Skip to main content
Ages 13+
Under 13
Francisco Villa on horseback

Pancho Villa, the Heroic Bandit


The myth that surrounds the life of this polemical Mexican revolutionary, known for being brave and vain, is little less than conspicuous.

Francisco Villa, whose real name was Doroteo Arango, was a famous hero of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1921). He was born a poor orphan, but from adolescence became an extraordinary outlaw while avoiding justice. Despite his commitment to the revolution and the fact that he distributed of land among the dispossessed, certain choices he made would mark him as a bandit ––but one of exceptional seal.
Villa began his vigilante lifestyle when he killed a landowner that had raped his sister. As a consequence he became a fugitive and spent 10 years leading a group of bandits who wandered the deserts and mountains of northern Mexico. At that time, 800 of the country’s landlords owned 90% of the lands.

Francisco Villa fought for the agrarian cause from the north of Mexico, forming an army whose military tactics allowed him to go perpetually undefeated. He was polemic for of the way he headed his troops, which constantly featured in bloody massacres and even, at times, defiled women. It is also said that when he had a chance to distribute the land to the peasants, he actually made the division to benefit the members of his army.

He had over 20 wives and a signed Hollywood contract to film his battles. The character that eventually defeated his troop was Venustiano Carranza, who was able to get German armament and counsel in order to do it. Only with these resources, adding to the shortage of weapons in the United States, was he able to accomplish said feat.

Francisco Villa died the victim of an ambush in 1923, when he was making his way to a party. One of his last feats was to avoid an American investigation team —they tried to track him down for over 10 months, but his cunning was enough to avoid them. Despite his polemic reputation, none of his companions ever gave away his secret hideout in the mountains, surely as a sign of respect to this heroic bandit.

Related Articles