Exploitation of Land in Central Mexico in the Sixteenth Century

Exploitation of Land in Central Mexico in the Sixteenth Century

Exploitation of Land in Central Mexico in the Sixteenth Century

Exploitation of Land in Central Mexico in the Sixteenth Century

Excerpt

The present study is an attempt to answer several questions that have come up during the course of my work in the early history of Mexico. They concern, principally, the encroachment of cattle, sheep, and goats on the Mexican landscape and the consequent partial displacement of the human population. The study is a quantitative consideration of a few of the anonymous but undeniably great forces that followed and possibly underlay the military conquest. It is an outgrowth of the demographic study which Professor S. F. Cook and I made in 1948 and is complementary to it, because, if the country had not been relieved, so to speak, of the burden of supporting its heavy native population, there would have been much less opportunity for the invasion of European fauna. The progress of that invasion is illustrated by the Frontispiece.

In my investigation I have been immensely helped by the advice of my colleagues, Professors S. F. Cook, S. A. Mosk, and C. O. Sauer, who, however, are in no way responsible for the numerous guesses which I have been obliged to make. The latter stage of the work was made possible by a subsidy granted by the Associates in Tropical Biogeography of the University of California, without which the labor of assembling and manipulating this large body of materials would have been extremely arduous. The officers of the National Archives of Mexico have continued their long and liberal tradition in allowing the Bancroft Library to make photographic copies of the unique records upon which this study is based. Director George P. Hammond and his staff at the Bancroft Library added to the mounting debt I owe them for many years of cordial service.

L.B.S.

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