5.2.7 Sheet from the Huejotzingo Codex
Sheet from the Huejotzingo Codex. Products and services provided as tribute, including a banner with Madonna and Child. Huejotzingo Codex, on Amatl paper, 1531.
This codex, or manuscript, was created by the Indians of Huexotzingo (near modern-day Mexico City) to represent the goods that they paid in taxes to a Spanish leader who forced them to support a military campaign. The image of the Virgin Mary represents Guzman’s banner. The Indians were required to supply the banner along with the other items for war or to pay for war. What types of things are pictured on this page of the codex? The Indians used this codex to petition the Spanish government in Mexico to protest that they paid too many taxes. How does this action tell us what motivated Europeans to colonize the Americas?
The Huejotzingo Codex is a very significant document because it provided evidence for a lawsuit that aimed to show the heavy load of tribute to which the people of Huejotzingo had been subjected by the encomendero Nuño de Guzmán. In 1531, indigenous residents of Huexotzingo used this codex as evidence to sue the landowner Guzmán for overtaxation. Huexotzingo, in the current state of Puebla, was a town given to Guzmán as an encomienda, or “entrusted” to him by the Spanish court. Encomienda landholders had a right to tribute from the natives in return for their Christian education; however, the indigenous residents of Huexotzingo resisted what they saw as burdensome tribute obligations. The colonial court in Mexico ruled in favor of the indigenous people, and this was confirmed when the case went again to the king of Spain. This page of the codex includes references to the types of goods the native people gave in tribute, such as mantles, sandals, gold, feathers, and darts. The people in the codex represent slaves who were sold to pay for the flag that pictured the Virgin Mary. The image of the Virgin Mary was the flag, or standard, for Guzmán, and is one of the earliest native productions related to Catholicism.