Spanish conquest of Yucatán/development/stages/end

Spanish Conquest of Yucatán (1527 – 1547)

In the 16th century, the Spanish empire was in a process of expansionism, conquering distant lands and imposing its Catholic culture and religion . The incursions of the Spanish empire were directed towards different areas of the Americas, in which their interventions were generally violent and imposing with dominance. Spanish conquest of Yucatán

Yucatán was among the expansionist plans of Spain. However, the conquest of this peninsula was not rapid as it happened in other areas of America. The Spanish managed to conquer Yucatán in a long period of 20 years. During this process of conquest the Mayans responded with resistance and attacked the Spanish incursions on different occasions . However, because the Spanish had greater military power in terms of weapons, clothing and strategy, they managed to subjugate the indigenous people of the peninsula. In addition, the Spanish had ships that allowed them to move more easily, which turned out to be decisive for their dominance. In this article we will talk in more detail about the events related to this conquest.

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Development of the Spanish conquest of Yucatan

Yucatán was discovered in the middle of the year 1517, however its colonization began years later because the Spanish focused their efforts on colonizing what is currently central Mexico and its surroundings. The conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula began in 1527 and culminated in 1547 . This process had three stages in which the colonists carried out different incursions with the use of force in order to subdue the Mayans. Spanish conquest of Yucatán

First stage

Francisco de Montejo, under the authorization of King Carlos I of Spain, began the first incursion with colonizing intentions in the Yucatan Peninsula. This first irruption took place in 1527 and would last until 1547 . The first point of arrival was the island of Cozumel, where they received a cordial welcome from the natives.

Although at first the arrival to the peninsula went without a hitch, soon after the natives attacked part of the group of men that Montejo had left in Salamanca . While they raided the peninsula they had some peaceful encounters with the natives of the area. However, after Montejo and his men headed inland until they reached Chauac Há, they were surprised by a violent attack by the Mayans , who despite being the majority, lost the battle that lasted for two days. Even so, the Mayans managed to withdraw Montejo and his men who had to flee to the town of Tecoh, where the Cheles lived, who received them peacefully.

Second stage

This second stage of the conquest took place during the years 1530 until the year 1535 . The colonizers managed to make alliances with the Cheles, who saw in the Spanish the opportunity for powerful associates to fight against their enemies. With the support and guidance of the Cheles, and in his eagerness to get gold, Montejo divided his forces, taking one group with him and sending another with Alonso de Ávila. In these incursions they faced Mayan Indians on different occasions, in which although they prevailed, they could realize that the support of the Cheles Indians was not enough . Different positions of the Spanish were attacked by the Mayans, therefore they had to twist the positions reached. Later,many soldiers abandoned Montejo because this second raid had not been successful . In addition, they had the opportunity to get gold in Peru. Spanish conquest of Yucatán

In one of the Mayan attacks Montejo was seriously injured in the leg. They were increasingly surrounded and displaced by the natives. In view of these decadent circumstances, Montejo withdrew with his men, thus ending the second stage of the conquest unsuccessfully, leaving the Yucatan peninsula under the control of the Mayans. Subsequently, in order to achieve the subjugation of the natives, he would ask the capital of New Spain as well as the Spanish crown for support.

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Third stage

The third campaign took place from the year 1540 to the year 1545. This was led by Francisco de Montejo Jr. and León “El Mozo” , who under the recommendations of his father began the third conquering incursion. Once on the peninsula, the Mozo sent for the Halach Uinik and Batabob Indians, from whom they had received support in previous raids. However, to the surprise of the Spanish, the Batabob refused to join the colonizers.

After the Spanish managed to establish key alliances with different tribes , they faced different Mayan groups, achieving dominance and submission. Soon more Spanish forces joined El Mozo. Subsequently, there was a strong confrontation planned by the Cocomes and Cupules, however they could not prevail against the Spanish and were forced to flee . After ending the confrontations in Tho, the Mozo founded the capital of Yucatán with the name of Mérida there on January 6, 1542. Spanish conquest of Yucatán

From that moment on, Spanish rule over the Yucatan Peninsula was imminent . They led different colonizing campaigns over the entire peninsula, subjugating those who resisted Spanish dominationOn many occasions they treated the prisoners with vile evil, who on occasions were even burned alive and also hanged . In this way, they were instilling fear and dominating the entire Yucatan peninsula.


After the strong rule, it seemed that the Spanish had achieved submission to the Spanish crown on the part of the indigenous people in 1546 . However, the natives did not want to fully accept the Catholic religion, much less did they agree with the tributes demanded by the Spanish and the encomienda system that they had implemented.Spanish conquest of Yucatán

In addition, there was much resentment against the Spanish for the violent campaigns they carried out throughout the peninsula. These circumstances led to a conspiracy led mainly by the Batabob and warriors of Cupul. This uprising took place on November 8 and 9, 1546 . The Mayans attacked in Valladolid, killing 17 Spaniards, including the captain and mayor Bernaldino de Villagómez and 400 indigenous people who supported the cause of the Spanish.

News of this attack reached the city of Mérida, the capital established by the Spanish in Yucatán. The Spanish organized the defense of Valladolid, thus breaking the siege that the natives had to rescue the inhabitants . In order to stop this uprising and attack by the Mayans, the Spanish attacked the groups that had risen up and captured the leaders of the different rebellions, sentenced to death.

This is how the jurisdictions of Chatemal, Uaymil, Cochuah, Cupul and Tazes were subjugated and reconquered . A last group of natives concentrated in resistance in the jurisdiction of Chikinmal, however they were subdued by Francisco Tamayo Pacheco, thus concluding the definitive conquest of the Yucatan peninsula. Finally, Francisco de Montejo promised the natives that he would rule with justice and equity, promising punishment to the Spaniards who did harm to the natives . These final actions brought the already conquered peninsula back to normal under Spanish rule. Spanish conquest of Yucatán

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