National Museum of Anthropology
From the beginning, conquistadors saw the lands of
Chiapa Indians as vast, rather mysterious
territory, far removed from other colonial
centers. These men from Old World assimilated the
complexity of both geographical setting and
indigenous population slowly.
A series of Institutions appeared in this region
shortly after the Conquest designed to strengthen
Spanish control over the natives. For example,
Audiencia de los Confines was created in 1542,
with jurisdiction over Honduras, Nicaragua, Chiaps,
Yucatan, Guatemala and the territory known as
Castillo del Oro.
The bishopric of Guatemala was established in
1534, to which Chiapas and Soconusco were subject.
The diocese of Chiapas was created by bull of Pope
Paul III in 1538, and its second bishop was
Baartoleme de las Casa. He arrived in Cuidad Real
in 1545 and from the start had serious
confrontations with local Encomenderos
(Spaniards granted Indian communities), because of
their mistreatment of natives.
After many difficulties, in 1550, Las Casas
managed to arrange a meeting of high authorities
who would examine the question of nature,
condition and treatment of Indians in dept.
The expansion and growing strength of Catholicism
in Chiapas led to the building of numerous
churches and monasteries, as well as cathedral in
Ciudad Real. Towns began to grow and flourish
economically. One of these was Chiap de Corzo,
originally an Encomienda, in the course of
time it became dependent directly on the Crown.
The main town in Chiapas during colonial times was
Ciudad Real (San Cristobal de las Casas). Soon,
after it was founded, many families of
conquistadors and nobles lots on which to build
their homes and settle permanently.
Native districts began to spring up around Spanish
city of Ciudad Real, bringing racial and cultural
crossing. Education was given great boost with the
arrival of Jesuits in 17th century, as they
created the school of San Francisco Javier, the
only one in the province.
Relations between the natives and Spanish were not
always friendly however. For example, in 1712,
there was terrible crash with Tzeltals, which
began in Cancun and caused people to unite against
Agriculture and animal breeding were promoted in
villages and on haciendas. Trades became more and
more important, and so shoemakers, blacksmiths,
saddle-makers and other craftsmen could be found
Intendencia de las Chiapas was created in 1790,
with Agustin de la Cuenta Zayas as its first head.
The territory was divided into three parts; one of
those had its capital in Ciudad Real and was
composed of 56 villages. Another was centered on
Tuxtla, with 33 villages and the third in
Soconusco, with 20 communities.
Because of its geographical position, Chiapas did
not play an active part in War of Independence,
although Mariano Matamoros defeated Spanish forces
at Tonala in 1813. Comitan acceded to Iguala Plan
in 1821, followed by Ciudad Real, Chiapa and
Tuxtla, which recognized Mexican Empire and
negotiated separation from Guatemala. However,
Chiapas did not formerly declare its annexation to
Mexico, until September 1824.