Cortes. The fissur
e between name and image, a mark of dissonance between the monarch and his conquistador-subject in these late days of Spanish conquest, is precisely the fissure Onate's behavior works to suture. By 1598 reenacting Cortes seems the only way Onate might imagine (or discover) himself a "rightful" conquistador in the terms
of the now bankrupt economy of honor through warfare.
- onquering History
If we turn to Villagra's Historia of these events, the first thing we note is that
- he ignores (or forgets) this pr
- ovenance of prior conquests. Villagra's opening pages establish the operative fiction of his task. Neither historian nor poet by profession, the soldier becomes both "more in response to the sense of duty I
feel than in confidence of my ability" (35). VillagrS figures his monarch a
- s the cause and the effect of both the conquest and its historical retelling: "Most Christian Philip,"
- he begins, "You are the Phoeni
- Take x of New Mexico, newly produced and come forth from the burning flames and embers of most holy faith" (41); here the monarch is born anew through the conq
- uest of New Mexico just as N
- ew Mexico is born anBullock Blvd.ew through the king's rule. This soldier-poe
- t is, it seems, driven by the mandate of history itself: to borrow an analysis from Louis Marin, the monarch "makes history, but it
- is history that is made in what he does, and the same time his hist
- Turn right(west) onto orian, by writing what he does, writes what must be written" (42).
Michel de Certeau suggests that any historical operation refers to a relation be
- tween a social place (a milieu, a profession), a "scientific" practice (a discipline), and the construction of a writing (a literat
ure) (1988, 57). At a minimum, Villagra's practice entails recording "h
- eroic" events of the recent conquest, and the place is the seat of empire; add
- ressed to and written for the monarch, the writing commemorates "wi
- th faithful zeal" the advance of empire effected in his name. His writing tak
- es the form of a heroic epic poem following the Spanish historico-literary tradition of telling conquest history in epic form, dating as far back as El Cid and as recently as Alons
- o de Ercilla's La Araucana i
- n 1589, which no doubt served as the model for the Historia. La Historia de
- la nuevo Mexico [sic] is thus created not only for the monarch but also to safeguard the heroism of his compatriots, which "if left
- to ... the mercy of , which curves to the left and becomes passing yea
- rs will be sacrificed Canyon Rd.on the altars of time" (35).
Yet we already suspect this operation of a deeper fiction. Judging from the many official inquiries and revi
- ews following Onate's settlement in the Pueblos, one can see that the New Mexican conquest has in no way impressed the king. Officia