Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco
Born Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco
August 4, 1713 (1713-08-04)
Valle de Carriedo of Cantabria, Spain
Died April 4, 1785 (1785-04-05) (aged 71)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nationality Spanish
Occupation cartographer

Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco (4 August 1713 – 4[1] or 11[2] April 1785) was "perhaps the most prolific and important cartographer of New Spain"[3] as well as an artist, particularly as a Santero (wood-carver of religious images).[4] He has been called a polymath, being "proficient in astronomy, cartography, mathematics, geography, geology, geometry, military tactics, commerce, husbandry, oenology, metallurgy, languages, iconology, iconography, liturgy, painting, sculpture and drawing."[5]


Map of north-western New Mexico by Bernando de Miera y Pacheco, 1778.

Miera was born in the Valle de Carriedo of Cantabria[2] Spain. The son of a captain of the Cantabrian Cavalry, he was trained as a military engineer.[2]

Like many others, he emigrated to New Spain (in North and Central America). In 1741, he married Maria Estefania Domínguez de Mendoza in Chihuahua.[2] They would have two sons, Anacléto (Cléto) and Manuel.[2] In 1743, the family settled in El Paso.[6]

A man of many talents, he was variously a merchant, a debt collector, a rancher and a military officer.[4] In the latter capacity, he served in five military campaigns.[3] In 1747, Captain Miera led a military detachment accompanying Padre Juan Menchero on the latter's attempt to convert the Navajo and resettle them around Mount Taylor[3] (formerly Ceboletta[2]).

Though Menchero was unsuccessful, Miera produced the first map of the territory they traversed.[2] In 1749, he mapped the Rio Grande from El Paso downstream to its junction with the Rio Conchos.[2][4]

He was also a painter and carver. Some of his works survive in churches and museums; the Church of Cristo Rey in Santa Fe has "his masterpiece, the Castrense altar screen".[4]

In 1754[4] or 1756,[6] he moved his family to Santa Fe. He was appointed alcalde of the pueblos of Pecos and Galisteo[2][3] and participated in three campaigns against the Comanches.[6]

Map of New Mexico, 1760, drawn by Miera y Pacheco to Marín del Valle

When the Viceroy of New Spain ordered that his northern governors produce maps of their territories,[6] Francisco Antonio Marín del Valle, Governor and Captain General of New Mexico, turned to Miera.[2][3][6] They went out into the field on this endeavor from late June to 1 December 1757.[6] The influential map was completed by April 1758.[3][6] Miera would go on to make at least two other maps for Marín.[6]

Miera was granted a league of land (about 4428 acres or 1792 hectares) around Ceboletta, which was subsequently reduced to 4107 acres or 1662 hectares.[2]

He also served as cartographer for the 1776 Dominguez-Escalante Expedition. Miera was often at odds with the other leaders of the group, and was also frequently ill.[1] The expedition failed in its goal of finding a route north to Monterey, but Miera produced maps which would be invaluable to subsequent explorers.[2]

In 1779, Miera accompanied Governor of New Mexico Juan Bautista de Anza on a punitive expedition against the Comanches, who had been raiding Taos.[2] As a result, he drew perhaps his last map, covering an area centered on the Rio Grande from Santa Fe up to the Arkansas River.[2]

On 4 or 11 April 1785, Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco died in Santa Fe.[2] His wife, Estefania, had died less than a year and a half earlier, also in Santa Fe.[1]


His maps were examined by Alexander von Humboldt in 1803 to help prepare his own maps.[2] Humboldt in turn shared the information with American President Thomas Jefferson a year later, and Miera's work was copied by American mapmakers.[2] The original of his 1758 map disappeared some time after 1930 in Mexico City, but a copy was made in the 1970s from photographs of it.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco". New Mexico Office of the State Historian. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Fred Roeder. "Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco". The American Surveyor. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Map which Don Francisco Antonio Marín del Valle, Governor and Captain General of this kingdom of New Mexico, ordered drawn : 1758, Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps". New Mexico Humanities Council. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts Showcases 18th Century Santero and Cartographer". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Defining the Colonial World: Don Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco Explorer, Scientist, Santero and More". New Mexico Museum of Art. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Miera's 1758 Map of New Mexico". National Park Service. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 


  • Diaz, Josef, ed. (2013). The Art & Legacy of Bernardo Miera y Pacheco: New Spain's Explorer, Cartographer, and Artist. Museum of New Mexico Press. ISBN 9780890135853. 
  • Kessell, John L. (2013). Miera y Pacheco: A Renaissance Spaniard in Eighteenth-Century New Mexico. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806143774. 

External links[edit]