Spain conquered and colonized Mexico in the 16th century. Mexico rebelled against from Spain in 1810. The initial call for independence came from two Catholic priests, Fathers Jose Maria Morelos and Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Prominent military leaders in the Mexican Revolution included Antonio López de Santa Anna and Agustín de Itúrbide, a Creole of noble Spanish descent who had been serving as a general in the Spain's army before defecting to the cause of Mexican Independence.

A Tale of Two Generals

When Mexico won their independence from Spain in 1821, they instituted a constitutional monarchy with General Itúrbide as emperor. Emperor Itúrbide's rule lasted only 10 months. He was overthrown by General Santa Anna, who eliminated the monarchy and declared Mexico a republic. Santa Anna became a major force in Mexican politics for the next three decades, eventually being elected president in 1833. Agustín de Itúrbide was exiled and spent two years in Italy and Great Britain. When he returned to Mexico in 1824, he was arrested, tried and executed by firing squad.