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8. Material Conditions

 

In Part One, we saw that the relationship between women's institutions and society in early colonial Mexico City was distinctive. The period gave rise to institutions for women at a dramatic rate, and their foundations both reflected and participated in the transformation of an Amerindian city and the creation of a settler society. Given the distinctiveness of the role of such institutions in this period, it seems appropriate now to examine the extent to which women's experience of religion in the sixteenth century was also distinctive, differing from or paralleling what has come to be seen as characteristic colonial women's religion. We begin with an attempt to reconstruct the material conditions in which women of devotion lived their lives.

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Popular perceptions of women's institutions in colonial Spanish America have long been colored by the nineteenth-century "liberal" view of convents as country clubs where rich criollas lived in luxurious irrelevance. "Typical" nunneries have often been presented as massive, enormously rich and luxurious houses, often containing as many as five hundred women - nuns, boarders, novices, and servants. These institutions, we are told, were virtual cities within the city, bristling with barbs that excluded the curious eye and imposed absolute clausura. 1 Inside the imposing walls were lighted streets with individual "cells," made up of three to four rooms. Here the communal life prescribed by monastic rules was nowhere in evidence. The cells were the homes of the professed nuns, who lived in them with their servants and the girls in their charge, dining on food prepared in their own private kitchens. 2

 

Contemporary churchmen also contributed to the perception of colonial nuns as creatures of luxury. Early in the seventeenth century, scoffing at the desire of Conceptionist nuns to undertake the foundation of a discalced Carmelite convent, that order's provincial said that while he was in charge he would not allow such a project to be instigated by "spoiled chocolate-drinking creole women" (criollas regalonas y chocolateras) with three or four servants each. 3

 

While recent scholarship has redressed the notion of nuns' irrelevance, our picture of their mode of life has changed little because historians have emphasized the mature institutions of the late colonial period. 4 Indeed, by the late eighteenth century, many convents were wealthy institutions, and the above description may be an accurate reflection of the lives of most of the roughly 2000 nuns who lived in New Spain's 57 convents at the end of the colonial period. 5 Nuns' lifestyles were supported by substantial dowries, which were invested in real property to provide a consistent and lavish income for the convent. As a result, by the eighteenth century, a significant amount of urban real estate was in the hands of the city's women's institutions. In 1749, La Encarnación owned 65 houses, the same number of apartments, and 12 shops. Jesús María, in the same year, could claim 35 houses. Most of the convents' income came from this urban real estate, in which investment continued to grow throughout the colonial period. 6 Thus, in 1856, at exclaustration, La Concepción possessed some 127 houses as well as other wealth. 7

 

Nonetheless, even then the apparently monolithic wealth of convents concealed both great variation in relative financial status and a generally "precarious internal economic balance" that precluded true security. And even this delicate balance had been achieved after a long period of financial instability that lasted until the second half of the seventeenth century. 8 In the sixteenth century, then, the material conditions in which nuns lived were highly variable, but generally precarious. Semi-religious women, whose finances remained wholly personal rather than institutional, were not necessarily more secure. Yet what evidence exists suggests that they had the opportunity to achieve a modicum of financial independence unusual for unmarried women. Overall, there is no evidence of the vast gulf in living standards that would exist between religious and semi-religious women by the end of the colonial period. One massive difference, however, did exist. The material conditions under which nuns lived were profoundly affected by clausura, from which beatas were exempt.

Cloistering

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By the end of the sixteenth century, cloistering was the definitive characteristic of women's monasticism both in Europe and in New Spain. Clausura served as a clear demarcation line between religious and semi-religious women, who less than one hundred years before had both often been described as "nuns" (monjas) or "women religious." (religiosas) Clausura also imposed a set of characteristics that would come to define women's monasticism: construction programs to ensure proper cloistering; huge numbers of women in convents that needed to be larger to survive; greater emphasis on observance of a rule; and emphasis on contemplation to the exclusion of other forms of religious labor. 9 Women's monasticism in Mexico was thus forged during the period in which clausura was most definitively imposed on women religious everywhere.

 

Cloistering, of course, had long been a form of ascetic practice performed by both men and women. By the seventh century, cloistering was understood as a "symbolic prison to which the monk condemned himself." 10 Slowly, however, cloistering became seen less as a specific ascetic practice of hermits and anchorites of both sexes and more as a general practice that should be imposed upon all women religious. In this latter sense, clausura had two aspects: active, the containment of the religious person within the monastery; and passive, the exclusion of other persons from the monastery. 11 Yet to speak of "religious persons" is to risk eliding the fact that clausura was increasingly a gendered reality aimed at the preservation of feminine chastity. Men's institutions, even cloistered ones, did not exist under absolute clausura; their version of cloistering did not prevent exit, nor the entrance of seculars (except women). 12 Stricter enclosure, then, was conceived of as a protection for the greater sensuality and frailty of women. As Abelard argued in his directions for the Paraclete, "inasmuch as for our part we are less attacked by the conflicts of carnal temptations and less likely to stray towards bodily things in the senses," men were not in need of such protection. 13 Yet even in the face of a strong masculine impulse toward clausura for women, most medieval nunneries resisted both forms of cloistering, which interfered with their functioning 14 and were almost always feared and resisted. 15

 

In 1555, the suppression of all female orders not in enclosure was proclaimed by the Holy See. It also proclaimed that all female orders must be subject to common vows. 16 This decision was reinforced by the edicts of Trent regarding convents of women, which were issued and confirmed in the final sessions of December 1563. Some of them were reforms that reiterated the basic rules of monasticism governing, for example, the minimum age for eligibility for the office of abbess and for profession. But many of the decisions made at Trent were new in their emphasis on placing greater barriers than ever before between nuns and the world. Trent prohibited the entry of laypersons into the convents and thus, for example, diminished attendance at lay comedies staged by the nuns. 17 In line with Trent's reassertion of episcopal authority, decrees placed convents under diocesan control. 18 And, most importantly, Trent repeated the demand for strict observance of cloistering.

 

After the Council of Trent, greatly enhanced restrictions on the movement of religious women, as well as other, stricter regulations of religious life, were sometimes met by women religious with shock. The nuns of Santi Naborre e Felice in Bologna, for example, complained to the pope in 1586 that not only had they been deprived of their organ, they had been "so tormented with various statutes and orders that they no longer have the strength to endure it." In short, they complained, with the new regulations, "we have only Hell in this world and the next." 19 In addition to using litigation to resist the imposition of clausura, other Italian nuns resisted the enforcement of the reforms by attempting to physically repel enforcing prelates, while their families complained that the new regulations would severely restrict their access to their enclosed daughters. Spanish nuns also resisted the new regulations, 20 which would eradicate centuries-old hospitality traditions and other customs. Other nuns wrote literary works equating walls with prisons and their lives with imprisonment. 21

 

Indeed, imprisonment was often an apt metaphor. Enclosure was often taken to imply masonry, with replacing crumbling and too-low walls replaced by with stronger ones. 22 At the same time, the wall came to be even more symbolic of the life of religious women. The Counter-Reformation bishop Carlos Borremeo, in his instructions for the proper construction of women's convents, emphasized the role of a complete enclosure. Not only was the convent to be completely walled and its windows heavily barred, but "the precaution should also be taken that no window is installed from which one might see outside the limits of the monastery." 23 translation

 10

In Mexico, the movement toward clausura accompanied the development of female monasticism, and was therefore less resisted. 24 In the 1530s, as we have seen, the semi-religious women who staffed the colegios de niñas indias were wholly uncloistered. Bishop Zumárraga sought to establish a "semi-cloistered" convent to ensure that his nuns would be able to participate in evangelization while avoiding scandal. The foundation of La Concepción, however, eradicated all notions of uncloistered religious women in the city. Because of the decline of Mexico's beaterios or colegios de niñas indias, and subsequent foundations of cloistered feminine institutions, Mexico had no tradition of uncloistered communities of women, whether nuns or semi-religious. All of Mexico City's feminine institutions, even the recogimientos and colegio de niñas mestizas, were thought of as cloistered. Thus, even before Trent, clausura was the sine qua non of women's monasticism in the viceregal capital. Witnesses describing the Colegio de Niñas Mestizas in 1557 boasted that its walls were so high that only the sky could be seen from within the institution. 25 The reception of the decrees of Trent reinforced the desirability of absolute clausura and gave added weight to the dictates of local churchmen seeking its enforcement. In addition, a new emphasis on the niceties of cloistering arose. In Guatemala in 1578, the existence of a hill beside the newly-founded convent of La Concepción meant that a person could climb the hill and see the nuns in their patio—an intolerable situation that in the eyes of witnesses for the city government justified the moving of the convent to a more decent location. 26

 

Because of the strict enforcement of clausura, Mexican nuns were ghostly inhabitants of the city whose most forceful physical presence was aural, as "disembodied voices" heard singing at mass by the citizenry. 27 For example, many citizens apparently went to hear the singing of the girls of the Colegio de Niñas Mestizas, which was linked forcefully to the ability of the institution to collect alms and survive financially. 28 Clausura, therefore, did not mean irrelevance.

 

Moreover, clausura did not mean that convent walls were equally impermeable in either direction. Convents for women definitely practiced active clausura; there is no evidence that nuns left the cloister except to found new convents, when, as we have seen, they were transported solemnly and in procession. Yet even though the active cloistering of the nuns was effective, passive cloistering was slower to develop. Clearly, there was much concern about passive clausura in the sixteenth century. The ordinances prescribed for San Jerónimo in 1585, for example, aimed to prohibit the excessive entrance of male religious, who were to conduct their business without undue dallying. Secular persons were to be admitted only as necessary for the medical treatment of the nuns and the repair of the buildings, but the nuns were to flee from their approach. 29

 

Yet if such typical regulations were in effect, the colonial scene often militated against their full enforcement. For example, buildings were sometimes inadequate. In 1575, Maese Alonso, mayordomo of the Hospital Real de los Indios, described the lack of clausura in the convent of Santa Clara de México:

 

this witness saw that [the nuns] did not have the clausura that was appropriate, and even now they do not have a sufficient house to have [cloistering], because this witness has seen that they have six windows in a hundred-foot masonry wall, from which they could easily remove the wooden grilles, [the wall] being as it is made out of adobe bricks, and old and ruined, and this witness has seen that they have the room where they meet visitors inside in the said house in one of its patios, and the said monastery has three doors on the street. 30 translation

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The archbishop's provisor concurred, complaining in particular of the location of the visiting room (locutorio) within the convent itself. 31 Because of the locutorio's location, secular visitors were obliged to enter the convent proper to speak with the nuns. Clearly, many did, as entrance seems not to have been highly restricted in the early days of the feminine institutions. Juan de Quiros, a tailor, claimed in 1574 to have been inside the convent of Santa Clara "many times" and to have had many conversations with its abbess. 32

 

Entrance of seculars into women's convents caused enough concern that, in 1587, a papal bull was issued prohibiting the entrance of secular persons, particularly emphasizing women who made a habit of entering. 33 Even those with licenses were to be barred. Some women were able to circumvent such legislation. When the 1587 bull was received, the audiencia quickly decided that the bull did not apply to the visits of the vicereine and the ladies of the viceregal court. Because "the favor and benefit that flow to the monasteries [from such visits] is well understood," (es cosa muy entendido el bien y fabor que se sigue a los monasterios) the visits were to be allowed to continue. 34 Other women also found a way around the legislation. Doña Francisca de Guevara, sister of the foundress of San Jerónimo, received papal authorization to enter the convent twice per year, accompanied by two women. 35 Nonetheless, documents present an impression of gradually increasing passive claustration. In 1592, of the ten male witnesses who testified on behalf of La Concepción, eight claimed to have entered the convent. 36 By 1604, though many witnesses still claimed a familiarity with the convent, they were careful to specify that they had entered with license or on orders of the archbishop. 37 In 1600, special license was required to admit "an Indian healer," who was required to treat Ursula de San Miguel during a severe illness. 38 Passive claustration was obviously now much more rigidly enforced.

 

Cloistering can be interpreted as a benefit to women only with some difficulty. Clausura could, however, serve as a useful barrier when nuns wished to resist authority. A striking example of this came in the 1575 dispute over Santa Clara, when the archbishop's provisor, Estevan de Portillo, attempted to visit the convent to reassert his authority. Though he rang repeatedly, no one came to admit him. He went to another door, where he encountered a man in the habit of a Franciscan lay brother (donado) who refused to admit him or even to speak with him. Portillo left and sent his notary back with an order to affix to the door of the convent. When the notary hurried to the convent, he too encountered the donado, who was now forthcoming enough to give his name, read the archbishop's order, and promise to relay it to the nuns. 39

 

Another day, when the notary Blas de Morales went to inform the nuns of a decree, he was unable to get far. He knocked at a turnstile in the house, upon which a woman came out from inside the convent and greeted him. He asked her to tell the abbess María de San Nicolás that he had come with a message from the Lord Archbishop. The woman, who said she was a nun, disappeared into the house, only to return saying that the abbess was in bed. Morales asked her again to tell the abbess that he was sent by the archbishop. Again the nun disappeared. She came back with the reply that the abbess could not get up because she was indisposed. Morales asked the nun to go again to the abbess, but the nun refused; moreover, she would not tell Morales her name. Finally, Morales left in frustration, only to be promptly ordered back to the convent to give the order to any nun who should appear at the door. He went to the "regular door" of the convent and used the door-knocker there. A female voice responded from within. He asked again to speak with the abbess and was told twice that she was in bed and indisposed. He then told the woman that he had a message from the archbishop. The voice protested, "I hear nothing!" but Morales read the message "in a loud, intelligible voice," despite the sound of the woman's footsteps running away. 40 Thus, the nuns of Santa Clara attempted to use passive clausura to avoid an authority they resented.

 

Another more subtle attempt to avoid authority through the invocation of clausura came during the dispute between the founders of Jesús María, Pedro Thomas and Gregorio de Pesquera, and the institution's abbess, who complained to the archbishop that Thomas and Pesquera were violating the house's cloister in their eagerness to interfere in its proper functioning. 41 Thus claustration could function as a topos invoked by nuns to argue for their own autonomy within the convent, as well as to complain against meddlesome clerics and laymen who sought to intervene in convent administration. Nonetheless, clausura was something largely imposed from the outside, by male authority, and lamented by those inside the convent's walls. It could not for long protect nuns from the masculine discipline their society saw as salutary, even for brides of Christ.

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Claustration also came to form the major difference between professed female religious and semi-religious women. One of the effects of the general sixteenth-century tendency toward enclosure for women was a greater distinction between professed nuns, now almost totally cloistered, and semi-religious women, who largely maintained their freedom of movement. European beatas were able to resist clausura, as were newly-founded service orders, such as the Ursulines (founded around 1544), who argued that they were a lay (semi-religious) foundation and were thus exempt. 42 Eventually, however, the Ursulines became regular nuns who taught in convents. Like the Ursulines, other active orders would have a difficult time avoiding the wall. In 1631, the Company of Mary, founded in 1609, would be suppressed by Urban VIII largely on the basis of the freedom of its nuns, who "went freely everywhere... and exercised many other works unsuitable to their sex and their capacity, their feminine modesty, and, above all, their virginal shame." 43 In Mexico, much the same tendency obtained. Women's institutions were understood as cloistered. No officially sanctioned beaterios or emparedimientos were created by or for semi-religious women, except in the cases of Santa Clara and Santa Catalina de Sena, where in both instances the creation of a beaterio was simply a stopgap measure to enclose women while they awaited approval to profess as nuns. In both of these cases, clausura was imposed. Only as long as beatas operated extra-institutionally - as almost all did - could they avoid enclosure.

 

The freedom of movement enjoyed by semi-religious women forms a striking contrast to the enclosure of nuns. At the age of twenty-one, the beata María de la Concepción left home and purchased her own house in Mexico City, where she lived with other like-minded women. Her life included a great deal of activity outside the home, such as frequent communion at various churches and participation in Holy Week processions. When she met another beata at Mass, it was natural for her to suggest that the two women dine together at the other woman's house. María also received visitors in her home, including her confessor, a Franciscan friar. 44 The beata Doña Ana de Guillamas spent much time in the houses of her patrons, and was able to view the procession preceding the execution of Francisco de Carvajal in the 1595 auto de fe. 45 Marina de San Miguel, a beata tried by the Inquisition in 1598, described a life in which she both spent much time outside her home and invited many people into it. Both male religious and laymen as well as many women made Marina's home a focal point of their neighborhood activities. In addition, Marina had a young male lodger. 46 Beatas' freedom of movement even extended to long-distance travel. In 1586, the Franciscan beata Inés de San Francisco, a native of Seville, received viceregal permission to travel to Castile "to attend to some business of hers." Two years later, she and a servant were ready to return to New Spain, where Inés had left a daughter. 47 An almost complete freedom from the demands of clausura characterized these and doubtless many other semi-religious women, owing to the highly personal rather than institutional character of semi-religious life in sixteenth-century New Spain. For women religious, however, claustration was the defining factor of their lives, much as it would be for nuns throughout the colonial period.

Finances

 

If claustration linked sixteenth-century nuns to their late-colonial sisters, these two groups differed dramatically in other respects. One of the most striking characteristics of sixteenth-century institutions for women was the instability of their finances. Most of the convents began life with adequate financing. Yet almost all of them soon found themselves in financial difficulty, if not outright penury, as income failed to keep pace with institutional growth.

 

The sixteenth century was a period of expansion for religious orders in Spain, 48 and this was paralleled in Mexico not only in the foundation of new institutions for women but in rapid increase in their size. By the end of the colonial period, Mexico City would have about 1200 nuns. 49 At the end of the sixteenth century, Mexico's convents alone probably contained at least 500.

 

The growth of every institution for women in sixteenth-century Mexico cannot be tracked, simply because records are lacking. Petitions to the Crown, however, often include depositions (informaciones) that mention the number of nuns in a convent as a means of demonstrating need. 50 In addition, viceregal and episcopal correspondence sometimes referred to the number of nuns in a given convent. Evidence from available documents suggests that all of Mexico's nunneries grew rapidly, particularly after 1585. Such was certainly the case of La Concepción, the city's first and largest convent. In 1565, the convent had 64 professed nuns. 51 Five years later, the house contained between 67 and 77 women "excluding the servants." 52 (ssin el servicio) Between 1570 and 1586, La Concepción may have stayed relatively constant in size because many of its nuns were removed to found Regina Coeli, La Concepción de Guatemala, Jesús María, and San Jerónimo, as well as to reform Santa Clara. These foundations accounted for the loss of more than 25 professed nuns. After 1586, as a result of tremendous pressure for convent spaces, the convent again grew quickly. In 1589 there were between 87 and 100 nuns in La Concepción; 53 in 1590 there were some 135. 54 By 1592 a witness felt confident in claiming that the convent housed 180 nuns and at least 70 servants. 55 During the 1590s, La Concepción again lost nuns to foundations in Mexico City, Mérida, and Puebla. 56 Nonetheless, in 1604 there were 132 nuns in the convent, some 89 of them daughters and granddaughters of conquerors. With the servants and novices there were over 200 persons. 57

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Santa Clara followed a similar trajectory, though its initial growth was slowed by the controversies over its jurisdiction and location. In 1570, there were already twelve women ready to profess. 58 In 1574, there were forty nuns; 59 by 1576 this number had risen to perhaps fifty. 60 In 1579, the number apparently dropped to some twenty-eight. 61 By 1581, there were seventy; 62 as indicated, the settlement of the foundation's irregularities brought rapid growth. By 1588, the convent allegedly contained more than 140 nuns, 100 of whom were descendants of "former pacifiers, conquerors, and settlers," 63 (pasificadores conquistadores e pobladores antiguos) as well as more than forty servant girls. 64 By 1604, there were more than 300 people living in the convent. 65

 

Regina Coeli also grew dramatically after its foundation in 1573. Only thirteen years later, it housed 120 nuns and 20 to 30 servants. 66 This rate of growth was not so exceptional. Jesús María already had 70 nuns shortly after its foundation. 67 By 1610, only nine years after its foundation, Santa Isabel housed more than 50 nuns. 68 By 1598 San Jerónimo had 90 nuns, and its new offshoot, San Lorenzo, already had 30. 69

 

Thus, even allowing for a certain amount of inflation or imprecision in the figures, it seems plausible that by 1601 there were well over 500 nuns in the capital's thirteen convents and the recogimiento of Jesús de la Penitencia. Regina, La Concepción, and Santa Clara alone could claim more than 400. This figure might not seem large in juxtaposition with the male religious population, 70 but nuns were still a significant minority in a Spanish population totaling only between 12 and 15,000 persons. The dramatic growth of their cloistered institutions far outstripped the ability of those institutions to provide for their inhabitants.

 

Nunneries were assumed to need greater wealth than men's monasteries because of their limited earning power and the impracticality of mendicancy for cloistered women. The royal decree of 1577 that sought to restrict the property of religious orders specified that friars should live "in poverty and mendicancy." (en pobreça y mendecidad) No such prescription was made for women's houses. Since cloistered women could not easily earn money, their institutions required stable funding. Both in Spain 71 and in the colonies, dowries were widely perceived as the solution to the conundrum posed by cloistering. There is little doubt that dowries were considered essential to the creation of all of Mexico City's institutions for women from their beginnings. In 1591, the cleric Diego de Cabrera offered the opinion that the recogimiento of Santa Mónica could not continue to exist "except by receiving dowries from those who enter." 72 (sino rrecibiendo doctes de las que asi entrar)

 

In theory, dowries were inalienable. For example, when nuns left an institution to become foundresses of another - a relatively common occurrence in the sixteenth century - their dowries were maintained by the house of their profession, which remained responsible for the maintenance of the nuns now living in another convent. 73 In addition, dowry principal was to be inviolable and held in perpetuity. In the later colonial period, the amounts received in dowry were truly massive; between 1763 and 1812, for example, La Concepción received 275,000 pesos in dowry. 74 The sums received by convents in dowry were to be invested in stable annuities or censos, either perpetual or redeemable. 75 The principal needed to be such that its interest (approximately seven percent) would provide a living for the nun in question. In the sixteenth century, since at least 100 pesos were needed to support a nun for a year, the principal needed to be at least 1400 pesos, the sum set as the minimum dowry for entrants to Jesús María. 76

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Clearly, dowries varied widely beyond this minimum. In 1556, the Pueblan widow Catalina Flores gave her niece of the same name a dowry of 2000 pesos "in order to become a nun with me in the monastery of La Concepción." 77  translation The two women came to Mexico together to enter the convent, the widow bringing a dowry of 1500 pesos. 78 The girl's dowry was, in addition, to include "certain shops" on Puebla's plaza. In addition to the 3500 pesos granted in dowry, the two nuns were to pay the ordinary costs of their profession, such as their trousseau (ajuar) and clothing, 79 as well as 200 pesos for their food. Shortly thereafter, the elder Catalina found that, "being as she is an ill woman, she could not endure the labor of religion." 80  translation She left the convent and returned to Puebla de los Angeles. In 1557, she sought to reduce the dowry portion of her niece to 1000 pesos. Dowries in La Concepción were often richer. Doña María de Velasco, the widow of the treasurer Ruy Díaz de Mendoza, brought a dowry of 3000 ducados (3750 pesos de oro común) when she entered La Concepción in the late sixteenth century. 81

 

Because of poor record-keeping, the question of dowries in Santa Clara has long been controversial. According to Josefina Muriel, the nuns professed without dowry until 1602, when the first nun with dowry was admitted. Thereafter, she claims, dowries of 2000 or 3000 pesos became common, 82 although the rare profession without dowry or with a smaller dowry continued. Eighteenth-century convent records record 12 June 1603 as the date of the first profession with dowry. 83 In 1606, a nun professed without dowry, and in 1608, another professed with a dowry of only 1050 pesos. In 1747, a nun professed without dowry "with the duty of music," proving the existence of scholarships for talented young women. 84 This document, however, admits the possibility of inaccuracy: "professions appear to have occurred without the whole or any dowry, or if [the nuns] brought them they were spent in their sustenance, or consumed in the floods of Mexico." 85 translation

 

Indeed, it is clear from the sixteenth-century records that dowries were required from the convent's inception. In 1570, the chaplain of the church being converted to the new convent of Santa Clara reported that there were now twelve women "in habit and seeking profession," and that each had brought a dowry of 1000 pesos de oro de minas (1617 pesos de oro común). 86 The nuns received in 1574-1575 professed with dowries, as is clear from Moya's order forbidding the transfer of those dowries to the abbess María de San Nicolás. In addition to bringing dowries, novices in Santa Clara also clearly paid costs for their sustenance during the year of their novitiate. In 1574, Francisco de Salazar paid "one hundred pesos in three installments" (cien pesos de oro común, en tres veces) for the novitiate of his niece. 87 In 1582, nuns were received "almost without dowries," 88 (casy syn doctes) indicating not an absence of dowries but their perceived inadequacy. Even an institution like Jesús de la Penitencia, dedicated to the charitable reception of converted prostitutes, depended upon dowries. After 1589, when nuns with dowries were received, many of them brought two to three thousand pesos. 89

 

Though dowries were essential for entry to virtually all of the city's female institutions, those in charge of convent finances sometimes admitted women without dowries or with very small ones. Some brothers (cofrades) of Santa Lucía apparently managed to place their own daughters into Jesús de la Penitencia "without any dowries at all." 90 (sin saber de las doctes) The vicar of La Concepción managed to have his niece admitted to the convent in exchange for a 400-peso donation. 91 The chaplain of Jesús María claimed in 1609 that many women had been admitted to the convent with very small dowries. 92 In Guatemala, a dowry of 2000 tostones was required to enter La Concepción, but many women apparently entered "for nothing." 93 Thus, the sixteenth-century scene enabled some women to circumvent dowry obligations: good luck for the women involved, but a further drain on convent finances.

 

Dowryless entry became less and less common toward the end of the sixteenth century as the administration of convents became regularized. Most convents simply did not have the income to support nuns who brought nothing themselves. Even Jesús María was unable to fulfill its already waning commitment to the reception of dowryless entrants. In 1598, Luis Ortiz de Vargas wrote to the Council of the Indies seeking admission in Jesus Maria for two of his three daughters. Ortiz had come to New Spain some fifteen years earlier and served as an official in the Royal Treasury. His late wife, Doña Mariana de Arroyo Saavedra, was the granddaughter of the conqueror Antonio de Arroyo. The couple had produced a son as well as three daughters for whom Ortiz could not adequately provide. As two of them showed signs of being inclined toward religious life, he thought it appropriate that they should be received in Jesús María in recompense for his faithful service and the illustriousness of their distaff lineage. As descendants of conquerors, Ortiz claimed, the girls "are among those named" (son de las llamadas) in the original royal cédula favoring the convent. 94 Not until five years later, after an investigation of the financial resources of the convent, was it recommended that one of Ortiz's daughters be received without dowry in Jesús María. 95 Clearly, by 1600 the reception of a dowryless novice was an exceptional occurrence in a convent founded only twenty years earlier expressly for such entrants. The money received from the royal grant (merced) was being spent only on the convent's building program. 96

 35

Though dowryless entry became increasingly difficult, there were options for those without means. Privately funded chantries (capellanías), though rare, sustained nuns not only in Jesús María but in other convents as well. In 1570, five nuns in La Concepción were being sustained by the money left by a "so-and-so Isla." 97 In 1639, Doña Elvira de Mayorga left three thousand pesos in her will for the dowry of "a maiden in whom concur nobility, virtue, and poverty." (una doncella en quien concurran las partes de nobleza virtud y pobreza The young woman, chosen from the Colegio de las Doncellas Huérfanas (formerly the Colegio de Niñas Mestizas) was also to receive one hundred pesos for her year of novitiate. 98 These "scholarship" positions, however, were very rare.

 

The existence of dowries from the very beginning of female monasticism in Mexico should not, however, be understood as evidence of convents' financial stability. The unofficial - and sometimes fraudulent - reception of women without sufficient dowry degraded convent finances. More importantly, and almost without exception, the dowries brought by early entrants to Mexico's convents were quickly dissipated. As early as 1575, Moya wrote to the king that the parents of the nuns of Santa Clara were complaining that the dowries of more than thirty women had been "consumed." 99 As we have seen, in 1569 the cabildo of Mexico City advised the Crown that the would-be nuns of Santa Clara de México already had 1235 pesos in annual income to support the six foundresses and the few novices who had joined them in reclusion. Yet according to Fray Juan de León, by 1581 Santa Clara had only 1800 pesos in yearly income to sustain seventy nuns; 100 the nuns had little more income than they had had in 1569. Given that 100 pesos per year was considered necessary to sustain a nun, and that servants too were to be fed and housed from convent income, the 25-peso-per-nun income of Santa Clara was clearly inadequate. A year later, according to the nuns themselves, they numbered eighty, excluding the service staff of the convent, but were no wealthier. 101 Jesús de la Penitencia was no better at keeping the dowries as a long-term trust. By the end of the century, the cofradía that governed the house had managed to spend all of the dowry monies received to date. 102

 

This pattern appeared again and again, both in Mexico and elsewhere. Twenty years after the foundation of La Concepción de Guatemala, for example, all dowries had apparently disappeared, dissipated in "sustaining and building the house." 103 (sustentando y labrando la casa) The case of the mother convent was no different. In 1570, La Concepción de México had an annual income of some 9000 pesos, which was "what is left of the nuns' dowries." 104 (lo que ha sobrepujado de los dotes de las monjas) This amount gave an average of 117 pesos per nun. This might seem sufficient, as it met the 100-peso minimum living allowance, but La Concepción's income had to suffice for the payment of "chantries and support for the vicar, confessors, majordomo, and [other] officials of the house,"  translation as well as the normal costs of the convent. In 1592, a witness testified that the nuns of La Concepción "are enduring much need and poverty because of losing much of their rents and income which have been lost and ruined." 105  translation Another witness, whose sister had been abbess, said that "because the land was new, possession has been lost of many dowries of those who entered formerly... and thus the convent's income has continued to decline." 106 translation In 1604, the convent claimed that the old censos it had had proved bad, and that the convent now received 12,000 pesos per year in income, "with which ... the nuns cannot even be fed." 107  translation Much of the income of the convent had been "in the form of encumbrances on old houses that have been lost." 108 (ynpuesta a censos sobre casas antiguas que se han perdido The 12,000 pesos La Concepción now received was equivalent to its income in 1576, even though the institution had grown substantially. 109 The 1570 report on the archbishopric said that the convent had yet to build its church and a new house and "up until now has endured great penury and indigence." 110 (han pasado hasta el presente gran penuria é inopia The financial situation, then, was slow to change.

 

Even as income declined, expenses continued to grow. Convent expenses related not only to the nuns themselves, but to the male clerics that any house of women was obliged to support. Since the thirteenth century, when masses had become of greatly heightened importance to church life and were consequently celebrated much more frequently, a great distinction had arisen between women's and men's orders. Men's orders, of course, did not have to pay priests for their services, while women's orders were obliged to do so. The costs of the spiritual services that only men could provide could be significant. 111 A witness for La Concepción testified, for example, that its expenses were many, not only because of food and clothing for the nuns, but also "to pay the chaplains, vicars, and confessors that it is forced to have." 112  translation This seems to have been one of the major costs of running the convent. In 1570, La Concepción offered six chantries, three of which were served by Don Diego Rodríguez, dean of Michoacán and vicar of the convent, who received 200 pesos de minas (323 pesos de oro común); in addition, he received 200 pesos de tipuzque (181 pesos de oro común), so that in total he received 504 pesos de oro común from the convent's coffers. Another chantry was served by the convent's confessor, Pero Hernández, who received 230 pesos de tipuzque (208 de oro común) for saying four masses per week; for his work as confessor he received an additional 100 pesos de tipuzque (91 pesos de oro común). Another of the convent's confessors received 214 pesos de tipuzque (194 de oro común) for three masses per week in addition to his hundred-peso (91 de oro común) confessor's income. The final capellanía brought its holder 120 pesos de tipuzque (109 pesos de oro común) and demanded from two to three masses per week. 113 The convent was thus spending 1106 of its 9000 pesos on the services of male clerics. 114

 

The Colegio de las Doncellas Húerfanas was also forced to spend part of its income on paying male clerics. The aforementioned Don Diego Rodríguez served a chantry there as well, garnering 300 pesos de tipuzque (272 de oro común) for his three masses a week. The chaplain who served the colegio by saying five masses a week received 400 pesos de tipuzque (363 pesos de oro común). Together, these two men took home 635 pesos of the institution's 1600-peso income. 115

 40

In addition to their salaries, male clerics also received meals at women's institutions. Though sixteenth-century convents did not keep the meticulous records of expenses required in later centuries, the cost of food - always a major expense for nunneries - must have been increased by the appetites of male clerics. A later example is illustrative. In one week in 1667, the nuns of Santa Clara de Querétaro paid for seven chickens and six pounds of chiles to be served to the Franciscan friars who governed them. 116

 

Male institutions were, as noted above, exempt from the necessity of paying outsiders to celebrate the divine offices; moreover, unlike female institutions, friars had no need to hire majordomos to contract their business with the outside world. Though exempt from these expenses, however, friars clearly felt that 100 pesos per year was not a sufficient sum to support a male religious. In 1578, Mexico's Dominican friars complained that they had only 8000 pesos de oro común to support 80 friars, and asked the Crown for 20,000 ducados (25,000 pesos de oro común) to ensure the continued existence of their friary. 117 In sixteenth-century Mexico, as in Medieval Europe, then, women's houses seem to have been poorer than those of men. 118

 

In addition to the expenses caused by the gendered division of religious labor, women's institutions in Mexico faced additional expenses based on the nature of the foundational period. Much of the dissipation of convent wealth was caused by building programs and the habit of moving from one site to another. Neither of these eventualities was apparently sufficiently budgeted for at the time of foundation. At the time of the foundation of Santa Clara, for example, its financial picture had been rosy. The foundresses' testimonial reveals that the archbishop had given them the hermitage of the Holy Trinity along with a capellanía worth some 200 pesos annually. As well as the six lots (solares) that came with the hermitage, they had purchased more houses for 1500 pesos. The site, according to the cabildo, was already sufficient for the habitation of more than a hundred nuns. The nuns had spent 1000 pesos in building, but also had 3000 pesos in alms, 1000 pesos in dowry (en axuar), stone, lime, and building materials, along with 20,000 pesos "of patrimony." 119 The convent's financial situation, then, seemed until the mid-1570s to justify the optimism of the cabildo and archbishop; 120 Santa Clara could well hope to support itself. In thirteen years' time, however, much of the convent's wealth had been exhausted, first on lawsuits and then on the purchase of their new urban house. Santa Clara, as we have seen, moved from its original house to a convent built by the Franciscans near Coyoacán, where the nuns were not content. A new house in the city had to be purchased. The nuns of Santa Clara claimed in 1582 that the assets of the institution had been spent on the building they had purchased in Calle de Tacuba, which had cost them 20,000 pesos. 121 Because the house was too small for their needs, they purchased others to continue the building process. In 1588, renovations were still continuing at, we may presume, no little cost.

 

The costs of building were evidently one of the greatest drains on sixteenth-century convents, largely because of their rapid growth. Yet even when convents used all of their capital to build, the resulting structures were insufficient. As early as 1552, the cathedral chapter wrote to the king that the nuns of La Concepción could hardly fit into their little church and convent and needed royal favor to build a new one. 122 A new church was begun in the 1570s by Archbishop Moya de Contreras, but only the foundation was constructed. Thus the building remained until the seventeenth century. In 1592, Doctor Villanueva Zapata, a lawyer of the audiencia, found it surprising that of all the convents in the city, "the most principal and greatest and oldest has the worst house and dwelling and the smallest little church." 123 translation Doctor Melchior de la Cadena, a confessor of the convent, claimed that the nuns were forced to use part of their church as a dormitory. 124 Another witness said that he had seen the dormitories, which were subdivided because there were too few spaces. 125 He described the church itself as too small, seating only about 300 persons, and therefore insufficient for the many people who attended "when there is some feast-day or profession." 126 (quando ay alguna fiesta o profesion) In 1603, a section of one of the convent's walls collapsed, leaving the convent open to the street; "every day much of it collapses," (cada dia se cae gran parte dello) claimed a witness and frequent visitor of the convent. 127

 

Even Jesús María, able to count on its royal endowment to assist in its building program, was unable to deal with the high cost of the foundational endeavor. In the 1580s, the nuns of Jesús María were so poor that their diet, complained the abbess, consisted of "only vegetables." The seventy professed nuns in the house had to live on an income of only 4000 pesos, insufficient to pay for medical treatment and the services of male clerics. 128 The convent's move to a new site meant that the physical plant created by the donations collected in New Spain was lost. The royal funds received by the convent were now poured into building. Virtually all of the money Jesús María received between 1583 and 1603 was spent in raising the massive walls of the church and convent. After 1603, work on the building stopped, leaving the church roofless and open to the elements. Flooding and earthquakes had brought the convent to a dangerous pass by 1609, when it was inspected by architects of the city. They concluded that the church had to be roofed to ensure the building's safety; moreover, much of the woodwork in the entire church now needed to be replaced. 129 Despite the exhaustion of convent resources in the building programme, the buildings remained insufficient.

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In the face of institutional penury, Mexico City's convents sought to benefit from any amounts that individual nuns might be able to claim. Mari López Condada, the widow of the conqueror Bernardino de Santiago, had lost her right to his pension when she professed in La Concepción in 1554. Eight years later, the pension was restored to the convent in her name. 130 The foundress of San Lorenzo, Doña Marina de Mendoza, sought to annex her 757-peso pension, granted in recompense for the services of her conqueror father and grandfather, to the new institution's wealth. 131 Other widows and daughters of conquerors were also able to maintain their pensions. At century's end, La Concepción attempted - apparently unsuccessfully - to claim a pension on behalf of Doña Isabel and Doña Catalina Cano Moctezuma, the granddaughters of the Aztec emperor. 132

 

Another way for convents to benefit from the personal wealth of their inhabitants was through the testaments drawn up by novices before their profession. Such testaments disposed of would-be nuns' personal property, both actual and anticipated through future inheritance. In the later colonial period, institutions were generally the beneficiaries of such wills. In the foundational period, however, convents' need for more money competed with familial concerns for women who were members of a still-nascent colonial elite. Occasionally the competition between family and convent interests was explicit indeed. In 1575, Doña María Manuel allegedly launched a suit against the abbess of Santa Clara, claiming that a girl placed in the convent as a lodger had been forced to profess "out of desire for the wealth that she could inherit from her father." 133 (por codizia de la hazienda que podia heredar de su padre)

 

On the other hand, the will of Francisca de los Reyes, created in 1596 on the eve of the novice's profession in Jesús María, shows more concern for the fortunes of her family than for the convent, then itself in straitened circumstances. Francisca was the daughter of Juan Gutiérrez Bocanegra and his late wife, Doña Guiomar de Andrada. For the good of her soul, Francisca ordained that 1000 pesos be given to her uncle Diego de Cervantes, who was to invest the sum and spend the resulting income (presumably some 70 pesos a year) "on the alms and things that I have discussed and communicated with him."  translation At the end of Francisca's life, and that of her sister Doña Isabel de la Natividad, also a nun in Jesús María, the thousand-peso principal was to be used to establish a (rather modest) 134 chantry in Jesús María, whose beneficiary was to say masses for the Gutiérrez family. Even this pious work was part of a family strategy; the chantry's beneficiary was to be the closest male relative possible. The remainder of Francisca's wealth, including her anticipated inheritance from her father, was to be ceded to her brother, "that he might have more possibility and means to carry forward the being and honor that he possesses." translation The convent and its abbess were therefore forbidden to seek any of her wealth. 135 Given that placing daughters in convents was a common part of a family strategy to enhance wealth and stability, wills such as Francisca's must have been common in the foundational period.

 

While convents sought to enhance their institutional wealth by accessing the personal wealth of their inmates, personal income was needed to sustain individual nuns. There is some evidence that sixteenth-century nuns profited from private business deals. In 1585, Santa Clara's Francisca de la Trinidad received a patent from Alonso Ponce, then commissary general, allowing her to collect gold, silk, clothing, and whatever else had arrived for her "from the Philippines." 136 Other nuns were forced to rely on donations from their families. Speaking of Santa Clara, one witness noted that, "many men who have daughters who are nuns in the said monastery had complained to this witness, saying that if they would not give their daughters clothing, headewear, and food, they would be naked and ragged." 137  translation The merchants Luis Mayo and Francisco Conde confirmed that they were forced to pay for ordinary expenses for their daughters, who were nuns in the convent. 138 By the end of the sixteenth century, the parents of the nuns of La Concepción were forced to pay some of their day-to-day costs. 139 Personal wealth, then, was not merely a means to enhancing institutional income, but a necessity for survival in the face of convent poverty.

 

Alms also formed a critical means of support. By 1582, Santa Clara was relying upon alms, and the merchant Juan Rodríguez reported that, "many times this witness has been approached as a neighbor to loan [the nuns] money to eat." 140  translation Since the nuns themselves were obviously unable to beg alms, being cloistered, the actual collection was undertaken by members of the city's elite such as Don Francisco de Velasco, a member of the Order of Santiago, and Don Alonso de Arellano, captain of the guard. 141 The alms - and, presumably, the loans - were spent both the daily sustenance of the nuns and their service staff and on payments for the continuing repairs on the church and house of their new convent. 142 In 1588, the situation of Santa Clara was sufficiently grave that the nuns sought license to formally sanction their collecting of alms. 143

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Indeed, charity was so important to convent survival that the quest for alms influenced location decisions. Santa Clara's move to a more central location in the 1580s was justified by economic concerns, as such a site was considered important for the collection of alms. The Colegio de Niñas Mestizas, when confronted with the possibility of a move, feared for its very survival. The governing cofradía said that if the convent were forced to move outside the Spanish traza, the Spanish population would not attend its services. Thus, "no one will give them alms and they will die of hunger." 144 (nadie les daran limosna e moriran de hanbre) Given the institution's extremely low income, this was no exaggeration; Don Fernando de Portugal said that during the period in which he was rector of the colegio, over 11,000 pesos in alms were collected in addition to the establishment of chantries. 145 Competition for alms was also reflected in the concern that convents not be too close together. The site to which Santa Clara moved in 1575 was considered by some to have infringed on the territory of the new convent of Regina Coeli. 146

 

Members of the cofradía of Santa Lucia, charged with the support of Jesus de la Penitencia, were obliged by ordinances of the cofradía to beg alms to support the convent and its church; half of the funds gathered went to the support of the nuns, half to the church. 147 To ensure that members would do this, an ordinance held them responsible for the sustenance of the convent should they fail to gather sufficient support for it. 148 In 1577, the deputy (diputado) of the convent claimed that the nuns were extremely poor, "in such a manner that there are many days when they have no food, for the day alms are not begged for them in the streets they do not eat." 149  translation The frustrated diputado also complained that there were days when he could not gather two pesos in the city, and that he often spent time consoling the abbess, who cried and claimed that neither she nor the other nuns could endure the penury in which they found themselves. There were apparently many days when the nuns ate nothing but a bit of "gruel," 150 and it was becoming increasingly difficult even to find people who would beg alms on the convent's behalf. 151

 

Given the exhaustion of convent resources and increasing competition for scarce donations, royal support was essential. Crown financing was important to men's monasteries from the beginning of colonization, and had been granted because of friars' labor in the field of evangelization. 152 Royal support for women's institutions, however, never reached the same level as support for friars, and was slow to begin. In 1552, 1556, and 1562, the Colegio de Niñas Mestizas was granted half of the city's unclaimed livestock; yet the institution never received any benefit from a royal grant that remained a dead letter. 153 In response to the funding request of Jesús de la Penitencia, the Crown's response was curt: "there is no disposition." 154 (no ay disposicion) The viceroy had given 500 pesos to the institution in 1577 in the form of alms, but this amount was little compared to the institution's expenses. Religious women, however, became increasingly vocal in their requests for support. While they could not claim that they worked in evangelism as did friars, they could use both religious and secular arguments for royal support. As religious persons, they prayed for the monarch - a fact mentioned in every letter that Mexico's nuns wrote to the king in the sixteenth century. In the world, they never failed to emphasize, they had been daughters and granddaughters of conquerors and settlers who had served the Crown faithfully, often without recompense. And the colonial situation was such that they should not be denied support. As Fray Juan de León informed the king in 1589, "Your Majesty does not have in this land monasteries of friars and nuns as there are in Spain/ [here] everyone helps the church, men and women." 155 translation

 

The first convent to receive substantial royal support was, of course, Jesús María. Shortly after its foundation, the house received a huge endowment, some 60,000 ducados (75,000 pesos de oro común). The sum was to be paid out at the rate of 3000 ducados every year for 20 years. The needs of the convent were such, however, that in 1584 Pedro Thomas asked Philip II to reduce the period of payment to ten years while doubling the annual payment. Thomas claimed that 3000 ducados were needed annually for the building program alone, and that another 3000 were needed for the reception of "poor maidens." (doncellas proves)

 

Another problem with the royal grant was that it was payable in indios vacos, or the income from encomiendas that reverted to the Crown at the end of their final "life." This meant that Jesús María would have to wait for such reversion to occur before collecting; in two years, that had not happened. Indeed, as the Mexico City cabildo explained in a letter of October 1583, extensions of the number of "lives" meant that the only possible indios vacos would be those whose encomenderos died without wife or children; thus, such a grant was virtually useless. 156 As a result, by late 1584, the convent was in need and no more poor women had been received, other than the original fifteen. 157 Pedro Thomas's concerns about the nature of the generous royal funding of Jesús María were valid. In the first seventeen years of the convent's history, it received less than half of its twenty-year grant. As of 6 April 1600, Jesús María had received only 33,444 of the 75,000 pesos awarded. 158 As late as 1610, the institution had received only 45,359 pesos, all of which had been "applied to building" (aplicados a la obra) rather than used in the admission of dowryless novices. 159 Crown patronage had therefore proved a somewhat mixed blessing. On the one hand, it ostensibly assured the institution's stability. On the other, royal donations were not always easily collected, and the presence of the king as patron tended to limit the convent's ability to attract other patrons in the colony. 160

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After royal favor was granted to Jesús María, other convents also began to appeal forcefully for royal funding. In 1582, the nuns of Santa Clara presented the king with a wish list, asking for land and property to rent out "as the Viceroy is accustomed to giving to powerful men who are not as needy as we are." 161  translation Assistance was forthcoming, if somewhat slowly. In 1585, the king ordered that the nuns be given 500 pesos de oro común from Indian tribute per year for six years. Santa Clara found collection of royal grants as difficult as did Jesús María. In 1587, the nuns complained that they had not received their merced because the previously ordered dispensations from Indian tribute already exceeded the amount of tribute collected. 162 Perhaps as a result, in 1594 the king prolonged the 500-peso annual donation to Santa Clara. 163 The donation was prolonged again in 1601, with an added donation of 3000 pesos "in alms." 164 Presumably at least some of this was collected.

 

La Concepción was no slower than Santa Clara to respond to royal preferment of Jesús María. In 1585, the nuns complained to the Crown that they needed money to build; the many people who came to their church to participate in the divine offices could not even fit into the convent's church, and the nuns themselves could not fit into the choir. 165 In response, in 1586 the nuns of La Concepción received 30,000 ducados (37,500 pesos de oro común) and a commitment to royal patronage. 166 This concession was followed by an added sum dedicated to the building fund, 10,000 ducados (12,500 pesos de oro común) to be paid over ten years at 1000 pesos per year in indios vacos. 167 In 1589, the nuns reported that, "we live very richly and in consolation because of [the king's] being served to admit us under his royal protection and patronage."  translation Despite their apparent satisfaction with the king's patronage, the nuns now requested that the grant be increased from thirty to sixty thousand ducados, "for work and building on the house," (para la lavor y edificio desta casa which could be entrusted to the royal treasury. 168

 

Yet if the nuns were pleased with the king's donation in theory, in practice it proved unsatisfactory. By 1594, the nuns were complaining that they had not received any benefit from the 10,000-peso donation in indios vacos made in 1586, because there were too many other claims on these funds. The convent was therefore granted a new decree ordering that the funds be dispersed from Indian tribute already "pertaining to the crown." 169 (puesto en la corona rreal) But in 1595, the abbess and nuns of La Concepcion asked that the extra 10,000 pesos they had been conceded nine years earlier be paid from Indian tribute or from quitas and vacaciones, because the payment from royal Indian tribute was also blocked by "many claims prior to theirs." 170 (muchas situaciones anteriores a la suya

 

Royal support, then, while essential, was haphazard. The convents that were lucky enough to receive grants had also to collect them, which was often difficult. If such obstacles to receiving royal funding were not enough, Mexican nuns also faced competition for Mexican funds from their Spanish colleagues. In 1598, Madrid's La Magdalena sought the income from the sale of an office in one of the cities of New Spain. 171 Five years later, Santo Domingo el Real, another Madrileño convent, was granted a merced of 3000 ducados "drawn from the treasury of Mexico." 172 (librados en la caxa de méxico) Spanish nuns even solicited support from Mexico's cabildo. 173

 

Because of the undependable character of royal mercedes and excessive competition for alms, personal patronage was the most decisive factor in the continuing viability of convents. A sufficient level of private support, however, was only achieved by most convents in the seventeenth century. As discussed in Chapter Six, most of the convents founded between 1585 and 1601 were founded with the support of wealthy backers. Yet even these institutions suffered, according to the fortunes of their patrons and the pious works themselves. Immediately after the foundation of La Encarnación in 1594, its patron died, the provisions for the convent uncodified in his will. The patron's heirs and the convent embarked upon years of litigation. In the end, the convent was without a patron, and was forced to live upon dowries and alms. Even the provision of water was delayed by the poverty into which the would-be patron's death had plunged the institution. 174

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A similar fiasco weakened the finances of San Jerónimo, founded in 1585. In 1590, the convent's backers served notice that they could not meet their 8000-peso obligation to the convent and were forced to renounce patronage. As late as 1618, the institution's situation remained poor. Mexico's audiencia asked the king that a 1000-peso pension pertaining to one of the nuns be paid immediately, as the convent was extremely poor and had still been unable to build either a church or a choir. 175 Only in the 1620s would a new patron be found to rescue the convent from poverty. 176 Santa Isabel, founded as a discalced Franciscan convent in 1601, had been established through the donation of the encomendera Doña Catalina de Peralta. Yet because she had created a discalced institution, the convent was poverty-stricken. In 1610, it had only 2000 pesos of income to support more than 50 nuns. 177 Only the annexation of Doña Catalina's personal wealth to the convent, including the income from her encomienda, ensured its ability to continue.

 

The convents established as cooperative or "public" efforts also were forced to find powerful patrons to solve their financial woes. La Concepción, for example, remained poor well into the seventeenth century. Only the flood of 1629, which destroyed the house, and the subsequent donations of well-wishers, allowed the creation of a new and suitable convent, an "immense edifice" with an interior orchard and garden, and lake, and internal streets. 178 Even after the conversion of Jesús de la Penitencia to a traditional convent, the institution remained poor. The cabildo continued to supply it with meat, and assisted in this way to keep hunger at bay. But only a wealthy widow's 1667 endowment of 25,000 pesos set the institution on a smooth course. 179

 

Indeed, most convents needed personal patronage in excess of the original founding provision, particularly to complete or undertake building programs. Santa Catalina de Sena, for example, was able to build a new and splendid church in 1619 through a generous private donation. 180 In the 1620s, a similar act allowed San Jerónimo to build a new church; the patron was Don Luis Maldonado del Corral, who gave 30,000 pesos for ongoing construction. 181 From the 1620s on, lavish personal donations allowed convents to achieve a modicum of financial stability. The financial difficulties faced by institutions during the sixteenth century, however, meant that the period was a time of insecurity and even outright poverty for Mexico's women religious.

 

Semi-religious women faced an entirely different financial situation. Beatas, of course, needed no dowries and no wealth to enter religious life, and were permitted to hold whatever property they could amass. A Dominican beata, Inés de Meneses, had parents wealthy enough to establish a chantry that paid for three masses per week. On their death, patronage of the chantry was to pass to Inés, who was to choose her most direct relative as the beneficiary of the chantry. 182 We can assume that Inés was financially secure. The beata María de Olvera owned a house in the Callejón de la Beata in 1594, a measure of at least minimally stable finances. 183 Indeed, home ownership was a possibility for many beatas. In the late 1560s, at the age of twenty-one, the beata María de la Concepción left her father's home and purchased her own house "from an Indian" for 120 pesos de oro común. 184 In the mid-1580s, the beata Marina de San Miguel, then aged forty, bought and renovated her own house for some 500 pesos, using an inheritance and her own earnings. The house contained several rooms and was large enough to house Marina, lodgers, and at least one servant. 185 Clearly, then, some beatas enjoyed financial stability.

 

Personal support or patronage was also important to semi-religious women. In 1598, Doña Ana de Guillamas was described as a beata who had come to New Spain in the service of Don Francisco de Tello. Thereafter, she had lived in the homes of Don Juan de Altamirano and other distinguished citizens of Mexico City. 186 Before buying her own home, Marina de San Miguel found a home in the house of Juan Núñez de León, an official of the the royal treasury. 187 Thus, in addition to providing alms to beatas, powerful patrons could and did offer more substantial support.

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This was critical, because the Crown, at least under Philip II, was apparently unwilling to offer financial support to independent semi-religious women. Missionary beatas and other semi-religious women had received support from the Catholic monarchs 188 and from Charles V (especially, as discussed in Chapter Two, during the regency of the Empress Isabel). Yet in 1579, when the Guatemalan beata Ana de Gallegos sought royal support for her informal colegio and beaterio, the Crown's response was to suggest that the local bishop investigate "whether it could be submitted to some [religious] order." 189 (si se podria rreducir a alguna orden) Uncloistered semi-religious women, we must assume, were ineligible for royal favor. In the absence of stable royal funding, beatas' financial affairs remained wholly individual, and therefore dependent upon the fortunes and industry of each woman.

Work

 

Indeed, industry was a central component of the religious life for both nuns and semi-religious women. Work, however, is often one of the most difficult aspects of women's lives to access, since most extant documents from the period often elide it or ignore its specificity. The work done by nuns is additionally obscured by our perception of their primary task, prayer. After all, society supported convents because of the spiritual intercession offered by the nuns. The proper function and labor of a nun was to work for the salvation of humanity through a grueling regimen of prayer. This regimen included at least seven episodes of choir duty per day, with additional offices required according to order and convent. 190 There is no evidence to suggest that this obligation was taken less than seriously in the sixteenth century.

 

Yet if the obligation to pray occupied most of the nuns' waking hours, for the most part, that labor was unpaid, unlike many of the spiritual services provided by male religious. Capellanías or chantries were one of the most important sources of income for male religious. But when chantries were established in women's houses, they were essentially income diverted through the house to an outsider, the male cleric who was needed to say the masses. Occasionally chantries were established that required nuns to pray for founders' souls in exchange for financial support. The fifteen royal chantries in Jesús María and the five chantries established in La Concepción by "so-and-so de Isla" are examples. For the most part, however, nuns' contemplative labor was to be uncompensated rather than paid. Other forms of work were needed to contribute to convent income.

 

Physical labor, moreover, was seen as a healthy complement to prayer. According to the constitution created for San Jerónimo in 1585, "idleness is the enemy of the soul and the mother and creator of vices." 191 (la ociossidad es enemiga de el anima y madre y criadora de los bicios Work provided another means of structuring the day, enhanced the community life of the nuns, and offered the possibility of contributing to convent finances, either by producing objects for sale or by limiting the need for servants whose maintenance was a drain on the convent's resources. The imposition of strict clausura meant that the work done by nuns could only be handiwork performed within the convent. 192 In 1557, the chaplain of the Colegio de Niñas Mestizas said that the colegio performed services for the Franciscan friars, "such as washing the clothes and other necessary things." 193 (como era lavar la rropa e otras cosas neçesarias). Most women's institutions, however, probably shied away from performing such menial services in favor of selling goods they produced.

 

In addition to the work performed as part of common life, nuns were also eligible to undertake the administrative offices necessary to the convent's functioning. The office of abbess or prioress is an obvious example, but there were many others. The abbess needed councilors or definidoras; procuradoras dealt with the convent's temporal management; arqueras took care of the community's valuables; porteras governed the opening of the convent's doors; maestras de novicias instructed aspirants; and so on. 194 Inés de la Cruz, who wrote her own history in the seventeenth century, professed in Jesús María in 1588 and soon distinguished herself not only in music but in accounting, to which she was ordered to devote all her labors. (One may well assume that the convent's financial papers were in need of such undivided attention.) 195

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Nuns also, famously, taught girls. Such teaching was associated with Mexico's convents from their inception. 196 As early as 1552, the nuns of La Concepción described their house as not only a convent but also "a school and hospital for poor virgins." 197 < a collegio y ospital de virgenes pobres> By 1560, La Concepción had more than 50 "girls." 198 The foundresses of Santa Clara also planned to teach girls from the convent's beginnings. They asked that a separate boarding house (pupilaje) be created for the girls and women who would live at the convent. Girls would be accepted at three years of age and kept until twenty, when they would either profess or leave the convent. 199 By 1571, we may assume, the rearing of girls was well underway, as girls had already joined the beatas in 1569.

 

Churchmen were hostile to the presence of lodgers and students in nunneries, seeing the mixing of secular and religious persons as detrimental to religion. Thus, the constitution created for Jesús María prohibited the entry of girls. The poor financial state of the nunneries, however, meant that the enforcement of such proscriptions was impractical, if not impossible. Through boarding and educating girls, nuns were able to augment the meager finances of their institutions. However, there was evidently no set curriculum; parents were more concerned that their daughters absorb the atmosphere of the cloister than that they acquire special skills. Educating girls, therefore, though important to institutional survival, might not have been a large part of the sixteenth-century nun's daily workload. Mariana de la Encarnación, who entered Jesús María at the age of nine, claimed that she had learned little more than the Our Father in the convent because the nuns were too busy to "raise and teach little people." 200

 

While nuns were supposed to remain busy and undertake daily labor, the ideal of convent life imported from Europe dictated that servants should enter the institution to perform its coarsest tasks. Thus, to know what work nuns performed, it is valuable to know what they did not do, the labor performed by servants. This is particularly important because the presence of servants and slaves is such a definitive characteristic of colonial women's religion. Servants were part of all the sixteenth-century women's institutions in Mexico; even the nuns of Jesús de la Penitencia and the girls of the Colegio de Niñas Mestizas had some servants from the beginning. 201 In addition to partaking of the spiritual atmosphere of the cloister, servants had to endure whatever the nuns had to endure, and probably worse. In 1592, a man who often confessed the servants of La Concepción said that, "the nuns like the servants are enduring much need." 202 (ansi las profesas como las sirvientas de la casa pasan mucha necesidad) Servants shared the nuns' poverty and had to perform harsh labor. When the beata María de la Concepción was sentenced by the Inquisition to two years' reclusion in the convent of Santa Clara, she begged that her sentence be commuted to a fine or some other punishment, swearing that her health could not withstand the sentence. Asked what she feared, she replied: "the servile offices of the nunnery." 203 (los oficios serviles del monesterio) Nuns were also known‹perhaps unfairly‹for not treating their servants particularly well. Inés de la Cruz, the chronicler of Jesús María, described how she sought to enter the convent as a servant because she had no money for a dowry: "I knew that nuns had servants," she wrote, "and I made great efforts to enter as someone's servant ... and [hoped] that they would treat me very badly thinking I was some bad woman." 204  translation

 

The physical labor of building may well have been part of the obligation of sixteenth-century convent servants. Madre Marina de la Cruz, who professed in Jesús María in 1588 at the age of 52, performed such labor: "she herself laid the stones, filled the walls, [and] stirred mortar." (ella misma daba las piedras, ripiaba las paredes, batia la mescla) To avoid disturbing the servants, Madre Marina even carried her own water. Her sanctity, however, was irritating to the other nuns, including the abbess, who sentenced Marina to the most odious tasks the convent offered: killing and butchering animals and cleaning the chicken coops and latrines. 205 In general, then, the tasks Madre Marina performed were those ordinarily entrusted to servants and slaves.

 

Yet because the nun-servant ratio was much smaller in the sixteenth century than later in the colonial period, nuns must have performed much of the convent's labor beyond the crudest tasks. In 1579, when there were twenty-eight nuns in the convent of Santa Clara, they, their lodgers, and the niñas all were apparently attended by seven servants. 206 Servants were consciously prevented from entering sixteenth-century convents because they were perceived as a drain on an already fragile convent economy. In 1570, Mexico's cabildo asked the archbishop to limit the number of servants in convents while protecting nuns' labor. 207

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Churchmen were particularly concerned to prevent the entrance of personal servants to serve individual nuns rather than the convent itself. Even at the end of the period here being studied, admission of servants was closely scrutinized and controlled. In 1600, Martin de Pedrossa, the son of the Conceptionist nun Felipa de Pedrossa, asked that two girls, one a mulata and one an Indian, be allowed to enter La Concepción to serve his ailing mother. Even though the mulata had 400 pesos which she was willing to give the convent in order that it receive the two as servants, it was decided that only one of the girls - which one was not specified - should be given license to enter. 208 The same year, Doña Juana de Leyba asked that Juana Diaz, a fourteen-year-old black girl, be admitted to Jesús María to serve Doña Juana's daughter Sor Leonor de la Concepción, "who is very indisposed." (la qual esta mui yndispuesta) Doña Juana's request was denied. 209 Also in 1600, Doña Juana de Salcedo, who had been a professed nun in Regina for more than twenty-three years, and who claimed she was too ill to care for herself, requested a license "so that a little Indian maiden, who wants to serve God and me, may help and serve me."  translation This Doña Juana too was disappointed. 210 Servants who would serve the community rather than individuals were, however, seen as a necessity. In 1600, the abbess of La Concepción asked that she be allowed to admit "six Indian girls or free mulatas ... to serve the common [needs] of the house."  translation Her request was approved. 211

 

These sixteenth-century convents, then, were not the servant-heavy houses familiar from descriptions of the later colonial period. Because of the relative lack of servants to perform the necessary tasks for the convent, nuns must have been forced to do many of them: cooking, for example, cannot have been wholly handled by the servants. In 1564, when Francisca de la Anunciación was denounced to the Mexican Inquisition, her denunciation arose during a discussion that took place as the nuns were assembled in the kitchen "kneading." Even the menial task of carrying bread from one place to another fell to one of the nuns. 212 In 1600, when the abbess of La Concepción requested the admittance of servants, she mentioned the convent's need for their labor "especially for making dough." The relatively small number of servants in the convent, then, were apparently preserved for the truly vile tasks that abounded within convent walls. Even as the number of servants grew, nuns were forced to perform other work because of the penury of their institutions.

 

The form of labor most associated with nuns in the sixteenth century was textile work. 213 In sixteenth-century Seville, embroidery and silk-weaving were particular work of nuns. 214 Indeed, this type of labor was so associated with European women's communities that Carlos Borremeo's instructions for convent construction emphasized the importance of excellent light in nunneries' workshops, "which is necessarily required to perform handiwork, to weave, or to embroider or work with the needle." 215  translation An association between nuns and the needle carried over to New Spain. The beatas who taught Indian girls were to teach them "womanly offices" - needlework important among them. The working of raw silk was also envisioned as a task for nuns. In 1570, the cabildo asked the archbishop to help prohibit the importation of "finished silk" (seda beneficiada) so that the city's nuns could find employment in spinning and weaving. 216 The 1568 denunciation of La Concepción's Elena de la Cruz arose during a discussion among "most of the convent," working in the convent's workshop one morning between eight and nine. The sisters were embroidering and sewing, while at least one of their number was busy writing in the same room. 217 These labors, important as part of the community life still very much in effect in the sixteenth century, were also financially significant. The nuns of La Concepción were, in 1604, living at least partly from "the works of their hands, which aid in their sustenance." 218  translation These "works" were needlework, as a clergyman described. 219 In 1610, the discalced nuns of Santa Isabel were working with the needle to earn their keep: "they work, embroider, and sew to help with their sustenance." 220  translation Clearly, then, nuns performed a variety of labor within the convent as part of their obligation to participate in common life, to earn money for the convent, or simply because their institutions could not yet support the great number of servants necessary for such labor-intensive tasks as food preparation. Sixteenth-century nuns were clearly workers.

 

The work performed by beatas is largely inaccessible because of the paucity of documentation and because contemporary sources often merely mentioned women's work instead of detailing it. Clearly, however, Mexico's beatas engaged in a variety of activities to support themselves. In Europe, after the imposition of clausura for all women's orders, semi-religious women began to take over more of the charitable tasks that had previously been performed by women religious. This was partly because Tridentine policy forbade semi-religious women to beg in the streets; thus, service became even more important to their survival. 221 In Mexico, some beatas served in convents. Clearly, however, at least some of these women preserved their freedom from clausura. In 1598, Marina de San Miguel described her friend, the black (negra) beata María de los Ángeles, as a servant of the nuns of Santa Clara. Notably, however, María was described as a beata rather than a lay sister or donada, implying that her religious vocation was personal and independent of her working relationship with the convent. Equally important, María was evidently free to come and go as she wished, as she visited Marina in her home. 222 Semi-religious women had long served in hospitals; such service was associated with the semi-religious in medieval England, for example. 223 After Trent, beatas continued to nurse. In Mexico, at least some beatas served in hospitals. Gaspar de León described being awakened in the middle of the night by a beata who worked in the Hospital Real. 224

 

Beatas also functioned as health practitioners in a less formalized manner. Doña Ana de Guillamas was consulted by an ailing servant of her patron, Don Juan de Altamirano. The servant asked the holy woman to intercede with God, hoping - in vain, as it turned out - to gain a speedy convalescence. Doña Ana considered herself something of a specialist in health. She allegedly told the wife of another patron that she would have a good childbirth, would give birth to a son, and would suffer no problems with her breasts after the delivery. 225 In 1608, Doña Mariana de Villafana described consulting the mulata beata Magdalena del Castillo "because of being ill and disconsolate." 226 (por andar necesitada de salud y desconsolada) In 1598, a forty-four-year-old tailor reported that he had sought out the beata Marina de San Miguel because he was "very melancholy and sick." (muy melancolico y enfermo) The tailor and his wife made repeated visits to Marina's home in an effort to cure the husband's illness, bringing her bread and fruit "five hundred times." Recommended to the couple by others in the neighborhood, Marina also allegedly advertised her own curative powers. She told the couple that, "God promised to hear [the prayers of] and give health to people who gave her gifts." 227  translation Beatas' spiritual services, then, unlike those of nuns, were clearly understood as services for which some payment was expected. Like nuns, beatas spent much of their time engaged in the labour of prayer. Unlike nuns, though, beatas offered their prayers on behalf of individuals rather than for society as a whole; 228 the work of the semi-religious woman was thus less abstract. As a result, beatas had the option of charging for their spiritual labors.

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The notion of recompense for spiritual services, however, should not be understood as a straightforward matter of fee for service. If women such as Marina de San Miguel sometimes made the quid pro quo quite explicit, beatas generally accepted the offerings of clients as "alms," and could not depend upon a standard fee schedule for services rendered. Thus beatas, like nuns, depended upon their handiwork for survival. The beata María de la Concepción said in 1574 that since leaving home she had lived "from the work of her hands." 229 (de la lavor de sus manos) Describing the Guatemalan beata Ana de Gallegos in 1579, a witness said that she and the other beatas she had gathered around her had no wealth, "except what they earn with their needles." 230 (sino es lo que ganan con sus agujas) Marina de San Miguel also said that she earned her living from sewing, mentioning in addition that she earned money teaching girls. 231 Like nuns, then, beatas instructed girls, in domestic skills as well as reading and writing. In Guatemala, Ana Gallegos and the beatas in her impromptu community raised girls, many of whom were "poor orphans." 232 One may assume that, unlike nuns, who boarded their girl charges, beatas were expected to instruct girls in specific tasks on a daily basis. The mention of poor orphans suggests, however, that teaching girls was not necessarily a money-making proposition, as it frequently blurred into the dispensing of charity. Nonetheless, many beatas described teaching as a source of income. In many ways, then, the laboring lives of nuns and beatas were comparable. Both spent a great deal of their time in prayer, but were required to perform other labor, both to run their households and to earn money. Their work was the "respectable" feminine labor that was an extension of womanly household tasks: needlework, childrearing, and healing. In addition, of course, nuns performed specialized tasks as accountants, musicians, or administrators of their houses, which clearly differentiated them from the beatas, whose work remained more firmly within the realm of "womanly offices."

 

Overall, however, the material conditions in which beatas and nuns lived were not as disparate as would be the case later in the colonial period, simply because sixteenth-century nuns lived in conditions that were variable and insecure. Not until well into the seventeenth century would this change. The material conditions of women's religious lives in the foundational period, then, were distinctive indeed, because of the volatility of the economic climate in which women lived and the tenuous and slow process of institutional development.


Appendix

 



Notes:

Note 1: Fernando Benítez, The Century after Cortés, trans. Joan MacLean (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), 19. See also the description in Francisco de la Maza, La ciudad de México en el siglo XVII (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1968), 48.  Back.

Note 2: José María Marroqui, La Ciudad de México, contiene el origen de los nombres de muchas de sus calles y plazas, del de varios establecimientos... (3 vols.; Mexico, 1900), ii, 142-3. Compare this with the recent description of Stacey Schlau and Electa Arenal, who write that in Mexico's convents "self-adornment, indulgence in sweets and delicacies, and spiritual laxity went hand in hand. The majority of the women lived in separate apartments within the cloister and were attended by Indian and Black servants and slaves." Arenal and Schlau, Untold Sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989), 339.  Back.

Note 3: Texas, García MS 79. Relación de la fundación del convento antiguo de Santa Teresa, 43-4.  Back.

Note 4: Donald Gibbs' study of convent finances in Cuzco examines only Santa Catalina and Santa Clara, both of which had existed for more than seventy-five years, and not the recently founded Santa Teresa. See Gibbs, "The Economic Activities of Nuns, Friars, and Their Conventos in Mid-Colonial Cuzco," The Americas 45:3 (January 1989), 343-62. It is possible that even in the late colonial period, newly created convents went through a period of instability that I here identify with the early colonial experience.  Back.

Note 5: Asunción Lavrin, "The Role of the Nunneries in the Economy of New Spain in the Eighteenth Century," Hispanic American Historical Review 46, No. 4 (November 1966), 371-93; 376.  Back.

Note 6:  Back.

Note 7: Marroquí, loc. cit.  Back.

Note 8: Lavrin, "Role," 383. The 1670 retreat from vida común, which allowed nuns under episcopal jurisdiction to cover their own expenses privately and which determined the character of "mature" feminine conventual ife in the capital and elsewhere, was a response to the continuing poor financial state of Mexico City's women's institutions. A similar retreat was made by the Franciscans as early as 1646, when it was decided that even discalced or Poor Clares could hold property not only in common but privately. bn, Caja 75, Exp. 1258. Traslado de los pareceres de las religiones sobre si pueden las monjas de nuestra madre santa clara tener, si quisieren, proprios en comun, possessiones herencias y rentas. 1646.  Back.

Note 9: José García Oro, "Reformas y Observancias: crisis y renovación de la vida religiosa española durante el Renacimiento," Revista de Espiritualidad 40 (1981), 191-213; 212. See also Mario Rosa, "The Nun," in Rosario Villari, ed., Baroque Personae, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Chicago, 1995), 195-238; 198.  Back.

Note 10: Ann K. Warren, Anchorites and Their Patrons in Medieval England. (California, 1985), 93.  Back.

Note 11: Penelope Johnson, Equal in Monastic Profession: Religious Women in Medieval France (Chicago, 1991), 151.  Back.

Note 12: José L. Sánchez Lora, Mujeres, conventos y formas de la religiosidad barroca (Madrid: fue, 1988), 149.  Back.

Note 13: Ironically enough, of course, his directions were being given to the woman he admitted seducing. See The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, trans. Betty Radice (Penguin, 1974), 196.  Back.

Note 14: Johnson, op. cit., 161.  Back.

Note 15: García Oro, op. cit., 212.  Back.

Note 16: Marcelle Bernstein, The Nuns (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1976), 166.  Back.

Note 17: Elissa B. Weaver, "The Convent Wall in Tuscan Convent Drama," in Craig Monson, ed., The Crannied Wall: Women, Religion, and the Arts in Early Modern Europe (Michigan, 1992),, 73-86; 73.  Back.

Note 18: A.D. Wright, The Counter-Reformation: Catholic Europe and the Non-Christian World (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982), 47.  Back.

Note 19: Quoted in Craig Monson, introduction to Monson, op. cit., 2. Also see Wright, loc. cit., who notes that nuns' resistance to enclosure was most dramatic in Spain and Italy.  Back.

Note 20: Mariló Vigil, "La monja," in La vida de las mujeres en los siglos xvi y xvii (Madrid: Siglo xxi, 1986), 208-61; 223-4.  Back.

Note 21: Weaver, op. cit., 76.  Back.

Note 22: Ibid., 74-5. Little wonder that some of Italy's convents became, after their suppression, high-security prisons.  Back.

Note 23: Carlos Borremeo, Instrucciones de la fábrica y del ajuar eclesiásticos/ Instructiones fabricae et supellectilis ecclesiasticae, trans. Bulmaro Reyes Coria (Mexico: unam, 1985 [1577]), 103-4. Borremeo's instructions were known in New Spain.  Back.

Note 24: It is difficult, of course, to ascertain how Mexico's nuns felt about clausura. Kathleen Ross finds traces of ambivalence in Parayso Occidental. For example, Sigüenza y Góngora describes the path to religion followed in the seventeenth century by Tomasina de San Francisco, described as a beautiful girl whose mother kept her enclosed in the house and attempted to force her into religion. Tomasina instead married a gentleman of the court, whose jealousy made her a prisoner in her own home. When he died, Sigüenza claims, Tomasina feared entering the cloister as yet another experience of imprisonment. Though she overcame this fear with time, ambivalence toward clausura is clearly evident in her reaction. See Kathleen Ross, The Baroque Narrative of Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora: A New World Paradise (Cambridge, 1993), 145.  Back.

Note 25: AGI, Justicia 157, No. 2, Pieza 2, f. 45v. Información sobre Nuestra Señora de la Caridad. 1557.  Back.

Note 26: AGI, Guatemala 170. Testimonio de la ynstituycion del monesterio de monjas de nra señora de la concecion de la ciudad de guatemala fecha por don franco marroquin primer obispo de la dicha ciudad e ynformacion fecha de pedimiento del cavildo y rregimiento della... 1578, f. 3.  Back.

Note 27: Craig Monson, "Disembodied Voices: Music in the Nunneries of Bologna in the Midst of the Counter-Reformation," in Monson, op. cit., 191-209.  Back.

Note 28: AGI, Justicia 157, No. 2, Pieza 2, f. 45v. Información sobre Nuestra Señora de la Caridad. 1557. f. 45v.  Back.

Note 29: INAH, Colección Antigua 792. Aqui començan las constituciones de las monjas de la orden de el bienaventurado doctor nuestro padre sant geronimo. 1585. Ff. 1, 15-15v.  Back.

Note 30: AGI, México 283. Proceso y informaciones fechas en la ciudad de México y otros autos sobre haver salido las monjas de Santa Clara del monasterio... 1574-5, f. 6v. Testimony of Maese Alonso.  Back.

Note 31: Ibid., f. 3.  Back.

Note 32: Ibid., f. 12. He did not indicate whether he had entered the convent in his professional capacity.  Back.

Note 33: AGI, México 287. Bula que no puede entrar ninguna persona seglar en convento. 1587.  Back.

Note 34: AGI, México 287. Los autos que se hizieron sobre la bula... 10. x. 1587. The marquesa was not, evidently, so lucky with regard to her visits to Santa Clara. Doctor Salcedo urged the Franciscan order to exclude her notwithstanding papal licence, saying that she should be able to understand "tan santo obra es, como cerrar la puerta al ynconvene gravissimo de entrar en conventos con compa de mugeres." bn, Archivo Franciscano, Caja 75, Exp. 1255. Parecer muy docto del padre salcedo... 1586. The problem of entry of secular women was still sufficiently of concern in 1612 to merit a new papal decree revoking the licences of secular women to enter Mexico City's Franciscan convents. See bn, Archivo Franciscano, Exp. 1257. Traslado de un motu propio... 10. VII. 1612.  Back.

Note 35: AGI, México 270. Doña Franca de guebara. 5. III. 1603.  Back.

Note 36: AGI, México 289. Ynfformacion rrecibida en la rreal Audiencia de mexco sobre la necesidad de la casa e yglesia del monasterio de la concepcion de la dicha ciudad. 1592.  Back.

Note 37: AGI, México 225, N. 4. Información: La Concepción de México. 1604, Im. 14 passim.  Back.

Note 38: AGN, Bienes Nacionales 78, Exp. 36. Anto de la cadena supca a v. sa sea servido dar licencia... 3. v. 1600. Unfortunately, the document does not specify whether the licence was granted.  Back.

Note 39: AGI, México 283. Información sobre santa clara de mexico. f. 5r.  Back.

Note 40: AGI, México 283. Informacion de como se le dio la obediencia al provisor. 11. xii. 1573, f. 23.  Back.

Note 41: AGI, México 336A, Ramo 3, doc. 155. La abadesa de jesus maria al arzobispo de mexico don pedro moya de contreras.  Back.

Note 42: Wright, op. cit., 53.  Back.

Note 43: Elizabeth Rapley, The Dévotes: Women and Church in Seventeenth-Century France (Montreal: McGill-Queen's, 1990), 49, 32-3.  Back.

Note 44: AGN, Inquisición 48, Exp. 4, ff. 115-62. Processo contra maria de la concepcion beata natural y veza de mexico. 1574.  Back.

Note 45: AGN, Inquisición 176, Exp. 9, ff. 65v-83. Processo contra Doña Anna de Guillamas, alias de peralta rresidente en esta ciudad de mexco, por alumbrada. 1598.  Back.

Note 46: AGN, Inquisición 210, Exp. 3, ff. 307-430. Processo contra Marina de San Miguel vezina de la ciudad de mexico beata de la orden de sto domingo natural de cordova en los reynos de Castilla. 1598.  Back.

Note 47: AGI, Indiferente 2064, N.2. Ynes de st franco beata del habito de st franco suppca se le de licencia para bolver a la na spana y llevar una criada. 1588.  Back.

Note 48: Sánchez Lora, op. cit., 98.  Back.

Note 49: Lavrin, "Values and Meaning."  Back.

Note 50: This might suggest a temptation to overinflate the numbers. Yet witnesses were remarkably consistent in their estimates of the number of professed nuns in a given convent; and with a few exceptions, compilation of the estimates over time gives an impression of steady and rapid growth rather than the wild variation one might expect were the estimates fraudulent. In addition, it should be remembered that the estimates were given as sworn testimony.  Back.

Note 51: AGI, México 280. A su magd del monesto de la concepcion de mexco. 2. XI. 1565.  Back.

Note 52: The lower number is found in Descripción del Arzobispado de México hecha en 1570 y otros documentos. Colección de Joaquín García Icazbalceta (Mexico: Terrazas e Hijas, 1897), 290; the higher is from agi, México 336A, R.2, doc. 104 (7). Relacion de los diezmos, iglesias, religiones, etc.... de mexico. 1570. F. 5. The latter figure is more plausible because in 1570 Archbishop Montúfar claimed that the institution had more than seventy nuns. agi, México 336A, Doc. 60. El arzobispo de mexico a sm. 20. iv. 1570.  Back.

Note 53: AGI, México 289. Las monjas de la concepcion de mexico a sm. 6. ii. 1589. The 1586 cédula referred to 100 nuns. See agi, México 1, No. 2. Consulta del Consejo de Indias sobre conceder 1000 pesos de a ocho reales durante diez años al monasterio de la Concepción, de Méjico. 9. v. 1586.  Back.

Note 54: Josefina Muriel, Conventos de monjas en la Nueva España (Mexico: Editorial Jus, 1995 [1946]), 37.  Back.

Note 55: AGI, México 225, N. 4. Información: La Concepción de México. 1604, Im. 2.  Back.

Note 56: Josefina Muriel, "Cincuenta años escribiendo historia de las mujeres, in Ramos Medina, ed., Monacato Femenino, op. cit., 26.  Back.

Note 57: AGI, México 225, N. 4. Información: La Concepción de México. 1604, Im. 2, Im. 16.  Back.

Note 58: AGI, México 336A, R. 2, doc. 104 (7). Relación de los diezmos, iglesias, religiones, etc... de mexico. 1570, f. 6.  Back.

Note 59: AGI, México 336A, R. 2, doc. 108. El arzobispo moya de contreras a juan de ovando. 1 September 1574.  Back.

Note 60: The smaller number is found in AGI, México 283. Fray bernaldino perez a SM. 1576. The larger number was provided in 1576 by Archbishop Moya de Contreras, who complained that it was difficult "to sustain more than fifty people without any income." He may, of course, have been including servants in the total. See Carta al rey del arzobispo de México sobre el pleito con los agustinos por la parroquia de San Pablo, el estado del convento de religiosas de Santa Clara, y la Cruzada y mortandad de los indios. In Paso y Troncoso, Epistolario XII, No. 691, 25-7; 26.  Back.

Note 61: INAH, Colección Gómez de Orozco, 42 bis, ff. 1-23. Nomina de religiosas del convento de Santa Clara de México, 1570-1747, f. 22. This source may be somewhat unreliable.  Back.

Note 62: AGI, México 285. Fray juan de leon a SM. 9 April 1581.  Back.

Note 63: BN, Archivo Franciscano, Exp. 1255.  Back.

Note 64: AGI, México 288. Petición y información de las monjas de Santa Clara. 20 May 1599, f. 6.  Back.

Note 65: AGI, México 26, N. 29. Carta del virrey. 22 May 1604.  Back.

Note 66: AGI, México 218, N. 17. 1586. Another witness claimed that there were 113 nuns and novices.  Back.

Note 67: AGI, México 287. La abadesa Ana de Santa Maria a SM, s.f. (c. 1584).  Back.

Note 68: AGI, México 2606. Ynforn rda en la rreal audia de mexco en virtud de la rreal ca de su magt sobre la pretension de doña cata de peralta biuda en favor de el convento de las descalçcas de mexco. 1610-15.  Back.

Note 69: AGI, México 291. El monasterio de san loro a SM. 12 December 1598. San Jerónimo had, however, lost a few of its nuns to the new foundation.  Back.

Note 70: As early as 1580 there were 1500 mendicant friars in New Spain, increasingly challenged by a new group, the secular clergy, of whom there were more than 150 in the archdiocese alone (Gruzinski, op. cit., 146, 194). Since both groups continued to grow dramatically until 1650, there must have been at least four men in religious orders for every one nun in 1600 (Schwaller, Wealth, 6).  Back.

Note 71: In peninsular women's convents, there were normally only two possibilities for dowryless entrance. The first was through designation by a founder or foundress using his or her privileges as patron. The second was through possession of particular skill in music. Sánchez Lora, op. cit., 115.  Back.

Note 72: AGI, México 289. Ysavel lopez de jesus rectora e fundadora del monesto y recogimiento de sancta monica de la ciudad de Mexco, sobre que su magd sea patorn del dicho monesto y dello se le den los despachos necesarios. 1591.  Back.

Note 73: La Concepción claimed that it was a mother house from which "have been taken nuns for foundations in other parts, to whom support is [still] given" (se han sacado monjas para fundar en otras partes a quien dan alimentos See AGI, México 1, No. 2. Consulta del Consejo de Indias sobre conceder 1000 pesos de a ocho reales durante diez años al monasterio de la Concepción, de Méjico, para la construcción de una iglesia. 9 May 1586.  Back.

Note 74: Lavrin, "Role."  Back.

Note 75: Victoria Hennessey Cummins, "The Church and Business Practices in Late Sixteenth Century Mexico," The Americas XLIV, No. 4 (April 1988), 421-440; 430. See also Gibbs, op. cit., 359-60; Schwaller, Wealth, 114-15; Lavrin, "Role," 377.  Back.

Note 76: In comparison, standard dowries in the seventeenth century were 3000 pesos, 4000 by the end of the eighteenth century. See Lavrin, "Role," 375. One hundred pesos, which was assumed sufficient to support a nun, was not much higher than the 60-peso salary earned by the woman who did the laundry for the cathedral chapter, and certainly much less than the 400 pesos required by a secular priest to support himself and his servants (Schwaller, Wealth, 7, 76).  Back.

Note 77: AGN, Bienes Nacionales 955, Exp. 1. Concierto con Juan Perez Romero en ne de cata florez sobre lo de la dote de cata florez su sobrina monja. 1556.  Back.

Note 78: Ibid., f. 5. There is no indication in the document that the smaller sum brought by the widow would confer on her a lower status.  Back.

Note 79: Such expenses could amount to as much as or more than one year's maintenance costs, and included everything from the cost of fabrics used to sew habits to wax and "tips" for the abbess, other nuns, and male clerics. See INAH, Colección Antigua N. 992. Memoria de todas las cosas necesarias para la toma de abito, y profesión de las religiosas de este convento de NMS Catarina de Sena. S.F.  Back.

Note 80: Ibid., f. 6.  Back.

Note 81: AGI, México 270. Información doña María de velasco. 19 December 1601.  Back.

Note 82: Muriel, Conventos, 177. The document cited below suggests an average of 3000 pesos for the seventeenth century, 2000 for the eighteenth.  Back.

Note 83: INAH, Colección Gómez de Orozco, 42 bis, ff. 1-23. Nomina de religiosas del convento de Santa Clara de México, 1570-1747, f. 4v.  Back.

Note 84: Ibid., f. 11v.  Back.

Note 85: Ibid., f. 22.  Back.

Note 86: AGI, México 336A, R. 2, doc. 104 (7). Relación de los diezmos, iglesias, religiones, etc... de mexico. 1570, f. 6.  Back.

Note 87: Agustín Millares Carlo, ed. Cartas recibidas de España por Francisco Cervantes de Salazar (México: Porrúa, 1946), 141.  Back.

Note 88: AGI, México 287. Información de las monjas de Santa Clara de México. 20 March 1582. Testimony of Hernán Vázquez, f. 6.  Back.

Note 89: INAH, Fondo Franciscano N. 336, Exp. 24. Sobre la fundación de una cofradía llamada de Santa Lucia. C. 1600, ff. 105-6.  Back.

Note 90: Ibid.  Back.

Note 91: Schwaller, Wealth, 130.  Back.

Note 92: AGI, México 229, N. 2. Ynformon de officio rrda en la audia rl de la nueva spana sobre la que dio el convento de monjas de jhs maria desta ciudad de mexico sobre la mrd que su magd pretende la haga ba ante su magd y su rrl consejo de yndias. 1609, f. 26.  Back.

Note 93: AGI, Guatemala 172. Informacion de la concepcion de guatemala. 1578.  Back.

Note 94: AGI, Patronato 81, N. 3, R. 4. Luis Ortiz de Vargas a SM, pide que dos hijas suyas sean recebidas en el monasterio de Jesús María sin dote, con parecer de la audiencia de México. 1598.  Back.

Note 95: AGI, México 25, N. 32. EL conde de Monterrey a SM. 22 May 1603.  Back.

Note 96: AGI, Patronato 81, N. 3, R. 4. Luis Ortiz de Vargas a SM, pide que dos hijas suyas sean recebidas en el monasterio de Jesús María sin dote, con parecer de la audiencia de México. 1598. In 1618, the Marqués de Guadalcazar wrote to the king that "the patronage that Your Majesty has over the monastery of Jesús María of this city is very forgotten..." AGI, México 29, N. 3. El marques de guadalcazar a SM. 4 February 1618. By the eighteenth century there were only seven capellanías reales in the convent. See Muriel, Conventos, 102.  Back.

Note 97: Descripción del Arzobispado de México hecha en 1570, 290.  Back.

Note 98: AGN, Cofradías y Archicofradías 10, Exp. 1. Fundación de la Ylustre Archicofradía del Santísimo Sacramento, ff. 25v-26.  Back.

Note 99: Carta al rey, del arzobispo de México, tratando de las relaciones que tenía con los religiosos de todas las órdenes, de la provisión de beneficios eclesiásticos, de lo que occuría en el convento de monjas de Santa Clara y de otras cosas. 25 September 1575. In Paso y Troncoso, Epistolario XI, No. 684, 262-7.  Back.

Note 100: AGI, México 285. Carta de fray Juan de leon. 9 April 1581.  Back.

Note 101: AGI, México 285. Carta de las monjas de Santa Clara de México. 30 March 1582.  Back.

Note 102: INAH, Fondo Franciscano N. 336, Exp. 24. Sobre la fundación de una cofradía llamada de Santa Lucia. C. 1600, ff. 105-6.  Back.

Note 103: AGI, Guatemala 172. Informacion de la concepcion de guatemala. 1598.  Back.

Note 104: Descripción del Arzobispado de México hecha en 1570, 290.  Back.

Note 105: AGI, México 289. Ynfformacion rrecibida en la rreal Audiencia de mexco sobre la necesidad de la casa e yglesia del monasterio de la concepcion de la dicha ciudad. 1592. Testimony of Cristóbal de Salcedo, f. 3v.  Back.

Note 106: Ibid., f. 14.  Back.

Note 107: AGI, México 225, N. 4. Información: La Concepción de México. 1604, Im. 2.  Back.

Note 108: Ibid., Im. 7.  Back.

Note 109: Ibid.  Back.

Note 110: Descripción del Arzobispado de México hecha en 1570 , 290. Other convents were not better off. The convent of Santa Catalina de Sena in Antequera (Oaxaca) had 2832 pesos in 1598 to support 38 nuns. Oaxaca's other convent, the newly-founded La Concepción, had only recently been founded and had 1227 pesos to support its 14 nuns. See AGI, México 291. Estado e ymbento de las yglesias y sus enceres y hornamtos que hay en el obispado de antequera. 1598.  Back.

Note 111: See Johnson, op. cit., 165-81; 225-6. Johnson notes that one modern French monastery receives in recompense for its spiritual services 40 percent of the oncome of a neighbouring nunnery.  Back.

Note 112: AGI, México 289. Ynfformacion rrecibida en la rreal Audiencia de mexco sobre la necesidad de la casa e yglesia del monasterio de la concepcion de la dicha ciudad. 1592, f. 14.  Back.

Note 113: Descripción del Arzobispado de México hecha en 1570, 290-1.  Back.

Note 114: Ibid.Notably, four of the capellanías were instituted by women: doña María de Estrada endowed one, while the others were established by Doña Catalina Martel, daughter of Cristóbal de Sepúlveda and his wife Doña María Martel; Doña María de Alvarado, daughter of Gil González de Ávila and Doña Leonor de Alvarado; and Doña Leonor de Cuevas, daughter of Juan de Cuevas and Doña María Tellez. All of the latter were nuns in the convent; doña Catalina had left an encomienda to the king when she became a nun.  Back.

Note 115: AGI, México 336A, R. 2, doc 104 (7). Relacion de los diezmos, iglesias, religiones, etc.... de mexico. 1570. Ff. 6-6v. At this date, there were 120 girls in the school "entre donzellas y pupilas." Given the institution's low income, which was supposed to provide for not only sustenance but dowries for graduands, one may assume that donzellas were a small minority of the total, and that many of the institution's inhabitants were paid lodgers or pupilas.  Back.

Note 116: INAH, Fondo Franciscano 102. Documentos varios de los conventos de monjas 1613-1748, f. 50. Johnson, op. cit., describes the attitude of medieval churchmen toward women's houses as often avaricious, claiming that some "treated a dependent nunnery as a carcass to be picked over for tasty tidbits" (89).  Back.

Note 117: INAH, Colección Antigua, Actual 320, antes 774, último 396. Información apologética de los domínicos en méxico en 1578, f. 24v.  Back.

Note 118: Gilchrist, op. cit., 89-90. "Nuns did not possess the means by which to achieve self-sufficiency."  Back.

Note 119: AGI, México 283. Información sobre Santa Clara de México.  Back.

Note 120: Private patronage was also apparently forthcoming. In 1573, Sebastián de Aparicio gave the convent a hacienda between Tenayucan and Azcapotzalco worth some 20,000 pesos, along with the rest of his personal wealth, and served the convent for a year before entering San Francisco de México in 1574. Muriel, Conventos, 170. Strangely, however, Archbishop Moya de Contreras referred to the nuns in 1574 as "poor and needy," and I have found no contemporary records of the Aparicio donation. See AGI, México 336A, R. 2, doc. 108. El arzobispo moya de contreras a juan de ovando. 1 September 1574.  Back.

Note 121: AGI, México 285. Las monjas de Santa Clara de México a SM. 30 March 1582.  Back.

Note 122: AGI, México 339. El cabildo eclesiastico de mexico a SM. 12 January 1552.  Back.

Note 123: AGI, México 289. Ynfformacion rrecibida en la rreal Audiencia de mexco sobre la necesidad de la casa e yglesia del monasterio de la concepcion de la dicha ciudad. 1592, f. 1v.  Back.

Note 124: Ibid., f. 4v.  Back.

Note 125: Ibid., f. 15v.  Back.

Note 126: Ibid.  Back.

Note 127: AGI, México 225, N. 4. Información: La Concepción de México. 1604, Im. 7, Im. 23.  Back.

Note 128: AGI, México 287. La abadesa Ana de Santa María a SM. s.f.(c. 1584).  Back.

Note 129: AGI, México 229, N. 2. Ynformon de officio rrda en la audia rl de la nueva spana sobre la que dio el convento de monjas de jhs maria desta ciudad de mexico sobre la mrd que su magd pretende la haga ba ante su magd y su rrl consejo de yndias. 1609. Ff. 1v-3 passim.  Back.

Note 130: Inmaculada de la Corte Navarro, "Aportaciones reales a los conventos de monjas en México, siglo XVI. El caso de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción." In Ramos Medina, ed., Monacato Femenino, 137-147; 140-1.  Back.

Note 131: AGI, México 291. El mono de san loro a SM. 12 December 1598.  Back.

Note 132: AGI, México 289. El abadesa y convento del monasterio de la conception de mexico y doña ysavel y doña catalina de moteçuma monjas professas en el dicho monasterio, suppcan atento lo que refieren se les hagan mrd de quatro mill pos de renta... 1593-4.  Back.

Note 133: AGI, México 283. Relacion del negocio de santa clara. 1575, f. 1v.  Back.

Note 134: According to John Schwaller, the normal range for a capellanía was somewhere around 150 pesos de minas (242.5 pesos de oro común) per year. Francisca's capellanía, paying a paltry 70 pesos, would thus be quite meager.  Back.

Note 135: AGN, Bienes Nacionales 510, Exp. 25, ff. 1-8. Liza pa testar y testamto de la madre franca de los rreyes religa del convto de jhs ma otorgdo en 5 de enero del dicho año [1596].  Back.

Note 136: AGI, México 2606.  Back.

Note 137: AGI, México 288. Petición y información de las monjas de Santa Clara. 20 May 1588. Testimony de Cristóbal de Pastrana, f. 8. A copy of the información can also be found in BN, Archivo Franciscano, Exp. 1255.  Back.

Note 138: Ibid., testimony de Luis Mayo, f. 10-10v.  Back.

Note 139: AGI, México 225, N. 4. Información: La Concepción de México. 1604, , Im. 10.  Back.

Note 140: AGI, México 287. Información de las monjas de Santa Clara de México. 20 March 1582. Testimony of Juan Rodríguez de León, f. 7.  Back.

Note 141: BN, Archivo Franciscano, Exp. 1255. Información del convento de Santa Clara de México. ff. 3v, 7v.  Back.

Note 142: AGI, México 287. Información de las monjas de Santa Clara de México. 20 March 1582. Testimony of Hernán Vázquez, f. 5v.  Back.

Note 143: Ibid.  Back.

Note 144: AGI, Justicia 157, No. 2, Pieza 2, f. 30v. Información sobre Nuestra Señora de la Caridad. 1557.  Back.

Note 145: Ibid., f. 58v.  Back.

Note 146: Ibid., testimony of Alonso de Torquemada, f. 56v.  Back.

Note 147: AGN, Cofradías y Archicofradías 205, Exp. 1. Testimonio de la Bulla del Sor Pio Quinto y Ordenanza y Fundaon de la Cofradía de Santa Lucia en el convto de Religas de Jesus de la Penitencia, nra sa de Balbanera. 1578, f. 10.  Back.

Note 148: Ibid., f. 16v.  Back.

Note 149: AGI, México 284. Ynformacion de oficio rrescivida en la rreal audiencia de la nueva españa sobre la que dieron las monjas rrecoxidas. 1577, f. 2r.  Back.

Note 150: Ibid. Given that the abbess, Ana de San Jerónimo (Ana de Soto), was one of the most experienced and competent nuns in the city, the situation of Jesús de la Penitencia must have been bleak indeed to have reduced her to such a state.  Back.

Note 151: Ibid., f. 3r.  Back.

Note 152: De la Corte, op. cit., 138.  Back.

Note 153: Muriel, Colegios, 123.  Back.

Note 154: AGI, México 284. Ynformon rrda en la rreal audiencia de la nueva spaña a pedimio de las monjas rrecogidas desta ciudad. 1578, f. 1.  Back.

Note 155: AGI, México 285. Fray juan de leon a SM. 9 April 1581.  Back.

Note 156: AGI, México 317. El cabildo de mexico a SM. 28 October 1583.  Back.

Note 157: AGI, México 286. Pedro tomas a SM. 1 November 1584.  Back.

Note 158: AGI, Patronato 81, N. 3, R. 4. Luis Ortiz de Vargas a SM. 1598. Information about the amount paid to Jesús María up until and including 1600 was added to Ortiz's petition as a marginal note.  Back.

Note 159: AGI, México 229, N. 12. Ynformon de officio rrda en la audia rl de la nueva spana sobre la que dio el convento de monjas de jhs maria desta ciudad de mexico sobre la mrd que su magd pretende la haga ba ante su magd y su rrl consejo de yndias. 1609. F. 23, Im. 45.  Back.

Note 160: Or so claimed the convent's chaplain in 1609. See Ibid., f. 10v, Im. 20.  Back.

Note 161: AGI, México 285. Carta de las monjas de Santa Clara de México. 30 March 1582.  Back.

Note 162: BN, Archivo Franciscano, Exp. 1255. Información del convento de Santa Clara de México. 1587. AGI, México 388. Petición y información de las monjas de Santa Clara. 20 May 1588. f. 5.  Back.

Note 163: AGI, México 289. Cédula de lo que se hizo con el monesterio de Santa Clara. 23 July 1594.  Back.

Note 164: AGI, México 270. Carta de las monjas de Santa Clara de México. c. 1602.  Back.

Note 165: AGI, México 289. Las monjas de la concepcion de mexico a SM. s.f. [c. 1585].  Back.

Note 166: Ibid.  Back.

Note 167: AGI, México 289. Ynfformacion rrecibida en la rreal Audiencia de mexco sobre la necesidad de la casa e yglesia del monasterio de la concepcion de la dicha ciudad. 1592, f. 8v.  Back.

Note 168: AGI, México 289. Carta a SM de las monjas de la Concepcion de Mexico. 6 February 1589.  Back.

Note 169: AGI, México 289. La abbadesa monjas y convento de la concepcion de mexco. 1594.  Back.

Note 170: AGI, México 289. Carta de la abbadesa monjas y convento del monasterio de nra sra de la concpon de mexico. s.f. [1594].  Back.

Note 171: AGI, México 281. Priora y monjas de la magdna de madrid a SM. 4 April 1598.  Back.

Note 172: AGI, México 270. Doña madalena de rrojas y sandoval priora del convto de sto Domingo el Real de Madrid. 1603.  Back.

Note 173: O'Gorman and Novo, Guía, Acta del 19. ix. 1597, 863.  Back.

Note 174: Muriel, Conventos, 108.  Back.

Note 175: AGI, México 73, R. 10, N. 100. Parecer de la Audiena Rl de mexco sobre la pretension del monesterio de monjas de san geronimo de aquella ciudad. 17 May 1618.  Back.

Note 176: Muriel, Conventos, 272-3.  Back.

Note 177: AGI, México 2606. Ynforn rda en la rreal audia de mexco en virtud de la rreal ca de su magt sobre la pretencion de doña cata de peralta biuda en favor de el convento de las descalças de mexco. 1610-15.  Back.

Note 178: Cuevas, op. cit., Vol. IV, 179.  Back.

Note 179: Marroquí, op. cit., I, 486.  Back.

Note 180: Ibid., 341.  Back.

Note 181: Ibid., 273.  Back.

Note 182: Schwaller, Wealth, 126.  Back.

Note 183: Marroquí, op. cit., I, 500-1.  Back.

Note 184: AGN, Inquisición 48, Exp. 4, ff. 115-62. Processo contra maria de la concepcion beata natural y veza de mexico. 1574, f. 142v.  Back.

Note 185: AGN, Inquisición 210, Exp. 3, ff. 307-430. Processo contra Marina de San Miguel vezina de la ciudad de mexico beata de la orden de sto domingo natural de cordova en los reynos de Castilla. 1598. F. 359.  Back.

Note 186: AGN, Inquisición 176, Exp. 9, ff. 65v-83. Processo contra Doña Anna de Guillamas, alias de peralta rresidente en esta ciudad de mexco, por alumbrada. 1598. F. 170.  Back.

Note 187: AGN, Inquisición 210, Exp. 3, ff. 307-430. Processo contra Marina de San Miguel vezina de la ciudad de mexico beata de la orden de sto domingo natural de cordova en los reynos de Castilla. 1598. F. 359.  Back.

Note 188: See, for example, the 5000-maravedi pension given to the"beata Vitoria" in 1511 (and later transferred to another woman). AGI, Indiferente 418, L. 3, f. 98, Im. 219. Orden de pago a la beata vitoria.  Back.

Note 189: AGI, Guatemala 170. Informacion sobre Ana Gallegos, beata. 18 March 1579.  Back.

Note 190: Muriel, Conventos, 53.  Back.

Note 191: INAH, Colección Antigua 792. Aqui començan las constituciones de las monjas de la orden de el bienaventurado doctor nuestro padre. Ff. 13-13v.  Back.

Note 192: Muriel, Conventos, 53.  Back.

Note 193: AGI, Justicia 157, No. 2, Pieza 2, f. 30v. Información sobre Nuestra Señora de la Caridad. 1557. f. 42v.  Back.

Note 194: For a discussion of these and other offices, see INAH Colección Antigua 792, Aqui començan... ff. 2v-8.  Back.

Note 195: Texas, García MS 79. Relación de la fundación del convento antiguo de Santa Teresa, 12, 14.  Back.

Note 196: For a discussion of the role of nuns in the education of girls, see Josefina Muriel, Colegios, 205-11.  Back.

Note 197: AGI, México 280. La abadesa y convento de la concepcion de mexico a SM. 15 February 1552.  Back.

Note 198: Marroquí, op. cit., III, 137. Some of these may well have been grown women rather than girls.  Back.

Note 199: AGI, México 282. Lo que maria de san niculas y mariana de jesus y ysavel del espiritu santo y franca de la concepcion... suplican a su santidad. 26 October 1571.  Back.

Note 200: Texas, García ms 79. Relación de la fundación del convento antiguo de Santa Teresa, 3. See also Lavrin, "Women in Convents", 250-77; 258-9, 261.  Back.

Note 201: AGN, Cofradías y Archicofradías 205, Exp. 1. Testimonio de la Bulla del Sor Pio Quinto y Ordenanza y Fundaon de la Cofradía de Santa Lucia en el convto de Religas de Jesus de la Penitencia, nra sa de Balbanera. 1578, f. 17.  Back.

Note 202: AGI, México 289. Ynfformacion rrecibida en la rreal Audiencia de mexco sobre la necesidad de la casa e yglesia del monasterio de la concepcion de la dicha ciudad. 1592, f. 13.  Back.

Note 203: AGN, Inquisición 48, Exp. 4, ff. 115-62. Processo contra maria de la concepcion beata natural y veza de mexico. 1574. f. 155v.  Back.

Note 204: Sigüenza y Góngora, op. cit., f. 132v.  Back.

Note 205: Sigüenza y Góngora, op. cit., Libro ii, Cap. iii, ff. 73-81.  Back.

Note 206: INAH, Colección Gómez de Orozco, 42 bis, ff. 1-23. Nomina de religiosas del conventos de Santa Clara de México, 1570-1747, f. 22.  Back.

Note 207: Marroquí, op. cit.,I, 72.  Back.

Note 208: AGN, Bienes Nacionales 78, Exp. 84. Martín de Pedrosa en favor de su madre Felipa de Pedrosa, monja de la Concepcion. 18 July 1600.  Back.

Note 209: AGN, Bienes Nacionales 78, Exp. 71. Doña jhoana de leyba...1600.  Back.

Note 210: AGN, Bienes Nacionales 78, Exp. 37. Da juana de salcedo, monja profesa del monasterio de regina. 17 November 1600.  Back.

Note 211: AGN, Bienes Nacionales 78, Exp. 39. Luiça de encarnasion abadeça de la consepcion... 24 July 1600.  Back.

Note 212: AGN, Inquisición 5, Exp. 4, ff. 130-8. Though this may mean kneading (wheat) bread dough, the term may also be used here to describe the preparation of (corn) masa.  Back.

Note 213: In later centuries nuns would become famous for various foodstuffs, in which convents specialized. La Concepción was apparently famous for empanadas, Jesús María for almond paste, and so on. (See Marroquí, op. cit., I, 72.) However, I have found no sixteenth-century reference to the production of food products for sale and suspect that such production was a later development, perhaps in response to excessive competition from other suppliers of worked textiles.  Back.

Note 214: Perry, Gender, 79.  Back.

Note 215: Borremeo, op. cit., 95.  Back.

Note 216: Marroquí, op. cit., I, 72.  Back.

Note 217: AGN, Inquisición 8, Exp. 1, ff. 5-116. Processo del sto offico contra Elena de la Cruz monja profesa del monastrio de la ynmaculata conception de nra sa desta ciudad de mexco sobre ciertas palabras que dixo contra nra scta fee catholica. 1568. F. 30v.  Back.

Note 218: AGI, México 225, N. 4. Información: La Concepción de México. 1604, Im. 13.  Back.

Note 219: Ibid., Im. 20.  Back.

Note 220: AGI, México 2606. Ynforn rda en la rreal audia de mexco en virtud de la rreal ca de su magt sobre la pretencion de doña cata de peralta biuda en favor de el convento de las descalças de mexco. 1610-15.  Back.

Note 221: Perry, Gender, 102-9.  Back.

Note 222: AGN, Inquisición 210, Exp. 3, ff. 307-430. Processo contra Marina de San Miguel vezina de la ciudad de mexico beata de la orden de sto domingo natural de cordova en los reynos de Castilla. 1598. F. 356.  Back.

Note 223: Gilchrist, op. cit., 172.  Back.

Note 224: AGI, México 283. Proceso y informaciones fechas en la ciudad de mexico y otros autos sobre haver salido las monjas de santa clara del monasterio... 1574-5. Testimony of Gaspar de Leon, f. 55v.  Back.

Note 225: AGN, Inquisición 176, Exp. 9, Ff. 65v-83. 1598. Processo contra Doña Anna de Guillamas, alias de peralta rresidente en esta ciudad de mexco, por alumbrada. F. 71v: "tendria buen parto y pareria un hijo y no tendria mal en los pechos."  Back.

Note 226: AGN, Inquisición 283, Exp. 88, Ff. 422-6. 1608. Denuncia contra Magdalena del Castillo, beata, por unas oraciones.  Back.

Note 227: AGN, Inquisición 210, Exp. 3, ff. 307-430. Processo contra Marina de San Miguel vezina de la ciudad de mexico beata de la orden de sto domingo natural de cordova en los reynos de Castilla. 1598. F. 340v.  Back.

Note 228: Obviously there were exceptions, as when nuns entered convents as capellanas who had to pray for the founders of chantries.  Back.

Note 229: AGN, Inquisición 48, Exp. 4, ff. 115-62. Processo contra maria de la concepcion beata natural y veza de mexico. 1574. f. 133.  Back.

Note 230: AGI, Guatemala 170. Información sobre Ana de Gallegos. 1579.  Back.

Note 231: AGN, Inquisición 210, Exp. 3, ff. 307-430. Processo contra Marina de San Miguel vezina de la ciudad de mexico beata de la orden de sto domingo natural de cordova en los reynos de Castilla. 1598. f. 348v.  Back.

Note 232: AGI, Guatemala 170. Ynfformacion secreta de las beatas. 11 March 1579.  Back.

 

Escogidas Plantas: Nuns and Beatas in Mexico City, 1531-1601