Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has many historical events, early cultural influence, and the indigenous humanity that is native to the area. Visiting this part of Mexico – northern Yucatan Peninsula brings out the curious side of many historians. There is so much to see and explore in a land that has experienced so much history throughout its existence. The Mayan culture has endured many changes throughout the millennium but still has such an influential status in the region.
Yucatan Peninsula – The Mayan Indians
The Mayan Indians arrived in the Yucatan Peninsula, which today is the state of the Yucatan, around 500 BC – 250 AD. Evidence of these dates lie in the archeological sites of Coba, Dzibanche, and Kohunlich. This ancient but very highly-advanced civilization showed signs of a suffocated society that developed an infrastructure that operated very similar to today’s modern cities. The Mayans were also very innovative farmers who knew how to enrich soils and use the landscape to their advantage.
The Mayan culture mingled amongst other indigenous tribes that were inherent to the area during the 10th through the 13th centuries. Spain invaded the Yucatan Peninsula during the 16th century, which interrupted the Mayan civilization. When Spain finally conquered the Yucatan region in 1537, they were on their way to ruling the region for almost three centuries. The Spaniards brought their off-shore influences to a culture that knew nothing about the opposing foreigners.
Spanish influence on the Mayan culture
Spain wanted to change the Mayan culture to their way of thinking. They imposed their social rule, economic posture, and the ever-expanding Christian faith – Catholicism. Many of the Mayan’s centuries-old books and documents were lost and/or destroyed during the Spanish conflict. When visiting the city of Merida today, much of its structures were built with centuries-old Mayan temples and pyramids carved out stones.
Spain created new colonies in a region that offered several advantages that included an alternate shipping port that created new tariffs and tax revenue that supported its vast empire. Not all the Mayan tribes gave into Spain’s efforts to overthrow their homeland. There were still pockets of resistance towards the Spaniards. The Mayan Indians utilized the element of surprise to their favor when warring. The Indians used handmade spears, bows and arrows and stones against the well-equipped conquistadors. However, the Spaniards brought diseases to the region that took many Mayan lives.
How Spain took control over the Yucatan state
Spain’s Francisco de Montejo y Alvarez, a captain who commanded four Spanish inquisition ships, return to the Yucatan in 1528. He tried to capture the eastern coast of the peninsula – Tulum & Chetumal, with little to no success. He was met with overpowering resistance and was forced to retreat back to Merida. Francisco was reassigned to search out further possibilities south. Spain set up township counsels in Campeche and Merida in 1541 – 42. The Conquistadors eventually moved their forces south through what is now Central American. At this particular point in time, Spain was gaining control over the Yucatan state. Spain’s King V, – Holy Roman Emperor, announced Francisco de Montejo y Alvarez as the Captain General of the Yucatan.
At this point in the article, we are going to end this segment. We hope you have enjoyed this first portion of a three-part series article. Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.
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