Ostentation and Authenticity


The binding of a carta ejecutoria was made to order and varied depending on its owner's budget and tastes. Some were covered with rich fabrics such as velvets and brocades, while others were covered in leather and featured gold or blind tooling. Tooled patterns included abanico (fan) bindings made up of circular and semi-circular designs; plateresque bindings made up of concentric rectangular tooled borders; and the more heavily ornamented tipos populares bindings, which represented a transition between the plateresque and the later baroque style. All were meant to convey the wealth, power, and tradition of the family whose documents are enclosed within. [7]

Although many of the ejecutorias in this collection have fine bindings, several are bound in simple parchment, the humblest and least expensive of all binding materials at the time. It is interesting to note that two of the parchment bindings in the collection have envelope flaps, a distinctive feature of Islamic bookbinding. One of these bindings is featured in the gallery below. 

Seals and Cords

All ejecutorias would have been accompanied originally by a lead seal hanging from silken cords, a sign of the document's authenticity. This seal is referred to in the text of each ejecutoria in a formulaic phrase, such as this example from the ejecutoria of Blas Davalos: 

Y de esto mandamos dar y damos al dicho Blas Davalos esta dicha nuestra carta ejecutoria escrita en pergamino de cuero y sellada con nuestro sello de plomo pendiente en hilos de seda a colores.

[And by this we order to be given and we give to the aforementioned Blas Davalos this our executive letter written on parchment and sealed with our lead seal hanging from colored silk cords.]

Due to the weight of the seal and the need for metal in subsequent generations, few seals have survived. However, a handful are preserved in this collection.

Notary's Marks and Signatures

The most important page in the ejecutoria is the least decorated. This is the page that is signed and attested by members of the royal chancery and officials of the Sala de Hijosdalgo. Many of these officials signed numerous ejecutorias during their careers. Note, for example, the selection below, all of which were signed by Diego Mesía de Frías, an attorney who was chief of the Sala de Hijosdalgo at the Royal Chancery of Granada for more than forty years. His signature is often accompanied by those of Diego Lucio Lucero and Alonso de Erazo, two other members of the Sala de Hijosdalgo, and by the certification of Blas Varela, a scribe and notary of the chancery.