The Relaciones Geográficas compiled on order of Philip II have long been recognized by historians as a major group of sources on sixteenth-century Spanish Indies. Surprisingly little, however, is found in the historiographical literature about this body of materials.

They are replies by local officials in Middle and South America and apparently the Philippines to a standard questionnaire developed by imperial bureaucrats in Madrid, making 50 broad queries applicable alike to Spanish, Indian, and maritime communities in the overseas realms. Designed to elicit basic information about diverse regions, the questionnaire, a Memoria, was accompanied by printed instructions specifying in detail how alcaldes mayores, corregidores, and others assigned to answer it were to do so.

The stipulated procedures required a map of the area as well as the detailed textual report. Hence, in addition to a documentary corpus on the American and Philippine dominions in the years 1578-1585, there is a lesser but quite significant cartographic and pictorial body of material for the same period. It complements and often extends the written statements.

Some indication of the value of the maps may be gleaned from the fact that Alfonso Caso, one of Mexico’s major archeologists, was able to begin unravelling the history of the Mixteca region of southern Mexico through intensive study of native genealogies included on the RG [The abbreviation we shall use hereafter for Relaciones Geográficas] Pintura of Teozacualco. He calls this map the “Rosetta Stone” of Mixteca studies. Since 1949 he and others have been able to show conclusively that related native pictorial documents carry detailed Indian histories from about fifth century A.D. to Spanish conquest in the early sixteenth century.1 Apart from the useful data on the specifics of locations and terrain, and on genealogies, the RG maps have also been shown recently by Robertson to have important diagnostic value for historians of art and for students of acculturation. The maps display pre-conquest native as well as varying European iconographie usages and styles, and mixtures of the two.2

We are thus dealing with a general group of source materials of consequence to historical investigations in the environmental sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. The RG’s have never been very systematically exploited, for a wide variety of reasons. Chief among them is that these documents are not well-known, except to a small handful of specialists. Even they have not fully plumbed the depths.

Previous Literature

Despite the almost self-evident importance of the RG documents, individually and collectively, there has been relatively little written about them. The major point of departure for learning about their background, nature, and number is still the old work of Marcos Jiménez de la Espada, a Spanish scholar who published four volumes of these RG materials, 1881-1897. His erudite introduction to these volumes sums up much of what was then known about such matters.3 All subsequent treatments use his data. Little has been added, beyond publication of documents.

Besides Jiménez de la Espada, a number of scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries published collections of RG’s. Chief among them was Francisco del Paso y Troncoso, a Mexican savant sent abroad by his government especially to search for historical documents on Mexico in European archives.4 As we shall see, a large collection of these RG documents relating to Mexico was obtained independently by Joaquín García Icazbalceta, another well-known contemporary Mexican investigator. Various individual RG’s have been published in widely scattered places, often obscure journals. Very few RG’s, however, escaped initial notice by Jiménez de la Espada in his 1881 preliminary listing of these and related items5

Part of an elaborate project to produce a Handbook of Middle American Indians, comparable to the massive Handbook of South American Indians of two decades ago, are two volumes forming a Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, under the writer’s editorship.6 For this Guide, various scholars have been surveying intensively the RG’s covering Middle America. One result of such collective labors over the past 30 months is that we have now a relatively firm listing of those known to have been prepared.7 Some have been lost; several still lie unpublished in various repositories; many others have appeared in print. These are discussed further below.

In the course of these archival and bibliographical inquiries it has been necessary to reconstruct much of the bureaucratic and administrative history of the RG’s in general. It is to these matters we now turn.

The Questionnaires

Among the motives which originally urged Jiménez de la Espada to investigate the American RG’s so thoroughly were undocumented and arrogant statements by writers of the Spanish Peninsula that these overseas documents were merely adaptations in response to a set of questions developed by the bureaucrats of Philip II for Spain itself.8 There was, in fact, a parallel and much less complete coverage of parts of Spain by RG’s in the 1580’s; they have been partially printed.9 Much as Jiménez de la Espada suspected, the Peninsular RG’s appear actually to derive from procedures developed earlier for the American dominions. So New World provincial honor is seemingly vindicated.

From earliest days of European contact with the New World, Spanish monarchs demanded detailed descriptions of these newly found seas, islands, and mainland provinces. As mechanisms in Spain evolved to administer the ultramarine dependencies, specifications for such reports became more detailed and standardized. Important policy debates over perpetuity of the encomiendas, about Indian tribute systems, land grants, and many other sixteenth-century socioeconomic problems intensified and broadened the need for accurate data on American lands, people, resources, products, traditions, and the related information basic to formulation of Crown policy.

Such growing needs coincided with the appointment (in 1569) of Juan de Ovando y Godoy as Visitor to the Council of Indies, familiar to all as the major administrative organ in Spain for government of the New World. He was ordered to survey the overseas realms and to reorganize the work of the Council of the Indies.10

Ovando, a lawyer with strong interests in geography and history, earlier had codified much administrative material. He had also dispatched a number of scientific expeditions to the New World.11 The most famous of these is perhaps the mission of Dr. Francisco Hernández, who collected botanical, medicinal, and similar data and reported on other natural phenomena.12 Ovando also brought together the well-known set of Ordinances of Discovery and Population, issued by the Crown in 1573.13 But even more significant were his Ordinances to systematize the work of the Council of the Indies, given royal approval in 1571.14

An important section of the Ordinances created the office of Principal Royal Chronicler-Cosmographer, whose stated tasks were to prepare appropriate histories and geographies of the Indies.15 He was to form a volume or files describing all aspects of the Indies. Apparently the broad outlines of such a body of documents had already existed. But fuller implementation of the Ovandine idea was left mainly to the first Cronista-Cosmógrafo under the new Ordinances: Juan López de Velasco, who had been Ovando’s Secretary for the reorganization of the Council in 1567-1568.

He was appointed to the post in October, 1571, only a few days after the Crown had approved the Ordinances of the Council. He served until 1591, when he was promoted to Secretary to the King.16 However, he is now chiefly remembered in his role as compiler of a massive work entitled Geografía y descripción universal de las Indias, completed between 1571 and 1574 but not published until 1894 (from a corrupt copy!).17 The data included in that basic compendium in fact stemmed from questionnaires created by Ovando in 1569 for use in the overseas realms to gather administrative information on population, administrative divisions, and related matters.

In 1569 Ovando had sent a 37-chapter questionnaire to a number of jurisdictions, seeking information on “entradas y descubrimientos,” navigation, description of the provinces, and the like. He also drafted, about 1570, a parallel inquiry of some 200 queries to heads of civil and ecclesiastical units to obtain more detailed coverage of these specific and allied subjects.18 López de Velasco and Ovando probably found this inquiry too long and cumbersome; in 1573 a similar one of only 135 questions was also circulated. Apparently the results, a trickle of documents, went into the “Población y Descripción” files in the offices of the Cronista-Cosmógrafo.19 Until Ovando’s death in 1575 he seems to have aided López de Velasco quite actively in acquiring data about the Indies. His successors on the Council evidently carried on the Ovandine policies.20

In 1577 López de Velasco was awarded a 400-ducat bonus for various achievements. In that year he had just completed the geographical compilation mentioned above, and had just initiated two further main inquiries of considerable importance. One was a questionnaire on eclipses of the moon, as seen in various parts of the Indies; he prescribed the procedure for gathering accurate data, which would aid making maps of the New World and throw light on other scientific inquiries. The other was preparation and circulation of the questionnaire that brought into being the Relaciones Geográficas, with which we are here concerned.21

This was the 50-chapter inquiry, preceded by instructions on how to evoke answers to a wide range of topics. The questions are largely taken from the 200-question and 135 question documents developed earlier by Ovando. The first edition of the printed questionnaire bears the date of May 25, 1577; a second edition of 1584 was altered in minor-detail.22 It was sent, via the viceroys, to lesser Crown officials responsible for provincial areas, usually the county-size area known as a corregimiento, or a somewhat similar and usually larger jurisdiction known as an alcaldía mayor.23 Characteristically the printed Instructions, with questions, are often found still attached to the manuscript replies, despite the stipulation that they should be re-used.

The Instructions and Questionnaire of 1577 have been published several times in Spanish.24 No adequate English translation has been made of them, although in 1926 Zelia Nuttall’s version of Questions 1-37 appeared.25 Appendix 1 provides the writer’s complete translation.

From it may be seen that Questions 1-10 were meant primarily for towns with Spanish colonial citizens; 11 through 15 were especially applicable to Indian places. Queries 16-37 continued to subject these same inland communities to searching scrutiny but on more general topics. Questions 38-50 were designed to gather specific data on ports and other maritime towns.

The Questionnaire leaves few aspects of life untouched. For the sixteenth century it comprehensively covers matters still of interest in the twentieth.26 Starting out with political geography, the Questionnaire progresses to the environment and terrain, with queries on toponymic and related matters. It requires coverage of town bounds, and for Indian places, language affiliations, native governmental structures, modes of war, historical traditions, and comparative demography. Names of plants, both native and imported, are sought, with emphasis on medicinal herbs. Questions on mineral resources are followed by others on defensive arrangements, house types, and economic life. Religious and social welfare institutions close the portion of the Questionnaire to be prepared for non-maritime settlements.

Questions 38 through 50 sought additional specialized information about tides, depth of bays, offshore islands, landfalls, and other matters of special concern to mariners. Question 42 also again requested a painting or chart of these phenomena.

Just as there were in the Indies a wide variety of places and conditions to be reported, so the responses themselves are diverse, yet within the general framework of the Questionnaire. Quite apart from the difference in length and quality of answers to the queries, according to the interest and abilities of the local official, priest, or encomendero ordered to make the report, is the variation seen in their handling of matters not clearly covered by the Instructions.

The Instructions failed to specify how reports on rather complicated jurisdictions were to be divided or subdivided. No problems arose when a single official reported on a single corregimiento; he followed the Instructions, listed its dependencies and submitted a single or simple RG. There are a great number of these.

However, jurisdictions were not always so simple. Especially difficult to describe were alcaldías mayores, which contained two or more corregimientos. Complex in themselves were some corregimientos having large towns dependent on the principal cabecera, yet themselves subordinate cabeceras, each with smaller dependencies or “subjects. ” In general officials took one of two approaches, creating two further types of RG’s.

The more comprehensible is what we may term a “Composite RG.” At the outset the official usually listed briefly the main places of his jurisdiction, and then in that sequence prepared for each a more or less extensive RG. Thus for Xalapa de la Vera Cruz (Tlaxcala) there are 20 such separate sub-reports by the alcalde mayor, one after another in geographical order.27

The other major mode creates what we call a “Complex RG.” In answer to each question, the alcalde mayor or corregidor provided information on that topic for each major place in his jurisdiction. Usually he wrote a separate paragraph on each of the subordinate places, following much the same order of presentation under each Question. Many of the RG’s from Yucatán, prepared by encomenderos on the two or three widely scattered towns entrusted to them, are such complex documents.28

These disparate responses to a standard questionnaire in the end give the same kind of information, but do complicate generalizations about the number of RG’s. One complex RG for a principal region may in fact provide replete data on as many as fifteen smaller towns.

The Corpus

It would strain credulity to state that each provincial Spanish official complied fully and faithfully with the royal orders. Not all answered the questionnaire, nor all the questions, but many did. What is perhaps most surprising, and important, however, is that we still have so many of these RG’s. A central consideration is the quantity of unique data they contain.

The information we now have about the numbers of RG’s is tabulated (Table 1) below. Details on the composite and complex RG’s from New Spain will be found in Table 2, but for purposes here only the principal documents of all places in the Indies are so quantified. The material on the Caribbean, Central America (apart from Guatemala), and South America is derived from Mareos Jiménez de la Espada’s 1881 “Catálogo,” hence is subject to later verification and amendment.29 Unfortunately, we know little or nothing about the RG’s of the Philippines.30 But from even this rather crude array, certain broad generalizations emerge.

The regions and areas of New Spain contributed most of the RG’s. However, none is recorded for its northern borderlands, few or none appearing to cover realms above a line approximately from Tampico on the Gulf to Tepic on the Pacific side. Thus omitted are the Spanish areas of the present southeastern United States, notably Florida, those of Texas, California, and other parts of the present Southwest, and most of northern Mexico. For the Caribbean islands there is in this series only a single surviving RG, that for Puerto Rico. Apart from two Guatemalan items we have little from Central America.31

In South America coverage is exclusively confined to Andean places. Present Argentina (except a document for Tucumán), Chile, and Panama record no RG’s. Although then recently added to Spanish possessions, Brazil does not seem to have been included in the surveys of this series.

The scheduling also seems clear. The earliest returns came from Venezuela, 1578-1579. The bulk of the RG’s from New Spain were prepared 1579-1581; a later group supplemented them in 1584-1585. Those for Ecuador, all 1582, were followed by the RG’s from Peru, beginning in 1583 but mostly dated 1585-86, with a single late return in 1589. Most were thus compiled 1579-1586.

The Relaciones Geográficas of New Spain

Table 1 shows that the RG’s from New Spain are the most numerous. Table 2 reveals that we have record of at least 166 principal documents, less than half of which are “simple.” The composite and complex types together actually contain an equal amount of data on another 248 subordinate cabeceras. Collectively the RG documents provide extensive information on at least 414 major towns, plus innumerable smaller hamlets dependent administratively on them.

The cartographic documents accompanying the RG’s—maps, plans, charts—indicate that many compilers did not comply with the Instructions ordering such depictions. Not every RG, simple, composite, or complex, has a map; some RG’s have several. In a few instances the document states that a map was prepared, or it appears on an inventory, but today the map is lost. Apart from one dubious item, we do not have the reverse situation: a known and extant map, whose text is lost.32 In another ease the text of the RG of Suchitepec, Oaxaca, is found in the library of the Royal Academy of History in Madrid, but the five maps originally belonging to it are lodged in the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla, much to the puzzlement of earlier investigators who there sought in vain to attach them to the proper text.33Table 3 summarizes data on extant maps.

A tantalizing group of texts and maps is labelled as “Lost.” Knowledge of them derives from collation of various colonial lists and inventories, and from statements in texts of the RG’s themselves. Some of the choice morsels to be rediscovered by the modern investigator are these “Lost” items: the RG and map of Mexico City itself, and several maps and texts from the Mixteca. Table 4 summarizes the missing or lost items. It does not include texts of two published RG’s, Xalapa de la Veracruz and Taxco, which Dr. Adele Kibre reports have disappeared (about 1925) from the Archivo General in Sevilla in modern times.

On the basis of the various separate tabulations above, we can now sketch the total corpus of RG’s and their maps from New Spain, including the “Lost.” We have added one column in Table 5 to show the publication status of texts and maps. They show a total of 191 texts, of which 166 survive; 85 maps, of which 71 are extant. Thus from a total of 276 major items, 237 or about 86% remain to current scholarship.

Colonial Lists and Inventories

Let us review very briefly the four important colonial documents which have aided in establishing this total of RG materials for New Spain. One is sixteenth century, another seventeenth, and two are from the close of the eighteenth century.

On November 21, 1583, the Cronista-Cosmographer López de Velasco signed a receipt when officials of the Council of the Indies turned over to him 121 RG’s, plus a folder of maps and plans from New Spain.34 Of the RG texts in the 1583 Inventory, 23 are now lost, as are all the maps separately listed. But repositories of the others are known. We also have many RG’s not included on the 1583 López de Velasco inventory.

About 1636 the Spanish scholar and bibliographer, Antonio León de Pinelo listed 105 documents in his possession concerning the geography of the New World.35 He mentions only 1 RG (Yanguitlan) not on the Velasco Inventory of 1583. Many apparently never were replaced in their proper files, and are accounted “Lost.” In the Pinelo listing are 17 RG’s from Middle America, all of which are “Lost.” Their sequence on the document suggest that they may have formed a single legajo or file bundle. Researchers hope, of course, that it will some day reappear.

With the exception of the 17 strayed Pinelo items and 7 “Lost” that López de Velasco alone records, the main collection of RG’s seems to have survived almost intact until the end of the eighteenth century. We have for that time two inventories, both dated 1783.

One is a memorandum by the Royal Cosmographer, Juan Bautista Muñoz, noting 255 items that he had set aside in the General Archives of Simancas for a large general history of the Indies, a work he never completed.36 A correlative document gives the items actually shipped to Muñoz from Simancas to Madrid, by an archivist known to us only by his last name, Larrañaga.37 Larrañaga seemingly numbered the documents themselves to correspond to his record of the shipment. They came chiefly from a file in the then Sala de Indias (Simancas) generally labelled “Descripción y Población.”

Either López de Velasco or Céspedes seems to have organized this file in which the documents in eight legajos, “Desc. y Pob.,” are consecutively numbered, legajo numbers added. A partial reconstruction of that old file shows there were at least 1,051 documents in it, including most of the RG’s from the Indies. The Desc. y Pob. numbers and the Larrañaga numbers are important aids in tracing the pedigrees and provenance of the RG’s, and in keeping track of them in their various wanderings.

For move they did. After their original arrival in Spain from the Indies seemingly the RG’s were handed from the Council to the Cosmographer, as we see from the López de Velasco document of 1583. Later, possibly in a general transfer of documents from the Council of the Indies files in Madrid that occurred in 1659 and again in 1718, they were sent to Simancas. We have just seen that Juan Bautista Muñoz in 1783 ordered them returned to Madrid, and that Larrañaga shipped them.

It may here be recalled that Muñoz was also primarily responsible for creating specialized archives to house the exclusively American papers. After some discussion, the famous Archivo de Indias in Sevilla was inaugurated in 1785: to it were to come not only papers from Simancas relating to the Indies, but similar and related documents from a wide variety of Crown administrative offices dealing with overseas matters. The papers actually started to arrive in 1786, the beginnings of a collection of some 34,000 legajos that now constitute its holdings.38

Disappearance and Reappearance of the Relaciones Geográficas

We now enter a realm of drama and mystery, where facts are few and detective work still lies ahead. Between 1783 and 1853 better than half of the RG’s disappeared.

With thousands and thousands of other papers, 80 RG texts and 22 maps did go from Madrid to Sevilla, presumably around 1787. AU but two texts are in two legajos of Papeles de Simancas in Indiferente General (Legajos 1529, 1530); and maps are now kept in a separate section. Virtually all the AGI materials have been published except two maps (Valladolid [Yucatán], and Tuzantla), and a sub-RG from Tuzantla (part of the composite RG for Temazcaltepec). The Library of Congress was given microfilmed copies of the AGI RG’s by the Carnegie Institution of Washington. They offer few problems of provenance or of accessibiUty.39 This is not true of the other half of the corpus.

From 1783, when Larrañaga shipped the materials to Muñoz, until mid-nineteenth century, we lose track of 86 RG texts on New Spain, together with 49 maps. Where they remained hidden during the Napoleonic invasions and civil wars in Spain is now completely unknown. One possibility, yet to be fuUy explored, is that they were part of a famous book and manuscript collection formed by the Spanish writer, bibliographer, and politician, Bartolomé José Gallardo. The date of his death, 1853, coincides with the reappearance of one of two lots of the RG’s that did not go to Sevilla.40 This may be mere coincidence, as we have no firm information on how one group of RG’s left Spain.

The lot with which we are now concerned was purchased in Spain by Joaquín García Icazbalceta. Details of this private sale are completely unknown; his published correspondence furnishes no clues. These original documents became Volumes XX, XXIII, XXIV, and XXV of his “Collection of Documents for the History of America,” started in 1849 and to 1853 largely made up of transcripts or copies of colonial materials. At his death in 1894, García Icazbalceta’s son, Luis Pimentel, inherited the manuscripts and books collected by his father. They remained in the family until 1937, when the heirs sold the bulk of the manuscripts to the University of Texas, where they now remain.41

From their acquisition by García Icazbalceta in 1853, when the RG’s passed from Spain to Mexico, until 1937, when they migrated to the United States, various lists of them were published. García Ieazbalceta himself prepared one such list of his manuscripts, including the RG originals, for his friend Nicolás León. Later it was published in 1927 by Federico Gómez de Orozco.42 In comparing these various inventories with one made after the materials reached Texas, it appears that no original RG’s were lost in the 1937 transfer.43

The Texas collection contains 41 text documents and 35 RG maps. Various individual investigators for private research have obtained copies of some texts and maps but no microfilms are commonly available. The question of how many texts are published is complicated by circumstances, although it is quite clear that 20 of the 35 maps still remain unpublished.

When García Icazbalceta obtained the original documents in 1853, he followed a system somewhat at variance with modern practice. He copied all the texts, by hand, to form two separate, but unnumbered volumes of his manuscript collection. Generally his handcopies of original documents served him as printer’s copy for the published collections of materials he issued during his lifetime. In the case of the RG’s, however, he published neither originals nor copies of them (with a very minor exception).44 He allowed both originals and copies to be used freely by contemporary investigators, such as Manuel Orozco y Berra and Nicolás León, and even made further handcopies for the latter’s use.45

It is not clear whether a few of the RG’s from his collection published after don Joaquin’s death by his son were from the originals or the handcopies.46 We do know, however, that Luis Pimentel made available to Gómez de Orozco47 and to Alfonso Caso48 the JGI copies, some of which they published in 1927-28. Robert Barlow,49 Ignacio Bermal,50 and Luis Vargas Rea51 later also published some of these JGI handcopies. These publications not only omit the maps but tend to be unreliable because of copyists’ errors and omissions.

The two volumes of JGI handcopies of the originals (that became part of the Latin American Collection at the University of Texas) were not included in the sale to the latter institution in 1937. For awhile they were property of Gómez de Orozco, and from him passed to the library of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, where various investigators continue to utilize them.52

Hence, of the originals in Texas, several texts (sans maps) have been published from the JGI handcopies that remained in Mexico. The Texas group is the largest body of unpublished RG original texts and maps.53

The final lot of strayed RG’s reappeared in Spain about a decade after those which García Icazbalceta purchased and brought to Mexico in 1853. Nothing is known by the writer about a deal by which the Spanish government in 1863 purchased for the Royal Academy of History three volumes of these RG documents. Search of the published material of the time yielded no details about the transaction. It may well be that Dr. Leoncio Cabrero, who recently wrote a three volume thesis on these materials, has clarified some of the mystery surrounding this important acquisition.54

Documents for South America fill one volume. The RG’s for New Spain are found, with other materials, in the remaining two. A recent survey by Peter Gerhard indicates that there are in the RAH 45 principal RG documents, with maps, and one additional unattached and still unresolved map.55 Nearly all the RAH items have been published, primarily by Paso y Troncoso, or by Vargas Rea from his transcripts. There are no readily accessible microfilms of these RAH originals in the United States, nor is there a published listing of the RG holdings.

Thus, in summary, the surviving corpus of RG’s is presently divided among three repositories. No RG’s are now known to be in private hands. With 80 text documents in the AGI, and another 45 in the RAH, the Spanish holdings each outrank the Texas collection of 41 documents. In general the majority of all these texts is in print, often in substandard form. Only two or three of the 71 magnificent maps accompanying the RG’s appear in full color, doing them proper justice.56

Table 6 recapitulates information on the extant RG’s, by repositories. It must be used with some caution. In noting the published status of documents, the table does not reveal that such publication may be the questionable texts issued by Vargas Rea, or their appearance in serials themselves more inaccesible than the manuscript RG’s. Considerable additional investment of time and money will be required before the surviving RG’s can be said to be fully available to scholars.


The RG’s prepared in response to the 1577 Questionnaire is the most complete and important series of the Relaciones, but not the only one. Two others merit quick mention.

In 1604 the Conde de Lemus, President of the Council of Indies (1603-1609) and the Cosmographer Andrés García de Céspedes (1596-1611) attempted to emulate the earlier successful gathering of data. They formulated a new Questionnaire that ran to 355 separate queries.57 It was circulated, and intermittently some returns to it were prepared from 1608 through about 1612. Several responses have been published. Many are also known in long manuscript summaries or excerpts made by León de Pinelo or as numbered items in his Memoria.58 Investigation to this secondary seventeenth-century corpus is a future task.

For New Spain there is also a series of Relaciones prepared mainly by clerics, primarily for northern areas, around 1777. The bulk of them forms two manuscript volumes in Spain; others are in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.59 A preliminary listing of them was made by Robert Barlow, who also published a few.60 The indefatigable Vargas Rea has also issued a number.61 With but very few exceptions they are much less revealing and useful for their times and places than are the 1578-1586 documents for theirs.

Summary Conclusions

The Relaciones Geográficas, 1578-1586, compiled under orders of Philip II for the Spanish Indies form an unusual and important group of sources, providing data not obtainable elsewhere on a wide variety of topics, at the local and regional level. The fact that they are modular or standardized in their topical coverage gives them particular significance for comparative studies of topics or of regions. This value is enhanced by their virtual contemporaneous compilation, falling four years either side of 1582, a single moment of colonial historical time. To these attributes are added the graphic and cartographical elements. Most of them are still capable of revealing important new information of surprising variety.

The more detailed knowledge we have recently begun to accumulate about the Relaciones has supported and extended the judgment passed on them in 1947 by Clarence H. Haring. He stated that they represented “one of our richest sources of information regarding both Spanish and Indian communities in the New World before 1600.”62 Even though Ovando and López de Velasco were unable to fulfill their dream of preparing a comprehensive volume on the places and people of the sixteenth century overseas Spanish dominions, modern students can thank them for their broadly conceived and ably executed program that brought into being the Relaciones, a legacy that continues to yield important scholarly returns.


1. Cédula


Know ye, our Governor of….

Those of our Council of the Indies having at various times discussed the procedure that should be established in order that within it there can be certain and detailed information about the things of the said Indies, so that the Council can attend to their good government, it has seemed a proper thing to decree that a general description be made of the whole condition of our Indies, islands, and their provinces, the most accurate and certain possible.

In order that you properly aid in forming such description, you will comply with the Instructions that have been drawn up for it, in printed form. They are herewith being sent to you. Because it is our will that such descriptions be made specifically in each province, we command you to make a description of that city in which you reside and of the places within its jurisdiction as soon as you receive this, our Cédula.

You shall send to each of the governors, corregidores, and alcaldes mayores of the districts within your jurisdiction the number of the said Instructions which you deem necessary for them to distribute among the towns of Spaniards and of Indians within the scope of their gobernación, corregimiento, or alcaldía mayor. You shall despatch them under command that as promptly as possible they shall comply and do what they are ordered to do by the said Instructions.

You shall collect the reports which may be made in each place. You shall send them, together with those you yourself have prepared, as promptly as possible to our Council of the Indies, for review. It will advise us if there are faults in them, and for what cause, and make appropriate recommendations.

Signed, San Lorenzo el Real, 25 May 1577.


By Command of His Majesty, Antonio de Eraso.


2. Instruction

Firstly, the Governors, Corregidora, or Alcaldes Mayores to whom the Viceroys, Audiencias, or other governmental or administrative officials, may send the printed Instruction and Memorandum are, before everything, to make a list and statement of the towns inhabited by Spaniards and by Indians within their jurisdictions, on which only the names of these towns are to appear, written clearly and legibly. This list is to be sent immediately to the officials of government, so that they may return it to His Majesty and the Council of the Indies, together with the reports prepared in each town.

They shall distribute this printed Instruction and Memorandum throughout their jurisdiction to all towns of Spaniards and Indians, sending them to the municipal councils of towns in which there are Spaniards, or, if these are lacking, to the parish priests or monks charged with religious instruction. They shall directly order the councils or recommend from his Majesty to the ecclesiastics, that within a short time they satisfactorily respond to the queries, as specified. The reports they make, together with this Instruction, are to be sent to the above official of government who ordered them. The latter shall redistribute the Instructions and Memoranda to other towns, to which none has been sent previously.

In the towns and cities where the Governors, Corregidores, or other administrative officials reside they are to write the reports themselves. Or they may encharge them to intelligent persons with knowledge of matters of the area, requiring them to follow the specifications of the Memorandum.

Persons in the towns to whom responsibility for each of them is given for preparing the particular report shall respond to the chapters of the Memorandum, in the following order and form:

Firstly, on a separate paper, as a cover sheet for their report, they are to write the date—day, month, year—with the name of the person or persons who aided in preparing it. Also the name of the Governor or other person who sent them the Instruction shall appear.

After carefully reading each paragraph of the Memorandum, they are to write down separately what they have to say, answering each one of the questions it contains, one after the other. Those questions to which they have nothing to answer are to be omitted without comment, passing on to the following ones, until all are read. The answers are to be short and clear. That which is certain shall be stated as such, and that which is not shall be declared doubtful, in such a way that the reports shall be valid, and in conformance with the following queries:

3. Memorandum of the Things to Which Responses Are to Be Made and Concerning How the Report Shall Be Prepared.


In the towns of Spaniards state the name of the district or province, also the meaning of the name in the native language and the reason it is so named.


State who was the discoverer and conqueror of said province and by whose order or mandate it was discovered. Give the year of its discovery and conquest and all that can be readily learned about it.


State in general the climate and quality of said province or district; whether it is cold or hot, dry or damp, with much rainfall or little and at what season there is more or less; and the prevailing winds, whether violent, and from what quarter and at what seasons of the year.


State whether the country is level, rough, flat or mountainous; with many or few rivers and fountains, with abundance or scarcity of water; whether fertile or lacking in pasture; with an abundance or scarcity of fruits and subsistence crops.


State whether the district is inhabited by many or few Indians and whether in former times it had a greater or lesser population; the causes for the increase or diminution and whether the inhabitants live permanently together in regular towns or not.

State also what is the character and condition of their intelligence, inclinations and modes of life; also whether different languages are spoken throughout the whole province or whether they have one which is spoken by all.


State the latitude in which these towns of Spaniards lie, if this has been taken or if known, or if there is any one who knows how to take it. State on what days of the year the sun does not cast a shadow at noon.


State the distance in leagues between each city or town occupied by Spaniards and the city in which dwells the Audiencia in whose jurisdiction it belongs, or the residence of the governor to whom it is subject; state also the directions in which said cities and towns lie from each other.


Give also the distance in leagues between each city or town occupied by Spaniards and those which bound them in adjoining districts, stating in what direction they lie; whether the leagues are long or short, the country level or broken and mountainous; whether the roads are straight or winding and good or bad for travel.


State the name and surname that every city or town has or has had and the reason, if known, why it was so named; also who named it and who was the founder, and by whose order or mandate he made the settlement; the year of its foundation and the number of inhabitants at that and at the present time.


Describe the site and state the situation of said town, if it lies high or low or in a plain, and give a plan or colored painting showing the streets, squares, and other places; mark the monasteries. This can be easily sketched on paper, and shall be done as well as possible. It is to be noted which parts of the town face North and which South.


In the case of Indian towns it is only to be stated how far they are from the capital, in what district and jurisdiction they lie, and which is the nearest center (cabecera) for the teaching of religious doctrine. The names of all of the chief towns in its jurisdiction are to be given as well as those of their respective dependencies.


State also the distances between the other towns of Indians or of Spaniards that surround it and the directions in which they lie and whether the leagues are long or short and the roads level or straight or mountainous and winding.


State what the name of the Indian town means in the native tongue, why it was so named; what more there is to know about it; what it is in the language which the native inhabitants of the place actually speak.


State to whom the Indians belonged in heathen times and what dominion was exercised over them by their lords; what tribute they paid and the form of worship, rites and customs they had, good or bad.


State how they were governed; against whom they carried on warfare; how they fought; the clothes and costumes they wore and now wear and whether they used to be more or less healthy anciently than they are now, and what reasons may be learned for this.


State about all towns, of Spaniards or of Indians, whether the town is situated in a mountain, valley or open plain, and the names of the mountains or valleys and district in which it lies. Record the native meaning of each of these names.


State whether the town is situated in a healthful or unhealthful place and if unhealthful, the cause for this if it can be learned; note the kinds of illness that are prevalent and the remedies employed for curing them.


State how far or close is any nearby remarkable mountain or mountain range, in what direction it lies, and what it is called.


State what principal river or rivers pass near to the town; at what distance they do so; how abundant they are and whether there is anything remarkable about their sources, their waters, its water-supply and how banks are exploited; also whether it is employed or could be employed for various irrigation works on an important scale.


Mention the important lakes, lagoons and fountains within the bounds of the towns, and any notable things about them there may be.


Mention volcanoes, caves and all other remarkable and admirable works of nature there may be in the district, which are worthy of being known.


Describe the native trees that commonly grow wild in said district; and benefits to be gained from them, their fruits and their wood. State for what they are or might be useful.


Mention whether the cultivated trees and fruit trees in the district brought there from Spain or elsewhere grow well or not.


Mention the grains and seeds and other plants and vegetables which have served or serve as subsistence for the natives.


State what plants have been introduced there from Spain and whether wheat, barley, wines and the olive flourish; in what quantity they are harvested and whether there are silkworms or cochineal in the district, and in what quantities.


Mention the herbs or aromatic plants with which the Indians cure themselves, and their medicinal or poisonous qualities.


Describe the native animals, birds of prey and domestic fowl and those introduced from Spain and state how well they breed and multiply.


Describe the gold and silver mines, and other veins of metal or minerals, and mineral dyes there may be in the district and within the confines of the town.


State the deposits of precious stones, jasper, marble, and other important and esteemed materials which likewise may exist.


State whether there are salt pans in or near said town and from where they obtain their supplies of salt and of all other things they lack for sustenance and clothing.


Describe the form and construction of their houses and the building materials for them that are found in the town or the other places from which they are brought.


Describe the fortresses in said town and the strongholds which are in their vicinity and within their confines.


Describe the trade and commerce and dealings by which the Spanish and native inhabitants of the town support themselves and state what they produce and how they pay their tributes.


State the diocese of the archbishopric or bishopric or abbey to which the town belongs; the district in which it is situated and its distance in leagues. State in what direction from it lies the cathedral town and the capital of the district and whether the leagues are long or short; the roads straight or winding and the country flat or rough.


Note the cathedral or parish church or churches in each town, with the number of benefices and prebends in each; if the town contains any chapel or noteworthy endowment, state what it is, and who was its founder.


Mention the monasteries of friars and convents of nuns of each Order there may be in each town; when and by whom they were founded and the number of friars and nuns therein. Mention also anything noteworthy there may be in the towns.


Mention also the hospitals, colleges and pious institutions there may be in said towns and by whom and when they were instituted.


If the towns are maritime, in addition to the above state in the report the nature of the sea which reaches them, if it is calm or stormy, and what sorts of storms, and other perils, and at what seasons, more or less, these commonly occur.


State whether the coasts have beaches or are costa brava without them, and the significant reefs, and perils to navigation there may be along the coast.


Note the tides, and rising of the sea, and how high these are, and at what time they rise and ebb, on what days and hours of the day.


State the main capes and points, and notable bays within the vicinity, with their names and extent, if these can be declared accurately.


State the ports and places of disembarkation there may be on the said coast, and provide a chart and map of them, as best possible, on a sheet of paper, through which it may be seen the form and size they have.


State their size and capacity, with approximate paces and leagues they may have in length and breadth, as near as possible, and how many vessels they can accommodate.


State their depth in brazas, how clean is the bottom, special deeps and shallows in them and where; state if free of boring-worms and other inconveniences.


State the entrances and exits to them, and how they face, and the prevailing winds for entering and leaving them.


Note the ease or difficulties of obtaining firewood, fresh water, and supplies, and other good or bad features for entering and staying in them.


Give the names of islands belonging to the coast, why they are so named, their shapes and forms, and show them on the map, if possible, with length and breadth, and area, their soils, pastures, trees, and benefits they may offer, as well as the birds and animals on them, and their important rivers and watering spots.


State generally the sites of depopulated towns of Spaniards, when they were populated and when abandoned, and whatever may be learned of the reasons for their depopulation.


Mention any other notable thing about the natural features, and any effects of soil, air, sky, which may be found in any part and which are worthy of being noted.


Once this report is prepared, the persons who have aided in its preparation will sign it, and without delay send it, together with this Instruction, to the person who has dispatched it to them.



Repository Data
Publication Data
Principal Cabecera Data (Yucatán)

Bishopric or Archbishopric

México was the sole archbishopric. Places noted as “N. Galicia” were in the bishopric of Guadalajara.


Alfonso Caso, “El mapa de Teozacoalco,” Cuadernos Americanos, año 8 (sep.-oct. 1949), 145-181. See also Barbro Dahlgren de Jordán, La Mixteca: su cultura e historia prehispánicas (México, 1954); Philip Dark, Mixtec Ethnohistory: A Method of Analysis of the Codical Art (London, 1958). Among recent publications in a long series of major items by Lic. Caso is Interpretation of the Codex Bodley 2858, translated by Ruth Morales and revised by John Paddock, Sociedad Mexicana de Antropología (México, 1960), and his “Los lienzos mixtecos de Ihuitlán y Antonio de León,” in Homenaje a Pablo Martínez del Río (México, 1961), pp. 237-74. All contain bibliography.


Donald Robertson, “The Relaciones Geográficas of Mexico,” XXXIII Congreso Internacional de Americanistas, Actas (3 v., San José, Costa Rica, 1959), II, 540-547. See also his Mexican Manuscript Painting of the Early Colonial Period: The Metropolitan School (New Haven, 1959).


Marcos Jiménez de la Espada, Relaciones geográficas de Indias (4 v., Madrid, 1881-1895) [Hereinafter abbreviated JDE], esp. I (1881), “Advertencias.”


Silvio Zavala, Francisco del Paso y Troncoso: su misión en Europa, 1892-1916 (México, 1939); Manuel Carrera Stampa, Misiones mexicanas en archivos europeos (México, 1949), pp. 5-55. Paso y Troncoso published RG’s in the incomplete Papeles de la Nueva España: Segunda Serie (10, i.e., 7 v., Madrid-Paris, 1905), IV-VII (incomplete) [Hereinafter abbreviated PNE].


“Catálogo alfabético de las relaciones y descripciones geográficas, geográficas-históricas y geográfico-estadísticas … de orden del Consejo de Indias,” JDE, I, cxxi-cliv. There is a total of 450 various items, some duplicates.


Howard F. Cline, “Ethnohistory: A Progress Report on the Handbook of Middle American Indians,” HAHR, XL (May 1960), 224-229.


Grateful appreciation is expressed to many colleagues who provided information and aid for this summary essay, among whom are Peter Gerhard, Henry J. Bruman, John Glass, Nettie Lee Benson, Adele Kibre, Donald Robertson, Donald Brand, H. B. Nicholson, Charles O. Houston, Leoncio Cabrero, and others.


Jiménez de la Espada was particularly irritated by statements in Fermín Caballero, Discurso de recepción en la Academia de la Historia (Madrid, 1866) dealing with RG’s of Spain, and touching the ultramarine RG’s in passing.


Francisco Rafael de Uhagón y Guardamino (Marqués de Laurencio), Relaciones históricas de los siglos xvi y xvii (Madrid, 1896); Carmelo Viñas y Mey and Ramón Paz, Relaciones histórico-geográfico-estadísticas de los pueblos de España hechas por iniciativa de Felipe II (2 v., Madrid, 1949-51 [2 v. in preparation]). List of Spanish RG’s in Academia Real de la Historia, Memorias, VI (Madrid, 1821) 614-617.


Clarence H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (New York, 194/;, pp. 102-127. Ernesto Schäfer, El Consejo Real y Supremo de las Indias (2 v., Sevilla, 1935-1947), I, 129-137. Marcos Jiménez de la Espada, El Código Ovandino (Madrid, 1891). “Documentos sobre la visita del Consejo de Indias por el Licenciado Juan de Ovando,” in Víctor Máurtua, Antecedentes de la Recopilación de Yndios (Madrid, 1906), pp. 1-8. Little is known about details of the visita, but apparently many major documents are included in “Autos originales de la visita de Juan de Ovando al Consejo de Indias, 1567-1568,” MS, British Museum Add 33, 983, 351 ff., gift of Lord Northbrook (1891), contents of which are described by José de la Peña Cámara, “Nuevos datos sobre la visita de Juan Ovando al Consejo de Indias, 1567-1568,” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, XII (1935), 425-38, and in Catalogue of Additions to the Manuscripts in the British Muesum in the Years 1888-1893 (London, 1894), pp. 149-153.


Schäfer, Consejo Real, I, 118-119; II, 406, 421. Haring, Spanish Empire, p. 112. JDE, I, lvii-lix.


Germán Somolinos d’Ardois, Vida y obra de Francisco Hernández, precidida de España y Nueva España en la época de Felipe II por José Miranda, Universidad de México, Obras Completas de Francisco Hernández, I (México, 1960), 44-47, 53-54. Schäfer, Consejo, II, 421-423.


“Ordenanzas sobre Descubrimientos Nuevos y Poblaciones [July 13, 1573],” in Joaquín F. Pacheco, Francisco de Cárdenas, and Luis Torres de Mendoza, Colección de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las antiguas posesiones españolas de América… (42 v., Madrid, 1864-84) [Hereinafter abbreviated DII], VIII, 484-537 [incorrectly dated6], XVL 142-187. Partially translated in Zelia Nuttall, “Royal Ordinances concerning the Laying-out of New Towns,” HAHR, IV (Nov. 1921), 743-753; V (May 1922) 249-254.


“Ordenanzas Reales del Consejo de Indias,” DII, XVI, 406-460. Antonio Muro Orejón, ed., “Las ordenanzas de 1571 del Real y Supremo Consejo de las Indias,” Anuario de Estudios Americanos, XIV (1957), 363-423. The first Ordinances were the initial nine chapters of the New Laws (November 1542); Ovandine Ordinances (September 24, 1571) remained in force until amended slightly, 1636, Schäfer, Consejo, I, 234-244. Haring, Spanish Empire, p. 106.


Duties of the Cosmógrafo-Cronista Mayor were stipulated in Ordinances 117-122, DII, XVI, 457-460, also in JDE, I lxi-lxii. These and other prescriptions are discussed in Rómulo D. Carbia, La Crónica Oficial de las Indias Occidentales: Estudio histórico y crítico acerca de la Historiografía Mayor de Hispano-América en los siglos xvi a xviii (La Plata, 1934; 2nd ed., Buenos Aires, 1940), pp. 100-117. Schäfer, Consejo, I, 129-137; II, 407-409, in which he correctly disagrees with artificial distinction between “Crónica Mayor” and “Menor” stated by Carbia; Haring, Spanish Empire, pp. 102-104.


JDE, I, lxxi-lxxxv, xciv. Schäfer, Consejo, I, 119; II, 406-408. Carbia, Crónica Oficial, pp. 143-149.


Juan López de Velasco, Geográfía y descripción universal de las Indios, recopiladas por el Cosmógrafo-Cronista… desde el año 1571 al de 1574, publicado por primera vez… por don Justo Zaragoza (Madrid, 1894); JDE, III, xi, notes that this is based on a defective copy, sans maps, in Biblioteca Provincial Toledo; better copies are in Biblioteca National, Madrid, and Muñoz Collection, Royal Academy of History, Madrid [Hereinafter abbreviated RAH]; both the latter seem derived from the original in the Escorial, which has drawings and maps. The drawings were seemingly reproduced by Herrera; he probably used the maps, which accounts for his anachronistic cartographic coverage, noted by Howard F. Cline, “The Ortelius maps of New Spain, 1579, and related contemporary materials, 1560-1610,” Imago Mundi, XVI (1962), 98-115, cit. at p. 112, figs. 9, 10. Herrera used RG texts but not their maps.


JDE, I, xliv-xlvii. An incomplete listing of published versions of these would include Fr. Bartolomé de Ledesma, “Descripción del Arzobispado de México,” PNE, III, with similar items ibid., V, 202-286; “Relación de los Obispados de Tlaxcala, Michoacan, Oaxaca y otros lugares en el siglo xvi,” in Luis García Pimentel, Documentos históricos de México (6 v., Paris-Madrid, 1903-1906), II. Many are also in Bibliófilos Españoles, Relaciones Históricas de América: Primera mitad del siglo xvi (Madrid, 1916).


Carbia, Crónica Oficial, pp. 81-99. JDE, I, lxx, states that until the 1577 Questionnaire few replies to earlier inquiries had been received.


Ovando died September 8, 1575, JDE, I, lxxii. Following Juan López de Velasco’s promotion, 1591, the double office was split; his successors as Cosmógrafo were Pedro Ambrosio de Onderiz (1591-96) and Andrés García Céspedes (1596-1611); the latter was not replaced, duties of the office being transferred to Colegio Supérior de la Compañía de Jesus, 1628, Schäfer, Consejo, II, 406-412. Céspedes was ordered to reorganize the files, hence the frequent “Visto, Céspedes,” on many RG’s. Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas became Cronista Mayor in 1596 and produced his Historia general, first major official chronicle, Carbia, Crónica Oficial, pp. 150-181; Schäfer, Consejo, II, 413-415.


Schäfer, Consejo, II, 407, note 12, lists the various bonus and other payments to López de Velasco, total 1,600 ducats above salary to 1579. JDE, I, lxxii-lxxiii.


Texts of 1577 and 1584 Questionnaires compared, JDE, I, cxiv-cxix.


In New Spain most replies to the Questionnaire indicate that the viceroy transmitted them; several name him, Martín Enríquez, one reply noting that he had been transferred to Peru; others mention Viceroy Lorenzo Xuárez de Mendoza, Conde de Coruñas, as the commanding official. Several others state they received Instructions from Gordian Cassano, Contador y Administrador General de la Renta de Alcabala.


JDE, I, cxiv-cxix. PNE, IV, 2-7. Jesús Amaya, Ameca: protofundación mexicana (México, 1951), pp. 23-75. Juan E. Hernández y Dávalos, “Materiales para un Diccionario geográfico, estadístico, histórico y biográfico del Estado de Jalisco,” Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía e Estadística, Boletín, IIa Ep., 2 (jun. 1870), 460-64. This is a sample list.


Zelia Nuttall, ed. and trans., “Official reports on the towns of Tequizistlan, Tepechpan, Alcoman, and San Juan Teotihuacan, sent by Francisco de Castañeda to His Majesty, Philip II, and the Council of the Indies, in 1580,” Harvard University, Peabody Museum, Papers, XI (1926), 41-84.


Madaline W. Nichols, “An old Questionnaire for modern use,” Agricultural History, XVIII (1944), 150-160; Jo6rge A. Vivó, “Cotejos etnográficos: Las Relaciones Geográficas y una encuestra del Departamento de Asuntos Indígenas de México,” Instituto de Etnografía Americana (Mendoza, Arg.), Anales, III (1942), 23-60.


PNE, V, 99-123. See also, Ichcateopan, ibid., VI, 87-152.


José María Asensio, ed., Relaciones de Yucatán, in Colección de documentos inéditos relativos al descubrimiento, conquista y organización de las antiguas posesiones españolas de ultramar. Segunda Serie, XI, XIII (2 v., Madrid, 1898-1900). Alfredo Barrera Vásquez, ed., “Reimpresión de diez Relaciones de los encomenderos de la Provincia de Yucatán, escritas en el año de 1579,” in his Diego Landa: Relación de las cosas de Yucatán, primera edición yucateca (Mérida, 1938), pp. 150-289.


“Catálogo,” JDE, I, cxxi-cliv [450 items).


Dr. Charles O. Houston, Consultant to the Hispanic Foundation, is presently (1964) in Spain seeking data on Philippine RG materials.


Central American RG’s remain unpublished. Related items appear in Manuel Serrano y Sainz, ed., Relaciones históricas y geográficas de América Central (Madrid, 1908), with informative Introduction.


“Mapa de las Villas de San Miguel, San Felipe y San Francisco Chamacuero,” MS, RAH, 9-25-4.4663/XIII, detached map. Printed Instruction only (text lost), AGI, PR 18, No. 16, ramo 2 (Data from Gerhard, Cabrero, Kibre).


“Teopa,” JDE, I, cxlviii, which incorrectly suggests “¿Será Tuspa?”. Pedro Torres Lanzas, Relación descriptiva de los mapas, planos, etc. de México y Floridas, existentes en el Archivo General de Indias (2 v., Sevilla, 1900), I, #25-29 attributes these (in error) to “Teopan.” PNE, IV, 24, note 1, states for Suchitepec, “Esta relación no tiene pintura,” but then publishes all 5 maps without noting that text is in RAH, 9-25-4.4663/XVI and the maps in the Archivo General de Indias [Hereinafter abbreviated AGI]. Text and 1 map for the RG of Celaya are in RAH, 9-25-4.4663/X, but the other map (Yuriripandaro) for it is in AGI.


Juan López de Velasco, “Relation de las descripciones y pinturas de las provincias del distrito de Nueva España que se an traydo al Consejo y se entrego a Juan Lopez de Velasco, 21 de noviembre 1583,” MS, AGI, Patronato Real, 171 [old 2-1-2/19], No. 1, R-16, ff. 11-14v. I am grateful to Dr. Adele Kibre for providing a photograph and transcription of this document. It has been published, but in quite garbled form, JDE, II, xxxvii-xxxviii, and Noticias y documentos relativos a la historia y literatura españolas recogidos por D. Cristóbal Pérez Pastor, Tomo III, RAH, Memorias, XII (Madrid, 1926), 500-502, garbled, dated 1563 [sic]. Twice again (from Paso y Troncoso transcript) in equally unsatisfactory fashion by Federico Gómez de Orozco, “Relación …” [incorrectly dated 1573], Museo Nacional de Antropología (México), Anales, IV, Ep. 5 (1927), 365-366, and his “Relaciones histérico-geográficas de Nueva España,” México Antiguo, III (1931), 43-51.


Antonio de León Pinelo, “Memoria de los papeles que tengo para la Descripción de las Indias,” MS, Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid), MS #3064 (A), ff. 7-8v. I am grateful to Dr. Charles O. Houston for providing a photocopy of this undated, unpublished item. On Pinelo, see Schafer, Consejo, II, 416-418; Carbia, Crónica Oficial, pp. 205-207.


Juan Bautista Muñoz, “Relación de los papeles geográficos y algunos otros que don Juan Bautista Muñoz deja separados en Simancas, los cuales suplicó a S.M. se mandasen traer para tenerlos presentes al tiempo de escribir la Historia General de América [1783],” MS, RAH, Muñoz Collection, MS, #1710, v. 75, ff. 121-142. I am grateful to Dr. Leoncio Cabrero for providing photocopy of this and the succeeding item, both unpublished.


Larrañaga [first name not known], archivero, Simancas, “Papeles que están separados para don J. B. Muñoz, Cosmógrafo de Indias … y que se le remiten en un cajón de Simancas [December 1783],” MS, RAH, Muñoz Collection, MS #1711, v. 75, ff. 143-145. See Note 36.


Lino Gómez Canedo, Los archivos de la historia de América, Pan American Institute of Geography and History, Publication 225 (2 v., México, 1961), I, 6-13, 139-49. Materials therein are supplemented by Ernest J. Burrus, “An Introduction to the Bibliographical Tools in Spanish Archives and Manuscript Collections relating to Hispanic America,” HAHR, XXXV (November 1955), 443-483.


Appreciation is here expressed for the aid and detailed data furnished by Dr. Adele Kibre, Consultant to the Hispanic Foundation (AGI), on RG materials in AGI; not all of her information has been utilized for this summary.


Pedro Sainz y Rodríguez, Don Bartolomé José Gallardo y la crítica literaria de su tiempo, Revue Hispanique, LI (1921), esp. 149-150. Antonio R. Rodrígues-Moñino, Don Bartolomé José Gallardo: estudio bibliográfico (Madrid, 1935), pp. 10-11; also his Catálogo de los libros y papeles robados al insigne bibliógrafo Don Bartolomé José Gallardo (Madrid, 1957). Relations of Gallardo and his heir, nephew Juan Antonio Gallardo (who dispersed the collection) appear in Antonio R. Rodriguez-Moñino, “Tres cartas inéditas de Bartolomé J. Gallardo (1849-1852),” Centro de Estudios Extremeñas (Badajoz), Revista, III (1929), 83-91. Several important manuscripts forming a “Libro de Oro y Thesoro Indico, Códice del siglo xvi,” and the MS of Mendieta, Historia eclesiástica, belonging to Gallardo were obtained (1860-1861) by Joaquín García Icazbalceta [Hereinafter abbreviated JGI] and are now in the University of Texas collections. Francisco González de Vera, JGI’s aide and agent in Madrid, seems to have been the initial intermediary. The matter requires much further investigation.


Manuel G. Martínez, Don Joaquín García Icazbalceta: His Place in Mexican Historiography, Catholic University of America, Studies in Hispanic American History, IV (Washington, 1947) is unsatisfactory; his “Essay on Sources,” pp. 116-124, covers most of the printed materials; no attempt is made by him to detail building of JGI’s collections. Basic source is Felipe Teixidor, comp, and ed., Cartas de Joaquín García Icazbalceta (México, 1937), which for most part come from later years (c1880-1894). On the JGI Collection, first dated volume is V (1851); XX (1853). Vol. XXXI (1861) is “Libro de Oro” mentioned, Note 40, items separately listed in Carlos E. Castañeda and Jack Autrey Dabbs, comps., Guide to the Latin American Manuscripts in the University of Texas Library, ACLS Committee on Latin American Studies, Miscellaneous Publications, 1 (Cambridge, Mass., 1939), Nos. 12, 338, 558, 562, 605, 818, 820, 884, 1363, 1398, 1457, 1653, 1953, all ex-Gallardo. Vols. VII-XI were copies made for JGI by Prescott, all 1851, although in XI is also a MS copied for JGI by González de Vera, 1851 (See Note 40).


Federico Gómez de Orozco, ed., Catalogo de la colección de manuscritos de Joaquín García Icazbalceta relativos a la historia de América, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (México), Monografías Bibliográficas Mexicanas, 9 (México, 1927), pp. 20-21, 34-42, 139-46, with RG maps of Cuzcatlan (opp. p. 148), and Cholula (opp. p. 150). Manuel Orozco y Berra, Geografía de las lenguas y carta etnográfica de México (México, 1864), pp. viii, 240-255 lists JGI RG’s, as does his Materiales para una cartografía mexicana (México, 1871), Items 5-23, 3043-3044. JDE, II (1885), xxxix-xlvi, copying Manuel Orozco y Berra, “Apuntes para la historia de la Geografía en México,” Ministerio de Fomento (México), Anales, VI (1882?), par. XI, based on list furnished by JGI. Paso y Troncoso also made a list, published, Zavala, Paso y Troncoso, pp. 46-49.


“Catálogo de libros y manuscritos del Sr. D. Joaquín García Icazbalceta,” MS, University of Texas, Genaro García Collection, Photostatic copy, Library of Congress. Castañeda and Dabbs, Guide. See also, Manuel G. Martínez, “Don Joaquín Icazbalceta,” Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía, I (abr.-jun. 1951), 81-88.


Joaquín García Icazbalceta, ed., México en 1554: tres diálogos latinos [de Cervantes de Salazar] traducidos (México, 1875), pp. 227-28 give partial text of RG of Cholula (without map; see Note 42). The RG for Texcoco, by Juan Bautista Pomar (1852) was also published by JGI in his Nueva colección de documentos para la historia de México, III (México, 1891), 1-69, from an imperfect copy JGI had located in the Colegio de San Gregorio (México), but not from purchase of Spanish RG’s; for other copies of the Texcoco RG and problems of its pictorial materials, see J. Eric S. Thompson, “The missing illustrations of the Pomar Relación,” Carnegie Institution of Washington, Notes on Middle American Archaeology and Ethnólogy, 1 (No. 4, July 1, 1941), 15-20.


JGI apparently furnished the copy of RG text for Ameca published by Hernández y Dávalos, loc. cit., 453-84 (See Note 24), and probably furnished copies of the several RG’s published by anonymous editors in Noticias varias de Nueva Galicia, Intendencia de Guadalajara (Guadalajara, 1878). Nicolás León, “Relación de Pátzcuaro,” Museo Michoacano, Anales, II (1889), 41-48, from JGI hand transcript; for various RG’s furnished by JGI to León, see Teixidor, Cartas, pp. 79, 207, 304-305.


Luis García Pimentel, ed., “Relación de Yecapiztla,” Boletín Oficial y Revista Eclesiástica del Obispado de Cuernavaca (edited by Francisco Plancarte y Navarrete), VIII (1907), 395-408; Guastepec, ibid., IX (1908), 315-319, 332-335, 350-357; Tepoztlan, ibid., X (1909), 313-317, 326-331, 348-352; Tetela y Hueyapan, ibid., X (1909), 428-434. Peter Gerhard kindly furnished these citations.


Federico Gómez de Orozco, ed., “Relación de Teutenango,” Museo Nacional, Boletín, II/4 (1923), 85-90; Meztitlan, ibid., IV/2 (1924), 109-120; Cholula, Revista Mexicana de Estudios Históricos, I (1927), Suplemento, 158-170; Culhuacan, ibid., pp. 171-173; Teotzacualco y Amoltepec, ibid., 174-178; Tetiquipa-Río Hondo, ibid., II (1928), Suplemento, pp. 114-120; Tecuicuilco, ibid., 121-132. No maps.


Alfonso Caso, ed., “Relación del pueblo de Instlauca,” Revista Mexicana de Estudios Históricos, II (1928), Suplemento, pp. 135-163; Tehuántepec, ibid., pp. 164-175; Villa de Espíritu Santo, ibid., 176-180; Santa Cruz Iztepee, ibid., 180-184; Los Peñoles, ibid., 185-191. No maps.


Robert Barlow, ed., “Relación de Xiquilpan y su partido, 1579,” Tlalocan, I/4 (1944), 278-306; “Dos Relaciones antiguas del pueblo de Cuilapa,” ibid., II/1 (1945), 18-28; Antequera, ibid., II/2 (1946), 134-137; Zacatula, ibid., II/3 (1947), 258-268.


Ignacio Bernal, ed., “Relación de Tancítaro (Arimeo y Tepelcatepec),” Tlalocan, III/3 (1952), 205-235; Tequisquiac, Citlaltepec y Xilocingo, ibid., III/4 (1957), 289-308; Guautla, ibid., IV/1 (1962), 3-16.


Luis Vargas Rea, ed., “Relaciones de los pueblos de la Provincia de Amula: Ameca (2 v., México, 1951) [all VR publications published in Mexico]; Maquili, 1952; Quacoman, 1952; Tuscaquesco y Cusalapa, 1952; Zapotitlan, 1952; Tenamastlan, 1952; Maquili, 1953; Cualcoman (reprint of 1952), 1954; Sta. Cruz Iztepec, 1955; Cozautepec, Teotzacualco, Amoltepec, 1956; Villa de Espíritu Santo, 1956; Acapistla, 1956; Aysuchiquilazala, 1956; Istlahuaca, 1956; Mistepec, 1956; Puctla, Culhuacan, 1956; Xicayan, 1956; Zacatepec, 1956; Peñoles, 1956; Atatlauca, 1956; Atengo, Misquiahuala, 1957; Iztapalapa, 1957; Antequera, 1957; Tehuántepee, 1958. This is an incomplete list. For problems of Vargas Rea publications, see J. Horace Nunemaker, “The Biblioteca Aportación Histórica Publications, 1943-1947,” HAHR, XXVIII (Map 1948), 316-34. The writer is attempting to unravel the complexities of this and other VR series.


Robert H. Barlow, The Extent of the Empire of Culhua Mexico. University of California, Ibero-Americana, 28 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1949), is largely based on JGI-Gómez de Orozco transcripts. These are the same materials mentioned by Paso y Troncoso, as belonging to “el Señor Canónigo D. Vicente de Paúl Andrade, pero desgraciadamente sin los mapas,” Zavala, Faso y Troncoso, p. 45. Dr. Ignacio Bernal, grandson of JGI, has a second set of handcopies, examined by the writer.


The writer would like to express appreciation to Dr. Nettie Lee Benson, Curator, Latin American Collection, University of Texas, for furnishing detailed information about the documents there; Drs. Donald D. Brand and Henry J. Bruman also have provided useful data on these materials.


Leoncio Cabrero, “Historia de las Relaciones Geográficas de Indias: Nueva España, siglo xvi.” MS, 3 v. Unpublished dissertation, University of Madrid, 1959 [Not seen by writer]. See also his “La economía básica de los indios de la región mixteca, ” XXXV Internationaler Amerikanisten-Kongress, Verhandlungen (Vienna, 1960), p. 688, based on RG data. He writes that in press are “Las Relaciones Geográficas de Nueva España: su aportación al estudio de las ciencias americanistas,” (Revista de Indias). “La Medicina indígena de Sudamérica a través de las Relaciones Geográficas del siglo xvi,” (Homenaje Márquez Miranda, Universidades Sevilla-Madrid).


Peter Gerhard, “Notes from Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid, May 1963,” MS, Consultant’s Reports, Hispanic Foundation. See Note 32.


Duque de Alba, Mapas españoles de América, siglos xv-xvii (Madrid, 1951), Plate 33, reproduces RG map of Macuilsuchil in nearly natural size, in colors. Caso, “Teozacoalco,” loc. cit. (See Note 1) reproduces RG map in color, from 1869 copy.


JDE, I, lxxv, xcv-xcvii. The “Interrogatorio para Todas las Ciudades, Villas, y Lugares… [1604]” of 355 questions is printed in PNE, IV, 273-288, from Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid), MS #3035, ff. 46-53, an 8 page printed item; Paso y Troncoso noted that it seemed to have been formulated by a person more familiar with Peru than with New Spain, on account of the localisms employed, ibid., IV, 273, note 1.


DII, IX, passim. PNE, IV, 289-307. All these apparently come from manuscript copies made by or for Pinelo, conserved in Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid), old MS J-42. The modern number is MS 3064 (B), about 240 ff. See Note 35. Dr. Charles O. Houston and Peter Gerhard kindly furnished data on this MS.


Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Fonds Mexicanis, MSS 201, 202, chiefly León y Gama Copies, ex-Boban-Collection.


Robert H. Barlow, “The 18th Century Relaciones Geográficas: a bibliography,” Tlalocan, I/1 (1943), 54-70; “The 18th century Relaciones Geográficas: further notes,” ibid., 362-363.


Vargas Rea has several subseries labelled “Relaciones del siglo xviii,” reprinting these; the matter of his publications awaits further study. See Note 51.


Haring, Spanish Empire, p. 104.

Author notes


The author is Director, Hispanic Foundation, Library of Congress. This is a revised version of a paper read November 1, 1962, at the Third Annual Mealing of the Society for the History of Discoveries, Newberry Library, Chicago.