Detail map of Tlatelolco, Ciudad de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico Overview map of Tlatelolco, Ciudad de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico

A: Tlatelolco, Ciudad de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico

Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza Establishes the First European School of Higher Learning in the Americas


Antonio de Mendoza, first Viceroy of New Spain.

On January 6, 1536 the Real Colegio de Santa Cruz, the first European school of higher learning in the Americas, was founded in Tlatelolco, Mexico. The school was built by the Franciscan order on the initiative of Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and Bishop Juan de Zumárraga on the site of an Aztec school for the children of nobles (in Nahuatl: Calmecac). The school also included the first academic library in the Americas.

"The original purpose of the colegio was to educate an indigenous priesthood, and so pupils were selected from the most prestigious families of the Aztec ruling class. They were taught in Nahuatl, Spanish and Latin and also learned the basics of Greek as well as crafts such as illumination, bookbinding and European art. Among the teachers were notable scholars and grammarians such as Andrés de OlmosAlonso de Molina and Bernardino de Sahagún, all of whom made important contributions to the study of both the Classical Nahuatl language and the ethnography and anthropology of Mesoamerica. Also Fray Juan de Torquemada served as a teacher and administrator at the Colegio. When recollecting historical and ethnographical information for the elaboration of the Florentine Codex, Sahagún used his trilingual students to elicit information from the Aztec elders and to transcribe it in Spanish and Nahuatl and to illuminate the manuscripts. The Nahua botanist Martín de la Cruz who wrote the Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis was also educated at the Colegio" (Wikipedia article on Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, accessed 10-18-2013).

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