Mexico’s Name

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Posted by stephanea araujo on November 04, 1999

hi! does anyone know how Mexico got its name and when the people as a whole were first called Mexicans? does it have something to do with the Aztecs whom I think were also called the Mexias or Mexicas or something along those lines?

Posted by Frank Simons on November 05, 1999

The Mexica (pronounced Mesheeka) were the dominant native group in pre-Colombian Mexico. Montezuma is their best-known emperor, though not their last. One emperor, Cuauhtémoc, followed him. He resisted Cortez fiercely, but was finally defeated at Tenochtitlan. The term Aztec is from Aztlan, an island on a lake far away from the lake in which Tenochtitlan was located. The term did not become commonly used until the eighteenth century, 200 years after the conquest by Cortez.

This is probably more than you wanted to know!!

Posted by J. Black on November 06, 1999

Hernán Cortés occasionally referred to the City of Tenochtitlán (the Aztec capitol) as Mejico y Tenochtitlán in his Cartas de Relación de la Conquista de México, the letters he wrote to the Spanish throne documenting the conquest. The tribe of nomads that settled the city of Tenochtitlán were the Mexica (pronounced me-SHEE-ka), who had migrated from the north, from their legendary origins of Aztlán. As early as the Spanish conquest, Mexico City took on the name Ciudad de México.

But when did the people as a whole refer to themselves as Mexicans?

During the colonial period the entire area of Mexico and approximately half of the United States was a colony of Spain, and its official name was Nueva España, or New Spain. But as early as 1648, in his work Imagen de la Vergen María Madre de Dios de Guadalupe, the priest Miguel Sánchez referred to his beloved homeland as México. Other appearances in the seventeenth century of the term México, as referring to the land and her people can be seen in the works of famous writers of the time, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora. In their writings they successfully attempted to differentiate themselves from the Spanish peninsulares. By the following century the famous Jesuit priest Francisco Javier Clavijero wrote his Historia antigua de México, using the term even though the territory was still officially called New Spain.

Upon Mexican independence from Spain, Mexico became the official name of the country.

Julie Black

Published or Updated on: November 4, 1999 by Discussion Thread Forum © 2009
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