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Alonso de Zorita: Early and Last Years

Author(s): Ralph H. Vigil

Source: The Americas, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Apr., 1976), pp. 501-513
Published by: Cambridge University Press
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ALONSO de Zorita's career as a Spanish judge in the In

years 1548-1556, though not as well known as the car
Bartolome de las Casas and other pro-Indian reformers
serious study. The arrival of Zorita and his subsequent action
ministrator and legist represent one example of the serious
the Crown in the 1540's to impose royal control over a quasi-feu
of conquerors and pobladores which had from the early sixte
tury entrenched itself in the New World. Moreover, Zorita was
a jurist who attempted to implement the New Laws of 1542-
inspired humanitarian who took an active interest in the native
tions of the New World and questioned the relations that ha
and created "a Hispano-Indian society characterized by the d
of the masses by a small privileged minority ..."1 His ardent
the Indians against the charge that they were "barbarians" i
relativist line of argument that anticipated Michel de Montai
brated comment that "everyone calls barbarian what is not
usage."2 In addition, his inquiries into native history, land tenur
heritance laws may be considered "in effect exercises in appli
pology, capable of yielding a vast amount of information ab
customs and society" and is an example of what Europe saw
to see in the sixteenth century when confronted with a st

Both as author and judge Zorita has been studied, cited, pr

harshly condemned by students of colonial Mexico, and the
graphical sketch of Zorita continues to be that of the Spanish
Manuel Serrano y Sanz.4 Serrano's introduction to Zorita's life an
is based upon various of Zorita's letters and memorials found by
in the Archivo General de Indias in Seville and was published
supporting secondary documentation in Madrid in 1909. This
cal study is excellently documented, although incomplete, but is

1 France V. Scholes, "The Beginnings of Hispano-Indian Society in Yucatan,

Monthly, XLIV (June, 1937), 530-538.
2 J. H. Elliott, The Old World and the New, 1492-1650 (Cambridge, 1970), 46
3 Ibid., 33 and 6.
4 Manuel Serrano y Sanz, "Vida y escritos del Doctor Alonso de Zorita,"
in Alonso de Zorita, "Historia de la Nueva Espafia," Coleccidn de libros y
referentes a la historia de America (Madrid, 1909), VII-CX. Cited hereinafter
y Sanz.


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by the author's hostile view of Zorita. S

treatment of Zorita also fails to provide i
years and life on his return to Spain. For
to provide information dealing with Z
the environment which molded his char
Indies as a reforming judge. It also provid
Spain following his suspension from offic
inquest was taken as judge of the Audienc
on archival investigations made in prep
study of the life and times of Alonso d
propriate that an essay about a devoted
pear at a time when the world is commem
of the birth of the great Protector of the Ind
Alonso de Zorita's ancestors can be trac
X repopulated Jerez de la Frontera with
Castile. Among these nobles the Zorita fam
tain don Fagut from Zorita de los Cane
hombre don Alvaro Fernindez de Zorita
The Zoritas of Jerez married into othe
such as that of the Haro (related to do
first Count of Priego),7 the Villavicen
Guzmin, and the Ponce de Le6n. Zoritas
and alcaldes mayores in the governing
its earliest date, and in 1340 Diego Fernin
captains commanding municipal troops
battle of the Salado in which Spanish troo
defeat of the Moroccans at this battle end
Peninsula and paved the way for Alfon
in 1350.
For his bravery in the battle of the S

5 Alonso de Zorita, Life and Labor in Ancient M

tion of the Lords of New Spain, translated and w
(New Brunswick, N.J., 1963), (18), 290. Cited herei
6 Hip61lito R. Sancho, "Diego Fernindez de Zur
Granada," Revista de Historia y de Genealogia E
II: 107-116, III: 327-337, IV: 178-236. Cited hereinaf
7 Alonso L6pez de Haro, Nobilario genealdgico de
Madrid, 1622), II, 424.
8s Hipdlito R. Sancho, I, 18. This Diego Fernind
Fagut the Conqueror and the grandfather of
9 The other three captains belonged to the houses of Villavicencio, Valdespino, and

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Fernaindez de Zurita, regidor of Jere

Their ancient blazon of the two silv
which alluded to the family's origin
placed by one with a blue backgrou
gold accompanied by two dragons' h
nindez de Zurita of the same noble
Part of the Zorita family moved from Jerez to C6rdoba, and it is from
these Zoritas that Alonso de Zorita descends. On his father's side of the
family, Alonso de Zorita, probably born in 1512,12 was the legitimate son
of Alonso Diaz de Zurita, a native of Cafiete de las Torres13 and jurado
or municipal officer of the city of C6rdoba in the precinct of Santo Do-
mingo de Silos. His grandfather was another Alonso Diaz de Zurita, the
son of Salvador de Zurita y Villavicencio, of the noble house of Jerez de
la Frontera, and of Beatriz Moyano de Figueroa y C6rdoba, hija natural
of Diego Fernindez de C6rdoba and niece of the Count of Priego. Alonso
de Zorita's mother was doiia Ifies Fernindez de Valdelomar y C6rdoba,
the daughter of the caballero and toreador Pedro Fernindez de Valdelo-
mar and Ana de C6rdoba.14

o10 Hipdlito R. Sancho, I, 17. Gonzalo Argote de Molina, Nobleza de Andalucia (Jaen,
1866), 423. For the same coat of arms but for different colors, see Juan Luis Espejo, No-
biliario de la antigua capitania general de Chile (2 vols., Santiago de Chile, 1917-1921), I,
282-283 under lineage of Juan Perez de Zurita.
11 Diego Fernindez de Zurita, the son of Juana de Garcia de Colsantos and Fernando
Alfonso de Zurita, was raised in the house of don Fadrique de Castilla, Duke of Arjona
and Count of Trastamara, Lemos and Sirrie. He served don Fadrique as camarero mayor,
and one of his sons married Florentina Ponce de Le6n, sister of the Marquis of Cidiz and
daughter of the Count of Arcos and Lord of Marchena. Hipdlito R. Sancho, I, 29.
12 In his dedication of the Historia de la Nueva Espai~a to don Hernando de Vega,
president of the Royal Council of the Indies, Zorita stated on October 20, 1585, that he
was 73 years of age. This means that he was born either in 1511 or 1512. Serrano y Sanz, 6.
13 The confusion between the two patronymic family names Zorita and Zurita makes
for bibliographical confusion, but is in reality of minor importance. The fact is that the
names were recognized as interchangeable in the sixteenth century, and the subject of this
study was occasionally referred to as Alonso de Zurita, the form used by his father and
those Zoritas of Aragonese descent such as Jer6nimo de Zurita, the chronicler of Aragon.
In fact, Jer6nimo de Zurita in his memorial claims the same coat of arms as that of Alonso
de Zorita's family, and it appears that the Zuritas of Aragon also had their origin in Jerez
de la Frontera. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid, "Memorial de Jer6nimo de Zurita
a Felipe III sobre su limpieza de sangre," Coleccidn de don Luis de Salazar, Vol. A-110,
folios 337-341. See also J. F. A. de Ustarroz and D. J. Dormer, Progreso de la historia en
Aragdn y vida de sus cronistas (Zaragosa, 1878), 8. Moreover, the etymology of the
word Zorita or Zurita is undoubtedly purely Iberian and not Arabic as Serrano y Sanz-
following Belot's Vocabulaire arabe-frangais-would have us believe. J. Corominas, Dic-
cionario critico etimoldgico de la lengua castellana (4 vols., Madrid, 1954), IV, 883. Cafiete
de las Torres in the province of C6rdoba was captured permanently from the Moors in
1407 by Fernando de Antequera, the uncle of Juan II (1406-1454) of Castile.
14 Luis de Roa y Ursia, El reyno de Chile, 1535-1810 (Valladolid, 1945), 222. Tomis

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Because Zorita-like many of the membe

tives to Cortes, and other important gov
of the lesser nobility proceeding from
inherited a frame of reference peculiar
by the sixteenth century -had become "a
Harold Livermore has observed "was not
ture; he was also the soldier and the fun
state depended; his was the voice of co
decision in a thousand administrative ma
tion in a million sermons and lawsuits.""16
Alonso Diaz de Zorita, Zorita's father
documents in the Archivo de Protocolos in
speculated in land,17 and acted as mayo

Thayer Ojeda, Formacidn de la sociedad chilena

aifos de 1540 a 1565 (3 vols., Santiago de Chile, 1
Pedro de Olmos and dofia Maria de Zorita, the si
in the seventeenth century and belonged to the
Guillermo Lohmann Villena, Los americanos en l
Madrid, 1947), II, 91 and 187. Juan Perez de Zo
longed to the military Order of Calatrava. I am
Figueroa y C6rdoba was the niece of the Mar
Priego, for the Counts of Priego began with d
the marquises of Priego are of the house of Fern
Haro, Nobiliario genealdgico, II, 330-334. It shoul
that Ana de C6rdoba was of the noble house of
Nobiliario de la antigua capitania general de Ch
nindez de C6rdoba goes back to the counts of T
the family became Grandes de Espaina, marquise
Cabra, counts of Alcaudete, dukes of Sessa, m
C6rdoba and Montemayor. The most famous hist
Gonzalo Fernindez de C6rdoba who with Gonzal
tercios of the sixteenth century.
15 Recent studies have demonstrated that only ap
proceeded from the old feudal aristocracy or fr
dones, younger sons of the great houses. J. Vice
(5 vols., Barcelona, 1961), II, 443.
16 Harold Livermore, A History of Spain (Londo
17Instrument by which the jurado don Alonso
de C6rdoba, vecinos in the precinct of Santo Do
the boundary of the villa of Montoro to the Holy
able censo of 75,000 maravedis, payable at the ra
Alonso de Zurita-dofia In6s de C6rdoba, March
doba, Oficio 1, Protocolo 27, fols. 255v.-257.).
father and mother may be found in the follow
40,000 maravedis, January 30, 1539. (A.P.C., O
purchase of land worth 10,000 maravedis, Octob
fols. 1253-1258.); (3) sale of land worth 225,000 m
21, Tomo 49, fols. 336v.-340.); (4) sale of land w

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estate of his relative, dofia Catalin

quesa de Priego and Condesa de Feria
That Zorita's father, who died in 1
has already been observed; that h
demonstrated by the fact that ou
seigneurial rents he was able to g
money when Zorita sailed for the In
cial and economic importance of the
ensayados given Juan Perez de Zorit
Jer6nima de Mena y Saldafia at their
Don Alonso, who appears to hav
and sisters,21 undoubtedly display
learning manifested in his later w
was then one of the quickest way
success, his teachers probably recom
be sent to the university for furthe
fluence who could afford to enroll
his oldest son to study law at Sala
in the sixteenth century continue
and many of the distinguished scho
Crown in the New World were ta

(A.P.C., Oficio 21, Tomo 49, fols. 348-351

the equivalent of 525,000 maravedis, April
368.); (6) purchase of land worth 18,000
Tomo 49, fols. 468-471.); (7) sale of land wo
Oficio 21, Tomo 49, fols. 986-989.). I am i
Torre y del Cerro, cronista oficial de la pro
to his father's file on Zorita. Without the
colos in C6rdoba over a lifetime by don Jo
18 Letter of payment in the amount of 519 maravedis granted by the jurado Alonso de
Zurita acting as mayordomo for the Sefiora Marquesa de Priego and Condesa de Ferias to
Asensio L6pez, vecino of Cafiete, for the use of the baking oven in the said villa. Signature:
Alonso de Zurita, C6rdoba, November 30, 1540. (A.P.C., Oficio 7, Tomo 1.).
19 Letter of Zorita to the Crown, Cartagena, October 13, 1551. (Archivo General de
Indias, Audiencia de Santa Fe, Legajo 187.). Cited hereinafter as A.G.I. with appropriate
20 Probanza of the services of Juan Perez de Zorita, La Plata, October 16, 1583. (A.G.I.,
Patronato 127, Ramo 12.).
21 These were Juan Perez de Zorita, Francisco de Zorita, Miguel Diaz de Zorita, Lucia
de Zorita, Maria Zorita de Villavicencio, Elvira Zorita de Villavicencio, Ines de Zorita,
and Ana de Zorita Villavicencio. Jos6 de la Torre y del Cerro, "Los fundadores de las C6r-
dobas de Am6rica," Obras de don Josd de la Torre y del Cerro (1 vol., C6rdoba, 1955), I,
22 Keen, 20.

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of Zorita's attendance at Salamanca are

was in Salamanca from 1537 to 1540.23
Zorita at Salamanca studied in an atmo
sentatives of the leading Spanish houses in
like his future enemy, the Licenciado
the more famous and honorable Pedro d
was probably required to submit written
and noble virtues before being admitted to
Once Zorita completed his studies and pa
degree of licenciado or bachelor of law, h
where he practiced law before the Audien
the supreme court of southern Castile, fo
March 1548 he held the office of abogado
by the Crown for those who could not af
own expense.26
On May 21, 1547, Zorita was appointed
encia of Santo Domingo,27 and departed
April 28, 1548, in the ship commanded b
companied by his wife, Catarina de Carden
de Zorita.28 During his tenure of offic
mingo, he conducted the residencia of M
de residencia and governor of New Gran
Marta and Cartagena. Zorita was hinder

23 Serrano y Sanz, X and 17. A search of the in

bachilleramientos prior to 1546 furnished me by P
the Archivo de la Universidad de Salamanca, when
to reveal Zorita's name.
24 Miguel Diez, describing his university studies
manca, en el Colegio Mayor de San Bartolom6, de
Quien en esa casa entra ha da hacer tres informaci
y tienese por probanza mis que cierta, que no e
buena casta el que es dado por haibil para ser e
rigurosa ..." Letter of Miguel Diez de Armendir
April 27, 1547, in Pedro de Aguado, Historia de V
25 Letter of Zorita to the Crown, Mexico, March 20, 1560. (A.G.I., Aud. de Mexico,
Leg. 68.).
26 Power of Attorney given by Licenciado Alonso de Zorita to his brother Juan Perez
de Zorita and Licenciado Turiel, lawyer of the Royal Chancery of Granada, C6rdoba,
March 11, 1548. (A.P.C., Oficio 23, Protocolo 10.).
27 Appointment of Zorita as oidor of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo, Madrid, May
21, 1547. (A.G.I., Aud. de Santo Domingo, Leg. 868, fol. 364v.).
28 Letter of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo to the Crown, Santo Domingo, May 13,
1549. (A.G.I., Aud. de Santo Domingo, Leg. 49.). Testament of Departure by Alonso de
Zorita before Pedro Sinchez, Crown notary, San Liicar de Barrameda, April 28, 1548.
(A.G.I., Aud. de M6xico, Leg. 100.).

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maneuvers of the newly created Audi

the encomenderos who feared for t
physical and economic hardship betw
on January 17, 1550,2" and his retu
1552,30 but his mission and judicia
serve as the basis for the removal of
the residencia by Juan Montafio, t
de residencia in New Granada. Mor
residence in Santo Domingo was a ju
istered justice "with all the probity
able."3' He also enjoyed the affectio
and this is demonstrated by the reque
in Espafiola by the members of the
was learned that he had been assigned

Sacra, Cesairea, Cat61licas, Reales Maj

La ciudad, justicia y regimiento de S
besamos los reales pies y manos de V
tades por el cuidado y memoria que s
a esta repfiblica en todo lo que a su so
Y asi las esperamos siempre recibir d
que Vuestra Majestad serai servido
resida y est6 en esta su real audiencia
della porque a la verdad es persona d
muy bien ha mirado su real servicio
ministraci6n de la justicia debe habe
todos los que bien viven y aman la ve
dos por su recitud y bondad y por
Majestad no estando informado de la
sona le manda ir a servirse de 61 en o
esta ciudad y regimiento en su nom
servido que aqui se quede y no se m
licenciado de Zorita, porque asi conv
vicio de Vuestra Majestad y bien dest
que nos mueve a nuestra suplicaci6n,
Dios Nuestro Sefior, el cual largos tiem
Majestades de Sus Reales Personas co
y sefiorias como Vuestra Majestad lo
mingo de la isla Espafiola a diez y siet

29 Letter of Zorita to the Crown, Santa Mar

Fe, Leg. 16.).
30 Residencia of Licenciados Alonso L6pez
Alonso de Zorita, president and judges of t
mingo, 1553, Legs. 75-80. (A.G.I., Justicia, Leg.
31x nformacidn, Alonso de Zorita, Mexico
The translation is by Keen, 23.

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De Vuestras S.C.C. Majestades muy hu

sus reales pies y manos besan.
Licenciado Carmona. Crist6bal de Tapia.
lero. Alonso Caballero. Alonso de la Pefia. Ju
Por mandado de los dichos sefiores, justicia
Francisco de Pineda
escribano de Su Majestad y del
(Firmas y rflbricas)32

Zorita served in the Audiencia of Guatemala from September 20,

1553,"3 until his departure from Santiago de los Caballeros in late April
of 1556. In Guatemala Zorita worked with Alonso L6pez de Cerrato, the
president of the Audiencia, in implementing the New Laws for the In-
dians' protection. Their work was opposed by the corrupt secular clergy
and the encomenderos, and was hindered by the rivalry and strife be-
tween the Franciscan and Dominican orders; and with Cerrato's death
and Zorita's departure for Mexico in April 1556 the encomenderos of
Guatemala ultimately gained their economic objectives, and the New
Laws so admirably enforced by these judges became a dead letter.
Zorita was recognized by the Audiencia of Mexico on July 9, 1556,"'
and during the ten years he served in Mexico he maintained justice equally
among both Spaniards and Indians, in spite of his dislike of the encomen-
deros. However, he discovered shortly after his arrival in the viceregal
capital that his hearing was impaired and that this was a source of em-
barrassment in the performance of his many duties. Fearing that he
might become totally deaf, Zorita requested that he be allowed to resign
his office and return to Spain. When Zorita's illness was confirmed by the
Audiencia in 156035 he received permission in 1561 to return to Spain
with a grant of one year's salary to defray expenses for his return trip.36
But because his hearing improved, Zorita continued in his office and was
subjected to the visita conducted by Licenciado Jer6nimo Valderrama of
the judges in the Audiencia.
Once Zorita's residencia was completed, he was again granted permis-

32 Letter of the Cabildo of Santo Domingo to the Crown, Santo Domingo, February 17,
1553. (A.G.I., Aud. de Santo Domingo, Leg. 73.).
33 Letter of the Audiencia of Guatemala to the Crown, Santiago de Guatemala, Sep-
tember 20, 1553. (A.G.I., Aud. de Mexico, Leg. 100.).
34 Letter of the Audiencia of Mexico to the Crown, Mexico City, July 9, 1556. (A.G.I.,
Aud. de Mexico, Leg. 100.).
35 Letter of the Audiencia of Mexico to the Crown, Mexico, March 22, 1560. (A.G.I.,
Aud. de Mexico, Leg. 68.).
36 Letter of Zorita to the Crown, Mexico, February 10, 1561. (A.G.I., Aud. de Mexico,
Leg. 68.).

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sion by the Crown to retire, and w

year's salary to help him defray th
proved disappointing, for he had ea
retire with a grant of three year's
Seville in 1566 the 8,000 ducats that
sequestered by the Crown, so acute w
in Spain. After pleading for two mon
confiscated by the Casa de Contrat
1,000 ducats of the original sum and
Casa was exchanged for an annuity
returned to Zorita were used to pay
costs of his trip home.
After returning to Spain Zorita se
his remaining years. From Granada h
the regular clergy in Mexico and com
tion prior to his retirement, among t
de la Nueva Espana.
The notices we have of Zorita in Spa
7, 1576, Zorita presented a petition to
he requested the salary of oidor in re
of faithful service in the Indies and h
there is the comment that he had bee
from the revenues obtained in the A
the 7,000 ducats he had lent the Crow
paid because of the rebellion of the
petition which has the comment "T
the Indies reiterates a prior request
to asking for aid from the Crown als
of service in Mexico conducted by
plete visita or residencia of Zorita a
Mexico40 is no longer to be found i
only the sentences pronounced by the
and early 1572 after initial review by
located by France V. Scholes and pu

37 Letter of Zorita to the Crown, Mexico, F

Leg. 68.).
38 Petition of Zorita to the Royal Council of the Indies, Madrid, Friday, June 7, 1576.
(A.G.I., Indif. Gen., Leg. 1085.). See J. H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716 (New York,
1966), 232-237, for the second rebellion of the Alpujarras.
39 Petition of Zorita to the Royal Council of the Indies, Madrid, May 5, 1575. (A.G.I.,
Indif. Gen., Leg. 1385.).
40 The visita and residencia are almost indistinguishable. See J. M. Mariluz Urquijo,
Ensayo sobre los juicios de residencia indianos (Seville, 1952), 141-146, 255-256.

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volume of documents concerning Valde

the years 1563-1565.41
In his petition of 1575 Zorita noted that
office on February 7, 1572, for three and
The suspension from office was to be co
the fine could not be paid because he ha
debt. Moreover, because his annuity h
forced to sell his household goods and thos
Perez de Zorita had inherited from their p
cil of the Indies to repeal his suspension an
ing from his residencia, stating that the
Valderrama were based on the false test
later involved in the Avila conspiracy.43 Z
questing that he be given licenses for ship
various ports in the Indies without having
the office of escribano de juez de bienes d
its district in addition to the office of the
mayor of Tlaxcala, Tepeaca, and Huejotz
41 France V. Scholes and Eleanor B. Adams (ed
Valderrama y otros documentos sobre su visita al
in Documentos para la historia del Mexico coloni
VII, 346-401.
42 Petition of Zorita to the Royal Council of the Indies, op. cit., Madrid, May 5, 1575.
43 "A.V.A. humilmente suplica se tenga atenci6n a lo susodicho y asi no hubo contra 61
demanda pi'blica ni de mal sentenciado ni querella de parte con estar sin oficio los dos
afios de tres que dur6 la dicha visita. Y que se le pusieron muchos cargos porque fue
condenado sin los poner al doctor Villalobos ni al doctor Horozco por respeto que para
ello hubo habiendo sido todos tres juezes en ello. Y se le pusieron otros muchos de procesos
en que no habia sido juez y de cosas que sucedieron despubs de se haber disistido de su
oficio de oidor y otros de que const6 lo contrario por fees de escribanos y oficiales de real
hacienda, pudiendo el dicho visitador averiguairlos como era obligado ante que se pusieran,
y otros muchos sin estar probados y fu6 de lo dicho dado por libre y asi lo fuera de otros
si se sacara del libro del acuerdo como lo pidi6 al dicho visitador lo que en 61 estaba
sentado. Y a que los cargos porque fu6 condenado en lo que dicho es fueron inventados
por el dean de Mexico y Diego Rodriguez de Horozco que despues fueron traidos a esta
corte por lo del rebeli6n que se intento en M6xico que eran muy grandes amigos y vivian
juntos en una casa y estaban mal con el dicho doctor por haber sido juez en negocios
graves que se trataron en la dicha real audiencia contra el dicho Diego Rodriguez. Y
dieron contra 61 capitulos al dicho visitador y dijeron sus dichos en la dicha visita dando
en ellos el color que quisieron para que tuviesen apariencia de verdad siendo inventados
por ellos. Y afirmaron en lo que toca a don Luis de Quesada y su mujer lo que no pas6 ni
aunque pasara lo podian ver ni hallarse presentes tantos y tan diversas veces como dicen los
cargos, ni podian saber y asi se enviara si se Ilevaba ni se recibia. Y con pasi6n afirmaron
lo que les pareci6 atrayendo a otros a lo mismo y asi lo publicaban y decian que lo
habian de destruir, que es lenguaje que se usa en Indias para atemorizar a los jueces que
no andan a su gusto." Ibid. For a late sixteenth century account of the Avila conspiracy, see
Juan Suarez de Peralta, La conjuracidn de Martin Cortes (Mexico, 1945).
44 Petition of Zorita to the Royal Council of the Indies, op. cit., Madrid, May 5, 1575.

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petition are the words: "El doctor Z

pensi6n y condenaci6n pecuniaria se
lo demais no hay disposici6n. En Mad
The resolutions of the Council of t
positive statements, and it would seem
Zorita's petitions for aid and the rep
suspension and the fine of 100 duca
action the Council finally took, thes
totally honored in that Zorita in succe
these matters. Instead on June 25, 1
two books which he had presented f
permission for publication. The Counc
ordered that these books be located and returned to Zorita. The extract
of the petition does not give the titles of the books Zorita requested be
returned to him, but because he mentioned in later petitions of 1578 his
Suma de los Tributos45 and a Recopilacidn de las leyes de Indias46 he
probably refers to these works. However, it does not appear at all clear
why he waited almost two years for action by the Council on his request
for permission to publish these works.47
In early 1578 the Council in another extract of a petition by Zorita
noted that permission had been given Zorita to publish his Suma de los

45 The Suma de los Tributos, now lost, is cited by Zorita in the Brief and Summary Re-
lation of the Lords of New Spain. Keen, 58, notes that Serrano y Sanz, XCVII, is of the
opinion that its contents in large part were incorporated in the material on the subject
of tribute in the Brief Relation and Part II of Zorita's Relacidn de las cosas notables de la
Nueva Espahia y de la conquista y pacificacidn della y de la doctrina y conversidn de los
naturales, Biblioteca del Palacio Real, Madrid, Ms. No. 59. An examination by the author
of Part II of the manuscript (fols. 166 to 260) confirms Serrano y Sanz's statement that
this part of the Relacidn de las cosas notables ... is almost an exact reproduction of the
Brief Relation.
46 This is undoubtedly the work known as Leyes y ordenanzas reales de las Indias del
mar Ocdano por las cuales primeramente se han de librar todos los pleitos civiles y crimi-
nales de aquellas partes y lo que por ellas no estuviere determinado se ha de librar por las
leyes y ordenanzas de los reinos de Castilla, Biblioteca del Palacio Real, Madrid, Ms. No.

47 "El doctor Zorita, estante en esta corte, dice que e1 present6 dos libros escritos de
mano en este consejo, para que vistos se le diese licencia para imprimirlos, los cuales se
sometieron al licenciado Castro para que los viese e informase. Suplica se manden buscar
entre los libros del dicho licenciado Castro y hallados, se le vuelvan. (Que se harai)." Ex-
tract of a petition of Zorita to the Council of the Indies, Madrid, Monday, June 25, 1576.
(A.G.I., Indif. Gen., Leg. 1085, fol. 185, punto 1.).
Miguel Maticorena Estrada who has contributed a number of articles to the Revista de
Estudios americanos in Seville over the past two decades has suggested in an unpublished
article on Zorita which he allowed me to read and use for this study that the comments
to be found in the margin of the manuscript of the Leyes y ordenanzas reales.... are those
of Licenciado Castro or more probably of Doctor Santillin, as indicated by Zorita's final

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Tributos for a period of 20 years on the c

in Latin. Zorita then requested that he
the original Spanish, citing only the quot
saints and other matters already in Lati
in the margin of the text, as was custom
the request his advanced age, the difficult
and the fact that in the Indies there were few individuals-other than
members of the Audiencia-who knew Latin.48 The earlier decision of
the Council was not changed by Zorita's request and its resolution that
Zorita publish the work in Latin was summarized by the comment "Lo
proveldo" at the end of the extract. Two other references exist that men-
tion the Suma de los Tributos confirming the original decision of the
Council that the book, if published, must be translated into Latin.49 Zo-
rita also refers to this work in his valuable bibliographical introduction to
the Relacidn de las cosas notables de la Nueva Espana . . . and tells us that
the work was written at no little cost and work and dealt with Indian
tribute in the pre- and post-conquest period.5o
A month later Zorita is once again mentioned by the Council, but this
reference is to his Recopilacikn de las ley es de Indias. From the extract
it would appear that the judgment of Doctor Santillin who reviewed
the book was unfavorable, since Zorita demanded that the book be re-
turned without commenting on the review answering his request for
permission to print the work."'
Zorita prior to 1585 evidently translated his Suma de los Tributos into
Latin for in Part III of his Relacicn de las cosas notables . .., dealing with
the conquest and pacification of Mexico, he cites the work stating "en la
Suma de Tributos que escribi en romance y en latin."52 Keen also ob-
serves that Zorita in his seventy-third year had begun to write a philo-

48 Extract of a petition of Zorita to the Council of the Indies, Madrid, Monday, January
27, 1578, Entry 28. (A.G.I., Indif. Gen., Leg. 1086.).
49 Extract of a petition of Zorita to the Royal Council of the Indies, Madrid, Wednes-
day, January 29, 1578. (A.G.I., Indif. Gen., Leg. 1086, fol. 29v.). Extract of a petition of
Zorita to the Royal Council of the Indies, Madrid, Tuesday, February 4, 1578. (A.G.I.,
Indif. Gen., Leg. 1086, fol. 40, punto 5.).
5o Serrano y Sanz, 25.
51 Extract of a petition of Zorita to the Royal Council of the Indies, Madrid, Monday,
March 3, 1578. (A.G.I., Indif. Gen., Leg. 1086, fol. 68v., punto 6.). Space does not permit
comments on Zorita's ability to portray Indian life in Mexico prior to and after the con-
quest. However, the author agrees with Serrano y Sanz that Zorita's major work, the
Relacidn de las cosas notables . .. is largely derivative and is marred by pedantry and the
inclusion of irrelevant material. Zorita's best work is the Brief and Summary Relation of
the Lords of New Spain and the best edition is Keen's magnificent translation of the work
into English.
52 Alonso de Zorita, Relacidn de las cosas notables de la Nueva Espaila, op. cit., fol. 273.

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sophical and devotional work enti

not known whether this latter w
death but "as Serrano y Sanz sugg
Zorita's writing reveals no particu
ics."53 This judgment does not detr
chronicler of Mexico's history, f
experience and knowledge that he u
rita in his 1585 Relaci6n makes very
teenth century sources, some of
the Historia he not only cites ext
G6mara, the Letters of Cortes, F
de Zarate, but also a work by Jua
In gathering material for a prop
was unable to ascertain the date of
Benjamin Keen, "we may assume th
tion of the Relacidn de las cosas
With his death the Spanish scene lo
unpretentious, Zorita employed
knowledge in defense of the oppr
cost to himself. That exalted Span
dominating personality was Fray Ba
a worthy representative."55
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska

53 Keen, 61.
54 Alonso de Zorita, Relacidn de las cosas notables de la Nueva Espaiia, op. cit., fol. 300.
55 Keen, 52.

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