Imágenes de páginas


roy, whose title of Guadalcázar was also perpetuated in that of a mining town founded in 1614 north-east of San Luis Potosí. Another town rose about the same time, on the lake of Toluca, under the name of Lerma, in honor of the favorite minister of Felipe III.65 The same rule was signalized at Mexico by the completion of the new aqueduct begun by the previous viceroy. It brought additional water from Santa Fé by way of Chapultepec, and rested for a long distance on arches, nine hundred in number.


After a government of eight years Guadalcázar was promoted to the viceroyalty of Peru. Yet not from any merit as a ruler, for although his reign had proved peaceful, corruption had spread fast in almost every department, until both social and economic interests were so seriously imperilled as to rouse the attention of the crown. Guadalcázar, in truth, was a mild man, easily imposed upon, and not much disposed to sacrifice his comfort and peace of mind by inquiries into matters with which subordinates and associates were intrusted. The oidores had not been slow to take advantage of such neglect to extend their own importance, and even openly interfered in affairs not pertaining to their jurisdiction, violating the laws intrusted to their watchful care.

On a small salary they lived in the style and luxury of the great lords of Spain, surrounded by relatives and friends, to whom the most desirable offices were given, and who were protected by their benefactors from what should have been the results of frequent and glaring malefeasance. In the audiencia the causes of the rich were despatched promptly, while the calendar was encumbered by the innumer

64 Calle, Mem. y Not., 70.

65 Founded in 1613 says Alcedo, Dic., ii. 572. Cavo places the founding of both in 1620.

c6 And 6 varas in height. The cost was fully 150,000 pesos. Cavo, Tres Siglos, i. 243-4, 264-5.

At this time an oidor of Mexico receives annually three thousand pesos.




able suits of the poor. For the decision of a case it was sufficient that an oidor should signify his wishes in the matter, and he was allowed also to sit in judgment of questions wherein he was directly interested. As a body they sent judges in commission to districts where ordinary justices existed, this having been expressly forbidden. They went further than this, and released at will even malefactors condemned to death or to the galleys of Terrenate. All that seemed to be lacking to them was the investiture and title of viceroy. The minor officials and the very lawyers of the supreme tribunal committed excesses with insolent impunity in the assurance that their respective patrons would shield them from harm. Imitating an example so plainly set before them, the minor tribunals throughout New Spain, each in its microcosm, perverted justice at their will.

Protected by those in power, who not infrequently were partners in their gain, the rich had monopolized the very necessaries of life, and this during a time of great scarcity, when famine was raging in many parts of the country, so that the poor had to subsist on roots or die of want. The regidores of Mexico had seized and divided among themselves the annual subsidy of one hundred and thirty thousand reales granted by the crown in aid of the public granary, and they, in conjunction with a few wealthy men, had forced the price of maize, the staple food of the lower classes, from twelve reales the fanega to forty-eight. Even at this price the official in charge of the granary frequently turned away the starving poor, while to the servants of the rich and powerful he gave a

68 It was again prohibited by the cédula of November 12, 1621. Ordenes de la Corona, MS., ii. 164.

9 In Querétaro 'congoxandose los Labradores, y vezinos oyendo las muertes de los ganados, y perdida de las sementeras.' Medina, Chron. S. Diego, 55. Alegre relates similar misery in Yucatan. Hist. Comp. Jesus, ii. 136. See also Gelves, Rel. Estad., 1–2; Mex. Rel. Sum., 1. There are periodic records of famines in different parts of the country. In 1610, 1616, 1625, and 1629, they extended over a number of districts. Cavo, Tres Siglos, i. 254, 261, 277; Diario, Mex., v. 139.

superabundance which was disposed of to their own advantage. So, too, these imitators of their masters, lying in wait just without the city, forced the Indians who supplied the general market to give up, at a nominal price, the scant produce of their toil that the spoilers might receive the profit. Some of the meat thus obtained was retailed at an exorbitant price in a shop established in the palace of the archbishop.

The crown was robbed or defrauded of its dues by the royal officials and their friends. Shipments to Peru of prohibited goods brought from Manila were made openly, and were productive of great gain. The supplies sent by the king to the Philippines were purchased by his agents at twice their market value, and complaints came from that colony of their poor quality, or rottenness, as well as of scant measure. At the treasury it was the custom to receive for the payment of dues coin or silver bullion indifferently; the oidores and the treasury officials, substituting the former for the latter, divided among themselves a gain of three reales in such wares. In all the pueblos the tax-collectors speculated with the royal funds, which they withheld from the treasury, either without a shadow of excuse or on the ground that these sums proceeded from partial payments of taxes which were not due to the crown until those payments should be completed. By collusion of those in charge of the mines and the traders the king was defrauded of his fifth.

Religious ministers would not unfrequently meddle in these affairs, even when they concerned neither their interests nor their native protégés. On the anniversary of the fall of Mexico, 1618, a Jesuit spoke in his sermon rather scathingly of the conquerors and especially of their descendants, as corrupt, unfit to hold office, and tyrannical toward the Indians. The remarks were probably exaggerated by inimical persons, who caused such a stir in the matter that the archbishop was called upon to arrest the preacher. The

[ocr errors]



provincial naturally objected to so stringent an interference, and caused testimony to be taken, which modified the expressions and induced the viceroy to release the Jesuit, only to embitter the already unfriendly relations between the civil and ecclesiastic chiefs, and to rouse fresh feeling against the society. Both clergy and friars were for that matter infected to a great extent by the general disorder, and engaged with anything but meekness in disputes concerning doctrines and other affairs, or in frequent and unseemly bickering concerning the election of prelates, in which respect the comparatively quiet Augustinians made themselves notorious for a time. Two oidores were accused by the visitador of the order with having harbored mutinous friars and sought to influence him by threats and bribes to promote the election of a provincial favored by them. In the report and counter report on this subject the leading men of the country, including the archbishop, were called on to testify."

As the natural consequence of all this iniquity among the rich and powerful, the lower classes gave themselves up to such wickedness as was attainable to them. Drunkenness, ever prevalent, had increased to a frightful extent, and was accompanied by its usual train of want and crimes. The church itself seemed powerless to check infractions of the law which to churchmen have ever seemed misdeeds more flagrant than murder. Led by vicious inclination or driven by want, idle men formed themselves into associations of bandits which infested the highways, and which made life and property insecure even in the precincts of the viceregal palace. Roused at times to some exhibition of interference, Guadalcázar


10 The preacher was the learned and eloquent Cristóbal Gomez, who died in 1638. Alegre, Hist. Comp. Jesus, ii. 108, 207; Mex. Disturbios, MS., i.


One of the oidores was the corrupt Gaviria, whom we shall soon meet. The voluminous testimony in this case is given in Mex. Disturbios, MS., i. 16-54, 289-91. The same order created trouble also at Ixmiquilpan by carrying off from the mine of Guerrero a miraculous image. Id., 55-119.

12 Tenia el alma en los dientes.' Grambila, Tumultos.

succeeded only in arraying against himself now the church, now the oidores, or other officials whose power and influence may have been concerned. Their representations to the crown must have had some effect, for his promotion to Peru does not appear to have been accompanied by the customary privilege to govern until his departure. At any rate, the audiencia assumed control.3

73 Licenciado Juan Paez de Vallecillo is named as presiding oidor, assisted by Galdos de Valencia and Gomez Cornejo, but Verzara Gaviria should be added. Mex., Rel. Svm., 1; Cavo, Tres Siglos, i. 265; Ribera, Gob. Mex., i. 108. It has been said that Guadalcázar left Mexico for his new post on March 14, 1621, escorted by the audiencia and other bodies. Vetancvrt, Trat. Mex., 13; but several official reports show that he remained till Gelves arrived. Gelves, Rel. Estado, 1 etc. "Virrey priuadamente retirado, todo este tiempo (nearly a year), fuera de Palacio, en vna casa particular.' Mex., Rel. Som., 1; Sigüenza y Góngora, Parayso Occid., 25-6. He ruled for seven years in Peru.

« AnteriorContinuar »