First Civilizations Currently, very little is known about ancient civilizations that populated Mexico before Aztecs came and whipped them out. Scientist have to guess what kind of culture they had or for how long the territory of Mexico has been populated. Archaeologists continue to discover even older civilizations. First humans came to Mexico around 40000 – 5000 B.C.E. from Siberia. Nomads first populated Alaska and the, when the ice-age came, they moving South all the way to the territory what is now Mexico. The tropical forests supplied them with a plenty of plants and animals. Agriculture took place a little bit later in ancient Mexico then in Middle East. Due to the good living condition early culture there was evolving very rapidly. A lot of archeological evidence suggest that specialization occurred very early among these ancient populations. They mostly ate beans, corn, meat, used utensils, weapons, calendar, farmed sheep, goats, and pigs. Because they could not domesticate any large animals, the only use they had for a wheel is making children’s toys. By 1000 B.C.E. their civilization was pretty advanced. Life of Early Mesoamerican civilizations
First Civilizations OLMECS (1400 -400 B.C.E) Olmecs were first humans to live in Mesoamerica. They lived around 1500 to 400 B.C.E. In their sculptures that archeologists found, some of the people are wearing helmets. That is why Europeans wondered if first Olmecs came from Mars or from Africa . The oldest ancient pyramids found in modern Mexico belonged to Olmecs. Currently, most anthropologists agree that Olmecs were the civilization that gave rise to the later civilizations. MAYANS (2600 B.C – PRESENT) Mayans inherited big part of Olmecs’ culture and considered one of the most developed civilizations of Mesoamerica. They also had calendar, writing, first sciences, and very rich culture. They had sophisticated architecture, crafts, and art. Mayans worshiped the sun-god Itzamná. A typical Mayan city was a shopping place and a worship place. The majority of the population was living in villages, farmed, and came to the cities only to trade. They mostly grew cocoa and cotton for trade, had boarding schools, and buried their dead in a ceremony. Mayan civilization peaked around 400-900 A.D. This period is called Mayan Classical period because their crafts and art reached high sophistication. According to the archaeological data, during that time they had distinct social classes, government, professions, and a monarchy. After that time Mayans civilization declined and then collapsed economically and politically because their population became too large and there was just not enough food.
First Civilizations ATZTECS (1400 -400 B.C.E) Aztecs were another Mesoamerican civilization that lived there later. They were not as developed as Europeans yet possessed technology and rich culture. They also had social classes and distinct gender roles. Aztec women were mostly homemakers while men were occupied in farming or crafts. They did not have currency yet processed very complex trade where currency was feathers and flowers. Archaeologists have found numerous ancient markets which were run by women who, in Aztec society, had a lot of rights. Aztecs produced a lot of art and used metal work. Their tools were quite advance too. Aztecs civilization had a legal system. Crimes were punished according to the severity. Drinking in public was not allowed as well. By the end of 15th century Mexico City was larger than any European city. Yet, most people were farmers. Agriculture of Aztecs was very advanced. Some farmers were actually slaves but were treated well. Aztecs had an army which they used to expand their empire. Young boys were taking very early and trained in marital arts. A lot of anthropological evidence suggests that Aztecs were practicing medicine on a more advanced level than Europeans and even had dentists. Aztecs went to war often because there was a demand for captives which they used for human sacrifice. Cannibalism was acceptable for most Aztecs. One of the greatest emperors Montezuma, just like most emperors had almost unlimited power and was also a religious leader. He was the emperor of Aztecs when European ships arrived to the East Coast.
Spanish Rule SPANISH COLONIZATION OF AMERICA (1519 -1521) Spanish arrived to Mesoamerica in 1519. It took them two years to take over the territory of modern Mexico. Their calling in life was to be warriors, conquer new territories and convert them to Christianity. Herman Cortés led the conquest of Aztec empire. Spanish had superior weapons so Aztecs did not know if they are gods or humans. They established contact with Totonac people and even were allowed to turn some temples into churches. Slowly they started conquer one population after another and converting them to Christianity. Horses of Spanish were a great advantage. The victory was predetermined since weapons of the locals were not designed to kill. Montezuma, the emperor of Aztecs tried to buy Spanish off with gold in order to save his people but it only made them more greedy and willing to take over Aztec empire. Under cover of establishing friendly relationship Spanish took over Aztec empire. Huge amounts of gold, gems, vanilla, chocolate, and rubber were shipped back to Spain. The emperor was captured and forced to do what the Spanish wanted. As a result, he lost support of his people. When the other Spanish realized what a great wealth Cortez discovered, they sent thousands of soldiers there. As more people arrived, European diseases spread among local populations devastating them. Entire civilizations died out. At some point Aztecs tried to fight Spanish . Spanish retreated since Aztecs were not taking prisoners anymore. Yet they went to conquer other civilizations, enslaved them, and destroyed the cities. With more solders Spanish returned to take over Aztec empire in 1521 and successes.
The Conquest SPANISH COLONIZATION OF AMERICA (1519 -1521) Spanish encountered a few problems while colonizing South America. The gold had been shipped to Spain leaving the newcomers with very little to acquire. Spanish did not do well running the empire. New conquistadors were placed in charge of some cities. They were giving the right to collect taxes as well. Local population was devastated by the heavy taxes and enslavement. Since the profits from the colonies were decreasing rapidly, Spanish went for more conquests. Mayans gave in after 9 years of resistance. Mesoamerica has finally become under Spanish rule when Yucatan was taken over. Eventually, son of H. Cortez Martin became first king of Mexico but soon was overthrown in a coup.
Reign of Spain SPANISH FACE CHALLENGES – CHIRCH CONQUESTS MEXICO Since the civilizations of Mesoamerica were so culturally different, Spanish did not know how to reign them yet they understood that they are going to need local rulers who are loyal to Spain. The way to make them loyal was to convert them to Christianity and this is what they did. Twelve physically fit monks were sent to Mexico to learn local languages, the culture, and take over control of the upper classes. At the same time as they were studying it they were destroying it. In attempt to gain more control land records and things of worship were destroyed. Conquered populations were forced to adopt European culture. Spanish even established inquisition in Mexico city to make sure loyalty to the king is maintained and that the conversion is going smoothly. Spain had difficulties running new territory. The government, judiciary system, military, and tax system, were not working properly because the territory was so large. At the same time indigenous people had very few rights. Many of them were peons, not a slave but not free. The others, under the Law of Indies were treated like children. The Africans who were brought to Mexico as slaves had a few rights that Catholic Church gave them. In order to prevent natives from rebelling the church tried to incorporate some elements of their religion into Catholicism. The services and churches benefited from it. Spanish brought with them cheese making, new crops, dogs, cattle, and horses. Aztecs would not give up cannibalism until they tried pork that Spanish introduced them to. Main export was chocolate, vanilla and rubber
Reign of Spain SPANISH FACE CHALLENGES – CHIRCH CONQUESTS MEXICO Spanish discovered more gold in 17th century when they discovered gold mines. This gold did not do good to Spain. There was too much money available and poor people in Spain could not compete with the cheap imports. As a result, they became out of work. Spain grew dependent on Mexican gold. Other European countries were profiting from Mexican gold but not Spain. Spain’s economy was about to go down when they added Philippines to their colonies. There was no large cities in Mexico except Mexico city. All the important institutions, businesses and schools were there. The rest of the colony lived in villages. The church was the main landowner and the largest institution in Mexico. Arts were blossoming in Mexico city which was a capital and a cultural center. At the same time there was a lot of crime and prostitution. In 18th century Spain faced even a deeper crisis when last king died without a hair. French monarchy had to take over the country, modernized army, built new ports, and improved economy. At the same time they also took over Spain’s colonies, reformed and established military government in Mexico. Viceroy of Mexico City Bacarelli invented first traffic police as well as traffic rules including no parking zone and loading zone. He also invented first public transportation which was used to bring shoppers on market days. In the beginning of 19th century Church's power was as great as ever because it became so rich. Many new beautiful buildings were built. Bourbons ruled Mexico for over 100 years. Under their rule it has become socially complex and economically successful colony.
First Uprising (1810) Carlos IV was unfit monarch. He was retarded. As a result, queen’s favorite Manuel Godoy was running Spanish government. He was selling government posts to the people who did not qualify to do any administrative work. The only good thing he did was backing American Revolution. He wasted money and army on fighting France. As a result, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Spain. Mexico was left without the king. Without their king Mexican authorities were unable to run the colony. Consequently, pre-revolutionary conditions started forming in Mexico in the beginning of 18th century. French and American revolutions changed the attitudes of Mexican people to their government. They started realizing that there is an alternative way to deal with malfunctioning government. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and two military officers Don Ignacio Allende and Juan de Aldama were put in charge of uprising of October 1810 and the main leaders of Mexican War of Independence. They organized an army of peasants and indigenous people and took over city of Guanajuato killing everyone who looked like Spaniard, criollo, or a gachupine. Hidalgo’s army was not a professional one. As a result, it started falling apart after the Battle of Two Virgins. Spanish Royalists took back the city of Guanajuato. Every tens male rebel was hanged including all leaders of the uprising. Miguel Hidalgo Miguel Hidalgo Don Ignacio Allende Juan de Aldama
Mexican War of independence The uprising was put down but it did not stop Mexican people from fighting for their independence. Jose Maria Morelos continued the revolt. He started using different, more successful strategies to fight Spaniards and was the leader of guerillas. He focused on organizing more professional army. Morelos wanted a better life for Mexican people. In 1813 he organized congress to discuss independence and the structure of the future Mexican government. Morelos was not very successful fighting for independence because, unlike Washington, he had no alliances with the other superpowers like England or France. In 1815 he was caught and hanged by the Royalists. Up till the end of the Independence war most resistance was in the form of bands. At the same time political situation in Spain was rather difficult. It has to adopt constitutional monarchy that limited church’s power. In Mexico Augustine de Iturbide became the new leader of the independence war. He realized that there r three groups of people who’s support he can get: criollo, church, and the indigenous people. He promised control over economy to criollo, privileges to the church, and racial equality to indigenous people. These three main ideal are represented in Mexican flag. Iturbide was creating new empire for himself. In September 1821 Spain and Iturbide signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which recognized Mexican independence. However, due to the lack of support, Emperor Augustine was not able to stay in power which slowly drifted to Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna who called for a republic.
New Republic of Mexico After the Independence War Mexico became a republic and adopted constitution. Yet it was as unstable as ever changing four presidents and government in three years and loosing half of its territory. First three presidents of Mexico, Guadalupe Victoria, Nicolas Bravo and Pedro Negrete, were military men and not politicians. President Victoria did not fix economic situation but made sure independence of Mexico is recognized. Because his policies ware unsuccessful, he was overthrown by vice president Bravo. In 1828 Guerra became president. He introduced a few successful reforms including abolition of slavery. During his term Spain invaded Mexico again. It has never recognized the independence of Mexico. Mexican troops under general Santa Anna defeated them within a year. Due to the glorious victory, Santa Anna gained huge popularity. Guerra was declared unfit president when Mexico faced bankruptcy. The army expenses were draining national budget. Independence from Spain made life in Mexico even worse because all the government officials, doctors, engineers, and teachers were Spaniards. Mining became impossible because there was no mercury which usually came from Spain. Due to the instability, other countries refused to invest in Mexico. Mexico was slowly sinking in chaos.
The Age of Santa Anna Next, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was elected president but did not like it. He soon retired to his farm appointing Dr. Farias to run the country. Farias introduces a few successful reforms, reduced the army, organized public schools, and reformed tax system. In 1833 Santa Anna overthrew his own government, replaced the constitution, reduced the power of states, and basically became the dictator of Mexico. Some states were not happy with his rule. States like Yucatan and Texas revolted. Santa Anna was ruthless during Texas Revolution but lost the war anyway. French people were also unhappy with the rule of Santa Anna. The took over the city of Veracruz and the Pastry War of 1838 started. While trying to take back Veracruz, Santa Anna lost his leg and became a national hero once again. French won the war. At the same time, while the situation in Mexico was getting worse, life in small villages of indigenous people was stable as no one was bothering them. By the end of Santa Anna’s rule there was no longer nation to govern. Small towns, villages, and even one neighborhood proclaimed their independence and either hired or organized their own armies to protect themselves from peons. Civil war between criollo and Mayans was taking place in Yucatan. The Unites States was growing stronger and, after annexing Texas, they tried to buy California and Northern Mexico.
The Age of Santa Anna The Unites States was growing stronger and, after annexing Texas, they tried to buy California and Northern Mexico. New President of Mexico Herrera had no intention to sell them so the United States came up with an excuse to invade Mexico and take over the territory. Mexican American War started. Most soldiers in the United States army were anti-Catholic European immigrants who did not view local people and indigenous people as equally human. In his memoir, Samuel Chamberlain recalls cruelty with which they were treated. United States won the war forcing Santa Anna to leave the capital which they took over in September 1847. Peace was signed in 1848. The United States finally were able to buy 3/8 of the Mexican territory including California, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. For fifteen million dollars. In 1855 Santa Anna sold more land to the United States. Gadsden purchase of Northern Mexico territories was made but large portion of the money were never paid. Santa Anna died in 1876 in Mexico. Mexican-American War
Roman Catholic church Roman Catholic Church was established in Mexico in early 16th century when the dioceses of Tlaxcala and Mexico were created. Since very beginning it has great power. First missionaries were sent to Mexico with the conquistadors to convert indigenous people to Catholicism. After the discovery of gold church became the richest institution and the largest landowner in Mexico. Since there was no banks, church was also a money lending institution. Catholic church played major role in politics as most of the politicians in colonial Mexico were priests. Due to the fact that being a priest was the only way to get education, the majority of clergy work and government work was done by Spanish priests. It also had judiciary and executive powers., Inquisition was introduced to colonial Mexico in 16th century. Its primary function was to fight other religious views and protect king’s power. Since there was no police or court system, the church was the only authority that could punish crimes or try people. It was also the authority that registered newborns, marriages and divorces. Most social programs in colonial Mexico were also run by Catholic church. Schools, hospitals, assistance to old and sick people, monasteries, and missionaries. Priests and monks were employed in all institutions. Roman Catholic Church of Mexico was controlled by the king of Spain who was also the head of the church. Every catholic had to pay tax to the church.