Nicole von GermetenApr 30, 2023
Death in Old Mexico
The 1789 Dongo Murders and How They Shaped the History of a Nation
Cambridge University Press 2023
In a Mexico City mansion on October 23, 1789, Don Joaquín Dongo and ten of his employees were brutally murdered by three killers armed with machetes. Investigators worked tirelessly to find the perpetrators, who were publicly executed two weeks later. Labeled the 'crime of the century,' these events and their aftermath have intrigued writers of fiction and nonfiction for over two centuries. Using a vast range of sources, Nicole von Germeten recreates a paper trail of Enlightenment-era greed and savagery, and highlights how the violence of the Mexican judiciary echoed the acts of the murderers. The Spanish government conducted dozens of executions in Mexico City's central square in this era, revealing how European imperialism in the Americas influenced perceptions of violence and how it was tolerated, encouraged, or suppressed. An evocative history, Death in Old Mexico: The 1789 Dongo Murders and How They Shaped the History of a Nation (Cambridge University Press, 2023) provides a compelling new perspective on late colonial Mexico City.
Ethan Besser Fredrick is a graduate student in Modern Latin American history seeking his PhD at the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on the Transatlantic Catholic movements in Mexico and Spain during the early 20th century.