Viceroy of New Spain
He became viceroy in 1535 and governed for 15 years, longer than any subsequent viceroy. On his arrival in New Spain, he found a recently conquered colony beset with Indian uprisings and rivalry among the conquerors. His difficult assignment was to govern in the king's name without making an enemy of Hernán Cortés, whom Emperor Charles V (King Charles I of Spain) and the Council of the Indies judged too rough to be made a duke and given any higher post than the Captaincy-General of New Spain, a post for which he was well suited. He was also directed to increase royal revenues and regulate the affairs of the Indians.
As viceroy, Mendoza commissioned the expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to explore and establish settlements in the northern lands of New Spain in 1540-42, the expedition of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo to explore the western coastline of Alta California in 1542-43, and the expedition of Ruy López de Villalobos to the Philippines in 1542-43. The Codex Mendoza is named for him. He probably commissioned it.
Don Antonio and Bishop Juan de Zumárraga were key in the formation of two institutions of Mexico: the Colegio de Santa Cruz at Tlatelolco (1536), where the sons of Aztec nobles studied the imposed Latin, rhetoric, philosophy and music, and the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico (1552), modeled on the University of Salamanca, which trained young men for the imposed Church. These institutions were the first and second universities respectively to be established in the Americas, however, the indigenous peoples of the Aztec Empire had an education system in place before the colonization of their land. In 1536 he began the minting of silver and copper coins, known as macuquinas. Also under his instructions, the first printing press in the New World was brought to Mexico in 1539, by printer Juan Pablos (Giovanni Paoli). The first book printed in Mexico: La Escala Espiritual de San Juan Clímaco. On May 18, 1541 don Antonio founded the city of Valladolid (now Morelia, Michoacán).
In 1542 an insurrection of the Indians, called the Mixtón Rebellion threatened to push the Spaniards out of northwestern Mexico, bringing the area under indigenous control. The Viceroy himself had to take the field and bring all disposable manpower. The rebellion was quenched and the surviving Indians were harshly punished. By the viceroy's order men, women and children were seized and executed, some by cannon fire, some torn apart by dogs, and others stabbed.
In 1544 the Emperor promulgated the New Laws abolishing slavery and gradually abolishing the encomienda. Mendoza, an ally of the encomenderos, was both unable and unwilling to enforce these laws in the face of rigorous opposition from the holders of the encomienda grants. When news reached Mexico of the civil war that had broken out in Peru over similar reforms, thought to undermine the rigorous encomienda system, he had the laws suspended and then revoked. In 1548 he suppressed an uprising of the Zapotecs.
During his term of office, Mendoza is credited with consolidating the sovereignty of the Crown throughout the Spanish conquests in New Spain and limiting the power and ambition of the first conquistadors. Many of the political and economic policies he established endured throughout the entire colonial period. He promoted the construction of hospitals and schools and encouraged improvements in agriculture, ranching and mining. His administration did much to bring stability and peace to New Spain.
He was succeeded as viceroy of New Spain by Luis de Velasco. It is reported that his advice to his successor was: "Do little and do that slowly."
Read more about this topic: Antonio De Mendoza
Famous quotes containing the word spain:
“Heroic ages are not and never were sentimental and those daring conquistadores who conquered entire worlds for their Spain or Portugal received lamentably little thanks from their kings.”
—Stefan Zweig (18811942)