Emiliano Zapata Biography

Emiliano Zapata, a Mexican revolutionary leader, played a crucial role in the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920. As the commander of the ‘Liberation Army of the South’, Zapata led his followers, known as ‘Zapatistas’, in guerilla battles against oppressive rulers. He was dedicated to agrarian reforms and fought to return land to peasants and farmers. Though his efforts were cut short by his assassination, his vision was eventually realized as ‘Zapatista’ generals overthrew the government and implemented the land reforms Zapata had advocated for.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Emiliano Zapata Salazar
  • Died At Age: 39
  • Family:
    • Father: Gabriel Zapata
    • Mother: Cleofas Jertrudiz Salazar
    • Siblings: Celsa Zapata, Eufemio Zapata, Jovita Zapata, Loreto Zapata, María de Jesús Zapata, María de la Luz Zapata, Matilde Zapata, Pedro Zapata, Romana Zapata
    • Children: Carlota Zapata Sánchez, Diego Zapata Piñeiro, Elena Zapata Alfaro, Felipe Zapata Espejo, Gabriel Zapata Sáenz, Gabriel Zapata Vázquez, Guadalupe Zapata Alfaro, Josefa Zapata Espejo, Juan Zapata Alfaro, Luis Eugenio Zapata Sáenz, Margarita Zapata Sáenz, María Luisa Zapata Zúñiga, Mateo Zapata, Nicolás Zapata Alfaro, Paulina Ana María Zapata Portillo, Ponciano Zapata Alfaro
  • Quotes By Emiliano Zapata
  • Revolutionaries
  • Height: 5’7″ (170 cm), 5’7″ Males
  • Died on: April 10, 1919
  • Place of death: Chinameca, Mexico
  • Cause of Death: Assassination

Childhood & Early Life

Emiliano Zapata was born as Emiliano Zapata Salazar on August 8, 1879 in Anenecuilco, Morelos, Mexico. He was the son of a well-known ‘mestizo’ peasant named Gabriel Zapata who trained and sold horses to people. His mother was Cleofas Jertrudiz Salazar. Emiliano had three brothers named Eufemio, Pedro, and Loreto and six sisters named Matilde, Jovita, Maria de Jesus, Celsa, Maria del la Luz and Romana. He received rudimentary education including book-keeping from his teacher Emilio Vara. His mother died when he was 16 years old and his father died 11 months later, after which he had to look after his family. In 1897 he was arrested for taking part in a protest rally against the owner of the plantation that had appropriated their farmland.

Recommended Lists: Mexican Revolutionaries, Leo Men

Later Years

After being pardoned, Emiliano Zapata again started agitating and was promptly drafted into the Mexican Army to stop him from agitating any more. After only six months in the Army he was discharged and sent to Porfirio Diaz’s son-in-law’s hacienda as a horse-trainer. In 1909 the villagers of Anenecuilco elected him president of the village council board and he soon became involved in the agitations carried out by the local peasants and farmers against the landowners. Once an entire village was burnt to the ground by the angry landowners because the villagers had forcibly occupied a piece of land. Zapata continued with his struggles and sometimes he was successful in getting the land back for the villagers by using very old title deeds to petition the governor to help return pieces of land to their rightful owners. Sometimes he got frustrated by the slow response of the government and forcibly occupied pieces of land he thought fit and distributed them to the peasants and farmers. During this period, the president of Mexico was Porfirio Diaz who had defeated a northern landowner named Francisco Madero in the 1910 presidential election. Francisco fled to the United States, declared himself as the rightful President, returned to Mexico and laid claim to the presidency causing a clash between the two. Seeing a great opportunity for land reforms, Zapata made a secret alliance with Francisco Madero who promised to carry out the reforms. In 1910 Zapata became the commanding officer of the ‘Ejercito Libertador del Sur’ or the ‘Liberation Army of the South’ and declared war against President Diaz.

Personal Life & Legacy

Emiliano Zapata married Josefa Espejo in 1911 and had a daughter named Paulina Ana Maria. He also had six sons Mateo, Juan, Nicolas, Felipe Diego, and Ponciano, and four daughters Elena, Josefa, Carlota, and Margarita who were born out of wedlock. He has influenced the history of Mexico and his life has been portrayed through movies, books, comics, clothing and music.


Emiliano Zapata was known as ‘El Tigre del Sur’ or ‘The Tiger of the South’.


“Never, I”

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