At the turn of the nineteenth century, the Spanish Crown fell from power. At the stroke of a pen, and the help of his army, Napoleon Bonaparte took the kingdom. On the far side of the Atlantic, this proved to be a rallying call to those Mexicans – of both European and native descent – who believed in liberty and independence.
New Spain was experiencing a dangerous contradiction and the province of Guanajuato was a vivid example of this. The wealth only reached a tiny slice of society and poverty was the only thing widely distributed among the masses. For this reason, the so-called insurrection of Father Miguel Hidalgo found fertile ground in Guanajuato, the Jewel in the Crown, but also the site of the very first battle between the royalists and the insurgents. The rebels’ victory would light the fuse of liberty. Guanajuato and its Alhóndiga de Granditas would become a symbol of the struggle.
Nevertheless, the War of Independence was not a fight between disparate groups. The chief civil and military authority in the region, Governor Riaño, was a friend of Father Hidalgo’s and both believed that right was on their side. Both were true patriots, one defending the world he knew, while the other was striving to awaken a nation that would belong to all Mexicans.