The Early History of Greater Mexico 0130915432, 9780130915436

Presented in an easy-to-follow chronological framework, this thorough and insightful survey offers a complete historical

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The Early History of Greater Mexico
 0130915432, 9780130915436

Table of contents :
Part 1:1325-1598
1 Mexican Peoples and Cultures
A Spanish Conqueror Sees the Great Aztec Market, 1519
Terms of Reference
The Geography of Greater Mexico
Agriculture and Trade
The Rise of Mesoamerican Cultures
Mexican Cultures
Mesoamerican Society and Culture
The Aztec Empire
Aztec Kings
Aztec Law and Religion
Warfare: The Aztecs and Regional Powers
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
2 Spain in the Era of Expansion
1492: A Watershed
The Legacy of the Past
Government and Politics in the Era of Expansion
The Spanish Economy
The Organization of Society
Religious Life
Overseas Expansion
Fray Antonio Montesinos’s Denunciation of Spanish Cruelty, 1511
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
3 Conquest and Colonization
Spanish Background to the Conquest of Mexico
Cortés and the Conquest of Mexico
Chronology of the Conquest
Alvarado Massacre
Explaining the Spanish Conquest
Conquest-Era Mexico
Cortés Awards Encomiendas to Conquerors, 1521
The Formation of Early New Spain
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
4 Narratives of Conquest
Accounts of the Spanish Conquerors
Doña Marina’s Story as told by Bernal Diaz del Castillo
Pedro de Alvarado’s Complaints
Fray Francisco de Aguilar comments on Indian religion
Indigenous Accounts
Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl on Texcoco’s Contributions to the Conquest
Florentine Codex Account of Spaniards’ Treatment of the Defeated Mexica (1576)
1585 Revision Account of Spaniards’ Treatment of the Defeated Mexica
Secondary and Later Accounts
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
5 Mexico and the Columbian Exchange
The Spread of Disease
Epidemics in Central Mexico
Medicine, Disease, and Colonial Society
Changes in Environment, Diet, and Lifestyle
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
6 Christianity in Colonial Mexico
Establishment of the Church in Colonial Mexico
The Spiritual Conquest
Franciscan Diego de Landa on Religious Indoctrination of Indians
The Nahua Christian Experiment: Colegio of Santa Cruz Tlatelolco
The Secular Clergy
Consolidation of the Colonial Church
The Church and Colonial Society
Mexican Devotions and Holy People
Part II: 1598-1700
7 Mesoamerican Indians under Colonial Rule
Mesoamerican Communities under Spanish Rule
Mesoamericans and the Colonial Economy
Social and Cultural Change
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
8 Economy and in the Middle
The Agrarian Sector
Artisanry and Manufacturing
Letter from Juan de Brihuega, in Puebla, to his brother Pedro Garcia, in Brihuega, January 1572
Trade and Transport
Urban Development
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Readings
9 The Northern Frontier
Conquest and Conflict in the North
Settlement of the North
Settlement of the Far North
Frontier Society
The Northern Missions
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
10 The African Presence in New Spain
Conditions of Life and Work
Freedom: Manumission, Resistance, and Revolt
Experience of Free Blacks and Mulattos
Excerpts from a list of free blacks and mulatos obligated to pay tribute in Puebla, 1597-1603
Africans in Colonial Society
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Readings
11 Elite and Popular Culture
Religious Culture
Education and Literacy
Colonial Intellectuals
The L ively Arts
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
12 Rebellion and Crime
The Imposition of Authority
Letter in Nahuatl to Philip II from the town council of Huejotzingo, 1560
Urban Riots
Revolts in the North
Revolts in the South and Center
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
Part III: 1700-1824
13 Race, Class, and Family
A Society of Races
Observations on Race and Class
Family, Honor, and the Position of Women
Sex, Marriage, and Children
The Evolution of a Multiracial Society
Society and Race in Art and Literature
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
14 Economy and Society in the Late Colonial Period
The Agrarian Sector
Merchants and Trade
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
15 The Bourbon Era
Enlightenment, Reform, and Society
Governmental Reform
Bourbon Policy and the Church
Military Reform
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading ,
16 The Northern Borderlands
The Military Frontier
New Mexico and Nueva Vizcaya after the Pueblo Revolt
Northeastern New Spain: The Colonization
of Coahuila, Texas, and Nuevo Santander
The Northwest: Sonora and Arizona
Baja and Alta California
The Apache Corridor
The Spanish Frontier in the Late Colonial Period
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
17 The Struggle for Independence
The Struggle for independence: An Overview
José María Morelos, “Sentiments of the Nation,” presented to the Chilpancingo Congress, September 14, 1813 (excerpt)
Political Aspirations and Frustrations
Dissent and Insurgency
Counterinsurgency and War
Perspectives on the Achievement of Independence
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
18 Colonial Legacies
Questions for Discussion
Suggested Reading
Suggested Reading in Spanish
Chapter l : Mexican Peoples and Cultures
Chapter 2: Spain in the Era of Expansion
Chapter 3: Conquest and Colonization
Chapter 4: Narratives of Conquest
Chapter 5: Mexico and the Columbian Exchange
Chapter 6: Christianity in Colonial Mexico
Chapter 7: Mesoamerican Indians under Colonial Rule
Chapter 8: Economy and Society in the Middle Period
Chapter 9: The Northern Frontier
Chapter l O: The African Presence in New Spain
Chapter 11 : Elite and Popular Culture
Chapter 12: Rebellion and Crime
Chapter 13: Race, Class, and Family
Chapter 14: Economy and Society in the Late Colonial Period
Chapter 15: The Bourbon Era
Chapter 16: The Northern Borderlands
Chapter 17: The Struggle for Independence
Chapter 18: Colonial Legacies

Citation preview

The Early History of Greater Mexico

The Early History of Greater Mexico Ida Altman University of New Orleans

Sarah Cline University of California, Santa Barbara

Juan Javier Pescador Michigan State University

Prentice Hall

Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Altman, Ida. The early history of greater Mexico / Ida Altman, Sarah Cline, Juan Javier Pescador, p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-13-091543-2 1. Mexico—History—To 1810. I. Cline, S. L. II. Pescador, Juan Javier. III. Title. FI 219.1 .A442 2003 972—dc21


Acquisitions editor: Charles Cavaliere Production editor: Laura A. Lawrie Manufacturing and prepress buyer: Sherry Lewis Copy editor: Laura A. Lawrie Editorial assistant: Adrienne Paul Permissions research: Cheryl J. Gilbert Cover image specialist: Karen Sanatar Image permission coordinator: Nancy Seise Cartographer: Alice T hiede/CARTO-GRAPHICS Line art manager: Guy Ruggiero Cover design: Bruce Kenselaar Cover art: Pyramid at Teotihuacan, Mexico. Spanish Conquest of Mexico (Codex Florentino: SAHAGUN Lam CXLI, Libro XII, No. 25, LC Shelf No. F 1219 S1313 Copy 2. Cathedral, Mexico City. All images courtesy of Library of Congress. This book was set in 10/12 Palatino by DM Cradle Associates, and was printed and bound by Courier Stoughton. The cover was printed by The Lehigh Press, Inc. Prentice


© 2003 by Pearson Education, Inc. Upper Saddle River, N ew Jersey 07458

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


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Pearson Pearson Pearson Pearson Pearson Pearson Pearson Pearson Pearson

Education LTD., London Education Australia PTY, Limited, Sydney Education Singapore, Pte. Ltd Education North Asia Ltd, Hong Kong Education Canada, Ltd., Toronto Education de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. Education-Japan, Tokyo Education Malaysia, Pte. Ltd. Education, Upper Saddle River, Nezo Jersey

We dedicate this book to our parents: Teresa Cantón Abes; and, in loving memory, Ralph Altman and Jeanne Weinberger Altman; Howard F. Cline and Mary W. Cline; and Emilio Pescador Magallanes




Part 1:1325-1598

1 2 3 4 5 6

Mexican Peoples and Cultures Spain in the Era of Expansion Conquest and Colonization Narratives of Conquest Mexico and the Columbian Exchange Christianity in Colonial Mexico

3 27 53 73 97 115

Part II: 1598-1700

7 8 9 10 11 12

Mesoamerican Indians under Colonial Rule Economy and Society in the Middle Period The Northern Frontier The African Presence in New Spain Elite and Popular Culture Rebellion and Crime

143 162 185 204 225 242

Part III: 1700-1824

13 14 15 16 17 18

Race, Class, and Family Economy and Society in the Late Colonial Period The Bourbon Era The Northern Borderlands The Struggle for Independence Colonial Legacies

Suggested Reading in Spanish Index

261 282 300 320 341 362 379 387



This volume is intended to serve as a basic text for courses in Mexican his­ tory, as well as others in which the history of Mexico plays an important part. The general reader wishing to learn more of Mexico's early history and development also may find this book to be a useful introduction and guide to the fascinating story of a country that shares a border and much history in common with the United States but in many senses remains little known or understood in this country. Mexico's history is immensely rich and diverse, and writing it offers great challenges. Here we will consider the peoples and cultures who inhab­ ited Mesoamerica before the arrival of Europeans; the Spanish conquest and subsequent clashes and interactions among groups as they all adjusted to a changed and changing context; the rapid economic and institutional devel­ opment of the colony that the Spaniards called the Kingdom or Viceroyalty of New Spain; the expansion of Hispanic society and culture from central Mexico into remote areas of the north and south; and the growing complex­ ity of society and economy over the centuries of Spanish rule. In this volume, we examine Mexico's early history by focusing on a series of topics treated within a chronological framework, dividing the colonial period into three periods that correspond roughly to the three centuries of colonial rule. This approach makes it possible to give due consideration not only to betterknown events and aspects of that history—such as the Aztec empire and the Spanish conquest, or the establishment of the Roman Catholic church—but also to introduce the reader to important topics such as the role of Africans in colonial Mexico, the nature of marriage and family, the form and implica­ tions of interactions among different ethnic groups, and the causes and sig­ nificance of disorder and rebellion, both before and during the wars for independence. We also have made an effort to take a balanced approach to regional diversity and development. No single, relatively brief volume can claim to offer a comprehensive history of colonial Mexico. This text attempts to combine existing knowledge with the most recent scholarship in the field. Thus, we can only provide an introduction to ongoing research that is constantly modifying our under­ standing of colonial society. Some of the more recent trends in scholarship include the following: the use of indigenous texts to study sociopolitical structures, language patterns, gender roles, economic activities, and cultural IX



change and continuity among Indian groups during the colonial period; the use of microhistorical analysis to understand complex socioeconomic and political processes; and a new effort to examine and integrate previously less studied groups—women, people of mixed racial and ethnic background— and relatively neglected regions (the far north and south) into the main­ stream of Mexican history. At the same time, incorporation of recent scholarship should not mean the neglect of essential older works that by no means have been superseded. With respect to the rich historiography of colonial Mexico, we have endeavored to take a balanced approach as well. The authors acknowledge a number of individuals who have con­ tributed their time, effort, and expertise to this book. Todd Armstrong, for­ merly of Prentice Hall, first suggested to us the idea of writing a textbook on colonial Mexican history; his successor at Prentice Hall, Charles Cavaliere, has been most helpful in seeing the project through to completion, as has Laura Lawrie. We wish to thank Pedro Santoni of California State University at San Bernardino, William C. Olson of Marist College, and John Sherman of Wright State University, who reviewed the original proposal. Patrick Grant of the University of Victoria and Michael Polushin of the University of Southern Mississippi read the entire manuscript and provided invaluable comments. William B. Taylor of the University of California at Berkeley and James Lockhart of the University of California at Los Angeles also were kind enough to read all or part of the manuscript on very short notice and to share with us their responses and suggestions. We also wish to acknowledge the understanding and encouragement of our families, friends, and colleagues. As is often true for worthwhile pro­ jects, this one took longer and proved to be far more demanding of every­ one's time and patience than anticipated. Ida Altman University of New Orleans Sarah Cline University of California, Santa Barbara Juan Javier Pescador Michigan State University

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Modem Political Boundaries of Greater Mexico

The Early History of Greater Mexico

Part I 1 3 2 5 - 1 5 9 8


Mexican Peoples and Cultures

A Spanish Conqueror S e e s the Great Aztec Market, 1519 On reaching the great marketplace, w e [Spanish conquerors] were astounded at the great number of people and the quantities of merchandise, and at the orderliness and good arrangements that prevailed, for we had never seen such a thing before. . . . Every kind of merchandise was kept separate and had its fixed place marked for it. Let us begin with the dealers in gold, silver, and precious stones, feathers, cloaks, and embroidered goods, and male and female slaves who are also sold there. They bring as many slaves to be sold in that market, as the Portuguese bring Negroes from Guinea. Some are brought there attached to long poles by means of collars around their necks to prevent them from escaping, but others are left loose. Next there are those who sold coarser cloth, and cotton goods and fabrics made of twisted thread, and there were chocolate merchants with their chocolate. In this way you could see every kind of merchandise to be found any­ where in this land, laid out in the same way as goods are laid out in my own dis­ trict in Medina del Campo [Spain], a centre for fairs, where each line of stalls has its own particular sort. So it was in this great market. They have a building there also in which three judges sit, and there are officials like constables who examine the merchandise . . . We turned back to the great market and the swarm of people buying and selling. The mere murmur of their voices talking was loud enough to be heard more than three miles away. Some of our soldiers who had been in many parts of the world, in Constantinople, in Rome, and all over Italy, said that they had never seen a market so well laid out, so large, so orderly, and so full of people. Bernal Diaz del Castillo, The Conquest of New Spain [abridged edition of The True History of the Conquest of Mexico], trans. J. M. Cohen (London, 1963), pp. 232-5.

Conqueror Bernal Diaz del Castillo's 1519 description of the market in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan conveys Spaniards's amazement at the opu­ lence of the capital of the Aztec Empire. The city's huge, regulated, perma­ nent marketplace dramatically exemplified the complexity, richness, and 3

Figure 1-1 The founding of Tenochtitlan. The wandering Mexica of Aztlan believed that they would establish a settlement where they saw an eagle perched on a cactus. Stylized burning temples indicate two Aztec conquests; symbols of the Mesoamerican calendar form the border. Permission granted by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, for reproduction of MS.Arch. Seiden. A. 1, fol. 2r.


Mexican Peoples and Cultures


high degree of development of society in central Mexico, comparable to that of Spain itself and other great centers of the Christian world such as Rome and Constantinople (which by then had fallen to the Turks). When Spaniards arrived in central Mexico in 1519, they found virtually all the hallmarks of a complex society. These included well-built cities with temples, palaces, and central markets; stratified social systems similar to their own, with nobles, commoners, and slaves; a structured political state with fully developed systems of taxation and law; a privileged military group; far-reaching trade networks; a religious cult with high priests; and a system of writing. True, the natives had no metallurgy or beasts of burden, and their religion called for human sacrifice, but clearly the Aztecs had achieved a high level of civilization as Spaniards understood it.

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