Like the Indians, Spaniards were also diverse in nature and background. Some were soldiers or missionaries directly from Spain. Others came as long time residents of New Spain (Mexico). Distinctions were made between criollos, those born in the Americas, and peninsulares, those born in Spain. Criollos were considered inferior to those who came from the mother country.
Those persons of mixed race - Indian and Spaniard - known as mestizos, were one of the most rapidly growing groups in frontier society. Bearing Spanish names but a culture that was a mixture of Indian and Spanish, they became the backbone of the Spanish empire in the Americas. Mestizos made up the majority of conscripts in the army; they became artisans, traders, and local officials.
Last updated: September 1, 2016