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The Mexican nobility is a group of noble and aristocratic families, mainly of european descent.
Since the Pre-Hispanic era, indiginous cultures had a hierarchical society including nobility. With the arrival of the Spanish to America, many members of noble and aristocratic european families took high office comissions, as well as military and administrative duties in the various Spanish viceroyalties, being most of the mexican nobility descended from them. And after the deposal of the First Mexican Empire, noble titles where deprived of oficial recognition by the Mexican Estate, nevertheless many noble families continued to use their titles in private, while others left the Country. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many noble titles were continued to be granted to mexican citizens, specially from the Kingdom of Spain and the Vatican.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Mexican nobility (both titled and untitled) consisted of approximately 1.5% of Mexico’s population, or approximately 200,000 individuals.1 Signers of the Mexican Declaration of Independence included: the Marquess of San Juan de Rayas, the Marquess of Salvatierra, the Marquess of Salinas del Río Pisuerga, the Count of Santa María de Regla, the Marquess de San Miguel de Aguayo, among others.
Leading noble families active in 17th, 18th, and 19th century politics, economy, clergy, arts and culture included Gómez de Cervantes, Romero de Terreros, Rincón-Gallardo, Riverol, Pérez Gálvez, Rul, Vivanco, La Canal, Cañedo, Fernández de Jáuregui, Obando, Fernández de Córdoba, Gómez de Parada, Pérez de Salazar, Ruiz de Velasco, Valdivieso, Haro, Fagoaga, Echeverz, Dávalos de Bracamonte, Peón, Gutiérrez-Altamirano, Castañiza, Gómez de la Cortina, Urrutia, Velasco, Moncada, Diez de Sollano, Busto, Reynoso, Villaseñor-Cervantes, Villaseñor-Jasso, López de Zárate, Caserta, Trebuesto, Ruiz de Esparza, García de Teruel, Espinosa de los Monteros, Vizcarra, Rábago, Sardaneta, Azcárate, de la Torre-Ledesma, Molina Flores, Samaniego del Castillo, Lemus, Mier, De la Maza, Gonzalez de Betolaza, López de Peralta, Diez-Gutierrez, Flores-Alatorre, González de Cossío, Rivadeneyra, de la Cotera, de la Campa y Cos, Rodríguez-Sáenz de Pedroso, Padilla, Rivascacho, Villar-Villamil, Rodríguez Rico, Sánchez de Tagle, Báez de Benavides, Cabrero, Hurtado de Mendoza, García-Pimentel, Meade, Sánchez-Saráchaga, Sainz Trápaga, Villaurrutia, Errazu, Escandón, Yturbe, Sánchez de Aldana, Yermo, Béistegui, Sánchez-Navarro, among others.2 The lion's share of these titles were granted by the Bourbon dynasty in the 18th century.
After titles of nobility were abolished in 1824 (and again in 1857), many nobles appended "ex-" to their titles and continued to use them. Failure to renew titles in Spain, and to pay taxes due on the renewal, led to some families loss of their distinctions. Less than two dozen families continued to renew their titles into the present.
Historically, many of these Mexican families married into European nobility and some of these unions have produced figures such as Rainier III, Prince of Monaco and Elena Poniatowska, who was a descendent of a brother of Stanislaw August Poniatowski the last King of Poland. Other families who have married into European nobility include the Gutiérrez de Estradas, and the Itúrbides.
Most aristocrats remained on the sidelines of the court of the Second Empire. Some, like the Romero de Terreros family, went into official mourning and exiled themselves to their haciendas, or abroad, rather than accept positions at court that would have compromised their fortunes. A few backed the liberals, such as the II Baron of Santa Cruz de San Carlos, who donated funds to arm liberal guerrillas in Jalisco.
The Aztecs and other Indigenous peoples in Mexico had a system of hereditary aristocracy in place when the Spanish arrived in Mexico. The Spaniards respected this system and added to it, resulting in many unions between Aztec and Spanish nobility. Descendents of the elites of pre-Columbian Mexico who received these distinctions included the heirs of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II; That family became known as the Condes de Moctezuma, and later, the Duques of Moctezuma de Tultengo. A branch of their family, on the female side, continued to receive an annual payment from the Mexican government in the amount of some 500 Ducats, gold, until 1938, as part of a contract signed in the 16th century granting Mexico City access to water and lumber on family property.
Some families of pure Amerindian ancestry, such as the Mixtec Villagómez family, were among the richest landowners in New Spain after the conquest of the Aztec empire. Despite being part of the colonial elite after the conquest, the Villagómez retained their Mixtec identity, speaking the Mixtec language and keeping a collection of Mixtec codices.
Families who received a título de Castilla during the Colonial period were the first to be granted European noble titles in New Spain (Mexico). One of the first was the Conquistador Hernán Cortés, who was granted the title of the Marquess of el Valle de Oaxaca. Approximately 130 such titles were held by Spaniards born or resident in New Spain. Main centers of population included Mexico City, Puebla, Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, and Morelia (Valladolid).
At independence, a few princely dignities were accorded the Imperial family's relations and three titles of nobility—the latter already under application with the Spanish government—were recognized by the Congress of the First Mexican Empire, such as the Marquess of Samaniego del Castillo. Knighthoods were also created, most notably, of Guadalupe. Over the 19th century, others received pontifical titles of nobility, including the titles of the Marquess of Barrón, Count of Subervielle, Conde of el Valle (Fernández del Valle family), Duke of Mier, and others. Many of these families were hidalgos in Spain, equivalent to the English gentry. Some families, after Mexican Independence, received Spanish titles from the Spanish monarch directly, such as the Duke of Regla and the Duchess of Prim. Other titled mexicans accessed aristocracy through marriage, such as the Duke of Castroterreño or the Escandón family members who subsequently became Dukes of Montellano, Marquesses of Villavieja.
In independent times, some families received titles of nobility from the congress of the First Mexican Empire. After the fall of the Empire, the imperial family resided in Italy, and later, in the United States. The Empress is buried in Philadelphia. Afterwards, during the Second Mexican Empire, under Maximilian I of Mexico of the House of Habsburg, the nobility was resurgent. While knightly orders were re-established, no new titles of nobility were granted.
- Marques del Valle de Oaxaca 1529; Cortes
- Marques de Salinas de Río Pisuerga 1609; Altamirano de Velasco, Cervantes
- Conde de Santiago de Calimaya 1616; Altamirano de Velasco, Cervantes
- Marques de Villamayor de las Ibernías 1617; Pacheco
- Conde de Valle de Orizaba 1627; Rincón Gallardo
- Conde de Moctezuma 1627 G.E.; Moctezuma de la Cueva
- Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo 1683; Echevers
- Marques de Villar del Águila 1689; Urrutia
- Marques de Santa Fe de Guardiola 1691; Lopez de Peralta, Cervantes
- Marques de Altamira 1704; Sanchez de Tagle
- Marques de Sierra Nevada 1708 ; Ruiz de Tagle
- Marques de Salvatierra 1708; Cervantes
- Duque de Atrisco 1708 G.E ; Sarmiento, Romay-Sotomayor
- Conde de Ledesma de la Fuente 1710
- Marques de Villa Hermosa de Alfaro 1711; Rincon-Gallardo
- Conde de San Mateo de Valparaíso 1727; Landa y Escandón
- Marques de Acapulco 1728; de la Cerda
- Marques de las Salinas 1733 ; Pérez de Tagle
- Conde de Revillagigedo 1749; Revillagigedo
- Marques de Rivascacho 1764; Cervantes
- Conde de Regla 1768; Romero de Terreros, Rincon-Gallardo
- Marques del Apartado 1772; Fagoaga, Campero
- Conde de la Presa de Jalpa 1775; Cervantes
- Marques de San Cristobal 1777; Romero de Terreros, Rincon-Gallardo
- Marques de San Francisco 1777; Romero de Terreros
- Conde de Heras-Soto 1811; Heras-Soto, Garcia-Pimentel
During the Porfiriato, members of the Mexican aristocracy were very active in politics. Prince Agustín de Iturbide y Green, Maximilian's adopted son, was prompted by reactionaries into making public pronouncements against Díaz, who promptly exiled him after he served a brief sentence given him by a martial courtcitation needed. Don Agustín died in exile in the United States, where he was a Spanish professor at Georgetown University. Members of the Rincón Gallardo, Fagoaga, and Pimentel families (Marquess of Guadalupe Gallardo, Marquess of el Apartado and Count of Heras Soto) were active in Mexico City's government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Senate, the armed forces, and the Academia de la Lengua or the Sociedad de Geografía e Historia. Many journeyed and lived abroad, often doing so in Paris, London, and Madrid. Most men studied at the Jesuit-run British public school, Stonyhurst College. By marriage to French families (including the Polignacs and Villeneuves) a number of mexican well-off society women were ennobled.
Around 1902, Don Ricardo Ortega y Pérez Gallardo, Mexico’s unofficial King of Arms, commenced work on a project to prepare an encyclopedic repertoire of Mexico's aristocracy. The resulting Historia genealógica de las familias más antiguas de México (Genealogical History of the Oldest Families of Mexico), an Almanach de Gotha of sorts, listed the histories of a select group of families residing in Mexico who held Habsburg, Bourbon, Mexican, and Pontifical titles and patents of nobility, entailments, and knighthoods; it also listed notables who had accepted honors from foreign sovereigns and republics.
After the revolution, the nobility migrated to Mexico City in large numbers; many entered the professional and educated classes. The Mexican Academy of Genealogy and Heraldry has operated since 1921, creating a journal and publishing important family genealogies. A number found employment in the diplomatic service, arts and letters, public relations, and transnational corporations.
A number of European nobles, bankrupted by the wars, resettled and intermarried in Mexico from the 1940s on, including the King of Romania.
Mexican monarchists still organize masses for the repose of Maximilian well into the 20th century at the Church of La Profesa, and were once kept under surveillance by the Ministry of the Interior. During Charles de Gaulle's state visit to Mexico, many turned out for the receptions. Many of them greeted the arrival of the Spanish Royal Family in 1977, the first such visit in Mexico's history, and purportedly feuded over the order of precedence at receptions. Pontifical orders of knighthood, as well as Independent orders, such as Malta, have chapters in Mexico. The most numerous is the Orden del Santo Sepulcro de Jerusalén with nearly 200 members organized into three chapters (Chihuahua, Guadalajara, and Mexico City).
The appeal of and fascination with the nobility in Mexico, without a doubt, has not subsided. Countless soap operas, novels, films, museum exhibits, and websites are devoted to the topiccitation needed.
The Political Constitution of Mexico expressly prohibits the state from recognizing (or granting) any titles of nobility since 1917.3 Therefore, nobility titles do not legally exist (therefore they are not forbidden) in Mexico. The same law prohibits Mexicans from accepting foreign distinctions without permission from the Congress of the Union.
- Nutini, The Wages of Conquest, 183-189.
- Doris M. Ladd, The Mexican Nobility at Independence, 1780-1826, Appendix.
- "ARTICLE 12 - In the United Mexican States not grant titles of nobility or hereditary prerogatives and honors, or given effect to those provided by any other country" Taken from the current official text at http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/1.pdf
- First Mexican Empire
- Second Mexican Empire
- Mexican heraldry
- Mexican Academy of Genealogy and Heraldry
- House of Iturbide
- de la Cámara
- Martínez del Río
- Villagómez family
- Ladd, Doris M., The Mexican Nobility at Independence, 1780-1826. Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas, 1976.
- Lopez De La Cadena, Alberto Homero, http://www.cryptojews.com/Our_Secret_Heritage.htm
- Fernández de Recas, Guillermo S. Cacicazgos y Nobiliario Indígena de la Nueva España' (Indian Chiefs and Nobility of New Spain). México, D.F.: Instituto Bibliográfico Mexicano, 196l. (FHL book 972 F3f.)
- Macias-González, Victor M. "The Mexican Aristocracy in the Porfirian Foreign Service." Book Manuscript Summary, available online at: http://www.lclark.edu/~tepo/Papers/macias.pdf
- Muñoz Altea, Fernando. Blasones y Apellidos (Coats of Arms and Noble surnames). México: Joaquín Porrúa, S.A. de C.V., 1987. (FHL book 972 D6m.)
- Ortega y Pérez Gallardo, Ricardo. Historia Genealógica de las Familias más Antiguas de México (Genealogical History of the Oldest Families of Mexico). Austin, Texas: Golightly-Payne-Coon Company, 1957. (FHL films 0283555–0283556.)