Sacred Texts  Native American  Maya  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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


God has not only given through our Spanish nation all this increase of these things, so necessary for man's service, that for these alone what they give or will give to the Spaniards is no payment, but there has come to them without payment that which can neither be bought or deserved, which is justice and Christianity, and the peace in which they live. For these they owe more to Spain and the Spaniards, and chiefly to their very Catholic sovereigns, who with such continuous care and such great Christianity have provided and do provide them with these two things, than they do to their first founders, evil

p. 112

parents who begat them in sin and as sons of wrath, while Christianity gives them birth in grace and for the enjoyment of life eternal. Their first founders did not know what order to give them that they might evade the so many and so great errors in which they have lived. Justice has taken them out from that through the preaching, and it must keep them from returning; or if they revert, it must pull them out.

It is with reason then, that Spain can glorify God in that he elected her among the nations for the remedy for so many peoples, and for which they owe her much more than they do to their founders or progenitors. For as the blessed St. Gregory said, it had been of little good to us to be born had we not come to being redeemed through Christ. We can say too with Anselm, that being redeemed is of no value to us if we do not attain the fruit of redemption, which is our salvation. And thus they err who say that because the Indians have received aggravations, vexations and bad examples from the Spaniards, it had been better for them not to have been discovered; because those were still greater vexations and aggravations which they perpetually inflicted on each other, killing, enslaving, and sacrificing themselves to the demons. As to the bad example, if they have had such, or today have it from some, the King has remedied it, and daily does remedy it by his Justices, and by the constant preaching and persevering opposition of the men of religion * to those who set such examples, or have set them; for the teaching is evangelical, and scandals and had examples are necessary things. So I believe it has been among these people, that they might understand, separating the gold from the clay and the grain from the chaff, how to esteem virtue as they have done; seeing with the philosopher how the virtues shine amidst the vices, and the virtuous among the vicious; bad examples and scandals were terrible afflictions indeed, were they not squared by what is good.

And so do thou, dearest reader, on thy part pray God therefore, and receive my small effort with a pardon for its defects, remembering when you meet them that not only do I not defend them (as St. Augustine said of Tullius that he declared he had never spoken a word he desired to revoke, which the saint disapproved because it is human to err); but first, before you come to them, you will meet them revoked or confessed in my introductions or prologues. Thus you will judge, in company with the blessed Augustine in his letter to Marcella, the difference between him who confesses his error or fault and him who defends it; and you will pardon mine as the prophet says God does both mine and yours, saying: "Lord, I said I will confess my ill deeds and injustice, and thou dost quickly give pardon."


112:* Los religiosos was used specifically for the members of the monastic orders, in distinction from the regular clergy, whose heads were the Bishops, in whom alone rested inquisitorial rights.

Next: LII. Criticism and Correction of Certain Statements