Redhead the Lost Spaniard February 8, 2017Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
Get ready a human flotsam and jetsam story. A few months ago Beach introduced the Itza, the last independent Indian state in the Americas. The Itzas held out against the Spanish in Guatemala until 1697, a remarkable achievement. When he was looking through the sources he ran across the following reference in Jones, The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom. This is from a letter from one of the would be conquistadors: Amésqueta. He asked whether his colleagues had seen:
The ahau or cacique who they affirm knows how to read and write the Castilian language, because Kixan [an Itza] had said that on the island [capital of the Itza state] there was a redheaded man, resembling Sergeant Rodolfo Pérez, who was a Castelaguinic or Castilian who had come from other lands, who had come to the island, who had been married on it. He had two sons and a book that he read, resembling the books of hours or days that the Fathers carry. I hope that the person was a Spaniard or a foreigner and that the cacique and he would read the letter (235).
Let’s be clear. This is not a case of a New England Indian ending up in ancient Europe. Nor is it even Romans in China. But there is something pleasing about a benighted Castilian ending up in the jungle among the Itza and not being eaten. Red heads, of course, are, with beards, a classic ‘European’ marker in the conquest of the Americas. The book, meanwhile, could have been taken from one of several Franciscans who were sacrificed by the Itza in the course of the seventeenth century. Had the Itza actually had access to a friendly Spaniard, he would, of course, have been a key resources in resisting the Spanish, particularly if he came from a military background.
Unfortunately for bizarrists red-head never came to light in the conquest. Was he, then, perhaps a figment of the conquerors imagination. Perhaps a Spanish visitor caught a flash of red dye in a native’s hair, saw a Franciscan’s book in the Itza court and joined the dots to produce a Spanish traitor who could explain the Itzas’s success against the invaders?
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