Mixtón War

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Mixtón War

Mixtón War (1541–1542), a rebellion of the Chichimecs of Nueva Galicia, Mexico, that nearly rid the region of Spaniards. Reacting to the brutal legacy of Nuño de Guzmán, more recent abuse by encomenderos, and the attempted imposition of alien ways, these semi- and nonsedentary peoples were aroused by their religious leaders, who promised divinely sanctioned victory and a variety of spiritual and material rewards. Early Spanish attempts to defeat the rebels in their hilltop strongholds, including one known as Mixtón, failed; Pedro de Alvarado was killed in one attack after his horse fell on him. By late 1541, Guadalajara was in danger, and the Spanish prevailed only after Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza stormed into the area with a force of around 180 mounted Spaniards and thousands of indigenous central Mexican allies. These were commanded by their own nobility, who were given the right to ride horses, carry Iberian weapons, and enslave captured enemies—a right also enjoyed by Spaniards. Some of the allies helped establish fortified settlements on the route north. Ultimately, the pacification of Nueva Galicia paved the way for the discovery of the silver mines of Zacatecas in 1546, and thus the development of New Spain's economic underpinning.

See alsoChichimecs; Guadalajara.


This critical episode in the establishment of colonial New Spain has not received much scholarly attention in recent times. A standard account can be found in Arthur Scott Aiton, Antonio de Mendoza: First Viceroy of New Spain (1927). The war receives briefer treatment in Philip Wayne Powell, Soldiers, Indians, and Silver: The Northward Advance of New Spain, 1550–1600 (1952).

Peggy K. Liss, Mexico Under Spain, 1521–1556: Society and the Origins of Nationality (1975). A narrative by an indigenous leader, Francisco De Sandoval Acazitli, cacique of Tlalmanalco, can be found in Joaquín García Icazbalceta, ed., Colección de documentos para la historia de México, vol. 2 (repr. 1971), pp. 307-333.

Additional Bibliography

Weigand, Phil C., and Celia García de Weigand. Los orígenes de los caxcanes y su relación con la guerra de los nayaritas: Una hipótesis. Zapopan, Jalisco: El Colegio de Jalisco, 1995.

                                           Robert Haskett