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Córdova, Matías de


Dominican educator, poet, and social writer who introduced the first printing press into Chiapas, founded the first normal school there, and invented a phonetic language; b. Tapachula, Chiapas, April 20, 1768; d. Chiapas, 1828 or 1829. He studied at the Seminary de Ciudad Real de San Cristóbal Las Casas and then went to Guatemala. There he entered the Dominicans and was ordained in March 1790. He became a humanistic scholar and wrote poems, epigrams, and various humanistic studies. In 1801 he was a professor of theology at the Pontifical University of San Carlos. He went to Spain on business in 1803, and upon his return he lived not in Guatemala but at Ciudad Real in Chiapas. There he founded an economic society and the normal school. Córdova was a prolific writer. In 1797 he wrote "Utilidades de que todos los Indios y ladinos se vistan y calcen a la Española, y medios de conseguirlo sin violencia, coacción ni mandato," about the problems and aptitudes of the natives, and peaceful means of converting them. In 1801 Córdova published Modo de leer con utilidad los auctores antiguos de elocuencia and Prelecciones a los libros de elocuencia. Four of the writings in Gamboa's "Bibliografía," pertain to the normal school project. About 1824 Córdova published his Método facil de enseñar a leer y escribir, the purpose of which was to popularize primary education. He is the author of a moral fable-poem, "La Tentativa del León y el Exito de su Empresa."

Bibliography: j. fuente, Los heraldos de la civilización centroamericana (Vergara 1929). m. de cÓrdova, "El Problema del Indio (1797)," Ateneo de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas 2 (1951) 1330. f. castaÑon gamboa, "Bibliografía de Fray M. de C.," ibid. 3139.

[a. b. nieser]

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