Spaniards born in the Americas (creoles) were full and equal citizens of the Spanish empire. Nevertheless, by the seventeenth century a distinctly American identity was taking shape, drawing on religion, natural history and philosophy. While fully participating in the cosmopolitan intellectual world of the continent, creoles were, nevertheless, frequently slighted by their peninsular peers.

[26] Our Lady of Guadalupe  

Sanchez, Miguel. 1594-1674. Imagen de la virgen María madre de Dios de Guadalupe. Mexico: Viuda de B. Calderon, 1648.London: M. Cooper, 1744.

Creoles in Spanish America had, by the seventeenth century, begun to evolve a distinctly American sense of identity. In 1648, Miguel Sanchez published the Imagen de la virgen María, which, for the first time in print, related the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego, a recently converted Indian. Note the papal triple crown and crossed keys, the Hapsburg double eagle, on the one hand, and the nopal cactus and indigenous worshipers on the other. This image evokes and joins the Catholic Church, the Holy Roman Empire, and the lands and peoples of the Americas.


[27] Patron of the Americas 

Cabrera y Quintero, Cayetano, d. 1775. Escudo de armas de Mexico celestial proteccion de esta nobilissima ciudad, de la Nueva-España, y de casi todo el nuevo mundo, Maria Santissima … Mexico, Viuda de D. Bernardo de Hogal, 1747.

A plague struck Mexico in 1737. For relief, the ecclesiastical leadership took the image of Our Lady of the Remedies from her altar and took her through the streets of Mexico City. Our Lady of the Remedies had been patron saint of the city and was closely identified with Spain, Cortes, and the conquistadores. Our Lady, however, provided no remedy. After attempts with other saints’ images, including Guadalupe, the civil and ecclesiastical cabildos vowed to make Our Lady of Guadalupe patron of the City if she ended the plague, which soon abated. This text is a celebration of Guadalupe being declared patron of all of Mexico. When the Hidalgo Revolt occurred in 1810, his followers marched behind the banner of Guadalupe. During the wars of independence, Mexico’s Royalists marched behind Our Lady of the Remedies.


[28] Creole Nobility 

Vega, Garcilaso de la, 1539-1616. Primera parte de los commentarios reales, que tratan del origen de los Yncas, reies que fueron del Peru ... Madrid: Oficina Real, 1723.

Garcilaso de la Vega’s history of Peru both before and after the conquest was first published in Lisbon in 1605 and soon appeared in English, French, and German, and Antonio de Ulloa included a portion of Garcilaso’s text in his Relacion historica del viage a la America Meridional. Its praise of the Inca nobility led to attempts to suppress its circulation during the Tupac Amaru II rebellion.


Manuscript letters relating to Tupac Amaru II rebellion.

Named for its leader, José Gabriel Condorcanqui, Tupac Amaru II, historians disagree about whether the rebellion was a proto-independence movement, or, instead, a rebellion against oppressive local governors enforcing an exploitative economic regime. It was, however, a bloody revolt that encompassed the entire region of the Viceroyalty of Peru. This “fair copy” of a letter written by Tupac Amaru and dated 3 January 1781, shortly after the rebellion began, opens by evoking “liberty from slavery” but closes with a promise of “obedience” to the king of Spain.

[30]  News of the Empire

Gazeta de Lima. Lima, [1744-1801?].

Fly-sheets and other precursors of the periodical press circulated widely throughout the Spanish empire from the sixteenth century. They carried notices of events in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the Empire, to audiences in Mexico City, Lima, and elsewhere. These early periodicals frequently reprinted news items from periodicals published elsewhere, both within and beyond the Spanish Empire. These works imbued the colonials with a sense of inclusion within the Spanish milieu, but at the same time helped forge a local and distinctly American identity. Here the Gazeta de Lima of 3 December 1762 publishes an account of the Siege of Havana that took place the previous August.

[31] The Spanish American Enlightenment 

Mercurio volante con noticias importantes i curiosas sobre varios asuntos de fisica i medicina. Mexico: F. de Zúñiga I Ontiveros, 1772-1773.

Like their European counterparts, Spanish American periodicals also addressed scientific developments, both local and continental. The Mercurio volante was the first medical journal in the Americas. Its editor, Dr. José Ignacio Bartolache, penned a three-part article, based on a series of eleven experiments, on the medicinal value of pulque, a fermented beverage made from the juice of the Maguey cactus.

[32]  The European Enlightenment

Mercurio peruano de historia, literatura, y noticias públicas que da à luz la Sociedad academica de amantes de Lima. Lima: Imprenta Real de los Niños Huerfanos, [1791]-1795.

Despite the Inquisition’s attempts to suppress the circulation of certain classes of printed works, the pages of the Mercurio peruano and the Gazeta de literatura de Mexico displayed an intimate familiarity with continental authors such as Newton, Leibnitz, Raynal, and Montesquieu. Here, for example, is Lavoisier’s system of binary nomenclature as presented by the Mercurio peruano.


Gazeta de literatura de Mexico ... Mexico: F. de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, [1788]-1795.

José Antonio Alzate y Ramírez’s Gazeta de literatura focused on the geography and natural history of New Spain, and new discoveries in medicine and public health from the continent, among other things. He was Mexico’s only corresponding member of the French Royal Academy of Sciences, and a great admirer of Benjamin Franklin, about whom he wrote frequently and whose work he translated for his periodical.



Gazeta de Mexico. Mexico: F. de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, [1784-1809].

The Gazeta de Mexico closely followed the developments of the French Revolution. Between March and May of 1794, this weekly carried regular updates on the Siege of Toulon (18 September 1793-18 December 1793). It was an early victory by French Republican forces against the Royalists. A rising young artillery commander positioned his guns on a hilltop that commanded both the city and the harbor, helping to force the Royalists’ withdrawal. The officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, was promoted to Brigadier General and took command of the artillery of France’s Army of Italy.