New Spain (Spanish colonies)

New Spain consisted of Mexico, much of Central America, parts of the West Indies, from California to Florida, and the Philippines.

1521 - 1821 C.E.

Beginner's guide

Columbus's voyage marked an important moment for both Europe and the Americas—expanding the known world on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and ushering in an era of major transformations in the cultures and lives of people across the globe.

videos + essays

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Hispaniola’s early colonial art, an introduction 
Hispaniola’s early colonial art, an introduction 

The early art of Hispaniola is important because the island was the first point of long-term contact between the cultures of Europe, America, and Africa.

Francisco Clapera, set of sixteen casta paintings
Francisco Clapera, set of sixteen casta paintings

These challenging paintings visually separate Indigenous Americans from the Spanish elite; most were exported.

Remembering the Toxcatl Massacre: The Beginning of the End of Aztec Supremacy
Remembering the Toxcatl Massacre: The Beginning of the End of Aztec Supremacy

A manuscript tells the Indigenous side of a historic battle in Aztec Tenochtitlan.

Prints and Printmakers in Colonial New Spain
Prints and Printmakers in Colonial New Spain

Throughout the colonial period, this reproductive medium allowed for the wide circulation of images to a broad public, creating a shared religious and political culture.

<em>Christ Crucified</em>, a Hispano-Philippine ivory
Christ Crucified, a Hispano-Philippine ivory

This ivory sculpture of Jesus traveled between three continents.

Saintly violence? <em>Santiago on Horseback</em>
Saintly violence? Santiago on Horseback

Santiago became an important saint in New Spain, recast to convey Spanish dominance over the Indigenous population in the sixteenth century.

Engravings in Diego de Valadés’s <em>Rhetorica Christiana</em>
Engravings in Diego de Valadés’s Rhetorica Christiana

The first book ever printed by an American author was Rhetorica Christiana by Diego de Valadés, who was born in Mexico to a Spanish conquistador father and an indigenous mother.

Classical Architecture in Viceregal Mexico
Classical Architecture in Viceregal Mexico

Find out what happens to classical Renaissance architecture when it arrives in New Spain.

The Bug That Had the World Seeing Red
The Bug That Had the World Seeing Red

Once there was a color so valuable that emperors and conquistadors coveted it, and so did kings and cardinals. Artists went wild over it. Pirates ransacked ships for it.

The Medici collect the Americas
The Medici collect the Americas

After Columbus landed on Hispaniola in 1492, items from the Americas were shipped to Europe where they were perceived as exotic items of wonder and fascination.

Mission churches as theaters of conversion in New Spain
Mission churches as theaters of conversion in New Spain

Built by Catholic monks to convert the indigenous population, these spaces combined pre-Hispanic and European forms.

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