30 July 1811 – Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla Gallaga Mondarte Villaseñor
Sticking with today’s religious flavour, we head to Mexico for the most ostentatiously named subject yet to hit ‘Execution of the Day’s’ decks.
Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla Gallaga Mondarte Villaseñor (or Cura Hidalgo to his followers) was a national hero after he led an uprising against Spanish occupation.
So why would a normally mild-mannered priest want to rage against the Mexican machine?
Well, Napoleon inadvertently helped – the minute maverick was busy waging war all over the shop, and in 1811, Spain was his primary target. And while the rampant Spanish were thus diverted, Mexico was planning a little insurrection of its own.
At the forefront
Priest Hidalgo got in with the plotters and thanks to his eloquence among other attributes, he was soon leading the entire posse of uprisers.
However, all too soon the plot was busted, so the Mexicans were forced to mobilise early.
The clash was bloody and the Spanish were annihilated in places, such as Bajio and Guanajuato. But the prime target was Mexico City and while all this was going on, the capital had steeled itself against an attack.
As a result and with the onset of a reprisal likely, Hidalgo wisely beat a retreat to regroup.
Sadly, with such successes under his belt, the priest-cum-revolutionary had begun to believe his own hype. Support began to splinter, and this was the beginning of the end for the Mexicans.
Their adversaries were heading for Guadalajara where Hidalgo was holed up. On hearing who was coming, Hidalgo responded by mobilising his men and, ill-advisedly, they clashed at the bridge over the Calderon river.
Despite the Mexicans outnumbering the Spanish many times over, the European troops were seasoned campaigners and infinitely better equipped than the Mexicans. Soon the Spanish had them on the run and in no time Hidalgo was captured as the insurgents retreated.
Every dog has its day
He and some mates were then packed off to Chihuahua where they were sent to trial and sentenced to death.
Priest Hidalgo was promptly shot by a firing squad and beheaded posthumously, aged 58, alongside Ignacio Allende, Jose Mariano Jiminez and Juan Aldama – their heads were put on display in each corner of the town as a warning to all for a decade.
Yet, the heads must have been a good omen, because in that 10th year, Mexico gained the much-coveted independence, for which they had fought so hard.