On August 13, 1521, Hernan Cortes and his armies ruled over the city of Mexico (Tenochtitlan), the capital, but not over the whole dominion. It was a very important par and the key that opened the way to the possession and control of an immense and rich territory.

The Spaniards rushed fiercely into the interior to conso­lidate the conquest and to procure wealth. They went south after the gold and the pearls that Moctezuma’s, book of tributes proclaimed, then, went on north to the “still unknown and virgin land of the Aztecs”. The discovery of silver in this region was dream and incentive.

Much of the conquest of New Spain was carried out by missionaries, for the sword conquered lands an people but the cross won souls and consolidated dominions. The con­quest was the working together of adventurous soldiers and Zealous Friars.

In 1531, Fray Juan de San Miguel of the Franciscan order, worked without rest in Michoacan. He learned the native language and lived among the Indians to whom he distributed land and water. He founded schools and hos­pitals. He established the San Miguel School which later was incorporated into the San Nicolas School. Today this is the University of Michoacan where manual skills and popular arts are taught and counsel is given to the “Tarasco” and “Chichimeca” Indians.

Humble, barefooted, but whit great faith, he went on to Uruapan. Under his direction, the” Indians learned manual arts, how to make organs for the choirs, rosary beads, small chocolate-mills, capstans, cotton gloves and stockings, the cutting of mill stones for grinding and to plant trees and crops. He instructed them in the use of different musical instruments, forming groups and awakening their deep sense of music. In the Uruapan mountanis he re-organized Indian villages and founded others, giving them Christian names.

In 1540, Friar Juan de San Miguel lefft Uruapan. He carried with him the memory of the sierra, the valley and the sky —all reminders of his native land (Spain). So prolific and soul satisfying was his work in Uruapan that he went back as his life drew near to a close.

He became the guardian of Santa Maria de Gracia church in the town of San Francisco de Acambaro which was es­tablished by the Otomí chieftain, Nicolas de San Luis Montanez. Because of the victorious deeds of this chieftain —captain general, conqueror and founder of the “Chichi-meca” Indian’s frontier— together with his companion, the chieftain Fernando de Tapia, in the battle of Cerrito Colorado (Queretaro), on July 25, 1531, the towns of Que­retaro, Apaseo and Tocuaro were established.

Likewise in Acambaro, the traveling friar built the hos­pital, the church and schools. He watched stubbornly over the religious teachings of the Indians in the province and environs. On his way north, he traversed vast land where belligerent Indians, almost nomads, threatened towns and roads. His religious fever urged him to win them over.

In Queretaro, he preached indefatigably, awakening sentiments adn ambitions. By his zeal, he persuaded a group of Spaniards together with some “Tarasco” and “Otomi” Indians of Fernando de Tapia’s army, to join him in the enterprise of conquering other “Otomi” “Huachichiles” and “Chichimeca” Indians.

Friar Juan de San Miguel started out from Acambaro traveling to Apaseo, on to Chamacuero (Comonfort) and, taking protection at the Tlaxcalilla for that safe-guarded the advance of Nicolas de San Luis Montanez, arrived at a valley. Here he chose the place to establish the Indian vi­llage which he named San Miguel for the patron saint of his own name. The ruins of this village can be seen today a short distance beyond the Laredo-Mexico Railroad Station.

He outlined the streets and distributed land according to the law. After founding a small church, he turned his work over to Friar Bernardo Cossin who discovered the Izcuina-pan springs (dog’s river: izcuintli means dog and apan is the word for river) on the slopes of Moctezuma hill. Today these are called “El Chorro” springs.

Families loyal to the cause were brougth to the new village from Tlaxcala to strengthen the power of the con­querors—just as the “Mitimaes” regime of the Inkas in Peru did when coming in contact with new rebel people. With this loyal people, peace was quickly restored and the new community soon organized.

The village of San Miguel de los Chichimecas owes its Indian, religious and military foundations to Friar Juan de San Miguel, as do the villages of Tancitaro, Periban, Charapan, Los Reyes and Uruapan.

This noted missionary and founder of towns died in Uruapan on May 3, 1555 as he had wished and hoped. Indians and Spaniards buried him in the church at the right of the main altar.

There were still belligerent Indians occasionally maraud­ing fields and villages, greatly alarming and frightening the population. San fitcotf o,iidiznr ais the population. Juan Yanez, one of the conquerors and founders of San Miguel, informed the Viceroy Luis de Velasco of the struggle he was having with the “Chichimeca” Indians at the place called “Boca del Infierno”. When Juan Yanez emerged victorious from this struggle, he again informed the Viceroy and at the same time asked for his consent to establish a village for the Spaniards.

Oon December 10, 1555, the Viceroy Luis de Velasco was ill in Apaseo and unable to be present at the dedication ceremony of the new village. He ordered that “to avoid deaths, attacks and robberies by the “Chichimeca” indians on the road of Zacatecas, the village for the Spaniards must be established”. The village was founded.

Conquerors and people seeing that one of the Izcuina-pan water springs had driep up, decided to move their primitive settlement to Santa Veracruz for the “love of the water”. This site was named “El Batan”.

With the founding of the village, a garrison was establish­ed. This garrison together with loyal indians maintained an alert watch over the roads, keepin them open and free from danger. With the finding of silver-bearing lands in works in the mines and safeguard the transportation of the minerals to the City of Mexico.

As time went on, the village grew in the open space be­tween “El Batan” and the old San Miguel de los Chichime-cas—just as it is today. More Spaniards and Indians came to live in the village. To the former, cattle, ranches, pasture lands, houses and orchards were given with the obligation to care for and occupy the lands eight months of the year. They were forbidden to sell any part of their property before a period of five years. The important Indian chiefs were exempt from taxes and given other privileges.

The village of San Miguel de los Chichimecas soon changed its name for more important one of San Mi­guel el Grande. This differentiated it from others of the same name, marking its industrial and commercial progress. San Miguel el Grande became a very important town in the XVIII century because of factories, tanneries, ranches, cattle and industries. At the end of this century, San Miguel el Grande was famous for its weaving—the Spaniards had 18 looms and the Indian had 348—. “Sarapes”, “jorongos”, blankets, small covers, harnesses, swords, knives, spurs and stirrups became well known in and of Mexico. Wax was plentiful and candles were made in abundance—these lighted many churches, mansions and huts.

Because of this, a popular song says:  “…of the king­doms, Guanajuato; of the villages, San Miguel…”.

On January 20, 1779 in San Miguel el Grande, Ignacio de Allende y Unzaga, the forger of Mexican independence and valuable collaborator in the epic year of 1810, was born.

In his spirited youth, he was convinced that Mexico would reach its independence and freedom. In San Luis Potosi, he ripened his thoughts and strengthened his beliefs. It is said about him that while in Jalapa, knowing of Na­poleon’s invasion and the imprisonment of Iturrigaray, he wrote on the walls of his room: “Independence, you coward Creoles!”.

On his return to San Miguel el Grande, he persisted in the plans for the conspiracy. He plotted with army officers headed by lieutenant Jose Mariano Michelena in Valladolid (Morelia). Later he worked with the Corregidor Dominguez and his wife, conspirators of Queretaro.

In the house of Domingo de Allende —Plaza Principal (Plaza de Allende) No. 16, corner of Calle de Reloj— under pretext of dances and entertainments, meeting were held in the basement to coordinate patriotic anxieties. Many men took part in these secret meetings. Tradition says that even the colonel of the “Dragones de la Reina”, Narciso Maria Loreto de la Canal, took part in these meetings. Allende, Aldama and others carried deep in their hearts the indomitable thirst for freedom which they had inherited from their ma­ternal ancestry.

In one of the secret meetings, Felipe Gonzalez recom­mended that Allende unite with a priest of prestige to raise the outcry of liberty, to avoid suspicion and the opposition of the church. Allende lent ear to this recommendation and soon was in contact with Father Miguel Hidalgo y Castillia of Dolores who gladly went along with the revolutionaries.

Allende and Juan Aldama, advised by the Corregidora Dominguez that the conspiracy had been discovered, fled to Dolores on the night of September 15. The next day, Allen­de, Aldama and Father Hidalgo gathered the people in the Plaza de Dolores and from the door steps of (he church, the latter addressed the people, inciting them to the revolution. An army was improvised. Allende smiled with satisfaction as he saw his dreams of liberty and freedom comes true. The army of the independence started its march to victory or death.

On the evening of that same day, they arrived at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco. Here Father Hidalgo grasped a painting of the Virgen of Guadalupe from the wall, placed it high on a spear and marched on to the cry of “Long live Ihe Virgen of Guadalupe and death to the ‘gachupines’ ” (name given in Mexico to the natives of Spain).

The patriots victoriously paraded the flag of the free country. But this hour belonged yet lo Spain. The patriots were defeated. Father Hidalgo and General Ignacio de Allen-de, along with other heroes, were shot to death. But the torch of freedom had been lighted and would never go out.

The Congress of the Free Slate of Guanajuato, recogni­zing the heroic deed of General Allende, paid him tribute in the following decree: “From the day the Political Cons­titution will be sworn in the village of San Miguel el Grande, this village shall be called: City of San Miguel de Allende”. This glorious title honoring San Miguel, does honor to all Mexico.