The name Taxco is the product of a phonetic accommodation of "Tlachco",
a Nahuatl name meaning "a place for playing ball"
Before the Spanish invasion, the name "Tlachco" was given
to what is now the village called Taxco El Viejo to the South of present-day Taxco.
The art of mining had had its roots there for many, many years
and when the conquest took place the mines were being actively worked.
Taxco has nothing to do with Tlachco, the pre-Cortés mining centre,
except so far as the altered name is concerned.
Taxco is of exclusively Spanish origin.
THE vocation and destiny of Taxco were determined
soon after the fall of Tenochtitlán.
It was born in the need of Hernán Cortés to find tin for his artillery.
thanks to the silver which was found in its immediate vicinity.
Taxco became incorporated in 1532;
but the books in the Court of Letters, Tasco's first-known public registry,
go back to 1529. And in 1542 the Mayor, Don Luis de Castilla,
was the first Spaniard to make his fortune from the mines of Taxco.
Cortés makes the first historic reference to these places
in a paragraph of his Fourth Letter of Relation, dated in Mexico 15th October, 1524,
addressed to Emperor Charles V, which reads in translation:
"I commenced to inquire everywhere if anywhere there was any (tin), and
Our Lord, Who takes care, and has always taken care, wished to provide with
the greatest speed, so that I came upon by chance amongst the natives province
which is known as Tachco, certain small pieces of it in the manner of a very thin
coin, and proceeding on my inquiry, I found that in the said province, even in
others, it was used as money; on becoming more familiar with the matter, I
learned that it came from the said province of Tachco which is a 26 leagues
distances from this city, and then I learned of the mines and sent tools and
Spaniards and they brought me a sample of it, and at that I gave the order that
they extract all that was necessary, and whatever more may be needed will be
extracted, although with great labor; and even when travelling in search of these
metals a vein or iron in great quantity was found by chance, according to what I
am informed by those who say they know it."
So it was that the lands of were the first that the Spaniards explored
in search of minerals, not only in Mexico but in the New World.
They also improved ~ and in some cases perfected ~ and continued working
the mines which the Indians had already constructed.
"Although with great labor", and using tempered iron and black powder
~ the "tools" to which Cortés refers in his Letter of Relation ~
the conquerors, compelled by circumstances, succeeded in obtaining very good results
from the mines of Taxco. As a proof of the skill which went into the work there,
it is only necessary to remember that the famous "King Shaft" could be traversed
its whole length of 90 meters by a man on horseback.
At the end of the eighteenth century, a very intelligent and active miner,
Jose Vicente de Anza, carried the length of the shaft to its present 650 meters.
The Cerro de Bermeja produced great quantities of silver
and a certain amount of other metals. For its size
it is perhaps one of those that have given Mexico her greatest mining wealth.
But now only thin streams of water ~ scarce and dispersed ~
spring from what were once abundant veins.
The Indians who were employed in mining the rich metal veins of the Cerro de Bermeja
lived on the lower part of the Cerro del Atachi just about where the Veracruz district
is now. That agglomeration, an incipient town, was called Tetelcingo,
which was for a very long time the name of the place that became Taxco.
This place undoubtedly seemed to the Spaniards to be the most appropriate for them
on account of its climate and its water, and so they ejected the natives and set up
their encampment or "Royal" (because in the last instance it was the King's).
A sanctuary was built, and was at first named the Santa Veracruz;
and, somewhere around 1529, as the "Royal of Tetelcingo";
another establishment of Spaniards made up of miners, merchants, soldiers, officials
and one or two monks from the Franciscan Monastery of Cuernavaca,
constituted the stammering colony of New Spain.
According to a record of the Archbishopric of Mexico the Taxco "Royal of Mines"
was already in existence in 1570. No fewer than three mining centers or encampments
of Spaniards came within this denomination; the Tetelcingo ("Small mountain")
"Royal of Mines", the origin and location of which have already been stated.
The Cantarranas "Royal of Mines", a short distance away from the later,
to the North and called by the Indians Texaltitlán
(meaning "precipice" because there is a precipice close to the high mountain
on which this place was built); and the Tenango ("inside the enclosure")
"Royal of Mines" which was a good way away from the other two, to the east.
By order of His Majesty, as in other parts of the Viceroyalty,
a sort of inventory was taken in 1581 of everything there was in the "Royal";
resources and goods of the inhabitants, natural wealth, population, etc.
This was the "Relation of Mines of Tasco", written by Don Pedro de Ledesma,
"Mayor or the said mines and their jurisdiction, and Corregidor of Tasco and Tenango".
This report describes Tetelcingo ~ the residence of the ecclesiastical and secular
justice and therefore the most important of the three "Royals" ~ the report
says that this was so rough that there was not one "flat thing (on it) except
a little square where the church stands" (this was the primitive Vera Cruz Church,
several times reconstructed, which stood on the site of the present Parish Church).
Tetelcingo also had the largest and most widespread population
of the three "Royals", having two Indian districts: Tlachcotecapan, now San Miguel,
next to the Cerro de Bermeja mines, and Acayotla which was on the crags
that are now the site of the Chapel and village of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
It may perhaps be appropriate to mention here the historical importance of the
"Royal of Cantarranas". The masonry on which the water-wheels of the mills working
for Cortés once turned still exists, at what used to be the Hacienda del Chorrillo.
There are some reservoirs, several conduits and great aqueducts and the troughs
the conqueror made to crush the metals in his three mills.
There are only a few stones left of the houses and church that belonged
to the Marqués del Valle as these are mixed up with more recent ruins.
Once Taxco had taken root in the mountain called Atachi
it extended its urban dominion to the different fells of its southeastern slope,
sowing small white, red-tiled houses all over.