1546, however, there was a general revolt, and it was not until a year later that the conquest was assured .
In the original commission to Montejo it had been expressly stipulated that missionaries should accom- pany all liis expeditions. This, however, he had neg- lected to attend to, and in 1531 (or 1534), by special order, Father Jacobo de Testera and four others were sent to join the Spanish camp near Campeche. They met a kindly welcome from the Indians, who came with their children to he instructed, and thus the con- quest of the country might have been effected through spiritual agencies but for the outrages committed by a band of Spanish outlaws, in consequence of which the priests were forced to withdraw. In 1537 five more missionaries arrived antl met the same willing recep- tion, remaining aliout two years in spite of the war still in progress. About 1545 a large number of mis- sionaries were sent over from Spain Several of these — apparently nine, all Franciscinb — under the direc tion of Father Lui^ de Vil lalpando, were assigned to Yucatan. Landing at Ca n peche, the g o v e i n or e\ plained their purpose to the chiefs, the convent of St Francis was dedicated on its present site, and transhtions were begun into the nitne language. The first biptiztd convert was the chief ot Cam peche, who learned Sp mibh and thereafter acted as mtei preter for the priests
Here, as elsewhere the missionaries were the ch iiii pions of the rights ot the In dians. In consequence of their repeated protests a roj il edict was issued, in 1549 pio hihiting Indian slaveiv m the province, while promising compensation to the slive owners. As in other cases local opposition defeated the purpose of this law but the agitation went on, and in 1 3 )1 another royal edict liherited 150,000 male Indian sli\ef, with their families, through out Mexico. In 1557 and 15oS the Crown intervened to re- strain the tyranny of the n i tive chiefs. Within a very
short time Father Villalpando had at hismis.sion station atM^rida over a thousaml converts, including .several chiefs. He himself, with I'ather iMalchior de Bena- vente, then set out, l^arefoot, for the city ot Mani, in the mountains farther south, where their success was so great that two thousand converts were soon en- gaged in building them a church and dwelling. All went well until they began to plead with the chiefs to release their vassals from certain hard conditions, when the chiefs resolved to burn them at the altar. On the appointed night the chiefs and their retainers approached the church with this design, but were awed from their purpose on finding the two prie.sts, who had been warned by an Indian boy, calmly pray- ing Ijefore the crucifix. After remaining all night in prayer, the fathers were fortunately rescued by a Spanish detachment which, almost miraculously, chanced to pass that way. Twenty-seven of the con- spirators were afterwards seized and condemned to death, but were all saved by the interposition of Vil- lalpando. In 154S-49 other missionaries arrived from Spain, Villalpando was made custodian of the province, and a convent was erected near the site of his chapel at Mani. The Yucatan field having been
ScULPTLRED !■ H
Maya stone car\mg
assigned to the Franciscans, all the missionary work among the Maya was done by priests of that order.
In 1561 Yucatan was made a diocese with its see at M^rida. In the next year the famous Diego de Landa, Franciscan provincial, and aftera'ards bishop (1573- 79), becoming aware that the natives throughout the peninsula still secretly cherished their ancient rites, instituted an investigation, which he conducted with such cruelties of torture and death that the proceed- ings were stopped by order of Bishop Toral, Francis- can provincial of Mexico, immediately upon his arri- val, during the same summer, to occupy the See ot M^rida. Before this could be done, however, there had been destroyed, as is asserted, two million sacred images and hundreds ot hieroglyphic manuscripts— practically the whole ot the voluminous native Maya literature. As late as 1586 a royal edict was issued for the suppression of idolatry. In 1575-77, a terrible visitation ot a mjsterious disease, called mallahahuall, which attacked only the In- dians, swept over Southern Mexico and Yucatan , destroy- mg, as was estimated, over two million lives. This was Its fourth appearance since the conquest. At its close it w IS estimated that the whole Indian population of Mexico had been reduced to about 1 700,000 souls. In 1583 and 1j97 there were local revolts under chiefs of the ancient Cocom royal family. By this latter date it was estimated th it the native population of Mexico had declined Isy three- tourtlis since the discovery, through massacre, famine, disease, and oppression. Up to 1593 over 150 Franciscan monks had been engaged in missionary work in Yucatan. The Maya liistory of the seventeenth century is chiefly one of revolts, viz., 1610-33, U) 36-44, 1653, 1669, 1670, ind about 1675. Of all these, that of 1636—44 was the most extensive and serious, rcsult- mg in a temporary revival ot the old heathen rites. In lo97 the islaiul ea|)ital of the Itza, in Lake I'cten, Guate- mala, was stormed by (Governor Martin de Ursua, and with it fell the last stronghold of the indepen- dent Maya. Here, also, the manuscrij)ts discov- ered were destroyed. In 1728 Bishop Juan Gomez Parada died, beloved by the Indians for the laws which he had procured mitigating the harshness of their servitude. The reimposition of the former hard conditions brought aliout another revolt in 17()1, led by the chief .Jacinto Canek, and ending, as usual, in the defeat of the Indians, the destruction of their chief stronghold, and the death ot their leader under horri- ble torture.
In 1847, taking advantage of the (iovernment's dif- ficulties with the I'liilid St.ilcs, .-ind urged on by their "unappeasalilc li;il)id lowiml their ruh'rs from the earliest time oftlicSpanlNli cf.niini-st ", the .Maya again broke out in general rebcllicpii, with (lie declared pur- pose of driving all the whiles, li:ilt-l needs and negroes from the peninsula, in which the> were so far success- ful that all the fugitives who <'scapeil tlic wliolesale massacres fled to the coast, whence most of tliem were taken off by ships from Cuba. .Xrnis and anunnnition for the rising were freely supplied to the Indians by the British traders of Belize. In 1851 the rebel Maya