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A Free Reading Passage on Mayan Resistance to Spanish Colonization for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 16

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Mayan resistance to Spanish colonization is a referenced topic in the Cultural Interactions Between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans topic in Period 1 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.



Chichén Itzá
2293599713/Shutterstock


When the Spanish arrived in the Yucatán Peninsula in the early 16th century, they encountered a sophisticated and resilient civilization: the Maya. Unlike some other indigenous groups, the Maya were not easily subdued. Their resistance to Spanish colonization was a prolonged and determined struggle that showcased their bravery and strategic prowess.


In 1517, Spanish explorer Francisco Hernández de Córdoba first landed on the Yucatán Peninsula. The Maya met him with hostility, marking the beginning of a contentious relationship. Over the next decade, Spanish expeditions, including those led by Juan de Grijalva and Hernán Cortés, continued to face resistance from the Maya.


In 1527, the Spanish launched a more concerted effort to conquer the region, led by Francisco de Montejo. However, Montejo and his forces encountered fierce opposition. The Maya, familiar with the dense jungle terrain, utilized guerrilla tactics, ambushing Spanish troops and retreating into the forest.

Montejo’s campaigns highlighted the challenges of conquering the Maya. Unlike the centralized Aztec Empire, the Maya civilization consisted of numerous independent city-states. This decentralized political structure meant that even if the Spanish captured one city, many others remained defiant.


The Spanish initially struggled to establish control. In 1546, a significant uprising, led by the Maya leader Ah Xiu, demonstrated the extent of Maya resistance. Ah Xiu’s revolt was part of a broader effort by several Maya provinces to expel the Spanish invaders. The rebels managed to recapture several towns and inflicted substantial casualties on the Spanish.


Ah Xiu’s uprising was a pivotal moment in the Maya resistance. Despite initial successes, the Spanish eventually regrouped and launched a fierce counterattack. Utilizing their superior weaponry, including firearms and horses, the Spanish forces managed to crush the rebellion. Ah Xiu and other leaders were captured and executed, and the Spanish reasserted their control.


Despite the defeat of major uprisings, the Maya did not surrender easily. Resistance continued in the form of smaller, more sporadic conflicts. The dense jungle provided a natural advantage for the Maya, allowing them to engage in guerrilla warfare. The Spanish found it challenging to completely subdue the region due to the Maya’s knowledge of the terrain and their persistent spirit.


The Maya resistance to Spanish colonization is a testament to their resilience and determination. Although the Spanish eventually established control over the Yucatán Peninsula, it took them several decades. The Maya’s prolonged resistance delayed Spanish efforts and demonstrated the complexities of colonizing a well-organized and determined population.


PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON MAYAN RESISTANCE TO SPANISH COLONIZATION

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Mayan Resistance to Spanish Colonization Free Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about the Maya?





Cultural Interactions Between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans 



Period 1



AP U.S. History



Mayan Resistance to Spanish Colonization



#Mayan

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 16

5

0

0

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