views updated May 21 2018


Hidalgo, a Spanish term that originally meant "son of some means" (hijo d'algo) and over time became shortened to "hidalgo." As its origin suggests, the term indicated a person of some means, but not an heir to a great fortune or nobility. The term applied to some of the leaders of expeditions of the Conquest who were members of the lesser nobility seeking their fortune in the Americas.

In the sixteenth century, Spanish hidalgos were identified by the title "Don," as in Don Hernán Cortés, and women were identified by the feminine "Doña." Spanish leaders also flattered native elites who collaborated with them by addressing them as "Don." In the conquest of Mexico, the lord of Tetzcoco, who provided critical support against the Nahuas, was called Don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxóchitl. Cortés's female companion and interpreter was called "Doña Marina." After the Conquest, Spaniards continued to use "Don" in addressing native political leaders.

Over the course of the colonial era, the European identification of "Don" or "Doña" with the lesser Spanish nobility ended, and it became a general term of respect used for an older person, a master craftsman, an employer, or someone in a position of authority.

See alsoCaste and Class Structure in Colonial Spanish America .


Lyle McAlister, "Social Structure and Social Change in New Spain," Hispanic American Historical Review 43, no. 3 (1963): 349-370.

Additional Bibliography

Hamnett, Brian R. Social Structure and Regional Elites in Late Colonial Mexico, 1750–1824. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 1984.

Henríquez Ayin, Narda. El hechizo de las imágenes: Estatus social, género y etnicidad en la historia peruana. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2001.

Pérez Toledo, Sonia, and Herbert S Klein. Población y estructura social de la Ciudad de México, 1790–1842. Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Iztapalapa, 2004.

Ruiz, Teofilo F. Spanish Society, 1400–1600. New York: Longman, 2001.

Silverblatt, Irene Marsha. Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

                                            Patricia Seed


views updated May 23 2018

Hidalgo ★★½ 2004 (PG-13)

Inspired by real-life U.S. Calvary horseman Frank T. Hopkins (Mortensen)—meaning it takes liberties with the truth (which Hopkins himself has been accused of). Old-fashioned adventure story hows the devotion he had for his mixed-breed horse, Hidalgo, as they travel 3,000 miles in 1890 to the “Ocean of Fire” endurance race, going against thoroughbreds and the wild elements of Arabia per the invitation of Sheikh Riyadh (Sharif). Mortensen looks stunning riding his steed, the elegant Sharif stirs up wonderful memories of Lawrence of Arabia, and the visual effects of sandstorms, colossal locusts, and the competition are captivating; however, this kind of story has been told before, with more dramatic twists and turns. 135m/C VHS, DVD . Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Louise Lombard, Said Taghmaoui, Peter Mensah, J.K. Simmons, Adoni Maropis, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, Zuleikha Robinson, Adam Alexi-Malle, Silas Carson, Harsh Nayyar, Elizabeth Berridge, Victor Talmadge, Frank Collison, Jerry Hardin, C. Thomas Howell, Malcolm McDowell; D: Joe Johnston; W: John Fusco; C: Shelly Johnson; M: James Newton Howard.


views updated May 29 2018

hi·dal·go / hiˈdälgō/ • n. (pl. -gos) (in Spanish-speaking regions) a gentleman.


views updated Jun 27 2018

hidalgo Spanish gentleman. XVI. — Sp., formerly hijo dalgo, i.e. hijo de algo ‘son of something’.