Chapter Fourteen

Spanish Colonial Soldados



Prior to discussing the Spanish Nuevo Mundo and that part of it that became Nueva España one must explore the Viejo Mundo  
of Europe.  Governance of a nation includes the use of resources, logistics, policy, strategy, and history in support of men at 
arms.  As soldiering was not exclusive to Nueva España but an export from the Viejo Mundo, it would undergo a series of 
transitions over time to meet the local conditions.  

Therefore, to have a meaningful discussion about Nuevo Méjico’s soldados, one must understand the emphasis of España’s  
policy toward that theater of military operations.  It will become clear to the reader that Nueva España and Nuevo Méjico’s
, like those of my family line the de Ribera, were impacted by España’s ability and dedication to support their needs at any given time during that several hundred years known as the Spanish Period.  

It is also important to understand that a people have a genesis.  Before there was an España, the various tribes and ethnicities that comprised the Iberians of the Peninsula had always been warlike peoples.  In 2000 B.C., peoples arrived from Libya.  The Jews made their way to Iberia in 970 B.C.  Soon the Celts made Iberia their home in 900 C.E.  The Phoenicians made their way to establish trading and mining colonies as did the Greeks (350 B.C.).  The Carthaginians followed establishing trading colonies.  By 218 B.C., the Rome Empire had decided to take the Iberian Peninsula.  Only as the years progressed did the Iberians become today’s Españoles and Portugués and their peninsula become España and Portugal.  

By the 5th-Century C.E., the Western Roman Empire and its far flung dominions had decayed and its lands and peoples were 
under siege.  Roman Hispania (Iberia) was first invaded by Germanic tribes who arrived in the 5th-Century C.E.  The Visigoths,
  Suebi, Vandals, and Alans arrived in Iberia (Future España and Portugal) by crossing the Pyrenees mountain range.  These were Romanized Visigoths who entered Hispania in 415 C.E.  This penetration enabled the establishment of the Suebi Kingdom in 
, in the northwest, the Vandal Kingdom of Andalucía, and the Visigothic Kingdom in Toledo.  Once the conversion of 
their monarchy to Roman Catholicism was complete the Visigoths conquered the disordered Suebic territories in the northwest and Byzantine territories in the southeast.  The Germanic Visigothic Kingdom would eventually encompass the greatest part of the 
Iberian Peninsula.

Having assimilated and embraced Roman culture during their tenure as foederati or communities allied to Rome, the Visigoths tended to uphold and maintain many of the old institutions of the defunct Roman Empire.  They held a unique respect for its legal codes.  These resulted in a continuation of its framework and the keeping of historical records.  This, the Visigoths managed to do for most of the period between 415 C.E. when Visigothic rule in Iberia began and 711 C.E. when it is traditionally said to have ended.  

In 587 C.E., the Visigothic king at Toledo, Reccared converted to Catholicism and launched a movement in Iberia to unify the various religious doctrines that existed on the Peninsula.  This put an end to dissension on the question of other Christian doctrine such as Arianism.  

In the time of Gothic Hispania, 5th-8th centuries C.E., the Visigothic Kingdom would conquer all of Hispania (Rome’s name for its colony in Iberia) and rule it until the early 8th-Century C.E.  The Visigoths inherited from Late Antiquity, that time of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages (2nd and 8th centuries C.E.) what might be called a type of feudal system.  This was a loosely controlled council of nobles that advised Iberia's Visigothic kings and legitimized their rule.  These were responsible for raising the army.  Only upon the consent of the Council was the king able to summon soldiers.  Based on the Roman villa system in the south of Hispania, the Visigoths drew from their vassals in the north a supply of troops in exchange for protection.  However, the bulk of the Visigothic army was comprised of slaves, largely raised from the countryside.  This in effect became the genesis of the warrior class with its cult of warfare.  

For centuries, from 711 C.E. onward before transitioning culturally, linguistically to become the Españoles, Christian and non-Christian Iberians had fought for their freedom against a firmly entrenched foe, the Islamic Moros or Moors.  These hundreds of years of war and bloodshed had created nobility based upon the cult of the warrior.  To be clear, it was not positive thinking, diplomacy, or high-minded thoughts of fairness or inclusion that would end Moro domination of Iberia.  It was cold, hard steel, blood, and the death of many, many Christian knights that brought victory.  

The Iberian Peninsula had fallen to Moro Islamic conquest in 711 C.E.  A Moro Islamic state was quickly constituted in Iberia and became known as Al-Andalus.  There was to be a period of Moro rule and control.  However, this was to be followed by the medieval history of Iberia dominated by the long Christian Reconquista or "Reconquest" of the Iberian Peninsula and the gradual lessening of Moro governance until its demise.  

The Reconquista of Iberia had begun under Alfonso II (791 C.E.-842 C.E.), and would last nearly 700 years.  This was the act of Iberian Christians removing the unwanted and uninvited yoke of Islamic dominance and forcing the Moros from the Iberian Peninsula.  During the 9th and 10th centuries C.E., the Iberian Germanic Christians fought their battles using what had been learned from the militarily practices of the Roman Empire Period.  It clearly was not effective against the Moros as they took most of Iberia within a decade.  However, this was before the advent of European knighthood and its new forms of warfare.  

The concept and practice of European knighthood was originally that of a professional association.  In the feudal era during the 9th through the 15th centuries C.E., the boundaries of knighthood had been quite fluid.  As such, it also included small land-holders, free men, craftsmen, etc.  It included those males who had the resources available to support mounted warfare with its horse and armor.  Thus, knights were not necessarily nobles.  Nor can it be said that nobles were necessarily knights.  

It must be mentioned here that prior to the Christian Crusades, the Islamic Moros or Moorish invaders of Iberia were responsible for continued attacks upon defenseless Christian pilgrims.  With a few isolated exceptions, the words "Muslim" and "Islam" were generally not used.  The preferred term was Saracen.  Prior the 16th-Century C.E., speakers of Western languages used "Saracen" to refer to Muslim Arabs.  It would appear that the Iberians were influenced by the Frankish knights who chose to willingly fight the invader Moros of Iberia during the 10th-Century C.E.  The Frankish knights had made their way to Iberia to protect pilgrims flocking to the tomb of Apostle James of Compostela in Galicia.  These knights brought with them the instatement of chivalric knightly orders, chivalric ideals, and codes conduct to Iberia.  Therefore, it has been suggested that knighthood arrived on the Iberian Peninsula with the Christian Frankish knights.  However, knighthood’s genesis in España must also be placed in the context of the Reconquista.  

The Franks living in what is now France had to contend with the Saracens for centuries and the constant threat of their fanatical Islamic religious tyranny.  One example of this is the Battle of Toulouse in 721 C.E.  Toulouse is now the capital city of the southwestern French department of Haute-Garonne, as well as of the Midi-Pyrenees region.  It lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 93 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, 143 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and 420 miles from Paris.  It was a victory of an Aquitanian Christian army led by Duke Odo of Aquitaine.  This occurred when an army of Umayyad Saracen besieged the city of Toulouse.  The Saracens were led by the governor of Al-Andalus, Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani.  The victory checked the spread of Islamic Umayyad control westward from Narbonne, France into Aquitaine region of France.  

Knighthood emerged in earnest in the 11th-Century C.E., with some of its members being of noble birth, those members of the great land-owning families.  Spanish Heraldry would also emerge in Iberia at the beginning of that century.  Its origin while not completely the same as other European countries was the need for knights and nobles to distinguish themselves from one another.  This included while on the battlefield, in jousts, and when in tournaments.  This was also an Iberian need.  The fact that knights wore armor from head to toe and were often in a leadership position made it essential to distinguish where they were on the battlefield at any given point in time.  

The noble class would slowly come to merge with the knightly class from the late-12th-Century C.E. onward.  As the Iberian Reconquista gathered momentum during the 12th-Century C.E., the knights of what was to become España would help in the establishment of the Christian kingdoms of Portugal, Aragón, Castilla, and Navarra.  

By the 12th-13th centuries C.E., most of the prominent Iberian knightly orders were formed.  This early formation of the Orders on the Peninsula was dangerous and unstable.  At Calatrava, during the Mid-12th-Century C.E. the Castilian knights established a fortress.  It would later be abandoned due to the threat of Moro attack.  Within fifty years, a fort of the Order of Calatrava was rebuilt and became a fortified monastic community.  These same religious knights were responsible for reducing Moro control to the Emirate of Granada in the south-east of the Peninsula.  

It is now accepted by historians that by 1250 C.E. the Visigoths and other Iberian tribes were emerging linguistically and culturally as Españoles.  This is no small point.  Most historians and commentators misunderstand how España became a nation on the Iberian Peninsula.  Why is this important?  It was the Visigoths who emerged from the Reconquista as the Castellanos or Castilians.  Scholars have suggested that the later, Spanish Military Orders such as those at the fortress of Calatrava pledged their loyalty primarily to their Kingdom, in this case Castilla.  It was the Castellanos that led in the expulsion of the Moros from what became España by 1492 C.E.  The other Iberian tribes followed their lead.

Over 200 years later, in 1479 C.E., Ysabel I and Fernando II were recognized as the sovereigns of Castilla and Aragón with the Treaty of Alcáçovas.  These two monarchs, especially Ysabel I, gave unwavering support to the defeat of Granada and the expulsion of the Moros from Iberia.  It is safe to say that this is when
España really began.  

Unlike much of Europe, in España it was not difficult to be ennobled by being made a member of the nobility.  Spanish nobility differed from their European counterparts in that it was based almost entirely on military service.  Few Iberian families of eminence came from the law, commerce, or the Church.  The great Iberian families of España and Portugal battled and bled their way to their rank.  The practice allowed extraordinary commoners to join the ranks of the nobility through loyal and successful military service.  Many poor families came to prominence and wealth quickly as a result of their successful military exploits.  

It should be remembered that in España because of its hundreds of years of continual warfare with the Moros, the Caballeros Villanos or Villain Knights became an important part of the Christian Iberian military.  These were an Iberian medieval troop, characteristic of Castilla.  They arose as a result of the granting of charters.  The first of the charters was Del Fuero of Castrojeriz in the year 974 C.E.  In exchange for privileges in the fueros, these councils had auxilium duty or provided military assistance to the person who had granted him (Mainly the count of Castilla or the King of León).  

These military miquelets or militias were organized in two troops the Pawns (walk) and the Villain Knights (horse).  Members of this group who could afford a horse were integrated into its ranks.  Due to the tactical importance of the spear carrying cavalry, the Villain Knights won privileges and became the legal equivalent of the infanzones, the lower nobility (without nobility privileges).  Caballeros Villanos were common until the 14th-Century C.E.  This was due to the ongoing reconquest, hatred of the Moros, and a need to expel them from Iberia.  

By 1479 C.E., the kingdoms of Castilla and Aragón were united.  This happened when Fernando II or Ferdinand II, the husband 
of Queen
Ysabel I or Isabella of Castilla, became king of Aragón.  Once united, these two powerful rulers extended their 
authority and control over most of Iberia at the earliest formation of España.  When the final battle for Granada was fought, 
the siege against the great fortress-city began in April of 1491
C.E.  It would end on January 2, 1492 C.E., only when Granada surrendered.  When that beautiful capital city opened its gates to the Españoles, this marked the beginning of el Imperio 
.  Finally, and with great effort and bloodshed, the Moros were driven back into Africa.  With the Moros beaten the 
newly created Españoles had finally achieved their freedom and hard fought national unity.  

In the end, most Moros were driven from España.  The Christians, however, allowed two groups, the Mudéjares and Moriscos to remain.  The Mudéjares were Moros of Al-Andalus who were allowed to remain in Iberia after the Christian Reconquista, but were not converted to Christianity.  The Moriscos were forcibly converted.  However, the Moriscos’ conversion was not etched in stone.  It was only a religious and political expedient for their survival.  

Under the leadership of Fernando and Ysabel, Iberia was finally free for the first time in seven-hundred and eighty-one years.  The relatively new Iberian nation of España was on the threshold of a period of nationalism and discovery.  To be sure it was España’s nobility and its Iberian knights that made this freedom possible.  

In the early years, anyone could bear or display arms.  Heraldry is a broad term.  It encompasses design, display, and study of armorial bearings which are known as “Armory.”  It also involves related disciplines, such as vexillology (scientific study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags), together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree.  The most familiar branch of heraldry, Armory, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement, more commonly known as the coat of arms.  This usually consisting of a shield, helmet, and crest, together with any associated devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes.  The rules of heraldry had limited effect upon the design of arms.  Each owner decided upon the size, shape, and colors used in their arms.  Later, it became more of a practice for the nobility.  

During those hundreds of years of warfare, Spanish heraldic practice had gone through several stages.  The original style was simple and elegant.  Until the end of the Middle Ages (5th-Century C.E. to the 15th-Century C.E.) only the paternal arms were used, “those of the father.”  Later, both paternal and maternal arms were displayed.  The arms of the maternal and paternal grandfathers were impaled (shield cut in half vertically, showing the respective arms on each half).  

Around the end of the 16th-Century C.E., Spanish heraldry went into a decline.  The art became commercialized, though sometimes the design did have a specific meaning or symbolism.  It served more the egos of the armigers and to show family alliances than any other purpose.  Some have suggested that the art became unpleasant to the eye.  

Later, during the 18th-Centuries C.E. and 19th-Centuries C.E., the use of four quarterings came into use by the nobility (the shield was cut into four parts and the design of the arms of each grandparent was placed in each quarter).  There was an order of display as follows:  

1) Paternal grandfather                         2) Paternal grandmother

3) Maternal grandfather                        4) Maternal grandmother  

To this very day, the ideal proof of Spanish nobility or Hidalguia is still the four quarterings.  

In Spanish (Hispanic) Heraldry, arms are a symbol of ones lineage and a symbol of the family as well.  Therefore, Spanish arms are inheritable as any other form of property.  The importance of inheriting arms cannot be understated.  They remained a very important aspect of Spanish culture.  The descent of Spanish arms and titles differs from much of Europe in that they can be inherited through females.  Also, illegitimacy did not prevent the descent of arms and titles.  The great Spanish families believed that a family pedigree could be more damaged by misalliance than by illegitimacy.  Indeed the patents of nobility of many Spanish families contained bequeathals to illegitimate branches in case no legitimate heirs were found.  Illegitimacy in España was divided into three categories:

1.   Hijos Naturales or Natural Children:  Children born of single or widowed parents who could be legitimized by the marriage of their parents or by a declaration by their father that they were his heirs.

2.   Hijos Espurios or the Spurious:  Children whose parents for whatever reason were not in a position to marry.  These hijos had to be legitimized by a petition of royal ratification.

3.   Hijos Incestuosos or Incestuous:  Those born of parents too closely related to marry or who were under a religious vow.  These hijos required a papal dispensation in order to inherit their parent's arms or property.  These papal dispensations were granted so often that every diocese in España had signed blanks ready to affix the appropriate name.  

Spanish heraldic practice was also in many ways much like the rest of Europe.  The charges shown on Spanish armorial bearings can depict historical events or deeds of war.  They are also characterized by a widespread use of orle or orles (the wreath or chaplet surmounting or encircling the helmet of a knight and bearing the crest) and borders around the edge of the shield.  In addition to borders, España and Portugal marshal arms more conventionally by quartering.  The Españoles also allow words and letters on the shield itself, a practice which is considered incorrect in northern Europe.  There is also a lack of crests and mottoes.  


1.     The "Coat" of Arms was originally the cloth cape or coat that a knight wore over their armor to protect him from direct sunlight.  The garment was often decorated with the same arms as depicted on his shield.

2.     Most people refer to the shield as the "Family Crest."  This is incorrect.  The crest is a symbol used a great deal in English Heraldry.  It is generally placed on top of the helmet in the achievement (The entire coat of arms with supporters, etc.).

3.     The Spanish achievement is generally quite simple.  It is composed of the shield, a cape that can be simply drawn or ornate, a helmet (optional) or a Crown if it is for a member of the nobility and a motto (optional).

4.     In Spanish Heraldry that which is placed on the shield is the most important.

5.   In English, Scottish, and Irish Heraldry one can find many additional accessories not found or used in Spanish Heraldry.  They can include, in addition to the shield:

·       Helmet

·       Mantling (cloth cape)

·       Wreath (a circle of silk with gold and silver cord twisted around and placed to cover the joint between the helmet and crest)

·       Crest, the motto, chapeau, supporters (animals real or fictitious or people holding up the shield)

·       Compartment (whatever the supporters are standing on)

·       Standards and Ensigns (personal flags)

·       Coronets of rank

·       Insignia of orders of chivalry

·       Badges


These complicated achievements had become quite gaudy and were not carefully and artistically rendered.  Generally speaking, the older the arm (de Ribera), the simpler or plainer is the achievement.


The decline of Spanish heraldry began to end around the 19th-Century C.E.  The artistic fashion of heraldry is now in a period of rebirth.  There is a tendency towards simple elegance.  

The Spanish Cronista-Rey de Armas or the office of the King of Arms originated as a result of the need for Heraldos or Heralds to determine the arms that each Spanish noble family was entitled to use.  In addition, the Spanish Heraldos had other duties which pertained to matters of protocol and often acted as royal messengers and emissaries.  They also arranged tournaments.  The post of King of Arms took several forms and eventually settled on a Cuerpo de Rey de Armas or a Corps of Chronicler King of Arms which was headed by a Decano or Elder, Dean.  It usually consisted of four officers and two assistants or undersecretaries which acted as witnesses to documents.  The Corps was considered part of the royal household and was generally responsible to the Master of the King's stable.  As with almost all officials at court, the entire Corps wore a distinctive uniform.  The functions and duties of the King of Arms were clearly defined by the declarations of several kings and are still in force today.  

This was an important position in the Middle Ages.  Appointments to the Corps of King of Arms were made by the King or reigning Queen.  These appointments were for life and while not intended to be hereditary, often went from father to son or other close family member.  In modern times the Corps of Chronicler King of Arms has gone through several changes.  Important changes were made in 1915 C.E.  It was then abolished in 1931 C.E.  It was later restored in 1947 C.E.-1951 C.E.  After this period, there were two Chronicler Kings of Arms and at least one undersecretary Don Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent, Decano and Don Alfonso Ceballos -Escalera y Gil, Marqués de la Floresta, Chronicler of Arms for Castilla and León.  Today, everything that the Spanish Heraldos do must be approved by the Ministry of Grace and Justice.

When I found a coat of arms for my maternal surname, de Ribera, I questioned whether I was related to the owner of those arms.  Most probably, I’m distantly related to that individual or the family of the individual who was granted those arms.  However, I’m also not free to display or bear the arms for my surname.  A person cannot bear those arms legally, unless they can prove to the satisfaction of the Spanish Ministry of Justice that they are a direct descendant of the original owner of those arms.  The reality remains with pride of name, family history, and all of that.  

Spanish heraldic practice has ceased to have any real meaning in wartime.  Armor became an ornament worn rarely, if ever.  For a time, armor was worn only for certain occasions including being presented at court for various functions.  These beautiful relics of old have finally found their place as reminders of times past and the great deeds done by their long-dead owners.  

By the 16th-Century C.E., the jousting and chivalry of Europe of knights was replaced by modern armaments which changed the methods and strategies of warfare.  Ever-changing warfare and wars brought complex alliances and intrigue.

As we know European coalitions and alliances are legendary.  Today’s friend easily becomes tomorrow’s enemy.  Continual politicizing led these countries to join together for the moment to claim areas of the Viejo Mundo and Nuevo Mundo.  Later, they would be one against the other.  They raised armies and fleets to ensure that their neighbors understood their seriousness.  The message was simple and sure.  They would not be trifled with.  This mad scramble for world domination brought with it strained governmental relations, increasing tensions, and finally wars.  

The political reality of the day was that kings had their way in all things, including war.  Armies were the playthings of the sovereigns.  War and its accompanying death and destruction were the main instrument of state power and majesty.  Armed force ready for war remained the rationale for the state and its means for collecting of revenues.  In short, the strength of armies became the symbol and potency of royal authority.  

Here, we must move ahead from knighthood, nobility, and the Iberian monarchy which established itself firmly only in 1492 C.E. after the conquest of the last Moro stronghold in Granada and the removal of the Islamists from the Peninsula.  The House of Habsburg Monarchy or The House of Austria arrived in Iberia in 1506 C.E.  It would dominate España for almost 200 years, until 1700 C.E.
The House of Habsburg was firmly entrenched by the reign of Felipe III (April 14, 1578-March 31, 1621) or Philip III who arrived on the scene in the 17th-Century C.E., 1600 C.E.-1610 C.E.  He was born in Madrid to King Felipe II of España and his fourth wife and niece Anna, the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II (a Habsburg) and María of España.  Felipe III later married his cousin Margaret of Austria, sister of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.  España by this time had become both a great European power of the Viejo Mundo and a Nuevo Mundo power.

During his reign, the royal court was dominated by the noble family of Sandoval, in the person of Don Francisco Gómez de Sandoval, 1st Duque of Lerma (1552 C.E. or 1553 C.E.-1625 C.E.).  Don Francisco was Felipe III's principle favorite and chief minister for almost all of his reign.  Known in España as Felipe the Pious, Felipe's political reputation abroad was largely negative.  He was considered an undistinguished and insignificant man of his period.  Many believed him to be a poor monarch, whose only virtue was his total absence of vice.  Felipe’s reliance on his corruptible chief minister, the Duque of Lerma drew criticism at the time.  

The decline of España is dated to those economic difficulties that began during the early years of Felipe’s reign.  He was the ruler at the height of el Imperio Español or the Spanish Empire.  Felipe III was king when a temporary peace with the Dutch (1609C.E.-1621 C.E.) was achieved.  Unfortunately, it was he who brought España into the Thirty Years' War, though initially it was an extremely successful campaign.  

The decade of 1610 C.E.-1620 C.E. saw the Thirty Years' War.  It was that series of Central European wars between the years 1618 C.E.-1648 C.E.  This was one of the longest, costly, and most destructive conflicts in the history of Europe.  It began as a war within the fragmenting Holy Roman Empire between Protestant and Catholic states.  Gradually it developed into a conflict involving most of the great powers of Europe.  The conflict became a continuation of the France-Habsburg rivalry for political and military preeminence of Europe and far less about religion.  It became an all consuming venture for the Spanish monarchy.  

Felipe IV of España was born in Valladolid, and was the eldest son of Felipe III and his wife, Margaret of Austria.  In 1615 C.E., at the age of 10, Felipe was married to 13-year-old Elisabeth of France, although the relationship does not appear to have been close.  Some have even suggested that Don Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel Ribera y Velasco de Tovar, Conde de Olivares and Duque of San Lúcar la Mayor, Grandee of España, Felipe IV’s key minister, deliberately tried to keep the two apart.  This he supposedly did this to maintain his own influence.  It has also been reported that Don Gaspar encouraged Felipe to take mistresses in order to diminish any influence his wife might wish to have upon the king.  

It was during the decade of 1620 C.E.-1629 C.E. that Felipe IV (April 8, 1605 C.E.-September 17, 1665 C.E.) was King of España.  He held thrones as Felipe IV in Castilla and Felipe III in Aragón and King Portugal as Felipe III (Portugués: Filipe III).  He ascended the thrones in 1621 C.E. and reigned until 1640 C.E. at his death in Portugal.  Felipe is remembered for his patronage of the arts which included such artists as Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez.  

During the 1620s C.E., Felipe IV was influenced by a desire to reform Spanish life for the better and he passed considerable legislation with puritanical overtones.  Unfortunately, recent histories have stressed the more radical elements of Felipe IV’s first two decades in power.  Some have even viewed his policies as being unimaginative.

It must be remembered that the early-17th-Century C.E. saw an atmosphere of excitement and energy in España.  There were numerous arbitrista, a group of reformers which offered varying advice on how to solve España's religious, cultural, economic, governance, and military ills.  This advice could, and would, be given in person by those of the lower classes to the king on suitable occasions.  It was allowed provided it was presented with the aim of strengthening the Corona Española.  Those debates also extended to the nature of the monarchy.  It has been suggested that the writers of the period who best capture Felipe IV's view of royal authority were Justus Lipsius and Giovanni Botero.  They promoted religiously inspired, stoic self-sacrifice and a view of Habsburg family-led hegemony respectively.  

On one level, Felipe was conservative.  His foreign policy reflected the period of Felipe II, invoking traditional values at home.  Felipe IV's policies could also be radical.  He rejected the policy towards the rebellious Dutch that had held since 1609 C.E.  The King entered into the Thirty Years' War and introduced a system of junta or small committee.  Here, he placed centralized government across España in competition with the traditional decentralized system of royal councils.  

For Spanish foreign policy the 1620s C.E. were good years.  The war with the Dutch went well, albeit at great expense.  It culminated in the retaking of the key city of Breda in 1624 C.E.  By the end of the decade, however, Felipe's government was faced with the question of whether to prioritize the war in Flanders or España's relationship with France during the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628 C.E.-1631 .C.E.).  Felipe's advisors recommended prioritizing the war in Flanders and taking action to safeguard the Spanish Road to the Netherlands.  This came at the cost of antagonizing Louis XIII of France and proved to be a strategic disaster.  

Felipe IV and his government were desperately trying to reduce the responsibilities of central government in response to it being financially overstretched by the Thirty Years' War.  Various reform ideas that might have been pursued during the 1620s C.E. were rejected on this basis.  Financial restraints and higher taxes were put in place, but Felipe was increasingly selling off regalian and feudal rights (Those things belonging to or relating to a monarch) along with much of the royal estate to fund the conflict.  

The influence of the Sandovals was quietly being undermined by a new noble.  This was the coalition led by Don Balthasár de Zúñiga.  Don Balthasár regarded it as essential that the Sandovals be unable to gain any influence over the future king.  Soon, de Zúñiga developed his own influence over Prince Felipe.  He introduced his nephew, Olivares, to the prince who was then age ten.  Over the course of the years, the relationship became close.  Felipe's tendency towards poor self-confidence and diffidence was counteracted by Olivares' drive and determination.  When Felipe IV ascended the throne in 1621 C.E., at the age of sixteen, he showed confidence in Olivares by ordering that all papers requiring the royal signature be first sent to the Conde-Duque.  Felipe IV would retain Olivares as his confidant and chief minister for the next twenty years.  

Felipe IV was to reign through the majority of the Thirty Years' War in Europe, a turbulent period of military history.  

In Felipe III's final years, Balthasár de Zúñiga had convinced him to intervene militarily in Bohemia and the Electorate of the Palatinate on the side of Emperor Ferdinand II.  Once Felipe IV came to power, he was convinced by de Zúñiga to commit España to a more aggressive foreign policy in alliance with the Holy Roman Empire.  This would lead Felipe IV to renew hostilities with the Dutch in 1621 C.E. in an attempt to bring the provinces to the negotiating table with the aim of achieving a peace treaty favorable to Spanish global interests.  

Felipe IV had inherited a huge empire from his father which spanned the known world.  España in the early-17th-Century C.E. was a collection of “Viejo Mundo” possessions such as the kingdoms of Castilla, Aragón, València, Portugal, and the autonomous provinces of Cataluña and Andalucía.  These Iberian provinces would provide many difficult domestic problems and challenges.  In addition, his realm was made up of the wider European provinces of Nápoles or Naples, the Netherlands, Milan, etc.  These brought with them the difficulties associated with the alliance of his Iberian possessions and those of the Holy Roman Empire and the inevitable machinations of other European powers bent on overtaking España’s control in all areas.  

If his European possessions were not enough of a problem to rule over and control, el Imperio Español was also comprised its “Nuevo Mundo” possessions, with its vast lands, oceans, distinct peoples, and cultures which had to be ruled and managed.  

Here we should list these and their time frames.  These were, Hispaniola (1493 C.E.), Puerto Rico (1508 C.E.), Spanish settlements sprang up on the mainland of Central and South América (Beginning in 1508 C.E.), Jamaica in (1509 C.E.), Cuba in (1511 C.E.).  The nine-tenths of North America lying north and east of Méjico was another matter.  In the early 1500s C.E., España made a few attempts to explore Florida and the Gulf coast.  Around 1513 C.E., Juan Ponce de León, conqueror of Puerto Rico, conducted the first reconnaissance of the area.  Balboa had crossed the Isthmus of Panama and claimed the entire Pacific Ocean for España, six years after Pedro Arias de Ávila, Balboa's father-in-law and executioner, founded the City of Panama on the Pacific Coast (1519 C.E.).  Hernán Cortés led a small force from Cuba to the Gulf coast of Méjico, founded Veracruz and set about taking the Azteca Empire (1519 C.E.).  In 1519 C.E. Alonso Álvarez de Piñeda explored and mapped the Golfo de Méjico.  

Two years later, 1521 C.E. Ponce de León died in a disastrous attempt to build a settlement in Florida, and España withdrew from further serious efforts to establish a permanent presence there for another half-century.  

Nueva España was a virreinato or viceroyalty, or administrative unit of el Imperio Español.  Its capital was Méjico City, formerly Tenochtitlán, capital of the Azteca Empire.  It was established following the Spanish conquest of the Aztecas in 1521 C.E.  The Holy Roman Emperor and King of España, Carlos V created the Real y Supremo Consejo de Indias or Council of the Indies in 1524 C.E.

By 1526 C.E., the first Spanish town in what is now the United States was not in Florida, but located somewhere between 30 degrees and 34 degrees North.  It was built by Luís Vásquez de Ayllón, a Spanish official based on Hispaniola.  Florida as all other areas España claimed, the Requerimiento or Spanish Requirement of 1513 C.E. was read aloud to all that could hear.  Upon reaching a suitable location in the Nuevo Mundo, the Requerimiento was read in Spanish to the Natives.  It informed them of España's rights to take possession of the lands.  The document was a declaration written for the Corona Española by the Council of Castilla jurist, Juan López de Palacios Rubios.  It stated España's divinely ordained right to subjugate, war with Native inhabitants, and take possession of the territories of the Nuevo Mundo.  Resistors were considered to harbor evil intentions.  The Españoles thus considered those who resisted defiant to God’s plan, as recognized via Catholic theology.  Battle would soon occur.  

An Audiència had been established in Santo Domingo in 1526 C.E. to deal with the Caribbean settlements.  The Audiència was charged with encouraging further exploration and settlements under its own authority.  Management by the Audiència, which was expected to make executive decisions as a body, proved unwieldy.  A few years later the first mainland Audiència was created in 1527 C.E. to take over the administration of Nueva España.  

After the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire of Perú in 1532 C.E., it opened up the vast territories of South América to further conquests.  Francisco Pizarro had affected the early stages of his taking of the Inca Empire.  Therefore in 1535 C.E., King Carlos V named António de Mendoza as the first Virrey of Nueva España.  The Crown would establish an independent Virreinato of Perú in 1540 C.E.  

The Virrey de Mendoza took his duties seriously and vigorously encouraged the exploration of España’s new mainland territories.  He commissioned the expeditions of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado into the present day American Southwest in 1540 C.E.-1542 C.E.  The Virrey commissioned Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in the first Spanish exploration up the Pacific Ocean along the western coast of the Las Californias Province in 1542 C.E.-1543 C.E.  He sailed above present day Baja California (Vieja California), to what he called Nueva California, becoming the first European to see present day California, U.S.  The Virrey also sent Ruy López de Villalobos to the Spanish East Indies in 1542 C.E.-1543 C.E.  As these new territories became controlled, they were brought under the purview of the Virrey of Nueva España.  

España would have dominion over the West Indies and Central América by 1550 C.E.  The Indias Orientales Españolas or Spanish East Indies were those Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which she held from 1565 C.E.  They comprised the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands (Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia), and for some time parts of Formosa (Taiwan) and the Moluccas (Indonesia).  

During the 16th-Century C.E., many Spanish cities were established in North and Central América.  España attempted to establish misiónes or missions in what is now the Southern United States including Georgia and South Carolina between 1568 C.E. and 1587 C.E.  Despite their efforts, the Españoles were only successful in the region of present-day Florida, where they founded San Agustín in 1565 C.E.  

Nueva España would expand northward from Méjico City in what is today the American Southwest.  In 1581 C.E., Francisco Sánchez Chamuscado and a small exploring party reached the southeastern edge of the Nuevo Méjico frontier and learned about a number of pueblos associated with large salt beds behind the present-day Manzano Mountains.  Juan de Oñate would later lead an expedition to Santa Fé de Nuevo Méjico in 1598 C.E.  

One can gather from the aforementioned that España’s Nuevo Mundo was extensive and growing rapidly by 1620 C.E.  It should go without saying that España’s exploration, settlement, and expansion was no easy feat.  We must be reminded at this juncture that there was no modern telecommunications, telephones, cell phones, telegraph, and radio communications.  Communications was not instantaneous using computer resources, Internet, E-Mail, etc.  Instead, communications and travel to and from desired locations took weeks, months, and sometimes years.  Modern modes of transportation such as trains, planes, and powered ships did not exist.  Decision-making was an ordeal without access to the readily available information that we take for granted today.  

At this juncture, it must also be noted that today’s non-Spanish, anti-Spanish, Anglo-American, British, Northern European, and other historians and commentators seem to have missed these points.  Therefore, I must put it clearly.  Felipe IV inherited a massively complex, world-wide empire.  He had to attempt control over ongoing, fluid events on the ground within Iberia, Europe, South, Central, and North America.  His administration covered the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean oceans and large parts of Asia.  Interestingly anti-Spanish historians and commentators fail to emphasize these factors or most certainly lessen them, as they systematically paint the Españoles as simply ignorant butchers of the Noble Savage.  

Secondly, I find it difficult to accept how anti-Spanish historians and commentators present España in a superficial way.  I doubt seriously that it is only ignorance that plays a part here.  The word subterfuge comes to mind.  They also offer up historically important Españoles as cardboard cut-out caricatures which fit only the narrative of the Conquistador.  These they portray simply as conquerors and their expedition and exploration party’s as colonists, always colonists.  Their families are almost never spoken of as immigrants or settlers.  Clearly, this wouldn’t square with their subliminal message that the Españoles were illegitimate squatters on Native lands and therefore not entitled to them.  

The anti-Spanish miss the point in a purposeful way.  These Españoles were flesh and blood human beings.  They had aspirations, achievements, education, technical (Nautical and land-based), managerial, and administrative expertise and capabilities.  These went beyond the military emphasis anti-Spanish historians and commentators place upon España.  Many of the Españoles serving in administrative and military positions in the Nuevo Mundo were well-traveled.  They had served the monarchy in important positions world-wide.  In short, they were capable of running a world-wide Empire which spanned the globe.

With that said, onward and upward we go.
In the first years of his reign, Felipe was heavily influenced by his royal favorite Olivares.  Felipe focused on efforts to reform the most chaotic aspects of his governmental systems.  Frustrated by the notorious slowness of the system of royal councils, Felipe supported Olivares' establishment of juntas or small committees designed to circumvent the more formal system and to enact policies quickly.  Though successful, unfortunately these juntas excluded many of the traditional
Grandes de España or Grandees and caused resentment.

Olivares also put forward the idea of a Unión de Armas or Union of Arms.  This would have involved establishing a standing army, a force of 140,000 paid soldados, supported by equitable taxes from across el Imperio Español.  It has been termed the most far-sighted proposal of any statesman of the age. Unfortunately, it met with fierce opposition from the various regional assemblies and the plan had to be withdrawn.  

Life for the young king was no easy matter.  Early in his reign, Felipe would be woken by Olivares in the morning to discuss the day's affairs.  He would meet with him twice more during the day.  Later, this routine changed.  The king would hold only one short meeting on policy with Olivares each day.  One can only imagine the complexity of content discussed in those meetings and how wide-ranging the resulting decisions were.  

By 1623 C.E., Felipe IV closed all the legal brothels in España, extended the dormant sumptuary laws on luxury goods and supported Papal efforts to regulate priests' sexual behavior more tightly.
IV also had clear intentions to try to control Spanish currency, which had become increasingly unstable during the reign of his father and grandfather.  Unfortunately, inflation soared.  This was partly because in 1627 C.E. Olivares had attempted to deal with the problem of Felipe's Genoese bankers.  These had proved uncooperative and declared a state bankruptcy.  With the Genoese debt now removed, Olivares hoped to turn to indigenous bankers for renewed funds.  The plan was a disaster.  His financial woes grew when the Spanish treasure fleet of 1628 C.E. was captured by the Dutch.  This caused España's ability to borrow and transfer money across Europe to decline sharply.  

What this means in a practical sense is, España could not meet its obligations to its internal and external constituents.  It therefore could not mitigate pressing issues and resolve problems in a meaningful time frame.  Military and administrative plans and ongoing projects world-wide were slowed or stopped all together.  Here let me offer an attempt to show some understanding of the situation.  Stupidity is one thing and ignorance quite another.  To become the greatest world-wide empire in the history of man is a daunting task, its challenges formidable.  This España did without a historical model with which to simplify its efforts.  A world-wide monetary system to reach out to, I think not.  An easily accessible international banking system from which to obtain credit, no!  For those who would second guess this incredible monarchy, think again.  For 122 years, the Empire had gone it alone.  

To add to the young King’s woes, by the late-1620s C.E. the Spanish army was no longer as dominant on the battlefield as it once had been.  The feared tercio regiments, composed of well-disciplined pikemen, were increasingly appearing inflexible and outmoded in the face of the new Swedish and Dutch military formations with a higher proportion of musketeers.  The tercio was an infantry formation made up of pikemen, swordsmen and arquebusiers or musketeers in a mutually supportive formation that in theory was up to 3,000 soldados, although it was usually less than half this size.  It was also sometimes referred to as the Spanish Square in other countries.  The formation was much used by other powers, especially the Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Empire.  Felipe IV and Olivares would attempt to address the perceived weaknesses of the Spanish army but with limited success.  

Firstly, they saw its weakness as being primarily due to the falta de cabezas or a lack of leadership.  The resolution of this problem was only a part of the King’s wider agenda.  His greater challenge was the renewing of the concepts of duty, service, and aristocratic tradition.  As a result, the king agreed on efforts to introduce more Grandes de España into the higher ranks of the military and worked vigorously to overcome the reluctance of many to take up field appointments in the Netherlands and elsewhere.  His results were not entirely successful.  The Grandes who had been forced to accept service in this way did not want to spend years learning the normal professional military skills.  Instead, they wanted to begin as both generales and soldados on their very first day.  

By 1629 C.E., Felipe IV had a son with a famous actress and mistress, María Inés Calderón.  Their child, Juan José, would be brought up as a royal prince.  By the end of the reign the health of the rightful heir to the throne, Carlos José, was in doubt.  This gave concern that Juan José might make a claim on the throne.  The issue would add to the instability of the regency years.  

From 1630 C.E.-1639 C.E. of the 17th-Century C.E., European nations were in a mad scramble for power and wealth.  As with our world today, Europe of the one-hundred and fifty-year period (1630's C.E.-1780's C.E.) was dominated by economics.  España of the Viejo Mundo had benefited greatly from gold and silver taken from its Nuevo Mundo.  The Españoles and the other Viejo Mundo powers were locked in competition for the wealth of the Nuevo Mundo and contesting its ownership.  All of these factors made Continental Wars a necessity.  

As the Holy Roman Empire attempted to impose religious uniformity on its domains, war exploded.  Angered by the violation of their rights the northern Protestant states banded together and formed the League of Evangelical Union.  The Empire seeing these actions as a rebellion crushed it.  As reactions to the Emperor's action surfaced around the Protestant world condemning the Emperor, Sweden intervened in 1630 C.E.  It was this intervention which began the large scale war on the continent.  España moved to end the Dutch Protestant rebel insurrection and intervened under the pretext of helping her dynastical ally, Austria.  Unable to tolerate the encirclement by the two major Habsburg (España and Austria) powers on its border, Catholic France entered the coalition on the side of the Protestants to counter the Habsburgs.


The Thirty Years' War resulted in the devastation of entire regions of Europe.  Famine and disease soon significantly decreased the populations of the German states, Italian states, Kingdom of Bohemia, and the Low Countries.  The immense cost of the war bankrupted most of the combatant powers.  To sustain themselves, both the mercenaries and soldiers of the warring armies looted or extorted tribute.  This in turn, brought severe hardship upon the inhabitants of occupied territories.  The treaties of Osnabrück and Münster ended the Thirty Years' War.  Unfortunately, this Viejo Mundo war left España’s Nuevo Mundo without necessary economic support and appropriate guidance.


In a larger context, the war’s results altered the previous political order for the European Powers.  It saw the rise of Bourbon France and its impact which curtailed Habsburg ambitions.  Sweden became a great power.  The War in effect changed the balance of power on the continent.  In fact, France's dominant position would alter European politics in the years to come.  That other “great war” brought about by France would see Britain’s rise as the foremost world power in the 18th-Century C.E.  

By the 1630s C.E., Felipe IV's domestic policies were being increasingly impacted by the financial pressures of the Thirty Years' War, and in particular the growing war with France.  The costs of the war were huge.  The impact had already largely fallen upon Castilla.  The ability of the Corona Española to raise more funds and men from this source became increasingly limited.  It has been suggested that the fiscal strictness of the 1630s C.E., combined with the strength and role of Olivares and the juntas effectively cut Felipe IV off from the three traditional pillars of support for the monarchy.  These were the Grandes, the Church, and the Council of Castilla.  This lack of support negatively impacted the Monarchy’s ability to govern effectively or efficiently.  

Also in the 1630s C.E., Felipe IV was waiving existing military rules to enable promotion to higher ranks on a shorter time frame because of his wars.  In addition, he had to pay significantly inflated salaries to encourage Grandees or Grandes to accept these appointments.  To make matters worse, the performance of these officers at battles such as Rocroi left a great deal to be desired.  

Felipe IV’s reign was also notable for his interest in the Armada Española or Spanish Navy.  Shortly after taking power he began to increase the size of his fleets, rapidly doubling the size of the naval budget from the start of his reign, then tripling it.  Why, because España by that point in time was world-wide in its reach.  Felipe has been credited with a sensible, pragmatic approach to provisioning and controlling its expansion and maintenance.  It is reported that he was actively involved in the details of provisioning the Armada and in the operational details of naval policy in 1630 C.E.  Almost ten years later, Felipe IV’s keen interest with the Armada might explain why even after the disastrous 1639 C.E.  Battle of the Downs, he remained closely interested in his Armada, which included ensuring ministerial attention.  Also, by 1643 C.E. the Junta de Armadas would be the only junta committee to survive the fall of Olivares in 1643 C.E. intact.  

By the mid-1630s C.E., España was having new successes.  Felipe's government would raise a fresh Spanish army and marched it into Germany.  It would defeat the Swedish-led Protestant forces at the Battle of Nördlingen in 1634 C.E.  There were also increased tensions with France which made war between the two Catholic states increasingly inevitable.  Olivares wisely advised Felipe that the coming war with France would be all or nothing; España would win or fall by the result.  

The Franco-Spanish War (1635 C.E.-1659 C.E.) was the result of French involvement in the Thirty Years' War.  After the German allies of Sweden were forced to seek terms with the Holy Roman Empire, the first French minister, Cardinal Richelieu, declared war on España.  He did so because French territory was surrounded by Habsburg territories.  The open war with España started with a promising victory for the French at Les Avins in 1635 C.E.  That following year, España’s forces based in the Southern Netherlands responded with devastating lightning campaigns in northern France.  These left French forces reeling and the economy of the region in difficulty.  Fortunately for France, just as the Españoles appeared ready to invade Paris, their vast continent-wide fiscal commitments forced them to suspend their aggressions.  

During the decade of 1640 C.E.-1649 C.E. Felipe was said to have had numerous affairs, particularly with actresses.  Yet, from the 1640s C.E. onwards, he also sought the advice of a noted cloistered abbess, Sor María de Ágreda, exchanging many letters with her.  

She was born María Coronel y de Arana in Ágreda, a town located in the Province of Soria.  María was the daughter of Francisco Coronel, a Converso of Jewish descent, and Catalina de Arana.  María of Jesús' biographer and contemporary, the bishop José Jiménez y Samaniego, was a longtime friend of the Coronel family and testified that even as a young girl María was filled with divine knowledge.  From her early years, he wrote, she had ecstasies and visions in which she felt that God was instructing her about the sinfulness of the world, a conviction which would last throughout her life.  At the age of four, she was confirmed by Diego de Yepes, a bishop and the biographer and last confessor of Teresa of Ávila.  He was reportedly impressed with the child's spiritual acumen.  

Between 1620 C.E. and 1623 C.E., María of Jesús reported that she was often "transported by the aid of the angels" to settlements of a people called Jumanos.  The Jumano Indians of Nueva España (what is today parts of Méjico, Tejas, and Nuevo Méjico) had long been requesting misióneros, possibly hoping for protection from the Apaches.  Eventually a mission led by the Franciscan Fray Juan de Salas visited them in 1629 C.E.  

The Abbess would report further, but less frequent visits afterwards.  This was while she remained physically in the monastery at Ágreda.  Therefore, these visits are considered bilocations, an event where a person is, or seems to be, in two places at the same time.  

Before sending the frayles, Fray Alonzo de Benavides, Custodian of Nuevo Méjico, asked the Natives why they were so eager to be baptized.  They said they had been visited by a Lady in Blue, pointing to a painting of a nun in a blue habit.  They also reported that she was a beautiful young girl.  It was she, who supposedly recommended that they ask the frayles for help.  The Jumanos visiting Isleta indicated that the Lady in Blue had come to them in the area now known as the Salinas National Monument, south of modern-day Mountainair, Nuevo Méjico, about 65 miles south of Albuquerque.  At the same time, Fray Estéban de Perea brought Benavides an inquiry from Sor María's confessor in España asking whether there was any evidence that she had visited the Jumanos.  

What this suggests is that Felipe must have had some interest in the supernatural and its implications to his empire.  The fact that the Monarch would invest that much time and energy corresponding with the Abbess could lead one to believe that he had other motives.  Felipe may not have wanted the Church to have unnecessary influence over his domains and its Natives.  

In 1640 C.E., internal political tensions caused by the burden of the Thirty Years' War led to the simultaneous revolts of Cataluña and Portugal against the Spanish Habsburgs.  España was now fighting two major wars of secession in addition to a great international conflict.  The total collapse of el Imperio Español appeared imminent.  Why?  Simply put, because el Imperio Español was a loosely joined empire held together through the institution of the monarchy of Castilla in the person of Felipe IV.  

As a positive point, this loose system had successfully resisted reform and higher taxation.  The result for España was that she had historically, up until the 1640s C.E., fewer than the usual number of fiscal revolts for an early modern European state.  In a negative vein, each part of España had different taxation, privileges, and military arrangements.  The level of taxation in many of the more peripheral provinces was less than that in Castilla.  The privileged position of the Castilian nobility at all senior levels of royal appointment became a contentious issue for the less favored provinces.  

Unfortunately, from 1640 C.E. onward, España would see a period of large-scale revolts across Spanish territories.  These were in protest against the rising costs of wars and conflicts.  Although she had achieved early successes which threatened Paris, España was finding it difficult to sustain her wars.  

Initially, Felipe IV chose to confirm the reappointment of his father's household to play to grandee opinion.  However, under the influence of de Zúñiga and Olivares, Felipe then quickly placed de Lerma's estates under administration.  These had expanded considerably during his long period as favorite.  Felipe also removed Cristóbal de Sandoval-Rojas y de la Cerda, duque de Uceda from office.  This was de Lerma's son.  Duque de Uceda had initially assisted de Zúñiga in removing his father from office to advance his own position.  Felipe's initial announcements suggest to all that he intended to reform the monarchy.  He was clearly seeking a more serious, moral attitude toward governance as had existed under his grandfather.  This would include the selection ministers whose grandfathers had served under Felipe II.  

Another crisis came to España in 1640 C.E., when Olivares attempted to intervene in Cataluña.  This he did to address a French invasion threat which resulted in a revolt.  An alliance of Catalan rebels and French royal forces proved to be a challenge to suppress.  In trying to mobilize the support of the Portugués nobles for the war, Olivares triggered a second uprising.  The nobles of Lisboa or Lisbon expelled Felipe IV.  They then gave the throne to the Braganzas, putting the end to sixty years of the Iberian Union and the beginning of the Portugués Restoration War.  

The next year, the Duque of Medina Sidonia attempted another rebellion against Felipe IV from Andalucía, possibly attempting to reproduce the Braganzas success in Portugal.  Although Felipe and Olivares were able to subdue the ducal revolt, Felipe was increasingly isolated.  Upon his return from Zaragoza where he had been commanding the army, Felipe found only one member of the Castilian nobility had arrived at court on Easter Day 1641 C.E.  This exhibition of defiance made the possibility of Felipe IV being deposed by the Grandes of Castilla an event to seriously consider.  

During the years 1641 C.E.-1642 C.E., Felipe IV intervened far more in policies.  There are those who have suggested that Felipe paid more attention to policy-making than had traditionally been believed.  Recent histories go so far as to describe him as “conscientious” in policy-making, though he continues to be criticized for failure to make timely decisions.  Felipe himself argued that it was hardly appropriate for the king himself to go house-to-house among his ministers to see if his instructions were being carried out.  This attitude would suggest the reason for the close relationship between Felipe and Olivares.  That closeness was demonstrated by their portraits' being placed side-by-side at the Buen Retiro Palace, a secondary residence and place of recreation (hence its name).  It should be noted that this act was unheard of in Europe of that time.  Felipe's relationship with Olivares, however, was not a simplistic one.  The pair had many disagreements and arguments over the course of their relationship.  This was both a result of their different personalities and their differences of opinion over policies.  

As fate would have it, by the end of 1642, the French Cardinal Richelieu died from a combination of malaria, intestinal tuberculosis, other complications from lung disease, and an inflammation of the bones in his arm.  He was replaced as prime minister by his protégé, Cardinal Mazarin.  

Six months later, in 1643 C.E., King Louis XIII of France died.  He was succeeded by his four-year-old son Louis XIV.  Almost simultaneously with the death of Louis XIII, the Spanish Army invaded northern France from the Spanish Netherlands, modern Belgium.  

The May 19, 1643 C.E. battle of Rocroi occurred in the late stages of the Thirty Years’ War (1618 C.E.-1648 C.E.).  It was the most traumatic event to affect Europe prior to the Napoleonic Era.  It was centered mainly in the Holy Roman Empire which encompassed much of modern-day Germany and its conflicts between Catholic and Protestant rulers.  It devolved into a general political conflict.  Its several stages are marked by which nation was the chief antagonist to the Catholic/Spanish forces.  Beginning in 1635 C.E., France joined the war in opposition to the Spanish side.  France had been a longtime rival of España and the Holy Roman Empire, the two main allies opposing the Protestant factions in the war.  

An army headed by the Spanish commander Don Francisco de Melo numbered 18,000-19,000 infantry, 8000-9000 cavalry, and 18 cannon.  He was also the interim Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, an accomplished politician, and ambassador.  Despite his impressive victory the previous year at Honnecourt, his military bona fides were still in question.  Not wanting to leave the French fortress town of Rocroi which could block the main road to Paris at his rear, de Melo invested the fortress.  

The nearby French Army of Picardy was under the command of Louis de Bourbon, Duc d’Enghien, a 21-year-old, untried general who was also a cousin of the new king.  He marched his 16,000-17,000 infantry, 6000-7000 cavalry, along with 12 artillery pieces rapidly toward war.  The French found the road to Rocroi unguarded.  Once there, d’Enghien drew his army up on the ridge facing the rear of the Spanish force.  Seeing the French arrayed against him, de Melo reordered his forces on a facing ridge next to the fortress.  In between the two armies was a stream with extensive marshy areas.  

At about dawn on May 19th d’Enghien ordered the first moves.  The French infantry was repulsed.  The Germans and Croats under the Españoles moved to attack the left flank of the French center.  However, the French reserve moved up from the rear and blocked the advance of the Imperialist cavalry.  Falling prey to the French cavalry attack, the Spanish controlled German, Italian, and Walloon infantry collapsed and were chased from the field.  At the same time, the French infantry reserve managed to break the assault of the German cavalry on the French left, forcing the Germans from the battlefield.  The Spanish force was then reduced to the Spanish tercios.  Next, D’Enghien ordered his cavalry to attack the Spanish line.  At this point the remaining Spanish artillery was out of ammunition.  

De Melo surrendered his Spanish forces in order to save them from total destruction.  The battle of Rocroi had ended.  The defeated De Melo left the field with flags flying and his weapons.  The Españoles then marched across the border to the Netherlands.  Casualties for this battle were fairly heavy.  The Spanish lost 7000 dead and wounded, as well as 8000 captured.  The French suffered some 4000 dead and wounded.  Even after the Spanish defeat at Rocroi, España still remained a strong military opponent of the French.  

Unfortunately, shortly after Rocroi, Felipe was forced to dismiss his favorite Olivares.  Olivares had become the victim of failed policies and jealousy from the nobles amidst the crisis of 1640 C.E.-1643 C.E.  In 1643 C.E., he had to be excluded from power.  Supposedly, Felipe IV was shaken by events when he removed his royal favorite Olivares from office and attempted to compromise with the Spanish elite.  

Felipe IV initially announced that he would rule alone, becoming, in effect, his own first minister.  He rejected both the concept of a royal favorite as first minister and the system of junta government.  Felipe began to dismantle the Junta System of government in favor of the older Council System.  After his showing clemency to the Duque of Medina Sidonia, the situation began to stabilize.  The King soon felt secure enough to revert to his preferred method of government by placing Luís Méndez de Haro, Olivares' nephew, and a childhood playmate of Felipe's as favorite and minister and the counter-reform of the juntas halted.  However, the spark of reform from Felipe's earlier years never returned.  Here it must be said that de Haro has not been treated kindly by historians.  One comment suggests that de Haro was the “embodiment of mediocrity.”  However, given the times and existing conditions few could have been completely successful at governing.  

All the while, the Catalonian rebellion had dragged on.  It had begun in 1640 C.E. and would not end until 1659 C.E.  The Guerra dels Segadors or Catalan Revolt, which means "Reapers' War" in English, affected a large part of the Principality of Cataluña.  The uprising had its roots in the presence of Castilian troops during the Franco-Spanish War between the Kingdom of France and the Monarchy of España.  Catalan society was also unhappy with the efforts of Felipe IV who was attempting to distribute more evenly the huge economic and military burden of el Imperio Español, until then supported mainly by the Crown of Castilla.  It also had an enduring effect in the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659 C.E.).  The Treaty ceded the County of Roussillon and the northern half of the County of Cerdanya to France, separating these northern Catalan territories from the Principality of Cataluña and the Crown of Aragón.  This act moved the borders of España to the Pyrenees.  

Felipe IV's government had pursued a “Netherlands first” strategy throughout the war until 1643 C.E.  Early on he had noted that his having inherited such a large empire, war somewhere across his domains was an inevitable condition.  Despite this view, he was genuinely upset when he contemplated how much the people of Castilla had paid “in blood” to support the wars of his royal predecessors.  Unfortunately, under the current circumstances Felipe was forced to react to the increased French threat and abandon his “Netherlands first” strategy.  Resources for the Army of Flanders were then deeply cut and the fight against the French-supported rebels Cataluña were made the first priority.  

It was then, that he issued instructions to his ambassadors to seek a peace treaty.  That Peace of Westphalia was delivered by Olivares' replacement, Luís Méndez de Haro.  It resolved the long running Eighty Years' War in the Netherlands and the wars in Germany.  Also called the Dutch War of Independence (1568 C.E.-1648 C.E.), it was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces against the political and religious hegemony of Felipe II of España, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands.  After the initial stages, Felipe II deployed his armies and regained control over most of the rebelling provinces.  However, under the leadership of the exiled William the Silent, the Northern Provinces continued their resistance.  They were eventually able to oust the Habsburg armies, and in 1581 C.E. and established the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.  The war continued in other areas, although the heartland of the republic was no longer threatened.  After a 12-year truce, hostilities broke out again around 1619 C.E. which can be said to coincide with the Thirty Years' War.  An end was reached in 1648 C.E. with the Peace of Münster (a treaty part of the Peace of Westphalia), when the Dutch Republic was recognised as an independent country.  However, the conflict with France dragged on.  

It is clear that with the defeat of one of España's best armies at Rocroi northern France ended the myth of Spanish military invincibility.  However, this was not the only factor which led a confused Spanish Court and its nobles to conspire with Felipe IV’s wife, Elisabeth in the removal of Olivares.  There were many others failures.  Elisabeth held considerable influence over Felipe during this brief period.  By the time of her death, maneuvering by Olivares' successor, Luís Méndez de Haro removed her from royal favor.  Felipe IV would remarry in that same year, following the death of Elisabeth.  Felipe’s choice of his second wife was María Anna, also known as Maríana.  She was Felipe's niece and the daughter of the Emperor Ferdinand.  The selection was guided by politics and Felipe's desire to strengthen the relationship with Habsburg Austria.  

Felipe IV had seven children by Elisabeth, but only one son, Balthasár Carlos.  Unfortunately, he died at the age of sixteen in 1646 C.E.  The loss of his son shocked and saddened the King.  Despite this, he remained steady at the helm of state.  

It has been noted that some of Felipe IV’s conclusions on naval policy were quite advanced.  For example after the peace of 1648 C.E., Felipe argued that the Dutch fleets off the Iberian Peninsula were actually good for trade since they provided protection against the English and French navies.  He stated this despite the concerns of his senior officials.  That same year, de Haro was personally involved in supplying and equipping the Atlantic fleet from Cádiz.  Throughout the period there was no weakening of the importance attached to naval forces by Felipe IV.  He even argued that joint land and naval operations were essential to military success, advanced thing for that time.  

Felipe IV was weary of France.  During the Fronde Rebellions of 1648 C.E. and 1653 C.E., he responded to her perceived weakness by continued fighting.  The Fronde rebellions were series of civil wars in France.  These occurred in the midst of the Franco-Spanish War, which had begun in 1635 C.E.  The obstinate French king confronted the combined opposition of the princes, the nobility, the law courts (parliaments), and most of the French people.  Yet, he prevailed in the rebellion.  

In the decade of 1650 C.E.-1659 C.E., Maríana bore Felipe IV five children, but only two survived to adulthood.  His daughter, Margarita Teresa, was born in 1651 C.E.  

The Spanish economy of Felipe IV and later Carlos II would remain depressed from 1650 C.E. through 1700 C.E.  The nation experienced low productivity, famines, and epidemics.  During the period, España's economy, especially that of Castilla, crumbled.  

By 1651 C.E., Felipe IV took upon himself the personal responsibility for the decision to start a fresh offensive against the French in Cataluña.  He would ultimately be successful.  This was a victory over France from which she never emerged.
In 1652 C.E., the Spanish army had retaken Barcelona.  A magnanimous Felipe IV issued an amnesty for the rebels, promising to respect traditional customs and rights in the future.

By 1658 C.E., after the loss of Dunkirk to an Anglo-French force, Felipe IV was desperate for peace.  That next year, the Treaty of the Pyrenees and the marriage of Felipe's daughter, María Theresa to the young King Louis XIV of France finally brought his long running European wars to an end.  

The decade of 1660 C.E.-1669 C.E was to see Maríana of Austria bare Felipe IV, the future Carlos II or Charles II (November 6, 1661 C.E.-November 1, 1700 C.E.) of España.  He was born a sickly child at Madrid.  Unfortunately, by the time of Carlos II's birth there had been many generations of inbreeding within the Spanish royal house; his physical and mental disabilities are widely attributed to this inbreeding.  The practice of first-cousin and uncle-niece marriages was common among 17th-Century C.E. European nobility, intended to preserve prosperous families' properties.  The Habsburgs were an extreme case of this; they had won their extensive holdings mostly through marriages and were determined to keep others from turning the tables on them.  Carlos II's own immediate pedigree was almost exclusively populated with close relative relationships: Carlos II's mother, Maríana of Austria, herself a Habsburg, was a niece of his father, Felipe IV.  Maríana was a daughter of Empress María Anna of España (1606 C.E.-1646 C.E.) and Emperor Ferdinand III.  Thus, Maríana was simultaneously his aunt and grandmother while Margaret of Austria, Maríana's mother, was both his grandmother and great-grandmother.  The inbreeding was so widespread in his case that all of his eight great-grandparents were descendants of Joanna and Felipe I of Castilla.  This inbreeding had given many in the family hereditary weaknesses.  That Habsburg generation was more prone to still-births than were peasants in Spanish villages.  

There was also mental illness in Carlos II's family.  Queen Joanna was his great-great-great or-great-great-grandmother, depending along which lineage one counts, she became insane early in life and was known as "Joanna the Mad."  

All his life, Carlos was considered in frequent danger of dying.  By the time of Felipe's death, Carlos II was his only surviving legitimate son and heir.  This made the royal line of inheritance potentially uncertain.  In the end, España would see Carlos as its last Habsburg ruler.  

After de Haro's death in 1661 C.E., Olivares' son-in-law, Ramiro Núñez de Guzmán the Duque of Medina de las Torres, became royal favorite of Felipe IV in his place.  

Image result of 1665 c.e. pictures of the empire of spainB
By 1665 C.E., midway through the decade, el Imperio Español had reached approximately 12.2 million square kilometers (4.7 million square miles) in area, large by anyone’s standards.  The sun did not set on the Spanish Empire. However on the eve of
Felipe IV’s death, in other important respects España was in decline.  Felipe had contributed many weaknesses to her with his inability to achieve successful domestic and military reforms.  

How Felipe IV's personality contributed to this decline has also been an issue which historians have debated.  However, negative perceptions by historians on the point of Felipe IV's personality have changed considerably over time.  Some portrayed him as weak, excessively delegating to his ministers, and ruling over a debauched Baroque court.  Historians even attributed the early death of Balthasár to debauchery, encouraged by the gentlemen entrusted by the king with his education.  The doctors who treated the Prince at that time in fact diagnosed smallpox, although modern scholars attribute his death to appendicitis.  Others feel that Felipe IV possessed more mental and physical strengths than did his diffident father.  

Felipe IV was also idealized by his contemporaries as the model of Baroque kingship.  He was said to have maintained a bearing of seriousness and dignity.  Foreign visitors described him as being so expressionless in public that he resembled a statue.  In the course of his entire public life only he was only seen to laugh three times.  Felipe was said to have a strong sense of “royal dignity” which would be an important political tool he used throughout his reign.  The King was a fine horseman, a keen hunter, and devotee of bull fighting.  These were all central parts of royal public life during the period.  He also enjoyed the theatre, was academically competent, had a good grasp of Latin and geography, and could speak French, Portugués, and Italian.  His handwritten translation of Francesco Guicciardini's texts on political history still exists.  Contemporary descriptions of Felipe's key weakness are that the King doubted himself and that his Catholic beliefs were unduly pious in his personal life.  Taken in their totality, his personal traits and capabilities suggest a ruler of some depth and strength.  

Carlos II was only three years old when his father, Felipe IV, died on September 17, 1665 C.E.  The Council of Castilla, as the Regency Council, appointed Felipe IV's second wife and Carlos II’s mother, Maríana of Austria, regents for the child king until his reaching majority.  As regent, Maríana managed the Empire's affairs through a series of “validos” or favorites.  The abilities and experience of many of these amounted to no more than meeting her fancy.  Her validos included her confessor, Juan Everardo Nithard, whom she made Grand Inquisitor in 1666 C.E.  She also gave him access to the Regency Council, from which he became the most important person of the Corte real española or Spanish Royal Court.  From then on, Nithard was the de facto prime minister or valido of España.  Unfortunately, the enormous size and geographic extent of el Imperio Español of the time made this form of governance increasingly damaging to the Realm's affairs.  

On a lighter note, the city of Charleroi in Belgium was named after Carlos II.  It was founded in 1666 C.E. during his reign as Count of Namur or generally sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands.  The Caroline Islands were also named for him by Francisco Lazcano.  

Following his father’s death, the years of Carlos II’s reign were difficult for España.  Here, it must be stated that Carlos did not inherit an insignificant kingdom.  It was instead a world-wide empire which covered huge areas of land and oceans.  The lands and oceans were inhabited by many peoples, cultures, and religions.  Each had its own problems and opportunities.  Carlos II’s realm included Southern Netherlands and España's overseas empire, stretching from the Américas to the Spanish East Indies.


During Carlos II’s reign, Spanish power and prestige would begin declining at an accelerated rate.  However, in all fairness to the new king that decline had started during the last years of Count-Duque de Olivares' prime ministership in the 1640s C.E.  It should be noted that the Spanish economy continued to stagnate and España’s finances had been, and continued to be, in perpetually in crisis.  As a result, there was hunger and the people were growing more discontented by the day.  In addition, the power of the monarchy over the various Spanish provinces remained weak.  

Because of the many challenges which España faced, Carlos II’s extensive emotional, intellectual, and physical disabilities left him viewed by España’s powerful as unfit for rule.  These also raised concerns among the elite and the lower classes of the Spanish people.  Because of these many deficits, Carlos was seen as "el Hechizado or the Bewitched," a definite impediment to his success as king in a century where superstition was such a potent force.  To make matters worse, he was often ignored.  As a result, accessing and the wielding of power during his reign became the subject of court intrigues and foreign influence, particularly by the French and Austrians.  

Carlos II also inherited the Portugués Restoration War.  This was the war between Portugal and España that began with the Portugués Revolution of 1640 C.E.  It would end with the Treaty of Lisboa in 1668 C.E.  The revolution of 1640 C.E. and its aftermath ended 60 years rule by the Spanish Habsburgs over Portugal.  This period was marked by periodic skirmishes between Portugal and España, as well as short episodes of more serious warfare.  To be sure, much of the warfare was brought about by Spanish and Portugués entanglements with the non-Iberian powers of Europe.  

Soon after Carlos II’s accession, España was plunged into the War of Devolution (1667 C.E.-1668 C.E.).  This war was between France and España.  Louis XIV of France had married María Theresa, daughter of Felipe IV of España.  As her marriage dowry remained unpaid, Louis seized upon this to claim the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) as his wife’s inheritance rather than payment of her dowry.  The war saw Louis XIV's French armies overrun the Habsburg-controlled Spanish Netherlands and the Franche-Comté.  However, it would later be forced by a Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic to return most of it in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.  It should be noted that this loss to France of some territories in the Spanish Netherlands, Spanish territory diminished.  It was Juan Everardo Nithard who signed the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668 C.E.) which finally ended the War of Devolution.  

During these same years, España would reach one of its low points.  There was famine, nearly 1.25 million deaths resulted from plagues, natural disasters occurred, there was economic chaos, and 300,000 Moriscos (Islamists) were expelled.  Because of rebellion, España had finally outlawed the open practice of Islam by its sizeable Mudejar population in the early-16th-Century C.E.  The Moriscos were former Islamists who converted or were coerced into converting to Christianity.  Also, emigration to the Nuevo Mundo had increased.  As a result, the population of España had decreased by nearly two million people during the 17th-Century C.E.  

Given all of the aforementioned issues and problems, Juan Everardo Nithard became the most important person of the Corte Real Española by 1668 C.E.  He desperately attempted to reduce España's military commitments at almost any price.  To end the Portugués Restoration War, he accepted the loss of the Crown of Portugal and formally recognized the sovereignty of the House of Braganza via the Treaty of Lisboa.  While the treaty ceded the North African enclave of Ceuta to España, it marked the loss of Portugal and the Portugués colonies.  

Given the discontent in the land and what many saw as failure after failure, the members of the Councils started intriguing to overthrow the queen regent’s favorite, Nithard.  The Councils were joined by Carlos II's illegitimate half-brother, the popular military commander Juan José de Austria.  A military revolt at Aragón and Cataluña was soon led by Juan José in February of 1669 C.E.  He would later proceed to march on Madrid, bringing about Nithard's dismissal.  

The son of King Felipe IV of España and María Calderón, a celebrated actress, Don Juan José de Austria was the most famous of Felipe IV’s illegitimate children.  Don Juan was born on April 7, 1629 C.E., at Madrid, España.  A Spanish nobleman, he received a princely education and a large income.  Don Juan obtained his first military command in 1647 C.E., when he was sent to the Spanish-ruled kingdom of Nápoles to crush a popular uprising.  By 1651 C.E., he led the royal forces besieging Barcelona, the capital of the rebellious province of Cataluña.  Don Juan negotiated the terms for its surrender on October 1652 C.E.  

From1656 C.E. to 1658 C.E., as governor of the Netherlands, Don Juan José enjoyed varying success as a military commander.  He was recalled to campaign against the rebellious Portugués, where he was initially victorious.  However, he was ultimately defeated at Amexial, Portugal on June 8, 1663 C.E. and relieved of his command.  His intimation of his ambition to succeed his father was offensive and scandalized the king.  By the time of Felipe’s death in September of 1665 C.E., Don Juan was out of favor.  After 1665 C.E., he played an active part in the political intrigues surrounding the new king, his half brother Carlos II.  Yet he would serve as Carlos' chief minister (1677 C.E.-1679 C.E.).

The decade of 1670 C.E.-1679 C.E., brought with it more problems.  From 1671 C.E., the queen-regent's then favorite was Fernando de Valènzuela.  It took four long years, but by 1675 C.E., a court intrigue conducted by Valènzuela's rivals and supported by Juan José succeeded in driving Valènzuela from court.  Also in 1675 C.E., Carlos II reached the age of 14, the age when he was legally entitled to rule without a regent.  However, on the basis of Carlos II's illnesses and disabilities, Maríana decided to continue the regency.  

Unfortunately, España's economy was crumbling partially due to outbreaks of plague and the huge casualties caused by almost continuous warfare during 1676 C.E.-1685 C.E.  

Valènzuela once again returned to court in 1677 C.E., when the queen-regent appointed him prime minister.  She also conferred a Grandeeship on him, which provoked anger among the other Grandes.  One year later in January 1678 C.E., a palace coup was orchestrated against the queen-regent.  Once complete, Don Juan José established himself as prime minister.  Maríana was then driven from Madrid and Valènzuela exiled.  

By the Treaties of Nijmegen, in 1678 C.E., the Franco-Dutch War (1672 C.E.-1678 C.E.) was brought to an end.  It’s often called simply the Dutch War.  The war was fought by France, Sweden, Münster, Cologne, and England against the Dutch Republic, which was later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg-Prussia, and España forming a Quadruple Alliance.  The war ended with España ceding the Franche-Comté (the Imperial County of Burgundy) and some cities in Flanders and Hainaut.  This included the town of Saint-Omer with the remaining northwestern part of the former Imperial County of Artois, the lands of Cassel, Aire and Ypres in southwestern Flanders, the Bishopric of Cambrai, as well as the towns of Valenciennes and Maubeugein the southern County of Hainaut, to France.  France ceded Maastricht and Principality of Orange to the Dutch Republic.  

Great hopes had been entertained for Don Juan José’s administration.  It was imperative for Carlos II to produce an heir as early as possible.  The capable Don Juan arranged to find a suitable wife for him in the person of Marie Louise of Orléans.  A proxy marriage ceremony took place in Paris on August 30, 1679 C.E.  On November 19, 1679 C.E., at the age of 18, Carlos II married 17-year-old Marie Louise in person at España.  

Don Juan José’s administration would ultimately prove to be disappointing and short.  Juan José died on September 17, 1679 C.E., and the queen-regent returned to court.  However, by that time the major influence over the affairs of España were to be the king's two consecutive wives, in particular the second one, the forceful Maríana of Neuburg.  

The following decade, 1680 C.E.-1689 C.E. saw España led by nobles who were incompetent and self-serving.  There were a few good men such as Manuel Joaquín Álvarez de Toledo y Portugal, the Conde de Oropesa.  He was the son of Fernando Duarte Álvarez de Toledo Portugal and Ana Mónica de Zúñiga Modica y Córdoba, who inherited the titles of VIII Conde of Oropesa, VII Conde of Alcaudete, Conde de Belvis, 7th Conde de Deleitosa, V Marqués de Frechilla y Villarramiel, III Marqués of Villar de Grajanejos and IV Marqués de Jarandilla, Grande of España and Portugal.  

In 1644 C.E., he married Ysabel Pachéco Velasco, a sister who was made the III Condesa of Puebla de Montalbán in 1650 C.E.  She had two children: Vicente Pedro Álvarez de Toledo Portugal, who was the IX Conde de Oropesa and Ana María Álvarez de Toledo Portugal, 11th Condesa of Oropesa.  

Don Juan José de Austria, son of King Felipe IV and valid of King Carlos II had been opposed to Manuel Joaquín.  His candidacy as Virrey of Aragón proposed by the Council of Aragón was twice defeated.  After the death of Juan José de Austria and during the period in which the Duque of Medinaceli replaced him, Manuel Joaquín reached the Presidency of the Council of Castilla in 1684 C.E.  He received the full confidence of the Queen María Luisa de Orléans (1662 C.E.-1689 C.E.).  By 1685 C.E., Manuel Joaquín became valido or favorite of King Carlos II and it was proposed that he resolve the problems with España’s disastrous finances with measures which in modern terms referred to as a plan of stabilization via devaluation and cost-cutting.  He was opposed in this effort by aristocratic supporters of Cardinal Luís Manuel Fernández de Portocarrero y de Guzmán, born on January 8, 1635 C.E. and died Palma del Río on September 14, 1709 C.E., at Toledo, España and the Duque of Arcos.  

Cardinal Portocarrero was a Spanish prelate, who was Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo.  He was the youngest son of Luís Andrés, the 1st Marqués of Almenara, given title on July 11, 1623 C.E. and 3rd Conde of Palma del Río, given title on November 22, 1507 C.E.  He became dean of Toledo early, and was made cardinal on August 5, 1669 C.E.  

Till 1677 C.E., Portocarrero lived at Rome as cardinal protector of the Spanish nation.  By 1677 C.E., the Cardinal was appointed interim virrey of Sicily, Counsellor of State and Archbishop of Toledo.  Luís Manuel ceased to be virrey of Sicily in 1678 C.E.  As Archbishop of Toledo, he protected the clergy from the obligation to pay the excises or Octroi duties known as "the millions."  This was a local tax collected on various articles brought into a district for consumption.  Octroi taxes have a respectable antiquity, being known in Roman times as vectigalia.  This act perpetuated the financial embarrassment of the government.  

His position, rather than personal qualities enabled him to play an important role in a great crisis of European politics.  As King Carlos II was childless, the disposal of his inheritance became a question of great interest to the European powers.  Portocarrero was induced to become a supporter of the French party.  This party desired that the Corona Española should be left to one of Louis XIV’s family members, and not to a member of the of Habsburg family.  It has been reported that the great authority of Portocarrero as Cardinal and Primate of España was used to persuade or terrify the unhappy king into making a will which was in favor of the Duke of Anjou, Philip V.  

He would later act as regent till the new king reached España and hoped for power under his rule.  The new Borbón king's French advisers were aware that España required thorough financial and administrative reform.  Portocarrero could not understand or have the knowledge to recognize the necessity.  He was said to be incapable, obstinate, and selfish.  The new rulers soon realized that Portocarrero must be removed from office.  He was ordered to return to his diocese.  When in 1706 C.E. the Austrian party appeared likely to gain the upper hand, Portocarrero was led by spite and vexation to go over to them.  When fortune changed, he returned to his allegiance to Philip V.  As the Borbón government was unwilling to offend the Church, Portocarrero escaped banishment.  He died in September of 1709 C.E.  

Manuel Joaquín managed, despite ruinous deflation, to stabilize the currency.  As a result, España was finally able to restore Spanish coinage in 1680 C.E., though not before the government had caused another catastrophic deflation.  

During the period, there were those who attempted to weaken the power of the Inquisition.  Despite this, in 1680 C.E., Carlos II presided over the greatest auto-da-fé in the history of the Spanish Inquisition.  120 prisoners were forced to participate, of whom, 21 were later burned at the stake.  A large, richly adorned book was published celebrating the event.  Unfortunately, the Inquisition would not be abolished until 1808 C.E.  

By November 1683 C.E., Louis XIV of France again attacked the Spanish Netherlands in the War of the Reunions (1683 C.E.-1684 C.E.).  Though brief, the war was devastating on Spanish forces and ended in August 15, 1684 C.E. with the Truce of Ratisbon, or Truce of Regensburg.  The Truce was signed at the Dominican convent at Ratisbon in Bavaria between Louis XIV of France on one side and the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, and the Spanish King, Carlos II, on the other.  The final agreements allowed King Louis to retain Strasbourg, Luxembourg, and other Reunion gains.  Kortrijk and Diksmuide, both now in modern-day Belgium, were returned to España.  It was not, however, a definitive peace, but only a truce of twenty years.  Of great importance, the Truce enabled the Holy Roman Emperor to concentrate on the attacks from the Ottoman Empire in the east in the Great Turkish War.  

Why is the Turkish War important?  The Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire, Ottoman Turkey or Turkey, was founded in 1299 C.E. by Oghuz Turks under Osman I in northwestern Anatolia.  It was a continuation of Islam’s crusades to the the world.  After conquests in the Balkans by Murad I between 1362 C.E. and 1389 C.E., the Ottoman sultanate was transformed into a transcontinental empire and claimant to the caliphate.  The Ottoman’s Mehmed the Conqueror ended the Byzantine Empire in 1453 C.E. with the conquest of Constantinople.  This conquest confirmed the great threat that Islam was for the West.  

Under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent during the 16th and 17th centuries C.E., the Ottoman Empire was at the height of its power.  It had become a multinational, multilingual empire controlling much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.  By its expansionist aggressiveness, the Christian powers had come to recognize that the Ottoman Empire would constantly seek advantages and opportunities for invasion of Europe and elsewhere to spread Islam’s religion and culture.  

By the beginning of the 17th-Century C.E., the Islamic Empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states.  Some were later absorbed into the Ottoman Empire.  Others were granted various types of autonomy during the course of centuries.  Some of those originally non-Arab, non-Muslim formerly Christian and non-Christian countries invaded and subjugated under the Ottoman Empire were: Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Bosnia, Herzegovinia, Serbia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Syria, and Italian North Africa.  

Additional modern-day countries of which some of their territory was controlled by the Ottoman Empire were: Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Morocco.  Modern-day countries of which all of their territory (except sparsely populated regions) was controlled by the Ottoman Empire at some point: Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Malta, and Israel.  

Rome and its Pope saw this empire as well-structured, effective, and a viable competitor for world domination.  The Papacy sought España’s military might to remove the Islamic chokehold on Western and Eastern Europe.  However, European powers were far more concerned with dominating other Christian nations rather than defeating the aggressive Islamic threat presented by the Ottomans.  This was so, to the extent that France, a Christian nation, sold military equipment to the Ottomans for use in war against fellow Christian nations.  

For six centuries the Ottoman Empire would remain at the center of relations between the Eastern and Western worlds.  From its capital Constantinople it held control of the lands around the Mediterranean basin.  Quite simply, it had to be checked if not defeated.  Following a long period of military setbacks against the Christian European powers, the Ottoman Empire would gradually decline by the late-19th-Century C.E.  

In 1688 C.E., once again France attacked the Spanish Netherlands at the start of the Nine Years' War.  It would end with the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 C.E.  The Españoles would recover Cataluña, and the barrier fortresses of Mons, Luxembourg, and Kortrijk, territories occupied by France since the start of hostilities.  

By February 1689 C.E., Marie Louise of Orléans, the king's first wife, suddenly fell gravely ill and died.  Her death has been attributed to one or more suspected causes.  Three of which were injuries sustained while horseback riding, an appendicitis, and a deliberate assassination by poisoning.  It has been suggested that that the poisoning was orchestrated by her mother-in-law, allegedly in response to the couple's continuing failure to produce an heir.  

In August of 1689 C.E., Mariana de Neoburgo or Maríana of Neuburg became the second wife of Carlos II via marriage by proxy.  Later in 1690 C.E., they would celebrate marriage in person.  The marriage though brief, lasted until his death ten years later.  Maríana's influence was to significantly and destructively impact the Spanish Court.  Unfortunately for the king, this marriage was just as the first, it produced no pregnancies or heirs.  

Over time, the navies of many nations in Europe had gradually expanded.  They were being built to control the seas of the Viejo Mundo and the Nuevo Mundo.  Given the vast distances of travel across the oceans to obtain gold and silver from Nuevo Mundo possessions, a struggle for naval supremacy of the seas began.  The inevitable result was the rise of Naval Powers Britain, France (Mediterranean, Atlantic), Holland (Declining in late-17th- Century C.E.), España, Portugal, Scandinavia (declined after Great Northern War), and Russia (Peter I, Baltic, Black Sea).  

European navies in the 1680s C.E. were little different from the armies.  Marineros or sailors worked hard and were well-trained.  Marineros, such as Salvadór Matías de Ribera, my progenitor, fought on these moving battlements in the middle of raging seas.  These men were expected to die well for their king and queen.  Once navies were enlarged and better managed the act of colonial war became more frequent.  Colonial wars could be the only outcome.  

Naval regularization was a natural order of affairs.  For example, ships used only sails.  Over time, gunnery and specific warship types became the norm.  Naval tactics became more complex and effective during the age of fighting sail for both ships of the line and frigates.  Navies employed linear formal tactics and parallel engagement of opposing navies.  Using sail power, navies first perfected broadsides and boarding which was a very complicated tactic.  Melee tactics were introduced such as perpendicular engagement of opposing navies and breaking up the opposing line.  Broadsides remained decisive tactics and boarding continued to be used, although very complicated.  The British in particular continued its heavy use.  Navy gunnery tactics were well-studied.  Each European navy had its preference.  French gunners aimed for the masts while English gunners aimed for the hulls.  

Later, navies became large and consisted of both regular and privateer fleets necessitating impressments.  Their marineros varied in origins some were merchantmen; others were privateers and pirates.  It is true that many were impressed and that a very few were volunteers.  Therefore, brutal shipboard discipline was necessary to control crews.  It was harshly maintained by officers and marines.  Privateers were eventually replaced with regular crews, although there still remained some volunteers and privateers.  In time, recruitment and training for pirates was begun.  

With improvements in ships came complexity.  Naval officers, out of need became more technical.  An Almirante or Admiral was second in charge of the Spanish fleet, and senior officer on board.  Capitán de Mar y Guerra or Captain was in nominal command of the vessel, although most of the seamanship activities were left in the hands of the Piloto and Contramestre.  Piloto or Pilot was in charge of navigation, and was an experienced seaman.  Companero de Pilot or Assistant Pilot, assisted the pilot, and acted as an apprentice navigator.  The Contramaestre or Boatswain was the main seaman on board.  He was in charge of all aspects of sailing and seamanship.  Guardian or Boatswain's Mate acted as the assistant to the Contramaestre and was a competent and experienced seaman in his own right.  

There was an Alférez or Infantry Lieutenant/Ensign on board.  He commanded the infantry company on board under the captain and took charge of them when in action.  The Codestable or Master Gunner, oversaw all aspects of gunnery on board, and was in charge with the safe stowage of powder and shot.  Armero or Armorer assisted the Codestable and also was charged with stowing and repairing all small arms carried on board.  Artilleros or Gunners these Gun Captains would be assisted by marineros during battle.  The Maestre de Plata or Master of the silver was responsible to oversee the silver bullion carried on board, and to record loading and unloading of the silver cargo, to organize the stowage of cargo, and to supervise the running of the vessel.  The Escribano or Notary/Surveyor assisted the Maestre de Plata in recording the loading and unloading of cargo.  He was also responsible for keeping the ship's records.  Dispensero or Purser, controlled all foodstuffs and water on board, and rationed them when stocks were low.  Marieneros or Seaman, included coopers, caulkers, carpenters, a surgeon, a steward, a diver, a trumpeter and experienced seaman.  The Grumetes or Apprentice Seaman, were typically the inexperienced Seaman aboard, and most often teenagers.

Travel and work on ships was very difficult.  Shipboard quarters were cramped due to room being of a premium.  Voyages often by necessity were long and difficult.  Therefore, the ship’s Company had to be more egalitarian.  Disease always remained problem for ships and all the navies of the day.  In fact, scurvy and other contagious diseases caused navies to implement quarantines.  

The Anglo-American culture and its “Anglophile” cinema being what it is, the British navy has always been pictured as technically excellent, her crews brave and honorable.  Little has been said of the Armada Española or Spanish Navy and its capabilities and ethics.  What have been depicted are crude and rude officers and marieneros, and all other Españoles being inept and/or cowardly.  Therefore, it should be noted here that the Armada Española is one of the oldest and finest active naval forces in the world.  The Armada was responsible for a number of major historic achievements in navigation, the most famous being the voyages of Cristóbal Colón and the first global circumnavigation by Magellan and Elcano.  For several centuries, it played a crucial logistical role in el Imperio Español and defended a vast trade network across the Atlantic Ocean between the Américas and Europe and across the Pacific Ocean between Asia and the Américas.  These factors I’m positive have been lost on the Hollywood elite while they continue their smearing campaigns.  

España’s Américas had the most powerful maritime force in the world in the 16th and early-17th Centuries C.E.  At the time, España possessed the world's third largest navy.  By the in the 18th-Century C.E., the Borbón dynasty reformed and improved its logistical and military capacity.  During the 19th-Century C.E., the Españoles built and operated the first fully-capable military submarine, made important contributions in the development of destroyer warships, and achieved the first global circumnavigation by an ironclad vessel.  These positive attributes have been purposefully lost by anti-Spanish Anglo-American and British writers.  

By the decade of 1690 C.E.-1699 C.E., España had still learned very little about religious freedom.  Thank goodness its last public auto-da-fé or auto-de-fé took place in 1691 C.E.  It was the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates.  These took place when the Spanish Inquisition, Portugués Inquisition or the Méjicano Inquisition decided the punishment for heretics.  It was followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed.  

Carlos II’s mother, Maríana of Austria, died on May 16, 1696 C.E.  Carlos was soon to follow.  Historians have described Carlos II as short, lame, epileptic, senile, and completely bald before the age of 35.  He had always been on the verge of death, but repeatedly surprised the world by continuing to survive.  As Carlos' fragile health deteriorated, he had become increasingly hypersensitive and strange.  At one point, he demanded that the bodies of his family be exhumed so he could look upon the corpses.  

Soon, he was officially retired when he suffered a nervous breakdown.  It has been suggested that this was caused by the great pressure he was experiencing while attempting to pull España out of the economic difficulties it was undergoing.  He would live a simple life from then on, playing games and other activities.  

Carlos II had ruled without a regent until his death at Madrid on November 1, 1700 C.E., five days before his 39th birthday.  The physician responsible for his autopsy supposedly stated that his body "did not contain a single drop of blood; his heart was the size of a peppercorn; his lungs corroded; his intestines rotten and gangrenous; he had a single testicle, black as coal, and his head was full of water."  By the description, one would think that the King was not greatly loved by his physician subject.  

He died childless with no heirs.  It had been Maríana's intention that Carlos II would be succeeded by his young nephew, Joséph Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias.  Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly in 1699 C.E.  All potential Habsburg successors had predeceased Carlos in death.  With his death, the Habsburg dynasty came to an end in España.  In his will, Carlos II named as his successor his 16-year-old grand-nephew, Felipe, Duque of Anjou, grandson of Carlos II's half-sister María Theresa of España, the first wife of Louis XIV (Grandson of the reigning French king Louis XIV).  Because the other European powers viewed the prospective dynastic relationship between France and España as disturbing the balance of power in Europe, the War of the Spanish Succession ensued shortly after his death.  

At this juncture, I must offer an explanation of the aforementioned emphasis on Viejo Mundo matters vs. the Nuevo Mundo.  Unfortunately, anti-Spanish writers have painted a very sketchy picture of España.  When focusing on the Spanish Nuevo Mundo they are stuck on the caricature rather than the reality.  Their headline approach to España almost always follows the same format: “Militarily superior, relatively capable New World Spanish Conquistadores destroy peaceful Native civilizations and illegally colonize their lands.”  Their purpose is to quickly and briefly establish a narrative.  This is either done in utter ignorance or with clear intent.  I think the latter.  That narrative is biased and emphasizes España’s incompetence and bloodthirsty nature rather than its true greatness and genius.  What one finds in the end is British, Northern European, Anglo-American, and anti-Spanish historians and commentators who have a vested interest in undermining España’s accomplishments.  Secondly, it presents her and her people as conquerors bent upon the destruction of everyone and everything which might thwart their illegitimate efforts.  This is done in contrast to their wonderful, caring, loving nations who brought only joy and happiness to the Nuevo Mundo and its Natives.  I think not!  

In short, España was a world-wide superpower.  As such, her interests by necessity were varied and complex.  As a Hapsburg family enterprise, she suffered from constant intricately difficult entanglements with competing European powers over control of that continent.  Her dominions and those of Europe had been under constant threat from the fanatical Islamist extremist Ottoman Turks.  Her economy was in a state of constant difficulty, performed poorly, and she could not pay her way financially.  As a result, the Spanish Nuevo Mundo took a back seat to more pressing world-wide problems.  That is not to say that she didn’t have a great interest in the rest of her empire, she did.  This is why España was creating a travel and communications infrastructure, an armada.  It was hoped the armada would establish a more efficient, effective, timely method for accessing her far-flung dominions.  

Now we can proceed.  

The decade of 1700 C.E.-1710 C.E. marked an interesting religious turning point in España.  Toward the end of his life, August 1700 C.E., in one of his few independent acts as king, Carlos II created a Junta Magna or Great Council to examine and investigate the Spanish Inquisition.  The Council's report was so damning of the Inquisition that the Inquisitor General convinced the decrepit monarch to "consign the 'terrible indictment' to the flames."  When Felipe V took the throne, he called for the report, but no copy could be found.
King Felipe V
(1700 C.E.-1746 C.E.) was to be the first Borbón king of España.  Coming to the throne in 1700 C.E., he reigned with one interruption until 1746 C.E.  He found the machinery of Spanish government decrepit and backwards, the result of the enervating policies of the last Hapsburg kings.  Because of this, the Borbón kings of España would attempt to infuse new vigor into the slow, large, and awkward Spanish apparatus of governance which operated across its far-flung empire during the 18th-Century C.E.  In the face of entrenched traditionalism, the first Borbón monarch, Felipe V, and his son Carlos III (1759 C.E.-1788 C.E.) repeatedly attempted to apply methods of governance based on French models inspired by Enlightenment ideals.  It has been said that because of the Borbón crown's efforts, España would again, although for only a short period, emerge as a world power of the first rank.

One can plainly see that España’s rise from a fledgling Iberian state to a world-wide empire was no easy matter.  From 1492 C.E., after the Iberian kingdoms of Castilla and Aragón defeated the last of the Moros at Granada, España was finally in complete control of her Peninsula.  From their 14 year consolidation of power on the Peninsula, through the almost 200 year empire building of the Habsburgs, España had become the most powerful empire in the world.  She held lands and oceans which spanned the globe.  Her many European wars in the Viejo Mundo, settlement of the Nuevo Mundo, constant exploration, and religious fervor had exhausted her people and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy.  She was now under the French Borbón Monarchy.  It was their wish to make her greater still.  España would do this in the face of continuous British hostility.  

We will now turn our focus to the 18th-Century C.E., and the Spanish soldados of North America, Nueva España, and Nuevo Méjico.  España’s attempts to evaluate, invigorate, and reinforce its military establishment along this exposed northern frontier of Nueva España have been discussed in numerous historical works.  It has been made abundantly clear that España had by necessity concentrated its efforts on Europe and its place in the power sphere of world shaping events.  España’s Nuevo Mundo had many challenges.  However, these challenges had been addressed as second tier political and military issues.  Emphasis had been on obtaining Nuevo Mundo resources (Gold and Silver) to support her Viejo Mundo goals and objectives.  

It was British hostility which made Spanish military reforms especially important to the Corona Española.  However, given her other world-wide commitments she was hard pressed not to spread Spanish forces too thinly.  Perhaps nowhere else was this dilemma more evident than in North America, where España concentrated its military force on the exposed islands and coastlines of the vital Caribbean basin.  As a result, fewer than 1,000 men defended Nueva España’s Provincias Internas, that 2,000-mile arc of territory from California to Louisiana.  

The first ten years of the 18th-Century C.E., saw the growth of the most important naval powers, France and England.  By then, naval services in the main were technical and difficult because men had to fight on moving vessels.  Additionally, many skills were needed for navies that were on the cutting edge of technology.  Both France and England were most eager to use their navies in any way possible to achieve their political aims.  One method was to intervene in conflicts and wars in the overseas colonies.  However, these needed pretexts for war.  The two nations were no strangers to creating reasons which would give them a justification for an appropriate course of action.  Obviously, these were not the real reasons.  

Political changes in the Spanish Monarchy and the ebbs and flows of the oligarchies would continue through this next one-hundred and fifty-years.  The politics and greed of the day would exacerbate the wars of the 18th-Century C.E.  Due to these many wars the world would see a decline of France as the major power in Europe.  It would also witness the rise of Prussia as a military power.  Russia also would grow to become a European power.  European maritime rivalry and the ascendancy of Britain as the major overseas and naval power would be the result of American colonization and rivalry.

The result of competing European colonization was global war.  On the European continent France had the Rhine; Prussia her Silesia, Russia and Austria had their expansionist objectives.  All Viejo Mundo powers recognized early on that expansion was the only avenue for domination.  Enhancement of the state became paramount.  All that was left was to determine the nature of warfare.  In order to achieve territorial expansion access to gold, silver, and other resources was needed.  European strategy for war was simple.  Kings had but one need and one need only, a great deal of gold and silver.  It was this need for gold, silver, and precious piedra s that led to colonial wars and the accompanying naval wars.  War aims were developed to ensure that this goal was achieved.  Obtaining land was the end result.  One first had to have the wealth and power to take it.  

Already, abroad in the Nuevo Mundo Britain, España, France, Holland, and Portugal vied for territory.  As the European armies moved quickly to take the Nuevo Mundo, their navies soon followed.  

Adding to this potent brew for the making war was commercial expansion.  This left the warring powers with the need capture the enemy's economy or society and to defeat it’s militarily without destroying possessions or rebuilding damaged infrastructure.  To ensure this, the prudent approach was to establish rules of war, much like enlightenment laws of nature being preached throughout the continent.  From these laws diplomacy and war became to be viewed as one.  All parties encouraged the development of a diplomatic system.  They established permanent corps of consuls and ambassadors.  Needed communications and an interchange and etiquette was established based upon a common language.  French the language of diplomacy was born.  The diplomats then took over from the warriors.  

The European powers were careful to follow social etiquette as it related to attracting young men from the proper backgrounds to populate their military officer corps.  To be sure, this was an outgrowth of nobility’s belief in noblesse d'épée, Service Nobility.  There were also the venal commissions purchased by a wealthy parent.  The military schools and cadet corps in Russia, France, Britain, etc. provided a well-disciplined and schooled officer.  The warrior elite would fight and die for the honor of their sovereigns.  These had a long tradition of serving their lords which had begun during the Dark Ages.  

Unlike the nobility, the life of the common soldier left a great deal to be desired.  Many were taken from the lower levels of European society where they had little control over their own lives.  The military was not interested in individual needs or freedoms.  A soldier's livelihood depended upon the Crown.  His clothing, weapons, food, and pay were provided by the state.  His life was one of a warrior wed to the whims of warring monarchs.  He lived or died depending on his nation's quest for wealth, power, and land.  

Recruitment of the common military man was a sordid affair.  It was a common practice for European armies to recruit mercenaries to fill the ranks of their armies.  The Albanians, Germans, Greeks, Irish, Scots, South Slavs, Swiss, and others were drawn to the soldier’s life.  In most cases the economic motives drove the mercenaries.  The result was a less than committed military man.  Capitulation during battles was commonplace.  The major difference with mercenary companies of the past was professionalism.  Impressments by governments were common.  Petty criminals and street people were handed over by courts.  These were sent to press gangs used by navies.  To be sure, volunteers did come forward, many hoping for a better life in the military.  Certain countries Prussia, Russia, Sweden, to name but a few, used conscription on a selective basis.  

Equipment standardization of musket, bayonet, etc. was necessary in an increasingly complex military environment.  Uniforms were regularized the British wore scarlet, the French white, Prussians black, and Russians green, the Españoles blue, etc.  Given this emphasis, manufacturing of military gear was a stimulus to the economy.  

For many, soldiering was long-term or lifetime service which resulted in few ties with society.  The armies of the day were separated from civilian society.  This was done to maintain their loyalty and aloofness.  This enforced separation would dramatically impact the cultural aspects of army life.  Armies developed their own society and subcultures which further separated them from civilians.  So strong was this influence that they soon had their own etiquette, customs, music, literature, song, etc.  In large measure, armies became a separate society.  Later, separation would be proscribed to prevent abuses of times past, such as, brigandage, extortion, etc.  

Armies were by then maintained in garrisons.  Fortress living was governed according to military law.  It should be noted here that the conditions of service were also difficult and there was a major problem of poor hygiene.  In the Spanish Nuevo Mundo guarniciónes had been in place for over one hundred years.  

Tactics and organization were a soldier’s lot in life.  Therefore, commanders had to use harsh discipline on their soldiers.  Drilling was constant to ensure consistency in line regiments.  The line infantry were well-trained in the use of muskets and bayonets.  This training helped ensure a rate of fire that reduced the enemy lines from six under Gustavus Adolphus, to four, to three, to finally two.  Unfortunately, casualties were high and generally unpredictable.  As a result, combat attrition had to be dealt with.  Troop maneuvers became the constant concern of men like Eugene of Savoy, Frederick of Prussia, Marlborough, Maurice of Saxe, and Turrenne.  The future exception would be in the colonial wars.  

The drill and cadenced step such as the Prussian goosestep were an attempt to ensure disciple in the ranks.  Volley fire and coordinated movement of the line, column, and the Hollow Square followed.  This is how generals would control their troops in the field.  To further control the field, the elite and Grenadier Infantry was born.  An example was the Pomeranian Grenadiers of Frederick Wilhelm of Germany.  These Grenadiers were the largest and toughest troops, able to hurl three pound grenades.  This made the guards regiments obsolete.  

The light infantry who began as irregulars were skirmishers, using only rifled muskets and no bayonet.  These included Grenzers (Austria), Albanians and Greeks (Naples), Scots Highlanders (England), Jägers (German states), and American Colonials (Rogers' Rangers).  England maintained a company in each foot regiment.  Other countries maintained larger units.  Later, the British followed suit.  

The Cavalry began as irregulars intermingled with Infantry.  European armies fielded many types of cavalry.  There were the Hussars, light armed with saber.  The Lancers and Cuirassers were used by the French and Poles.  

The Osprey Campaign books dealing with Napoleonic battles, two small books published back in the 1970s C.E. dealt specifically with French Napoleonic lancers.  One entitled, "French Lancers" by Nigel de Lee.  The passage deals with French lancers but it is not as if Napoleon invented this branch of the cavalry.  Some of their skills had to be basic to all lancers whether the lancers is Austrian, Prussian Uhlans, or Cuera.  

Regarding the Lance, it was made of ash and steel, measured nine feet in length, and weighed about four pounds.  The butt was tapered and sheathed in steel; when the lance was slung it rested in a ring on the right stirrup.  Behind the blade, a short shaft was situated and then a ball, intended to prevent the blade from penetrating too far.  Behind the ball stretched metal strips, designed to protect the shaft from sword cuts, and to secure the banderol, a triangular or swallow-tailed pennant which could be used in action to disconcert enemy horses.  At the balancing point the shaft was bound by a narrow leather strap; this provided a secure hand grip, and also secured the sling, a loop of leather some two feet long.  When the lance was being carried, the sling went over the right shoulder; when the Lancer was in action, he would have the sling wound tightly around his right wrist to bind it to his weapon.  

The lance required attention.  Metal parts were greased to protect against rust and the wood and leather kept clean.  The shaft was sometimes distorted by the action of wind on the banderol, and sometimes, it would break unexpectedly.  This was more than an inconvenient during the action.  

The lance was not an easy weapon to handle.  The length and weight made it awkward.  Contemporary authorities agree that the lance could only be useful in the hands of an intelligent, well-trained horseman.  He would need exceptionally strong arms and hands and a good sense of balance.  

Lancers were initially trained to handle their weapon in open order on foot.  Having become strong and dexterous enough to manipulate the lance safely with one hand, (the other being held as if gripping the reins of a horse), they went on to horse mounted training.  This entailed tilting at rings and targets placed on the ground, as well as, much practice of the basic movements.  The Lancer was trained to thrust or "point" in all directions.  

All movements were made from the basic "Guard" position, while the Nueva España Lancero or lancer sat on his saddle.  His left hand held the reins short, so as to direct the horse's head away from the spear.  The
lanza or lance was held in the right hand at the point of balance, the thumb on top, and the fingers encircling the shaft with the nails up.  The sling bound the shaft firmly to the wrist and the forearm clamped the shaft to the right side of the body, two inches below the breast.  

If the enemy were mounted, the shaft would pass over the horse's head, with the point at the level of the horse's ears.  If the enemy were on foot, the point would be at the level of the horse's nostril.  

The Lancero was envisaged as the center of a circle of which his lanza was the diameter.  If he wished to point to the right, he had to twist his body in that direction and supported his lanza between his forearm and his back.  If he pointed to the left, he twisted leftwards, swinging the lanza in a horizontal semicircle over the horse's head.  During this move the Lancero rested the shaft on his left forearm or on the elbow if he wished to cover the left flank or rear.  

An inexperienced Lancero thrusting too vigorously when attempting the point against infantry might be catapulted from his stirrups over the head of his horse and risk being trampled.  Perhaps the most risky movement of all was changing the direction of the lanza.  In this move, a Lancero raised the lanza above his head at arm’s-length, balanced it on his palm with hand open, and used his forefinger to twirl it until pointed in the required direction.  

Dragoons and Mounted Infantry were also used heavily.  They used arquebus, pistols, carbines, and light muskets.  Sabers were their basic shock weapons.  It was the French who first used firearms for shock and reconnaissance.  Then the Swedes under Gustavus regularized use of firearms.  

Field Artillery was an essential part of armies of that era.  It was the Swedish army that first developed truly mobile field artillery.  The Prussian used field artillery effectively for the first time since Gustavus.  But the artillery was still too heavy and irregular in size for effective movement and use.  The resulting damage of these field pieces was immense.  Fortunately, because of the need for a stable workforce, gone were the days of the destruction of civilian property and lives of earlier or later times, except in sieges and colonial wars.  

It must be stated here that the armies do not start wars.  It was the monarchies who desired and caused wars.  For example, European commercial and colonial crises brought about the War of Queen Anne (1701 C.E.-1714 C.E.).  The European dynastic crises spawned the War of the Spanish Succession (1701 C.E.-1714 C.E.).  Both would give ample opportunities to see these newly improved methods of killing used on the battlefield.  Additionally, Europe’s well-trained and well-armed military would be used for the expansion and further colonization of the Nuevo Mundo.  

Only much later, would the world see the overall results of European expanded colonization and war in the Nuevo Mundo.  One outcome was that of a stable citizenry.  This was to be the direct result of the European rush for more territory.  The effects on the social order would be profound.  The maturity and replacement of colonization would bring with it the development of militias.  Ideas learned from the American and French Revolution and their political revolutions would eventually bring about the Citizen Army.  These had changed political opinion and governance.  The melding of general society and the military would develop along with citizen armies.  This and other factors made way for nationalism which would eventually replace loyalty to a crown.  

España would also experience changes both at home and abroad.  Her military by political and economic necessity would go through a transition toward miquelets or militia and Citizen Army.  Here we will begin the story of Nueva España’s military structure and defenses.  However, we must first discuss the Spanish Misión or Mission System as it was the spearhead of Spanish settlement which was followed by its military.  


The period of 1600 C.E.-1610 C.E. brought with it further Spanish exploration of the region.  It had been the Late-16th-Century C.E. policy of the Españoles to assign Catholic misióneros or missionaries of as the principal agents for opening up new lands and the pacification of the Natives.  These were at the vanguard of the exploration of Nueva España and Nuevo Méjico.  In addition, the Corona Española also sent out military explorers.
The Spanish Misión System was that frontier institution which sought to incorporate Natives into the Imperio Español and its Catholic Church.  The Monarchy as patrons, would make final determinations as to where and when misiónes would be established or closed, what administrative policies would be observed, who could be missionaries or misióneros, how many misióneros could be assigned to each misión, and how many soldados or if any would be stationed at a misión.

Misiónes would be followed by presidios, next Spanish villas, ranchos, and estancias, and mines.  Later, the misióneros supported by Real Cédula or Royal Decree would establish autonomous Native-Christian villas.  

After the founding of a misión, the Corona Española would, when possible, provide military protection and enforcement from a nearby presidio.  The term presidio is taken from the Spanish word “presidir” meaning "to preside" or "to oversee."  In Iberian history dating from the Roman Period, a military praesidium or praesidia was placed at a location best suited for protecting Roman citizens.  These later were called presidios when the Iberians coalesced into what are today, “Españoles.”  These were fortified bases for military operations which were established by España in those areas it wanted to maintain control and/or influence over.  Beginning very early on in España’s exploration and settlement period, these presidios or fortified bases for military operations were established to protect against pirates, hostile Natives, and invaders from enemy nations.  

España would also use her military to explore North America and settle portions of its western areas.  In what is now the American Southwest, resource extraction, settlement, agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade by the pobladores wasn’t possible without the use of some form of a military security force.  This is because the economies of Native inhabitants were based upon raiding.  Españoles defending their lands from encroachment by hostiles required the projection of force.  This they did from guarniciónes in misiónes and villas, from Casas Fuertes or Strong Houses later called presidios.  Upon entering into the Nuevo Mundo, Españoles continued the military practice.  Each military location was placed at a strategic location.  Guarniciónes of soldados and their families was the norm for initial settlement.


Until 1568 C.E., the Virreinato government of Nueva España had not pursued an active military role along its northern frontier.  Instead, defensive and offensive military operations were provided by private individuals.  For example comerciantes or merchants and miners created their own private armies.  These protective units operated out of private locations.  The shipment of goods into and out of Nueva España’s northern frontier required fortified wagons or pack-trains.  These were escorted by armed pobladores on horseback.


In Nueva España of the late-1560s C.E., this changed somewhat.  By 1569 C.E., Virrey Martín Enríquez declared guerra a fuego y sangre or an all-out war against the Chichimecs on the northern frontier.  Don Enríquez ordered that a line of fortified presidios be constructed along the main road in north of Méjico City to Zacatecas, Nueva España.  This he did as an effective means of protection for settlements on the northern frontier and efficiently conducting warfare.  Over several generations the presidio line would eventually be expanded northward to Nuevo Méjico, Tejas, and westward to Arizona, and the Baja and Alta Californias.


To clarify, presidios were defensive installations placed where necessary to protect Spanish misiónes, villas, ranchos or ranches, estancias or farms, mining camps, and Native villas.  They were also used offensively against hostile Natives or to mark territories claimed by España.  Therefore, these presidios or fortified guarniciónes of soldados were positioned incrementally across Nueva España to protect its heartland.  To support the Presidio System a rancho del rey or king's ranch would be established a short distance outside a presidio.  This was a tract of land given to the presidio as pasturage for horses and other beasts of burden of the guarnición.


The presidio was also a location where some Natives chose to settle, receive protection against their Native enemies, and obtain gifts of clothing, food, and other items.  Later, El Imperio Español would pursue a policy for Nueva España of Native settlement at its chain of presidios along its northern frontier.  The Establecimientos de Paz or “Peace Establishments” were military administrative units.  This was unique in that the military and not the Church administered to Native needs.  The presidio was considered by many to be the leading Spanish institution charged with the Native pacification process.  

To clarify, these presidios were to protect the Españoles from attacks by hostile forces from the remote northern areas of Nueva España.  However, in the beginning, little thought had been given to placement of presidios as a system.  As exploration had been handled as a regional affair rather than an “Empire Strategy,” presidio placement followed the establishment of misiónes which were more a religious project rather than a state governance issue.  Therefore, each presidio responded more on an individual basis to immediate areas surrounding it and not necessarily as part of a military system of regional protection.  

For all their shortcomings, initially Spanish presidios served a useful purpose on the northern frontier.  Their practical design left the Indians of the region unable to overcome them by frontal assault, although they did penetrate a few by stealth.  Many American traders and military leaders of a later date recognized the basic worth of presidios and chose to build their forts in the Southwest on the same pattern.  The restored Presidio La Bahía at Goliad stands today as a state monument to the Spanish presidio.  

The individual presidio placements grew in number on a gradual basis.  An organized, well-placed system of Presidios of the “Frontier Line” would eventually be established from west to east.  These were essentially employed to protect the expanding vanguard of Spanish spiritual, cultural, and economic life.

·       Presidio Monclova was founded in 1674 C.E.  The villa or town of Monclova was the capital of Coahuila in 1780 C.E.  At that time the presidio was located to the east nearer the Río Grande.

·       Presidio El Paso del Norte was founded as a result of the Nuevo Méjico Native Insurrection of 1680 C.E. and constructed in 1683 C.E.  The Españoles moved down river (southward) and founding the presidio at the site of present Juarez, Chihuahua.  In 1773 C.E., because the town of El Paso was heavily populated and could defend itself, the presidio was moved southward to Carrizal.

·       Presidio Janos was founded 1690 C.E.

·       Presidio Fronteras was originally founded in 1692 C.E.  For a time, it was located to the north in the San Bernardino Valley, possibly in Arizona.  Later in 1780 C.E., Teodoro de Croix moved it to the south.

·       Presidio San Juan Bautista was founded in 1699 C.E.

·       Presidio San António de Béjar was founded on May 5, 17 18 C.E.  However, it was not considered a presidio of the line.  But it was defended by a detachment according to the New Regulations for Presidios were first printed in Méjico in 1771 and then formally issued by the king on September 10, 1772.

·       Presidio Terrenate was founded 1742 C.E. southwest of Huachuca Mountains in Sonora.  By late 1775 C.E., Santa Cruz de Terrenate was relocated near what is now Fairbank Arizona.  Apache Indian attacks would force the relocation of the presidio again in 1780 C.E. to a site near the arroyo of Las Nutrias.

·       Presidio Guajoquilla, later known as San Eleazario, was erected in 1752 C.E. on the orders from the Virrey Revilla Gigedo.

·       Presidio Tubac was founded 1753 C.E. following the Pima uprising of 1751 C.E.  The garrison was moved later to Tucson in 1777 C.E.

·       Presidio Santa Gertrudis del Altar was founded 1755 C.E., with 30 soldados from the presidio of Sinaloa.  The Presidio was designed to restrain the Seris, Pimas, and Papagos.

·       Presidio Arroyo del Cibolo was founded in 1771 C.E. as a detachment site.  The Presidio was deactivated in 1782 C.E. on the orders of Teodoro de Croix.

·       Presidio Cerro Gordo was founded after 1772 C.E. as part of the new frontier defense.

·       Presidio San Sabá, San Sabá-Aguaverde was founded in the new presidial line after 1772 C.E.

·       Presidio Santa Rosa del Sacrament is now Ciudád Melcho Múzquiz, Coahuila.  It was moved northward after 1772 C.E.

·       Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo was founded in 1772 C.E. as the last and easternmost presidio of the line.  The original site was where Fort St. Louis stood on Matagorda Bay.  It was moved in 1726 C.E. to the Guadalupe River and later removed to the north bank of the San António River at the site of the present town of Goliad, Tejas.

·       Presidio San Buenaventura was founded in 1776 C.E. by troops from Guajoquilla.

·       Presidio Julimes was located in 1777 C.E. at the former site of the presidio of La Junta at the confluence of the Conchos and Del Norte (Río Grande) rivers.

When establishing and constructing a presidio the soldados ate foodstuffs they brought with them on their journey to the new location.  Next, they explored and sought out local resources to replenish their stocks.  At first, food would have been prepared over open hearths in utilitarian vessels.  Once semi-permanent dwelling were constructed and defensive structures built the soldados attended to longer term needs.  With the preliminary aspects of the settlement planned and developed, a crop base was established.  This included the planting of crops such as wheat, beans, corn, and others.  

A daily meal could also be supplemented by livestock which was brought with them.  This included beef, chicken, and lamb.  Local deer, fish, and wildfowl were also caught and eaten.  Traditionally Spanish meat dishes were served-up in shallow bowls or shouldered plates in soups and stews.  In addition to the meat dishes, staples such as beans, chiles, and rice were provided.  In some cases, presidio kitchens included ingredients such as anise, oregano, rosemary, honey, olives, almonds, raisins, quince, dried and candied fruit, cocoa, and chocolate.  Drinks consumed by the presidio guarnición included chocolate, coffee, sherry, wine, and aguardiete.  Aguardientes were strong alcoholic beverages made by fermentation and later distillation of sugared or sweet musts, vegetable macerations, or mixtures of the two.  Aguardientes may have been made from a number of different sources.  Fruit-based aguardientes included oranges, grapes, bananas, or medronho or cane apple.  The grain-based ones were made from barley, millet, or rice.  Tuber-based aguardientes were made from beet, manioc, or potato.  The soldados also drank brandy and Mezcal.  Mezcal was made from the agave plant native to Méjico.  

As the structures became more permanent and other areas of the settlement and presidio were constructed food preparation would gradually be replaced from open fire to outdoor adobe hornos or ovens and braseros or stoves.  Imported cooking implements such as comales or griddles, ollas or pots, cazuelas or skillets, and jarros or pans were used to prepare a variety of meals which were served in ceramic vessels manufactured in the pottery districts of Central Méjico.  

Over time, goods had to be replenished.  These would have to be obtained from outside a local community.  They were purchased and transported from Nueva España’s older communities.  Other wares imported from Méjico proper would also be needed.  Later, locally produced and crafted earthenware vessels were used.  

During this period, the Corona Española did not always supply money, troops, pobladores or settlers, or equipment for exploration.  The explorers were responsible to fund their own expeditions.  The Corona Española supplied only its permission via a license to proceed.  One of these was Juan de Oñate y Salazar (1550 C.E.-1626 C.E.).  On January 26, 1598, de Oñates Nuevo Méjico expedition enlisted 170 families and 230 single men to join his expedition.  In addition, 500 soldados joined his party.  The Franciscan Fray Rodrígo Durán and several other Franciscan frayles joined De Oñate’s expedition.  Thousands of head of livestock were also brought on the journey.  The expedition moved out and forged the Río Grande (Río del Norte) south of present-day El Paso and Ciudád Juárez.  De Oñate followed the middle Rio Grande Valley to present day northern Nuevo Méjico.  In doing so, it was de Oñate who extended el Camino Real de Tierra Adentro up to San Gabriel.  He would establish a settlement there at San Gabriel.  Eventually el Camino Real de Tierra Adentro would represent the longest trade route in North America.  It would also be a significant trail for the settlement of the U.S. Southwest.  

By 1610 C.E., the new Gobernador of Nuevo Méjico, Don Pedro de Peralta would move the Españoles from the small villa of San Gabriel to the newly founded La Ciudád de Santa de San Francisco or the City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis, which then became el Camino Real’s terminus for a period of time.  Here a presidio would also be founded.  

As has been explained earlier, presidios first followed religious expansion.  Later, with the increases of Spanish pobladores in a region more presidios were added.  By now it should be obvious o the reader that the growth of Spanish territory wasn’t quite a macro planning exercise.  As travel and settlement expanded out from Méjico City to northern Nueva España and beyond, the gobierno or government did use planning elements.  These were far larger than a micro set.  However, given the sporadic nature of Spanish expansion and growth administrative planning was staggered, incomplete, and often reactive with placement of presidios by necessity.  This would be corrected later when a well-planned presidio defense system was established.  

Despite these planning and implementation problems the Presidio System produced brave and accomplished soldados.  Many of which were my progenitors, the de Ribera.  Whether from private defence forces, to miquelets or militias, or regular army they were strong, competent troops dedicated to the protection of Nueva España.  

Upon receiving an approval letter from the virrey at Méjico City, Nueva España with orders calling for the construction of a presidio, planning for the founding of a presidio began.  Numerous military reglamentos or regulations prescribed how the presidios were to be built.  Generally speaking the model for design and constructing a “Presidio Real” was set forth in Spanish law, though a Spanish gobernador might issue slightly different regulations for the province.  In each model, architectural and construction details for a standard layout of a presidio cuadrángulo or quadrangle was carefully outlined.  The cuadrángulo of adobe structures was to be surrounded by a thick defense wall for protection.  A listing of the number of rooms was provided.  There were details for the height and thickness of the adobe walls.  Specifications and materials to be used for floors, walls, ceilings, and roofs, etc. were provided.  

Reglamentos also provided for the grades, pay levels, and scales for officers, soldados, and Native laborers.  

The first priority when beginning a settlement was the location and construction of the presidio.  An easily accessible, level spot was chosen as the intended building site.  Once the spot for the presidio was selected, its position would be marked and the remainder of the presidio complex would be laid out.  Some presidios were oriented on a roughly east-west axis to take advantage of the sun's position for interior illumination.  However, the exact alignment depended on the geographic features of a particular site.  These were selected as near to a suitable water supply usually a spring, creek, or river.  

Five basic materials were used in constructing the permanent presidio structures these included adobe, timber, piedra or rock, brick, and tile.  Since importing the quantity of materials necessary for a large Spanish complex was impossible, the Españoles had to gather the materials they needed from the land around them.  Timber was used to reinforce adobe walls, as vigas or stout wooden beams to support roofs, and as forms for door, window openings, and arches.

If settlements were chose on plains, these areas were almost totally devoid of suitably large trees.  In these cases the soldados used more adobe in their construction efforts.  Also, the scarcity of imported materials, together with a lack of skilled laborers, compelled the Españoles to employ simple building materials and methods in the construction of their structures.  If a settlement was located in valles or valleys there were trees close by.  

In the case of Nuevo Méjico, it is home to a wide variety of trees, though not all populations have been documented.  Nuevo Méjico’s native trees are Maple, Aceraceae Family, Pine, Pincaceae Family, Pine (Pinus), Spruce (Picea), Larches/Tamaracks (Larix), Hemlocks (Tsuga), and Firs (Abies).  

Wooden carrettas were drawn by oxen to haul timber from as much as tens of miles away.  In some cases the workers floated logs downriver to the presidio site.  Often times, a lack of good-sized timber forced the soldados to build a presidio’s structures as long and narrow affairs.  

At the beginning of settlements, facilities for milling lumber were almost non-existent.  Soldados used piedra axes and crude saws to shape the wood.  However, often they used logs which only had the bark stripped from them.  These methods gave Spanish Period structures their distinctive appearance.  

Piedra or stone was used for construction material whenever possible.  If skilled stone masons were not available, inexperienced builders resorted to the use of sandstone which was easier to cut and finish.  Unfortunately, it was as not weather-resistant.  To bind piedras together the soldados followed the Méjicano-Pre-Columbian technique of using mud mortar.  This was due to mortar made from lime being unavailable.  Colored piedras and pebbles might be added to the mud mixture which provided it with a beautifully interesting texture.  

When establishing and constructing a presidio the soldados ate foodstuffs they brought with them on their journey to the new location.  At first, food would have been prepared over open hearths in utilitarian vessels.  

With the preliminary aspects of the settlement planned and developed, a crop base was established using water from the future Acequia Madre.  This included the planting of wheat, beans, corn, and other crops.  

Various items were used by the presidio craftsmen.  These could be found later in the various industrial shops in the presidio after its construction.  There were also tools and supplies needed for the presidio's agricultural fields.  Chisels were used for making the wooden wheels for the carrettas.  Axes, adzes, and nails were needed by the carpinteros or carpenters.  The herrero or blacksmith worked with a forge, bellows, a hammer, tongs used for the forge, files, iron plate, iron rods, and iron bars.  The shoemaker had his awl.  Saddle-making irons were needed by the trabajadores del cuero or leather workers.  Candlewick was requisitioned for use by the fabricantes de la vela or candle makers.  

There were also agricultural implements used at the presidio.  These included machetes for clearing brush, iron plow points and picks for tilling the soil, and sickles for harvesting.  The presidio used scales, balances, and measuring rods to equitably allocate food and other supplies to the soldados and their families.  

Once semi-permanent dwelling were constructed and defensive structures built the soldados attended to longer term needs.  Chief among these was the construction of the permanent Presidio’s adobe cuadrángulo.  However, first the completion of a presidio Acequia Madre or Mother Ditch or irrigation channel had to be attended to.  This irrigation channel would be a reliable source of presidio water.  These stone or piedra Acequias sometimes spanned miles, bringing fresh water from a river, creek, or spring to the presidio site.  

An abundant water supply was needed as it was critical for making adobe bricks, mortar, and plaster.  Therefore, the water from a river, creek, or spring had to make its way to the vicinity of a front presidio gate.  Water brought to the presidio proper was a prerequisite for bathing, cooking, cleaning, drinking, and irrigation of crops.  

Next, an area of the ground nearby was excavated and soaked with water.  The making of the bricks was a simple process, derived from methods originally developed in España and Méjico.  Bare-legged soldados prepared the building area by stomping the wet earth and binders into a homogeneous mix.  From this location the materials would be carried to, and placed in, prepared brick molds.  

Preparation of Adobe bricks was need-based.  Each presidio was designed, planned, and built according to strict construction standards and size requirements.  Estimates were made and the appropriate number of bricks made ready.  

In the case of the Presidio at Santa , Nuevo Méjico, the original Plaza was a presidio (fort) surrounded by a large defensive wall that enclosed residences, barracks, a chapel, a prison, and the Gobernador's palace.  The Gobernador's Palace was the center of the Presidio.  It faced the Plaza de Armas (now Santa Plaza).  The Presidio barracks were located behind the Gobernador's Palace.  The Presidio was described around 1692 as a pueblo-fortification with no outward facing doors or windows and a single entrance protected by embrasured (outward splay of a window or arrow slit on the inside) towers and trenches.  

The soldados and servants' living quarters, storerooms, and other ancillary chambers were normally grouped around a walled, open court or patio forming of a cuadrángulo.  In the event of an attack by hostile forces the presidio's inhabitants could take refuge within the cuadrángulo.  The cuadrángulo was rarely a perfect square.  This is because the soldados had limited surveying instruments at their disposal and simply measured off all dimensions by foot.  

Adobes or mud bricks were made from a combination of earth and water.  With these was added chaff, straw, or manure to bind the mixture together.  Occasionally pieces of bricks were placed in the mix to improve the cohesiveness.  The soil used may have been clay, loam (Loam is soil composed mostly of sand, silt, and a smaller amount of clay.  Its composition is about 40%-40%-20% concentration of sand-silt-clay, respectively.), or sandy or gravelly earth.  

The mixture was then compressed into the wooden formas or forms, which were arranged in rows, and leveled by hand to the top of the frame.  Some framed adobes measured 11 by 22 inches, were 2 to 5 inches thick, and weighed 20 to 40 pounds.  What was critical was making them the appropriate size to carry and made for ease of handle during the building process.  A soldado might leave an imprint of his hand or foot on the surface of a wet brick.  He might also inscribe his name and the date on the face.  After the formas were filled, the bricks were left in the sun to dry.  Later, to ensure uniform drying and prevent cracking, great care was taken to expose the bricks on all sides to direct sunlight.  Once dry, the bricks were stacked in rows to await their use.  

Ladrillos or conventional bricks were manufactured similarly to adobes.  The major difference was that after the forming and initial drying, ladrillos were fired in outdoor kilns.  This allowed for better wear than might be achieved via sun-drying.  These ladrillos typically measured ten inches square and were 2 to 3 inches in thickness.  The square paving bricks were the same in thickness to the common brick, but ranged from 11 to 15 inches across.  Some portions of presidio structures were designed and built with this type of brick and remained standing long after their adobe had become rubble.  

Some of the earlier presidio projects had a layer of streambed piedras placed as a type foundation on which the adobes were placed.  It was only later that piedra and masonry were used for presidio foundation courses.  This added greatly to the weight bearing capability of the brickwork.  As a norm, very little ground preparation was done before construction started other than some superficial ground leveling.  

The adobes were laid in courses and cemented together with wet clay.  Due to the low bearing strength of adobe and the lack of albañils or skilled brick masons, walls made of mud bricks had to be fairly thick.    Later, at some of the presidios the soldados hired professional piedra masons to assist them.  The width of a wall depended mostly on its height.  Low walls were commonly two feet thick.  Higher walls could be as much as thirty-five feet tall.  These could require as much as six feet of supporting material.  

Some evidence indicates that initial Strong House structures at some of the military outposts were constructed by placing wooden posts close together and filling the spaces in between with clay.  Timbers were set into the upper courses of most walls to stiffen them.  Massive exterior buttresses were also employed to fortify wall sections.  A buttress is an architectural structure built against or projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall.  Buttresses were fairly common on more ancient buildings, as a means of providing support to act against the lateral (sideways) forces arising out of the roof structures that lack adequate bracing.  

This method of reinforcement required the inclusion of pilasters on the inside of the building to resist the lateral thrust of the buttresses and prevent the collapse of the wall.  These engaged columns were prevalent in classical architecture.  However, they did more than simply add visual rhythm to long masonry walls.  Called pilasters, these masonry elements served structural as well as ornamental functions.  They still remain an effective way to increase masonry's structural capacity.  They are strong in compression but relatively weak in tension.  This plain, unreinforced masonry supported vertical loads easily but had considerably less capacity to resist lateral loads from wind or seismic activity.  This proved problematic for presidios.  Presidio pilasters and buttresses were often composed of more durable baked brick, even when the walls they supported were adobe.  

When the walls being constructed were too high for soldados on the ground to reach the top, simple wood scaffoldings were erected from lumber.  At times, wooden posts were temporarily cemented into the walls to support catwalks.  When the wall was complete posts were removed and the voids filled with adobe, or were often times sawed off flush with the surface of the wall.  

The Españoles were also able to construct various types of very rudimentary hoists and cranes for lifting heavy materials.  These were built of wood and rope.  The hoists and cranes and were in many ways similar in configuration to a ship's rigging.  With any luck, a soldado or two had previously been a sailor or marinero and these were employed in presidio construction to apply their knowledge of maritime rigging to the handling of heavy loads.  It is not apparent whether or not the soldados used pulleys in their lifting devices.  With these crude machines at their disposal, the soldados below could easily lift building materials up to the soldados working atop the presidio structure.  

The earlier structures would have had roofs of thatch or earth supported by vigas or flat poles.  Assembly of the presidio roof could only begin once all of the walls were erected.  These flat or gabled roofs were held up by square, Vigas or wood beams.  These carried the weight of the roof and ceiling, should one be present.  Vigas rested on wood corbels, which were built into the walls and often projected on the outside of the building.  Hand crafted wood support corbels were engineered and built for strength and durability.  In some cases, the corbels were made with both aesthetic and function in mind.  In the Gobernador’s palace one might find beams to be decorated with painted designs.  

When the rafters were in place a thatch of tules, a large bulrush, or some other insulation was woven over them.  These in turn were covered with clay tiles.  The tiles were cemented to the roof with mortar, clay, or brea (taror bitumen).  

In the construction of many structures in Nuevo Méjico, roof tiles came with later construction beginning in the mid-18th-Centrury C.E. replacing this flammable thatch roof material.  Using a section of a log which well-sanded to prevent the clay from sticking, semicircular roof tiles made of clay were then molded over the log.  Some involved in construction of the era claim that approximately thirty workers were required to make 500 tiles each day, this while Native women carried sand and straw to the pits.  

First, the mixture was worked in pits.  Animals were used for their strength, weight, and hoofs to accomplish the working of the mixture.  The end product was next placed on a flat board and fashioned to the correct thickness.  Then sheets of correctly measured and cut clay were placed over the logs and trimmed to the desired to size.  The sheets ranged in length from 20 to 24 inches and tapered from 5 to 10 inches in width.  After trimming, the roof tiles were dried in the sun.  Later they were placed in ovens and burned until they took on a reddish-brown coloring.  The original roof tiles were secured with a dab of adobe.  They stayed in place due to their shape.  Tiles were tapered at the upper end so as to not slide off of one another.  

Due to many factors the quality of the roof tiles varied among the presidios.  The difference of soil types used at various sites was one of the major reasons for quality.  One advantage of using roof tiles was the fact that they were fire retardant.  Their water proof, damp-proof surface also protected the adobe walls below from the damaging effects of rain.  

Unless adobes were protected from the elements they would eventually dissolve into nothing more than heaps of mud.  After constructing the thatched roof or tiled roof wall surfaces would be coated with whitewash to keep the clay exterior from eroding.  Whitewash was a mixture of lime and water which was brushed on the interior surfaces of partition walls.  Whitewash was applied to the faces of load-bearing walls with a paleta or trowel.  This type of construction was known as jacal or wattle and daub.  Adobe walls could also be stuccoed inside and out.  Stucco was a longer-lasting, viscous blend of aggregate, in this case, sand.  Normally, the surface of a wall that was to receive stucco was scored so that the mixture would adhere better.  

The soldados might also press bits of broken tile or small piedras, adobe, or ladrillos into the wet mortar to provide a varied surface for the stucco to cling to.  Even though many of the adobe structures were ultimately at least partially replaced with piedra or brick, adobe was still employed extensively and was the principal material used in building the presidios as there was an almost universal lack of readily-available piedra.  

Initially, arched door, window openings, corridor arches, and any type of vault or domed construction requiring the use of wood centering during erection was discouraged.  Windows were kept small and to a minimum.  These were placed high on walls as a protective measure against Native attack.  Very few of the presidios had imported glass window panes.  Most used oiled skins stretched tightly across the openings.  Windows were the only source of interior illumination at the presidios other than the imported tallow candles or those made later in the outposts' workshops.  Doors were made of wood cut into planks by soldados with carpintero experience.  Later, once the presidio was completed this work would be done at the carpintería or carpentry shop.  Doors often bore the Spanish "River of Life" pattern or other carved or painted designs.  Carpinteros used a ripsaw (or "pitsaw") to saw logs into thin boards, which were held together by ornate nails forged by the presidio's herrero or blacksmith.  

Nails, particularly longer ones, were scarce throughout Nuevo Méjico.  Therefore, large wooden members such as rafters or beams were fastened together (tied) with rawhide strips.  Fastening of this type were common in post and lintel construction, such as that found over corridors. In addition to nails, herrero made iron gates, crosses, tools, kitchen utensils, cannons for presidio defense, and other objects needed.  In the majority, new settlements relied on cargo deliveries or trade for iron supplies as they did not have the capability to mine and process iron ore.  

Around the perimeter of the presidio, a dry moat might be dug.  This increased the defensiveness of the presidio.  The moat could be as much as 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep, with excavated dirt piled up on the outside lip which attackers would have to climb over, exposing themselves to the presidio's soldados.  

With building structures in place and the water channel at the presidio site, baked clay pipes, joined with lime mortar or bitumen were placed.  These carried water into reservoirs and gravity-fed fountains.  Pipes also emptied into waterways leading to building locations where the force of the water would be used to turn grinding wheels, presses, and other simple machinery.  

All important drinking water kept as clean, pure, and sanitary as possible.  It was allowed to trickle through alternate layers of sand and charcoal to remove the impurities before use.  

Once the presidio was ready, the guarnición of soldados explored the region and sought out local resources to replenish their dwindling food stocks.  Food stocks and other items which could not be found or made locally had to be imported.  The soldados manning the presidio were also assigned as an escolta or escort for supply wagon trains and guards to protect the misiónes and misióneros.  

During the Spanish Period, goods were transported from Méjico City to Santa , Nuevo Méjico and other areas of the northern frontier of Nueva España along the Spanish El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro trade route or “The Royal Road of the Interior Land.”  Travel was difficult and slow in the 17th and 18th centuries C.E.  This was the only dependable means for importing manufactured goods to a presidio in northern Nueva España.  El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was a rugged, often dangerous route running 1,600 miles from Mexico City to the royal Spanish town of Santa from 1598 C.E.-1882 C.E.  During its first two centuries, settlers, goods and information was brought throughout Nueva España via El Camino Real.  Outlying provinces transported crops, livestock, and crafts to the markets of greater Méjico via this route.

A number of parajes, a Spanish term for a camping place, were established along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro where travelers could stop for the night.  As along El Camino Real consisted of several extensive sections a paraje could be a villa or an adequate way station for resting.  Parajes were typically are spaced 10 to 15 miles apart.  They usually had abundant water and dried hay or feed for cattle and other livestock.  Along the route there were jornadas, burdensome trails between two parajes which had to be traveled in one day’s time due to a lack of a water sources.  

The initial section of El Camino Real was the route established by Hernándo Cortés, conqueror of the Azteca Empire after landing at the Méjicano port city of Veracruz in 1519 C.E., he marched his soldados to Méjico City.  

The second section of El Camino Real was originally an Azteca foot trail.  Once silver had been discovered in the mountains of Zacatecas in 1546 C.E., this became a heavily traveled road from Méjico City to the silver mines of Zacatecas.  

An ancient trade route which was used to supply Southwestern Natives with trade goods became the third section or upper part of the Camino Real.  It was called, the Río Grande Pueblo Indian Trail.  In the late-1590s C.E., Juan de Oñate accessed the Méjico City to Zacatecas trail and transferred onto the Río Grande Pueblo Indian Trail after receiving a license from the King of España to conduct the first settlement expedition into the interior of what is known today as Nuevo Méjico.  

El Camino Real’s Jornada del Muerto or Journey of Death was one of its most feared and deadly stretches of El Camino Real.  This shortcut saved several days on the trail but it was a waterless.  The dreaded 90-mile shortcut bypassed the 120-mile long westward bend of the Río Grande.  The route was treacherous.  It held for the traveler deep arroyos, canyons, and quick sand.  These slowed caravan travel considerably allowing for only 8 to 10 mile per-day.  Those that crossed the flat, dry desert did so in a forced march.  They traveled continually for three days and nights to shorten the trip.  Unfortunately, the shortcut often claimed draft animals due to a lack of water.  Thus the Journey of Death fulfilled its name.  There were also the occasional attacks by Apaches which was yet another hazard along this section of the trail.  

Beyond all of this, how did the Jornada del Muerto get its name?  The genesis of its name is well-documented.  In the late-1600s C.E., the Gobernador of Nueva España’s Nuevo Méjico, António de Otermín used the route.  In August 1680 C.E., the Pueblo Insurrection (Revolt) forced retreat of the Españoles from Nuevo Méjico.  The Españoles had fled south from Taos to Socorro.  They assembled at Paraje Fray Cristóbal, awaiting the arrival of de Otermín before crossing the desert expanse.  When de Otermín arrived they were disappointed to find him of little help.  His party had little food, water, few wagons or horses for the Españoles and Christianized Indian refugees.  What de Otermín found were 2,520 refugees.  He placed Fray Cristóbal 60 leagues from Santa Fé, 32 leagues from Robledo, which he gave as the beginning of the dry Jornada, and seven from La Cruz de Anaya.  Most of the pobladores, soldados, and Christianized Natives were suffering from exposure, starvation, and various illnesses.  De Otermín had no choice but to order the compliment of 2,700 souls to continue its retreat to El Paso, 120 miles to the south.  The refugees would first have to locate the next inhabited settlement where they would find water, food, and relief.  On September 14, 1680 C.E., they entered the waterless desert passage for what turned into a grueling nine-day death march.  It has been estimated that between 400 and 600 of his party perished before arriving at the Río Grande at Robledo.  Over 500 perished on the trail.  De Otermín called it a “Journey of Death,” or Jornada del Muerto.  Reports have stated that 1,946 refugees arrived at El Paso with, a total loss of 574 souls.  

At some point during the Spanish Period (1598 C.E.-1821 C.E.), La Bajada Hill was considered the dividing line between the two great economic and governmental regions of Hispano Nuevo Méjico.  The Río Abajo was considered the lower river district and the Río Arriba, the upper river district.  At this point in a traveler’s journey on El Camino Real, they could select from one of three ways to reach Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico.  According to many sources La Bajada Hill was the most difficult.  The second, the Santa River Canyon (La Boca) was the most often used. The third was traveling Galisteo Creek over the escarpment in the Luna López Grant.  

In general, caravans from Méjico arrived only once or twice every two to three years.  They brought various goods, food, cooking implements, textiles, tools, weapons, and building materials for the presidio guarnición, misiónes, and pobladores.  Material packed in barrels, kegs, boxes, crates, bundles, bags, baskets, and jars were transported from Méjico to the presidio via carrettas or ox carts and pack mules.  The carrettas also brought equipment to outfit the presidio's horses and mules.  These included saddles, saddle blankets, saddle trees; halter's, spurs, stirrups, bits, mule-bits, lassos, and reins.  The oxen and carrettas were extremely useful in the development and construction of presidios, misiónes, and villas as they hauled thousands of tons of adobe, piedra, and lumber to the site for the construction.  

Clothing would have represented the largest category of items ordered by the presidio guarnición.  The soldados needed clothing items such as uniforms.  In addition to these, cueras or leather jackets, hats, breeches, and boots were requisitioned as well as accoutrements such as gold braid and epaulets.  Articles such as caps, coats, garters, hats, jackets, petticoats, scarves, shawls, shirts, shoes, stockings, and waistcoats were ordered for the soldados.  The women’s items were also purchased by the soldados.  These came in various sizes and styles.  They were of various grades of cotton, fur, leather, linen, silk, and wool.  Clothing was fitted with bone, brass, and gold-plated buttons.  Bags, belts, and shoes were fastened with brass, bronze, iron, and buckles of silver.  

For those of means, manufactured clothing and textiles were requested in prodigious amounts from ports all over the world.  Flannel could be obtained from England and France.  Muslin and several grades of printed cloth fabrics could be purchased.  These also included multi-colored fabrics printed in Barcelona, España.  Varieties and grades of silk could be had including Chinese silk imported from Canton and Peking.  The large quantities of fabric and thread ordered, suggests that many items of clothing were tailored at the presidio.  Lace, a much sought after item, was ordered from the Flanders region of Northern Europe, the Lorraine region of France, and the La Mancha region of España.  Assorted colors of ribbons were purchased from factories in Granada and Sevilla, España and Genoa and Naples, Italy.  

For personal hygiene, brushes, chamber pots, combs, razors, soap, and wash basins were ordered.  Cigarettes, cigars, dolls, flasks, guitars, ink, mandolins, paper, quills, spinning tops, spittoons, violin strings, writing leads, and writing pens were requested for the soldados and their families.  

Furniture was rarely ordered, if needed it was made locally by artisans.  Most houses contained only woven mats for sleeping and wooden chests for storage.  Normally, there was no local source of iron ore.  Almost all iron was imported from Méjico proper.  Iron hinges, keys, latches, locks, nails, padlocks, spikes, and tack were frequently requested for the construction and maintenance of presidio structures.  Bars and rods of iron were ordered for the Company herrero when hardware was needed and had to be forged.  

In the evenings, the interiors of the adobe residences were lit with candles and tinplate lanterns.  Lanterns of the period were purely utilitarian.  Most often they were hand-made in a square and plain design.  Their original function was to shield a burning candle.  Most were simplistic in design and made of tinplate or sheet iron.  Other furnishings required were clocks, mirrors, materials for rugs, and sundials.  

There was also military hardware and instructions of use and maintenance.  Weapons were needed such as muskets, pistols, knives, swords, and lances.  These were to be purchased, along with accessories such as gunflints, bullets, buckshot, bullet molds, cartridge pouches, and gunpowder.  Military books such as the Manual of the Army, Military Regulations, and Regulation Manual were requisitioned for the presidio Company.  Maps, flags, and war drums were also needed.  

Spanish currency was ordered to meet the payroll of the officers and enlisted men.  These included real de plata or silver real which was one of the currencies of the Spanish the Nuevo Mundo in América and the Philippines.  During this period, Spanish coinage was used in international trade and commerce.  In the 17th-Century C.E., the real de plata was established at reales de vellón or two billon reals, or sixty-eight maravedís.  In 1642 C.E., two different reales were created, the real de plata made of silver.  The real de vellón was made of billon, or "less than half silver."  The exchange rate between these two coins was set at 2 reales de vellón = 1 real de plata.  The maravedí was tied to the real de vellón, causing the real de plata to be worth 68 maravedíes.  Gold escudos were introduced in 1566 C.E. and worth 16 reales de plata.  The coins circulated throughout España’s Nueva España and beyond, with the eight-real piece, known in English as the Spanish dollar.  Pesos were also required.  The famous Peso de an ocho or Piece of eight is a one-ounce silver coin with a value of 8 Reales = 1 Silver Peso.  Also known as Spanish Dollar, it later became widespread in America and Asia.  It should not to be confused with the minor coins: 4 Reales, 2 Reales, 1 Real and the little (half inch diameter) Half Real.  

Presidio soldados did drill in the formation in the Plaza.  However, they also spent time carrying out less dramatic, but more routine duties.  They helped misióneros scout for new mission locations.  The sargento or teniente in charge wrote detailed and lengthy reports regarding the suitability of the areas being explored.  Areas of interest included the steepness of the grade of the trail used to access particular areas, the availability and distances from water which might be used for irrigation purposes, the quality of surrounding grasslands needed for grazing of horses and other livestock, the quality of the soil in areas which might be used for agriculture, and the composition, texture (crumbly, hard, etc.) of the ground where structures might be built.  Unfortunately, the surveying of the soldados was at best, faulty.  

These and many other factors were considered when providing details to the gobernador.  These they knew were of great interest to him and would be weighed heavily in his decision-making as to whether or not to support a misiónero’s request to found a misión in a proposed area.  This suggests that it was the military/administrative arm of the gobierno, not the Church, which had the final decision-making authority in these matters.  At times there was conflict between a resistant gobernador and a fray when making such decisions and responding to their outcomes.  

There is manuscript and printed source information on the subject of land surveying in Nueva España from 1500 C.E. to 1800 C.E.  An objective analysis suggests that there were factors that affected Spanish Period surveying.  Firstly, there was the uncertainty or inexactness of the Real Cédulas or Royal Decrees which were intended to define such things as land grants.  There was also the issue of limited scientific development and availability of surveying tool kits and techniques used in the process.  These were exacerbated by a flawed system of weights and measures.  The overarching issue was the daily practice of the surveyors.  It appears to have been based upon knowledge which came primarily from experience.  The role of experience and evidence, especially sensory experience, in the formation of ideas surrounding surveying allowed non-scientific traditions to arise.  

Thus, the accepted practice or custom surveying became the norm adversely affecting the entire process.  Based on manuscripts such as the Geometría práctica y mecánica..., which was written by Joseph Sáenz de Escobar in the early-18th-Century C.E., changes of circumstances would find unwelcomed and/or unpleasant results for these initial surveys.  To sum up the situation, surveying was gradually superseded by topography during the 19th-Century C.E.  It demonstrates, though attempts were made to achieve greater accuracy, the under-development of Spanish Period surveying resulted in many contested surveys and faulty cartographic representations.  

The soldados also did guard duty at nearby misiónes.  It has been reported that each presidio was responsible for several misiónes in its district.  Under certain circumstances, a detachment of soldados, referred to as an escolta, lived at the misiónes for extended periods of time.  The number varied but was approximately five or more.  Their wives might also live at the misión.  

While serving at the misión the soldados and misióneros were in daily contact.  The misióneros were often critical of the soldados when a perceived breach of morality was evident.  Soldados often felt misióneros treated them arrogantly, ordering them about as if they were menial hired laborers or employees.  This was a special problem in the earliest years of the misiónes when royal law, such as Echeveste Reglamento was in effect.  Some frayles personally persuaded a virrey to issue laws promoting their interests.  Among other things, a Reglamento gave misióneros the power to arbitrarily dismiss a soldado from duty at any time, for any reason which sufficiently met fray’s needs.  The military resented the exercising of arbitrary power at their expense.  

España’s Nueva España of the 18th Century C.E. had its Soldados de cuera or Leather Jackets such as my progenitors, the de Riberas.  They were part of the Soldados manning presidios and serving throughout the rugged northern Spanish frontier of Nueva España as well as beyond Nuevo Méjico.  

Salvadór Matiás, my progenitor was one of the Gachupínes or Spanish Iberian Peninsula born Soldados.  Few were Peninsulares or Gachupínes, Españoles from the Iberian Peninsula.  Most were Américano born.  

His children were Españoles, but native born Américanos of the frontier province of Nueva España’s, Nuevo Méjico.  Salvadór Matiás’ grandson, Salvadór de Ribera II was a Criollo or an Español born in North America.  These Nuevo Mundo soldados came from a variety of backgrounds.  Many were Mestízos or mixed European and Indian.  Some were Mulato, a person born from one European parent and one African parent; or to persons of two Mulato parents.  


Nuevo Mundo soldados
de cuera were so named because of the leather cuera armor they wore.  The cuera was heavy leather, knee-length, and sleeveless coat.  18th-Century C.E. watermarks clearly portray España’s soldados de cuera on horseback wearing cueras, flat-hats, and lanzas or lances.  These are the sheets on which Domingo Cabello and others wrote their reports and official correspondence.  They're as clear as the watermarked image of the persons that appear on some of our latest paper currency variant when held to the light.  These watermark depictions show the cuera or Leather Jacket at mid-thigh length.  

There is some question as to whether the 1729 C.E. or 1772 C.E. regulations stated the length of a Soldado’s cuera.  Only the number layers (thickness) of the buckskin is mentioned.  The Soldados’ Leather Jacket" was seven layers thick and a vara and a quarter long.  The vara’s meaning "rod" or "pole", abbreviation: var from various resources define a vara as a length somewhere between thirty-two inches and forty-three inches.  Assuming the shortest measure (32") and adding 1/4 (8"), the total length would be forty inches.  The soldados of the time averaged 5'2'' inches in height.  That would be a rather long cuera, extending below the knee.

Watermarks on Mid-18th Century C.E. Tejas correspondence show Spanish cueras, as well as, lanzas.  It is known that a soldado carried an adarga or shield, had six horses, and one mule at his disposal.  However, no adargas or shields are portrayed in the watermarks.  

Additionally, Soldados were armed with an escopeta or smoothbore musket, two pistols of the same caliber, an espada ancha or short sword.  

Nueva España’s mid-17th-Century C.E. frontier Spanish cavalry popularized the escopeta or escopeda.  The weapon was a light, inexpensive, .69 caliber Musket or Shotgun, fitted with a 38½" long barrel.  The escopeta was carried across the saddle bow in a soft leather sheath called a funda or ord.  One commentator offered that the escopeta was a short bell-mouth, bull-doggish looking musket, carrying a very heavy ball.  It was “death by law” when it hit.  However, this was seldom since they shot with little accuracy.  They were said to be good for nothing except to make a noise.  

This Spanish military weapon had been designated as the standard shoulder arm for use by both regular light infantry and cavalry troops until the mid-17th-Century C.E.  However, after extensive use it was considered too short and small of caliber to be used against European infantry.


At some point, the mainline Spanish Army regiments and miquelets in Nuevo Méjico, Louisiana, and Florida were armed with 1752 and 1791 pattern regulation muskets.  It was the mounted presidial forces and local miquelets units of Nueva España that continued the use of the escopeta, which was still considered for use against Natives as specified by the Royal Regulations of 1772.  

A typical espada ancha, most likely of the 18th-Century C.E., had the characteristic style of iron mounted hilt with a single “knuckle bow guard” with an integral shell langet on the display face.  This gently tapering blade shows evidence of re-sharpening and has three shallow narrow fullers on each side, which begin about 0.8 inch from the hilt and run for about 7.7 inches maximum length.  A 0.3 Inch in length ricasso is present, but obscured in this view by the shell guard langet.  A Ricasso was an unsharpened length of blade just above the guard or handle on a bayonet, dagger, knife, or sword.  Built into some swords was the Langlet.  It was a long thin strip of metal (usually either two or four) was an extension of the guard located on both flats of the blade.  The Langlet was designed to fit tightly over the mouth of a scabbard and prevent accidental unsheathing.  The overall length of the espada ancha was 28 inches, with the blade length being 23.7 inches.

Normally, these Cuera soldiered all of their lives until placed on permanent leave due to injuries or retired.  Many married before or during their military life, had children, and gave of themselves for their king and empire.  These were true heroes.  In the century previous, my progenitor, Salvadór Matías de Ribera arrived in 1695 C.E. at Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico with his wife Juana de Sosa Canela.  Juan Páez Hurtado had recruited the young couple at Zacatecas, Nueva España.  They brought with them their only son, Juan Felipe de Ribera, then four years of age.  Salvadór was a professional officer, marinero, and life-long soldado.  

During the decade of 1710 C.E.-1719 C.E., just twenty years after my progenitor, Juan Felipe de Ribera was born in Santa Fé, hostile Indian groups surrounding Nuevo Méjico attacked regularly.  The Jicarilla, a group of assorted Apache bands, camped on the far-eastern frontier.  On the southeastern plains were found the Mescalero Apache Tribe.  Along the southern border of Nuevo Méjico the Gila Apache attacked the travelers and sheepherders south and west of Albuquerque.  The Navajo's from the mountains and mesas to the west finished the circle.  To place the matter in its proper context, the Españoles were under siege by the Native tribes.  The Spanish soldados were overwhelmed, out maneuvered, and many times at a loss as to what to do with these enemies.  

The decade of 1720 C.E.-1729 C.E. would see French encroachment upon Spanish Nuevo Mundo territories.  The Spanish Villasur military Expedition of 1720C.E. was intended to check this growing French influence on the Great Plains of central North America.  It was led by General de Teniente Pedro de Ribera de Villasur.  The expedition was attacked in present-day Nebraska by a Pawnee and Otoe force.  In the Seggasur painting of the Villasur Expedition of 1720 C.E., Spanish soldados are wearing cuera or leather jackets.  Their cuera is portrayed as reaching down to their knees and their floppy hats such as those seen in the "Three Musketeers" films.  

There were two key Spanish inspections of the northeastern frontier provinces of Nueva León, Coahuila, and Tejas.  The first was conducted in 1727 C.E. by Pedro de Rivera y Villalón and engineer Francisco Álvarez Barriero.  De Rivera was born between the late-17th and early-18th-Century C.E.  In his youth, he joined the Spanish army, in which, over time, he managed to ascend to the rank of general.  In 1724 C.E., the Corona Española sent him to Nuevo Méjico in order to inspect the defenses on the border of Nueva España.  This occurred at the time when Felipe V's government was reforming rampant fiscal abuses taking place on the northern frontier.  España was attempting to consolidate those areas she actually controlled, rather than those merely claimed.  

De Rivera's recommendations resulted in the promulgation of the 1729 C.E. Military Regulations for Northern Nueva España.  These dealt with the frontier in a unified and coherent manner.  His account of the eastern leg of his three-year, 8,000-mile inspection tour, provided important descriptions of Coahuila, Nueva León, and Tejas.  H suggested that the Spanish misióneros had failed to convert the Natives of Tejas leaving many to continue hostilities against the Españoles.  It was also believed that with Bourbon France allied with Borbón España, the probability of foreign invasion of Nueva España was considered remote.  These two factors led de Rivera to recommend the abandonment of much of the region, this despite the clamoring of misióneros and others with a vested interest.  

One of the soldados that would fight for España later on was Luís Phelipe de Ribera+ (c 1729 C.E. Nuevo Méjico -).  1a. enlisted April 26, 1757 C.E., discharged July 15, 1779 C.E., 21:757, farmer, son of Juan Felipe de Rivera and María Estela Palomino of Santa Fé.  Possibly married Polonia Antónia de la Peña on August 28, 1761 C.E., La Parroquia (AASF 31:0081)  

The next Forty years would see more European wars.  From 1730 C.E.-1739 C.E., the European world would experience a dynastic crises spawned the War of the Polish Succession (1730 C.E.).  The decade of 1740 C.E.-1749 C.E., entered with commercial and colonial crises brought about the War of Jenkins' Ear (1740 C.E.-1748 C.E.).  The ongoing European dynastic crises spawned the War of the Austrian Succession (1740 C.E.-1748 C.E.).  During the decade of 1750 C.E.-1759 C.E., commercial and colonial crises brought about the French and Indian War (1756 C.E.-1763 C.E.).  Also, the European dynastic crises continued and spawned the Seven Years' War (1756 C.E.-1763 C.E.).  War making would continue through the decade of 1760 C.E.-1769 C.E.  

By 1760's C.E., the French had improved their artillery under Jean Baptiste de Gribauval.  Its size was standardized to four, eight, and twelve pound guns and six-inch howitzer.  Next, these units were lightened and strengthened by casting them in bronze and iron.  For better mobility, carriages were strengthened and harnesses improved.  

Largely because of these European wars and their costs, the Spanish Nuevo Mundo and its Nueva España military would see little attention and even less direction and assistance from España.  The focus of España’s attention was clearly on the Viejo Mundo.  Only after fears of European interest in España’s Nuevo Mundo territories did España’s attention to Nueva España change.  One example of this was between 1766 C.E. and 1768 C.E.  The Marqués de Rubí was sent to inspect the northern frontier of Nueva España, much as de Rivera had done.  De Rubí's recommendations led to the establishment of an independent military commandery of the Provincias Internas and the formation of a presidial cordon sanitaire designed to contain the Apache menace.  De Rubí’s recommendations are far from perfect.  However, he did propose the concentration of Spanish military forces where they could best be employed, as opposed to squandering highly valuable resources on unoccupied areas.  In this area he agreed with de Rivera.  

When the Marqués de Rubí inspected the northern frontier, including Tejas, in 1766 C.E.-1768 C.E., he cited a lack of discipline, low morale, and insubordination commonplace.  Also, Soldados were not being instructed in the proper use of firearms.  De Rubí also sought to correct abuses.  Soldados of the presidios lived lives of considerable hardship and danger.  Many were deeply in debt because their salaries were in arrears.  Their equipment and arms were badly deteriorated or lacking altogether.  A few officers were found to be profiteering by selling inferior goods to their soldados at inflated prices.  Obviously, when one examines the cost of España’s decades of ongoing European wars, one can understand why its Nuevo Mundo soldados lacked support in many ways.

As mentioned earlier, it was also his desire to withdraw from the established frontier to a more realistic one in which he wanted to take up defensible positions.  De Rubí recommended the presidios of the northern frontier be reorganized into a chain of fifteen forts.  These would run from the Golfo de California to the Golfo de Méjico.  Each would be positioned approximately forty leagues from the next, allowing improved communication.  Such an arrangement would allow rapid dispatching of assistance.  The soldados in the guarniciónes were also to be properly equipped, paid regularly, and carefully instructed in their duties and responsibilities.  

Despite the efforts of de Rubí and other high officers on the northern frontier, soldados stationed in the fifteen presidios and capital cities of San António and Santa Fé were never able to conquer the Apaches, Comanches, Navajos, and other nomadic warring tribes.  There were three main reasons.  First, the strategy of building presidios across the northern frontier was based on concepts of European warfare.  In the Viejo Mundo, armies would advance on a fortified city and halt to invest it.  If they failed, they retreated.  Secondly, presidial compounds were poorly designed, not large enough to hold horses.  Therefore, horses were picketed some distance away from presidios and gathered conveniently for Indians to steal.  Once stolen, the presidial soldados could not pursue the raiders on foot.  Thirdly, the Indians in the Nuevo Mundo saw no reason to attack a presidio; they preferred to bypass it and attack ciudadano or citizen villas, pueblos, ranchos, and estancias.  Finally, when Spanish soldados did give chase, each was so burdened with weapons and equipment he needed some six mounts to undertake a campaign.  

Forty years after 1727 C.E., in 1767 C.E., the Apaches, rather than the French, posed the greatest danger to España's hold on the northeastern frontier.  

The second generation de Ribera was Juan, a soldado under the Corona Española all his life, and a charter officer of Our Lady of Light.  He married María Estella Palomino Rendón and they had fifteen children of which ten are mentioned in church records.  Juan Felipe de Ribera died on October 1, 17 67 C.E.  Several of his sons became soldados under the Corona Española:  António, Luís Phelipe, Salvadór, and several of their other sons served España as soldados protecting the frontiers against the British during the American Revolutionary War.  These were António, Balthazár, José, Matiás, Manuel, and Miguel.  Salvadór and his son, Miguel Gerónimo, are my progenitors.  

In Baja California circa 1769 C.E., Padre Tirsch found vaqueros or cowboys and other civilian men in coats that were between crotch and knee-length, with gathered skirts.  Paintings from Méjico, about this time and later, depict men wearing true jackets that reach to just above the hip-bones (perhaps a hand's breadth beneath the waist).  Other men wore waistcoats beneath their jackets that came to the waist and no more.  Interestingly, none of these jackets have collars.  The researcher is left to hazard to guess whether the collar was a narrow, stand-up type used on some European jackets of the period.  These were about an inch or an inch and a half high.  It is possible that they adopted the fold-over type collar, popular on soldados’ long coats of the time.  When on reads the phrase, "una pequena vuelta y collarin encarnado."  The word "pequena" could mean the modifying of the cuffs alone or both the cuffs and collar.  As a result, the regulations do not provide the clarity necessary to determine absolutely the shape and size.  In short, one must study the regulations in the context of the culture and fashions of the period to reach a reasonable conclusion.  

Pidjin, a Southwestern language, was used by the Spanish to communicate with others.  It seems to have combined the Méjicanos language (Nahuatl) with that of the Otomi, Lipan, Apache, Comanche, and several others.  It must have also entered California as early as the Portola Expedition of 1769 C.E., or at least the Anza Expedition of 1776 C.E.  

In the decade of 1770 C.E.-1779 C.E., Teniente-Coronel, Don Hugo O'Conor, the Irish expatriate, was chosen as the leader to oversee new military policies.  He was appointed the first Comandante-Inspector or Commandant Inspector of the Provincias Internas military forces of the frontier provinces and took over the command on February 17, 1772 C.E.  O'Conor undertook a series of massive campaigns against the Apaches while working for six years to implement military reforms and establish presidial realignments.  This escalation of hostilities created a need for military centralization with which to better coordinate efforts.  

The presidios on Nueva España’s northern frontier were manned by Caballarías or mounted soldado companies.  Each consisted of a Capitán or Captain, a Teniente or Lieutenant, an Alférez or Ensign such as Salvadór Matiás, a Capellán or Chaplain, one or two Sargentos or Sergeants, two Cabos or Corporals, approximately forty soldados or soldiers, and a number of Indian scouts.

Rarely was a full Presidial Company in formation.  Each Company was usually dispersed in small detachments on various assignments.  In addition to garrisoning the presidio, soldados de cuera were detached to explore, establish new misiónes, guarnición existing misiónes, act as an escolta or escort or guard to protect misiónes from hostile Indians, protect supply caravans, carry dispatches, and perform any number of other duties as assigned to them by the provincial gobernadores.


Presidial soldados such as the de Riberas could advance themselves in a number of ways.  They were paid a salary.  However, due to the distance between España and Nueva España, collection of one’s pay could take several years.  Many were given land grants or promoted in the military based on their ability to read and write.  

As listed earlier, presidial guarniciónes would later be uniformly reorganized and equipped in concert with policies established in the Regulations of 1772 C.E.  The REGLAMENTO e Instrucción para los presidios que se han de formar EN LA LINEA DE FRONTERA de la Nueva Espana published in 1772 C.E., guided the implementation of the realignment of the Presidios of the Frontier Line.  It also enforced a military dress code.  

The Murillo paintings of Spanish soldados are usually the first image the novice student of Spanish Nuevo Mundo history receives when introduced to Nueva España’s military.  Based on what has been said, it was a proposal for a uniform change.  Consequentially, Murillo's drawing has become the standard and is now the de facto "official" portrait of what a Cuera or Leather Jacket looked like in the 18th-19th Century C.E.  There are numerous errors in the drawing.  On is that of the lanza.  It is too long, in fact, longer than the horse.

The 1772 C.E. regulations also pertained to uniforms on Nueva España's northern frontier presidios.  They were as follows: "El vesturario de los soldados de presidio ha de ser uniforme en todos, y constara de una chupa corta de tripe, o pano azul, con una pequena vuelta y collarin encarnado, calzon de tripe azul, capa de pano del mismo color, cartuchera, cuera y bandolera de gamuza, en la forma que actualmente las usan, y en la banodolera bordado el nombre del presidio, para que se distingan unos de otros, corbatin negro, sombrero, zapatos, y botines."


The uniform of the presidio soldados or Cuera Dragoons was the same for all.  It consisted of a black Texcuco hat that was wide brimmed (As in a wide-brimmed sunhat), turned up.  Each wore a chupa or short jacket of blue velveteen or woolen cloth, with small red collar scarlet cuffs and lapels, Calzones or blue breeches of blue velveteen worn with buttons of brass, and a blue woolen capa or cape was also issued.  The soldado had a cartridge box, cuera and bandoleer of gamuza or suede with a loop on the left side which held the musket with ease.  This was already in use and the bandoleer was embroidered with the name of the presidio, in order to distinguish one from another.  They all wore a mascada negra de Barcelona or black scarf/black neckerchief, hat, shoes, and leggings.  The officers wore a blue coat with scarlet collar, cuffs and lapels.  The collar was edged with gold lace.  A buff or red waistcoat was also worn with blue knee breeches.  The hat was a gold-laced tricorn.  The field uniform was much like the enlisted uniform only of better quality.  

One problem is how the words "chupa corta" are translated.  It could mean short jacket, but it could also mean a short waistcoat, the type that has sleeves.  It is good to remember that in 1772 C.E., the shortest jackets worn elsewhere in European lands tend to be crotch-length, with gathered skirts like a coat.  Even European marineros were wearing them below the waist.  More importantly than how a soldado dressed, was how the soldado planned for war and fought.  

Spanish officers in Nueva España’s frontier service were traditionalists.  They were educated and trained in Viejo Mundo military strategy and tactics.  The basis to their war strategies and tactics were defensive, holding their fortress presidios.  As a result, officers continued relying on traditional, though inexpensive fortification designs.  The materials used to produce their forts were little different from the fortresses erected in España during medieval days.  The more modern systems of fortification being developed in Europe during the 18th-Century C.E. by such men as French military engineer Sébastien le Prestre, the Marquis de Vauban, who died in 1707 C.E., and Menno van Coehoorn had little influence on Nueva España’s frontier presidios.  Old or new, presidios remained in use.  On the other hand, the Natives of the Nuevo Mundo’s Southwest had no cannons with which to blast fortress walls.  Nor did they intend to.  It was their approach to ride around a presidio and attack unprotected Spanish misiónes, villas, estancias, and ranchos.  Yet, the Españoles remained steadfastly to their presidio strategy.  

Beyond military use, once established the presidios functioned as frontier Indian agencies.  There conferences with Natives (Indians) were conducted over a variety of issues and problems.  In time, the presidios became an oasis of safety and security.  Soldados and their families built homes around them.  Industrious comerciantes or merchants came to sell goods and farmers eventually came to plant their crops.  Out of this protected environment small civil settlements grew.  The occasional traveler could camp in their protective shadow.  However, Presidio soldados, such as my progenitors, had many assignments that took them outside of the presidio.  They were assigned the duty of protecting the misiónes.  They acted as an escolta or escort/guards for the all important supply trains.  These proud, protective soldados also accompanied misióneros, pobladores, and comerciantes when traveling.  They also carried the mail and explored the vast regions of Nueva España.  These duties left the soldados under constant attack.  

It must be stated that at times the aggressiveness and conduct soldados at the misiónes toward the Natives caused problems.  The safety and security of the misióneros, pobladores, and Christianized Natives was no easy matter.  Over time, the stresses of soldiering had a negative impact upon these men.  Some degree of acting-out is understandable.  Although most of the soldados had brought families, some married local Christian Natives resulting in improved relations.  It was these families that would constitute the permanent Spanish population in the new land.  

Between 1773 C.E. and 1775 C.E., Hugo O’Conor succeeded in relocating 12 presidios that had to be moved and adding two others.  Detachments of troops were ordered stationed at San António de Béjar and Arroyo del Cibolo in Tejas.  These however were not considered to be Presidios of the Frontier Line.  

The presidios in Tejas were:

·       1716 C.E. Presidio Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Tejas

·       1718 C.E. Presidio San António de Béxar

·       1721 C.E. Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Nuestra Señora del Pilar de los Adaes

·       1751 C.E. Presidio San Francisco Xavier de Gigedo

·       1756 C.E. Presidio San Agustín de Ahumada

·       1757 C.E. Presidio San Luís de las Amarillas

·       1789 C.E. Presidio San Elizario  

Across the Río Grande, other presidios important to Tejas included Presidio del Norte, San Juan Bautista, and San Gregorio de Cerralvo.  Presidio soldados engaged in military operations from the Pecos River to the Red River, among them the campaigns of Vicente Rodríguez and Diego Ortíz Parrilla.  

Specific roles of the Tejas presidios were as follows:

·       Dolores protected the misiónes in East Tejas and served as a listening post on the French

·       Loreto or La Bahía Presidio patrolled the coast against invaders and rescued shipwreck victims

·       Los Adaes countered the Louisiana French established at Natchitoches

·       San Agustín curbed French trading activities along the coast

·       San Luís de las Amarillas (also known as San Sabá Presidio) served as a buffer for San António against raids by the northern tribes (Norteños), including Comanches  

Here we provide a glossary for translating Spanish military records.  The following descriptions are in Spanish.  This glossary provides the reader with choices for translating Spanish military records describing various aspects of a soldado’s information as recorded by presidio army personnel.  A few of the more archaic words are unable to be found in any available dictionaries and experts could not clarify many.  Additionally, there were many adjectives used to describe the hues and intensities of various colors, in the case of occupations as well.  In the case of Spanish words, descriptive words seem to have not only different meanings in different localities, but many shades of meaning as well.

·       Abulorado, abultadora, avultado, abultada:  Increased, bulky, massive

·       Afilada: When describing a nose: Sharp, aquiline

·       Algo Calbo: Somewhat bald

·       Alta Serrada: Very thick

·       Alta: High

·       Ancha: Wide

·       Aplastada: Flat

·       Aquilino: Nose or face: aquiline, hooked; applied commonly to the nose

·       Arrenmangada, Remangado: When describing a nose: uplifted, tucked up

·       Arriero: Muleteer

·       Asafranado, azafranado: Saffron colored

·       Azeytunados, Azeitunados: Olive colored

·       Azul, azules: Blue

·       Barba serrada: Thick beard

·       Barba: Beard

·       Berdes, verdes: Green

·       Bermejo, vermejo: Of a bright reddish color

·       Blanco Lucero: Very white, translucent. (Albino?)

·       Blanco Lucero: Very white. Albino?

·       Blanco Rosado: Light brunette

·       Blanco Trigueño: Light brunette

·       Blanco: White

·       Boso, Voso: Not in the dictionaries, but advisers (Vega and de Niño) define this as the thick part of the cheek or the area above the lip

·       Cafe: brown colored

·       Calbo: Bald

·       Campista, del campo, campesino: "leads a country life." Possibly a farmer or farm laborer

·       Carrillo: Cheek; fleshy part of the face

·       Castaña clara: Light chestnut

·       Castañas Claras: Light chestnut

·       Castañas claras: Light hazel or amber

·       Castaño cerrado: Chestnut color, thick

·       Castaño, Castaña: Chestnut colored; also hazel or amber colored

·       Cavo: Chief, head; or commander

·       Cerrada (o), zerrada (o), serrada (o): Closed

·       Chata: Flat – nosed

·       Claro: Light colored

·       Comerciante: Trader, merchant

·       Corta: short

·       Crespo: Crisp, curly, crispy, wiry

·       Criador: Animal breeder; caretaker

·       Del Campo, campesino, campisto: One who leads a "country life", possibly a farmer or farm laborer

·       Garzo(s): Blue eyed

·       Gatuño: Eyes: "Cat - like"

·       Guero: Blonde

·       Herrero: Blacksmith

·       Horrero: One who has the care of a granary; storekeeper

·       Labrador: Farmer

·       Lampiño: Beardless, or having little hair

·       Linea: Seen in measures of height, as in "5 pies 1 pulgada 5 lineas."  The Velazquez dictionary defines linea as a twelfth part of an inch, so the above example would be read as five feet, one and five - twelfths inches.

·       Lucero: Transparent, translucent.

·       Obrag (j) ero, Obragon: Foreman, overseer, and superintendent.

·       Obscuron: Dark

·       Pardo: This is a case where there are three different translations.  Two translated it as brown; in northern Nuevo Méjico, pardo was gray.  The Velázquez dictionary defines it as: Gray, drab, brown; a mixture of black and white containing some yellow or red. (But if the word is gray, most of the soldados had gray eyes!)

·       Pecas: Freckles

·       Poblado Negro: Thick black (beard or brows)

·       Poblado Rojo: Thick red

·       Poblado(a): "Of the place inhabited"; filled in thickly

·       Poca: Small, sparse, scanty

·       Prica: Possibly from "prisca," a kind of peach. Referring to "peach fuzz"?

·       Remangada, arremangada: uplifted, tucked up

·       Revueltos anbinados (embinados): Possibly the color that describes anvir, reddish liquor expressed from the fermented leaves of tobacco.

·       Roja, rojo: Red

·       Rosado / a: Rose, crimson, flushed, rosy

·       Rubio: Golden, fair, ruddy

·       Sarco, zarco: wall - eyed, of a light blue color

·       Serrada (o), Cerrada (o), zerrada (o): Thick

·       Tambor: Drum, drummer

·       Texedor: Weaver

·       Trigueño Claro: Light brunette

·       Trigueño Rosado: Rosy brunette

·       Trigueño: Brunette; olive skinned; Swarthy

·       Verdes, berdes: Green

·       Vermejo, bermejo: A bright reddish color

·       Voso, boso: Not in the dictionaries, but advisers (Vega and de Niño) define this as the thick part of the cheek or the area above the lip

·       Zarco, sarco: wall – eyed, of a light blue color

·       Zerrada (o), Cerrada (o), Serrada (o): Closed


Below is a portion of the Filiaciones (Affiliations) Español or Spanish Enlistment Papers of 1770 C.E.-1816 C.E. follows.  For use of terms below consult table above.



Father  / Mother

Date Enlisted  / Signed



Oficio Hgt.


Beard Brows





SANM II Reel / Frame


Ribera, Vizente

Joséf Manuel /María  Joséfa de Labadi

15 Sep 1808 C.E./ o


Santa Fé/ Farmer


Roja (Red)


Roja/Rojas (Red)

Pardos (Gray)

Blanco/ Rosado (White) / (Rosy)



16/ 648



By 1776 C.E., King Carlos III separated the Provincias Internas or Internal Provinces of Nueva España from Virreinato control and placed them under an independent military commander.  That same year, Teodoro de Croix was named the first Commandante-General or Commanding General of the Provincias Internas.  In the meantime, O'Conor had been promoted to General de brigada and appointed gobernador of Yucatán.  Before assuming his new assignment and at the request of de Croix, he wrote a lengthy report outlining his accomplishments and offering his views on the frontier situation.  The Virrey of Nueva España, António María de Bucareli resisted an independent government for the Provincias Internas.  

Soon, España and the other European powers were being changed by the initial effects of a fledgling industrial revolution.  Gold was the most important metal for European states of the day.  It was required for needed revenues collected for expenditures being disbursed on the growing crafts and industry that outfitted and maintained their armies and navies.  Only one European nation’s labor force was left relatively unaffected, Russia.  She fell behind the rest of Europe's early industrialization.  Her war machine would be built later.  Thus, the focus of the Viejo Mundo powers upon ways to encroach upon España’s Nuevo Mundo territories became more intense.  

The reports of General de brigada or Brigadier, Pedro de Rivera y Villalón and the Marqués de Rubí concerning their respective inspections of the province of Tejas are important to this discussion.  The defenses of Northern Nueva España, described in General de brigada, Hugo O'Conor's 1777 C.E. and his assessment of Nueva España’s frontier situation is also of great importance.  O'Conor's report was given on the eve of the establishment of the independent military government for the Provincias Internas.  “The Defenses of Northern Nueva España” was sent to Teodoro de Croix on July 22, 1777 C.E.  It presented a much broader view of Spanish military policy in the Provincias Internas.  

Marqués de Rubí’s findings demonstrated that continuous warfare with the Apaches posed the most serious threat to España's hold on the northern frontier.  In short, de Rubí recommended, and King Carlos III approved, a comprehensive military reorganization for the region.  A defensive cordon sanitaire of presidios was to be established and implemented, stretching from the Golfo de California to the Golfo de Méjico.  These presidial guarniciónes were to be simultaneously and uniformly reorganized and equipped in concert with policies established in the Regulations of 1772 C.E.  De Rubí’s hope was that the presidial troopers operating from these new bases would take the battle to the Apaches with a vengeance.  

Some of those who would battle to the Apaches were:  

Alfonso de Ribera+ (c 1749 C.E. Nuevo Méjico).  1a. enlisted March 29, 1777 C.E., Sonora Expedition, 1780 C.E./1781 C.E., discharged October 28, 1790 C.E., 21:811, farmer, son of Salvadór de Ribera and Tomasa Rael de Aguilár of Santa Fé. 1d. Presidio of Santa Fé (PSF), 1785 C.E.  Married (1) ? and (2) widow María Antónia Abeyta (Beitia) on February 2, 1779 C.E. at Santa Cruz de la Cañada (recorded in La Castrense) (AASF 31:0217).  

The Nuevo Méjico Enlistment and Officer Records show Spanish soldado enlistments and other roster records for the Presidio of Santa Fé (PSF), and a few other individual records for the war years, 1779 C.E.-1783 C.E., follow.  A plus (+) is shown by each one known to have married or to have had children.  The wife's name is given when known.  The source of the information is given for each one.  As all the entry names on this list are known patriots, the asterisk * is omitted.  Source material is given for each military record (e.g. 1d; NMG ).  Please consult References/Sources for complete citations.  

Balthazár de Ribera+ (c 1756 C.E. Nuevo Méjico - July 14, 1817 C.E.). 1a, 1c. Enlisted January 11, 1779 C.E., Sonora Expedition 1780 C.E./1781 C.E., 21:833j, farmer, son of Ensign Don Salvadór de Ribera and Tomasa Rael de Aguilár of Santa Fé. 1d. PSF, 1785 C.E. 2a, wife: María Antónia Ortíz.  

José de Ribera+ (c 1755 C.E. Nuevo Méjico). 1a, 1c. Enlisted July 1, 1779 C.E., Sonora Expedition, 1780 C.E./1781 C.E., invalid July 15, 1802 C.E., 21:875, son of António de Ribera and Graciana Prudencia de Sena of Santa Fé. 1d. PSF, 1785 C.E., en cavallada. 2a. Married María Pachéco.  

Mathías de Ribera+ (baptized March 7, 1750 C.E. Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico - August 17, 1785 C.E.). 1a, 1c. Enlisted July 1, 1779 C.E., Sonora Expedition 1780 C.E./1781 C.E., 21:874, laborer, son of António de Ribera and Graciana Prudencia de Sena of Santa Fé. 1d. PSF, 1785 C.E., en Chiguagua.  Married Juliana Peña on May 3, 1780 C.E. (AASF 31:0220).  She remarried Pedro Ortíz.  

The decade of 1780 C.E.-1789 C.E., was a continuation of España's need to expand and improve its defensive war-making capability which included providing better care for its troops.  It has been said that armies travel on their stomachs.  This is a polite way of saying that soldados must be fed, clothed, outfitted, housed, and paid on a regular basis.  Given the economic conditions of the day, España was hard pressed to do this well in Nueva España and Nuevo Méjico.  

One has only to review the size of the military forces of España over the period of 1630s C.E. through the 1780s C.E. to conclude that gold and silver from its Nuevo Mundo territories was used for feeding its armies.  As the gold and silver reserves dwindled, the obvious conclusion that one can arrive at is that the Corona Española’s power in the world diminished.  Her power and troop strength was proportional to the gold she took from the Nuevo Mundo and how well she used it.  Her poor management of resources would prove to be a disaster for her Nuevo Mundo ambitions.  

When one looks at the Spanish troop strength of 1630's C.E. through 1780's C.E., it is obvious that España was at one-sixth of its original troop strength.  It suggests an empire in decline.  




Troop Strength

1630's C.E.


1650's C.E.


1670's C.E.


1700's C.E.


1740's C.E.


1780's C.E.



Beyond the weapons and uniforms of the soldados, presidio defenses were all important.  The two urban Spanish presidios on Nueva España’s northern frontier, at San António, Tejas, and Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico had no walls, towers, and barracks.  However, the presidio at San António was enclosed by a stockade, as Gobernador Domingo Cabello y Robles of Nuevo Méjico reported in 1781 C.E.  

In Europe, Henry Shrapnel had invented shrapnel or bursting shell of the bullets in 1784 C.E.  Grape and canister shot were also introduced.  These would do little for the soldados of the Nuevo Mundo.  Fighting the capable, mounted, and fierce Natives was a war of a different kind.  

In the cases of the Spanish presidios of Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico and San António, Tejas, the residence of the Gobernador-Capitán was situated on the town plaza, as also were a guardhouse and the military chapel.  At the presidio of Santa Fé, the military chapel was called “La Castrensa.  It was where on April 20, 1784 C.E., María de la Cruz Gurulé (daughter of José Gurulé and María Rita Montoya) and Miguel Gerónimo de Ribera [(dat64.html#0|RIVERA| Miguel Geronymo Rivera ABT 30 SEP 1761) (son of Salvadór Rivera and Tomasa Rael) - married at La Castrensa in Santa Fé [SF-92].”]  

The Soldados of Nuevo Méjico lived in their dwellings in town adjacent to the presidio or at their estancias and ranchos.  This would have been the case for my progenitors in Santa Fé, the de Riberas.  They soldiered in the Santa Fé area from 1692 C.E. through 1821 C.E.  

In the Viejo Mundo, the Austrian, Nicholas Le Blanc, (1785 C.E.) made armament parts interchangeable.  Next, began improvement in aiming instruments used effectively by the French.  While the French approached these weapons with mixed use, the Prussians preferred them for sole use.  These armaments were of immediate value in Europe due to the threat of constant warfare.  However, few of these new weapons saw the light of day in Nueva España.  The Spanish Nuevo Mundo was never given the military attention needed.  

In siege warfare, engineers followed closely the principles of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban to undermine fortifications that were built all over Europe.  Seigneur de Vauban and later Marquis de Vauban (1st or 4th, May 1633 C.E.-March 30, 1707 C.E.), commonly referred to as Vauban, was a Marshal of France and the foremost military engineer of his age.  He is known for his skill in both designing fortifications and breaking through them.  Vauban’s ideas, starting from Pagan's "Les Fortifications", were the dominant model of siege craft and fortification for nearly 100 years.  He also advised Louis XIV on consolidation of France's borders, making them more defensible.  Vauban later made a radical suggestion which involved the giving up areas that were indefensible to allow for a stronger, less porous border with France's neighbors.  

His principles remained in use for some time.  European armies employed the use of trench works, artillery, and sappers to achieve their ends.  A sapper, also called pioneer or combat engineer, was a combatant or soldier.  He performed a variety of military engineering duties such as bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, demolitions, field defenses and general construction, as well as road construction and repair.  They are also trained to serve as infantry personnel in defensive and offensive operations.  It was the cost of these sieges that brought about battles in the field.  In the end, the fortification of cities was abandoned for the concept of open cities.  This was just the opposite for the Nueva España presidio which was a fortified, enclosed structure.  Presidios remained closed military facilities.  Yet the Natives’ mobile warfare tactics in Nueva España made them almost useless.  

As with many European military strategic and tactical innovations, Vauban’s siege warfare approach meant little to Nuevo Méjico Soldados.  However, de Croix agreed with Vauban’s suggestion which involved the giving up of areas that were indefensible to allow for stronger and less porous borders.  This de Croix used to his advantage in suggestions provided to the King of España.  

One example of a fine Nueva España soldado was Luís Manuel de Ribera.  On 29 July 1785 C.E., Luís Manuel Rivera (de Ribera), single, soldado of the presidio in Santa Fé, s (son of)/Primer Alférez or Ensign, sub-lieutenant military commander of the presidio garrison Don Salvadór de Ribera and Doña Thomasa Rael.  He married María Joséfa Hortiz, Española, single, from this place, d/Don Gaspar Ortíz and Doña Francisca Martín.  Wit/Matheas de Ribera and his wife, María Antónia Hortiz, Don José Campo Redondo and others.  Page 7, Entry 3-Selected Pojoaque Marriages LDS Film #0016870 1779  

A year later in July of 1786 C.E., his father, Primer Alférez Don Salvadór Rivera (de Ribera), with his soldados de cuera set forth from El Paso to scour the mountains for Apaches northward towards Socorro.  His command consisted of 26 Navajos, 37 presidials, 19 militiamen, 60 Pueblo Indians, and 22 Comanches.  It should be clear by now that Natives had many and different alliances, changing sides frequently.  

During the years of 1790 C.E.-1799 C.E., it was another decade concentrated on the military and warfare.  On the North American Continent there were some set battles fought, as well as some sieges.  However, these were costly.  European armies had begun to bypass cities and avoid devastating the countryside.  The New World armies, especially the Españoles, adapted to the new terrain and began using more effective Indian tactics against each other.  Colonial armies, such as España’s, by necessity were small, irregular and made up of joint stock companies.  They employed mercenaries and natives, as well as, some regulars.


Distance was the most important factor.  Far flung empires were at the mercy of great distances and poor communications.  As a result, European powers had little control over their New World settlements and outposts.  There was little they could do other than to hope their troops could keep order.  España was little different.  

In the case of Nuevo Méjico, after initial settlement many specific steps were taken by España to solidify its control.  Each step encouraged governmental and religious structure specific to the Pueblo Natives.  These coincided with the larger Spanish governmental and religious structures.  

The 1790 C.E. drawings by the Malespina Expedition show the California cueras as a longer variant.  In short, a regulation cuera length covering a particular period or time span is difficult to establish.  Thus, a particular year or decade would need to be identified for the purpose of comparison.  The Cuera in Tejas wore a variety of sizes.  Therefore, each would be based upon the region.  Some of the Nuevo Méjico soldados de cuera were:  

Salvadór de Ribera+ ( ). 1c. Lt, PSF, January 1, 1781 C.E. 1d. PSF, 1785 C.E., en Chiguagua. 2a. 12:111, 1789 C.E., retirement. 4:301, PSF Cpl in 1761 C.E. Legajo 7278, IX, 99, 1st Ensign, PSF, 1787 C.E. 5, at PSF in 1793 C.E. as an Ensign.  One Salvadór Rodríquez married Tomasa Rael de Aguilár July 17, 1747 C.E., Santa Fé.  He was shown as a retired Ensign in 1793 C.E., prenup: 104.  

António de Ribera+ (c 1722 C.E. Nuevo Méjico - February 27, 1794 C.E., buried La Castrense). 1a. enlisted March 7, 1741 C.E., invalid roster on July 1, 1779 C.E., 21:743, farmer, son of Juan Felipe de Ribera and María Estela Palomino Rendón of Santa Fé.  1c, d. PSF invalid, 1781 C.E. and 1785 C.E. 2a. 4:301, PSF soldier in 1761 C.E.  On December 24, 1745 C.E. at Santa Fé (veiled on April 18, 1746 C.E.) married Graciana (Prudencia) Sena ( - buried June 22, 1810 C.E. Parroquia), and their children, all born or baptized at Santa Fé, include: Nicolása María, September 12, 1748 C.E.; Matías, baptized March 7, 1750 C.E., married Juliana de la Peña of Santa Fé; María Joséfa, baptized March 6, 1752 C.E.; Viterbo, March 11, 1754 C.E.; Manuel António , June 29, 1756 C.E., married Joséfa Labadía on April 28, 1783 C.E. at La Castrense; António José, baptized January 8, 1759 C.E., died young; Santiago Francisco, November 30, 1760 C.E.; María Rosalia, November 5, 1762 C.E.; and Julián Rafael, April 13, 1765 C.E.  

During the decade of 1800 C.E.-1809 C.E., España continued her alliance with France against the United Kingdom which had been in force since the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796 C.E.  However, this had little impact upon Nueva España’s soldados.  It would be its aftermath which would impact Nueva España greatly.  

By 1800 C.E., the pidjin language, which was not Spanish, was the common language of at least one misión, La Purisima.  However, it is believed that it must have been known at most misiónes and presidios.  The original reference says that the Padres, Natives and soldados spoke it among themselves.  The language now is extinct and almost entirely forgotten.  It is a language that would have been familiar to the de Riberas.  

Spanish pobladores and soldados spoke a local language or jargon.  To illustrate this fact, a series of questions were sent to the padres of the California misiónes about various topics.  At La Purisima, the priest answered the question about what languages were spoken at the misión in this way, "We Fathers speak Castilian, and we endeavor to have the neophytes learn and speak it.  They also speak their own language.  We Padres, soldados, and Indians converse together in another jargon a mixture of Méjicano, Otomite, Lipan, Apache, and Comanche which is commonly in use among the troops.  

The original Spanish reads "Los Pp. las hablamos en castillano, procuramos que lo aprendan y hablan ellos hablan su lengua, y los PP.  Los soldandos, y los Indios hablamos otra mixta de Mexicano, Otomite, Lipan, Apache, Comanche, etc., que es la que sabia entre los de la Tropa."

Father Engelhardt used the word "jargon," but that word does not appear in the original.  What this text refers to is what linguists call "pidjin."  This is a language that grows up as a mixture of words and grammar from various languages in order to become one common language.  The African language, Swahili, is a pidjin.  Different pidjins developed in the Caribbean, along the Northwest Coast of North America, with the Mountain Men in the Rocky Mountains, among the islands in the Pacific.  This occurred wherever many languages came together.  Esperanto is a modern attempt to create a universal pidjin.  

Soldiering at various Nueva España locations had its own novelties.  What was correct for Presidio Santa Bárbara in 1802 C.E. may have been different from what the fashionable Cuera was wearing at the Presidio Santa Fé or the Presidio Béjar.  A verifiable statement about the soldados de Cuera in that year is that there was no regulation size for a Cuera.  It was only the degree of buckskin thickness that can be agreed upon.  Some offer that the Sánchez y Tapia presidial soldado was a representation of a regional style and not uniformly used everywhere.  

One of those Cuera was Miguel Geronimo de Ribera received a Spanish action against the Navajos at Cebolleta, Nuevo Méjico on January 17, 1805 C.E.  Citations for Spanish troops under Teniente António Narbona were given for invading the stronghold of Canyon de Cililí near Cebolleta (Seboyeta), Nuevo Méjico on January 17, 1805 C.E.  

After the defeat of the combined Spanish and French fleets by the British at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 21, 1805 C.E., cracks began to appear in the alliance, with España preparing to invade France from the south after the outbreak of the War of the Fourth Coalition.  Europe of 1805 C.E. had changed little.  Her great powers were continually at war.  Their focus was Europe.  

To clearly explain España’s Nuevo Mundo and Nueva España’s military, it was in a state of absolute decline.  One prime example is that the Nueva España soldados still used adargas or shields.  The Béjar Archives holds a letter written by one Pedro López Prieto dated December 28, 18 05 C.E.  In it, he writes to Gobernador Cordero reporting the lack of adargas for his Tejas presidial unit.  Their focus was on size and shape of adargas.  One can only guess why the military would be concerned with the regional version of the shields.  While it suggests that the best explanation of the matter of adargas or shields for soldados de cuera was regional use and types, it does little to explore why they continued to be used.  But still there was some hope.  

An alférez in the king’s royal army in 1803 C.E., Teniente Coronel Facundo Melgares initiated a standard ten-year enlistment at the presidio of San Fernando de Carrizal, located seventy-five miles south of El Paso del Norte, Nueva España.  Like most frontier soldados, he gained combat seasoning through numerous encounters with Apaches, whose continual raiding upon settlements along the Río Grande threatened the security of the Spanish frontier.  

He would prove himself one of Commandante-General or Commandant General Nemesio Salcedo’s most capable officers.  Teniente Coronel Facundo Melgares appeared in Santa for the first time in command of a contingent of sixty well-equipped troops.  His mission was through a show of force, to suppress recalcitrant Pawnees, who recently attacked a Spanish reconnaissance party.  Melgares responded to the entreaty of Nuevo Méjico Gobernador Joaquín del Real Alencaster, arriving in the provincial capital on May 30, 1806 C.E.  While on this temporary assignment, Facundo Melgares participated in an episode of international intrigue that would link his name to American frontier military history for all time.  

By 1806 C.E., España readied for an invasion in case of a Prussia victory.  However, Napoleon's rout of the Prussian army at the Battle of Jena-Auerstaedt caused España to slacken on the idea.  Given the competition with Britain, España continued to resent the loss of her fleet at Trafalgar and the fact that she was forced to join the Continental System or Continental Blockade, a naval blockade of the French coasts.  This was done as a result of the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against Great Britain during the Napoleonic Wars.  Next, the two allies agreed to partition Portugal, a long-standing British trading partner and ally, when she refused to join the Continental Blockade.  These were truly odd bed fellows.  

Napoleon was fully aware of the disastrous state of España's economy, administration, and its political fragility.  He soon came to believe that España had little value as an ally.  Therefore, he insisted on positioning French troops in España to prepare for a French invasion of Portugal. Once this was done, he continued to move additional French troops into España without any sign of an advance into Portugal.  

By February of 1808 C.E., Emperor Napoleon I ordered his soldiers to seize Barcelona as part of his plan to overthrow the Spanish ruling family.  A few weeks later after the city's fortress was successfully occupied, the Españoles rebelled against Imperial French rule.  Hemmed in by Catalan miquelets or militia and regular Spanish troops, the French General Guillaume Philibert Duhesme and his command found themselves in difficulty.  The French general would later attempt to capture Gerona in order to open up a secure supply line from France to Barcelona.  The Franco-Italian force attempted to storm the city, but they were repulsed.  The City miquelets and two small battalions of Irish regular infantry in Spanish service withheld the French.  Duhesme fell back to Barcelona, but he would return to mount the Second Siege of Gerona five weeks later.  

The presence of French troops on Spanish soil was extremely unpopular in España, resulting in the Mutiny of Aranjuez and the abdication of Carlos IV of España in March, 1808 C.E.  The year of 1808 C.E. would be an important one in the history of España.  The French had all but taken her.  

The Españoles reacted viscerally.  At her capital, the Dos de Mayo of 1808 C.E. was an important rebellion by the people of Madrid against the occupation of the City by French troops.  It provoked brutal repression by the French Imperial forces, triggering the Peninsular War.  

After the Españoles rebelled against occupation by the First French Empire, the French General Duhesme found himself isolated in Barcelona.  The Franco-Italian corps was surrounded by Catalan miquelets supported by a few Spanish regulars.  When the French general received news that a French division under Honoré Charles Reille was coming to his assistance, he decided to capture the city of Gerona.  Having failed to storm Gerona in June of 2008, Duhesme mounted a formal siege operation.  

Following widespread uprisings in June of 1808 C.E. against the French occupation of España, Napoleon’s intent was to pacify España's major centers of resistance.  He organized French units into flying columns.  Napoleon placed one of them under General Pierre Dupont de l'Étang, who was dispatched across the Sierra Morena and south through Andalucía to the port of Cádiz.  There the French Rosily naval Squadron was at the mercy of the Españoles.  It had been there for nearly three years after the Battle of Trafalgar, when the uprising against the French invaders began.  The Emperor was confident that Dupont and his 20,000 men could destroy any opposition encountered in route.  

By June 5, 1808 C.E., the Uprising of Santa Cruz de Mudela took place adding fuel to the fire and so began the Spanish War of Independence.  It broke out in the town of Santa Cruz de Mudela, Ciudád Real, Castilla-La Mancha, on the main road from Madrid to Andalucía.  A detachment of 400 French troops stationed in the village were attacked by the population.  109 French soldiers were killed and 113 were taken prisoner.  The remainder of the French forces fled back in the direction of Madrid, to Valdepeñas.  There, that next day, there was another famous popular uprising against the French Army.  

The Valdepeñas Uprising was a popular uprising that took place on June 6, 1808 C.E., at the beginning of the Spanish War of Independence, in the town of Valdepeñas, Ciudád Real, Castilla-La Mancha.  Valdepeñas is also on the main road from Madrid to Andalucía.  Following the previous day's uprising in Santa Cruz de Mudela, 800 troops, including 250 dragoons and 300 soldiers that had escaped the Santa Cruz uprising prepared to march through the town of Valdepeñas.  The population, including women attacked the leading column and forced the retreat of dragoons.  In desperation, the French troops set fire to some 500 homes which raged for three days.  They then attacked the fleeing population.  The resulting truce stipulated that the French troops would be given one day's worth of food supplies in exchange for their not passing through the village.  

The guerrilla actions at Santa Cruz and Valdepeñas, together with more isolated actions in the Sierra Morena, effectively cut French military communications between Madrid and Andalucía for some period of time.  This placed the French military in España at risk.  

The two Battles of the Bruch (Cataluña: El Bruc) were engagements fought successively between French columns and a body of Cataluña volunteers and mercenaries.  The result of these battles and actions fought at El Bruc, near Barcelona, Cataluña, between June 6-14, 1808 C.E. was a Spanish victory.  The Españoles also captured a French Imperial Eagle, adding humiliation to defeat for the French army.  

After Dupont stormed and plundered Córdoba on June 7, 1808 C.E., he returned to the north of the province to await reinforcements.  While the French were attacking Córdoba, General Castaños, commanding the Spanish field army at San Roque, and General von Reding, Gobernador of Málaga, travelled to Sevilla.  There they hoped to negotiate with the Sevilla Junta.  This patriotic assembly was committed to resisting the French.  The generales hoped to combine with the province's forces and move against the French.  

By June 12, 1808 C.E., the Battle of Cabezón began.  It was an engagement between a small Spanish miquelets force, the Army of Castilla based in Valladolid and a detachment of Marshal Bessières' French Army Corps under General La Salle.  The battle took place at the bridge over the Pisuerga at Cabezón, just 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) outside Valladolid.  Spanish General Gregorio García de la Cuesta y Fernández de Celis' small army was hastily put together to defend Old Castilla.  It was deployed to block passage of oncoming French divisions on the road from Burgos.  The Españoles chose not to dig in on the opposite bank of the river.  Instead, Cuesta's troops rushed across the bridge against a larger French force.  La Salle's veteran cavalry trampled Cuesta's untrained and unseasoned recruits and marched on to Valladolid.  

On June 14, 1808 C.E., the capture of the French Rosily Naval Squadron took place at Cádiz, España.  Five French ships of the line and a frigate had remained at the Port since the British victory.  The engagement with the Españoles lasted five days.  In the end, French Admiral Rosily was forced to surrender his entire squadron with the 4,000 seamen on board.  

The First Siege of Saragossa or Zaragoza was a bloody struggle by a French army under General Lefebvre-Desnouettes and later, commanded by General Jean-Antoine Verdier.  The French besieged and repeatedly stormed Saragossa.  The French were repulsed from the city of Saragossa in the June 15, 1808 C.E.  

The Battle of Alcolea Bridge, although a minor in nature, took place on June 17, 1808 C.E.  The battle was fought at Alcolea, a small village 10 km from Córdoba.  The city of Córdoba would suffer an invasion by French troops later that same afternoon.  

The Battle of Gerona took place on the 20th and 21st of June, 1808 C.E.  Gerona is located about halfway between the Franco-Spanish border and Barcelona on the Autovía A-7.  An Imperial French division led by Guillaume Philibert Duhesme attempted to overrun a Spanish guarnición commanded by Teniente Coronel O'Donovan y O'Daly.  The French assault failed and the attackers then withdrew.  

The First Battle of València was an attack on the Spanish city of València on June 26, 1808 C.E.  Marshal Moncey's French Imperial troops failed to take the city by storm.  The French were forced to retreat to Madrid.  This left much of eastern España unconquered and beyond the reach of Napoleon.  

The Battle of Medina de Rioseco, also known as the Battle of Moclín was fought on July 14, 1808 C.E.  There a combined body of Spanish regulars and miquelets acted to disrupt the French line of communications to Madrid.  General Joaquín Blake's Army of Galicia, under joint command with General de la Cuesta, was routed by Marshal Bessières after a badly coordinated but stubborn fight against the French corps north of Valladolid.  Bessières exploited the poor coordination between Blake and de la Cuesta to defeat the Españoles.  Blake was ejected from a low ridge, while de la Cuesta sat to the rear.  De la Cuesta had failed to recapture the ridge with his own troops.  The Army of Galicia was the only formation capable of threatening the French advance into Old Castilla.  De la Cuesta's command having been destroyed earlier at Cabezón marked a serious blow to España's national uprising.  

Medina de Rioseco proved to be the solitary French triumph in the invasion of España.  France ultimately failed to seize the country's major cities or to pacify its rebellious provinces.  The French met with outright disaster at Bailén, forcing the French forces under Bessières to escape over the Ebro in retreat.  A fresh campaign, conducted by Napoleon himself with the bulk of the Grande Armée, would be needed to correct the situation.  

On the days of July 16-19, 1808 C.E. the Battle of Bailén was fought.  The heaviest fighting took place near Bailén which is sometimes anglicized as Baylen.  It is a village by the Guadalquivir River in the province of Jaén in southern España.  The Imperial French Army's II corps d'observation de la Gironde was led by General Pierre Dupont de l'Étang.  The Spanish Army of Andalucía was led by Generales Francisco Castaños and Theodor Von Reding.  

Dupont failed to leave Andalucía.  This proved disastrous for the French.  Spanish forces converged on the French positions between July the 16th and 19th and attacked at several points.  French forces were stretched out along villages on the Guadalquivir River.  The attack forced the confused French to shift their divisions in an erratic fashion.  With Castaños pinning Dupont downstream at Andújar, Von Reding successfully forced the river at Mengíbar, a city located in the province of Jaén, España.  Von Reding then seized Bailén, inserting his forces between the two wings of the French army.  Dupont found his forces caught between Castaños and Von Reding.  The French next attempted to break through the Spanish line at Bailén.  In three desperate charges, Dupont lost more than 2,500 troops.  

Dupont had failed to overcome the Spanish with his counterattacks.  The defeated general called for an armistice.  The surrender compelled him to sign the Convention of Andújar which stipulated the surrender of almost 18,000 French.  Bailén became the worst disaster and capitulation of the Peninsular War.  News of the catastrophe soon reached the French high command in Madrid.  A general retreat to the Ebro River was called.  The result was the abandoning much of España to the Spanish.  France's enemies in España and the rest of Europe took heart at this first blunting of the unbeatable Imperial armies.  Spanish heroism showed the force of a nation’s resistance to Napoleon, inspired Austria, and set in motion the rise of the Fifth Coalition against France.  

A second unsuccessful attempt by the French to capture the city of Gerona took place between July 24, 1808 C.E. and August 16, 1808 C.E.  The Spanish holding Gerona threatened the French forces' lines of communication between Barcelona and Perpignan.  Guillaume Philibert Duhesme with his Imperial French corps attempted to capture the City of Gerona.  Coronel Richard O'Donovan II, commander of the Spanish guarnición would defend the city.  The French began regular siege operations, but withdrew when another Spanish force led by the Conde de Caldagues attacked their lines from the rear.  

In the, in early-August of 1808 C.E. a Spanish army led by Juan Miguel de Vives y Feliu isolated an Imperial French corps under Guillaume Philibert Duhesme in Barcelona.  A 24,000-man contingent led by Gouvion Saint-Cyr moved from the French border to relieve Duhesme's troops.  His first obstacle was the haven of Rosas protected by a large citadel with sea approaches defended by a headland castle.  The opposing force was 3,500 Catalan and Spanish defenders of Rosas.  They were mostly local miquelets strengthened by a small unit of Spanish regulars from the Fija de Rosas guarnición.  The British assisted by bombardment of the French lines.  The sea force of several British warships was commanded by Captain Robert Hallowell.  There was also and a strong defence of the castle by Catalan regulars and miquelets with men of the 36-gun frigate Imperieuse commanded by Thomas Cochrane.  

The Spanish siege had been underway at Barcelona since early-August 2008 C.E.  By December, the French garrison would be running short of supplies.  

General Guillaume Philibert Duhesme's formal siege operations at Gerona were interrupted by Conde de Caldagues' attack in mid-August, 1808 C.E.  Though the Franco-Italian forces suffered few casualties, Duhesme and his soldiers became discouraged and they ended the siege.  

While Reille retreated to Figueres without much trouble, Duhesme's men were harassed during their return to Barcelona by the Spanish army and the British navy.  By the time the French forces arrived in Barcelona, they were without artillery and badly demoralized.  Meanwhile, Emperor Napoleon I assembled a new corps under Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr to relieve Duhesme from his predicament.  

While España proper was under attack by the French and her liberty was in the balance, life in Nueva España’s Nuevo Méjico continued at a steady pace.  Josef Vizente Ribera at age 20 was married María Josefa de Labadi when he enlisted in the Spanish army at Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico on September 15, 1808 C.E.  He was the son of Manuel de Ribera.  Listed as a farmer, he was 5’2”2 with red hair and a red beard, light complexion, and a regular nose.  




Date of Enlistment










SANM II Reel/ Frame

Vizente Josef


Maria Josefa de Labadi

15 Sep 1808



Santa Fe/


Roja /Roja



Blanco Rosado



16/ 648


On October 31, 1808, Marshal François Lefebvre bloodied the Army of Galicia under General de Teniente or Lieutenant General Joaquín Blake.  However, the French failed to encircle or destroy it.  The failure upset both the Emperor and the French strategic situation.  Napoleon alarmed by these failures, took command of Spanish military operations.  

Under Napoleon's direction, the French had made preparations to annihilate General de Teniente Blake's position and thereby crush the left wing of the Spanish front that stretched from Cantabria to the Mediterranean Sea.  There was friction with the Spanish authorities and Blake.  There was also a lack of coordination by the Central Junta.  Blake, for his part, had no confidence in the Spanish deployment and could do little but conduct a cautious advance in the direction of Bilbao.  

A French relief column for Barcelona under General St. Cyr crossed the Pyrenees on November 5th, but its first objective had been the town of Rosas.  The Spanish at Rosas could have threatened French supply lines and had to be dealt with.  

The Siege of Roses or Siege of Rosas from November 7th to December 5, 1808 saw an Imperial French corps led by Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr invest a Catalan and Spanish guarnición commanded by Peter O'Daly.  After a siege lasting almost a month in which the haven and town of Rosas was captured and the nearby Trinity Castle invested by over 13,000 French and Italian infantry, artillery and cavalry with heavy siege trains on the hills above, the Citadel was surrendered to the Napoleonic forces.  Rosas is located 43 kilometres (27 mi) northeast of Gerona, España.  The action occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.  

With an overwhelming number of fresh troops Napoleon dealt devastating blows to the wavering and indecisive Spanish forces and their British allies.  On December 4, 1808 C.E., he recaptured Madrid.  However, by doing so the French military committed enormously important resources.  This long war of attrition which was characterized by heavy losses to the relentless Spanish guerrillas, ultimately ended with the expulsion of French armies from España.  It would later expose southern France to a combined invasion by Spanish, British, and Portugués or Portuguese forces in 1814 C.E.  

St. Cyr had expected to be a short siege of Barcelona, however, it would continue until December 5th.  This made it increasingly urgent for that French relief column under St. Cyr reach Barcelona without further delay.  He had two choices of access to Barcelona.  

The two good roads that led to Barcelona from the north were the coast road which ran south from Rosas, and the main road.  Unfortunately, the Spanish had effectively destroyed the coastal road.  This road was in range of British naval guns.  The main road was blocked by the Spanish held city of Gerona.  The City had already resisted two sieges and there was not enough time to attempt to capture it.  On December 10th, he gathered his troops outside Gerona.  St. Cyr was at the head of 15,000 French infantry and 1,500 cavalry.  

The French under St. Cyr had no artillery with them upon reaching Redes, having sent his heavy baggage train, containing most of his food, ammunition, and his artillery back to Figueras on December 11th.  

St. Cyr then led his men into the mountains between Gerona and the coast.  His plan was to make his way through the mountains and reach the coastal road which runs from Gerona to Barcelona.  He would then swing back inland to the main road close to San Celoni.  On December 15th, the French reached the main road from Gerona close to San Celoni, approximately 27 miles east of Barcelona.  Vives had remained inactive at Barcelona, even after he received reports of the French having bypassed Gerona.  

When Vives learned of the French at San Celoni, he finally made his move.  Instead of taking his entire field army to join him at Redes, he left 12,000 men at Barcelona.  Vives took only 4,000 troops to Redes.  In the end, St. Cyr’s 16,500 men opposed a Spanish force of 8,400 infantry, 600 cavalry and only seven cannon.  

To escape Barcelona, the French general Guillaume Philibert Duhesme made a risky maneuver.  The result was the Battle of Cardadeu on December 16, 1808 C.E.  Under these circumstances, St. Cyr’s only chance for victory was to form two of his three divisions into a single massive column, and smash his way through the Spanish lines.  Most of Vives’ men were inexperienced recruits.  After forcing back the first Spanish line, the French advance almost halted.  St. Cyr then sent his second division into the attack.  They broke through the Spanish right, and the rout was completed by a cavalry charge.  

The Spanish guarnición had been unable to prevent the advance of the Franco-Italian siege lines.  This resulted in a tightening of the French grip around the citadel and eventual capitulation.  The soldados and civilians inside the citadel were taken prisoner to Figueres.  The local defenders of the castle were taken by the British to join Vives' Spanish forces in the marshes to the south.  Gouvion Saint-Cyr still faced the problem of getting past Gerona in order to support Duhesme's distressed soldiers.  

The Españoles suffered around 1,000 casualties in the battle, while the French captured 1,500 prisoners.  St. Cyr reported his losses at 600.  Vives eventually escaped to the coast, where he was rescued by the frigate Cambrian.  Von Reding eventually restored order in the retreating Spanish army and got most of his troops back to Barcelona.  The news of the defeat soon reached General Caldagues, the commander of the Spanish troops outside Barcelona.  He then abandoned the lines to the east of the city and retreated to the western bank of the Llobregat.  On the following morning, St. Cyr’s troops entered Barcelona in triumph.  The long siege was over.  

Four days later, on December 21st, the French attacked the Spanish at Molins de Rey, forcing the last Spanish forces away from Barcelona.  The French victory was assured.  The battle of Cardadeu of which began on December 16, 1808 C.E. ended the Spanish siege of Barcelona.  

In a governmental, economic, and military sense España was no longer a power to be contended with.  She had failed the test of empire.  The many decades of war in Europe had weakened her.  The Españoles were a defeated people with little or no hope in their government officials and military commanders.  Her Nuevo Mundo possessions faired no better.  

A report for the outpost of Trinidad, today about an hour and a half's drive northeast of San António, itemizes adargas as part of the post's inventory.  The report was written years later, in 1813 C.E.  Some period evidence also suggests that the cuera all had adargas.  It leads one to believe that adargas and some other articles, though required by regulation were used by some soldados and not by others.  Also, one post may have had all regulation items while others did not.  It is possible that Murillo may have accurately drawn a cuera for the location where he was at that time.  However, to portray them as they were dressed elsewhere would be inappropriate.  The reasoning here is one of regionalism or quite possibly something as simple as the availability of items.  

With the Spanish world in ruins, its military was consumed by such mundane details as the type and use of shields.  One can see the depths to which her Nueva España commanders had fallen.  

On May 4, 1817 C.E., Juan Manuel de Ribera, single, s (son of)/Bitero? (Real name José Viterbo de Ribera) Rivera and María de la Luz Pachéco, from Santa Fé with María Loreta Ortíz, Española, single, d/Nicolás Ortíz and María Joséfa Baca, from Nambe married.  Wit/Joséf Tafolla, Félix Esquibel, Juan Campos and Felipe Romero.  Page 25, Entry 6 - Selected Pojoaque Marriages LDS Film #0016870 1779 - Viterbo was nephew to Salvadór de Ribera and son of António.  

In August 1818 C.E., Virrey Juan Ruíz de Apodaca, the Conde de Venadito, received documents written by an anonymous visitor to Nuevo Méjico.  These papers, intercepted by Spanish ambassador to the United States, Luís de Onís, revealed startling observations about España’s northernmost province that caused grave concern among ruling authorities regarding the state of military preparedness along the northern frontier.  

Written in French, the notes were the observations of a military expert who had visited New Mexico some time during the summer of 1817 C.E.  A summary of the report referenced the vulnerability of the province:  "I consider Nuevo Méjico, in its present position, as one of the most vulnerable points of the Provincias Internas, and because of the facility of communication by land with the United States . . . as one of the most advantageous for insurgents.…"  

More alarming to the Virrey than this declaration of Nuevo Méjico’s strategic weakness was the implication that only a poorly armed miquelets, commanded by incompetent officers, protected its borders.  

The critical tenor of these remarks doubtless gave Virrey Ruíz de Apodaca cause for concern. Not only did the document call the efficiency of Nuevo Méjico military leaders into question, but it raised serious doubts about the overall defensive capability in one of the northernmost provinces of Nueva España.  Among the numerous responsibilities expected of a frontier official, maintenance of security and protection of its inhabitants was unques­tionably paramount. In Nuevo Méjico, that charge fell directly upon the newly appointed magistrate, Teniente Coronel Facundo Melgares, gentleman of the Order of San Hermenegildo, inspector of the standing army, and governor of the province.  

Like most crown officials of his day, Melgares was a member of the Spanish upper class.  He was born in 1775 C.E. at Villa Carabaca Murcia, España.  Melgares reaped the benefits of formal education and military training afforded only the nobility.  A family of considerable social standing in España, the Melgares name was highly regarded in the Nuevo Mundo as well.  One of Facundo’s uncles presided as judge of the Audiència of Nueva España.  Moreover, the young alférez or second lieutenant married into an influential military family.  His father-in-law, Teniente Coronel or Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Maynez, a future gobernador of Nuevo Méjico, was at the time of Melgares’ arrival to the Nuevo Mundo adjutant to the commandant general of the Provincias Internas de Occidente, headquartered in Chihuahua.  For this reason, Teniente Melgares inaugurated his military career in Nueva España not in the comforts of Méjico City as one might have expected, but in the astringent surroundings of the northern frontier.  

Troops of the 1820 C.E. Presidio de Santa Fé, such as my progenitor, Juan de Ribera, wore flattop, wide-brimmed, black felt hats with a red band and a red cord.  These were similar to those used by the American Civil War Artillery units.  A campaign look would have the top of the hat rounded and the wearing of brown or leather hats.  In this case, the brim would be flat or unshaped.  Red, black or white cotton or silk kerchiefs may have been worn under the hat.  

The coats were medium blue wool with deep red collars, cuffs, piping, and plain brass 3/4" buttons.  Coats had low red collars; blue shoulder straps with red piping and one button each, red fake cuffs with three buttons each, red turnbacks with one button at the tie, and red piping throughout.  The pattern of the coat was cut at the waist, the same as American Civil War shell jackets.  It had a seven button front and the tails which reached the back of the knees.  The coat had seventeen buttons in all.

Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) wore red front, double-button plates added to their coats.  Corporals had no epaulettes, but a red linen strip sewn from the inner seam near the cuff to the outer seam near the elbow.  The Second Sergeant uniforms sported one red epaulette on the right shoulder.  First Sergeants and Music Majors were apportioned two epaulettes.  Musician uniforms were designed with red sword knots.  Pantalones were usually white with a cotton drop fly.  Pants and coats medium blue in color comprised the winter uniform.  Many units simply wore the white cotton undercoat trimmed in the facings of their units or entirely untrimmed in the summer (much preferable to wool in the heat of our summers).  Zapatas were ankle length style of leather moccasins or boots similar to Jefferson brogans.  These moccasins may have been favored by mounted troops.  It seems that Nuevo Méjicanos did not wear the Roman-style sandals as were commonly used later by Méjicano troops.  Gaiters were of white canvas and worn under the pant legs.  Most likely, leather botas or boots would have been worn during campaigns.  NCOs and officers would have worn plain boots.  This footwear would have been of great value in the thorny grassland areas.  

Camisas of the period consisted of white linen pullovers.  Socks were plain color wool or cotton.  Canteens were the wooden barrel variety.  Haversacks were the plain white cotton style, such as, those worn by American troops of the period.  Personal jewelry was not allowed.  Later, Méjicanos regulations forbid use of jewelry by soldados.  The ammo box belts were white and had the words "Presidio de Santa Fé" stitched on the front.  Soldados’ wives and sweethearts sewed crosses on the breasts of the men's jackets.  Soldados were to use blue capes for bad weather.  Given the additional cost, probably only officers and NCOs used them.  These others possibly used Méjicanos blanket ponchos.  

Many suggest that the use of the Spanish Pífano and Tambor call published in 1759 C.E. Spanish regulations continued to be in use during the Méjicano Period.  The corneta calls of the period would follow the regulations cited in an 1826 C.E. publication in Méjico City which was documented to also have been used in the California presidios.  

The following is taken from a text in a brochure by the Hispanic American Military History Foundation, copied from the Osprey book on the Méjicano War: "In the north, defence was made by the presidial companies of which there were eight in Tejas, three in Nuevo Méjico, and six in California.  The Tejas and Nuevo Méjico companies wore medium blue wool coats with deep red low collars and narrow cuffs.  Their trousers were blue and they received blue wool capes for bad weather.  Hats were black, broad brimmed.  Cartridge boxes were plain brown, and their bandolier had the presidio name embroidered on them."

"Accouterments consisted of a canvas or leather knapsack and a plain wood water bottle, made like a small keg and holding about a quart.  Bayonets were carried in black leather scabbards held in white crossbelts which made one part of a white 'X' across their chests."  

"Each company consisted of a Capitán, a Teniente, two Alférez, a first and four second Sargentos, nine Cabos, and eighty privadas.  The fusilier and grenadier companies had a Baterista or drummer, a corneta or bugler, and a Pífano or fifer, while the riflemen had four cornetas."  

My Nuevo Méjico progenitors, the de Ribera, were soldados de Cuera who served bravely and honorably from 1695 C.E. onward until 1821 C.E. in the Nuevo Mundo’s Nueva España.  They were part of the world-wide military tradition of el Imperio Español which over the centuries created the empire for the Corona Española.  Unfortunately, due to European intrigues she lost it.  For over 400 years, the Austrian and French monarchies of España fought many, many wars in Europe, Asia, Central, South, and North America.  Her naval fleets battled in the Mediterranean, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans.  However, whenever and wherever her military was called to defend el Imperio Español they were present and accounted for.  My progenitors, the de Riberas were such men.  I cherish their service to España.  

They are largely forgotten now.  As with any nation or empire, once it lost its position, power, and authority its people suffer.  The de Riberas were proud to be Españoles, just as they were proud to be soldados of España.  In 1821 C.E., they were supplanted by troops from Méjico when it seized Nuevo Méjico.  Some remained soldados, but not soldados of España.  The majority worked their estancias and ranchos.  The Españoles had little power and influence.  

In 1846 C.E., the Américanos invaded and seized the land.  Nuevo Méjico was taken from Méjico by force.  The Américanos knew nothing of the areas Spanish history, only that they had beaten the Mexicans.  The Españoles had been subjected to Méjicano rule for 25 years.  Their new masters were now the Américanos.