The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

fighting in April, 1917, said correctly that it was "the most terrible and
disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance."
University of Texas, Austin LEWIS L. GOULD
Crossroad of Empire: The Church and State on the Rio Grande Fron-
tier of Coahuila and Texas, 17oo-182z. By Felix D. Almariz, Jr.
(San Antonio: Center for Archaeological Research, University of
Texas at San Antonio, 1979. Pp. v+71. Preface, introduction,
figures, bibliography. $5.)
Crossroad of Empire studies the origins of Guerrero, Coahuila, for-
merly known as San Juan Bautista del Rio Grande del Norte, a site
that developed from the main mission of a cluster of eighteenth-
century religious establishments and a presidio located there. The
survey traces the fate of the Rio Grande missions and presidio from the
era of success in the first half of the eighteenth century to the time
when Spanish hegemony, and thus Spanish commitments to missionary
work, ended in New Spain.
Overall, Professor Almarz provides an excellent insight into the
role the three missions and presidio played in the evangelization of
Indians of the Rio Grande. Also, we gain an appreciation for this area
as a "crossroad" and resource center supporting colonial expansion and
defense in New Spain's far northern frontier. One comes to understand
that the Rio Grande establishments hold a significant place alongside
other Texas missions.
The strength of this book rests upon the author's meticulous narra-
tion of activities and events surrounding the area's 121-year history.
Employing statistical data, relying heavily on archival materials found
at the Archivo General de la Naci6n and other depositories in Mexico
City, and using to advantage his knowledge of Borderlands history,
Almarz has written a commendable piece of work, reminiscent of
Carlos E. Castafieda's own studies of colonial Coahuila y Tejas.
Like Castafieda, Almariz does not disguise his esteem for the Span-
iards and their herculean efforts to Christianize the Indians and claim
the Borderlands. Thus, one does not read of maladministration among
the friars or of other violations for which the Church had become the
object of disapproval by the time of Independence. And because the
emphasis of the work is on the mission and presidio, little is learned
of the Indian and mestizo community which made up the founding
nucleus of modern Guerrero.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 27, 2015.