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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/298

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MEXICO


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MEXICO


cffort-s of the missionaries aloiio would sudico to siili- jiigale anil luingtlu' Indians toaCliiistianaiid civilizeil" mode of life. The former theory had lieen a|>|ilieil to the tirst nations, whieh the missionaries found con(|uered and pacified when they hegan their work among them. The iiuestion presented itself when expeditions against the Indians of the northern iiart of Mexico were being planned. The inde]3en(lenl state of these tribes was a constant menace to the peace and progress of the colony in the south, and the rich mines known to exist there were also an inducement. The system adopted, which seems to have been enjoined Ijy royal mandate, was to send armed expeditions, accompanied always by several missionaries, to take possession of the territory antl to establish garrisons and forts to hold it. By this arrangement thecross and the sword went hand in hand, but the missionaries of



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Aztec Sacrifici \i. Si^im, .Nation.-il Museum, fity of Mixieo

the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially the Jesuits, were not satisfied with this method, and attempted the conversion of these tribes without the ai<l of arms. They left the fortified headquarters occupied by the Spaniards to visit and convert other tribes, and often found among them the martyr's crown. The Tarahumares, Tepehuanes, Papigochic, and the tribes of Sonora and Sinaloa put many Jesuit missionaries to death, l)ut each one who fell was quickly replaced by another, even the horrible spec- tacle of the bloody and mutilated remains of their companions lying unburied in the smoking ruins of the mission chapel did not daunt their courage. At times formidable rebellions broke out, as in New Mexico in 1680, when, in the general massacre, twenty-one Franciscans perished, and Christianity was all but exterminated.

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century the triljes of the Eastern Coa-st, inhabiting what is now Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and Texas, were uniler the Franciscans ; those of the West, the present limits of Durango, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Lower California, were vmder the Jesuits. Lower California was acquired for the Spanish (jovemment


through the efforts of Father Salvatierra, and to him and the famous lather Kino is due the discovery that Lower California was apeninsula, and not an island, as had be<'n supposed for a century and a half. When the .lesiuts were expelled from all the Spanish colonies by t'harles III, many of their missions were aban- iloneil, others were taken in charge by the mission- aries of the College of Our Lady of tiuadalupe in Zaca- tecas. Towards the close of the eighteenth century the Franciscans, handicapped for so many years by disadvantages and dissensions, returned witli re- newed life ami vigour to the work of the missions, and took charge of many of the deserted missions of Cali- fornia. They sent many worthy successors of the first Franciscans, among them the well-known Fray Junipero Serra, founder of the missions of I'pper Cali- fornia.

(3) The Destruction of the Aztec Hieroglyphics. — The general opinion of the ordinary student of Mexi- can history, after reading the works of Prescott, Bancroft, Robertson, and others, is that the first missionaries and the first Bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumarraga, were responsible for the destruction of the hieroglyphic annals of the .\ztecs. Expressions such as the following, occur frequently: "Ignorance and fanaticism of the first missionaries ' ; " tlie Omar of the new continent ". If we look carefully into the sources from which these opinions liave been taken we shall see tliat these charges are entirely unfountled or, at least . greatly exaggerated. To make this point clear, «r shall at tlie begmning set aside such writers as Pres- ent! . II. H. Bancroft, Lucas Alamiln, Humboklt, Cavo, ('la\ ijcro, Robertson, Gemelli, Siguenza, Herrera, and olhrrs, who, although learned men, from the very eircmnstances of having written at a time far removed from the era of the conquest and evangelization of Mexico, perhaps never having visited the country it- self, have necessarily confined themselves to repeating tales which others have written before them. Setting aside these, there still remain thirteen writers, some of tiiem contemporary with the conquest and others practically contemporaneous, who have seen the work of the missionaries and witnessed the events immedi- ately following the conquest. Of these thirteen, six may still be eliminated as treating purely of the de- struction of idols and teocallis, or temples, not having concerned themselves with manuscripts and hiero- glyphics. These are Fray Martin de Valencia, Su- perior of the first Franciscans, Fray Pedro de Gante, Fray Toribio de Benavante, Fray Jeronimo de Men- diet a, the letter of the bishops to the Emperor Charles V {1!)S7), and his reply. Of the seven remaining authors five wrote at the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth, such as Sahagiin (1550- 80), Torquemada (his works were published in 1615), Durdn (1519-80), Ixtlilxochitl (1600-15), and J. B. Pomar (1582). Two authorities of the time of the conquest are the codex called " Libro de Oro " (Golden Book), 1530-34, and the letter of Bishop Zumdrraga to the General Chapter of Tolosa, written at the end of the year 1531.

Before treating each of these authorities separately it may be as well to establish some important facts. According to Sahagun, in the time of the native Mexi- can King Itzocoatl (1427—10) a niunber of paintings had been burnt to keep them from falling into the hands of the vulgar, who might have treated them with disrespect. This may be calletl the first <.lestruc- tion. Ixtlilxochitl (Fernando de Alba) asserts that when the Tlaxcaltecs entered Texcoco in company with Cortes (31 December, 1520) they "set fire to everything belonging to King Netzahualpilli, and thus burnt the royal archives of all New Spain " (second de- struction). Mendieta says that at the time of the coming of the Spaniards many paintings were hidden and locked up, to save them from the ravages of war; the owners dying or moving away, these papers were