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Spanish conquest of Yucatán

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The Spanish Conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states. This part of the conquest and colonization of the Americas began in the early 16th century, but it took more time than the similar campaigns against the Aztec and Inca Empires. It was about 170 years later before the last Maya stronghold fell, that of the Itza capital of Tayasal on Lake Petén Itzá, in 1697. But except for the Petén region and the Guatemalan highlands, the Spanish had control over Yucatán itself already by 1546.[1]

Unlike the campaigns against the Aztec and Inca states, the Maya had no single political center.[2] Therefore the Spanish had to fight city by city to break resistance by the indigenous peoples.[3] In the beginning the conquistadores were mainly interested to get as much gold and silver as possible. Because the Maya lands were poor in this respect, they were not very interesting for the Spanish at that stage. But when land workers became important for the colonies, the Spanish turned to the Maya region. That was around the 1520s.

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  1. See The Spanish Conquest of Yucatán (1526-46) (1999).
  2. See Coe (1987, pp.153 et. seq.) for discussion and description of Maya political structures.
  3. At the time of Spanish arrival, many of the Maya states of northern and western Yucatán were ruled by prestigious dynasties, such as the Cocom and Xiu. Their control had been established in the wake of the 15th-century breakup of the Mayapan polity, which had previously exerted extensive control over much of the region. Once the Spanish succeeded in gaining an alliance of sorts with the ruling Xiu family at Maní, a number of other states followed suit in acquiescing to Spanish rule, which greatly assisted the Spanish cause. Other competing Maya families and states continued with their resistance, however. See The Spanish Conquest of Yucatán (1526-46) (1999), Coe (1987), and also later in this text.


      . OCLC 15895415
      . OCLC 162351797