US returns to Mexico manuscript signed by Conquistador Hernan Cortés in 1527

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US returns manuscript signed by Hernan Cortés in 1527 to Mexico’s national archives

A 16th-century document signed by Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes has been returned to Mexico’s national archives by the U.S. government, officials said.
According to a news release from the FBI, the document, written and signed in 1527, was returned to the Mexican government on July 19.

The manuscript is a payment order signed by Cortés on April 27, 1527, authorizing the purchase of rose sugar for the pharmacy in exchange for 12 gold pesos, WFXT-TV reported. It is believed to be one of several documents unlawfully removed from a collection of documents sometime before 1993. The documents chronicled a Spanish expedition to Central America in 1527 that is currently housed in Mexico’s national archives, according to the television station.

In the order, Cortes instructed his butler, Nicolás de Palacios Rubios, to purchase the sugar, The New York Times reported. One side of the document shows the request, while the back side records the payment, according to the newspaper.

The receipt was handwritten in Spanish, penned in iron gall ink on rag paper, the Times reported. It measures about 8.5 inches by 6 inches.

Cortes is credited with commanding a large-scale expedition from Spain to Mexico between 1519 and 1521 that led to the downfall of the Aztec empire.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, along with representatives for the FBI, participated in a formal repatriation ceremony at Mexico’s national archives.

“After missing for decades, thanks to incredible international collaboration and persistence the Cortés manuscript is finally where it belongs back in Mexico, where it will remain a treasured part of Mexico’s history and heritage,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy said in a statement. “I want to commend the asset recovery prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office whose hard work and dedication led to the return of this priceless and historically important artifact. We were honored to have assisted in this effort.”

According to an FBI investigation, the manuscript was purchased at an auction in the 1990s by the founder of the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, Kansas, the Times reported. His family consigned the document to Goldberg Coins and Collectibles in Los Angeles, and in 2019, a Florida resident bought it at auction. That person then contracted with Massachusetts-based RR Auction in Massachusetts and the document was put on the auction block in June, according to the newspaper.

In November 2022, Levy said the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture action against the manuscript to ensure its lawful return, WFXT reported. Mexican authorities contacted the U.S. government that the manuscript appeared to be stolen, and RR Auction removed the item from its sale.

It is a violation of federal law to transport or receive stolen goods valued at more than $5,000 that have traveled in foreign or interstate commerce, according to the television station.

“We are incredibly honored to be able to assist in the return of this national treasure to the people of Mexico,” Christopher DiMenna, acting special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, said in a statement. “This manuscript, which is nearly five centuries old, preserves an important part of Mexico’s history and reflects the FBI’s ongoing commitment to protect cultural heritage, not only in the United States but around the world. The recovery of this priceless artifact is a direct result of our close and ongoing collaboration with the government of Mexico, and we are very thankful for their partnership.”

Source.- WFTV Boston

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