Common Terms of the California Missions

Many words and phrases used during the California mission era are still in use . These include architectural and military terms, religious words and phrases, Native American terms and place names, and of course, the Spanish words for many aspects of everyday life. This glossary provides a handy single reference of these California Mission terms.


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Gente de Razon

Literally, educated people. A phrase used to characterize those who followed Spanish customs. Used to designate non-Indians.


The senior official appointed to administer an area. California was initially governed from Loreto, Mexico, but the seat of government moved to Monterey in 1777. During the Mexican period the seat of government shifted several times as northern and southern factions vied for control.