The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926 Page: 82
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
climate, meaning inclination or slope; and the word climate was
used in the sense of latitude. De la Ascension in his description
of the California coast, explored by him in 1603, locates it in
certain "climates." Maps bearing dates as early as about 1700,
however, do show the meridians of longitude. They are numbered
from west to east instead of the reverse as we have them today.
The effort of the geographers seems to have been to pass the first
meridian through the Azores Islands, although local first meridians
are sometimes used. The longitudes of places shown on the maps
as recent as about 1750 were usually estimated from days of sailing
The discovery of the New World happened almost simultaneously
with the reconquest of Spain from the Moors. America offered
fresh and inviting fields to the professional soldiers whom an age-
long war had developed. This picturesque lot of fighting men
became the conquistadores of the Spanish Main, and the speedy
result of their enterprise was a new and vast territory for their
The Spanish King proceeded at once with the consolidation of
his new possessions. But he needed information regarding them.
Accordingly he sent abroad navigators, pilots, cosmographers, ex-
plorers, military engineers and surveyors.
The navigators and pilots were men skilled in the art of their
time. According to the "Ordenanzas" of the Spanish Council of
the Indies certain studies were prescribed for them: such as solu-
tion of spherical triangles, use of astrolabe, adjustment of instru-
ments, cartography, and methods of observing the movement of
heavenly bodies. The expeditions by sea were usually in com-
mand of an admiral. Besides the pilots, who navigated his ships,
he had on his staff a cosmographer. This officer charted and
sounded the harbors. He located promontories and mountains and
measured their heights. He noted topographic and climatic facts
pertaining to the vicinity. He kept the diary of the expedition
and made a report of the voyage. Out of his data were formed
the sailing directions for the King's ships. Sometimes these cos-
mographers were priests, as de la Ascension and Kino, who mapped
the California coast in 1602 and 1685, respectively, both remark-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926, periodical, 1926; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117141/m1/96/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.