Gelves, Marqués de (1500–1600)

Updated About content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Gelves, Marqués de (1500–1600)

Marqués de Gelves (Diego Carrillo de Mendoza y Pimentel; b. 1500s; d. 1600s), fourteenth viceroy of New Spain (1621–1624). The Gelves administration is an excellent example of the limitations of colonial reform in the seventeenth century. Gelves arrived in Mexico under orders to improve government efficiency, crack down on the widespread corruption in public administration, and increase tax revenue. He enjoyed some success, particularly in the last endeavor. But he also managed to offend nearly every important sector of colonial society, partly because of his high-handed and autocratic manner and partly because his reforms threatened the financial interests of merchants, the creole elite, and many government officials.

The viceroy's most serious feud, however, was with the equally proud and unbending archbishop of Mexico, Juan Pérez de la Serna. Their dispute quickly evolved into a contest between civil and ecclesiastical authority. Pérez de la Serna excommunicated Gelves; Gelves exiled the archbishop. En route to the coast, the archbishop placed Mexico City under interdict, which was to begin on the morning of 15 January 1624. The populace, already angry at the viceroy over high maize prices, sided with the archbishop. A riot broke out in the central plaza, and soon a crowd of some thirty thousand was shouting for the viceroy's blood. The rioters stormed the palace, but Gelves escaped, disguised in servant's clothing, and fled to the Monastery of San Francisco. The audiencia, claiming that Gelves had abandoned his post, assumed viceregal authority. Although the crown briefly reinstated Gelves before replacing him, the marqués was in effect the first Mexican viceroy overthrown in a popular revolt.

See alsoCreole; New Spain, Viceroyalty of.


Chester L. Guthrie, "Riots in Seventeenth-Century Mexico City: A Study of Social and Economic Conditions," in Greater America: Essays in Honor of Herbert Eugene Bolton (1945), pp. 243-258.

Jonathan I. Israel, Race, Class, and Politics in Colonial Mexico, 1610–1670 (1975).

Richard E. Boyer, "Mexico in the Seventeenth Century: Transition of a Colonial Society," in Hispanic American History Review 57, no. 3 (1977): 455-478.

Additional Bibliography

Bjork, Katharine. "The Link that Kept the Philippines Spanish: Mexican Merchant Interests and the Manila Trade, 1571–1815." Journal of World History. 9 (Spring 1998): 25-50.

Martínez Vega, María Elisa. La crisis barroca en el virreinato de la Nueva España: El Marqués de Gelves, 1621–1625. Madrid: Editorial de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1990.

                                      R. Douglas Cope