Guadalajara was founded in 1532, one of the fruits of a vicious campaign of Conquest by Nuño de Guzmán - whose cruelty and corruption were such that he appalled even the Spanish authorities, and died in jail in Madrid. The city, named for his birthplace, thrived, being officially recognized by Charles V in 1542 and rapidly becoming one of the colony’s most Spanish cities - in part at least because so much of the indigenous population had been killed or had fled during the period of Conquest and suppression.
Set apart from the great mining centers of the Bajío, Guadalajara managed to remain relatively isolated, developing as a regional center for trade and agriculture.
The tight reins of colonial rule restrained the city’s development and it wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that things really took off, as the colonial monopolies began to crumble. Between 1760 and 1803 the city’s population tripled to reach some 35,000 and a new university was established, as the city became famous for the export of wheat, hides, cotton and wool.
When the empire finally fell apart, Guadalajara supported Hidalgo’s Independence movement and became briefly his capital, to be rewarded when the break with Spain finally came by being named capital of Jalisco. By the beginning of this century it was already the second largest city in the republic, and in the 1920s the completion of the rail link with California provided the final spur for development. More recently the exodus from México and attempts at de-Ecologicization have swollen numbers here still further.