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Diego de Landa
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Religious Figure
    (November 12, 1524-April 29, 1579)
    Born in Cifuentes, Spain
    Franciscan friar
    Sent as a missionary to the Mayans after the Spanish conquest of Yucatan (1549)
    Wrote 'Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan ('Report of the Affairs of Yucatan,' 1566)
    A fellow Franciscan described him as 'monomaniacal in his fervor.'
    He destroyed as much the written records of the Mayans as he could find (only three books escaped his bonfires), wiping out a primary source for information on the Mayan culture.
    He subjected thousands of suspected heretics to the garrucha, in which a victim was tied about the wrists, hoisted off the ground, and whipped.
    At least 150 people died while being interrogated.
    He was accused by the Bishop of Yucatan of conducting an Inquisition without proper authority and sent back to Spain for trial (1569).
    He travelled throughout Yucatan, preaching at the most remote villages.
    He claimed to have rescued a young boy from becoming a human sacrifice.
    Not only did the court in Spain absolve him of all charges, he was appointed the second Bishop of Yucatan after his accuser died (1571).
    He thoroughly documented the civilization he was destroying, with his 'Relacion' being described by one anthropologist as 'an ethnographic masterpiece.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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