Cristóbal Mendoza

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Cristóbal Mendoza
File:Juan Lovera 2012 007.jpg
Portrait by Juan Lovera
1st President of the First Republic of Venezuela
In office
5 March 1811 – 21 March 1812
Succeeded by Francisco Espejo
Personal details
Born José Cristóbal Hurtado de Mendoza y Montilla
(1772-06-23)23 June 1772
Trujillo, Viceroyalty of New Granada, Spanish Empire
Died 8 February 1829(1829-02-08) (aged 56)
Caracas, Gran Colombia
(now Venezuela)
Spouse(s) Juana Mendoza Briceño Mendez
Maria Regina Montilla Pumar
Gertudis Buroz Tovar
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature Cristóbal Mendoza's signature

José Cristóbal Hurtado de Mendoza y Montilla (23 June 1772 – 8 February 1829), commonly known as Cristóbal Mendoza or Cristóbal de Mendoza was a Venezuelan politician. Cristobal became the first official President of Venezuela, as he was the first head of the First Republic of Venezuela from 1811 to 1812.

Early life

He was born in the Trujillo area on 23 June 1772 to his parents Luis Bernardo Hurtado de Mendoza y Valera and Gertrudis Eulalia Montilla y Briceño. He was educated by his father in a Franciscan Monastery under the tutelage of Friar Antonio de Pereira. At the age of 16, he was sent to Caracas to complete his education. In 1794 obtained his law degree. He went to Santo Domingo where he studied civil rights and returned to Venezuela in his late 20s.

Political career

Official portrait of Cristóbal Mendoza by Martín Tovar y Tovar.

In March 1811 during the Spanish American wars of independence, the first Venezuelan constitutional congress established as the executive power a triumvirate in which three men shared executive power and rotated the presidency every week. At age 39, Mendoza became a member of the triumvirate that headed the First Republic of Venezuela and was unanimously elected by the other two as the first to go in rotation on 5 March 1811. As part of the triumvirate, Mendoza began the war for independence against the parts of Venezuela that still supported the Spanish monarchy. He also was author of the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence, issued on 5 July 1811. While in office he formed part of the constitutional convention that designed and promulgated the first Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela in December 1811.[1]

The First Republic fell following a royalist invasion led by Captain Domingo de Monteverde. After that, Mendoza moved to the island of Grenada. In 1813, Simón Bolívar became president of the Second Republic of Venezuela and wrote to him: "You should come without delay: come. The country needs you. I will go ahead conquering and you will follow me organizing; because you are the organizer and I am the conqueror."

He returned to Venezuela and became governor of the province of Mérida. Then, Bolívar appointed him governor of the province of Caracas. In 1814, royalist forces invaded the second Republic, and Mendoza once again went into exile, this time to the Netherlands Antilles. From there he wrote numerous articles in favor of the independence movement and against Spanish domination. He returned in 1821 after the Battle of Carabobo assured Venezuelan independence and was designated Justice Minister of Gran Colombia. In 1826 he became Intendant of the Department of Venezuela.

Cristóbal Mendoza's life was marked by an unbreakable loyalty to Simón Bolívar and his ideals. At all times he stood for a federation of Latin American republics. He opposed the separatist efforts of José Antonio Páez, who would later become president of Venezuela.


On his deathbed, he wrote his political will in a letter to Bolívar where he stated his possessions as being "the remembrance of my weak services for the republic and the memories of our lifelong friendship." Finally in 1828 he resigned to its position of intendant retiring to the outskirts of Caracas.

Cristóbal Mendoza died in Caracas, Gran Colombia (present-day Venezuela) on 8 February 1829.[2]


  1. Briceño Perozo, Mario. "Mendoza, Cristóbal de" in Diccionario de Historia de Venezuela, Vol. 3. Caracas: Fundación Polar, 1999. ISBN 980-6397-37-1
Political offices
Preceded by
New creation
President of Venezuela
Succeeded by
Francisco Espejo