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OVERTHROW OF GELVES.
THE INTERDICT LAUNCHED Against the CAPITAL-EXCITEMENT AMONG THE POPULACE THE RABBLE IN ARMS-ATTACK ON THE PALACE-THE GOVERNMENT DECLARED VESTED IN THE OIDORES-THEIR SCHEMES TO SECURE CONTROL-FLIGHT OF GELVES-TRIUMPHANT ENTRY OF THE ARCHBISHOP-REACTIONARY MEASURES BY THE AUDIENCIA-THE VICEROY UNDER RESTRAINT-HIS VAIN NEGOTIATIONS FOR RETURN TO POWER-GATHERING EVIDENCE-MEASURES BY THE KING-CERRALVO SENT AS VICEROY-NOMINAL RESTORATION OF GELVES AND TRIUMPHANT ENTRY-PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE RIOTERS-FATE OF SERNA AND GELVES-SIGNIFICANCE OF THE OUTBREAK.
AMONG the oldest and most sacred spots of Anáhuac was Teotihuacan. During the early Nahua period its lofty pyramids were famed throughout the land, and under the Toltec empire it remained the religious centre to which pilgrims with rich offerings flocked from afar to worship in the temples of the sun and moon. Here kings and priests were elected, ordained, and buried, and here were fulminated oracles which overturned dynasties and caused nations to tremble. It was in the village near this spot, now a mass of awe-inspiring ruins, that Archbishop Serna had taken a defiant stand within the convent church, and like his ancient forerunners he sent forth a decree which should rouse a people and overturn a ruler. This was nothing less than a new excommunication of the viceroy, together with an interdict upon the whole capital. The decree was intrusted to the priest Martinez de Recalde, who set out on horseback the evening it was issued, the 14th of January 1624, and reached the city at dawn the following day. At half
past five the name of the viceroy again appeared in the list of religious outcasts, and an hour later the interdict was read from the cathedral pulpit to such of the faithful as were present at matins. The chant of the choir ceased immediately, the candles upon the altar were extinguished, the massive doors closed upon the devout, who, weeping, spread throughout the city the sad tidings, crying that the land was now as one possessed by Moors, since God had gone from among them. Soon, too, the willing feet of priests were hastening to bear the decree to the other churches and convents of the town. All were closed save the convent of La Merced, which remained open during the morning, while from every belfry tolled forth the dread tidings to the awakening city.
The events of the past four days had been at work in the minds of the ignorant. The archbishop's mania for excommunicating, and the opposition of the viceroy to one whom they had been taught to regard as more than human, if somewhat less than divine, had formed the sole topic of conversation, and all day long and till late into the night excited knots. of men hung about the plaza and the street corners predicting some dreadful catastrophe. They were faithful children, these poor Mexicans, of a church the tenets of which to them consisted simply in their outward manifestation, while they gratefully remembered that its ministers had ever stood, or endeavored to stand, between them and the tyranny and greed of their lay masters. Of this the partisans of the prelate failed not to remind them. If an occasional skeptic hinted at episcopal missteps, the faithful expressed themselves as only too willing to give their all for his ransom. They could not bear to see the representative of heaven driven forth like a criminal. To many it seemed an overwhelming calamity, and impressed by the popular disquietude others readily drifted into the current of excitement which at any moment might develop into a storm.
At eight o'clock on the morning of the 15th the great square was full of excited people. Cristóbal de Osorio, regarded as one of the chief oppressors of the archbishop, passed through it in his carriage and was recognized by some boys. Cries of "heretic," "excommunicated dog," and the like came lustily from their throats until Osorio, losing his temper, ordered his servants to chastise them. The boys defended themselves with stones, and at length forced the coachman to drive toward the palace for protection.1 The viceroy, who was still in his bed, received a probably exaggerated account of the attack and ordered out the guard to the rescue. Though roughly handled at first, the boys were soon reënforced by others and at length joined by many of the idle men who flocked to the spot. Armed with sharp fragments of stone gathered from the spot where the cathedral was a-building, they soon forced the guard to retire within. the palace gates, against which the mob, which had now assumed formidable proportions, threw itself. Gelves with characteristic valor would have sallied forth sword in hand, but from such a rash proceeding he was dissuaded by Admiral Cevallos and others who happened to be with him. He contented himself therefore with ordering the general call to arms to be sounded from the palace roof, and displaying from a window the pendant used during the negro trouble in 1612. The call of the trumpet served first to summon aid to the rabble, and, amidst the encouraging cries of his fellows, one of the crowd mounted a ladder and tore down the flag, which soon waved in triumph from one of the cathedral towers. But the rioters löst little time in idle demonstrations. Some busied themselves in an attempt to fire the palace gate, others sought to
1 The author of the Relacion Sumaria says that the boys were urged on by a priest. Mex., Rel. Svm., 8. This was the theory of the causes of the tumult which Gelves and his friends endeavored to have adopted, and although later clergymen witnesses unanimously contradicted this, Doc. Hist. Mex., série ii. tom. ii. 275-345, there can be no doubt that the secular clergy was to a great extent responsible for the acts of the mob on this day.
free the prisoners in the jail, all shouting the while: "Viva la fé de Jesucristo; viva la Iglesia; viva el rey nuestro señor, y muera el mal gobierno de este luterano herege descomulgado!" The bravado of the untrained populace grows more demonstrative the less it is opposed, and presently the rioters began to cry that, unless their pastor2 were restored to his flock and the imprisoned oidores liberated, they would put an end not only to all in the palace but to the tribunals and the gentry as well.
The situation was becoming serious, for the supply of arms was small even for the few defenders of the palace, and the fire at the gates grew hot. It happened that the oidor Cisneros, who had not taken part in the proceedings which led to the arrest of the archbishop, was among the first to obey the general summons of the viceroy. He now, kneeling, besought Gelves to recall the prelate, and in this he was seconded by other prominent persons. To this Gelves at length gave consent, albeit against his will, for he was still inclined to offer a stout resistance to rebels. The decree which he signed was intrusted for transmission to the senior inquisitor, who as he left the palace showed it to the crowd. But the mob had no faith in the viceroy, and notwithstanding the general freedom promised them they clamored still for the release of the oidores and the issue of the decree by them. Gelves had to yield, and now the mob was persuaded by the popular marqués del Valle to put out the fire at the gates, while some Franciscans persuaded a large number to depart from the spot. One faction in moving away amid exultant demonstrations, sought to obtain the pendon de la fé from the inquisitors; and balked in this they took Varaez from his confinement and carried him round in triumph.
This lull by no means suited certain parties; and a rumor that the archbishop was to be executed assisted
2 'Que lo habian desterrado por defensor de su Iglesia.' Id., 313.
Gaviria claims credit for having aided in this dispersion.
to draw the rabble again to the plaza. A number now raised the cry to break open the prisons in one end of the palace, partly with a view to plunder the building. The lower jail was easily entered, but not so the upper and main portion, whereupon torches were applied.* Reënforced with arms and ammunition the viceroy opened fire on the assailants, killing quite a number. This naturally exasperated the crowd, which, armed with arquebuses, broke into the archiepiscopal palace, ascended to the roof, and began to return the fire from the viceregal palace. Gelves now found himself in greater strait than ever, for the mob was increasing both in number and fury, and the fire extended rapidly. Finding it necessary to release the prisoners lest they be burned alive, he opened the cell-doors on condition that the inmates should assist in quenching the flames,5 but most of them hastened to join the mob.
Meanwhile the oidores had done nothing beyond issuing tame appeals for order and urging upon the viceroy not to persist in opposing the people but rather to retire, a not very easy task, had he so desired. In response to their appeals the people shouted that they should assume control and remain in the city hall. Only too eager to comply with so flattering a demand, the oidores turned for advice to officials and notables present, not omitting the clergy, whose fears prompted but the one counsel of compliance; and so, after much pretended hesitation, they yielded, in token of which the city standard was unfurled at 5 P. M. At the same time Gaviria proclaimed himself captain-general, and set forth to summon citizens to join him in suppressing the riot. He took the
The viceroy's supporters state that powder alone was used, while opponents declare that more than 100 persons were killed, and Cavo accepts the latter version. Tres Siglos, i. 274.
This act he describes as prompted purely by commiseration. Mex., Rel. Svm., 10.
6To surrender himself a prisoner' to them. Id.
A todos los oidores habian de acabar y matar, y que habian de perecer si dejaban de tomar al gobierno.' Carta de la Ciudad, in Doc. Hist. Mex., série ii. tom. iii. 144.