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Post Columbian Period

Conquest and rebellion (1500 AD)

The Spanish colonization of the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba allowed them to launch exploratory forays around the Caribbean. Córdoba discovered Isla Mujeres in 1517 and sailed down the Yucatán Gulf coast to were he suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Maya. Cortés set sail in 1519 and landed in Verácruz. He conquered the Aztecs in a year, but it took another 20 years to conquer the Yucatán. In 1526 Francisco Montejo set out to conquer the Yucatán. The Maya fought the invaders for 20 years, but eveValladolid, Mexico-Sam Meachamntually succumbed. The Maya were slaughtered during the battles with the Spaniards, but imported European diseases decimated the population. The Maya were moved into villages and paid heavy taxes to the Spanish government. There were periodic rebellions against the Spanish.

The Yucatan Maya launched a major uprising starting in July 1847 called the Caste War. The Spanish were distracted by the war between the US and Mexico and nearly lost the peninsula. The Maya attacked Spanish villages armed by English settlers from Belize and with guns distributed to defend Yucatán's secession in 1846. They regained 90% of their lands and held all of the Yucatán except Campeche and Mérida. At the height of their revolutionary success, the Maya inexplicably withdrew to their villages - reputedly to plant corn for the season. The war with the US ended in 1848 and reinforcements were sent to the Yucatán, where they drove the Maya back to Chan Santa Cruz. The Maya resisted for several years, but disease and weapons shortages forced them to surrender in 1901. After 50 years of independence, their lands became federal territory. In reality, the Southern and Eastern half of the peninsula remained a virtual no man's land to outsiders where the Maya lived almost as they pleased. This changed in the late 1960s when coastal development began.

Incidents of Travel in Yucatan
First published in 1843, a travelogue from one of the first tourists to the Yucatan.

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