The Colonial Period


The capture of Tenochtitlan marked the beginning of a 300-year-long colonial period, during which Mexico was known as the “New Spain”.

Colonial law was in many ways destructive to the colonies. No administrative office was open to any Mexican native, even those of pure Spanish blood. From an economic point of view, New Spain was administered principally for the benefit of Spain. Commerce between the Colonies was prohibited, and natural resources were over-exploited and taken back to Europe.

Additionally, The “ New Spain” was heavily taxed, ruled directly from Spain, and permitted no autonomy. The Spanish monarchs distributed land to settlers in the form of encomiendas (the predecessor to the hacienda), which were worked by Indian slaves that the settler’s were charged to protect and convert to Christianity.

A caste system developed: there were Españoles (Spaniards born in Spain), criollos (Mexican-born, but with Spanish blood), mestizos (Spanish and Indian),mulatos (Black Africans and Indian) and finally the Indian.

Bartolome de las Casas: Father of Liberation Theology

The Apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe  (1531)

-Founding of The University of Mexico, Mexico City. The first University on the North or South American Continents. (1551)

-The First Viceroy of Mexico (1530 – 1550): Antonio de Mendoza

– The Casa de Moneda is founded (1535) and the first printing press on the Continent (1549)

– Inauguration of the first Cathedral in Mexico (1656)

– Expulsion of the Jesuits (1767)









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