A look at the past of Nueva Galicia

Reception: March 13, 2017

Acceptance: April 20, 2017

Historia del Reino de la Nueva Galicia

Thomas Calvo and Aristarco Regalado Pinedo (coords.), 2016 University of Guadalajara, Mexico, 877 pp.

This work opens with a foreword by Izcóatl Tonátiuh Bravo Padilla, General Rector of the University of Guadalajara, a presentation by Carlos Antonio Villa Guzmán and José Trinidad Padilla López and finally an introduction by the coordinators, Thomas Calvo and Aristarco Regalado Pinedo.

The body of the work is divided into six parts. The first part, "The first actors", consists of two texts: "An unavoidable actor: between mountains and basins", by Thomas Calvo and Paulina Machuca, and "The native culture (1300-1750)", by Joseph B. Montjoy .

The second part, "Conquest and settlement of the New Galicia Kingdom (1524-1570)", consists of four texts: "The preamble to the conquest (1524-1570)" by Aristarco Regalado Pinedo; "A conquest by blood and fire (1530-1536)" by Aristarco Regalado Pinedo; “The first regionalization (1530-1570)” by Salvador Álvarez and “La Guerra Chichimeca” by Salvador Álvarez.

Third part: "A slow construction of the Kingdom." It consists of the following texts: “The service of the King and of God: institutionalization in the 16th century”, by Celina Becerra Jiménez; “Religious foundations in the 16th century: the secular clergy”, by José Refugio de la Torre Curiel and Laura Fuentes Jaime; "The Far North or the New Frontier", by Chantal Cramausel; "Elite and society in the second half of the 16th century", by Thomas Hillerkus, and "A human universe in implosion in the middle of the 16th century", by Thomas Calvo.

Fourth part: "The consolidation of the Kingdom: The great seventeenth century." It consists of the following texts: “Lands, mines and demographic growth”, by Celina Becerra Jiménez and Aristarco Regalado Pinedo; “The consolidation of a capital: Guadalajara”, by Celina Becerra Jiménez and Aristarco Regalado Pinedo; "Paths of light and shadows", by Thomas Calvo; “Foundations and religious practices (17th and 18th centuries)”, by José Refugio de la Torre Curiel and Laura Fuentes Jaime; "Zacatecas: Norte Imperial", by Jaime J. Lacueva Muñoz and "Campos, towns and villas", by Águeda Jiménez Pelayo.

Fifth part: "Times of Enlightenment". It consists of the following texts: "The evolution of the population in the 18th century", by Lilia V. Oliver Sánchez; “Demographic crisis and epidemics”, by Lilia V. Oliver Sánchez and “Illustrated influences: reforms and transformations”, by María Pilar Gutiérrez Lorenzo and Rebeca Vanesa García Corzo.

Sixth part: “Towards the end of New Galicia”, which contains the following texts: “From the Kingdom to the intendancies and to the Provincial Council”, by David Carvajal López; “The insurgency in Zacatecas. 1809-1821 ”, by Martín Escobedo Delgado and“ The insurgency in Guadalajara and the end of the Kingdom ”, by Jaime Olveda Legazpi.

The work is closed by the glossary, index of maps and tables, onomastic index, initials of archives and libraries, general bibliography and a note on the authors. In total, 877 pages written by 18 historians, divided into 23 chapters. The authors' institutions of origin are the University of Guadalajara, El Colegio de Michoacán, El Colegio de Jalisco, the Autonomous University of Zacatecas and the University of Valparaíso.

The history of the Kingdom of New Galicia is part of the process of expansion of Western Europe, modernization and capitalism, in the form of colonialism. Likewise, it is part of the decolonization processes in general and of the formation of the Mexican nation and the Mexican national State in particular.

The texts that make up the work document the above, describe the results of the colonial enterprise that lasted three centuries, the expropriation of the lands from their original owners, the disruption of the territories and the forging of new regional realities, evangelization and, therefore, Of course, the anti-colonial resistance of which the Mixtón war is already an icon.

The history of the colonial process in what today we call Latin America and the Caribbean begins in the insular part located in that mare nostrum, that sea between lands of the New World. It is the Crown of Castile that leads the expansion that will give way to the installation of the first kingdom in the new lands: that of New Spain, instituted on October 22, 1523. New Galicia was the second Indian Kingdom, created in January 1531. In 1548 the Audiencia was installed in Compostela, while in 1549 the bishopric was created. In the introduction to the book all this is noted and it is noted that the purpose of the work is to explain this process. Likewise, the introduction goes ahead in commenting on the historiography of the Kingdom of New Galicia, which constitutes relevant information for the reader, even those who are laypersons in the trade or those who are familiar with the issues involved. Very suggestive, the introduction raises the regional question that already appears in the work of Matías de la Mota Padilla in 1742 and continues to this day. Let the reader judge if it is novel Historia del Reino de la Nueva Galicia whether or not it has a regionalist vocation. One question arises –among many others– from reading this introduction: was there a common neo-Galician identity? And if this happened, what happened to her? Does the above have any relation to the territorial reconfiguration of what was the Kingdom of New Galicia?

In the introductory section entitled “The passing of time”, the authors and coordinators of the work offer detailed information on the context of each of the 23 chapters. It is an exercise that benefits the reader, who is thus able to go through the work from the perspectives that interest him the most.

In the first part of the play, "The First Actors", the information about creating a new cultural ecology in a geography unknown to the invaders draws attention. Did this act on the environment leave traces of identity? Or rather, was this the precursor to the elaboration of regional identities? Were the maps and sketches drawn out of the feeling of belonging to the new landscapes?

The thread continues with the discussion of the native cultural situation. One constant is obvious: the variety of culture in what is today the West of Mexico, a variety that has been present since times prior to the conquest, manifests itself in the Kingdom of New Galicia and flows into our days. The coexistence of sedentary lifestyle and nomadism as manifestations of different cultural ecologies throws more complexity into the variety of cultures, highlighting the importance of salt and the interconnections it causes. The local characteristics are diverse both in landscapes and in cultural ecologies, delineating the emergence of future regionalizations that will have a reality in the colonial period. A broad but detailed vision of the variety of cultures in a territory of 250,000 square kilometers is documented in this part of the work. The confrontation of the lineages, chiefdoms, clans, and the various levels of the local socio-political organization with the Castilians was devastating.

In the second part of the work, "Conquest and settlement of the Kingdom of New Galicia (1524-1570)", the preamble to the conquest (1524-1529) is narrated. Aspects to highlight in this initial part of this section of the work are: 1. The emergence of patron-client relationships, the basis of the self-centered groups that currently characterize the anatomy of politics in Mexico; 2. The weight of personal factors in the struggle for power, an aspect that continues to this day; 3. The roots of the intricate relations between the Catholic Church and political power in Mexico.

The conflicts that run through the relations between New Galicia and New Spain, which were maintained throughout the colonial period, are outlined. It is observed that these conflicts began with the bitter quarrels between Nuño de Guzmán and Hernán Cortés over taking power. The factors that induce extreme cruelty, violence and personality disruptions in the spheres created in the struggle for power are also reported in this part. The violence is such that now the text written by Bartolomé de las Casas is better understood, Brief description of the destruction of the Indies. It is the violence of colonialism that will manifest itself again in internal colonialisms once the national states are created. We are before a company to exercise violence and expropriate the basic resources of native peoples, with calculations of contributions and profits, as José Miranda had pointed out in The role of the encomendero in the early colonial regime. A dismal example of this: the campaign that Nuño de Guzmán undertook against the Teúles-Chichimecas, which ended in a military and political catastrophe. In contrast, it is striking that Nueva Galicia was born facing the sea, in a country like ours that just lives with its back to the ocean.

In the treatment of the first regionalization (1530-1570) the importance of the contingents of Indians allied to the Castilians, coming from the center of New Spain, is observed. This text abounds in information that makes even more understandable the importance of clientelistic groups and how they go back to the old organizational models of medieval companies of trade and war. I find it interesting to observe how the distribution of the encomiendas in the nascent territory of Nueva Galicia indicates, broadly speaking, the border between sedentarism and nomadism, again highlighting the variety of cultural ecologies. Likewise, the important role of land rent in the form of tribute in the early days of the colonial regime and the consequences of this in the shaping of society should not go unnoticed. At the same time, it is necessary to assess what is also indicated in this part of the work, and it is what the presence and displacement throughout New Galicia of the army that Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza took with him, who eliminated and dispersed the original population, even after the Mixtón war. It seems to me that this chapter is still open. It includes a comparative study of the painting from 1550. It is well pointed out in this text that said cartographic document manifests the first specification of Nueva Galicia as a macro-region.

Very suggestive in this second part of the book is the demonstration of the formation of the three territorial groups that will be distinguished in the New Galicia of the 16th century and that, in my opinion, form the embryo of the later regionalizations: the coast, the south- west of Zacatecas, and Guadalajara and its region. The review of the Chichimeca war and the discussion of Powell's contributions is excellent, to conclude that peace was never a reality.

Inline Feedbacks
See all comments


ISSN: 2594-2999.


Unless expressly mentioned, all content on this site is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Download legal provisions complete

EncartesVol. 5, No. 9, March 2022-August 2022, is an open access digital academic journal published biannually by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Calle Juárez, No. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte Norte, A. C.., Carretera Escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, No. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, No. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434, and El Colegio de San Luis, A. C., Parque de Macul, No. 155, Fracc. Colinas del Parque, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Tel. (444) 811 01 01. Contact: encartesantropologicos@ciesas.edu.mx. Director of the journal: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Hosted at https://encartes.mx. Responsible for the last update of this issue: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Date last modified: March 29, 2022.