One of the oldest cities in America, dating back to 1610, ten years before Plymouth Colony was established, is located in the middle of the desert. It’s hundreds of miles from the ocean, and its primary river is just a stream most of the year. This city is Santa Fe, New Mexico. Why did the Spanish found a settlement in the upper Rio Grande Valley? In the early 17th century, Santa Fe was isolated by vast expanses of southern deserts looming between Mexico City and the Rio Grande. The nearest provisions were in Mexico City, a six-month journey on horseback called La Jornada del Muerto…the journey
This video explores the reasons the Spanish established this remote settlement and traces the paths of Spanish incursions into South America and Central America, Mexico, and finally into the North American Southwest. The exploits of such conquistadors as Cortés, De Soto, and Coronado are discussed. The cross was an ever-present symbol wherever the Catholic Spanish colonizers went. One of their principal goals was to bring the gospel of their religion to a people they considered "heathen" natives. The Spaniards’ religious quest was often mingled with the violence of the conquistadors and the introduction of diseases for which the natives had no immunity. The legacy of the Spanish missionaries is the numerous missions still standing, many of which are active churches today in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. The missions were not merely Catholic churches; they were agencies of the Spanish crown, and the padres were agents of the king, empowered to govern in regions they settled – with the consent, of course, of the local Indians. This video explores some of the historic and beautiful Spanish missions.
Noted scholars from respected institutions of higher learning share their insights into the Spanish colonization that helped shape the history of the American Southwest.