Remesal, Antonio de

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Dominican chronicler; b. Villa de Allariz, Galicia, Spain, date unknown; d. probably Zacatecas, Mexico, after February 1627. He was a member of a noble family and studied at the Colegio de San Sebastián, Salamanca. There he became a distinguished linguist, proficient in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He came to America in 1613 with Alonso de Galdo, bishop of Comayagua. On his arrival in Guatemala, Remesal settled at the Dominican convent in Santiago de los Caballeros. He apparently began his historical investigations at once, but also gained a reputation as a preacher and a scholar. He encountered the animosity of the dean of the cathedral, Felipe Ruiz del Corral, who was also commissary of the Inquisition. Remesal's major work, the Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala, was finished in Oaxaca, and the author then went to Spain, where he received a royal cedula authorizing its publication June 1, 1619. The work met with resistance in Guatemala, where Ruiz del Corral tried to prevent its circulation by denouncing it to the Inquisition as branding all priests as bastards and all nobles as adulterers and traitors to the king. The Holy Office eventually found no cause to destroy the history, but in the meantime Remesal underwent two periods of confinement.

The history is an extensive chronicle, patiently and exactly done. Remesal used archival materials and oral tradition and reproduced both civil documents, including royal cedulas, and ecclesiastical ones. The work is divided into 11 books. It begins with the conquest of Mexico and Central America and the pioneer missionary activities that accompanied it. Book 5 has much material on the natives of Chiapas, as does book 7, which discusses native character and rights, ways of life, and the problems involved in conversion. In addition to the history of the Dominicans, the work contains also much information on the Mercedarians in Chiapas and Guatemala.

Bibliography: a. de remesal, Historia general de las Indias occidentales y particular de la gobernación de Chiapa y Guatemala, 2 v. (2d ed. Guatemala City 1932). f. fernÁndez del castillo, Fray Antonio de Remesal (Mexico City 1920).

[j. herrick]