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Villa, Pancho (ca. 1878–1923) and the division of the North

Janet E. McClellan

Subject History » Political History

Place Central America » Mexico

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899, 1900-1999

People Villa, Pancho

Key-Topics bibliography, human rights, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01545.x


The early life and times of Francisco “Pancho” Villa are shrouded in mystery and little is known of his past except that he was born Doreoteo Arango in San Juan del Rio in the state of Durango around 1878. His father was Agustín Arango, and his family was extremely poor. It was said that at the age of 17 he killed his sister's rapist, the landowner's son on the ranch where he and his family worked. He went into hiding, became a bandit, and assumed the name the world would come to know him by. In 1912, during the Mexican Revolution , Villa joined the federal troops under General Victoriano Huerta and enjoyed the rank of honorary brigadier-general. But Huerta feared him and his successes in battle and had him falsely charged with an infraction and sentenced to death. President Madero commuted his sentence to imprisonment, which he served until his escape in 1913. Villa lived in Texas until the assassination of revolutionary President Madero. In assessing the Mexican Revolution, most urban intellectuals of Mexico City regarded both Villa and his associate Emiliano Zapata as primitives but favored Villa over Zapata. Villa was considered faithful to Madero, while Zapata renounced Madero and continued his war against the haciendas. Villa's public image included tales of his cruelties, womanizing, volatile temperament, and audacity in battle. When Madero became president, Villa enjoyed ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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