Sketch Map of the Veracruz Countryside
Intriguing sketch map showing plots of land roughly halfway between Xalapa and Veracruz. Place names noted include Paso de la Milpa, Totopla, Naranjos, Plan del Río and Los ídolos (Rincón and Casa del los Ydolos on the map). It is possible the map was drawn as part of a legal dispute.
The map is north-oriented, with each of the four cardinal directions written out. A scale is included in the lower left corner.
The straight lines seem to designate plots of land; these are surrounded by hills (cerros), a stream (arroyo), and rivers (ríos). In three places is a label, “Tierras del mayorazgo." (see explanation below). This indicates that those lands part of a traditionally inherited estated, which likely links this map to a legal dispute over inheritance or land rights.
The area shown is in the Veracruz countryside, roughly halfway between Xalapa and Veracruz. Several of the toponyms included here are still in use today, including Paso de la Milpa, Plan del Río (Río del Plan on the map), and Los ídolos (Rincón and Casa del los Ydolos on the map).
The paleographic evidence suggests that this map was made in the early- to mid-eighteenth century. Maps and surveys were often undertaken for lawsuits, and many of these lawsuits concerned boundary disputes. Indeed, such disputes were the primary reason for conducting a survey in colonial New Spain.
Tierras del Mayorazgo
One of the primary areas named on the map (top, bottom and left) is Tierra del Mayorazgo, referring to the (land inherited by the first born).
The mayorazgo was an institution that is part of civil law which maintained the ownership of certain rights or assets within a family. Its scope is given by the conditions dictated in its establishment or by the prescriptions of the law; currently its validity is limited to noble titles. The mayorazgo was a system of distribution of assets that benefited the oldest of the children, so that the bulk of a family's assets did not spread, but could only increase.
The etymology of the word comes from "major" and "azgo", Latin suffix that indicates dignity, position, title, status, rank. The idea is that the eldest son inherited almost all of the assets, which could not be divided with the inheritance or sold. In this way, the patrimony that was transmitted to the heir was always the same or increased.