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Mariana (María) Ignacia Rodríguez de Toro

Other names/titles:
Gender: F
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

Born in Mexico City, 20 November 1778, she was also known as María Ignacia Rodríguez de Velasco y Osorio Barba, “La Güera Rodríguez". Celebrated for her beauty and wit, she supported the Independence movement. In 1811 she organised a conspiracy against Viceroy Venegas with a combination of military and ecclesiastic men. They were betrayed by Padre Camargo de la Merced, the leaders were captured and their wealth confiscated. La Güera refused to name her accomplices during her interrogation and imprisonment.

The wife of wealthy miner, Manuel Lazarín, she held salons in her home. Politics were frequently discussed and a plan was hatched to capture Viceroy Francisco Javier de Venegas in an effort to obtain the release of Hidalgo. She was apparently more keen than the men to enact this plot, and said “are there no longer any men in America”. She led the plan until its discovery. (Arrom, 34.)

She had 3 husbands and 7 children, only two of whom were living when she died aged 72. (Arrom, 127) One of her daughters married he Count de Regla. (Calderón de la Barca, 182.) One of her husbands, José Villamil y Primo, was “a chronic wife beater”. She accused him of attempted murder on 4 July 1802 after he shot at her. He then later accused her of adultery, a charge that was said to have been invented to excuse his brutality towards her. Rodríguez’s mother was so concerned for her daughter’s safety that she asked the local parish priest to look out for her when Rodríguez and Villamil went to stay at his hacienda (away from her family’s protection). (Arrom, 233, 248.)

She was famous for her beauty, charm, and wit. She is said to have had affairs with Bolívar, Humboldt, Iturbide, and Canon José Mariano Beristáin. She married José Jerónimo López de Peralta in 1794. they had four children. The marriage ended in 1805 when he died; he had asked for a divorce. She then married Dr Juan Ignacio (or Mariano) Briones, who died a few months later. Her third marriage was to Juan Manuel de Elizalde, a Chilean. She met Hidalgo before independence, and in 1810 was called to testify before the Inquisition and then exiled to Querétaro. She clandestinely supported the insurgents, giving them money and writing to them. She held tertulias in Mexico that were attended by Iturbide. This tertulia became part of his court when he was emperor. She was also in contact with Los Guadalupes, a group including many women who worked for the independence cause. (Guedea, 1286)

Calderón de la Barca met her several times and enjoyed her company. “La Güera Rodríguez told us that on an estate of hers, one woman of that race [Zambo] was so fearfully hideous, the priest had been obliged to desire her to remain at home, because she distracted the attention of the congregation.” (Calderón de la Barca, 382.) “We returned home, together with the Güera Rodriguez, who was in the carriage with us, and giving us a lively account of what this fete [at Santiago, near Mexico City] used to be in former days. (Calderón de la Barca, 404.)

La Güera’s granddaughter (daughter of the Marques of G—e) made her first appearance in Mexican society at a party in San Agustín, that was attended by the Ex-Minister Cuevas, and Calderón de la Barca. (Calderón de la Barca, 385.)

She is described by Frances Calderón de la Barca as: “A very remarkable character, well known here by the name of La Güera (the fair) Rodriguez, said to have been many years ago celebrated by Humboldt as the most beautiful woman he had seen in the whole course of his travels. Considering the lapse of time which has passed since that distinguished traveller visited these parts, I was almost astonished when her card was sent up with a request for admission, and still more so to find that in spite of years and of the furrows that it pleases Time to plough in the loveliest faces, La Güera retains a profusion of fair curls without one grey hair, a set of beautiful white teeth, very fine eyes, and great vivacity. Her sister, the Marquesa of Juluapa, lately dead, is said to have been also a women of great talent and extraordinary conversational powers; she is another of the ancient noblesse who has dropped off. The physician who attended her in her last illness, a Frenchman of the name of Plan, in great repute here, has sent in a bill to her executors of ten thousand dollars, which, although it does not excite any great astonishment, the family refuse to pay, and there is a lawsuit in consequence. The extortions of medical men in Mexico, especially of foreign physicians, have arrived at such a height, that a person of moderate fortune must hesitate before putting himself into their hands. A rich old lady in delicate health, and with no particular complaint, is a surer fund for them than a silver mine.

I found La Güera very agreeable, and a perfect living chronicle. She is married to her third husband, and had three daughters, all celebrated beauties; the Countess de Regla, who died in New York, and was buried in the cathedral there; the Marquesa de Guadalupe, also dead, and the Marquesa de A—a, now a handsome widow. We spoke of Humboldt, and talking of herself as of a third person, she related to me all the particulars of his first visit, and his admiration of her; that she was then very young, though married and the mother of two children, and that when he came to visit her mother, she was sitting in a corner where the baron did not perceive her; until talking very earnestly on the subject of cochineal, he inquired if he could visit a certain district where there was a plantation of nopals. ‘To be sure,’ said La Güera from her corner; ‘we can take M. de Humboldt there;’ whereupon he first perceiving her, stood amazed, and at length exclaimed, ‘Valgame Dios! Who is that girl?’ Afterwards he was constantly with her, and more captivated, it is said, by her wit than by her beauty, considering her a sort of western Madame de Stael; all which leads me to suspect that the grave traveller was considerably under the influence of her fascinations, and that neither mines nor mountains, geography nor geology, petrified shells nor alpenkalkstein, had occupied him to the exclusion of a slight stratum of flirtation. It is a comfort to think that ‘sometimes even the great Humboldt nods.’" (Calderón de la Barca, 99-100)

They shared a carriage to a fiesta in San Antonio. (Calderón de la Barca, 221.)

Calderón de la Barca recalls one of La Güera’s stories that “is too original to be lost. A lady of high rank had died in Mexico, her relatives undertook to commit her to her last resting-place, habited according to the then prevailing fashion, in her most magnificent dress, that which she had worn at her wedding. This dress was a wonder of luxury, even in Mexico. It was entirely composed of the finest lace, and the flounces were made of a species of point which cost fifty dollars a vara (the Mexican yard). Its equal was unknown. It was also ornamented and looped up at certain intervals with bows of ribbons very richly embroidered in gold. In this dress, the Condesa de – was laid in her coffin, thousands of dear friends crowding to view her beautiful costume de mort, and at length she was placed in her tomb, the key of which was entrusted to the sacristan.
From the tomb to the opera is a very abrupt transition; nevertheless, both have a share in this story. A company of French dancers appeared in Mexico, a twentieth-rate ballet, and the chief danseuse was a little French damsel, remarkable for the shortness of her robes, her coquetry , and her astonishing pirouettes. On the night of a favourite ballet, Mademoiselle Pauline made her entrée in a succession of pirouettes, and poising on her toe, looked around for approbation, when a sudden thrill of horror, accompanied by a murmur of indignation, pervaded the assembly. Mademoiselle Pauline was equipped in the very dress in which the defunct countess had been buried! Lace, point flounces, gold ribbons; impossible to mistake it.”
The dancer pleaded innocent; she’d bought the dress from a French modiste in Mexico City. This proved to be the sacristan of San --. He was arrested and thrown into prison. After this the magnificent dresses were substituted for plain clothes before the tombs were placed in the vaults, to take temptation away from the sacristans.” (Calderón de la Barca, 98-100.)

Tuñón claims that she had 3 husbands and several lovers among whom were said to be Bolívar, Humboldt and Iturbide. (Tuñón, 86)

Neuhaus mentions Ignacia "La Güera" Rodríguez as one of Bolívar's mistresses, when he was in Mexico. (Neuhaus Rizo, 136)

She married three of her daughters to Mexico's most eligible men: the Count of Regla, the Marqués of Guadalupe, and the heir to the Marqués de Aguayo. One of her nephews was Marqués de Uluapa, and another became Marqués de la Cadena after Iturbide's triumph. (Ladd, 122.),

She is listed as a member of the Sociedad de los Guadalupes, under the heading "Incoados en el Conspiración de 1811". (Torre Villar, lxxix)

Agustín de Iturbide was among those who attended her tertulias. (Gueda, 1286)

A court case gives her name as María Ignacia Rodríguez. (Arrom, 1985, 223)

She was divorced in 1802 following a court case that last from 4 July 1802 until November 1802. (Arrom, 1976, 63-108)

W.H. Ward mentions her pearls, which were "remarkable for their size". He also refers to the Marquesa de Guadalupe and the Countess de Regla as if in the same social circle. (Ward, 593)

Miquel I Vergés gives her name as Mariana Rodríguez del Toro de Lazarón and states that she was one of the main organizers of the April 1811 conspiracy. She hosted tertulias in which ideas of independence were voiced. At one of these tertulias the news of the arrest of Hidalgo and other insurgents announced. Rodríguez declared that they must capture the viceroy in response. She and her husband Lazarín were imprisoned until December 1820. (Miquel i Vergés, 507)

She hosted pro-independence meetings. At one of them, in 1811, she instigated a plot to take the viceroy hostage; the plot failed and she and her husband were imprisoned until 1820. (González y Obregón, 158-159)

She died on 1 November 1850, in Mexico City.

Life Events

Born 1778She was born in Mexico City, 20 November 1778.
Married 1794She married José Jerónimo López de Peralta de Villar Villamil.
Other 1802She accused her husband of attempted murder on 4 July 1802.
Other 1805Her first husband, José Jerónimo López de Peralta de Villar Villamil, died.
Other 1811She organised a conspiracy against Viceroy Venegas.
Other 1820She was released from prison.
Other 1825H.G. Ward probably met her in Mexico City.
Died 1850She died on 1 November 1850, in Mexico City.


Tuñón, Julia, (1998), Mujeres en México: recordando una historia

Domenella, Ana Rosa, and Pasternac, Nora, (1997), Las voces olvidadas: Antologia critica de narradoras mexicanas en el siglo XIX

Arrom, Silvia Marina, (1985), The women of Mexico City, 1790-1857

Calderón de la Barca, Frances, (1982), Life in Mexico

Neuhaus Rizo Patrón, Carlos, (1997), Las Mariscalas

Werner, Michael S., (1997), Encyclopedia of Mexico

Ladd, Doris M., (1976), The Mexican Nobility at Independence 1780-1826

Torre Villar, Ernesto de la, (1966), Los "Guadalupes" y la Independencia, con una selección de documentos inédittos

Ward, H. G., (1828), Mexico in 1827

Arrom, Silvia, (1976), La mujer mexicana ante el divorcio eclesíastico (1800-1857)

Miquel i Vergés, José María, (1969), Diccionario de Insurgentes

González Obregón, Luis, (c1952), Los procesos militar e inquisitorial del Padre Hidalgo y de otros caudillos insurgentes


There is no writing by this subject in the database.


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