Martín de Ursúa

Last updated

Martín de Ursúa (or Urzúa) y Arizmendi (Spanish pronunciation:  [maɾˈtin de uɾˈsu.a] ; February 22, 1653 February 4, 1715), Count of Lizárraga and of Castillo, [1] was a Spanish conquistador in Central America during the late colonial period of New Spain. Born in Olóriz, Navarre, [2] he is noted for leading the 1696–97 expeditionary force which resulted in the fall of the last significant independent Maya stronghold, Nojpetén, located on an island in Lake Petén Itzá in the northern Petén Basin region of present-day Guatemala. He served as governor of the Yucatán until 1708, when he was named Governor-General of the Philippines. [2] Around the time that he was named to that post, he was made a knight of the Order of Santiago. [2] He died in Manila in 1715. [3]


Ursúa arrived to Mexico around 1680 and initially served as a lawyer in Mexico City until 1692. He used this period to cement relationships with colonial officials in Yucatán. [4] In 1692 he was appointed to be governor of Yucatán, with his term to begin in 1698. [5] By 1694 he had been appointed as alcalde ordinario (a Spanish colonial official) of Mexico City. [4] Ursúa took office in Yucatán four years earlier than planned, becoming acting governor on 17 December 1694. [6]

Family tree

Martín de Ursúa was from a line of distinguished and successful noblemen that was extremely well connected politically and that intermarried with other influential noble families to form a kinship network that was spread across Europe and the Americas: [7]

General Pedro de Ursúa y Arizmendi? Diego Egües y Beaumont
Governor and Captain General of Nueva Granada
Pedro de Ursúa y Arizmendi de Egües
Count of Jerena
Pedro de Ursúa,
Abbot of Pamplona
Martín de Ursúa y ArizmendiJuana Bolio y Ojeda (criolla)

See also


  1. Jones 1998, pp. 113–114.
  2. 1 2 3 Jones 1998, p. 113.
  3. Jones 1998, p. 114.
  4. 1 2 Jones 1998, p. 118.
  5. Jones 1998, pp. 118–119.
  6. Jones 1998, p. 119.
  7. Jones 1998, pp. 113–115.

Related Research Articles

The Spanish conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities in the Yucatán Peninsula, a vast limestone plain covering south-eastern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and all of Belize. The Spanish conquest of the Yucatán Peninsula was hindered by its politically fragmented state. The Spanish engaged in a strategy of concentrating native populations in newly founded colonial towns. Native resistance to the new nucleated settlements took the form of the flight into inaccessible regions such as the forest or joining neighbouring Maya groups that had not yet submitted to the Spanish. Among the Maya, ambush was a favoured tactic. Spanish weaponry included broadswords, rapiers, lances, pikes, halberds, crossbows, matchlocks and light artillery. Maya warriors fought with flint-tipped spears, bows and arrows and stones, and wore padded cotton armour to protect themselves. The Spanish introduced a number of Old World diseases previously unknown in the Americas, initiating devastating plagues that swept through the native populations.

Tayasal (archaeological site)

Tayasal is a Maya archaeological site located in present-day Guatemala. It was a large Maya city with a long history of occupation. Tayasal is a corruption of Tah Itza, a term originally used to refer to the core of the Itza territory in Petén. The name Tayasal was applied in error to the archaeological site, and originally applied to the Itza capital. However, the name now refers to the peninsula supporting both the archaeological site and the village of San Miguel. The site was occupied from the Middle Preclassic period through to the Late Postclassic (c. 1200–1539 AD).

Itza people Central American ethnic group

The Itza are a Guatemalan people of Maya affiliation. They inhabit the Petén department of Guatemala in and around the city of Flores on Lake Petén Itzá, and nearby portions of Belize.

Spanish conquest of Guatemala 1524–1667 conflict between Spain and what is now Guatemala

The Spanish conquest of Guatemala was a protracted conflict during the Spanish colonization of the Americas, in which Spanish colonisers gradually incorporated the territory that became the modern country of Guatemala into the colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain. Before the conquest, this territory contained a number of competing Mesoamerican kingdoms, the majority of which were Maya. Many conquistadors viewed the Maya as "infidels" who needed to be forcefully converted and pacified, disregarding the achievements of their civilization. The first contact between the Maya and European explorers came in the early 16th century when a Spanish ship sailing from Panama to Santo Domingo was wrecked on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in 1511. Several Spanish expeditions followed in 1517 and 1519, making landfall on various parts of the Yucatán coast. The Spanish conquest of the Maya was a prolonged affair; the Maya kingdoms resisted integration into the Spanish Empire with such tenacity that their defeat took almost two centuries.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Yucatán

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Yucatán is the diocese of the Catholic Church based in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico; the Campeche and the Tabasco are its suffragans. Its area is that of the state of the same name, covering an area of 17,204 square miles.

The Petén Basin is a geographical subregion of Mesoamerica, primarily located in northern Guatemala within the Department of El Petén, and into Campeche state in southeastern Mexico.

Captaincy General of Yucatán

The Captaincy General of Yucatán was an administrative district of colonial Spain, created in 1617 to provide more autonomy for the Yucatán Peninsula, previously ruled directly by a simple governor under the jurisdiction of Audiencia of Mexico. Its creation was part of the, ultimately futile, Habsburg attempt in the late 16th century to prevent incursion into the Caribbean by foreign powers, which also involved the establishment of Captaincies General in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and neighboring Guatemala. With the addition of the title of captain general to the governor of Yucatán, the province gained greater autonomy in administration and military matters. Unlike in most areas of Spanish America, no formal corregidores were used in Yucatán, and instead the governor-captain general relied on other subordinate officials to handle the oversight of local districts. The Captaincy General remained part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, with the viceroy retaining the right to oversee the province's governance, when it was deemed necessary, and the Audiencia of Mexico taking judicial cases in appeal. The province and captaincy general covered the territory that today are the States of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Yucatán, and nominally the northern areas of Petén and Belize.

Spanish conquest of the Maya Conquest dating from 1511 to 1697

The Spanish conquest of the Maya was a protracted conflict during the Spanish colonisation of the Americas, in which the Spanish conquistadores and their allies gradually incorporated the territory of the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities into the colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Maya occupied a territory that is now incorporated into the modern countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador; the conquest began in the early 16th century and is generally considered to have ended in 1697.

Maya city

Maya cities were the centres of population of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. They served the specialised roles of administration, commerce, manufacturing and religion that characterised ancient cities worldwide. Maya cities tended to be more dispersed than cities in other societies, even within Mesoamerica, as a result of adaptation to a lowland tropical environment that allowed food production amidst areas dedicated to other activities. They lacked the grid plans of the highland cities of central Mexico, such as Teotihuacán and Tenochtitlan. Maya kings ruled their kingdoms from palaces that were situated within the centre of their cities. Cities tended to be located in places that controlled trade routes or that could supply essential products. This allowed the elites that controlled trade to increase their wealth and status. Such cities were able to construct temples for public ceremonies, thus attracting further inhabitants to the city. Those cities that had favourable conditions for food production, combined with access to trade routes, were likely to develop into the capital cities of early Maya states.

Nojpetén Mayan city

Nojpetén was the capital city of the Itza Maya kingdom of Petén Itzá, located on an island in Lake Petén Itzá in the modern department of Petén in northern Guatemala. The island is now occupied by the modern town of Flores, the capital of the Petén department, and has had uninterrupted occupation since pre-Columbian times. Nojpetén had defensive walls built upon the low ground of the island, which may have been hastily constructed by the Itza at a time when they felt threatened either by the encroaching Spanish or by other Maya groups.

Kan Ekʼ

Kan Ekʼ was the name or title used by the Itza Maya kings at their island capital Nojpetén upon Lake Petén Itzá in the Petén Department of Guatemala. The full title was Aj Kan Ekʼ or Ajaw Kan Ekʼ , and in some studies Kan Ekʼ is used as the name of the Late Postclassic Petén Itza polity.


The Yalain have been proposed as a Maya polity that existed during the Postclassic period in the Petén Basin of northern Guatemala, based in the central Petén lakes region. A small town called Yalain was described in 1696 by the Franciscan friar Andrés de Avendaño y Loyola. It was said to consist of a relatively small number of residences clustered within rich agricultural land. The town was located to the east of Lake Petén Itzá and was said to have been farmed by the inhabitants of Nojpetén, the capital city of the Itza kingdom. The political extent and archaeology of the Yalain is poorly understood.

Spanish conquest of Petén Final stage of the conquest of Guatemala

The Spanish conquest of Petén was the last stage of the conquest of Guatemala, a prolonged conflict during the Spanish colonisation of the Americas. A wide lowland plain covered with dense rainforest, Petén contains a central drainage basin with a series of lakes and areas of savannah. It is crossed by several ranges of low karstic hills and rises to the south as it nears the Guatemalan Highlands. The conquest of Petén, a region now incorporated into the modern republic of Guatemala, climaxed in 1697 with the capture of Nojpetén, the island capital of the Itza kingdom, by Martín de Ursúa y Arizmendi. With the defeat of the Itza, the last independent and unconquered native kingdom in the Americas fell to European colonisers.


The Kejache were a Maya people in the southern Yucatán Peninsula at the time of Spanish contact in the 17th century. The Kejache territory was located in the Petén Basin in a region that takes in parts of both Guatemala and Mexico. Linguistic evidence indicates that the Kejache shared a common origin with the neighbouring Itzas to their southeast and the Kejache may have occupied the general region since the Classic period. The Kejache were initially contacted by conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1525; they were later in prolonged contact with the Spanish as the latter opened a route southwards towards Lake Petén Itzá.

Lakandon Chʼol

The Lakandon Chʼol were a former Chʼol-speaking Maya people inhabiting the Lacandon Jungle in what is now Chiapas in Mexico and the bordering regions of northwestern Guatemala, along the tributaries of the upper Usumacinta River and the foothills of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes.

Peten Itza kingdom

The Peten Itza kingdom was a kingdom centered on the island-city of Nojpetén on Lake Peten Itza.

Manche Chʼol

The Manche Chʼol were a former Chʼol-speaking Maya people inhabiting the extreme south of what is now the Petén Department of modern Guatemala, the area around Lake Izabal, and southern Belize. The Manche Chʼol took the name Manche from the name of their main settlement. They were the last group of eastern Cholan-speakers to remain independent and ethnically distinct. It is likely that they were descended from the inhabitants of Classic period Maya cities in the southeastern Maya region, such as Nim Li Punit, Copán and Quiriguá.


The Chinamita or Tulumkis were a Mopan Maya people who occupied a territory in the eastern Petén Basin and western Belize between the Itza of Nojpetén, within the borders of modern Guatemala, and their allies at Tipuj, now in Belize. In the early 17th century, the Chinamita probably occupied a territory along the Mopan River south of the Yaxhá and Sacnab lakes in Petén, and in neighbouring portions of Belize. In 1698, after the fall of Nojpetén to the Spanish, the Itza told the Spanish that the Chinamita had territory nine days to the east of the Itza capital.

The Spanish conquest of Chiapas was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Mesoamerican polities in the territory that is now incorporated into the modern Mexican state of Chiapas. The region is physically diverse, featuring a number of highland areas, including the Sierra Madre de Chiapas and the Montañas Centrales, a southern littoral plain known as Soconusco and a central depression formed by the drainage of the Grijalva River.

History of the Maya civilization

The history of Maya civilization is divided into three principal periods: the Preclassic, Classic and Postclassic periods; these were preceded by the Archaic Period, which saw the first settled villages and early developments in agriculture. Modern scholars regard these periods as arbitrary divisions of chronology of the Maya civilization, rather than indicative of cultural evolution or decadence. Definitions of the start and end dates of period spans can vary by as much as a century, depending on the author. The Preclassic lasted from approximately 2000 BC to approximately 250 AD; this was followed by the Classic, from 250 AD to roughly 950 AD, then by the Postclassic, from 950 AD to the middle of the 16th century. Each period is further subdivided:


Jones, Grant D. (1998). The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom. Stanford, California, USA: Stanford University Press. ISBN   9780804735223.
Preceded by
Domingo Zabálburu de Echevarri
Governor General of the Philippines
Succeeded by
José Torralba