Valadés, Diego de
- Cristina Gonzalez
(b Villanueva de Barcarrota [now Barcarrota], 1533; d Rome, ?1582).
Spanish missionary, linguist, engraver, and author. Long believed to be the offspring of a Tlaxcaltecan mother and Spanish soldier, evidence now points to Valadés’s birth in Extremadura and immigration to New Spain (Mexico) in 1537. He studied at San José de los Naturales in Mexico City and the College of S. Cruz in Tlatelolco under Pedro de Gante, Juan de Gaona, Francisco Bustamante, and Juan de Folcher. After entering the Franciscan Order, he was missionary to the Chichimeca of northern New Spain. In 1566 he testified in defense of Martín Cortés, Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, who was then facing charges of treason. By 1572 Valdés was in Spain and, by 1575, was Procurator General of his Order in Rome. While in Europe he published Folcher’s Itinerarium Catholicum (Seville, 1574) and then wrote and published his own magnum opus, Rhetorica Christiana (Perugia, 1579). Illustrated with twenty-seven copper engravings (eight are signed), and dedicated to Pope Gregory XIII, the theological treatise emphasizes memory as the most important component of rhetoric, champions the Franciscan missionary project in New Spain, and stresses the value and use of instructional images for past, present, and future friars. According to the prologue, Valadés hoped his illustrations would serve the illiterate, objectively convey the rites and customs of the indigenous population, and act as mnemonic aids for readers wishing to absorb and recall favorite passages. The best-known engraving depicts an ideal monastery with a large atrium and corner (...