SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS
LONDON : HUMPHREY MILFORD
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
DE LOS CABALLEROS
DOROTHY H. POPENOE
WITH USTRATIONS FROM DRAWINGS BY TH AUTHOR
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM DRAWINGS BY THE AUTHOR
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
BY THE PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE
PRINTED AT THE HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
CAMBRIDGE, MASS., U.S.A.
DOROTHY HUGHES POPENOE
MARY ALEXANDER WHITEHOUSE
IN AFFECTIONATE APPRECIATION OF HER GUIDANCE
BY THOMAS BARBOUR
IF THIS were only to be a little sermon I should choose for
its text a single word. That word would be gallantry, and
why this word was chosen will be evident to the reader of this
short life history, for it tells of the most gallant soul I have
ever known. I chose the word to indicate dynamic, not static,
qualities and for want of a better. Steadfast she was, but one
might be steadfast and lack the verve, the vision, and the
personal valor of Dorothy Popenoe.
Dorothy Hughes Popenoe was born i9th June, 1899, at
Ashford, Middlesex, England. She attended the Welsh Girls'
School at Ashford until the beginning of the Great War.
Then she went into "land work" until she suffered an injury
in Anglesea which made necessary an operation and which
forced her to remain inactive until 1918. During this year she
entered the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew as student-
assistant to Dr. Otto Stapf. Here at Kew she remained five
years, but studied during all her spare hours at the Univer-
sity of London. Dorothy had a brilliant, acquisitive mind,
and she soon became an authority on several genera of
African grasses and described a number of new species in the
In July, 1923, by invitation of Mrs. Agnes Chase of the
United States National Herbarium, she came to Washington
and entered the Office of Foreign Plant Introduction, of
which her husband-to-be's old friend Dr. David Fairchild
was the distinguished head. Here she carried on taxonomic
studies of the cultivated bamboos, and so in Washington she
met Dr. Wilson Popenoe, himself a distinguished botanical
explorer. They were married on I7th November, 1923.
Two years later Dr. Popenoe moved to Tela, Honduras, to
organize a plant introduction station and to take charge of
agronomic investigations for the United Fruit Company.
Thus he came to make that superbly beautiful garden in the
Lancetilla valley, on the banks of a clear swift stream and
walled in by jungle-clad hills, so steep and so luxuriantly
forested that all of the many naturalists, myself included,
who have been hospitably received there have never forgotten
the splendor of the garden's glorious setting.
It is hard for a woman to go to live in the American tropics,
especially in the hot wet coastal zone of the more backward
Central American states. Life in India, Ceylon, or Malaya
presents a very different aspect. In the East there is in many
places a considerable European society, and the amenities of
life have developed naturally with the long occupation of the
land by cultivated folk. To be sure there were congenial
Americans at Tela who soon became warm friends, but
Dorothy was much more than usually fearful of stagnation of
mind and indolence of body. She quickly mastered Spanish,
and, spending much time in a Carib Indian town near Tela,
she worked hard on vocabularies of the intricate Carib
tongue, in which the men and women use different languages
when they talk with one another. She got their confidence
with her consummate charm and tact as no man, however
well trained, could ever hope to do.
In 1927, with only Jorge Benitez, her Ecuadorian assistant
and friend, she travelled for days on muleback and finally
reached and described and mapped the prehistoric mountain-
top fortress city of Tenampua, abandoned centuries ago and
a site which few explorers have ever seen. Her work at
Tenampua finished, she returned to Tela, and prepared a
report which was published in Tegucigalpa by the Govern-
ment of Honduras. At odd moments for a long time Dorothy
had been reading avidly on Maya art and archaeology, and
from 1928 to 1932 she spent weeks at a time, when the waters
were low, excavating a rich pre-Colombian cemetery at La
Playa de los Muertos on the Ulua River. She unearthed
several splendid collections of pottery and many skeletons,
and prepared a scholarly report now in process of publication
by the Peabody Museum at Harvard. She never hesitated to
camp alone at this wild and lonely spot among the most no-
toriously unreliable people in Central America. Dorothy bore
a charmed life. My wife, my daughter Mary, and I often re-
call leaving the wharf at Tela one hot still morning. We were
riding with some friends on a railway motor car when up came
running a tiny figure in riding breeches. We thought some
sprightly fair-haired boy wanted a ride. In a second we rec-
ognized Dorothy Pop, as we always called her, and as we
slowed down she sprang on board, pushing a great revolver
out of sight and making light of a mule ride to meet us which
would have kept most people from running for a week. So
simple, so unaffected, and so obviously tireless; one accepted
het doings as being in the normal course of events, when in
reality they were very nearly unique. During these years she
practised drawing and acquired great skill, and the illustra-
tions in this little volume as well as those in her scientific
memoirs are an ample proof of the subtle artistic quality of
which she became the mistress. From time to time five chil-
dren came, but these events never held up Dorothy's explora-
tions for long.
The year 1930, however, brought about a great change in
her life, for then she and her husband moved to Guatemala
City. Here she found a real library and a wide circle of per-
sons with interests similar to her own. The Ricketsons of the
Carnegie Institution had a delightful house in the city and a
laboratory where they were repairing and sorting the spoils
from the exploration of the ruins of Uaxactun. Near her
new home was the American Legation, and in Sheldon and
Mary Alexander Whitehouse she found firm and affectionate
friends. For two full years, life in the cool, fresh highlands
stimulated intellectual activity of the most varied sort. This
culminated in the purchase of a half-ruined but most splendid
old colonial mansion in Antigua, and while restoring it patio
by patio she wrote that history of the city which this little
sketch introduces to the reader. Dorothy sent me the manu-
script of her book unbelievably doubtful of its merit. On
23rd December, 1932, she wrote me: "We have been trans-
ferred back again to Tela and I have written Professor Tozzer
that I am now ready again to struggle with the problems of
the Ulua Valley pottery." No word of regret, although the
move must have been a bitter disappointment. On 27th De-
cember, 1932, she wrote another letter of touching apprecia-
tion of my enthusiastic acknowledgment of receiving this
manuscript and of my having read part of it to Professor
John Livingston Lowes, who liked it as much as I did. This
fact gave her supreme joy. Three days after her last letter
to me she died suddenly at Tela, after an emergency opera-
tion. So passed another young Valiant-for-Truth, and who
can doubt but all the angels' trumpets sounded on the other
A few weeks after Dorothy's death I received a letter from
Mary Alexander Whitehouse, so poignant and yet so vividly
telling of Dorothy as my family and I remember her that I
asked and most graciously received permission to reprint it
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Guatemala, i7th January, 1933.
DEAR DOCTOR BARBOUR:
Thank you for your letter of January 5th. I knew how terribly
you would feel about Dorothy Popenoe's death. It is unutterably
sad. On December 3oth she suddenly felt very badly and tele-
phoned the Tela hospital. The doctor came for her in a car and on
examination deemed an immediate operation necessary. He tele-
graphed Dr. Popenoe who was in Puerto Castilla for permission to
go ahead, which was granted. The operation was performed at
once and the surgeon was entirely satisfied with her condition. He
stepped out of the hospital to telegraph as much to Dr. Popenoe,
and when he returned to the hospital, Dorothy had died. She was
buried in Tela the next day on a little hill in the garden at Lance-
tilla. It now appears possible that eating overripe akees, the fruit
of Blighia sapida, may have contributed to her sudden illness.
I am glad you have the Antigua manuscript. The book must be
published. Dorothy wrote me about your showing it to Professor
Lowes. She was so pleased.
The last time I saw her we spent the day together at her house in
Antigua, which you know. After an absence in Tela she was like a
freed bird in her joy at being in the place she loved. We had a
picnic lunch in the hidden patio, filled with pink geraniums, grow-
ing in the high flower beds, bordered with fluted masonry. I re-
member how she laughed when the old Spanish table was flooded
with hot bouillon which had melted the paper cups into which we
had poured it. We talked about water-color painting, eugenics,
clothes, plants and children. What a companion she was, with her
youthful gaiety and her mature and cultivated mind. There were
times when she looked like a little girl with her smallness, her pink
and white complexion and her bright happy expression. Behind
this she possessed the mind of a born scholar, accurate, penetrating
and untiring. With her keen intellect, went a feeling for beauty and
romance and a sound common sense. I have known no woman so
gifted and none so modest. After this picnic lunch she directed
"Jorge," her faithful retainer, the mason whom she called
"Maestro" and several workmen in the placing of a fountain
against an old wall. Then she superintended the mixing of paint,
as she was dissatisfied with the pink color of the second patio. One
felt she could create with her hands as well as with that fine instru-
ment, her brain. Did you know that she found the old I7th century
kitchen of the house looking too clean after the workmen had re-
moved chicken coops, cobwebs, several feet of refuse and had
washed the walls? To correct this, with her own hands she applied
candle grease and soot to the walls and ceiling.
During the three years of our friendship here she had three
babies, made an archaeological expedition in Honduras, wrote a
book and illustrated it with her own drawings. She studied in de-
tail the history of Guatemala, reading extensively in Spanish and
English, and she restored a large house with five patios in Antigua.
This last was no mean accomplishment, with bad roads to reach it,
tropical rainy seasons and ignorant workmen. Her delight in pre-
serving this house was touching to see. She found a ruin, and to-
day it is a Spanish colonial dwelling of the great period, with its fine
old walls and windows freed from debris. All visitors to Antigua go
to see the house. This was her wish. Some day it should be a
Dorothy was my nearest neighbor, and often when I dropped in
to see her she was in bed resting before or after the birth of one of
the babies. I can see her now in her elaborately carved Spanish
bed with a vicuna fur rug over her. Her husband often came in
with an old painting or a frame for their collection, which he had
just bought. If it was a portrait, every clue would be followed up
to identify the subject costumes, coat of arms, etc. all were
Dorothy radiated cheerfulness and strength even when far from
well herself. For her strength was that of the Spirit and she was
completely selfless. Her death touches all who knew her deeply.
This gay and fascinating girl in her early thirties has been taken
from her devoted husband and her large family of children, and her
life here, full of accomplishment and promise, is over.
So ends this little history of my dear young friend, and does
the reader not agree that when I fell upon the word gallantry
to typify her life I was, for once, inspired?
HARVARD HOUSE, SOLEDAD, CUBA
THIS booklet has been prepared for those visitors to the
ruined capital of colonial Guatemala who have not had
opportunity to read the early chronicles. It is based upon the
letters which Alvarado wrote to his chief Cortes, describing
the Conquest; upon the Annals of the Cakchiquels, in which
this same drama was viewed from a different angle; upon
the history of the colonial period as recounted by such
excellent men as Fray Antonio de Remesal, who wrote in
1619, Domingo Juarros, one-time Archbishop of Guatemala,
and Francisco Antonio Fuentes y Guzman, who lived here at
the end of the seventeenth century; upon the anecdotes of
Friar Gage, who must have had his tongue in his cheek when
he wrote them; and upon more recent works, notably those of
Jos6 Milla, Antonio Batres JAuregui, and Victor Miguel Diaz,
in which have been brought together all the wealth of lore
which has come down from the grand old days.
So, when you have read the tale, when you are prepared to
see that battle-scarred old hero, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, ride
through the cobbled streets, his sword clanking by his side;
when you are ready to meet good Bishop Marroquin as he
steps down from the chancel after saying mass: go to Antigua.
Wander through her r~iless churches; peep into patios
where roses bloom and the tinkling splash of water tells of the
days when men rode forth to conquer. And above all, go, if
you can, when moonbeams play upon the hoary walls, and
the great cones of the volcanos stand up like sentinels, out-
lined against the night,
If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight,
S For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray.
At such a time ghosts move in their haunts. Though there
be no breath of wind, you may hear an occasional rustle, a
murmur among the creepers. Shadows flit through the
crumbling arches; a great carved door creaks on a rusty
D. H. P.
THE STORY OF THE FIRST CAPITAL
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA
THE MUY NOBLE Y MUY LEAL CIUDAD DE SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS
DE GUATEMALA AND SOME OF ITS ILLUSTRIOUS INHABITANTS: NOTES
FROM THE EARLY WRITERS, WITH MENTION OF THE PRINCIPAL RUINS
AS THEY EXIST TODAY
"DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA .
THE CITY OF THE CAPITANES GENERALS PASSES INTO HISTORY
DOROTHY HUGHES POPENOE Frontispiec
THE GREAT NAVE OF THE CATHEDRAL 36
DOORWAY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN CARLOS
SAN AGUSTIN 44
ENTRANCE TO THE CASA DE LOS LEONES 48
A CORNER WINDOW IN THE CASA DE LOS LEONES 52
THE ARCH OF SANTA CATARINA, WITH THE DOME OF
MERCED IN THE DISTANCE 56
STONE CROSS IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH OF MERCED 60
MAP OF THE CITY
THE curtain rises on a peaceful scene of four hundred
years ago. The hills and valleys of the Guatemalan
plateau, dotted with innumerable homesteads surrounded by
forests of oak and pine, and peopled by Indians descended
from the old Maya stock, lie dreaming in the sunshine.
That particular region which is to become the seat of Spanish
colonial government in Central America is held by the Cak-
chiquels, whose capital, Iximch6, stands close to the spot
where later is to rise the city of Tecpan.
Like other tribes of the highlands, the Cakchiquels are
happy and industrious. Their territory reaches from the
slopes of the volcanos on the east to the shores of Lake Atitlan
on the west. They cultivate maize, that great staple food-
stuff of aboriginal Americans which indeed may have had its
origin, at some remote period, in this very region. They also
grow beans, squashes, and a few other crops, while their
tables are supplied in part by wild fruits and game from the
mountains. They trade with tribes which live toward the
coast, bartering the products of their farms for fruits and
seeds of the lowlands.
The skill of their agriculturists is equalled by that of their
craftsmen, who carve in wood and stone, and who make pot-
4 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
tery and decorate it with symbolic patterns. The women
learn in early childhood to spin and weave the native cotton
into gaily colored clothing.
Living thus close to nature, their religious needs find ex-
pression in worship of the elements, the hills, the wind,
the spirit of the swift-flowing mountain torrent; while super-
stition has built up a pantheon of deities, among whom gods
of darkness wage continual war against those of light. An
all-powerful priesthood intercedes between these deities and
Thus has life moved on for centuries. The rains come, and
maize is planted; the dry season arrives, and the crop is har-
vested. Religious feasts and ceremonies are frequent. In
spite of occasional quarrels and bickerings with neighboring
tribes, the established order of things does not change. To
the simple Cakchiquel mind no other way seems possible.
CORTES ARRIVES IN MEXICO
Henceforth the tale is history. In the year 1521 disturbing
rumors began to reach Iximch6. From time to time, mes-
sengers trudged in from far-distant Mexico, bringing news
of an army of white-faced warriors, who came from an un-
known land across the sea. They told of desperate battles, in
which the Indians had found themselves utterly unprepared
to stand against the onslaught of men who rode huge beasts
the like of which had not before been seen, and who carried
weapons which belched out fire and destruction.
At length came the awful tidings: Tenochtitlan, the Aztec
capital, had fallen. Moctezuma, the emperor, was dead.
Hernan Cortes, leader of the dauntless Spaniards who had
come to conquer these lands in the name of His Catholic
Majesty Charles the Fifth, was not the sort of man to remain
satisfied even with the subjugation of so vast and rich an em-
pire as that ruled by Moctezuma. He was the product of an
age that knew no temperance. Every triumph served but to
fan the flame of his ambition.
THE CONQUEST 5
Perhaps even before news of his arrival in Mexico had
reached Sinacam, king of the Cakchiquels, Cortes heard of
lands to the south. He did not dare leave the newly con-
quered Tenochtitlan, still seething with unrest; but he would
send his most trusted lieutenant and a picked body of sol-
diers. His plans are best told in his own words:
I prepared certain people to go with Pedro de Alvarado to those
cities of Uclatan and Guatemala. ... I believe this to be for the
service of God and Your Sacred Majesty, and according to the
accounts of those parts which I had received, I expected to discover
many new and rich lands and strange inhabitants.... So ... I...
fitted out Pedro de Alvarado, and dispatched him from this City on
the 6th of December, 1523, and he took one hundred and twenty
horsemen so that with his relays he had one hundred and seventy
horses, and three hundred foot soldiers of which latter one hundred
and thirty were crossbowmen and musketeers; he also took four
pieces of artillery with plenty of powder and ammunition, and he
was accompanied by some chiefs, both of this city and from its
neighborhood, who brought some people with them, though not
very many as the journey was so long.2
ALVARADO UNDERTAKES THE CONQUEST
Don Pedro de Alvarado, chosen for this task, had distin-
guished himself at the siege of Tenochtitlan. He was a native
of Badajoz, in the province of Estremadura. Practically
nothing is known of his life up to the time he left Spain in
1510 for Hispaniola (Santo Domingo), where he joined Diego
de Velsquez on the expedition to conquer Cuba. After hav-
ing remained in the last-named island until 1518, he sailed
for Yucatan as one of Juan de Grijalva's captains, returning
in time to accompany Cortes on the daring expedition to
Not a single contemporary portrait of this remarkable man
x It was the custom of the early chroniclers to call chiefs, even of small tribes,
a From the fourth letter of Hernin Cortes to the Emperor Charles V.
0 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
not even a pencil sketch is known to exist today., We
must form our ideas of his character and appearance solely
from the accounts left by those who knew him. Best of all is
that of Bernal Diaz del Castillo, his companion-in-arms at
Tenochtitlan and elsewhere.
I now wish to record [says this veteran in his r'rue Story of the
Conquest of New Spain] the age and appearance of Don Pedro de
Alvarado.... He was about thirty-four years old when he came
here [Guatemala], of good size, and well-proportioned, with a very
cheerful countenance and a winning smile, and because he was so
handsome the Mexican Indians gave him the name of "Tonatio,"
which means the Sun." He was very active and a good horseman,
and above all was very frank-hearted and a good talker, and he was
very neat in his attire but with rich costly clothes. He wore a small
gold chain around his neck with a jewel, and a ring with a good
We are fortunate in having records which give us both sides
of the story of the march to Guatemala and the conquest of
the highland tribes. In two letters addressed to his chief,
Alvarado himself relates his experiences, how he passed
through and subdued the kingdom of the Quiches, whose
capital was at Utatlin; of his march through Quezaltenango;
and of "what took place at the Lake of Atitlan."
At Iximche he was received by the chief with demonstra-
tions of friendliness. He wrote, in fact, "I could not have
been better off in our parents' house, and we were so well pro-
vided with everything that nothing was lacking."
Thus was he enabled to utilize Iximche as a base, and to
obtain information which would prove of much value in con-
nection with subsequent operations.
Here, [he reported2] I learnt of very great countries inland,
cities of stone and mortar, and to conquer it... much time is re-
I The full-length portrait in the municipal building of Guatemala City, probably
the best-known picture of Alvarado, was painted long after his death by an
artist who had never seen him. It was considerably retouched in the nineteenth
2 In a letter to Cort6s. See he Conquest of Guatemala (published by the Cortes
Society, New York, 1924), p. 86.
THE CONQUEST 7
quired, and on account of the rigorous winter that was beginning, I
did not go farther to conquer, but rather decided to return to this
city of Guatemala,' and to pacify, while returning, the country that
I had left behind.... So it is that I am come here to this city on
account of the heavy rains, where, for the better conquest and paci-
fication of this land, so great and so thickly inhabited, I made and
built in the name of His Majesty a Spanish city which is called the
City of our Lord Santiago, because this is the center of all the coun-
try.... And I elected two Alcaldes Ordinarios and four Regi-
The first Spanish "city" was founded on the 25th of July,
1524, the day of Santiago de los Caballeros, patron of Spain,
to whom it was dedicated with all the pomp and ceremony of
which a ragged band of warriors was capable. Juan Godines,
army chaplain, sang the mass. Following the appointment of
civil authorities, there was a three days' festival, with music
Though born under auspicious circumstances, the city was
destined to be short-lived. The Cakchiquels rose against the
Spaniards and drove them out. Alvarado attempted to make
a stand at a spot called Xepau, but was again forced to with-
THE INVASION DESCRIBED BY THE
Quaint and graphic is the account preserved by the Cak-
chiquels in their own language. It was written shortly after
the Conquest, and translated into English some fifty years
ago by the historian Daniel Brinton.3
It was on the day I Hunahpu when the Castilians arrived at
Iximch6 with their chief, Tunatiuh. The people went forth to meet
Tunatiuh with the chiefs Belehe Qat and Cahi Ymox. Good was
I Early writers spell the name in several ways, Goathemala, Guatimala, and
2 Some of the early chronicles state that Almolonga was the first capital
Alvarado's own report to Cort6s, and other evidence, have convinced most
modern students that Iximch6 is entitled to this honor. See Jose Milla, Historia
de la America Central (Guatemala, 1882), vol. p. 95.
3 fe Annals of the Cakchiquel (Philadelphia, z885).
8 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
the heart of Tunatiuh when he entered the city with the chiefs.
There was no fighting and Tunatiuh rejoiced when he entered
Iximche. Thus did the Castilians enter of yore, O my children; but
it was a fearful thing when they entered; their faces were strange,
and the chiefs took them for gods. We, even we, your father, saw
them when they first set foot in Iximche, at the palace of Tzupam,
where Tunatiuh slept. The chief came forth, and truly he fright-
ened the warriors; he came from his chamber and called the rulers:
"Why do you make war with me, when I also can make it?" said
he. "Not at all. Why should so many warriors find their death?
Do you see any pitfalls among them ?" So replied the chiefs, and he
went to the house of the chief Chicbal.
Then Tunatiuh agreed to join the chiefs in their wars .... Only
five days after, Tunatiuh went forth from the capital. Then the
Tzutuhils were conquered by the Castilians....
On the day o1 Hunahpu he returned from Cuzcatan. He had
been absent only forty days to make the conquest at Cuzcatan
when he returned to the capital. Then Tunatiuh asked for a daugh-
ter of one of the chiefs, and she was given to Tunatiuh by the chiefs.
Then Tunatiuh began to ask the chiefs for money. He wished
that they should give him jars full of precious metals, and even their
drinking cups and crowns. Not receiving anything, Tunatiuh be-
came angry and said to the chiefs: "Why have you not given me
the metal? If you do not bring me the precious metal in all your
towns, choose then, for I shall burn you alive and hang you." Thus
did he speak to the chiefs.
Then Tunatiuh cut from three of them the gold ornaments they
wore in their ears. The chiefs suffered keenly from this violence,
and wept before him. But Tunatiuh was not troubled, and said:
"I tell you that I want gold here within five days. Woe to you if
you do not give it. I know my heart." So said he to the chiefs.
The word was then given. The chiefs gathered together all their
metals, those of the parents and children of the king, and all that
the chiefs could get from the people.
While they were gathering the gold for Tunatiuh, a priest of the
Demon showed himself. "I am the lightning; I will destroy the
Castilians." So said he to the chiefs. "I will destroy them by fire.
When I beat the drum let the chiefs come forth and go to the other
bank of the river. This I shall do on the 7 Ahmak."
Thus did the priest of the Demon speak to the chiefs. Truly the
chiefs thought that they should trust in the words of this man. It
was when they were gathering gold that we went forth.
The day 7 Ahmak was that of the going forth. They deserted
THE CONQUEST 9
the city of Iximch6 on account of the priest of the Demon, and the
chiefs left it. "Yes, truly, Tunatiuh shall die," said they. "There
is no more war in the heart of Tunatiuh, as he now rejoices in the
gold given him." Thus it was that our city was abandoned on the
day 7 Ahmak on account of a priest of the Demon, O my children.
But what the chiefs did was soon known to Tunatiuh. Ten days
after we had left the city, war was begun by Tunatiuh. On the day
4 Camey began our destruction. Then began our misery. We scat-
tered in the forests; all our towns were taken, O my children; we
were slaughtered by Tunatiuh. The Castilians entered the city and
they arrived as to a deserted spot. From that time the Castilians
were hated by the Cakchiquels. They made trenches, they dug pit-
falls, that the horses might be killed, and war was waged by their
During the tenth year the war continued with the Castilians.
But the Castilians having received aid in this tenth year at Xepau,
carried on the war with such vigor that they destroyed the forces of
Tunatiuh then went forth from Xepau, and so harassed us that
the people would not come before him. There were lacking one
hundred and twenty days to complete two years since we had aban-
doned the capital, now deserted, when Tunatiuh came there on his
march in order to set fire to the city.
I Cakchiquel calendar.
THE highlands were in the grip of the rainy season, -
that period known to Guatemalans as winter because
continuous cold rains make it less pleasant than the drier
months. The little army of conquistadores, exhausted from
long marches over trails deep in mud, sorely needed shelter
Driven by the Cakchiquels from Iximche, then from
Xepau, they came at last to the pleasant vale of Almolonga
(the Place of Gushing Water), which lies, slung like a ham-
mock, between the giant cones of two volcanos. The spot is
one to appeal to the imagination: a delicious climate, kept
mild by gentle breezes blowing upward from the Pacific;
wooded slopes, green cultivated fields, and clear trickling
With what delight must the weary adventurers have
viewed this lovely region after the rigors of the high plateau!
Here they would tarry for a season. With the aid of friendly
Indians, they constructed rude houses, mere huts, with
14 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
forked posts for corner pillars, walls of canes and mud, and
roofs thatched with dry grass.,
THE RESTLESSNESS OF ALVARADO
Like other Spaniards immortalized by the Conquest,
Alvarado was blind to hardship and of dauntless courage. He
appears to have been more ruthless than Cortes; more hu-
mane than Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru. Like these two, he
allowed ambition and greed to obscure his finer traits; and
like them, he was a man of action. It was one thing to plan
and effect the conquest of new lands; it was another to settle
down to the routine administration of affairs. One involved
endless adventures and was likely to bring honor, fame, and
gold; the other savored of monotony.
Three years passed. Life in the little settlement at Almo-
longa was not exciting. Just at this moment came news that
Cortes had marched to Honduras through the swamps of
Pet6n. Here was an opportunity. Alvarado must go, if only
on the pretext of paying his respects to his chief.
Leaving his brother Gonzalo in command, he set off with a
body of picked troops, but reached Honduras too late to meet
Cortes. He encountered only a party of Spanish soldiers,
making their way back to Mexico overland.
In the meantime, Gonzalo de Alvarado tried to make the
most of his opportunity at Almolonga. According to Indian
accounts, he sent an order to a certain town that eight hun-
dred of its inhabitants should each bring him daily a reed the
size of the little finger, filled with gold dust. Failure to carry
out this impossible task was to be punished by slavery.
Smoldering fires of resentment burst into flame. The
Cakchiquel kingdom revolted, and with it, part of the Quich6.
I Fray Antonio de Remesal, Historia de la Provincia de S. Vicente de Chyapa y
Guatemala (Madrid, 1619), p. 4. This is probably the most valuable work ever
published on the early history of Guatemala. The author, through his friendship
with the Governor, Conde de la Gomera, had access to official records dating
from the first days of the Conquest, records which, in many cases, are no
longer available except as quoted or referred to in this book.
The little colony of Spaniards saw itself in peril of utter anni-
hilation. At this moment Don Pedro de Alvarado returned,
and in a decisive battle fought on the day of Santa Cecilia
(22nd November), 1526, reaffirmed the sovereignty of the
King of Spain. In honor of this victory Santa Cecilia was
elevated in the hearts of the people to a place alongside their
Alvarado now evinced a desire to revisit the mother coun-
try. Doubtless he felt greater recognition would be given his
exploits if he were able personally to present his case to the
king. Perhaps he was galled at the continued necessity of
operating under the orders of Cortes, a conquistador like him-
self, and wished to be granted more authority. Leaving the
affairs of the colony in the hands of his brother Jorge, he
sailed from the port of Veracruz, and reached home without
His presence at court obviously had the desired effect, for
we next see him named Governor, Adelantado, and Captain
General of Guatemala. At the same time he was decorated
with the insignia of Comendador in the Order of Santiago.
How much of his triumph was due to his own merits, and how
much to his good fortune in winning, just at that time, the
hand ofFrancisca de la Cueva, is difficult to say. Dofia Fran-
cisca was a niece of the powerful Duke of Alburquerque.
Sailing with his bride for the land over which he was now
to govern as the personal representative of His Majesty, mis-
fortune overtook him at the port of Veracruz. Death claimed
the lady who was to share his adventures, and he continued
alone to Mexico City, where he found public opinion very
much against him. He spent some months attempting to
regain the confidence of those who were locally in power; then
he pushed on to Guatemala.
Perhaps it was partly to forget his troubles, perhaps it was
only the natural consequence of his inordinate ambition and
restlessness, that he shortly planned a new and daring expedi-
tion. Just at that moment exciting tales were drifting north-
ward about the wealth of Peru, where Pizarro and his com-
16 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
panion Diego de Almagro were planting the standard of
Spain. Hastily building ships at the little port of Ixtapa on
the Pacific coast, Alvarado embarked all the men and ma-
terials he could muster, and set sail; only to find, on reaching
South America, that Pizarro did not relish the idea of sharing
the honors and spoils of conquest. At the price of one hun-
dred thousand castellanos, Alvarado agreed to retire.
Back again in Guatemala, he decided upon a second voyage
to the Spanish court, and while there married Beatriz de la
Cueva, sister of his first wife.
GUATEMALA DURING THE ABSENCE OF
Meanwhile, the little colony at Almolonga was devoting
its attention to the practical problems of building and farm-
ing. There was much discussion (recited in detail by Reme-
sal, from the cabildo records) as to whether a better location
might be found. The plain of Chimaltenango was seriously
considered by some of the citizens, as richer in building ma-
terial and agricultural land. The final decision, however, was
in favor of remaining at Almolonga.
Jorge de Alvarado therefore convoked the cabildo,' to-
gether with all the settlers; and in the presence of a notary
solemnly pronounced these words: "Be it known that I, by
virtue of the powers which I hold from His Majesty's gov-
ernors, and in agreement with the decision of the council
here assembled, do establish and found in this place the
City of Santiago."
In token of possession, he took up a staff and thrust it in
the ground, after which he gave orders for laying out the
streets, which were to run north and south, east and west.
Sites were chosen for the plaza, church, cabildo, and hospital;
I The cabildo or ayuntamiento is an institution for municipal or local government,
brought from Spain and established in America immediately after the Conquest.
In its simplest form it consists of alcaldes, or judges, and regidores, who may be
compared to aldermen.
as well as a chapel to be dedicated to Nuestra Sefiora de los
This historic ceremony took place in the year 1527, it is
generally believed' on the 22nd day of November, Santa Ce-
cilia's day, precisely one year after Alvarado's final triumph
over the Indians. Five years later the infant city received
from the Emperor a coat of arms on which are represented
three volcanos (the central one in eruption) surmounted by
the patron saint, Santiago de los Caballeros, on horseback
and brandishing a sword.
Construction progressed rapidly, and cattle brought from
Spain flourished in this favored region. But, as might be
expected, quarrels and bickerings arose from the apportion-
ment of land to the colonists, regardless of the fact that there
was more than enough for all.
THE FIRST RELIGIOUS ORDERS
Despite the kindly ministrations of the army chaplain,
Juan Godines, religious influence was weak during the early
days of the colony. This was unfortunate, for it is difficult to
over-emphasize the importance of chaplains and priests in
those rough times. None but they would nurse the sick and
succor the needy; none but they could temper the harshness
of the fierce rush for wealth which characterized the first
years of colonization throughout the New World.
It is to Alvarado's everlasting honor that he spared no
pains to secure the best of religious teachers. In 1528, while
in Mexico, he met the first Dominican friars who had come to
the mainland from the island of Hispaniola. Among them
was Domingo Betanzos, who had already spent fourteen
years in the colonies. Alvarado prevailed upon him to found
a monastery in the new city of Santiago.
I Jos6 Milla, op. cit., vol. I, p. 184, says there is no documentary evidence in support
2 28th July, 1532. See Domingo Juarros, Historia de la Ciudad de Guatemala
(edition of the Museo Guatemalteco, Guatemala, 1857), vol. 1, p. 164. The first
edition of this work appeared in i8o8.
I SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
Accompanied by one of his brethren, Betanzos set out from
Mexico on foot. Subsisting mainly on the wild fruits of the
forest, and sleeping at night under the trees, these holy men
contrasted strangely, in the eyes of the Indians, with the ra-
pacious soldiery of the conquistador. Even through hostile
territory they passed wholly unmolested.
On reaching Guatemala, a small plot of ground on which
to build their church was all they asked. "Why," exclaims an
early chronicler, "they did not take even as much land as
is ordinarily allotted to a single horse-soldier!" A church was
built, the people of the city providing ornaments for it.
Domingo Betanzos was much loved, by both Spaniards and
Indians: but his efforts to release the latter from virtual
slavery were of no avail.
For one year only was Guatemala privileged to enjoy his
ministrations. At the end of that time, instructions came for
his return to Mexico. Work on the monastery was aban-
doned; but the keys of his church were left in the hands of a
parishioner, with the request that the building be cleaned
from time to time, and opened whenever any worshipper so
His departure coincided roughly with the arrival of a man
whose name today is among the outstanding ones of that
colorful epoch. This was Francisco Marroquin, chosen by
Alvarado, and sent out from Spain in 1530. Four years later,
by a special dispensatipn from Pope Paul III, Guatemala
was advanced to the rank of Bishopric, and Marroquin was
named Bishop. He entered upon his new duties at once,
naming as Dean the faithful Juan Godines. The ceremony of
his consecration took place in Mexico City in 1537.
Realizing the need of religious institutions, if the Indians
were to receive instruction and the turbulent Spanish colo-
nists were to be held in check, Marroquin worked to interest
the various religious orders in the establishment of monas-
teries in his diocese.
In 1535 he brought from Nicaragua at his own expense four
Dominican friars, one of whom was destined in later years to
shake the Spanish colonial administration to its very founda-
tions. This was Bartolom6 de las Casas,1 "Protector of the
Indians" as he came ultimately to be known, in his younger
days a disciple of Betanzos.
Two years later, returning from Mexico, he brought with
him two Mercedarian friars, Juan de Zambrano and Marcos
Perez Dard6n, to establish a branch of their Order in Guate-
mala; and in 1540 came, also from Mexico, five Franciscan
friars 2 who, encouraged by grants of land and money from
the cabildo, commenced work on a monastery and church.
By now the city of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guate-
mala was fairly on its feet. In addition to the monasteries
which have been described, it could boast of cathedral,
cabildo, hospital, schools, and numerous residences. There
were also two hermitages or chapels, simple buildings roofed
with thatch, which served as oratories for the devout. One
of these Nuestra Sefiora de los Remedios had been
promised by Jorge de Alvarado in the early days of the colo-
nization, but was not erected until 1530. Even so, it was the
second ecclesiastical structure in Guatemala, the first having
been the parish church of Santiago, founded on the same day
as the city.
The young capital had received a severe blow.in 1536, when
it was swept by a disastrous fire. This was said to have
broken out in a blacksmith's shop. Since the buildings of the
settlement were clustered closely together, and mostly roofed
with thatch, the flames spread rapidly and did much damage.
To avoid repetition of this catastrophe the cabildo decreed
that henceforth all blacksmiths' shops should be on the out-
skirts of the town. This may account for the location of the
Calle Ancha de los Herreros in the later capital, that which
we know today as Antigua.
I The other three were Luis Cancer, who was later killed by Indians in Florida;
Pedro de Angulo, who became Bishop of the Verapaz; and Rodrigo de Ladrada.
2 Diego Ordofiez, Alonso Bustillo, Diego de Albaque, Gonzalo M6ndez, and Fran-
20 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF THE ADELANTADO
During these years the colony at Almolonga saw but little
of Alvarado, whose insatiable ambition kept him ever on the
search for greater things. The year 1536 found him in Hon-
duras, trying to patch up troubles which had arisen through
faulty administration. After that he travelled yet again to
No sooner was he back in Guatemala than he determined
to carry out his dream of years, a voyage to the Spice Is-
lands of the Orient. He equipped a large expedition, and
sailed up the coast of Mexico, where his fleet dropped anchor
for a time, in order that he might obtain the cooperation of
the viceroy in his adventure. Then, just as he was ready to
sail away, he received an urgent message. Crist6bal de Oiiate
was besieged by rebellious Indians near the town of Nochizt-
lan, and begged for assistance.
Alvarado was not the man to turn a deaf ear to such a sum-
mons: it is probable that there were few things in this world
which he loved better than a fight. Hastily he called together
his men and made his way to the scene of action.
The Indians had fortified themselves on the summit of a
steep hill. Obviously this must be taken by storm, and he did
not hesitate to join in the attack. Victory was in sight when
Montoya a clerk who had come with the expedition, not a
soldier by profession was seen vainly chasing his horse
along the slopes, a short distance above the spot where stood
the Adelantado. "Be calm, Montoya, the Indians appear to
be leaving us," shouted the latter; but the notary gave no
heed. A moment more, and the horse stumbled, fell, and
came rolling headlong down the hill. Alvarado jumped for
safety, but it was too late; he was caught beneath the animal
and badly injured.
With characteristic presence of mind, he called out, as they
were carrying him from the field, that the Indians must not
learn of the disaster. "Continue fighting," he demanded.
"That which has happened to me cannot be altered now. I
have received no more than I deserve for bringing along such
a fool as Montoya."
He was taken on a litter to Guadalajara, where he lingered
some days in great anguish of body and soul. He died on the
29th of June, 1541. The news soon reached the city of San-
tiago, but was not believed until it was confirmed by a dis-
patch from the Viceroy of Mexico. Then it was that Dofia
Beatriz, widow of the Adelantado, ordered the entire palace,
within and without, to be painted and draped with black. It
was whispered among the populace that her grief was unrea-
sonable; that she should accept more willingly the acts of
Her sorrow did not prevent her exercising all her influence,
even to the extent of overriding much opposition, in order to
have herself chosen to succeed her husband in the govern-
ment of Guatemala. When finally she signed the document
which invested her with these powers, she startled the com-
munity by writing "La Sin Ventura, Dofia Beatriz."
"The Hapless One." Little did she realize the import of
In the Guatemalan highlands, the month of September is
often accompanied by torrential rains. In the year 1541 the
season seemed to reflect the sorrows of a colony sunk in
mourning for the death of its Governor. Water drenched the
mud-walled houses, and stood in sheets upon the valley floor.
Even the fragrance of holy incense could not dispel the musty
odor of the churches.
On the eighth of September commenced a violent thunder-
storm which continued without cessation through the two
following days. Trees were uprooted by the fury of the gale,
or torn to splinters by shafts of lightning. About midnight of
the tenth, an earthquake shook the little city, already fight-
ing with the elements for its very existence.
Then a huge wall of water, as from a lake let loose, sud-
denly poured down the side of the volcano, carrying every-
22 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
thing in its wake. The terror-stricken inhabitants, many of
whom had rushed from their homes to seek safety from the
earthquake, were caught in the deluge. Some were drowned
immediately; others were able to climb to the roofs of their
houses, where they clung in the hope that some miracle might
Those who lived in the palace fared little better., Dofia
Beatriz had retired early. Alarmed, she arose hurriedly, and
throwing around her shoulders a coverlet from her bed, or-
dered Juana de Alvarado, head of her household, to summon
the other members. Hastening to their mistress, they were
met by the onrushing waters, which swept some of them out-
side the house into the kitchen garden, where they sought to
save themselves against broken walls and uprooted orange
In the meantime, Dofia Beatriz, who did not feel safe in her
bedroom, conceived the fatal idea of going up into a small
chapel recently constructed on the roof. She took with her
Anica, the five-year-old daughter of Don Pedro, and eleven
women of the palace. Climbing to the altar with the child in
her arms, she threw herself at the foot of the crucifix.
Francisco de la Cueva, brother of Dofia Beatriz, had been
making a gallant effort to save her. Hearing the noise of the
approaching torrent, he had rushed out, lance in hand. Dis-
cerning a horse in the darkness he mounted it, and rode to-
ward the palace. But his efforts were in vain. He was caught
by the flood, and was barely able to save himself from drown-
ing by clinging for the remainder of the night to a post.
In the meantime, the violence of the flood had caused the
walls of the chapel to give way, and the roof had collapsed
upon Dofia Beatriz and her companions. Not knowing that
she had already perished within, Bishop Marroquin and
others sought desperately for her in the flood waters about the
Morning dawned. Gruesome scenes of wreckage and dis-
i This account is taken mostly from Jos6 Milla, who had at his command nine of
the early chronicles. Op. cit., vol. I, pp. 330 et seq.
aster greeted the eyes of the survivors. Those who had not
been hurt by falling timbers, or were not utterly exhausted,
spent the day searching the ruins for victims that might yet
be living. Then, bowed with grief, they turned to the task of
burying the dead.
The lifeless form of La Sin Ventura (as she has ever since
been called), found still embracing the cross, was solemnly
interred in the cathedral. Some years later, at the instigation
of Dofia Leonor, daughter of Alvarado, it was moved to a
place of honor beside that of the Adelantado in the cathedral
of the new capital.
To this day may still be seen at Ciudad Vieja (as the place
is now called) vestiges of a building generally reputed to have
been the oratory of Dofia Beatriz. But a thoughtful examina-
tion casts much doubt upon this belief: the ruins are alto-
gether too large and massive; moreover, they stand upon the
ground level, while the chapel is described as having been
built upon the roof of the palace. It is more likely that what
we now see are remains of the old cathedral. This hypothesis
is strengthened by the fact that recent excavations about the
spot revealed extensive foundations buried in silt, as well as
an ancient graveyard. The cathedral is known not to have
been completely destroyed, for history relates that Bishop
Marroquin sold what remained of it, as well as the house ad-
joining, to obtain funds for a new structure at Panchoy.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA
DON PEDRO DE ALVARADO, Conqueror of Guatemala
and founder of the Spanish colony, was dead. The city
of Santiago, built and cherished by his followers, had
been destroyed in a single night, Dofia Beatriz and many
other prominent citizens perishing in the catastrophe. The
surviving members of the cabildo hastily convened to form a
It was a brief and nervous session, for the building in which
they sat had been undermined by the flood. At any moment
it might collapse. Wasting little time in argument, they hur-
riedly named as provisional joint governors Bishop Marro-
quin and Francisco de la Cueva.
The next problem to be faced was a grave one: Should they
rebuild the city at Almolonga, or seek a safer spot? It was
agreed to move a league and a half away, sufficient it was
thought to avoid the menace of the volcanos. The site
28 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
chosen was that known to the Indians as Panchoy, meaning
"Valley of the Lake."
In the year 1543, on the day of the feast of Corpus Cristi,
a solemn procession passed out of the ruined capital. The
Holy Sacrament was carried to the site of the new city and
there placed in the hermitage of Santa Lucia. Thus was
founded the third city of Santiago de los Caballeros de Gua-
temala, that known today by the simpler title of Antigua
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ANTIGUA
The building of this city was commenced toward the
middle of the sixteenth century. At that time Spain, the
mother country, had reached the zenith of her power. Ren-
aissance architecture, which was spreading over Europe,
found magnificent expression in the Iberian Peninsula. There
a style developed which, incorporating the best of both the
Italian and the Moorish, came to be known as exclusively
Spanish. The well-known patios or inner courts of Spain,
with their fountains, flowers, and sometimes elaborate archi-
tectural detail, are derived from the Moorish, as are also the
simple outer walls on which ornamentation is confined to the
windows and doors. In Italy, decoration was lavished on
stucco facades; but the Spaniards of the Early Renaissance
preferred to embellish their inner patios and halls.
The two-storied palaces of the time often carried an upper
arcaded corridor which served the occupants (particularly
the ladies, whom etiquette forbade to walk in the streets
below) as a sight-seeing gallery and promenade.
The oldest buildings in Antigua are good examples of this
period. Among noteworthy features are the chiselled stone
portals which surround richly panelled or studded doors; the
turned wood grills and carved cedar shutters of the windows;
and the handsome stone fountains of the courtyards and
public squares. Sculptured stonework is now less rare than
delicate wood carving, much of which has rotted away
with the passing of time. Only here and there remain
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 29
examples that help us to realize the beauty of Antigua in
Unfortunately, by the end of the seventeenth century a
reaction set in. The stately simplicity of the Spanish Renais-
sance disappeared. Flamboyancy took its place. What had
been rich ornamentation now became gaudy display. The
excellence of the sixteenth century style was rarely equalled
in the Guatemala of later days.
ANTIGUA OF TODAY
Leaving Guatemala City, a pleasant road climbs the divide
and descends finally the steep slopes of Las Cafias to the vale
of Panchoy. The approach to the sleeping city is bordered
by coffee plantations and diminutive houses half-hidden by
fruit trees and shrubbery. A narrow bridge crossing the Rio
Pensativo opens on to a cobbled street lined with ancient
cottages, their sturdy walls tinted blue, pink, or buff: the
roof-beams sag under the weight of moss-grown tiles, and
miniature windows with carved shutters are guarded by
grills of wood or iron. Not a jarring note disturbs the tran-
THE CONVENT OF NUESTRA SENORA DE LA
At a bend in the street stands an old fountain from which
the water still falls in a sparkling stream as though to wel-
come the dusty traveller and quench his thirst. Beyond this
on the left are the ruins of the church and convent of La Con-
cepci6n. Nothing remains of the church save a broken shell,
grown over with creepers which fail to conceal entirely the
stucco designs upon the inner walls.
A portion of the convent has been repaired, including the
quaint doorway set in a bright pink facade. The inscription
on the lintel cites the day on which it was finished 23 Feb-
ruary 1694. Above is a stucco frieze showing the Virgin of the
Conception; below her are images of the sun and moon, while
30 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
on one side is the Spanish coat of arms, on the other a figure
of Santiago on horseback.
The establishment in Guatemala of the Order of Nuestra
Sefiora de la Concepci6n was a project much desired by
Bishop Marroquin. But it was due to the enterprise of his
second successor, G6mez Fernandez de C6rdova, that the
convent was finally founded in 1578 by four sisters of noble
birth who came from the City of Mexico for the purpose.
Immediately they drew about them many novices who wished
to take the veil. Some of these were daughters of prominent
families, and it was doubtless their presence, in large part,
which resulted in this convent becoming one of the richest
and most powerful ever to grace the capital.
Thomas Gage, an English friar who lived for several years
in the city during the first half of the seventeenth century, has
left a picturesque account of the importance of this convent
in his day, as well as of the intrigue which appears at times to
have gone on within its walls. He wrote:z
The other cloisters of the city are also rich; but next to the Do-
minicans is the cloister of nuns called the Conception, in which at
my time there were judged to live a thousand women, not all nuns,
but nuns and their serving maids or slaves, and young children
which were brought up and taught to work by the nuns.
The nuns that are professed bring with them their portions, five
hundred ducats the least, some six hundred, some seven, and some
a thousand, which portions after a few years (and continuing to the
cloister after the nuns' decease) come to make up a great yearly
rent. They that will have maids within to wait on them may, bring-
ing the bigger portion, or allowing yearly for their servants' diet.
In this cloister lived that Donna Juana de Maldonado, Judge
Maldonado de Paz his daughter, whom the Bishop so much con-
versed withal. She was very fair and beautiful, and not much above
twenty years of age, and yet his love blinding him, he strove what
he could in my time against all the ancient nuns and sisters, to make
her superior and abbess, and caused such a mutiny and strife in that
cloister, which was very scandalous to the whole city, and made
many rich merchants and gentlemen run to the cloister with their
i A New Survey of the West Indies (1648). Republished in the Argonaut series,
New York, 1929.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN-ERA 31
swords drawn, threatening to break in amongst the nuns to defend
their daughters against the powerful faction which the Bishop had
wrought for Donna Juana de Maldonado: which they had per-
formed if the President Don Juan de Guzmin had not sent Juan
in regard of her young age from her ambitious thoughts of being
abbess. With this the mutiny both within and without ceased, the
Bishop got but shame, and his young sister continued as before
under command and obedience, to a more religious, grave, and aged
nun than herself.
This Donna Juana de Maldonado y Paz was the wonder of all
that cloister, yea of all the city for her excellent voice, and skill in
music, and in carriage, and education yielded to none abroad nor
within; she was witty, well spoken and above all a Calliope, or Muse
for ingenious and sudden verses; which the Bishop said so much
moved him to delight in her company and conversation. Her father
thought nothing too good, nor too much for her; and therefore hav-
ing no other children, he daily conferred upon her riches, as might
best beseem a nun, as rich and costly cabinets faced with gold and
silver, pictures and idols for her chamber with crowns and jewels to
adorn them; which with other presents from the Bishop (who dying
in my time left not wherewith to pay his debts, for what as the re-
port went, he had spent himself and given all unto this nun) made
this Donna Juana de Maldonado so rich and stately, that at her
own charges she built for herself a new quarter within the cloister
with rooms and galleries, and a private garden-walk, and kept at
work and to wait on her half a dozen blackamoor maids; but above
all she placed her delight in a private chapel or closet to pray in,
being hung with rich hangings, and round about it costly laminas
(as they call them) or pictures painted upon brass set in black ebony
frames with corners of gold, some of silver, brought to her from
Rome; her altar was accordingly decked with jewels, candlesticks,
crowns, lamps, and covered with a canopy embroidered with gold;
in her closet she had her small organ, and many sorts of musical in-
struments, whereupon she played sometimes by herself, sometimes
with her best friends of the nuns; and here especially she enter-
tained with music her beloved the Bishop. Her chapel or place of
devotion was credibly reported about the city to be worth at least
six thousand crowns, which was enough for a nun that had vowed
chastity, poverty, and obedience.
32 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
THE PLAZA DE ARMAS
The street of La Concepci6n leads into the Plaza de Armas,
the heart of the ancient capital. In olden times it was known
as the Plaza Real, and was not given over as now to park and
pleasure garden, but was reserved for tournaments, pageants,
and bull-fights. There were also native fiestas, in which the
Indians, with perfect good humor, would re-enact scenes
from the Conquest. The descendants of the Indians who
came from Mexico as allies of Alvarado, and who enjoyed
special hereditary privileges on that account, would rout the
indigenes and be hailed as conquerors. At other times the
plaza was filled with the color and movement of the local
market. In the center was a large stone fountain; to one side,
and less pleasant to contemplate, were the gallows and whip-
ping post, both reputed to have been in frequent use.
THE PALACE OF THE CAPTAINS GENERAL
When the plaza was first laid out in the early days of the
city, the residence of Bishop Marroquin stood on one of the
corners now occupied by the Palace of the Captains General.
Shortly after his death his house was torn down, and in its
place was erected a building known as the Casas Reales. Not
being well constructed, it was unable to withstand the earth-
quake shocks from which the city suffered periodically.
The present palace was completed in 1764. It was severely
damaged by the earthquake of 1773, but the front portion
was restored later, in keeping with the original design. Two
of the patios contain fountains of the colonial period. Besides
being the residence of the official who bore the impressive
title of Gobernador, Capitan General, y Presidente de la Real
I In his later years, this worthy was responsible for the construction ot magnificent
establishment on the slopes of the Volcan de Agua, some three miles south of the
city. The settlement, known as San Juan del Obispo, merits a visit. The church,
in spite of its modernized facade, contains some handsomely carved altars of the
early colonial period; while the balustrade of the attractivepatio which adjoins this
building on the north commands an impressive view of the valley of Panchoy.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 33
Audiencia, this building housed the courts of justice and the
The upper arched balcony is pure Spanish Renaissance in
style. During the celebration of public festivals in the plaza,
the governor and his family, ladies of the nobility, and the
most important officials of the colony would sit beneath its
portals to observe the ceremonies, pass judgment on the
jousting, and distribute prizes among the winners.
The historian Juarros recites in detail the exploits and
tribulations of the illustrious grandees who ruled Central
America from this spot. They numbered more than thirty-
five in all. First was Don Alonzo Lopez de Cerrato. During
his term the seat of government was moved here from Gra-
cias a Dios in Honduras. This was in 1549-
Don Juan Nuiiez de Landecho took the oath of office in
1559. The excesses which he committed finally brought about
his removal. He was thrown into prison, but escaped and
made his way to the Golfo Dulce on the Caribbean coast,
where he embarked in a small boat, and was never heard from
again. The scandals connected with his regime provoked an
order from the King, transferring the Audiencia (supreme
court of the colony, endowed also with important adminis-
trative functions) to Panama. As recounted further on, its
restitution to Guatemala was achieved largely through the
efforts of Fray Bartolome de las Casas, who was in Spain at
"the time, and personally made representations to the King.
Don Pedro Mayen de Rueda came in 1588. He had diffi-
culties with the clergy, from the Bishop down; and on one
occasion slapped the face of the venerable prelate of the mon-
astery of San Francisco, when the latter refused to let him
remove from the sacred precincts a youth who had recently
joined the brotherhood. For this and other sins he was not
only expelled from office, but, as Padre Juarros recounts with
feeling, I1vine justice was visited upon him. He went insane,
and wandered through the streets unclothed, subsisting upon
the herbs of the field like an animal; and remained in this
lamentable state until death put an end to his sufferings.
34 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
Don Antonio Peraza Ayala Castilla y Rojas, Conde de la
Gomera, who took office in 1611, has been immortalized in
Jose Milla's historical novel El Visitador. Things did not go
too smoothly during his regime, and the logical result was the
arrival of the Visitador, a judge sent by the King to inves-
tigate and report upon the acts of high colonial officials. Don
Antonio was suspended from office until a decision could be
reached; and in the meantime, the populace divided itself
into two armed camps, one favoring the Governor, the other
siding with the Visitador. Finally peace was restored, and
Don Antonio resumed his office, which he held until 1626.
Juarros mentions that he was the first governor to be called
by the title Muy Ilustre Sehor, previous incumbents having
been addressed simply as Magnifico Seior.
Don Diego de Avendafia ruled from 1642 until his death in
1649. He was noted for his integrity, his tolerance, and the
patience with which he suffered his physical infirmities.
Three years after his death his tomb was opened: the his-
torian Vazquez (quoted by Juarros) asserts that, in spite of
the advanced state of decomposition in which his body was
found at this time, his hands were whole and flexible; and this
was attributed to the fact that he had been noted in life for
his clean hands, at no time, during the eight years of his
rule, had he accepted a bribe, nor a single maravedi of dis-
Don Gabriel Sanchez de Berrospe came in 1696, and was
active in furthering the pacification of Peten; but like several
of his predecessors, he did not escape the Visitador. The
investigation became a public scandal. Finally Sanchez de
Berrospe was exonerated of all blame, while the Visitador was
recalled in disgrace to Mexico, and there thrown into prison.
Don Francisco Rodriguez de Rivas came upon the scene in
1716, and held office until 1724. During his regime the capital
experienced severe earthquakes, and there was talk of mov-
ing to a safer site. It was due largely to his opposition that
the project was dropped; and it was through his financial
assistance that several damaged churches were rebuilt.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 35
Don Martin de Mayorga, last of the governors to rule in
the shadow of the Volcan de Agua, arrived on the twelfth of
June, 1773. Six weeks later the city was destroyed, and the
responsibility of removing to a safer site devolved upon him.
He saw the new capital established in the Valle de las Vacas;
then, just as he was on the eve of departing for Spain, orders
came for him to proceed to Mexico, to fill temporarily the
post of viceroy. After having discharged his duties honor-
ably, he sailed for Spain in 1783, but died while on the high
REAL CASA DE LA MONEDA
Adjoining the palace of the Captains General was the royal
mint, known as the Real Casa de la Moneda. Its inauguration
in 1733 was marked by elaborate ceremonies, of which Juar-
ros gives a detailed account.
Officials of the city, and many of the leading inhabitants,
marched in proFession to Jocotenango, where they awaited
the pack train from Mexico bringing the seals and other
equipment. As the procession, carrying banners and pen-
nants, entered the streets of the capital, bells rang out on all
sides. The Governor came down into the plaza, and person-
ally received the seals, which were deposited in the royal
Here were coined the curious macacos, some of which are
still to be seen in Guatemala, mainly on the necklaces of
Indian women. They are thick slugs of silver, irregular in
outline, stamped with the arms of Spain and other devices.
THE PALACE OF THE MUY NOBLE
On the opposite side of the plaza is a building smaller than
the Governor's palace, but somewhat similar in design. This
is the City Hall (Palacio del Muy Noble Ayuntamiento).
Built in early colonial days, its sturdy construction has with-
stood the earthquakes which have repeatedly shaken the city.
36 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
The upper story is still used as the headquarters of the Mu-
nicipality. It contains some interesting old portraits, among
them a crayon drawing of Bartolom6 de las Casas and a large
oil painting of Bishop Gomez de Parada, founder of the
Though little remains to attest its former grandeur, the
cathedral was doubtless in its day the most magnificent
building in the city. The portions which have been rebuilt
(the chapels of El Sagrario and Guadelupe) and which, com-
bined, are now referred to as the Cathedral, give no idea of
the stateliness and splendor of the structure which was com-
pleted in the year I680. But the ruined nave of the original
edifice, with its intricate stucco decoration still clinging to the
walls and broken domes, and the huge panelled doors which
lead into the sacristy, tell the story.
Domingo Juarros, one-time Archbishop of Guatemala,
describedI the cathedral as having been a
sumptuous temple, more than zoo varas long, 40 wide and 22 high;
there were 50 windows to light it, and seven great entrance doors.
It was divided into three naves, having eight chapels on either side;
of these, that of the Sagrario and of Nuestra Sefiora del Socorro
were large enough to pass for churches. It had quantities of orna-
ments of gold and silver; many remarkable statues and good paint-
ings; the high altar was a dome supported on 16 pillars sheathed in
tortoise-shell and bearing finely wrought bronze medallions; and
along the cornice stood images of the Virgin and the twelve apostles,
all of marble.
Though its construction was commenced in 1543 by Bishop
Marroquin with funds obtained from the sale of the partly
ruined cathedral at Almolonga, nearly a century and a half
passed before the building was considered complete. Another
century, and it was destroyed.
I Op. cit., vol. I, p. 92.
! *.. .
THE GREAT NAVE OF THE CATHEDRAL
TH RETNVEO TECTHDA
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 37
Here were interred the bones of Pedro de Alvarado and his
wife Dofia Beatriz; Bernal Diaz del Castillo; Bishop Marro-
quin and eight of his successors; and many other worthies
who figured prominently in the early history of the colony.
But the tomb of none can be seen today.
History recounts that the remains of the Adelantado and
his family were destroyed when a wall fell during some work
of reconstruction in 1669. The earthquakes from which the
capital has frequently suffered since its earliest days are
mainly responsible for the loss of these and other tombs which
would have been greatly venerated today by Guatemalans
and foreigners alike.
In early times there was worshipped here an image still to
be seen in the Cathedral of Guatemala City, whose history is
so romantic that it deserves more than a passing word. This
is the Virgen del Socorro, known to the early colonists as
the Virgen de la Piedad. Tradition records that she was
brought from Spain by Francisco de Garay, who accompanied
Alvarado on his first expedition to Guatemala., She pre-
sided over the first mass to celebrate the victories of the
According to the cabildo record of 25 August 1538, in
which is described the building of the Cathedral at Almo-
longa, the first chapel to be completed was dedicated to
"Nuestra Seiiora de la Piedad." The image, which was not
damaged when the city was destroyed, was carried to the new
capital. Until 1620 it stood on the high altar of the Cathe-
dral: when the latter was rebuilt it was moved to a side
Here the name ofNuestra Sefiora del Socorro became popu-
lar, particularly among the common folk. Her special prov-
ince seems to have been the warding off of public disasters,
of which the capital of Guatemala received more than its
share. An example may be found in the cabildo report dated
i February 1705:2
i For the legend of her miraculous origin in Spain, see Juarros, op. cit., vol. I, p. 146.
2 Juarros, op. cit., vol. p. 144.
38 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
The volcano which lies close to this capital, having become en-
raged since one o'clock in the morning, incessantly terrifying the
neighborhood with its horrible thunderings, and threatening to
bury the City, like another Herculaneum, with a violent eruption
of ashes and sands which were so abundant, that obscuring the light
of the sun, they enveloped the City in a terrifying gloom, it was
decided in this Cabildo to request that the same afternoon there be
a procession of prayer, in which should be carried out the miracu-
lous images of Christ Crucified and of Nuestra Sefiora del Socorro
that are venerated in the Holy Cathedral, and that the following
days be devoted to a novena of masses and sermons, so that in this
way might be assuaged the just wrath of Heaven.
The notary testified, at this time, that the light at ten
o'clock in the morning was so dim that he was obliged to
carry his table to the door of the building in order to write;
but that from the hour in which prayer was decided upon, the
horizon began to brighten, leaving only a few black clouds
around the volcano; which clouds, as soon as the Sacred
Images came out of the church, continued to melt away until
the sky was left quite clear.
Witness, again, the testimony of the historian Fuentes y
Guzman,2 who records that on occasions when this image was
carried out in processions of prayer for rain, it was a rare
thing for those who took part in the ceremonies to return
THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN CARLOS
On the street which leads eastward from the Plaza, passing
the Governor's palace, stands the handsome building which
housed the University of San Carlos. This institution, in its
day the greatest seat of learning in Central America, was the
final realization of the dream of Bishop Marroquin, who, in
his will, bequeathed a sum of money for the foundation of a
i Volcan de Fuego. At the time of preparing this manuscript, on the afternoon of
January 21, 1932, the same volcano is again active, for the first time since x88o.
A fine shower of ashes is falling on Guatemala City; the air is acrid with the
smell of sulphur. A thin gritty film accumulates on desk and papers, and it is
necessary to work by artificial light. D. H. P.
2 Recordacidn Florida, vol. i, p. 220, of the Zaragoza edition, 1882.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 39
university. The fund lay unused until the year 1646, when it
was augmented by the generous legacy of the postmaster,
Pedro Crespo Suarez, who left 20,ooo pesos to the cause.
Finally, in 1678, was inaugurated the Real y Pontifica Uni-
versidad de San Carlos Borromeo.
The architecture is strikingly Moorish in style. This is par-
ticularly true of the arches of the corridor which surrounds
the main patio. The doorway is an excellent example of
modern stone carving: that is to say, it is but a century
old, having been presented in 1843 by Mariano Galvez. The
original doorway was ornamented in stucco with a group of
angels bearing in their hands books and scientific instru-
This university counted among its graduates many notable
men, including, according to Juarros,2 five bishops, and a sur-
geon to His Majesty. Juarros also tells us that for many
years the institution prided itself on the fact that not a single
student had strayed from the true faith; until it was put to
shame by Rafael Gil Rodriguez, who, after having been ade-
quately instructed by his Alma Mater in the tenets of the
holy doctrine, renounced all in order to embrace Judaism.
For this heresy he was condemned in 1795 by the court of the
Inquisition in Mexico: in the same year he was expelled from
the Royal and Pontifical University of Guatemala, which
commanded to be burnt at the hand of the public executioner
the papers conferring upon him the Bachelor's degree.
THE CHURCH OF SAN AGUSTIN
Westward from the University, two blocks past the Plaza,
stands a church the facade of which, ravaged by time, earth-
quake, and neglect, still retains something of its earlier
beauty. The stucco images are mutilated, and corrugated
iron has replaced the original doors of bronze-studded cedar.
This was once the home of the Augustinian monks. Two
i Victor Miguel Diaz, La Romantica Ciudad Colonial (Guatemala, 1927), p. 63.
2 Op. cit., vol. I, p. I59.
40 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
centuries ago, a passer-by might have caught the low murmur
of voices engaged in prayer and teaching; now, if you listen,
you will hear the ring of hammer on anvil, for a blacksmith's
shop profanes the quondam residence of holy friars.
It was Francisco de Ibarra who dreamed of establishing
this Order in Guatemala. In the early years of the seven-
teenth century Fray Francisco Ziiiiga arrived from Mexico
to open a monastery.
But the Augustinians were unfortunate in establishing
themselves, at first, in an unhealthy part of the city. In 1615
they took over the present site, which had previously been
occupied by the sisterhood of Santa Catarina.
THE JESUIT MONASTERY AND COLLEGE
One block northward from San Agustin was the church,
monastery, and college of the Compaiiia de Jesus. Within the
ruined walls the market of Antigua is now held. The place is
worth a visit, for Indians from near-by villages congregate
here to sell the produce of their farms and gardens, and,
equally important, to exchange the gossip of the day.
Antigua is no longer a religious center, nor a great seat of
learning. But the city is still the home of artisans who have
inherited all the skill of their forefathers. Here in the market
is pottery of pleasing form and harmonious coloring, made
but a few blocks away out of the very earth on which the city
has stood for nearly four hundred years. The weavings come
from hand looms, set up in broken churches and blackened
cloisters. There are hats, baskets, fans, and mats woven from
native rushes; hand-dipped candles to burn before the saints
who still abide within this city of churches; and many house-
hold articles fashioned of wood, clay, leather, and metal. The
abundance of fruits and vegetables, freshly washed at the
fountain and attractively displayed, never fails at any
It was toward the end of the sixteenth century that Fray
Juan de la Plaza, passing through Guatemala after having
D I OF T
.- *. *
D O A O T UNIERI- O S L-.
DOORWAY OF THE UN ;'ERSI'FY OF SAN CARr-OS BORROMEO
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 41
made a tour of inspection in Peru, obtained permission to
found here a Jesuit college. In 1582 two members of the
Compaiiia arrived for this purpose; and it was not long be-
fore the first structures were completed.
After many years of diligent teaching, the Jesuits of Gua-
temala were expelled in 1767, along with all their brethren of
the Spanish Dominions. The order came from Charles III,
who had cast his lot with the anti-Jesuit movement pervading
Europe at that time. The story is a tragic one.
As dawn broke over the sleeping city on the 26th of June,
the Governor in uniform, accompanied by judges and other
officers in formal dress, made his way to the buildings of the
Compafifa. Silently, while the friars were celebrating early
mass, soldiers surrounded the place. Scarcely was the cere-
mony over when the officers appeared, closing fast the doors
In respectful silence the friars listened to the royal man-
date which condemned them to exile and poverty. Then they
withdrew to their cells to await the time of departure, for-
bidden to communicate with either friends or relatives. On
July Ist they passed out of the City of Santiago, arriving at
the Golfo Dulce three weeks later. On the 26th of the same
month they sailed from Omoa in the frigate Thetis never
again to set eyes on Guatemala.
Three of the exiles were natives of the country. One,'
Rafael Landivar, is Guatemala's greatest poet. His outstand-
ing work, the Rusticatio Mexicano, was written in classical
Latin, during long years spent in Italy. Little remains of the
house in Antigua where he was born on the 27th of October,
1731, and where he passed his childhood. It was situated near
the Alameda de Santa Lucia in the Cuarta Calle. Part of the
property was used by his father as a powder factory, and is
still known as "La P61vora."
I The other two were Josi Antonio Zepeda and Manuel Muioz.
42 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
THE STREET AND CONVENT OF SANTA
Leading out of the northwest corner of the Plaza is the
street of Santa Catarina, spanned at one point by a massive
arch through which can be glimpsed the church of the
A corner house on this street, one square north of the
Plaza, is known as the Casa de los Leones, from the rampant
lions, sculptured in stone, which stand on either side of the
doorway. Windows and doors which open on the street are of
cedar, handsomely carved in geometric design; within, the
building is nothing more than a shell. No historic personages
are known to have lived here. Victor Miguel Diaz says that
the house belonged to Juan Bautista Alvarez de las Asturias
during the period when the city was most prosperous.
The arch of Santa Catarina is a reconstruction of one that
in earlier days joined the convent (now in ruins) to its annex
on the east. Of the latter not a vestige remains. In colonial
times the archway was hollow, with steps at either end, so
that those in the street below were unable to see the nuns as
they passed from one building to the other.
Santa Catarina was established in 1609 to meet the needs
of the city, whose only nunnery, that of Concepci6n, was
overcrowded. Sor Elvira de San Francisco, who at the age of
six years had entered the latter institution as its first pupil,
was chosen to act as Abbess to the new sisterhood. By char-
acter as well as education she was admirably fitted for the
task. She continued actively in charge during a period of
forty years, up to the time of her death.
THE CHURCH AND MONASTERY OF MERCED
Although the Mercedarians were one of the first religious
Orders to arrive in Guatemala, the church now connected
with their name was not built until 1760, thirteen years be-
fore the earthquake of Santa Maria laid the city in ruins.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 43
Perhaps because the edifice was new and of sturdy construc-
tion, it suffered less than most of the other churches, and was
comparatively easy to repair.
In this church there used to stand an image of Christ bear-
ing the Cross which was greatly venerated. In time of pub-
lic need or distress a novena or nine days' prayer would be
made to it. Also to be seen here was a miraculous image of
Nuestra Sefiora de la Merced. An early chronicler gives the
story of its origin, taken, he says, from papers preserved in
the archives of the monastery. The captain of a vessel about
to sail from Spain to the New World was presented by a
stranger with a sealed chest, and instructed that it should be
delivered to the Prelate of the Monastery of Merced in the
City of Santiago Guatemala. On its arrival, the box was
opened in the presence of the religious authorities, who were
amazed to find a sacred effigy from which emanated an ex-
quisite perfume. There was later discovered a wound in its
side from which exuded a fragrant liquid; this, when applied
to sore or afflicted parts, immediately made them whole.
The monastery of the Mercedarians was, in its day, one of
the finest structures of which the capital could boast. The
magnificent fountain in the center of the patio has no equal
among those which have remained to bear testimony to the
grandeur of other times.
FRAY BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS
In the diminutive park which fronts the church of Merced
is the base of an old fountain, from which rises a pillar sur-
mounted by a marble bust of Bartolome de las Casas, one of
the most remarkable men who trod the stage of the Spanish
His father was a shipmate of Christopher Columbus.
Bartolome was born in 1474, and educated at Salamanca; he
I See Juarros, op. cit., vol. I, p. 165. This image is now in Guatemala City.
2 Father Manuel Garrida, La Nave del Mercader y Grano del Evangelio. See
Juarros, op. cit., vol. I, p. 195.
44 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
sailed for Hispaniola in 1502, and resided there for several
years before the rich countries of the mainland began to re-
ceive the attention of the conquistadores.
It was after accompanying the expedition for the conquest
of Cuba, where he received a repartimiento of Indians, that
what is known as his "conversion" took place. He gave up
his concessions and began to preach against enslaving the
natives. His hearers "were amazed; some were struck with
compunction; others were as much surprised to hear it called
a sin to make use of the Indians, as if they had been told it
were sinful to make use of the beasts of the field." 2 None,
however, made any attempt to change his ways. Las Casas
then returned to Hispaniola.
During the years that passed between this time and his
arrival in Guatemala, he carried on an ardent campaign to
obtain protection for the Indians; but everywhere he met
with determined opposition. He travelled to Spain, then in
Mexico, Peru, and Panama: after which he settled for a while
in Nicaragua, but his works and his preaching so enraged
the governor of that Province, that it was a relief to all con-
cerned when he was invited to Guatemala. It throws much
light on the character of Bishop Marroquin that he should
have dared to bring to his own diocese a priest so radical and
As has already been related, Las Casas arrived at Almo-
longa in 1536, accompanied by three brethren of his Order.
The four friars found immediate favor with their new Bishop,
and joined him in making a study of the Quiche language.
"These grave and reverent monks," writes Sir Arthur Helps,3
"might at any time in the year 1537 have been found sitting
in a little class round the Bishop of Guatemala, an elegant
scholar, but whose scholarship was now solely employed to
express Christian doctrines in the Utlatecan language, com-
monly called Quiche."
I Santo Domingo.
2 Sir Arthur Helps, The Spanish Conquest in America, vol. I, p. 325.
3 Op. cit., vol. iI, p. 229.
1 -a-K.. j
- ''~4rG 'u
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 45
One of the great arguments which had been advanced
against Las Casas was that he knew nothing about conquer-
ing or colonizing a country, hence was not prepared to criti-
cize the means which the conquistadores felt themselves com-
pelled to employ. If, with his gentle methods, he were able to
pacify an unsubmissive tribe, his opponents might be willing
to listen to him.
In the northern part of Guatemala lay a region which had
so far repulsed all invasions of the Spaniards. After three
futile attempts at pacification this territory became known as
"The Land of War." In 1537 an agreement was made with
Governor Alonso de Maldonado, to the effect that if Las
Casas could bring these hostile Indians to recognize the King
of Spain as their monarch and to pay him tribute, then they,
in turn, should never be given in encomienda.! One more
condition Las Casas, knowing well the ways of men, laid
down: that no Spaniard, excepting the Governor, should,
under heavy penalty, be allowed to enter this land for five
Las Casas and his brethren translated into Quiche verse
Bible stories and the fundamental doctrines of the Church.
Then they called in four merchants who were engaged in
bringing wares from "The Land of War" to the market at
Santiago, and persuaded them to learn the poems, which were
set to music that might suitably be played on native instru-
Accompanied by the merchants they finally set out upon
their mission, carrying with them trinkets such as bells, look-
ing glasses, and scissors, known to have a strong appeal to the
Indians. The gentle padres,who came to give and not to take,
softened all hearts in the Land of War. They returned trium-
phant to the capital, accompanied by the cacique. So success-
ful was their undertaking that the "Land of War" was known
from that time forward as "La Vera Paz" or True Peace.
I An encomienda was the right to exact tribute from a certain number of Indians.
A repartamiento was a group of Indians assigned to do manual labor for a
46 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
Las Casas then went to Spain, where he accomplished two
things of great importance. The first was the writing of a
book entitled The Destruction of the Indies; the second,
by dint of endless perseverance and persuasive argument,
was the convocation of an official gathering to consider the
condition of the Indians. This conference resulted in the code
known as "The New Laws," in which for the first time were
incorporated adequate measures for safeguarding the welfare
of the aborigines. Chief among these measures was the pro-
hibition of repartimientos. An effort was made to enforce this
feature, but resistance became so great, especially in Peru,
that the King was obliged finally to revoke it. Las Casas was
The "Protector of the Indians" (as he was now called) was
shortly honored by a promotion he was reluctant to accept.
But the persuasion of his friends at length overcame his
scruples, and he was named Bishop of Chiapas, his consecra-
tion taking place at Seville, 4 July 1544.
His sojourn in his new diocese was cut short by a summons
to attend a convocation in Mexico. He did not return again
to Chiapas, but sailed for Spain, where he spent the remain-
der of his energetic life in continued labor with the pen on
behalf of his beloved Indians. At the age of seventy-six he
took up residence in the Dominican College at Valladolid. In
1566, to his great grief, he received news that Guatemala had
been deprived of its Audiencia. Old and feeble though he was,
he hastened to Madrid to plead before the King and the
Council of the Indies. The Audiencia was restored.
It was Las Casas' last effort. He fell ill and died shortly
afterward at the ripe age of ninety-two.
THE MONASTERY OF SANTO DOMINGO
Since practically nothing remains of this wealthy and in-
fluential cloister, we must turn to the old chronicles for a
description. Friar Gage, himself a Dominican, who dwelt
here in the first half of the seventeenth century, before he
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 47
recanted and published the book in which he undertook to ex-
pose what he considered to be abuses of the Spaniards, wrote:
The Dominicans, Franciscans, and Mercedarians are stately
cloisters, containing near a hundred friars apiece; but above all is
the cloister where I lived, of the Dominicans, to which is joined in a
great walk before the church the University of the city. The yearly
revenues which come into this cloister, what from the Indian towns
belonging to it, what from a water mill, what from a farm of corn,
what from an estancia, or farm for horses and mules, what from an
ingenio, or farm of sugar, what from a mine of silver given unto it
the year 1633, are judged to be (excepting all charges) at least
thirty thousand ducats; wherewith those fat friars feast themselves,
and have to spare to build, and enrich their church and altars.
Besides much treasure belonging to it, there are two things in it
which ... were a lamp of silver hanging before the high altar, so
big as required the strength of three men to hale it up with a rope;
but the other is of more value, which is a picture of the Virgin Mary
of pure silver, and of the stature of a reasonable tall woman, which
standeth in a tabernacle made on purpose in a Chapel of the
Rosary with at least a dozen lamps of silver also burning before it.2
A hundred thousand ducats might soon be made up of the treasure
belonging to that church and cloister.
Within the walls of the cloister there is nothing wanting which
may further pleasure and recreation. In the lower cloister there is
a spacious garden, in the midst whereof is a fountain casting up the
water, and spouting it out of at least a dozen pipes, which fill two
ponds full of fishes, and with this their constant running give music
to the whole cloister, and encouragement to many water-fowl and
ducks to bathe and wash themselves therein. Yet further within
the cloister, there are other two gardens for fruits and herbage, and
in one a pond of a quarter mile long, all paved at the bottom, and a
low stone wall about, where is a boat for friars' recreation, who
often go thither to fish, and do sometimes upon a sudden want or
occasion take out from thence as much fish as will give to the whole
cloister a dinner.
This monastery, one of the most ancient in Guatemala (it
was elevated to the rank of Priory in 1547), was completely
demolished by the earthquakes of 1773, which were felt more
severely in this section of the city than in any other part.
I A New Survey of the West Indies, p. 2oo.
2 This image is now in the church of Santo Domingo in Guatemala City.
48 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
LA CALLE DE LA NOBLEZA
The Dominican monastery occupied an extensive plot of
ground in the northeastern part of the city, a section which at
the present time can by no means be termed busy. Friar
Gage, however, wrote that
the best part of the city is that ... which ... is called . el Bar-
rio de Santo Domingo, by reason of the cloister of Saint Dominic
which standeth in it. Here are the richest and best shops of the
city, with the best buildings, most of the houses being new and
Here is also a daily tianguez (as they call it) or petty market,
where some Indians all the day sit selling fruits, herbs and cacao,
but at four in the afternoon, this market is filled for a matter of an
hour, where the Indian women meet to sell their country slap
(which is dainties to the Creoles) as atole, pinole, scalded plantains,
butter of the cacao, puddings made of Indian maize, with a bit of
fowl or fresh pork in them seasoned with much red biting chilli,
which they call anacatamales.
And again he speaks of
that end of the city called el Barrio de Santo Domingo, or the
street of Saint Dominic, whose houses and presence make that
street excel all the rest of the city, and their wealth and trading
were enough to denominate Guatemala a very rich city.
The street (Primera Avenida), which runs southward from
Santo Domingo to the monastery of San Francisco, was
known in olden times as the Calle de la Nobleza. Homes of the
wealthy then flanked it on either side. At the point where
this street intersects that which passes the University of San
Carlos stands an old corner house with much fine stonework.
This is one of the few survivors of the grand residences of the
seventeenth century. The exact date of its erection is not
known. The earliest record is of the year 1639, at which time
it belonged to Doctor don Luis de las Infantas y Mendoza,
Fiscal de las Audiencias or King's Attorney.
ENTRANCE TO THE CASA DE LOS LEONES
ENTRANCE TO THE CASA DE LOS LEONES
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 49
In those days his was a lucrative profession. Friar Gage
The pension which the King alloweth to every judge of Chan-
cery is four thousand ducats yearly, and three thousand to his
attorney, all which is paid out of the King's Exchequer abiding in
that city. Yet what besides they get by bribes and trading is so
much, that I have heard a judge himself Don Luis de las Infantas
say, that though a judge's place at Mexico and Lima be more honor-
able, yet none more profitable than Guatemala.
From an examination of the interior of this house, partly
restored and partly in ruins, we may gain an idea of the
manner in which well-to-do Spaniards of colonial times were
accustomed to live. The zaguan, or entrance passage, ter-
minates in a handsome stone arch. Originally, the conven-
tional patio was flanked on all sides by spacious rooms with
high, beamed ceilings and panelled doors. Medallion win-
dows with wooden shutters open onto the corridor lined with
turned wooden pillars standing upon chiselled stone bases.
To the left, as one enters the main patio, is a passageway
leading to the stable, with its watering trough and stone
The kitchen is supplied with two dutch ovens. The domed
chimney of massive construction which rises above the brick
stove has resisted successfully the earthquakes of three hun-
dred years. The bathroom has a sunken tub, edged with blue
and gold tiles, and ingeniously supplied with hot and cold
water from tanks set in the rear wall of the building.
Above the bathroom is the pigeon loft; from here a narrow
winding stairway leads to the azotea or flat roof, which over-
looks a tiny private garden of masonry-bordered flower-beds
(arriates) and a bicaro or fountain from which a trickle of
water falls ceaselessly into a limpid pool.
Diagonally across the street (Quinta Calle) from the rear of
this building lived, during the latter part of the sixteenth cen-
tury, Bernal Diaz del Castillo. The house as it stands today,
however, is mainly of recent construction. Some of the walls
may perhaps date back to early times.
50 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO
In the year 1514 Pedrarias Davila, Governor of Tierra
Firme, set sail from Spain. Among the soldiers accompanying
him was a youth of twenty-two years from the city of Medina
del Campo. It was not alone poverty, but also a thirst for
adventure and the desire to be worthy of his illustrious family,
which drove Bernal Diaz, nicknamed from his pleasing
manners and appearance "the gallant," to seek his fortune in
the New World.
Riches and rewards never fell to his lot in great measure.
Adventures were his in plenty; the years that passed be-
tween hopeful youth and saddened old age knew hardship,
hunger, fatigue, sickness, wounds, and treachery. "Oh what
a troublesome thing it is," he exclaimed in his later years, to
go and discover new lands, and the risks we took it is hardly
possible to exaggerate!"
His adventures carried him to Panama, Central America,
and Mexico. He took an active part in the conquest of the
last named country, then accompanied Cortes on the perilous
march to Honduras, returning from which he passed through
Guatemala. This region evidently cast a spell over him, for it
was here that he ultimately settled down, married, and finally
at the age of seventy began his rIrue History of the Con-
quest of New Spain, the book which won for him more
laurels of immortality than all his years of arduous fighting.
From his writings, the naivete of which mirrors his charac-
ter on every page, we get a fair idea of the personality of
Bernal Diaz. In the preface to his book he says:
That which I myself have seen and the fighting I have gone
through, with the help of God I will describe, quite simply, as a fair
eye-witness without twisting events one way or the other. I am
now an old man, over eighty-four years of age, and I have lost
my sight and hearing, and, as luck would have it, I have gained
nothing of value to leave to my children and descendants, but
this my true story, and they will presently find out what a wonder-
ful story it is.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA
And at another time:
Many years have passed since I set forth from Spain; dense
clouds have engulfed my soul; one hundred and nineteen battles
have I fought; the laurels of victory have always crowned me; but
there has ever hovered over my head the ominous bird of ill for-
tune. I leave to my children a fulness of honor and abundant
During his residence in Guatemala he won the love and
respect of all who knew him. He was elected a regidor
perpetuo of the city. In I557 he was named to carry the
banner in the feast of Santa Cecilia: this same honor was his
three years later on the occasion of the feast of Santiago. He
numbered among his personal friends Fray Bartolome de las
He married Teresa Becerra, daughter of one of the con-
querors of Guatemala. Several sons and daughters resulted
from this marriage, and through them has come a long line of
notable descendants. Among these may be mentioned Fran-
cisco Antonio Fuentes y Guzmin, who wrote the Recorda-
cidn Florida, a history of colonial times; and, in recent years,
Antonio Batres Jiuregui, recipient of honors here and abroad,
and author of numerous works, best known of which is prob-
ably his America Central ante la Historia.
To the end of his days he did not cease to be active, travel-
ling among the villages of Guatemala, or serving the city in
some public office. Even in his last years he refused to use a
bed, from habit acquired during the Conquest, nor was he
able to sleep unless he walked (as he himself wrote) "some
time in the open air, and this without any covering on my
head, neither cap nor handkerchief, and, thanks to God, it did
me no harm."
Bernal Diaz died in 1581 and was buried with honors in the
I Batres Jauregui, America Central ante la Historia (Guatemala, 1915), voL u,
52 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
THE CHURCH AND MONASTERY OF SAN
Settling first at Almolonga shortly after the founding of
that city, the Franciscan friars moved to the new capital fol-
lowing the disaster of I541. Fray Toribio de Benavente,
better known as Motolinia,' with twenty-four of his brethren,
reached Guatemala from Mexico in 1544. They soon made
of the Franciscan monastery the leading one of the com-
The site which it occupied at the southern end of the Calle
de la Nobleza was larger than two city blocks, and its crum-
bling ruins are among the most impressive in Antigua. One
may climb a narrow stairway to the second story and look
down upon the cloistered patio surrounded by mossy arches.
Nearby is the oratory with a vaulted ceiling and faint traces
The church had a handsome facade embellished with
twisted columns and eighteen stucco figures of saints. This
stood almost intact until the earthquake of 1917 threw down
the uppermost portion. The roof was a series of domes of
which one only remains. A lower arched ceiling supported
the gallery lavishly decorated in stucco relief.
A single chapel, that of the Tercera Orden, survived the
disaster of 1773, or was reconstructed thereafter, and
now constitutes the only portion of the vast pile which is in
use. The carved and gilded door which leads from the chancel
into the sacristy, and a few old altars, suggest the former
glory of the place; yet the chapel is principally noteworthy as
sheltering the tomb of Hermano Pedro, who is, without ex-
ception, the most beloved in memory of all those holy men
x Fray Toribio was one of the outstanding religious figures of the Conquest of
Mexico. He spent some years in that country, where Cort6s (so the story goes)
once stooped and kissed his ragged robes in the presence of many Indians. The
latter, greatly impressed by seeing the magnificent captain humble himself before
a man in tattered garments, muttered the word "motolinia," meaning "poor,"
which name Fray Toribio took for his own. He was noted not more for his
humility than for his zeal in instructing and baptizing the Indians.
..A C R W W IN T CSA D LS L S
-- -- -- __L I. -. y
A CORNER WINDOW IN THE CASA DE LOS LEONES
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 53
who graced with their presence the ancient city of Santiago
de los Caballeros de Guatemala.
HERMANO PEDRO DE BETANCOURT
The biographers of Hermano Pedro state that he came
of an illustrious family, and was born at Tenerife, Canary
Islands, in the year 1626.' At the age of twenty-four he
was seized with a desire to see the New World. Arrived at
Habana, he encountered a vessel laden with merchandise for
Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala; whereupon he ex-
claimed jubilantly: "To that City I wish to go; for as soon as
I heard it mentioned I was filled with an inward joy and great
strength urging me to proceed thither; it being the first time
I have heard the name." a
Whenfinally he approached the small bridge which com-
mands the entrance to the capital, he fell on his knees and
kissed the ground. Desirous of becoming a priest, he entered
upon a course of study, only to find that, owing to an inherently
poor memory, he was utterly unable to master his books.
Faced with failure after three years of arduous endeavor, he
was seized with despair. He had not yet come to know him-
self, nor the real nature of his calling. He walked out of the
city, hoping that by some chance he might be privileged to
On reaching the village of Petapa he entered the church
and prostrated himself before an image of the Virgin. To her
he poured out his story of struggle and disillusionment.
Whereupon, it is said, the Virgin bent down and comforted
him with gentle words, bidding him return to Santiago, the
city of his spiritual destiny.
x Doubt is cast upon this statement by a portrait, still extant, which bears evidence
of having been painted in his lifetime. At the bottom is an inscription giving
the date of his death, which has obviously been painted over an earlier one. Of
the latter can be made out the words "Naci6 en la Villa y Corte de Madrid...."
2 This quotation and the account that follows are based on Juarros, op. cit., vol. I,
pp. 299 et seq.
3 The wooden image, bending forward in a listening attitude, is venerated in Petapa
to this day.
54 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
With courage horn anew he retraced his steps. Seeking out
his father confessor, he related all that had passed, and was
admitted to the brotherhood of the Third Order of the Fran-
ciscans. He then retired to solitude in the Hermitage of Cal-
vario, where he spent a season in fasting and prayer. It was
during this period that the true light dawned upon him. His
first work, he decided, should be the building of a hospital for
poor convalescents, many of whom, having struggled through
dangerous illnesses, had in the past died from lack of con-
One day in the Indian suburb of Santa Cruz a thatched hut
was offered for sale.' The owner (a poor widow) had died, leav-
ing the injunction that the expenses of her funeral should be
defrayed in this manner. Hermano Pedro bought the humble
dwelling for forty pesos, and there established his first hospi-
tal. At the same time he also opened a school for children.
The day soon came when the widow's hut was no longer
adequate. The "Servant of God," as Hermano Pedro was
affectionately called by the people of the city, obtained per-
mission to construct a substantial hospital and church which
was to stand on a plot of ground situated between San Fran-
cisco and the Rio Pensativo.
The labors of this excellent man had by this time attracted
much attention. Of money and clothes for his convalescents
and needy children there was no lack. The quiet suburb he
had chosen for his humble work became much frequented,
and many flocked to him with offers of personal help. In this
way there grew up almost of itself a society known as the
"Congregation of the Bethlehemites." Its members were
enjoined to follow the example of their leader in bringing the
sick to the hospital on their own shoulders.
The symbol of Bethlehem was of Hermano Pedro's own
choosing. It was in keeping with his lovable nature and fond-
ness for children that the Bible story of the birth of Christ
should appeal to him above all others. He saw to it that
Christmas was a great festival in his institution. All night
I Related by Jos6 Milla in his historical novel Los Nazarenos, p. 89.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 55
long crowds would pass in and out of the church (lavishly
decorated for the occasion) to view the "Nacimiento" and
pray to the image of the Virgin of Bethlehem. Men, women,
and children vied with each other to attend his midnight
mass, "Mass of the Cock" as it is called. Then would follow
dances and games in which the spirit of childhood was dom-
inant. Hermano Pedro would ring his bell and lead the pro-
cessions, or play the flute and beat the drum. Gifts were
distributed to all in the name of the Christ Child.
From birth to death the lives of the poor were enriched by
the Servant of God "; but he did not stop at this. His solici-
tude extended to the welfare of those who had passed on into
the Great Silence, and the stillness of the night was frequently
broken by the tinkling of his bell as he passed along the
cobbled streets calling upon all to pray for the souls of the
At the end of fifteen years of unselfish service, when his
work had attained its greatest usefulness, the good Brother,
weakened by strenuous labor and self-sacrifice, felt that his
end was drawing near. He died on the 25th of April 1667, and
was tenderly laid to rest; but that which he had begun did not
cease. Today, two and a half centuries later, the sick and
needy of Antigua still kneel before his tomb asking succor of
the "Servant of God."
FRAY RODRIGO DE LA CRUZ AND THE
Rodrigo de Arias Maldonado, Pedro de Betancourt's dis-
ciple and successor, was born in Granada of one of the fore-
most families of the Spanish nobility. In 1656 he came to
America with his father, who had been named governor of
Costa Rica, and who died almost immediately upon reaching
his post, which was then filled by the son, at the time scarcely
twenty years of age. The young governor became popular for
his generosity, his fair dealing, and his courage on the field of
56 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
After ten years this dashing cavalier moved to Guatemala,
where he opened a great house and lived in lavish style, tak-
ing a prominent part in the activities of local society. Then a
strange thing happened. Rodrigo de Arias the gallant came
under the spell of Pedro de Betancourt the lowly. He turned
his back on the world to become a humble member of the
Bethlehemite Congregation. About this time, papers from
the King of Spain arrived, conferring upon him the title of
Marquis of Talamanca, in recognition of his brilliant con-
quest of the Talamancan Indians a few years before. But
honor and fame no longer interested him.
When Hermano Pedro lay on his deathbed, he entrusted
the continuance of his work to Fray Rodrigo with these
words: "The Order of Bethlehem is to become very great for
the Glory of God, and will have branches in many parts of
the world." Pedro de Betancourt was the inspiration, Fray
Rodrigo the real founder, of an Order which spread to many
After completing the building of the hospital and church of
Belen, and adding a house for invalid women, Fray Rodrigo
felt he could best serve the cause by travelling in foreign
parts. He went to Spain, then to Rome, where he was success-
ful in getting the Order recognized and confirmed by the
ecclesiastical courts. In Mexico and Peru he established
branch hospitals and churches.
After fifty years of tireless service, he died at Mexico City
in 1716, at the ripe age of seventy-nine years. He was buried
there, in the church which he himself had founded.
THE ESCUELA DE CRISTO
One block to the west of the old hospital of Belen stands
the church known as the Escuela de Cristo. This site was
occupied in early days by the hermitage of San Miguel, which
was maintained for the use of the Indians who lived in the
suburb of Santa Cruz.
Then came Bernardino de Obreg6n y Ovando, a Nicara-
THE ARCH OF SANTA CATARINA, WITH THE DOME OF
MERCED IN THE DISTANCE
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 57
guan priest who had spent some years in the villages of Gua-
temala. In 1664 he obtained permission to take over the
church and found therein the Escuela de Cristo, which he ac-
complished with the assistance of a few devout friends. The
building was destroyed by the earthquakes of 1717. In its
place was later erected, by order of Governor Rodriguez de
Rivas, a substantial church and convent for the use of the
Congregation of the Oratory of San Felipe Neri, a religious
body devoted to mission work in the near-by villages.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS AND THE CHURCH
It was in the time of Hermano Pedro that the brotherhood
of the Franciscans thought of appropriating the Calle de los
Pasos for use as the Via Crucis. As Stations of the Cross,
twelve points were located and a wooden cross installed at
each. For many years Good Friday processions assembled at
the shrine of the Virgin de la Luz the northern end of-the
road, and, passing slowly southward, finally crossed the
Rio Pensativo and entered the shady Alameda del Calvario.
On the left, at the beginning of this avenue, stands the
ruined chapel of Nuestra Seiiora de los Remedios. As has
previously been mentioned, the original church of this name
was built at Almolonga, in fulfillment of a promise made by
Jorge de Alvarado.
The Alameda terminates at the hermitage of Calvario, the
founding of which took place in 1618. The massive stone
cross, which still stands, was erected in commemoration of
this event. The building, finished in 1655, was badly dam-
aged by the earthquake of 1717, but was rebuilt three years
later. The crosses of the twelve stations were replaced, in
1691, by small domed chapels. Today these stand deserted;
the walls are cracked and overgrown with moss; while day-
light streams through holes in the roofs.
The great stone fountain in the Alameda one of the
finest in a city noted for its fountains dates from 1679.
58 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
THE CONVENT OF THE CAPUCHINAS
Juan Bautista Alvarez de Toledo was Guatemalan by
birth. Left an orphan in childhood, he entered at an early age
the Franciscan monastery, where his ability soon became
apparent. Honors were conferred on him both here and
abroad. The University of San Carlos gave him the Doctor's
degree; he was elected Bishop of Chiapas; and finally of his
own city of Santiago de Guatemala.
Many were the good deeds of this man. Churches, con-
vents, schools, and hospitals were blessed by his donations.
His final act was to solicit and obtain permission to establish
in Guatemala a sisterhood of the Capuchin Order.
Five nuns were invited from the mother convent in
Madrid: they set sail but were too late to meet the Bishop,
who died shortly before they reached Guatemala in 1725.
They were welcomed by others, however, and temporarily
installed in the convent of the Carmelitas Descalzas.
On a morning in March, 1726, many carriages might have
been seen drawn up outside the entrance to this convent. The
Bishop of Guatemala stepped out of one of them to receive
the Capuchin nuns. Together they passed in procession to
the Cathedral, whence, bearing the Blessed Sacrament, they
marched to the new convent in the northeast section of the
This was not the building which today stands, however:
the latter was erected by Bishop Gomez de Parada in 1736.
In spite of the fact that it suffered severe damage in 1773, it
still excites the admiration of the visitor. The cloisters with
their massive pillars have remained intact. The most re-
markable feature is generally considered to be the circular
floor surrounded by cells of the nuns. There were also sub-
terranean rooms and extensive patios with fountains and
flowers. Of the church little remains to admire.
As with many of the ruins in Antigua, the once-sacred pre-
cincts are now devoted to worldly purposes. The blackened
: Nicolas Carlos G6mez de Cervantes.
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA 59
cloisters shelter looms which produce fine native weavings; in
another part, chips fall from a carpenter's bench. Babies and
dogs play together in the dusty patios, while women wash
clothes at the fountain.
THE CONVENT OF SANTA CLARA
On the same street, southward from the convent of the
Capuchinas, is the park of La Union. At one end is a great
pila or tank for washing clothes. Here women in hand-woven
costumes congregate to exchange the news of the day as they
dip their pans into the running water. At the western end of
the park is the hospital and church of San Juan de Dios, re-
constructed since the earthquake of'Santa Marta.
To the east, on the erercera Avenida, is the convent of Santa
Clara, built in 17oo on the spot where stood formerly a house
of mercy for poor women. Of the church little remains; but
the courtyard with its massive fountain, surrounded by a
double tier of graceful arches, is worth a visit.
THE ALAMEDA DE SANTA ROSA
At its northern end, the street of the Capuchinas runs into
the Alameda de Santa Rosa, a tree-lined avenue similar to
that of Calvario. At one time handsome residences flanked it
on either side, but these have disappeared long since. At its
eastern end stands a beautiful ruin, the church of Santa Rosa
de Lima, surrounded by a flower-filled garden.
Two hermitages may also be glimpsed through the trees in
this quiet corner of Antigua. Northward from Santa Rosa are
the vestiges of Nuestra Sefiora de Candelaria, which was
under the jurisdiction of Santo Domingo, and once the center
of a suburb to which it gave its name. In early times the
city market was held about the stone cross which stood in
the square before it.
Not far away was the Beatas Indias. This institution is
worthy of note as recording a laudable effort on the part of
60 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
the ecclesiastics of the capital to maintain a religious institu-
tion especially for Indians. It was opened as early as 1550
and progressed satisfactorily until 1770,when an attempt was
made to conduct it as a convent, with a special habit and with
cells for recluses. This change, for some reason, did not please
the Spanish monarch, who revoked the royal license. From
that time until the disaster of 1773, when it was destroyed,
the building was used as a school for Indian children.
THE CHURCH AND CONVENT OF SANTA TERESA
The Alameda de Santa Rosa runs westward into the Pri-
mera Calle, passing, at the corner of the Cuarta Avenida, the
roofless church and broken walls of the convent of Santa
Teresa. Here, at the end of the seventeenth century, lived
the nuns of the Carmelitas Descalzas. It was Bernardino de
Obreg6n y Ovando, the founder of the Escuela de Cristo, who
travelled to Lima personally to bring back three sisters to
establish this order in Guatemala. They arrived in 1677 and
received hospitality in the Convent of Santa Catarina until
the completion of their own building a few months later.
THE ALAMEDA DE SANTA LUCIA
Passing the Plazuela de la Merced, the Primera Calle joins
finally the northern end of yet another Alameda, that of
Santa Lucia. On this broad avenue formerly stood the her-
mitage of the same name. This was the first church in the
valley of Panchoy. It was dedicated in 1543 (the year in
which the capital was transferred) for provisional use as the
Cathedral; then, the latter having been established, Santa
Lucia fell gradually into disuse. Time and earthquakes have
long ago succeeded in erasing it completely.
At the southern end of the Alameda stands the Muralldn
de Santa Lucia, remnant of an ancient wall which concealed
the outlet for the city sewage. On one side is a brightly
painted picture of the Virgin in bas-relief. Beneath it, in con-
STONE CROSS IN FRONT OF THE
CHURCH OF MERCED
PANCHOY AND THE GOLDEN ERA
densed form, is the following inscription: "Concebida sin
pecado original. Abri6se esta zanja para desagie de la ciudad
y sefabric6 este puente el aio de z663."
No visitor to Antigua seriously interested in the history or
architecture of the colonial period should fail to see the
ruined monastery of the Recolecci6n.
In this country the story of the Recoletos, or, as they were
also called, those of the Propaganda Fidei, is almost the story
of one man, Fray Antonio Margil, whose saintly character is
comparable in many ways to that of Hermano Pedro de
Betancourt. The lives of both were spent in serving the poor
and afflicted. But he of the Recolecci6n was filled also with
the consuming zeal of the missionary. A native of Valencia,
he became in 1673 a monk of the Order of San Francisco in
his own city; soon thereafter he travelled to the New World.
For many years he carried the gospel to the remote parts of
Central America, converting the Indians, as Las Casas had
done, by kindness instead of by force. He was accompanied
by his lifelong friend Fray Melchor Lopez. Following Indian
trails, their clothing torn to rags, often lacking food and al-
ways exposed to hardships, these evangelists worked their
tedious way into the hearts of untamed tribes. Accounts of
the phenomenal success of their undertakings reached Guate-
mala, where there had occurred, just at that time, an uprising
among the Indians of the Vera Paz. Bishop Andr6s de las
Navas, wisely realizing the fruitlessness of resort to arms, sent
messages to the two friars, begging them to visit the Vera
Paz. They went, and were successful in restoring peace.
Permission was finally requested to found a school in which
to train men for this sort of work. Four friars arrived from
Mexico and temporarily took up residence in the hermitage of
In 1700 was built the first college of Cristo Crucificado, a
simple building roofed with thatch. It was replaced later by
62 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
that magnificent edifice the shattered remains of which are
so impressive today. Purity of form and smoothness of line
are still visible in rows of broken arches, blackened domes,
and massive pillars. By a sheer miracle one great arch has
survived, though tons of masonry from roofs and domes lie
scattered around in utmost confusion.
Antonio Margil was appointed Guardian. The reputation
and the usefulness of the institution increased to such an
extent that its fame was discussed in Panama, whence a re-
quest was received that a branch should be established in
that country. One of the Recoletos, Jose Godina, left Guate-
mala in 1781 for this purpose.
The zeal of Fray Antonio would not allow him to enjoy
long the comforts of civilization. Once more he set out, this
time to travel far and wide with his message, until at last, in
1726, weary and broken, he arrived at Mexico City. Death
was not long in overtaking him. His funeral was attended by
all the religious bodies of the Mexican capital.
"DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA ...
"DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA ..."
T HE evil genius which had mocked all efforts to maintain
the city of Santiago in Almolonga pursued the capital to
its new location at Panchoy. Hardly a year passed without
bringing in its train some form of calamity. Epidemics, re-
ligious and political dissensions, followed one in the wake of.
another. But most disastrous of all were the earthquakes,
from which the city was never free for long. Twelve times it
was badly shaken, and as many times rebuilt by its coura-
Finally, accumulated damage became so great that repair
was almost impossible. Foundations were weakened, walls
stood out of plumb; to plug up the gaping cracks was not
enough. Funds for reconstruction grew ever more scarce;
civic enthusiasm, which had reached its height during the cul-
tural flowering of the seventeenth century, waned steadily.
I Batres Jiuregui, op. cit., vol. n, p. 482.
_ __ _
66 SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS DE GUATEMALA
Such were conditions at the beginning of the tragic year:
1773. Frequent tremors were experienced during the early
months; by June they became alarming. Panic seized the
populace. Work of all kinds stopped. The Indians of the
outlying villages were afraid to bring in the usual supplies,
with the result that food became scarce and high-priced.
People moved into the open, preferring the rain to falling
walls and roofs. The archbishop himself fared no better than
the rest: it is recorded that he was obliged to spend several
nights in his coach, which had been dragged to the security of
the Plaza de Armas.
The month of June passed painfully by. Then an interval
of comparative calm restored courage to the hearts of some,
who returned to their homes.
It was not for long, however. On the fateful 29th of July,
the day of Santa Marta,- the city was shaken so vio-
lently that people rushed screaming from their houses.
And this [writes one 1 who was there at the time] was sent by
divine mercy as a warning of the ruin to come, for the people were
now cautious and ready to rush to the streets or doorways...
which having passed, there followed another shake of such extraor-
dinary violence, that in the space of two minutes all the churches
and houses were thrown to the ground, leaving none standing with
the exception of the Merced, the facade of the Cathedral, San
Felipe Neri, and part of the outside of San Francisco; and of the
latter that which remained was useless, it being cracked open and
broken, so that only divine providence prevented it from falling
with the rest....
The losses, roughly computed, amount to more than forty million
pesos. It makes one sadder still to think of the beauty of the city,
with its delightful streets, houses and buildings ....
The city has become pestilential, for the bodies of the dead and
of the many animals that have died within the stables have cor-
rupted the air. The fountains have dried up and there is a shortage
of water, which adds still further to the suffering.
Places have been set apart to accommodate the various religious
I An anonymous manuscript, discovered by Licenciado Jos6 Rodriguez Cerna,
Consul General of Guatemala in Spain, who sent a copy in 1930 to the govern-
ment of Guatemala and to the Sociedad de Geografia e Historia.
"DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA..." 67
bodies, but it is difficult to gather the members together, for they
are destitute and poor.... The Dominicans are the only ones who
have not fared so badly, for they still have rich farms and convents
in the province, but the rest, having lost all, are reduced to begging.
All lament their misfortune.... The father seeks his daughter,
the son his mother, the husband his wife, and so with all of them.
The dead bodies are buried without shrouds... and without
public attendance, for there is none to see to these matters....
Thus was destroyed the Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de
Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala. Again its inhabit-
ants were faced with the task of rebuilding their city. The
question arose once more as to the advisability of transferring
it to a safer locality, and was hotly debated. To abandon the
capital that for two hundred and thirty years had been the
grandest city from Mexico to Lima was by no means an easy
matter. The ecclesiastical bodies, the greater part of whose
wealth was vested in lands and buildings, urged that they
remain. Their arguments, however, were overruled, and in
1775 the King of Spain authorized the removal of the capital
to the Valle de las Vacas.
In the new setting, despite occasional disasters, there has
grown up the modern city of Nueva Guatemala de la Asun-
ci6n. Meanwhile Antigua lies at rest in the shadow of the
volcanos. The sunlit hours of a peaceful old age are passed in
dreamy contemplation. The calm of today is a fitting con-
clusion to the tale of a tumultuous past.
Adelantado, death of the . . . . . . . . . 21
Almolonga, founding of the colony at . . . . . ... 13
destruction of .............. ...... .. 21
abandoned in favor of Panchoy . . . . . .... 27
Alvarado, Gonzalo de ................... 14
Alvarado, Jorge de. . . . . . . . . . .
Alvarado, Don Pedro de, biographical notes. . . . . 5,6
dispatched to conquer Guatemala . . . . . . .. 5
returns to Spain .. ... .. . .. .. .. ... .. . 5
marriage of . . . . . . . . . . 15,16
second voyage to Spain . . . . . . . . .. 6
expedition to Peru ........... ....... .15
starts for the Spice Islands. ... . . . . 20
death of . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
tomb of ........... ............ ..... 37
Alvarez de Toledo, Juan Bautista . . . . . .... 58
Architecture of Antigua . . . . . . . .... 28
Augustinian monastery, establishment of the first . . . . 40
Avendafia, Don Diego de, governor . . . . . . .. 34
Ayuntamiento, palace of the . . . . . . ... 35
Beatas Indias . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Benavente, Fray Toribio de (Motolinia) ........... 52
Betancourt, Hermano Pedro de . . . . . . . .. 53
Betanzos, Fray Domingo . . . . . . . . . 17
Bethlehemite Order ..................... 55
Cakchiquels, description of the . . . . . . ..... 3
invasion of Guatemala described by the . . . . . 7
revolt of the . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Calle de la Nobleza ..................... 48
Calvario, Alameda del .................... 57
Calvario, church of. . . . . . . . . ... 57
Capuchinas, convent of the . . . . . . . ... 58
Carmelitas Descalzas . . . . . . . .... . 8,60
Casa del Fiscal de la Real Audiencia . . . . . . .48
Casa de los Leones . . . . . . . . . . ... 42
Casas Reales . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Castilla y Rojas, Don Antonio Peraza Ayala, governor . . .. 34
Cathedral, the . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Cerrato, Don Alonso Lopez de, governor . . . . .... 33
CiudadVieja . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Compaiiia de Jesus, monastery of the . . . . . .
Concepci6n, convent of Nuestra Sefiora de la . . . .
Cortes, arrival in Mexico of . . . . . . . .
sends Alvarado to conquer Guatemala . . . . .
marches to Honduras ................
Cristo, Crucificado . . . . . . . . . .
Cruz, Fray Rodrigo de la . . . . . . . .
Cueva, Dofia Beatriz de la . . . . . . . .
becomes governor of the colony . . . . . .
death of . . . . . . . . . . .
Cueva, Francisco de la .................
Diaz del Castillo, Bernal ................
tom b of . . . . . . . . . . .
Dominican monastery, establishment of the first . . .
Escuela de Cristo, the .................
Fernandez de C6rdova, Bishop G6mez . . . . .
Franciscan monastery, establishment of the first . . .
Gage, Friar Thomas, describes convent of La Concepci6n .
describes monastery of Sto. Domingo . . . . .
describes Barrio of Sto. Domingo . . . . . .
Godines, Juan, army chaplain . . . . . . .
Gomera, Conde de la, governor . . . . . . .
G6mez de Parada, Bishop . . . . . . . .
Hermano Pedro (see Betancourt, Hermano Pedro de)
Ibarra, Don Francisco de . . . . . . . .
Infantas y Mendoza, Doctor don Luis de las . . . .
Invasion of Guatemala described by the Cakchiquels . .
Iximche, location of ..................
arrival of Alvarado at . . . . . . . .
fall of . . . . . . . . . . .
Jesuit monastery and college . . . . . .
Landecho, Don Juan Nufiez de, governor .
Landivar, Rafael, birthplace of . . .
Las Casas, Fray Bartolome de . . .
arrives in Guatemala . . . .
La Uni6n, park of . . . . . .
Lopez, Fray Melchor . . . . .
. . 40
Maldonado, Donna Juana de . . . . . . . .. 30
Margil, Fray Antonio ............ ..... .. 61
Marroquin, Bishop Francisco, arrives in Guatemala ...... 18
residence of . . . . . . . . . . . 32
tomb of . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Mayorga, Don Martin de, governor . . . . . ... 35
Merced, Church and Monastery of . . . . . .... 42
Mercedarian monastery, establishment of the first ....... .. 19
Motolinia (see Benavente, Fray Toribio de)
Nuestra Sefiora de Candelaria, church of . . . . .... 59
Nuestra Sefiora de la Concepci6n, convent of . . . ... 29
Nuestra Sefiora de los Remedios, chapel of . . . . .. 19,57
Nuestra Seiiora del Socorro, image of . . . . . . .. 37
Obreg6n y Ovando, Bernardino de . . . . . .. 56,6o
Palace of the Captains General. . . . . . . .. 32
Panchoy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Plaza, Fray Juan de la ................... 41
Plaza de Armas ....................... 32
Real Casa de la Moneda ................... 35
Recolecci6n, la (monastery) . . . . . . . . . 61
Religious orders, arrival of the first . . . . . .... 17
Rodriguez, Rafael Gil ... ................ 39
Rodriguez de Rivas, Don Francisco, governor . . . ... 34
Rueda, Don Pedro Mayen de, governor . . . . . . 33
San Agustin, church of . . . . . . . .... . 39
San Felipe Neri .. .. ... ... .. .. ... .. .. 57
San Francisco, church and monastery of . . . . . .. 52
Sanchez de Berrospe, Don Gabriel, governor . . . .... .. 34
Santa Catarina, church and convent of . . . . . . 42
arch of . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Santa Clara, convent of ................... 59
Santa Lucia, Alameda de . . . . . . . . . 6o
hermitage of ...................... 28,60
M urall6n de ... .. .. .. .. ... .. .... 6o
Santa Marta, earthquake of . . . . . . . .... 66
Santa Rosa, Alameda de . . . . . . . ... 59
Santa Rosa de Lima, church of . . . . . . ... 59
Santa Teresa, church and convent of . . . . . . . 6
Santiago de los Caballeros, founding of the first city of . . . 7
second city of . . . . . . . . . . . 16
third city of . . . . . . . . . . . 28
destruction of the second city of . . . . . . .. 21
destruction of the third city of . . . . . ... 67
Santo Domingo, monastery of . . . . . . ... 46
Suarez, Don Pedro Crespo . . . . . . . ... 39
Talamanca, Marquis of .................... 56
Tunatiuh (Tonatio), nickname of Alvarado . . . . . 6
University of San Carlos . . . . . . . ... 38
Virgen de la Piedad, image of . . . . . . . . 37
Virgen del Socorro, image of. . . . . . . . ... 37
Visitador, functions of the . . . . . . . ... 34
Way of the Cross ................... ... 57
Zufiiga, Fray Francisco .................... .. 40
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