The South American Expeditions, 1540-1545


First published in 1555, Cabeza de Vaca's narrative of his South American expeditions is a detailed account of his five years as governor of Spain's province of the Rio de la Plata in South America. Cabeza de Vaca was already a celebrated explorer by the time he went to La Plata, known for his great trek across North America in the 1520s and 1530s and for the Relación he wrote about that journey. His tales of his river and forest explorations in South America show that he had lost none of his early curiosity and ...

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First published in 1555, Cabeza de Vaca's narrative of his South American expeditions is a detailed account of his five years as governor of Spain's province of the Rio de la Plata in South America. Cabeza de Vaca was already a celebrated explorer by the time he went to La Plata, known for his great trek across North America in the 1520s and 1530s and for the Relación he wrote about that journey. His tales of his river and forest explorations in South America show that he had lost none of his early curiosity and drive. He was the great secular champion of the native peoples of the New World and the only Spaniard to explore the coasts and interiors of two continents.

This book is one of the great first-person accounts of the Spanish conquest of the Americas in the sixteenth century. Morrow's new translation makes Cabeza de Vaca's adventures available to a wide English-speaking audience for the first time.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826350633
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Baker H. Morrow, FASLA, is a landscape architect in Albuquerque and an associate professor at the University of New Mexico. He is the founding director of the master's program in landscape architecture at the University of New Mexico.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Note xiii

Translator's Acknowledgments xxi

Chapter 1 A Word About the Commentaries of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca 1

Chapter 2 We Leave the Island of Cape Verde 3

Chapter 3 The Governor and His Fleet Arrive at Santa Catalina, in Brazil, Where the Company Disembarks 5

Chapter 4 Nine Christians Come to the Island 7

Chapter 5 The Governor Makes Haste on His Journey 9

Chapter 6 The Governor and His People Begin Their First Ventures into the Interior 11

Chapter 7 What the Governor and His People Went By Along the Road, and What Sort of Country It Is 23

Chapter 8 Hardships Along the Way for the Governor and His People, and the Kinds of Pines and Pine Cones in That Land 17

Chapter 9 The Explorers Starve, but Save Themselves-with Worms, Which They Get from Some Canes 19

Chapter 10 The Indians Are Afraid of Horses 22

Chapter 11 The Governor Travels by Canoe on the Rio de Iguaza, and the Men Carry Their Canoes on Their Shoulders for a League to Bypass a Bad Stretch of the River at Some Rapids 24

Chapter 12 They Make Rafts to Carry the Sick 27

Chapter 13 The Governor Arrives at the City of Asuncion, Where He Finds the Christian Spaniards He Had Come to Help 29

Chapter 14 The Spaniards Who had Fallen Ill on the Rio de Piqueri Arrive in the City of Asuncion 32

Chapter 15 The Governor Sends Help to the People Who Had Gone in His Flagship to Buenos Aires to Assist in the Resettlement of That Port 34

Chapter 16 They Kill the Enemies They Capture, and Then Eat Them 36

Chapter 17 The Governor Concludes a Peace with the Agaces Tribe 38

Chapter 18 The Settlers Complain About Your Majesty's Officials to the Governor 41

Chapter Ninteen They Complain About the Guaycuru Indians to the Governor 42

Chapter 20 The Governor Asks for More Details About the Complaint 43

Chapter 21 The Governor and His People Cross the River, and Two Christians Drown 46

Chapter 22 Spies Go Out by Order of the Governor to Follow the Guaycuru Indians 48

Chapter 23 Following the Enemy, the Governor is Advised that They Are Just Ahead 50

Chapter 24 A Jaguar Causes an Uproar Between the Spaniards and the Indians 52

Chapter 25 The Governor and His Men Catch Up with the Enemy 54

Chapter 26 The Governor Breaks His Enemies 57

Chapter 27 The Governor Returns to the City of Asuncidn with All His Men 59

Chapter 28 The Agaces Indians Break the Peace 61

Chapter 29 The Governor Sets One of the Guaycuru Prisoners Free and Sends Him to Fetch the Others 63

Chapter 30 The Guaycurues Come to Give Their Allegiance to His Majesty 64

Chapter 31 The Governor, Making Peace with the Guaycurues, Returns His Prisoners 66

Chapter 32 The Apernes Indians Come to Make Peace and Give Their Allegiance 68

Chapter 33 Sentence Is Passed on the Agaces, with an Opinion Offered by the Clerics, the Captains, and Your Majesty's Officials 70

Chapter 34 The Governor Again Helps the People of Buenos Aires 71

Chapter 35 Three Christians and Some Indians Come Back from Their Explorations 74

Chapter 36 Boards Are Cut for Brigantines and a Caravel 75

Chapter 37 The Indians of the Countryside Return to Be of Service 76

Chapter 38 The Town of Asuncion Burns 80

Chapter 39 The Return of Domingo de Irala 82

Chapter 40 What Gonzalo de Mendoza Wrote 85

Chapter 41 The Governor Helps Gonzalo de Mendoza's Men 87

Chapter 42 Four Christians Die of Their Wounds in a War 88

Chapter 43 The Friars Flee 90

Chapter 44 The Governor Takes Four Hundred Men on His Expedition 92

Chapter 45 The Governor Leaves Behind the Supplies He Is Carrying 94

Chapter 46 He Pauses to Talk with the Natives of That Port 95

Chapter 47 He Sends for an Interpreter for the Payaguaes 98

Chapter 48 The Horses Embark from the Port 99

Chapter 49 How They Killed Juan de Ayolas and His Companions When They Came to This Port 101

Chapter 50 The Interpreter and the Others Who Were Supposed to Return Fail to Do So 104

Chapter 51 The Guaxarapos Parley with the Governor 108

Chapter 52 The Indians of That Country Come to Live Along the Banks of the River 110

Chapter 53 They Put Three Crosses at the Mouth of This River 113

Chapter 54 The Indian Farmers of Puerto Reyes 116

Chapter 55 How Garcia's Indians Populated This Place 119

Chapter 56 The Governor Speaks with the Chaneses 120

Chapter 57 The Governor Looks for Garcia's Indians 122

Chapter 58 The Governor Speaks to the Officials and Lets Them Know What Is Happening 123

Chapter 59 The Governor Sends Word to the Xarayes 125

Chapter 60 The Interpreters Return from Seeing the Xarayes Indians 130

Chapter 61 The Governor Resolves to Set Off on His Exploration 133

Chapter 62 The Rio Caliente 135

Chapter 63 The Governor Sends Men to Look for a House That Lies Ahead 137

Chapter 64 The Interpreter Comes Back from the Little House 139

Chapter 65 The Governor and His Men Return to the Port 141

Chapter 66 How They Wanted to Kill the Men Who Had Stayed Behind in Puerto Reyes 142

Chapter 67 The Governor Orders Captain Mendoza to Search for Provisions 144

Chapter 68 The Governor Sends Captain Ribera in a Brigantine to Explore the River of the Xarayes 146

Chapter 69 Captain Francisco de Ribera Returns from His Expedition 149

Chapter 70 Captain Francisco de Ribera Gives an Account of His Exploration 150

Chapter 71 The Governor Sends for Captain Gonzalo de Mendoza 155

Chapter 72 Hernando de Ribera Returns from His Exploration Along the River 158

Chapter 73 What Happened to the Governor and His People in Puerto Reyes 159

Chapter 74 The Governor and His Men Arrive in Asuncion, and He Is Thrown into Chains 162

Chapter 75 The People Gather in Front of Domingo de Irak's House 166

Chapter 76 Turbulence and Uproar Abound in the Land 168

Chapter 77 The Governor Is Held Prisoner in a Very Harsh Jail 170

Chapter 78 The Insurgents Plunder the Land and Take Its Estates by Force 172

Chapter 79 The Friars Flee Again 174

Chapter 80 How They Put Everyone Not of Their Opinion on the Rack 176

Chapter 81 They Want to Kill an Alderman Because of the Request He Made of Them 177

Chapter 82 The Insurgents Allow the Indians to Eat Human Flesh 179

Chapter 83 They Write to Your Majesty and Send on Their Account 181

Chapter 84 The Governor Is Poisoned Three Times with Arsenic While He Is on the Road 184

Postscript: The Account of Hernando de Ribera Made Before Pedro Hernandez, Notary Public, on March 3 of the Year 1545 188

Appendix:Original Preliminary Remarks (the Prohemio) by Cabeza de Vaca 196

Illustrations Follow Page 200

Notes 211

Suggestions for Further Reading 229

Index 233

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