Mexico's "Golden Age" : THE FIRST HALF CENTURY

Author: William H. Katra


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A Franciscan monk-Mexico's first historian--characterized the four decades following the Aztecs' 1521 overthrow as Mexico's "Golden Age." His intention was to praise the benign, bi-racial society that was then coming into existence. The first of three pillars for this short-lasting society featured an enlightened governing team led by ex-conquistador Hernán Cortés; the country's first bishop, Friar Juan de Zumárraga; respected lawyer and founder of missions, Vasco de Quiroga; and the first two viceroys, Antonio de Mendoza and Luis de Velazco. The second pillar were the Franciscan friars who headed up perhaps the most important religious campaign of the sixteenth century: the decades-long evangelization campaign that would be staffed by nearly a thousand mendicant monks who dedicated their lives to baptize millions of willing Mexicans. Included in this group was the champion of Indian baptism, Friar Toribio Benavente "Motolinía," as well as the leader for Indian education, Friar Pedro de Gante. The third pillar for this emerging society were the native chieftains (this work focuses on those from Cuernavaca) who partnered with the Spanish in governing and uplifting their respective communities. The recent publication of important, heretofore unknown, historical documents justifies the need for a re-examination of events and society during this important period of Mexican history.

William H. (Bill) Katra is an independent scholar residing in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He served in the Peace Corps in Uruguay from 1966 to 1968. Although his academic degrees are in Latin American literature and culture (UC-Berkeley, B.A. 1970; UM-Ann Arbor Ph.D. 1977), his publications are mostly historical. His 2017 book, José Artigas and the Federal League in Uruguay's [and Argentina's] War of Independence (1810-1820), is the second book in English to treat this important chapter of Latin America's history. His 1996 book, The Argentine Generation of 1837: Esteban Echeverría, Juan B. Alberdi, Domingo F. Sarmiento, Bartolomé Mitre--(published in Buenos Aires as Los que hicieron el país) was preceded by three other book-length studies and offers perhaps the most authoritative treatment available about those four key figures in Argentine political and intellectual history. He served as a contributing editor for the Library of Congress' Handbook of Latin American Studies: Humanities (1990, 1992, 1994), and as guest editor for a special issue of Fairleigh Dickinson University's The Literary Review treating "Argentine Writing in the Eighties" (Summer 1989). He has also published highly regarded articles or book chapters treating: a history of liberation theology in Latin America; the Facundo as historical novel; Sarmiento's travels to the United States; an ideological history of Uruguayan literature; the narrative of Mexican writer, Juan Rulfo; a Mexican liberation-theology hymnal; and the poetic tradition of the gaucho. In a different tone, his Mountain Climber: A Memoir was published in 2020.

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Black & White

Pages: 346 | Trim Size: 6x9

Genre: History

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