By Christine Dugan
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5, which lay forgotten for centuries in Philip 11’s monastery palace, are only one facet of the larger question of the possible reverberations that the project initiated by Mendoza and the friar-compiler had upon the work of their contemporaries. Consider the case of an early colonial writer from New Spain, the historian Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, who-like the viceroy-harbored an ambition to remedy the general lack of knowledge in Europe regarding the cazonci and Michoack. In his Crdnica de Za Numa Espafia he goes some distance in that direction, incorporating information from several sources, including an extensive account by Francisco Montaiio, one of the first Spaniards to visit the region.
In Mendoza’s advice to his successor, Luis de Velasco, he speaks of how his initial preconceptions regarding the resident Hispanic as well as indigenous populations blinded him to what he ultimately came to see as his primary responsibility as viceroy; namely, to maintain the cohesion of the body politic above all else. Ten years after his 1541 letter to Oviedo, the problematic side of the diversity he had initially promoted had come to take precedence in his mind. “There are so many opinions and viewpoints and so diverse, that it is not to be believed,” he confesses to Velasco.
Virtue of humility was especially emphasized among members of the Order of Friars Minor, whose founder was celebrated for his childlike simplicity and voluntary embrace of a life of poverty. In New Spain, it was the Franciscans who initiated the investigation of indigenous traditions, typically at the urging of their religious superiors and/or secular officials. Rather than personal glory, the primary goal of these missionaries was the evangelization of the indigenous population, a task that could only be achieved through the collective endeavors of numerous individuals.