The Fall of the Royal Government in Mexico City

The Fall of the Royal Government in Mexico City

The Fall of the Royal Government in Mexico City

The Fall of the Royal Government in Mexico City

Excerpt

The existing historiography of the fall of the Spanish royal government in Mexico City during the War of Independence (1810-1821) focuses almost exclusively upon the rebels. The fundamental premise of this study is that the vast bibliography devoted to the process of rebel victory tells only half the story of how Spain lost political control of its richest overseas territory. The success of the rebels and the failure of the royalists, though obviously related, are not necessarily the same stories. Before the Liberator, Agustin de Iturbide, could establish an independent Mexico, the three-hundred-year-old government of imperial Spain must first have faltered in some way. Historians in the past commonly have assumed that it was the rebellion that destroyed royal government in New Spain. The thesis I wish to present here is that the causal relationship is not that simple. Iturbide's Plan of Iguala provided the government that filled the void created by the viceregal regime's collapse, but Iturbide did not destroy the royal government. Nor did the revolts of Miguel Hidalgo and José Maria Morelos.

Historians who study the Mexican independence movement are faced with a central problem not previously isolated in the historiography: How could a regime that survived so many serious threats to its existence from 1808 to 1816 be overthrown so quickly in 1821? None of the existing explanations for independence answers this question. As this study seeks to prove, the answer lies as much with the viceregal regime as with the external forces that attacked it.

Related questions must be answered after the central problem is isolated. How did the viceregal regime survive the shocks of 1808 to 1816, when the ship of state was more severely battered than ever before in its history? What element of strength or determination characterized the regime in 1816 that was lacking in 1821? What role did the leadership of individuals play? When . . .

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