Perez de Luxan, Diego (ca. 1500–unknown)

By: Donald E. Chipman

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Diego Pérez de Luxán entered the recorded annals of Texas and New Mexico history through a narrow window of time, but his observations during the years 1582–83 are nonetheless very important. Spaniards under the leadership of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado had last visited New Mexico in 1542, and almost forty years passed before they renewed contact with the Pueblo Indians. During that interval the mining and cattle frontier of northern New Spain had advanced to the headwaters of the Río Conchos in southern Chihuahua, and the small settlements there of San Bartolomé and Santa Bárbara became logical gateways to Texas and New Mexico. In June 1581 an expedition led by Francisco Sánchez and accompanied by three Franciscans left Santa Bárbara for an entrada into New Mexico that followed the course of the Rio Grande upstream from La Junta de los Ríos. When the expedition returned along the same route in the following year, the two surviving Franciscans remained in New Mexico, and Sánchez died on the homeward stretch. A follow-up expedition into New Mexico was quickly organized and placed under the command of Antonio de Espejo. Accompanying him was a meticulous observer and careful chronicler named Diego Pérez de Luxán.

The Espejo expedition left San Bartolomé on November 10, 1582, and was in the field for ten months. During that time Pérez de Luxán recorded the day-by-day progress of the Spaniards. His journal is invaluable for its detailed ethnographic information and observations on the landscape of New Mexico and Texas. Espejo learned of the martyrdom of the two Franciscan friars, explored much of New Mexico, visited the Hopi Indians in present-day Arizona, and returned to Mexico along the course of the Pecos River. The homeward journey brought the first Europeans into extreme Southwest Texas. Near the site of modern Pecos, Texas, Espejo left the Pecos River on a more direct march to the Rio Grande, which he struck slightly below its confluence with the Río Conchos. At the conclusion of the entrada Pérez de Luxán disappears from known historical sources, but his account is a remarkable record of ten months' experience in late-sixteenth-century New Mexico and Texas. Other accounts of the Espejo expedition written after the completion of the journey are far less reliable. Whereas many European observers in Texas had a tendency to name numerous Indian groups as Jumanos, Pérez de Luxán applied that designation only to Indians in the La Junta region who had begun buffalo hunting. These people were probably related to groups called "Cow People" by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in the 1530s.

Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Diego Pérez de Luxán, Expedition into New Mexico Made by Antonio de Espejo, 1582–1583, trans. George Peter Hammond and Agapito Rey (Los Angeles: Quivira Society, 1929). J. Lloyd Mecham, "Antonio de Espejo and His Journey to New Mexico," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 30 (October 1926).
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donald E. Chipman, “Perez de Luxan, Diego,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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