2
The Spanish Legacy

Unwilling, cold, defeated, and sick, the first consequential representatives of European civilization in Texas landed with a thump on the sands of Galveston Island in November 1528. They were the remnants of the ill-fated Narváez expedition sent to conquer Florida. Abandoned by their fleet and attacked by hostile natives, the four hundred starving Spaniards ate their horses, built crude barges, rigged sails from their shirts, and floated westward. The chill waves dumped eighty to ninety survivors on the beach at Galveston, and of these only four lived to see their countrymen again. The white men called the place Malhado, or the Isle of Doom.

There had been earlier investigations of the Texas coastline by Spanish explorers. In 1519 at the time Cortez began his adventure among the Aztecs of Mexico, Alonso Álvarez de Piñeda, a navy lieutenant, sailed from Jamaica and followed the northern Gulf Coast to Veracruz. He was rejected by Cortez, who saw him as a rival. Piñeda retreated to Río Panuco to rest and repair his ships, and then he returned home. Much later, in 1785, at the command of Bernardo de Gálvez, the viceroy of Mexico, José de Evia charted the Texas shoreline, but the first European to cross Texas was Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, the second in command of the Narváez expedition and one of the survivors.

Most of the Spaniards on Galveston Island shortly died from disease, malnutrition, exposure, and angry Karankawa Indians. The initial meeting of the two cultures, however, was friendly. The Europeans exchanged bells and beads for food, and after the Spaniards lost all of their clothing and gear to the surf in an attempt to continue their voyage, the Indians shared food, warmth, and shelter. The Karankawas, however, blaming the white men for a rash of dysentery and disgusted at an example of cannibalism among the starving Europeans, enslaved the Spaniards after this brief period of helpfulness and compassion.

Cabeza de Vaca survived by his wits for six years and then escaped with three others by walking into northern Mexico.

SANTIAGO!
Battle cry of the
Spanish Conquistador

-23-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Texas, a Modern History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 237

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?