jueves, noviembre 18, 2010


NOTA BENE: Respetamos el texto en su redacción en lengua inglesa, para no distorsionar el sentido original y es un privilegio recibir esta colaboración de James Fogarty un afamado investigador del tema de la dispaora irlandesa en México y amigo personal de muchos años. Sea este un homenaje a Guillén de Lampart, pues un 19 de Noviembre fue ejecutado por la Santa Inquicisión en la Ciudad de México.
The fictional character of stage and screen known as ‘Zorro,’ the Spanish for fox, was created by the North American writer of fiction, Johnson McCulley in 1919, and has served as the inspiration for several Hollywood movies and T.V. series ever since
McCulley’s depiction of the masked hero in “The Curse of Capistrano” captured the imagination of film directors and made the big screen in 1920 with “The Mark of Zorro,” starring the famous actor, Douglas Fairbanks. Twenty years later, the famous Irish actor, Tyrone Power starred in a ‘sound’ reproduction of this movie which belonged to the era of the silent screen.

In the I950s and 1960s, Walt Disney adopted the legend of ‘Zorro’ to produce a popular T.V. series, and several movies were also produced, including “The Mark of Zorro” in I974. In 1998, “The Mask of Zorro” starring Anthony Hopkins was a huge success, and 2005 will witness the release of yet another ‘Zorro’ movie entitled “The Legend of Zorro” which promises to be another ‘blockbuster’ production.
However, the identity of this Robin Hood of California fame still remains a mystery which continues to intrigue historians and movie-goers alike.

Some writers of popular fiction, including some historians, have attempted to identify this masked hero as the reincarnation of William Lamport from Wexford, who is better known in Spanish as Guillén de Lampart and Guillén de Lombardo. Lamport was accused by the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico of heresy and apostasy, and was condemned by an “auto-de-fe” to be burned at the stake in Mexico City in 1659,
He was also accused of dabbling in occultism and astrology, but the main reason for his condemnation seems to have been his involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the Spanish colonial regime in Mexico. It is also claimed by some historians that he was involved in a plot to discredit and depose the Spanish Viceroy, the Marquis of Villena.

Some writers of popular fiction have presented what reads like a caricature of this tragic historical figure, portraying him as “an notorious womanizer,” an “impostor, a “drug addict”(peyote) as well as some kind of egocentric maniac who wanted to make himself king of Mexico.

Lamport is frequently referred to in Spanish commentaries as “un clérigo irlandés”, i.e.,an Irish cleric; and we know that his brother John was a missionary priest in New Spain at about that same period.

The Porrúa Biographical Dictionary indicates that William Lampart was a seminarian who studied philosophy at the Jesuit Seminary in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia; and theology at El Escorial Seminary near Madrid. There is no mention of his ordination, and we might surmise that he left the Seminary to enlist in one of the Irish Regiments in the Spanish Army.

The Dictionary describes him as a “humanista”, i.e, a humanist of the Renaissane movement which inspired the struggle to promote a more just and humane society, and this commitment inevitably led to a clash with the ultra-conservative Spanish Inquisition.

As to his background in Ireland we know very little. The Dictionary states that he studied at Jesuit schools in Dublín and London before emigrating to Spain. He arrived in New Spain (Mexico) in the company of the Marquis of Villena, the newly-appointed Viceroy, in 1640; and following his arrest in 1642, spent most of his remaining years in prison, prior to his death in 1659. While incarcerated, he wrote his “Regio Salterio” which is a denunciation in Latin verse of the Inquisition.

The Mexican legend of Guillén de Lampart was resurrected by the Mexican writer, Vicente Riva Palacio in 1872 in his historical novel: “Memorias de un Impostor:Don Guillén de Lampart,Rey de Mexico.” (“ Memories of an Impostor: Don Guillén de Lampart,King of Mecixo”). It is said that the author recalled the legend of Lampart to discredit the Catholic Church as an accomplice of the oppressive colonial regime, and of the crimes committed by the “Holy” Inquisition during the Spanish colonial period.
The modern Italian historian, Fabio Troncarelli in his book: “ La Spada e la Cruce” (“The Sword and the Cross”),claims that McCulley plagiarized Riva Palacio to create his own version of the Lampart legend. He indicates that his findings reveal that Lamport, in his efforts to reform the status quo in the colony, was supported by the Franciscans and the Carmelitas, as well as by Bishop Palafox of Puebla who also served as Spanish Viceroy in 1642. Troncarelli claims to have discovered evidence in the Vatican Archives which lends credence to his affirmations about Guillén de Lampart.

The Mexican historian, Luis Gonzalez Obregón in his book:”D. Guillén de Lampart:La Inquisición y la Independencia en el Siglo XV11”(1907), states that Lampart was born in Wexford, Ireland, in I615; and that he was fluent in several languages, including Greek and Latin. He also indicates that Lampart is best remembered dressed as a Franciscan friar; but that he also sometimes dressed as a Spanish nobleman, and as a high-ranking military officer.

The modern Mexican historian, Manuel Rojas dismisses the hollywoodesque treatment of ‘Zorro’ as a deliberate distortion of history. He points out that the ‘Zorro’ of Mexican folklore was Joaquín Murrieta who fought against the Anglo-American invaders who had “annexed” all of Northern Mexico—from Texas to California—in the mid-1800s. Murrieta, who might be described as the Mexican counterpart of the Irish Rapparee, became a ‘bandolero’ when his property was stolen and his brother was hanged by the ruthless invaders of the California Gold-Rush days. In his book: “Joaquín Murrieta:El Patrio “ , he explains how Murrieta became known as “El Zorro de San Joaquín” during that turbulent era in the history of the Golden State.
A famous Hollywood director is reputed to have said that when legend becomes accepted as history, the only thing left for us to do is to print the legend. Each new generation will re-write history from its own particular vantage point, and revisionists can sometimes interpret history to support their own particular agenda. In this context, historian Rojas claims that Hollywood prefers to portray a ‘Zorro’ fighting the Spanish colonial regime, instead of the real ‘Zorro’ of Mexican folklore who fought against the Anglo invaders of post-colonial Mexico.

Mexico has honored the memory of William Lamport by giving him the title of Precursor of Mexican Independence( El Primer Independista de la Nueva España.)
The “Guillén de Lampart” school in Mexico City also perpetuates the memory of William Lamport as an educator and social reformer.

The Mexican anthropologist, Rosalia Tavera claims that a direct descendent of Guillén de Lampart, Alberto Lombardo Guzmán persuaded President Porfirio Diaz to allow the marble statue of his illustrious ancestor to be placed at the entrance to the Independence Monument in Mexico City; and Irish people who visit the Monument are amazed to discover that a man from Wexford played such an important role in the history of Mexico´s struggle for National Independence.

Séamus Ó Fógartaigh,Ph.D.
Mexico City, March 2005
This article was published in “Irish Roots” magazine in 2005.

Manuel Rojas: “ Joaquín Murietta:El Patrio” (Mexico City, 2004)
Luis Gonzalez Obregón:
“ Don Guillén de Lampart: La Inquisición y la
Independencia en el Siglo XV11”
( Mexico, 1908)
Vicente Riva Palacio: “ Memorias de un Impostor: “Don Guillén de Lampart,Rey de Mexico” ( Mexico, 1872)
Gerard Ronan, “ The Irish Zorro” (Brandon Books, 2004)
Fabio Troncarelli: “La Spada e la Cruce” ( Roma, 1999)
Méndez Plancarte, Gabriel. “Regio Salterio: Mexico, Bajo el Signo de Äbside, 1948.

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