[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-Florida]: Ferdinando on ArbesuÌ , 'Pedro MenÃ(c)ndez de AvilÃ(c)s and the Conquest of Florida: A New Manuscript'

Andrew Stewart hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Thu May 31 19:26:08 MDT 2018

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From: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.msu.edu>
Date: Tue, May 29, 2018 at 10:56 AM
Subject: H-Net Review [H-Florida]: Ferdinando on ArbesuÌ , 'Pedro Menéndez
de Avilés and the Conquest of Florida: A New Manuscript'
To: <H-REVIEW at lists.h-net.org>

David Arbesú.  Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and the Conquest of
Florida: A New Manuscript.  Gainesville  University Press of Florida,
2017.  xii + 431 pp.  $74.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8130-6124-5.

Reviewed by Peter Ferdinando (University of North Carolina at
Published on H-Florida (May, 2018)
Commissioned by Jeanine A. Clark Bremer

David Arbesú's discovery and translation of a different and more
complete manuscript of the Gonzalo Solís de Merás account of the
Florida conquest of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés is of significant
importance for historians of both Florida and the wider United
States. The centrality of Menéndez to the histories of this state
and country cannot be understated. In 1565, Menéndez founded St.
Augustine, the first continuously occupied European settlement in
what is today the continental United States. Four decades before
English Jamestown, St. Augustine and the Spanish colony of La Florida
changed the shape of the American Southeast. Thus, possessing a more
complete accounting of Menéndez's defeat of the French at Fort
Caroline, his establishment of St. Augustine, and his frequent
dealings with a variety of Native American peoples is a boon for
scholars in a number of subfields.

The account by Solís de Merás is of particular importance to
understanding Menéndez's conquest of Florida. He was Menéndez's
brother-in-law and he was present during the crucial early years of
the Florida conquest from 1565 to 1567. Of the other major accounts
of Menéndez's conquest, the one by also-present Father López de
Mendoza Grajales is much shorter and the lengthier one by Bartolomé
de Barrientos largely draws on Solís de Merás. In fact, Barrientos
was not in Florida for the conquest. The Solís de Merás account
transcribed and translated by Arbesú thus offers both an eyewitness
and a lengthy account of Menéndez's first frenetic years in Florida.

Arbesú's text has three major parts, including an English
translation and a Spanish transcription of this newly uncovered
version of the Solís de Merás account, and an informative and
self-reflexive introduction, along with extensive endnotes on each of
these sections. This introduction serves to introduce Menéndez,
position the new manuscript vis-à-vis the existing manuscript copy
and other contemporary primary sources about Menéndez's Florida
conquest, and reflect on Arbesú's editorial and translatorial
approach. Arbesú found this manuscript version of the Solís de
Merás account among the papers of the Marqués de Ferrera. The
Ferrera manuscript is more complete and written in an easier hand
than the earlier used manuscript of the Solís de Merás account from
the Count of Revillagigedo's archive. The Revillagigedo manuscript
was the source for the existing published Spanish transcription that
formed part of Eugenio Ruidíaz y Caravia's _La Florida: Su conquista
y colonizacaión por Pedro Menéndez de Avilés_ (1893). All
previously published Spanish transcriptions and English translations
trace to Ruidíaz's volume. What is now clear from the Ferrera
manuscript and Arbesú's work spot-checking Ferrera with Ruidíaz and
a microfilm copy of Revillagigedo held by the St. Augustine
Foundation is that both Ruidíaz's transcription and the
Revillagigedo manuscript are deficient. Arbesú notes several issues
with Revillagigedo and Ruidíaz, including an incorrect page order
and at least twelve missing folios in the Revillagigedo manuscript,
along with numerous issues with transcription, such as misread
numbers and a number of silent corrections and additions by Ruidíaz.
The discovery of the Ferrera manuscript permitted Arbesú to
recognize and fix these problems with this new transcription and
translation of the Solís de Merás account.

The second and third parts of Arbesú's text include the English
translation and Spanish transcription of the Ferrera manuscript,
respectively. The English translation is readable and flows well.
This readability suggests possibilities of using some or all of this
text in an undergraduate classroom, along with it, of course, taking
residence on the shelves of academic offices. The inclusion of the
Spanish transcription of the Ferrera manuscript also is important,
because of the acknowledged deficiencies of the existing Ruidíaz
transcription of the Revillagigedo manuscript. Whether reading the
English or Spanish version, the fact that Solís de Merás was a
booster for his brother-in-law reminds scholars to read this newly
published volume critically and in concert with other information,
such as archaeological data about the local Native American peoples.

Arbesú's effort is notable and a welcome addition to the published
canon of La Florida primary sources. There are issues of note,
however, that point toward a future perhaps grander Solís de Merás
volume. Arbesú states clearly that it is not his "intention to offer
an edition of Revillagigedo, although this is much needed" (p. 28).
He further adds that the Revillagigedo manuscript included "hundreds
of strike-outs in that text, which appear neither in the Ferrera copy
nor in Ruidíaz's 1893 edition." He then teases that "all these
deleted passages would indeed give us a very different text" (p. 27).
This, however, is not Arbesú's undertaking in the current book. This
book succeeds resoundingly in its goals to offer this new manuscript
copy of Solís de Merás to historians of Florida and the wider
United States.

Citation: Peter Ferdinando. Review of Arbesú, David, _Pedro
Menéndez de Avilés and the Conquest of Florida: A New Manuscript_.
H-Florida, H-Net Reviews. May, 2018.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=49860

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States


Best regards,

Andrew Stewart

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