The viceroys of Mexico and Peru conducted a voluminous official correspondence, much of it still preserved in the Archivo General de Indias. Repeatedly they informed the crown about mining, patronage, jurisdictional disputes, the Indians, trade, pirates, and endless other topics. Covering the full range of colonial conditions and activities, this correspondence was the most detailed and comprehensive source of information the crown received from America. Professor Hanke’s three-volume guide to viceregal materials in the AGI reveals their richness and makes them readily accessible to scholars.

The Guía is but one fruit of Hanke’s vast project of making viceregal documentation for the Habsburg era available to historians. The distinguished Spanish series Biblioteca de Autores Españoles is now publishing the instrucciones reales, relaciones, and residencia documents, and Spain’s Centro Nacional de Microfilm has available microfilm of over three hundred legajos of AGI documents collected for the project. The Guía provides an overview of these viceregal sources; its publication will enable historians to determine quickly which documents will further their own research and then to obtain copies of them or to examine the originals without time-consuming searches in Seville.

Hanke makes a strong case for the importance of viceregal documents (correspondence, registers, residencias, instructions, and memorias) as historical sources. He recognizes, nonetheless, that the materials he has collected provide only a partial perception of the colonial experience and that historians must consult other documents located in the AGI and in other Spanish and American repositories. By making the viceregal documents easily available, however, he has insured that students can omit checking them only at their peril. Indeed I suspect that more than a few historians will read entries to sources they will regret not having known of before.

Following a narrative introduction to viceregal government in America under the Habsburgs, the bulk of the first volume (260 pages) is devoted to brief biographies and bibliographic references for each viceroy of Mexico and Peru from 1535 to 1700. Hanke provides general information, a list of documents published in the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles, reference to the microfilmed correspondence and registers, and information on the residencia for each viceroy. The entries vary from one to twenty pages with three to five pages being the most common. The biographical sketches contain comments on the viceroys’ rule but little if any family and career information, an omission suggesting the amount of work still necessary for a prosopographical examination of the Habsburg viceroys. The volume concludes with a list of supplementary documents not catalogued elsewhere in the Guía, a bibliography, a table of Mexico and Peru’s viceroys under the Habsburgs, and an index of 315 microfilmed legajos.

Volumes II and III are detailed catalogs of the documents in AGI, Mexico, legajos 19-66 and AGI, Peru, legajos 28A-91. When applicable, an entry gives the document’s author, recipient, subject, place of writing, date, precise archival location, and length. An example from volume II illustrates the format. Number 1583 reads: "El V. a S.M., iglesias y prebendas vacas, con relación de personas para ellas. Vacantes de real hacienda. 29.VIII.1607. México 27: n. 27, 2 fs.” (p. 93). The clarity and detail of such entries make the Guía highly useful to scholars and a model for subsequent guides.

Hanke’s success in carrying out his viceregal correspondence project deserves the applause of all students of Spain’s empire in America. One hopes for a sequel covering the Bourbon period.