Bocanegra, Gertrudis (1765–1817)

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Bocanegra, Gertrudis (1765–1817)

Mexican freedom fighter. Born in Pátzcuaro, Mexico, in 1765; died by execution in Pátzcuaro in 1817; married Lazo de la Vega (a soldier for the Spanish royalists); children: a son and daughters.

Gertrudis Bocanegra was a philanthropist, who founded schools for Indian children in Mexico, before the War of Independence in 1810 transformed her into a patriot and martyr. When Mexican nationalists rose up against the Spanish government, Bocanegra, her husband Lazo de la Vega, who had been a soldier for the Spanish royalists, and her ten-year-old son aligned with a group of insurgents. She carried important messages between the rebel groups and organized an underground army of women, which eventually included her daughters, to join in the fighting, considerably aiding the attack on the city of Valladolid. With her husband and son already killed in battle, Bocanegra was captured in Pátzcuaro while gathering military information and attempting to win royalist soldiers over to the insurgent cause. Imprisoned with her daughters, the 52-year-old Bocanegra was later tried and sentenced to death. She was executed in 1817.