Franciscan Missions To The Maya - Physical Punishment

Physical Punishment

The early success through peaceful teaching and quiet example of the Franciscan missionaries, however, was short lived. Within the first few years it became apparent that verbal teaching would not be enough, as the Mayans remained overall unmoved of the lessons of Christianity. In 1539 the heads of the three religious orders operating in Mexico met with the Franciscan bishop Juan de Zumárraga and concluded that the friars of the missionaries could legally inflict “light punishment” on the Mayans. These moderate disciplines, however, soon turned into cases of physical abuse and excessive cruelty; it seems that once the friars found this method to be successful, there could be no turning back. This can be witnessed by the words of Vasco de Quiroga, a bishop of Michoacán: " are now inflicting many mistreatments upon the Indians, with great haughtiness and cruelty, for when the Indians do not obey them, they insult and strike them, tear out their hair, have them stripped and cruelly flogged, and then throw them into prison in chains and cruel irons."

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