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Camino Real Journal

Instituto Franklin > Publications > Camino Real Journal > Articles > From Santa Bárbara to San Juan de los Caballeros: Villagrá’s Historia and the Itinerario of Juan de Oñate’s Expedition of 1598

From Santa Bárbara to San Juan de los Caballeros: Villagrá’s Historia and the Itinerario of Juan de Oñate’s Expedition of 1598

The Itinerary of Juan de Oñate’s expedition (1598) and the Historia de la Nueva México (1610) by Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá are distinct in their styles and purposes. The Itinerary is an official document which formed part of the report of the expedition. It was also subject to possible investigation by colonial officials. The Historia by Villagrá is the result of a literary expression about the route of the expedition in form of an epic poem written from the point of view of the author. Up to what point can Villagrá’s Historia be trusted? When the poetic licenses and words of the author are put aside and the events described by Villagrá can be compared with the facts of the Itinerary and other documents related to the expedition, then it can be shown that Villagrá’s work has validity — especially where the parts of the Historia can be verified by the statements identified in the Itinerary. This essay will explore the similarities between selected passages of the Itinerary, as an official document and the Historia, as a literary work.

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