In search of gold. Francisco de Montejo
Perhaps the vast majority of Spanish conquistadors can be described as greedy, cruel and cunning people. Simply put, Native American cultures opposed professional thugs who were ready to do anything to satisfy their own greed and desire for power. Similarly, was a native of the small Spanish city of Salamanca Francisco de Montejo. The New World attracted him with unprecedented wealth and comprehensive power.
Greed above all else
The conquest of the New World was not so easy and fast for the Spaniards as they would like. Of course, they confidently expanded their possessions, but it was still very, very far from complete conquest. The Indians, who at first seemed to be "whipping boys," showed the Europeans that they also know how to learn military craft and adapt to the enemy. But still they were much weaker. The conquest of the New World was only a matter of time. And measured in liters of spilled blood.
And here the Spaniard Francisco de Montejo also decided to take part in the “Indian Pie” section. What he did before 1514, reliable information is almost not preserved. It is known that, most likely, he was born in 1479 year in Salamanca. And in the year 1514 mentioned, in search of a better life, de Montejo went to Cuba. And in 1518, he joined the expedition of a more experienced and illustrious conquistador Juan de Grihalva. They went to the Yucatan, opened by Francisco de Cordova. Several hundred Spaniards took part in that expedition. From Yucatan, they headed west along the coast until they reached the shores of modern Mexico. De Grihalva called these lands "New Spain". The expedition managed to reach the mouth of the river Tabasco and moved on. And at the mouth of the Rio Blanco, the Spaniards met the Aztecs. They already knew about the strangers who appeared in their lands. De Grihalva behaved friendly and managed to trade well with the Indians. Then the expedition continued on its way. And only six months later they returned to Cuba.
Here, de Montejo, who, in general, didn’t show anything special on the expedition, managed to get acquainted with a much more significant figure - Hernan Cortes. And since it was Cortes who was commissioned to engage in the "mastering" of the newly discovered Mexico, de Montejo was asked to join his expedition. And he did not refuse him. And in 1519, Cortes ordered his associate responsible task - to report on the conquest of Mexico to King Carl the Fifth. And it was required to do this as beautifully and as possible. The venerable conqueror knew perfectly well about the oratorical abilities of his subordinate, therefore he chose him. And no mistake. De Montejo brilliantly coped with the task, and Cortes was greeted as a real victor. Francisco himself married Beatrice de Herrera. For some time he led a normal and boring way of life. But then financial difficulties began. De Montejo could solve them in only one way - to make a new journey to the New World. Since most of the land was already “cultivated” by other conquistadors, Francisco decided to try his luck in Yucatan. In principle, he reasoned. Since Mexico is filled with gold, why should it not be on an undeveloped peninsula? And the locals didn’t seem to differ much from the Aztecs. In general, using the location of the royal court, de Montejo managed to get permission to conquer the Yucatan. At the same time, the conquistador also received the position of Adelantado (governor) of the land not yet captured.
For Francisco, this was a fantastic career growth. In fact, he stood on the same level with the famous Cortez! True, Hernan had already conquered the Aztecs, and de Montejo only had to cope with the Maya. But this fact did not confuse him. Francisco was confidently moving towards wealth and greatness.
Hike to Yucatan
In 1527, de Montejo led a squad of four hundred soldiers and went to turn the dream into reality. In Espanyol, Francisco purchased several dozen horses and continued on his way. Soon the ships reached their destination - the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Spaniards knew that the Mayans inhabited those lands. They also knew that the once great civilization at the time of their arrival was in a strong decline. By the way, the leader of the military expedition was counting on this. He hoped that the Maya would not offer him serious resistance (like the Aztecs of Cortes) and would be able to seize their wealth with a little blood. But the Maya, contrary to expectations, although they were in decline, did not intend to obey the Europeans without question. True, de Montejo was surprised to learn that the Indians sympathized with Christianity. But the sense of it was still not enough.
In the new land of Francisco, the first thing he founded was the city of Salamanca de Shelha. I must say that the conquistador was the founder of several cities and they all received the name "Salamanca". Love for the little homeland de Montejo did not hide. As for the Maya, the relationship with them evolved uneasy. And the further the detachment moved deeper into the peninsula, the higher the tension. The Indians responded with a categorical refusal to peaceful persuasion to go under Spanish rule. The idea did not work with the change of religion. Maya sympathized with Christianity, but overnight they too did not burn with desire to forget their ancient gods. In general, to solve the problem "brotherly" did not work. And de Montejo got angry. Very angry. Leaving about a hundred soldiers to protect Salamanca de Schelx, he and the others went weapons to prove to the Indians the fallacy of their beliefs.
The first battle with the Maya de Montejo won easily. This was due to the lack of experience in waging wars with Europeans among these people. Firearms did their job. Conquistador managed to capture several cities of the enemy. Then followed the battle of Chawaka and Ake. And here the Spaniard was better. Maya handed over one city after another. Soon, de Montejo could boast a dozen localities that he managed to capture. True, there was nothing more to boast. Majestic palaces, impressive temples and other grand buildings - this is all that the Indians were rich with. Gold and precious stones were not. De Monteho went berserk. Cortes and other conquistadors, conquering the Indians, made huge profits, and he ... The conquered Mayans asserted that they were dying out, all that the conqueror sees now are the achievements of their distant ancestors. Accordingly, now they have nothing but stories... But Francisco did not believe. And who would believe? He was sure that the Indians were deceiving him. Gold and precious stones are there, they just hid them. But torture and demonstrative executions of the Indians did not work. Then de Montejo decided to take up the slave trade in order to get at least some profit. Maya began to resist more actively. And the conquistador unleashed a war. For the slightest disobedience, Indians were brutally murdered. And the Spaniards did not spare neither children, nor women, nor old men. Monk Diego de Landa, who accompanied de Montejo on that expedition, recalled that Francisco loved to burn people alive and set dogs on them. Especially strong resistance was given to the Spaniards in Tulum and Chetumal. Residents after the victory of de Montejo dealt with indicative cruelty. Noble men were burned, women were hung in trees, and their children were used as cargo. In general, Francisco and his soldiers behaved as “civilized” as possible. In addition, the conquistador was an adherent of tactics, when dozens and hundreds of innocent Indians were executed for the death of a Spaniard. But despite numerous conquests, de Montejo was forced to turn back. The terrible cruelty of the massacre of the Indians did not bring the desired results. Maya fought and did not intend to surrender. And the Spaniard retreated. He needed to replenish a heavily thinned squad.
Francisco returned to Cuba. Taking a short pause, in 1531, de Montejo once again tried to conquer the Yucatan. This time, he decided to attack the inhabitants of the peninsula from the west side. The campaign began well for the Spaniards. They managed to capture several major Mayan cities. Including their ancient cultural center - Chichen Itza. Here de Montejo decided to organize a stronghold. But a few months later, the Mayans revolted. And although Francisco managed to come with reinforcements on time, he was forced to leave these lands again. Instead, the Spaniard founded the new city and made it a stronghold. But again, de Montejo failed to quench his thirst for greed. Despite the conquered cities, he still did not see the treasure. Not justified his hopes and Chichen Itza. The ancient holy city was empty.
Bishop Diego de Landa, in the “Report on Affairs in Yucatan,” wrote: “The Indians put up with a heavy yoke of slavery. But the Spaniards kept separated their settlements in the country. However, there was no shortage of Indians who rebelled against them, to which they responded with very cruel punishments, which caused a decrease in population. They burned alive several notables in the province of Kupul, others were hanged. Information was obtained about the (agitation) of the inhabitants of Jobin, the village of Cheley. The Spaniards grabbed notables, locked them in chains and set fire to the house. They were burned alive, with the greatest inhumanity in the world. And Diego de Landa says this, that he saw a large tree near the village, on the branches of which the captain hung many Native American women, and on their feet (hung) their own children. In the same village and in the other, which is called Verey, in two leagues from there, they hanged two Indian women, one girl and another who had recently married, not for any fault, but because they were very beautiful, and feared unrest because of them in the Spanish camp, and that the Indians thought that the Spaniards were indifferent women. There is a vivid memory of these two (women) among the Indians and Spaniards, because of their great beauty and cruelty, with which they were killed. The Indians of the provinces Kochvah (Cochua) and Chektemal (Chectemal) rebelled, and the Spaniards pacified them in such a way that the two provinces, which were the most populated and filled with people, remained the most miserable in the whole country. They committed unheard-of cruelty, chopping off the noses, hands, arms and legs, breasts in women, throwing them into the deep lagoons with pumpkins tied to their legs, striking with a sword with children who did not go as fast as their mothers. If those who were led on the neck chain weakened and did not walk like others, they would have their heads cut off among others so as not to linger, unleashing them. They led a large number of captured men and women for service, treating them in the same way. Don Francisco de Montejo is said to have not committed any of these atrocities and was not present at them. On the contrary, he considered them very bad, although he could not do anything else (nothing). ”
In 1535, de Montejo had to leave the peninsula. But two years before that he had been appointed by royal decree by the governor of Honduras. True, this gesture did not appreciate the current governor Pedro de Alvarado. Therefore, when Francisco arrived in his patrimony, a military conflict began. Victory left for de Alvarado. He put the defeated enemy in jail. Without fear for his power, Pedro began to develop the territory. Thanks to his efforts, new plantations and gold mines appeared in Honduras. But a few years later, de Montejo managed to free himself. And his eldest son helped him in this. And in 1540, Francisco managed to capture Honduras.
In the same year, 1540, de Montejo made another attempt to capture Yucatan. And this time, luck smiled at the old conquistador. True, the main character was not he, but his son Francisco de Montejo El Moso. De Montejo, Jr. founded seven cities in Yucatan. Including Campeche and Merida.
In 1541, a detachment of five hundred Spaniards under the authority of their son de Montejo set off to destroy the last foci of Mayan resistance. Some surrendered without a fight, but at the city of Tycho the army of Indians was waiting for the conquerors. The decisive battle left for the Spaniards. When news about the victory of the Europeans spread throughout the peninsula, the morale of the Indians was finally broken. And even the leader of the most powerful province of the northern part of Yucatan, Titul Shiu, decided to surrender to the Spaniards without a fight. It was a complete victory.
In 1546, de Montejo Sr. became the full governor of Yucatan. But he did not have to enjoy power for a long time. Due to numerous conflicts with church representatives (especially with Bishop Diego de Landa) in 1550, the king ordered him to return to Spain. The old conquistador could not disobey the order. He died in the 1553 year after a long illness. He never gained fabulous wealth ...
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