This short work is not a chronological history of “Indigenous Rebellions in the North of the Kingdom of New Spain,” but rather a chronological cataloging of such rebellions. In addition, the title page specifies that the time span covered is not the entire three centuries of Spanish control over New Spain but only the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Within this limited framework, however, the author has been very complete, providing the historian with a handy guide to almost all of the rebellions, even in the borderland provinces of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
While it is encouraging to find Mexican historians turning to a serious study of this subject, it is disheartening to discover that the bibliography excludes almost all of the many excellent works published in English. On this score the book leaves much to be desired. Its major flaw, however, is to be found in the first thirty pages, where the author discusses the causes of the rebellions. The causes which she lists are social-economic-political privileges, the distribution of wealth and political position, and the “indolence” of the viceregal regime. There is no study of the clash of cultures or of the differing attitudes about the value of life and property that so often led to bloodshed. The author instead subscribes to the devil-saint theory of history, the Spaniards falling into the former category and the Indians into the latter. For example, she states that the Indian “preferred death to slavery,” although she admits that they were “barbarous and irreducible” (p. 10). In this intractibility, however, she finds merit, for “the rebellions of the Indians of the North during the viceregal epoch contributed, in part, to the creation of a vigorous revolutionary spirit in large masses of the population conquered by the Spaniards” (p. 10). In other words, Spanish cruelty was good in that it produced recruits for the Mexican revolution. Such a simplistic approach makes history easier to write—and perhaps to research— but it leaves wide gaps in our understanding of the real causes of Indian rebellions.