This monograph traces the history of three generations of Estrada woman—mother doña Marina, her daughters doña Luisa, doña Francisca, and doña Beatriz, and her granddaughter doña María. They figured among the first Spanish women to arrive or to be born in post-conquest Mexico Tenochtitlan. Discrete chapters trace each Estrada’s marriages, children, widowhood, and social and financial transactions, as well as the family’s rise and fall. Although some methodological issues detract from this prosopography, it provides striking insights into the challenges and the opportunities that confronted these first generations in colonial Mexico.

First, the problems. The overarching theme linking the chapters is neither subtle nor revisionist. The author posits that each woman “nurtured a female Estrada legacy” given that all five remained widows rather than remarrying (p. 44). Such a strategy permitted doña Marina to be her “own woman” rather than a “widowed mother”...

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