Who was “El Pípila” – Famous hero of the Independence of Mexico?

The territory that covers what is now known as Mexico was one of the richest and most important colonies of the Kingdom of Spain. Under the name of “New Spain” it was the main source of gold and silver for the Kingdom during the 400 years of Spanish domination of this territory, contributing greatly to the emergence of Spain as the great power of its time.

But things were not going very well for the inhabitants of the colony, many of whom were treated as slaves, mainly the Indian and African population; and many others as “second” and even “third” citizens of an empire that at the beginning of the 19th century was a fading shadow of its past greatness.

The new ideas of the French Enlightenment and the American Revolution had influenced a series of intellectuals and progressive personalities in the colony, making them think of becoming independent from Spain and implementing a series of reforms that would make the territory a new country under many of the values ​​proclaimed by illustration.

Among the people seriously thinking of achieving independence from Spain, the figure of Miguel Hidalgo, a non-traditional Catholic priest who had been living in the town of “Dolores” in what is now the Mexican state of Guanajuato, looms large. He had contributed to the improvement of the native population, making it very popular, teaching them a series of trades and, some, even to write and read. Many of these crafts have survived to this day; for example, the world famous “Talavera” ceramic pieces that you can find in what is now known as the town of “Dolores Hidalgo”. In addition to his popularity, he was also the leader of the local conspiracy against the government of Spain.

It was the year 1810 when the conspiracy against Spain was finally ripe enough to be carried out. It was in the month of September when, accelerated by the sudden discovery of the conspiracy by the “realist authorities”, the fight for Independence began. It was the night of September 15 when Hidalgo and others decided to go ahead and rally the town of Dolores to constitute the first army that would march against the Spanish positions.

The long column of peasants and the few trained officers that make up the “Insurgent Army” marched for several days through the region gathering more people and resources. Once they felt strong enough, they aimed for the largest Spanish post in the area. The world famous mining town of Guanajuato.

And it is during this episode that the figure of “El Pípila” enters the scene during the first battle of the fight for Independence. The insurgents had besieged an old grain storage building. All the Spanish had entered this large building and were using it as a fortress to resist the “Insurgent Army” until some reinforcements arrived from the capital or some other post.
The insurgents were desperate. The building seemed impregnable and they were losing many men trying to get close to one of the two gates or scaling the walls. Also, the “royal” reinforcements could be closing in and were stuck in that position.

Hidalgo and other officers had concluded that only by destroying one of the gates could they hope for a victory. But who would? Who would dare to approach the door dodging the bullets and set it on fire?… It seemed that no one was willing to risk his life so much. Until “El Pipila” appeared from among the peasants. He approached Hidalgo and told him that he was willing to go ahead and burn the door. He had been thinking about how to approach the door and had come to the conclusion that he would wear a thick piece of stone strapped to his back as bullet protection and then crawl to the door.

And that’s how he did it. With the heavy chunk of stone on his back and a torch in hand, he crawled slowly under enemy fire until he finally reached the gate and with his last strength set the wooden gate on fire, allowing the Insurgent Army to escape. He entered the building and complained. the first victory of the fight for the independence of the country that is now known as Mexico.

Very few things are known about what happened to ‘El Pípila’ after this historic episode.