The Sugar Hacienda of the Marqueses Del Valle
by Ward J. Barrett
University of Minnesota Press, 1970
Paper: 978-0-8166-5703-2


The Sugar Hacienda of the Marqueses Del Valle was first published in 1970. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

This is a detailed history of a Mexican sugar plantation, the first such account to be published in English. The subject of the study is the Cortes plantation, which was established on the outskirts of Cuernavaca in about 1535 by Hernan Cortes, the conqueror of New Spain and the first Marques del Valle de Oaxaca. The plantation remained the property of his heirs and descendents until the twentieth century when, like most other sugar plantations in Morelos, it ceased production.

Professor Barrett bases his account largely on the records of the Cortes plantation, a remarkably continuous series of documents for an agricultural enterprise. He deals with the records in three principal ways: as representative of the history of the sugar industry in Mexico; as representative of the history, external relationships, structure, and management of Spanish colonial plantations; and as a chapter in the history of sugar technology. He presents a detailed picture of the entire operation of the plantation. He explains how water and land rights were acquired, the latter little by little, until a goodsized plantation was formed. He describes methods of irrigation, planting cycles, weeding and harvesting schedules, and, with the aid of charts and inventories, reconstructs the plan of the mill, describes its equipment, and traces the processing of the cane into sugar. Finally, he discusses the livestock and labor needed to run the plantation and mill—oxen and mules to plow, mules to carry the sugar to market, unskilled fieldworkers, both slave and hired, and highly skilled sugarmasters. The appendixes contain much useful supplementary material. The book is illustrated with drawings, maps, and reproductions of manuscripts.

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