In the seventeenth century, South Texas and Northeastern Mexico formed El Nuevo Reino de León, a frontier province of New Spain. In 1690, Juan Bautista Chapa penned a richly detailed history of Nuevo León for the years 1630 to 1690. Although his Historia de Nuevo León was not published until 1909, it has since been acclaimed as the key contemporary document for any historical study of Spanish colonial Texas.
This book offers the only accurate and annotated English translation of Chapa's Historia. In addition to the translation, William C. Foster also summarizes the Discourses of Alonso de León (the elder), which cover the years 1580 to 1649. In the appendix, Foster includes a translation of Alonso (the younger) de León's previously unpublished revised diary of the 1690 expedition to East Texas and an alphabetical listing of over 80 Indian tribes identified in this book.
Chapa was also an authority on the local Indians, and his Historia lists the names and locations of over 300 Indian tribes. This information, together with descriptions of the vegetation, wildlife, and climate in seventeenth-century Texas, make this book essential reading for ethnographers, anthropologists, and biogeographers, as well as students and scholars of Spanish borderlands history.