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


These tribes enjoyed more than twenty years of abundance and health, and they multiplied so that the whole country seemed like a town. At that time they erected temples in great number, as is today seen everywhere; in going through the forests there can be seen in the groves the sites of houses and buildings marvelously worked.

Succeeding this prosperity, there came on one winter night at about six in the evening a storm that grew into a hurricane of the four winds. The storm blew down all the high trees, causing great slaughter of all kinds of game; it overthrew the high houses, which being thatched and having fires within for the cold, took fire and burned great numbers of the people, while those who escaped were crushed by the timbers.

The hurricane lasted until the next day at noon, and they found that those who lived in small houses had escaped, as well as the newly married couples. whose custom it was to live for a few years in cabins in front of their fathers or fathers-in-law. The land thus then lost the name it had borne, that "of the turkeys and the deer," and was left so treeless that those of today look as if planted together and thus all grown of one size. To look at the country from heights it looks as if all trimmed with a pair of shears..

Those who escaped aroused themselves to building and cultivating the land, and multiplied greatly during fifteen years of health and abundance, the last year being the most fertile of all. Then as they were about to begin gathering the crops there came an epidemic of pestilential fevers that lasted for twenty-four hours; then on its abating the bodies of those attacked swelled

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and broke out full of maggoty sores, so that from this pestilence many people died and most of the crops remained ungathered.

After the passing of the pestilence they had sixteen other good years, wherein they renewed their passions and feuds to the end that 15'0,000 men were killed in battle. With this slaughter they ceased and made peace, and rested for twenty years. After that there came again a pestilence, with great pustules that rotted the body, fetid in odor, and so that the members fell in pieces within four or five days.

Since this last plague more than fifty years have now passed, the mortality of the wars was twenty years prior, the pestilence of the swelling was sixteen, years before the wars, and twenty-two or twenty-three after the destruction of the city of Mayapán. Thus, according to this count, it has been 125 years since its overthrow, within which the people of this country have passed through the calamities described, besides many others after the Spaniards began to enter, both by wars and other afflictions sent by God; so that it is a marvel there is any of the population left, small as it is.

Next: XI. Prophecies of the Coming of the Spaniards. History of Francisco de Montejo, First Admiral of Yucatan