Pancho Villa’s activities during the Mexican Revolution can be attributed to his time as a youngster in pre-revolution Mexico.
Villa first became involved in the revolution when he was a young bandit in the hills Durango state in Mexico. One story suggests that a rich hacienda owner once raped his sister, although most historians believe this to be a fabrication. Villa did grow up very poor while his family worked on a hacienda, and it is possible that his family experienced mistreatment at the hands of the rich hacienda owners. Whatever the case, his banditry eventually led to his imprisonment where he met a local representative of Francisco Madero, a reform minded politician. Madero’s man encouraged Villa to join forces with him and fight against the hacienda owners who wronged him and his family.
Villa would attack military convoys, trains and deports, stealing the supplies and distributing them to Madero’s forces and the public. Sometimes he would force hacienda owners to give up land or wealth to the poor, which may have contributed to his Robin Hood reputation.
Madero’s forced would eventually win in part thank to military leaders like Villa, but the victory was short lived. Madero was eventually assassinated, and one of his veteran commanders, Victoriano Huerta, took power. Villa and others saw this as an illegal usurpation especially after the Huerta government aligned itself with the hacienda owners and the wealthy elite.