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History of the Triumphs of Our Holy Faith amongst the Most Barbarous and Fierce Peoples of the New World
By Andrés Pérez de Ribas; Edited and translated by Daniel T. Reff; Maureen Ahern; Richard K. Danford
744 pp. / 0.00 x 0.00 / 1999
Cloth (978-0-8165-1720-6) [s]
Related Interest
  - Indigenous and Native American Studies
  - Borderlands Studies

Considered by historian Herbert E. Bolton to be one of the greatest books ever written in the West, Andrés Pérez de Ribas's history of the Jesuit missions provides unusual insight into Spanish and
A monumental work—one of the key texts on the Spanish conquest and colonization of northern New Spain. . . an unparalleled account of the early contact period from a man who experienced many of the events of that period first-hand. . . an absolutely essential volume for anyone who wants to understand the colonial encounter in southwestern North America.

—Southwestern Mission Research Center Newsletter

What else but monumental? Oversize, ponderous, and carefully presented in a readable, annotated edition, this indisputably basic work on seventeenth-century ethnohistory should revive interest in the benefits of painstaking scholarship. . . . The accomplishments of the team of scholars who produced this volume cannot be underestimated. It will stand as one of the great landmarks in the historiography of the Americas.

—Catholic Historical Review

A major primary source [for] historians, anthropologists, and literary scholars who work on colonial themes of Ibero-America . . . Father Andrés Pérez de Ribas would be pleased.

—The Americas

This translation of the single most comprehensive ethnohistorical source on northwest Mexico in the first half of the seventeenth century is a welcome addition to the scholarly literature of the region. . . . Pérez de Ribas's chronical of the Jesuit missionary enterprise among a number of northwestern indigenous groups offers a wealth of information to those able to read knowledgeably and imaginatively enough to sift the Indian ethnographies from the Jesuit worldview. . . . A superior translation.


Indian relations during the colonial period in Northern New Spain. First published in Madrid in 1645, it traces the history of the missions from 1591 to 1643 and includes letters from Jesuit annual reports and other correspondence, much of which has never been found or cataloged in historical archives. Daniel T. Reff, Maureen Ahern, and Richard K. Danford have now prepared the first complete, scholarly, and fully annotated edition of this important work in English.

Pérez de Ribas was the first permanent missionary to the Ahome, Zuaque, and Yaqui Indians. After fifteen years on the mission frontier he was recalled to Mexico City, where he held various posts, including Jesuit Provincial. Addressed to novitiates ignorant of the challenges they would face in the field, his Historia was a virtual textbook on missionary work in the New World. Also written to encourage ongoing support of the Jesuit missions, it reflected the author's deep grasp of what rhetorically soothed and moved Church and Crown officials.

Perhaps of greatest interest to the modern reader are Pérez de Ribas's often detailed comments on indigenous beliefs and practices. These firsthand observations provide a rich resource of ethnographic and historical data concerning everything from native subsistence, settlement patterns, and myths to the dynamics of Jesuit-Indian relations. The many cases of conversion that Pérez de Ribas describes are especially rich in ethnographic data, clarifying the values and beliefs from which the Indians were "rescued."

History of the Triumphs is a primary document of great importance, made more valuable here by an exceptionally fluid translation and painstaking annotations. It will be a standard reference for all engaged in research on New Spain and a captivating read for anyone interested in this chapter of American history.

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