New York returns to Mexico a letter written by Hernán Cortés in 1539

New York, Nov. 28. The Manhattan County Attorney’s Office delivered on Monday to the Mexican consulate in New York a letter written by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, which had been stolen from the general archive of Mexico between 2010 and 2017, and later found in a auction house in this city.

The letter, “of incalculable value” according to a statement from the Mexican consulate, was written in 1539 by the Spaniard, who at the beginning of the 16th century led the expedition that began the conquest of Mexico, where his remains rest.

The document was returned to Consul Jorge Islas López, in a ceremony held at the diplomatic headquarters by the Chief Counsel of the Manhattan Attorney’s Office, Jordan Stockdale, and is a letter that had been bound together with other colonial records and kept at the General Archive of the Nation.

Between 2010 and 2017, the letter, addressed to Pedro de Castilleja, administrator of the Cortés mines, was cut from its original binding and illegally exported to the United States, the statement added.

It also indicates that it was subsequently consigned to a major New York auction house, where it was recovered through a joint operation of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Public Health. internal security of the United States, at the request of the consulate in New York.

In the letter from Cortés (1485-1547) to De Castilleja, the conquistador orders him to forbid access to the mines to any slave or miner who has worked for Andrés de Barrios (another Spanish conquistador), further specifying that if the mayor of the locality demanded that Barrios or one of his men be admitted, he had to ask the Royal Court to prevent it.

The document will soon be repatriated to Mexico as happened with other military documents of Extremaduran origin.

Last year, the Manhattan Attorney’s Office also returned to that country a block of 16 historical documents relating to Cortés, considered documentary heritage of Mexico and which have been identified in New York auction houses.

In June of this year, the Mexican government managed to stop the auction of a document signed by the conqueror and part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World program, which was on sale at a Massachusetts auction house, for a value between $30,000 and $40,000.

This document, which accounts for a commercial operation verified by Cortés with his signature, is believed to have been stolen between 1985 and 1993. EFE



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