Diego Carrillo de Mendoza, 1st Marquess of Gelves

Don Diego Carrillo de Mendoza y Pimentel, 1st Marquess of Gélves (Spanish: Diego Pimentel y Toledo, primer marqués de Gélves y conde consorte de Priego, capitán-general de la caballería de Milán, Asistente de Sevilla, caballero de Santiago y comendador de Villanueva de la Fuente) (unknown year, Aragon – 1631) was a Spanish cavalry general, viceroy of Aragon, and viceroy of New Spain. He held the latter position from September 21, 1621 to January 15, 1624 or November 1, 1624.[1]

The Marquess of Gélves

Viceroy of New Spain
In office
September 21, 1621 – November 1, 1624
MonarchPhilip IV
Prime MinisterCount-Duke of Olivares
Preceded byDiego Fernández de Córdoba
Succeeded byRodrigo Pacheco
Personal details
Bornc. 1570
Valladolid, Spain
Diedc. 1631
Madrid, Spain

Early careerEdit

Carrillo de Mendoza was born in Valladolid. He joined the army at an early age, where he was distinguished by his energy, valor and intelligence. He rose to the rank of cavalry general, and was made lord of the bedchamber for the king. He served as viceroy of Aragon before being sent to the Americas.

Viceroy of New SpainEdit

Arriving in New Spain in 1621, he found the administration in a bad state and immediately took steps to improve the moral standards of the functionaries. He organized detachments of armed highway patrolmen and assigned them to the principal highways to combat an epidemic of robbery. He authorized the immediate hanging of robbers caught in the act.

He bought grain and distributed it to the poor of the capital and its environs to combat the continuing drought and famine. He opposed the monopoly of the grain merchants, formed to drive up prices. This made him enemies. Also in his first year, he founded a chair of surgery at the University. This chair was first occupied by the Mexican-born doctor Cristóbal Hidalgo y Bandabal (d. 1660).

On March 7, 1623 the viceroy ordered work on the drainage system of the Valley of Mexico to cease, because he considered it costly and unlikely to be effective. He also ordered the destruction of the dike that diverted the Río Cuautitlán from entering the lakes around Mexico City. However, the next rainy season led again to large floods, many lost lives and much damage. This caused a considerable loss of the viceroy's prestige.

Conflict with the archbishopEdit

As the result of numerous complaints concerning venality and partiality, Viceroy Carrillo de Mendoza began an investigation of the archbishop of Mexico, Juan Pérez de la Serna. The viceroy instructed the archbishop not to grant divorces so readily, not to accept gifts, and not to charge high prices in the butcher shop the archbishop owned.

This caused animosity between the two, but the final break occurred because of a court case against Melchor Pérez de Veraiz, corregidor of Mexico City. Pérez de Veraiz was accused of monopolizing maize and keeping illicit granaries. He fled to the convent of Santo Domingo to avoid arrest. The judges posted guards around the convent, but the archbishop, invoking ecclesiastical immunity, excommunicated the judges, their clerks and the soldiers. The Audiencia appealed to the bishop of Puebla, the apostolic judge in such cases, and he ordered the excommunicated absolved. Archbishop Pérez de la Serna responded with a general interdiction, closing all the churches in the capital for some days.

On January 11, 1624, the archbishop in his sedan chair made an appearance at the viceregal palace, in front of an excited crowd. Also present was the viceroy, who together with the Audiencia, had determined to depose the archbishop. The archbishop responded by excommunicating the viceroy and the members of the Audiencia. He reiterated the interdiction and ordered clerics on horseback to ride the streets of the capital shouting "¡Viva Cristo!" and "¡Muera el mal gobierno!" ("Long live Christ!" and "Death to bad government!").

Thereupon the viceroy arrested the archbishop and ordered him escorted back to Spain. Three of the members of the Audiencia revoked the order deposing the archbishop, but the viceroy took prisoners. All of this provoked a popular riot on January 15, 1624 in front of the viceregal palace demanding the resignation of the viceroy. The rioters burned part of the palace and invaded part. That afternoon Archbishop Pérez, who in the meantime had been allowed to escape, proclaimed Carrillo de Mendoza deposed as viceroy, and nominated Licenciado Pedro Gabiría as captain general. That night the viceroy, on the point of being killed by the mob, disguised himself as a servant and fled to the church of San Francisco, where he remained, surrounded by guards. "Although the crown briefly reinstated Gelves before replacing him, the marqués was in effect the first Mexican viceroy overthrown by popular revolt."[2]

In 1625 Carillo de Mendoza returned to Spain, where he had an audience with King Philip IV and attempted to justify his decisions as viceroy. The king approved some of the measures he had taken against the archbishop, but rejected others.

Pérez de la Serna continued as archbishop of Mexico until the arrival of the next viceroy, Rodrigo Pacheco, 3rd Marquis of Cerralvo in November, 1624. Then, he was assigned to the Spanish diocese of Zamora. Corregidor Melchor Pérez de Veraiz was eventually absolved of the charges made against him. Carillo de Mendoza died in 1631 in Madrid.

Further readingEdit

  • Boyer, Richard E. "Mexico in the Seventeenth Century: Transition of a Colonial Society," Hispanic American Historical Review 57 (no. 3) 1977, 455–478.
  • Guthrie, Chester L. "Riots in Seventeenth-century Mexico City: A Study of Social and Economic Conditions," in Greater America: Essays in Honor of Herbert Eugene Bolton. (1945)
  • Israel, Jonathan I. Race, Class, and Politics in Colonial Mexico, 1610-1679. Oxford University Press 1975.


  1. ^ R. Douglas Cope, "Marqués de Gelves" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 3, p. 47. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  2. ^ Cope, "Marqués de Gelves", p. 47.
  • (in Spanish) "Carrillo de Mendoza y Pimentel, Diego," Enciclopedia de México, v. 3. Mexico City, 1988.
  • (in Spanish) "Pérez de la Serna, Juan," Enciclopedia de México, v. 11. Mexico City, 1988.
  • (in Spanish) García Puron, Manuel, México y sus gobernantes, v. 1. Mexico City: Joaquín Porrua, 1984.
  • (in Spanish) Orozco Linares, Fernando, Gobernantes de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985, ISBN 968-38-0260-5.
Government offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Aitona
Viceroy of Aragon
Succeeded by
Fernando de Borja y Aragón
Preceded by
The Marquess of Guadalcázar
Viceroy of New Spain
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Cerralvo
Spanish nobility
New title Marquess of Gelves
Succeeded by