Vasco de Quiroga (1479-1565)
Born on September 3, 1479 Madrigal, province of Avila. He studied
law in Vallalodid and Salamanca. He became a judge in Orán, Africa. He went to
New Spain in 1531 as an oídor (comparable to a judge) of the second Audiencia
headed by Bishop Sebastián Ramírez de Funleal . Of noble lineage, Vasco de
Quiroga carried authority with him birth because of his lineage and his ability.
He was consecrated a priest. He began ministering to the
Indians, especially the Otomíes and Náhuas. From 1531 to 1533 he worked in Mexico City teaching his ideas to the native population as well as in trying to
convince Spaniards that the natives were rational human beings. he
established the hospital-school of Santa Fé near Mexico City. It served 30,000
people. He was sent by Charles V to Michoacán in 1535 to insure that the
royal order prohibiting the enslavement of natives was being obeyed. In 1535, he
wrote a treatise in which he opposed the royal cédula of 1534 which authorized
the capture of Indians in a just war. He founded the town of Pátzcuaro in now
Michoacán state in 1540. He founded El Colegio de San Nicolás; forty
years later it was moved to Morelia. Eventually, he would donate his library of
600 books to the institution., Named a bishop in 1542, he joined Bartolomé de
las Casas in denouncing encomiendas. He was deported to Spain.
He left Mexico in 1545 but had to return when his ship was damaged. He left
again in 1547 and managed to attend part of the Council of Trent. When he
returned to New Spain, he worked even harder to establish a utopian society for
the native population.
He died in 1565 at the age of ninety-five. Tata ("Uncle") Vasco, as he was known by the Indians,
left a sterling legacy. He trained the native population in a variety of crafts
many of which they still practice.