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Antonio de Mendoza, Marquis of Mondéjar, Count of Tendilla ( ) (1495 – Alcala la Realmarker, (Jaénmarker); July 21, 1552, Limamarker), was the first viceroy of New Spain, serving from April 17, 1535 to November 25, 1550, and the third viceroy of Perumarker, from September 23, 1551 to July 21, 1552. Married to Maria Ana Trujillo de Mendoza.

Early life

Mendoza came from a distinguished family of military officers and statesmen. After three high-ranking noblemen declined the appointment as viceroy of New Spain, it was accepted by don Antonio, who had served capably in the Court and as Spanish ambassador to Hungary.

Viceroy of New Spain

He became viceroy in 1535 and governed for 15 years, longer than any subsequent viceroy. On his arrival in New Spain, he found a recently conquered colony beset with Indian uprisings and rivalry among the conquerors. His difficult assignment was to govern in the king's name without making an enemy of Hernán Cortés, whom Emperor Charles V (King Charles I of Spain) and the Council of the Indies judged too rough to be made a duke and given any higher post than the Captaincy-General of New Spain, a post for which he was well suited. He was also directed to increase royal revenues and regulate the affairs of the Indians.

As viceroy, Mendoza commissioned the expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to explore and establish settlements in the northern lands of New Spain in 1540-42, the expedition of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo to explore the western coastline of Alta Californiamarker in 1542-43, and the expedition of Ruy López de Villalobos to the Philippinesmarker in 1542-43. The Codex Mendoza is named for him. He probably commissioned it.

Don Antonio and Bishop Juan de Zumárraga were key in the formation of two institutions of Mexicomarker: the Colegio de Santa Cruz at Tlatelolco (1536), where the sons of Aztec nobles studied the imposed Latin, rhetoric, philosophy and music, and the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexicomarker (1552), modeled on the University of Salamancamarker, which trained young men for the imposed Church. These institutions were the first and second universities respectively to be established in the Americas, although it should be noted that the indigenous peoples of the Aztec Empire had an education system in place before the colonization of their land. In 1536 he began the minting of silver and copper coins, known as macuquinas. Also under his instructions, the first printing press in the New World was brought to Mexico in 1539, by printer Juan Pablos (Giovanni Paoli). The first book printed in Mexico: La Escala Espiritual de San Juan Clímaco. On May 18, 1541 don Antonio founded the city of Valladolid (now Moreliamarker, Michoacánmarker).

In 1542 an insurrection of the Indians, called the Mixtón Rebellion, was suppressed. On March 25, 1544 Viceroy Mendoza promulgated the New Laws, inspired by the great reformer Frey Bartolomé de las Casas and intended to ease the plight of Indians under the system of forced labor. Mendoza was both unable and unwilling to enforce these laws in the face of rigorous opposition from the holders of the encomienda grants. When news reached Mexico of the civil war that had broken out in Peru over similar reforms, thought to undermine the rigorous encomienda system, he had the laws suspended and then revoked.

Nevertheless, Mendoza was sympathetic to the Indians and did much to improve their lot. In 1547 he convened an ecclesiastical conference to treat of the condition of the Indians, with las Casas in attendance. He fixed a maximum number of hours they could be employed in the mines, ordered payment for the labor of free Indians, and protected Indian lands from appropriation by the Spanish.

In 1548 he suppressed an uprising of the Zapotec.

During his term of office, Mendoza is credited with consolidating the sovereignty of the Crown throughout the Spanish conquests in New Spain and limiting the power and ambition of the first conquistadors.

An able and honest viceroy, he governed with justice, efficiency and some compassion. Much of the political and economic policies he established endured throughout the entire colonial period. He promoted the construction of hospitals and schools and encouraged improvements in agriculture, ranching and mining. His administration did much to bring stability and peace to New Spain.

He was succeeded as viceroy of New Spain by Luis de Velasco.

Viceroy of Peru

On July 4, 1549 in Brusselsmarker, Emperor Charles V named Mendoza viceroy of Peru. He traveled overland from Mexico to Panama, and then by boat to Peru. He arrived and took up his new office on November 25, 1550. However, he soon became ill, and died in 1552. His tomb is in the Cathedral of Limamarker, along with that of the Spanish conqueror of Peru, Francisco Pizarro.

Mendocino Countymarker, Californiamarker, is named in his honor.[[Media:Insert non-formatted text here]][[Media:[[Media:Example.ogg]][[Media:[[Media:Example.ogg]][ link title]]]]]


  • "Mendoza, Antonio de," Enciclopedia de México, v. 9. Mexico City, 1988.
  • "Mendoza, Antonio de," Encyclopædia Britannica, v. 6. Chicago, 1983.
  • García Puron, Manuel, México y sus gobernantes, v. 1. Mexico City: Joaquín Porrua, 1984.
  • Orozco Linares, Fernando, Gobernantes de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985, ISBN 968-38-0260-5.

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