Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates, , at sacred-texts.com
Friar Jacobo de Testera, a Franciscan, came to Yucatan and began to instruct the Indian children. The Spanish soldiery, however, wanted to use the services of the youths to such an extent that it left no time for them to learn the catechism; they also hated the friars for rebuking their evil conduct toward the Indians. As a result of this friar Jacobo returned to Mexico, where he died. Afterwards friar Toribio Motolinia sent two friars from Guatemala, and from Mexico friar Martin de Hojacastro sent other friars, all of whom settled in Campeche and Mérida, with the approval of the admiral and his son Don Francisco, who built them a monastery at Mérida, as has been stated. They undertook to learn the language, which was very difficult. The one who succeeded the best was friar Luis de Villalpando, who commenced to learn it through signs and small stones; he reduced it to a certain form of grammar and wrote a Christian catechism in the language. But he suffered many hindrances, both on the part of the Spaniards who, being absolute masters, wanted everything directed to their own profit and
tributes, as well as on the part of the Indians who wanted to persist in their idolatries and debaucheries. Especially was the labor heavy because of the Indians being scattered through the forests. *
The Spaniards took it ill that the friars built monasteries; they drove the young Indians from their domains that they might not come to catechism, and twice they burned the monastery at Valladolid, which was built of wood and straw, so that it became necessary for the friars to go and live among the Indians. When the Indians of that province rebelled they wrote to the Viceroy Don Antonio that it was through their fondness for the friars; as to this the Viceroy investigated and proved that the friars had not yet come into the province at the time of the uprising. They spied at night on the friars, causing great scandal with the Indians, pried into their lives, and deprived them of the alms given.
In the face of this danger the friars sent one of their people to a very upright judge, Cerrato, president of Guatemala, to whom he made report of what had happened. The latter, seeing the disorder and unchristian conduct of the Spaniards, how they levied all the tribute they possibly could, against the King's orders, besides requiring personal service for every sort of labor even to the transport of burdens, established a certain scale of taxation, which while enough was still bearable, and by which it was specified what property should belong to the Indian after his tribute to his master was paid, instead of everything belonging absolutely to the Spaniards.
From this they appealed, and from fear of the tax they took from the Indians even more than before. The friars went back to the Audiencia and also sent to Spain, succeeding so far that the Audiencia of Guatemala sent an Auditor, who fixed the land tax and abolished the personal service. Some of them he forced to marry, breaking up the houses full of women they had. This man was the licentiate Tomás López, a native of Tendilla. All this caused a great increase of the animosity against the friars, infamous libels were spread about them, and the men ceased to attend the masses.
This very hatred caused the Indians to feel well toward the friars, seeing the troubles they took disinterestedly, and securing their freedom; so far did this go that they undertook nothing without consulting the friars and getting their counsel. And all this aroused further envy against the friars on the
part of the Spaniards, who declared they did all this to get the government of the Indies in their own hands and themselves enjoy all the things they had deprived the Spaniards of. *
28:* This grammar and 'doctrina' was then apparently reformed by Landa, then made the basis of that by Coronel, as printed in 1620. The grammar, of which only one copy has survived, in the present writer's collection, was then enlarged in the grammar of Gabriel de San Buenaventura, as printed in 1684. There is a persistent assertion that he also composed a large vocabulary which was printed in Mexico City in 1571, and that one copy of this has also survived; but the fact remains yet to be verified. It is also very unlikely that Landa p. 29 would not have mentioned it, or that Villalpando could have produced such a work in the eight years of his conversion activities and travels, between his arrival in 1544 and his death at some time between 1551 and 1553; as given by Cogolludo.
29:* As to this whole chapter see the Appendix to this volume.