Texas now and then

This week in the Hill Country

Balloons over Horseshoe Bay Resort

March 25 – 27

The region’s only annual hot air balloon festival. Each year, thousands of balloon enthusiasts from bandera-rodeoacross Texas arrive to watch 20 hot air balloons glow and ascend over the Hill Country terrain.

Bandera ProRodeo

Fri – Sun, 05/27 – 05/29/16

Time: 7:30 PM
Cost: Adults $12, Children 6-12 $6, under 6 Free
PRCA rodeo produced by Rafter G Rodeo Company.
Mansfield Park Rodeo Arena
Bandera, TX 

Yesterday’s News

1855    [This one’s long, but I had no idea! And it’s really interesting.]

emperor-maximilianISantiago Vidaurri, a powerful caudillo in northeastern Mexico, was born in Lampazos, Nuevo León, Mexico, on July 25, 1809. In 1837 he became the chief assistant to Governor Joaquín García, and in the 1840s he served as a secretary for Governor Manuel María de Llano. The young bureaucrat traveled to Texas in 1841 to spy on Mirabeau B. Lamar‘s Texan Santa Fe Expedition. Throughout the 1840s and early 1850s he worked for conservatives in the Mexican government. After Mexico’s loss to the United States in 1848, Vidaurri and other young politicians denounced the current regime under a plan labeled “Restaurador de la Libertad,” Vidaurri captured Monterrey on May 23, 1855, and was installed as governor and military commander of Nuevo León. His army moved rapidly into the neighboring states of Coahuila and Tamaulipas, consolidating control throughout northeastern Mexico. To procure weapons and other military supplies, he turned to merchants north of the Rio Grande. When charged with an attempt to establish the “Republic of Sierra Madre,” Vidaurri insisted that his was a federalist movement in the best of liberal traditions. He cooperated with United States and Texas authorities in punishing Indians who raided the frontier. 

Vidaurri annexed Coahuila on February 19, 1856, decreeing the formation of the combined state of Nuevo León y Coahuila. For the next two years he controlled this vast territory virtually as an independent nation. In September 1858, however, the northern caudillo suffered a major defeat at the hands of the conservatives near San Luis Potosí, and retreated to Monterrey to rebuild his forces. National liberals, including Benito Juárez, denounced him; and some of the most able officers of Nuevo León defected to the national cause.

When Texas in 1861 seceded from the United States and joined the Southern Confederacy in the Civil War, a Yankee naval blockade soon closed off all Gulf ports, including those of Texas. Confederate agents established alternative trade routes through northern Mexico, thus allowing European goods to flow from Tampico and Matamoros into Texas, and a vast quantity of cotton to move in the other direction. Vidaurri controlled much of the region in which this lucrative trade developed.

Meanwhile, the army of Napoleon III invaded Mexico and installed Maximilian on the throne. In 1863 Benito Juárez once again fled from the capital, reaching Nuevo León the next February. Vidaurri at first refused to allow him to enter Monterrey. Fearing rebellion by his own people, however, the governor abandoned his fiefdom and took refuge in Texas. When Juárez moved to El Paso in August 1864, a French army occupied Monterrey, and Vidaurri returned.

When the Empire collapsed in June 1867, the army of Porfirio Díaz occupied Mexico City. A squadron arrested Vidaurri and executed him without a trial as a traitor to the Mexican nation.


Elizabethan pix & quotes: Ortelius maps and Tamburlaine

I love maps. Many people do. The Elizabethans — and Renaissance Europeans generally — loved them even more. Their world was expanding before their very eyes and map-makers like Abraham Ortelius were in great demand. Christopher Marlowe had access to beautiful maps of the world in the library at Corpus Christi College, where he still lived while he was writing Tamburlaine, part 1, the play that rocked the socks of European theater in 1587.

Typus Orbis Terrarum, by Abraham Ortelius

Marlowe didn’t leave us much, beyond a half-dozen poorly preserved plays and a few scraps in institutional records here and there. So scholars have pored over his plays for clues about the man and the world he lived in. 

Over 40 different place names are mentioned in Tamburlaine part 1 and over 80 in part two. Errors are always revealing. Ethel Seaton discovered that errors in Marlowe’s geography could be traced to a particular version of Ortelius Theatrum orbis terrarum. (He placed Zanzibar on the west coast of Africa rather than the east.)

Emrys Jones thinks Marlowe got the idea of using maps as literary devices from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, a romantic epic poem widely read in sixteenth century Europe. From 1540 to 1580, there appeared at least 113 editions of Orlando. (I really must read that, at least some of it. All my young characters love it. I suspect it was like their Lord of the Rings. We can find the full text of John Harington’s 1597 English translation online at the Internet Archive.)

Here’s a quote from Orlando, via Jones. Our hero is flying over North Africa on a winged horse.

“Oran he saw, Ippon, Marocco, Fesse,

Algier, Buzea, and those stately townes,

Whose Princes with great pompe and pride possesse

Of divers Provinces the stately crownes.

He saw Byserta and Tunigi no lesse,

And flying over many dales and downes

He saw Capisse and Alzerbee Ile

And all the Cities to the flood of Nyle…”

Marlowe’s characters are real, however. They must march, rather than fly. He writes about power politics, not fantastic romances.

“Kings of Argier, Moroccus, and of Fesse,

You that have marched with happy Tamburlaine

As far as from the frozen plage of heaven

Unto the wat’ry morning’s ruddy bower,

And then by land into the torrid zone,

Deserve those titles I endow you with.” (I Tamburlaine, IV. 4. 123-28.)

They march and they march. They march toward Persia, along Armenia and the Caspian Sea. Africa, Asia, Scythia. They ride, too, especially “in triumph through Persepolis.” (The only way to see the place.) They battle in Bithynia (Turkey), specifically in Ankara. 

Tamburlaine eventually crowns himself emperor of Asia and Africa. (Zenocrate is his beloved wife, whom he captured in Egypt.)

“To gratify thee, sweet Zenocrate,

Egyptians, Moors, and men of Asia,

From Barbary unto the Western Indie,

Shall pay a yearly tribute to thy sire;

And from the bounds of Afric to the banks

Of Ganges shall his mighty arm extend.” (V.I.517-22)

I like to think about Marlowe in his shabby robes, holed up in the stuffy library at his college, poring over the maps to plot his play, picking out exotic names that fit his mighty rhythmic lines.



Jones, Emrys. 2008. “‘A World of Ground’: Terrestrial space in Marlowe’s ‘Tamburlaine’ plays,” The Yearbook of English Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1/2, Tudor Literature (2008), pp. 168-182.

Seaton, Ethel. 1924. “Marlowe’ Map,” Essays and Studies, 10 (1924), pp. 13-35.

Texas now and then

This week in the Hill Country

The Soul Man in the 60s, with soul-fellow Dave

Soul Man Sam & the Brothers Band

Skylark Lounge, 2039 Airport Blvd, every 3rd Friday til Dec. 16

Come watch this Memphis Soul Singer, and Stax recording artist electrify the stage! Austin’s “Original Soul Man” will make you want to hit the dance floor, and sing your heart out. He’s a cool blues performer who is is sure to put on an incredible show.

May Fest, New Braunfels, May 21-22

Carshow and Cinco de Mayo festival with live music ( Rockabilly, Rock, Country, and Tejano music) Menudo Cookoff for restaurants in local area. Food booths, drinks, and variety of vendors.

Yesterday’s News

1691    Domingo Terán de los Ríos was appointed first governor of the Spanish province of Texas. Terán was instructed to establish seven missions among the Tejas, to investigate rumors of foreign settlements on the coast, and to keep records of geography, natives, and products. On May 16, 1691, Terán’s army departed from its base camp in Monclova and crossed the Rio Grande on May 28. Members of the expedition named the Texas rivers they crossed in their progress eastward.

Poster image borrowed from The Documentary Dude.

Receiving new orders, Terán had to return to East Texas, which he had explored as far as Caddo settlements on the Red River by December 1691. The expedition experienced a difficult march back to the missions in East Texas, arriving in Matagorda Bay on March 5, 1692. There Terán was given instructions from the viceroy to explore the lower reaches of the Mississippi River. Terán embarked for that purpose but bad weather caused him to abandon the project and return to Veracruz on April 15. Terán’s mission proved to be a complete failure. He succeeded in founding no new missions, and the expedition added little new information about the region. After his return, Terán compiled a lengthy report, defending his actions and detailing the dismal situation in East Texas.

1980    The Dicks, a punk rock band formed in 1980 in Austin, Texas, consisted of founding members Gary Floyd (vocals), Buff “Buxf “Parrot (bass, guitar, vocals), Pat Deason (drums), and Glen Taylor (guitar, bass). Considered by many music critics a crucial element of the vanguard of American hardcore punk, the Dicks debuted on May 16, 1980, at Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters at an event billed as the Punk Prom.