The Improbable Conquest offers translations of a series of little-known letters from the chaotic Spanish conquest of the R o de la Plata region, uncovering a rich and understudied historical resource. These letters were written by a wide variety of individuals, including clergy, military officers, and the region's first governor, Pedro de Mendoza. There is also an exceptional contribution from Isabel de Guevara, one of the few women involved in the conquest to have recorded her experiences. Writing about the conditions of settlements and expeditions, these individuals vividly expose the less glamorous side of the conquest, narrating in detail various misfortunes, infighting, corruption, and complaints. Their letters further reveal the colony's fraught relationship with the native peoples it sought to colonize, giving insight into the complexities of the conquest and the colonization process. Pablo Garc a Loaeza and Victoria Garrett provide an introduction to the history of the region and the conquest's key players, as well as a timeline and a glossary explaining difficult and archaic Spanish terms.
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages: 144
Weight: 227 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 13 mm
"A contribution that is an essential new approach to the rigorous and non-ideological perception of the 'River of the Silver' during the sixteenth century and constitutes a great addition to Latin American postcolonial studies."
--Alejandro Solomianski, Hispania
"The Improbable Conquest offers a highly readable and informative glimpse into an understudied area of the Spanish conquest and colonization of the Americas. The editors deftly render the voices and concerns of a diverse Spanish population in the early years of the founding of the R o de la Plata--women, clergy, conquistadors, and governors--as a rich dialogue between the Spanish crown, church, local populations, and individual circumstances. The introduction provides a lively narrative of the historical context of the conquest, and the introduction to each primary source situates it within the complexities of colonization and scholarship on the topic. This book offers both scholars and students in a variety of disciplines a trove of primary sources and information."
--Kathleen Myers, Indiana University Bloomington
"In The Improbable Conquest, Pablo Garc a Loaeza and Victoria Garrett offer English readers an excellent and needed translation of little-known letters from the Spanish conquest of an immense territory--what is today Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. These letters bring to light the historical background of the first interactions between Europeans and Native Americans of the Southern Cone. This book is a necessary tool for all Spanish American scholars, particularly those specializing in the first half of the sixteenth century and the Spanish and Portuguese discovery, conquest, and colonization of South America."
--Juan Francisco Maura, University of Vermont
"Through the carefully selected letters of participants, Pablo Garc a Loaeza and Victoria Garrett provide readers with an intimate understanding of the harsh realities of the Spanish conquest and settlement of the often ignored frontier of the R o de la Plata. The vivid voices of leaders of expeditions, clergy, a merchant/artisan, and a woman highlight the tragedy of conflict with indigenous peoples, starvation, a hostile environment, disease, and internecine conflict within the ranks of the conquistadors. This is a book that will provoke discussion and analysis by students in the classroom and in the public sphere."
--Noble David Cook, Florida International University
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