Photo of Mission San Jose San Antonio

Source: Mission San Jose San Antonio, Liveon001┬ęTravis Witt, Wikipedia

In this section, you will learn about the Spanish colonization of Texas. After the Spanish exploration to Texas, the Spanish government needed to come up with a way to protect the borders that had been established in the territory.

The Spanish government controlled the work of the religious missionaries in all of its territories around the world. Spain was intent on spreading the Catholic faith in all of the Spanish viceroyalties. In Texas, the Spanish missionaries were responsible for the Spanish friars, or Franciscans, a group of people who adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Throughout the Spanish rule, thirty-five different Spanish missions were established across Texas.


Video segment. Assistance may be required. Watch the following video about one of the Spanish missions in Texas, Mission Espiritu Santo and answer the questions that follow.

Source: Goliad State Park & Mission Espiritu Santo, Texas [Official], Texas Parks and Wildlife, YouTube


The Purpose of the Spanish Missions


Image of a map of the state of Texas where the location of missions and presidios is located

Source: Spanish Missions in Texas, Karanacs, Wikimedia

Analyzing the Map: What geographic feature do the Spanish missions in Texas have in common? Why do you think this feature is important to the missions?

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The Spanish missions were built near rivers or other important bodies of water. It was important for the missions to be located near water so that the people had easy access to stay hydrated as well as a mode of transportation to receive food and supplies. Close Pop Up

The missions also served as centers of education, churches, and dormitories. The missionaries taught Catholicism and farming techniques. Another feature of the missions was the elaborate irrigation system that connected many of the missions.


Video segment. Assistance may be required. Watch the following video that explains the farming and ranching in the missions and answer the question that follows.

Source: Farming and Ranching, National Park Service

Video Review: How did the colonization of the Spanish change the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of the Native Texas Indians?

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The Spanish taught the Native Texas Indians to farm, making them less nomadic as they grew stationary crops. Close Pop Up

What are acequias? Why were they important to Spanish missions?

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Acequias were hand-dug irrigation ditches that the Spanish used to irrigate the crops. The Spanish connected many of the missions through a 70-mile irrigation system. This allowed the crops to be irrigated at all connected missions. Close Pop Up
Image of Mission La Bahia

Source: Mission la bahia, DLS Texas, Wikimedia

To secure the Spanish missions in Texas, the Spanish established presidios, or military forts, to protect the missionaries and the Texas Indians who lived there. After the Spanish established the missions and presidios in Texas, the way was paved for Spanish colonization. Towns and ranchos were established afterwards to expand the presence of the Spanish.

Image of a map of the state of Texas where the location of missions and presidios is located

Source: Spanish Missions in Texas, Karanacs, Wikimedia

Analyzing the map: Compare the location of the missions to that of the Presidios. How would you describe the relative location of the presidios? What is the difference in the location of the presidios in Central Texas to those in West Texas? Explain your answer.

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The presidios were located close to most of the missions. In Central Texas, there were more missions than presidios, but there were more presidios than missions in West Texas. The presidios in the west were built to protect the borders of Spanish Texas.Close Pop Up