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The Americas

Central American Colonial Settlements


Honduras / Comayagua (Spanish Empire)
AD 1526 - 1821

Honduras was first claimed for Spain on 30 July 1502, but settlement did not officially begin until 3 May 1524. Administered under New Spain within the Spanish Colonies, this Central American province came to be known as Spanish Honduras during the colonial period to differentiate it from British Honduras (modern Belize).

From his base at the new colonial capital of Mexico City, the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado explored and conquered territory to the south between 1523-1527. Honduras was created a province in 1532, and as with all the territory gained in southern Central America, it was incorporated into the captaincy general of Guatemala in 1543. This consisted of modern Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

1523 - 1524

Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado is sent out by Hernan Cortes at Tenochtitlan to conquer the highlands of Guatemala. He first targets the Quiche people and then his initial allies, the Cakchiquel.

An initial attempt in June 1524 to conquer what later becomes El Salvador for the growing Spanish Colonies is rebuffed by the native Pipil and their Mayan neighbours.

1525 - 1526

Alvaro de Saavedra Ceron

Acting governor.

1525 - 1528

Two further expeditions in 1525 and 1528 bring the Pipil under control, but Alvarado, wounded in the first campaign, leads from Guatemala.

The Holy Spirit in 1524
Álvaro Saavedra Ceron explored the bay of Manzanillo on 24 July 1527

1526 - 1530

Diego Lopez de Salcedo

Acting governor.

1530 - 1532

Andres de Cereceda

Acting governor.


Pedro de Alvarado of Guatemala is named governor of Honduras and its single Spanish colony at Trujillo, but he ignores the royal command.


Diego Alvitez

Acting governor.

1532 - 1535

Andres de Cereceda

Second term.

1535 - 1540

Francisco de Montejo y Alvarez

Acting governor.


Pedro de Alvarado is confirmed as governor of Honduras. However, this is contested, and in 1540 he is replaced.

1540 - 1543

Antonio de Mendoza, first viceroy of New Spain, vigorously encourages the exploration of all of Spain's new territories within its Spanish Colonies. The province of Guatemala is firmly established to the immediate south of New Spain, formed of Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador (1528), Guatemala (1523), Honduras (1532), and Nicaragua. While formally subject to New Spain, the region is administered separately as a matter of practicality.

1541 - 1542

Diego Garcia de Celis

Acting governor.

1542 - 1544

Francisco de Montejo y Alvarez

Confirmed as first governor. Died c.1553.

1544 - 1552

Honduras is governed by a local council known as the Corregidores which essentially holds the same powers as the governor.

1552 - 1555

Juan Perez de Cabrera

1555 - 1562

Pedro de Salvatierra

1563 - 1567

Alonso Ortiz de Elgueta

1567 - 1573

Juan de Vargas Carvajal

1573 - 1577

Diego de Herrera

1577 - 1582

Alonso de Contreras Guevara


Honduras is divided into the provinces of Comayagua and Tegucigalpa.

1582 - 1589

Rodrigo Ponce de Leon

1589 - 1594

Jeronimo Sanchez de Carranza

1594 - 1602

Rodrigo Ponce de Leon

Second term.

1602 - 1604?

Jorge de Alvarado

1604? - 1608

Pedro de Castro

1608 - 1612

Juan Guerra de Ayala


The position of governor of Guatemala is raised to that of captain general (although some sources state that this happens in 1570).

1612 - 1617

Garcia Garabito de Leon

1617 - 1620

Juan Lobato

1620 - 1625

Juan de Miranda

1625 - 1632

Pedro del Rosal

1632 - 1639

Francisco Martinez

1639 - 1641

Francisco de Avila y Lugo

1641 - 1643

Alonso de Silva Salazar

1643 - 1644

Juan de Bustamante Herrera

1644 - 1647

Melchor Alonso Tamayo

1647 - 1650

Baltasar de la Cruz

1650 - 1668

Juan de Zuazo

1668 - 1672

Juan Marquez Cabrera

1673 - 1676

Pedro de Godoy Ponce de Leon

1676 - 1679

Francisco de Castro y Ayala

1679 - 1682

Lorenzo Ramirez de Guzman

1682 - 1687

Antonio de Navia y Bolanos

1689 - 1693

Sancho Ordonez

1693 - 1698

Antonio de Oseguera y Quevedo

1698 - 1702

Antonio de Ayala

1702 - 1712

Antonio de Monfort

1712 - 1715

Enrique Longman

1715 - 1717

Jose Rodezno

1717 - 1727

Diego Gutierrez de Arguelles

1727 - 1738

Manuel de Castilla y Portugal

1738 - 1741

Francisco de Parga

1741 - 1745

Tomas Hermenegildo de Arana

1745 - 1746

Luis Machado

1746 - 1747

Juan de Vera


Alonso Fernandez de Heredia

Later governor-general of Guatemala (1761-1765).

1747 - 1750

Diego de Tablada

Interim governor.

1750 - 1751

Pedro Trucco

Interim governor.

1751 - 1757

Pantaleon Ibanez Cuevas

1757 - 1759

Flugencio Garcia de Solis

1759 - 1761

Gabriel Franco

Interim governor.

1761 - 1769

Jose Saenz Bahamonde

Died in office.

1769 - 1770

Juan Antonio Gonzalez

Interim governor.


Antonio Ferrandis

Interim governor.

1770 - 1775

Bartolome Perrez Quijano

1775 - 1779

Augustin Perez Quijano

1779 - 1783

Francisco Aybar

1783 - 1787

Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada


The position of governor is renamed governor-intendant. Intendants typically control a colony's entire civil administration, second only to the governor himself, but in Honduras the positions are combined.

1787 - 1789

Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada

Continuing from 1783 under his new title.

1789 - 1796

Alejo Garcia Conde


Tegucigalpa is consolidated with the government of the province of Comayagua on 24 July to create the province of Honduras.

1796 - 1804

Ramon de Anguiano

Remained governor in name until 1808.


The second of two wars between Britain and the Caribs on the island of St Vincent ends in defeat for the natives in this year. The bulk of the native population is subsequently deported to an island off the coast of Honduras.

1804 - 1810

Antonio Noberto Serrano y Polo

Acting Governor for the absent Anguiano (1804-1808).

1810 - 1814

In 1810 various wars of independence break out across the Spanish Americas, including New Spain and Guatemala, while Peru serves as a centre for the royalist opposition to these revolts. Two years later the Cadiz Cortes divide Guatemala into two provinces; one called Guatemala which encompasses Chiapas, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras; and the other which is called Nicaragua & Costa Rica. This division lasts only until 1814, but is briefly resurrected in 1820-1821.

Spanish eight reales coin of 1809
Either side of an eight reales coin issued by Spain in 1809

1810 - 1812

Carlos Castanon


Jose Maria Pinol y Munoz

Acting Governor on behalf of Castanon (Jan-Feb).


Juan Francisco Marques

Governor (Feb-Mar).


Pedro Gutierrez

Governor (Mar-Apr).

1812 - 1818

Juan Antonio de Tornos

Governor (from Apr 1812).

1818 - 1821

Jose Gregorio Tinoco de Contreras


Juan Nepomuceno Fernandez Lindo

Acting Governor (Nov). Died 1857.

1821 - 1823

New Spain achieves independence from Spain, bringing to an end three hundred years of governance of the Spanish Colonies. On 3 October 1821, the captaincy general of Guatemala (Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) is annexed to the Mexican empire.

Shortly before this, Honduras ceases to exist as a single province - it is divided back into the provinces of Comayagua and Tegucigalpa, each with its own governor in place to manage local affairs.

AD 1821 - 1824

Honduras initially existed as two separate provinces which were only formally united in 1791. Following the achievement of independence from Spain and the Spanish Colonies, and shortly before the region's incorporation into the Mexican empire, Honduras was again divided into its constituent parts, although only briefly. Comayagua lays to the north-west of its sister region of Tegucigalpa, and was originally christened Santa Maria de la Nueva Valladolid by the conquistador, Alonso de Caceres, in 1537.


Jose Gregorio Tinoco de Contreras

Governor (Sep-Nov). Former governor of Honduras (1818-1821).


Juan Nepomuceno Fernandez Lindo

Governor (Nov-Dec). Former governor of Honduras (1821).

1821 - 1823

The region is incorporated directly into the Mexican empire.

1823 - 1824

Juan Nepomuceno Fernandez Lindo

Second term. Died 1857.


Severino Quinonez

Governor (Feb-Apr).


Juan Jose Diaz

Governor (Apr-Sep).

AD 1821 - 1824

Honduras initially existed as two separate provinces which were only formally united in 1791. Following the achievement of independence from Spain and the Spanish Colonies, and shortly before the region's incorporation into the Mexican empire, Honduras was again divided into its constituent parts, although only briefly. Tegucigalpa lays to the south-east of its sister region of Comayagua, and its name is thought to originate from the Maya-Nahuatl name 'Taguz Galpan', which translates as 'Silver Mountain'.


Esteban Guardiola Amoros

Governor (Sep-Dec).


Simon Gutierrez

Governor (Dec).

1821 - 1822

Francisco Juarez

Governor (Dec-Jan).

1822 - 1823

The region is incorporated directly into the Mexican empire, a little later than Comayagua.

1823 - 1824

Jose Dionisio de la Trinidad

Died 1850.



1823 - 1838

The southern Central American states split from the Mexican empire to form their own Federal Republic. Honduras is formally created as a state within the republic on 16 September 1824. The republic exists in a sometimes shaky state of peace for the first decade or so, but internal tensions became more apparent thereafter, tearing the republic apart.

1838 - 1841

The Federal Republic begins to fall apart from 2 February 1838, dissolving into civil war. On 31 May the republic's congress meets to declare that the provinces are free to form their own independent republics, although this is just official recognition that the break-up has already begun. With Guatemala leading the anti-federalist revolt, Nicaragua leaves the federation on 5 November 1838, and then Costa Rica and Honduras follow suit. El Salvador is the last state to proclaim an independent government in February 1841, officially bringing the federal republic to an end.

Modern Honduras
AD 1838 - Present Day

Located in Central America, Honduras borders modern Guatemala to the north, El Salvador to the west, and Nicaragua to the south. Its capital is Tegucigalpa, which was once the centre of a province in its own right. The territory it covers was previously populated by Mayan groups to the west and the Lencas who superseded them.

When the Federal Republic of Central America began to disintegrate in 1838, the five provinces were given permission to become independent states in their own right on 31 May (although this was already happening anyway). Honduras declared its independence soon after 5 November 1838. Despite the failure of the federal republic, the new countries shared a common history and the hope that reunion would eventually come, as evidenced by their many attempts over the years.

1842 - 1844

The attempt by General Francisco Morazan to establish the Confederation of Central America from Costa Rica leads to his death, but the confederation itself lingers on for two years.

Map of Central America in the 1830s
The Federal Republic of Central America was formed of Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This lasted from 1823-1841, by which time Mexico had grabbed much of Chiapas and the republic itself dissolved into the separate nation states known today - although Nicaragua did not control the independent Mosquito Coast until the end of the century, and British troops occupied eastern Belize (click or tap on map to view full sized)


A second attempt to recreate a federal republic is made with the Federation of Central America. Involving El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, it is established in October, and lasts all of a month.


Arriving in Honduras in 1860, US soldier and adventurer, William Walker, who had proclaimed himself president of Nicaragua in 1856, falls into the hands of the Honduran authorities who execute him by firing squad. In the same year, on 14 July, the Bay Islands are ceded to Honduras by Britain.


In the very same year that the Swan Islands (incorporating the Great Swan and Little Swan islands) are annexed by the USA, Guatemala and El Salvador fight a war in which Honduras sides with El Salvador, while Costa Rica and Nicaragua side with Guatemala. Victory goes to Guatemala when it occupies the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador.


Honduras becomes a fully-fledged republic on 29 September.


A diplomatic approach fails between El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in regard to forming a fresh union of Central American states. President Rafael Zaldívar of El Salvador is against the idea despite his predecessors being well disposed towards it. Now the president of Guatemala, Justo Rufino Barrios, attempts to reunite the states of the former federal republic by force of arms, but is killed in battle against El Salvador.

1894 - 1895

General Rafael Antonio Gutiérrez overthrows General Carlos Ezeta, dictator of El Salvador, in a coup on 9 June 1894. He is assisted by Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and fellow countryman and close friend General Tomás Regalado. The coup becomes known as the Revolution of the 44. Rafael is a supporter of a central American union, and he moves El Salvador towards such an achievement.

1896 - 1898

The Pact of Amapala, signed on 20 June 1895, heralds a new attempt at creating a union between El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua is made. The build-up to the Greater Republic of Central America takes two years. When its constitution comes into effect in 1898 it is rechristened the United States of Central America, but it doesn't survive a military coup in El Salvador in the same year.


In July, Honduras declares for the allies in the First World War against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, but takes no active role in the conflict.

1921 - 1922

One more attempt is made at creating the Greater Republic of Central America between El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. A provisional federal council is formed, made up of delegates from each state, but that is as far as the project goes.

1941 - 1945

Honduras joins the Second World War as an ally of the USA and Great Britain on 8 December 1941, against Japan, Germany and Italy.

1963 - 1981

A military coup removes the democratically-elected president, Villeda Morales. A military junta is established to govern the country.


Border tensions between Honduras and El Salvador erupt into war following preliminary matches between the two nations for the forthcoming football World Cup. El Salvador launches an attack on Honduras on 14 July, but just six days later the Central American states negotiate a ceasefire. The conflict later becomes known as the Soccer War.


The USA hands back the Swan Islands to Honduras on 1 September.


New presidential elections are permitted by the military junta and the country returns to a democratic state.


Hurricane Mitch causes devastation to the country, obliterating crops, bridges, roads, and houses, and killing some 5,000 people.

Hurricane Mitch
The aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras

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