Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2014, Volume 35

Introduction to "Avisos a pretendientes para Indias"

Edited by Clayton McCarl


Avisos a pretendientes para Indias (Warnings to Those Seeking Office in the Indies) is a letter penned in 1695 in New Spain by author Francisco de Seyxas y Lovera (ca. 1646–ca. 1705).[1] With this missive, Seyxas responded to an acquaintance in the Peninsula who had requested advice on behalf of a protégé seeking a position in the overseas bureaucracy. The Spanish writer himself had arrived in the New World a few years earlier to serve as the alcalde mayor (district officer) of Tacuba, an area outside Mexico City.[2] He had been prevented from fulfilling his duties, however, by a series of imprisonments and legal proceedings that he believed were orchestrated by Gaspar de la Cerda Sandoval Silva y Mendoza, the eighth count of Galve and twenty-eighth viceroy of New Spain (1688–1696). Written after Seyxas had been driven from office and shortly before he became a fugitive sought by the Council of Indies, Avisos offers a unique and highly personal view into the realities of the late seventeenth–century Latin American colonial administration.

Francisco de Seyxas y Lovera and His New World Misadventures

Until fairly recently, Seyxas was known primarily as an author of nautical books,[3] having published during his lifetime a treatise on tides and ocean currents, titled Theatro Naval Hidrographico (1688),[4] and a study of the geography of the extreme Southern Cone, titled Descripcion Geographica, y Derrotero de la Region Austral Magallanica (1690).[5] His concerns were not limited to matters of a strictly maritime nature, however, and among the major themes that run throughout his work are a preoccupation with the precarious state of Spain's overseas empire and the urgent need to entrust its care to men of honor and practical experience. In the unpublished "Theatro Real del Comerzio de las Monedas" (1688), Seyxas sought to expose how Spain's monetary policies created opportunities for foreigners.[6] In Descripcion Geographica, Seyxas argued that the crown must realize the strategic importance of the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn, unfortified routes through which other Europeans regularly accessed the Pacific.[7] In Piratas y contrabandistas de ambas Indias, y estado presente de ellas (1693), first published in 2011,[8] Seyxas expanded this discussion to consider the vulnerabilities of all Spain's territories around the globe, denouncing the complicity of Spaniards themselves in jeopardizing the security of these regions. In the following decade, Seyxas spent his final years writing extensively for Louis XIV, whose grandson was then on the Spanish throne, criticizing Spain's administration of its colonies and articulating proposals for reform. Since the publication in 1986 by Pablo Emilio Pérez-Mallaína Bueno of one volume from that period, Seyxas has been widely cited for the contemporary observations and political views he expressed in his work.[9]
Seyxas composed Avisos in the final years of what had been a long, slow decline for the Hapsburg monarchy. The unfortunate heir of generations of royal inbreeding, Charles II (1675–1700) was a morally and physically weak king, who abdicated most of his responsibility and whose monarchy was overshadowed by the power of Spain's aristocracy.[10] For over a decade, two capable, reform-minded prime ministers, the Duke of Medinaceli (1680–1684) and the Count of Oropesa (1684–1691), ran matters with practicality and skill, but Charles's second marriage in 1689 brought onto Spain's political scene a new queen, Maria Anna of Neuburg, who came to dominate the government, forcing the resignation of Oropesa and filling high positions with her own allies and retainers.[11]
The weakness of the crown at this time was matched by the compromised state of the imperial bureaucracy. In the sixteenth century, Spain constructed a colonial administration on an unprecedented scale, spanning the globe and operating with flexibility and efficiency.[12] By the final quarter of the seventeenth century, however, this system had come to be characterized by excess and waste. The pursuit of office had become an obsession among the higher social classes, driven largely by a university system that produced a surplus of letrados (graduates with law degrees). Most of these were sons of the aristocracy who received free training in the colegios mayores at Salamanca, Alcalá, and other universities, and who were essentially guaranteed administrative positions through their institutional or familial connections. Others without legal qualifications could exploit their high status to receive appointments termed de capa y espada, or, if they lacked such influence but could marshal sufficient funds, they might pursue entry through a monetary transaction.[13]
The practice of buying and selling of offices, known as the beneficio, was not new in Seyxas's day. In 1558, Philip II (1556–1598) commenced the public auction of minor notarial, municipal, and other posts (the so-called oficios vendibles y renunciables), and Philip IV (1621–1665) later began the sale of treasury offices and provincial governorships via private dealings effected between the appointee and the crown.[14] However, as the economic depression that had beset Spain for decades intensified to its greatest severity,[15] the monarchy institutionalized such transactions, beginning with the provincial posts of corregidor and alcalde mayor in 1677, and expanding this to include appointments to the American audiencias in 1687. By the end of the century, even the position of viceroy had changed hands by means of the beneficio.[16]
As a consequence, the government grew increasingly populated by men who were unqualified for the offices they held, and who abused their positions financially in order to recoup the costs incurred in their acquisition. The bureaucracy furthermore came to privilege its own interests, providing what John Lynch termed "a form of social security" for its members, while becoming increasingly inept at the task of actually governing. The problem reached to the highest levels, where the monarchy's system of consultative councils, including the Council of State and the Council of Indies, was characterized by procedural inefficiencies and jurisdictional disputes.[17] Several efforts at reform were undertaken, including an attempt to curtail the sale of audiencia seats, but none had a significant or lasting impact.[18]
In Avisos, Seyxas provides a detailed portrait of the problems inherent in this situation. His critical eye may be explained in part by the fact that he was, in many respects, an outsider within the colonial bureaucracy. Unlike the letrados coming up through the colegios mayores, the capa y espada appointees—and, presumably, many who purchased their appointments—Seyxas lacked formal academic training, elevated social status, and powerful backers. Already in his forties, he was notably older than the majority who entered bureaucratic careers in their late teens or early twenties,[19] and during approximately three decades at sea, he had lived for many years outside the cultural context of Spanish urban life, in which most members of the bureaucracy had typically spent the whole of their adulthood.[20] In short, far from enjoying the privileged status of many of his competitors for office, Seyxas was, in today's terms, something of a self-made man effecting a midlife career change.
The story of his early years, which we know primarily through two autobiographical sketches, reads by turns like a picaresque tale and a byzantine novel.[21] Born in Mondoñedo, Galicia, around 1646, Seyxas was orphaned as a young child and placed in the care of relatives. He lived for periods in Valladolid, Madrid, and Salamanca before a merchant uncle sent him at age fourteen to work in the offices of a French trader based in Saint-Malo. With this Frenchman, Seyxas traveled through the Mediterranean to the Middle East, stopping at Aleppo, Smyrna, and Constantinople before returning to France and embarking on a subsequent journey to India. In Surat, he boarded a Portuguese ship bound for the Philippines, which was later detained by the Dutch East India Company off the coast of Southeast Asia.[22] The Dutch took him to the island of Ternate in present-day Indonesia, from where they remitted him to Europe on a vessel that sailed around Cape Horn. He then traveled from Spain to the Americas with the West Indies Fleet, visiting various cities including Cartagena, Quito, Guayaquil, Panama City, and Havana.[23]
These early exploits would lead to several decades of nautical expeditions pursuing commercial and, later, military purposes. After returning to Europe from the New World with certain monetary resources, perhaps acquired through activities related to mining,[24] he organized in Hamburg a trading expedition to East Asia with Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish partners. As his portion of the proceeds, Seyxas received one of the ships, which he employed in the following years making trading voyages between Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. During these adventures, he recounts that he was captured by pirates twice, once by a Frenchman off the coast of South America and on another occasion by Moorish pirates from the port of Salé, who were in turn attacked by the Dutch, who then set Seyxas free.[25]
In September of 1690, Seyxas received what appears to be his first official appointment, named by royal decree a capitán de mar y guerra (captain of seamen and infantry) to command a ship in the Armada del Mar Océano, Spain's Atlantic fleet.[26] By the latter part of that year he was employed in the port of Santoña, Cantabria, inspecting foreign ships, presumably in response to the renewed state of war with France following the king's marriage to Maria Anna of Neuburg.[27] By April 16, 1692, Seyxas had returned to the court,[28] and shortly thereafter he was appointed alcalde mayor of Tacuba via a royal decree dated April 22, 1692. The means through which he secured this position—or, for that matter, his previous appointment as capitán de mar y guerra—are unknown, though he suggests in Avisos that he received the latter, at least, on the basis of merit.[29] Seyxas soon received license to pass to the Indies accompanied by his wife, María Damiana de Cuevas y Seyxas, along with two servants, and departed from Cadiz in July of 1692, arriving probably in October of that year.[30]
If Seyxas's critical view of the colonial administration is in part a result of this unusual background, it also is a consequence of his own experiences in New Spain. [31] According to the author, from the moment of his arrival in the New World, the viceroy had demonstrated ill will toward him. Seyxas asserts that he had written to the Count of Galve from Veracruz, requesting permission to proceed to Mexico City so that he could be dispatched from there to his district. The viceroy's response, dated November 22, indicated that he might advance to the capital "until something more convenient could be arranged." Seyxas believed this was evidence that from the start the Count of Galve had no intention of allowing him to assume his office, which Seyxas presumed he sought to fill instead with one of his own associates.[32]
While other factors would surely come into play in the relationship between the viceroy and Seyxas—including what likely was the author's conflictive personality—Seyxas had some basis for suspecting his superior's motives. The royal decree appointing him alcalde mayor of Tacuba was part of a trend that infringed upon what had traditionally been an exclusive right of the viceroys, who previously had appointed such provincial administrators and hence had stood to benefit financially. Since 1677, the crown itself had begun to assume this prerogative, and by 1700 nearly all alcaldes mayores would be named by the monarchy.[33] Furthermore, like many others, the Count of Galve seems to have regarded his time in America as an opportunity to enrich himself, and after 1692, the year of a notorious uprising in the capital,[34] he was perhaps less concerned with good governance than with solidifying his fortune and returning to the metropolis, which he did upon leaving office, only to die shortly thereafter in March of 1697.[35]
Upon arriving in the capital in late January 1693, Seyxas claims the viceroy ordered him to be arrested for debts and jailed in the Real Cárcel de Corte. This was the prison of the Sala de Crimen, the criminal court that comprised one of the two chambers of the Real Audiencia of Mexico, the highest court in the viceroyalty, and an institution of which the viceroy was also president.[36] Seyxas alleges that the charges were illogical, as all alcaldes mayores arrived in the Americas indebted, and because the Count of Galve himself had given orders that they not be jailed for such liabilities. He argues as well that his status as an hidalgo (a member of the lower nobility) and the titles of capitán de mar y guerra and alcalde mayor should have exempted him from such a punishment. Seyxas does not explain how this situation was resolved, but appears to have been released and permitted to install himself in a house in Tacuba.[37]
Shortly thereafter, before having officially assumed possession of his office, he was arrested again and taken before the Sala de Crimen, now accused of having been made aware of a scheme, devised by others, to remove silver from the minted coins known as reales de a ocho (pieces of eight), and to have subsequently failed to give due notice of this crime to the viceroy. Seyxas seems to have been exonerated, as on May 1, the Sala de Crimen ordered him to return to Tacuba, but according to his story, the Count of Galve then intervened to prevent his release by demanding a certain amount of money. When Seyxas refused or could not pay, the viceroy ordered the criminal court to keep him prisoner. Finding nothing with which to charge him, Seyxas says the judges ordered him released on bail, but claims that the viceroy then sent word that Seyxas must not take possession of his office until the matter was concluded. The writer's account suggests that he thus remained incarcerated for seven months, along with others who defended themselves against similar charges in the same case. During this imprisonment Seyxas indicates he was afflicted with an unspecified illness, and upon his release, was fined two hundred pesos. As he was unable to pay, the authorities instead confiscated a costly rug from among the furnishings of his home.[38]
Seyxas indicates that he finally assumed his post as alcalde mayor on November 18, 1693, but soon thereafter an individual named Antonio de Cárdenas arrived in Tacuba with a special commission from the viceroy to prosecute thieves, sellers of pulque (an alcoholic beverage), those who illegally cohabitated, and others. Seyxas complained to the viceroy over what he considered a violation of his jurisdiction as alcalde mayor, and registered further bewilderment at the interloper's questionable qualifications, calling him a "tavern keeper, tanner, and mechanical tradesman." In response, the viceroy sent two officials of the Sala de Crimen, Joseph Cumplido, an alguacil de guerra (constable), and Francisco Hernández, an escribano receptor (a notary tasked with taking testimony), to again apprehend Seyxas. Cumplido and Hernández returned Seyxas to the capital and placed him anew in the Cárcel de Corte, among common criminals, the writer asserts, to exacerbate his illness and hasten his demise. In response to complaints by his wife, he was switched to house arrest after seventeen days. The writer asserts that during this time the viceroy sent numerous additional officials of dubious backgrounds to Tacuba to execute illegitimate judicial commissions, and furthermore sold a temporary appointment as alcalde mayor to a Baltasar de Rivero. According to Seyxas, Rivero made such use of his position in Tacuba that after five months he was able to purchase a house and a team of mules.[39]
Seyxas returned to his post in March of 1694 to find that more of his possessions had been seized, and that his authority was still compromised by the presence of numerous interlopers in his territory. He nonetheless set about conducting the residencia (the official review of an official's term in office) of Juan de Mármol y Torres, Seyxas's predecessor, a task explicitly assigned to him in the cédula real (royal license) naming him alcalde mayor.[40] He found Mármol y Torres and several associates of the former alcalde mayor to be implicated in various crimes, but before he could begin proceedings against them, the Count of Galve sent Cumplido and Hernández to threaten him. They instructed the author to desist, explaining that the viceroy himself chose to handle the prosecution of these individuals. During this time Seyxas claims he also consulted the viceroy and the criminal court regarding numerous cases pending in his district, and that each time the court removed these from his jurisdiction. Following his subsequent protests, Seyxas was jailed again in the Cárcel de Corte for nearly a month, being freed on May 29. He affirms that around this time the presiding judge of the Sala de Crimen offered, upon his deathbed, a vindication of Seyxas's innocence, refusing to sign a sentence against the writer because the charges against him were false, and ordering a notary to make public his testimony to this effect.[41]
Seyxas once again returned to Tacuba and resumed proceedings against those found guilty in the residencia of Mármol y Torres, but a few days later, Cumplido and Manuel Suárez Muñoz, the latter apparently a judge of the criminal court,[42] arrived with an armed force and orders from the viceroy to seize the author and imprison him anew in the capital.[43] While the author was in custody, Suárez Muñoz was named the new interim alcalde mayor, and inquiries were commenced into Seyxas's handling of various legal cases. This he denounced as a procedural violation, as the conduct of such inquiries corresponded not to the viceroy or the audiencia, but to Seyxas's juez de residencia, the judge who would evaluate his conduct in office on behalf of the king at the end of his five-year term. The author claims that this probe was an attempt to provoke animosity against him in his own jurisdiction, where he says Suárez Muñoz went door to door threatening residents in order to compel them to testify against him. Having finished his investigation, Suárez Muñoz approached Seyxas in prison to take his statement, but the writer refused, appealing to the authority of the king and his supreme councils to rule in his case.
This plea for royal recourse was not honored, and Suárez Muñoz instead locked Seyxas in a dungeon for three days, after which time he resumed his questioning. The author remained obstinate, he says, asserting that the commission held by Suárez Muñoz was spurious, as it had been issued by a criminal court in which only two judges were present, the other two being away at the time, and one of those in attendance being Suárez Muñoz himself. Seyxas argued, furthermore, that in any case an alcalde mayor could not be brought to trial unless by the Real Acuerdo, a body consisting of the viceroy and the oidores of the audiencia, convened on an ad hoc basis to address situations of particular urgency. Seyxas asserts that he then remained another five months in prison without making any demands for justice, offering as his rationale that he had no reason to expect any. Once all four judges were back in attendance, the court released him on October 9, 1694, but ordered him to remain in the capital.[44]
Though it would seem audacious or foolhardy given what he tells us of his relationship with these authorities, Seyxas then reports that he consulted with the viceroy and the Real Audiencia regarding the residencia of Mármol y Torres. Seyxas's inquiry was related to the prosecution of the individuals found guilty in this process who were to be arrested or required to pay fines to benefit the royal treasury. Perhaps due to the official and public nature of this consultation, the viceroy instructed Seyxas to proceed against these persons, as per the instructions the writer had received from the king. With assistance provided by Gerónimo Chacón, the most senior judge of the Sala de Crimen, Seyxas then ordered the apprehension of several of the implicated Spaniards.[45] Seeing this, and in particular that Seyxas was proceeding against Antonio de Cárdenas, one of the primary offenders, the viceroy contradicted his previous order, demanding that Seyxas desist in his prosecution of Cárdenas, and that he surrender the autos (decrees) issued in the residencia. Seyxas refused to comply, and claims that attempts were subsequently made on several occasions to steal these papers from him, both in the home of a licenciado (lawyer) named Alonso de Ensinas and in the Hospital de San Hipólito, where the author apparently had found lodgings in the capital. The Real Audiencia also on two occasions issued orders that Seyxas hand over these documents, which he placed in the care of a friar of the order of the Barefoot Carmelites in order to shield them from the civil authorities.[46]
On December 6, 1694, Seyxas wrote to the Count of Galve renouncing his post as alcalde mayor, asserting that the viceroy had made conditions impossible for him to fulfill his duties. In this letter, he summarizes his grievances, including the introduction of Cárdenas and other officials within his district, the five imprisonments, the financial damage incurred as a result of the legal proceedings carried out against him, the wages he was owed, and the manner in which he was prevented from appealing his case to higher authorities on the Peninsula.[47]
On February 26, 1695, Seyxas was again seized by Cumplido and Hernández, in what he characterizes as an ambush executed as he was returning to the Hospital de San Hipólito from the monastery of Baltasar de Medina. It would seem that Seyxas had been engaged in the process of making a copy of the papers he had entrusted to Medina, in order to remit these to Spain. Placing him in the Cárcel de Corte, Cumplido and Hernández renewed their demands that Seyxas relinquish the autos from the residencia of Mármol y Torres. The author continued to refuse, but Medina himself admitted to having the papers, perhaps under pressure from the Count of Galve's representatives, and surrendered them to the Audiencia. He delivered a copy as well to Seyxas in prison, this presumably being the duplicate on which the author had been laboring. As Seyxas notes, some of the pages were missing, in part because the materials were disorganized due to the copying process, and also because on the day of his arrest, he had some papers in his pockets which Cumplido and Hernández seized from him, along with a certain quantity of money.[48]
According to the author, after about fifty days his wife petitioned the Real Acuerdo to return these papers and funds to her husband, citing the dire circumstances in which she found herself, having spent her dowry in her husband's defense.[49] Seyxas says that as a result the Real Acuerdo ordered him to provide proof that he had been robbed to the scribe Hernández, the very person who had committed the said crime. Before this could be carried out, the Real Acuerdo then decreed that he be given two hundred pesos and exiled from the capital to the port of Veracruz, to await further orders. Accompanied by his wife, who he asserts was ill, Seyxas arrived on May 9, 1695, in that city, where the authorities granted him a stipend of one peso per day.[50] He collected this amount for nearly two months, he says, but then sought asylum in a church upon hearing that the Count of Galve had ordered his apprehension and exile to the frontier province of Florida.[51]
Apparently from his refuge in Veracruz,[52] the author wrote on March 11, 1696, to Baltasar de Tovar, an oidor (judge) of the Real Audiencia detailing his experiences in New Spain.[53] The judge had recently completed the residencia of the Count of Galve, which had been made public, and Seyxas indicates in his letter that he writes in order to duly register his complaints, so that no one could later allege before the Council of Indies that he failed to do so. Due to his illness and that of his wife, along with his lack of resources with which to engage lawyers and notaries, he explains that he could do no more that remit the accompanying narrative of his travails.[54] At the conclusion of that attached letter, he requests reparations in the amount of 18,000 pesos, corresponding to the amount he claims he lost by not exercising his office, plus 10,632 pesos that he had spent in defending himself against false charges.[55] He ends his missive to Tovar by asking the judge to intervene on his behalf with the new interim viceroy, Juan de Ortega y Montañés, bishop of Valladolid, so that his demands might be satisfied.[56] On the same date, Seyxas addressed a separate letter directly to Ortega y Montañés, presumably including a copy of the same seven-folio narrative he had written to Tovar.
These materials were delivered both to Tovar and Ortega y Montañés by Francisco de Neira Seijas y Ulloa, allegedly a clergyman and relative of the author, and by his account a vecino of Mexico City.[57] According to Ortega y Montañés, Seyxas had traveled to the capital, and apparently having taken refuge again in a church there, he sent his kinsman to solicit an audience on his behalf, which the viceroy refused.[58] Tovar indicates that several days after the visit of Francisco de Neira Seijas y Ulloa, another clergyman arrived to request the judge's response. However, when asked whether he had explicit permission to represent Seyxas, the clergyman admitted he did not, and withdrawing, he did not apply again.[59] These missives were later gathered together by Tovar and remitted to the Council of Indies on July 13, 1696, along with letters to Charles II from both Tovar and Ortega y Montañés and copies of the legal documentation produced in the various proceedings against the author.[60]
Toward the middle of 1696, Seyxas departed Veracruz in what must have been a surreptitious fashion, given the outstanding orders for his capture. According to his account, he passed through Central America on foot, arriving in Panama at the beginning of 1697, from where he embarked for Peru. For reasons he does not explain, he instead went ashore in present-day Colombia, advancing from there to Quito and later Cuzco. Arriving finally in Lima, he attempted to recover a debt owed him by a Rois de Valcázar, which had resulted, according to Seyxas, from the author's sale to Valcázar of the post of corregidor de Lipes, which he seems to have secured in Madrid before being named alcalde mayor of Tacuba. According to Seyxas, the Count of La Monclova, viceroy of Peru, refused to aid him in this suit, and arrested the author, seized his personal papers, and sent him to Panama, to be remitted to New Spain, apparently after taking offense at the author's suggestion that the viceroy was in collusion with foreigners.[61]
Avoiding further tribulations in that viceroyalty, Seyxas escaped his captors in the port of Realejo, presumably by means of a bribe, and together with other passengers with whom he had traveled from Peru, passed through the province of Honduras. Apparently having embarked from there for Cuba, Seyxas and his fellow travelers were attacked by French pirates and obliged to make their way overland to Campeche. Arriving later in Cuba, Seyxas seems to have initiated some mining projects, and then proceeded to France, arriving in 1702, to seek restitution for money he asserted these pirates had taken from him.[62] He remained exiled in the French court, writing about the Spanish colonial world for the French monarch until his death, probably in 1705.[63]
Before leaving New Spain in 1696, Seyxas had sent his own account of events directly to the Council of Indies, a document that seems to not have arrived, intercepted perhaps by the viceroy and his agents, as Seyxas suggests in Avisos that individuals' communications to the Peninsula often were.[64] The Council of Indies did, however, receive the materials remitted by Tovar, and in a consulta (recommendation) from May 13, 1698, initiated orders for Seyxas's capture and remission to the House of Trade in Seville.[65] A letter from the Count of La Monclova to Charles II in January of 1699 would inspire another similar response,[66] with two consultas issued in April of 1701 reiterating to the viceroy of New Spain the need to capture the author, and giving the same instructions to the president of the audiencia of Guatemala.[67] The Council of Indies apparently became aware of Seyxas's whereabouts at last upon receiving a letter from him, sent from Versailles, dated November 2, 1702,[68] denouncing the actions against him by both the Count of Galve and the Count of La Monclova. Information would be solicited from both viceroyalties regarding Seyxas, and in 1704 the Council would recommend to the new king that any further communication from the author be disregarded.[69]

Avisos a pretendientes para Indias

Unlike the works he would produce from the relative safety of Versailles years later, Avisos was written in the midst of Seyxas's misadventures in New Spain. He began the composition of the text about a month after resigning his post as alcalde mayor, beginning on or after January 7, 1695,[70] and likely stopped writing before February 26, 1695, the date on which he was incarcerated for a sixth time. Indeed, this potential interruption may account for the unfinished state of the manuscript, which likely remained behind in New Spain when Seyxas fled the viceroyalty.[71] Along with other documents, the text of Avisos perhaps was delivered to Seyxas by his wife when she reunited with him in Versailles.[72]
In Avisos, Seyxas responds to his colleague's request by providing the information necessary for young men in Spain to make wise career decisions related to administrative and military service abroad. Seyxas sets out to describe all the posts appointed by the crown in the colonies, with a consideration of the qualifications needed for each. He proceeds geographically, beginning in the most distant part of the empire, the Philippines, and goes on to consider offices filled by royal appointment in Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Cuba, and elsewhere. Frequently, however, he deviates from this program to offer criticisms of the way the administration is structured and the manner in which royal authority is usurped by the king's own ministers on the ground. For instance, he accuses the viceroys of New Spain of taking advantage of the Manila Galleons for personal profit and proposes that the crown abolish this trade route and establish another directly from Spain.[73] He argues that Spanish grandees and former members of the Council of Indies should not be permitted to serve as viceroys, due to the undue pressure they exert on the Council,[74] and he denounces the mechanisms that viceroys and audiencia presidents use in the Americas to censor the communication of private individuals and control the flow of information to the Peninsula.[75] He likewise includes more mundane observations about the day–to–day difficulties newcomers to the colonies face, noting, for instance, the folly of paying to transport Spanish servants to the Americas, as upon arrival they begin to assume airs and refuse to work, leaving their masters to search the streets for those who might assist them.[76]
Seyxas's overriding conviction in Avisos is that young men in Spain must be aware of the grim realities faced by those who undertake bureaucratic careers abroad. Potential candidates needed to consider the excessive costs of buying their posts and relocating their households across the sea, and realize that such expenses usually had to be shouldered by borrowing money at high rates of interest.[77] He notes that upon arriving with royal appointments, many would find themselves required to purchase the office a second time, paying directly to the viceroy or audiencia president. Once in their positions, new administrators would then find they had little option but to exploit their power for financial gain in order to recoup the sums invested, defend themselves against fraudulent lawsuits, and realize at least some profit.[78] He highlights as well the coercive political pressure that viceroys and audiencia ministers exert over judges with dissenting opinions, and the manner in which they invalidate the authority of inferior governors by denying them entry into their posts, leveling false charges against them, removing cases from their purview, or inserting other officers with special commissions into their districts.[79] In short, Seyxas asserts that the sale of offices must be abolished and that the making of bureaucratic appointments must fall within the exclusive purview of the monarchy. Until such a time as these reforms might be carried out, the author insists, there would be no place for honest men in the colonies.[80]
Toward the middle of Avisos, Seyxas proposes the expansion of the Inquisition in Paraguay, Venezuela, and the ports of Cuba and New Spain.[81] This responds to his concern that the presence of foreigners, heretics, and Jews threatened the security of Spain's American territories, as he expressed previously in both Descripcion Geographica and Piratas y contrabandistas.[82] He was particularly troubled by what he believed was the audacity of foreigners who lived freely in the Americas by passing themselves off as Spaniards. This, for instance, was the case of Mauricio del Pozo, a Frenchman in Piratas y contrabandistas who married in Corrientes as a way to facilitate his smuggling activities, and then rose to be the alcalde ordinario (administrator) of that city.[83] In Avisos, Seyxas predicts that if the situation is not brought under control, these clandestine foreigners and their illicit trade networks will precipitate the loss of the Spanish Indies.[84]
In the final section of the manuscript, Seyxas offers a detailed proposal for reforming the defenses of New Spain along the Gulf coast. He proposes the creation of a new post for a maestre de campo general in New Spain, a military commander who would be second in charge to the viceroy. Seyxas likewise argues for centralizing military resources in Orizaba, midway between Puebla and Veracruz, through the creation of a plaza de armas in that town, where companies of both infantry and cavalry would be based.[85] As in the previous section, he would seem to deviate here from the objective he establishes for himself at the beginning of Avisos. This discussion does, however, reflect in part on potential posts for soldiers that could be awarded on the basis of merit. His proposals here furthermore connect with the author's larger preoccupations regarding the preservation of the colonies, addressing in particular the need to improve the security of New Spain in the face of pirate attacks and native uprisings like that which occurred in 1692.[86]
Like so much of Seyxas's writing, Avisos is in many ways an imperfect document. The letter is both incomplete and characterized by the unpolished prose typical of the author's writing. Seyxas seems to have preoccupied himself little with rhetorical refinements, constructing sentences that can span pages, and pushing relentlessly forward, at times through apparent repetitions, lengthy digressions, and parenthetical insertions. Such tendencies perhaps reflect his background as a man of action, with little formal academic training, as well as the relatively dire circumstances in which he seems to have produced much of his work.
The idiosyncrasies of his style, however, must not be allowed to detract from the immediacy of Seyxas's message. In Avisos, as in much of his other writing, he seeks to vindicate merit in the face of entrenched privilege and issue a warning about the desperate state of Spain's colonies. While the practicality of Seyxas's ideas may be a matter for debate, the principal value of Avisos resides in the act of defiance that the text represents and the insight it offers into the bureaucratic realities of the day. From a position of vulnerability but armed with extensive firsthand knowledge, Seyxas takes on the whole of Spain's administrative machine. Though he speaks to us from across more than three centuries, Avisos would seem to have a striking relevance today, in a world where political corruption and inequality of opportunity are by no means unfamiliar, and in which technology has provided new platforms for solitary voices like that of Seyxas to confront the most powerful institutions. Produced at a precarious moment in a life characterized by precariousness, Avisos is at once a denunciation of the Spanish American bureaucracy and part of the author's own struggle for survival. Like Seyxas's many other unpublished works, Avisos is a singular text that merits preservation and further study.

About This Edition

This edition is based on the manuscript of Avisos a pretendientes para Indias, found today in the Archives of the French Ministry of External Affairs (Archives du Ministère des Affaires Étrangères) in La Courneuve, outside Paris.[87] I present here three versions of Seyxas's letter—a diplomatic transcription of the Spanish original, a partially modernized Spanish version, and an English translation. In the following paragraphs, I outline the criteria I have used in preparing these various approaches to the text, discuss briefly their technical implementation in TEI XML, and describe the interface this edition provides for their display.

Transcription of Spanish Original

In documenting the contents of the manuscript, I have sought to be as inclusive as possible. I have respected the spelling, punctuation, word spacing, line breaks, and paragraph divisions of the original, and I have reproduced all authorial strikeouts and interlineal additions, indicating for the latter whether Seyxas designated a point of insertion.[88] I have also documented my addition of letters and words to complete the material that is not visible at line ends on the versos due to the fashion in which the manuscript has been bound.
I have taken this inclusive approach for several reasons. First, I edit here the only known copy of a document written in what I regard as the author's own hand, and thus believe the incidentals of the manuscript may hold interest for some readers. I also have sought to avoid making decisions at the time of transcription that might later prove cumbersome or impracticable to reverse. I furthermore believe that the high frequency of elements in the manuscript requiring editorial interpretation makes a system of rigorous documentation advantageous, as it allows the reader to understand the decisions underlying the transcription, some of which are unquestionably subjective. Lastly, I believe that a transcription that is as inclusive as possible offers more flexibility in terms of its use and extensibility, as other editorial projects pursing different objectives with differing criteria could use the same document as a starting point in the future.[89]

Partially Modernized Spanish Version

In preparing the Spanish reading copy, I have sought to present a highly accessible version of the text that preserves the morphology, syntax, and phonology—but not the orthography—of the original. Though a few decades after the writing of Avisos, the Real Academia Española (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language) would undertake to regularize the spelling of the language, in Seyxas's day this remained characterized by a high degree of variability. This situation was due in part to phonological changes that had rendered several letters or combinations thereof capable of being used interchangeably to represent identical sounds. The unvoiced sibilant could be written as ç, z, or c (the latter only before e or i); the glottal fricative as j, x, and g (the latter, again, only before e or i); and both the bilabial plosive and fricative as either b and v. The letter h, which once had represented the glottal fricative, had long since come to be silent, leading to its absence in places where it had been customary (aora instead of ahora, 'now') and its insertion in places it had never existed (haquellos instead of aquellos, 'those'). Also common in the written Spanish of the day are such consonant combinations as ph (triumpho), th (authoridad), qu (quanto), ch (monarchia), and gn (lignea), erudite innovations that alluded to classical spellings but which expressed the same sounds represented traditionally by f (triunfo, 'triumph'), t (autoridad, 'authority'), cu (cuanto, 'how many, how much'), qu (monarquía, 'monarchy') and n (línea, 'line'), respectively. Seyxas's text also includes variation in the use of the i latina (i) and i griega (y), as in yslas (islas, 'isles') and mui (muy, 'very'). We find as well redundant vowels (fee instead of fe, 'faith') and consonants (passado instead of pasado, 'past') which have no transcendence in terms of sound, and the use of m before the bilabial fricative b/v, where today we would expect n (embiar instead of enviar, 'to send'). Because the various orthographic options in each of these categories are all phonologically equivalent, I have normalized them according to modern criteria, as is generally common practice today in the edition of Spanish texts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
By the same reasoning, I have preserved in this reading text features that are not standard but reflect the sound of the language in Seyxas's day. These include the variation in non-tonic vowels (previlegio instead of privilegio, 'privilege'), the confusion between the liquid consonants (englosar instead of engrosar, 'to make larger'), the presence of archaic forms now obsolete (mesmo, today mismo, 'same'), and the use of the coordinating conjunctions o and y before words beginning with o and i, where today we would expect u and e, respectively (o otras instead of u otras, 'or others,' and y yslas instead of e islas, 'and islands'). I likewise preserve the use of u instead of o before words that do not begin with o (uno u dos instead of uno o dos, 'one or two'). I respect the learned consonant clusters (pt, ct, gn, mn, xc, xp, cc, pc, etc.) where they appear in Latinisms (fructos instead of frutos, 'fruits, results'). However, when not present in places where today we expect them (esperiencia instead of experiencia, 'experience'), I do not add them, as their imposition by the Royal Academy did not occur until the following century.
I apply modern criteria to the spelling of personal and geographical names, following the rules established above, when these have forms that are common in Spanish. Where I read "Phelipe" and "Oriçaba," therefore, I write "Felipe" and "Orizaba." However, when Seyxas employs a foreign name or a Hispanized version of the same, I respect his spelling, such as in the case of "Petiguao," referring to the French Petit–Goâve. An idiosyncrasy of the current text is the use of the spellings "Spaña" and "Nueva Spaña," in coexistence with "España" y "Nueva España," in referring to Spain and New Spain. The form "Spaña" is common in documents from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, but I find no evidence of it in other texts from the late seventeenth century.[90] It very improbably reflects actual pronunciation, and therefore I emend it in all instances.
With regard to the division of words, I follow modern practice (porque, 'because,' instead of por que in the original) but respect the use of the contracted forms (deste, 'of this'; today, de este) which are now antiquated. I respect the contraction of de él, not standard today, adding the diacritic mark for clarity (dél). I have resolved all abbreviations and followed modern norms in the use of punctuation, written accents, capital letters, and the writing of numerals. I also have rectified certain passages that are grammatically incomplete and corrected items that I deem to be clear errors on the part of the author.
In the annotations to this text, I examine lexical and other aspects of Seyxas's Spanish that may hold interest for the modern reader, noting only the first instance of any given feature except in select cases where circumstances make the repetition of information particularly convenient. Where I have deemed it desirable to preserve Seyxas's marginal notes in this version, I have incorporated these into my own annotations. When the numbers written into the margins on folios 38r and following reiterate figures already mentioned, I omit them here. In cases where I believe they form part of the text itself, I introduce them as I have considered appropriate.

English Translation

In preparing the English translation of Seyxas's text, I have striven to create an accurate version that will prove as accessible as possible to the modern reader. When faced with the choice of following Seyxas's text literally or rendering it into natural, colloquial English, I have opted for the latter. I have especially endeavored to adapt Seyxas's often lengthy and complex sentences into unencumbered, direct English prose. I present place names here in the forms most commonly used in English, in cases where these exist. In the annotations to this text, I address matters of historical and biographical context, as well as questions of translation that I believe merit consideration. These include instances where I have chosen one of several possible translations of a term, or where a word or expression has been particularly challenging to render with precision in English. In the most problematic of cases, I have left the Spanish untranslated.

XML Encoding

The three versions of the text have been encoded together in one TEI XML file, with an eye toward facilitating their side-by-side comparison. The file has been structured with a high-level <group> element which gathers two <text> elements, the first encompassing both the transcription and modernized Spanish version, and the second containing the English translation.
In the transcription, I have utilized primarily the following TEI elements: <del> for deletions, with @type indicating whether this is stricken or overwritten text; <add> for interlineal additions, with @type specifying whether the point of insertion is specified in the original; <supplied> for all text I have added, with @reason used to indicate the rationale for the addition (which most frequently is the need to extrapolate letters obscured by the binding on the versos) and @cert to record a relative degree of certainty; <sic> for apparent errors in the original; <note type="authorial"> for Seyxas's marginal annotations, with @place showing location; <abbr> for abbreviations; <gap> for breaks in the text, with @reason used to explain circumstances; and <unclear> to mark material regarding which there is doubt, with @reason used to offer further explanation. I have also employed <placeName> and <persName> to mark the numerous geographical and personal names in the text. In order to establish a correspondence between the Spanish and English versions, @n on the <p> element has been used to give each paragraph in the transcription a unique identifier.
The reading text has been layered atop the transcription in same <text> element through the use of <choice>. The following combinations have been employed to carry out the modernization, according to the criteria described above: <choice><orig> </orig><reg> </reg></choice> for modifications to spelling, punctuation, and capitalization; <choice><abbr> </abbr><expan> </expan></choice> for expansion of abbreviations; <choice><sic> </sic><corr> </corr></choice> for emendation of apparent authorial errors; and <note type="editorial"> for my annotations. In isolated instances, the addition of material deemed necessary to complete the sense of the original has been accomplished using <choice><orig> </orig><reg><supplied reason="editorial_choice"> </supplied></reg></choice>.
In the English translation, I have utilized @corresp on the <p> element to link each paragraph to its counterpart in the combined Spanish text. Annotations dealing with historical or other contextual material have been added using <note type="editorial">, and those that address the process of translation have been tagged as <note type="translational">. I have used <supplied reason="editorial_choice"> to document the addition of material not present in the original but which I feel increases the readability of the passage in English without altering the author's meaning.

Interface Design

A guiding principle behind this project has been a desire to exploit the possibilities of TEI XML to document and reveal the various levels of editorial and translational decisions involved. To this end, the interface for this edition has been designed to maximize the reader's ability to compare the various versions of the text. Three different entry points to the document have been provided, via the diplomatic transcription, the partially modernized Spanish version, and the translation. A consistent view has been implemented across the three versions that allows a reader to navigate from any paragraph in one text to the corresponding paragraph in the other two, and from the transcription to the manuscript images.
The original Spanish view seeks to replicate, to the extent possible, the physical disposition of the manuscript. I preserve here the line breaks and indicate the foliation in square brackets. Material I have provided to complete words or letters obscured by the binding are shown in red, and text that is unclear appears in gray. Stricken material, whether crossed out or written over in the manuscript, appears in strikethrough. The author's marginal insertions are shown to the left or right of the main text, approximating the way they appear in the original. His interlineal additions are shown in superscript, with a caret indicating the point of insertion, when this is provided in the manuscript. When it is not, such insertions appear in the interface without a caret, and their location has been a matter of editorial discretion. Gaps in the text, resulting in most cases from damage to the manuscript, are represented here and in all other views as "[. . .]".
In the partially modernized Spanish version, a system of color-coded highlighting has been deployed to communicate to the reader the various transformations that have taken place. These include the expansion of abbreviations, the regularization of spelling and punctuation, the correction of evident errors and the occasional introduction of material needed to rectify grammatically inconclusive passages. Beginning on folio 38r, this last category includes certain monetary amounts that in the original appear in the right margin, but which complete sentences in the main text. The reader may reveal or hide the highlighting as desired, and a key provides an explanation of each color. By hovering the cursor over an expanded abbreviation or modernized term, the reader may also see the original form as it appears in the transcription.
The English version employs a dual system of numbering for the footnotes, separating contextual and biographical notes from those dealing strictly with matters of translation. Material that does not appear in the manuscript, but which I have added in the interest of clarity, appears in blue type.

Abbreviations Employed in This Edition

AGI Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies, Seville)
AMAE Archives du Ministère des Affaires Étrangères (Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, La Courneuve, France)
Aut. Real Academia Española, Diccionario de la lengua castellana ("Autoridades"), 1726–1739
DRAE Real Academia Española, Diccionario de la lengua española, 22nd edition, 2001
Corr. Pol. Correspondance Politique (a signature in AMAE)
CORDE Real Academia Española, Corpus diacrónico del español
Mem. et Doc. Mémoires et Documents (a signature in AMAE)
s.v. sub voce (in references to dictionary entries)


This project has been made possible by the support and generosity of many people. I am grateful to Raquel Chang-Rodríguez, John O'Neill, and Lía Schwartz for encouraging my research into Seyxas since I began several years ago. Mark Burkholder assisted me in grappling with a particularly difficult aspect of the manuscript, and Shira Schwam-Baird in corresponding with the Archives of the French Ministry of External Affairs in La Courneuve. Deb Miller of the Center for Instructional and Research Technology (CIRT) at the University of North Florida helped me to acquire needed software, and Michael Boyles, also of CIRT, spent many hours assisting in the preparation of the manuscript images. Amanda Gailey and Andrew Jewell provided indispensable advice regarding the implementation of the edition in TEI XML and collaborated with me in the conceptualization and creation of the interface. I am indebted to Pablo Emilio Pérez-Mallaína Bueno for first identifying many of the manuscript documents in Spain and France mentioned in this project, and to the General Archive of the Indies in Seville and the Archives of the French Ministry of External Affairs for providing access to those materials. Lastly, I would like to thank Constanza López Baquero for her love, patience, and belief in my work.
This edition is dedicated to the memory of Isaías Lerner (1932–2013), professor, mentor, and friend.
Manuscript images are used by permission of the Archives of the French Ministry of External Affairs.


  1. For a discussion of the various ways the author's surnames appear in manuscript and print sources, see McCarl, introduction to Francisco de Seyxas y Lovera, Piratas y contrabandistas de ambas Indias, y estado presente de ellas (1693) ([La Coruña]: Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza, 2011), xi n1.Go back
  2. For an explanation of the role of alcalde mayor, see Mark A. Burkholder, "Bureaucrats" in Administrators of Empire, ed. Mark A. Burkholder (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 1998), 24; and Peter Bakewell, A History of Latin America: Empires and Sequels, 1450–1930 (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1997), 121–23. For Tacuba in the colonial period, see Peter Gerhard, A Guide to the Historical Geography of New Spain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 247–49. Tacuba is today part of Mexico City.Go back
  3. For examples of how Seyxas is cited in this context, see José Vargas Ponce, Relación del último viage al estrecho de Magallanes (Madrid: Por la viuda de Ibarra, hijos y compañía, 1788), 270–71; Martín Fernández de Navarrete, Disertación sobre la historia de la náutica (Madrid: Imprenta de la viuda de Calero, 1846), 311; Cesáreo Fernández Duro, Armada española (Madrid: Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1895–1903), 5:339; and José María Martínez–Hidalgo y Terán, Enciclopedia general del mar (Madrid: Ediciones Garriga, 1957), s.v. Seixas y Lobera.Go back
  4. See Francisco de Seyxas y Lovera, Theatro Naval Hidrographico de los Fluxos, y Refluxos, y de las Corrientes de los Mares, Estrechos, Archipielagos, y Passages Aquales del Mundo (En Madrid: Por Antonio de Zafra, 1688). The title translates as "Hydrographic Naval Theater of High and Low Tides and Currents in the Oceans, Straits, Archipelagos, and Aquatic Passages of the Worl." Two subsequent Spanish editions (Paris: En casa de Pedro Gissey, 1703 and 1704) and a translation to French (Théàtre naval hydrographique [Paris: Pierre Gisey, 1704]) were printed in France, where Seyxas spent his final years.Go back
  5. See Francisco de Seixas y Lovera, Descripcion Geographica, y Derrotero de la Region Austral Magallanica (En Madrid: Por Antonio de Zafra, 1690). The title translates as "Geographic Description and Sailing Routes of the Strait of Magellan and the Surrounding Region." In a marginal note on a map of the region that he drew later in Versailles, Seyxas indicates he was preparing a second edition of this book that would include the map, as well as other information that he asserts the Council of Indies did not allow him to publish in 1690. See the Archives of the French Ministry of External Affairs (Archives du Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, AMAE), Mem. et Doc. 122 (Esp. 129), 183r.Go back
  6. See Real Biblioteca (Madrid), II/1800.Go back
  7. See the two dedicatory prefaces, addressed to Charles II of Spain and the Council of Indies.Go back
  8. See Francisco de Seyxas y Lovera, Piratas y contrabandistas de ambas Indias, y estado presente de ellas (1693), ed. Clayton McCarl ([La Coruña]: Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza, 2011). The title translates as "Pirates and Smugglers of the East and West Indies, and Current State of those Regions." The text was discovered in the colonial holdings of the Hispanic Society of America in New York City in 2007. For more information, see McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xxxix.Go back
  9. In Versailles, Seyxas produced a fourteen-volume collection of treatises, along with other miscellaneous documents and proposals, located today in the AMAE. See McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xvi n14. Pérez-Mallaína Bueno transcribes the titles and summaries of all fourteen tomes and the various discursos (chapters) of which they are comprised. See his introduction to Gobierno militar y político del reino imperial de la Nueva España, 1702 (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1986), 101–71. The title of Pérez-Mallaína Bueno's edition translates as "Military and Political Government of the Imperial Realm of New Spain." This was the first modern version of a text by Seyxas and the project that first emphasized the political dimensions of the author's writings. For a few of the many examples of how recent studies have drawn on Seyxas's work, see María Pilar Gutiérrez Lorenzo, De la corte de Castilla al virreinato de México: El Conde de Galve (1653–1697) (Guadalajara, España: Excma. Diputación Provincial, 1993), 92; Ben Vinson III, Bearing Arms for His Majesty: The Free-Colored Militia in Colonial Mexico (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 14–15; Alejandro Cañeque, The King's Living Image: The Culture and Politics of Viceregal Power in Colonial Mexico (New York: Routledge, 2004), 244; and María Elisa Velázquez Gutiérrez, Mujeres de origen africano en la capital novohispana, siglos XVII y XVIII (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2006), 229.Go back
  10. John Lynch, Spain under the Habsburgs, 2nd ed. (1969; reprint, New York: New York University Press, 1981), 2:249, 269.Go back
  11. Lynch, Habsburgs, 269–74; Jaime Contreras, Carlos II, el Hechizado: Poder y melancolía en la corte del último Austria (Madrid: Temas de Hoy, 2003), 271–81, 286–89.Go back
  12. Bakewell, A History, 124–28.Go back
  13. Lynch, Habsburgs, 290–91; Mark A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler, From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687–1808 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1977), 9–10.Go back
  14. Burkholder, "Bureaucrats," 26–27; Burkholder and Chandler, Impotence, 18.Go back
  15. Lynch, Habsburgs, 294–96.Go back
  16. Burkholder, "Bureaucrats," 31, 37; Burkholder and Chandler, Impotence, 18–19. See also J. H. Parry, The Sale of Public Office in the Spanish Indies under the Hapsburgs (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953), which treats the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in general; Francisco Tomás y Valiente, La venta de oficios en Indias (1492–1606) (Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Administrativos, 1972), which addresses the sixteenth century; and Ángel Sanz Tapia, ¿Corrupción o necesidad?: La venta de cargos de gobierno americanos bajo Carlos II (1674–1700) (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2009), which focuses specifically on the reign of Charles II.Go back
  17. Lynch, Habsburgs, 291–93.Go back
  18. Lynch, Habsburgs, 294–96; Burkholder and Chandler, Impotence, 23–24.Go back
  19. Burkholder, "Bureaucrats," 39.Go back
  20. Burkholder, "Bureaucrats," 22.Go back
  21. These narratives are found in the dedicatory preface to the Council of Indies in Descripcion Geographica (fols. vii.r–viii.r) and in the proemio (preface) to "Theatro Real" and transcribed in the appendix to Piratas y contrabandistas, 213–25. It must be noted that any discussion of Seyxas's early life is necessarily a complex task, as we rely principally on what he tells us, and as on occasion he offers what seem to be conflicting versions of events. For instance, in the royal decree naming him alcalde mayor of Tacuba, his service as a corsair against the French in the years 1683 and 1685 is mentioned (Pérez-Mallaína Bueno, introduction to Gobierno militar, 15). From what he relates in his preface to "Theatro Real," however, it would seem that he was prevented from performing the service in question because his ship was seized in the Low Countries during the resolution of a legal dispute (McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xxi–xxii). Likewise, in documents written later in Versailles, he would recount events from his early life that are at times difficult to reconcile with what he narrates in "Theatro Real" and Descripcion Geographica. See McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xxiv–xxvii.Go back
  22. Seyxas indicates this event took place off the coast of Cambodia, a name that on European maps of the period referred to the entire peninsula of Indochina. See, for instance, the chart of the East Indies ("Septimo mapa del Archipielago de la Yndia Oriental") in the "Taboas geraes de toda a navegaçaõ" (1630) of João Teixeira Albernaz I, which Seyxas had possessed.Go back
  23. Seyxas, "Theatro Real," fols. v.r–vii.r, transcribed in Piratas y contrabandistas, 214–17; and Descripcion Geographica, vii.r. See also McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xviii–xix.Go back
  24. Seyxas would later initiate mining projects in Cuba, as mentioned below, and in France, he would write a treatise related to the discovery and exploitation of mines. See AMAE Mem. et Doc. 131 (Esp. 138), "Nuebo arte y modo de descubrir y de veneficiar minas de oro," Versailles, October 28, 1704, 5r–214v.Go back
  25. Seyxas, "Theatro Real," fols. vii.r–x.r, transcribed in Seyxas, Piratas y contrabandistas, 217–21; and Descripcion Geographica, fols. vii.r–vii.v. See also McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xix–xxi.Go back
  26. He was named captain of the first ship that became available, excepting the almiranta or capitana. Pérez-Mallaína Bueno located a copy of this cédula real (royal license) in AGI México 627, "Testimonio de autos," 1695 (see his introduction to Gobierno militar, 15). A capitán de mar y guerra was a high–ranking officer, positioned one level below admiral and above both capitán de infantería (infantry captain) and capitán de mar (sea captain); see David Goodman, Spanish Naval Power, 1589–1665: Reconstruction and Defeat (1977; reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 231. As Pérez-Mallaína Bueno observes, to receive such a title in the Atlantic Fleet was perhaps a dubious honor, given the decrepit state of that armada (introduction to Gobierno militar, 15).Go back
  27. Seyxas, Piratas y contrabandistas, 162. For this state of war, see Lynch, Habsburgs, 273; John H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469–1716 (1963; reprint, London: Penguin, 1990), 371–72; Calvo Poyato, Carlos II, 174–85.Go back
  28. See Seyxas's signature, dated Madrid, April 16, 1692, on the preliminary pages he added to the "Taboas geraes de toda a navegaçaõ" (1630) of João Teixeira Albernaz I, which he presented to Charles II and his Council of Indies. According to the author, he had extracted this manuscript atlas in 1681 from the Biblioteca Real (Royal Library) in Lisbon, by means of a monetary payment and his connections in the Portuguese court. The "Taboas geraes" are located today in the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division (Washington, DC) and are available online through the American Memory Map Collections. The atlas contains Seyxas's introductory letter, the Spanish titles he imposed on the Portuguese maps, his modifications to a map of the Strait of Magellan, and another map of that same area of his own manufacture. See McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xiii–xiv; Piratas y contrabandistas, 195; and the transcription of Seyxas's introductory letter in the appendix to Piratas y contrabandistas, 229–31.Go back
  29. See Avisos, folio 5r. Seyxas in any case would seem to not be entirely unconnected personally to the buying and selling of offices. By his own assertion, he had sold or transferred the post of corregidor of Los Lipes in Peru to a Rois de Valcázar, from whom he would attempt to collect the sum owed him upon arriving in Lima, as mentioned below. It is not clear how or when Seyxas had acquired this assignment, though presumably this took place before being named alcalde mayor of Tacuba. The latter would likely have been a more appealing position, located as it was near Mexico City, as opposed to in the remote province of Los Lipes in Upper Peru. See Antonio de Alcedo, Diccionario Geográfico-Histórico de las Indias Occidentales o América, 4 vols. (Madrid: En la imprenta de Manuel González, 1786–1789); Francisco M. Gil García, "Los Lipes y la mita de Potosí: considerando la situación de un grupo étnico surandino dentro del entramado colonial (siglos XVI–XVII)," coords., Antonio Gutiérrez Escudero and María Luisa Laviana Cuetos, Estudios sobre América: siglos XVI–XX (Sevilla: Asociación Española de Americanistas, 2005), 691–711. Seyxas mentions Rois de Valcázar in Piratas y contrabandistas, 178. Seyxas's debts upon arriving in the New World are discussed below, although the existence of these obligations does not prove that he purchased his office, as such debts could have been incurred merely in the cost of the passage to the New World, among other related expenses. Pérez-Mallaína Bueno regards Seyxas's appointment as the result of a financial transaction (introduction to Gobierno militar, 15–16). Seyxas's gift of the "Taboas geraes" of Teixeira Albernaz to the king and his Council of Indies might have played a role in such a purchase.Go back
  30. See AGI Contratación 5454, N. 3, R. 129, a dossier dated in Cadiz, July 14, 1692, which contains papers related to Seyxas's departure for the New World, including his permission to travel and a copy of the decree naming him alcalde mayor of Tacuba. AGI Contratación 5540b, L.5, documents his departure, also on July 14, 1692. Pérez-Mallaína Bueno gives the date of his arrival in Veracruz as October 15, 1692 (introduction to Gobierno militar, 16). See also McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xxvii–xxviii.Go back
  31. The following discussion of Seyxas's tribulations at the hands of the Count of Galve proceeds primarily from two documents he wrote in 1696 to Baltasar de Tovar, an oidor (judge) of the Real Audiencia. The first of these is a one-folio note in which Seyxas introduces the matter at hand, referring to the second document, which is seven folios in length. Both are found in AGI México 627, dated Veracruz, March 11, 1696. Note that Seyxas refers to the oidor as Baltasar de Lobera, which is, in fact, the way the judge signs the documents found in México 627. These materials must be handled with care, as they provide one side of what surely was a complex series of events. A more complete understanding of Seyxas's narrative necessitates a close comparison of his account to the extensive documentary evidence available, much of which likewise cannot be taken at face value, produced as it was by the very administrative and judicial systems that the author regarded as illegitimate and corrupt. However, as the present study seeks not to establish historical truths as much as to provide context for understanding the text of Avisos, such a task will be left for another moment, and in the following paragraphs Seyxas's own version of events will be considered as he presents it. For Seyxas's experiences in New Spain, see also Pérez-Mallaína Bueno, introduction to Gobierno militar, 16–21 y 64–80.Go back
  32. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 1r–1v.Go back
  33. Burkholder, "Bureaucrats," 31. Pérez-Mallaína Bueno discusses the struggle between the viceroys and the Council of Indies with regard to such appointments in his introduction to Gobierno militar, 77–79.Go back
  34. For this event, see Gutiérrez Lorenzo, De la corte de Castilla, 111–25. Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora wrote a contemporary account that, as Gutiérrez Lorenzo observes, absolves the viceroy of blame. See Gutiérrez Lorenzo, De la corte de Castilla, 67; and Sigüenza y Góngora, Alboroto y motín de los indios de México, in Seis obras, ed. William G. Bryant (Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1984), 95–141. Seyxas discusses this event also in Piratas y contrabandistas, 136–37.Go back
  35. Gutiérrez Lorenzo, De la corte de Castilla, 44, 68.Go back
  36. The Audiencia consisted of two chambers, the civil (Sala de Corte), overseen by the oidores, and the criminal (Sala del Crimen), presided by judges called alcaldes de crimen. See C. H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (1963; reprint, San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), 110; Valeria Sánchez Michel, Usos y funcionamiento de la cárcel novohispana: el caso de la Real Cárcel de Corte a finales del siglo XVIII (México, DF: El Colegio de México, 2008), 39; and Gabriel Haslip-Viera, Crime and Punishment in Late Colonial Mexico City, 1692–1810 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999), 44.Go back
  37. See AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 2r, where he indicates that upon being released the second time from prison he returned to his home in Tacuba, where he was ready to occupy his post. Seyxas's claim to be an hidalgo demands further validation. His family's commercial activities would seem to argue against such status.Go back
  38. See AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fols. 1v–2v. See also Pérez-Mallaína Bueno, introduction to Gobierno militar, 17–18. The crime involved here is referred to as cercenar monedas, or "to cut the edges off coins." It appears that during this period of incarceration, Seyxas completed Piratas y contrabandistas, the dedicatoria (dedicatory preface) of which was signed in Mexico City on April 28, 1693. See Piratas y contrabandistas, 5.Go back
  39. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fols. 2v–3v.Go back
  40. See AGI Contratación 5454, N. 3, R. 129.Go back
  41. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 4r–4v. According to Seyxas, his jailors freed him three weeks after the date of May 8 indicated on the document ordering his release.Go back
  42. Seyxas refers to Suárez Muñoz as an alcalde de corte.Go back
  43. According to Seyxas, this operation involved convening the vecinos (householders) of Tacuba to one place, in order to prevent any of them from interfering with the arrest. He also asserts that Cumplido and Suárez Muñoz conducted him from his district in shackles and mounted on a mule, and that when he was passing through Mexico City on his way to prison, numerous individuals came to his defense, attacking his escorts in an attempt to free him. A potentially violent situation resulted, which Seyxas claims to have diffused. See AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fols. 4v–5r.Go back
  44. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 5r–5v.Go back
  45. Seyxas apparently viewed Chacón as an ally. In a letter from Juan de Ortega y Montañés to Charles II (Mexico City, July 13, 1696) in AGI México 627, the interim viceroy notes that in the communication he had received from Seyxas, the author had registered complaints regarding the viceroy and all ministers of the Real Audiencia, with the exception of Chacón, who himself was a critic of the viceroy. See Pérez-Mallaína Bueno, introduction to Gobierno militar, 73–77.Go back
  46. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fols. 5v–6v. In a letter that Seyxas writes to the king from Panama in 1697, he affirms that he still has these documents in his possession. See AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Charles II, Pamana, July 6, 1697, fol. 1r.Go back
  47. The letter is found in AGI México 627. See transcription in Pérez-Mallaína Bueno, introduction to Gobierno militar, 172–74.Go back
  48. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 6v.Go back
  49. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 6v. The letter from his wife, María Damiana de Cuebas y Seixas, is found in AGI México 627.Go back
  50. Seyxas seems to suggest that Tovar himself had provided this support, apparently after receiving from Seyxas a previous request for assistance. See AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (1), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 1r.Go back
  51. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, 6r. It would appear that Seyxas was to be sent not to Florida, as he understood, but rather to North Africa. See AGI México 627, letter from Juan de Ortega y Montañés to Charles II, Mexico City, July 13, 1696, where the interim viceroy indicates as much, and AGI México 627, consulta of the Council of Indies, May 13, 1698, which further specifies that the decision to send Seyxas to a military outpost in North Africa was made by the Real Acuerdo, which ordered the viceroy to exile the author for whatever period of time he felt appropriate.Go back
  52. In AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (1), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 1r, Seyxas does not indicate that he is writing from within a religious institution. However, presumably referring to AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Juan de Ortega y Montañés, Veracruz, March 11, 1696, written on the same date as the aforementioned letter to Tovar, the interim viceroy indicates that Seyxas wrote to him from the church in Veracruz where he had sought sanctuary. See AGI México 627, letter from Juan de Ortega y Montañés to Charles II, Mexico City, July 13, 1696, fol 1r–1v.Go back
  53. See the discussion above of the two documents Seyxas directed to Tovar from Veracruz on March 11, 1696, today in AGI México 627.Go back
  54. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (1), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 1r.Go back
  55. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 7r–7v.Go back
  56. AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (1), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 1r–1v.Go back
  57. Seyxas provides this information about Neira Seijas y Ulloa in AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (1), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 1r. In AGI México 627, letter from Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera to Charles II, Mexico, July 13, 1696, fol. 1r–1v, the judge repeats this information. In AGI México 627, letter from Juan de Ortega y Montañés to Charles II, Mexico City, July 13, 1696, fol. 1v, the interim viceroy indicates he was approached by an individual he does not name, who presented himself as a clergyman and relative of Seyxas.Go back
  58. AGI México 627, letter from Juan de Ortega y Montañés to Charles II, Mexico City, July 13, 1696; and AGI México 627, letter from Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera to Charles II, Mexico, July 13, 1696.Go back
  59. AGI México 627, letter from Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera to Charles II, Mexico, July 13, 1696.Go back
  60. See AGI México 627, letter from Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera to Charles II, Mexico, July 13, 1696, and AGI México 627, letter from Juan de Ortega y Montañés to Charles II, Mexico City, July 13, 1696. According to a note in AGI México 627 dated May 4, 1697, these materials arrived in Spain in March of 1697, in a package that contained eleven legal instruments and testimonials, along with the letter from Ortega y Montañés. As Pérez-Mallaína Bueno observes, these materials are today located in the General Archive of the Indies in Seville in AGI México 627, 628 and 629. See his introduction to Gobierno militar, 18.Go back
  61. AGI México 628/629, letter from Seyxas to Philip V, Versailles, November 2, 1702. A draft of this letter is found in AMAE, Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 135, 180r–200r.Go back
  62. See AGI México 628/629, letter from Seyxas to Philip V, Versailles, November 2, 1702. As Pérez-Mallaína Bueno observed (introduction to Gobierno militar, 24 n33), AMAE Mem. et Doc. 130 (Esp. 137) contains several letters related to mining activities in Cuba.Go back
  63. The last documents signed by Seyxas in AMAE are from early 1705. Mem. et Doc. 123 (Esp. 130), 179r–180r, is dated February 4, 1705, and Pérez-Mallaína Bueno found another dated in March. As he notes, Seyxas's wife petitioned the French crown for financial support following her husband's death in a note found in Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 154, fol. 380, among papers dated between October 1705 and January 1706. See his introduction to Gobierno militar, 26–27.Go back
  64. In AGI México 627, letter from Seyxas to Baltasar de Tovar/Lobera (2), Veracruz, March 11, 1696, fol. 7r, Seyxas indicates he has sent a forty–folio letter to Spain. A text located in AMAE dated in 1696 may be a copy of this document. See Mem. et Doc. 130 (Espagne 137), 4r–33v, "Sucesos notables y escandalosos que acaecieron desde que el Conde de Galbe fue nombrado Por Virrey de la Nueva España" (Notable and Scandalous Events that happened since the Count of Galve was named Viceroy of New Spain).Go back
  65. Apparently the Council assumed he was still in Veracruz, although instructions for Seyxas's arrest were also sent to the authorities in Yucatan. See AGI México 627, consulta of the Council of Indies, May 13, 1698; and Adela Pinet Plasencia and Archivo General de la Nación (México), La Península de Yucatán en el Archivo General de la Nación (San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1998), 342.Go back
  66. AGI Lima 91, letter from the Count of La Monclova to Charles II and inventory of papers seized from Seyxas, Lima, January 20, 1699. These materials are transcribed in Manuel Moreyra y Paz Soldán and Guillermo Céspedes del Castillo, eds., Virreinato peruano: documentos para su historia. Colección de cartas de virreyes: Conde de la Monclova (Lima, 1955), 3:13–22.Go back
  67. Both consultas are found in AGI México 628/629, dated April 23, 1701.Go back
  68. AGI México 628/629, letter from Seyxas to Philip V, which includes "Informe que haze al Rey Nuestro Señor el Capitan de Mar, y Guerra D[o]n Francisco de Seyxas y Lovera [. . .]," Versailles, November 2, 1702. A draft of this is found in AMAE Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 135, 180r–200r.Go back
  69. AGI México 628/629, consulta of the Council of Indies, April 3, 1704.Go back
  70. In the first sentence of the text Seyxas refers to the current year as 1694, upon remarking that he had received his colleague's letter of the sixth of July of that year. However, he later indicates that he received the said communication in December of that year, along with a sobrecarta from his correspondent's protégé on January 7, 1695.Go back
  71. The papers the author would carry with him in Peru were seized from him by the Count of La Monclova and placed in the archives of the Real Acuerdo in Lima. See AGI Lima 91, letter from the Count of La Monclova to Charles II and inventory of papers seized from Seyxas, Lima, January 20, 1699, transcribed in Moreyra and Céspedes, Virreinato peruano, 3:13–22.Go back
  72. The manuscript of Avisos and other personal papers corresponding to Seyxas's time in New Spain are today found in AMAE Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134.Go back
  73. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 7r–9r.Go back
  74. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 14v–15r.Go back
  75. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 16v–17r.Go back
  76. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 26v–27r.Go back
  77. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 10r–10v, 27v–28r.Go back
  78. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 9v–10v, 12v–13r.Go back
  79. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 10v–13v, 15v–16r, 31v–33r.Go back
  80. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 5r–6r, 9v–10r, 14r–14v, 16v, 28r–28v.Go back
  81. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 22r–30v.Go back
  82. See Seyxas's warnings regarding foreigners and their Spanish contacts in the Americas in the prologue to Descripcion Geographica (the relevant fragment is transcribed in McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xxxviii n97); McCarl, introduction to Piratas y contrabandistas, xliii–xlv; and among other examples, Seyxas's discussion of the Portuguese settlement of Sacramento in the Río de la Plata in Piratas y contrabandistas, 195–99.Go back
  83. See Piratas y contrabandistas, 176–78.Go back
  84. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fol. 24r–24v.Go back
  85. Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134, fols. 33r–49v.Go back
  86. These threats had indeed provoked an increase in the amounts destined for defense during the reign of the Count of Galve, which, in the year 1690, for instance, accounted for nearly 70 percent of the total receipts of the viceroyalty. See Gutiérrez Lorenzo, De la corte de Castilla, 75.Go back
  87. Avisos occupies folios 4r–18v and 20r–49v of the volume Corr. Pol. (Espagne) 134.Go back
  88. Given the conservative criteria I have used in the representation of the manuscript, it would have been perhaps most coherent to preserve as well Seyxas's use of capital letters. In the interest of economy, however, I concluded this was not realistic within the confines of the present project. The process of encoding the two Spanish versions in one TEI XML <text> element, as I discuss below in the section "XML Encoding," requires a block of code for every modification to the original transcription that is carried out in the modernized version. Honoring the use of capital letters would have resulted in what I feel would have been an excessive amount of encoding to preserve what is, in any case, a highly arbitrary aspect of Seyxas's text. I have therefore transcribed according to modern usage, with the exception of the capital R used to represent the trilled "rr," as in aRuinar (arruinar), which I have preserved.Go back
  89. In formulating this approach, I have been influenced by M. J. Driscoll's reflections in "Levels of Transcription," in Electronic Textual Editing, ed. Lou Burnard, Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, and John M. Unsworth (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2006), 254–61. I refer in particular to the following passage: "The great advantage of electronic texts is that many decisions need not be made: the transcriber can include a wide range of information in the transcription but then choose how much of it to make available to readers, or, better still, allow readers to choose for themselves how much of it they wish to see. From a single marked-up text it should be possible, if one so desires, to produce screen or print copy at any level, from strictly diplomatic to fully normalized. Such markup must by necessity be fairly complex, and will almost certainly require several layers of input. Indeed, another great advantage of electronic transcription over traditional print transcription is that one can return again and again to one's transcription, adding further layers of markup" (258).Go back
  90. See CORDE. In the manuscript of Avisos we encounter also spañola, speriencia, and specialmente, which I have handled in a like fashion.Go back