Pancho Villa (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Villa played a central role in the Mexican Revolution as a rough, crude, and sometimes brilliant general from 1910 to 1920. Villa’s exploits on and off the battlefield have broadened into legends that remain an integral part of Mexican history and folklore.
Francisco “Pancho” Villa was born June 5, 1878, on a large estate, or “hacienda,” in San Juan del Río, Durango, Mexico. His parents, who worked as laborers on the hacienda, named their son Doroteo Arango. Mexico at that time was ruled by Porfirio Díaz. Under the dictatorship of Díaz, landless peasants enjoyed few rights and remained caught in a cycle of poverty from which there was no escape.
As a young boy, Doroteo taught himself to ride horses, explored the mountainous terrain near his home, and acquired valuable skills that later enabled him to survive as a fugitive. Doroteo was only twelve years old when his father died and left him head of the family. At age seventeen, Doroteo was forced to leave his home after he killed a man who had attacked his sister. Although he was captured by police, Doroteo managed to escape into the mountains of northern Mexico. There he joined a group of bandits led by Ignacio Parra and adopted the name of a notorious, early nineteenth century bandit, Pancho Villa. After Parra was killed, Villa became leader of his own band of bandits and gained a reputation as a benevolent bandit...
(The entire section is 2028 words.)
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Pancho Villa (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Villa’s success on the battlefield during the Mexican Revolution brought an end to the dictatorship of President Victoriano Huerta.
Uneducated and illiterate, Pancho Villa spent much of his youth living among criminals and stealing to provide food and other necessities. Eventually captured by the authorities and sentenced to prison, he avoided imprisonment by joining the Mexican army. When a civil war erupted in 1910, Villa became involved with a group of soldiers who supported Francisco Madero, the provisional president of Mexico. After the overthrow of Madero by General Victoriano Huerta, Villa and his accomplices were captured and imprisoned in Mexico City. Four months later, Villa escaped from prison and fled to El Paso, Texas, where he organized troops to overthrow Huerta.
Although many doubted his sincerity, Villa insisted that his only interest in ousting Huerta was to return the power of the government to the people. Frustrated by the corruption of the Huerta government, the citizens of Chihuahua State supported Villa’s seizure of power in 1913. His popular support resulted in only slight resistance by military units. He justified the armed intervention by stating his intentions to halt corruption and provide for the poor. He...
(The entire section is 383 words.)