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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Meyer, Bernhard

< Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography

MEYER, Bernhard (mire), German missionary, b. in Erfurt in 1537; d. in Liege in 1609. He became a Jesuit, was attached for several years to the missions of Cuba, went in 1571 to New Spain, where he learned the Aztec and Maya languages, and afterward became president of an Indian commandery in Yucatan, which he held for twelve years. His humane policy toward the Indians was in striking contrast with their cruel treatment by the Spaniards, and as he forwarded a protest to the holy see against the dealings of the latter in the New World, the authorities asked for his relief, and his superiors sent him back to Germany in 1599. Meyer settled in Liege, and, with the materials that he had collected in the New World, wrote a history of the Spanish domination in America; but, his intention having become known, great pressure was exerted on the general of the Jesuits, who forbade the publication of the work. Meyer hesitated to obey, and application was made to the prince bishop of Liege, who ordered the arrest of the courageous missionary. During the latter's imprisonment in a convent his manuscripts and papers were forwarded to Rome, and what became of them is not known. He published “Origines gentis Aztecorum” (Liege, 1601) and “Epistola ad præpositum generalem Societatis Jesu, qua statum in provincia Novæ Espaniæ exponit” (1602).