Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FONSECA, Juan Rodriguez (fonsa'ka), Spanish archbishop, born in Toro, near Seville, in 1451; died in Burgos, 4 March 1524. He was successively dean of the chapter of the cathedral of Seville, bishop of Badajoz, of Cordova, of Palencia, of Burgos, and archbishop of Rosanna. When Christopher Columbus applied for the second time for aid to enable him to undertake the discovery of the New World, Fonseca, then dean of Seville, was consulted by Isabella as to the feasibility of the enterprise. He denounced Columbus as a visionary, violently opposed the consideration of the proposition, and never forgave the discoverer for obtaining consent for his scheme.
He solicited and obtained from the queen the control of the equipment of the expedition, and left no stone unturned to secure its failure. It is well known that Fonseea's efforts nearly succeeded, the crews mutinying more than once, and demanding a return to Spain. After the death of Isabella, Fonseca, having been made Privy Council to King Ferdinand, was enabled to vent his hatred on the family of Columbus. In consequence of his resentment he conceived a strong hatred of the Indians of the New World, and proposed to the council the most sanguinary measures against them. It being his duty to select the missionaries for the New World, he chose bigoted fanatics, and took pains to impress on them that the Indians were but slightly superior to animals, he also brought his malevolence to bear against Hernando Cortes, who finally appealed to Charles V., and obtained in 1520 the dissolution of the council of which Fonseca was president. He was, nevertheless, a member of the new council, where his animosity to the Indians, if less prominent, was quite as active as before. A characteristic saying of Fonseca's was, that "what the Indians needed was not a baptism with water, but one in their own blood." Fonseca's acquirements were remarkable for the time in which he lived, and he was considered during his life as a man of whose learning Spain might well be proud.
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