source : http://www.pvmirror.com
| The Influence of the french in Mexico by Ana Luz Velázquez July 8, 2002. |
The influence of France on world history is undeniable. It appears in the works of many people and nations, and Mexico is no exception.
The Independence of Mexico
French influence can be clearly established in time, as of the 1810 War of Independence. The leader of the movement was the priest of the town of Dolores, Miguel Hidago y Costilla, a learned man. The basis of his libertarian principles can be found in the books written by philosophers Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau, and in the principles of equality, fraternity and liberty engendered by the French Revolution.
But all did not end here. Liberal thinkers of the recently acquired independence of Mexico in 1821 carried a patina of French ideology in their intellectual heritage.
In the end, the French - who claimed to be enemies of absolutism and supporters of liberty, while belonging to a culture that was highly influential on all things Mexican - were able to settle in this country with great ease, dedicating themselves to commerce, small industry and handicrafts.
The French Intervention (1862 - 1867)
In the second half of the 19th Century, French culture was slowly seeping into Mexican society. The arrival of Maximilian of Hapsburg in Mexico, called Emperor of Mexico by the conservatives, imported the European social etiquette that Mexico's conservative high class adopted.
From that time on and until the end of the Porfirian period, men's and women's fashion was dictated by French fashion.
The French established themselves in various areas of Mexico where they opened restaurants serving French dishes, cheeses, wines, liqueurs and pastries. They also set up bakeries and pastry shops. To this day, you can find croissants and French baguettes, pastries made with "crême pâtissière" (crema pastelera), Chantilly cream or Lady Fingers. Furthermore, it is common to find items on menus such as compota (from the French compote), mousses, soufflés, etc.
Blue-Eyed People in the Highlands of Jalisco
Following the withdrawal of the French after the loss they suffered at the hands of the Mexican army and the chinacos (a native community from the State of Puebla), many French chose to remain on Mexican soil, mostly in the States of Michoacán and Jalisco. And they married, resulting in a strange mix. Everyone knows that men and women living in the rancherías and little towns of Jalisco's Highlands (Tepatitlán, Lagos de Moreno, San Juan de los Lagos) are tall and blond, with green or blue eyes.
About the Mariachi...
They say that the word mariachi derives from the French word, marriage, a result of the answer given to some French soldiers when, back in those tragic days of the French Intervention, they witnessed the celebration of a marriage of some rancheros, enlivened by a rustic band of musicians. They say that when the soldiers asked the interpreter what was going on, he answered "C'est un mariage" (it's a wedding) and that ever since then, the French continued to call them "mariachi", not just at weddings, but also when referring to town bands, which later gave birth to the Mariachi.
The "Porfiriato" (1876-1911)
Porfirio Diaz was the Mexican General instrumental in the 5th of May or Cinco de Mayo defeat of French troops near Puebla. During his dictatorship, called the "porfiriato", a tendency to imitate European styles, especially French ones, took hold among those in high society. This applied to everyday customs as well as architectural styles. Consequently, at the beginning of the 20th Century, small palaces arose in the big cities.
Along some avenues in Mexico City and Guadalajara, we can still admire the beauty of great mansions that once belonged to the so-called "Porfirian nobility". Most of them clearly show the French influence, with fluted columns, fountains, avenues, sculptures in the great symmetrical gardens, stairways and staircases, lamps, marble floors. Many of them were abandoned during the decline of the Porfiriate, preserved as monuments to the megalomania of a social class. Most inhabitants of those huge houses chose France as their final refuge