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
Therefore, to have a
meaningful discussion about Nuevo
Méjico’s soldados, one must understand the emphasis of España’s
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.
the 5th-Century C.E., the Western Roman Empire and its far flung
dominions had decayed and its lands and peoples were
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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).
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
the end, most Moros were
driven from España.
The Christians, however, allowed two groups, the Mudéjares and Moriscos
to remain. The Mudéjares
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
the leadership of Fernando and
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.
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.
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
the end of the 16th-Century
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.
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:
2) Paternal grandmother
4) Maternal grandmother
this very day, the ideal proof of Spanish nobility or Hidalguia is still the four quarterings.
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.
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.
"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
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.).
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).
Spanish Heraldry that which is placed on the shield is the most
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:
(a circle of silk with gold and silver cord twisted around and placed to
cover the joint between the helmet and crest)
the motto, chapeau, supporters (animals real or fictitious or people
holding up the shield)
(whatever the supporters are standing on)
and Ensigns (personal flags)
of orders of chivalry
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.
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.
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.
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
Today, everything that the Spanish Heraldos
do must be approved by the Ministry of Grace and Justice.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
During his reign, the royal court was dominated by the
noble family of Sandoval, in
the person of Don Francisco Gómez
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
can gather from the aforementioned that España’s
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
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.
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
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.
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.
that said, onward and upward we go.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
This war was between France and España.
Louis XIV of France had married María
daughter of Felipe IV
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
son of King Felipe IV
of España and
María Calderón, a celebrated
Juan José de Austria was the most
famous of Felipe IV’s
Juan was born on April 7,
1629 C.E., at Madrid, España. A Spanish
nobleman, he received a princely education and a large income.
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.
the terms for its surrender on October 1652 C.E.
C.E. to 1658 C.E., as governor of the Netherlands, Don Juan
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
and the Duque of Arcos.
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.
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.
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
used to persuade or terrify the unhappy king into making a will which
was in favor of the Duke of Anjou, Philip V.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
would do this in the face of continuous British hostility.
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.
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
Internas, that 2,000-mile arc of territory from California
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Osprey Campaign books dealing with Napoleonic battles, two small books
published back in the 1970s
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
clarify, these presidios were
to protect the Españoles from
attacks by hostile forces from the remote northern areas of Nueva
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
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.
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.
was founded in 1674 C.E.
The villa or town of Monclova
was the capital of Coahuila in
At that time the presidio
was located to the east nearer the Río
Presidio El Paso del Norte
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,
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
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
later known as San Eleazario,
was erected in 1752 C.E. on the orders from the Virrey
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
1755 C.E., with 30 soldados from the presidio
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
chocolate, coffee, sherry, wine, and aguardiete.
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.
included oranges, grapes, bananas, or medronho
or cane apple. The
grain-based ones were made from barley, millet, or rice.
were made from beet, manioc, or potato.
The soldados also drank
brandy and Mezcal.
Mezcal was made from
the agave plant native to Méjico.
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.
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 Oñate’s 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.
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 Fé 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.
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.
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
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.
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
also provided for the grades, pay levels, and scales for officers, soldados, and Native laborers.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
the case of the Presidio at Santa
Fé, 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 Fé
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.
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.
or mud bricks were made from a combination of earth and water.
With these was added chaff, straw, or manure to bind the mixture
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
pilasters and buttresses were often composed of more durable baked
brick, even when the walls they supported were adobe.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
the Spanish Period, goods were transported from Méjico City to Santa Fé,
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
Fé 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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Fé
River Canyon (La Boca) was the most often used. The third was traveling Galisteo
Creek over the escarpment in the Luna
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
children were Españoles, but
native born Américanos of the
frontier province of Nueva España’s,
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.
is some question as to whether the 1729 C.E.
or 1772 C.E.
regulations stated the length of a Soldado’s
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
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.
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.
Soldados were armed with an escopeta
or smoothbore musket, two pistols of
the same caliber, an espada ancha
or short sword.
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.
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.
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.
decade of 1720 C.E.-1729 C.E. would see French encroachment upon Spanish
Nuevo Mundo territories.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Possibly married Polonia Antónia de la Peña on August 28, 1761 C.E., La
Parroquia (AASF 31:0081)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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),
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,
Increased, bulky, massive
Afilada: When describing a
nose: Sharp, aquiline
Algo Calbo: Somewhat bald
Alta Serrada: Very thick
Aquilino: Nose or face:
aquiline, hooked; applied commonly to the nose
When describing a nose: uplifted, tucked up
Azul, azules: Blue
Barba serrada: Thick beard
Berdes, verdes: Green
Bermejo, vermejo: Of a bright reddish
Blanco Lucero: Very white,
Blanco Lucero: Very white. Albino?
Blanco Rosado: Light brunette
Blanco Trigueño: Light brunette
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
Campista, del campo, campesino:
"leads a country life." Possibly a farmer or farm laborer
Carrillo: Cheek; fleshy part of
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
Cerrada (o), zerrada (o), serrada (o):
Chata: Flat – nosed
Claro: Light colored
Comerciante: Trader, merchant
Crespo: Crisp, curly, crispy,
Criador: Animal breeder;
Del Campo, campesino, campisto:
One who leads a "country life", possibly a farmer or farm
Garzo(s): Blue eyed
Gatuño: Eyes: "Cat -
Horrero: One who has the care
of a granary; storekeeper
Lampiño: Beardless, or having
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 -
Obrag (j) ero, Obragon:
Foreman, overseer, and superintendent.
Pardo: This is a case where
there are three different translations.
Two translated it as brown; in northern Nuevo
Méjico, pardo was gray.
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!)
Poblado Negro: Thick black (beard or
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"?
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,
Rubio: Golden, fair, ruddy
Sarco, zarco: wall - eyed, of a
light blue color
Serrada (o), Cerrada (o), zerrada
Tambor: Drum, drummer
Trigueño Claro: Light brunette
Trigueño Rosado: Rosy brunette
Trigueño: Brunette; olive
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
of those who would battle to the Apaches
(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
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)
February 2, 1779 C.E.
at Santa Cruz de la Cañada
(recorded in La Castrense)
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;
(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.
(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
(baptized March 7, 1750 C.E.
Santa Fé, Nuevo Méjico - August 17, 1785 C.E.).
1a, 1c. Enlisted July 1, 1779
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Geronymo Rivera ABT 30 SEP 1761)
(son of Salvadór Rivera and Tomasa Rael) - married at La
Castrensa in Santa Fé
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.
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
The Spanish Nuevo Mundo
was never given the military attention needed.
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
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.
closed military facilities. Yet
the Natives’ mobile warfare tactics in Nueva
España made them almost
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.
example of a fine Nueva España
soldado was Luís
Manuel de Ribera.
On 29 July 1785 C.E., Luís
(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
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
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.
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
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.
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:
( ). 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.,
He was shown as a retired Ensign in 1793 C.E., prenup: 104.
(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
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
and Julián Rafael, April 13, 1765 C.E.
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
C.E. However, this had
little impact upon Nueva España’s
soldados. It would be
its aftermath which would impact Nueva
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
would prove himself one of Commandante-General
or Commandant General Nemesio
Salcedo’s most capable officers. Teniente
Coronel Facundo Melgares appeared in Santa
Fé 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.
readied for an invasion in case of a Prussia victory. However,
Napoleon's rout of the Prussian army at the Battle of Jena-Auerstaedt
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
is also on the main road from Madrid
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Spanish siege had been underway at Barcelona
since early-August 2008 C.E. By
December, the French garrison would be running short of supplies.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
of the 1820
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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."
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
bugler, and a Pífano
while the riflemen had four cornetas."
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.
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
In 1821 C.E., they were supplanted by troops from Méjico
when it seized Nuevo Méjico.
Some remained soldados, but not soldados
The majority worked their estancias
and ranchos. The Españoles
had little power and influence.
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.