Glossary of Conquest Terms

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 
	Expeditions, 147).
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 
	present-day colonel. 

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 
	has varied. 

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 
	or buckler. 

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

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