Mexican War of Independence
Overview
 
The Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

, Mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

s and Amerindians who sought independence from Spain. It started as an idealistic peasants' rebellion against their colonial masters, but ended as an unlikely alliance between Mexican ex-royalists and Mexican guerrilla insurgents.
The struggle for Mexican independence dates back to the decades after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, when Martín Cortés
Martín Cortés (son of doña Marina)
Martín Cortés el Mestizo was the first-born and illegitimate son of Hernán Cortés and Doña Marina...

 (son of Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 and La Malinche
La Malinche
La Malinche , known also as Malintzin, Malinalli or Doña Marina, was a Nahua woman from the Mexican Gulf Coast, who played a role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, acting as interpreter, advisor, lover and intermediary for Hernán Cortés...

) led a revolt against the Spanish colonial government in order to eliminate privileges for the conquistadors.

After the abortive Conspiracy of the Machetes
Conspiracy of the machetes
The Conspiracy of the Machetes was an unsuccessful rebellion against the Spanish in New Spain in 1799. Although the conspiracy posed no threat to Spanish rule, nevertheless it was a shock to the rulers...

 in 1799, the War of independence led by the Mexican-born Spaniards became a reality with the Grito de Dolores
Grito de Dolores
The Grito de Dolores also known as El Grito de la Independencia , uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on April 19, 1810 is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico...

 coming 11 years after the conspiracy, which is considered in modern Mexico to be a precursor of the War of Independence.
Encyclopedia
The Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

, Mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

s and Amerindians who sought independence from Spain. It started as an idealistic peasants' rebellion against their colonial masters, but ended as an unlikely alliance between Mexican ex-royalists and Mexican guerrilla insurgents.

Background

The struggle for Mexican independence dates back to the decades after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, when Martín Cortés
Martín Cortés (son of doña Marina)
Martín Cortés el Mestizo was the first-born and illegitimate son of Hernán Cortés and Doña Marina...

 (son of Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 and La Malinche
La Malinche
La Malinche , known also as Malintzin, Malinalli or Doña Marina, was a Nahua woman from the Mexican Gulf Coast, who played a role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, acting as interpreter, advisor, lover and intermediary for Hernán Cortés...

) led a revolt against the Spanish colonial government in order to eliminate privileges for the conquistadors.

After the abortive Conspiracy of the Machetes
Conspiracy of the machetes
The Conspiracy of the Machetes was an unsuccessful rebellion against the Spanish in New Spain in 1799. Although the conspiracy posed no threat to Spanish rule, nevertheless it was a shock to the rulers...

 in 1799, the War of independence led by the Mexican-born Spaniards became a reality with the Grito de Dolores
Grito de Dolores
The Grito de Dolores also known as El Grito de la Independencia , uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on April 19, 1810 is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico...

 coming 11 years after the conspiracy, which is considered in modern Mexico to be a precursor of the War of Independence. As indicated perhaps by the failed conspiracy, before 1810 the movement for independence was far from gaining unanimous support among Mexicans, who became divided between nonindependent persons, autonomists and royalists.

Beginning of the War

Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, was a Mexican priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 and member of a group of educated Criollos
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

in Querétaro who met in tertulias (salon
Salon (gathering)
A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to...

s) and who in 1810 arrived at the conclusion that a revolt against the colonial government was needed because of the events of the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

. Hidalgo had already achieved notoriety—he gambled, fornicated, had children out of wedlock and didn't believe in Hell. Most seriously, he encouraged his parishioners to illegally grow vines and olives.
Originally Hidalgo worked closely with co-conspirator Ignacio de Allende
Ignacio Allende
Ignacio José de Allende y Unzaga , born Ignacio Allende y Unzaga, was a captain of the Spanish Army in Mexico who came to sympathize with the Mexican independence movement. He attended the secret meetings organized by Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, where the possibility of an independent New Spain was...

, a noble and member of the Basque society living in San Miguel. Hidalgo originally supported naming Allende head of the revolutionary military, but the two men quickly became rivals. Hidalgo seized control of the militia.
The conspirators were betrayed by a member of the group and Hidalgo turned to his parishioners in the town of Dolores
Dolores Hidalgo
Dolores Hidalgo Dolores Hidalgo Dolores Hidalgo (in full, Dolores Hidalgo Cuna de la Independencia Nacional is the name of a city and the surrounding municipality in the north-central part of the Mexican state of Guanajuato....

. Around 6:00 am of September 16, 1810, he declared independence from the Spanish crown, and war against the government in what was known as the Grito de Dolores
Grito de Dolores
The Grito de Dolores also known as El Grito de la Independencia , uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on April 19, 1810 is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico...

. The revolutionary army decided to strike for independence and marched on to Guanajuato
Guanajuato
Guanajuato officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Guanajuato is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato....

, a major colonial mining centre governed by Spaniards and criollos. There the leading citizens barricaded themselves in the granary. The rebel army captured the granary on 28 September, and most of the Spaniards and Criollos were massacred or exiled. Among the many dead were nobles who were co-conspirators like Allende, who never forgave Hidalgo for the massacre. Consequently, Allende refused to fight alongside Hidalgo, and the two divided forces were easily defeated.

On October 30, Miguel Hidalgo's army encountered Spanish resistance at the Battle of Monte de las Cruces
Battle of Monte de las Cruces
The Battle of Monte de las Cruces was one of the pivotal battles of the early Mexican War of Independence. It was fought between the insurgent troops of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and Ignacio Allende against the royalist troops of General Torcuato Trujillo in the Sierra de las Cruces mountains...

, fought them and achieved victory. However, the rebel army failed to defeat the large and heavily armed Spanish army in Mexico City. Rebel survivors of the battle sought refuge in nearby provinces and villages. The insurgent forces planned a defensive strategy at a bridge on the Calderón River
Calderón River
The Calderón River is a tributary of the Lerma Santiago River that flows westward from the Altos region of Jalisco to its junction with the Lerma Santiago River in Tonalá....

, pursued by the Spanish army.

In January 1811, Spanish forces fought the Battle of the Bridge of Calderón and defeated the insurgent army, forcing the rebels to flee towards the United States-Mexican border, where they hoped to escape. However they were intercepted by the Spanish army. Hidalgo and his remaining soldiers were captured in the state of Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

 at the Wells of Baján (Norias de Baján). They faced court trial of the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

 on 30 July 1811, and were executed. Hidalgo's body was mutilated, and his and Allende's heads were displayed in Guanajuato as a warning to Mexican rebels.

Following the death of Father Hidalgo, the leadership of the revolutionary army was assumed by José María Morelos
José María Morelos
José María Teclo Morelos y Pavón was a Mexican Roman Catholic priest and revolutionary rebel leader who led the Mexican War of Independence movement, assuming its leadership after the execution of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1811...

. Under his leadership the cities of Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Oaxaca
The city and municipality of Oaxaca de Juárez, or simply Oaxaca, is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of the same name . It is located in the Centro District in the Central Valleys region of the state, in the foothills of the Sierra Madre at the base of the Cerro del Fortín...

 and Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

 were occupied. In 1813, the Congress of Chilpancingo
Congress of Chilpancingo
The Congress of Chilpancingo was a meeting held in Chilpancingo, in what is the modern-day Mexican state of Guerrero, from September to November 1813. The result of this meeting was that Mexico formally declared itself to be independent of Spain and what was later to become the first national...

 was convened and on 6 November of that year, the Congress signed the first official document of independence, known as the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America
Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America
The Solemn Act of Northern America's Declaration of Independence is the first Mexican legal historical document which established the separation of Mexico from Spanish rule...

". It was followed by a long period of war at the Siege of Cuautla. In 1815, Morelos was captured by Spanish colonial authorities, tried and executed for treason in San Cristóbal Ecatepec on 22 December.

Independence

From 1815 to 1821 most of the fighting by those seeking independence from Spain was done by isolated guerrilla bands. Out of these bands rose two men, Guadalupe Victoria
Guadalupe Victoria
Guadalupe Victoria born José Miguel Ramón Adaucto Fernández y Félix, was a Mexican politician and military man who fought for independence against the Spanish Empire in the Mexican War of Independence. He was a deputy for Durango and a member of the Supreme Executive Power...

 (born José Miguel Fernández y Félix) in Puebla
Puebla
Puebla officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital city is Puebla....

 and Vicente Guerrero
Vicente Guerrero
Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña was one of the leading revolutionary generals of the Mexican War of Independence, who fought against Spain for independence in the early 19th century, and served briefly as President of Mexico...

 in Oaxaca, both of whom were able to command allegiance and respect from their followers. The Spanish viceroy, however, felt the situation was under control and issued a general pardon to every rebel who would lay down his arms.

After ten years of civil war and the death of two of its founders, by early 1820 the independence movement was stalemated and close to collapse. The rebels faced stiff Spanish military resistance and the apathy of many of the most influential criollos. The violent excesses and populist zeal of Hidalgo's and Morelos's irregular armies had reinforced many criollos' fears of race and class warfare, ensuring their grudging acquiescence to conservative Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 rule until a less bloody path to independence could be found. It was at this juncture that the machinations of a conservative military caudillo coinciding with a successful liberal rebellion in Spain, made possible a radical realignment of the proindependence forces.

In what was supposed to be the final government campaign against the insurgents, in December 1820, Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca
Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, 1st Count of Venadito
Juan José Ruiz de Apodaca y Eliza Gastón de Iriarte López de Letona y Lasqueti, 1st Count of Venadito was a Spanish Basque naval officer and viceroy of New Spain from September 20, 1816 to July 5, 1821, during Mexico's War of Independence.-Military career:Ruiz de Apodaca was born in Cádiz into a...

 sent a force led by a royalist criollo officer, Colonel Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín Cosme Damián de Iturbide y Aramburu , also known as Augustine I of Mexico, was a Mexican army general who built a successful political and military coalition that was able to march into Mexico City on 27 September 1821, decisively ending the Mexican War of Independence...

, to defeat Guerrero's army in Oaxaca. Iturbide, a native of Valladolid, had gained renown for the zeal with which he persecuted Hidalgo's and Morelos's rebels during the early independence struggle. A favorite of the Mexican church hierarchy, Iturbide was the personification of conservative criollo values, devoutly religious, and committed to the defense of property rights and social privileges; he was also disgruntled at his lack of promotion and wealth.

Iturbide's assignment to the Oaxaca expedition coincided with a successful military coup in Spain against the monarchy of Ferdinand VII. The coup leaders, who had been assembled as an expeditionary force to suppress the American independence movements, compelled a reluctant Ferdinand to reinstate the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812
Spanish Constitution of 1812
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was promulgated 19 March 1812 by the Cádiz Cortes, the national legislative assembly of Spain, while in refuge from the Peninsular War...

. When news of the liberal charter reached Mexico, Iturbide saw in it both a threat to the status quo and an opportunity for the criollos to gain control of Mexico. Ironically, independence was finally achieved when conservative forces in the colonies chose to rise up against a temporarily liberal regime in the mother country. After an initial clash with Guerrero's forces, Iturbide switched allegiances and invited the rebel leader to meet and discuss principles of a renewed independence struggle.

While stationed in the town of Iguala
Iguala
The historic city of Iguala de la Independencia is located from state capital Chilpancingo in the Mexican state of Guerrero. It stands on Federal Highway 95. Iguala is the municipal seat of the municipality of the same name, located in the north-central part of the state. The city had a 2005...

, Iturbide proclaimed three principles, or "guarantees," for Mexican independence from Spain; Mexico would be an independent monarchy governed by a transplanted King Ferdinand, another Bourbon prince, or some other conservative European prince, criollos and peninsulares would henceforth enjoy equal rights and privileges, and the Roman Catholic Church would retain its privileges and position as the official religion of the land. After convincing his troops to accept the principles, which were promulgated on February 24, 1821, as the Plan of Iguala
Plan of Iguala
Plan of Iguala, also known as Plan of the Three Guarantees , was a peace treaty proclaimed on February 24, 1821, in the final stage of Mexican War of Independence from Spain. The plan attempted to establish a constitutional foundation upon which an independent Mexican Empire would be based...

, Iturbide persuaded Guerrero to join his forces in support of the new conservative manifestation of the independence movement. A new army, the Army of the Three Guarantees
Army of the Three Guarantees
At the end of the Mexican War of Independence, the Army of the Three Guarantees was the name given to the army after the unification of the Spanish troops led by Agustín de Iturbide and the Mexican insurgent troops of Vicente Guerrero, consolidating Mexico's independence from Spain...

, was then placed under Iturbide's command to enforce the Plan of Iguala. The plan was so broadly based that it pleased both patriots and loyalists. The goal of independence and the protection of Roman Catholicism brought together all factions.

Iturbide's army was joined by rebel forces from all over Mexico. When the rebels' victory became certain, the viceroy resigned. On August 24, 1821, representatives of the Spanish crown and Iturbide signed the Treaty of Córdoba
Treaty of Córdoba
The Treaty of Córdova established Mexican independence from Spain at the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence. It was signed on August 24, 1821 in Córdoba, Veracruz, Mexico. The signatories were the head of the Army of the Three Guarantees, Agustín de Iturbide, and acting on behalf of the...

, which recognized Mexican independence under the terms of the Plan of Iguala
Plan of Iguala
Plan of Iguala, also known as Plan of the Three Guarantees , was a peace treaty proclaimed on February 24, 1821, in the final stage of Mexican War of Independence from Spain. The plan attempted to establish a constitutional foundation upon which an independent Mexican Empire would be based...

. On September 27 the Army of the Three Guarantees entered Mexico City and the following day Iturbide proclaimed the independence of the Mexican Empire
First Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1821 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper...

, as New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 was to be henceforth called. The Treaty of Córdoba was not ratified by the Spanish Cortes
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

. Iturbide, a former royalist who had become the paladin for Mexican independence, included a special clause in the treaty that left open the possibility for a criollo monarch to be appointed by a Mexican congress if no suitable member of the European royalty would accept the Mexican crown. Half of all the government employees were Iturbide's courtiers.
On the night of the May 18, 1822, a mass demonstration led by the Regiment of Celaya, which Iturbide had commanded during the war, marched through the streets and demanded that their commander-in-chief accept the throne. The following day, the congress declared Iturbide emperor of Mexico. On October 31 Iturbide dissolved Congress and replaced it with a sympathetic junta.

See also

  • History of Mexico
    History of Mexico
    The history of Mexico, a country located in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than two millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, the country produced complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th Century.Since the...

  • Spanish reconquest of Mexico
    Spanish reconquest of Mexico
    The Spanish reconquest attempts in Mexico were episodes of war in Mexico that were comprised in clashes between the newly born Mexican nation and Spain, mainly covered two periods first attempts from 1821 to 1825 and the defense of territorial waters and second period divided into two stages...

  • Mexican Empire
    Mexican Empire
    The Mexican Empire or rarely Gran Mexico was the name of modern Mexico on two brief occasions in the 19th century when it was ruled by an emperor. With the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire from Spain in 1821, Mexico became an independent monarchy, but was soon replaced with the...

  • Afro-Mexicans in the Mexican War of Independence
    Afro-Mexicans in the Mexican War of Independence
    -The Need for the Mexican War of Independence:With the help of rebel leader, Miguel Hidalgo, who formally denounced the observance of the caste system in 1810, people of color were able to see that putting up a fight for their independence was worth it. However, Hidalgo was defeated...

  • Grito de Dolores
    Grito de Dolores
    The Grito de Dolores also known as El Grito de la Independencia , uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on April 19, 1810 is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico...

  • List of wars involving Mexico

External links

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