Quiroga, Vasco de (c. 1477–1565)

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Quiroga, Vasco de (c. 1477–1565)

Vasco de Quiroga (b. ca. 1477/79; d. February/March 1565), judge of the second audiencia of Mexico (1530) and consecrated as the first bishop of Michoacán (1538). Born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, Quiroga was sent by the Spanish crown to Mexico where, as both judge and bishop, he devoted most of his energy and resources to bringing an idealized, European lifestyle to the indigenous people. He organized utopian communities emphasizing religious instruction, encouraging the development of crafts, and promoting agricultural self-sufficiency, self-government, and care for the sick and needy, including an unusual plan for an infirmary for each town. Quiroga also brought indigenous youths raised in monasteries to his towns to help priests instruct other Indians in the Christian doctrine. One observer referred to Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacán, as a monastery. Quiroga's communities have also been called pueblo-hospitals and hospital-schools.

Most scholars agree that the utopian vision of "Tata Vasco," as his admirers called him, was influenced by St. Thomas More, but some controversy lingers regarding questions about Quiroga's communal intent and his perspectives on conquest. Sixteenth-century critics included some Indians who charged him with unremunerated labor and neighboring Spaniards who were jealous of his land and his residents' exemption from tributes and labor drafts. Both groups complained about his harboring of runaway slaves. Quiroga spent his last years making pastoral visits to the rural communities of Michoacán.

See alsoMexico: The Colonial Period; Michoacán.


Silvio Arturo Zavala, Sir Thomas More in New Spain (1955).

Paul L. Callens, S.J., Tata Vasco, a Great Reformer of the Sixteenth Century (1959).

Fintan B. Warren, O.F.M., Vasco de Quiroga and His Pueblo-Hospitals of Santa Fé (1963).

Additional Bibliography

Cattana, Edgard Fabián. La utopía humanista en Vasco de Quiroga. Córdoba: Editorial de la Universidad Católica de Córdoba, 2004.

Gómez, Fernando. Good Places and Non-Places in Colonial Mexico: The Figure of Vasco de Quiroga (1470–1565). Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001.

Verástique, Bernardino. Michoacán and Eden: Vasco de Quiroga and the Evangelization of Western Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000.

                                    Stephanie Wood