"State, Church and property: the cultural construction of mortmain"
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Antonio Ibarra Romero (UNAM)
During the XVIII century, intervention of the Crown on mortmain (manos-muertas), both in an ecclesiastical and secular sense and with the purpose of increasing the government revenue (fiscal intervention on mortmain), converged through divergent paths on the expropriation of the mortmain, or intervention in the dominical (proprietary) sense- the form of the so called “desamortización” of the mortmain (manos-muertas) with which posterity is familiar and has reinterpreted the whole process.
The expropriation of the mortmain was possible because in the late eighteenth century the combination of the introduction of new economic and legal doctrines, linked to the development of the bourgeoisie, contributed to the legal modification of the content of the concept “mortmain”. The emphasis was put on the aspects of the problem related to property; i. e. the emphasis was put on the dominical (proprietary) aspects of the issue.
From this point on, however, the financial constraints pushed the governments to adhere to the point of view of the bourgeoisie, and the government’s revenues weren’t the core of the debates.
This transformation was embodied in the laws of the last years of the reign of Charles IV, and in the laws of the Cortes Constitucionales Españolas (Spanish Constitutional Courts), and culminated (in the case of Mexico) with the Lerdo Law, on June 25, 1856.