Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Arredondo: Last Spanish Ruler of Texas and Northeastern New Spain

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Arredondo: Last Spanish Ruler of Texas and Northeastern New Spain

Article excerpt

Arredondo: Last Spanish Ruler of Texas and Northeastern New Spain. By Bradley Folsom. Latin American and Caribbean Arts and Culture. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017. Pp. xii, 324. $29.95, ISBN 978-0 8061-5697-2.)

The best biographies not only depict the larger world through the life and times of their subject but also get into their subject's head, providing readers with a strong acquaintance with a specific individual. Arredondo: Last Spanish Ruler of Texas and Northeastern New Spain, by historian Bradley Folsom, offers such a window into the turbulent last days of Spanish rule in northeastern New Spain through his examination of the controversial Joaquin de Arredondo, commandant general of the Eastern Internal Provinces. Folsom's study reveals the pivotal role that Arredondo and the region he commanded, which encompassed Coahuila, Texas, Nuevo Santander (since renamed Tamaulipas), and Nuevo Leon, played in subduing revolution-minded insurrectionists and foreign invaders. Arredondo's methods, however, cast a pall over his contemporary and historical reputation, which the author seeks to explain but not to whitewash.

Folsom's thoroughly researched monograph brings together abundant primary and secondary sources, including scholarship both recent and over a century old from a variety of historical fields, all united in the person of Joaquin de Arredondo, Spanish descendant of an illustrious family and son of Nicolas Arredondo, a viceroy of the Rio de la Plata region of South America. His father's approach to rule influenced the son, as did his education in a Spanish military college. The younger Arredondo moved up quickly through the military ranks, seeking advantage and promotion through every means that presented itself. Folsom weaves together nebulous strands of extant documents to present as complete a portrait of Arredondo as sources allow, showing that Arredondo was fixated on his own advancement and convinced of the superiority of his own policies, no matter how they deviated from his superiors' orders. The unintended consequences of Arredondo's stubbornness devastated New Spain's northeastern region for decades. His decision to disarm all civilian residents of Texas after the battle of Medina in 1813, for example, left them defenseless against increasing raids by Comanches and Lipan Apaches. Much of the population of the Eastern Internal Provinces lost their weapons because of taxes Arredondo imposed, leaving them susceptible to attacks as well. …

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