Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

With the Contra-Reform and inquisition in full function in South Europe, at the end of the 18th century, the Spanish colonies customs were meticulous.

With the Contra-Reform and inquisition in full function in South Europe, at the end of the 18th century, the Spanish colonies customs were meticulous. Even when the Spanish had a relative freedom of thought, in its colonies it was categorically forbidden to read or possess rationalist philosophy books from Rousseau, Voltaire and other instigators of the French Revolution, among other things.

Despite this situation, some writings made their way to the avid minds of some of the few educated New Spanish, and it was possible partly because priests were excluded from revision. One of these minds was the priest of the town of Dolores, Miguel Hidalgo, today considered hero for having started the fight that ended up in the Mexican Declaration of Independence.

Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla Gallaga Mondarte Villaseñor was creole. In New Spain this meant that both parents were Spanish but the child was born in colonial land. Back then, being creole was not as good as having been born in Spain, but not as bad as being mestizo… or Native Mexican. Maybe what led him to embrace European revolutionary ideas was his uncomfortable position facing the rights the Spanish were in title of.

Even when he started studying theology as young as 12 years old, his religious calling was always influenced by liberalism: he openly questioned the sexual abstinence of the clergy, for example. Besides philosophy he also studied Latin, French and local languages such as Purepecha, Nahuatl and Otomi. He was convinced of the equality of all human kind and before starting the fight he taught arts and crafts to natives.

Along with other educated creole people with high political positions, Miguel Hidalgo conspired against subjugation to the crown of Napoleon I. The conspiracy was discovered and Hidalgo had to bring forward his plans. Crying "¡Viva la religion! ¡Viva nuestra madre santisima de Guadalupe!¡Viva Fernando VI!¡Viva la America¡ y ¡muera el mal gobierno!" ("Long live religion!, Long live our Holy Mother Lady of Guadalupe!, Long live Fernando VII!, Long live America! and death to bad government!") he started his fight and he gathered together a considerable army of Natives, Mestizos and Creole.

He was captured by a Royalist army along with other leaders, after being excommunicated of the Catholic Church, he was executed in Chihuahua in July, 1811.