In this posting, we'll take a look at some of the Museo Regional's artifacts from the Post-Classic through the early Colonial Eras.
The Post Classic Era
Xochitécatl, in western Tlaxcala, built sometime between 700-300 BC. Another example, from the Post-Classic Era, stands at Calixtlahuaca, west of Mexico City. Ehecatl was also closely associated with Quetzalcoatl (the Plumed Serpent) who, along with Tlaloc, was one of the Creator Gods..
altepetls (city-states) that formed what the Spanish called the Republica de Tlaxcala.
Classic-Era figurillas found at Teotihuacan.
The Spanish Conquest
halberd was a pole weapon, used primarily by foot soldiers. This one has a spearpoint, but it also carries a hook used to jerk mounted knights from their horses. Notice the small studs that spiral up the length of the pole. These helped a soldier keep his grip, even when the shaft was slick with sweat and blood. Armor and weapons made of steel, along with horses and firearms, were important factors in defeating the indigenous forces that opposed the Spanish Conquest. However, the Spanish could never have succeeded without the assistance of thousands of Tlaxcalteca warriors, armed with obsidian weapons, wicker shields, and cotton armor.
Lienzo was created by indigenous scribes using a mixture of traditional and Spanish techniques. Unfortunately, the original has been lost, but the copy above was recreated in the 19th century using lithographs taken of the original. The full Lienzo was 3m wide and 5m long (9.8 ft x 16.4 ft). The top portion, seen above, shows the Republica de Tlaxcala's governing structure. The much longer bottom portion, not shown above, is composed of 91 small panels (7 across in 13 rows) showing scenes from the Conquest.
The Colonial Era
in 1524 when the first twelve Franciscans arrived. They had the evangelization field to themselves for the first few years, until the Dominicans, Augustinians, and other Orders arrived. Several of the newly arrived Franciscans set up operations in Tlaxcala. While the conquistadors carried out the military conquest, the Franciscans engaged in what some have called a spiritual conquest. In addition to conducting mass conversions, they smashed indigenous religious statues and other symbols of "devil worship". Pre-hispanic temples were demolished and new churches built from the rubble. However, the friars also strove to protect the native people from corruption and abuse by the conquistadors. This put the Franciscans and other evangelizing orders in direct conflict with the interests of the conquistadors and other Spaniards. These adventurers and opportunists often enslaved the natives, raped their women, seized their lands, and tortured anyone who might lead them to sources of gold or silver.
Juan de Palafox y Mendoza (1600-1659) was a churchman who was Bishop of the Diocese of Tlaxcala and Archbishop of Mexico before he became Viceroy. As Tlaxcala's Bishop, he got into a fierce conflict with the Jesuits, who were independent of his authority. Their Order owned large haciendas in Tlaxcala and elsewhere, and they refused to pay Tlaxcala's Diocese the 10% tithe that supported the secular Church and its charitable institutions. Although Palafox lost this battle, his writings against the Jesuits were used more than a century later to justify their expulsion from New Spain and all other Spanish possessions. In addition to his church duties, Palafox held public office as Visitador (a sort of Inspector General). In this position, he charged the incumbent Viceroy with treason and corruption and had him arrested and deported to Spain. Palafox became interim Viceroy between June and November of 1642. He was the only man to ever hold the positions of Archbishop of Mexico and Viceroy simultaneously. One of his most important acts as Archbishop was to take the responsibility for evangelism away from the religious orders and give it to the secular clergy, who were responsible directly to the Bishops.
The Royal Chapel of the Indians is located on the west side of Plaza de la Constitución (see Part 1 of this series). The chapel was built so that indigenous people would have a place to worship separate from their Spanish overlords. The statue shows Carlos III (1716-1788) in military garb. It was a way to impress the natives with his power and authority. King Carlos was part of the new Bourbon Dynasty that took power in Spain in 1700. He ruled at a time when absolute monarchy was taking hold all over Europe. Carlos viewed the independence of the Jesuit Order as a threat to his rule and, in 1767, he banished the Order from Spain and all its possessions. While Carlos was definitely an absolutist, he is also recognized by historians as a relatively enlightened man who was the most effective ruler of his time. He instituted a wide range of reforms and improvements beneficial to Spain. However, many of his reforms relating to colonial matters were disliked and covertly resisted in New Spain. Criollos (Spaniards born in the colonies) viewed these changes as a way of gradually chipping away at local autonomy and colonial rights. Ultimately, Carlos' colonial reforms became one of the fundamental causes of Mexico's War of Independence (1810-1821).
This completes Part 7b of my Tlaxcala series. I hope you have enjoyed it and, if so, please leave any comments or questions in the Comments section below, or email me directly. If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so that I can respond.
Hasta luego, Jim