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Frank Goodwyn

BONAVÍA Y ZAPATA, BERNARDO (?–1812). Bernardo Bonavía y Zapata, Knight of Alcántara and corregidor of Mexico, entered the service of the king of Spain in 1758. In 1788 he was appointed governor of Texas but, because his services were needed elsewhere, did not serve. Bonavía was appointed governor-intendant of Durango in 1796 and served in that capacity until 1809, when he was appointed military commander of Texas. He had previously been ordered to Texas in 1806 with the governors of Nuevo León and Coahuila but was unable to join them since he was urgently needed in Durango. Bonavía had played an important role in putting the liberal reforms of Charles III in trade and commerce into effect in Mexico and worked to see those reforms placed in operation in the provinces, especially in Texas.

On his arrival in Texas he requested all ranking officials to present written statements of their views on defense and development of the province. On the basis of these reports and his own observations he recommended to Nemesio Salcedo y Salcedo, commandant general of the Provincias Internas, that frontier defenses be strengthened immediately. Bonavía also called a meeting of the governors of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Texas to discuss measures for the development of Texas; he forwarded the recommendations of the group, particularly for free trade and immigration, to the commandant general on June 28, 1809. On July 20, 1809, Bonavía called a second meeting to consider establishing direct water communication between Texas and Veracruz and the opening of a free-trade port. When Salcedo did not approve their plan to open the Port of San Bernard, Bonavía warned that if conditions of trade and commerce in Texas were not remedied, the time would soon come when the colonists would take things into their own hands. He also recommended, unsuccessfully, that the decree of May 30, 1804, calling for the reorganization of presidios into provincial regiments for defense, be put into effect.

In late 1810 Bonavía returned to Durango to suppress a revolt. He commanded the royalists forces in Oaxaca in 1812 during the uprising of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and was defeated. Bonavía was captured and shot on December 2, 1812.

Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Arizona and New Mexico, 1530–1888 (San Francisco: History Company, 1889; facsimile ed., Albuquerque: Horn and Wallace, 1962). Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas (2 vols., San Francisco: History Company, 1886, 1889). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Frank Goodwyn, "BONAVIA Y ZAPATA, BERNARDO," accessed July 22, 2019,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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