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Documents concerning the "Tzeltal Revolt of 1712" in the Archivo General de las Indias: Introduction, Indexes, and Transcripts
by Victoria R. Bricker


Table of Contents

References Cited
List of Tables
Subject Index
Geographic Index
Name Index
Lagajo 293
Categories 1-4
Lagajo 294
Lagajo 295
Categories 1-5
Lagajo 296
Categories 1-4


The transcripts reproduced here were made from a microfilm copy of ca. 6,500 pages of documents in four legajos ('files'), numbered 293, 294, 295, and 296, in the Archivo General de Indias, Audiencia de Guatemala, in Seville, Spain. Most of the documents in the four legajos were microfilmed on behalf of the University of Chicago in connection with Edward E. Calnek's dissertation research on the ethnohistory of Chiapas between 1960 and 1962 (Calnek 1962, 1988). In November 1973, Calnek, having learned of my interest in Colonial and Postcolonial Maya rebellions, kindly offered ten rolls of microfilms concerning the so-called Tzeltal revolt of 1712 to me on "a very extended loan." In the course of reviewing and transcribing the relevant documents for what eventually became Chapter 5 of my book, The Indian Christ, the Indian King: The Historical Substrate of Maya Myth and Ritual (Bricker 1981), I discovered that at least one quaderno ('notebook') of documents known to be in Legajo 293 had not been included in the microfilms Calnek sent me. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to meet Rosario Parra Cala, director of the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, when she visited Tulane's Latin American Library in 1976. Upon being informed of my interest in the documents in this quaderno, she arranged for them to be microfilmed and sent to me.

Although often described as the "Tzeltal revolt of 1712" (e.g., Klein 1966), the rebellion was not limited to towns in highland Chiapas where Tzeltal was spoken, nor did it begin in 1712. The first signs of trouble came in the region north of Ciudad Real (now San Cristóbal las Casas) where the Tzotzil language was spoken, first in Zinacantan in 1708, then in Santa Marta in 1711, spreading to Chenalho from there. In each case, the unrest came from apparent miracles associated with saints in local churches that the Catholic hierarchy in Ciudad Real did not regard as legitimate. Only after the movement was suppressed in Santa Marta and Chenalho did it show up in the town of Cancuc in the Tzeltal region, where its leaders successfully resisted attempts to suppress it and rallied Indians from other towns in the highlands in support of their cause. Of the 32 towns that eventually participated in the revolt, Tzotzil was the language of fifteen, Tzeltal was the language of fourteen, and Chol was the language of three (Bricker 1981:61).

The principal Spanish actors in the military efforts to suppress the rebellion were the Alcalde Mayor of Chiapas, Pedro Gutiérrez de Mier y Theran, with his headquarters in Ciudad Real; the President of the Audiencia de Guatemala, Toribio de Cosío, with his headquarters in Santiago de Guatemala; and the Alcalde Mayor of Tabasco, Juan Francisco de Medina Cachón, with his headquarters in Tlacotalpa. At that time, the Alcaldía de Chiapas belonged to the Audiencia de Guatemala, whereas the Alcaldía Mayor de Tabasco fell under the jurisdiction of the Viceroy of New Spain. The Viceroy had asked Medina Cachón to intervene because the rebellion was threatening to spill over the boundary between Chiapas and Tabasco.

In all, I spent two years reviewing and transcribing, in whole or in part, approximately two-thirds of the documents in the eleven rolls of microfilm, resulting in the ca. 2,000 pages of typed transcripts in this database. I also prepared several indexes to the transcripts in the course of my research, of which the subject, geographical, and name indexes are included here. Christopher N. Nichols assisted with the digitization of the name index.

Three of the four legajos (293, 295, and 296) contain groups of documents labelled as quadernos. Legajo 294 does not, because it is essentially a daily log that reports on Cosío's march to and from the rebel towns along the way. It begins on October 6, 1712 in Santiago de Guatemala, where Cosío begins marshalling 800 troops and supplies needed for his campaign, and ends six months later, on April 9, 1713, when he returns to Santiago de Guatemala after subduing the rebellion in Cancuc. The quadernos in Legajo 293 contain documents describing Cachón's march from Tacoltalpa (Tabasco) into the Chol-speaking area of northern Chiapas, the activities of priests in Ciudad Real and its hinterland, and other groups of documents not labelled as quadernos, one of which describes an apparition of the Virgin in 1711 in the Tzotzil town of Santa Marta.

In transcribing the documents in the legajos, I employed a uniform numerical system for labelling the quadernos and other groups of documents that comprised them. These divisions are called "categories" in my system, and their relationship to the quadernos in each legajo is shown in Table 1. The chronological relationships among the quadernos and other documents in the four legajos are diagrammed in Figure 1. The itineraries of Toribio de Cosío and Medina Cachón appear in Table 2 and Table 3.

In the indexes, as well as the transcripts themselves, the two sides of a numbered folio are labelled as follows: "l" following a page number designates a left-hand page, and "r" following a page number designates a right-hand page. Thus, "273l" refers to the reverse side of folio 272, and "273r" refers to the obverse side of folio 273.

After my study, two full-length books on the "Tzeltal revolt of 1712" were published in the 1990s (Dürr 1991; Gosner 1992). They are based on these legajos, as well as on other documents in archives in Chiapas and Guatemala.

Click to download the folowing items in PDF format:

Introduction, References Cited and Indexes (1.50 MB)

Legajo 293
Category 1  (1.80 MB)
Category 2  (4.46 MB)
Category 3  (2.67 MB)
Category 4 (Folios 2R-201R)  (4.47 MB)
Category 4 (Folios 203R-211L)  (3.75 MB)
Category 4 (Folios 316R-422L)  (4.15 MB)

Legajo 294
Folios 1R-99L  (2.43 MB)
Folios 111L-202L  (3.22 MB)
Folios 204R-300R  (4.76 MB)
Folios 300R-401R  (1.43 MB)
Folios 401R-501R  (1.67 MB)
Folios 503L-607R  (1.33 MB)
Folios 607R-704L  (2.12 MB)
Folios 704R-800R  (3.01 MB)
Folios 800R-837L  (1.84 MB)

Legajo 295
Category 1  (651 KB)
Category 2  (1.79 MB)
Category 3  (2.83 MB)
Category 4  (2.26 MB)
Category 5  (2.80 MB)

Legajo 296
Category 1  (695 KB)
Category 2  (1.43 MB)
Category 3  (152 KB)
Category 4  (4.51 MB)

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Victoria R. Bricker
Tulane University and University of Florida

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