Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Honor and Personhood in Early Modern Mexico

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Honor and Personhood in Early Modern Mexico

Article excerpt

Latin American Honor and Personhood in Early Modern Mexico. By Osvaldo F. Pardo. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2015. Pp. x, 237. $70.00. ISBN 978-0-47211962-2.)

This book is about the meaningful role the mendicant orders, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians, and the Jesuits played in transmitting ecclesiastical and secular laws to the Nahuas of New Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Educating the Indigenous people of colonial Mexico in matters of morals, law, and social norms and attitudes toward ecclesiastical and civil authorities proved to be a challenging task due to the contradictory demands of the two realms, the religious and secular, upon the indigenous peoples and the missionaries' conviction that the Indians needed to be protected from the abuses of the secular authorities. Mistrusting the influence of the Spanish corpus of laws upon the Nahuas, "The friars envisioned a community of Christian Indians governed by a notion of justice that was informed by moral ideas at odds with the moral and social notions underlying the Spanish legal system" (p. 162). Pardo examines the discussion among various secular authorities and clergy about how to educate the Indigenous communities in issues pertaining to the Spanish system of values. His study deals with topics of possessions, honor, oaths, and punishments, concepts that were at the core of the Spanish legislation and society. Pardo fleshes out the different, and often contradictory, interpretations of Spanish law in relation to these values, by high appointees, judges, encomenderos, letrados, and the religious communities. Basing his book on a vast array of archival documents, bilingual catechisms, ecclesiastical and secular treatises, legislative treatises, bilingual grammar treatises, historical accounts, letters, and a rich secondary literature, Pardo has produced a complex and intriguing cultural study of colonial Mexico. …

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