History Files
 

The Americas

Central American Colonial Settlements

 

Spanish Colonies in the Americas (New Spain / Mexico)
AD 1535 - 1821

The four transatlantic voyages undertaken by Christopher Columbus between 1492-1500 opened up what was known as the 'New World' for exploitation and colonisation by the states of Western Europe. He is known even to this day as the 'discoverer' of the New World despite confirmation that Leif Erikson's Vikings had already established a short-lived colony in Newfoundland around AD 1000.

In fact Columbus was piecing together accounts by many other sailors in regard to Atlantic currents and the strange lands that may have lain at the other end of them, although no one seems to have discovered how to make best use of the prevailing currents and winds. Columbus started this work before first seeking sponsorship in 1484. The eventual sponsor he did find for his voyages was the soon-to-be united throne of Spain, still energetic and enthusiastic for conquest after terminating the final Muslim state in Iberia itself. The growing might of the Ottoman empire was closing off access routes to the east, so a new route was needed: to the west.

Columbus first landed in the Bahamas on 12 October 1492, thinking all the time that he had reached China or Japan. This was due to his apparent miscalculations of distance which had resulted in him placing Japan on the globe in the region of the West Indies. Even so, he began a process of colonisation and empire-building on the part of Spain. On 28 October he made landfall on Cuba and, by 5 December 1492, he had reached western Hispaniola (modern Dominican Republic and Haiti), where he founded the colony of La Navidad and became its first viceroy.

This became the launch-pad for the creation of New Spain, formed when the greatest Aztec city, Tenochtitlan, was defeated in 1521 and Mexico City was formed as the new home for European dominance. European colonisation of central and South America could begin in earnest. By now a united monarchy, Spain had completed the first stage of its conquest of the South American continent, and a permanent form of governance for the massive new mainland territories was required on behalf of the crown. The initial conquest had been managed within a very short space of time, just four years or so from when the first expedition was sent into Mexica, but when it was complete, the former heartland of Spanish rule in the Americas, Hispaniola, lost much of its importance.

The process of establishing the viceroyalty of New Spain took until 1535. To avoid the risk of an adventurous conquistador forming his own breakaway kingdom in the conquered territories (namely Hernan Cortes, conqueror of the Aztecs), Charles I of Spain created the 'Council of the Indies' in 1524, and in 1527 the administration of New Spain was taken out of the hands of Cortes. The new form of administration by audiencia, essentially a royal committee, proved unwieldy, so in 1535 the first viceroy of New Spain was appointed with the audiencia to back him up. At its height, New Spain governed Spanish conquests in northern, southern, and Central America, the Caribbean, and a few territories in the Asia-Pacific region, claiming territory from northern California to Argentina.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Discovering the Chichimeca, Charlotte M Gradie (The Americas, Vol 51, No 1:67-88, 1994), from Codex Chimalpahin Vol 1: Society and Politics in Mexico Tenochtitlan, Tlatelolco, Texcoco, Culhuacan, and Other Nahua Altepetl in Central Mexico, concerning the writings of seventeenth century Nahua historian Chimalpahin Cuauhtlehuanitzin, otherwise known as Don Domingo Francisco de Antón Muñón, (Eds) Arthur J O Anderson, Susan Schroeder, & Wayne Ruwet (1997), from The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual, C E Bosworth (2004), from Enciclopedia de México, Bernardo de Gálvez (Mexico City, 1987, in Spanish), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Conquistadors sacrificed and eaten by Aztec-era people (The Guardian).)

1517 - 1519

Two expeditions are sent by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, first Spanish lieutenant-governor of Cuba, in 1517 and 1518 towards the Yucatan peninsula to discover and then trade with the Mayans. The first expedition, under Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, is perhaps surprised to witness the sophistication of the Mayans in comparison to the less developed natives the Spanish have so far encountered on the islands.

Hernan Cortes
Hernan Cortes parades before the defeated Aztecs following the final fall of the native empire and the beginnings of Spanish conquest of further regions of Central America

1519

The somewhat unreliable Spanish conquistador Hernan, or Hernando, Cortes is elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland from the colony of Cuba, just west of Hispaniola, an expedition which he partially funds. He and his force of 600 land in the Yucatan peninsula in Mayan territory, but they soon arrive at Tenochtitlan.

Emperor Moctezuma welcomes Cortes, thinking he is the legendary god-king, Quetzalcoatl, returned to claim his kingdom as he had prophesied. Some of his men claim that the city of Moctezuma (Montezuma) is one of the largest in the world, comparable to Paris and Venice. Cortes' second-in-command, Pedro de Alvarado, orders the 'Massacre of the Great Temple', finally spurring the Aztecs into resisting the conquistadors. Moctezuma is killed during the breakout from the city by Cortes and his men.

1520 - 1530

The Aztec city of Azcapotzalco is conquered by the foreign invaders in 1520. The following year sees the greatest Aztec city, Tenochtitlan, also defeated and subsumed within the empire, ending Aztec, or Mexica, civilisation. With that, the first phase of the Spanish conquest of the South American continent is completed and New Spain is effectively born.

Cortes becomes the first colonial ruler of the conquered territories until 1524 (and afterwards through a puppet figure), running his administration from Mexico City. Then the city is named as the capital of the 'Municipality of New Spain', and control of the new territories passes through many hands before the king of Spain organises an official viceroyalty. However, the Chichimecs themselves fiercely resist Spanish dominance. Their initial resistance results, in 1530, in the death of Andres de Tapia Motelchiuh, Spanish interim governor of the conquered territories.

Spanish conquistador and native slaves
The Spanish conquest of the Americas delivered vast resources in labour and slaves, but introduced infectious diseases that killed thousands of people who had no immunity to them

1527

The audiencia, a royal committee, is created to govern the newly conquered territories from Mexico City. This serves to relieve Cortes of his new domain over which he has already displayed a certain degree of possessiveness. The audiencia eventually embraces much of the present-day republic of Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico coastal region, along with Florida.

1532 - 1533

Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish governor of New Castile (the recently-discovered Peru) conquers the Inca empire, opening up vast new territories in South America. Pizarro is accompanied by his siblings, Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro.

1534 - 1535

The new governorate of Rio de la Plata is created to administer territories which remain overseen by Peru. The governor of Guatemala, Pedro de Alvarado, heads to the Andes, hoping to gain the rumoured riches of Peru, but he is warned off by the men of Francisco Pizarro. In the following year, 1535, with the audiencia proving to be unwieldy, the king of Spain appoints the first viceroy to take command of New Spain.

1535 - 1550

Antonio de Mendoza

First Spanish viceroy of New Spain. Peru 1550-1552.

1540 - 1543

Antonio de Mendoza vigorously encourages the exploration of all of Spain's new territories in the Americas. New areas are discovered, settled and conquered under the control of the viceroy, including the south-west, the western coast of Alta California, and the Philippine Islands. In 1542, a new viceroyalty is created in order to govern the vast Spanish conquests in Peru and replacing the earlier governorship.

During the course of the century, many new towns are established in northern and Central America. The province (or kingom) of Guatemala is established out of Chiapas, modern El Salvador, Guatemala, the territories of Honduras, and those of Nicaragua. While formally subject to New Spain, the region is administered separately as a matter of practicality. To its south, the 'New Kingdom of Granada' is created to encompass the territories covering modern northern and central Colombia, almost all of modern Ecuador and Costa Rica, plus the Panama territories, the northern areas of modern Venezuela, and north-western Guyana.

Incas confront conquistadors
The small number of conquistadors were able to defeat massively larger numbers in ferocious fighting thanks to their modern European weaponry

However, the going is not easy for the Spanish. The two year Mixtón War (1540-1542) sees the Caxcanes and other semi-nomadic natives of north-western Mexico fighting fiercely against the Spanish invaders and their allies, the Aztec and Tlaxcalan. The Caxcanes are usually categorised as Chichimecs. The war is named after Mixtón, a hill in southern Zacatecas state in Mexico which is used as a stronghold by the natives. The Caxanes are defeated and incorporated into New Spain, but various areas of resistance continue, leading into the Chichimeca War in 1550.

1550 - 1564

Luís de Velasco

Formerly viceroy of (Upper) Navarre. Died in office.

1550 & 1560

There are two Zapotec uprisings against Spanish colonial authority on these two dates, and it takes considerable effort on the part of the new masters of Central America to restore control. The Catholic Encyclopaedia regards these uprisings as attempts to revert to paganism.

1550 - 1591

Simultaneous to the Zapotec uprisings is the far more serious Chichimeca War. This sees the Spanish forces of New Spain fighting the Chichimec confederation in Mexico's lowlands, centred on the Bajio region. Being triggered eight years after the conclusion of the Mixtón War, it is largely a continuation of that conflict and near-unbroken unrest and resistance in between. The defeated Caxanes are now incorporated into the Spanish forces.

The Chichimecs are excellent and highly-deadly archers who inflict heavy casualties upon the invaders and their allies, and Spain is unable to defeat them fully. Instead a new colonial policy of gradual integration is pursued over the next three centuries, minimising organised resistance of this form.

Monte Alban
The Zapotec city of Monte Alban was founded around 500 BC as a new capital which overlooked the three valleys and gave its inhabitants a commanding position over them, remaining the Zapotec capital until around AD 1350 at the latest

1564 - 1566

Francisco Ceinos

Dean of the audiencia governing on an interim basis.

1566 - 1568

Gastón de Peralta

Recalled on false conspiracy charges. Acquitted.

1566 - 1568

Gastón de Peralta is falsely accused of sympathising with rebels who have been involved in conspiring to declare independence from Spain. On his way to take up his office he has some of the accused rebels saved from execution and sent back to Spain, while the military forces in Mexico City are largely stood down. In 1568, two visitadores (royal commissioners) arrive from Spain - Alonso Muñoz and Luis Carrillo - to send Peralta back to account for his actions.

1567 - 1568

Alonso Muñoz & Luis Carrillo

Royal commissioners ruling temporarily.

1568

Francisco Ceinos

Dean of the audiencia governing on an interim basis.

1568 - 1580

Martín Enríquez de Almanza

Spanish viceroy of New Spain. Viceroy of Peru (1581-1583).

1571 - 1574

The Inquisition arrives in New Spain, while also simultaneously setting up in Peru. By 1574 it is ready to begin hearing cases, with around two hundred people being processed in that year in New Spain alone. Most of them are burned alive in various plazas around Mexico City or in secret chambers.

1580 - 1583

Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza

Second cousin of Antonio de Mendoza, first viceroy. Died.

1583 - 1584

Luis de Villanueva y Zapata

Dean of the audiencia governing on an interim basis.

1584 - 1585

Pedro Moya de Contreras

First inquisitor-general. Now archbishop of Mexico.

1585 - 1590

Álvaro Manrique de Zúñiga

Made destitute for trying to control Guadalajara's audiencia.

1586 - 1587

English pirates continue to enjoy rich pickings from Spanish galleons which are heading home from the Philippines via Mexico. Sir Francis Drake himself captures Santa Ana on 15 October 1583, while the English corsair, Thomas Cavendish, take several more galleons and sacks Barra de Navidad (in Mexico's west coast state of Jalisco). As a way of combating at least some of these successes, the Pacific ports gain militia units and Spanish vessels become armed.

Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I of England turned a blind eye to English piracy around the New World, knowing full well that it was destabilising Spanish efforts to dominate the new continents (pictured by Steven van der Meulen and Steven van Herwijck, as seen at Tate Britain, London)

1590 - 1595

Luis de Velasco

Son of the first Velasco. Later viceroy of Peru (1596-1604).

1595 - 1603

Gaspar de Zúñiga y Acevedo

Spanish viceroy of New Spain (and of Peru 1604-1606).

1603 - 1607

Juan de Mendoza y Luna

Spanish viceroy of New Spain (and of Peru 1607-1615).

1607 - 1611

Luis de Velasco

Second term after acting as viceroy of Peru.

1609

Two years after promoting Cuba to the rank, the governorship of Guatemala is also raised to the position of captaincy general, in the hope that the region's greater level of autonomy will be able to halt increased pirate attacks.

1610 - 1611

The Japanese vessel, San Buena Ventura, arrives on Mexican shores, bringing with it an embassy which consists of the Franciscan friar, Luis Sotelo, and the Japanese trader and 'inventor', Tanaka Shōsuke. Viceroy Luis de Velasco agrees to send the famous explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, with a side-brief to locate legendary 'gold and silver islands' which supposedly lie to the east of Japan. The Japanese vessel is confiscated, with Velasco worried about competition developing across the Pacific.

Vizcaíno sails on 22 March 1611 along with the emissaries from Japan. They arrive on 16 June 1611, and Vizcaíno journeys to Edo to meet the shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada, and then his cloistered father, Tokugawa Ieyasu. On board the Japanese galleon, San Juan Bautista, Vizcaíno arrives back at Acapulco on 25 January 1614, accompanied by Hasekura Tsunenaga, the first Japanese ambassador to Spain.

1611 - 1612

García Guerra

Interim viceroy. Also archbishop of Mexico. Died.

1612

Pedro Otarola

Dean of the audiencia governing on an interim basis.

1612 - 1621

Diego Fernández de Córdoba

Spanish viceroy of New Spain (and of Peru 1622-1629).

1617

The region of the Yucatan peninsula is promoted as a captaincy general in its own right. Once again the idea is to give it more autonomy than it has previously received through a local governor who had answered to Mexico City. Another reason is to provide an extra layer of defence against possible incursion from enemy European powers. Puerto Rico has already been promoted in the same way and for the same reasons.

Aztec ruins in Mexico City
The Great Temple site in Mexico City - formerly Tenochtitlan and latterly the capital of New Spain - has revealed key discoveries about the lives and times of the Aztecs

1621

Paz de Valecillo

Dean of the audiencia governing on an interim basis.

1621 - 1624

Diego Carrillo de Mendoza y Pimentel

Effectively overthrown by popular revolt. Fled.

1624

Diego Carrillo de Mendoza manages to alienate almost all of his subjects by ordering work to cease on a major drainage project (the city floods at the next rains), and pursuing the archbishop of Mexico for apparently granting divorces too readily, although with a number of other complaints. His intention to have the archbishop removed leads to a public showdown in which the archbishop excommunicates him and rioters burn part of the viceroy's palace after he takes prisoners. The viceroy flees the city and soon returns to Spain.

1624 - 1635

Rodrigo Pacheco y Osorio

Profiteered, while finally completing drainage works.

1635 - 1640

Lope Díez de Armendáriz

Died after reaching Spain at the end of his term.

1635

Don Lope is the first 'Criollo', or European born in the colonies, to become viceroy of New Spain. In this case, Don Lope had been born in Peru in 1575. His period in office sees some expansion of the completed drainage works - vital when Mexico City had only recently been flooded for several years - but is accused of some irregularities.

1640 - 1642

Diego López Pacheco Cabrera

Arrested due to Portuguese ancestry and sent to Spain.

1640

The Portuguese aristocracy, frustrated by Habsburg rule from Spain, offers the crown to John of Braganza and the country reasserts its independence. The protracted Portuguese Restoration War (or Acclamation War) is triggered by John's accession to the throne. It only ends when Portuguese independence is fully recognised in 1668.

Battle of Monte Claros, 1665
The Battle of Monte Claros on 17 June 1665 took place in the third stage of the war between Portugal and Spain, when the Spanish king attempted a sledgehammer approach to cracking the Portuguese nut, although Monte Claros delivered Spain a very bloody nose which effectively terminated the prospect of any further major engamements

1642

Juan de Palafox y Mendoza

Interim viceroy. Also archbishop of Puebla & Mexico.

1642 - 1648

García Sarmiento de Sotomayor

Spanish viceroy of New Spain (and of Peru 1648-1655).

1648 - 1649

Marcos de Torres y Rueda

Interim viceroy. Also bishop of Yucatan. Died in office.

1649 - 1650

Matias de Peralta

Interim viceroy. Also dean of the audiencia.

1650 - 1653

Luis Enríquez de Guzmán

Spanish viceroy of New Spain (and of Peru 1655-1661).

1653 - 1660

Francisco Fernández de la Cueva

Son-in-law of Armendáriz. Later viceroy of Sicily (1668-1670).

1655

English troops take Jamaica from New Spain, adding it to their New World Colonies and making it a hub for rum production and slave trading. It also allows renewed contact with the Mosquito Coast.

1660 - 1664

Juan de Leyva de la Cerda

Recalled due to accusations of greed and self-interest.

1664

Diego Osorio de Escobar y Llamas

Interim viceroy, 4 mths. Also archbishop of Puebla.

1664 - 1673

Antonio Sebastián de Toledo

Spanish viceroy of New Spain. Died 1715.

1668

The English pirate, Robert Searle, sacks and destroys the plaza of St Augustine in Spanish Florida. Amongst the items he seizes as booty is the payroll which had been intended for the garrison. Viceroy Antonio Sebastián de Toledo reorganises the Armada de Barlovento (the coastal defence fleet) and organises the construction of newer, faster vessels. With the treasury already depleted by war against Britain, New Spain is almost bankrupted by the expense.

Taino native peoples
The Taino natives lived on Hispaniola, plus Cuba and Puerto Rica, for over nine hundred years before the coming of the Spanish colonists

1673

Pedro Nuño Colón de Portugal

Died after five days in office - the shortest term ever.

1673

Don Pedro Nuño Colón de Portugal is a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus, discoverer of the Spanish Americas and first viceroy of the Indies at Hispaniola. Unfortunately Don Pedro dies just five days after taking up his post, albeit having delayed taking it up by over two months, partially for reasons of health.

1673 - 1680

Payo Enríquez de Rivera

Spanish viceroy. Also archbishop of Mexico. Died 1684.

1680 - 1686

Tomás Antonio de la Cerda y Aragon

Spanish viceroy. Died 1692.

1680

Tomás Antonio de la Cerda y Aragon takes up his post just in time for the Pueblo Revolt (or Popé's Revolt, the name of the revolt's leader). A total of 25,000 Pueblo Indians in New Mexico are involved, killing any Europeans they encounter. Despite mounting a surprise attack on the province's capital, Santa Fe, that is defeated. The subsequent siege of ten days sees any remaining Spanish flee to Paso del Norte (now Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua). It takes the Spanish twelve years to reconquer the region.

1686 - 1688

Melchor Portocarrero

Spanish viceroy of New Spain (and of Peru 1689-1705).

1688 - 1696

Gaspar de la Cerda Sandoval Silva

Spanish viceroy of New Spain. Died 1697 (aged 43).

1691

The threat of French encroachment from the New French colony of Louisiana had become apparent in 1688, when a small band of French adventurers had been found building a fort in the Bay of San Bernardo (Espiritu Santo). Having halted that little scheme, New Spain now establishes its first presence in Texas, although these early missions quickly fail.

San Jose Mission
The mission at San Jose was one of Spain's attempts to colonise the Texas region in response to French interest from the Louisiana colony

1696

Juan Ortega y Montañés

Interim viceroy of New Spain. Later archbishop of Mexico.

1696 - 1701

José Sarmiento y Valladares

Spanish viceroy of New Spain. Habsburg supporter.

1700 - 1702

By 1702 Spain has become involved in the War of Succession as Austria, Britain, and Portugal dispute the Bourbon accession of Philip V. The conclusion of the war in 1715 sees Spain giving up Milan, Naples, Sardinia, and the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) to Austria, and Sicily to the duchy of Savoy. However, the open supporter of the Habsburgs, Viceroy José Sarmiento y Valladares, has already been removed from his post and replaced by the archbishop of Mexico in his second term as interim viceroy.

1701 - 1702

Juan Ortega y Montañés

Interim viceroy of New Spain. Archbishop of Mexico.

1702 - 1711

Francisco Fernández de la Cueva

First Spanish viceroy of New Spain appointed by Bourbons.

1711 - 1716

Fernando de Alencastre

Spanish viceroy of New Spain. Died 1717.

1715 - 1718

The final uprising by the Zapotec peoples takes place against Spanish colonial authority. In the same year an insurrection breaks out in the garrison of San Juan de Ulúa, near Veracruz. The problem is infrequent wages due to the latter days of the War of Succession.

New missions are established in Texas in 1716 to create a buffer zone between it and the New French colony of Louisiana. These are followed in 1718 by the first European settlement in Texas, at San Antonio. However, New Spain will spend much of the eighteenth century weathering increasing attacks by the British primarily, but also by other Europeans who are now firmly established in the Gulf of Mexico.

Louisiana
One of the earliest Spanish areas of exploration in North America, Louisiana provided more of a challenge than had New Spain, with native groups proving quite hostile and New France eager to dominate there

1716 - 1722

Baltasar de Zúñiga y Guzman

Former viceroy of Sardinia (1704-1706). Died 1727.

1722 - 1734

Juan de Acuña

Spanish viceroy. Born in the New World. Died in office.

1734 - 1740

Juan Antonio de Vizarrón y Eguiarreta

Also archbishop of Mexico. Died 1747.

1740 - 1741

Pedro de Castro y Figueroa

Spanish viceroy. Killed by dysentery.

1741 - 1742

Pedro Malo de Villavicencio

Interim viceroy of New Spain. President of the audiencia.

1742 - 1746

Pedro Cebrián y Agustín

Spanish viceroy. Resigned due to illness. Died 1752.

1746 - 1755

Juan Francisco de Güemes

Spanish viceroy. Died 1766.

1755 - 1760

Agustín de Ahumada y Villalón

Spanish viceroy. Died in office.

1760

Francisco Antonio de Echavarri

Also dean of the audiencia.

1760

Francisco Cajigal de la Vega

Previously captain general of Cuba (1747-1760).

1760 - 1766

Joaquín de Montserrat

Spanish viceroy. Died 1771.

1762 - 1763

Spain had entered the Seven Years' War on the side of France in 1756. Now, in 1762, Havana on Cuba is seized and looted on 13 August by the British. The island is governed by the British between 1762 and 1763, but is restored to Spain on 6 July, in exchange for Florida.

General James Wolfe
General James Wolfe completed his victory over the French as part of the Seven Years' War, gaining New France for Britain as a result, but the war became a far wider conflict

Having been forced to admit defeat in New France and formally hand over its territory to Britain at the end of the Seven Years' War, the French cede its remnants - the vast and wild Louisiana Territory (stretching from modern Louisiana to Canada) to Spain, only to take it back again in 1800 under the Treaty of San Iidefonso.

1766 - 1771

Carlos Francisco de Croix

Spanish viceroy. Died 1786.

1771 - 1779

Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa

Previously capt-gen of Cuba (1766-1771). Died in office.

1779

Francisco Romáy Rosell

Interim viceroy. Also regent of the audiencia.

1779 - 1783

Martín de Mayorga

Previously captain general of Guatemala (1773-1779).

1779 - 1783

Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Spanish Louisiana and founder of Galveston, Texas, invades West Florida as soon as he can after Spain declares war on Britain on 21 June 1779. He lays siege to Mobile's Fort Charlotte in March 1780, taking it after a strongly-defended thirteen day siege by former governor, Elias Durnford. Then Jose de Ezpeleta attacks the Pensacola garrison and Britain's native allies from Mobile.

As West Florida's last stronghold, Pensacola surrenders to Gálvez in May 1781, ending British rule there. The province is occupied for the next two years and as part of the Treaty of Paris which marks the end of the American Revolutionary War, Britain cedes West Florida back to Spain in 1783.

1783 - 1784

Matías de Gálvez

Previously captain general of Guatemala (1779-1783). Died.

1784 - 1785

Vicente de Herrera y Rivero

Interim viceroy. Also regent of the audiencia.

1785 - 1786

Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid

Son of Matías de Gálvez. Formerly in Louisiana. Died.

1786 - 1787

Eusebio Sanchez Pareja y Beleno

Interim viceroy. Also regent of the audiencia.

1787

Alonso Núñez de Haro y Peralta

Interim May-Aug. Also archbishop of Mexico. Died 1800.

1787 - 1789

Manuel Antonio Flórez Maldonado

Former viceroy of New Granada (1776-1781). Died 1799.

1789 - 1794

Juan Vicente de Güemes

Son of Juan Francisco (1746). Born on Cuba. Died 1799.

1794

After having one of the best viceroys in office - Güemes - New Spain now hosts its undisputed worst: Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca. His term of office is one of avarice and greed on his part, skimming funds from just about every source of income and seizing the property of all French colonists both in New Spain and Spanish Louisiana. What he doesn't keep for himself during the disturbances caused by war against France he passes to his equally corrupt superior, Spanish Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy. The viceroyalty is taken on a downwards path from which it never recovers.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas in Colombia
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas in Ipiales is an example of early twentieth century architecture in ex-colonial New Granada, but it clearly continues an established tradition of colonial building

1794 - 1798

Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca

Spanish viceroy. Recalled due to dishonesty. Died 1812.

1794 - 1795

After becoming a member of the First Coalition against revolutionary France, Spain withdraws from the war once it sees which way the wind is blowing, with France seemingly unstoppable on the battlefield. As part of a separate peace deal that Spain agrees with France - the Treaty of Basel - the country is forced to cede the entire island of Hispaniola.

1798 - 1800

Miguel José de Azanza

Spanish viceroy. Died 1826.

1800 - 1803

Félix Berenguer de Marquina

Former governor-general of the Philippines. Died 1826.

1803 - 1808

José de Iturrigaray

Deposed, sent to Spain, and freed. Died 1815.

1806

The USA asks the viceroy to remove his Spanish troops from New Orleans in Louisiana so that it can take possession of the area up to the River Sabine. The viceroy agrees and the troops are removed. By this stage New Spain already encompasses Mexico, plus Arizona, California (except the north, which is part of Russian America), parts of Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and areas of Colorado, Oregon, and Wyoming.

Mississippi Queen river boat
New Orleans and the Mississippi basin have been the home to very distinctive paddle boats, such as this one, the Mississippi Queen, since their invention by Robert Fulton in 1807

1808

The lack of a king in French-occupied Spain creates instability in New Spain, and at the end of a turbulent year, the viceroy is deposed. Pedro de Garibay is appointed by the Audiencia and recognises the authority of the Junta of Seville in Spain, following its directives while Joseph Bonaparte is puppet king of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. The coup against the viceroy is seen by the pro-independence party in New Spain as a final break with the old country, and agitation and political manoeuvring begins to edge the colony towards independence.

1808 - 1809

Pedro de Garibay

Controlled by the audiencia. Died 1815.

1809

The supreme junta of Spain replaces Don Pedro with the archbishop of Mexico after just ten months in office. New Spain is now rife with pro-independence and pro-Spain factions, each attempting to manoeuvre themselves into prime position, albeit without too great a degree of violence at this stage.

1809 - 1810

Francisco Javier de Lizana y Beaumont

Pro-Spain candidate. Archbishop of Mexico. Died 1815.

1810

Pedro Catani

Interim viceroy after Lizana's removal. Audiencia member.

1810 - 1813

Francisco Javier Venegas

Withdrawn over differences with pro-Spanish. Died 1838.

1810 - 1811

Two days after Don Francisco takes office, the insurrection against Spanish control of New Spain ignites with the cry, 'Long live Independence! Long live America! Death to bad government!' The first phase of the war ends in defeat for the rebels and the execution of most of their leaders. However, new rebel leaders soon spring up and the countryside is full of armed groups.

Spain's American colonies declare independence in 1811
Thanks to France's occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars, Spain's colonies in the Americas quickly took the opportunity to declare their independence

1813 - 1816

Félix María Calleja del Rey

Rebuilt armed forces. Strengthened New Spain. Died 1828.

1815 - 1817

The coffers are empty, the Spanish army in New Spain is poorly paid (or not paid at all), and equipment is sorely lacking. General Félix María Calleja turns the situation around and rebuilds New Spain so that it can offer a strong defence against the increasingly vociforous and well-armed pro-independence groups.

However, following four years of occasionally heavy fighting, a new rebel leader appears in the south. Don Felix, his rule becoming ever more dictatorial, is relieved of his position. His replacement apparently ends the insurrection.

1816 - 1821

Juan Ruiz de Apodaca

Previously capt-general of Cuba. Deposed by royalist coup.

1818 - 1819

With the USA keen to support the rebels, William Robinson occupies Altamira and Tampico but is taken prisoner by royalists and is sent to Cadiz. He escapes at Gibraltar with British help but as a consequence Spain and the United States sign the Adams-Onis Treaty on 22 February 1819. This establishes the border between the two countries, with the US gaining Florida and renouncing its claim to Texas, and Spain renouncing its claim to Oregon.

1821

Francisco Novella Azabal

Army general, created interim viceroy for 2 weeks.

1821

Juan O'Donojú y O'Rian

Cpt-gen of New Spain. Died 10 days after independence.

1821

New Spain as a whole achieves independence from Spain, bringing three hundred years of governance of the colonies to an end. The name of the capital city and seat of the government of New Spain, Mexico, is applied to the whole country. Juan O'Donoju uses diplomacy to withdraw Spanish troops with the minimum of bloodshed.

Simon Bolivar
Simon Bolivar was proclaimed 'the Liberator' for his work in freeing much of South America from Spanish colonial control, although his attempts to forge a new 'super-state' from the former colonies came to nothing

Spain is left only with its Caribbean territories (including Cuba and Puerto Rico). Hispaniola is entirely lost in 1822 and Peru in 1824. On 3 October 1821, the captaincy general of Guatemala (which is formed of Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) is annexed to the newly-formed Mexican empire.

Mexican Empire
AD 1822 - 1823

The process of establishing the viceroyalty of New Spain out of the conquered empire of the Aztecs took until 1535. Charles I of Spain created the 'Council of the Indies' in 1524, and in 1527 the administration of New Spain was taken out of the hands of the somewhat unreliable conqueror of Mexico City, Hernan Cortes. The new form of administration by audiencia, essentially a royal committee, proved unwieldy, so in 1535 the first viceroy of New Spain was appointed instead. Spain's conquest and occupation by the French Empire at the start of the nineteenth century badly damaged the Spanish throne's prestige and credibility when it came to the colonies in the Americas. New Spain itself was almost broke by 1815, although reforms did improve the situation to an extent. What they did not do was halt the increasing rebellions and a sense amongst Europeans living in the Americas that independent rule of the colonies was now the preferred option. What is now Mexico was born out of New Spain in a gradual process of opposition from the point at which the first rebellion began in 1810.

Full independence came in 1821 when all of Central America was freed from Bourbon Spanish control. The last viceroy of New Spain in Mexico signed the 'Act of Independence' on 28 September 1821, handing power to the leader of the rebellion, military leader Agustín de Iturbide. Initially the idea was to establish a separate dominion which would have its own legislative body but would recognise the king of Spain as its head of state. When he refused to recognise Mexican independence and also blocked it from approaching any other member of the Bourbons to ask them to become head of state, Iturbide's own supporters promoted the idea of him becoming the head of a constitutional monarchy. The official coronation date was 21 July 1822.

Agustín de Iturbide had built a strong and relatively stable military coalition during the Mexican War of Independence. However, in the lead up to it he had been accused of various excesses against rebellious civilians, and was well know to hold strong views against their anti-monarchists leanings. His accession as emperor of Mexico was seen by many as a power grab, while others viewed it as a practical solution to the fact that no one more qualified would take on such a role (certainly not any members of the European nobility, while the nobility in Mexico could find no one who would engender the necessary level of support). Modern opinion seems to support the latter view, noting that he went out of his way to set up a system which would accept a European noble as head of state rather than him as emperor.

On 3 October 1821, the captaincy general of Guatemala (Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) was also joined to Mexico, and subsequently to the empire. Mexico therefore originally encompassed not only modern Mexico and the states of Guatemala, but also Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, plus areas of Colorado and Wyoming and all of Central America except modern Panama (part of Gran Colombia) and Belize. However, northernmost California was part of Russian America and was entirely out of Mexican control, despite claims to the contrary. In 1823, the component states of Guatemala all departed from the Mexican empire, leaving it much diminished in terms of territory.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Mick Baker, from Baranov, Chief Manager of the Russian Colonies in America, K T Khlebnikov (The Limestone Press, 1973), from Russians in Alaska, Lydia Black (University of Alaska Press, 2014), from France, Mexico and Informal Empire in Latin America, Edward Shawcross (Springer International, 2018), and from External Link: Russian assimilation of America and Alaska (in Russian).)

1822 - 1823

Agustin / Augustin

First constitutional emperor of Mexico. Abdicated. Executed.

1823 - 1824

Having tried to run the country as he had previously run his military forces as a Spanish officer, Agustín de Iturbide is forced to abdicate the throne in the face of increasing opposition. A republic is declared. Despite being threatened with death should he ever return to Mexico, he does so in 1824 in an attempt to calm growing instability in the country. He is immediately arrested and is soon executed. All the countries of the former captaincy general of Guatemala leave Mexican control, forming the federal republic of Central America.

Emperor Augustin
Augustin de Iturbide, a former Spanish general of the Independence War, was selected by congress to be the first emperor of Mexico

With a republic having been declared in Mexico, a constitution is drawn up which places an elected president as the head of state. Opposing points of view about how the government should be organised lead to constant strife in the new republic, however, continuing the instability that Agustín de Iturbide had attempted to calm prior to his arrest.

Mexican Republics
AD 1824 - 1864
Incorporating the United States of Mexico, First Mexican Republic, Centrist Republic of Mexico, & Second Mexican Republic

Independence for Mexico was achieved in 1821 when all of New Spain was freed from Bourbon Spanish control. Power was handed to the leader of the rebellion, General Agustín de Iturbide. When the king of Spain refused to recognise Mexican independence and also blocked Mexican leaders from approaching any other member of the Bourbons to ask them to become the head of state for the new state, Iturbide's own supporters promoted the idea of him becoming the head of a constitutional monarchy.

Iturbide's accession as the titular head of the Mexican empire on 21 July 1822 was immediately followed by members of the nobility conspiring against him (one of whom was former coalition ally General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna). He imposed high taxes, abolished some former colonial taxes to enhance his popularity, and lived lavishly, thereby adding fuel to the fire. Worse was to come in 1823, when all of the countries of the former captaincy general of Guatemala left Mexican control to form the federal republic of Central America. Mexico's now-diminished empire lasted all of a year or so, before opposition to Iturbide - including military actions in which Santa Anna was involved on the republican side - forced his abdication and a republic could be declared.

The new state was known alternatively as the 'First (Federal) Mexican Republic' or the 'United States of Mexico'. A republican constitution was drawn up with an elected president as the head of state, but actually getting a president into office could be a feat in itself (see 1828-1829, below). Opposing points of view about how the government should be organised led to constant strife, driven on by severe financial instability. In 1835, Santa Anna approved a radical amendment (enacted in 1836) which ended the federal 'First Republic' and replaced it with the unitary 'Centrist Republic of Mexico'. His 'Seven Laws' failed to prove operational though, and were abandoned in 1841 when Santa Anna became a full-blown dictator. Even that did not work, so that in 1846 he was removed from power and the 1824 constitution was re-imposed, this time for the Second (Federal) Mexican Republic. Heirs and claimants to the lost Mexican throne are shown below with a shaded background.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Mick Baker, from Baranov, Chief Manager of the Russian Colonies in America, K T Khlebnikov (The Limestone Press, 1973), from Russians in Alaska, Lydia Black (University of Alaska Press, 2014), from France, Mexico and Informal Empire in Latin America, Edward Shawcross (Springer International, 2018), and from External Link: Russian assimilation of America and Alaska (in Russian).)

1824 - 1864

Prince Agustin Jeronimo

Heir and titular Mexican emperor upon his father's death.

1828 - 1829

The 1828 election generates a good deal of political turmoil. Conservative urban white elites are generally pitched against the darker populations of the smaller towns and countryside. The moderate candidate, Manuel Gómez Pedraza, defeats the liberal, Vicente Guerrero, in the indirect presidential election for state legislatures, but Guerrero's supporters force the new president-elect to resign, which nullifies the election. Guerrero himself is inaugurated president in April 1829, before being forced out of office by conservatives in December 1829 and later kidnapped, tried, and judicially murdered.

Map of Central America in the 1830s
The Federal Republic of Central America (lost to Mexico in 1823) lasted until 1841, by which time Mexico had grabbed much of Chiapas and the republic itself dissolved into the separate nation states known today, while British troops occupied eastern Belize (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1835 - 1836

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna suspends the 1824 constitution and the 'First (Federal) Mexican Republic', and civil war erupts in Mexico in opposition to his hard-line form of centralist dictatorship under the 'Centrist Republic of Mexico'. The country begins to fragment, with Texas declaring itself an independent republic. Alta California also rebels, along with a host of other regions.

1836 - 1855

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

Dictatorial military president. Resigned & fled to Colombia.

1836

Santa Anna's troops massacre the American garrison at the Alamo to ensure that Mexico retains most of Texas, but the north-eastern core becomes independent. Santa Anna does not retain permanent control of Mexico, despite repeated attempts to do so, but over the course of his two decades in politics he is usually to be found in control of the country as a whole.

1840 - 1843

Mexico takes advantage of the civil war in the federal republic of Central America and grabs eastern Chiapas. However, elsewhere in Mexico in 1840, further fragmentation occurs when Rio Grande and Yucatan both declare themselves to be independent republics. The Rio Grande republic rejoins Mexico in the same year, but Yucatan holds out until December 1843. After defeating Mexico in battle it negotiates a level of self-rule in return for rejoining the republic, by which time (since 1841) Santa Anna has assumed the role of full-blown dictator of Mexico (albeit with 'elected' breaks in which others are nominally in office as president of Mexico).

General Santa Anna storms the Alamo
General Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón - or more generally, Santa Anna - was a key figure in Mexico's tangled politics between 1821 and his resignation and escape in 1855, but he will always be best remembered for stroming the Alamo in Texas

1845 - 1848

The USA annexes the remaining disputed territory of Texas, triggering the Mexican-American War in 1846. Yucatan again proclaims its independence but suffers an internal revolt of its Mayan people. Mexico accepts defeat in the war in 1848, permanently losing Texas as a result.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico also loses Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, and a new, permanent border is drawn along the Rio Grande. Santa Anna's days as dictatorial ruler are also numbered, with the country re-introducing a federal form of government and restoring the 1824 constitution for the Second (Federal) Mexican Republic. That same government provides help to Yucatan and it rejoins the republic.

1861 - 1864

The country is invaded and occupied by France during the Franco-Mexican War (or French Intervention), with material support from Spain via Cuba, and by Britain. The invasion is successful, establishing a new empire in Mexico, but the British and Spanish quickly pull out when they realise this is France's aim.

With the end of the Mexican republic of 1848 in sight in 1864, Prince Agustin Jeronimo, son of the late 'First Mexican' emperor, approves the adoption of his nephews, Agustin and Salvador, by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria. Maximilian himself is the new ruler of the country under the banner of the Second Mexican empire.

Second Mexican Empire
AD 1864 - 1867

Mexico was born out of the Spanish colonial structure of New Spain. The first rebellion against colonial rule began in 1810, while Spain itself was a subject state of Napoleon Bonaparte's French First Empire. Mexican independence came in 1821 when all of Central America was freed, and the last viceroy of New Spain in Mexico signed the Act of Independence on 28 September 1821. Following a union of territories on 3 October 1821, Mexico originally encompassed not only modern Mexico, but also Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, plus areas of Colorado and Wyoming and all of Central America except modern Panama (part of Gran Colombia) and Belize.

The formation of a Mexican First Empire in 1822 lasted for all of a year before being replaced by a republic. Between 1845-1848 the USA was busy annexing the remaining disputed territory of Texas, while the other North American territories had already been lost in all but name. The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 continued this pattern, with Mexico acknowledging the loss of Texas. Under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico also gave up its claims on Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, and a new, permanent border was drawn along the Rio Grande.

Then the country was invaded by imperial France in 1862 under the pretence of collecting overdue loans. Ferdinand Maximilian, a Habsburg archduke from Austria, was established on the throne of a second Mexican empire in 1864 by conservative elements who wanted to introduce a permanent monarchy. He had as his consort Charlotte (or Carlotta), daughter of Leopold I of the Belgians. This empire was almost as short-lived as its predecessor, being beset by constant conflict and with the populace viewing their emperor as a French puppet. Benito Juarez, the last of the republican-era presidents, managed to reclaim his country and restore the republic just three years later.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from A Concise History of Austria, Steven Beller (Cambridge University Press, 2006), from The Diplomacy of the Mexican Empire, 1863-1867, Arnold Blumbeg (Krueger, 1987), from History of Mexico, Volume VI 1861-1887, Hubert Howe Bancroft (The History Company, 1887), from Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico, M M McAllen (Trinity University Press, 2015), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Austria, the Official Travel Guide.)

1864 - 1867

Maximilian

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria. Executed.

1864 - 1867

Maximilian attempts to govern a country that is far from united, with many elements wanting him removed altogether. He also alienates his more conservative supporters with his more liberal ideas. He attempts to pass sweeping liberal reforms for the country, but the USA refuses to recognise his government. Following the conclusion of the American Civil War in 1865 the USA starts supporting the Mexican opposition, notably the republican forces. The French begin to lose heart, withdrawing their forces in 1866.

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria, Emperor Maximilian of Mexico
Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria accepted the offer of 1863 by a Mexican delegation (on the right here) to become emperor of Mexico, with the meeting taking place at Miramare Castle near Trieste in Italy

1867

Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green

Grandson of Agustin. Maximilian's heir in modern Mexico.

1867

The war against his governance comes to an end, with the republicans restored to power. Maximilian is executed by firing squad on the orders of Benito Juarez in an attempt to dissuade any further foreign efforts to colonise Mexico. Shortly before being captured, Maximilian sends his two adopted heirs to safety where they form a Mexican royal family in exile. Any claim to Maximilian's lost throne is inherited by Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green, although the claim is not pursued to any great extent in modern Mexico.

Modern Mexico
AD 1867 - Present Day
Incorporating the Restored Republic

Officially titled the United Mexican States, the modern federal republic of Mexico sits in the upper-central area of Central America. It borders the USA to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the south, with the Gulf of Mexico on its eastern flank and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It comprises thirty-one states and one federal district - the populous capital city itself. Following the Second Empire period, the beginnings of modern Mexico saw the country enjoy a stable economy alongside the less enjoyable spectre of inequality and repression. That initial period, between 1867-1876, was known as the Restored Republic period.

The territory within Mexico's modern borders previously formed homelands for a large number of competing pre-Columbian groups, including the Aztecs, Chichimecs, Mayans, Mixtecs, Olmecs, Tepanecs. Toltecs, and Zapotecs. Zapotec civilisation first appeared from around 500 BC. All of these groups survived until the arrival of the Spanish, although by then they were largely dominated by the Aztecs. When the Second Empire's ruler, Maximilian, adopted the grandsons of the First Empire's ruler, he established a royal house which would be able to claim the title long after his death and Mexico's permanent return to a republic. The head of the imperial house fled first to Britain and then to the USA, but the House of Iturbide still holds a claim to its former royal seat (although they have not actually made any public demands for a restoration of monarchy). Successive claimants to the throne (whether or not a claim has actually been made) are shown with a shaded background.

Modern Mexico has the second-largest economy in Latin America and is a major oil producer and exporter. Though production has fallen in the last few years, about one-third of government revenue still comes from the industry. Much of the crude oil is bought by the USA. However, prosperity remains a dream for many Mexicans, and the socio-economic gap remains wide. Rural areas are often neglected and huge shanty towns ring the cities. In recent decades many poor Mexicans have sought to cross the three thousand kilometre border with the US in search of work. At one point more than a million were being arrested every year trying to make the crossing, but since 2007 there appears to have been a dramatic fall in numbers, mainly attributed to changing demographics in Mexico itself. However, the problems posed by illegal migration across this border have been used by some politicians in the USA to encourage a 'wall building' mentality there.

Mexico City

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Last Door: Political Prisoners and the Use of Torture in Mexico's Dirty War, Gladys McCormick (Americas, No 74 (1): 60, January 2017), from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Women in Power: 1900 (dead link), and Rinde AMLO protesta como 'presidente legítimo' (El Universal, in Spanish), and Vicente Fox applauds PAN for alliances with PRI and PRD (Off The Bus).)

1867 - 1925

Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green

Maximilian's heir. Died a professor of languages in USA.

1876 - 1911

A republican general during the French 'Second Empire' intervention by the name of Porfirio Díaz is elected as Mexico's twenty-ninth president in 1876. This ends the Restored Republic period and begins the three-decade 'Porfiriato' period which sees Mexico recover from its occupation and greatly prosper under stable government.

1898

Spain loses the Spanish-American War. With that it also loses much of the Spanish Caribbean, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Spanish East Indies (including the Marianna Islands, and the Philippines to the USA).

1910 - 1911

The 'Porfiriato' may have delivered economic prosperity to Mexico but it has also overseen growing inequality and political repression. President Diaz is re-elected after changing his mind about an announced retirement but electoral fraud is alleged and he is forced into exile in France. The resultant political crises sparks the Mexican Revolution. New elections see a return to peace for just two years.

Mexican Revolution 1910
The Mexican Revolution rumbled on from 1910 until 1920, with sporadic bursts of peace although it generally faded out after 1917, by which time it had already resulted in positive changes in the country

1913 - 1917

The new president (elected in 1911) is assassinated in a coup which is led by a conservative general named Victoriana Huerta. This re-ignites the civil war, involving now-legendary characters such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, each leading their own small armies. Another, official army led by Venustiano Carranza ends the war and introduces a reformist constitution in 1917.

Mexico maintains neutrality during the First World War, fuelling suspicion that the government has been bribed by imperial Germany. However, it ignores a German proposal which is made public on 1 March 1917 which offers Mexico the US states of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico if the US joins the Allies in the conflict.

1920 - 1928

Two more presidents are assassinated in 1920 and 1928, but in essence the country remains stable. In the middle of this period the man selected by Maximilian as his adopted heir, Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green, dies without having produced an heir. His position as head of the imperial House of Mexico passes to his cousin's daughter, María Josepha Sophia de Iturbide.

1925 - 1949

Princess Maria Josepha de Iturbide

Niece of Agustin. Played no political role. Died in Romania.

1941 - 1945

During the Second World War, Mexico supplies raw materials to the USA as one of the allied nations in opposition to the Axis powers. Following the sinking of a Mexican tanker, the country declares war against Germany in June 1942.

Mexico City
The heart of the historic colonial centre of Mexico City is the Zócalo (main plaza), the largest of its kind in South America, which dates from the sixteenth century and was built over the ruins of Tenochtitlan

1949

Royal claimant Princess Maria and her second husband die in mysterious circumstances shortly after being interned by the Romanian communist government. Her will passes the claim to the throne to her only grandson, Prince Maximilian (better known as Count Maximilian von Götzen-Iturbide or, professionally, as Richard von Götzen).

1949 - Present

Prince Maximilian von Götzen-Iturbide

Grandson of Maria. Born 2 Mar 1944. Largely lives in the UK.

1968

The Tlatelolco Massacre involves the killing of students and civilians by police and the military on 2 October 1968. The dead have been taking part in protests that are taking place in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City. Overall, these events are part of the Mexican Dirty War, an offshoot of the Cold War, during which the US-backed government suppresses political opposition by means of intimidation and disappearances.

1994

In the midst of a currency crisis in the country, the Zapatista Army of Liberation declares war against the Mexican government. The uprising sweeps through the southern state of Chiapas and at least 150 people die during the government's pacification of the region.

2000 - 2006

For the first time since 1929 an opposition party wins the presidential election. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (or National Action Party, a centre-right party which had been founded in 1939) gains power for six years.

Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico
Even as a former president of Mexico, having won the election of 2000 for a term of six years in office, Vincent Fox (Vicente Fox Quesada) was still rallying the opposition against the - by 2020 - ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA)

2006 - 2018

A bitterly-fought presidential election in 2006 results in an immediate return to power for the National Action Party after weeks of legal wrangling over the results, albeit by a very narrow margin. The once-powerful PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) suffers its worst-ever results to date, coming third overall. However, the PRI is returned to power in 2012, only to suffer even worse results in the 2018 elections. The 2018 elections also mark one of the most violent election campaigns in Mexico's somewhat chequered democratic history.

Prince Ferdinand von Götzen-Iturbide

Son of Maximilian and heir. Born 1992.