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QUARREL OF THE VICEROY AND ARCHBISHOP.
APPOINTMENT OF GELVES - HIS ENERGETIC AND EXTENSIVE REFORMS WHICH ARE FORCED ALSO ON THE CLERGY-HOSTILITY OF GAVIRIA AND THE REGIDORES-ARCHBISHOP SERNA ROUSED-MORAL LAXITY IN NEW SPAIN-ARREST OF VARAEZ-SERNA INTERFERES-THE VICEROY IS EXCOMMUNICATED-ATTITUDE OF THE OIDORES-THE PAPAL DELEGATE PLAYS A PART-MORE ANATHEMAS-THE PRELATE FORCES HIM. SELF INTO THE PRESENCE OF THE AUDIENCIA HE IS EXILED AND CARRIED AWAY-IMPRISONMENT OF REPENTANT OIDORES-A MEXICAN Á BECKET.
WHILE not aware how wide-spread was the disorder in New Spain, the newly enthroned Felipe IV. felt convinced that reform was needed, and looked about for a man whose character and attainments should fit him for the task of restoring order. Such a one soon presented himself in the person of Diego Carrillo de Mendoza y Pimentel, second son of the marquis of Tavara, himself conde de Priego and marqués de Gelves. For many years the marquis had governed Aragon, and was actually a member of the council of war. In the discharge of these high trusts his rectitude and love of justice had been proven, while personal valor was common to those of his princely house. At the same time the long habit of command had developed a disinclination to brook any question of his authority, especially where the extent of his jurisdiction was concerned, and advancing age, for
'He was also a knight of Santiago, holding the commandery of Villanueva de la Fuente.
HIST. MEX., VOL. III. 3
his years were more than sixty, had but served to strengthen this trait.
The usual instructions were given to Gelves, May 11, 1621, in addition to certain special directions from the king. Urged to hasten his departure, he embarked at Seville the 3d of July, in a vessel of the fleet commanded by Juan de Benavides, attended by quite a slender following of officials and dependants.
After a prosperous voyage the fleet arrived at Vera Cruz in August, and the marquis entered with great energy on the discharge of his duties. He visited San Juan de Ulúa and the fortifications of the city itself, giving orders for the repairs which he deemed necessary. Personally he inspected the king's slaves, informing himself minutely of their number and condition, and ordering that they should be employed only in the royal service, and under no circumstances in that of officials, or of private individuals, as had been customary. Gelves, having made these and other reforms at the very threshold of the viceroyalty, went on with the work all along the road to Mexico.
Contrary to established usage, he would not allow either Spaniards or Indians, at the places where halts were made, to be at the least expense for the entertainment of himself and his retinue, peremptorily ordering that everything should be paid for at the highest current value. Nor would he receive gratuitously gifts suggested by the hospitality of the people or those offered to him by the many anxious to curry favor with a new ruler. In this respect he made the rule inflexible during his whole term of office, for his servants as well as for himself. The fame of the marquis preceded him, and on his arrival at Mexico, on the 21st of September, he was received with great pomp.
His inauguration was made particularly brilliant by the elaborate ceremonies and rejoicings which attended the swearing of allegiance to the new king, an
RULE OF GELVES.
event deferred till this time, and leading to prolonged festivities throughout Spanish domains. There was a significance in it all more than usual in a coronation, for Felipe III. had not only shown himself incapable, but under his rule Spain had suffered many humiliations, under which she was rapidly descending from the high position attained during the golden rule of Ferdinand and Isabella, and sustained by Charles and Philip. The opening acts of Felipe IV. who ascended the throne at the age of sixteen, no less than his generous and reflective disposition, gave promise of better things; but the unformed youth fell too early into the hands of scheming courtiers and his nobler instincts were perverted. He yielded too much to the fascinations of literature and less commendable pursuits, while the administration was surrendered to inefficient and corrupt favorites, who accelerated the descent of Spanish prosperity and influence.
The reform measures of Gelves on the way to the capital had there roused the most conflicting sentiments, for, while honest patriotism hailed the coming of so just a governor, the placemen and their allies apprehended disaster, and they were not wrong. The viceroy soon instituted an examination and found public affairs in a condition of shameless disorder. The evil was greater than either the monarch or himself had thought. Permitted an abnormal growth under the lax administration of Guadalcázar, it had spread everywhere in the land, and its roots had struck deep in a congenial soil. With the energy to be expected of him the marquis undertook reform. His capability for work was great, and he found at the outset that he must attend personally to many things from the consideration of which his subordinates should have relieved him. At Mexico it had ever been a current saying that in keeping the friars and the Indians in
2El resto del año se pasó en fiestas no solo en la capital, sino tambien en todas las ciudades y villas de aquel nuevo mundo.' Caro, Tres Siglos, i. 265– G. This and some other authors assume that the long preceding mourning was ordered during an interregnum under the audiencia.
order a viceroy had his hands full; Gelves accomplished more in a week than others in a month. But this very excess of zeal wrought his own undoing. The land was indeed in want of cultivation; was it for him who put his hand to the plough to foresee that thorns, not kindly fruits, would be the harvest? In his eagerness the marquis did not reflect that the great extent of newly settled New Spain was totally unlike his compact little government of Aragon, and, though he had crossed it, he was unmindful of the broad ocean rolling between a colonial viceroy and the master whose strengthening hand might at any time be needed. Most of all he forgot, as will be seen, that sweeping reforms, such as that attempted by the strong man in the temple, not infrequently involve in common ruin reformer and reformed.
New Spain awoke to consciousness of the fact that she had a ruler of ability and courage sufficient to redress wrongs and punish evil-doers. Gelves visited. the prisons, and at times sat in judgment in the courts. He caused delayed business to be despatched promptly, ordering that in matters of justice no distinction should be made between the rich and the poor, and insisted that no magistrate should sit in any case wherein he was interested. He was accessible always to those who had complaints to make, and his servants were bidden never to deny him to the weak and friendless. Criminals who, though under sentence, were at large, he caused to be arrested and punished, while such as were unjustly detained in prison were released. He ferreted malefactors who through official negligence or wilful ignorance had gone unsuspected. In some instances it came out that certain official personages were sharers in the fruits of robbery. These, also, were punished, but in causing this to be done Gelves gained the enmity of others high in station who were their patrons. He forbade the exercise of gubernatorial
Among these the following were among the most noteworthy instances:
CHARACTER OF GELVES.
powers in the release of prisoners, and ordered that all such matters should be referred to him for decision. The license to carry fire-arms was prohibited to all save persons of good character, and stringent measures were adopted for the suppression of drunkenness, gambling, and other vices. The growing insolence of the free negroes and half-breeds was checked by compelling them to register in their respective districts, to pay taxes, and to earn their living, such as were incorrigible being banished or enrolled in the militia. This efficient mounted force moved with great celerity, and, being well informed by spies of the movements of bandits, was able to make its blows effective. Arrest was supplemented swiftly by punishment, and highway robbery was completely at an end. "It is doubtful," says Cavo, "whether since the conquest so many criminals had been executed" as during this brief administration. Gelves earned fairly the appellation of 'juez severo,' or inflexible judge.
He compelled absentee alcaldes mayores, corregidores, and justicias to return to their jurisdictions. He put a stop to the sale of votes on the part of the ayuntamientos, a practice which obtained very generally in cities and villas distant from the capital, requiring that lists of eligible persons should be sent to him that he might select the names of those to be voted for the selection being made only after favorable inquiry concerning the character of the person proposed. He compelled those who had embezzled the funds of the public granary to disgorge a certain amount of their plunder, and in the king's name took
The assayer's stamp, used for marking the weight and value of bars of silver, had been counterfeited, and the authorities were unable to discover the counterfeiters. Gelves took the matter in hand, and the guilty were arrested, tried, and condemned, by a cédula dated June 15, 1622, to be strangled and burned at the stake. Mex., Rel. del Estad., 4. Before Gelves' arrival the treasury at Mexico had been entered forcibly, and some 8,000 pesos abstracted therefrom. In an arbitrary manner proceedings had been begun against the treasury officials, who complained to the viceroy of the injustice. By his exertions the persons really guilty of the crime were discovered and punished. Mex., Rel. Svm., 2.
Los caminos de la Nueva España estaban inundados de salteadores.' Tres Siglos, i. 266.