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Dávila y Padilla, Agustín


Archbishop of Santo Domingo and chronicler; b. Mexico City, 1562; d. Santo Domingo, 1604. He was the son of Pedro Dávila and Isabel Padilla. After receiving a master's in arts at the University of Mexico in 1578, he entered the Dominican Order the next year and was professed Nov. 13, 1580. He was also a master in philosophy and theology and an excellent Latinist. In his order he held a number of positions: prior of the convent of Puebla, censor, definitor of the general chapter in Rome, procurator before the courts of Madrid and Rome. In 1589 he was named chronicler of the Indies. He was preacher to Philip III and was one of the most famous orators of his time. He was presented for the archbishopric of Santo Domingo by Philip III in 1599 and arrived in his see in 1601. There he became involved in a controversy with the royal audiencia so severe that it was a partial cause of his death. Many Lutheran Bibles had been clandestinely introduced into the northeastern area of the island, and the audiencia had decided to depopulate various centers there as punishment. Dávila authorized the confiscation and burning of the Bibles, but moved by concern for the natives and for the future of the island, he refused to sanction more and sought the support of the king. The king instructed the president of the audiencia that he could proceed with his plans only if he could secure the consent of the archbishop. However, by the time the royal decision reached Santo Domingo, Dávila was already dead. The natives were deported; raids by pirates were made easier; and Santo Domingo lost its eastern territory. Dávila wrote "Historia de las antigüedades de los Indios," the manuscript of which has been lost, and Historia de la fundación y Discurso de la Provincia de Santiago de México de la Orden de Predicadores (Madrid 1596; Brussels 1625; spurious ed. Brussels 1648).

Bibliography: a. m. carreÑo, "El arzobispo cronista Fray Agustín Dávila Padilla," Memorias de la Academia mexicana de la historia 10 (1951) 245260.

[e. gomÉz tagle]

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