20 Iconic Pictures From Mexican History
After having seen the iconic Notre Dame in flames, it’s more important than ever to appreciate the history and artefacts that we have been graced with from history. Let’s face it: there’s no shortage of interesting points in Mexican history! And so, we’ve put together a collection of gorgeous, thought-provoking, and politically stark pictures from Mexican history for you to enjoy.
1. The Aztec Empire
Flickr / British Library
The capital, Tenochtitlan, was established in 1325 – right where we know Mexico City to be today. By the time the Spanish arrived in the area, Tenochtitlan was populated by many different ethnic groups from around the area, with about 100,000 to 200,000 people living in the capital.
2. Hernán Cortés
Instagram / @papermoney_world
This guy was the Spanish conquistador who arrived on the Mexican mainland in 1519, and eventually ended up taking the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, without a battle. It turns out he couldn’t keep it for long, after having outraged the locals. In 1521, he secured Mexico for real.
3. The Battle of Calderon Bridge
Instagram / @father_hidalgo
1811 saw a band of rebel peasantry and workers, led by Father Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende, storm Calderon Bridge and try to take Guadalajara. Even though the rebel forces lost, Mexican independence was eventually won, and Mexico’s Day of Independence became September 16th, marking the day Hidalgo announced in his church that it was time to overthrow the Spanish.
4. Antonio López de Santa Anna
Instagram / @santa_anna1795
Antonio López de Santa Anna rose to prominence during Mexico’s War of Independence … fighting for the Spanish army. However, he eventually switched sides, which turned out to be a boon in disguise. This guy was President of Mexico 11 times, despite his dramatically inept skills on the battlefield.
5. Benito Juarez
Instagram / @emanuelrefi
Born into poverty, Benito Juarez climbed his way to the top, becoming President in 1858. The French ousted him in 1864 – but not for long! Juarez drove them out three years later, to become reinstated as President, leading Mexico until his death in 1872.
6. Porfirio Diaz
Instagram / @donporfirio
This guy wasn’t really good news for Mexico – apologies to anyone who is a Diaz fan. He tried for years to try and gain the presidency, and having failed, entered Mexico City with an army and “won” the following election. Despite the fact that he did modernise Mexico, he also ensured that the wealth remained rich, and the poor stayed destitute. Unsurprisingly, he was a prime target in the Mexican revolution in 1910.
7. Pancho Villa
Instagram / @thedeathdieclub
Attacker of the US, bandit, warlord, and one head figure of the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa certainly has a colorful history. His idealistic streak got him involved in the revolution – and despite the victory for the revolutionaries, Pancho Villa was eventually assassinated in 1923.
8. Emilio Zapata’s Assassination
Instagram / @contrabandosydney
Emilio Zapata was one of the figureheads for the Mexican Revolution, but was betrayed and assassinated in 1919. This was particularly saddening, given that he was the real moral conscience of the Revolution.
9. The Battle of Puebla
Instagram / @blackluckvintage
“Cinco de Mayo” is a celebration of the unlikely victory Mexico had over the French in 1862. At the time, France sent an army to invade Mexico to collect on a debt, heading to the city of Puebla. However, the smaller Mexican army managed to head off the French on the 5th of May – hence the national holiday.
10. Frida Kahlo’s Self-portrait with Cropped Hair
Instagram / @fridakahlo
Possibly one of the most iconic paintings from the most iconic artist to come out of Mexico, Frida Kahlo is known for her series of vibrant and detailed self-portraits that depicted the best and worst of herself.
11. Diego Rivera’s The Epic of the Mexican People
Instagram / @artandaboutpdx
It’s impossible to mention Frida Kahlo without also talking about her husband, Diego Rivera, if only for the fact that their art was influenced heavily by their tumultuous relationship. That being said, Rivera created this particular mural to celebrate the success of the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s.
12. David Alfaro Siqueiros’ Echo of a Scream
Instagram / @mmrthe1nonly
One of the first of the three greats of Mexican muralism, David Alfaro Siqueiros was heavily influenced by his politics when it came to creating art. Due to his radical politics and work with labor unions, he ended up being jailed a number of times throughout his life.
13. Jose Clemente Orozco’s The Epic of American Civilisation
Instagram / @rickdugdale
Despite his politics clearly diverging from the other two greats of Mexican muralism, Orozco was still distinctly influenced by his background when it came to his art, preferring to use Mexican iconography in his later work. The Epic of American Civilisation is one piece that illustrates Orozco’s shift toward pre-colonial, pre-European art.
14. Women are Allowed to Vote
Instagram / @lilysevs
1954 saw the introduction of the women’s vote in Mexico.
15. The Tlatelolco Massacre
Instagram / @moneyca
Ten days before the 1968 Olympics opened in Mexico City, thousands of Mexican students and civilians gathered in The Plaza of the Three Cultures in the district of Tlatelolco to protest the current government’s policies. The protest ended in security forces opening fire on the unarmed protests, where it is estimated that hundreds were killed.
16. The 1968 Summer Olympics
Instagram / @rubenhudsonitthipat
Despite the events of the massacre, the Olympics still went ahead. In fact, this particular Olympics saw plenty of politics come into play, with tensions between the Soviets and its surrounding countries influencing the results, and even American athletes giving the black power salute.
17. Financial Crisis
Instagram / @dhanipapermoney
Large oil reserves were discovered off the coast of Mexico. While the oil money was to be designated towards national industrial expansion, social welfare and the agricultural industry, the government pre-empted their financial windfall and borrowed large sums of money from the US to start boosting growth. They later found out that the oil was low-quality, and not worth much money. This resulted in Mexico being stuck with the world’s largest foreign debt.
18. Earthquake in Mexico City
Instagram / @wdykpodcast
September 19, 1985 saw an earthquake in Mexico City that registered 8.1 on the Richter Scale. Nearly 10,000 people were killed, and many were displaced. This was catastrophic for the already financially-devastated Mexico. Many residents ending up joining grassroots civil-rights movements to campaign for human rights in the aftermath of the earthquake.
19. Change in Government
Instagram / @chaos_is.a_ladder
Vicente Fox, leader of the opposition party in Mexico, won the national election. This was the first time in 70 years that a party other than the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) was in power in Mexico. This lead to millions of secret files being released, detailing previous repression of Mexican activists in the 1960s and 70s.
20. Anti-Drug Reform
Instagram / @ejercito_y_policias_de_mexico
A new stage in Mexico’s governance is introduced, with a federal police force created to tackle drug cartels. This lead to open warfare between rival drug gangs, and the high-profile arrest of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the then-head of the brutal Zetas drugs cartel.
So, congratulations! You can now call yourself a Mexican history buff. Was there anything that surprised you? Share it with us on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.