Fuentes y Guzmán, Francisco Antonio de (1642–1699)

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Fuentes y Guzmán, Francisco Antonio de (1642–1699)

Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmán (b. 9 February 1642; d. 1 August 1699), Central American historian, poet, bureaucrat, and soldier. He was born in Santiago de los Caballeros (now Antigua), Guatemala; little is known about his early life. At age eighteen he was named regidor of his native city, and later first (and then second) alcalde of Santiago de Guatemala. He also held the post of alcalde mayor in the town of Totonicapán and the province of Sonsonate. In the army he attained the rank of captain. Among his poems are "El Milagro de América" and "La vida de Santa Teresa de Jesús."

The work for which Fuentes y Guzmán is remembered today is his monumental history of Guatemala, the full title of which is Recordación florida: Discurso historial y demostración natural, material, militar, y política del reyno de Guatemala. He embarked on the project with a number of aims in mind. First, he wanted to take advantage of the deteriorating documents still at his disposal, especially those pertaining to the Spanish conquest of Guatemala. Second, he hoped to fulfill a request of the crown to provide a detailed history of the region. Finally, Fuentes y Guzmán hoped to answer some of the criticisms directed at Bernal Díaz Del Castillo, a lieutenant under Cortés whose own True History of the Conquest of New Spain drew attacks from many Spaniards and creoles. Fuentes y Guzmán was a great-great-grandson of Díaz and thus may have hoped that writing the Recordación florida would clear his family's name.

The Recordación florida covers the history of Guatemala from antiquity to the end of the seventeenth century, and includes detailed studies of the topography, climate, population, minerals, and natural resources of the kingdom. In addition to published materials, Fuentes y Guzmán relied on documents stored, and long ignored, in the capital city, as well as on information he gathered as alcalde of Totonicapán.

Although by the standards of the day his work was a model of scholarship, Fuentes y Guzmán reflected many of the biases held by his contemporaries. In his work Spaniards were invariably depicted as heroes; Indians, generally as slothful and immoral. Amid sound scholarship Fuentes y Guzmán included fantastic stories and doctored historical fact in order to portray the conquistadores in the most favorable light. Nevertheless, the Recordación florida continues to be a standard work for scholars of the pre-Columbian and colonial periods in Guatemala. Its contributions on the religion, geography, history, and natural sciences of the region are still significant today. The writing is first rate, reflecting the highly educated and erudite individual who wrote the first secular history of the kingdom of Guatemala. Fuentes y Guzmán died in Santiago de Guatemala.

See alsoDíaz del Castillo, Bernal; Guatemala.


Francisco Antonio Fuentes y Guzmán, Recordación florida: Discurso historial y demostración natural, material, militar, y política del reyno de Guatemala, 2d ed., 3 vols. (1932–1933) and Obras históricas de Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmán (1969).

Murdo Mac Leod, Spanish Central America: A Socioeconomic History, 1520–1720 (1973).

Additional Bibliography

Pastor, Rodolfo. "De moros en la costa a negros de Castilla: Representación y realidad en las crónicas del siglo XVII centroamericano." Historia Mexicana 44:2 (Oct.-Dec. 1994): 195-235.

                                   Michael Powelson