Basalenque, Diego

views updated


Augustinian chronicler and linguist of colonial Mexico; b. Salamanca, Spain, July 25, 1577; d. Charo, Mexico, Dec. 11, 1651. His parents, Alonso Serrano and Isabel Cardona, emigrated to New Spain (Mexico) when Diego was a child. He joined the Augustinians when he was 15 years old and made his religious profession in Mexico City on Feb. 4, 1594. Recognized as a man of unusual talents, he was assigned after ordination to teach the students of his order in the province of Michoacán (created in 1602). He was later awarded the degree of master of theology and was chosen for various offices, including those of prior in the monasteries of San Luis Potosí and Valladolid (formerly Guayangareo, now Morelia), and provincial of Michoacán (1623). Though learned in many fields, Basalenque was probably best known for his skill in law, both civil and ecclesiastical, and in languages. He was proficient in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and in several Mexican tongues as well. He is reputed to be the author of numerous works on diverse subjects from theology to mathematics, but only three of his works are known to have been published. The most valuable for Augustinian history and biography is Historia de la provincia de San Nicolás de Tolentino de Michoacán del orden de N.P.S. Agustín, completed in three books in 1644 and published in Mexico City in 1673 (repr. Mexico City 1886). For the events of the 16th century, he copied much from the chronicle of Juan de grijalva. Basalenque's style, typical of his time, was excessively rhetorical. Of his two known studies on native tongues, only one was publishedArte de la lengua Tarasca (Mexico City 1714, 1805, and 1886). A treatise on the spiritual life, Muerte en vida y vida en muerte, was published in part in various numbers of Archivo agustiniano from volume 33 (1930) to volume 43 (1935). A life of Basalenque, who was regarded by his contemporaries as a man of holiness as well as learning, was published by one of his confreres, Pedro Salguero, in Mexico City in 1664 (repr. Rome 1761).

Bibliography: g. de santiago vela, Ensayo de una biblioteca ibero-americana de la orden de San Agustín, 7 v. in 8 (Madrid 191331) 1:331337. m. t. disdier, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912) 6:106364. i. monasterio, Archivo agustiniano 29 (1928) 408417.

[a. j. ennis]