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Jan. 8, 2015 / Dec. 12, 2022

Bishop Diego de Landa

bishop diego de landa
Bishop Diego de Landa

My opinion on the mass killings carried out by Bishop Diego de Landa.

Some years ago one could find on the web all the criminal facts of Bishop Diego de Landa and for example also of St. Cyril of Alexandria. Then thousands of victims were mentioned. In the meantime these slaughters have disappeared. Last year, I was able to get from the web that the Franciscan friar Diego de Landa had killed about 150 Mayan religious. This year there are 30 left. Today even those 30 are denied. But after all, this is mass murder and a bloody slaughter, we must never forget that.

So, on January 8, 2015, I began extensive web searches regarding Bishop Diego de Landa.

But think about it: An inquisition judge is accused by a governor of committing mass murder and is sent to Spain to have him tried. This happened only in the case of Diego de Landa. But at this point one must ask, "What did Friar Diego de Landa, judge of the Holy Inquisitorial Office on the territory of Yucatan, do for a governor to find the courage to accuse the inquisitor?" Some very serious things must have happened here. But on the web one can no longer find any of it. The inquisition's methods of barbaric torture are well known and Diego de Landa certainly did his job well. Some stories the non-Holy Church gladly erases.

By the way in the Auto-da-fe of Manì (religious inquisitorial trial), in 1562, 150'000 Maya were pardoned and then sent back to their countries. But if 150,000 human persons were pardoned out of sheer mercy, it can be assumed that every 10th person was executed to death. That would be the 15,000 Mayan religious people who are mentioned in passing and who were murdered by the Inquisition.

But all of this of course remains my subjective opinion.

Let's do a little calculation:

Around the year 1500 there were about 20,000,000 Mayans. It wasn't until many years later that many of them died from diseases that were imported from Europe. But if we assume that out of every 500 Maya there was a Mayan religious, then this equates to a cool 40,000 Mayan religious. But after the "missioning" through Diego de Landa there was not a single one left! If one looks at all these important clues objectively, then one can assume mass murder among the Maya. But today, who cleans up the web so well from this slaughter?

16.1 The life of this Bishop, as it is presented today on the web

Diego de Landa was born on November 12, 1524, in Calderon, Casa de los Gallos, as the son of a noble family, at the Villa Condal de Cifuentes, Guadalajara. He presumably spent his early school years in the Franciscan convent of Cifuentes, from 1529 until 1541.

Approximately from 1541 until 1547 he continued to study in the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, in Toledo. In 1547 he moved to the convent of San Julián and San Antonio de La Cabrera in Madrid.

In 1548 he was convinced by Friar Nicolás de Albalate to go to Yucatan. There, as a good missionary, he would be able to convert the Maya to the Catholic religion.

16.2 For the first time in Yucatan (1549-1563)

In August 1549 Diego de Landa reached Campeche and then headed to Izamal, where he inaugurated the mission of San Antonio.

From 1549 until 1552 he traveled through the Yucatan peninsula in order to convert the Mayans in the jungle of Yucatan to the Catholic religion. During this period he learned the language of the Maya using the grammar of Brother Luis de Villalpando. He then learned the Mayan language so well, that he was finally able to correct the grammar of his teacher.

In the year 1552 he closed his first chapter in the Congregation of the Franciscans and was appointed member of the Board of Directors of the convent of San Antonio de Padua in Izamal. Evangelization through the friars, which seemed so important, caused a conflict with the landowners. These asserted that evangelization caused work absences and reduced the desire to work. Between 1552 and 1558 there was a revolt of the landowners, particularly in the province of Valladolid, where they burned twice the convent and the church. In this climate an intervention of the authorities was necessary. Alonso Lopez Cerrato, second president of the Real Audiencia of Guatemala, as Auditor of Yucatan, assigned the case to Tomás López. This hostility between the Administrators and the Franciscans was not ended until many years later, after Landa's return from Spain, where he had been tried.

the back of the izamal convent, merida
Above: The back of the Izamal Convent, Merida. The convent was built with material from a Mayan pyramid.

On October 27, 1553, Diego de Landa participated in the conventions of Cabildo de Mérida, between the Franciscans and the landowners, in order to regulate the wages of the Indios.

On November 13, 1556, Landa was appointed financial administrator of the Province of Yucatan.

Despite the "great efforts" of the Franciscans - and even though they seemed to accept the Catholic religion - rituals and human sacrifices continued in the abandoned pre-Hispanic temples.

In 1558 de Landa surprised a number of Indios who were holding rituals in Chichén Itzá. He immediately held a mass, preached the gospel and threw out all the images of the false gods.

In 1558 Brother Lorenzo de Bienvenida went to Spain in order to be able to recruit more missionaries for their mission.

On April 3, 1559 Diego de Landa wrote a letter to the Council of the Indios and proposed friar Lorenzo as Bishop of Yucatan.

On February 19, 1560 Diego de Quijada was appointed governor of the province of Yucatan. Due to his own interests, the governor became an important support for de Landa in his fight against the heresies of the Indios.

A couple of months later, Friar Francisco Navarro and Friar Diego de Landa - as regular judges of the Spanish Inquisition - found some Spaniards guilty of heresy, among them some landowners.

On November 12, 1560, Diego de Landa was appointed Abbot of the convent of Mérida.

In August 1561, Hunacti showed Brother Pedro de Ciudad Rodrigo, Abbot of the convent, the corpse of a child with traces of sacrifice rituals.

(Author's note: But why should the Indians be the ones to do this?)

A few months later, some of Manì's students showed Brother Pedro a quantity of bones from rituals. All this prompted Landa to sentence "some" Indians for heresy.

On September 13, 1561 Landa was appointed responsible for the Catholic Church of Yucatán, without being a bishop. Since there had been no bishop since 1557, he became the highest religious authority for the entire province of Yucatán and in the same year for Guatemala as well.

Princely Peter Che, the porter of the convent of Mani, discovered in a cave in June 1562 a still warm deer whose heart had been torn out.

It also found many altars of Gods and bloodstains. Pedro Che immediately informed Brother Pedro about what he had discovered and the latter immediately went to Brother Diego de Landa. The latter, in turn, went to Mani to consult with Diego de Quijada.

Princely Diego de Landa was continually confronted with the rituals of the Indians and imposed himself with "an iron hand and with all his powers as an inquisitor", but also with the support of Diego de Quijada.

(Author's note: After Fray Diego de Landa had already sentenced many Indios, what does it mean then "to impose himself with an iron hand"? Crack down even harder?)

Diego de Quijada instructed Lieutenant Bartolome de Bohorques to support Landa. This had to obey and carry out any orders from Landa. What the friar demanded, the lieutenant had to execute immediately and also carry out his sentences against the Indios. Landa ordered Bohorques - under the threat of being excommunicated - to accept the position of sheriff of the inquisition.

On June 11, 1562 Landa ordered to arrest 30 Mayan chiefs and the following days also the governor of Manì, Francisco de Montejo Xiu, the chief of the Oxkutzcab, Francisco Pacab, the chief of the Mama, Juan Pech, as well as Kazike Tekax and Diego Uz. Now Diego de Landa imposed himself with the barbaric methods of torture and execution, which the Inquisition had allowed him.

(Author's note: Only 30 Mayan chiefs? A laughable number.)

On July 12, 1562 a religious tribunal was held in Mani, in order to judge everything that had happened during the previous year. As representative of the ecclesiastical authorities was appointed Diego de Landa, as president of the Inquisitorial Tribunal and as representative of the civil authorities was appointed Diego de Quijada. The testimonies under oath were signed by Jerónimo de Contreras and Pedro Martinez.

During the night the Mayan chiefs were sheared and about 5000 idols, altars, stelae and vases were destroyed. Virtually all of the codices were burned. This caused many suicides among the Maya. Others were sentenced.

This procedure also caused the anger of the landowners, because the arrest of many Indians had caused many other Indians to flee into the jungle, so that there was hardly anyone left to do the work on the fields. This also caused, however, that the Maya lost their trust in the Spanish for good.

On August 14, 1562, the new Bishop of Yucatan reached Merida, namely Brother Francisco de Toral. Both the landowners, as well as the defender of the Indios, Diego Rodriguez Vivanco, used this occasion to convince the new Bishop to take their side and against Landa. In October, Friar Toral and the defender of the Indians formalized their accusations against Friar Diego de Landa and sent them to King Philip II. On one side there was Landa with his brothers of the Franciscan Order together with the mayor Diego de Quijada and on the other side Bishop Toral, the defender of the Indians Rodriguez Vivanco and the landowners. These two sides subsisted for a decade.

(Author's note: In my opinion, here on the web, there is an attempt to make Diego de Landa play the part of the victim of a conspiracy.)

Because of these accusations Landa decided to turn to the Vice King and went to Campeche. There, where Toral and Quijada had already been, he met Martin Cortés Zúņiga, the only legitimate son of Hernán Cortés, who tried to mediate between the two parties. After Cortés, Francisco de Montejo the Younger also intervened, but he too was unable to get the two sides to make peace.

16.3 Second part of the life of Brother Diego de Landa back in Spain, starting in 1564

Nearly captured by bloody pirates, Diego de Landa spent many months ill in Santo Domingo. Spain he reached in October 1564.

(Author's note: It took the poor guy 2 years to reach Spain. Did he perhaps attempt to escape? But I think, however, that he let the grass grow over his deeds).

Landa spent his early days in the convent of San Juan de los Reyes. After that he moved to Barcelona, to the headquarters of his Franciscan order. With a letter, which was delivered to him, he had to go to Madrid to defend himself before the King and the Council of the Indios.

On February 13, 1565, the matter of Brother Diego was given to the Administrative Commission of the Franciscans of Castile, that is, to Brother Pedro de Bobadilla. This in turn forwarded the case to Brother Francisco de Guzman, to judge it. On May 2, the expert presented a report in favor of Landa and a year later Bishop Toral withdrew the accusations against Landa: " ... ... he got up from his chair and went down on his knees, like a good friar he asserted that he was at fault and had made mistakes, .............. He asked everyone for forgiveness and promised to put everything right to unburden his conscience."

It is unknown today, but presumably between the years 1566 and 1568, Diego de Landa is supposed to have written his work "Relación de las cosas de Yucatán".

On February 11, 1567, 10 religious from Yucatan wrote a letter to Philip II and begged him to send them back Friar Diego de Landa, since this one knew very well the culture and language of the Maya.

In January 1569, Friar Antonio de Córdoba, as first citizen of the then Province of Castile issued an absolution in favor of Friar Diego de Landa and declared him free.

(Author's note: But if the expert had already agreed with him years earlier, why then this acquittal? Or had he already been condemned?)

On April 20, 1571 Francisco Toral died and so the Bishopric of the Province of Yucatan remained without a Bishop.

Towards the end of 1571, when Landa was in the convents of San Julian and San Antonio, he received a royal decree in which he was suggested as Bishop of Yucatan. On November 15, 1572 in Sevilla, Landa was consecrated Bishop and this was published in the sheet of Nueva Espaņa of June 28, 1573.

16.4 Again in Yucatan from 1573 until his death

On October 11, 1573, Bishop Friar Diego de Landa reached Campeche. When he arrived in Merida, he found that many friars did not know the Mayan language. After becoming very angry, he introduced the language school for all the missionaries.

In the following year he printed a Christian doctrine for the Maya and almost certainly also his work "Relación de las cosas de Yucatán". Unfortunately, no copies exist.

On February 28, 1578, Philip II appoints Bishop de Landa as defender of the Indios.

(Author's note: The masskiller and destroyer of Mayan culture is named the defender of the Mayans ?? Church intrigue sometimes puzzles us!)

On April 29, 1579 Diego de Landa died in the large convent of San Francisco (Mérida), where he was first also buried.

Years later, his body was exhumed and the bones were transferred to Cifuentes (Spain) and placed in a niche in the Calderón Chapel of the Church of El Salvador (Spain).

In 1937, the Church of El Salvador was desecrated and what was left of Diego de Landa vanished forever.

(Author's note: subjectively thinking one wonders who made the bones of this inconvenient Franciscan bishop disappear).

"La Relación de las cosas de Y in Yucatán," which he wrote between 1566 and 1568 is an excellent work for understanding the life and culture of the Maya. In this book Landa describes the Maya and the discovery of Mexico. In the eighteenth century vanished the last people who were able to fully understand the Maya and their sculptures.

In 18 that year, Charles Minot discovered a copy of the manuscript in the Academia de la Historia, Madrid and had it translated into French by Abbot Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg. He then published it in London and Paris in 1864.

  • Diego_de_Landa - Wikipedia "es"
  • An essay (in PDF) of "José Isidoro Saucedo Gonzáles" with the trial of Mani of 1562, evident in chapter IV.  0,3 MB
  • A second variant (in PDF) of "José Isidoro Saucedo Gonzáles" about the trial of Mani from 1562.  0,7 MB
  • The manuscript of Diego de Landa was found in the Biblioteca de la Real Academia de Historia de Madrid by Charles Minot and translated into French by the abbot Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg.  15,6 MB