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Requerimiento/The Requirement

Spanish fight their way out of headquarters in Tenochtitlán, from El Lienza de Tlaxcala (Tlaxcalan) The old history is finished, It can never return. Now it’s another history… Now history is what the people make. History will now change its name. Perhaps it shall simply be called people. Perhaps it shall simply be called life. Jose Coronel … Continued

Spanish fight their way out of headquarters in Tenochtitlán, from El Lienza de Tlaxcala (Tlaxcalan)

The old history is finished,

It can never return.

Now it’s another history…

Now history is what the people make.

History will now change its name.

Perhaps it shall simply be called people.

Perhaps it shall simply be called life.

Jose Coronel Utrecho in Alejandro Murguia and Barbara Paschke, Volcan, 155

In 1514 the lawyer Martin Fernandez de Enciso read the requerimiento in the name of King Ferdinand and Queen Juana to the Indians of Sinu.  Enciso read the warning that if the Indians wished to stay on the land they must pay the gold tribute to their highness.  If not they must leave.

…The two [Sinu] Chiefs listen, sitting down and without blinking, to the odd character who announces to them that in case of refusal or delay he will make war on them, turn them into slaves along with their women and children, and sell and dispose of them as such and that the deaths and damages of that just war will not be the Spaniards’ responsibility.  The chiefs reply, without a glance at Enciso, that the Holy Father has indeed been generous with other people’s property but must have been drunk to dispose of what was not his and that the King of Castille is impertinent to come threatening folk he doesn’t know.

Then the blood flows.

Subsequently the long speech will be read at dead of night without an interpreter and half a league away from the village that will be taken by surprise.  The natives that sleep won’t hear the words that declare them guilty of the crime committed against them.

Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire: Genesis, 60

Hernan Cortes faithfully read the requerimiento throughout Mexico and the Yucatan.  The document he read warned that failure to accept the King’s summons would force him to

Powerfully invade and make war upon you in all parts and modes, so that I can subdue you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of His majesty’s command, and I will take your effects and will do all the harm and injury within my power, as vassals who will not obey or receive their sovereign and resist and oppose him.  And I protest that the death and disasters which may come about because of this action will be the fault of yourselves and not of his majesty, nor of me….

From Cortes’s Letter to King Charles in Irwin Black and Henry Rosen, The Conquest, xvi

The “deaths and disasters” which soon followed the conquest of Mexico and the Yucatan measured eighteen million.  By 1650, only one and a half million full-blooded Indians were alive.  Cortes faithfully upheld the law of requerimiento each time his soldiers’ pitched battle.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1520cortes.html

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Jacques Prevert