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Entrada of Francisco de Montejo


FRANCISCANS, 1526-1542


Francisco de Montejo and his Son. Although northern Yucatan was reduced to the condition of an orderly Spanish possession some one hundred and fifty years before the Peten region, it was done, nevertheless, only at the cost of many years of desperate struggling. Two men, Don Francisco de Montejo the Elder and Don Francisco de Montejo the Younger, his son, were the leading figures in the undertaking. The elder Montejo seems to have been a man of gentle birth and of fairly good property. He came to America about 1514 under Pedrarias Dávila. Soon after that, however, he left Dávila and settled in Cuba, where he served under Velazquez. He also served, a few years later, under Cortes in Mexico.

Soon after the granting of a patent or general order Francisco de Montejo the Elder set forth on his undertaking. Several officials were appointed to accompany him. Alonso Dávila was Contador (Paymaster), Pedro de Lima was Tesorero (Treasurer), and Hernando Moreno de Quito was Veedor de las Fundiciones (Overseer of the Smelters). (Cogolludo, p. 73.) Of these three offices the last was a sinecure by reason of the absence of mines in Yucatan. Dávila had taken an active part in the conquest of Mexico.

Montejo’s Preparations and Sacrifices. The expedition numbered some four hundred soldiers, in addition to the crews who manned the four ships. The expense, all borne by Montejo, was heavy. To furnish the necessary arms, horses, and munitions the Adelantado found himself obliged to sell a Mayorazgo (entailed estate) yielding one thousand ducats a year … The seamen received pay, but the rest of the expedition received no money, depending on their fortune in the New World for remuneration. Only one cleric, Francisco Hernandez, accompanied the expedition; he was its chaplain. He later attributed the failure of the expedition to the lack of priests.

He Sets out. Setting out in 1527, the expedition arrived at Cozumel, where a landing was effected. There, as elsewhere, the Spaniards found themselves at a great disadvantage in having no interpreter. By various makeshifts, however, they made themselves understood, and poor Montejo, misled by the seeming docility of the natives, flattered himself that he had an easy task before him.

Montejo and his Men Go along the Shore of Yucatan. Skirting the eastern shore of Yucatan, the fleet arrived at a point near the first site of Valladolid, where all the soldiers landed, leaving the seamen to guard the ships and supplies. What seemed a sufficient number of horses, munitions, and provisions was taken. As usual on such occasions, the first thing to be done was to take formal possession of the land for the King of Castile. Accordingly appropriate ceremonies were carried through, and the standard bearer, Gonzalo Nieto, unfurled the royal banner. Cogolludo is very definite as to the region in which the conquest of Yucatan had its beginning. Valladolid, not Bakhalal or Campeche, is, he says, the site of the first operations. He quotes as his authority on this point the Bachiller Valencia, a native of Valladolid, whose Relación was made in 1639. Coni, a village in the province of Choaca, was reached. Some of the chiefs of the region came to see the Adelantado and were well received; they, however, were treacherously minded, but their attempt to kill or injure Montejo was foiled. From Coni the Spaniards went to the village of Choaca, where their real trials began.

Description of the Campaign. In their early wanderings the Spaniards suffered greatly from lack of proper water and from bad roads. Often they found the villages deserted by their inhabitants or, still worse, bristling with armed warriors. Led by an Indian whom they had picked up at Coni, Montejo and his followers traveled through the province of Choaca to a place called Aké. On the way they ran into an ambush of armed Indians. The weapons of these latter consisted of arrows hardened by fire, lances with sharp flint points, two-handed swords of very hard wood, and shields made of very large tortoise shells adorned with snail shells and antlers; their bodies were naked save for breech clouts of flimsy material, and they were all painted. Since the Indians were as stubborn as they were brave, and as the Spaniards found themselves at a disadvantage, being unable to use their horses properly on account of the rough country, the fight was a fierce one; the Adelantado himself acted well, showing the less experienced of his followers the best way to combat the Indians. The Spaniards, greatly outnumbered, kept up the fight all day, receiving many lance wounds in their faces and bodies; many died; more were seriously wounded. The horses and bloodhounds also suffered greatly. Only after a second day of fighting did the Indians finally flee, leaving twelve hundred of their companions dead behind them. This first victory over the Indians took place in the last weeks of 1527. Cogolludo dwells at great length on the errors of Herrera (Dec. ix, lib. iii, cap. 3) concerning the founding of Tihoo or Merida and of Chichen Itza. According to Herrera, Montejo went to Tihoo, where he came into contact with the Cheles, who showed him Chichen Itza, seven leagues away. The Tutul Xiu, Lords of Mani, were then ruling there, and with them, Herrera says, the Spaniards made a peaceful arrangement. All this, according to Cogolludo, is wrong. In the opinion of Cogolludo, events were as follows. After the battle of Aké, Montejo determined to proceed cautiously and to endeavor by peaceful means to win over the natives to obedience to the king. Slowly he made his way to Chichen Itza, which, by reason of its great buildings, seemed to him a suitable place for one of the two fortresses he was to build. Having fortified himself against attacks, he set about subduing the country. He managed to win the friendship of the Indians of that neighborhood. A village of Spaniards with houses built after the native plan was erected. The dwellings were made of vertical wooden logs and had palm-leaf roofs. One hundred and seventy Spaniards were left in the new settlement. One of the first things done was to divide the land among them. Cogolludo thinks that the name first given to the new village was that of Salamanca. Misled by the seeming peacefulness of the Indians, Montejo determined to divide them up into encomiendas. The plan was carried out, to the secret disgust of the Indians, who determined to get free as soon as an opportunity offered.

Dávila and Vazquez Search vainly for Gold in the Region of Chetemal. From the map which Montejo had with him it was learned that there were gold mines in the vicinity of Bakhalal, which place the Indians called Vaymil or Chetemal. Because no sign of gold had been seen in that part of the country through which they had hitherto been, the soldiers were getting downhearted, and Montejo determined to send a party in search of mines. Captain Alonso Dávila, the Royal Paymaster, with fifty Spaniards and sixteen horses, was sent to found a village at a place called Tulma (Tuloom?) in the province of Cochva. A mine expert, one Francisco Vazquez, accompanied the party in the hopes of earning the reward of three hundred ducats which Montejo offered to the discoverer of gold mines. When Tulma was reached it was found to be entirely unsuitable for a village, and the explorers went on to the now deserted town of Chablé, which was a place reported to have gold mines. The cacique of Chablé received them well; but the cacique of Chetemal was bellicose and would give no aid when Montejo sent to find out whether there were gold mines at Bakhalal, a town in his domain. With twenty men and eight horses the Adelantado set forth to punish this chief. At the end of a hard journey he found Chetemal deserted.

Foundation of Villa Real de Chetemal. Chetemal, however, seemed to have been admirably adapted for the site of a town, and so, when the rest of his men, together with some Indians, had arrived from Chablé, the town of Villa Real de Chetemal was established by Dávila. The cacique of Chetemal was treacherous in his intentions; several skirmishes took place between his men and the Spaniards, in which the latter, through superior arms, were the victors. An attempt made by Dávila to get to Montejo a report of all that had been done in the last two months was foiled by some Indians, who killed Dávila’s messengers.

Hardships of those who Were at Chichen. Meanwhile those Spaniards who had remained behind with the Adelantado in Chichen Itza were also in grave straits, not only because of the hostility and ill-will of the Indians, but also because of the lack of various things they had brought from Spain but had been left behind in their ships which were not now to be reached. Their condition daily grew worse.

Dávila and his men wandered back and forth between Villa Real and Chablé (where the Indians were more or less friendly) in search of gold and in the hope of establishing their power. At length even the Indians of Chablé grew weary of them, and the Spaniards under Dávila set off on their journeys once more. Finally they came to Bakhalal, where some seemingly friendly Indian chiefs offered to carry letters to Montejo. They, however, like all the rest, were traitorous, and the Indians of the province of Cochva were so turbulent that Dávila determined to make war on them. To do this he had the help of the chief men of Vaymil, and he hoped for that of those of Chablé. When he returned to the latter place, he found that it had rebelled against his authority.

Continual Misfortunes. In the events which follow one note, misfortune, makes itself heard above the confusion. Battles, skirmishes, and murders filled the lives of Dávila and his men. Their wanderings lay mainly in the region of the province of Bakhalal. (Cogolludo, lib. ii, cap. viii.) Chablé and Villa Real de Chetemal were the places they most often visited. In many cases villages were found to be deserted. All through the discouraging period Dávila was seeking for some means of letting Montejo know the straits he was in. Once more he found Indians whom he believed to be willing to act as messengers, and once again he was tricked. Worse even than this was the unmistakable evidence that the Indians were making elaborate preparations to attack Villa Real. The fact that one of their own chiefs was being held as a hostage for the safe delivery of the letters did not seem to deter them in the least. One fortunate circumstance, however, does appear in this mass of misfortunes: Dávila was forewarned of his danger, for he sent out Francisco Vazquez with ten men in seven canoes to get supplies. Two of the party were killed by Indians; the remainder returned to Villa Real with at least a small amount of supplies.

If Dávila and his men were badly off in Villa Real, Montejo and his party at Chichen Itza were equally if not more precariously situated. The chief causes of their misfortunes were the lack of men, and of the most common necessities, the want of certainty as to the best course to be followed, and the knowledge on the part of the Indians that the number of the Spaniards was daily growing less on account of the ceaseless skirmishes. Food was so scarce that parties had to be formed on purpose to make sallies from the fortifications in search of it. As Cogolludo (p. 86) graphically puts it, “Their dinners now cost them their life-blood.”

Although, as we have already seen, centralized power was at an end long since in the peninsula, a revival of the old-time feeling of unity is to be seen in the determination the Mayas had to get rid of the Spaniards. Cogolludo (p. 87) says, “For this purpose almost all the people of that land had made an agreement, so that the multitude [of Indians] was very great. The Indians who led the attack were of a vigorous and proud nature, and so, confident in their great number, they surrounded the Spaniards, who, in no direction, could be reached by help.” At length, seeing themselves faced with the choice of dying by inches from starvation or of being put to death fighting their enemies bravely, the Spaniards determined to make a sally when as good an opportunity as possible should present itself. Both sides were desperate: the invaders were fighting for their lives; the Indians for their liberty. The havoc wrought by the superior arms of the Spaniards was, however, more than counterbalanced by the overwhelming numbers of the Indians. At last, seeing the utter hopelessness of further efforts, Montejo gave the signal to retreat. One hundred and fifty soldiers died at the hands of the Indians in this engagement. An anecdote which Cogolludo tells as an explanation of the unity and determination of the Indians is a possible light upon the cause of their resistance. A cacique named Cupul, in the early days of the Spanish occupation of Chichen Itza, feigned friendliness toward the invaders and went about freely among them. One day, when Montejo was off his guard, Cupul went up behind him, snatched his sword away, and tried to kill him. Fortunately a Spaniard, one Bias Gonzalez, cut off Cupul’s arm just in time to prevent the blow. It was to avenge the injury thus done to a chief that the Indians shut off the Spaniards’ food supply.

Chichen Itza and Villa Real both Deserted. For our purpose it is unnecessary to give further details of the first expedition of Montejo. We need only say that both the settlements made by the Spaniards, Chichen Itza and Villa Real de Chetemal, were deserted for the time being. Cogolludo, after reviewing the various accounts of the further wanderings of Montejo and his son, Francisco Montejo the Younger, comes to the conclusion that the son remained at a port called Zilam, while his father went by sea to Campeche (Kin Pech), where he remained till 1534 without entirely deserting Yucatan. He did go, however, to New Spain in an effort to get more men so that he might continue the conquest. Those whom he already had remained at Campeche. Cogolludo’s authority for these statements are the depositions written by Gonzalo Nieto and Bias Gonzalez, who were two soldiers of the Adelantado’s forces.

Dávila Goes to Honduras. Captain Alonso Dávila stayed in Villa Real de Chetemal until 1532, constantly suffering from hunger and his struggles with the natives. His efforts to communicate with the Adelantado were constant. Finally it was decided to move to some place nearer Honduras. As no suitable place for a settlement was found, Dávila and his followers went to the town of Trujillo in Honduras. On the journey they lacked for every comfort and even for proper food. When they reached Trujillo they found the people there little better off than they. Dávila agreed with Andrés de Zerezeda, who was governing Trujillo, that a vessel should be built to be sent out in search of the Adelantado and also for things from Spain. At about this time two ships from Cuba brought news of the discovery of Peru, and in one of these ships Dávila and his men went off. Ultimately they rejoined the Adelantado at Campeche.

Even after he was rejoined by Dávila and his followers at Campeche, Montejo still had plenty of trouble with the natives. Like all the rest, the Indians of Campeche were bitterly opposed to the Spaniards and gave them much trouble. It is pleasant to know that Queen Juana recognized the sacrifices made by Montejo in a cedula given at Ocaña on April 24, 1534.

The Elder Montejo Goes to Tabasco in 1535. Nothing daunted by all his misfortunes, the Adelantado bought some ships and gathered some soldiers to continue his conquest. In New Spain, also, he obtained new supplies of munitions and other necessary things. Apparently Montejo the Elder was ordered to pacify the province of Tabasco, which was in revolt. As a result of this Tabasco became, and for a long time remained, a part of the province of Yucatan. The ships, under Gonzalo Nieto, went on to Campeche to get all the Spaniards there were in Yucatan and bring them to Tabasco, for the subjugating of that province was found to be more difficult than had at first been thought. The motive which led Montejo thus to make sure of his grasp on Tabasco speaks well for his generalship: he knew only too well how few were the men available as fighters, and so he wished to make sure that there were no revolted provinces in his rear at the time when he should begin again his attack on Yucatan.

In the year 1535 the Spaniards deserted Yucatan proper, retiring to Champoton and to Tabasco.

The Franciscans Enter Yucatan, 1535. At this juncture a very important incident took place: the Religious of the Order of San Francisco entered Yucatan. (Cogolludo, lib. ii, cap. 12.) At that time, 1534-1535, Antonio de Mendoza was in possession of the post of Viceroy of New Spain, and he had long before received orders from Queen Juana signed at Madrid, September 22, 1530, to the effect that Religious must at once be sent to Yucatan to fulfill the conditions under which that province had been granted to Francisco de Montejo. As there were no Religious in Yucatan there was nothing for Mendoza to do but send some from his own dominions. When the project was made known it was answered by Fray Jacobo de Testera, who, although he was the occupant of a high post in Mexico, offered to go to Yucatan to evangelize the country. In 1531 he, with Fray Lorencio de Bienvenida and two others, went to Tabasco. On March 18 of the same year they reached Champoton. Having asked leave of the natives to enter, the Mexican Indians in the party were welcomed by those of Champoton. The beginning was fortunate enough; the end of the mission was unfortunate. The cause of the change was the resentment the Indians felt against the Padres, who burned up their idols. Campeche was the farthest point from Mexico that they reached. (Remesal, lib. v, cap. 6.) Disgruntled by their failure, the Padres finally returned to Mexico. Cogolludo is very explicit as regards the exaggeration of Spanish cruelty by some writers, notably Remesal, Las Casas, and others.

In 1536 another band of friars, led by Fray Antonio de Ciudad-Rodrigo, preached in Coazacoalco, Santa Maria de la Victoria de Tabasco, Xicalango, Champoton, and Campeche, returning to New Spain two years later.

Renewal of the Subjection of Yucatan by Montejo, 1537. Cogolludo (lib. iii, cap. 1) expatiates upon the difficulty of setting an accurate date for the renewal of the pacification of Yucatan. It is plain enough, however, that Montejo wisely decided to begin this time with Tabasco, on which he already had a hold. This was accomplished with the aid of Diego de Contreras with a ship, men, and supplies. The task was completed by 1537. In all his undertakings Montejo seems to have been hampered by a scarcity of men, which may, as Cogolludo suggests, be accounted for by the recent discovery of Peru, with its alleged great wealth. There is some doubt as to whether Francisco de Montejo or his son led this second expedition; Cogolludo suggests that the former may have gone to Yucatan in person to start the work and that he may then have returned to Tabasco, leaving his son in charge.

Hostility of the Indians. Champoton was the place selected for the Spanish headquarters. The camp was established there in 1537. Mochcovoh, Halach Uinic of the place, treated them well at first. (Landa, pp. 82-83.) Before very long, however, the latent hostility of the Indians burst out and there was a battle which resulted in the flight of the Indians. The Spaniards foolishly neglected to follow up this advantage, preferring to bury their not numerous dead. In the days which followed there was a cessation of hostilities, which seems to have misled the Spaniards, who thought that the Indians were cowed. As a matter of fact they were forming a great army composed of warriors from many neighboring districts. In the battle which was soon precipitated the Spaniards were driven to their ships, and the royal camp was sacked. Stung and enraged by the insults of the seemingly victorious Indians, the Spaniards turned and faced them so boldly that the victory, in the end, was a Spanish one. Most of the Spaniards went home to their lands in New Spain after this battle; nineteen, however, remained at Champoton waiting for an opportunity to proceed with the conquest. Several of the names of these intrepid adventurers are given by Cogolludo (p. 117). They all speak, In their Relaciones, of the younger Montejo as a good leader.

Matters continued for some time in very much the same way as heretofore. Towns were founded; troubles with the Indians occurred; the Adelantado went back and forth between Tabasco and Champoton; Don Francisco Montejo the Younger went to New Spain to get more soldiers, things went on in a fairly satisfactory manner until 1539, when, with some twenty cavalrymen from New Spain, Don Francisco went to Campeche. At about this time the chief command and the powers laid upon him by the king were passed by the Adelantado Francisco de Montejo to his son of the same name. The Instructions of the Adelantado are so important that we will give an extract of them paragraph by paragraph as described by Cogolludo.

The Elder Montejo’s Instructions to his Son

1. You, my son Don Francisco de Montejo, are to do the following in your conquest of Yucatan and Cozumel and in your fulfillment of the powers which I hold from His Majesty.

2. You are to see that your men live like good Christians and speak well of God, and you are to punish wrong-doers.

3. On your arrival at San Pedro (Champoton) you are to punish any who may have enslaved Indians against their will, and you are to thank the Indians of Champoton for having treated our men so well for two and one-half years.

4. Leaving the Indians of Champoton well contented, and taking with you some of their chief men, you will go to Campeche, where you will tell the leaders that you have come to take that land in His Majesty’s name and mine in order to win it for the Holy Faith. You will punish those who will have no knowledge of God and who will not obey His Majesty. Those who do come into the faith and are obedient you will favor and shelter. Then, taking two chiefs of the said Pueblo and two of that of Champoton, you will let the rest go home; thereupon you will enter the province of Acanul, taking great care to do no harm to the natives.

5. In this province you will endeavor to meet a Lord called Vua Chancan, who has always been a friend of the Christians and most helpful in time of war. You will treat him very well, and will try to find out through the other leaders of the province whether they wish war. And if they do, you will give them to understand that you come in peace and that if they receive you in His Majesty’s name and mine they will be well treated and favored. If they do not yield you will have to make war upon them.

6. Having arrived at the Pueblo of Tihoo, which is in the province of Quepeche, you will establish there a Cabildo and Government if it seems to you that the region is such as to favor it. There you will labor to bring the whole land to peace, and if some hold back you will make war upon them in fulfillment of His Majesty’s commands.

7. Afterwards you are to pacify the provinces which are to serve the said City. They are those of Acanul, Chacan, Quepeche, Kin Chel, Cocola, Tutul Xiu, and Kupules; these are the greatest provinces of the land.

8. You are to give repartimientos to not more than one hundred men because the land is large and the Indians many. This city is to be the chief of all. Besides the repartimientos which you make and besides that which I have kept for myself, you will leave a number of villages, without giving them permanently, for the use of persons who most forward the service of His Majesty. It is customary to do so in new lands.

9. And you are to make a general inspection of all that you conquer in the provinces hereinbefore mentioned; you will especially be informed of the number and quality of villages and houses. In each village you will establish Spanish citizens suitable for each village. You will also make Cedulas of encomienda and repartimiento wherever you think best, in fulfillment of His Majesty’s command.

10. And having done all this, you will labor to see to it that all build their houses and other buildings well, and you the first of all, so that others may take your example. And you will endeavor to see that the Indians are well treated and taught our Holy Catholic Faith and are made to lose their bad habits.

11. At the same time you are to open roads to the sea and between all the principal cities. In all this you will place all the diligence and care possible, because I trust you. Signed in this Royal City of Chiapa, 1540.

12. Furthermore you will grant me again the provinces of Tutul Xiu, Techaque, Campeche and the village of Champoton.


The Younger Montejo Founds Campeche, 1540-1541. Before setting out with the main body of his forces Don Francisco de Montejo, the son, sent four picked men in advance to Campeche to ascertain the attitude of the Indians. At a place called Cihoo in the province of Telchac (Cogolludo, pp. 126, 127) these scouts found some Indians fortified. They warned the army of the danger. A fight took place in which the Spaniards were the victors. They took the Indians’ deserted town and recuperated there for a number of days. From Cihoo, Montejo went to Campeche, where he established the town of San Francisco de Campeche in 1540 or 1541.

All that was necessary for the establishment of government at Campeche having been done, it was time for Don Francisco to attend to the founding of Merida at Tihoo. He sent his cousin with fifty-seven or so men to conquer it; he himself remained behind. There was some trouble with the Indians, and it transpired that the friendship of a chief named Na Chancan, Lord of Acanul, was feigned. The Spaniards passed through the village of Pokbac.

Tutul Xiu of Mani Offers his Aid. Having reached Tihoo, the Spaniards established their camp on a hill near the present cathedral. (Cogolludo, lib. iii, cap. 6.) They had not been there long when some Indians brought the news that a large war-party was about to attack them. The Spaniards resolved to be the aggressors; they went in search of their enemies and beat them in a sharp fight. On his return to Tihoo, Montejo set his followers to work building the town. They were soon interrupted once more, this time by the arrival of the Lord of Mani, who came in peace. Voluntarily he submitted to Spanish authority and asked to be made a Christian. As it was the day of San Ildefonso, Archbishop of Toledo, the new town was placed under his patronage because of this good fortune. The date was February 23, 1541. Tutul Xiu said that he had been won over by the valor of the Spaniards.

Accompanying the Lord of Mani (Tutul Xiu) were numerous vassals whose names are interesting for us. I give the spelling of Cogolludo (pp. 130-131). They were: Ah Na Poot Xiu, son of Tutul Xiu; Ah Ziyah, a governor; and Ah Kin Chi, a priest. These three are said to have been lieutenants of Tutul Xiu at Mani itself. Others of the vassals were: Yi Ban Can, Governor of the pueblo of TeKit; Pacab, Governor of Oxcutzcab; Kan Caba of Panabchen, which is now deserted; Kupul of Zacalum; Nauat of Teab; Uluac Chan Cauich, whose home is unknown; Zon Ceh of Pencuyut; Ahau Tuyu of Muna; Xul Cumche of TipiKal; Tucuch of Mama; Zit Couat of Chumayel. Just before he left, Tutul Xiu promised to send ambassadors of his to other great lords in the country urging them to accept Christianity and Spanish sovereignty. He did as he said he would. Ambassadors were sent to the Cocomes of Zotuta and to other chiefs. The chief of Zotuta at this time was Nachi Cocom; he killed all the ambassadors save Ah Kin Chi, who was sent back to Mani with the news.

While the Indians of Mani and those of Zotuta were at odds, a number of Indians from the country around Tihoo came to yield obedience to the Spaniards. Warned by their ally, the Spaniards learned that Nachi Cocom had made a league against the Spaniards, comprising all the people from the country east of Tihoo as far as Ytzamal. In the end, according to Cogolludo (p. 137), no less than seventy thousand hostile Indians came against the Spaniards. As a result of the great battle that took place the main part of the Indians’ resistance was destroyed.

Foundation of Merida and of Valladolid, 1542-1543. On the Feast of the Kings, January 6, 1542, Señor Don Francisco de Montejo and Rodrigo Alvarez, scrivener, established the city of Merida with the entire province of Quepech subject to it. Aside from its Indian population, however, Merida had only one hundred citizens. Cogolludo (p. 137) gives a complete list of the first Alcaldes and Regidores.

On March 13, 1542, Montejo made arrangements for the founding of the city of Valladolid, a task which he intrusted to one of his relatives. In May of the same year he himself set forth from Merida to subdue the Cocomes of Zotuta or Sotuta, while at the same time another relative went to conquer the province of Choaca, the inhabitants of which were very warlike. After more or less resistance the Cocomes were beaten and the city of Zotuta fell into Spanish hands.

On January 1, 1543, the Cabildo elected the second set of municipal officers for Merida. From that time the city increased in permanency; solares or lots were given out; the Spanish rule was firm.

On May 28, 1543, the city of Valladolid in the province of Choaca was founded and a church was established, the town being placed under the protection of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Cogolludo (lib. iii, cap. 14) gives a full list of all the officers and citizens.

It is uncertain where the site of the first settlement of Valladolid is. It is quite certain, however, that the city was soon moved from its first position “six leagues from the sea.” The reason why the site was changed was the unhealthful locality in which the first settlement was placed. The new site was the puebloof Zaqui, where the present city of Valladolid now stands. In 1544 the city of Salamanca de Bacalar was founded on or near the site of Bakhalal.

Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas Arrives in Yucatan. At this time, 1544-1545, Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas and his friars of the Order of Santo Domingo arrived in Yucatan, going first to Campeche and later spreading their influence through the country, the natives of which greatly needed improvement. From this time onwards we may consider that the Spanish rule was firmly established throughout the northern portions of the peninsula, although, as we shall see, a long time was still to pass before the southern regions were subjected. Montejo and those associated with him came no nearer to the Itzas than Bakhalal. All this is not meant to imply that there were no further revolts and resistance against Spanish authority, for there still were sporadic efforts on the part of the Indians to maintain their freedom. In Valladolid, for example, in the year 1546, there was a very serious rebellion, which was crushed only with great difficulty. (Landa, p. 93.) In general, nevertheless, Spanish power daily grew more firm, and the power of the Religious grew constantly greater, despite hostility from both Spaniards and Indians.


Source: Indian Notes and Monographs, edited by F. W. Hodge, Vol. IX No. 3, A Series of Publications Relating to the American Aborigines.  Reports on the Maya Indians of Yucatan.  New York, Museum of American Indian Heye Foundation (1921)

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As Fray Bernardino de Sahagún observed: the Mexicans “are held to be barbarians and of very little worth; in truth, however, in matters of culture and refinement, they are a step ahead of other nations." We explore the history and legacy of the Nahua and Maya civilizations, both of which challenge our preconceptions.