New Spain Social Hierarchy

The social hierarchy of New Spain was not simply based on racial differences, but was a system well assimilated with diverse races and these races were notable from one another based on some fixed values and principles. The system of New Spain racial social groups were followed in New Spain from 16th century.

In those times only a few classes were permitted to marry and have a family and this led to a mix between races due to alliances across races. The class hierarchy in New Spain was based on the blood system in each person’s genes, rather than their caste or colour.

The more Spanish blood in a person’s genes made him qualified for a higher rank in social status. The main racial groups that comprise the social hierarchy of New Spain are as follows:

new spain social hierarchyPeninsulars

The Peninsulars possessed the highest rank in the social order of hierarchy in New Spain. They were the most affluent in the society and also held higher posts in government and other authorities. Typically a Spanish person born in Spain was measured as a peninsular and was advantaged with special facilities like social respect, top official posts and the related benefits.


The Criolloscame second in the social hierarchy after the peninsular and were rich and highly educated. In the earlier centuries, the Spanish Government provided various benefits to this group and made them distinguished from the lower groups. Although they were given privileges and grants, they were not supposed to be posted in certain jobs which are meant only for peninsulars.


The Insulars were the people who had their origins in Philippines and Marians, yet reflected as full-fledged Spaniards. They were occupied in lesser distinguished jobs compared to Peninsulars and Criollos and enjoyed less social benefits as well.


This larger group in New Spain was comprised of mixed race population born from ancestors of diverse ethnic groups. The mestizos ordered in the fourth place in social hierarchy and are inclusive of those who were had birthplace in Spain or the regions held by Spain. Usually mestizos include people with mixed Indian and Spanish upbringing and were occupied in trivial jobs.


The Indioswere the people who came in the lowest rank of the social classes in New Spain. They generally used to serve the Spanish people or assist them as servants.

Mulatos and Negros

These people were not even considered anywhere in the social hierarchy, yet they nonetheless existed in the Spanish society working as slaves or labours. They were brought to New Spain by high ranked people for their services.