The Colonial City


in Mexico City through History and Culture

Published by British Academy

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780197264461
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734625 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers

The Colonial City

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This chapter demonstrates that while Spain had a clear vision of what the conquered Aztec city should be, the city of the conquistadors was relatively short for it was soon transformed by its Creole inhabitants who made their own identity pronounced on its building and culture. For 300 years, the city of Mexico was the capital of viceroyalty. It was the capital of New Spain and was the seat of the metropolitan archbishopric of Mexico. During the first decades of the seventeenth century, a generation of young Creoles entered the secular priesthood and the religious orders. They challenged the predominance of European Spaniards, affirmed their talents and identity, and started looking back to the glorious past the conquistadors had destroyed. However, the development of the city was constrained and limited by the city’s status as the viceregal capital of New Spain. Its status hence meant that the city depended on the political decisions and cultural influences emanating from the Spanish. Out of this tension, a creative process of change emerged in which different ethnic groups and cultures intermingled and conflicted to ensure that the social composition and character of Mexico City would be different from the other cities in Spanish America. However, these changes were not brought without due loss. Due to the conquest and the Old World diseases the Mexico population fell to the near brink of oblivion. These epidemics and natural calamities continued to afflict the city throughout the colonial period.

Keywords: Spain; city of the conquistadors; city of Mexico; capital of viceroyalty; New Spain; seventeenth century; viceregal capital; ethnic groups; cultures

Chapter.  6257 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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