Recent Acquisition on Commercial Bureaucracy in the Spanish Empire

Image of Guaman Poma de Ayala scribe

Thomas de Palomares, Estilo Nuevo de Escrituras Publicas, donde el Curioso hallara diferentes Generos de Contratos, y Advertencias de las Leyes, y Prematicas destos Reynos, y las Escrituras tocantes a la Navegacion de las Indias, Madrid, 1656.

The office of the escribano or notary was the nerve system of the bureaucratic model that allowed for the organization of the Spanish Empire. This very rare second edition compendium (first edition 1645) by the Sevillian notary Thomas de Palomares is a guide for notaries in the Spanish Empire, composed in part for (and distributed to) notaries in the Americas.

In his preface, Palomares points out that most manuals fail to apprehend the needs of trans-Atlantic commerce. To this end he provides different types of contracts involving settlement in the Americas or forms of declaring cargo destined for and received in the Americas. The work is an example of how the slave trade became increasingly normalized in social terms by the reduction of the systematic sale of humans to highly organized legal formulas, such as contracts, insurance documents and slave passports.

image taken from GKS 2232 4º: Guaman Poma, "Nueva corónica y buen gobierno" (1615), Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen