Texas & Northeastern Mexico, 1630-1690

Texas & Northeastern Mexico, 1630-1690

Texas & Northeastern Mexico, 1630-1690

Texas & Northeastern Mexico, 1630-1690

Synopsis

In the seventeenth century, South Texas and Northeastern Mexico formed El Nuevo Reino de León, a frontier province of New Spain. In 1690, Juan Bautista Chapa penned a richly detailed history of Nuevo León for the years 1630 to 1690. Although his Historia de Nuevo León was not published until 1909, it has since been acclaimed as the key contemporary document for any historical study of Spanish colonial Texas.This book offers the only accurate and annotated English translation of Chapa's Historia. In addition to the translation, William C. Foster also summarizes the Discourses of Alonso de León (the elder), which cover the years 1580 to 1649. In the appendix, Foster includes a translation of Alonso (the younger) de León's previously unpublished revised diary of the 1690 expedition to East Texas and an alphabetical listing of over 80 Indian tribes identified in this book.Chapa was also an authority on the local Indians, and his Historia lists the names and locations of over 300 Indian tribes. This information, together with descriptions of the vegetation, wildlife, and climate in seventeenth-century Texas, make this book essential reading for ethnographers, anthropologists, and biogeographers, as well as students and scholars of Spanish borderlands history.

Excerpt

Three hundred years ago, an anonymous author living quietly and alone near Monterrey, Mexico, completed a rich and detailed history of present-day Texas and Nuevo León covering the years 1630 to 1690. The manuscript, which describes not only the Spanish leaders of the period but also the native population and natural environment of northeastern Mexico and Texas, went unpublished for over two hundred years, and it was not until 1961 that the author’s identity was revealed. That author was Juan Bautista Chapa, a man who was fearful of the Spanish Inquisition, but whose experience during the period as secretary to several governors of Nuevo León gave him the ability and the knowledge necessary to write such an insightful account. He was a close companion of Captain Alonso de León (the elder), whom he accompanied on numerous military actions against Indian tribes near Monterrey and the lower Rio Grande, and he served under Governor Alonso de León (the younger) on the 1686 and 1689 expeditions in search of the French settlement at present-day Matagorda Bay on the Central Texas coast. No comparable history was ever written by a resident Spanish official about other parts of northern New Spain.

This book is the first annotated English rendition of both Chapa’s His toria and Governor Alonso de León’s revised 1690 expedition diary. Scholars of the Spanish colonial period and the general public interested in Texas history will find the translations clear and easy to read and will have the opportunity to enjoy a seventeenth-century Spanish classic, the earliest systematic history of Texas.

This introduction will track the publication of Chapa’s work and unfold the mystery of authorship. A full review of each of Captain Alonso de León’s Discourses on the history of Nuevo León from its inception in 1579 to 1650 is included to provide background for Chapa’s account. The Discourses highlight the efforts by Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva in the 1580s to settle the kingdom of Nuevo León (which included most of South Texas) and the . . .

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