Talk:Nuño de Guzmán

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NPOV[edit]

A few things, this article is full of NPOV language - more to the point - it takes a rather dim view of Guzman's conquests and exploits. In modern terms some might call his expeditions "holocausts" or "bloodbaths," but let's recall that for 16th century conquistadores, this was par for the course. Let's try to cut some of this reflexively anti-Spanish (or anti-white, or anti-conquistador) verbiage.

TuckerResearch 15:48, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi. I expanded this article from a stub awhile back. The "holocaust" comment is mine, but it's not original with me. It came from one of my sources, apparently the Enciclopedia de México, the only one I don't have immediate access to at the moment. I certainly agree, though, that it should have been sourced. I can get the Enciclopedia from the library, but it may be awhile before I get down there. I'll reread the passage and see what other choices there might be for the wording. However, here is something from another source that doesn't use the word but does indicate something about the events. After describing one incident of torture, murder and theft:

"Esa cruel conducta siguió en todos los pueblos por los que pasó.... Guzmán exploró y conquistó en siete años casi la tercera parte del país, pero su gran empresa estuvo bañada de sangre, de lágrimas aun de sus proprios soldados, de crueldades, de robos y crímenes sin nombre."

(From Fernando Orozco Linares, Gobernantes de México, Panorama Editorial, 1985, p. 49.) I don't know if you read Spanish, so here is a quick and dirty translation:

"This cruel conduct continued in all the towns he passed through.... Guzmán explored and conquered in seven years almost a third of the country, but his grand undertaking was bathed in blood, in tears even of his own soldiers, in cruelties, in robbery and crimes without name."

There have been holocausts throughout human history. It's not an invention of the twentieth century. Even if it's true that there were more in the colonial period, it's still the same phenomenon. I don't think describing it in New Spain is any more anti-European than describing Idi Amin's crimes is anti-African.
I look forward to hearing your response, here or on my talk page.
--Rbraunwa 21:13, 24 May 2007 (UTC)


Hello. Thank you for a cordial and reasoned reply, which often does not happen in the hallowed halls of Wikipedia. I am currently diving headlong into the history of northern New Spain for a paper and stumbled upon this article. The problem I have with this article is semantic not substantive - the history is spot-on accurate, I have problems with some of the words, etc. Let me go through some things I didn't like and let me tell you why.

“He was governor of Pánuco, where he first showed his rapaciousness by taking thousands of Indigenous prisoners and selling them as slaves to the islands of the Caribbean.”

“Rapaciousness” to whom and to people of what era? To the Spanish of the 16th century I doubt they would call him “rapacious.” I think we could remove the phrase.

“New Spain had been governed by a military government, generally violent, arbitrary and exploitative of the Indigenous.”

I think this is a bit harsh, but I can live with it. Perhaps it can be softened.

“Then, gathering an army of 300 discontented conquistadors and 6,000 Indigenous allies, on December 21, 1529 he set out to the west to conquer lands and peoples who till now had resisted the conquest.... This expedition has been described as a “holocaust”. Typically, the conquistadors attacked an Indian village, stole the maize and other food, razed and burned the dwellings [etc.]...”

First, I am of the school that the use of the word “holocaust” should be restricted to the Shoah, as its willy-nilly use elsewhere is often motivated by politics in some form or fashion. It cheapens the horridness of the Holocaust. For example, calling the death of the Taíno in the Caribbean a “holocaust” is, I believe, imprecise and unhelpful. The Spaniards wanted them as slaves and workers - there was no concerted and conscious effort to exterminate them. I doubt Beltrán de Guzmán wanted to kill each and every indigene, namely, commit genocide. He wanted to rule them and collect taxes and riches from them. You can't collect taxes from a dead man. If “holocaust” is retained, I think a footnote is in order. And, as an aside, is it a Spanish-language source? Does it use “holocauste” or another word?

Second, you state Beltrán de Guzmán had “an army of 300 discontented conquistadors and 6,000 Indigenous allies” yet later state that “typically, the conquistadors attacked...” What were these 6,000 indigenes doing? Watching? Did they demur? I doubt it; I’m sure they participated in some form or fashion. This is perhaps the crux of the objection I have to the general tone of this article (and others as well). It is this subtle “white bad,” “red/brown good” feeling. I don't know how many times I've read of historians describing the 1519 conquest of Cortés noting, rightly, that his conquistadores were not alone in the subjection of Mexico. But then all the bad stuff, the rape, the indiscriminate killing, etc., is described as emanating from only the Christian conquistadores. I find this generally dishonest. A continuation of la leyenda negra?

I like "estuvo bañada de sangre." I think it should replace "bloodbath" and be footnoted. But that's just me.

"There have been holocausts throughout human history. It's not an invention of the twentieth century. Even if it's true that there were more in the colonial period, it's still the same phenomenon. I don't think describing it in New Spain is any more anti-European than describing Idid Amin's crimes is anti-African.

Yes, history is full of what we would today call massacres, etc., but were they always considered so bad? By today's standards the conquistadores were bloodthirsty monsters, to the 16th century they were generally heroes. Is it helpful to throw around words like "holocaust" and "violent" and "rapaciousness"? These are, largely, the product of modern value-judgments. I say we describe the phenomena without this verbiage.

TuckerResearch 13:28, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi Tucker. I've given some more thought to the issues you raise, and I don't think we're too far apart. But here are a couple of thoughts I'd like to get on the record.
First, Beltrán de Guzmán was considered rapacious by his contemporaries — by the Crown, by Cortes and some of the other conquistadores (e.g., Pedro de Alvarado), by the Spaniards he stole from in Mexico City, and by at least some of the clergy (see Juan de Zumárraga), not to mention the Indians, whose opinions were mostly not recorded but can be surmised. The Crown replaced the corrupt first audiencia, of which he was the head, with the much more upright second audiencia, precisely because of its corruption. Beltán presumably fled Mexico City and began his conquests because he was afraid to face Cortes on the latter's return. And he was arrested in 1536. In short, he was not seen to be observing the moral standards of his contemporaries either. Not all of the Spanish were of the Beltrán mold; for a very stark contrast with a near-contemporary in both time and place, see Vasco de Quiroga.
Secondly, the sentence "Ever since the conquest by Hernán Cortés, New Spain had been governed by a military government, generally violent, arbitrary and exploitative of the Indigenous" is meant to contrast the pre-viceregal government with the government of the viceroys, which, whatever its faults, was a major improvement in terms of corruption, in-fighting and violence toward the Indigenous. The first and second Audiencias were a first attempt at reforming the government, which was judged ineffective and replaced by the viceregal system. Perhaps the sentence can be reworded to emphasize that it is meant to characterize only a brief portion of the colonial period. I do think, though, that it reflects the facts.
Third, as to the 6,000 Indigenous allies: I wondered myself what happened to them. None of my sources mentioned them again, after the departure of the expedition from Mexico City. Perhaps it's just another case of the Indigenous disappearing from history. Or perhaps they just melted away. Your theory is probably the most likely, but I just can't say. Nevertheless, your more general point must certainly be true — that there was Indigenous exploitation of the Indigenous, both in alliance with the conquistadores and independently. It was, however, never my intention to make this into a racial thing. I don't believe that all Spaniards of the period were bad, nor that all Indigenous were good, and I'm sorry if the article gives that impression. My own opinion is that Beltrán was a very bad man in a society of both good and bad Spaniards in a conquered country containing both good and bad Indigenous. But this brings up my next point: How should "good" and "bad" be dealt with in an encyclopedia article?
This is actually a series of related questions. Should the article express the moral values of the subject's contemporaries? Should the article express the moral values of the writer's contemporaries? If so, how?
I would argue "yes" to each of the first two questions, with qualifications. When we have sufficient, reliable information on the matter, it is important to devote a few sentences to a person's reputation among his contemporaries. In effect, this places him in a broader historical context and helps explain quantity and quality (positive or negative) of his influence on the later society. In the colonial period in New Spain this kind of information is often hard to come by, but Beltrán was so notorious I think he was an exception.
It's also important, though perhaps less so, to include the current view of a person's "cultural descendants" in the society. We have many articles with statements like, "Today __________ is considered a national hero." Today Beltrán, among Mexicans with enough background in national history, is considered a national villain. It was my intention to say something of the sort when I included the (quoted) term "holocaust". I realize that was valueless without a citation, and I'm not sure how I managed to leave that out.
I don't believe that the contemporary standards of a subject excuse his conduct any more than the present-day standards condemn it. The trick in an encyclopedia article is to give at least a little background information on both sets of standards without endorsing any moral standards at all. The primary vehicle for this is quotation. Mentioning things like a subject's arrest can also serve this objective.
Let me suggest that you go ahead and edit the article as you see fit. I reserve the right to make changes afterwards, but I think each iteration should get us closer to common ground.
Let me know what you think.
--Rbraunwa 16:03, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

I think the point that Guzman's actions were seen as criminal even by his contemporaries is important to note and maintain. This is not primarily a matter of cultural difference and historical perspective.

As to the question of using the word "holocaust," one must, it seems to me, note the common use of the word, and that it pretty well describes what happened to the natives here. Genocide might also be appropriate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.59.177.69 (talk) 18:57, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

In-perspective[edit]

I really am not clear on the New Audienca. As a wikipedian without any detailed knowledge of the conquistadors, I am at a loss trying to understand many things. how was Guzman's leadership any different from Cortes? Why did he come to rule New Spain as governor? Who put him in charge? What was his relationship with the four judges?--Screwball23 talk 20:23, 13 March 2010 (UTC) HIS ACTIONS WERE FULLY SUPPORTED BY THE SPANISH CROWN? Why was he then tried for mistreatment of the natives. Even when it was his political opponents who put him to prison, why did he die in a spanish prison? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 212.142.228.93 (talk) 10:38, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

He didn't die in prison. He was released several years before his death. The reason he was put in prison was that he didn't follow the rules - so no his actions were not fully supported by the crown.12:13, 11 September 2011 (UTC)·ʍaunus·snunɐw·
 — Preceding unsigned comment added by 158.227.188.129 (talk) 11:10, 11 October 2011 (UTC)