Fritz, Samuel

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Missionary in the Amazon region; b. Trautenau, Bohemia, June 6, 1651; d. La Laguna, Amazon basin, 1724 or 1725. He entered the Society of Jesus on Oct. 28, 1673, and went to Ecuador in 1684. He made his profession on Aug. 15, 1687; for two years previously he had been at the mission on the Maranhão River, among the Omaguas, of the Tupí linguistic group, at 4° S. 74° W., in the Amazon basin. He eventually founded 38 settlements between the Napo and Negro Rivers and on islands of the Amazon. In 1688 he extended his activities to the Yarimaguas. Between 1690 and 1693 he served as a diplomat to the Portuguese, defending the thesis that the dividing line between the Portuguese and Spanish territories passed close to the Grão Pará, with Spain holding the lands west of that line. To this end he prepared a detailed and precise map that was influential with the Council of Indies. From 1704 to 1712 he was superior of the mission. As a missiologist, he left specific information and concrete pastoral suggestions in his diary. As a missionary, he was a valiant defender of his Indians against Brazilian incursions. As a geographer, he produced a map that even today is a primary source for the study of 17th-century geopolitics.

Bibliography: j. jouanen, Historia de la Compañía de Jesús en la antigua provincia de Quito, 15701774 [i.e. 1773] 2 v. (Quito 194143). j. de velasco, Historia moderna del Reyno de Quitoy crónica de la provincia de la Compañía de Jesús del mismo Reyno, ed. r. reyes y reyes (Quito 1941). j. chantre y herrera, Historia de las misiones de la Compañía de Jesús en el Marañón Español, ed. a. e. mera (Madrid 1901).

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