Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
    Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca
     Catholic_Encyclopedia Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca
    Born at Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain; dates of birth and death uncertain.
    The family were originally peasants and called themselves Alhaja until after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (11 July, 1212), when they were ennobled for service that contributed to the important victory which the kings of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre achieved over the Moors. One of the Alhajas informed the Christians of a mountain pass by which the position of the Arabs could be turned, and indicated the entrance by placing the skull of a cow near it. Hence the change of name and the coat of arms.
    Alvar Nuñez joined the expedition of Pámfilo de Narvaez to Florida in 1526 as treasurer. With two other Spaniards and an Arab Moor, he was the only survivor who remained on the mainland. For eight years they roamed along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas under the greatest of hardships, their position among the Indians being wellnigh intolerable. In utter despair, Cabeza de Vaca at last tried his scanty knowledge of medicine and, his cures proving successful, he became a renowned medicine man among the natives, his companions following the example. The treatment to which they resorted partook of the nature of a faith-cure. He declares the sign of the cross to be a seldom-failing remedy. The belief of the outcasts in Miracles was sincere, while acknowledging that they also employed indigenous Indian remedies with simple Christian religious ceremonials. After nine years they reached the Pacific coast in Sonora, Mexico, thus being the first Europeans to travel across the North American continent. Cabeza de Vaca arrived at the city of Mexico in 1536. He was also the first European who saw and described the American bison or buffalo. But the wanderers did not, as had been supposed, see the New Mexican pueblos. They only heard of them.
    Returning to Spain in 1537, he obtained the post of Governor of the La Plata regions (Argentina), whither he went in 1541. Cabeza de Vaca was a trustworthy subaltern, but not fit for independent command. His men rebelled against him in 1543, took him prisoner, and sent him to Spain, where for eight years he was kept in mild captivity. The date of his death is not known, but it is stated that he ended his days at Seville, where he occupied an honourable and modestly lucrative position in connection with the American trade.
    He wrote two works. One is the story of his first trials in America as a member of the expedition of Narvaez, which was published at Zamora in 1542, and is known under the title of Naufragios (reprinted 1555 and several times translated into English); the other is on his career in South America (published 1555) and called Comentarios. Both are valuable for the history of Spanish colonization, the former also for the customs and manners of North American Indians.
    There is hardly a work on the history of North America extant that does not allude, more or less correctly, to Cabeza de Vaca, and the same may be stated in regard to histories of Argentina and Paraguay. The earliest publications are of course those written by himself, his La Relacion que dio Aluar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca de lo acaescido en las Indians en la armada donde yua por gouernador Pamphilo de Narbaez etc. (Zamora, 1542), only two copies of which are known to exist, and La Relacion y comentarios del gouernador Aluar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca (Valladolid, 1555).
    OVIEDO, Hist. general y natural (Madrid, 1850), gives the text of the above with some modifications, adding a communication written while on the way to Europe. In Documentos inéditos de Indias, there are a few more documents; RAMUSIO, Delle Navigazioni e Viaggi (Venice, 1556), an Italian version. There is a French translation by TERNAUX COMPANS, both of the Naufrages and the Commentaires. English translations: PURCHAS, His Pilgramage (London 1625-26, title, Relation of the Fleet in India, whereof Pamphilus Naruaez was Governor); SMITH, tr. (Washington, 1851): reprinted by John Gilmary Shea (New York, 1871). A paraphrase of the work has been given by KINGSLEY, Tales of Old Travels (London, 1869). FANNY BANDELIER has published the journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca (New York, 1905), a translation of the 1542 edition of the Naufragios.
    AD. F. BANDELIER
    Transcribed by Matthew Reak

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. — New York: Robert Appleton Company. . 1910.


Catholic encyclopedia.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — Monumento en Houston (Texas) Gobernador del Río de la Plata y del Paraguay 1542 – 154 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca — Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca Pour les articles homonymes, voir Núñez. Expédition Cabeza de Vaca Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (né en …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Álvar núñez cabeza de vaca — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Núñez. Expédition Cabeza de Vaca Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (né en …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — Infobox Person image size = 200px caption = Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca birth name = birth date = 1490/1507 birth place = death date = 1557/1559 death place = death cause = resting place = resting place coordinates = residence = nationality =… …   Wikipedia

  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — Die Karte zeigt den Weg der Narváez Expedition bis zum Nov. 1528. Von der Insel Galveston durchquerten Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso del Castillo, Andres Dorantes und Estevanico den nordamerikanischen Kontinent in Begleitung von Indianern zu Fuß. Álvar… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — Pour les homonymes, voir Núñez. Pour le film, voir Cabeza de Vaca (film). Expédition Cabeza de Vaca Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (né en 1507 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — Este artículo trata sobre el conquistador español. Para la película mexicana vea Cabeza de Vaca (película). Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (Jerez de la Frontera, 1507 Sevilla, 1559) Conquistador español. De familia noble, fue hijo de un conquistador… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Die Schiffbrüche des Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — (spanischer Originaltitel: Naufragio de Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca) ist ein Augenzeugenbericht aus dem Jahre 1538. Veröffentlicht wurde das Buch im Jahre 1542 in Zamora (Spanien) und 1555 in Valladolid. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Inhalt 2 Bedeutung 3… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — Die Karte zeigt den Weg der Narváez Expedition bis zum Nov. 1528. Von der Insel Galveston durchquerten Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso del Castillo, Andres Dorantes und Estevanico den nordamerikanischen Kontinent in Begleitung von Indianern zu Fuß. Álvar… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Núñez Cabeza de Vaca — Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Álvar …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”