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MIGUEL HIDALGO Y COSTILLA (1753-1811)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 449 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MIGUEL HIDALGO Y COSTILLA (1753-1811), Mexican patriot, was born on the 8th of May 1753, on a farm at Corralejos, near Guanajuato. His mother's maiden name was Gallaga, but contrary to the usual custom of the Spaniards he used only the surname of his father, Cristobal Hidalgo y Costilla. He was educated at Valladolid in Mexico, and was,ordained priest in 1779. Until 1809 he was known only as a man of pious life who exerted himself to introduce various forms of industry, including the cultivation of silk, among his parishioners at Dolores. But Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 18o8 caused a widespread commotion. The colonists were indisposed to accept a French ruler and showed great zeal in proclaiming Ferdinand VII. as king. The societies they formed for their professedly loyal purpose were regarded, however, by the Spanish authorities with suspicion as being designed to prepare the independence of Mexico. Hidalgo and several of his friends, among whom was Miguel Dominguez, mayor of Queretaro, engaged in consultation and preparations which the authorities considered treasonable. Dominguez was arrested, but Hidalgo was warned in time. He collected some hundred of his parishioners, and on the 16th of September 18to they seized the prison at Dolores. This action began what was in fact a revolt against the Spanish and Creole elements of the population. With what is known as the " grito " or cry of Dolores as their rallying shout, a multitude gathered round Hidalgo, who took for his banner a wonder-working picture of the Virgin belonging to a popular shrine. At first he met with some success. A regiment of dragoons of the militia joined him, and some small posts were stormed. The whole tumultuous host moved on the city of Mexico. But here the Spaniards and Creoles were concentrated. Hidalgo lost heart and retreated. Many of his followers deserted, and on the march to Queretaro he was attacked at Aculco by General Felix Calleja on the 7th of November 181o, and routed. He endeavoured to continue the struggle, and did succeed in collecting a mob estimated at roo,000 about Guadalajara. With this ill-armed and undisciplined crowd he took up a position on the bridge of Calderon on the river Santiago. On the 17th of January 1811 he was completely beaten by Calleja and a small force of soldiers. Hidalgo was deposed by the other leaders, and soon afterwards all of them were betrayed to the Spaniards. They were tried at Chihuahua, and condemned. Hidalgo was first degraded from the priesthood and then shot as a rebel, on the 31st of July or the 1st of August 1811. See H. H. Bancroft, The Pacific States, vol. vii., which contains a copious bibliography.
End of Article: MIGUEL HIDALGO Y COSTILLA (1753-1811)
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