Fra Diego de Landa, the Franciscan Provincial and Acting Bishop of Yucatán in 1562

Fra Diego de Landa

"Knowledge of Maya writing did not long survive the Spanish Conquest, owing to the diligence of church and government officials who rooted out any manifestations of this visible symbol of "paganism." Diego de Landa, in a passage that ironically accompanies his invaluable eye witness description of Maya writing, described his own role in its suppression: "We found a large number of these books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which there was not to be seen superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an amazing degree and which caused them great affliction."
Robert Sharer, The Ancient Maya, p. 513
Photo courtesy of Louisa Spottswood


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Last update: February 10, 2000