Madrid: En la Imprenta Real, 1613. ,248,245-324pp. (as issued). Small quarto. Early 20th-century vellum over boards, spine stamped and ruled in gilt, raised bands, a.e.g. Minor dust-soiling and edge wear. Modern bookplate of James Stevens Cox affixed to front pastedown, typed contents list tipped to front flyleaf. Small wormholes repaired on titlepage, inner margin of licence/errata leaf strengthened, last four leaves trimmed at top edge affecting headlines, minor occasional spotting. Overall very good. Item #WRCAM54946
Rare first edition of this account of the life and career of García Hurtado de Mendoza, Captain General and later Viceroy of Peru, complete with the "Prologo" leaves, often lacking. Mendoza had a particularly controversial career in the New World. He commanded eight vessels bound for South America in 1557, and after arriving in Chile, Mendoza sent out various tributary expeditions across the Andes in an attempt to establish Spanish authority in a wider area and among the remoter regions. In addition to the inland expeditions, Mendoza sent two parties south to explore the coastline as far as Tierra del Fuego; one of these maritime journeys was commanded by Francisco de Ulloa, who provides an introductory note for the present work. Shortly thereafter, Mendoza was relieved of duty and ordered back to Spain, likely for abusing his authority with the indigenous peoples in South America. He was later pardoned and returned to the Americas in 1590 to serve as viceroy of Peru, where he spent almost a decade developing the economy and spreading Spanish culture in the region. Once his term expired Mendoza retired to Spain, where he died in 1609. Of particular note, the present work includes an account of Álvaro de Mendaña y Neira's second voyage in search of the Solomon Islands and the discovery of the Marquesas Islands. The text also includes some encounters with Drake, Cavendish, and Hawkins, including some of the battles fought between the Spanish and English explorers, specifically the sacking of the Port of Nombre de Dios. Shortly after Mendoza's death, this book was commissioned by his family to counter an epic poem called LA ARAUCANA, written by Alonso Ercilla y Zuniga, which disparaged Hurtado de Mendoza's bloody wars against the Araucana Indians during his first term as colonial governor of Chile. Ercilla had served with Mendoza in Chile and witnessed first-hand Mendoza's treatment of the native peoples. "Don García, when in command of the expedition against the Araucanians, as already suggested, condemned Ercilla to death, a sentence later modified under the protests of persons who comprehended its injustice. After this incident, Don Garcia did not find either his leadership or his character glorified in LA ARAUCANA. This was a source of regret not only to himself, but also to his family. He died in obscurity, and after this event his relatives sought to habilitate his memory for posterity. They approached Dr. Cristóbal Suárez de Figueroa, proposing that he should undertake the task, should become the eulogist of a person on whom an unfavourable verdict had already been pronounced. He accepted the proposal, and of the seven books into which his work was divided, the first three treat of Don García's campaigns in Chile; the others deal with his government as viceroy of Peru, Mendana's expedition to the Solomon Islands, and the inglorious years of disgrace. In view of the judgements of history, Figueroa's extravagant panegyric appears absurd. It may be said in favour of the book that it presents papers or documents given to the author by the Mendoza family, which furnish details of the viceroy's life, not otherwise known. The book is written in flowing and elegant language that is only rarely found in the historians of America, and in order to add interest to the work the author introduced rhetorical descriptions of a country he had not seen and of battles that were scarcely referred to in the documents" - Moses. Jose Toribio Medina devotes six-and-a-half pages to this work in his BIBLIOTECA HISPANO- CHILENA (1897), and illustrates the titlepage. Lathrop Harper calls the book a "highly important volume concerning the early history of South America." Rolf du Reitz, in his annotations for the Bjarne Kroepelien collection catalogue, notes that this was "apparently the earliest book in the Collection, and also one of the most expensive." He quotes a letter from Kroepelien to a bookseller in 1948 that the Suárez de Figueroa was a book he had been "hunting for twenty years." Writing in the late-1960s, Du Reitz refers to the work as "now very rare." MEDINA, HISPANO-CHILENA 39. PALAU 323905. LATHROP HARPER XVI:513. EUROPEAN AMERICANA 613/125. BELL S725. GOLDSMITH S962. HOWGEGO M106. KROEPELIEN 1260. O'REILLY-REITMAN 181. JCB (3)II:115. SABIN 24317/93311. Bernard Moses, SPANISH COLONIAL LITERATURE IN SOUTH AMERICA (London & New York: The Hispanic Society of America, 1922), pp.185-87.