Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Secret Combinations (Historical Examples)

The Book of Mormon describes how the people of Lehi and the Jaredites were plagued by secret combinations to murder and get gain. Wicked and ambitious individuals and groups employed assassination and other means to gain political power and influence (Helaman 1:9-12; 2:3-5; 6:15-30; 3 Nephi 6:27-30; 7:1; Ether 8:10-18; 9:5-6). Moroni and other prophets warn that these practices, if they remain unchecked, and are allowed to spread throughout the society lead to social chaos and eventual destruction, as in the case of the Jaredites and people of Lehi (Helaman 2:13; Ether 8:21-22). They, we are told rather common anciently as well as in our day, and "they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites" (Ether 8:20). Here are two examples from the Pre-Columbian history of Mexico.

The first comes from Diego Duran, The History of the Indies of New Spain, Translated by Doris Heyden (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), 69.

Tezozomoc of Azcapotzalco was dead and the Tepanecs, even more determined to carry out their intentions, agreed among themselves to kill King Chimalpopoca by treachery, thereby facilitating the annihilation of the Mexican nation. They sealed this conspiracy by solemnly vowing to carry out this evil plan. At night, when all was silent, they secretly sent men to Mexico-Tenochtitlan, where the murderers entered the palace while the guards, careless, were asleep. Finding the ruler unprepared, they slew him and his son Teuctleuac, who was sleeping beside him.

The second example comes from the Tlaxcaltecan chronicle the Anonimo Mexicano, one of the rare non-Mexica accounts of ancient Mexican history (Richley Crapo and Bonnie Glass-Coffin, eds., Anonimo Mexicano. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005, 50-53). Chapter 9 of the chronicle tells how an ambitious noble named Tlacomihua, unhappy with his lot as a mere nobleman, conspired to obtain power and the kingship

He began by shrewdly flattering some of his fellow nobles and talking down the king.

Thus already he was beginning to advise the men and vassals of his vicinity. Thus the lord warned them and said that he [the king] was already very great. Thus he did not still take care of them well as he had done at first. He just talked fast. He no longer held these nobles in high esteem, as a good father who loves them. Tlacomihua reported all this. Thus he remembered whichever men of the city were dissatisfied concerning their revered lord ruler. This he gathered them together on his property, where he made this speech to them. Still when night fell, he finished this. Sighing thus, he spoke evil against their lord (50-51).

Without explicitly calling for the king’s assassination, the shrewd operator Tlacomihua’s implied support and persuaded his fellows to commit the crime.

He moved their will against the king, towards his evil intention, so they would kill their sovereign lord. And then the vassals agreed thus to kill him. He would not make known to them his intent. These nobles went with him to his palace. They went as if to be civil. Raising a shout, they attacked. He was not prepared. Thus secretly they killed him. Thus when they left there, their secret deed would not be known. They crossed over to the homes of their poor sovereign lord’s kinsmen. And however many were involved killed the sons, nephews, kin, and all his close kin with their arrows, so that not one of his lineage would remain. . . . it was in this way that this much-loved sovereign lord died, who was greatly loved and respected. Thus was he just to everyone of his vassals (51).

In the aftermath following the murder of the king the people were unwilling to punish the perpetrators because the children, fathers and friends of so many families in the community were involved.

And when he died, they were afraid everywhere. In the city, many became agitated and did not know about the conspiracy. They armed themselves and went about most disturbed, with all the women and children, so that there was very great confusion. The crying of the women and children was great, so there was very great mourning. Thus they killed him who was their sovereign. And those who began already nearly slaves wanted to avenge themselves, desisted because it appeared to them that to do so would give evil, because if they would kill all the guilty, they would be killing someone’s children and someone’s fathers and friends. They would spill their blood in vain so long as they carried out such a remedy (51-52).

Subsequently Tlacomihua, who had cleverly nudged others to action without getting his own hands dirty, was finally able to maneuver himself into the kingship.

It was just possibly Tlacomihua whose desire was the secret killing. Then it is said that he became the noble on the throne of the rulership of Ococteluco. Although it was not that some who had agreed that the first ruler should die, they did not want this noble to rule, still in this manner many were able to follow him because many had participated in this manner conspiracy . . . And as his power was greater, he was able to shut their mouths. And thus he entered himself into the rulership (52).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.