DescriptionRoyal Spanish Illuminated Document Bestowing the Noble Title, Conde de Tepa, on Don Francisco de Leandro de Viana, 1775. Twenty illuminated vellum pages and six laid paper pages, 8.5" x 15", Madrid, November 8, 1775. The document is bound in full red Morocco leather with gold blind embossing and the Royal Arms of King Carlos III of Spain on the front cover. The last illuminated page has the steel-stamp facsimile signature of King Carlos III, "Yo El Rey." The book's endpapers are marbleized and the vellum pages are separated by green moiré silk. Modest scuffing and edge-knocks to the covers and a missing silver latch. The illuminated and manuscript pages are bright and excellent.
The beautiful full-color illuminations include: a title page bearing the crowned seal of Carlos III above a center shield that reads "Don Carlos por la Gracia de Dios," both between the Pillars of Hercules; a color portrait of Carlos III, also pictured between the Pillars of Hercules; a full-page illustration of the Virgin Mary surrounded by cherubs looking down on a Satanic serpent; the full-page colored arms of the newly created first Conde de Tepa, Don Francisco de Leandro de Viana, surmounted by a noble cornet; the arms of his wife, the first Condesa de Tepa, Dona Maria Josepha Rodriguez de Pedroso; and ten subsequent vellum pages bordered in elaborate, full-color, geometric and floral motifs.
The document, issued by King Carlos III, recognizes the services of Don Francisco de Leandro de Viana as "acrual Oydor de mi Audiencia de Mexico [Magistrate of my Court of Mexico]" and "Fiscál de mi Audiencia de Manila, y á lo que con este motive ós distinguisteis en la defensa de aquella Plaza, y sus Islas [attorney of my Court of Manila and because you distinguished yourself in the defense of that city and its islands]."
Don Francisco de Leandro de Viana, a former student and rector of Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé of the University of Salamanca, able and highly educated, and a member of the royal council, was dispatched to Manila to develop and implement an economic plan to make the Philippines financially self-sufficient. Deeply imbued with the Enlightenment spirit of reform, Viana arrived in the Philippines on 13 May 1750. Named Fiscál to the court in Manila, Viana found his initial efforts at reform thwarted by religious orders and local officials who had a vested interest in maintaining the corruption of the status quo. He announced that he did not come to Manila to please the rich residents, but to serve the king and expose the neglect. After long service in Manila and hard-won success, Viana returned to Madrid. His efforts were applauded by King Carlos III, one of Europe's reform-minded, enlightened monarchs. The King appointed Viana as Oydor of the vice-regal court in Mexico. Once again he ran into opposition to his efforts at reform, but he had powerful allies in the King and like-minded Basque noblemen in Mexico. Viana's work met with great success in Mexico.
In 1770, while in Mexico, the forty-year-old Don Francisco de Leandro de Viana married Maria Josepha Rodriguez de Pedroso, the paternal granddaughter of the Conde of San Bartolomé de Jala, and maternal granddaughter of the Vicomte Francisco Fernandez de Tejada [later the Marquis de Prado Alegre]. The marriage proved to be very successful and gave Viana noble relations, great wealth, and extensive land holdings in Mexico.
It was for his service to the Spanish Crown that Don Francisco de Leandro de Viana was elevated to the nobility in 1775. He and his wife returned to Madrid where they built a stately home, the Palacio del Conde de Tepa, that befitted their wealth and status. The home still stands, but in a state of neglect. The title, Conde de Tepa, is extinct.
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