Man-Gods in the Mexican Highlands: Indian Power and Colonial Society, 1520-1800

By Serge Gruzinski ; Eileen Corrigan | Go to book overview

ence that listened to Antonio's preachings was easily dispersed by the colonial forces. The gods, the Virgin and the Lord, were seized, the houses searched.

The remains of the little band scattered in the mountains. The cave of the volcano and its treasures disappeared like the palace of Alcina in the last act. There were no more delirious Indians to dance under the moon. The curtain fell from a repression that did not burden itself with speeches or rituals. The Church was reassuring: those whom it once momentarily believed were "idolaters, iconomaques, Sacramentarians, Waldensians, and even Calvinists" were simply "illiterate people who had no, or a greatly circumscribed, knowledge of the principles, dogmas, and mysteries of our Catholic religion." What is more: "The incredible incoherence of their ineptitude, which does not even have the semblance of plausibility but is full of incongruity and contradiction, clearly demonstrates that they were not guided by reason but by a weakness quite natural in that nation, attributable as elsewhere to a lack of education."


Epilogue

It is not irrelevant to add that the priest at Yautepec who, with two of his brothers, staged the repression and lost a finger to it, Domingo José de la Mota, was not just an ecclesiastic of renown in the archbishopric of Mexico, but also an Indian, a cacique. His brothers Don Antonio and Don Juan Manuel were also priests, and two others had been governors of indigenous areas of the capital of New Spain. One of his cousins, Sister Gregoria de Christo, had taken the veil in Mexico City. Once more, like Andrés or Gregorio Juan, the man-god clashed with other Indians, but this time with Indians who were completely taken over by the Church and dedicated uprooters "of the abuses, superstition, and ignorance" that they uncovered among the vast majority of their fellows. The gulf could not have been deeper between these popular indigenous cultures (of which Antonio's movement was one of the most spectacular manifestations) and the ruling group, nobles integrated into the colonial institutions, connected with the archbishopric and the

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