Category Archives: Mexican History

CRADLE OF THE NATION

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cuna

Tlaxcala likes to call itself the Cradle of the Nation (Cuna de la Nacion), because during the conquest , 1519 till 1521, many conquistadors “married” native women and the following year gave birth  they claim to the first “Mestiza” children. Half Spanish and  half native. The first true Mexicans.  BUT… in reality by going back aways in time to 1511 we discover that a Spanish ship with explorers sank uff the coast of Yucatan and only two men survived and made it to shore where they were captured and made slaves by the Mayans. Their names were Geronimo Aguilar, a priest explorer and Gonzalo Guerrero a sailor. They spent seven years amongst the Mayans and became assemilated into the tribe and learned the Mayan language. Geronimo the Priest maintained his vows of celibacy but Gonzalo the sailor after a year or so married a native girl and had two children, Thus becoming the father of the first Mestizo children in Mexico.
A few years later Hernan Cortes stopped in Yucatan and discovered them and Geronimo jumped at the chance to be able to return to Spain.  But Gonzalo refused to go with them, not only did he stay with the tribe but when other Spaniard treasure seekers arrived he fought along with the natives against the Spanish and ended up being killed.

While in Cempoala, Veracruz, the Spaniards were given some native girls and amongst them was a girl named “Marina” or so named by Cortes, later she was called malintzi,.. she had lived on the Coast and knew Mayan but as a slave moved to the area where Nahuatl language was spoken. When Cortes found this out he had someone who could speak to everyone under Moctezumas power… she could then intrepret it to Mayan and Geronimo would reintrepret it into Spanish.  Later on Malintzi would become Cortes’ lover and bear him a son.

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It was said that she learned Spanish within 3 or 4 months time. and she was about 17 years of age. An Amazing feat. Although many consider her a traitor and the Tlaxcalans also for teaming up with the Spanish, you have to consider the circumstances of the time.Tlaxcala was surrounded and embargoed for over 50 years and at constant war with the Aztecs, Malintzi had been sold as a slave and it was her chance to break those chains.

After the fall of the Aztecs, Geronimo was granted land by the Viceroys for his participation in the Conquest and Malintzi and her son was given a house in Tenochitlan, Now Mexico City , it can be seen across from the Archeological Ruins of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City.  Her son as a young man was involved in an uprising against the Royalty and beheaded.

Cortes abandoned Malintzi and returned to Spain, He was already married to a wealty woman there. He lost all his fortune and died practically in poverty.  Fate has many twists and turns.

THE FIRING SQUAD

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The Firing Squad

I was browsing through some old photos and I ran across a photo of my wife’s Uncle Moses When he was a much younger man and played catcher on a baseball team in Puebla in the early 40’s.

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Uncle Moses was the best man at my wedding and a great guy. So I found this photo of him on the team but there was something else about the photo that caught my eye. I told my son, look at this guy standing in the back row wearing a hat, there’s something wrong with his face.

ball team about 1940      10634360_10204461065107707_2124302285_n

 

He looked at it and said, You’re right, it looks deformed like he has no chin. He said, I’ve seen this guy or a photo of him somewhere before. So he thought about it for awhile and said, You know where I think I saw him was at Ripley’s  Believe it or Not Museum in New York.
 So we started searching through Ripley’s internet pages and sure enough we found some photos of the same Guy. It turned out to be a very interesting story.

The man who returned from his own execution

 

General Carranza

General Carranza

Back during the Mexican Revolution (1915) a young man by the name of  Wenceslao Moguel , whio lived in Yucatan, Mexico joined up with Revolutionaries fighting on the side of Venustiano Carranza gathered up a group of students to fight the opposing enemy, poorly armed and inexperienced they were captured and a Col. Ortiz ordered their execution by firing squad. Wenceslao was in the last group to face a squad of 8 soldiers and after a cigarette they fired 8 rounds into his body, he fell and the Col. Went over with a revolver and shot him in the head with a Coup de Grace shot.

Mexican Firing Squad

Mexican Firing Squad


 Another battle was taking place so the bodies were left where they were. But Wenceslao wasn’t dead, although severly wounded he managed to crawl to the church of St. James Apostle three blocks away where a church member  found him, took him home a helped to stop his  bleeding cared for him till he recuperated. After the Revolution ended he became known as the miracle of the executed man who returned from the dead.  He traveled around the country and even to the USA where he was invited on the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Radio Program in 1937.

Wenceslao Moguel Survivor of Firing Squad on Ripleys Radio Program

          Wenceslao Moguel
Survivor of Firing Squad on Ripleys Radio Program

Wenceslao Moguel and Robert Ripley

Wenceslao Moguel and Robert Ripley

 

  He returned to his beloved Yucatan home where he lived to be 85 years old and he passed away about 1975. 

Then I got to wondering, why was he at this baseball game. I think it was because he was paying a visit to Uncle Moses Father, )my wifes grandfather=, Major Rosalio Romero who had been in command of the military headqurters of General Carranzas troops stationed in Tlaxcala. 

 

THE PYRAMID IN THE SUBWAY

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THE PYRAMID IN THE SUBWAY

 

Back in the sixties the government, in preparation for the upcoming Olympic games of 1968 decided to start building the subway in Mexico City. While excavating in the downtown section of what is now known as Pino Suarez station they unearthed a round shaped pyramid. Actually my history professor would dispute that claim and tell me, “It’s not a pyramid it’s an altar built by the Mexica Indians around the 1400’s.”

 

Dedicated to Ehecatl the wind god.

Dedicated to Ehecatl the wind god.

It’s discovery presented a problem , the National Institute of Archeology and History ( INAH), intervened and after serious discussions metro officials signed an agreement to let the altar remain and allow INAH officials to preserve and maintain it.

So passageways were built around it, local fauna planted to spruce it up , river rocks and illumination were implemented. Now over 40 years later close to 200,000 people a day pass by this magnificent prehispanic monument on their way to work or daily routines. A touch of history to remind them of the past.

Mexico City Subway

Mexico City Subway

 

The METRO as the subway system is called has many locations that feature art, culture and history to see more check this link by Peter Davies…….

http://mexicocitymetro.wordpress.com/

MOCTEZUMAS NIGHTMARE

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Moctezumas Nightmare

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 Moctezuma, The emperor of the Aztec Empire, )called Montezuma in English, but whose name was really Motecuhzoma, to difficult to pronounce by either English or Spanish had a foreboding feeling about the future  and his superstition was one of the many factors that caused the fall of the Aztecs.

 

 The Aztecs believed the God Quetzalcoatl )The plumed Serpent= was a white skinned god with a red beard and that he had went to the east and disappeared but had left a message that he would return in the year One Cane of the Aztec Calendar.

 

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About ten years before this date many things happened in Tenochitlan that were considered to be ill omens. All of these  were recorded in the ¨Florentine Codice¨.

There were eight events that caused great apprehension and fear throughout the empire.

First of all a shining light was seen in the sky to the east that seemed to be a comet with drops of fire falling from it, It could be seen at nightfall till dawn for several months.

 The second omen was when the temple of the god of war burst into flames and was reduced to ashes .

The third disaster came when lightning struck the temple of Tzommolco, a part of the Main Temple. It occured on a clear day  and the witnesses to it said strangely enough there was no accompaning thunder.

The fourth presage was fire that fell from the sky with a rattling sound. Shortly thereafter a fifth event occured when the water of the lake started boiling and it overflowed the banks damaging many houses.

The sixth omen came on several nights when the emperor could hear a womans voice coming from the lake as he stood on his terrace, crying out mournfully… saying: “ My children, my children, where have they been taken?”     Moctezuma sent out search parties but they found nothing. After the conquest this story was told many times and I believe it is the basis for the myth of the crying woman. A tale that is still prevalent and used to scare disobedient children with the threat that the crying woman will come for them if they misbehave.

The Weeping Woman

 

The seventh and strangest omen came when a group of fishermen caught a crane in their nets that had a shiny mirrorlike stone embedded in its head. It was presented to the King and when he looked at it he said he saw stars, the constellation of Taurus, groups of agitated men and men riding on deers. (note: there were no horses or draft animals in preColombian Mexico) . He looked away and called his astrologers but when he looked again the images had vanished

The eight omen it was said that deformed persons had been found wandering the streets a person with two heads was seen.

 

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Moctezuma asked his astrologers and prophets what all these things meant and they said it signified the end of the empire and the return of Quetzalcoatl. All of these things cast a shadow of depression and gloom upon the land.

 The year one cane (1519 A.D.) was fast approaching and the Emperor was sure that the plumed serpent would return.  The stage was set for disaster.

So we ask, Did Moctezuma see a vision and forecast of the Spanish coming??

 

THE RISE OF TENOCHITLAN

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The Rise of Tenochitlan

the plumed serpent

    the plumed serpent   

God of War

God of War

Tlaloc the rain god

Present day Mexico City sits atop the ruins of the Aztec Empire. The Spanish systematically destroyed many things such as the templesand buildings and used the stones to build their own Colonial Empire. The Aztecs had thousands of pictographic manuscripts recordind their history , customs, astronomy, medicine and other things all of which were burned by the Spanish priests because they looked demonic. Only 13 codices remain. Now archeologists and anthropologist struggle to piece this puzzle together as to what went on in the Aztec world.

About 1325 nomadic Aztecs left a place called Aztlan or the place of seven caves and arrived in the area of what we now know as Mexico City. At that time it was a huge lake with a small island in the center . The high priests saw an eagle with a snake in its mouth alight upon a cactus and decided this was a sign from the gods that they should settle there.
Within a hundred years they had built a society that dominated the Central Highlands all yhe way to Guatemala, the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific.
It was a society of Priest warriors who demanded tributes )taxes= from surrounding sedentary tribes.
An exception to this rule was the tiny Republic of Tlaxcala, a confederation of regions ruled by four kings who would meet to discuss important decisions.
They informed the Aztecs that they had never paid tributes to anyone before and they had no intention of ever doing so. This arrogance couldn´t be tolerated by the Aztec rulers and there was a continuous state of war, raids and skirmishes between them.
Although they were outnumbered by about 20 to 1 , the Tlaxcalans were fierce fighters and managed to hang on to their sovereignty.
Tenochitlan had a population of around 200,000 inhabitants. In spite of their warlike nature they developed culture, art, music, architecture and had a well organized society. They made great buildings and sculptures without the aid of metal tools, the wheel or draft animals.
But there was a sickness eating at the soul of this civilization, the sickness of human sacrifice and an oppressive government that subjigated its subjects many of whom were just waiting for a way to get out from under its heel.
The main deities that the Aztecs worshipped were Quetzalcoatl (The Plumed Serpent), Tlaloc (The Rain God), and Huitzilapochtli (God of War), and others, all of which had a great thirst that could only be quenched with blood About 10,000 people a year were sacrificed to these gods, and on special occasions even more.

And this was the situation just prior to the arrival of the Spanish.

THE CITY OF THE GODS

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The City of the Gods

Pyramid of the Sun

Pyramid of the Sun

About 30 miles  Northeast of Mexico City is Teotihuacan , Which means ¨The Place of the Gods¨. Now a major Archeological Zone and one of the best preserved in the Country. It began as an agricultural center around 200 B.C. . It reached it´s peak about  450 A.D. and it´s power reached as far south as Guatemala.  The City itself was one of the first urban cities, well planned and organized. It covered an area of 8 square miles, larger than even Imperial Rome.  It was a cultural trading center whose influence can be found in the architecture of other cities that sprang up about the same time, such as Cholula  and Cantona. Pyramid of the moon10 048            teotihuacan march 24, 2010 052   Somewhere around the year 600 A.D. it went into a decline and collapsed, we can only speculate as to the reason why… plagues, wars with wandering Nomadic Tribes, Internal Strife and rebellions, natural disasters such as droughts.  Archeologists suggest that one reason for it´s collapse was  deforestation of the area for miles around.  The city´s structures were all painted white  with  quicklime  whatwash which has a process of being burned, the amount of whitewash that had to be processed consumed huge amounts of wood  possibly causing an ecological disaster  maybe along with droughts and other phenomena . By the time the  nomadic Aztecs arrived, , around 1300 A.D.,  Teotihuacan had been long abandoned leaving the Aztecs to believe that only Gods could have built such a grandiose place.

 

Temple of the Plumed Serpent

Temple of the Plumed Serpent

Tlaloc the rain god

TLALOC The Rain God.

More photos here….

 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1442320975668.2062295.1162394476&type=1&l=329e9d1841

 

The Hero of Nacozari

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 In 1907 a young Mexican Train Engineer saw a train loaded with Dynamite sitting next to a storage house filled with dynamite catch on fire from sparks of a passing locomotive. He jumped in the cab of the train, gave it full throttle and roared out of town, just as he got clear of the main part of town the Dynamite exploded, 13 people including the engineer died in the blast but the rest of the town was saved thanks to the bravery of Jesus Garcia Corona.

 My wife was teaching English in The Hero of Nacozari High School in Apizaco, Tlaxcala and the Director asked her to prepare a  Commemorative Speech about the Hero of Nacozari in the following month for the 90th Anniversary of his death.  We couldnt find very much information in Apizaco so we decided to take a trip to Nacozari, Sonora where the copper mines were.

Upon arriving there the Mayor, the local historian and museum curater and many other people were most helpful in supplying us with an abundance of information.

 Jesus Garcia was 23 years old and engaged to be married. He was so well liked that the mining company rewarded him with a trip to the Worlds Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri.

 The morning of November 7th, 1907 as Jesus went to work, his engine was sitting in the freight yard loaded with 10,000 lbs. of dynamite and gun powder sitting next to a Storage house filled with dynamite, Waiting to be delivered to the copper mines. He heard shouts of “Fire..it’s gonna blow”and without hesitation he jumped into the cab of the engine and gave it full throttle to get out of the town.the train exploded and eyewitnesses sait it rained gravel and metal fragments for several minutes. The only thing they found of Jesus was one of his boots.. which is interred at his gravesite in downtown Nacozari.

Every November 7th the railroad workers of Mexico have parades in his honor.

To see more photos of the town and the site of the explosion click on this link….