Imágenes de páginas


time had been successfully operating off Portugal and against transatlantic vessels. The Spaniards fought bravely and several vessels were sunk before the flag-ship surrendered. The blow proved no less severe to the merchants of New Spain than to the king, who sorely needed the treasure."

This success lured a number of other raiders who for want of better points along the gulf made Yucatan suffer. In 1632 six vessels threatened Campeche, but timely succor made them retreat. In August of the following year the town was again visited, this time by ten vessels under a leader known to the Spaniards as Pié de Palo. Guided by a renegade, he advanced against the entrenchment behind which Captain Galvan Romero had retired, but a well directed fire killed several of his men, and caused the rest to waver. It would not answer to lose many lives for so poor a place, and so a ruse was resorted to. The corsairs turned in pretended flight. The hot-headed Spaniards at once came forth in pursuit, only to be trapped and killed. Those who escaped made a stand in the plaza, whence they were quickly driven, and thereupon the sacking parties overran the town.10 Seven years later Sisal was visited by a fleet of eleven vessels and partly burned after yielding but little to the raiders."


One result of these ravages was an order for the formation of a squadron, under the name of Barlovento,12 to protect the gulf of Mexico and the West India waters. It was to consist of twelve galleons

"In Vazquez, Chrón. Gvat., 255, is related a similar surprise by a French foe, some years later. Fourteen friars perished, but eight others were picked up and forwarded to Cádiz.

10 The corsair demanded 40,000 pesos to spare the town from destruction, but the citizens refused to interfere. The renegade guide, Diego the mulatto, felt deeply moved at the death of Romero, who had been his godfather, but against several other persons he entertained a profound hatred born of former maltreatment. Cogollodo, Hist. Yucathan, 596-8; Castillo, Dic. Yuc., 269-70.

11 In 1637 the opportune appearance of troops had saved the town from such a fate. Id., 602, 639-40. Pié de Palo was reported to be waiting for the fleet of 1638, and it turned back. Cavo, Tres Siglos, ii. 10.

12 Windward, in allusion to this other name for the Antilles.

and two smaller vessels, and the estimated cost of maintenance, six hundred thousand ducats, should be levied on the islands and mainland from Panamá northward. Mexico offered to contribute two hundred thousand pesos by means of an excise tax of two per cent.13 Mérida placed herself on the list with seven thousand pesos for fifteen years, and other towns came forward with different amounts. One duty of the fleet was to prevent smuggling, from which the treasury suffered greatly, and while the chief station must be Vera Cruz, other ports were to be frequented. To this end surveys should be made, partly with a view to future shipyards.14

The declaration of war by France in 1633 added another to the many enemies arrayed against Spain through the unfortunate policy of Felipe IV.,15 and the colonies had to share her misfortunes not alone in the form of pirate raids, but in being subjected to forced loans and pressing appeals for voluntary and tax imposts. Already by cédula of December 4, 1624, the king had intimated to his subjects that they ought to assist him in his dire need by voluntary gifts, and New Spain was told that 600,000 ducats would be expected by the following year from her rich colonists. They sent 432,000 pesos, and this liberal response caused the donativo, or gift, fund to become a fixed source of revenue.16 The appeal for this fund

13 In addition to four per cent already existing, two reals were also levied on cards. This offer was accepted by council of October 19, 1638, deduction having to be made when no fleet came. The contador of the fund was appointed by the king. Vetancvrt, Trat. Mex., 30.

14 The first order for the Barlovento fleet, dated in May 1635, was followed by others bearing chiefly on funds for it. The two per mille collected by the consulado was applied to it, and other taxes. Fonseca, Hist. Hac., ii. 12-20; Cogollvdo, Hist. Yucathan, 559. Santa María de la Vitoria, in Tabasco, was one of the places, fortified with artillery, and in war time with a large garrison. Calle, Mem. y Not., 87. In 1636 Philippine traders fitted out two vessels of their own to watch for corsairs.

15 An embargo was ordered placed on the property of all French subjects in New Spain, as elsewhere, but timely warning came from Spain and many saved themselves.

16 By 1638 Mexico city gave 1,100,000 pesos toward it. The revenue from the Tributos y Real Servicio fund amounted in the decade of 1631-40 to 2,390,200, an increase of 400,000 over the previous term. Fonseca, Hist. Hac., i. 450, v. 433-41; Gonzalez Dávila, Teatro, i. 126.


was enjoined on bishops and other officials; and different offices, such as canonries and prebendaryships, were granted to those who displayed liberality. Officials had to submit to large deductions of pay under the term of media anata1 and mesada,18 the latter applying to ecclesiastics. In addition to these exactions loans were demanded, or forcibly taken when not otherwise obtainable,19 and certain taxes were sold to speculators for a large sum payable in cash.20

Frequent prayers rose from all churches throughout Spanish domains for divine aid toward the efficacy of these measures, and with a view to incline worshippers to open their purses as freely as their hearts. There was need in truth to promote Christian forbearance among the oppressed subjects, for, at the very time they were asked to bear the burden of wars brought upon them often by mere caprice, they received urgent appeals to contribute large amounts toward the rebuilding of royal palaces.21


The most grievously taxed colonists of New Spain at this time were probably those at Mexico. Reputed to be among the richest in the wealthy colonies, they were expected to meet liberally every demand for aid by the crown, no matter how sorely rulers, or pirates, or famine might harass them. And now another misfortune was at hand. In 1627 heavy rains caused the Rio Quauhtitlan to break the dams confining its

17 It was established in 1631 and exacted half the income of the first year from each office, as the term implies. This levy was increased at times. For rules regarding the tax see Recop. de Indias, ii. 542 et seq.

18 This deduction of 'monthly' incomes, as the term implies, was established still earlier. For decrees concerning it see Id., i. 152 et seq.

19 In 1625 Cerralvo repaid 40,000 pesos lent by the municipality, and on the strength of the good-will created by this promptness he shortly after demanded a larger loan. Cedulario Nuevo, i. 86, 326. Part of the bullion arriving in Spain was seized and the owners were compelled to accept instead money of inferior intrinsic value.

20 Holders of land with doubtful titles were made to pay 'compromise' fees, collection offices were extended to new regions, and other means taken to obtain increased revenue. See also Gage, Voy., i. 201. Much of this was sent direct to Florida, the West Indies, and other parts, which were also supplied with powder and other articles. Recop. de Indias, ii. 572, 592–3.

21 Fonseca, Hist. Hac., v. 441; Cedulario Nuevo, i. 441.

waters, and overflo v into the lower lakes, so that several parts of Mexico were laid eighteen inches under water. The alarmed citizens at once bestirred themselves; causeways were raised according to the plans of the engineer Boot; a new dam was constructed near Tizayuca; another to divert the Rio Pachuca, and work on the drainage tunnel received fresh impulse.22

The decrease of moisture in the following year calmed the ardor of both workers and taxpayers, and many useful projects were set aside as needless. In 1629 the rains began early with the prospect of a wet season. Dams broke at several points, and already on the 5th of September canoes floated in several parts of the city, and thousands prepared to depart. On the 21st, St Matthew's day, came the heaviest rainfall so far known in the valley; and it continued for thirty-six hours, till the whole city lay under water to a depth of fully two varas in most parts. The confusion and misery defy description. All seemed one vast lake dotted with thousands of isolated houses. Roofs and windows were crowded with men, women, and children, drenched and suffering from hunger and exposure. From every direction rose lamentation, mingled with the agonized cries of drowning persons and noise of crumbling walls. While some buildings were undermined with the melting of the adobe brick, or the washing away of the foundation, others were carried wholly away. The costly goods in shops and warehouses were ruined, and broken furniture and


22 Cavo, followed by modern writers, places some of these measures in 1626, and states that the flood of 1627 gave rise merely to useless consultations, Tres Siglos, i. 278; but Alegre, Hist. Comp. Jesus, ii. 178, confirms the more natural supposition that the flood gave impulse to dams and other works. The dam near Tizayuca, called Presa del Rey, was made or com. pleted in 1628. Inundaciones, in Col. de Diarios, 356.


23 Llegó a tener dos barcas de alto el agua por donde menos.' Cepeda, Rel., pt. ii. 27. 'Subia mas de media vara en la parta mas alta.' Alegre, Hist. Comp. Jesus, ii. 180; Panes, Vireyes, MS., 96–7. Vetancurt writes that the main square with cathedral, palace, and plazuela de Volador, and all Santiago remained above water, Chron., 121; but this must be a mistake, for the square lay less than two varas above the surface of the lake.


other household effects floated about the streets. No one could leave his dwelling save in canoes; and these did not suffice for all, so that intercourse was difficult. Public affairs came to a standstill; divine service was suspended, and bells were rung only for prayer.

The viceroy and archbishop set an example to officials and wealthy persons by extending succor to the more needy quarters. The city was divided into districts, and canoes were sent round with provisions; the sick and helpless were taken to better quarters, the palace itself being converted into a hospital and house of refuge, where for six months the viceroy dispensed charity. No less noble were the efforts of other prominent persons, the prelate establishing half a dozen hospitals, and seeking also to encourage the sufferers with religious consolation by going around daily to hold masses at altars improvised on roofs and balconies. The flood showing no signs of abatement, he proceeded to the Guadalupe shrine on the mainland, and brought thence, for the first time since its foundation, the image of the virgin, in the hope that so sacred a presence might cause the water to retire; but no speedy relief was experienced.



Under this gloomy prospect the agitation for a removal of the city was renewed, and many began to erect houses in different parts along the mainland shore. Petitions were addressed to the king to grant his sanction, and in a cédula of May 19, 1632, the elevated plain between Tacuba and Tacubaya was assigned for the new site, if a representative council should find the change necessary."

By this time property-holders were well aware that


24 Brought over on September 27th says Medina, who adds the pious falsehood that the waters at once began to retire. Chrón. S. Diego, 123. Alegre, loc. cit., gives the 24th and leaves the intimation that no good effect followed. Florencia, Estrella del Norte, 130. Dávila upholds the efficacy of the image, and adds that an image of St Dominic assisted in lowering the waters; so much so that 'a fines de Julio del año de 1630...recibieron por Patron y abogado a Santo Domingo.' Continuacion, MS., 303; Panes, Vireyes, MS., 96-7.

25 This site was on the Sanctorum grange. Cavo, Tres Siglos, ii. 2-3. Those who had erected houses elsewhere must not occupy them. This and supplementary decrees are reproduced in Cepeda, Rel., pt. iii. 7 et seq.

« AnteriorContinuar »