Cortes de Valladolid.
The Requerimiento of 1513 gave the Spanish monarchy full divine license to exploit, enslave, and fight Indios, the collective term used to describe Mexica, Inca, and other native populations in the New World. Following the conquest of the Mexica and the establishment of New Spain in 1521, and the subsequent influx of Franciscan missionaries to convert the conquered indigenous population, the Requerimento remained unnecessarily in effect, and a culture and economy of hostage-taking and enslavement of the Mexica began to thrive. In September of 1523, the Court of Vallodolid formally outlawed the practice of the enslavement and sale of Indios, and in fact any trade by foreigners in the Indias. Petition xvi of the laws reads:
Porque de las mercedes que se hacen de Indios se recrescen muchos inconvenientes y es contra justicia; et derecho que las fechas se revoquen y que de aquí en adelante no se hagan; y que vuestra Magestad no dé licencia ni permita que los estrangeros traten en las Indias. ¶ A esto respondemos: que assi se hace y mandaremos que assi se haga de aqui adelante.
The law is likely the first witness to an abolition of the enslavement of indigenous peoples in the New World, and 2023 marks its five-hundredth anniversary. As the 1523 Cortes de Valladolid was printed as a handbook for jurists, only a handful of variants survive. The printing history is uncertain, conflicting, and largely unstudied. Alonso de Melgar, the publisher of our book, may have apprenticed as a printer at Basel, and emerged with his own shop at Burgos in 1518; by 1525, he had printed 77 works, mostly literature, before vanishing from the trade. In 1523 he'd obtained a royal license to print edicts and legal works, a privilege he shared with the competing Burgos printer Juan de Junta. Melgar's first legal work, according to Palau 36139, was the 19 September 2023 edition of our text. The present edition, a Melgar imprint dated 27 November 1523, seems to be unrecorded. Two Juan de Junta imprints of 20 November 1523, each with different title-page settings, are recorded at Berkeley Law Library. Our book, which features a woodcut of the arms of Queen Juana of Castile on the title pages, is complete and in good condition, with sound modern provenance.
Folio, 286 x 200 x 10 mm (binding), 282 x 197 x 4 mm (text block); a-c6;  ff. Modern vellum over boards, titled in ink on spine. Covers slightly concave, endpapers a bit worn. Interior: title soiled and trifle tired, with two marginal tears (not affecting text); worm gallery to tail fore-corner of first gathering (not near text); fore-margins trimmed, affecting manuscript notes; head fore-corners toned and soft, perhaps from damp.
Provenance: 17th-c custodial signature to title, "Doctor Ibanez;" somewhat later-than-contemporary manuscript notes in ink (cropped); acquired by Zaragoza bookseller Ignacio Asín from Enrique Aubá Forcada (1913-2007), a well-known collector of early Spanish imprints, with Forcada's penciled notes to endpapers referring to Peticion xvi (on Indians), and a remark that he acquired the book for 850,000 pesetas in 1998. Acquired by W. S. Cotter from Asín, March, 2023. Valid export license on file.
Cf Alden-Landis 523/13 (citing the incomplete [13 ff] British Library copy mentioned by Palau as his deleted 36140 entry. A-L notes: "Petition xvi comprises banning the sale of Indians and of trade by foreigners in the Indies." Cf. Palau y Dulcet 63139 (with the date 19 September 1523). Palau advises that 36140, the defective 13-ff. Melgar edition, should be deleted from the record. Cf Palau 242573 et seqq. for later editions, to 1551. Cf USTC 343618 (two copies), a confused entry, with a variant collation (a8b6c4), and no further information; cf Wilkinson 8282 (without further data); Valladares (Burgos) no. 140 (not consulted); Gutiérrez del Caño, M., “Ensayo de un catálogo de impresores españoles desde la introducción de la imprenta hasta fines del siglo xviii,” Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos, vol III (1899), pp. 662-71, and vol. IV (1900), pp. 77-85; Gutiérrez, L. Cuesta, “La imprenta en Burgos a través de su historia,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 17-18 (1942-1943), pp. 83-89. On Forcada, please see Philobiblon bioid 6808.
Burgos: Alonso de Melgar, 1523.
Status: On Hold