Basle on 22 July 1795 the Spaniards were still able to negotiate the most
favourable peace achieved by any opponent of France in the 1790s.54
Before the start of the con¬‚ict, royal authorities turned to the colonial
church in Mexico to assist in the ¬nancing of a major naval campaign
against France. Subsequently, as war broke in the Iberian peninsula, colonial
functionaries joined ecclesiastical authorities in New Spain in an ideological
attack upon the French National Convention “ increasingly dominated
by the Jacobins “ which was denounced not only as antimonarchical but
also as atheistic. In barely four months (January“April 1793), the sum
of 1,559,000 pesos was collected for the Crown through an interest-free
loan raised among af¬‚uent corporations and individuals in colonial Mexico,
with ecclesiastical institutions leading the pack.55 Contributions gathered
by Mexico City™s archbishop included 60,000 pesos from the cathedral dean
and chapter; 100,000 pesos from the Foundation of Pious Works ( Juzgado
de Obras P´as y Capellan´as); and 320,000 pesos from a religious institution
±´ ±
devoted to the administration of legacies of deceased individuals ( Juzgado
de Bienes Difuntos). Another huge donation was the 300,000 pesos awarded
by the cathedral dean and chapter of Guadalajara. In the case of the city of
Puebla, after considerable bargaining, the cathedral chapter agreed to donate
funds totalling 50,000 pesos: 21,000 from tithes and 29,000 pesos from
alms be collected among the faithful.56 Simultaneously, several religious
institutions in the intendancy of Valladolid sent 70,000 pesos and the
College of San Luis Gonzaga from the silver-rich city of Zacatecas remitted
an additional 80,000 pesos.57
But ecclesiastical contributions were not limited to interest-free loans.
Indeed convents, confraternities, and pious works and foundations generally
attempted to assure a reasonable return on their assets. For example, in the
case of the 1793“1794 war loan for two million pesos (which paid annual
interest at the rate of 5 percent), dozens of religious and private institutions
made substantial investments.58 In contrast, in the case of the interest-free

54 T. C. W. Blanning, The Origins of the French Revolutionary Wars (New York: Longmans, 1991).
55 Figures based on 1793 donation lists and tables included in various ¬les in AGN, Donativos y
Pr´stamos, vol. 1, such as ¬le 80, fs. 317“318 and vol. 32, fs. 272“276.
e
56 AGN, Donativos y Pr´stamos, vol. 1, ¬le 55, fs.173“174 and vol. 32, fs. 272“276.
e
57 The Juzgado de Obras P´as of Valladolid sent 40,000 pesos and the cathedral dean and chapter of that
±
city donated 30,000 pesos.
58 The Mining Tribunal reported on February 3, 1793, that it had collected 300,000 pesos from the
expropriated Jesuit properties of San Pedro and San Pablo and 24,000 pesos from the Hospice of
San Nicol´ s. AGN, Donativos y Pr´stamos, vol. 28, f. 20. W. Howe, Mining Guild, p. 382, mentions
a e
136 Bankruptcy of Empire

loan negotiated by the merchant guild in 1793 (amounting to one million
pesos), most money came from private contributions, and only 16 percent
of the funds were provided by convents, confraternities, and charitable
works.59
The relevance of subscriptions by religious entities was stressed by the
Mexico City Mining Tribunal in a letter to the Crown:
With regard to the said donations and loans that the general revolution in Europe
has made necessary, this Tribunal, as well as the merchant guild and the authorities
of this kingdom™s towns and villages, have found the religious foundations to be
the primary source for garnering funds, taking their capital at interest to put them
at the Crown™s feet as everyone has done in such times of emergency. . . . 60
A few years later, a new donation “ that of 1798 to ¬nance a new naval
war against Great Britain “ also required the collaboration of the colonial
church. Its analysis sheds light on the way religious convents involved
themselves in the ¬nancial campaigns for the monarchy. Meetings directed
by the heads of religious orders were held in order to mobilize loyalty to
the monarch, appealing to the religious to pray and donate cash. A vivid
example is provided by the report of Jos´ Joaqu´n Oyarzabal, provincial
e ±
minister and supervisor of the nuns of Santa Clara, of Mexico City who
urged that a meeting be held among “the most illustrious and experienced
prelates that are at present in this City . . . ” to take cognizance of the great
dangers faced by the Crown and church as a result of naval war with Britain.
He also requested every nun to pray against the English enemy. Oyarzabal
added: “This is with reference to the Spiritual; and concerning the Temporal
[ . . . ] each Community is asked to play its part [in the donation]. . . . ”61
The Convent of Santa Clara did, in fact, make a substantial temporal
contribution (40,000 pesos) which was slightly higher than that of other
convents in the capital. Contributions of various regional bishoprics were
also considerable “ Valladolid (50,000 pesos), Puebla (20,000 pesos), and
Guadalajara (40,000 pesos) “ but, in contrast, the bishop of Oaxaca noti¬ed
his colleagues that he could only send 6,000 pesos, arguing that the poverty
of his diocese made it impossible to collect larger sums.62

that the amount of 2.5 millions that the Mining Tribunal the subscribers to loans for the Crown
in 1793“1794 had included almost one hundred investors, including a large number of religious
institutions with cash to spare. The Archivo de Miner´a, at the Palacio de Miner´a in Mexico City,
± ±
contains abundant materials for research on this subject.
For a detailed list of ecclesiastic contributions to the loan negotiated by the consulate, see G. Valle
59
Pav´ n, “Las corporaciones religiosas,” pp. 236“238.
o
See the text of the 1805 representation in M. Sugawara, La deuda p´ blica, p. 40.
u
60
AGN, Donativos y Pr´stamos, vol. 16, fs. 169“170.
e
61
The records of personal and institutional contributions to both the 1798 donation and loan can be
62
found in lists published by the Gazeta de M´xico, from October 1798 to September 1799. There is
e
Royal Church and the Finances of the Viceroyalty 137

In the last decade of the eighteenth century, the most substantial ecclesi-
astical contributions went to the tobacco loan, subscription of which began
in 1795. This loan was issued to ¬nance the war against the French Con-
vention (1793“1795) but was later extended to help pay for the naval war
with England (1796“1802). The success of this ¬nancial operation was
predicated on the fact that the loan carried the guarantee of the largest and
most secure all ¬scal revenues in the viceroyalty: the tobacco monopoly. A
number of ecclesiastical institutions in Guadalajara invested large amounts,
including the Convent of Santa Gracia (49,800 pesos), the Convent of Santa
Monica (54,000 pesos), and the Foundation of Pious Works of that diocese
with the enormous sum of 453,000 pesos. The Archicofrad´a del Sant´simo
± ±
Sacramento in Mexico City invested 250,000 pesos at the 5 percent rate
offered, while the Third Order of San Francisco contributed 105,000 pesos.
Various religious colleges subtracted money from their reserves for the same
purpose: the Royal College of Indians of Our Lady of Guadalupe bestowed
100,000 pesos and the Colegio de Ni˜ as Educandas of San Luis Potosi invested

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