This new translation of Bernardo de Vargas Machuca’s Milicia indiana brings to a general readership an important but little-known source written by a conquistador who participated in and sometimes led a succession of late sixteenth-century expeditions to secure the frontiers of Spanish America from incursions by pirates, rebels, and recalcitrant Indi-ans. A latecomer to the campaigns that brought wealth and a prominent place in the historical record to early conquerors such as Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, and Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, Vargas Machuca “was destined not for conquest, but rather for ‘mopping up,’” much of it directed against “fringe-dwelling indigenous peoples” within the territory of the New Kingdom of Granada (pp. xvii, xxxiii).

Kris Lane’s introduction provides a snapshot of the New Kingdom of Granada in 1599, when Milicia indiana was penned. This is one of the main contributions of the introductory study and of the work itself: both show...

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