The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

These difficulties notwithstanding, the book is an important work for re-
searchers dealing with early expeditions into Texas. Whether or not one agrees
with Foster, it will be necessary to consider his projections in future discussions
of these expeditions.
Texas Historical Commission NANCY ADELE KENMOTSU
The Juan Paez Hurtado Expedition of z695: Fraud in Recruiting Colonists. By John B.
Colligan. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. Pp. 159.
Preface, acknowledgments, appendix, notes, index. ISBN o-8263-1636-0.
$24.95.)
The Legal Culture of Northern New Spain, I70oo-810o. By Charles R. Cutter. (Albu-
querque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. Pp. xii+227. Acknowledg-
ments, epilogue, notes, sources, index. ISBN 0-8263-1641-7. $39.95.)
The scholarly challenge that awaited John B. Colligan and Charles R. Cutter
in writing on themes related to legal and institutional history was both demand-
ing and broad. Colligan's book addresses the proceedings against Juan Paez
Hurtado. In 1692 and 1693, Diego de Vargas completed the reconquest and ini-
tial resettlement of the province of New Mexico. He commissioned Hurtado
during the following year to recruit colonists in the vicinity of Zacatecas. Hurta-
do included thirty-eight persons who did not leave the city, and for whom Hurta-
do received one hundred pesos apiece, on a list approved by royal authority. By
1698, the governor of New Mexico and the town government of Santa F6 had
Hurtado arrested and his property seized.
Using the expedition muster roll, Colligan laudably proposes to examine in
detail the charges against Hurtado. The book suggests that historical detective
work is an integral part of the frontier milieu and that the Spanish legal system
in the northern provinces, however rudimentary, was alive and well. Undoubted-
ly Hurtado was exonerated, since he went on to become a prominent citizen and
lieutenant governor in 1724.
Cutter's book counteracts claims that the practice of law on the Spanish fron-
tier was "ridiculous," "alien," or "irrelevant" (p. xi). Restricting his thesis to
Texas and New Mexico, Cutter lays out the context in which settlers lived amid
the wilderness. Economically dependent on the royal treasury, they nonetheless
served the crown well by opening roads, building towns, introducing essential in-
dustry, and converting livestock grazing into a lucrative pursuit. They also
brought their culture, customs, and political order. Cutter argues that in good
times as in bad these Spanish pioneers ordered their days through laws, whether
imperial, local, or in the traditions of the mother country. To understand the
imperial Spaniard one must understand his laws. His legal history dates to the
Roman code of laws, the laws of the Visigoths (50o6 a.d.), and the Siete Partidas.
New codes were enacted to direct the course of the expanding empire, notably
the derecho indiano (1614) and the Recopilaci6n de Indias (1681). These laws, char-
acterized especially by the derecho vulgar, carried a genius for adaptability into
the remote corners of the empire. The derecho vulgarwas a legitimate expression

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed September 19, 2014.