Pre-Columbian Mexico


Humans arrive

in Mexico

The oldest accepted human remains found in Mexico

are dated at roughly

13,000 - 12,000

years old .



One of the first civilizations

to emerge in Mexico


100 B.C. - 550 A.D

Little is known about the

builders of the massive

Pyramid of the Sun.

Reached its height between

150 and 450 AD and controlled

an area from northern Mexico

to Guatemala.

When Teotihuacan collapsed,

three cities in central

Mexico remained, Cholula,

Xochicalco and El Tajijn.

El Tajin

El Tajin had much influence on

the Gulf coast. Reached its

peak 600-900AD.


A holy city with the largest

pyramid in the world.

Most of its notable

architecture built between

about 700 and 1000 AD


Unlike Teotihuacan, it was fortified with moats and parapets. Most standing structures built 700-900 AD.



When Teotihuacan was

powerful, it acted as a

buffer between the cultures

of the Valley of Mexico and

the nomadic peoples to the

north .

With its downfall, nomadic

warriors entered the area

from the north,such as the

Toltecs. Toltecs found Tula

in 968 AD, the most important

city in Mexico between the

fall of Teotihuacan and the

rise of the Aztec



The Zapotecs dominated the area around Oaxaca with their city of Monte Alban for centuries.



(c. 2000 BC – 250 AD)

Preclassic period

(c. 250–900 AD)

Classic period

(c. 950–1539 AD)

Postclassic period

 (1511–1697 AD)

Spanish conquest


 The Mayans were famous for

with their amazing art,

architecture, glyphsh writing system

and astronomical knowledge .

By the close of the Pre-Classic

period, around 250 A.D.,

the Mayans were already

building their famous stepped

temple pyramids in cities

such as Uxactum and Tikal.

By the early 900s ,many of the

major cities were abandoned .

When the Spanish arrived they

found only the impoverished descendants of the

glory that was Mayan civilization .

Yet the Mayans were able to

fight off the Spanish for

over a hundred years. The last independent Maya kingdom of Tayasal, fell as late as 1697.



1428 - 1521 Aztec Empire

With the collapse of Tula in the

12th century, the primitive

Chichimecs groups again poured

into the Valley of Mexico from

the north. One of these were

the Aztecs,who would start to

control central Mexico

in the 1400s.

Collectively, certain Nahuatl speaking people migrated to the  Central Mexican valley in 13th A.D. from the north and the Spanish invasion are commonly referred to as the Aztecs. The Aztec empire was ruled by a political body called the Triple Alliance, made up of the Acolhua people of Texcoco, the Mexica in Tenochtitlán, and the Tepaneca people of Tlacopan. . In 1428 a Triple Alliance was established between Texcoco, Tlacopan and Tenochtitlán becoming the foundation of the Aztec Empire . Tenochtitlan quickly became dominant and ruled the Alliance by the time of the Spanish arrival  . The word ' Aztec '  is derived from Nahuatl meaning  ' people from Aztlan .'

Cortes and the Spanish Conquest 1517-1521

Spanish Expeditions
to Mexico

Story of Cortes-part1:

Early Life, Cuba(1506-19),


Story of Cortes

part 2:

Tabasco, Marina,

early 1519

Story of Cortes-part 3

Cortes Burns Ships,



Story of Cortes

part 4:

Cholula,March to

Aztec capital 

Story of Cortes-

part 5:Montezuma

Story of Cortes

part 6
Retreat (NocheTriste)
June 1520

 Story of Cortes part 7

Aztecs Surrender
August 1521

Modern View

of Cortes


Colonial Mexico 1519 - 1821



Converting the Indians  The Encomiendas

Gov in New Spain

Mixton War of 1540 -41

Virgin of Guadalupe

The Inquisition in Mexico

Cultural Life in New Spain

The Social Classes

Economy of New Spain

Colonial Architecture

Bourbon Reforms

Mexican Colonial Coins


Mexican War of Independence        First Mexican Empire         Early Republic

 War for Independence

1810 -1821

Napoleon's conquest of Spain

spurs calls for independence

Miguel Hidalgo and his Grito de Dolores

("Cry of Dolores")

First Mexican Empire 1821

General Agustín de Iturbide

declares himself emperor.

Leader of the antimonarchists  Antonio Lopes de

Santa Anna

restores Republic.

Early Mexican Republic

Centralist and Federalists vie

for power

Constitution of 1824

Pres.Victoria,Guerrero &


1829 Spanish invasion


Santa Anna            Mexican American War

Santa Anna
1833 - 47
Mayan Caste War
Republic of Rio Grande

Public was roused against Bustamante for execution of Guerrero and repression.

Santa Anna elected pres.

Rescinds reforms and becomes centralist,states lose power.

Constitution of 1836

His corruption and extravagance.

Rebellions against rule.

Revolt of Texas
Prelude to the Mexican American War 1846-4


Anglo-Americans allowed to settle Texas.


Reasons for Texas Rebellion.


Santa Anna captured at Battle

of San Jacinto

Santa Anna deposed

Treaty of Velasco

1838 Pastry War with France.

Santa Anna leads army to

drive out the French, becomes

pres. again

Mexican American War

Mexican-American War


American plans for Manifest Destiny,dispute over Texas.

Reasons for Mexican defeat.

Loss of half of Mexico



Revolution of Ayutla          French Intervention            Restored Republic

 Revolution of Ayutla,
1857 Constitution
War of the Reform 1857-61

Santa Anna sells Gadsen

Purchase in 1853.

Revolution of Ayutla to oust

Santa Anna,restore federal rule.

Constitution of 1857

Reforms to curb power of

military and church.

Brutal War of the Reform


Juarez becomes pres,

country bankrupt,

huge foreign debts

 French Intervention

Second Mexican Empire


English,Spanish and French

troops land to collect debt.

Napoleon III uses this as

pretext to invasion,Spanish,

English depart.

French defeat at Puebla

Maximilian becomes the

Emperor of Mexico

Emperor issues the Black Decree

  American Support for Juarez -Confederate Offer

Execution of the Emperor

Restored Republic

Juarez elected pres. 1867



and church reforms.


Rurales established to

stop banditry


Mexico City-Veracruz



Juarez dies 1876, Gen.Diaz,

hero of the French invasion,

seizes power


Diaz and the Porfiriato           Mexican Revolution            Obergon, Callas and the The Cristero War

Diaz and the Porfiriato

Foreign investment

encouraged through stability,

low wages and low taxes

Farmers and Indians

cheated of lands,put into debt peonage-no education


Railways,industry make great advances

 Madero,Villa,Zapata overthrow


Madero becomes pres.,

Coup by Gen.Huerta.

Huerta resigns,

Carranza becomes pres.

Carranza's Gen.Obregon

defeats Villa.

Constitution of 1917

Zapata and Villa assassinated

Obregon overthrows Carranza

Mexican Revolution


Obergon, Callas and the

The Cristero War 1920-1934

1921 Mexico was the worlds third largest producer of oil


Jose Vasconcelos as secretary

of education


Diego Rivera murals


Obregon assassinated

by Cristeno


Pres.Callas the



Cardenas and Nationalization        Camacho  & World War II       1947 - 2016 Post war Mexico

Cardenas and Oil

Nationalization 1934-40

Callas and his

supporters exiled

49,000,000 acres


 Nationalization of the

Oil Companies

World War II


Gov bank established

to help industry


Each one teach one


Mexican tankers were torpedoed

by German submarines

 Mexico declares war on Axis


Squadron 201 of the Mexican air force fights in

Pacific theater

1947 - 2016
Post war economic
Boom and Bust

Postwar Mexico prosperous


1951 Mexican segment of the Pan-American Highway finished


1952 Women were allowed to vote


1968 Tlatelolco massacre and Olympics


Maquiladoras started late 60s

70-80s massive Peso devaluation, Huge debt IMF bailout

90s decline of Colombian drug

cartels leads to rise of

Mexican drug cartels,which now control 70% of the illegal

drug flow into the U.S.

2006 Pres.Calderon intensifies

war on cartels.


Mexican History Maps

Map of Mexican archeological sites


map of the The Viceroyalty of New  Spain

map of modern Mexico


Google map of Mexico

Top Heroes and Villains in Mexican History


Mexican History Mp3s

Glossary with pronunciation


Epidemics in Mexican History



Mexican History Time Lines

Time line of Mexican History


Mexican Revolution Timeline


Mexican-American War Timeline


Mexican History News

Mexican Food Can Be Traced All The Way Back To 7000 BC

Ek' Balam: Haunting Ruins of an Abandoned Maya Kingdom


What was the Deadly Cocoliztli Disease that Decimated Aztec Society?


How a flower from Mexico became a symbol of Christmas


Last pocket of tropical rain forest in North America under threat

Lidar helps uncover an ancient, kilometer-long Mayan structure


Lost Mayan city of Mirador


London show sheds light on Aztec Emperor


Mexico Quick Facts 2020

Population: 129,150,971 (  2022 est, CIA Fact book )  11th largest in the world

GDP 2.46 Trillion ( 2022 est  CIA Fact book )    11th largest economy

11th Largest oil producer

Mexico has a rich history, going back 20 centuries .The Pre-Columbian cities in Mexico were the most populous in the world at their time with great advancements in art and building . Prior to the Spanish,the Mayans developed superbly built city-states in the Yucatan  and the city of Tectihuacan with a population of 200,000 in 600 A.D., made it the largest city in the world .Their Successors the Aztecs ruled over most of central Mexico . 
 Mexico a mestizo society where the native population and Spanish have blended to make the country what it is today, the native peoples still make up to 30% of the population.The country has been rocked by upheavals and the loss of almost half its territory in war, foreign invasion and revolution, yet still remains a vibrant country with a unique cultural identity which started to be called mexicanidad during the Mexican Revolution .





National Museum of Mexican Art

Museo Nacional de Historia



Link to MexicanHistory.org


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© Thomas Zimmerman 2008

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