Letters from the Conde de Montemar Collection
The Conde de Montemar family was one of the wealthiest of the Viceroyalty of Perú during the eighteenth century. The countship of Montemar was created on June 12, 1694 by King Carlos II on Pedro Carrillo de Albornoz y Esquivel de Guzmán, Admiral General of the Spanish fleet and a descendant of an old powerful Spanish aristocratic lineage. This first Conde de Montemar was also a founding member of the very prestigious Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, a royal body that gathered the most powerful and wealthiest noble men in Spain as an elite cavalry to help in the defense of the Spanish Empire. Pedro’s nephew, José Carrillo de Albornoz y Montiel, was made the first Duke of Montemar while also being III Count of Montemar. When José died, the countship of Montemar was transferred to a close cousin, Diego Miguel Carrillo de Albornoz y de la Presa (IV Conde de Montemar), born in Lima, Perú in 1695 to Diego Bernardo Carrillo de Albornoz y Esquivel de Guzmán.
The letters from the conde de Montemar collection in our custody were written during the lifetime of two counts, Diego José (V count) starting in 1761 and his brother Fernando (VI count) until 1799. These letters, some 300 in total or 2,500 pages, are a treasure trove of information. More than intimate letters among family members, these letters provide a view of Viceregal life, politics, economics, government, indigenous resistance, the Catholic Church, etc. The Spanish Empire is known for producing a plethora of administrative reports, in addition to a vast corpus of religious sermons, and economic documentation. However, there are not many collections of epistolary, let alone some 40 years’ worth of family correspondence.
The full collection of Conde de Montemar Letters is available at the University of Illinois Library's Digital Collection