This article analyzes the appearance and content of the surviving archival manuscript of the Relación de las cosas de Yucatán, ascribed to Fray Diego de Landa (1524-79), the most prominent of the first generation of Franciscan friars in the Spanish colony of Yucatán. This analysis is placed in the context of the way in which published editions of the work have been treated and used since the manuscript's rediscovery in the 1860s. The authors argue that such treatment has been based on a misconception of the nature of the Relación, suggesting that this important manuscript be viewed very differently by scholars.

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