Heritage, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 1996 Page: 26
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John Peterson, Book Review Editor
To the Royal Crown
Restored: The Journals of
Don Diego de Vargas, New
Mexico, 1692 - 1694
Edited by John L. Kessell, Rick Hendricks,
and Meredith Dodge. University of New
Mexico Press: Albuquerque, 1995
Reviewed by David H. Snow, Cross-Cultural
Research Systems, Santa Fe, New Mexico
This third volume of the translated letters
and journals of Diego de Vargas, extensively
annotated like its predecessors, is a
tribute to the combined skills, painstaking
research, and perseverence of the editors.
Subsequent volumes (4 and 5) will complete
the enormous - indeed, the monumental
- task of presenting to the public
and specialist virtually the entire corpus of
documents stemming from Vargas' New
Mexico campaign until his death in 1703.
These three volumes of the Vargas
Project, in reality, are six; for the annotated
footnotes in each comprise three additional
tomes of an incredible bodyofhistorical and
biographical detail. A bargain at any value!
The volume, by itself, is a rare document -
one from which a sorely-needed re-examination
and reassessment of the historical -
anthropological foundations of New
Mexico's new beginnings must proceed.
"To the Royal Crown Restored" covers
Vargas' expedition to recover New Mexico,
and opens with his census of the El Paso
district, during December-January, 16921693.
The campaign journal and official
letters of Vargas and various officials in
Mexico chart the expeditions' progress up
the Rio Grande to the walls of the former
villa of Santa Fe. The vissicitudes of the
march, his strategy and tactics, and the
tedious efforts to consolidate his position
with various Pueblos along the way unfold
with bureaucratic pontification.
With seeming reluctance to engage the
"apostates" at the Pueblo of Santa Fe, Vargas
clearly hoped to arrange for its peaceful and
orderly abandonment. Overcome by the
pressing needs of his colonists for warmth,
food, and safety, and by the exhortations of
the Tano leaders, the resultant assault and
brief skirmish are almostanticlimactic. The
present accountendswith theJanuary 1694
petition by the cabildo of Santa Fe, to the
Conde de Galve, in which is re-described
the battle for that villa, the as-yet precarious
situation of the occupying Spaniards,
and the instability of the combined apostate
Pueblo Indians beyond the town walls.
"Because of the rigorous winter and the
recent apostasy and uprising of the Indians
(of the villa)," they wrote, "we find ourselves
very needy and poor."
The volume, as the preface notes, is full
of people - it is, in fact, a genealogical
treasure. The editors have drawn from numerous
primary sources to identify the backgrounds
of the various colonists recruited
for the re-settlement: their parentage, vital
statistics, status and occupations, adventures,
and misadventures. The journal and
The journal and...letters
of Vargas and...officials
in Mexico chart the
expedition's progress up
the Rio Grande to the
walls of...Santa Fe. The
vissicitudes of the
march, his strategy and
tactics, and the...efforts
to consolidate his position
along the way unfold
letters also represent a tidy package of
ethnohistoric data: I am redeemed, for example,
by sargento mayor Juan Lucero de
Godoy's observation that the Santa FeRiver
"scarcely provided for the lands of the sown
fields of seventy settlers who, in his time
(that is, prior to 1680), were living there."
(My emphasis: elsewhere I have estimated
that approximately two-thirds of the preRevolt
colonists lived on the "rural" landscape,
with fewer than about 100 families
occupying the villa on a permanent basis.)
That the Pueblo Indians retained Spanish
cattle, including horses and mules (not
to mention "Spanish" women and their
offspring by Pueblo males) during the 12year
hiatus, should dispel the egregious
myth that "everything" Spanish was destroyed
by the rebels following their 1680
success; and the so-called "bloodless" reconquest
is surely forever buried, along
with the 80 Tano Indians executed by
order of Vargas.
Pueblo and Hispanic scholars, in particular,
now have at hand the nearly complete
record, superbly translated, of the reconquest
and re-settlement of New Mexico
(the original documents can be read from
the Vargas Project Microfiche Series for
each of the three published volumes). I, for
one, frequently have been frustrated by
Espinosa's (1942) brilliant, if tantalizing,
flowery and often self-serving comments,
observations, and thoughts. Now I can
only lament the absence of a Bemal Diaz
and Sahagun with the expedition!
Book Review Editor John Peterson is a professor
in the Department of Anthropology at the
University of Texas at El Paso.
26 HERITAGE *SPRING 1996
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 1996, periodical, Spring 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45406/m1/26/: accessed March 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.