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Estudios de historia novohispana

versión On-line ISSN 2448-6922versión impresa ISSN 0185-2523


JACKSON, Robert H.. The Effects of Resettlement and the Development of the Urban Plan on Mission Demographic Patterns. Estud. hist. novohisp [online]. 2024, n.70, pp.69-120.  Epub 05-Abr-2024. ISSN 2448-6922.

One of the elements of the mission programs on the frontiers of Spanish America was the creation of communities that conformed to norms established for urban planning by royal law, or, in other words, to the grid plan. Missionaries congregated thousands of indigenous peoples on the mission communities, and had them live in spatially compact living areas. Living in proximity to others helped spread highly contagious crowd diseases such as smallpox, and created hygiene problems. This article examines the urban plan and housing arrangements for indigenous peoples brought to live on the missions among the Guaraní and the California. It posits that the spatial organization of the mission communities and forms of housing were important factors in determining demographic patterns among the mission residents. It analyzes historic diagrams of the urban plan of selected mission communities in conjunction with a discussion of fertility and mortality patterns calculated from censuses and registers of baptisms and burials. The article confirms the hypothesis of the strong relationship between the urban plan, and demographic patterns. At the same time, it highlights differences between the two case studies presented. The Jesuits brought thousands of Guaraní to live on the mission communities created from whole cloth, and the large population densities facilitated the spread of contagion. Periodic epidemics killed thousands, but the populations recovered. On the California missions, chronic ailments such as syphilis and parasites from improper sanitation associated with living conditions were the major causes of mortality. The California mission populations did not recover.

Palabras llave : Guaraní missions; California missions; Treaty of Madrid (1750); Treaty of San Ildefonso (1777); Spanish-Portuguese Boundary Commission; demographic patterns; epidemics.

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