Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

Spanish Texas, 1519-1821


Modern Texas, like Mexico, traces its beginning to sixteenth-century encounters between Europeans and Indians who contested control over a vast land. Unlike Mexico, however, Texas eventually received the stamp of Anglo-American culture, so that Spanish contributions to present-day Texas tend to be obscured or even unknown. The first edition of Spanish Texas, 1519-1821(1992) sought to emphasize the significance of the Spanish period in Texas history. Beginning with information on the land and its inhabitants before the arrival of Europeans, the original volume covered major people and events from early exploration to the end of the colonial era.

This new edition of Spanish Texas has been extensively revised and expanded to include a wealth of discoveries about Texas history since 1990. The opening chapter on Texas Indians reveals their high degree of independence from European influence and extended control over their own lives. Other chapters incorporate new information on La Salle's Garcitas Creek colony and French influences in Texas, the destruction of the San Sab mission and the Spanish punitive expedition to the Red River in the late 1750s, and eighteenth-century Bourbon reforms in the Americas. Drawing on their own and others' research, the authors also provide more inclusive coverage of the role of women of various ethnicities in Spanish Texas and of the legal rights of women on the Texas frontier, demonstrating that whether European or Indian, elite or commoner, slave owner or slave, women enjoyed legal protections not heretofore fully appreciated.


Spain’s presence off the Texas Gulf Coast began in 1519 with the voyage of Alonso Álvarez de Pineda. Its direct influence over significant parts of the present Lone Star State, sporadic until 1716, lasted until 1821, when Texas became part of the newly independent Mexican nation. When the first edition of Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 was published in 1992, no adequate one-volume synthesis of the Spanish, Indian, and French experiences in Texas, or any consideration of their legacies lasting beyond 1821, existed in any language. the book helped challenge a misguided notion that the colonial period— aside from six restored missions, one reconstructed presidio, and a few other old buildings—is a colorful but largely irrelevant chapter in Texas’s past.

Research for the first edition of Spanish Texas ended around 1990. Since then the history of colonial Texas has become much richer, thanks to the work of many historians, archeologists, and anthropologists. For example, approximately a dozen books on Texas Indians appeared between 1990 and 2008. Highlighting that scholarship was the appearance of David La Vere’s The Texas Indians (2004), the first comprehensive overview of Texas’s earliest human inhabitants since the publication of W. W. Newcomb Jr.’s book with an identical main title in 1961. Then, in 2007 Julianna Barr’s Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands provided a capstone monograph that emphasized indisputable Indian dominance in Spanish Texas that continued into post-1821 Texas history. Several other important works from this era of scholarship are cited in the chapter notes.

As the target date drew near for submitting the second edition manuscript to the University of Texas Press, we received permission from Pekka Hämäläinen to use information from his manuscript “The Comanche Empire,” subsequently published by Yale (2008) while our own work was in press. Where possible, we have incorporated this “landmark study that will make readers see the history of southwestern America in an entirely new way.”

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