The story of a hidden treasure in Puebla: a gold book, the last emperor of Mexico and a city resistant on leaving the monarchy

19/04/2021

A document made of a gold leaf reveals that the state of Puebla resisted stopping swearing to the king of Spain after Mexico's independence in 1821, being one of the last cities to swear allegiance to the new Mexican emperor, Agustín de Iturbide.

After two decades of being hidden in the Municipal Archives of Puebla, a book with documents dated 1822 has been located, including a gold leaf with unique characteristics in Latin America.

When reviewing the text it was found that it was the oath of allegiance of the Puebla Cabildo to the Mexican emperor during the process of Mexican independence, which shows that Puebla signed its adhesion on December 5, 1822.

Iturbide was proclaimed emperor of independent Mexico on May 18, 1822, and crowned on July 21 of the same year, but with the disputes between republicans and liberals, it was agreed to proclaim the Republic through General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, achieving the abdication of Iturbide on March 19, 1823.

The document presents diverse damages like green dyeing and some fungus caused by the humidity, the reason why a process of conservation and maintenance was initiated. There are two other similar documents, one more in gold leaf and the other in silver-colored material, although it has not yet been determined whether it is white gold or silver.

These last documents were located in a volume called "miscellaneous documents", in which news in newspapers of 1822 are collected and related to information of the oath to Iturbide. This document speaks of an interesting process of the conformation of Mexico as a country because the government boards or cabildos were swearing allegiance and accepting independence.

But the first thing was to stop swearing allegiance to the king of Spain and then swear allegiance to the Mexican emperor in 1821 and 1822. What the document confirms is that Puebla was one of the last cities to swear allegiance to Iturbide. This implies that the Cabildo of Puebla was reluctant to stop swearing allegiance to the king of Spain. The document found is unique in Latin America, because it has a different technique or invoice.

A base paper was used on which an adhesive was placed to place the gold leaf and later put it in a press since the writing is embedded and not painted as it was traditionally done. The conservation process has already begun, which consists of removing the two filled documents from the book to place them in special guards that have the necessary conditions for their conservation, as they are almost 200 years old and have not been properly cared for before.

The first document located suffered a microbial attack when exposed to a source of humidity, hence the importance of rescuing and stabilizing it. It was decided to extract the document because of the advanced deterioration process and because it presented a very unique manufacturing technique. An analysis is still needed to determine the materials it contains, its radiations, as well as the adhesives used, in order to know how it should be cared for in the coming years.

By Mexicanist