To Educate and Evangelize: The Historiography of the Society of Jesus in Colonial Spanish America

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Robert H. Jackson
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Robert H. Jackson Last modified: November 2018

As the title of this essay suggests, the Jesuits had two important roles in colonial Spanish America. One was in the major urban centers where they had colegios. One example is the former Jesuit complex in Querétaro (México) that now is occupied by the state university.1 They engaged in attending to the religious needs of the city populations, and particularly education. Jesuit colegios and churches survive today in different states of preservation. Mexico is one country where many Jesuit structures still exist, such as the complex in Querétaro mentioned above, and in other countries such as Colombia.2 The second role was on the frontiers of Spanish America where the Jesuits staffed missions and attempted to evangelize indigenous populations and engage in social engineering designed to integrate the native peoples into Spanish colonial society. The Jesuits also established novitiates in Spanish America such as Tepotzotlán (México) where they prepared personnel for their different activities. Tepotzotlán is now a museum dedicated to colonial Mexico. Miguel Maldonado y Cabrera (1695–1768), one of the most important artists of religious art in eighteenth-century Mexico, created the main altar screen of San Francisco Xavier church at Tepotzotlán.

The Jesuits left an extensive written record of their activities in Spanish America in reports drafted for their superiors in the order as well as for colonial officials. Administratively, the Jesuits created provinces that included in many cases both urban institutions and frontier missions. The provincials that administered the provinces drafted periodic reports. One of the most useful is the carta anua, which was a narrative account of activities and important events within the province such as epidemics, and also recorded the deaths of individual Jesuits. Some cartas anuas also appended censuses. The provincials wrote the narrative reports for their superiors in Rome, and a number of the cartas anuas are preserved in the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu in Rome, which is the main repository of Jesuit documents maintained by the central administration of the order. Some cartas anuas have been translated from Latin and published. The most complete set is for the Paraguay Province, and the missions among the Guaraní (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay) and the Chiquitos mission frontier (eastern Bolivia).3 The Jesuits left an extensive written record of their activities in Spanish America. This includes letters, reports, censuses, financial accounts, and inventories among other sources. Government officials confiscated Jesuit records at the time of the expulsion in 1767, and many of these documents ended up in what later became national archives such as the Archivo General de la Nación in Buenos Aires, Argentina or the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City. Some ex-Jesuit documents arrived at their current location through a circuitous route. One example is the Coleção De Angelis that is currently housed in the Biblioteca Nacional of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. The collection includes hundreds of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century documents including censuses of the Jesuit missions among the Guaraní not found in other archives. Pedro de Angelis (1784–1859) collected these documents in Buenos Aires, and later deposited them in the Biblioteca Nacional.4

The Jesuits maintained sacramental registers of baptisms, marriages, burials, and confirmations, particularly for the missions that they administered on the frontiers of Spanish America. These records generally remained in local parish archives when former Jesuit missions continued to exist following the expulsion and still function as active parishes. Examples include the parish archives of communities in central and northern Sonora in Mexico that were former Jesuit missions such as the Magdalena Parish Archive (Magdalena de Kino, Sonora) or the Altar Parish Archive (Altar Sonora).5 In some instances, Jesuit sacramental registers ended up in other archives. One example is a collection of surviving baptismal registers from the Moxos missions that operated in eastern Bolivia. They currently are preserved in the archive of the Provincia Boliviana de la Compañía de Jesús located in La Paz, Bolivia.6

Some sacramental registers ended up in private collections after they had been purloined. One example is sacramental registers from several parish archives in northern Sonora, now in the Pinart collection of the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley. Hubert H. Bancroft (1832–1918) hired Alphonse Pinart (1852–1911) in the late 1870s to collect documents from northern Mexico. Pinart visited the parish archive of the former Jesuit mission community of Santa María Magdalena located in northern Sonora, and purloined baptismal, marriage, and burial registers. He was particularly interested in the 1711 death record of Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645–1711), who established a number of missions in northern Sonora. Pinart later exhibited the Kino death record on tour in Europe. He also visited the Altar Parish Archive in northern Sonora, and purloined registers from there as well.7

Jesuit Self-History

During the colonial period members of the different missionary orders wrote chronicles of the activities of their orders. In the case of frontier missions it was not uncommon for the chroniclers to have never visited the missions. Rather, they wrote narratives based on reports and letters sent by missionaries stationed on the missions. Two Jesuit chroniclers wrote accounts of the Baja California missions. They were Miguel Venegas (1680–1764) and Francisco Javier Clavijero (1731–87).8 The accounts of the Baja California missions offer an unusual example of one of the Jesuit missionaries who wrote his own chronicle to rebut what his colleague had written. Miguel del Barco (1706–90), stationed for many years on San Francisco Xavier mission, wrote his text Historia natural y crónica de la Antigua California: Adiciones y correcciones a la noticia de Miguel Venegas to correct what he viewed as errors in the chronicle of Miguel Venegas, who had never set foot in Baja California.9 Other examples of colonial-era chronicle include that of Francisco Javier Alegre (1729–88), who wrote an account titled Historia de la Compañía de Jesús en Nueva España and that was first published in 1842, and the chronicle of José Chantre y Herrera (1738–1801) regarding the Marañón missions located in Amazonia.10

In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries Jesuits put pen to paper to write accounts of the activities of the order in individual countries. These histories generally focused on the activities of the Jesuits and particularly the Jesuit missionaries, and often had a decidedly Eurocentric and Catholic triumphalism tone that denigrated indigenous peoples and emphasized the civilizing role of the Spanish and the missionaries. One series of books narrated the history of Jesuit mission among the Tarahumara, in Sinaloa and Sonora, and Baja California in Mexico.11 Another was an account of the Jesuit missions in Sonora, Mexico.12 Similarly, two Jesuits wrote histories of the Paraguay missions.13 In recent years, Jesuits have written studies that have shed the Eurocentrism of earlier self-histories. One is Rafael Carbonell de Masy (1933–2016), who wrote a detailed study of the economic organization of the Paraguay missions.14

Although not a Jesuit, a Franciscan who wrote self-history of the California missions also documented the activities of the Jesuits in Baja California. The German-born Franciscans Charles Engelhardt (1851–1934) took the name Zephyrin, and published his histories under that name. He published a four-volume study of the California missions titled The Missions and Missionaries of California. 15 Volume one chronicled the Jesuit, Franciscan, and Dominican missions in Baja California. The writings of Engelhardt reflect one of the worst examples of a Eurocentrism steeped in positivism that bordered on views that contemporaries could easily consider racist in the context of the late nineteenth century positivist pseudo-scientific racism.

The Jesuit Urban Role

The Jesuits played an important role in colonial Spanish American cities. Their churches catered to city-folk, and they educated the children of wealthy citizens and of the indigenous elites. A number of scholars have documented Jesuit educational activities. General studies have outlined the different education opportunities, including the Jesuits.16 More specific studies focus on the Black Robes.17 How did the Jesuits support their urban institutions? There were different methods. One was through donations of urban property, rural property, and money that they in turn invested in income producing properties.

Studies have outlined the details of the Jesuit economic system in colonial Mexico and South America. In a series of three monographs Nicholas Cushner (1932–2013) described different types of Jesuit economic ventures in South America. One was sugar estates in southern Peru worked, in part, by slave labor.18 A second was textile mills known as obrajes that operated in Quito in what today is Ecuador.19 The third study discussed Jesuit owned ranches that bred mules for use in Upper Peru (Bolivia), and particularly in mines such as Potosí.20 Other scholars have also documented elements of the South American economic operations.21 The Jesuit economic network also included offices that marketed the products produced and procured supplies for their different operations including frontier missions. Scholars have also documented the Jesuit economic system in colonial Mexico. James Riley assessed the value of Jesuit properties.22 Herman Konrad published a detailed monograph that documented the history and operations of a hacienda complex known as Santa Lucia.23

Frontier Missions

The Jesuits also staffed missions on the frontiers of Spanish America as part of a larger government sponsored program to evangelize and integrate indigenous populations. In South America, the Jesuits administered missions in the Paraguay province among the Guaraní in the Río de la Plata region, which eventually numbered thirty (at one time thirty-one) communities located in what today are parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, in the Chaco region among non-sedentary groups such as the Abipones, in the Pampas, and the Chiquitos frontier located in what today is eastern Bolivia. Other establishments included those in Chile and particularly Chiloé in Patagonia, the Mojos missions also located in eastern lowland Bolivia but that were administered from the Peru Province, and those in Maynas in the Amazonian lowlands of Peru. The Black Robes also administered missions in colonial Mexico. Some examples included San Luis de la Paz (Guanajuato) established among nomadic groups collectively known as Chichimecas and established during the long Chichimeca War (1550–1600) as an alternative to the failed military campaign of extermination, Nueva Vizcaya (Durango and Chihuahua) including among the groups collectively known as Tarahumara, northern Sinaloa and Sonora, and Baja California. The Baja California missions were unique, because the Jesuits themselves assumed financial responsibility after the Spanish crown decided to abandon efforts to colonize the peninsula after a number of costly failures.

Of the Jesuit missions in South America those established among the Guaraní are perhaps the best known and most misunderstood, and since the 1759 publication of the novel Candide, ou l’optimisme written by Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet, 16941778) have been the subject of utopian fantasies linked also to the notion that they functioned as a type of socialist republic.24 Detailed academic studies have shown this to have not been the case. Rather, the missions among the Guaraní functioned within the structural and legal framework of the Spanish colonial regime in the Americas, and the Jesuits did not create a theocracy.25 Recent studies have examined social and economic organization, art which helps illuminate the content of church teachings, urban plan and architecture, which is important for understanding demographic patterns but also how the Jesuits presented the new faith, and archaeology that can provide evidence of shifts in material culture on the missions.26 The Río de la Plata was also a frontier contested between Spain and Portugal, and armed conflict had a direct effect on the missions. In the 1620s and 1630s, invaders from Brazil destroyed many Jesuits missions and enslaved thousands of Guaraní. In response the Jesuits organized a formal military militia structure on the missions, and Guaraní militiamen participated in campaigns against Luso-Brazilians and hostile indigenous groups.27

One issue to analyze is the question of religious conversion, which was one of the central objectives of the Jesuit missionaries. As had Christian missionaries done during the evangelization of pagans in Europe, the Jesuits in the Paraguay and Chiquitos missions targeted the leaders, the clan chiefs (caciques), for early conversion. The conversion of political leaders facilitated the evangelization of their subjects, and in some cases resulted in mass baptisms following the cacique’s adoption of the new faith. Moreover, the Jesuits used the caciques to counter the influence of shaman. In other instances, the missionaries themselves directly challenged shaman. At the same time some clan chiefs resisted conversion, and the forced lifestyle changes the missionaries demanded. The Jesuits expected the clan chiefs to give-up all but one of their wives. Polygamy marked the higher status of the clan chiefs, and adherence to the new social rules the Jesuits imposed undermined their traditional status. Following initial resistance, however, most clan chiefs converted and settled on the missions.

The Jesuits reported what they considered to be evidence of conversion, such as the recitation of prayers learned through rote memorization, attendance at Mass, and compliance with the sacraments. Communion that followed confession was one of the sacraments the Jesuits recorded in the general censuses they prepared annually, in addition to the number of baptisms, marriages, and burials. The Jesuits assumed that the administration of Communion reflected an advanced understanding of and compliance with the tenets of Catholic doctrine, and reported on the number of Communions administered in the first decades following the establishment of the missions. A 1634 report on Los Santos Mártires noted that many Guaraní confessed and received Communion. A 1661 report indicated that the Jesuits had confessed six thousand at Los Santos Mártires, and that 3,500 had received Communion. One form of evidence of conversion is the 1801 ordination as a Catholic priest of a Guaraní who had attended seminary. At the same time evidence shows the persistence of a bone cult, shamanism, and the inclusion of traditional symbols in the churches built on the missions.28

The Jesuits reported the characteristics and elements of what they considered to be good Christians in their descriptions of the Paraguay missions as defined in what can be called the “sacramental imperative,” compliance with the sacraments. The 1632 carta anua, for example, described what they considered to be the religious conversion of the Guaraní. The report on Los Santos Mártires del Caaró was explicit in this regard. The doctrina was still an active congregation, which meant that the Jesuits continued to settle and baptize pagan Guaraní on the mission during what was the initial stage of evangelization. The anua reported that the resident missionaries had baptized 880 adults and 343 infants during the year. The report noted that “knowing how to pray the prayers that the Holy Church uses is the sign of true Christians.” The report further elaborated on the method used to teach prayers: “They bring together all the young and old and the Father makes them pray four or five times until they know the Ave Maria and the other prayers well.” A second indicator was the number of Christian marriages performed, and the abandonment of traditional marriages and polygamy that the Jesuits characterized as concubinage. It reported that the missionaries had performed four hundred marriages at Los Santos Mártires during the year. The 1634 report noted that the Black Robes baptized 520 adults and 230 infants, and performed 250 marriages. At the same time a lethal epidemic stuck the mission, and the Jesuits reported that they buried 150 adults and 150 children.29

The Jesuits reported other examples of what they believed to be Guaraní compliance with the tenants of the new faith, and cast their evangelization campaign in terms of a conflict with the Satan and his demonic minions. The Jesuits, as did other missionaries such as those in central Mexico in the sixteenth century, believed they were at war with the demon to win the souls of the indigenous population. Dreams were important in Guaraní beliefs, and the Jesuits commented on how they used dreams to pressure change: “And at times with terrible dreams of Demons in some detail, which has served to make many and very good confessions with corrections to their lives and customs.” In explaining resistance to the new faith at Los Santos Mártires the 1634, report noted that “[they] turned their back [on the new faith], that without doubt the Demon deceived them and took them far where he could take them for himself.” The Guaraní attended Mass, confessed, and received Communion. The report emphasized attendance on special feast days and the rites associated with Lent and Easter, including penitential processions that included the practice of self-flagellation.30

However, the 1632 anua also reported other details that showed the persistence of traditional practices and beliefs. One is a description of the blessing of the first stake for the first church built at San Nicolás del Piratini, which occurred during Lent. The presiding missionary held a solemn Mass in which he explained during his sermon why churches were built. However, the anua reported that the Guaraní blessed the first stake in their “bizarre” way that included music and dances. The Guaraní leaders (tuvicha) brought 150 gourds of chicha (corn beer) for the workers, and after finishing the project “they drank as was their practice with great reverie and happiness.” While trying to place the act of raising the church at San Nicolás in the trappings of Catholic ritual and practice, what the anua described was an example of the Guaraní practice of communal labor on projects such as the construction of a communal long house. Romero stressed the devotion of the Guaraní to Catholic ritual and practices. However, some practices such as penitential processions were a hard sell, so to speak. In the 1632 anua, Romero noted that the Guaraní initially “laughed at these things when we told them it was necessary to be penitent for their sins and to whip themselves so that God would pardon them.” A second anua prepared around 1640 described a penitential procession staged at San Nicolás del Piratini. Guaraní participants engaged in self-flagellation, the practice they had previously rejected. The context, however, was important. The anua described heavy epidemic mortality at a number of the missions, including at San Nicolás. It would seem that the Jesuits were able to convince some Guaraní that penitence was the appropriate response in the face of epidemic outbreaks. This was probably possible given that epidemics of Old World “crowd” diseases such as smallpox and measles were a new phenomenon that the Guaraní had not previously experienced. Penitential processions were a common missionary response to epidemic outbreaks, and reflected the belief that God sent disease as punishment for sinful behavior.31

The Jesuits viewed the natives as having limited intellectual ability, and used visual images to convey the basic elements of doctrine, a strategy first developed in the early sixteenth-century missions in central Mexico and Peru. One Chiquitos missionary explained this approach in the following terms:

Because of their disorderly and barbarous way of living and their savage condition that we have described, these people are not capable of understanding reasoning, at least at the beginning of their religious education. We should therefore find some other means of implanting in them the knowledge, the adoration, and the fear of God, that is, we have to make use of external things that catch the eye, please the ear, and that can be touched with hands, until their mind develops in that direction.32

The final judgment and the perils of an eternity of torment and suffering in hell were important themes missionaries taught native peoples beginning in the sixteenth century. Missionaries believed that traditional religious practices were inspired by Satan and his demonic minions, and employed graphic images of hell to persuade natives to abandon their old religion. How did natives who viewed these images respond to them? Graphic images of hell apparently did influence natives living on the Jesuit missions. Natives placed a great deal of importance on dreams as manifestations of their spirituality. One Jesuit missionary in the Chiquitos missions described the dream of a native who described his descent to hell and his ascent to heaven:

[Lucas Xarupá saw] a corps of very ugly demons with terrible appearance and grotesque movements of body; some had a head of a tiger, other of a dragon and crocodile; still others had appearances of such monstrous and terrible forms that anyone would be discouraged from looking at them. All were emitting terrifying black flames from their mouths and from other parts of their bodies. They were yelling and moving around from one side to the other, imitating the dances of the Indians until they laid hands on the poor new Christian who was trembling believing that the festival was for him, and made a big fuss, yelling: “It’s him, him, Xarupá, our friend, who used to be our devotee and used the malicious witchcraft we had taught his grandparents.”33

The dream description filtered through the lens of the Jesuit missionary demonstrates a consistent conceptualization by the missionaries of pre-Hispanic religion as having been inspired by Satan. The account has demons in hell greeting the native as a former adherent to the old beliefs that the demons had taught the natives. Moreover, the demons mimicked the dances that were important elements in native spirituality and religious practices prior to the arrival of the missionaries. Xarupá had either fully embraced the Jesuit belief linking the old religion to Satan, or what was more likely is that the missionary used the dream description to emphasize a point in an account written for European audiences. However, what is also clear is that Xarupá had seen or had been taught a vision of hell populated by demons waiting to torment sinners.

Scholars have documented the history of Jesuit missions on other South American frontiers in the Paraguay province. The Chiquitos and Chaco missions administratively formed a part of the Paraguay province, along with the establishments among the Guaraní. The Jesuits established a total of ten missions on the Chiquitos frontier, and used the same strategy as employed among the Guaraní: to create new communities from whole cloth and to resettle the indigenous populations on the new communities in spatially compact settlements. The internal social and political organization was based on clans identified by the term parcialidad, which was similar to the clan based social-political organization of cacicasgos on the missions among the Guaraní.34 As noted above, the Jesuits stationed on the Chiquitos missions employed the same strategies as used in efforts to evangelize the Guaraní. The Chaco missions proved to be more problematic as some non-sedentary groups such as the Abipones rejected sedentary life on the missions.35 Some Chaco missions proved to be ephemeral, and others functioned as places of refuge for the elderly, women, and children when the men went to hunt or wage war. Moreover, it can be argued that the Chaco missions failed because the Jesuits did not understand the logic of the social-economic organization of the Chaco groups such as the Abipones. The Jesuits expected men to work in agriculture, which in the gendered division of labor was more akin to the collection of wild plant foods which was the work of women. Men gained status based on their abilities as warriors and hunters, and in the logic of their world would have lost status if they did work that men expected women to do.36

A discussion of the historiography of the Jesuit missions among the Guaraní and on the Chiquitos mission frontier provides a way to introduce a consideration of demographic patterns on the missions. Demographic patterns and more specifically the demographic consequences of the resettlement of indigenous populations on missions is an important topic that scholars discuss but generally do not understand. The study of the demographic patterns of the indigenous populations of the Americas has evolved in ways very different from that of studies of Europe and Asia. One reason has been a fixation on what can be called the “numbers” game or estimates of population sizes at contact used to calculate the degree of population decline as a consequence of the introduction of highly contagious crowd diseases such as smallpox and other factors that included war. Studies of European historical demography, for example, use censuses and sacramental registers among other sources to reconstruction the vital rates of populations, but also employ a methodology known as “family reconstitution” to document the history of families.37 The numbers counters use different methods to arrive at estimates of contact population size, and qualitative accounts of epidemics to hypothesize the continuous decline of indigenous populations as waves of epidemics spread across the Americas.38 Moreover, the first so-called “virgin soil” epidemics spread through populations with no previous exposure to contagion and proved to particularly lethal.39 However, according to this construct, indigenous populations built immunity to contagion over time, and recovered. Many of the studies of historic indigenous populations in the Americas do not refer to insights from studies of European populations.

Some studies of demographic patterns on Jesuit frontier missions have been cast in terms of the numbers game and a model of the continuous spread of contagion among indigenous populations. One notable example is the study by anthropologist Daniel Reff titled Disease, Depopulation, and Culture Change in Northwestern New Spain, 15181764.40 Reff’s study focuses primarily on the Jesuit mission frontier in Sinaloa and Sonora, and does have a solid documentary foundation, mostly based on censuses—Reff does not analyze sacramental registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials. Reff also hypothesizes an early spread of smallpox into the region, but then also engages in estimates of contact population size as the basis for establishing the degree of depopulation.41 The hypothesis of the spread of old world crowd disease to the Sinaloa-Sonora region along trade routes prior to the establishment of Spanish domination in the 1530s is possible, but as studies based on more reliable documentary sources show epidemic mortality rates varied from community to community, which undercuts assumptions about the effects of “virgin soil” epidemics in the first years following the establishment of sustained contact with Europeans.

Extensive documentation exists for later Jesuit missions, and particularly those that existed in the late seventeenth century and eighteenth century. However, there is a mistaken belief that demographic analysis simply consists of publishing a series of population figures and calculating the percentage change between each count.42 It is this approach that marks the difference between the bulk of studies of mission demographics and more sophisticated studies of European demography based on methodologies such as family reconstitution pioneered by the French scholars Etienne Gautier (1861–1924) and Louis Henry (1911–91).43 One example is the evaluation of the frequency and effects of epidemics, and the rebound or recovery of populations following outbreaks through the formation of new families and increased birth rates. This recovery occurred in populations that did not evidence a gender imbalance with fewer numbers of females, such as in the case of the missions among the Guaraní.

Several conceptual points are important for understanding mission demographics. The first is the demographic consequences of congregating indigenous populations on nucleated settlements where people lived close together and hence could spread contagion through person to person contact. An extreme example of the Jesuit urban plan can be seen in the case of the missions among the Guaraní and on the Chiquitos missions of what today is eastern Bolivia. The mission populations that numbered in the thousands lived in rows of buildings with multiple apartments as depicted in the diagram of Candelaria mission. A second is the difference in patterns between indigenous populations that practiced agriculture supplemented by hunting and gathering, and non-sedentary populations. Non-sedentary populations proved to be demographically fragile, which meant that they tended to have fewer children and could evidence gender imbalances with fewer females than males. A third conceptual point is the effect of conflict on demographic patterns. This was particularly relevant in the case of the missions among the Guaraní. The Jesuits created a permanent military system on the missions and the mission militia participated in numerous campaigns against hostile indigenous groups and the Portuguese in Brazil. Several severe mortality crises occurred as contagion spread through the missions in the wake of the movement of Spanish troops in the region and the mobilization of thousands of mission militia. In the years 1733–40, for example, more than eighty thousand Guaraní died during a series of mortality crises related, in part, to military operations.

Scholars have employed different techniques to evaluating demographic patterns on the missions among the Guaraní. Some scholars discuss the total population of the thirty missions, and others who analyze vital rates combine figures for the missions to show global demographic patterns.44 While useful in some regards, this approach does not document the variation in patterns between missions.45 I am going to deviate from the normal format of a historiographic essay to present an example of how variations in demographic patterns between missions render global analyses meaningless. This variation can be seen, for example, in patterns of fertility and mortality at Los Santos Reyes Yapeyú mission (Corrientes, Argentina) during the severe mortality crises in the years 1733–40, which left some ninety thousand Guaraní dead. The last crisis during these years was a smallpox epidemic in 1737–40. However, the population of Los Santos Reyes Yapeyú did not experience heavy epidemic mortality during the smallpox outbreak, and in fact did not experience catastrophic epidemic mortality during the last half century of the Jesuit tenure on the mission. The relative geographic isolation of the mission permitted the Jesuits to implement effective quarantine measures, and thus isolate the mission from outside contact to prevent the spread of contagion. While the populations of the other missions experienced periodic epidemic mortality, the population of Yapeyú grew robustly in the 1720s to 1760s. A continuous record of baptisms and burials between 1723 and 1754 shows that the Jesuits baptized 12, 886 as against 8,545, and the population grew from 4,352 in 1723 to 7,997 in 1756. In eight years between 1756 and 1767, for which there is a record, the Jesuits baptized another 3,421 as against 3,124 burials, a net difference of 297. The population totaled 7,974 in 1767 and 8,510 in 1768.46 The increased mortality during this period most likely was a consequence of troop movements and the movement of people following the implementation of the Treaty of Madrid and the suppression of an uprising on the seven missions located east of the Uruguay River, as well as troop movements during the ongoing conflict for control of Rio Grande do Sul. However, the population of Yapeyú also did not suffer catastrophic mortality during the severe 1763–65 smallpox outbreak.

The last severe epidemic at Yapeyú was the 1718–19 smallpox outbreak. The mission population dropped from 2,873 in 1717 to 1,871 in 1719, a net decline of some 1,000. In the aftermath of the epidemic, the Jesuits transferred population from San Francisco Xavier mission to Yapeyú. This most likely was in 1722, and the Jesuits relocated some 2,400 people. The population of Yapeyú increased from 1,871 in 1719 and 1,856 in 1720 to 4,352 in 1723. The Guaraní from San Francisco Xavier retained their separate identity in their own clans that the Jesuits enumerated separately from the clans of the original population of Yapeyú.47

Epidemics did occur at Yapeyú in the last half century of Jesuit tenure, but did not reach catastrophic levels as at the other missions. Royal officials mobilized thousands of mission militiamen in the early 1730s, and an epidemic spread to the missions in 1732–33 from the militia camp located on the Tebicuary River. In 1732, 476 died at Yapeyú (crude death rate of 84.0), and 733 in 1733 (crude death rate of 128.5). In contrast, 1,192 died at San Ignacio Guazú (Paraguay) (crude death rate of 324.7), 2,678 at La Fe (Paraguay) (crude death rate of 396.4), and 2,263 at Santa Rosa (Paraguay) (crude death rate of 414.6). These were the missions located closest to the militia camp. A second was the 1748–49 measles epidemic on the missions which first broke out on Santa Rosa (Paraguay), which suggests transmission from Asunción. It was also a milder epidemic when compared to the 1737–40 smallpox outbreak. The Jesuits recorded 545 burials at Yapeyú in 1749 (crude death rate of 81.0). The Jesuits recorded 249 burials at Santa Rosa in 1748 (crude death rate of 195.8). The largest number of deaths was at Santiago (Paraguay) where 1,003 died in 1749 (crude death rate of 216.5), 657 at San Miguel (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) (crude death rate of 95.2), 454 at La Cruz (Corrientes, Argentina) (crude death rate of 176.3), and 430 at San Nicolás (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) (crude death rate of 101.3). The crude death rate also exceeded 100 per thousand population at Itapúa (Paraguay), Trinidad (Paraguay), and San Carlos (Corrientes, Argentina).48

At the point of the Jesuit expulsion in 1767–68, Yapeyú was the most populous of the Jesuit missions. The population was 7,974 in 1767 and 8,510 in 1768. However, it was a population that was extremely vulnerable to contagion, and particularly smallpox. It had been two generations or a total of forty-nine years since the last catastrophic smallpox outbreak on the mission in 1718. Two generations had grown with little or no exposure to the malady. The last measles epidemic had been a generation before in 1749. The civil administration that replaced the Jesuits stressed the production of income to cover the costs of administration, which also meant greater contact with the larger region and less concern for protecting the population of the mission from contagion. Moreover, there were continuing troop movements following the Jesuit expulsion as Spain and Portugal contested control over Rio Grande do Sul. The result was a particularly catastrophic epidemic in 1770–72 that killed some 5,000 Guaraní or a crude death rate in excess of 600 per thousand population or some sixty percent of the mission population. The mission population dropped from 8,510 reported in 1768 to 3,322 four years later.49 A detailed 1771 tribute census documented the profile of the population of Yapeyú during the lethal smallpox epidemic. In non-epidemic years the mission populations evidenced large families and large numbers of families with more than two children. However, the census showed that 39 percent of the couples had no children and forty-six percent only one or two children which, if the pattern had persisted over time, would have resulted in only maintaining population levels or slow decline. This profile indicates that many children died during the outbreak. The number of orphans was also high: 442 male orphans and 398 female orphans who had lost their parents. There was one other indicator of the consequences of heavy smallpox mortality which was the number of widowers and widows: 278 widowers and 101 widows. This pattern was unusual, because in non-epidemic years the number of widows outnumbered widowers, and men frequently remarried following the loss of a spouse. The smaller number of female orphans and widows also reflected higher mortality among women and girls which was a consequence of the TH–2 immunological response. The immunological response of females to diseases such as smallpox and measles is different than that of males, and contributes to higher mortality among females. Higher mortality among girls and women also led to shifts in the gender structure of the mission populations.50

Studies of demographic patterns on other Jesuit missions demonstrate the uniqueness of the case of the missions among the Guaraní. A system of river highways facilitated the spread of contagion, and the high level of militarization contributed to mortality levels during epidemics that in some cases reached catastrophic levels in excess of twenty-five percent of the population of a given mission. However, the Guaraní populations proved to be resilient and recovered following epidemics. The Chiquitos missions located in eastern Bolivia, on the other hand, were geographically isolated from other colonial population centers, and documented epidemics did not reach catastrophic levels. The Chiquitos missions were high fertility and high mortality populations, and the Jesuits actively resettled pagans. Maeder and Bolsi compiled population figures for the Chiquitos missions, but did not analyze vital rates.51 My own studies provide a more detailed discussion of demographic patterns including in a comparative context with the missions among the Guaraní.52

Studies of Jesuit missions on other frontiers have discussed demographics with different levels of detail and sophistication. In his study of the Mojos missions located in eastern Bolivia, David Block devoted a chapter to demographic patterns that charted changes in population levels.53 Akira Saito is the first scholar to male use of sacramental registers for several of the Moxos missions, and particularly Loreto mission. He has focused on the social-political organization of the parcialidades in the missions, but also discusses demographics and the effects of epidemics.54 Massimo Livi-Bacci reconstructed demographic patterns on the Mainas missions of Amazonia in the period before and after the Jesuit expulsion.55 The same author wrote a book that detailed the consequences of colonization in the Amazonia region.56

The demography of the Jesuit missions on the northern frontier of Mexico has received considerable scholarly attention. San Luis de la Paz (Guanajuato, Mexico) was one of the first missions the Jesuits established in the early 1590s, and was located on the Chichimeca frontier and reflected an effort to integrate the bands of nomadic hunter-gatherers collectively known as Chichimecas. The historical demographer Cecilia Rabell Romero studied the economy and population of San Luis de la Paz in a series of studies based on censuses, parish records, and tithe records. One of her articles examined the question of the under registration of births in baptismal registers, which was a common phenomenon for parents who could not afford to pay parroquial registration fees.57

The Jesuits established missions in parts of what today are the Mexican states of Durango and Chihuahua (Nueva Vizcaya), northern Sinaloa and Sonora, and Baja California. Studies of Nueva Vizcaya that touch upon or focus on demographic patterns include those of Chantal Cramausell, Susan Deeds, and William Merrill, among others.58 There have been general studies of the Jesuit missions of Sinaloa and Sonora, but few that focus on demographic patterns.59 Monographs with a demographic focus include the study of Daniel Reff cited above, and my own comparative study of the Pimeria Alta missions of northern Sonora, and those of Baja California and California.60

Because of its proximity to the United States, its connection to California, and the unique circumstances of the historical patterns of development, scholars have examined the demographics of the Jesuit and later Franciscan and Dominican missions of Baja California. The Jesuits established and administered the Baja California missions with their own resources, and controlled contact with the mainland and selected the non-missionary personnel including the military stationed on the peninsula.61 In addition to censuses, sacramental registers of baptisms and burials survive for a number of missions that allow for a more detailed demographic analysis. Sherburne Cook was the first to discuss the effects of disease on the indigenous populations in the Jesuit missions.62 Students graduated from the geography program at the University of California, Berkeley wrote detailed studies of the Baja California missions that included demographic analysis. For example, Homer Aschmann studied the missions in the Central Desert region of the peninsula.63 I published an article in 1981 that reconstructed the chronology of the epidemics in the missions.64

The above discussion of demographic patterns identified studies of other Jesuit mission frontiers in South America and Mexico. The Mojos missions resembled those on the Chiquitos mission frontier in terms of social, economic, and political organization.65 The missions in the Pampas region of what today is Argentina proved to be ephemeral, and it was a frontier in conflict because hostile indigenous groups raided Spanish settlements and continued to do so until the so-called “Conquest of the Desert” around 1870.66 Pampas groups raided for Spanish livestock, but also took captives to ransom or to replenish their own ranks.67 In the Amazon region, the Jesuits established missions in Maynas and Marañon located on the banks of rivers and at risk of Portuguese raids.68

One group of Jesuit missions, those in Chiloé in the Patagonia region of southern Chile established among an indigenous population that supported itself primarily by fishing and was in many ways similar to the indigenous groups in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and British Columbia, and that were unique in some regards. Established on a group of islands, the Jesuits organized what one scholar referred to as “circular” missions.69 In other words, the Jesuits rode the circuit, often in launches, to visit scores of visitas that numbered as many as seventy located on Chiloé Island and surrounding islands. Although the geography of the region was unique, the pattern of mission organization was not. Ramón Gutiérrez who coined the term “circular missions” had previously studied the urban plan and architecture of the Jesuit missions in the Paraguay province, where the Black Robes did congregate the entire population on a single mission community. However, on other frontiers, such as in northern Mexico, the norm was the same model of main mission communities and satellite communities.

The Chiloé missions were unique in other ways. One was the economic system that had a basis in pastoralism.70 The second was the architecture of the Chiloé missions. The Jesuits had the churches and adjacent structures built entirely of wood which abounded on Chiloé Island.71 Jesuit missionaries on other frontiers such as in the Río de la Plata directed the construction of wooden structures in the first stages of the development of building complexes, but then had more permanent structures erected from adobe, tapia frances (compressed soil), or stone. On the Chiloé missions, the Jesuits exclusively employed wood, and a number of the wooden churches survive today and have been added to the UNESCO World Patrimony list.

The Jesuits also administered missions on the northern frontier of colonial Mexico, and particularly in what today are the states of Durango, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Baja California. The Baja California missions were unique in that the Jesuits assumed responsibility for their cost and administration after the Crown had decided to abandon efforts to colonize the Peninsula.72 The Jesuit missions on the other frontiers of Mexico were different in a number of ways from the missions in lowland South America. The Jesuits in northern Mexico had to compete with and cope with the challenge of the demands of Spanish settlers for indigenous land, water, and labor, and this particularly in areas with mines. Moreover, Jesuits established missions following the establishment of Spanish settlements. The Jesuits who administered the missions among the Guaraní, and the Chiquitos and Mojos missions, on the other hand, did not have to deal with aggressive demands for labor and land. The Spanish did not find mineral wealth in the Río de la Plata region, and the Chiquitos and Mojos missions were located at some distance from the mines such as Potosí and Oruro in the Andean Highlands of what today are Bolivia and Peru and were not subject to labor demands. This dynamic changed the development of mission communities in northern Mexico.

A number of scholars have documented the dynamic of Jesuit interactions with Spanish miners and landowners. For Nueva Vizcaya (Durango, Chihuahua) see the works of Susan Deeds who wrote her doctoral dissertation on the politics surrounding the secularization of Jesuit missions in the 1740s.73 In a series of publications, Deeds examined the Jesuit missions in the context of Spanish settlement in Nueva Vizcaya.74 Sonora was another mission frontier where the Jesuits had to deal with the demands of Spanish settlers, and particularly miners. Alamos, located in what today is southern Sonora, was perhaps the most important mining center.75 However, there were other mining centers in the region. One was la Cieneguilla located in the northern reaches of Sonora and discovered shortly following the Jesuit expulsion.76 Jesuits assigned to missions in Sonora also participated in the regional economy.77 However, raids by hostile indigenous groups that targeted livestock kept at the mission settlements culled herds that the Black Robes wanted to market locally.78

In 1767, King Carlos III (r.1759–88) ordered the expulsion of the Society of Jesus from Spanish territory. An edited volume of essays examined different aspects of the expulsion.79 The expulsion order created a number of short and long term challenges for royal officials. The first was finding missionary personnel to replace the Jesuits. Royal officials recruited Franciscans, Dominicans, and Mercedarians to replace the Black Robes in the missions among the Guaraní. Royal officials also sent soldiers to make sure that the Guaraní did not resist the expulsion, which did not occur.80 In Sonora, on the other hand, royal officials recruited Franciscans from the Province of Xalisco and the apostolic college of Santa Cruz de Querétaro.81

The expulsion order came during a period of military, political, economic, and fiscal reform prompted by an imperative to strengthen the military in Spanish America following the British occupation of Havana and Manila in 1762. Royal officials such as José de Gálvez (1720–87) implemented policies that attempted to make missions cover their own expenses. In the case of the missions among the Guaraní the missionaries that replaced the Jesuits did not control the economics of the mission communities. This became the responsibility of civil administrators. The prime directive for the civil administrators was to harness the mission economies to cover the costs of administration.82 Gálvez, who later became minister of the Indies, attempted to do the same in the Baja California missions, but with mixed results. An effort to convert mission residents into a disciplined agricultural labor force backfired, and royal officials hired agricultural laborers from Sonora to work mission lands.83

By Way of Conclusion

The Society of Jesus was one of a number of religious orders that came to Spanish America in the sixteenth to early nineteenth centuries. Others included the different groups of Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Mercedarians, among others. The orders established urban institutions as did the Jesuits, and some administered frontier doctrinas or missions. However, the Jesuits assumed an important role in urban education, and staffed missions on different colonial frontiers. In both Mexico and lowland South America, the Jesuits assumed a greater role in the evangelization of frontier indigenous groups than did other orders that arrived earlier.

In Mexico, for example, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians were responsible for the initial evangelization of the indigenous populations of central Mexico. However, with the push after 1550 along and beyond the Chichimeca frontier the Augustinians and Dominicans played less of a role. In the Sierra Gorda, the Dominicans and Augustinians still had a presence, but further north on what can be called the far northern frontier in areas such as Nueva Vizcaya, Sinaloa, and Sonora they were absent and the Jesuits assumed responsibility for evangelization along with Franciscans. The Jesuits also played a significant missionary role on the frontiers of lowland South America, and more so than the other orders including the Franciscans.

Were the Jesuits significantly different from the other orders in terms of their organization and methods of evangelization? This was a question I asked in a 2017 comparative study with specific reference to frontier missions in the Chiquitos region of what today is Bolivia and the Sierra Gorda region of Mexico. The chronological point of reference was the mid-eighteenth century in the early stages of the Bourbon reforms.84 There were differences based on factors unique to different frontiers, such as the militarization of the Jesuit missions among the Guaraní. However, there was more similarity than dissimilarity, and perhaps the one factor that contributed to differences was the role of the formulation of government policy. In the case of the comparative study, I authored the government expectation was that the Franciscans that staffed the Sierra Gorda missions established in 1744 were to complete the task of congregating and evangelizing non-sedentary groups, which had resisted the efforts over nearly two hundred years of Augustinian, Dominican, and Jesuit missionaries. On balance, however, I would conclude that there was more similarity.

What I am suggesting with the discussion in the previous paragraph is that the historical legacy of the Society of Jesus and the historiography of the same should also be viewed in the context of the larger experience of religious orders in colonial Spanish America. I leave it to the readers of this essay to agree or disagree with this suggestion.85


1 For the history of this institution, see Alejandro E. Álvarez Obregón, Gabriel Rincón Frías, and José Rodolfo Anaya Larios, Historia de la Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro: Los inicios (1625–1957) (Querétaro: Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, 1987).

2 Marco Díaz, La arquitectura de los jesuitas en Nueva España: Las instituciones de apoyo, colegios y templos (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982). 

3 For the Chiquitos missions see Carlos A. Page, El Colegio de Tarija y las reducciones de Chiquitos según las cartas anuas de la provincia jesuítica del Paraguay (Morrisville, NC: Lulu, 2010); Javier Matienzo, Roberto Tomichá, Isabelle Combès, and Carlos Page, eds., Chiquitos en las cartas anuas de la Compañía de Jesús (1691–1767) (Cochabamba: Instituto de Misionología, 2011). For the Paraguay missions see, for example, Ernesto Maeder, ed, Cartas anuas de la provincia del Paraguay, 1637–1639 (Buenos Aires: Fundación para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura-Conicet, 1984); Maeder, ed, Cartas anuas de la provincia jesuítica del Paraguay, 1641 a 1643 (Buenos Aires: Instituto de Investigaciones Geohistóricas-Conicet, 1996); Maeder, ed., Cartas anuas de la provincia del Paraguay, 1644 (Buenos Aires: Instituto de Investigaciones Geohistóricas, Conicet, 2000); María Laura Salinas and Julio Folkenand, eds. Cartas anuas de la provincia jesuítica del Paraguay, 1681–1692, 1689–1692, 1689–1700 (Asunción: Centro de Estudios Antropológicos de la Universidad Católica, 2015); Salinas and Folkenand, eds., Cartas anuas de la Provincia Jesuítica del Paraguay, 1714–1720, 1720–1730, 1730–1735, 1735–1743, 1750–1756, 1756–1762 (Asunción: Centro de Estudios Antropológicos de la Universidad Católica, 2017).

4 See the online description of the Coleção De Angelis at (accessed August 20, 2018). For a discussion of mission censuses see, for example, Carmen Martínez Martín, “Datos estadísticos de población sobre las misiones del Paraguay, durante la demarcación del Tratado de Límites de 1750,” Revista complutense de historia de América 24 (1998): 249–61; Martínez Martín, “El padrón de Larrazábal en las misiones del Paraguay (1772),” Revista complutense de historia de América 29 (2003): 25–50.

5 University libraries such as at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and private institutions such as the Arizona Historical society have microfilmed many collections of sacramental registers from former Jesuit missions such as those of Sonora, Mexico. For a guide to the microfilmed Sonora sacramental registers see (accessed August 20, 2018). The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has also extensively microfilmed sacramental registers from different countries in Spanish America, including former Jesuit registers.

6 Akira Saito,  “Consolidación y reproducción de las parcialidades tras la implantación de las reducciones en el Moxos jesuítico,” in Akira Saito and Claudia Rosas Lauro, eds., Reducciones: La concentración forzada de las poblaciones indígenas en el Virreinato del Perú (Lima / Osaka: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú / National Museum of Ethnology, 2015), 509–52, here 512n10.

7 See the online summary of the history of the Bancroft Library at: (accessed August 20, 2018).

8 Miguel Venegas. Noticia de la California, y de su conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente: Sacada de la historia manuscrita, formada en México año de 1739 (Valladolid: Editorial Maxtor, 2013); Francisco Javier Clavijero, Historia de la Antigua o Baja California (Mexico City: Imprenta de Juan R. Navarro, 1852).

9 Miguel del Barco, Historia natural y crónica de la antigua California: Adiciones y correcciones a la noticia de Miguel Venegas; Edición, estudio preliminar, notas y apéndices; Miguel León-Portilla (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1973).

10 José Chantre y Herrera, Historia de las misiones de la Compañía de Jesús en el Marañón (Madrid: Imprenta A. Avrial, 1901).

11 Peter Masten Dunne, Pioneer Black Robes on the West Coast (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1940); Dunne, Pioneer Jesuits in Northern Mexico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1944); Dunne, Early Jesuit Missions in Tarahumara (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1948); Dunne, Black Robes in Lower California (University of California Press, 1952).

12 John Francis Bannon, The Mission Frontier in Sonora, 1620–1687 (New York: Catholic Historical Society, 1955).

13 Pablo José Hernández, S.J., Misiones del Paraguay: Organización social de las doctrinas guaraníes de la Compañía de Jesús (Barcelona: G. Gili Editor, 1913); Guillermo Furlong Cardiff, S.J., Misiones y sus pueblos de guaraníes (Buenos Aires: Tip. Editora, 1962).

14 Rafael Carbonell de Masy, Estrategias de desarrollo rural en los pueblos guaraníes (1609–1767) (Barcelona: Antoni Bosch, 1992).

15 San Francisco: The James H. Barry Company, 1908–15.

16 See, for example, Bárbara Yadira García Sánchez, “La educación colonial en la Nueva Granada: Entre lo doméstico y lo público,” Revista historia de la educación latinoamericana 7 (2005): 217–38; Monique Alaperrine-Bouyet, La educación de las élites indígenas en el Perú colonial (Bogotá: Institut français d’études andines, 2007); Carlos Miguel Salazar Zagazeta, El teatro “evangelizador” y urbano en los Andes: Encuentros y desencuentros (Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2003); Luis Martín, The Intellectual Conquest of Peru: The Jesuit College of San Pablo, 1568–1767 (New York: Fordham University Press, 1968).

17 See, for example, Jerome Vincent Jacobsen, Educational Foundations of the Jesuits in Sixteenth-Century New Spain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1938); Ignacio Osorio Romero, Colegios y profesores jesuitas que enseñaron latín en Nueva España (1572–1767) (Mexico City: UNAM, 1979); Jesús M. Sariego, “Evangelizar y educar”: Los jesuitas de la Centroamérica colonial,” ECA: Estudios centroamericanos 65, no. 723 (2010): 1115; Alejandra Contreras Gutiérrez, “La enseñanza jesuita en Chile colonial: Sus colegios, universidades y una aproximación a sus métodos y contenidos,” Revista historia de la educación latinoamericana 16, no. 22 (2014): 35–50; Javier Albó, “Jesuitas y culturas indígenas Perú 1568–1606: Su actitud, métodos, y criterios de aculturación,” América indígena 26, no. 4 (1966): 251–445.

18 Nicholas Cushner, Lords of the Land: Sugar, Wine, and Jesuit Estates of Coastal Peru, 16001767 (Albany: SUNY Press, 1980).

19 Nicholas Cushner,  Farm and Factory: The Jesuits and the Development of Agrarian Capitalism in Colonial Quito (Albany: SUNY Press, 1982).

20 Nicholas Cushner, Jesuit Ranches and the Agrarian Development of Colonial Argentina, 16501767 (Albany: SUNY Press, 1984).

21 See, for example, Kendall W. Brown, “Jesuit Wealth and Economic Activity within the Peruvian Economy: The Case of Colonial Southern Peru,” The Americas 44, no.1 (1987): 23–43; Cynthia Radding de Murrieta, “From the Counting House to the Field and Loom: Ecologies, Cultures, and Economics in the Missions of Sonora (Mexico) and Chiquitanía (Bolivia),” Hispanic American Historical Review 81, no. 1 (2001): 45–87; David Block, “Links to the Frontier: Jesuit Supply of Its Moxos Missions, 1683–1767,” The Americas 37, no. 2 (1980): 161–78.

22 James D. Riley, “The Wealth of the Jesuits in Mexico, 1670–1767,” The Americas 33, no. 2 (1976): 226–66.

23 Herman W. Konrad, A Jesuit Hacienda in Colonial Mexico: Santa Lucia, 15761767 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1980).

24 See, for example, Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay 16071767 (London: William Heinemann, 1901); William Henry Koebel and Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, In Jesuit Land: The Jesuit Missions of Paraguay (London: S. Paul, 1912); Philip Caraman, The Lost Paradise: The Jesuit Republic in South America (New York: Seabury Press, 1976); Walter Nonneman, “On the Economics of the Socialist Theocracy of the Jesuits in Paraguay (1609–1767),” in R. Wintrobe and M. Ferrero, eds., The Political Economy of Theocracy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 119–42; Frederick Hale, “Literary and Cinematic Representations of Jesuit Missions to the Guaraní of Paraguay, with Special Reference to the Film and Novel of 1986, The Mission” (PhD diss., University of South Africa, 1997); Vijaya Venkataraman, ““Fictional Missions”: Representations of Jesuit Encounters in Paraguay,” in Ignacio Arellano y Carlos Mata Induráin, eds., St Francis Xavier and the Jesuit Missionary Enterprise: Assimilations between Cultures / San Francisco Javier y la empresa misionera jesuita: Asimilaciones entre culturas (Pamplona, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra, 2012), 305–17.

25 For recent studies that have challenged these views see, for example, Ernesto Maeder, Aproximación a las misiones guaraníticas (Buenos Aires: Editorial Ediciones de la Universidad Católica Argentina, 1996); Barbara Ganson, The Guarani under Spanish Rule in the Río de la Plata (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005); Carbonell de Masy, Estrategias de desarrollo rural; Guillermo Wilde, Religión y poder en las misiones de guaraníes (Buenos Aires: Sb editorial, 2009), among others.

26 See, for example, Julia Sarreal, The Guaraní and Their Missions: A Socioeconomic History (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014); Norberto Levinton, “Las estancias de Nuestra Señora de los Reyes de Yapeyú: Tenencia de la tierra por uso cotidiano, acuerdo interétnico y derecho natural (Misiones jesuíticas del Paraguay) / The Ranches of Nuestra Señora de los Reyes de Yapeyú: Land Tenure for Daily Use, Interethnic Treat and Natural Law (Jesuit Missions from Paraguay),” Revista complutense de historia de América 31 (2005): 33–51; Gauvin Bailey, Art on the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America, 15421773 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001); Bozidar Darko Sustersic, Templos jesuítico-guaraníes (Buenos Aires: Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1999); Arno Alvarez Kern, Arqueología histórica missioneira (Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, 1998); Beatriz Elena Rovira, “Arqueología histórica del conjunto jesuítico de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Provincia de Misiones” (PhD diss., Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, 1989). For a comparative study of mission frontiers see Robert H. Jackson, Missions and the Frontiers of Spanish America: A Comparative Study of the Impact of Environmental, Economic, Political, and Socio-Cultural Variations on the Missions in the Río de la Plata Region and on the Northern frontier of New Spain (Scottsdale: Pentacle Press, 2005).

27 On the Guaraní mission militia see Kazuhisa Takeda, “Las milicias guaraníes en las misiones jesuíticas del Río de la Plata: Un ejemplo de la transferencia organizativa y tácticas militares de España a su territorio de ultramar en la primera Época Moderna,” Revista de historia social y de las mentalidades 20, no. 2 (2016): 33–72; Mercedes Avellaneda, “El ejército guaraní en las reducciones jesuitas del Paraguay,”  História Unisinos 9, no. 1 (2005): 19–34. In the 1720s and 1730s, a political struggle in Paraguay turned violent and royal officials mobilized Guaraní mission militiamen to participate in campaigns against rebellious colonists. On the conflict, see Avellaneda, Guaraníes, criollos y jesuitas: Luchas de poder en las Revoluciones Comuneras del Paraguay; Siglos XVII y XVIII (Asunción: Academia Paraguaya de la Historia y Tiempo de Historia, 2014).  

28 Robert H. Jackson, Communities on a Frontier in Conflict: The Jesuit Guaraní Mission Los Santos Mártires del Japón (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2018), 19. 

29 Jackson, Communities on a Frontier in Conflict, 27.

30 Jackson, Communities on a Frontier in Conflict, 28.

31 Jackson, Communities on a Frontier in Conflict, 28.

32 Quoted in Robert H. Jackson, “Social and Cultural Change on the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay and the Chiquitos Mission Frontier,” The Middle Ground Journal 5 (Fall 2012): 1–39, here 3. 

33 Quoted in Jackson, “Social and Cultural Change,” 4.

34 For the Chiquitos missions, see Werner Hoffman, Las misiones jesuíticas entre los chiquitanos (La Paz: Fundación para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura, 1979); Roberto Tomichá Charupa, La primera evangelización en las reducciones de Chiquitos, Bolivia, 16911767: Protagonistas y metodología misional (Cochabamba: Editorial Verbo Divino, 2002); Pedro Querejazu, ed., Las misiones jesuíticas de Chiquitos (La Paz: Fundación BHN, Línea Editorial, 1995); Robert H. Jackson, “Demographic Patterns on the Chiquitos Missions of Eastern Bolivia, 1691–1767,” Bolivian Studies Journal 12 (2005): 220–48; Jackson, “La población y tasas vitales de las misiones jesuíticas de Chiquitos (Bolivia),” Antiguos jesuitas en Iberoamérica 5, no. 1 (2017): 179–98; Cynthia Radding,  Landscapes of Power and Identity: Comparative Histories in the Sonoran Desert and the Forests of Amazonia from Colony to Republic (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005); Radding, “From the Counting House to the Field and Loom.”

35 For the Chaco missions, see James Schofield Saeger, The Chaco Mission Frontier: The Guaycuruan Experience (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000); Carlos Page, Las otras reducciones jesuíticas: Emplazamiento territorial, desarrollo urbano y arquitectónico entre los siglos XVII y XVIII (Saarbrücken: Editorial Académica Española, 2012); Robert H. Jackson,  “La población y tasas vitales de las otras misiones jesuíticas de la provincia del Paraguay y Moxos,” Antiguos jesuitas en Iberoamérica 6, no. 1 (2018): 104–18.

36 This interpretation is based on the analysis of a detailed census of San Fernando de Abipones mission. See Robert H. Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival Among the Sedentary Populations on the Jesuit Mission Frontiers of Spanish South America, 16091803: The Formation and Persistence of Mission Communities in a Comparative Context (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 128–30.

37 On European historical demography see Michael W. Flinn, The European Demographic System, 15001820 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981); Wrigley, Edward Anthony Wrigley and Roger S. Schofield, The Population History of England 15411871 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

38 See, for example, Henry Dobyns, “An Outline of Andean Epidemic History to 1720,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 37, no. 6 (1963): 493–515; Henry Dobyns, “Disease Transfer at Contact,” Annual Review of Anthropology  22 (1993): 273–91; Henry Dobyns, Their Number Become Thinned: Native American Population Dynamics in Eastern North America (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983); David Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993). For a more recent assessment by a European historical demographer, see Massimo Livi-Bacci, “The Depopulation of Hispanic America after the conquest,” Population and Development Review 32, no. 2 (2006): 199–232; Massimo Livi-Bacci, Conquest: The Destruction of the American Indios (Cambridge: Polity, 2008).

39 Alfred W. Crosby, “Virgin Soil Epidemics as a Factor in the Aboriginal Depopulation in America,” The William and Mary Quarterly: A Magazine of Early American History 33, no. 2 (1976): 289–99.

40 Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1991.

41 Daniel Reff, “The Introduction of Smallpox in the Greater Southwest,” American Anthropologist 89, no. 3 (1987): 704–8.

42 For examples of studies that only summarize population figures see; Ganson, The Guarani Under Colonial Rule; Sarreal, The Guaraní and Their Missions, 48–53, 142–47. Sarreal also published an appendix with the combined populations of the missions. A review by Shawn Michael Austin of my 2015 demographic study of the Jesuit missions among the Guaraní reflected the same misunderstanding of demographics. The author claimed inaccurately that my study had not cited seventeenth-century censuses. See Shawn Michael Austin, “Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival Among the Sedentary Populations on the Jesuit Mission Frontiers of Spanish South America, 1609–1803: The Formation and Persistence of Mission Communities in a Comparative Context, written by Robert H. Jackson,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 3, no. 1 (2016): 102–4. However, as I noted in my response to this comment, there is a significant difference between censuses that merely record total populations and those that contain more detailed information that can be used to calculate the vital rates of the mission populations, which was the foundation of my study, and published examples of the two types of censuses. See Robert H. Jackson, “Response to Shawn Austin’s Review of Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival Among the Sedentary Populations on the Jesuit Mission Frontiers of Spanish South America, 1609–1803: The Formation and Persistence of Mission Communities in a Comparative Context,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 4, no. 2 (2017): 371–76.

43 Etienne Gautier and Louis Henry, La population de Crulai, paroisse normande (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1958).  

44 For examples see Carbonell de Masy, Estrategias de desarrollo rural; Massimo Livi-Bacci and Ernesto J. Maeder, “The Missions of Paraguay: The Demography of an Experiment,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 35, no. 2 (2004): 185–224. For a detailed critique of the analysis of Livi-Bacci and Maeder, see Robert H. Jackson, “The Population and Vital Rates of the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay, 1700–1767,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 38, no. 3 (2008): 401–31. In his earlier studies of the populations of the missions among the Guaraní, Ernesto Maeder did not employ the same methodological rigor as in his collaboration with Livi-Bacci. See, for example, Ernesto Maeder and Alfredo Bolsi, La población de las misiones guaraníes entre 17021767 (Asunción: Universidad Católica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, 1974); Ernesto Maeder and Alfredo Bolsi, La población guaraní de las misiones jesuíticas: Evolución y características, 16711767 (Resistencia, Chaco: Instituto de Investigaciones Geohistóricas, CONICET, FUNDANORD, 1980); Maeder and Bolsi, “La población de las misiones después de la expulsión de los jesuitas,” in IV Simposio Nacional de Estudos Missioneiros (Rio Grande do Sul, Facultad de Filosofía Ciencias e Letras Dom Bosco Santa Rosa, 1981), 127–55.

45 My own approach has been to document demographic patterns for each of the missions. See, for example, Robert H. Jackson, “Demographic Patterns in the Jesuit Missions of the Río de la Plata Region: The Case of Corpus Christi Mission, 1622–1802,” Colonial Latin American Historical Review 13, no. 4 (Fall 2004): 337–66; Jackson, “The Population and Vital Rates of the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay”; Jackson, “Comprendiendo los efectos de las enfermedades del Viejo Mundo en los nativos americanos: La viruela en las misiones jesuíticas de Paraguay,” IHS: Antiguos jesuitas en Iberoamérica 2, no. 2 (2014): 88–133; Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival; Jackson, “La población de la Misión de Santa Rosa de Lima (Paraguay),” IHS: Antiguos jesuitas en Iberoamérica 3, no. 1 (2015): 97–110; Jackson, “La población y tasas vitales de las misiones jesuíticas de los Guaraní (Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay),”  IHS: Antiguos jesuitas en Iberoamérica 5, no. 2: (2017): 100–65.

46 Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival, 91.

47 Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival, 17.

48 Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival, Appendix 3.

49 Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival, 91. 

50 Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival, 82–83, 91–92.

51 Ernesto Maeder and Alfredo Bolsi, “La población de las misiones de indios chiquitos entre 1735–1766,” Folia histórica del Nordeste 3 (1978): 11–26.

52 See Jackson, Demographic Change and Ethnic Survival; Jackson, Frontiers of Evangelization: Indians in the Sierra Gorda and Chiquitos Missions (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017); Jackson, “Patrones demográficos de las poblaciones sedentarias y no-sedentarias: misiones jesuitas en las tierras bajas de Sudamérica y misiones franciscanas en la región de la Sierra Gorda de México,” Memoria americana: Cuadernos de etnohistoria 25, no. 2 (2017): 47–68; Jackson, “La población y tasas vitales de las misiones jesuíticas de Chiquitos (Bolivia),” Antiguos jesuitas en Iberoamérica 5, no. 1 (2017): 179–98.

53 David Block, Mission Culture on the Upper Amazon: Native Tradition, Jesuit Enterprise and Secular Policy in Moxos, 1660–1880 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994).

54 Saito, “Consolidación y reproducción de las parcialidades.”

55 Massimo Livi-Bacci, “La despoblación en el Alto Amazonas en tiempos coloniales,” Revista de Indias 76, no. 267 (2016): 419–48.

56 Massimo Livi-Bacci,  El Dorado in the Marshes: Gold, Slaves and Souls between the Andes and the Amazon (Cambridge: Polity, 2010).

57 Cecilia Rabell Romero, “Evaluación del subregistro de defunciones infantiles: Una crítica a los registros parroquiales de San Luis de la Paz, México, 1735–1799),” Revista mexicana de sociología 38, no. 1 (1976): 171–85; Cecilia Rabell Romero, Los diezmos de San Luis de la Paz: Economía en una región del Bajío en el siglo XVIII (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1986); Cecilia Rabell Romero, “Matrimonio y raza en una parroquia rural: San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, 1715–1810,” Historia mexicana 42, no. 1 (1992): 3–44.

58 Chantal Cramaussel and Sara Ortelli. La Sierra Tepehuana: Asentamientos y movimientos de población (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2006); Susan Deeds, “Mission Villages and Agrarian Patterns in a Nueva Vizcaya Heartland, 1600–1750,” Journal of the Southwest 33, no. 3 (1991): 345–65; Susan Deeds, Defiance and Deference in Mexico’s Colonial North: Indians under Spanish Rule in Nueva Vizcaya (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003); William Merrill, “Conversion and Colonialism in northern Mexico: The Tarahumara Response to the Jesuit Mission Program, 1601–1767,” in Robert W. Herner, ed., Conversion to Christianity: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives on a Great Transformation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 129–63.

59 For a study of a Jesuit mission in northern Sinaloa, see Raquel Padilla Ramos and Gilberto López Castillo, “Mocorito y San Benito: La acción misionera y el poblamiento hispano en el sur de la provincia de Sinaloa 1592–1767,” IHS: Antiguos jesuitas en Iberoamérica  5, no. 2 (2017): 28–47. This article has already cited the studies of Peter Masten Dunne and John Francis Bannon that focused on the Jesuit advance and administration of the missions, but that also included some population figures. Also see Cynthia Radding de Murrieta, Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700–1850 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997); Cynthia Radding de Murrieta, Landscapes of Power and Identity: Comparative Histories in the Sonoran Desert and the Forests of Amazonia from Colony to Republic (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).

60 Robert H. Jackson, Indian Population Decline: The Missions of Northwestern New Spain, 16871840 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994).

61 For general studies of the Baja California missions see Dunne, Black Robes in Lower California. Also see Ignacio del Río, Conquista y aculturación en la California jesuítica, 16971768 (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1984); Ignacio del Río, El régimen jesuítico de la Antigua California (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2003).

62 Sherburne F. Cook, The Extent and Significance of Disease among the Indians of Baja California, 16971773 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1937).

63 Homer Aschmann, The Ecology, Demography, and Fate of the Indians of the Central Desert of Baja California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954). Although a study of the Dominican missions established in Baja California following the Jesuit expulsion, the monograph Peveril Meigs, The Dominican Mission Frontier of Lower California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1935) offered a detailed discussion of demographic patterns based on sacramental registers of baptisms and burials and censuses. Meigs had earlier collaborated with his mentor at Berkeley Carl Sauer in the publication of a study on San Fernando mission, the only Franciscan mission established in the peninsula. See Carl Ortwin Sauer and Peveril Meigs, Site and Culture at San Fernando de Velicata (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1927).

64 Robert H. Jackson, “Epidemic Disease and Population Decline in the Baja California Missions, 1697–1834,” Southern California Quarterly 63, no. 4 (1981): 308–46.

65 See Block, Mission Culture on the Upper Amazon; Saito, “Consolidación y reproducción de las parcialidades.”

66 Eugenia A. Néspolo, “Las misiones jesuíticas bonaerenses del siglo XVIII: ¿Una estrategia política-económica indígena?,” Revista Tefros 5, no. 1 (2014): 1–47.

67 See Susan Socolow, “Spanish Captives in Indian Societies: Cultural Contact along the Argentine Frontier, 1600–1835,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 72, no. 1 (1992): 73–99. In this study, Socolow analyzed lists of ransomed captives.

68 Chantre. y Herrera, Historia de las misiones de la Compañía de Jesús en el Marañón español; Livi-Bacci,  El Dorado in the marshes; Livi-Bacci, “La despoblación en el Alto Amazonas.”

69 Ramón Gutiérrez, “Las misiones circulares de los jesuitas en Chiloé,” Apuntes: Revista de estudios sobre patrimonio cultural / Journal of Cultural Heritage Studies 20, no. 1 (2007): 50–69. On the Chiloé missions, see also Rodrigo Moreno Jeria, Misiones en Chile Austral: los jesuitas en Chiloé, 16081768 (Madrid: Editorial CSIC–CSIC Press, 2007). See also Miguel de Olivares, Los jesuitas en la Patagonia: Las misiones en la Araucanía y el Nahuelhuapi (15931736) (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Continente, 2005); María Andrea Nicoletti; “La configuración del espacio misionero: Misiones coloniales en la Patagonia Norte,” Revista complutense de historia de América 20 (1998): 87–112. The Franciscans replaced the Jesuits on the Chiloé missions. For their story, see Rodolfo Urbina, Las misiones franciscanas de Chiloé a fines del siglo XVIII, 1771–1800 (Valparaíso: Instituto de Historia, Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, 1990).

70 Rodrigo Moreno Jeria, “El modelo pastoral jesuítico en Chiloé colonial,” Veritas: Revista de filosofía y teología 14 (2006): 183–203.

71 Gauvin Bailey, “Cultural Convergence at the Ends of the Earth: The Unique Art and Architecture of the Jesuit Missions to the Chiloe Archipelago (1608–1767),” in John W. O’Malley, S.J., Gauvin Bailey, Steven Harris, and T. Frank Kenney, S.J., eds., The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 211–39.

72 For a discussion of the Jesuit missions in Baja California, see Ignacio del Río, Conquista y aculturación; del Río, A la diestra mano de las Indias: Descubrimiento y ocupación colonial de la Baja California (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1990); del Río, El régimen jesuítico de la Antigua California. Also see Jackson, Missions and the Frontiers of Spanish America; Jackson, From Savages to Subjects: Missions in the History of the American Southwest (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 2000).

73 Susan Deeds, “Rendering unto Caesar: The Secularization of Jesuit Missions in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Durango” (PhD diss., University of Arizona, 1981).

74 See Susan Deeds, “Rural Work in Nueva Vizcaya: Forms of Labor Coercion on the Periphery,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 69, no. 3 (1989): 425–49; Susan Deeds, “Land Tenure Patterns in Northern New Spain,” The Americas 41, no. 4 (1985): 446–61; Susan Deeds, “Indigenous Responses to Mission Settlement in Nueva Vizcaya,” in Erick Langer and Robert H. Jackson, eds., The New Latin American Mission History (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), 77–108; Susan Deeds, “Mission Villages and Agrarian Patterns in a Nueva Vizcaya Heartland”; Susan Deeds, Defiance and Deference.

75 For the development of Alamos, see Chantal Cramaussel, “Poblar en tierras de muchos indios: La región de Álamos en los siglos XVII y XVIII,” Región y sociedad 53 (2012): 11–53.

76 Ignacio del Río, “Auge y decadencia de los placeres y el real de La Cieneguilla, Sonora (1771–1783),” Estudios de historia novohispana 8, no. 8 (1985): 81–98. Also see Jackson, Indian Population Decline.

77 Cynthia Radding de Murrieta has analyzed this dynamic in a series of publications. See, for example, “The Function of the Market in Changing Economic Structures in the Mission Communities of Pimeria Alta, 1768–1821,” The Americas 34, no. 2 (1977): 155–69; Radding de Murrieta, Wandering People; Radding de Murrieta, “From the Counting House to the Field and Loom.” In this last article, the author analyzed accounts maintained by the Jesuit missionaries assigned to Aconchi mission located in the Sonora River Valley.

78 See María Soledad Arbelaez, “The Sonoran Missions and Indian Raids of the Eighteenth Century,” Journal of the Southwest 33, no. 3 (1991): 366–86.

79 See Magnus Morner, The Expulsion of the Jesuits from Latin America (New York: Knopf, 1965).

80 Guillermo Wilde, “Los guaraníes después de la expulsión de los jesuitas: Dinámicas políticas y transacciones simbólicas,” Revista complutense de historia de América 27, no. 1 (2001): 69–106.

81 José Refugio de la Torre Curiel, Twilight of the Mission Frontier: Shifting Interethnic Alliances and Social Organization in Sonora, 1768–1855 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013).

82 See Sarreal, The Guaraní and Their Missions; Jackson, Communities on a Frontier in Conflict.

83 Robert H. Jackson, “The Guaycuros, Jesuit and Franciscan Missionaries, and José de Gálvez: The Failure of Spanish Policy in Baja California,” Memoria americana 12 (2004): 221–33. 

84 Jackson, Frontiers of Evangelization.

85 For a general assessment of the Society of Jesus in colonial America with different case studies see Nicholas Cushner, Soldiers of God: The Jesuits in Colonial America, 1565–1767 (Buffalo, NY: Language Communications, 2002).

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