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SUCCESSION OF RULERS.
or other calamity occurred during his administration, eight years' service left him a poorer man than before, while several of his predecessors had entered upon office encumbered with debt and retired with a fortune.
To Luna succeeded Antonio de Figueroa, who is also spoken of as a just ruler, but whose government, save for a dispute with the encomenderos of Valladolid, is void of any noteworthy event. After a term of nearly five years his successor arrived in the person of Francisco Ramirez Briceño, the first governor since Montejo's time on whom the king conferred the title of captain-general. He took possession April 27, 1617,o and being an experienced soldier, at once began the military organization of the country. During his brief term of office he gained the sympathy of the people, and his early death, on December 7, 1619,7 excited general grief.
By virtue of a royal cédula of the 24th of May 1600, now for the first time carried into effect, each of the alcaldes ordinarios governed the different towns and villas that lay within his own jurisdiction. This ceased when on September 3, 1620, Captain Arias, count de Losada y Taboada, arrived, as governor ad interim, appointed by the viceroy of Mexico. Within a few months the reins of power were delivered up to Diego de Cárdenas, a knight of Santiago, who, being appointed by the crown, took possession in September 1621.9
'Ancona, Hist. Yuc., ii. 201, misled by a contradictory statement in Cogolludo, gives the date of Figueroa's succession to the government as August 29, 1612, instead of March 29th, for which statement he only refers to Lara.
They surprised him on a journey to the River Lagartos, and sent him by force to the viceroy of Mexico, together with a long list of accusations. Immediately acquitted by the latter, he returned to Mérida, and against all expectation refrained from punishing the aggressors.
Cogollvdo, Hist. Yuc., 474. In another place the same author says Figueroa ruled till September 27, 1617.
Cogolludo says his death resulted from an illness, and Lara that he was poisoned.
August 28th. Lara, Apuntes Históricos; Castillo, Dicc. Hist. Yuc., 61. "Manifestaba su Magestad las graues necessidades...por las guerras que tenia con Hereges, Turcos, y Moros.' Cogollvdo, Hist. Yuc., 541.
On the 13th of July 1618 the title of 'Muy noble y muy leal' was bestowed on the city of Mérida, and in August of the same year a coat of arms was presented to the cabildo.10 Still further to testify his regard for the inhabitants of the capital the monarch condescended to ask of them, four years later, a contribution in money.
In order to justify the cherished title, liberal donations were made to the royal mendicant by the city council, the encomenderos, and many other settlers, the governor himself setting the example with a gift of one thousand pesos out of his own salary. Little else is known of his rule, which seems to have been unusually quiet, not even the customary dissensions with the clergy being mentioned by the historians, who represent Cárdenas as a pious and charitable man. After a reign of seven years" he gave place to Juan de Vargas,12 who entered into office on the 15th of September 1628. A change now occurs in the peaceful condition of affairs, for Vargas is characterized as one of the worst governors ever appointed to the province.
MÉRIDA COAT OF ARMS.
Soon after the conquest of Yucatan the natives were made to feel the bitterness of their bondage. They were robbed and maltreated by their taskmasters, first under the title of alcaldes and corregidores, and later by officials under different names.13 During
10 The text of the cédulas by which the title and coat of arms were bestowed is given in Cogollvdo, Hist. Yuc., 461-2. Calle is in error when he gives 1619 as the date in Mem. y Not., 82.
11 Ancona says erroneously he ruled only four years.
12 A knight of Santiago and descendant of the renowned Spanish general, Alonso de Vargas.
13 Jueces de grana, de vino, ó de agravios.
QUARRELS OF THE OFFICIALS.
Figueroa's term of office the production of cochineal had been largely increased, and the number of such officials, who in reality were but the agents of the governor, was rapidly multiplied. In vain prohibitory and restrictive orders had been issued by the audiencia of Mexico and were now repeated in a royal cédula of March 17, 1627. Changing their title into that of capitanes á guerra, the governor evaded the exccution of the law and the evil remained unchecked. New complaints were filed with the central government at Mexico, and Vargas was ordered under heavy penalties to revoke the appointments, and forbidden to make new ones under any name whatever. He remonstrated, alleging the necessity of such officials, and refused to obey until representations were made to the king and the council of the Indies.
Simultaneously an imbroglio occurred between the treasury officials and the governor, who, transgressing his authority, proposed to make an inspection of the royal treasury. To this the former objected, and in the dispute which ensued one of them was personally maltreated by Vargas, who, carried away by anger, seized the treasurer and contador and sent them to Spain to appear before the India Council, without granting time for defense.15 Such harsh conduct aided to swell the number of malecontents, and more claims were brought before the audiencia of Mexico, urging that an oidor be sent to investigate the matter and restore order. Vargas, when informed, tried to evade the blow, prevailing on the city council to support his protest against the necessity of such a measure by appointing his lieutenant-general their attorney.
In the mean time the licenciate Yñigo de Argüello Cárbajal1 was sent as visitador, and presented him
14 A royal cédula of August 23, 1642, approved this decree of the audien cia. Calle, Mem. y Not., 88.
15 Ancona, Hist. Yuc., ii. 221, intimates as the probable reason an attempt of the officials to exact the fines imposed by the audiencia of Mexico.
16 A knight of Calatrava and oidor of the audiencia of Mexico. His commission was issued on the 7th of April, 1630. Cogolivdo, Hist. Yuc., 566-76.
self in Mérida August 14, 1630. Notwithstanding the governor's opposition," Carbajal began to execute his mission; whereupon Vargas ordered him to leave Mérida within six days, and the province within fifteen days, and made preparations for armed resistance. At this juncture the bishop, Gonzalo de Salazar, interfered in behalf of the visitador. Authorized by a royal cédula to co-operate with the viceroy in the suppression of local disturbances, he published, December 17, 1630, a decree, which under severe penalties and ecclesiastical censures 18 ordered the governor, municipal authorities, and all the inhabitants to obey the orders of Argüello.19
Free from restraint, the licentiate continued the trial, and after two months sentenced the governor on some of the charges to temporary suspension from office and heavy fines, reserving the other accusations for the decision of the audiencia of Mexico, whither the accused was to be sent as a prisoner. Other offcials were also punished, and compensation granted to the oppressed natives. In March 1631 Carbajal left with his prisoner for Mexico,20 the government remaining in charge of the alcaldes till November, when Fernando Centeno Maldonado arrived, being appointed by the viceroy as governor ad interim. He was replaced by Gerónimo de Guero, who took charge
17 Vargas claimed as governor and captain-general only to be answerable to the king and the council of the Indies. He also alleged the great expense and damage to the native population, which the visitador's mission would cause. Cogolludo gives these and other reasons in a lengthy way. Hist. Yue., 567-9. The governor was wrong, however; orders of the crown dated November 2, 1627, and May 19, 1631, placed the government of Yucatan under that of Mexico. Montemayor, Srmarios, 91, 159; Recop. de Ind., ii. 110.
18 Excommunication mayor, heavy fines, and liability to be tried for high
19 Ancona, Hist. Yuc., ii. 223, says nothing about the bishop's intercession being based on a royal cédula.
20 In Mexico Vargas was committed to prison, and a trial instituted against him, but before its conclusion he died. Cogolledo, Hist. Yuc., 576–7. Ancona, Hist. Yuc., ii. 223-4, and Castillo, Dicc. Hist. Yuc., 60-1, attribute his death to grief caused by the stern rebuke of the viceroy. It is nowhere else intimated that Vargas possessed a conscience, or any sense of shame. During his administration heavy rains occurred, lasting, as Cogolludo says, for 27 consecutive days, and causing a severe famine.
in 1633. His rule was brief, and is favorably noticed by the chroniclers of his period. After his decease at an advanced age on March 10, 1635, the government again devolved on the alcaldes; but a few months later was transferred to Centeno, who for a second time had been temporarily appointed by the viceroy. During his term of office, which lasted until March 4, 1636, he had serious dissensions with the Franciscans, and in consequence of their instigations his removal was ordered. He died, however, before the arrival of his successor, Andrés Perez Franco, who on March 14th took office as governor ad interim, holding that position only two months.
On May 17, 1636, Diego Zapata de Cárdenas, marqués de Santo Floro, presented his credentials from the court of Spain as governor and captain-general, and was duly admitted. Although the chroniclers disagree in their estimate of his character, they admit that serious dissensions occurred between him and the city council, which corporation even planned a coup d'état. The fact, however, that his term of government was extended to nearly eight years speaks strongly in his favor, as also do his measures to relieve the natives from the payment of oppressive taxes. His efforts on their behalf are probably due in part to a revolt among the Bacalar Indians, which, beginning in 1636, lasted till after his removal from office.
The treatment of the Indians had, as we have seen, always given rise to dissensions and doubts, both in old and New Spain. Meanwhile they were continually being robbed, now by the insatiable agents of the governors, now by the priests and friars, and between both they were despoiled of whatever they possessed.
21 The tribute of the Indians amounted in 1643 and 1644 to about 154,000 pesos, including the former encomiendas of Montejo, and more than 20,000 pesos belonging to those of the crown. The whole number of encomenderos in Yucatan was 131. Cogolledo, Hist. Yuc., 385-6; Calle, Mem. y Not., 82-8,