The History of Mexico

A Summary of Key Events in Mexican History

The history of Mexico is intense, dramatic and fascinating! Unravel a summary of important historic events from the emergence of early civilizations including the Olmecs, Toltecs and Mayans to the rise and fall of the Aztec Empire and the following Spanish Conquest.

When you consider the iconic events that occurred within the history of Mexico you could easily mistake the subject as a Hollywood film script.

In the pre-Columbian period many advanced Mesoamerican Civilizations dominated the confines of the map of Mexico. These early communities made major developments and progressed to shape the nature of Mexican history as we know it today. After the rise and fall of the early groups, we can consider the widespread range of consequential events. The arrival of Hernando Cortes and the Spanish Conquest, the War of Independence and the Mexican Revolution stand out as the most memorable and culturally significant developments within the progression of the country.

The Palenque Ruins

The Early Mesoamerican Civilizations

Three of the most prominent and notable early civilizations to be found in the country were the the Olmecs (around 1400BC), the Mayans (around 250AD) and the Aztecs (around 1320AD). However, the Toltecs, Zapotecs, Mixtec and Tlaxcalteca people also all had a major part to play in the early foundations of the history of Mexico.

The Olmecs

The Olmecs dominated the landscape for a transitional period between the years of 1400-400BC. The early Olmec population influenced developments with their cultural style, religious traditions and early forms of architecture. It is thought that the first evidence of recorded writing, stone carvings and artistic remains in the country date back to the time of the Olmecs.

The Mayans

The Mayans excelled in mathematics. It is said that the Maya calendar which they devised was still in use until the beginning of this century. The early cultural communities practiced strong religious customs.

Between the 9th and 12th centuries, the Mayans would progress to develop and build El Castillo in Chichen Itza. They built many iconic structures in Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula. You can still visit the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, Coba and Muyil today.

The Mayan Dream

The Toltecs

Toltec influences and architectural styles have been found in many archaeological Mayan sites. Archaeologists can only speculate as to the importance and relevance of this correlation. The Toltec civilization were at their peak between the years of 800-1000AD. The Toltecs were the rulers and inhabitants of the famous site of Tula in the Hildago region of Mexico.

The Aztecs

The Aztecs are one of the most famous and regularly referenced civilizations throughout the world. The sheer speed and power in which the Aztec Empire evolved accounts in part for their notoriety. The military skill and planning devised by the Aztecs combined to develop their empire from coast to coast. The Aztecs introduce a taxation scheme on goods and trading to increase their ever expanding power.

The history of Mexico will record however that both the Maya and Aztecs are remembered for their extreme religious beliefs and practices. There was a common belief that in order for the universe to function continually, human sacrifice and blood was required. The Aztecs would normally acquire their victims through battle and then offer them up through sacrifice.

Historical Mexican Carving

The Spanish Conquest

The most commonly spoken Mexican Language today is Spanish, its inhabitants are also predominantly Christian and Catholic. That is huge transition from the time of the early religious practices of the Aztecs.

The course of Mexican history changed forever with the arrival of the Spanish and the subsequent Spanish Conquest.

At the start of the 16th century Spanish expeditions began to arrive and descend upon the map of Mexico. It is thought that they initially explored the Yucatan Peninsula. Commander Hernan Cortez was in charge of many of the early expeditions.

Hernando Cortes developed many enemies, some even from his own fleet, he made a series of tactical and military decisions to survive. He formed allegiances with both the Aztecs and Tlaxcalteca communities, which were the two main Mesoameriacn civilizations at the time. Cortez used these allegiances to negotiate himself into a place of power and influence. Significant battles and prolonged warfare followed.

Mexico History Site

The Mexican War of Independence

The struggle and consequential Mexican War of Independence lasted for eleven years. Between the years of 1810 to 1821 the war was waged to establish independence from Spain. In 1824 after a few more years of revolt and protest, Guadalupe Victoria became the first Mexican President.

Things were not easy for the president however, because large sections of the population initially ignored laws and actions that were put in place. From this point on various governments were initiated but would subsequently fail. The main groups to find power were the Conservatives and Liberals.

A battle with the United States dominated proceedings in the history of Mexico from around 1836. One of the key elements in the Mexican American conflict was based on the subject of the US Mexico border. The US disagreed on the proximity and land ownership around the border.

Mayan Hom

The Mexican Revolution

The events of the Mexican Revolution lasted for around twenty years between the dates of 1910 and 1929. It is thought that the conflict and disagreements started initially when the 80 year old president Porfirio Diaz held an election in 1910. His main rival for the election was Francisco Madero who was very popular with voters at the time.

Diaz ultimately won the election by a huge margin.

Confusion followed at this point, when it was widely suggested by supporters of the popular Madero that the unexpected election results could have been rigged.

People rioted and protested against what they believed was a corrupt government.

Substantial conflicts and political unrest commenced as various power struggles took place during the following twenty year period.

So as I said at the start of this page, some of these events could easily have come directly from a film script. They are however significant milestones in the development of modern day culture and remain important events in the history of Mexico.

The Aztec Calendar

Mexico Souvenirs



Return to Riviera Maya Holidays










The Olmecs

Small image of Olmec Head


Maya Civilization

mayan pillars


Maya Pyramids

Mayan Pyramid


Coba Ruins

View from the Coba Ruins


Chichen Itza

Close-up image of Chichen Itza


Muyil

Pyrmaid at Muyil


Tulum Ruins

Ruins on the beach in tulum


Mexican Animals

Iguanna in Mexico


Hernan Cortez

Spanish Expedition Ship


Map of Mexico

Small map of Mexico


US Mexico Border

The US Mexico Border


Food Origins

Crops growing in a field


Mexico Culture

Cultural Fabrics


Mexico Flag

The flag of Mexico


Mexico Landmarks

Landmark Building in Mexico


Easter in Mexico

Church Bells