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Pedro Reneros Posada, Biographical Sketch

Governor Pedro Reneros Posada, 1686-1689

by Rick Hendricks, Ph.D.


On 23 September 1681, Pedro Reneros Posada passed muster before Governor Antonio de Otermín. He described himself as a thirty-year-old bachelor. Eleven days later he enlisted as a presidial soldier. Reneros was a native of Oceño (Peñamellera Alta) in eastern Asturias where he was born around 1651.[1] The narrow, mountainous Peñamellera Valley is hidden between the Cordillera de Cuera to the north and the Picos de Europa to the south. Of the five villages in the valley, San Juan de Oceño is the highest at 3,280 feet. The early sacramental records of the San Juan parish have not survived, so it is not possible to fix Reneros's birth date with certainty or the names of his parents.[2] Other records from the area establish that the surnames Reneros and Posada are found in Oceño as early as 1584.[3]

In 1681 Reneros was described as being of good physique with a ruddy complexion and wavy chestnut hair and beard. Presumably he participated in Otermín's unsuccessful 1681 campaign. He rose rapidly through the ranks to alferez and eventually captain.[4] In El Paso on 13 April 1682, Reneros stood as godfather for Antonio, the son of Juan Cabello and María Holguín, and on 8 May 1682, Francisco Ascencio, the natural son of Alferez Pedro Reneros de Posada and Catalina de Gamboa, was baptized in the church of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.[5]

Otermín dispatched Reneros to Mexico City in 1864.[6] He was residing there in May 1686 and was already using the title governor and captain general of the provinces of New Mexico when he agreed to repay 2,161 pesos to Juan de Somoano.[7] On 19 September 1686 he reappeared in El Paso to take up the governorship of New Mexico. A scant nine days later, Governor Reneros ordered Sargento mayor Roque Madrid, Capitán Alonso de Aguilar, and Sargento Juan de Vargas carry out his order for capital punishment.[8] The three men were to gather at eleven o'clock in the morning and execute Juan de Montoya, whom Reneros had found guilty of treason.

On 30 September 1686, Governor Reneros issued an edict ordering the residents of the El Paso area to be vigilant against possible Indian hostilities.[9] He admonished the people that the Indians had caught the Spaniards and priests sleeping in 1680, and they should take care not to let it happen again. Their sons and servants were to act as sentinels watching over their homes. Those without sons would have to perform this duty themselves. Settlers were to be on a war footing with their weapons always at the ready. Failure to follow this order would result in a sentence of two years of service protecting the presidio's horse herd without pay. One can only imagine how this sounded to Revolt survivors; surely it did not endear the new governor to the refugee colony.

Reneros addressed dueling, which was apparently common in the area at the time, in an edict issued on 11 February 1687.[10] He reminded the people that it was against the law to threaten a fellow citizen with an harquebus no matter how serious the occasion, nor could one issue a challenge to his fellow man. One was not to take a second when going to confront someone or carry a lance or any other prohibited weapon. Dueling was prohibited save in such urgent cases that the matter had to be settled with equal weapons, man to man, at the risk of losing one's life. In no case could one confront someone with a weapon if one's opponent did not have a weapon with which to defend himself. To do so would be a criminal act.

In early March Reneros issued an edict regarding control of livestock. He was concerned about horses, cattle, and sheep being allowed to graze in planted fields, especially those of wheat that had just come up, and harm acequias.[11] Animals found in planted fields or harming acequias would be seized and their value applied to the damages to the crops or repairs. Anything left over after covering the damages would be kept in a fund for war expenses. Maestre de campo  Felipe Romero, Capitán Antonio Domínguez, and Ayudante Juan García would be responsible for carrying out the this edict.

An edict of 28 April 1687 ordered the citizens of the El Paso area to refrain from purchasing stallions or mares, articles of clothing, or arms from soldiers.[12] Should such a purchase be made, the item purchased would be forfeit. Both buyer and seller would also be subject to punishment. Soldiers should bring all their firearms to the gunsmith, Francisco Lucero, to be put in good working order. They should also order lances made so that everything would be ready in the event of Indian hostilities.

In the summer of 1687 Reneros led a column up the Rio Grande to the Jemez River, which he then followed to Santa Ana.[13] The people of Santa Ana refused the surrender terms Reneros proffered, and a battle ensued. Reneros burned the pueblo and returned to El Paso with four Pueblo leaders and ten other captives. Reneros had the four leaders executed and found the other ten captives guilty of participating in the Revolt of 1680. The captives were then sent to Nueva Vizcaya, sold into slavery for ten years, and forbidden to return to New Mexico. The proceeds of the sale were to go to the war fund.

On 3 July Reneros began the trial of Silvestre Pacheco for the slaying of José Baca. The two men fought and as a result Pacheco killed Baca, his brother-in-law, by striking him with a hoe. Members of Baca's immediate family came forward to request a pardon for Pacheco. The case was not decided until September 1690 by which time Reneros was long gone from the governorship of New Mexico. Governor Jironza pardoned Pacheco and assessed a fine of one hundred pesos for his part in Baca's death.[14]

Later in the month of July 1687, Reneros had in his domestic service Sebastián Rodríguez Brito, the son of Manuel Rodríguez and María Fernández. Rodríguez Brito was probably born in the 1650s in or near Luanda, Angola.[15] The circumstances through which he came to the New World as a slave are unknown.  In April 1689, Rodríguez Brito and Antonia Naranjo underwent a prenuptial investigation in El Paso.[16] He stated that Reneros Posada, whom he had served for three years, was attempting to prevent the marriage by alleging that Rodríguez Brito was already married to a woman in Veracruz. Juan Luis, a native of New Mexico, testified that in July 1687 while he was at the governor's headquarters in the El Paso area preparing for a raid into New Mexico, Rodríguez Brito had informed his master, Governor Reneros, that he wished to marry Antonia Naranjo. According to Luis, Reneros stated that he was pleased and preferred this step to Rodríguez Brito whoring around. Some days later, however, when the governor was in a dark mood he informed his servant that he was not to wed because he was to continue as his servant when he left New Mexico to return to New Spain.

Esteban de Berdiguil, a native of Mexico City, testified that two Mexico City merchants, one of whom was Juan de Samano, had requested that Rodríguez Brito be put in manacles and returned to his wife. Because of this testimony, this marriage did not take place. Reneros must have had a change of heart and facilitated Rodríguez Brito's manumission because by May 1689 he had gained his freedom and was living in El Paso. He did not accompany Reneros when the former governor departed from New Mexico.

The ten Keres Indian men brought to El Paso as captives following Reneros's raid upriver to Santa Ana were sentenced in October 1687.[17] The men were found guilty of treason and sentenced to ten years of slavery in the silver mines of Nueva Vizcaya.

In 1688 or 1689 Reneros encountered a large gathering of Suma Indians in the area below San Lorenzo, including some who had destroyed the mission charge at Ojito five years earlier.[18] Luring the Indians under a flag truce, Reneros attacked and killed many of them. He had nine he identified as leaders shot and ordered another forty sold into slavery in the mines for ten years. He selected two little girls and sent them to the governor of Nueva Vizcaya as gifts. His actions earned him no praise from other frontier officers who criticized his dishonorable behavior, which only angered the Indians. On 21 February 1689, Domingo Jironza Pétriz de Cruzate replaced Reneros. Jironza separated from Reneros' residencia a charge leveled by the soldiers that the governor had embezzled their salaries.[19] When authorities in Mexico City sought to examine the residencia during subsequent litigation, it had gone missing.

The soldiers alleged that Reneros had delivered a quarter of their pay for 1687 and then called in each man for a personal interview.[20] During the meeting, the governor coerced them into signing receipts for pay that he subsequently collected and kept. His accomplices in the scheme were said to be Diego Arias Quirós, Tomás Gutiérrez Carrera, and Leonardo de Villanueva. When Reneros departed New Mexico for Zacatecas, the three accompanied him. Reneros was condemned to restore the missing pay to the soldiers, which was at least 26,000 pesos for the year and a half for which they were owed.[21]

Reneros also had a dispute with the Tribunal of Accounts in Mexico City regarding he request to be excused from paying for weapons he alleged had been worn out during his term as governor. On 12 June 1691, Reneros presented a detailed accounting of the weapons and related items for which he did not believe he should be held accountable. Apparently the tribunal was satisfied with the reasons he put forth and accepted his request.[22] In October 1691 Reneros executed an obligation by which he promised to repay a loan of 425 pesos to Julián Espinosa of Mexico City.[23] Acting as guarantor of the loan was General Felipe de Montemayor y Prado.

In April 1692 Reneros wrote from Mexico City to Diego de Vargas regarding the marital status of his former slave, Rodríguez Brito. The rather chatty letter provided news from the viceregal court and related that although he had been ill, Reneros was in good health as were the horses he was riding. He called on Vargas, whom he clearly considered a good friend, to order him as he wished. He reckoned that he had misunderstood about Rodríguez Brito being married and had no further objections to his marrying in New Mexico.[24]

Reneros married Beatriz Velásquez de Aguilar in Mexico City on 14 June 1703.[25] Nothing more is known about his life.


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[1] Although his name most frequently occurs in scholarly literature as Reneros de Posada, he invariably signed Reneros Posada. His place of birth is recorded as "el lugar de Oçeño," in the montañas de Burgos. The Ribadedeva and Peñamellera Valleys were considered in the montañas de Burgos. "Montañas de Burgos en los siglos XVII y XVIII," http://prau-conceju.mforos.com/891762/4224834-montanas-de-burgos-en-los-siglos-xvii-y-xviii/ (accessed 24 May 2011); Muster, El Paso, 2 September to 10 November 1681, SANM II: 8, 8a-d, 10, and 11b; and John L. Kessell, Rick Hendricks, and Meredith D. Dodge, eds., By Force of Arms: The Journals of Don Diego de Vargas, New Mexico, 1691-93 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992), 103 n. 9.

[2] According to the director of the Archivo Histórico Diocesano of the Arzobispado de Oviedo, the sacramental records for Oceño prior to 1852 were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War. Agustín Hevia Ballina to Rick Hendricks, Oviedo, 6 July 2011, letter the author's possession.

[3] As late as 1991, an elderly woman named Victorina Posada Reneros lived in Oceño. Dr. Gregorio Gil Álvarez to Rick Hendricks, Panes (Peñamellera Alta), 21 August 1991, letter in possession of author.

[4] Vina Walz, "History of the El Paso Area," in Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Archives (El Paso: Book Publishers of El Paso, 2001), 4:322; Proceedings, El Paso, 12 April 1985, in Thomas H. Naylor and Charles W. Polzer, The Presidio and Militia on the Northern Frontier of New Spain: A Documentary History (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986),  1:539-47; Muster, El Paso, 15 Nov. 1684, wherein Reneros appeared as Veneros de Posada; Muster, San Lorenzo, 9-12 September 1618, and List of Soldiers, 23 September 1681, in Hackett and Shelby, Revolt of the Pueblo Indians, 2:35-68, 134-42.

[5] Walter V. McLaughlin, Jr., "First Book of Baptisms of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Paso del Río del Norte, 1662-1688," (Master's thesis, Texas Western College, 1962).

[6] Walz, "History of the El Paso Area," 322.

[7] Pedro Reneros Posada, Obligation, Mexico City, Archivo General de Notarías de la Ciudad de México, Fernando Veedor, 1686, f. 208

[8] Pedro Reneros Posada, Order, El Paso, 28 September 1686, SANM II: 39.

[9] Pedro Reneros Posada, Edict, El Paso, 30 September 1686, SANM II: 40.

[10] Pedro Reneros Posada, Edict, El Paso, 11 February 1687, SANM II: 41.

[11] Pedro Reneros Posada, Edict, El Paso, 3 March1687, SANM II: 43.

[12] Pedro Reneros Posada, Edict, El Paso, 28 April1687, SANM II: 42.

[13] Walz, "History of the El Paso Area," 324.

[14] Trial of Silvestre Pacheco, El Paso, 3 July1687-9 September 1690, SANM II: 45.

[15] Kessell, Hendricks, and Dodge, By Force of Arms, 236 n. 6.

[16] Sebastián Rodríguez Brito and Antonia Naranjo, Prenuptial Investigation, El Paso, 14 April 1689, Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Loose Documents, Mission, 1689:4.

[17] Pedro Reneros Posada, Edict, El Paso, 6 October1687, SANM II: 44.

[18] Walz, "History of the El Paso Area," 324.

[19] Soldiers of El Paso Presidio v. Pedro Reneros Posada, El Paso, 1 March 1689-1 January 1690, SANM II: 50.

[20] Walz, "History of the El Paso Area," 323.

[21] Ibid., 324.

[22] Kessell, Hendricks, and Dodge, By Force of Arms, 55-56.

[23] Pedro Reneros Posada and Felipe de Montemayor y Prado, Obligation, Mexico City, 26 October 1691, Archivo General de Notarías de la Ciudad de México, Fernando Veedor, 1691-92, f. 374.

[24] Kessell, Hendricks, and Dodge, By Force of Arms, 233-34.

[25] Pedro Reneros de Posada and Beatriz Velásquez de Aguilar, Marriage, Mexico City, 14 June 1703, LDS, Asunción Sagrario, Matrimonios, 35271.