adarme: approximately 179 centigrams (0.063 ounces).
adelantado: authorized to settle a new territory. Literally, "one who pushes
forward." A military concept carried over from the Middle Ages.
Recruits his own army and bears all costs of the expedition. Distrib-
utes land to loyal followers. Reserves an hereditary holding for his
own family. Full military and civil authority. Responsible for the
internal and external peace of the territory. Represents the king in
his own person.
AGI: Archivo General de Indias in Seville. The chief depository in
Spain of materials about the Spanish experiences in the New World.
akalde: mayor; head of a town council.
almirante: second in command of a fleet. Sailed in the ship designated as
almiranta, which guarded the rear of a convoy.
almud: an ancient land and grain measure; 0.8 bushels
alquiere: a measure of volume. Either a dry measure of 138 deciliters, or a
liquid measure of 84 deciliters (2.219 gallons).
apu: a term like curaca, borrowed by Garcilaso de la Vega from Inca usage in
Peru. In the present context, the noble office of war chief, subject to
a principal chief.
arquebus [also harquebus]: "The earliest and mechanically the crudest of the
hand-held firearms. It was fired by touching a piece of lighted
matchcord, like a slow-burning fuse, to the powder hole. A
ball or shot fired from a harquebus had much greater velocity than
an arrow or a crossbow bolt, but it was slow to load, not very accu-
rate, and problematic in rainy weather. Because the matchcord had
to be kept alight when action might occur, great quantities of it were
required" (Charles Hudson, in The Juan Pardo Expeditions, Wash-
ington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990; 147-48).
arroba: either a measure of capacity, about 4 gallons, or a weight of about 25
axdiencia: the highest regional appeals court; a hearing at such a court.
barbacoa: a raised framework for smoking meat or fish [source of the mod-
ern word barbecue); also the name of a wooden framework used to
store corn above ground.
beheaded: although the Indians at times did behead their enemies, in Gar-
cilaso, at least, this seems to mean to be scalped; the Spaniards had
never seen scalping and had no word for it.
braza: a unit of measure; approximately one fathom (6 feet).
cacique: an hereditary lord of vassals. A native term in an Arawak language,
borrowed by the Spaniards in the conquest of the Antilles and later
applied by them elsewhere in the Americas to various chiefs.
corregidor: a magistrate.
cow: a buffalo. The Spaniards had never seen a buffalo and had no name for it.
crossbow: "Although the crossbow could fire a small missile at high velocity
and could be aimed and fired by a person of little skill or strength,
an experienced Indian archer could fire an arrow with comparable
penetrating power (because of the heavier weight of the arrow), and
he could fire several arrows in the time it took a crossbowman to
load and fire a single bolt" (Charles Hudson, in The Juan Pardo
cruzada: a gold coin minted during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella,
equivalent to seven pesetas.
curaca: a district or provincial chief. A native term borrowed from the Quec-
hua language of Peru. It is used interchangeably with cacique by the
Inca, Garcilaso de la Vega.
encomienda: a grant of Indian tributary labor.
estado: a unit of measure equal to about 5 to 6 feet.
factor: an agent of the king; usually an accountant; reports to the king on the
results of the expedition.
fanega: a grain measure equal to about 1.6 bushels.
fanega de sierra: a land measure equal to about 1.6 acres.
geira: a unit of land, roughly equivalent to the English acre.
league: a unit of land or sea measure. At least two versions of the Spanish
land league were in use during the sixteenth century; which one is
meant in a given context is a matter of dispute. The legaa legal was
5,000 varas, equivalent to 2.63 U.S. miles or 4.19 km. The legua
com;in, or common league, known to have been used as an itinerary
measure, was equivalent to 3.45 miles or 5.57 km.
maestro de campo [also maese de campo]: camp master; chief administrative
officer of the expedition. A military rank corresponding to a
New Spain: the name the Spanish gave to Mexico and its borderlands.
oidor: a judge.
peso: a Spanish coin of varying value made of gold or silver; often rated at an
ounce of pure silver.
piragua: a small, shallow-draft boat, meant to be rowed.
reales [real, sing.]: the real was a silver coin, first minted in Castile. Its value
repartimiento: a share received from the division of the proceeds of an expe-
rodeleros: soldiers armed with sword and shield, from rodela, a round shield
tameme: a native burden bearer or porter. Borrowed by the Spaniards from a
native Nahuatl term used in New Spain, thenceforth applied else-
where in the New World.
tercio: a Spanish regiment of infantry; sometimes the commanding officer of
one. Garcilaso de la Vega served as tercio in a ship under Don Au-
gostin Mexias during the period of the Spanish Armada.
Tierra Firme: the mainland of South and Central America.
tomin: 1/3 adarme; approximately 596 milligrams.
vara: approximately 33 inches.
vecino: a free Spanish citizen of a municipality, most often with voice and
vote in municipal affairs.
Source: The De Soto Chronicles, Volume I, by Lawrence A. Clayton, Vernon J. Knight, Jr. & Edward C. Moore