Nueva Galicia

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Nueva Galicia

Nueva Galicia, province of New Spain, including all of the present-day Mexican states of Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Nayarit; a large part of Jalisco; and the northwest corner of San Luis Potosí, with an area of some 72,000 square miles and a population in 1520 estimated at 855,000. Its conquest began in 1524; by the following year, indigenous communities were being given out to conquistadores in encomiendas and the Franciscan order was converting the local people. From February to June 1530, Nuño de Guzmán, the first president of the audiencia of Mexico, and an army of Spaniards, indigenous allies from central Mexico, and Tarascan slaves waged a ferocious campaign of killing, torture, and enslavement against the largely unresisting local population. This strategy continued into the 1540s until the local population fought back in a full-scale rebellion, known as the Mixtón War (1541), and drove the Spaniards out. The viceroy eventually restored order, but the indigenous population had declined significantly to perhaps as few as 220,000. By 1560 both audiencia and bishopric were firmly established in Guadalajara, although the entire area was not subdued until 1722 with the surrender of the Cora nation of Nayarit.

In 1574 the first gobernador arrived in Guadalajara and took control over the area, although he soon lost the power of making official appointments in his jurisdiction to the viceroy. By the mid-seventeenth century, the population stood at a mere 130,000. Half of it consisted of indigenous people, while the rest were two-thirds Spaniards and mestizos and one-third slaves of African descent brought in as the original population declined. The new population settled either near the mines in the northeast or on cattle, wheat, and sugar estates in the south.

By the early eighteenth century, the area boasted large multiracial cities such as Zacatecas, Guadalajara, Aguas-Calientes, Sombrerete, and Fresnillo along with smaller towns and even smaller autochthonous villages. In 1789, with the implementation of the intendancy reform, Nueva Galicia, with a population of approximately 450,000, was divided between the intendancies of Guadalajara, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosí.

See alsoAudiencia; Encomienda; Guadalajara; Indigenous Peoples; New Spain, Viceroyalty of; Slavery: Indian Slavery and Forced Labor.


María Del Carmen Velázquez, "La jurisdicción militar en la Nueva Galicia," in Historia Mexicana 9, no. 33 (1959): 15-34.

Peter Gerhard, The North Frontier of New Spain, rev. ed. (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Aceves Ortega, Raul. Hospitales de indios y otras fundaciones civiles y religiosas en Nueva Galicia. Guadalajara, Jalisco: Universidad de Guadalajara, Editorial Universitaria, 2004.

Berthe, Jean-Pierre, Thomas Calvo, Agueda Jimenez Pelayo. Sociedades en construcción: la Nueva Galicia según las visitas de oidores, 1606–1616. Guadalajara, Jalisco, México: Universidad de Guadalajara, Coordinación Editorial; México, D.F.: Centre Français d'Études Mexicaines et Centraméricaines, 2000.

Burciaga, José Arturo. Las flores y las espinas: perfiles del clero secular en el noroeste de Nueva Galicia (1750–1810.) México, D.F.: Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas; Instituto Zacatecano de Cultura, 2006.

                                     Carmen Ramos-EscandÓn