In view of the paucity of information available on the reducciones in the old province of Paraguay, the “Book of orders” represents a privileged observation point to study the complexity of the Jesuits’ missionary experience among the Guaranì people. The juridical bias of the Book reflect the persistence of the casuistic pattern. As facts and circumstances are at the origin of legislation, dealing with the law implies the study of what produced it. The insistence on prescriptions throughout the Book is evidence of their frequent violation and of the resistance they met with. The Book enables us to reconstruct the Jesuits’ missionary strategy, viewed as a power structure, and to realize its limitations, which explain the resort to tactics. The “Book of Orders” is a text capable of “upsetting” the historian’s outlook and to confront him with new questions and interpretations.
Keywords: Jesuits, Paraguay, Historiography, Quotidian Life, Legislation, Michel de Certeau.