Witnesses to the Truth: The True Martyrdom of the Servants of God

The Despot


When the "victim" refuses to renounce or abjure what he holds to be right and true, insisting instead on defending it, his steadfastness may enter into conflict with the determination of another who holds the opposing opinion.


If at the same time that other person has some physical advantage, and in the resolve to make his will prevail resorts to the use of force, he is known by the unflattering term of "despot." Not hesitating to inflict harm, even grievous harm – of which the extreme form is the taking of the victim's life – in order to assure that his view is not defeated, he will go to any extreme to guarantee the triumph of his will.

In the history of the Five Martyrs of Georgia the primary despot was Juanillo, the nephew of Don Francisco, the cacique of Tolomato. This young brave aspired to the caciqueship held by his uncle who, though still active in the life of the tribe, had signified his intention to pass the leadership to Juanillo. Such was the not uncommon arrangement in many of the native Southeastern cultures, whereby the succession to-the office of chief or cacique was matrilineal; the new cacique being the son of a certain designated sister.

Though Don Francisco was still vigorous and not disposed as yet to give up his position of prestige and authority, Juanillo felt aggrieved when his eventual succession met opposition from an unsuspected source. For, as we have seen, 4

Fray Pedro at Tolomato had not only rebuked Juanillo for his marital infidelity but with Fray Blas at Tupiqui had expressed opposition to his succession as cacique. The influence of the priests was no more than moral: they had no arms, no recognized and absolute power, no accepted authority to impede what the natives might decide to do. Yet the opposition offended and threatened the proud young brave in his pretensions to the dynasty. Likewise, he could count on the support of many others. For, though the village was largely populated by baptized Christians, in the surrounding woods there were numbers of natives who had not accepted Christianity.

Determined to maintain his relationship with the second woman, and deeply irked by Fray Pedro's decisive stand in opposing his aspiration to the caciqueship, Juanillo then sought the support of two other young braves. According to Óre, these two had likewise adopted the same immoral way of life. Certainly these accomplices must also be considered despots, even if in a lesser degree than Juanillo, for they abetted his flouting of the Christian law and actively contributed to promoting the revolt which was to culminate in the slaying of the friars.

See above, 54-56 .

CREDIT: REPORTATIO SUPER MARTYRIO SERVORUM DEi PETRI DE CORPA ET SOCIORUM EJUS ANNO DOMINI 1597 IN FLORIDA OCCISORUM (Editio Tertia "Positionis", 7 Maii 2002)
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REPORTATIO SUPER MARTYRIO SERVORUM DEi PETRI DE CORPA ET SOCIORUM EJUS ANNO DOMINI 1597 IN FLORIDA OCCISORUM (Editio Tertia "Positionis", 7 Maii 2002)
The First Georgia Missions: Our Southern Catholic Heritage, Dr. Paul Thigpen and Katherine Ragan. Illustrations by Pamela Gardner, based on the retablo by Dan Nichols. This retablo is part of the parish patrimony of Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church in Jasper, Georgia

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