Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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MARINA, or MALINTZIN (mah-ree'-nah), Mexican woman, born in Painala, province of Coatzacoalco, in the beginning of the 16th century; died in Mexico after 1550. Her father was a vassal of the Mexican emperor and cacique of several districts. Shortly after his death her mother married again and had a son. In order that he might succeed to the property that Marina inherited from her father, her mother and step-father spread a report of her death and sold her as a slave to some merchants of Xicalanco. The merchants sold Marina to the cacique of Tabasco, who gave her as a present to Cortes, with nineteen other Indian women, to prepare Indian corn for the Spanish troops. She was baptized with her companions, and received the name of Marina. She is said by Diaz del Castillo to have been singularly beautiful. In addition to the language of her country she understood the Maya dialect of Yucatan and Tabasco, and in a short time she had mastered Castilian, which rendered her very useful to her new masters. When the Spaniards landed at Chahchiuhcuecan, now Vera Cruz, 21 April, 1519, they found that the interpreter, Aguilar, was of no service to them, as he spoke only Maya. Cortes was in great embarrassment, when an accident led to the discovery that Marina understood the language of the country. The general, says Castillo, took her aside and promised her not only her freedom, but other advantages if she would be a faithful interpreter. Then he learned from her the particulars of her life, and from that time she gained an influence over him that she never lost. She was not only the medium of negotiation between the Spaniards and the Mexicans, the Tlascaltecs, and the other tribes of Anahuac, but she often saved their lives by warning them of the dangers that surrounded them. They owed their escape at Cholula entirely to her ingenuity. In Mexico she was constantly the intermediary between Cortes and Montezuma and his subjects, and it was by her address that the monarch was finally induced to put himself in the power of the Spaniards. She accompanied the conqueror in all his expeditions as interpreter and counsellor. During a laborious and perilous journey that she made with him in the province of Honduras in 1524 she travelled through her native land. Her mother and brother presented themselves before her in great terror, lest she should avenge the wrong they had done her, but she received them with affection. After the conquest she married Juan de Jaramillo, a Spanish gentleman. She had a son by Cortes who was named Don Martin, and who, notwithstanding his illegitimacy, was made a knight of Calatrava in consideration of the nobility of his mother. In 1568 he was accused of rebellion on a vague suspicion, and put to the torture in Mexico, notwithstanding the services that his mother had rendered to the Spanish nation. Nothing is known of her further life except that in 1550 she presented a petition to the viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, complaining that the Indians of her commandery of Jilantongo refused to pay her tribute or render personal service, as they were obliged to do.
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