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MEXICO


254


MEXICO


axan II, alias Caltzontziii, llu' Kin^ of MicliOiicaii; hcseizpii liim, plimdoroil his (rain, lorlurrd ami fiiialK' put him to iloatli. I'lirsuin^ his way lio loft a trail of ashes and blooti through the whole Tarasco Kiivudom. The saintly Vasco de Quiroga. first Bishop of Michoa- can, with difficulty elTaced the traces of this bloody march. Nuno penetrated hevond Sinaloa, suppress- ing with an iron hand the iliscontenl in his mixed troop. Retracing his steps, he founded the city of tUiadalajara. .\t enmity with ("ortiSs, unrecognized by the .\uiliencia and the viceroy, cursed by his vic- tims, he returned to Mexico, to be seized, imprisoned, and transported to Spain, where he died in poverty and want. Nufio w!is succeeiled by the mild, winning ('rist(>bal de Ofiate. By the close of the sixteenth century the comiuest from Ciuatemala to New Mexico had been practically accomplisheil.

In New Spain, no Sayri Tupac nor Tupac Amaru ever arose to attempt to overthrow the Spaniards, as in Peru The Indians conquered by C'ort6s and the commanders who followed him remained submissi\'e. There were occa- sional uprisings among the Northern Indians, but never serious enough to affect the peace of the colony in gen- eral. Neither had the tlovernmenl to conten<l with any disloyalty among its own subjects; the Spaniards of New Spain never belieil the proverbial Span- ish loyalty. The king rcceived from the hamls of Cortes and those who con- tinued his work a vast empire almost free of expense to the royal exchequer. All that was required seemed to be to take possession of the new territories added to the Crown; but the situation was not without its difficulties. For the conquest a military commander had been suffi- cient; the new empire would require a Government. In the methods employed to organize this new empire, Spain has frequently been charged with cruelty : that there was cruelty, and at times extreme cruelty, cannot be denied. The execution of Cuahutemotzin and the horrible death of Tan- goaxan II will ever disgrace the memory of Cort6s and NuMO de Guzmi'm. The slavery to which the Indians were reduced during the early years of the conquest, their distribution among the plantations, the contemptuous disregard of the con<iuerors for the lives of Indians, looking upon them at first as irra- tional Ijeings, are blots which can hardly be effaced from the history of the Spanish conquest in .\mcrica. But the impartial historian may well call attention to certain facts and thus enable the reader, viewing the question from every aspect, to form a correct historical opinion.

Neither the home fiovernment nor the Spanish nation was ever an accomplice in these deeds of cru- elty of the .Spaniards in New Spain. Spain, it is true, rewarded the conquerors of Mexico just as nations to-day honour tlie victorioas generals who have left in their wake devastated lands and battle- fields strewn with the dead. These expeditions of conquest were the natural outcome of circumstances; they were carried out under royal command, and were no more piratical expeditions then than they would be now. Spain did not fail to demand a strict account from all who, after the submission of the people, ex-


GENEh.\L VIEW


ceeded the limits of their authority, and she used <'\iry motvsure within her reach, though not always sucee.ssfully, to olitain fair treatment for the con- ([uereil Imlians. Innumerable royal decrees and laws enjoining just and equitable I n'utnient for (he Indians, were issui'il to the viceroys and governors of .\merica. Through the aid of the missionaries, (he .Spanish (loverninent obtained from Paul 111 (17 .June, l."):!"), the Hull which gave to the Indians equal riglUs wi(h llie while man, and proclaimed them capable of re- ceiving the ('hristian faith and its sacraments, thus destroying the pernicious opinion that they were irrational beings. Severe laws were promulgated against tho.se who should attempt to enslave the Indians, and the Government ordered that slaves should be brought from Africa (as was the custom of the period), rather than that .Spanish subjects should become slaves.

With regard to encomiendaa (a system of patents involving virtual enslavement of the Indians) no one who has read the life of Fray Bartolom<5 de las Casas can be ignorant of the earnest effort made by the Gov- ernment to do away with them, but, as this was impossible, and as the attempt was creating dis- order (see MoTo- linia), the Govern- ment tried by every means to alleviate the condition of the Indians, and to save them as much as ]50ssible from harsh treatment by their masters. If the ex- cesses of some of the conquerors stan<l out in .such bold re- lief, it is because of the unceasing protests of the many Spaniardswho werenottheirpartisans. The most vehe- ment accusers of the .Spaniards ba.se tlieir assert ions on the writings of .Spaniards themselves, particularly those of the fiery Las Casas, to whom the Govermnent ap- pears to have allowed free speech. The missionaries were equally vehement, often making unreasonable demands, and showing themselves more bitter to- wards their own countrymen than a stranger would have been. Even Philip II suffered in silence this torrent of complaint and abuse of his Government, and tolerated charges which, in similar circumstances, in the realm of the haughty Elizabeth would have beep dearly paid by those complaining. A laudable senti- ment of fairness and compassion towards the van- (|uished race inspired ihe.sc writings, and their very nature and purpo.se precluded all mention of any deeds of kindness and humanity. The gruesome picture that has resulted from this makes it appear that in that army of conquerors and colonizers there was not a single one who was a Christian and a man. In their zeal for ju.sticeth<' Spaniards have really east dishonour on their country, and this nuist ever redound to their glorj'.

(2) Evangelization and Conversion of the Indians. — In the ranks of the Spaniards there were several priests, but little could be done during the first stormy period. When the conquest had been efTecte<l, and order restored, the Franciscans were the first to offer themselves for the work. Three Flemish Franciscans, among them the famous lay brother Peter of Ghent (Pedro de Gante), kinsman of the Emperor Cliarles V, had preceded the first twelve Franciscans who for- mally took po.ssession of the missions in l.')24. I'pon the arrival of the latter, they joined their ranks, and