How Did People Live During The Viceroyalty Of New Spain?

The Viceroyalty of New Spain encompassed much of what is now known as central and southern Mexico, from San Luis Potosí in the north to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the south. It began with the conquest by Hernán Cortés of the Mexican Empire and lasted until the Independence of Mexico.

During more than three hundred years the transculturation of that area took place, which induced changes in the native population in all possible aspects, from the conversion of faith to Christianity, to the development of educational institutions according to the Spanish model and the apogee of a economy based on livestock and mining.

Castes of the viceregal society

The process of miscegenation brought with it the rise of Mexican cuisine, the artistic expressions of indigenous painters, the influence of Spanish fashion on society and the adoption of traditions and cultures from the old world.

Here is a brief review of the highlights of the characteristic life of Mexicans during the Viceroyalty of Mexico.


Native Mexicans used to eat four times a day: a light breakfast of chocolate and sweet bread, a hearty lunch, a third mid-afternoon meal, and dinner.

In addition, they had the habit of “doing eleven o’clock”, which consisted of a mid-morning snack characterized by a thick drink, such as chocolate; some families even had the habit of drinking chocolate again in the middle of the afternoon.

In the cities of the Viceroyalty, the presence of itinerant food vendors prevailed, who offered to passers-by chichicuilotes from Lake Texcoco, tamales, roasted ducks, baked sheep heads and sweets, among other delicious dishes.

However, the true evolution of Mexican food during the Viceroyalty occurred in convents.

There, the indigenous natives worked as housekeepers, and it was they who, through oral traditions, immortalized the indigenous recipes of the region.


During the Viceroyalty of Mexico, religious and civil festivals were held frequently, as a way of promulgating the new faith of Christianity, and establishing a culture of obedience to the King of Spain.

Among the most popular amusements of the time are bullfights (of a much more violent nature than can be seen today), street parades of masks, the launching of fireworks, theater performances (even puppets and marionettes), cockfighting and card games.

Artistic expressions

European painters and theologians transferred their knowledge of Gothic art to the first Catholic priests of the Viceroyalty, who in turn were the painting instructors of indigenous students.

With these tools, native artists exploited their potential with classical works using colored pencils on cotton cloth paper.

The artistic manifestations of the Mexican colonial period are characterized by gloomy colors and homages to Catholic images.


Rich Creole and mestizo families were inspired by the haute couture dresses of the viceregal court.

Given the multicultural influence of that time, there is access to products from the East, such as: jewelry, silks, brocades, and fans from China, Japan and the Philippines.


  1. Dragonné, C, (2012). Mexico, Mexico. Mexican Gastronomy: A Story Told by Traditions. Recovered from
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (2017) London, England. Viceroyalty of New Spain. Recovered from
  3. Unknown Mexico (2002). Mexico, Mexico. People and personnel, Creole and mestizo costumes. Recovered from
  4. MX City Insider Guide (2015). Mexico, Mexico. Amusements in Mexico City during the Viceroyalty. Recovered from
  5. Mexican Culture Information System (2008). Mexico, Mexico. The kitchen of the Viceroyalty. Recovered from

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