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Miguel Venegas — Noticia de la California, y de su conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente, sacada de la historia manuscrita, formada en Mexico año de 1739 por el Padre Miguel Venegas



Noticia de la California, y de su conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente, sacada de la historia manuscrita, formada en Mexico año de 1739 por el Padre Miguel Venegas Noticia de la California, y de su conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente, sacada de la historia manuscrita, formada en Mexico año de 1739 por el Padre Miguel Venegas



Madrid: widow of Manuel Fernandez, 1757., 1757. First Edition. 3 volumes. 4to., (8 x 6 inches). 4 folding engraved maps of North America, the Pacific and adjacent land masses, California, and the Gulf of California; the California map with ten pictorial border vignettes; woodcut head- and tail-piece ornaments and decorative initials (the first 2 maps each with a short tear or repair at gutter, tear in second map repaired; small hole to Xx2 in volume II, volume 3 washed and with a few small marginal paper repairs). Contemporary vellum over thin pasteboard, original manuscript title and pen-and-ink ornamentation on spines (endpapers renewed). FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST PRINTED HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA. Miguel Venegas, a brilliant Mexican-born Jesuit, transferred a longing to serve in the new California missions, thwarted by ill-health, to intense study of the territory's history. In researching what would become a detailed 709-page history of the territories of present-day California, Baja California, southern Arizona and the northern Sonora, "Venegas employed the highest level of historical methodology, collecting original manuscripts, annual reports, and letters of numerous other missionaries in California and Sonora In 1735, Father Provincial Juan Antonio de Oviedo ordered that all archival material relative to California be provided to Father Venegas who also employed a novel form of acquiring information: detailed questionnaires covering the left half of the sheet, leaving the right half of the same sheet for answers, that were sent to persons who had participated in or were currently active in the California mission field" (W. Michael Mathes, art. in Dorothy Sloan, The Daniel Volkmann Collection of the Zamorano 80, 5 Feb. 2003, p. 280). Completed in August 1739, Venegas' manuscript was filed, unpublished, because of the revelations it provided of the weaknesses of Spanish defenses in California, until it was sent to Madrid a decade later for revision and publication, a task assigned to the Jesuit scholar Andrés Marcos Burriel at Toledo. Burriel combined Venegas' work with other data from Jesuit archival sources and the Council of the Indies, and expanded the account to include events which had transpired since 1739. He imposed a new structure on the work, dividing it into three parts, the first covering the geography of California and its native inhabitants, the second, attempts to occupy the region prior to the Jesuits; and the third, the Jesuits' accomplishments up to 1757. Burriel's fourth section, occupying all of volume III, contains extensive documentary appendices. Three of the four maps were composed under his direction. The maps comprise 1) a large general map of Lower California with vignette border incorporating depictions of California natives and fauna and the martyrdom of Fathers Carranco and Tamaral (Wagner, Northwest Coast, 587; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, p. 85 & no. 138); 2) a general chart of the north Pacific showing Asia and the northwest coast of America, engraved by Manuel Rodriguez (Wagner 585); 3) a map of the lands adjacent to the upper part of the Gulf of California, 1747, after the Jesuit missionary Konsag (Wagner 586); and 4) a map of the Pacific and California between the Equator and 39 30' north latitude, by Joseph González after Anson (Wagner 584) The Noticia, which reached a wide audience both through this edition and translations intoe English (1759), Dutch (1762), French (1767) and German (1769), is important on numerous counts. Burriel's compilation is the principal source of information about Father Konsag's explorations in 1746, during which the question of California's insularity were conclusively laid to rest. The map of the Gulf of California, handsomely engraved by Joseph Gonzales to illustrate Konsag's account, is a landmark of California cartography, the first accurate depiction of the Baja peninsula and the regions of the Colorado and Gila rivers. The frontispiece map of California is without a doubt one of the most beautiful.
 

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