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PENINSULAR. In New Spain a peninsular was a resident of the New World born on the Iberian peninsula. A peninsular was favored over an American-born Spaniard (criolloqv) in administrative, military, and ecclesiastical appointments because the Iberians were more closely tied to the Spanish court. This occupational advantage allowed peninsulares to assume a higher position on the social scale, even though criollos were equal to them under the laws of the kingdom of Castile. As a result of competition between the two groups, criollos and mestizos began to refer to peninsulares as gachupines (spurred ones) and chapetones (tenderfeet), both terms of derision. Harsh conditions on the frontier diminished the social distance dividing peninsulares, criollos, and mestizos. The crown was forced to rely on criollos and racially mixed groups to fill frontier positions because peninsulares eschewed them. In spite of the breakdown of social stratification based on birth and occupation, peninsulares automatically held the highest social status. Nevertheless, their influence in frontier society was not great because they were few in number.


Oakah L. Jones, Los Paisanos: Spanish Settlers on the Northern Frontier of New Spain (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979). David J. Weber, New Spain's Far Northern Frontier (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1979).

Joan E. Supplee


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Joan E. Supplee, "PENINSULAR," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 26, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.