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Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates, [1937], at


Required to be made by every chief of an expedition to the Indians at the moment of disembarking. *

I, N. N., servant of the high and mighty kings of Castile and León, the conquerors of the barbarian peoples, being their messenger and captain, notify and inform you:

That God, our Lord, One and Eternal, created the heaven and the earth, and a man and woman, from whom you and we all the people who shall come after us. But because of the multitude thus begotten out of them in the past five thousand and more years since the world was created, it was necessary that some should go to one place and others to another, and divide into many kingdoms and provinces, since in one alone they could not sustain themselves.

All these people God gave in charge to one who was called St. Peter, that he might be lord and superior of all the people of the world, that all should obey him and he should be the head of the entire human lineage, wherever men might be and live, and under whatever law, sect or belief, giving to him the entire world for his service and jurisdiction.

And since he commanded him to fix his seat in Rome, as the place best fitted to rule the world. he also promised him that he might be and establish his seat in any other part of the world, and judge and govern all nations, Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles and of whatever other sect or belief they might be. Him he named Papa, Father and Ruler of all men. This St. Peter was obeyed and held as Lord, King and Superior of the Universe by those who lived at that time, and so it has been with all those who since then have been chosen to the pontificate, and so it has continued until today, and will continue until the world shall end.

One of the previous pontiffs, whom I have spoken of as Lord of the world, made donation of these islands and mainlands of the ocean, to the Catholic kings of Castile, who were then Don Fernando and Doña Isabel, of glorious memory, and to their successors our Lords, together with all that is in them, as is contained in certain writings covering this as is stated (and which you may see if you desire). So that his Majesty is king and lord of these islands and mainlands, by virtue of the said donation; and since certain islands, being almost all to whom this notice has been given, have received his Majesty as such king and lord, and have obeyed and served, and do serve him as his subjects, as is their duty, with goodwill and with no resistance, so with no delay, having been informed of what is stated, did they obey the religious men whom he sent to preach and instruct them in the Holy Faith.

p. 160

[paragraph continues] All of their free and accepting will, without reward or any conditions, turned Christians and so are, and His Majesty received them with joy and benignity, and thus commanded that they should be treated the same as his other subjects and vassals; and you are held and obligated to do the same.

Finally, as I best can, I beg and require that you understand well this I have told you, take it to your understanding and deliberation in its proper time, and recognize the Church as Mistress and Superior of the world and Universe, and the Supreme Pontiff, called Papa, in his name, and his Majesty in his name, as Superior and lord, king of the islands and mainlands, by virtue of said donation, and that you consent that these religious Fathers declare and preach this to you.

If so you do, you will do well, and what you are held and obligated to do, and his Majesty and I in his name will receive you with all love and affection, and will leave to you your wives and children, free and without servitude, that you may do with them and yourselves whatever you wish and see fit, freely, as has been done by nearly all the inhabitants of the other islands, Besides this, His Majesty will grant you many privileges and exemptions, and will show you many mercies and grace.

If you do not do this, and maliciously set delays, I assure you that with God's aid, I shall enter with power among you, and shall make war on you on all sides and in every way I can, and subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of his Majesty; and I shall take your wives and children and make them slaves, and shall sell them as such and dispose of them as his Majesty shall command; and I shall take your property and shall do you all the harm I can, as to vassals who will not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him.

I protest that the deaths and harm which shall thereby come, will be by your fault, and not that of his Majesty, nor ours, nor of these gentlemen who came with me.

And as I say and require of you, I ask that the secretary present give me the signed testimonial.


159:* p. 160 The Spanish text of this proclamation will be found as an appendix to volume I of Ancona's Historia de Yucatan; see also Stephens, Travels in Yucatan, II, 446.

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