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5787 - The Lingering Specter of the Auto de Fe: Fray Diego de Landa, the Inquisitorial Jurisdiction and the extirpation of Idolatry in Colonial Yucatán, 1550-1579

Most of what we know about Fray Diego de Landa, his relationship to the Maya, and his impact on the cultural, religious and political history of Yucatan and the wider region of New Spain has been tainted forever by the events and actions of July 12, 1562 when Landa presided over a terrifying inquisitorial auto de fe in the Maya cah of Mani. Nevertheless, many central questions concerning Fray Diego de Landa have never been answered. Who really was this friar and how did his family and educational background prepare him for his role as Monastic inquisitor? Why did he act as he did in July 1562? What were his motivations and what did he actually understand about the inquisitorial jurisdiction he claimed to exercise that fateful day? This presentation will attempt a deeper analysis of the friar, his educational and family background, and connect them both to his infamous auto de fe, and his lesser known but even more repressive campaigns of extirpation as bishop from 1572-1579. The paper will present new evidence concerning this famous Franciscan, his family and educational background, and how his political and religious ties to high level officials in Italy and Spain enabled him to emerge from the scandal of his infamous Auto de Fe not only unscathed, but rather how these things enabled him to return triumphantly to Yucatan as the province's second bishop, armed with the legitimate powers to conduct even more repressive episcopal autos de fe as ecclesiastical judge ordinary.

Keywords: Diego de Landa, Idolatry, Franciscan, Maya, Extirpation

Author: Chuchiak IV, John F (Missouri State University, Ud States of Am / USA)

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