A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies/Chapter 12

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Chapter XII: Of the Kingdom of Jucatan

An Impious Wretch by his Fabulous Stories and Relations to the King of Spain was made praefect of the Kingdom of Jucatan, in the Year of our Lord 1526; And the other Tyrants to this very day have taken the same indirect Measures to obtain Offices, and screw or wheedle themselves into publick Charges or Employments, for this praetext, and Authority, they had the greater opportunity to commit Theft and Rapine. This Kingdom was very well peopled, and both for Temperature of Air, and the Plenty of Food and Fruits, in which respect it is more Fertile than Mexico, but chiefly for Hony and Wax, it exceeds all the Indian Countries that hath hitherto bin discover'd. It is Three Hundred Miles in Compass. The Inhabitants of this place do much excel all other Indians, either in Politie or Prudence, or in leading a Regular Life and Morality, truly deserving to be instructed in the Knowledge of the true God. Here the Spaniards might have Erected many fair Cities, and liv'd as it were in a Garden of Delights, if they had not, through Covetousness, Stupidity, and the weight of Enormous Crimes rendred themselves unworthy of so great a Benefit. This Tyrant, with Three Hundred Men began to make War with these Innocent People, living peaceably at home, and doing injury to none, which was the ruine of a great Number of them: Now because this Region affords no Gold; and if it did the Inhabitants would soon have wrought away their lives by hard working in the Mines, that so he might accumulate Gold by their bodies and Souls, for which Christ was Crucified: For the generality he made slaves of those whose lives he spared, and sent away such Ships as were driven thither by the Wind of report, loaden with them, exchanging them for Wine, Oyl, Vinegar, Salt Pork, Garments, Pack Horses and other Commodities, which he thought most necessary and fit for his use. He proposed to them the choice of Fifty Virgins, and she that was the fairest or best complexioned he bartered for a small Cask of Wine, Oyl, Vinegar or some inconsiderable quantity of salt Pork, the same exchange he proferred of Two or Three Hundred well-disposed Young Boys, and one of them who had the Mind or presence of a Princes Son, was given up to them for a Cheese, and One Hundred more for a Horse. Thus he continued his flagitious courses from 1526 to 1533, inclusively, till there was news brought of the Wealth and Opulence of the Region of Perusia, whither the Spaniards marcht, and so for some time there was a Cessation of this Tyranny; but in a few days after they returned and acted enormous Crimes, robbed, and imprisoned them and committed higher offences against the God of Heaven; nor have they ye done, so that now these Three Hundred Miles of Land so populous (as I said before) lies now uncultivated and almost deserted.

No Solifidian can believe the particular Narrations of their Barbarism, and Cruelty in those Countreys. I will only relate two or three Stories which are fresh in my memory. The Spaniards used to trace the steps of the Indians, both Men and Women with curst Currs, furious Dogs; an Indian Woman that was sick hapned to be in the way in sight, who perceiving that she was not able to avoid being torn in pieces by the Dogs, takes a Cord that she had and hangs her self upon a Beam, tying her Child (which she unforunately had with her) to her foot; and no sooner had she done, yet the Dogs were at her, tearing the Child, but a Priest coming that way Baptiz'd it before quite dead.

When the Spaniards left this Kingdom, one of them invited the Son of some Indian Governour of a City or Province, to go along with him, who told him he would not leave or desert his Native Countrey, whereupon he threatned to cut off his ears, if he refus'd to follow him: But the Youth persisting resolutely, that he would continue in the place of his Nativity, he drawing his Sword cut off each Ear, notwithstanding which he persever'd in his first opinion, and then as if he had only pincht him, smilingly cut off his Nose and Lips.

This Rogue did lasciviously boast before a Priest, and as if he had merited the greatest applause, commended himself to the very Heavens, saying, "He had made it his chief Trade or Business to impregnate Indian Women, that when they were sold afterward, he might gain the more Money by them."

In this Kingdom or (I'm certain) in some Province of New Spain, A Spaniard Hunting and intent on his game, phancyed that his Beagles wanted food; and to supply their hunger snatcht a young little Babe from the Mothers breast, cutting off his Arms and Legs, cast a part of them to every Dog, which they having devour'd, he threw the remainder of the Body to them. Thus it is plainly manifest how they value these poor Creatures, created after the image of God, to cast them to their Canibal Curs. But that which follows is (if possible) a sin of a deeper dye.

I pretermit their unparallel'd Impieties, &c. and only close all with this one Story that follows. Those haughty obdurate and execrable Tyrants, who departed from this Countrey to Fish for Riches in Perusia, and four Monks of the Order of St. Francis, with Father James who Travelled thither also to keep the Countrey in Peace, and attract or mildly perswade by their Preaching the remnant of Inhabitants, that had outlived a septennial Tyranny, to embrace the knowledge of Christ. I conceive these are the persons who in the year 1534, Travelling by Mexico were sollicited by several Messengers from the Indians, to come into their Countrey, and inform them in the knowledge of one God, the true God, and Lord of the whole World: to this end they appointed Assemblies and Councils to examine and understand what Men they were, who called themselves Fathers and Friers, what they intended and what difference there was between them and the Spaniards, by whom they had been so molested and tormented: but they received them at length upon this condition that they should be admitted alone, without any Spaniards, which the Fathers promised; for they had permission, nay an express Mandate from the President of New Spain to make that promise, and that the Spaniards should not do them the least detriment or injury. Then they began, to Preach the Gospel of Christ, and to explicate and declare the pious intention of the King of Castile, of all which they had notice by the Spaniards for seven years together, that they had no King nor no other but him, who oppressed them with so much Tyranny. The Priests continued there but forty days, but behold they bring forth all their Idols to be committed to the flames; and then their Children which they tendred as the apple of the Eye, that they might be instructed. They also erected Temples and Houses for them and they were desired to come to other Provinces and Preach the Gospel, and introduce them into the knowledge of God, and the Great (as they stiled him) King of Castile: And the Priests perswasions wrought so effectually on them, that they condescended to that which was never done in India before (for whatsoever those Tyrants who wasted and consumed these large Kingdoms and Provinces, did misrepresent and falsifie, was only done to bring an odium and disgrace upon the Indians). For Twelve or Fifteen Princes of spatious and well-peopled Regions assembled, every one distinct and separate from the rest, with his own subjects, and by their unanimous consent upon Council and Advice, of their own accord sumitted themselves to the Government of the Castilian Kings and accepted of them as their Prince and Protector, obliging themselves to obey and serve them as subjects to their Lawful Liege Lord.

In Witness whereof I have in my custody, a certain Instrument Signed and Attested by the aforesaid Religioso's.

Thus to the great joy and hope of these Priests reducing them to the knowledge of Christ they were received by the Inhabitants of this Kingdom, that surviv'd the heat and rage of the Spanish Cruelties: but behold eighteen Horse and Twelve Footmen by another way crept in among them, bringing with them many Idols, which were of great weight, and taken out of other Regions by Force. The Commander in chief of these Spaniards summoned one of the Dynasts or Rulers of that Province which they entred into, to appear before him, and command him to take these Idols with him, distribute them through his Countrey and exchange every single Idol for an Indian Man or Woman, otherwise he would make War against him. The abovesaid Lord compelled to it by fear did so accordingly with a command, that his Subjects should adore Worship and Honour them, and in compensation send Indians Male and Female into servitude. The terrified People delivered up their Children, and by this means there was an end made of this Sacrilegious Merchandize, and thus the Casic satisfied the greedy desires of the (I dare not say Christian) Spaniards. One of these Sacrilegious Robbers was John Garcia by name, who being very sick and at the point of dath, had several Idols hid under his Bed, and calling his Indians that waited on him, as a Nurse, commanded her not to part with those Idols at a small rate for they were of the better sort, and that she should not dispose of them without one Indian, for each Idol by way of Barter. Thus by this his private and Nuncupative last Will and Testament distracted with these carking cares, he gave up the Ghost: And who is it that will not fear his being tormented in the darkest and lowest Hell? Let us now consider what progress in Religion the Spaniards made, and what examples of Christianism they gave, at their first arrival in America, how devoutly they honoured God, and what expence of sweat and toil they were at to promote his Worship and Adoration among the Infidels. Let it be also taken into serious consideration, whose sin is the greater, either Joroboam's, who made all Israel to sin, and caused two Golden Calves to be erected, or the Spaniards who traffick and Trade in Idols like Judas, who was the occasion of such great scandals. These are the good Deeds of the Spanish Dons, who often, nay very often to feed their Avarice, and accumulate Gold have sold and still do sell, denied and still do deny Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

The Indians now findint the Promises of the Religious, that the Spaniards should not enter into this Countrey, null and void; nay that the Spaniards brought Idols from other places to be put off there; when as they had delivered up their own to the Priests to be burnt, that there might be only Worship of the true God established among them; they were highly incensed against these Friars, and addressed themselves to them in these Words following: Why have you deceived us, binding your promises with false protestations, that the Spaniards shoudl not be admitted to come hither? And why have you burnt our Gods, when others are brought from other Regions by the Spaniards? Are the Gods of other Provinces more sacred than ours? The Friers as well as they could (though they had little to return in answer) endevour'd by soft Language to appease them; and went to these Thirty Spaniards, declaring the evil actions they were guilty of, humbly supplicating them to withdraw themselves from that place. Which they would by no means condescend to, and what is most flagitious and wicked perswaded the Indians, that they were introduc'd by those Priests; Which being made known to them, These Indians resolved to be the death of these Monks, but having notice thereof by some courteous Indians, they stole away from thence by night, and fled; but after their departure the truth of the matter and the Spanish Malice being understood; they sent several Messengers who followed them fifty Miles distant beseeching them in the name of the Indians, to return and begging pardon for that ignorant mistake.

The Priests relying on their words, returned, and were caress'd like Angels sent from Heaven; and continued with them, (from whom they received a Thousand kindnesses) four or five months. But when the Spaniards persisted in their resolution not to quit the place, although they Vice-Roy did use all endeavours and fair means to recall them, they were Proclaim'd Traitors, guilty of High Treason; and because they continued still exercising Tyranny and perpetrated nefandous Crimes, the Priests were sensible they would study revenge, though it might be some considerable time before they put it in execution, fearing that it might fail upon their own heads, and since they could not exercise the function of their Ministry securely and undisturbed by reason of the continual Incursions and Assaults made by the Spaniards, they consulted about their departure, and did leave this Kingdom accordingly which remain'd destitute of all Christian Doctrin and these poor Souls are at this day involv'd in the obscurity of their former Misery and Ignorance, they being deprived by these accursed Spaniards, of all hopes of remedy, and the irrigatioon of Divine knowledge, just like young withering Plants for want of Water: for in that very juncture of time, when these Religioso's took leave, they embraced the Doctrine of our Faith with the greatest Fervency and Eagerness imaginable.