blood of christian children in yucatan

Thu, 16 Jun 1994 23:57:33 EDT

Conquests, 1986, which as you probably know culminates in brilliant detective
work, reexamining all extant sources from the original scandal in 1562, the
charge of human sacrifice by crucifixion of small christian children by Maya
of Yucatan, raised by Fr Diego de Landa, Francisan Provincial in 1562, later
Bishop of Yucatan (1571-1579), I embraced the author's conclusions without
hesitation. The Maya leaders were guilty as charged of human sacrifice, an
indigenous practice selectively modified and transformed to suit the new
conditions of Spanish rule, always-latent Maya resistance, and nominal
conversion to Christianity in its Spanish Counterreformation Catholic version.

Has the author, however, considered all the angles? The impression of
wishful thinking has stuck to Landa's charges. And there was at this time,
in Europe, not long before the events in Yucatan described in this book,
another recrudescence of the atavistic charge of ritual sacrifice of Christian
children for the purpose of obtaining their blood for infidel rites. This
was the Blood Libel against German Jews, which commenced in the Rhineland
circa 1453; and the period, almost to the precise year, corresponds with
the coeval witch-craze's seminal events in Germany. (Also, inter alia, with
Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II's conquest of Constantinople; and with the
Utraquist George Pozebrady's consolidation of power in Bohemia, 1452. In
one sense, this represented the definitive pacification of the radical
Taborite wing of the Hussite Revolution, 1419-1433. See previous posts
as relevant. In another sense, it represented the definitive extinction
of the German House of Luxemburg's claim to Bohemia, Ladislav II of Hungary
and Bohemia having been killed in the Crusade destroyed by the Turks at
Varna in 1444.)

Could the imaginary ritual sacrifices fantasized in Germany in the latter
fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries have influenced Fr Diego de Landa's
inclination to credulity in believing something of the sort, seemingly as a
survival of indigenous practice - where young nobles, never children, had
however been the victims - with the Yucatan child sacrifices too similar
to the imaginary German ones for me to ignore without expert assurance from
among your number. If this wildguess is right, unlikely, why should the
German version be fantasy and not the Maya version also? (True, there's
a horror of drinking blood in the Jewish religion, not in the Maya; but
Catholic motive to attribute guilt was however decisive.)

Beg pardon for the sentence structure. Very tired. Couldn't sleep in
hot ick. Couldn't find my most recently read source on the Blood Libel
either; author was Taiwanese, book published 1986ish. Cannot find books
in my own library, never could, sorry.

I have been mucking around with longago-historical matters in recent
weeks; just figured out what I'm doing: And What I'm doing is seeking
out cultural analogues of Repressed Material which, buried in the past,
leave traces in the present or less distant past more readily accessible
to historical memory however poor that may be in most cultures. In all
cultures, actually; the presence or absence of professional historians
makes precious little difference, and the members of that trade are, in
some sense, themselves Natives.

Social revolutions are among the deepest-buried crypts of the well-lost
past. When you look for them hard enough, you find them. Will their otherwise
uncaused consequences revealed. On another list, crammed with Marxist
sociologists, I adduced another category of historical censorship, this one
more recent: Drug-bearing plant species, however substantly important in
political economy. (Here on Long Island, where slave plantations exported
hemp to Liverpool for processing into rope for the Royal Navy during the
mercantilist period, this leaves an ideological Black Hole in the history
of interstate wars of the eighteenth century: "However true it may be that
an army travels on its stomach, it is still more literally true that a navy
travels on marijuana.") Any more suggestions along these lines?

Daniel A. Foss