The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952 Page: 429
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
of ten or fifteen they drank so greedily that the wine-servers had
to bestir themselves. And so meager was the food they ate that
already by nightfall they were losing their senses." These lines
might well have been written by a twentieth-century writer
describing a cocktail party in any great national capital. As a
matter of fact, however, it is a partial description of Indian
drunkenness and debauchery in Mexico City during the first
half of the sixteenth century.
As one reads on, he is suddenly thrust into the stark and
fantastic reality of human sacrifice minutely described. The grue-
some nightmare goes on, chapter after chapter. Various types of
human sacrifice, cannibalism, self-mutilation, grotesque dances,
and all sorts of superstition are described in great detail through-
out most of the first treatise, about fifteen chapters out of the
forty-five that comprise the book. A strong impression is thus
created in the first third of the book that the Indians of the
valley of Mexico were about the most religiously depraved peo-
ple in the world.
At this point, from a secular point of view, one might even be
justified for doubting that the Indians were worth the effort put
forth by the Franciscan missionaries. One might even wonder
why any alarm is expressed because the Spaniards destroyed so
many Indians that only "He alone Who counts the drops of rain
water and the sands of the sea can count all the deaths."
With the first chapter of the second treatise, even from the
secular point of view, the efforts of the missionaries begin to
.appear to be justified. As a result of untiring missionary work,
the Indians began to destroy their own temples and to build
Christian churches with the temple materials. They began to seek
baptism by the hundreds. "Many also renounce polygamy, and
.after receiving Baptism, they are married to one woman." When
they came for baptism, "they raise their hands in supplication,
groaning and shrinking in humility, others ask for and receive
it with tears in their eyes."
As one reads on, the fog of doubt is blown away by the gentle
breeze of missionary endeavor. Even if, as one renowned his-
torian suggested, Motolinia's History should be read with the
understanding that this account is the work of a churchman, the
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952, periodical, 1952; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/m1/503/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.