The Mascota Valley had been inhabited for thousands of years when the Spanish arrived in 1525. In Parts 2 and 3 of this series, I provided some information about the Capacha culture, which existed here 3000 years ago. By the early 16th century, the Capacha had long since been supplanted by people who had arrived in a long series of migrations from other areas.
The indigenous people whom the Spanish encountered called themselves the Teco. They were ruled by a man named Amaxacotlán Mazacotla. This roughly translates as "Chieftain of the Place of the Deer and Snakes". The native ruler controlled a number of towns in the region, including Talpa, El Tuito, and Chacala, all three of which still exist. However, his realm did not include the town of Mascota, which had not yet been founded.
In Spanish, Mascota means "pet", but the town's name actually comes from Mazacotla, the second half of the Teco chieftain's name. The word is from the Nahuatl language of the Tecos, which was also spoken by the Aztecs. More than 2 million people still use it, including a handful in Mascota. Nahuatl is just one of more than 60 surviving indigenous languages in Mexico.
The Spanish arrival came only a few years after the fall of the Aztec Empire in 1521. Following this victory, Hernán Cortés sent several expeditions throughout Mexico to continue the Conquest. Francisco Buenaventura Cortés, his nephew, was the leader of one of these parties. After departing Colima in 1525 with a force of Spaniards and native auxiliaries, he arrived in the Mascota Valley and claimed it for Spain.
In 1530, Francisco gave control of the valley to Pedro Gómez and Martin Monje, two of his conquistadors. Their tenure was brief , however. In 1535, an even more ruthless conquistador named Nuño de Guzman arrived and took over. His savage practices soon provoked an indigenous revolt.
Nuño de Guzman's standard mode of operation was to force native people to reveal the location of any valuables through torture and murder. Any survivors were enslaved and sold at a profit. Not surprisingly, the Tecos rose in revolt, Guzman ordered Alvaro de Bracamontes, the Mayor of Compostela, to suppress them. Lacking guns, horses, or steel weapons, the Tecos were swiftly crushed.
In 1536, Nuño de Guzman made Cristóbal de Oñate the first encomendero of the Mascota Valley. This entitled Oñate to demand tribute and forced labor from the Tecos. In exchange, he was only required to instruct them in Christianity, a pretty good deal if you are on the right end of it. Cristóbal de Oñate later went on to found the city of Guadalajara in 1542.
Then, in 1926 the Cristero War erupted in Mexico and the state of Jalisco was the epicenter. The war pitted the new revolutionary government against Catholic reactionaries who objected to the curtailment of the power and privileges that the Church enjoyed. In addition, many of the Cristero movement's key supporters were hacendados who fiercely opposed the land re-distribution provisions of the 1917 Constitution. Ultimately, the Cristeros lost their war, dooming the Templo del Preciosa Sangre de Cristo. And that is how Mascota got its famous Templo Inconcluso.
This completes Part 6 of my Mascota series. I hope you have enjoyed it. If so, please leave any thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. If you leave a question, PLEASE include your email address so that I can respond promptly.
Hasta luego, Jim