IN THE FALL OF 1984, RANDOLPH B. ("MIKE") CAMPBELL, MY colleague at the University of North Texas, urged me to take an active role in writing entries on Spanish colonial Texas for the new Handbook of Texas, targeted for publication in the mid-1990s. It was a propitious suggestion. My involvement with the Handbook and special interest in Texas history grew steadily from that moment. Trained and educated more years ago than I like to remember by France V. Scholes at the University of New Mexico, I approached the early history of the Lone Star State from the perspective of a colonial Mexicanist, and I soon saw the need for a one-volume synthesis of the Spanish experience, which I hope to fulfill with this work. Initially, I wish to express appreciation to Mike for opening the vistas of Texas history; to the legacy of France Scholes for serving as my mentor and professional role model; and also to my students at North Texas for having refined my approach to history over one and a half generations of teaching.
Since 1984 I have received assistance and encouragement from many individuals and institutions. Remembering them and expressing my gratitude is one of the more pleasant parts of writing a book. Over the years, several colleagues in the Department of History at the University of North Texas have offered advice and constructive criticism. I am indebted to our history faculty seminar, NT-LASH (National Topics--Local and State History), especially to William H. Wilson, who "lashed" three of the chapters into better shape. Apart from NT-LASH, Randolph Campbell read every word of the manuscript, and I have profited enormously from his advice and sympathetic encouragement. I am grateful also to my department chairman, Robert S. La Forte, who has been invariably supportive of my work; to Betty S. Burch, administrative assistant in the Department of History, for assistance in copying computer disks and photocopying materials; and to student secretary Jamie Sue Robinson,