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Early Manuscript Map of the State of Queretaro with Villages, Haciendas, and Missions, Including the World Heritage Site Missions

Finely executed manuscript map of the State of Queretaro, quite likely made for the Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística (SMGE). The map is one of the earliest extant maps of the state of Queretaro following Mexican Independence and, if in fact constructed by the SMGE, it would be one of the earliest extant official Mexican maps of the state.

The map shows the capital, [Santiago de] Queretaro, and its connections to the other villages, haciendas, and missions of the state. The title is at the left, topped by the coat of arms of the state. Snaking around the road network is a dotted line marked in red which marks the rough state boundary. Gray hills show the mountainous terrain to the north, the Sierra Gorda, as well as the less rugged land to the south.

The Sierra Gorda range in the north contains the majority of the M markers on the map, which denote missions. The northernmost of these-Concá, Toancoyol, Tilaco, Jalpan and Landa (last two not marked as missions on this map)-are Franciscan missions established in the mid-eighteenth century. During their initial conquest of New Spain, the Spanish encountered fierce resistance in the Sierra Gorda. The Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians all tried to establish missions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but none lasted in the face of difficult geography and resistant peoples. In 1740, José de Escandón was ordered to carry out a brutal pacification campaign; permanent missions followed. At least five of these were established by Junípero Serra, who would later continue as a missionary in California. In 2003, the missions received World Heritage Site status.

Queretaro and its surrounding environs, by far the largest feature on the map, was peopled long before the Spanish arrived. During the Spanish Conquest, the people living in the valley resisted the Europeans until, on July 25, 1531, during a battle, the sky went dark. Spanish witnesses claimed that the apostle Santiago (Saint James) appeared with a cross. Upon witnessing the loss of light during the day time, the indigenous peoples supposedly surrendered. The vision of Santiago led to the city's name, Santiago de Queretaro. However, the local peoples did not simply give up and skirmishes characterized early Spanish-indigenous relations.

Eventually, Queretaro grew to be an important city for the Spanish Empire. Indeed, it was touted as the third city of the Viceroyalty after Mexico City and Puebla. This did not mean there were still not those who disliked Spanish rule. By the early nineteenth century the city was a hotbed of insurgency; one of the first plots in the War of Independence unfolded in Queretaro in 1810, although it was foiled. In 1823, Queretaro was named the capital of the state of Queretaro. The first state constitution was signed in 1825. The town's colonial center has been a World Heritage Site since 1996.

The Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística was founded in 1833 and was one of the first scientific societies started in the Americas. Various editions of this map, in manuscript format, are noted in several early Mexican Geographical publications, including Materials para una cartografie mexicana por el ingeniero Lic. Manuel Orozco ..., page 131, #819 (1871) and Memoria, presentada a la Sociedad mexicana de geografia y estadistica por el Premier Secretario Lic. Ignacio M. Altamirano En Enero de 1880 (page 288).

Condition Description
Manuscript map, with some areas showing evidence of recent attempts to clean the map. The title section has been entirely cut out and added, in a contemporary hand, suggesting that an error was made in the first draft and it was cut out and changed at the time it was created.