Following the military campaigns of conquest in sixteenth-century Yucatan, the Order of Friars Minor Observant assumed the task of controlling, by culture conversion, the indigenous Yucatec Maya. The fundamental vehicle for this program of social engineering was the built environment of the mission, composed of the chapel, atrium, and friary, and the associated village. Archaeological remains of mission sites are horizon markers for the earliest phases of permanent Hispanic presence on the peninsula, ca. 1545–1572. Mission villages specify locations where the friars reorganized pre-Hispanic Maya settlements according to Spanish sociopolitical norms. Increasing complexity in mission-chapel architecture marks the stages of this reorganization. In this article, I discuss the historical origin of the friars' policies and the context of their implementation in Yucatan; model the spatial, temporal, architectural, and behavioral variables the Franciscans employed to extend and maintain Hispanic hegemony; provide comparative data from seventeenth-century New Mexico and La Florida; and outline a general theory of Franciscan activity in the New World.