JESUS F. DE LA TEJA, Editor
Alvar Ninez Cabeza de Vaca: His Account, His Life, and the Expedition of Pdnfilo de
Narodez. By Rolena Adorno and Patrick Charles Pautz. (Lincoln: University
of Nebraska Press, 1999. Pp.: Vol. 1, 432; Vol. 2, 560; Vol. 3, 560. Figures,
tables, maps, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8032-1454-5. $275.oo, cloth.)
In three attractive, cloth-bound volumes, the authors have written the most
comprehensive study and critical analysis of the sixteenth-century world that
Alvar Nifiez Cabeza de Vaca and other Castilian members of his generation
explored. Supplementing the text is an array of maps, figures, and tables, which
are strategically placed throughout the volumes to clarify and enhance the inter-
pretation of Cabeza de Vaca's 1542 Relaci6n. For example, the maps are "pre-
sented not to trace the four men's overland route through North America but
rather to put the reader in mind of the geographical areas in question" (p. xxiv).
Additional information presented in all three volumes, gleaned from other his-
torical accounts, place the Relaci6n in its proper historical context of events that
occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, public affairs in New Spain, and Nueva Galicia.
Volume one is divided into two main parts. The first one is a critical English
transcription and translation of the Relaci6n'as it was written by Cabeza de Vaca
and first published in Zamora, Spain, in 1542. Within the body of this transla-
tion, the authors have inserted Cabeza de Vaca's 1555 edition of his Relaci6n y
Comentarios, published in Valladolid. Thus, for 265 pages, the reader will be
able to compare the two Relaciones, with the Spanish version of the Zamora
1542 edition and the 1555 Valladolid text printed on the left side of the book,
and the English translation on the right side. Accompanying footnotes are
found in the left margin of the English translation.
The second part (chapters one through eleven) traces the life and genealogy
of Cabeza de Vaca (1485-92 to 1559), citing previously underused or ignored
archival material, such as the work of Sancho de Sopranis. Earlier historians
have completely overlooked Sancho de Sopranis's contributions or have "failed
to appreciate the value of the documentary riches it offered" (p. 297). There is
an interesting explanation as to why Alvar Nffiez's mother, Dofia Teresa
Cabeza de Vaca, named him after her surname, instead of Vera, after his father,
Don Francisco de Vera. The authors trace the Cabeza de Vaca lineage to the
12oos, and totally dismiss the more popular tale of the shepherd Martin
Alhoza. This legend "has proven to be more powerful despite being unsubstan-
tiated" (p. 305).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed March 9, 2014.