Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

Spanish Texas, 1519-1821


"... the book on early Texas.... [It] is without peer." - David J. Weber, Robert and Nancy Dedman Professor of History, Southern Methodist University

Modern Texas, like Mexico to the south, traces its beginning to sixteenth-century encounters between Spaniards, Native American peoples, and a vast land unexplored by Europeans. 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. In this pathfinding study, Donald E. Chipman draws on archival and secondary sources to write the story of Spain's three-hundred-year presence and continuing influence in the land that has become Texas. Chipman begins with the first European sighting of Texas shores in 1519. He goes on to chronicle the exploits of Cabeza de Vaca, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Luis Moscoso and other sixteenth-century explorers, before devoting extensive attention to the eighteenth century, a time of active Spanish colonization. Although Mexican independence ended the Spanish era in 1821, Chipman finds that Spain has left a substantial legacy in modern Texas. Spanish precedents have shaped modern Texas law in the areas of judicial procedure, land and water law, and family law. Spanish influences abound in Texas art, architecture, music, and theater, not to mention the widely spoken Spanish language. And the Roman Catholic religion introduced by the Spaniards continues to have many adherents in Texas. In short, the rich history of Spain in Texas deserves to be widely known by "Texana buffs" and professional historians alike, and Spanish Texas, 1519-1821 is the one-volume source to consult.


Spain's presence off the Texas Gulf Coast began with the voyage of Alonso Alvarez de Pineda in 1519. Its direct influence over significant parts of the present Lone Star State, sporadic until 1716, lasted until 1821, when the flag of Castile and León was lowered for the last time at San Antonio. At varying times, modern Texas was part of four provinces within the vast kingdom of New Spain: the El Paso area was under the jurisdiction of New Mexico; missions founded near the confluence of the Río Conchos and Río Grande (La Junta de los Ríos) were under Nueva Vizcaya; the coastal region from the Nueces River to the Río Grande and thence upstream to Laredo fell under Nuevo Santander after 1749; and Tejas, initially known as the New Kingdom of the Philippines, was briefly (1694-1715) under joint jurisdiction with Coahuila. All of these regions receive treatment in this work. Emphasis, however, is on the area that formally constituted the Spanish province of Tejas.

An adequate one-volume synthesis of the Spanish experience in Texas and a treatment of Hispanic legacies enduring beyond 1821 does not exist in any language. Furthermore, throughout the state, college and university courses devoted to Texas history are typically structured as one-semester surveys, with little attention directed to the Spanish colonial era. Apart from the University of Texas at Austin, where Texas history is divided into a three-semester sequence, no institution of higher learning structures its courses in a manner that directs substantial attention to the Spanish period. In writing this book, I would like to help challenge the 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.

That there is a significant history of the Lone Star State beginning three centuries before the coming of Anglo-Americans is an article of faith with . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.