Barry Robinson’s study of conquest, settlement, and rebellion is geographically narrow, chronologically deep, and thematically rich. At its center is Colotlán. Today, Colotlán is a small town on the northern fringe of Jalisco not widely known outside the region; but in the sixteenth century, the “Fronteras de Colotlán” described a much larger area, and one of great strategic importance for the Spanish mining economy. Among students of the conquest era, the name “Colotlán” immediately calls to mind a dramatic panel from the famed indigenous chronicle the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, which commemorates a battle fought there for the foundation of the first colonial settlements by Spain’s Tlaxcalan allies. More than two centuries later, Colotlán played an important role in the Hidalgo rebellion and by extension in the subsequent independence of Mexico. In a fascinating and ambitious book, Robinson tells the long and...

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