Saturday, April 6, 2019

New Article: The Tale of Gonzalo Guerrero, The Conquistador Adopted Into Mayan Society

A large canoe appeared before Hernán Cortés at Cozumel. Seven people disembarked from the canoe, and the Conquistadors, after some double-takes and closer inspections, realized that one of the seven new arrivals was Spanish. Bernal Díaz described the man’s state: “He wore a very ragged old cloak, and a tattered loincloth to cover his private parts; and in his cloak was tied an object which proved to be a very old prayer-book” (The Conquest of New Spain, chapter 29). Upon reaching the Conquistadors, the man loudly exclaimed in Spanish a prayer to God and “the blessed Mary of Seville,” which convinced Cortés and the explorers that the man was truly a Spaniard.
After giving the man new clothes, Hernán Cortés debriefed him for information. The man claimed that he was a priest named Jeronimo de Aguilar and that, in 1511, his ship had run aground on a sandbar or shallow water somewhere between the colony of Darién, Panama, and Hispaniola. Aguilar stated that he and seventeen other people on the shipwrecked vessel loaded themselves into a rowboat and attempted to paddle to Cuba or Jamaica. Yet, storms and strong currents forced the small boat to a Yucatan beach, where a local Mayan chieftain captured the stranded Spaniards. Most of the captives reportedly suffered horrible fates. Some were said to have been killed in ritual sacrifice, and others were worked to death as laborers. Yet, Aguilar and other survivors eventually escaped and found shelter in more lenient Mayan communities. By 1519, only two of the original eighteen captives were still alive—Jeronimo de Aguilar and another man by the name of Gonzalo Guerrero.
Continuew reading about the tale of Gonzalo Guerrero and the way Spain learned of his supposed existence, HERE.

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