(The real Zorro wasn’t Mexican)
By H. Millard
I don’t get it. The former president of Mexico is named Vicente Fox. Now, isn’t “Fox” the English translation of “Zorro”? So why wasn’t he called President Zorro?
Never mind. I have weightier things to straighten out concerning Mexico and Zorro.
You’ve probably seen the Zorro movies or TV show where Zorro was a Spanish nobleman who ran around the place carving a “Z” on the bad guys’ shirts. Nice story. But you might find the real story even more interesting, especially around St. Patrick’s Day.
The real Zorro was an Irish soldier of fortune named William Lamport, who was born in 1615 in Ireland.
Lamport found remunerative work for a time as a privateer–that means he was a pirate with a license from one government that allowed him to attack another nation’s ships. In this case, Lamport attacked English merchantmen. It’s that Irish/English thing.
In 1643, he enlisted in one of the three Irish regiments in Spanish service (The O’Neill, O’Donnell and Fitzgerald Regiments) to fight against the French forces in Spanish Flanders. He was eventually commended for bravery and entered Spanish Royal service.Along the way, Lamport Latinized his name to “Guillen Lombardo” and ended up in the Spanish colony of Mexico.
Once in Mexico, William/Guillen lived among the poor Indians and studied their religion. For this, he came to the notice of the Spanish Inquisition, which was helping the King of Spain in his attempt to destroy Mexico as it was, and remake it into something of a new world version of Catholic Spain.
William/Guillen soon became the leader of a rebel Mexican independence movement.
When not fighting the Spaniards, William/Guillen was busy having affairs with Spanish noblewomen, both married and unmarried.
After a time, he became engaged to Antonia Turcious, a member of the nobility. However, before he could marry her, he was arrested by the Inquisition and accused of conspiracy against Spain.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but, and it gets a bit foggy here, he was eventually back on the streets where he then began a harassment campaign against the Spanish by sneaking around at night and painting the walls of Mexico City with his name and anti-Spanish graffiti.
Not exactly the stuff of a “Z” made with a sword, but close enough to be reworked for the Zorro story.
William/Guillen was arrested again in 1652 when found in the bed of the wife of the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico.
He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and was then turned over to the Inquisition to be burnt at the stake as a heretic (it was because of that native Indian religion that he had been toying with, not the many women).
In 1659 he was tied to the stake in Mexico City, but before the flames reached him, he undid his ropes and strangled himself.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day William Lamport–Zorro–we’ll raise a glass of Guinness Stout cervaza to the memory of your randy and bawdy existence–full of life–and we’ll pray that the Irish keep having a high birth rate so that population pressures will cause many more Irish to expand out of their native land instead of being like some presently effete contracting white peoples who keep their legs crossed as though they’re afraid of life.
It has been written that the Irish saved civilization. They may yet do it again.