Letter of Francisco de Montejo Xiu.
Governor of Maní, and other prominent town governors,
To the King, April 12, 1567.
Sacred Catholic Majesty:
After we learned the good, in knowing God our Lord as the only true god, leaving our blindness and idolatries, and your majesty as temporal lord, before we could well open our eyes to the one and the other, there came upon us a persecution of the worst that can be imagined; and it was in the year 62, on the part of the Franciscan religious, who had taken us to teach the doctrine, instead of which they began to torment us, hanging us by the hands and whipping us cruelly, hanging weights of stone on our feet, torturing many of us on a windlass, giving the torture of the water, from which many died or were maimed.
Being in these tribulations and burdens, trusting in your majesty's Justice to hear and defend us, there came the Dr. Quijada to aid our tormentors, saying that we were idolaters and sacrificers of men, and many other things
against all truth, which we never committed during our time of blindness and infidelity. And as we see ourselves maimed by cruel tortures, many dead of them, robbed of our property, and yet more, seeing disinterred the bones of our baptised ones, who had died as Christians, we came to despair.
Not content with this, the religious (i.e. the friars) and thy royal Justice, held at Maní a solemn auto of inquisition, where they seized many statues, disinterred many dead and burned them there in public; made slaves of many to serve Spaniards for from eight to ten years, and placed the sambenitos. The one and the other gave us great wonder and fear, because we did not know what it all was, having been recently baptised, and not informed;. and when we returned to our people and told them to hear and guard justice, they seized us, put us in prison and chains, like slaves, in the monastery at Mérida, where many of us died; and they told us we would be burned, without our knowing the why.
At this came the bishop whom your majesty sent, who, although he took us from prison and relieved us from death and the sambenitos, has not relieved us from the shame of the charges that were made against us, that we were idolaters, human sacrificers, and had slain many men; because, at the last, he is of the habit of San Francisco and does for them. He has consoled us by his words, saying that your majesty would render justice.
A receptor came from Mexico, and made inquiry, and we believe it went to the Audiencia, and nothing has been done.
Then came as governor don Luis de Céspedes, and instead of relieving us he has increased our burdens, taking away our daughters and wives to serve the Spaniards, against their will and ours; which we feel so greatly that the common people say that not in the time of our infidelity were we so vexed or maltreated, because our ancestors never took from one his children, nor from husbands their wives to make use of them, as today does your majesty's Justice, even to the service of the negros and mulattos.
And with all our afflictions and labors, we have loved the fathers and supplied their necessities, have built many monasteries for them, provided with ornaments and bells, all at our cost and that of our vassals and fellows; although in payment of our services they have made of us their vassals, have deprived us of the signories we inherited from our ancestors, a thing we never suffered in the time of our infidelity. And we obey your majesty's justice, hoping that you will send us remedy.
One thing that has greatly dismayed and stirred us up, is the letters written by fray Diego de Landa, chief author of all these ills and burdens, saying that your majesty has approved the killings, robberies, tortures, slaveries and other cruelties inflicted on us; to which we wonder that such things should be said of so Catholic and upright a king as is your majesty. If it is told that we have sacrificed men after that we received baptism, it is a great and false witness invented by them to gild their cruelties.
And if there have been or are idols among us, they are but those we have gathered to send to the religious as they required of us, saying that we had confessed to their possession under the torture; but all know that we went many leagues to gather them from places where we knew that they had been kept by those before us, and which we had abandoned when we were baptised; and in good conscience they should not punish us as they have done.
If your majesty wishes to learn of all, send a person to search the truth, to learn of our innocence and the great cruelty of the padres; and had not the bishop come, we should all have been brought to an end. And though we cherish well Fray Diego and the other padres who torment us. only to hear them named causes our entrails to revolt. Therefore, your majesty, send us other ministers to teach us and preach to us the law of God, for we much desire our salvation.
The religious of San Francisco of this province have written certain letters to your majesty and to the general of the order, in praise of fray Diego de Landa and his other companions, who were those who tortured, killed and put us to scandal; and they gave certain letters written in the Castilian language to certain Indians of their familiars, and thus they signed them and sent them to your majesty. May your majesty understand that they are not ours, we who are chiefs of this land, and who did not have to write lies nor falsehoods nor contradictions. May fray Diego de Landa and his companions suffer the penance for the evils they have done to us, and may our descendants to the fourth generation be recompensed the great persecution that came on us.
May God guard your majesty for many years in his sacred service and for our good and protection. From Yucatan, the 12 of April, 1567.
Your majesty's humble vassals kiss your royal hands and feet.
don FRANCISCO DE MONTEJO XIU, govr. of Maní
Belize Search Messages Belize News
Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates,