Donald E. Chipman

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Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: The ‘Great Pedestrian’ of North and South America

Cabeza de Vaca’s mode of transportation, afoot on portions of two continents in the early decades of the sixteenth century, fits one dictionary definition of the word “pedestrian." By no means, however, should the ancillary meanings of “commonplace" or “prosaic" be applied to the man, or his remarkable adventures. Between 1528 and 1536, he trekked an estimated 2,480 to 2,640 miles of North American terrain from the Texas coast near Galveston Island to San Miguel de Culiacán near the Pacific Coast of Mexico. He then traveled under better circumstances, although still on foot, to Mexico City. About a year later, Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain. In 1540, the king granted Cabeza de Vaca civil and military authority in modern-day Paraguay. After arriving on the coast of Brazil in 1541, he was unable to find transportation by ship to the seat of his governorship. He then led a group of more 250 settlers through 1,200 miles of unchartered back country, during which he lost only two men.Cabeza de Vaca’s travels are amazing in themselves, but during them he transformed from a proud Spanish don to lay advocate of Indian rights on both American continents. That journey is as remarkable as his travels. It was this “great awakening"  that landed him in more trouble with Spaniards than Indians. Settlers at Asunción rebelled against the reformist governor, incarcerated him, tried to poison his food on two occasions, and finally sent him to Spain in irons. There he was tried and convicted on trumped-up charges of carrying out policies that were the exact opposite of what he had promoted—the humane protection of Indians.This book examines the two great “journeys" of Cabeza de Vaca—his extraordinary adventures on two continents and his remarkable growth as a humanitarian.

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Spanish Texas

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.

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Handbook Entries

Title Contributor Type
Agreda, María de Jesús de Author
Alarcón, Martín de Author
Álvarez Barreiro, Francisco Author
Amarillas, Agustín Ahumada y Villalón, Marqués de las Author
Aparicio, Francisco Author
Aranda, Miguel de Author
Ayeta, Francisco de Author
Azcue, Fernando de Author
Bosque, Fernando del Author
Bucareli y Ursua, Antonio Maria de Author
Cabeza de Vaca, Álvar Núñez Author
Castaño de Sosa, Gaspar Author
Castellanos, Manuel Author
Castillo Maldonado, Alonso Author
Colina, Agustín de Author
Cruillas, Joaquín de Montserrat, Marqués de Author
De Leon, Alonso Author
Dorantes de Carranza, Andres Author
El Turco Author
Espinosa, Isidro Felix de Author
Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre Expedition Author
Estevanico Author
Gálvez Gallardo, José Bernardo de Author
Ganzabal, Juan José de Author
Garza, José Francisco Mariano Author
Garza, Juan de la Author
González, José Author
Hidalgo, Francisco Author
Lafora, Nicolás de Author
Malhado Island Author
Mares, José Author
Margil de Jesús, Antonio Author
Massanet, Damian Author
Mézières, Athanase de Author
Nava, Pedro de Author
Neve, Felipe de Author
New Regulations For Presidios Author
Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria del Cañón Mission Author
Olivares, Antonio de San Buenaventura y Author
Perez de Luxan, Diego Author
Pinilla, Miguel de Author
Provincias Internas Author
Rabago y Teran, Felipe de Author
Rabago y Teran, Pedro de Author
Ramón, Domingo Author
Rubí, Marqués de Author
San Francisco Xavier Mission On the Guadalupe River Author
San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz Mission Author
San Miguel de Linares de los Adaes Mission Author
Seven Cities of Cibola Author
Silva, Manuel Julio de Author
Sitio Author
Spanish Texas Author
St. Denis, Louis Juchereau de Author
Ugarte y Loyola, Jacobo de Author
Urrutia, Toribio de Author
Vial, Pedro [Pierre] Author
Weddle, Robert Samuel [Bob] Author
Zaldívar, Juan de Author
Zaldívar, Vicente de Author

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