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Egor Shapovalov
Egor Shapovalov
Egor Shapovalov is a correspondent specializing in European, US and Chinese politics and military affairs.

Stolen 500-year-old manuscript signed by Hernán Cortés returned to Mexico

Hernan Cortez news
Fondo Antiguo de la Biblioteca de la Universidad de Sevilla / Hernán Cortés

The treasured file is believed to be one of several pieces unlawfully removed from a collection of documents housed in Mexico’s national archives that are related to a Spanish expedition to Central America in 1527.

A manuscript signed by Hernán Cortés nearly 500 years ago has been returned to Mexico’s national archives, marking a significant moment in preserving the country’s historical heritage.

The manuscript, signed by the Spanish conquistador on April 27, 1527, is a payment order authorizing the purchase of rose sugar for a pharmacy in exchange for 12 gold pesos.

Acting US Attorney Joshua Levy emphasized the importance of the manuscript’s return, stating it would now remain a cherished part of Mexico’s history and cultural heritage.
“After missing for decades, thanks to incredible international collaboration and persistence the Cortés manuscript is finally where it belongs back in Mexico, where it will remain a treasured part of Mexico’s history and heritage,” Levy said.

The manuscript’s repatriation was the result of a collaborative effort between the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, the FBI and Mexican authorities. In early 2022, the manuscript was consigned for an online auction at an auction house in Massachusetts.

However, Mexican authorities alerted US federal authorities that the document appeared to have been stolen. As a violation of federal law, the auction house removed the manuscript from the auction and it was subsequently recovered.

Last week, a formal repatriation ceremony took place at Mexico’s national archives, where the manuscript was returned to its rightful place. The manuscript’s return highlights the significance of international collaboration and persistent efforts in preserving and restoring historical artifacts.

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