FOREWORD [chapter]

1963 Land and Society in Colonial Mexico  
The seventeenth century (from, say, about 1590 to about 1700) was the period of travail and gestation for the "old" Mexico made familiar to us in the works of Lucas Alaman and Alexander von Humboldtthe Mexico of the great landed estate, of the classical hacienda. The period contains few exciting events, few great names, at least in comparison with the Homeric sixteenth century. The military and spiritual conquest had long since come to a halt, except on the remote frontiers. It was a period of
more » ... hrinking economy and a shrinking or stagnant population. Undistinguished bureaucrats in church and state were slowly molding public life into a suffocating routine, and corruption, nepotism, and time-serving make the records of the day dismal reading. So historians have tended to bypass this dull hiatus and get on to more rewarding times, leaving the impression that little happened in it worthy of note. And yet during that long quietness a new society was forming whose norms of conduct were set by a raw nobility of landed gentry-norms which have persisted to this day. The evolution
doi:10.1525/9780520320611-001 fatcat:gd7mzoyfafg7bigpnjofpxvnd4