Historia de la Antigua o Baja California. History of Ancient and Lower California (c. 1789)
Father Francisco Xavier Clavijero, S.J., was born in 1731 in Veracruz. He was one of the leading teaching members of the Jesuit Society in New Spain. He occupied the chair of Philosophy in the Colegio de Guadalajera when the decree of the expulsion of members of the Society led to his exile to Italy. In Europe he met with ignorance of the past and present Mexico, and so created his masterpiece, the Historia. Clavijero was a theologian, philosopher, geographer, physicist, and ethnographer.
This translation consists of the original Author’s Preface, some additional notes to Book I, and a total of four books. Book I presents a summary of the natural history and the condition of its inhabitants. Book II lists the various expeditions undertaken with a view to exploitation and exploration starting with Cortés and concluding with Admiral Atondo’s voyage in 1683. The author then begins with the founding of earliest Jesuit missions, and introduces the great initiators, Fathers Kino, Salvatierra, Píoccolo, and Juan de Ugarte. Book III reports the successive establishment of missions, the contact with the natives, the success and/or failure of the apostolic effort, famine, local resistance, etc. Book IV describes the extension of the missionary effort in the north of the peninsula and beyond and the charting of the coasts. It gives details of the fourteen mission stations in existence at the time of the departure of the Jesuits in 1768. The Appendix to Book I consists of two parts: the first demonstrates the idiomatical difficulties presented by the language of the Cochimí nation; the second part is made up a research into the source of the venom of the rattlesnake, the mechanics of the serpent’s bite and possible cures.
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