Race, Caste, and Indigeneity in Medieval Spanish Travel Literature [2015 ed.] 113738137X, 9781137381378

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Race, Caste, and Indigeneity in Medieval Spanish Travel Literature [2015 ed.]
 113738137X, 9781137381378

Table of contents :
Sigla and Abbreviations
Chapter 1 Concepts of Race, Caste, and Indigeneity in Medieval Iberia
Chapter 2 Race
Chapter 3 Caste
Chapter 4 Indigeneity
Conclusion The Tourist in the Text
Works Cited

Citation preview

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Michael Harney


Copyright © Michael Harney, 2015. Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2015 978-1-137-38137-8 All rights reserved. First published in 2015 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN® in the United States—a division of St. Martin’s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. Where this book is distributed in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, this is by Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited, registered in England, company number 785998, of Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS. Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies and has companies and representatives throughout the world. Palgrave® and Macmillan® are registered trademarks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries.

ISBN 978-1-349-67773-3 ISBN 978-1-137-38138-5 (eBook) DOI 10.1057/9781137381385 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Harney, Michael, 1948– Race, Caste, and Indigeneity in Medieval Spanish Travel Literature / Michael Harney. pages cm. — (The New Middle Ages) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Travelers’ writings, Spanish—History and criticism. 2. Spanish American prose literature—To 1800—History and criticism. 3. Race in literature. 4. Caste in literature. 5. Indigenous peoples in literature. I. Title. PQ6134.T73H37 2015 860.932—dc23


A catalogue record of the book is available from the British Library. Design by Newgen Knowledge Works (P) Ltd., Chennai, India. First edition: February 2015 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

In memoriam Alan Deyermond 1932–2009

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Acknowledgments Sigla and Abbreviations Introduction

xv xvii 1

1. Concepts of Race, Caste, and Indigeneity in Medieval Iberia











Conclusion: The Tourist in the Text




Works Cited




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wish to thank the following people for their contribution to this project: Professor George Greenia, for setting me on the path of travel studies; Professor Barbara Weissberger, for giving me the idea for this book; Professors Lily Litvak and Arturo Arias, for their timely and learned bibliographical recommendations; Dr. Qing Ai, for generously sharing her insight and erudition regarding the history of travel and the literature and scholarship devoted to it. Above all others, my wife, Professor Lucy Harney, for her analytical brilliance, editorial acumen, and constant support on all fronts, practical and intellectual.

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(For complete bibliographical information, see Works Cited) Alexander Amadís

Libro de Alexandre, ed. Casas Rigall. Rodríguez de Montalvo, Amadís de Gaula, ed. Cacho Blecua. Book of Knowledge Libro del conoscimiento de todos los regnos, ed. Rubio Tovar. Canarian Béthencourt, Le Canarien, eds. Serra and Cioranescu. De orbe Anghiera, De Orbe Novo, ed. Cro. Description Polo, Le devisement du monde, ed. Ménard. Embassy González de Clavijo, Embajada a Tamorlán, ed. López Estrada. Esplandián Rodríguez de Montalvo, Las Sergas de Esplandián, ed. Sainz de la Maza. Journals Columbus, Diarios, ed. Pérez Priego. LdE Juan Manuel, El libro de los estados, eds. Macpherson and Tate. Letters Cortés, Cartas de relación, ed. Hernández. Mandeville Deluz, ed., Jean de Mandeville, Le livre des merveilles. Marvels Rubio Tovar, ed., Libro de las maravillas del mundo de Juan de Mandavila. OED Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM. Partidas Alfonso X, Las Siete Partidas, Real Academia de la Historia ed. PCG Alfonso X, Primera crónica general, ed. Menéndez Pidal. Quijote Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, Real Academia Española/Alfaguara ed. Santaella Polo, Libro de Marco Polo, ed. Rubio Tovar. Shipwrecks Cabeza de Vaca, Naufragios, ed. Maura.


Succinct Account Travels True History Victorial Zifar


Las Casas, Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias, ed. Saint-Lu. Tafur, Andanças e viajes de Pero Tafur, ed. Pérez Priego. Díaz del Castillo, Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, ed. León-Portilla. Díaz de Games, El Victorial, ed. Beltrán. Libro del cauallero Zifar, ed. González.


Terms and Texts The present study discusses Spanish travel literature between the early thirteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The first three centuries of this period saw the completion of what has come to be called the Christian Reconquest of Islamic Iberia; the last century or so witnessed the exploration and conquest of much of the New World and the establishment of the overseas Spanish Empire. In its earlier phases, the Reconquest played out as an intermittent succession of encounters, skirmishes, and occasional battles, amid long intervals of uneasy but more or less peaceful coexistence. After the once-powerful Cordoban caliphate collapsed and fragmented in the early eleventh century, resulting in the formation of a number of so-called taifa kingdoms, Iberian Christian kingdoms increasingly took advantage of Muslim vulnerability. For some time, Muslim Spain held its own against the increasingly powerful and gradually uniting Iberian Christian kingdoms. The resounding Christian victory at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 was followed by a series of Muslim defeats by Christian forces, especially those of Castile. Throughout the middle decades of the thirteenth century, Moorish cities and kingdoms were occupied one by one, including Córdoba in 1236, Seville in 1248, and Cádiz in 1262. By the end of that century, only the Emirate of Granada retained a nominal independence, remaining tributary to Castile until its outright conquest by the Catholic Kings in 1492. The victorious campaigns of the thirteenth century established a pattern and a methodology of Christian conquest and colonization. Lands were distributed among Christian lords, giving rise to patterns of seigniorial independence and unequal land distribution premonitory of the Peninsular latifundium system of later centuries. Christianization gave rise to new demographic categories. The term mudéjar referred to Muslims who remained in Christian territory, while those who converted to Christianity came to be called moriscos. The Jewish community, whose members had resided for centuries in both Christian territory



and Al-Andalus, was subjected to various regulations and modifications of status based on their alleged differences from the Christian population. Whether adhering to their ancestral religion or converting to Christianity, the Muslims and Jews of the Peninsula underwent varying degrees of prejudice and harassment. It is a commonplace of Spanish colonial historiography that the Reconquest both prefigures and prepares for the Hispanic conquest and colonization of the New World. In its various aspects—ideological, military, diplomatic, legal, administrative, fiscal—the Reconquest is seen as the origin of many New World colonial practices and institutions. As an array of interactive methodologies, the legacy of the Reconquest facilitated what Walter Mignolo discusses in terms of an ethnocentric mapping out of newly opened territories (259–289). This imperial project was in large measure justified by interrelated notions of race, caste, and—eventually—indigeneity. Travel literature is peculiarly revealing in its treatment of the latter themes. It is a kind of literature that situates the writer and the reader in foreign territories, amid alien peoples. It invites perceptions and formulations suggestive of racial profiling and of invidious ethnic taxonomies. Terms such as “racialization,” “caste,” and “indigeneity,” usefully applied to the study of the postcolonial reality in the Hispanic overseas empire, are equally useful in the study of travel works composed in the centuries preceding the establishment of colonial empires. The study of this literature reveals its reliance on a set of social axioms guiding the authors’ perception of the Other. The most significant impedimenta of that preexisting intellectual baggage are ideas concerning race and its affiliated concepts. Race The texts under scrutiny do not generally use the terms “race” and “caste” (Sp. raza, casta). Nonetheless, they employ analogous terms or reveal situations that suggest racial thinking. A consideration of the latter tendency begins with basic definitions. The Oxford English Dictionary (hereafter: OED) glosses “race” as “a group of persons, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin.” Etymologically, the term is borrowed from French race, with Spanish raza and Portuguese raça listed as analogous forms. Aside from such parallels, the term, according to the OED, is “of obscure origin.” Joan Corominas, in his article on “raza” (4: 800–802), suggests a derivation from Latin ratio, “cálculo, cuenta” (“calculation,” “a counting”) and the derived meanings of “índole, modalidad, especie” (“kind, modality, species”). He affirms that the earliest



attestation of raza in the sense of a human lineage defined by inherited traits is the Corbacho of Alfonso Martínez de Toledo (around 1438). The passage from the Corbacho reads thus: “el bueno y de buena raça todavía retrae dó viene, y el desaventurado de vil raça y linaje, por grande que sea y mucho que tenga, nunca retraerá synón a la vileza donde desciende” (“the good man, of a good family, always reveals where he comes from, and the wretched man, of base family and lineage, however powerful he may be and however much he possesses, never reveals anything but the baseness whence he descends”; Martínez de Toledo 85). The modern meaning, notes Corominas, begins to appear in the sixteenth century and especially the concept of purity or impurity of blood as defining membership in inclusive categories of persons; thus the notion of a Christian “race” as made up of those lineages untainted by any trace of “raza de judía ni de marrana” (“the race of Jews or false-converts”; 801). An initial problem in the analysis of race and caste in medieval literary texts is therefore to verify the meaning in such texts of terms and concepts that might or might not be analogous to those used in present-day racial discourse. Attention must be paid to specific historical contexts in order to avoid anachronism and ethnocentrism. On the other hand, no term can be useful if it only applies to single instances. One must beware, as Tzvetan Todorov reminds us (“Race” 374), of “affirming the existence of incommunicability among cultures.” Overly mindful of the contradictions of various expressions of ethnocentric universalism, we jeopardize our attempt to comprehend Otherness, concludes Todorov, if we assume an “insurmountable discontinuity within the human species.” Michael Banton points out that race relations present innumerable variations in the multiple contexts of particular regions and societies in which they emerge as an observable phenomenon (2). He hazards, nonetheless, a general definition. When a group begins to see “its relations with another group as ‘racial,’” this may well bespeak “a change in the nature of those relations.” To understand race relations as they play out in the real world, and as they are conceived by social actors and groups, we must, argues Banton, refrain from limiting ourselves “to the participants’ conceptions of what was racial.” Even as our observations must take historical context into account, we are obliged to “rewrite history in the light of new concerns and understandings” (3). Raymond Williams, under the heading “racial,” points out the primordial meaning of “race” as “a line of descent” (248–250). In this sense it is synonymous with “blood” and “stock.” At first it referred to different breeds of plants and animals. Later, in the sixteenth century, it came to refer to groups of human beings. In biological classifications its use paralleled that of other taxonomic terms, such as “genus” and “species.”



It became problematic—racialized, as it were—when it came to denote “a group within a species” and to extend its application to “wider social, cultural, and national groups.” The application of such concepts to human populations thus arises as a supposed analogy between different human populations and different breeds of animals or plants. For many present-day scientists, this concept of human races is problematic, although some genetic research supports the notion of regional populations (European, East Asian, African, Amerindian, etc.) broadly defined by characteristic traits. Such broad categorizations may correlate, in anthropology, with the use of “race” to refer to natural groupings of human beings, extant or extinct, characterized by shared, hereditary physical traits (skin color, facial features, hair type, etc.), as opposed to such factors as language or culture. Another possible ethnographic definition is that of groups defined by shared history or a common language, with no particular reference to biology. A survey of physical anthropology textbooks published in the United States in the years 1932–79 confirms a significant tendency to question the race concept. Since the 1970s, anthropologists have generally moved away from the view that races actually exist (Littlefield et al. 641–645). To the degree that it applies the concept, present-day biology defines race in genetic terms. Races are subpopulations of species defined by shared hereditary traits that distinguish them from other subpopulations of the same species. For modern biology, therefore, race is a vernacular synonym of the term “variety.” Significantly, the term “race” does not appear in the index of Ernst Mayr’s monumental The Growth of Biological Thought. He uses the term only incidentally, under the heading of “Infraspecific Categories.” Citing Linnaeus as an inf luential example, he notes that “variety” refers, in the early development of modern biology, to “a highly heterogeneous lot of deviations from the species type” (288). Mayr notes that the term “variety,” for Linnaeus, encompassing both individuals and populations, includes “geographic races.” This concept of race is now generally assimilated to the concept of subspecies, defined by Mayr as “a phenotypically similar population of a species, inhabiting a geographic subdivision of the range of a species, and differing taxonomically from other populations of the species” (289). An idea rather than a demonstrable biological reality, race inspires pseudoscientific distortions, such as the co-opting of genetics by racist ideologues to justify the identification of race with religion, nationality, or skin color. Racialization, then, can be defined as the application of the concept of race as if race were a reality. As a demographic taxonomy, racialization tends to organize itself as a compulsory classification. In the absence of clearly definable traits or markers that facilitate



segregation of populations, characteristic markers are assigned to racially defined out-groups. Albert Memmi succinctly states the essential tendency: “in the absence of any real biological distinction, one can easily be invented” (18). Memmi provides a concise summary of racism’s core principles: “racism is a biologism carried to excess, and a self-indulgent elitism.” If racism has recourse to science, “it does so out of anxiety for its own respectability, its need for a seal of approval” (20). The real meaning of racism does not reside in its philosophical coherence. It is a discourse invoked and maintained owing to a need for “mythic and rationalistic projection” (22) wielded as an instrument of political domination and social control. Categorizations based on the idea of race therefore tend to be promulgated from a position of advantage with regard to racialized populations. This predominance is a particularly frequent result of conquest and the political and economic advantages enabled by it. The effects of racialization, in the form of racially determined systems of inequality, are more readily observed than its origins. But one may detect racial ideas in narratives having nothing directly to do with the establishment of political systems grounded in race. Race, in effect, is in the eye of the racializing beholder. This study attempts to interpret medieval travel authors as beholders of the world in racial terms. The works axiomatically, perhaps unwittingly, apply the conceptual apparatus of racialization, in the form of the ethnographic descriptions. They engage in racialization as a discursive confection of supposed racial identities. In this they conform to David Theo Goldberg’s definition of racialization as “the attribution of racial meanings or values to social conditions or arrangements, or the distinction between social groups in racial terms” (12, n. 1). Applied to various contexts, this mental process tends to impute “exclusionary or derogatory implications to social conditions.” As a taxonomic mentality, racialization lends itself to extrapolation. It allows for hypothetical situations based on construed analogies and to the formulation of inferences based on such analogies. In the case of previously unclassified groups, racial identities may thus be assigned, with newly discerned groups construed to be separate “races.” For this reason, what seems a representation of cosmopolitan diversity, observes Shu-mei Shih, often cloaks hierarchical categorization (1348–1352). Beginning in the Middle Ages, racial hierarchies emerge as the historically observable outcome of the specific history of European expansion, as prefigured in the Crusades of the Middle East and in the Spanish Christian Reconquest. Racialized hierarchy has always been justified, argues Charles Mills, in legalistic terms. Although actual signed contracts can seldom be pointed to, a contractual tradition emerges in the form of



papal bulls; public discussions regarding the implications of colonialism, discovery, and international law; “pacts, treaties, and legal decisions”; debates on “the humanity of non-whites”; a body of formal law legitimating “differential treatment”; the “routinization” of extralegal practices “effectively sanctioned” by tacit governmental approval of atrocities and the exploitation with regard to native populations (20–21). Surveying the history of racial concepts before the Age of Discovery, Joseph Graves argues that before 1500, ideas of race, insofar as they can be detected, were “parochial” (13–22). Superiority was understood in local and ethnocentric terms: one’s “race” was the home community. This localized ethnocentrism is not the same, Graves argues, as the racial hierarchies elaborated during the colonial period and persisting with variation into modern times (13). He discusses biblical precedents, highly relevant to the study of medieval ideas of race, particularly the story of Noah and his sons (15–17). Aristotelian biology’s notion of the great chain of being (18) likewise, he argues, significantly informs the attitude of medieval authors toward exotic peoples. Emphasizing the innovative aspect of medieval European racialization, he points to a lack of evidence confirming systematic racism among ancient Greeks and Romans (20). The Jews were an early exception, although no obvious set of physical attributes—a possible basis for “biological differentiation”— distinguished them from surrounding populations. Nonetheless, allows Graves, Jews were increasingly described as separate and inferior, mostly on the pretext of supposed behavioral and moral deviations and deficiencies (20–21). Medieval anti-Semitism thus anticipates modern racism not in the specifics of its prejudices but in its “stigmatization of one cultural group [by means of ] racist tactics.” The origin of systematic racism of the modern type, argues Graves, may be traced to the Age of Discovery and its “concomitant colonialism” (22). For Memmi, the underlying human experience that makes racism a hazard of the human condition is “contact with an individual or group that it is different and only poorly understood” (23). Human beings, to be sure, vary in their reactions to the Other. However, racism as a response to contact with the poorly understood Other is a temptation that arises when “we believe ourselves threatened in our privileges, in our wellbeing, or in our security” (23). Tolerance and aggression are equally possible between groups; racism therefore “manifests a failure of relations with the other” that readily becomes “conventional” (26–27). In a passage whose relevance to the present study will become evident in later chapters, Memmi observes that the perception of difference underlies an “agreeable curiosity that produces an attraction toward the unknown, a taste for the exotic, for voyages, for cultural and



commercial adventures” (27), giving rise to “invented narratives of the other.” Whether aggressive or tolerant, the perception and interpretation of difference is “never neutral” (29). At the same time, the perception and description of difference, the discovery of a “differential trait,” do not inevitably bespeak “prejudicial hostility” (36). The “valorization of difference” only becomes racist if it serves as a pretext for “the deployment of a difference to denigrate the other” (37), in order to secure “privilege or benefit through that stigmatization” (38). This systematic pursuit of advantage by means of stigmatization is most clearly manifested by colonialism’s presumption that the perceiver of differences ratified by dominance “not only can but should dominate the colonized” (38). Refuting those who seek to derive racism from a psychological inclination toward heterophobia, a “fear of difference,” a phobic response to the unknown (43), Memmi argues that to reduce racism to a mere fear of the unknown is to overlook the specificity of the many varieties of racism. While racism may owe something to a generalized human fear of difference, each particular racism (e.g., anti-Semitism) is nonetheless grounded in a specific historical milieu (44). The most propitious of such historical environments for the development of racism is, again, the colonial world, with its inherent inequalities. In this context, “If difference exists,” summarizes Memmi, “it gets interpreted; if it doesn’t exist, it gets invented” (52). The colonizer, therefore, tends to compose a profile of the colonized “so well adapted to the needs of colonial domination that it presents itself as the predestined order of things” (53). Racism, in sum, confers a benefit on the racist, consisting of anything that yields “an advantage or privilege through the devaluation of the other” (60). This devaluation and the benefits accruing from it inevitably inspire an “obsession with purity,” a fear of pollution, and “a vow to obviate it” (67). Differences must therefore be exacerbated and the boundaries that define them clarified, rigidified. Rules against miscegenation, against promiscuity in all its forms, become a racist imperative (69); chimerical racial rhetoric takes on an institutional life of its own, as in the case of “the myth of blood and bloodline” that obsessed earlymodern Spain (71). Although the travel works discussed here do not show the systematic racism defined by Memmi, they nonetheless set forth a panoramic array of human groups in terms that portend racialization. At the same time, they are prescientific in their taxonomy. Other than the occasional indication of some notion of natural kinds—the legacy of Aristotle, the principal source of medieval biological ideas—the authors write long before the development of systematic concepts of species and genus. Grounded in a literal interpretation of Genesis, the orthodox medieval



European view of the natural world mandated a “belief in the individual creation of every species” with all the myriad species seen as “welldefined units of nature . . . constant and sharply separated from each other” (Mayr 255). According to this essentialist concept, the species was “characterized by its unchanging essence . . . and separated from all other species by a sharp discontinuity.” Nature, according to this concept, is a vastly diverse yet finite catalog of “unchanging universals” (256; see also Wilkins 35–46). Medieval travel literature generally observes and judges alien peoples from this essentialist perspective. The details of this natural history of human kinds may vary, but the typological tendency is a constant. With respect to natural history, the degree to which travel texts are verifiably faithful to any particular classical or medieval tradition or author varies considerably. The texts are not written with an eye for doctrinal exactitude or systematic application. Nevertheless, their descriptions of human behavior and folkways suggest a general tendency to see things taxonomically. Details imply group identities and comparisons between groups. This ethnographic perspective is somewhat explicable in terms of the travel works’ composition and reception in Spain during centuries encompassed by this study, when concepts of racial identity, as they bear on the perception and stratification of human groups, are a particular concern of law codes and political treatises. The travel works to be presently discussed, while consistently preoccupied with the detection of race and the differentiation of racial groups, do not always adhere to what could be seen as the orthodoxy represented by such codes and treatises. Their sometimes idiosyncratic approach to racial concepts will be among the topics discussed in chapter 2. Caste Caste, as an idea, is separate from race. But in the context of racialization, caste is readily construed as racialization’s inward-looking, hierarchical aspect. It seems to lend itself to internal social gradation and degradation, to the exaggeration of perceived Otherness and marginalization of racialized groups within a single society, and the organization of internal dominance and subalternity. The latter term, at the same time, is perhaps obliquely rather than directly related to caste. Often associated with concepts of marginality and of reduced agency, subalternity would seem to encompass all marginalized groups and classes perceived as lower and deprived of agency by their inferior status. Robert Young notes, for example, that “subalternity” tends to refer to “the diversity of dominated and exploited groups who do not possess a general ‘class-consciousness.’”



This general sense promotes a tendency to identify the subaltern with the colonial subject who is “an insurgent and an agent of change” (202). Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has objected to such general uses of the term. “Subaltern,” she argues, “is not just a classy word for oppressed, for Other, for somebody who’s not getting a piece of the pie.” In the postcolonial context, she clarifies, “everything that has limited or no access to the cultural imperialism is subaltern—a space of difference.” This difference is not synonymous with the inequality entailed by concepts such as oppression or discrimination. The working class, she observes, may be “oppressed” but is not necessarily subaltern by reason of that oppression. Racial minorities on university campuses, she elaborates, may be discriminated against in various ways, but they are not subaltern. They are themselves agents operating “within the hegemonic discourse”; they want “a piece of the pie” but are not allowed to partake to a degree they regard as satisfactory. They are nonetheless at liberty to employ the same hegemonic discourse as other groups in attempting to get what they perceive to be their fair share. Given the resources at their disposal, their situation should be seen, therefore, as inappropriately characterized by the term “subaltern” (de Kock, “Interview”). The competitive striving and opportunism referred to by Spivak imply hierarchy and inequality but not necessarily subalternity in the sense of absolute oppression and exclusion. Caste, which is about hierarchized inequality, would seem appropriately linked with subalternity. The two terms, however, emanate from different classificatory registers. Both articulate with racialization, in that race, like caste, tends to be about exclusion and segregation. Subalternity, however, is about denial of agency to disfavored groups. The focus is on impeding or preventing assimilation of the targeted group and on the perpetuation of the group’s dispossessed status. Caste, by contrast, is, at least in theory, about competitive inclusivity. Contact between castes may be officially forbidden or rigorously discouraged, but the system as a hierarchic totality requires that every caste have a place. Caste discriminates and depreciates, but does not, in practical terms, absolutely segregate. It fosters invidious stratification but also incites rivalrous striving for agency. It is agency meted out in problematic doses. Where subalternity imposes on the subaltern only the choice between submission or subversion, caste offers incentives for buying in to the program, for getting a stake—however small and disputable—in the status tournament. The striving in question, in caste systems, generally manifests itself not in terms of individual social mobility, as in capitalistic societies, but rather in those of competition between castes. Even when, in exceptional cases, individuals or families “climb” through a change of caste, taking



advantage of loopholes or falsifying pedigrees, such exceptions validate the system: to cheat in order to improve one’s chances is to endorse the game. Agency, meanwhile, has several possible meanings (not always clarified by those employing the term). It can be asserted and enhanced politically, economically, ritualistically. It is manifested in occasional historical examples of supposedly inferior castes attaining military or political dominance (e.g., the Egyptian Mamelukes, to be discussed in chapter 3). The OED derives the English term “caste” from Spanish and Portuguese casta, “race, lineage, breed” and ultimately from Latin castus, “pure, unpolluted.” Corominas’s article on casta (1: 913–916) indicates that it is a form of uncertain origin, common to the three principal Romance languages, with such various early meanings as “especie animal” (“animal species”); “raza o linaje de hombres” (“race or lineage of men”); “clase, calidad o condición” (“class, quality, or condition”). The term’s earliest Peninsular attestation is in a Catalan text of the fifteenth century. Beginning in the early sixteenth century, it was used by the Portuguese to refer to the “castas y clases sociales hereditarias de la India, privadas de mezcla o contacto con las demás” (“hereditary castes and social classes of India, devoid of any mixing or contact with other groups”). Examples in Spanish from before the middle of the fifteenth century refer to the propagation of a species or breed in expressions such as “para casta” (i.e., “for breeding purposes”). Earlier examples of the term in the sense of “breed,” “lineage,” do not imply purity. Gradually, however, the sense evolves of “breed apart,” “pure lineage” (1: 915). Caste, as a concept and term applied in Ibero-America, referred to varied and numerous crossbreeds of European, Indian, and African blood. This Ibero-American variant has some relevance to our discussion of travel texts composed after the European discovery of the New World. However, in the majority of our texts, caste in a more general sense is most frequently implied. Referring to the specific historical origins of the English term, the OED cites the Indian example: “One of the several hereditary classes into which society in India has from time immemorial been divided; the members of each caste being socially equal, having the same religious rites, and generally following the same occupation or profession; those of one caste have no social intercourse with those of another.” The original four castes, each associated with a primordial social and ethical function (Brahmans, priests; Kshatriyas, soldiers; Vaishyas, merchants; Shudras, artisans and laborers), have become, over time, “sub-divided into an immense multitude, almost every occupation or variety of occupation having now its special caste.”



“Caste” is more generically defined in terms of “moral systems that differentiate and rank the whole population in corporate units (castes) generally defined by descent, marriage, and occupation” (Marriot and Inden 982). Aside from famous examples in India and other parts of South Asia, arguably similar systems have been discerned in other regions. In their classification of persons according to differences of birth and their strict rules against intermarriage between groups, they are akin to racially stratified systems. They resemble class-stratified, pluralistic societies in their discernment and judgmental evaluation of differences in group behavior. At the same time, caste systems differ from race and class hierarchies in their definition of themselves as culturally integrated “unitary societies” (982). The Indian example, the most structured and populous, is also the one most extensively studied. However, note Marriot and Inden (991), societies in other regions, ref lecting similar conditions and analogous histories and involving similar concepts and structures, are susceptible to classification as caste systems. A common denominator of such systems seems to be a tendency toward “situations of encroachment between alien ethnic groups.” Situations likely to precipitate caste formation therefore include: instances where one group “has opposed itself as a superior whole to a despised immigrant population”; the domination of a native majority by foreign conquerors; a native-born minority’s marginalization and exploitation of an immigrant majority. A caste system can be said to emerge insofar as systematic ranking and “mutual consensus” regarding such ranking are observed. Louis Dumont’s essay on the Indian system, perhaps the most widely cited study of caste, emphasizes both the multiplicity and geographical specificity of caste systems. A “caste,” according to Dumont, is a group, perceived as a unit from the outside but “divided within.” Each caste is a “successive inclusion of groups of diverse orders or levels, in which different functions (profession, endogamy, etc.) are attached to different levels.” A caste is a “state of mind” rather than a group. This caste mentality is expressed by “the emergence, in various situations, of groups of various orders generally called ‘castes.’” The system is not readily understood by focusing on its constituent elements; rather, it is best seen as a set of “fixed principles [that] govern the arrangement of f luid and f luctuating ‘elements’” (34). Castes as subgroups of larger population segments are discernible by their separate identity and subculture and by their variously regulated interaction with other, similar groups. This array of similar groups may be seen as “a geographically circumscribed system of castes.” The caste



system is thus “a system of ideas and values, a formal, comprehensible, rational system, a system in the intellectual sense of the term” (35). The fundamental categorical oppositions of caste involve a special concept of difference. The Indian term j āti translates as “caste” but also means “species” in biological contexts. Difference, defined with reference to the entire hierarchy, is a matter of “differentiation of functions” (42). One such is hierarchy itself, the “gradation of status.” Another is the observance of detailed rules for maintaining the separation of the groups. Finally, there is the division of labor and its resultant interdependence. A single fundamental principle informs the whole system: “the opposition of the pure and the impure.” The principles of separation and of division of labor are grounded in this polarity: “The whole is founded on the necessary and hierarchical coexistence of the two opposites” (43). The minute specificities of caste, based on the pure/impure dichotomy, articulate with the traditional hierarchical categories known, in the Indian context, as the varnas (“colors”), which Dumont translates as “estates.” These define the four groups mentioned earlier, in the citation from the OED (Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras). A fifth category, the Untouchables, falls outside the system (Dumont 67). The hierarchy may be seen as “a series of successive dichotomies or inclusions.” Thus, the Shudras are opposed to the first three, considered a categorical cluster whose members share a capacity for full participation in the religious life. Within this higher category of varnas, the Vaishyas are opposed to the Brahmans and Kshatriyas. The latter two are further distinguished, with the Brahmans seen as the superior group. The inferiority of the Vaishya and the Shudra is based on the perceived subordinacy of their assigned functions. The former are traditionally herdsman, farmers, merchants—their dominion is over animals; the latter serve in all senses of the term. The Brahmans and Kshatriyas, by contrast, have been given dominion over “all creatures” (67). Dumont (68–69) summarizes the traditional characteristic attributes of these overarching categories: “the Brahman is the priest, the Kshatriya the member of the class of kings, the Vaishya the farmer, the Shudra the unfree servant.” This classification, persisting since ancient times, has been subject to qualifications and ambiguities in the characterization of persons and their functions. The system of the varnas, in any case, is generally referred to in delineating the duties and occupations of specific castes. The Brahmans are assigned the functions of teaching, sacrifice, and receiving gifts. The Kshatriyas are protectors of all creatures. The Vaishyas get their living from farming, commerce, grazing, and usury. The Shudras, last, “serve and obey without envy.”



Some commentators urge caution in taking this account of the Indian system at face value. A caste system, argues Claude Meillassoux, is an ideological representation of a statutory and repressive hierarchy. The projected imagery of the system cloaks and confuses social and economic categories, such as those of economic class and clientelism. Countering the claims of Dumont and other sociologists specializing in the study of the Indian system, who emphasize the uniqueness of the latter, Meillassoux notes the presence in other societies, such as those of certain North African peoples, of practices and conditions that prompt a generic application of the caste concept. Shared diagnostic factors would include: an emphasis on hereditary membership, strict observance of hierarchy, vocational specialization, and prohibition of marriage between the members of segregated groups (5). The analysis of such societies in terms of caste is hampered by the claims of Indologists, particularly Dumont, of the Indian system’s sui generis uniqueness. The latter view, affirms Meillassoux, tends to be informed by an idealistic, conservative ideology eager to discover, as the system’s core principle, a notion of universal social harmony. This approach, he contends (6), suspiciously resonates with apologetic defenses of the system enunciated by Brahman ideologues. Meillassoux stresses that the supposed integrity of the system, according to Dumont’s overly literal view, is predicated on its pervasive inclusivity. Indian society, according to this notion, consists entirely and without exception of the total, multifariously coherent array of castes. The reality, Meillassoux insists, is far more heterogeneous and unstable. All the supposed core elements of the system—inherited caste membership, inf lexible marriage rules, statutory hierarchy, absence of social mobility, severe segregation of castes, ritualized notions of purity, vocational specialization, caste-specific division of labor, and so on—are subject to constant change (7–8). Focusing on this f luctuant reality as the actual caste society, rather than on an idealized, reductionist model of caste hierarchy, permits, concludes Meillassoux, a discussion of caste as a multicultural phenomenon (28). The sociological debate regarding the fiction or reality of the Indian caste system and the extensibility of the caste concept to non-Indian cultures, is highly relevant to a discussion of the medieval European estates system as presented by its contemporary explicators and defenders (as we will see in chapter 1). Like its subcontinental counterpart, the medieval European system articulated hierarchical categories and postulated a system-wide participation of all members of society. Levels, observes Georges Duby, were assumed to be fixed; any notion of changing one’s position was seen as inherently subversive (The Three Orders 57). A central concept, that of officium (“duty, obligation, service”), defined “divisions”



or “partitions,” which “determined the distribution of responsibilities” (58). In terms of social structure, the term ordo (“order,” “rank”) referred to spiritual or temporal leadership as exercised by two categories: the orator (“he who prays”; the highest level) and bellator (“he who wages war”). Subordinated to these two orders was a third category, that of those performing various kinds of work. Duby (59) explicates the primordial logic of the system: “Inequality governed the universe: some were in command, others must obey.” The servile category thus occupied “a subject status,” while the oratores and bellatores were “charged to lead it.” The function of the third category was work; hence the designation laboratores (“those who toil”). The notion of work implies “sweat, affliction, poverty—exploitation.” The exploitation of the category was morally justified, furthermore, by a correlation of purity with authority and impurity with servitude: “the high reigned in perfection and the low groveled in sin.” Over the course of time, the categories became variously nuanced. The franchise of the bellator category underwent expansion and diversification. At first referring to princes and great lords, the designation came to include the men who enforced royal and seigniorial authority: the milites or “knights.” The difference between the bellatores and the milites who were their henchmen gradually began to diminish. The Crusades played a crucial role, fostering the view of all work performed in defense of the community as a kind of noble service (Duby, The Three Orders 199–201). The category of laboratores, meanwhile, was also expanded and diversified, partly through an increasing differentiation of rural and urban kinds of labor and partly due to economic growth and the increasing complexity of trade and commerce. A new group came to be distinguished from the “the mass of men destined support, to feed, and to serve the few” (212). This new group’s members were the ministri, “specialized underlings,” responsible for the myriad tasks and occupations (ministeria) that had become, in the aggregate, an indispensable, status-enhancing fixture of royal palaces and aristocratic houses. As this service sector expanded, its members, beginning to work on their own account, acquired wealth (212). As urban labor becomes differentiated from rustic labor, practitioners of the former category, the ministri, acquire a new group designation: bourgeois, from the bourg, the cluster of buildings standing just outside city walls, around a castle, or near the entrance to a monastery (213). The invidious categorization and theoretical rigidity of the European estates system fosters what amounts to a racialization of labor. Those who toil are treated as if they were racially inferior. Marked as propitiously subaltern, culturally marginal, they form the designated supporting cast



of an integrative scenario that, while classifying all work as necessary to the community, invidiously depreciated work performed by those not belonging to the first two estates. Caste relations became further rigidified when actual race, in the pseudobiological sense, was correlated with this stratified division of labor. The superimposition of racial categories on to the estates template doubly handicaps the members of disfavored races, obstructing, if not absolutely precluding, their acceptance by other nonracialized castes and rendering them liable to the stigma of “secondclass” membership in the greater society. The essential feature of this system is its emphasis on the proliferant multiplicity of the third estate’s servile categories, and on their rightful exploitation by the two higher estates. This utilization of servile productivity is presented by later medieval estates theorists not in the brutal, “some-command-others-obey” terms of feudal pragmatism, but rather in those of a moral principle that justifies the assumed superiority of privileged levels, while construing the complicity of the subjacent categories as an axiomatic social norm. This normative precept, often synergetically correlated with religious or political orthodoxy, is the notion of organicist functionalism. Variously nuanced, the latter concept has been both defended and critiqued by a number of modern social scientists. Emile Durkheim, to name an inf luential example, elaborates a theory of organic social solidarity, which contrasts modes of social agglomeration based on arbitrary or bequeathed affinities and unstable associations (e.g., those founded on kinship and its analogs) with organic solidarities derived from a mutual awareness of the need for systematic, voluntary cooperation (49–54, 70–82, 106–110, 127–132, 185–190). Enlarging upon some of Durkheim’s concepts (and showing themselves resonant with medieval estates ideology), others, notably Kingsley Davis and Wilbert E. Moore, have explicated social stratification as a filling of society’s most necessary, difficult, or hazardous jobs through the provision of superior incentives and rewards designed to motivate suitable incumbents (Davis and Moore 242–246). Critics of this concept, pointing to the circularity and vagueness of its terms, see functionalism as a top-down justification of elite prerogatives. C. Wright Mills, for instance, characterizes such mentalities in terms of a self-serving tendency among power elites “to define themselves as inherently worthy of what they possess” and to regard their property and privilege as “natural extensions of their own elite selves.” The natural assumption of any “privileged ruling stratum,” this ideology may be “elite-made or made up for [the elite] by others” (14). For Mills and many other critics of the concept, organicist functionalism, stealthily adapting



to ever-new contexts, is the subjacent, cabalistic conceit of officialized inequality in all its forms. Countering such egalitarian interpretations, others, such as Dumont (20), point out that idealistic egalitarianism is a utopian construct, and that real-world societies, including those on the subcontinent, do in fact utilize concepts of hierarchic functionalism that “encompass social agents and social categories.” Functionalism, in other words, has a life of its own, affecting real-world outcomes precisely because of its wide acceptance, especially by elites, as an idea of how society is supposed to be structured. The systematic persistence of such categories over time— especially if reinforced by crosscutting racialization and if ref lected in a segregation of subpopulations defined by their acceptance of or acquiescence to the system—yields a social organization that could be called a “caste system.” With regard to such issues in the Peninsular context, Thomas Glick (136–138) summarizes present-day discussions of medieval Iberia in terms of a so-called polemic of Spanish history centered on the opposing views of Américo Castro and Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz. A particular focus was the possible caste structure of medieval Iberian Christian society. The discussion, argues Glick, was complicated by “terminological and conceptual imprecisions.” Castro saw ethnoreligious divisions—that is, those of caste—as more significant factors than social and economic class. The basic structure of medieval Peninsular society was derived, according to Castro, from the interaction of three castes: Muslims, Christians, and Jews. For Sánchez-Albornoz, by contrast, Castilian society was, like other societies of medieval Christendom, vertically structured along class lines, not horizontally organized according to the interaction and coexistence of supposed castes. The polemic, observes Glick, is compromised by ambiguous semantics. Castro, for example, does not clearly define the term “caste.” He does not focus on factors emphasized by comparative anthropology, such as the exclusivity of the closed groups, their strict rules of endogamy, their severe prohibitions on interaction between castes. Glick argues that Castro’s axiomatic reliance on the Spanish sense of casta, with its emphasis on purity of lineage, precludes a clear perception of the “social, as opposed to ideological or cultural, structuring of caste interactions” (137). Ignoring the internal class stratification of the separate castes, Castro fails to account for the internal hierarchization, which is, as we have noted, a significant aspect of caste systems. Sánchez-Albornoz, on the other hand, disputes the relevance of caste in the analysis of medieval Peninsular society. As we will see presently, he accentuates the difference among Jew, Moor, and Christian in terms of separate ethnic groups, each with its



own history, tradition, and internal structure. For Sánchez-Albornoz, Spanish culture does not result from an amalgam of cultures; it evolves as a prolonged indigenous Peninsular Christian resistance to outside inf luences, including those of Jews and the Muslims (Glick 137). The foregoing outline is not meant to contribute to such debates but rather to introduce certain terms and concepts of the modern discourse on caste and related issues that seem to echo or paraphrase social phenomena referred to in the European and Spanish travel works cited in this study. However verifiable the reality of such systems may be in terms of day-to-day social history, the texts in question do in fact show a constant inclination to perceive alien societies in terms of their greater or lesser conformity to presumed hierarchical and functionalist norms represented by the traveler’s home community. Indigeneity This concept implies a more inclusive demography than “race” or “caste.” Populations inviting the application of the term “native” or its synonyms, even when limited to a single region (e.g., “Native-American”), can include multiple distinct ethnicities. Indeed, present-day discourse on indigenous issues, especially when referring to globalization and its effect on indigenous peoples, inevitably universalize, even when doing so is questioned or deplored. To talk about indigeneity as a human reality is to risk subsuming multiple ethnic singularities into a homogeneous, and very possibly fictive, generality. The present essay, borrowing terms and concepts from those disciplines, focuses, however, not on real-world indigeneity, whatever that might be, but on the narrative motifs, cultural tropes, and descriptive habits of medieval travel writers fascinated by alien peoples often perceived in terms of autochthony. Moreover, the subsumption of multiple ethnic singularities into a single homogeneous generality is very often exactly what medieval travel authors do. The following discussion of nomenclature (all definitions cited are from the OED) serves as a preliminary outline of the interpretative language required to discuss the texts’ often equivocal, ambiguous, and sometimes universalizing representations of the native Other. Concerning the term and concept of indigeneity, we begin by defining the adjective “indigenous”: “Born or produced naturally in a land or region; native or belonging naturally to (the soil, region, etc.).” The OED entry notes that the term is “used primarily of aboriginal inhabitants or natural products.” Based on the Latin adjective indigenus (“born in a country, native”), the term can also mean “Of, pertaining to, or intended for the natives; ‘native’, vernacular.” Thus the adverbial form “indigenously”



(“in an indigenous manner, as a native growth”); the noun form “indigenousness” (“the quality of being indigenous or native”); the verbal form “indigenize” and its substantive “indigenization” (“The act or process of rendering indigenous or making predominantly native; adaptation or subjection to the inf luence or dominance of the indigenous inhabitants of a country; spec. the increased use of indigenous people in government, employment, etc.”); the noun “indigenist” (“an advocate or supporter of indigenization”). Such forms and meanings roughly parallel those evolving around the term “native” (from Latin nativus, “produced by birth, innate, natural”). Along with such meanings as “left or remaining in a natural state; esp. free from, or untouched by, art; unadorned, simple, plain, unaffected” (i.e., meanings assumed by the etymologically related Gallicism naïve), this term shows such definitions as: “Pertaining to, or connected with, one by the fact of one having been born there; that was the place or scene of one’s birth”; “Belonging to, or natural to, one by reason of the place or country of one’s birth, or of the nation to which one belongs”; “Born in a particular place or country; belonging to a particular race, district, etc., by birth.” The modern application of the latter definition requires the following clarification: “with connotation of non-European.” Finally, with respect to the adjective “native,” we find: “Produced in or belonging to a certain country; of indigenous origin, production, or growth, as opposed to what is foreign or exotic.” As a noun, this form is defined as “one born in a place; one connected with a place by birth, whether subsequently resident there or not.” Most significantly with regard to our topic, a native is “one of the original or usual inhabitants of a country, as distinguished from strangers or foreigners; now esp. one belonging to a non-European race in a country in which Europeans hold political power.” Another related word is “aborigine,” most often used in the plural, with the sense of “the original inhabitants of a country.” This had the original sense of “the race of the first possessors of Italy and of Greece, afterwards extended to races supposed to be the first or original occupants of other countries”; thus, by extension, “the natives found in possession of a country by Europeans who have gone thither as colonists.” From this substantive meaning (“An original inhabitant of any land, now usually as distinguished from subsequent European colonists”) derives the adjective “aboriginal,” with the meanings of “first or earliest so far as history or science gives record; primitive; strictly native, indigenous.” Particularly relevant to the present discussion are these definitions: “Dwelling in any country before the arrival of later (European) colonists”; “Of or pertaining to aborigines, to the earliest known inhabitants, or to native races.”



This term, on the strength of its various definitions, would seem to be a useful addition to the terminological repertoire applied to indigeneity. However, its specific association with Australian history, and with the ongoing problems of native-descended populations in that country, complicates a more general application to other historical contexts. Yet another semantic cluster centers on the Hellenism “autochthon”: “A human being sprung from the soil he inhabits; literally, a ‘son of the soil’” (from “αὐτόχθων, “sprung from that land itself ”), thus, in the plural, “the earliest known dwellers in any country; original inhabitants, aborigines.” On this noun are based the adjectives “autochthonous,” “autochthonic,” “autochthonal” (“Native to the soil, aboriginal, indigenous”), and the abstract noun “autochthony” (“autochthonous condition”). Unlike “aborigine,” this appellation is not preemptively anchored in a specific historical setting. It allows for the broadest possible coverage of all social phenomena comprised under the indigenous heading, including those only indirectly related to colonialism and its latter-day avatars. It is probably for this reason that some present-day commentators on indigeneity have used “autochthon,” and its dichotomous antonym, “allochthon,” to discuss native identity and the many problems, contradictions, and shifting scenarios that have emerged in both postcolonial and economically developed societies (Ceuppens and Geschiere 386–387). The foregoing terms suggest ways of looking at indigeneity as a topical focus in the study of peoples designated as or perceived to be native and at indigenism as an advocacy on their behalf. The indigenous designation, it should be pointed out, is all too often not self-applied by the groups so defined; to classify a group as native is to subject it to nativization, a real-world practice supportive of multiple agendas. Thus, in the present day, such concepts as “Native-American,” the ethnographic and ideological descendant of nativizing terms from the colonial past, often have a destructive impact on communities so designated. “The ideas of the Indian and Indianness,” observes Jodi Byrd, amount to a “contagion through which the U.S. empire orders the place of peoples within its purview” (xiii). As a kind of colonialist practice, this promulgation of a concept of Indianness thus encourages “competing representations of diasporic arrivals and native lived experiences . . . that vie for hegemony within the discursive, cultural, and political processes of representation and identity.” Byrd argues, furthermore, that the concept of indigeneity often reinforces the more divisive and exploitative aspects of multiculturalism. Citing Spivak, she defines the latter phenomenon as a later phase of dominant postcolonialism that enables the ongoing colonization of peoples classed as indigenous “within and beside the established geopolitical and biopolitical borders and institutions of (post)colonial governance”



(Byrd xix; citing Spivak, Death 82). The effect of such present-day tendencies seems to revive and paraphrase a founding fiction of American civilization, that of the civilized polity menaced on its western frontiers by the Indian Savage, at once an “abjected horror through whom civilization is articulated oppositionally” and “a derealization of the Other” (Byrd xxi). This ancestral othering of indigenous tribal peoples, Byrd concludes, citing a significant Supreme Court case, readily transitioned into the notion of dependent nations “whose relationship to the United States was that of wards ‘in a state of pupilage’” (xxii; citing Cherokee Nation 1). Similarly racialized and paternalistic terminologies and modes of thought—defined, benignly or maliciously, by their preoccupation with exploited ethnic minorities within a hegemonic context—arise in other times and places. Allowing for contextual differences, analogous terms and mentalities are, as we will see, an occasional feature of indigeneity as this phenomenon is perceived and represented in certain of the travel works discussed in this essay. As in Byrd’s historical contextualization, such analogies emerge when we retrospectively extrapolate based on present-day discussions of race, caste, and indigeneity. Going, in effect, in the opposite direction from Byrd, this essay chief ly focuses its retroprojective attention on the works of medieval travel literature listed ahead, under “Principal Texts.” Typically lacking a specific social terminology devoted to these themes, and sometimes overlooking or refracting relevant phenomena, they nonetheless concern themselves with distant or exotic human realities that invite translation of their descriptive and perceptual idiom into present-day terms. The Definition of “Medieval” Locating a boundary between the Middle Ages and early modernity is problematic. At the same time, while change may be mostly a matter of intermediate gray zones, of lingering vestiges and premonitory adumbrations, sharper discontinuities sometimes stand out as discernible milestones separating what came before from what comes after. In terms of the medieval-to-modern demarcation, 1453, the year Constantinople fell to the Turks, clearly marks the end of an era. In the Peninsular context, 1492 likewise seems particularly conclusive. Its big events signal both culmination and initiation: Granada falling in January, the expulsion of the Jews in March, and, in October, Columbus’s arrival in the New World. All three events of 1492 encapsulate, each in its own way, the greater and more gradual discontinuity represented by the emergence of modern states and empires. On the statist, modernizing side: the expansion



of monarchic authority and state power; increasing territorial and jurisdictional unification; the emergence of an increasingly complex and interdependent international economy. On the prestate, still more-orless-medieval side: defiantly independent seigneurial magnates and lesser nobles; townships and local communities cherishing actual or virtual autonomy: conditions of relative local autarky. The transition between the two, representing pervasive and meaningful transformations, can be defined as the medieval/modern boundary. At the same time, although the Catholic Kings had, to an impressive degree, moved their kingdoms in the statist direction in comparison to the earlier, highly fragmented political structures of the Peninsula, the state was still conceived of in patrimonial terms that somewhat impeded institutional and legal uniformity; their reliance on existing institutions in the administration of their realm conduced, furthermore, to a perpetuation of a status quo dominated by the great nobles (Elliot, Imperial Spain 76–77, 79–81, 109–111). Despite such factors, the trend toward centralization continued under Charles V, the grandson of the Catholic Kings. As Castile attained primacy over all Peninsular realms, while expanding its overseas domains, the various mechanisms of centralized royal government and imperial administration were perfected. Their effects were in some measure inadvertent, given the emperor’s adherence to the same patrimonial concept of monarchy as his maternal grandparents. However, the administrative complexities of an empire, a vast expansion of the state bureaucracy, and the Inquisition’s reinforcement of religious orthodoxy favored further consolidation of the Hapsburg state. The installation of that dynasty in Spain, in the second decade of the sixteenth century, can thus be seen as the truly liminal discontinuity marking the end of the Middle Ages (162–165; Ruiz 7–10, 17, 27–28; Kamen, Empire 51–52). Racialization, often correlated with the emergence of modern states, is a prominent feature of the expanding imperial Habsburg state in the first half of the sixteenth century. Interconnected policies and institutions advanced the notion of an interdependency of national character and national mission, setting a standard for rival and successor states, as David Theo Goldberg observes (5), of “the rationalization of modern state power” through the systematic normalization and naturalization of “racial thinking.” Elevated to the level of organizational methodology, “racial reasoning,” argues Goldberg, thus becomes a central element of “modernity’s common moral, sociopolitical, and jurisprudential sense” (5). In this environment, the modern state becomes the managerial and administrative preserve of a bureaucratic class motivated by “the racial interests [its members] represent explicitly or implicitly” (8). The resultant racial codification of the state entails a wide array of policies



designed to disqualify racially disfavored categories from participation in state operations, and to exclude certain categories from state protection (9). Complexly interacting with class and gender, the codifications of the state largely determine the criteria of “social belonging” and “social subjection and citizenship” (10). A prominent example of such trends is the notion of limpieza de sangre (“purity of blood”), one of the most striking features of racialized Peninsular culture. Strictly speaking, it does not directly implement racialization in the sense of enforcing a separation of racial groups. Rather, it represents the inward-looking, racially oriented aspect of caste referred to earlier. It employs supposed racial associations to devalue groups nominally belonging to the overall Christian society—in other words, to define such groups as separate and inferior castes. Although first taking articulate form in the mid-fifteenth century, the concept of blood purity does not become a systematic factor until the following century. The way was prepared for this escalation by Pope Alexander VI, whose bull of 1495, overturning earlier rulings in favor of New Christians, upheld proposed laws restricting converso access to ecclesiastic office, while legitimating the regulatory scrutiny and verification of purity of blood. This opened the way to a further proliferation of exclusionary regulations, a tendency that accelerated in the first decades of the sixteenth century (Kagan 90–91). The rules regarding purity of blood reinforced two reciprocally defined social categories, the cristiano viejo (“old Christian”), untainted by impure blood, and the cristiano nuevo (“new Christian”), contaminated by Jewish or Moorish ancestry. Candidates for ecclesiastical and civil offices were obliged to formally document purity of lineage by means of the socalled estatuto de limpieza de sangre (“statement of blood purity”), requiring an extensive and costly genealogical investigation. The emergence of the concept of limpieza de sangre and its associated practices coincided with a rise in anti-Semitism and general religious intolerance, fomented by Christian preachers agitating against the supposed nefarious inf luence of false converts suspected or accused of practicing their original religion in secret. Their propaganda campaign was abetted by the resentment among Old Christians of a supposed converso monopoly of public offices and by a general perception of social mobility and inordinate prosperity among those of Jewish and Muslim descent (Pérez 30–57). Called marranos (literally, “pigs”), Jewish converts were accused, among other things, of selfishly disregarding the interests of Spain; of exerting undue inf luence on the king; of being, in short, unwilling or unable to assimilate into the national life of the increasingly centralized Spanish state. Neither benign papal intervention, nor the efforts of Spanish theologians defending the



rights of religiously sincere converts, nor similar protective efforts by certain elements of the nobility, could stem the rising tide of anticonverso prejudice among the mass of New Christians (Kamen, Inquisition and Society 114–133; The Spanish Inquisition 33–36; Pérez 34–36, 55–57). Such was the prevailing Peninsular racial climate during much of the period surveyed by the present essay. Except for the Alexander, which, as we will see, reveals a discernibly anti-Semitic orientation, the travel works discussed make no direct reference, one way or the other, to the developments just described, nor to the harsh social environment that gave rise to them. Even in situations that would seem racially analogous to conditions and events back home, the authors’ racializing instincts, such as they are, are directed outward, toward the myriad of alien peoples awaiting judgmental appraisal. Medieval Spanish Travel Literature Although attention will occasionally be paid to works composed in other languages, such as French (the language of the Canarian), as well as to medieval references to travel works originally written in Greek, Latin, and Arabic, this study mainly concerns itself with travel themes as articulated in prominent works composed in Castilian. The chief criterion for inclusion of a given text is the importance assigned to the relation of, or reference to, journeys and voyages. Additionally, an emphasis on the exotic, broadly defined, argues for a work’s inclusion in the discussion. Whether presented as autobiographies, eyewitness accounts, or narratized gazetteers, the medieval Spanish and European accounts listed here express a consistent fascination with foreign peoples; the more further away, generally speaking, the more fascinating. In late-medieval and early-modern terms, this exoticism, as Barry Taylor emphasizes, would generally imply Asia, which included the Arab world (“Los libros de viajes”; 57–58). This Asiatic emphasis explains why the discovery of the New World at first seemed, from the European perspective, an extension of the old sphere of exotic interest rather than an opening up of a new one. The selection of works for discussion is not based on a notion of travel literature as a coherent genre along the lines of mystery or detective novels. There is no such well-defined travel genre. The phrase “travel literature” is as unbounded and inclusive as the concept of travel itself. An exceedingly heterogeneous activity, travel is classified variously. What József Böröcz calls “historical travel types” include pilgrims, merchants, missionaries, diplomats, soldiers, monks, students, refugees, cure seekers, hermits, exiles, cartographers, explorers, and even smugglers (“Travel



Capitalism” 711–712). Other types include colonizers, captives and castaways, scientists, and pirates (Sherman 24–30). The history of Peninsular travel, as surveyed by Joaquín Rubio Tovar (“Viajes” 11–24), reveals types of travel and travelers similar to those of other regions, as well as some peculiar to the Spanish context. For one thing, Santiago de Compostela, from the tenth century on, was one of the three principal destinations of Christian pilgrimage (along with Rome and Jerusalem). Furthermore, Peninsular societies, more than those of other European regions, tended to be mobile and travel-minded from top to bottom. The military and quasimilitary activities of the Reconquest, involving men of various means, social standing, and regional origin, encouraged geographic mobility. Trade and transhumance likewise ensured that significant numbers, singularly and in collaboration, were inured to a life on the move. José Ángel García de Cortázar notes, among numerous kinds of travel in addition to military expeditions, royal visits of state for the purpose of signing peace treaties or marriage contracts, to meet with allies or ambassadors, or to administer justice and hear appeals (19–20). Related to military expeditions were the movements of scouts, spies, and suppliers. All of these activities bespeak networks of primary and secondary roads and of various services catering to travelers of all kinds (Rubio Tovar, “Viajes” 13). In the Peninsula, as elsewhere, kings traveled for many reasons, setting a conspicuous example for all sectors of society. Whether for reasons of state, pilgrimage, or recreation, these royal itinerations implied a large entourage of clergymen, nobles, scribes, attendants, bodyguards, cooks, and servants that would have presented a formidable spectacle to all who saw it. This ostentatious practice promulgated a prestigious travel model for the status conscious and the upwardly mobile: the more important the traveler, the larger the entourage and the more obvious and varied the consumption (14; see also García de Cortázar 20–21; Labarge 42–48). Ancillary to royal and aristocratic travel were the many administrative levels serving kings, magnates, and the higher clergy. Diplomatic services also involved frequent travel for purposes of transmitting dispatches and communiqués, arbitration, and intelligence gathering. Such travels implied the extensive participation of numerous ancillary staff of legates, envoys, go-betweens, heralds, messengers, couriers, agents, and informants (García de Cortázar 22–23). Other distinctively Hispanic travel types, owing to specifically Peninsular conditions, are bandits and extortionists who preyed on various types of travelers, especially pilgrims; false pilgrims of all kinds, including fugitive heretics, beggars, ruffians, vagrants, and so on (Rubio



Tovar, “Viajes” 15). Merchants, another important travel category, showed distinctively Peninsular styles. Often unofficially combining mercantile activities, especially attendance at fairs and markets, with the ostensible duties of pilgrimage, traders took advantage of established networks of hostelries, monasteries, and other traveler’s services located along the numerous well-traveled roads and trails (17–19). Another mobile category, somewhat differentiated from its analogues in other regions by the geographical and economic specifics of the Peninsula, was that of herdsmen. Seasonal transhumance, especially under the inf luence of the international wool trade and the famous regulatory association known as the Mesta, set into movement large numbers of shepherds, drovers, peasants, and knights (19). Dominated by the Mesta, Peninsular transhumance differed from that of other Mediterranean regions due to the relatively greater distances involved, larger quantities of livestock, and greater numbers of agricultural workers involved (William and Carla Phillips, Spain’s 33). The expanding European textile industry, with its growing demand for wool, as well as the opening up of new lands in Andalusia during the Reconquest era, contributed to a rapid expansion of the system and the establishment of the Mesta as an administrative authority and lobbying entity (33–39; see also García de Cortázar 26–28; Braudel 1: 85–95). Along with the frequent participation of town militias in long-term intermittent warfare between Christians and Muslims, Peninsular transhumance, as presided over by the Mesta, was one of the chief factors in Reconquest-era Peninsular society that conditioned many categories of people, even the poorest, to see the world in terms of routine and wide-ranging travel. This travel-minded milieu, inured at all social levels to both the multiple realities of travel and to the rigors and uncertainties of intermittent frontier warfare between ethnically defined regimes, forms the background of Peninsular travel authors and readers. That background is one not only of variegated travel modes, but of a numerous, highly diverse, and thoroughly stratified demography of travelers. Our purpose is to trace expressions of our three principal themes in the primary works listed here, themes that are in one way or another important to the readership implied by a chronically itinerant, multiracial Peninsular society. Islets in the intertextual ocean of medieval textual production devoted to travel, geography, and related themes, the works reveal, over time, a gradually increasing tendency to perceive and present alien peoples from a perspective approximating that of modern empirical ethnography. That near-empiricism must have been derived, to some degree at least, from the authors’ familiarity with the travel-hardened Peninsular world just described.



At the same time, medieval travel literature, at its most attentively descriptive, does not actually conform to the present-day scientific. It reveals at best an inadvertent mimicry of the modern empirical style. Its characteristic descriptions and anecdotes pursue taxonomic agendas only incidentally coincident with those of later social sciences. As we will see in the next chapter, these taxonomic agendas are at times deeply inf luenced by ancient and medieval encyclopedic models. In response to these models, the works of our list compulsively map outer worlds, transcending borders and virtually populating uncharted spaces. Abhoring a geographical vacuum, they present a cavalcade of races, nations, and peoples by tracing sometimes vague itineraries and presenting often contradictory ethnic profiles. They recreate for their readers a sometimes speculative universe whose ethnographic aspect is often expressed in terms of a simultaneous perception of difference and analogy. In its alleged perceptions, travel literature inventories and catalogues human attributes, especially as they ref lect and characterize collective foreign identities. Seldom impartial in its observations, medieval ethnographic description tends to be synecdochal: the specimen stands for the race. Different examples and subtypes of the latter category, in turn, are implicitly or explicitly classified, invidiously hierarchized, using the author’s home community as the norm. As we will see, the texts discussed here see racially motivated hierarchy, dominance, and exploitation as axiomatic facts of life and are consistently attentive to the manifestation of those facts among alien peoples. Travel Literature: Works and Versions This study is not meant as a systematic survey of all relevant texts. Furthermore, of the works cited, few are exclusively about travel. Travel, rather, is a frequent or occasional theme, a narrative or thematic mode selectively engaged. With the exception of the Quijote, which is cited for its significant treatment of several themes important to our discussion, the works on which we will chief ly focus were composed between the early thirteenth and the mid-sixteenth centuries. They are listed in the following sections in chronological order of original composition. The later works in the list appear in print after 1500, a year that for many stands as the division between the medieval and the early modern eras. But the authors of these later works were born in the fifteenth century and write, as we will see, from what must be considered in many ways a medieval perspective. The first and the last of the works discussed are narratives of conquest written by churchmen. The earliest book on our list, the Libro



de Alexandre (“Book of Alexander”; hereafter: Alexander), is an extensive reworking of an ancient romance devoted to the life and exploits of Alexander the Great. The last is the Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (“Succinct account of the destruction of the Indies”; hereafter: Succinct Account) of Bartolomé de las Casas, a polemic description of the destructive impact of Spanish colonization in the New World. The former work is composed in the early thirteenth century as the Spanish Christian Reconquest steps up its campaign against the Muslim territories of the Peninsula. The latter is published in 1552, as its author looks back on decades of Spanish Christian conquest, colonization, and exploitation. The two authors personify, each in his own way, the age-old conf lict between the Church and the secular power. In their articulation of the terms of this conf lict, the two authors assign great importance to racial issues. Conquest is represented in both works as organized, goaloriented violence, one of whose outcomes is systematic racial inequality. When that violence self-consciously justifies itself, in good or bad faith, as a crusade, there must be—the two authors make clear—some principle of moral accountability to rein in the inevitable excesses; lacking such accountability, the resulting postconquest environment will inevitably be one of widespread suffering and injustice. The Alexander poet expresses his misgivings regarding the abuse of power by focusing on the fallible personality of the singular conqueror; his reworking of an ancient pagan narrative is meant as an allegorical meditation on events and personalities of his era. Las Casas, by contrast, expatiating on the collective guilt of Spanish Christians in the wanton destruction of native peoples, eschews subtlety; he is writing a sermon meant to awaken his congregation, starting with his king, to the brutal realities of inhuman atrocity and betrayal of Christian principles. Despite these differences, both authors share a preoccupation with the primordial mission of Christianity: to go and teach all nations. This central theme encapsulates the ongoing moral crisis of medieval Iberian Christian and New World regimes that must be seen as the temporal and territorial prolongation of the medieval Peninsula’s racially dysfunctional environment. An essential component of the intellectual and ethical response to that environment among authors focusing on these and related themes is the emergence of an ethnographic sensibility, as frequently revealed in the travel works discussed here by a taxonomic engagement with Otherness. A disposition to perceive a plenitude of different peoples inclines geographers, explorers, and travelers to enlarge humanity’s roster of races, nations, and kingdoms. This propensity can be seen as an emergent ethnography, taking the latter term in the broad sense of a “scientific description of nations or races of men, with their customs,



habits, and points of difference” (OED). This ethnographic inclination bespeaks an analytical perspective and catalogic nuance enabled by literacy and the subtle epistemic transformations that stem from it. As James Clifford observes, ethnography, “enmeshed in writing,” translates experience into textual form, revealing in the process “multiple subjectivities and political constraints.” It manifests through strategies of authority and claims of being “the purveyor of truth” (The Predicament 25). The works studied here mostly share an ecumenical perspective on travel. They point to the establishment of a greater sphere, an expansion of known worlds from an epicentrically European perspective. At the same time, whenever they focus on human geography and what we would call ethnography, their observations and opinions articulate concepts of race. Indeed, one might say that as an ethnographic genre, travel writing is predilectively a racializing literary mode. As Palmira Brummet observes, ethnology begins as a “study of the divisions, especially racial, of human-kind, their origins, distribution, relations and characteristics.” This tendency evolves in the seventeenth century into a “system of narration” implicitly designed for “classifying race” (2). In “crafting” the spaces traversed by its narratives, travel literature thus “populates that space, to a greater or lesser degree, with ‘foreign’ peoples” (5). Whether written by actual travelers or bookish imaginers of travel, descriptions of the “nature, customs, religion, forms of government, and language” of exotic peoples is, as Joan Pau Rubiés observes, “embedded” in European travel writing. In the Renaissance, such descriptions “became the empirical foundation for a general rewriting of ‘natural and moral history’” (“Travel Writing” 241). This rewriting was appealing “for the entertainment value of the depiction of curious behaviour” as well as for the philosophical questions prompted by “evidence of [human] variety” that might or might not confirm the existence of “universal human traits.” What Rubiés calls “the European ethnographic impulse” manifests long before the emergence of a coherent academic discourse and its representative discipline in the nineteenth century. Ethnography, he argues, “existed within the humanistic disciplines . . . in the primary forms of travel writing, cosmography, and history” (242). The compulsion to describe alien ways in meticulous detail transcends the simple duality of insider/outsider, according to which a heterogeneous “us” is classified by highly nuanced terminologies (e.g., those of kinship, pseudokinship, clanic or political affiliation, caste or class membership, etc.), while a homogeneous “them” refers to the undifferentiated mass of outlanders. To be sure, our travel authors globalize when referring to alien peoples as barbarous, infidels, and so on. But they also differentiate. Their perspective adumbrates what could be called the ethnographic



gaze. Projecting outward, this attestative predisposition looks for distinctions, searches for analogies, indulges in a propensity for cataloguing exotic ethnonyms and sketching alien folkways. Principal Texts Travel Works Marco Polo The most important of all medieval European travel books is Marco Polo’s Le devisement du monde (“The description of the world”; hereafter: Description), originally composed in Old French around the turn of the fourteenth century. Polo’s Description is not, as John Larner reminds us, a narrative in the strict sense of term. Relatively little attention is paid to the hardships and hazards incurred during his journeys; few details are forthcoming regarding the personages actually encountered, the daily life on the road, dates of visiting specific places and traversing specific segments of routes, and so on (Larner 68–69). On the other hand, although not a continuous or consistent narrative, it is relatively disregardful of the standard mythic ethnography outlined earlier, maintaining an inquisitive perspective highly relevant to the question of race and related themes in medieval travel literature. We cannot hope to resolve here the many controversies concerning textual relationships among the vast number of translations, versions, and paraphrases revealed by the labyrinthine philology of Marco Polo’s book. The details of how and when the work came to be dictated by Marco to the Pisan poet and traveler Rustichello; the relative contributions of Marco and his amanuensis in the elaboration and redaction of the work; the original language and dialect of the latter; the tangled relationships among families of manuscripts and printed versions—these and many related issues remain matters of controversy (Rieger 290–297; Heers 231–243; Larner 176–177; Ménard 12–28, 31–50, 71–77, 89–108). Medieval translations are generally not faithful by modern standards. Idiosyncratic, distinctive in style, they often depart from their originals in ways that make them versions in their own right—remakes, almost, rather than translations in the strictest sense. One such is a late-fifteenthcentury version of the Description attributed to Rodrigo de Santaella, the Libro de Marco Polo (“Book of Marco Polo”; hereafter: Santaella). First published in 1503, this version is the earliest rendering of Marco’s work into Spanish. Its numerous departures from the Description (Valentinetti Mendi 225–230), its enduring popularity among Spanish readers throughout the sixteenth century, and the probability that it was read and annotated by



Columbus himself are factors that justify our treatment of it as a work in its own right (Rubio Tovar XXXIX). Pierre Chaunu points out the inf luence of Marco Polo’s work on Western perspectives of the east and on the understanding of travel and travel narratives in general (72–76), as does Critchley (130–148). Henry III’s sponsorship of the expedition to Tamerlane recorded by the Embassy exemplifies this new geographical sensibility, whose cultural program, as Francisco López Estrada points out, expected of monarchs and those who would emulate them a tolerance toward the diverse peoples of the world and their characteristic ways (“Viajeros castellanos” 64–67). The approximate relativism personified by Marco Polo, and the cosmopolitan but as yet unnuanced demography of late-medieval travel narratives, thrives amid an intellectual climate in which notions of a plurality of worlds, a plenitude of races, become favorite topics of debate and frequent poetic and artistic motifs (Lovejoy 94–98; Friedman 61–86, 183–195). El libro del conoscimiento The late-fourteenth-century El libro del conoscimiento de todos los regnos e tierras e señoríos que son por el mundo (“The book of knowledge of all kingdoms and lands and domains found throughout the world”; hereafter: Book of Knowledge) expresses a detailed curiosity regarding places and peoples. Although it is one of the most important Spanish travel books of the fourteenth century, and presents itself as a narrative of journeys, it is, for the most part, neither empirical nor innovative with respect to its understanding of human geography. Its narrative form works more as a mnemonic device than as a genuinely informative travel account (Rubio Tovar, “Introducción” LXVIII). This work will be referred to chief ly to demonstrate the lingering formulaic geography and ethnography from which later works tend to distance themselves but whose inf luence they frequently betray (Biglieri 17–24). The Book of John Mandeville The book known as in its original version as Le livre des merveilles du monde (“The book of the world’s marvels”; hereafter: Mandeville) was most probably written in Anglo-Normand French in about 1356 and was thereafter translated numerous times and in various languages (Deluz 28–36; Higgins, The Book xiv–xvii). Like Marco Polo’s Description, the work attributed to the probably fictional John Mandeville exists in numerous variants; here the designation “Mandeville” will refer to that aggregate of versions. A complicating factor is the uncertainty regarding the authorship of the work; the historical reality of the personage known as Jean de Mandeville has not been conclusively demonstrated (Deluz



7–14; see also Biglieri 260–269). What is undeniable is the enduring popularity of the work. Reading in many places like a pilgrim’s or tourist’s guidebook, it occasionally shows a certain ethnographic relativism in its reportage and commentary and often affects to narrate actual travels. However, while incorporating some elements of the newer, more scientific-minded geography of its day, it extensively relies on a paraphrasing of the old encyclopedic stereotypes. It derives its myriad details from a variety of demonstrable sources, such as the real-world travelers Odoric of Pordenone and Giovanni da Pian del Carpine; the historian Hayton of Corycus (d. ca. 1320); encyclopedists such as Brunetto Latini and Vincent de Beauvais; the Prester John Letter; classical authors such as Pliny, Solinus, and Isidore of Seville; the Imago Mundi of Honorius of Autun; the stock anecdotes and legends heard by all pilgrims. Surprisingly, Marco Polo, although already widely read by the time of Mandeville’s composition, is minimally relied upon (Deluz 12–13; see also Mason 138–150). Iain Macleod Higgins describes Mandeville’s account as “potential rather than personal,” a “plotless verbal journey . . . something like the traditional pilgrim’s guide . . . except that its practical skeleton has been . . . thickly f leshed out with lore and stories” (64). In other words, it resembles the Book of Knowledge in its comprehensive listing of regions, kingdoms, peoples, and destinations and Marco’s book in its anecdotal and digressive proclivities. Mandeville’s account, argues Higgins, assumes more or less the format of a pilgrim’s guide, but is, in its broad preoccupation with “unpractical concerns” and its often protracted delving into historical and geographical matters, aimed at “vicarious travelers” (64). In its many translations and variants, it was one of the favorite travel works of the later Middle Ages. The Spanish-language version referred to here is the Libro de las maravillas del mundo y del viaje de la tierra santa (“Book of the world’s marvels and of the Holy Land”; hereafter: Marvels). As in the case of Santaella’s rendering of Marco Polo, this Spanish text is a freely translated version that can be seen as a separate work in its own right. The edition cited is based on a text from 1524 (Rubio Tovar, “Introducción” LXI) that was several times reprinted and widely read throughout the sixteenth century. The Description, Mandeville, and the Book of Knowledge, along with numerous other earlier works, including versions of the late-classical and early-medieval formulaic geographers, inf luenced the opinions and perceptions of travelers throughout the period under scrutiny. Authors and texts disagree on many things, including politics, race, and notions of human nature. But all survey foreign landscapes with a similar set of thematic and descriptive preferences that appeal to readers who continue to see the world in medieval and residually ancient terms.



Embajada a Tamorlán The Embajada a Tamorlán (“Embassy to Tamerlane”; hereafter: Embassy) recounts the journey of the diplomatic mission sent by Henry III of Castile in 1403 to the court of Tamerlane, the Turko-Mongol conqueror who ruled over an empire that included much of West, South, and Central Asia. The chief motive of the expedition was the establishment of diplomatic relations with a ruler famous for his resounding defeat of the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I some years before and considered a possible ally in the Christian European struggle to contain Turkish expansion. Attributed to Ruy González de Clavijo, the appointed leader of the expedition, and probably completed in 1406 (López Estrada, “Introducción” 35), the account takes the form of a log or diary documenting the experiences and perceptions of the expedition in the journey to Tamerlane’s court and back. An example of what might be called practical travel literature, it nonetheless frequently diverges from its diplomatic mandate, providing a host of details regarding the many persons and peoples encountered, the numerous places visited and regions traversed, and the great variety of phenomena observed. Andanças e viajes Pero Tafur’s Andanças e viajes (“Travels and voyages”; hereafter: Travels), probably composed in 1454, is an autobiographical account of wide-ranging journeys undertaken by the narrator between 1436 and 1439. Born in Cordoba between 1405 and 1410, and raised in the household of the Master of the chivalric Order of Calatrava (Pérez Priego, “Introducción” XX), this leisured Andalusian gentleman provides an account notable for the number of regions, cities, and sites visited and the lively, often touristic style of the author’s detailed commentary. European locales include Rome, Constantinople, Strasbourg, Brussels, Bohemia, Vienna, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Crimean. Various Mediterranean sites are visited, such as Crete, Rhode, Cyprus, and Chios. In the Near East, the narrator stops in Egypt, the Holy Land, Smyrna, Trebisond, and other places. In addition to his eye for the noteworthy details of local customs, politics, commerce, and industry, Tafur shows a readiness to interact with locals. His contacts include both prominent personages and dignitaries, and humbler folk, such as vendors and tour guides. In addition, he reveals an interest in natural history, paying particular attention to phenomena considered exotic from the European perspective. A combination of religious pilgrimage, business trip, social promenade, and sightseeing excursion, his narrative expresses both inquisitive ethnographic curiosity and touristic fervor with regard to both European and non-European places and peoples.



Chivalric Narratives Libro del caballero Zifar The early-fourteenth-century “Book of the Knight Zifar” (hereafter: Zifar) is the one of the earliest of the Spanish chivalric romances. Recounting the adventures and vicissitudes of the protagonist and his family, and concluding with a fourth book dedicated to the wanderings of the hero’s younger son, its race- and caste-conscious narrative presents knight-errantry as a purposeful yet compulsive itineration through numerous countries populated with exotically named places, characters, and peoples. Borrowing and adapting from saints’ lives and other hagiographic sources, and often reminiscent of medieval epic and courtly romance, the often didactic and digressive narrative presents the protagonist as an ideal Christian knight divinely destined to rule over a kingdom of his own (González 16–20, 23–40, 45–51). Interspersed among its numerous adventurous episodes are a considerable number of exempla, proverbs, and sermon-like pronouncements. Perhaps the work’s most striking feature is its pronounced Orientalism, marked by the choice of setting (a fabulous but somewhat vaguely defined “India”); the ethnicity of all its principal characters (described as “Indian Christians”); the demonstrably Eastern origin of many of its proverbs and anecdotes; the verifiably Arabic sources of some of its geographical descriptions (Harney, “The Geography”; “More on the Geography”). Despite these features, and the overall effect of an extended fairy tale in the style of the Arabian Nights, the society depicted is distinctly European in its emphasis on feudal themes, its concepts of kinship and marriage, and its political themes. Amadis de Gaula The title “Amadís of Gaul” (hereafter: Amadís), for the purposes of the present study, refers to the eponymous literary work whose 1508 princeps, attributed to Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, initiates the early-modern cult of the chivalric romance. This first volume, divided into four books, is continued by Las sergas de Esplandián (see the next section). The degree to which the five books of Amadís and Esplandián are faithful to the medieval versions on which Montalvo based his work—as opposed to reworkings, augmentations, or abridgments—is a complex question not yet resolved. Esplandián was almost certainly an important character in earlier manuscript versions dating back to at least the mid-fourteenth century (Avalle-Arce 64–100; Cacho Blecua, “Introducción” 67–72). Montalvo probably began his adaptation around 1492, completing his version as late as 1504 (Cacho Blecua, “Introducción” 79).1



Amadís is the most widely read of the Spanish chivalric romances that enjoyed such popularity in the first two centuries of the publishing industry. The work is important not only as a frequently reprinted and often translated bestseller in early modern Europe, but also because of its identification of chivalry with chronic itineration, exploration, and conquest. The hero becomes the adopted ruler of an exotic island domain, which serves, along with its numerous analogues in the other works of this adventurous genre, as the literary precedent for the island promised by Don Quijote to Sancho Panza. Discounting the fiction/non-fiction dichotomy—generally problematic and anachronistic when applied to the late Middle Ages—we will see that Amadís imitates travel literature, even as travelers and travel writers are inspired by Amadís and its novelistic congeners. Las sergas de Esplandián Although the princeps of this sequel to Amadís (“The Exploits of Esplandián”; hereafter: Esplandián) dates from 1510, two years after the earliest extant edition of the former, the Esplandián was very possibly completed in the early or mid-1490s (Saenz de la Maza 23). A mostly original work composed by Montalvo, rather than an adaptation or reworking of earlier versions, it Christianizes and desentimentalizes the knight-errant and his mission, converting the hero from the adventurous and faithful lover exemplified by Amadìs into a militant champion of embattled Christendom assaulted by infidel hordes. Among the latter are the Amazonian legions of the pagan queen Calafia, whose island realm is the famous source of the name “California.” Her eventual subjugation and conversion to Christianity represent Montalvo’s handling of the native princess motif, a theme that significantly bears on the topic of indigeneity. El Victorial “The Chronicle of Victories” (hereafter: Victorial), probably written by Gutierre Díaz de Games around 1430 (Beltrán, “Introducción” 98–99), recounts the wide-ranging journeys of Pero Niño, Count of Buelna, a prominent Castilian knight active in the early fifteenth century. Often classed as a chivalric biography, the work may be regarded as the nonfictional counterpart to the chivalric romances, which often present themselves as biographical accounts. The protagonist of this work, like Amadís and other literary knights-errant, is an inveterate traveler whose wideranging travels frequently place him in contact with foreign peoples, giving rise to situations that illustrate the themes of this study. Of particular interest is the work’s penchant for detailed descriptions of the politics and



customs of the places visited and its tendency to engage in cultural generalizations that constitute a medieval version of ethnic profiling. Don Quijote de la Mancha The most famous work of Miguel de Cervantes (hereafter: Quijote) may be read as a kind of travel book in its tale of a delusional protagonist’s pseudochivalric wanderings through the central regions of the Peninsula. The narrative of the Manchegan’s itinerations frequently touches on themes relevant to the present study, such as those of race (e.g., the episodes involving Morisco characters), caste (e.g., the account of the captive’s family background; the protagonist’s discourse on arms and letters), and indigeneity (e.g., the chapters devoted to the captive’s experiences in North Africa). Books of Exploration, Discovery, and Conquest Libro de Alexandre The early-thirteenth-century “Book of Alexander” is an early and important example of the Spanish mester de clerecía (“the cleric’s craft”) movement of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Incorporating features from several prominent medieval literary genres and modes, including biography, the form known as the “mirror of princes,” conquest narratives, chivalric romances, and, to some extent, historiography and geography, it is also an expression of medieval Orientalism. The latter concept, inf luentially—and controversially—explicated by Edward Said from the perspective of mid-twentieth-century international cultural politics, may be said to originate in a Eurocentric Middle Ages whose earliest understanding of the East was typified by conventional images of fabulous or monstrous races. While the Alexander, along with other works discussed here, conforms in some measure to that mythic Orientalism, it reveals, at the same time, hints of a skeptical empiricism in its treatment of certain travel themes. As we follow its account of the famous protagonist’s expeditions to distant and exotic lands, we will also see how this work highlights a number of imperialist themes that have a direct bearing on the history of travel and travel literature and the emergence of an ethnographic sensibility. As Carlos García Gual points out (57), the Alexander expresses, in addition to a fascination with marvels, an intrusive curiosity concerning the varied human world and its workings. Like several other personages in the narratives we will discuss, the Alexander regards travel as an enriching, even indispensable experience. This idea is expressed, for example, in stanza 2304, in which the protagonist is compared to wandering Ulysses, who “non ouo mas peligros nin fue mas ensayado



/ pero quando fue fecho e todo deliurado / exio commo caboso el rey auenturado” (“did not undergo more perils, nor was put more to the test, / for when all was over and done with, / the god-favored king ended up a most accomplished man”). As befits Aristotle’s most famous pupil, the hero is enamored of knowledge for its own sake, as evidenced by his construction of a bathyscaph used to “saber e mesurar, / e meter en escripto los secretos del mar” ( “find out and take the measure / and put down in writing the secrets of the sea”; stanza 2309, cited by García Gual 58). Later (stanzas 2496–2514), Alexander orders his men to construct a f lying machine of his invention. Soaring into the sky, he surveys the earth below, attaining an unprecedented understanding of its geographical contours and the meaningful distribution of its kingdoms and peoples. Despite its protagonist’s spirit of adventurous inquiry, the Alexander’s geographical perspective remains to a large extent anchored in traditional European notions of geography, inherited from the standard array of authors referred to earlier and from the late-classical Alexander romance attributed to pseudo-Callisthenes (García Gual 59). This clash between emergent empiricism and vestigial folklore—a recurring theme throughout the present study—makes this work a particularly interesting early specimen in our sequence of travel works. Le Canarien “The Canarian Chronicle” (hereafter: Canarian) is an account of the conquest of the Canary Islands carried out in the early fifteenth century by two Frenchmen, Jean IV de Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle. With the financial support of Henry III of Castile, Béthencourt led an expedition to the Canaries in 1402. Making an initial landfall on the island of Lanzarote, the Béthencourt expedition easily subdued the small population of native Guanches living there. The conquest of the neighboring islands of Fuerteventura and El Hierro followed soon after. Commending himself to King Henry III of Castile, Béthencourt acquired the title of “King of the Canary Islands.” He returned to France in 1406, relinquishing the kingship in favor of his nephew. Possession of the islands was transferred to Castile in 1418. The Canarian, written in the late fourteenth century and attributed to Jean V de Béthencourt, the nephew of the co-conqueror of the islands, is therefore one of the earliest accounts of the conquest of a non-European people by one of the emerging European nation states. Although composed in a dialect of medieval French, it pertains to the tradition of Iberian travel writing, given that its protagonist, sponsored by a Castilian monarch, established what was to become an overseas dependency of Castile. The Canarian episode significantly foreshadowed many methods and developments that were to characterize



the subsequent subjugation and exploitation of the Spanish New World (Elliot, Imperial Spain 56–57). Diarios de Colón The “Journals de Columbus” (hereafter: Journals) practice their own kind of ethnographic observation. A seeker of new routes to supposedly known places, while at the same time a developer of networks and discoverer of destinations previously unknown to Europeans, Columbus is the harbinger of societies and economies to come. This inaugural function is in no way compromised by the delusional Orientalism that inspired his westward trajectories and prompted him to call the peoples he encountered “Indians.” Actual travel is fostered by his real-world discoveries; his Journals advance travel literature by their “quixotic” mapping of the world. The Journals present a hermeneutical conundrum. As Felipe Fernández Armesto points out, they are known to us indirectly. We know them in part through the mediation of an editor or reworker, Bartolomé de las Casas, whose interventions are possibly multiple. The great navigator’s log of the first voyage, for example, was never published; original manuscripts were lost or destroyed. We know a version of this log through the summaries, paraphrases, and edited excerpts included by Las Casas in his History of the Indies. This mediated version presents various voices: that of the parenthetical or marginal commentator; that of the summarizer of events; that of the paraphraser of passages from the original document; that of the navigator himself, in directly quoted passages. Even though the perspective of the editor, Las Casas, may be said to sometimes predominate over that of the supposed author, Columbus, in the selection and modification of materials for this highly composite confection, the work as we know it remains a most vivid document. The account conveyed by Columbus to his royal patrons was unprecedented in the exhaustiveness of its depiction of the natural and human worlds traversed by the voyager and his shipmates (Fernández Armesto, Columbus 68–69). De orbe novo Peter Martyr d’Anghiera’s “Concerning the New World” (hereafter: De orbe) expatiates on the discoveries of territories and peoples hitherto unknown to Europeans. The author, a courtier, clergyman, diplomat, and humanist, is considered the first systematic historian of the European discovery. Originally written in Latin, his is the first work to express clear awareness of the geographical implications of transatlantic exploration in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries and to perceive the newly discovered overseas territories as a New World. Basing his account



on testimony garnered from actual participants in the overseas enterprise, especially Columbus, Anghiera provides a detailed description that often partakes of the style and anecdotal rhythm of travel narratives and concerns himself with details relevant to the study of our central themes. Cartas de relación The “Letters of Relation” (hereafter: Letters) of Hernán Cortés were composed in order to render an account to the Emperor Charles V of the discovery, invasion, and conquest of the Aztec empire and adjacent territories. Consisting of five letters written between July 1519 and September 1526, the work is somewhat akin to the Embassy, giving an account of exotic peoples and places from a political, economic, and military perspective. Although not as ethnographically detailed as Clavijo’s account, and largely guided by military and political agendas that distinguish it from its predecessor, it nonetheless instructively reveals its author’s complex and sometimes contradictory understanding of alien ethnic groups and polities and the complex, multitribal terrain in which they are situated. As we will see, Cortés, throughout his narrative, projects on to that terrain certain models of ethnic identity and social structure derived, at least in part, from his Peninsular background. His account exemplifies the frequent tendency of travel authors to interpret the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar. Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España Bernal Díaz del Castillo, the author of the “True History of the Conquest of New Spain” (hereafter: True History), in many ways personifies the mentality and background of the typical Spanish conquistador of the early sixteenth century. Born in the early 1490s in Medina del Campo, he emigrated to the New World in 1514, in hopes of bettering his fortunes. Joining an expedition led by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in 1517, the ambitious young immigrant participated in the discovery of the Yucatan. The year after, he joined a second exploratory expedition under the supervision of Juan de Grijalva. His third expedition was the one undertaken by Cortés. This was to be the focus of the long narrative for which he is chief ly famous. Written in his old age in the Guatemalan town of Santiago de los Caballeros (present-day Antigua), of which he had been named governor in recognition of his services to the crown, the narrative is recognized for its detailed reportage of the daily life of campaigning conquistadors and for its equally detailed representation of the customs and politics of native civilizations (León-Portilla 8–9). Like Xenophon’s Anabasis, the True History is the account of an expedition upcountry, amid alien peoples and in confrontation with a polyglot empire



ripe for plunder and exploitation by reason of its ethnic divisions and internecine unrest. Naufragios Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s “Shipwrecks” (hereafter: Shipwrecks) recounts his travels among native peoples in the Gulf Coast and Southwest regions of what is now the United States and in northern Mexico, during the years 1528–1536. Born around 1488 in the Andalusian town of Jerez de la Frontera, this son of a noble family explored much of present-day Texas and northern Mexico. Surviving a shipwreck, along with three companions, he lived for eight years among various native peoples of the Gulf Coast region, earning a precarious living as a trader and tinker. Rich with detail and recounted in a plain and informative style, this tale of intense encounters with strange folk and of harrowing vicissitudes endured amid strange landscapes is famous for its close observation of the customs and folkways of the peoples with whom he interacted. Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias The “Succinct Account of the Destruction of the Indies” (hereafter: Succinct Account), written by a Dominican priest, missionary, and prolific author, is not a travel book strictly speaking. One may nonetheless call it travel-adjacent. It virtually tours the lands affected by the Conquest, taking the form of a retrospective itinerary and polemical gazetter of the discovery and colonization of New World territories subjugated in the name of the Castilian crown. The report is presented territory by territory, with each section (e.g., Hispaniola, Cuba, Nicaragua, New Spain) consisting of a more or less chronological account of the nefarious deeds committed by the invaders against each region’s native inhabitants. Famed for his long-term campaign in defense of the rights of New World peoples and for his steadfast opposition to such practices as the encomienda and forced labor, Las Casas insisted on a peaceful and tolerant treatment of Indians, demanded recognition of their naturally free status, and defended the free will of possible converts to Christianity, in opposition to those who advocated policies of forced conversion. In articulating his position, he incidentally elaborates a generalized profile of New World populations that amounts to a theory of indigeneity.



ravel writers between the early thirteenth and early seventeenth centuries racialize their perception of alien peoples. The exact terms of that perception inevitably differ from those that characterize the racializing discourses of later centuries. We must, therefore, account for the texts’ particular and idiosyncratic ways of perceiving, representing, and discussing the kinds of social phenomena that present-day political science, sociology, and anthropology discuss under the headings of race, caste, and indigeneity. At the same time, we must bear in mind that the latter concepts are largely chimerical figments of the racializing imagination. To distinguish between medieval and modern versions of these concepts, or to discern the ways in which the former perhaps mutate into the latter, is to contrast different styles of racializing fantasy. In effecting this differentiation, we must bear in mind the two dimensions of racialization. One encompasses what might be called the delusional architecture of this kind of thinking, that is, the articulation and diffusion of problematic concepts and imaginary stereotypes. The other dimension comprises real-world conditions and outcomes as they are affected by that architecture. This study focuses on the delusional edifice as it reveals itself in texts, rather than on that fictional structure’s real-world repercussions. The aggregate of their racializing conceptions does not constitute a coherent methodology or program. The delusional architecture is a ramshackle, sustained collective psychosis, a mass-hysterical, prejudicial hallucination whose shifting elements can be circumstantially recalled or invoked, but do not necessarily cohere into purposeful action, collective or individual. Like the folk tales and proverbs peculiar to a linguistic community, it is, from the viewpoint of the members of such a community, a swarm of



loosely affiliated notions, a shifting DNA of iconic images. How and why these elements can be rationalized, correlated, and turned to practical effect—collectively or individually, with sincere fanaticism or pretextual cynicism—is matter for another study. Here, the aim is to delineate the elements of the inchoate swarm and to point out the ways, if any, in which symptoms of typological rationalization manifest in the texts. Medieval racial ideas synergetically emerge from a background— partly literary, partly folkloric—of generalizations and preconceptions. Glimpses of this conceptual milieu are afforded by the various textual traditions to which any Christian, literate or illiterate, lay or cleric, would have been exposed to some degree. In terms of the European literary heritage, these traditions acted as an array of thematic precedents variously consulted by authors. The degree or detail of the exposure would vary according to the specific circumstances of each author’s education, personal preferences, and social circumstances. In a multiracial context such as that of the medieval Peninsula, racial concepts, and related notions from the realms of kinship, religion, and political organization, must have been pervasive. Notions of caste and indigeneity—submodes of racial thinking—would also have been part of the social discourse of a given time and place. The aim of this chapter is to present the outlines of a medieval Peninsular climate of thought on relevant themes, as ref lected by a selection of texts presumably familiar, directly or indirectly, to medieval Spanish authors, including travel writers. Biblical Precedents Given that the word “race” itself seldom appears in the texts, a discussion of late-medieval racializing mentalities entails a survey of terms and concepts that appear to be more or less synonymous with “race,” “caste,” and “native,” as they are used and understood in the modern world. “Race” as a concept is assumed to be the core of a thematic cluster that includes the two affiliated concepts. At the same time, seemingly racial terms and descriptions occurring in the texts may imply other kinds of ethnic groups than those entailed by modern discussions of race; the texts’ perception and categorization of such collectives, furthermore, may or may not refer to groups of the same order of magnitude as those referred to in presentday usage as races, castes, and indigenous populations. Our discussion, therefore, attempts to define late-medieval racialization as a loose array of ethnic commonplaces and preconceptions variously endorsed or modified by travel authors. The elements of a medieval climate of opinion on racial matters may be discerned, first of all, in the Bible. For example, the Latin Vulgate,

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a text directly or indirectly known to all medieval Christians, refers to what appear to be racial divisions: “Hii filii Ham in cognationibus et linguis et generationibus terrisque et gentibus suis” (“these are the sons of Ham, according to their kindred, and languages, and generations, and lands, and their nations”; Gen. 10:20). The Bible speaks, in such passages, of a large-scale differentiation of peoples in recognizably ethnocentric terms. Kinship, linguistic differences, genealogy, territoriality, and race: all these factors underwrite the use made by the Genesis of the term gens. In this context, the term, which can mean “clan” or “tribe” in other contexts, must mean something more inclusive, of greater magnitude, than clan. I have used the word “nations” to translate gens because, as we have seen, “race,” as it has come to be used in the modern racialized world, has emerged under conditions specific to social transformations of the last half millennium. “Nation,” then, would be nearly synonymous with “race,” but its assumption of common descent as the principal component of group identity distinguishes it from “race” as modern racializing discourse, with its segregative priorities and agendas, its superficial colorcoding and delineation of physical features, tends to employ that term. The biblical account shows all men, of all nations, to be descended from a common ancestor. Taken in the strictest sense, this would mean that the concept of racial differences in the essentializing sense is alien to the primordial Judeo-Christian view of mankind expressed by the Bible. This genealogical orientation will manifest repeatedly in our consideration of how the travel works under scrutiny see the varieties of human groups of whom they become aware or with which they come into contact. At the same time, the racializing purview revealed by those works circumvents the implicitly egalitarian assumption of universally shared ancestry by imposing an invidious differentiation of human populations into separate lineages. “Nation,” therefore (from the Latin natio, “breed, stock, race, nation”; OED), may be seen as roughly corresponding to the modern term “race,” with the chief difference being this genealogical nuance. As a term in modern English, “nation” (ultimately derived from nascor, “to be born”) is glossed in the OED as “an extensive aggregate of persons, so closely associated with each other by common descent, language, or history, as to form a distinct race or people, usually organized as a separate political state and occupying a definite territory.” The OED further qualifies: “In early examples the racial idea is usually stronger than the political; in recent use the notion of political unity and independence is more prominent.” In its reference to large-scale descent groups, “nation” thus represents a clannish metaphor of shared ancestry that readily abets genealogical fictions and foundational mythologies.



“Isti filii Sem secundum cognationes et linguas et regiones in gentibus suis. Hae familiae Noe iuxta populos et nationes suas. Ab his divisae sunt gentes in terra post diluvium” (“These are the sons of Shem, according to their kindred, and languages, and the territories of their clans. These are the families of Noah, with respect to their peoples and nations. From these are derived the peoples of the earth after the Flood”; Gen. 10:31–32). Here gens, in the phrase “in gentibus suis,” is used in conjunction with three other Latin collective terms. Since one of these is natio, and since the sons of Shem constitute a group defined by a common ancestor, but specifically a group that is a subdivision of a more inclusive formation (i.e., all the families of Noah), I have used “clan” to translate gens. I have translated familiae as “families” because the latter term’s ambiguous inclusivity accommodates itself to collectives of various magnitudes. The Latin familia, originally meaning “household,” derives from famulus, servant. By synecdochical association, the appurtenances visibly representing the household identified as the locus of a kinship group come to signify the group itself. A similar process led to the synonymy of “house” and “lineage” (e.g., “the great houses of Europe”). I might, however, have used “tribe,” glossed by the OED as “a group of persons forming a community and claiming descent from a common ancestor.” The example cited is biblical: “Each of the twelve divisions of the people of Israel, claiming descent from the twelve sons of Jacob.” “Tribe” comes, ultimately, from the Latin plural tribus, the earliest use of which referred to “the three divisions of the early people of Rome (attributed by some to the separate Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan elements).” Based on that sense, it was used to render the Greek phylon (“race,” “stock”), the basis of the modern scientific Latinism phylum. The concept of a people (ultimately from Latin populum, accusative of populus, “the people, the populace”) may also be conf lated with, or used to stand synonymously for, race. In its general sense, “people” refers to “a body of persons composing a community, tribe, race, or nation” (OED). Likewise the English word “folk,” meaning, in an archaic sense, “people, nation, race, tribe,” but indicating, in modern contexts, “an aggregation of people in relation to a superior, e.g. God, a king or priest; the great mass as opposed to an individual; the people; the vulgar.” Elaborating, the OED notes the meaning of “Men, people indefinitely” or “people of a particular class . . . indicated by an adj. or some attributive phrase.” As an adjective in compounds, “folk-” (in the OED) signifies: “of, pertaining to, current or existing among, the people; traditional, of the common (local) people, esp. opp. sophisticated, cosmopolitan.” The Vulgate’s use of collective kinship terms constantly obliges us to make decisions as to their appropriate contextual translation. Thus,

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“et benedicentur in semine tuo omnes gentes terrae quia oboedisti voci meae” (“and in your seed shall be blessed all the nations of the earth, for you have obeyed my voice”; Gen. 22:18); “duae gentes in utero tuo sunt et duo populi ex ventre tuo dividentur” (“there are two clans in your womb, and two peoples will be divided from out of your womb”; Gen. 25:23); and many more. Perhaps the most significant use of gens for a medieval Christian, and perhaps even more so for a medieval Iberian Christian in the era of the Reconquest, occurs in the last command of Jesus to his disciples: “euntes ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti” (“Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”; Matt. 28:19). The Latin gens renders a Hellenism that has taken on a life of its own over the centuries, as in: “παντα τα εθνη” (“all the nations”). One of early Christianity’s most iconic and exhortatory utterances thus contains the etymon (the Greek ἔθνος or “nation”) of a key set of terms in modern anthropological discourse. What once meant tribe, people, nation, now refers to variously defined segments of greater or lesser cultural units. In all cases, a sense of diverse inventory, of taxonomic heterogeneity, is implied. A large corpus of biblical scholarship, on the one hand, and a voluminous bibliography in the social sciences, on the other, have debated the use and meaning of these collective terms. We cannot begin to rehearse the details of the controversy surrounding their varied application. We can only point out that the modern social sciences still debate the taxonomic significance and utility of this terminology. Works written during the centuries covered by the present study cannot, therefore, be expected to adhere to a systematic nomenclature. The most we can say is that when they use such collective terms, they express a sense of contrast and differentiation of human types and groups. Racial discourse divides humanity into broad categories of equivalent demographic magnitude but unequal status. Caste, meanwhile, refers to unequal subdivisions within groups. Race divides; caste subdivides. Caste divisions, as suggested in the introduction, constitute, therefore, a kind of internal racialization. The perception of race does not, at the same time, necessarily imply a concept of strict segregation. What matters most is the perception and imposition of difference. Boundaries and discontinuities between groups may be seen as f luctuant and negotiable. What is non-negotiable is the question of invidious difference, which may or may not translate into structures and practices of outright dominance and subalternity. One such subdivisional contrast that imposes itself on the perception of authors is that between those who work and those who do not. Leisure



and labor are axiomatic distinguishing categories within populations; they beckon to authors, inviting them to seek out examples. Correlative to the contrast of leisure and labor is that between dominance and servitude. This correlation lends itself to the subjugation and exploitation of populations. Here again, the Bible provides significant precedents. The notion of hereditary groups doomed to serve as a result of subjugation is expressed in the episodes recounting the invasion of Canaan and the Israelites’ treatment of the peoples living there. Specifically, the episode of the Gibeonites in the book of Joshua serves as a precedent for both righteous conquest and the justifiable servitude of the conquered: “Itaque sub maledictione eritis et non deficiet de stirpe vestra ligna caedens aquasque conportans in domum Dei mei (“You shall therefore be under curse, and there will never be among your lineage the hewer of wood and the carrier of water”; Josh. 9:23). Classical Tradition Set against the singularity of the Bible, the multiplicity of classical literature provided a diffused and varied set of models for racial thinking. During the Middle Ages, one of the most revered Latin works was the Aeneid. Exalted as the tale of the foundation of Rome, the Holy City, Virgil’s work, like the Judeo-Christian Bible, dramatized the concept of a chosen people divinely destined to occupy a promised land. We note the use of genus (“race, stock, lineage, descendants”), as the opening of the poem declares, in ethnocentric terms: “multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem, / inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum, / Albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae” (“Much did he suffer in war, until he had founded a city, and conveyed his gods to Latium, whence the Latin race, and the Alban fathers, and the towering walls of Rome”; Virgil I, 5–7). The racial theme, in terms of Roman patrilineal ideology, is sustained in the prophecy of Aeneas’s father Anchises: “Nunc age, Dardaniam prolem quae deinde sequatur / gloria, qui maneant Itala de gente nepotes (“Now come, I will show you what glory shall hereafter accompany our Dardanian posterity, what grandchildren await them of the Italian nation”; VI, 756–757). Despite the glorification of conquest by an invader, we see little here of the preferential endogamy that will characterize the colonial racism of certain imperial powers in later centuries (with the significant exceptions of Spain and Portugal). In the ancient Roman context, intermarriage between conquerors and natives is not incompatible with the elitism and exploitation implied by colonization. In terms of posterity and lineal identity, patriliny, the traditional Roman model of

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kinship, assimilates wives to their husbands’ clan; connubium, the right of intermarriage granted to non-Romans, could therefore conceivably have diversely pragmatic ancillary functions—as we see from the Virgilian example—in such domains as diplomacy and colonial administration. The encounter between Aeneas and Dido, the Semitic queen of Carthage, encapsulates a Roman view of race that was subsequently tweaked and variously adapted by centuries of Christian racialization. The episode plays out as an example of sexual domination leveraged by racial distinction. Dido is shown to be overwhelmed by the heroic Trojan refugee: “Multa virtus viri, multusque honos gentis, recursat animo” (“Many times the hero’s merits, and many times the nobility of his race, come back to her mind”; IV, 3–4). Her subjugation is taken as axiomatic: “Equidem credo . . . esse genus deorum” (“Indeed I do believe . . . him to be of the race of gods”; IV, 12). Her infatuation and the subsequent despair of her abandonment by him are framed by racializing deliberations as her sister Anna points out the strategic advantage of forming an alliance with Aeneas and his Trojans. The Carthaginian princess, her sister Anna reminds her, has scorned marriage with a North African, Iarbas the Gaetulian (IV, 36–37). Anna urges Dido to see how marriage with Aeneas will protect the queen and her people from other Africans, such as the Gaetulians and Numidians (IV, 40–49). These peoples are profiled in that quick and summarizing way that will become habitual in later travel literature. The Gaetulians are a “genus insuperabile bello” (“a race invincible in war”; IV, 40); the Numidians are “infreni” (“unbridled”; IV, 41); the Barcaeans are a nation “lateque furentes” (“raging far and wide”; IV, 42–43). The thumbnailing ethnography is the same as that revealed by Caesar in the opening passage of his De Bello Gallico, where he differentiates summarily among a diversity of peoples: “Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se different” (“All these differ among themselves with regard to language, institutions, and laws”). He singles out for special attention certain peoples who distinguish themselves from other nations by virtue of some specific trait: “Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent important” (“The Belgae are the bravest of all these, because they are fartherest removed from the polished and civilized ways of the Roman province, and because merchants, least often reaching them, do not import those things, which conduce to affeminating a man’s courage”). In addition to their cultural isolation, the Belgae are strengthened by their constant warfare with the Germans, “qui trans Rhenum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt” (“who dwell beyond the Rhine, [and] with



whom they wage constant war”). The bellicose character of another alien people is described in similarly minimal terms: “Qua de causa Helvetii quoque reliquos Gallos virtute praecedunt, quod fere cotidianis proeliis cum Germanis contendunt” (“For the same reason the Helvitii also outdo the rest of the Gauls in valor, for they contend in almost daily battles with the Germans”). Here, Caesar models that schizoid mystification with regard to the native adversary that will become a stock theme in the history of the New World conquest 15 centuries later. The judgmental conqueror imposes a double-bind on the resistant Other. The native is respected, even admired, for his ignorance of civilization’s affeminating inf luence. “Affemination” is the pejorative term that summarizes the tameness and docility of the civilized. It is as if Caesar held his fellow citizens in contempt. Yet, the recalcitrant native, grudgingly admired, is paradoxically targeted for eventual subsumption into the corruptive matrix. The sharp distinctions and purities protected by spatial distance and guarded frontiers during the age of imperial expansion will begin to blur; the pacified native will eventually become Romanized; by implication, colonizing Romans risk becoming, to some extent, nativized. The historian Sallust, akin to Caesar in the minimalism of his ethnic profiles, likewise characterizes by means of an implied contrast of the unspoiled Other and the civilized Roman. The Numidian king Jugurtha, accordingly, is described in his early manhood as a youth who “non se luxu neque inertiae corrumpendum dedit, sed, uti mos gentis illius est, equitare, jaculari, cursu cum aequalibus certare, et quum omnes gloria anteiret” (“did not let himself be corrupted by luxury and indolence, but rather, in conformity with the custom of that nation, he engaged in horseback riding, throwing the javelin, and footracing with his peers”; Sallust 140). Two peoples are thus profiled at once: idle and decadent Rome is implicitly contrasted with the wholesome activity and competitive spirit of its adversary. The contrast is later reinforced by Jugurtha’s famous assessment of Rome: “Urbem venalem et mature perituram, si emptorem invenerit” (“A city up for sale and bound for swift perdition, if it finds a buyer”; 212). Other passages exemplifying Sallust in his terse ethnographical mode include his characterization, from The War with Cataline, of the primitive Italian neighbors of Aeneas and his fellow Trojan exiles as “aborigines, genus hominum agreste, sine legibus, sine imperio, liberum atque solutum” (“aborigines, an uncouth race, without laws, without government, free, and unruly”; 10). In yet another passage from his Jugarthan narrative, he summarizes the collective character of North African tribes in similarly sketchy terms, describing them simply as “genus hominum

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salubri corpore, velox, patiens laborum” (“a race of men healthy in their constitution, swift of foot, of great stamina”; 170). Tacitus, writing a century and a half or so later, inclines toward more fulsome generalizations, as when he profiles the Germans: “Ipsos Germanos indigenas crediderim minimeque aliarum gentium adventibus et hospitiis mixtos” (“The Germans themselves, I should think, are indigenous to that country and only very slightly mixed with newcomers or visitors from other nations”; 130). This purity of blood, he later elaborates, facilitates the consistent character they present to the world: Ipse eorum opinionibus accedo, qui Germaniae populos nullis aliis aliarum nationum conubiis infectos propriam et sinceram et tantum sui similem gentem exstitisse arbitrantur. Unde habitus quoque corporum, tamquam in tanto hominum numero, idem omnibus: truces et caerulei oculi, rutilae comae, magna corpora et tantum ad impetum valida: laboris atque operum non eadem patientia, minimeque sitim aestumque tolerare, frigora atque inediam caelo solove adsueverunt. (134, 136) As for myself, I adhere to the opinion of those who consider that the German people has never engaged in mixed marriages with other nations, preserving its pure and peculiar character, resembling no other folk but their own. Hence their body type and constitution, common to all of them despite their great numbers; fierce blue eyes, red hair, out-sized bodies, powerful only in the initial shock of battle; not at all long-suffering as to labor and hard work, and barely tolerating heat and thirst; but inured to hunger and cold, as if accustomed to them by their climate and soil.

Here Tacitus, showing himself to be a racial theorist and profiler, unites several themes that recur in our discussion of ethnic classification in the travel texts: the notion of geographical location, pure blood, and rigorous endogamy as primordial factors that reinforce and perpetuate collective identity; the separateness and uniqueness of peoples in their natural state and on their native soil; the pervasiveness of diagnostic physical and characterological traits within populations so defined. At certain junctures in the history of racial thought, this correlation of ethnic integrity and racial homelands supports the correlative idea of the obdurate, uncontaminated native who, by the danger and difficulty of his subjugation, enhances the conqueror’s resume. Exaggerated difference incidentally and eventually advances colonial agendas. The greater the alleged difference between races, the more drawn-out will be the eventual generation of diluted categories: totalizing racial differentiation, grounded in notions of conf licting purities, “goes further,” we might say, “as a divisive principle.” The survivors of conquest, both conquerors and conquered, will be the vectors of impurity. The mixed-blooded offspring of conqueror



and conquered will be the founding generation of future stratified populations. The adulterating mechanism that facilitates this process is intermarriage, conveyed by the Latin connubium, a term with the basic sense of “wedlock” but also expressing the concept of unions allowable by locally defined rules or practices of exogamy. Inaugurating métissage, intermarriage between conqueror and conquered, dilutes purities, establishes the many mixed categories that originate, and eventually typifies caste thinking. Crossbreeding, as Serge Gruzinski observes (La Pensée 73), blurs the boundaries that newly established colonial authorities initially seek to maintain between conquering and conquered populations. Biological métissage, the intermingling of bodies, is abetted and aggravated by the mixing of practices and beliefs. Native females, easy prey to lawless and celibate invaders, become, through rape, concubinage, and occasional marriage, the providers of human capital. A new population is engendered, one whose status is unclear. In all domains of daily life, observes Gruzinski, improvisation thus prevails over fixed norms and customs (73). The unpredictable variety of solutions emerging from this provisionally interactive milieu, characterized by mutually complicitous accommodation as much as by unilateral aggression, is irreducible to unequivocal description or codification. The relations between individuals and populations are thus governed by a dynamic of precarious indetermination, of unpredictable response to changing conditions (75). The crossbreeding that often provides the biological foundation of colonialism tends to prompt the confection of ideologies—often retrospectively tweaked by subsequent generations of apologists and chroniclers of empire—of manifest destiny. Within this improvisational context, conquered and colonized native peoples are specifically targeted for ever-diversified modes of depreciation or exploitation, often explicitly or tacitly justified by the authors of racial-minded texts. The founding moment of the process is that of first contact between the outsider and the native. This, in turn, often involves selection among invidiously differentiated kinds of autochthon. Aeneas, the seductive outsider, first spurns one native princess and then later favors another. Picking and choosing his consort, he personifies this foundational event; the invader’s chosen female, meanwhile, more intensely embodies the subjugated other by the very fact of her gendered vulnerability—a pattern that will often recur in the history of European exploration, discovery, and conquest. Virgil’s epic articulates in some detail a vision of manifest destiny highly reminiscent of the biblical passages cited earlier. Aeneas and his fellow refugees are not merely immigrants and invaders; they are founders of something new and fated to endure. That destiny comprises not only the invader’s predominance and the concomitant subalternity of native

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populations; a notion of subsequent, open-ended expansion of empire is likewise clearly expressed, as we see in Virgil’s reference to the Trojan immigrants’ divinely sanctioned incursion: Hic vir, hic est, tibi quem promitti saepius audis, Augustus Caesar, divi genus, aurea condet saecula qui rursus Latio regnata per arva Saturno quondam, super et Garamantas et Indos proferet imperium: iacet extra sidera tellus, extra anni solisque vias, ubi caelifer Atlas axem umero torquet stellis ardentibus aptum. Huius in adventum iam nunc et Caspia regna responsis horrent divum et Maeotia tellus, et septemgemini turbant trepida ostia Nili. (VI, 792–800) This is he, he of whose promise you have often heard, Caesar Augustus, offspring of a god, who will bring back the Golden Age in Latium, in those plowed fields once ruled by Saturn; he will extend his empire even unto the Garamantes and the Indians; their land lies beyond the stars and beyond the paths of year and sun, where sky-bearing Atlas gyres upon his shoulders the polar firmament studded with burning stars. Even now, on his approach, the Caspian kingdoms shudder at the gods’ replies, and likewise the Maeotic land, and the seven-fold Nile’s quivering mouths are deeply troubled.

Faunus’s prophecy to King Latinus, urging the latter to annul his daughter Lavinia’s arranged marriage with her native suitor, Turnus, and predicting the inevitability of the princess’s marriage to Aeneas, likewise foretells the imperial posterity that will eventually result: Ne pete conubiis natam sociare Latinis, O mea progenies, thalamis neu crede paratis: externi venient generi, qui sanguine nostrum nomen in astra ferant quorumque a stirpe nepotes omnia sub pedibus, qua Sol utrumque recurrens aspicit Oceanum, vertique regique videbunt. (VII, 96–101) Do not seek, o my child, to unite your daughter in a Latin wedding, nor trust to the marriage rites already arranged. Sons-in-law of a foreign race will come, by whose blood our name will be exalted to the stars, and from whose stock our grandchildren will see everything at their feet, subjugated and governed, there where the returning sun beholds either ocean.

In its aggregate, the classical tradition represented by these Roman authors bequeathed a composite intellectual system for organizing perception of the Other in terms of dominance and exploitation, but also of interaction



and métissage. The travel authors discussed in this study must have been literate men aware, to some degree at least, of this inherited array of cultural values and implicit protocols. Their reception of the Latin literary material was complicated, at the same time, by another element inherited from the classical world. The element in question was a lateclassical ethnography largely consisting of a hodgepodge of formulaic, mythical profiles of alien races. Compendious, boilerplate reiteration of this preconceptual system was for centuries a standard method among geographers and encyclopedists in their representation of non-European peoples. The persistently erroneous perspective was typified by a dutiful recitation of the catalogue of what John Block Friedman characterizes as the Plinian races (5–25) and by recurring expressions of the medieval European view of the Indian Ocean as, in Jacques Le Goff ’s phrase, “a closed world of oneiric exoticism” (“The Medieval West” 190). Vectors of the traditional pseudoethnography included the numerous versions, in many languages, of the Alexander romance; the fable of Prester John, with its attendant pedigrees of rulers and rosters of peoples; the legendary accounts of Saint Thomas, apostle to India (Popeanga 73–76). Centuries of conf lict with Islam may have further hindered this expanding taxonomy, inclining geographers to regard all gentile tribes alike and to disregard anthropological data in favor of the pseudoethnography of such ancients as—in addition to the ubiquitous Pliny—Solinus and Mela (Hodgen 53). Ethnographic description tended to be “formalized and repetitious,” presenting a tableau of “arrested types of human beings . . . performing unvarying ceremonies, in unvarying costumes, and with unvarying characteristics” (54). The perpetuation of this dogmatic tradition was greatly favored by the inf luence of Isidore, whose Etymologies continue to be frequently cited by such widely read works as the thirteenth-century De proprietatibus rerum (“On the properties of things”) of Bartholomaeus Anglicus. The encyclopedic tradition retained its appeal even as the real-world journeys of missionaries, merchants, and practical travelers like Marco Polo expanded factual knowledge of exotic places and peoples (Hodgen 59–60; see also Hyde 132–141; Critchley 133–134; LaBarge 3–5).1 The “myth-based worldview” of the archaic era, observes James S. Romm, gradually gave way, in the fourth and fifth centuries BCE, to a “more empirical and exacting mode of geographical enquiry” (32). This transition, furthered by exploration and colonization, and by contacts with Eastern realms like the Persian Empire, entailed a growing proclivity for empirical inquiry based on firsthand information and critically appraised secondhand reports (33), thus preparing the way for Herodotus’s rejection of the old, “overly schematic” maps (34) in favor of a new kind

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of “distant-world geography,” grounded in “reliable informants” (35). Related to this idea is the Herodotean concept of the oikoumene, best translated, suggests Romm, by phrases like the “known world” or the “familiar world.” The term connotes “the space within which empirical investigation, like that championed by Herodotus, can take place, since all of its regions fall within the compass either of travel or of informed report” (37). The intellectual tradition referred to by Romm plays out not as a continuous development but as a sequence of intermittent advancements in knowledge, alternating or coinciding with folkloric or mythic retrenchments. In the ancient world, what could be called the first ecumenical or Hellenic period, informed by the widely read Herodotus and by diversely channeled information stemming from Alexander’s conquests, had represented an improved understanding and representation of ethnography. However, among “the ignorant Roman geographers” (Le Goff, “The Medieval West” 189), ethnography and geography became again overshadowed by formulaic, notional views of nations, races, peoples, and of the form and features of the earth’s surface. The mythical preoccupation with origins, genealogies, and racial just-so stories, and the quaint misconceptions regarding the distribution of seas and continents, inf luentially typified by Pliny, will continue to dominate European perception of the non-European world until well into the sixteenth century. Renaissance geographers, while stimulated by the western European rediscovery and reception of Ptolemy’s Geography, will only gradually begin to modify the ancient models (Randles 35–38). In the later medieval transition from mythic to empirical ethnography, the question of realism is at first a matter of style rather than scientific accuracy. The question of verifiable accuracy is a separate one, fraught with its own uncertainties and contradictions. Taxonomies grounded in and correlated with empirical ethnography have agendas, ulterior motives, even if they can sometimes be verified as more or less accurate. The travel accounts discussed here are pervasively characterized by what Brummet has described as the “porous borders between reportage and fiction” (7). Even those works that narrate or refer to actual travel, to the degree we may verify their historical authenticity, are often tinged with fantasy and folklore. Fictional travels are thus often narrated in a realistic manner or contain historical elements. But evidentiary protocols do not necessarily ref lect accuracy according to modern scientific standards. Rather, such protocols express a rhetorical attitude concerning evidence and testimony. This attitude differs from that of late-classical and medieval authors, who generally, observes Critchley, remained devoted to the encyclopedic tradition not because they were “purblind or sequacious” but because they



preferred “knowledge accumulated and respected by successive generations of clever men” to “the testimony of a single contemporary eyewitness, even one claiming to tell only the truth.” Moreover, there were no criteria for differentiating between “improbable truth” and “improbable falsehood.” Thus, medieval readers might well have found real but exotic phenomena like bird migrations and giant fish skeletons to be far-fetched and stereotypic wonders (men with tails, bizarre celestial phenomena) to be perfectly plausible (134; see also Larner 133–135). By the latter half of the fourteenth century, travel literature, responding perhaps to the accounts of real-world travelers and voyagers, starts to become more realistic and empirical. Compelled by the increasingly circulating information regarding the peoples and civilizations of regions perceived hitherto through the lens of the late-classical formulaic geography, authors felt the need to accommodate detailed descriptions of exotic customs and creeds. While the widely read Bartholomaeus Anglicus (first half of thirteenth century) paraphrases and recapitulates Isidore, the most inf luential epitomizer of ancient formulaic geography, a hybrid genre, part plausible documentary, part fanciful ethnography, emerges in the later thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Marco Polo, combining aspects of the itinerary, the guidebook, the travelogue, and the gazetteer, enables the appearance of this new genre, while legitimating first-person experience as a narrative viewpoint. His Description presents detailed depictions of local usages, products, cults, rites, and institutions, as particularly evinced by Marco’s admiring portrait of Mongol ways.2 In many ways, his book serves as an encyclopedic gazetteer destined to inspire exploration and discovery down to and beyond the age of Columbus. As we will see, the development of travel writing’s sense of empirical accountability, the implicit need to observe and report, to perform as a witness and more than as a mere raconteur, prepares the way intellectually for territorial acquisition and colonial occupation. Peninsular Precedents Race and Caste in the Siete Partidas The Siete Partidas (“Seven sections”; hereafter: Partidas) are the great law codes redacted under the direction of Alfonso X in the late thirteenth century. They were promulgated as the law of the land, but did not actually become effectively adopted as such until much later. Regardless of their status as an officially implemented code, they are significant for their articulation of many concepts relevant to the present discussion. This articulation, it should be noted, does not necessarily verify actual social practice. The Alfonsine code’s stipulations may be read, rather, as

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a statutory wish list, a set of desirable or objectionable behaviors and preferred social, political, and cultural conditions. Regarding what we would call racial and ethnic issues, the Partidas—in their intention if not in their verifiable efficacy as a social program— represent a racializing agenda. The chief objects of that agenda are Jews and Muslims. With regard to these ethnic categories, the Partidas stipulate racial demarcations and define marginal groups; they justify collective dominance and subordination; they mandate special behaviors and terms of compliance for such groups; they regulate interaction between these groups and the wider society; they dictate punishments for noncompliance (by both the affected minorities and the members of the greater society). The Partidas chief ly ascribe the marginality of Jews and Muslims to two factors: the distinct ancestry of each group and their unorthodox religious practices. Emphasizing the behavioral factor, the Alfonsine code provides a template for individual cultural assimilation in the form of conversion to Christianity. However, as we will see, the potentially deracializing effects of such policies will later be undermined by a combination of generalized prejudice, inquisitorial aggression (aimed at discrediting the sincerity of conversion), and the pretextual logic of the so-called statutes of blood purity (conducing to continued stigmatization and segregation of the disfavored minorities). Citing the Partidas and many other contemporary sources, some historians—notably Américo Castro, referred to in the introduction— have perceived in the broadly anti-Semitic perspective of Reconquest Christianity (i.e., encompassing the two Semitic ethnicities) an expression of caste mentality. Peninsular Jews and Muslims, according to Castro, constitute separate castes within Peninsular society. For Castro, each group of believers—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—emerged and rigidified its collective profile and group identity throughout the period—chief ly the twelfth through fifteenth centuries—when Peninsular Christian kingdoms, especially Castile, were establishing hegemony over the Muslim kingdoms of Andalusia. The identity of each of the three Peninsular ethnicities does not ref lect, according to Castro, any necessary continuity with Peninsular cultural reality before the watershed marked by the Muslim invasion of 711. Separate histories and traditions notwithstanding, the social and cultural condition of these groups, which Castro calls “castas de creyentes” (“castes of believers”), derived from both their “linaje spiritual” (“spiritual lineage”; La realidad 30) and their interactive coexistence with the other two Peninsular castes, each of which defined itself in ways analogous to those exhibited by the other two. The very structure of medieval Peninsular society in the supposed



age of “convivencia” (“living together”) was therefore constituted by this symbiotic and syncretic “trenzado” (“interweave”) of the three “pueblos” (“peoples”), within the context of a “régimen de castas” (“caste regime”). In the tripartite coexistence, now rivalrous, now collaborative, of these three castes, we see the emergence of Spanish cultural identity (31). By contrast, Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, Castro’s chief opponent in a long-running debate on questions of race and caste in the making of Spanish culture, held to a racialized view of Spanish ethnic minorities, especially Peninsular Jews. He regarded the contribution of the latter to the formation of “lo hispánico” (“Hispanicity”) as “siempre de carácter negativo” (“always of a negative character”). Emphasizing the distinct identities of Peninsular Jews and Spaniards at large, he declares: “Nada de lo esencial de la contextura psíquica del pueblo hebreo dejó huellas entre los españoles” (“Nothing essential of the psychic make-up of the Hebrew people has left any trace among Spaniards”; 2: 878). In the conclusion to his chapter on the Jewish element in Spanish cultural history, SánchezAlbornoz (2: 998) characterizes the Jewish contribution as a “sombrío legado” (“a dark legacy”) and as an “herencia ponzoñosa” (“poisonous heritage”). I cite these two inf luential Hispanists, both of whom refer to the Partidas and other law codes, not in order to choose one side or the other in a debate that has, for many, lost the edge it once had. The discussion between the two men and their respective sympathizers was, more than anything, a debate about terminology. Castro’s concept of Hispanicity involved a synthetic view of coexisting communities whose interaction led to a complex cultural amalgam that in turn gave rise to the contradictions and nuances of later Spanish culture. This model conforms more or less to modern cultural anthropology’s emphasis on behavioral ambiguity and complex métissage as mechanisms of cultural formation. SánchezAlbornoz, by contrast, speaks from a perspective highly consonant with that of the Partidas. He, like the Alfonsine code, sees Jews and Muslims as separate from Spaniards. Paraphrasing the law code on the question of the separateness of Jews and Christians, for example, he views the peoples in question in segregationist terms. I cite him, therefore, not as a factual witness but as an interested commentator. His perspective racializes in a way that helps us interpret the testimony of the Partidas. Focusing on the segregation and marginality of the two ethnic types, the Partidas, while strongly supporting the conversion to Christianity by members of these out-groups, focus on regulating their coexistence with Christian populations. In this the Alfonsine code reveals a racializing perspective, rather than caste thinking, which subdivides society into hierarchized categories. Jews and Muslims in the Partidas are seen as

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separate races; their conversion to Christianity implies a nominal integration into the majority society. Such inclusion would enable their classification as ethnically defined castes. Regardless of the degree to which integrative caste formation eventually gave rise to a de facto synthetic cultural identity, the problematic integration of Jewish and Muslim converts and their descendants into the overall society is what marked them as separate castes. New Christians of Jewish descent who were allowed to continue living in Spain after the expulsion of unconverted Jews in 1492 were officially considered members of Christian society (and thus subject to the authority and scrutiny of the Inquisition). Their often precarious situation and frequent exposure to persecutions, both official and unofficial, confirm the inferiority of their caste. Converted Iberian Muslims and their descendants, the so-called moriscos, occupied a similarly inferior caste position. Their eventual expulsion in 1609, despite their official status as Christians, reracialized them as a group. The segregative criteria applied by the Partidas are perhaps more behavioral and psychological than physical, but they racialize nonetheless. Jews, the Partidas declare, are “una manera de homes que como quier que non creen la fe de nuestro señor Jesucristo, pero los grandes señores de los cristianos siempre sufrieron que viviesen entre ellos” (“a kind of men who, although they do not believe in the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ, nonetheless the great lords of Christendom have always allowed them to live among them”; VII, title xxiv, intro.). The law stipulates the conditions of allowable coexistence with Christians: “quáles cosas non deban usar nin facer segunt nuestra ley” (“which actions they may not habitually perform or do according to our law”). Also stipulated is a protection clause: “non deben seer apremiados los judios que se tornen cristianos” (“those Jews who become Christians may not be persecuted”). The law code is concerned to specify “qué mejoria ha el judio por se tornar cristiano de los otros que se non tornan” (“what improvement a Jew undergoes on account of becoming Christian, with respect to those who do not”). Also indicated is “qué pena deben haber los cristianos que se tornaren judios” (“what penalty should be suffered by those Christians who become Jews”), as well as penalties imposed on Jews “que ficieren á los moros que fuesen sus siervos tornar á su ley” (“who convert to their law whatever Moors they might have as servants”). Judaism is defined in both ideological and ethnic terms. A Jew is “aquel que cree et tiene la ley de Moysen segunt que suena la letra della, et que se circuncida et face las otras cosas que manda esa ley” (“he who believes in the Mosaic Law, according to the letter of it, and who is circumcised and performs the other actions ordained by that law”). Ethnicity is introduced in the explanation of the ethnonym’s origin, which comes “del



tribu de Judá que fue mas noble et mas esforzado que todos los demas tribus” (“from the tribe of Judah, which was nobler and more spirited than all the other tribes”; VII, XXIV, i). The Church and Christian rulers have allowed them to live among Christians “porque ellos viviesen como en cativerio para siempre et fuese remembranza á los homes que ellos vienen del linage de aquellos que crucificaron á nuestro señor Jesucristo” (“so that they might live as if in perpetual captivity and so it might be a remembrance to all men that the Jews come from the lineage of those who crucified our lord Jesus Christ”). Jews may be allowed to live among Christians only if they conduct themselves “Mansamente et sin bollicio malo” (“meekly and without disturbing the peace”), which is to say only “guardando su ley et non diciendo mal de la fe . . . que guardan los cristianos” (“holding to their law and not speaking ill of the faith . . . which is held to by the Christians”). They are forbidden on pain of death and confiscation of property to “predicar nin convertir á ningunt cristiano que se torne judío, alabando su ley et denostando la nuestra” (“to preach or convert any Christian into becoming a Jew, while praising their law and discrediting ours”). They are suspected of “en manera de escarnio” (mock celebration) of the Crucifixion, “furtando los niños et poniéndolos en la cruz, ó faciendo imágenes de cera et crucificándolas” (“abducting children and putting them up on the cross, or making waxen images and crucifying them”). On Good Friday they are not permitted to leave the Jewish quarter, being obliged to remain there until the following Saturday (VII, XXIV, ii). The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons: “en lugar de facerle honra deshonráronle dandol muy aviltada muerte en la cruz” (“instead of doing Him honor, they dishonored him, subjecting him to a most vile death on the cross”). For this reason, “guisada cosa fue et derecha que . . . perdiesen la honra et el privilegio que habien” (“it was right and proper that . . . they should lose the honor and privilege that had hitherto been theirs”), such that “ningunt judio nunca toviese jamas lugar honrado nin oficio público con que pudiese apremiar á ningunt cristiano en ninguna manera” (“any Jew should ever occupy an honorable position nor any public office in which he might be able to oppress any Christian in any way”; VII, xxiv, iii). Despite these harsh strictures, the Partidas mandate protections. Christians are forbidden to force “á ningunt judio porque se torne cristiano, mas con buenos exemplos, et con los dichos de las santas escripturas et con falagos los deben los cristianos convertir . . . ca nuestro señor Dios non quiere nin ama servicio quel sea fecho por fuerza” (“any Jew to convert to Christianity, but rather with good example, with sayings from the Holy Scriptures, and with sweet words, Christians should

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convert them”). At the same time, Jews are strictly forbidden to harass or dishonor any of their own who “de su grado se quisiere tornar cristiano” (“willingly seeks to become a Christian”). All Christian subjects of the king are commanded to show respect to such converts: “et ninguno non sea osado de retraer á ellos nin á su linage de como fueron judios en manera de denuesto” (“and let no one dare reproach them personally, by way of insult, regarding their lineage and how they once were Jews”; VII, xxiv, vii). In enunciating a series of taboos related to interaction between Jews and non-Jews, the Partidas employ the language and imagery of contagion and quarantine that typify caste mentalities. Any Christian who dares to convert to Judaism is to be executed, “bien asi como si se tornase herege” (“just as if he had become a heretic”; VII, xxiv, vii). Jews are forbidden to have Christians live in their houses as servants, although Christians may serve as laborers in the fields or as bodyguards. Furthermore, Christians, both men and women, are forbidden to invite Jews as guests into their homes or to drink wine made by Jewish hands. Jews may not bathe with Christians nor may Christians take any medicine or purgative made by Jewish hands, although it is permitted to take medicine prescribed by Jewish physicians, so long as the medicine be made by Christians (VII, xxiv, viii). Jewish men who have sexual relations with Christian women are liable to the death penalty for Christian women are regarded as “espiritualmente esposas de nuestro señor Jesucristo” (“spiritually the wives of Our Lord Jesus Christ”). The Christian woman who lies with a Jew, whether “virgen, ó casada, ó vibda ó muger baldonada que se dé á todos” (“virgin, or married, or widowed, or a public woman who gives herself to all men”; VII, xxiv, ix), is likewise subject to the severest penalties. Jews may not buy or own Christians as slaves. If the purchase be made in ignorance of the slave’s status as a Christian, the person must be manumitted without compensation; the Jew who knowingly buys a Christian slave is to suffer execution. Jews are in any event forbidden to convert slaves to Judaism, “maguer sean moros ó dotra gente bárbara” (“even if they be Moors or of other barbarous folk”); any such slave so converted is to be immediately set free. Muslim slaves who convert to Christianity shall be freed from Jewish owners (VII, xxiv, x). To avoid “yerros y desaguisados” (“errors and improprieties”) between Christians and Jews, given that the two groups “viven et moran de so uno en las villas, et andan vestidos los unos asi como los otros” (“live and dwell side by side in the towns, and go about dressed all of them alike”), the Jews, men and women, are required to wear “alguna señal cierta sobre las cabezas, que sea atal por que conoscan las gentes manifiestamente quál es



judio ó judia” (“some unmistakable sign on their heads, such that people can recognize manifestly which is a Jew or Jewess”), those failing to do so being subject to a fine for each violation or to public f logging if lacking the money to pay (VII, xxiv, xi). The other ethnic group, defined as such by the Partidas, were the Moors (“moros”). This, a vaguer term than “Jew,” can refer to various groups. Derived from the Latin Maurus (medieval Latin M ōrus), the term is glossed by the OED as “a native of Mauretania” and as “belonging to the people of mixed Berber and Arab race, Muslim in religion.” In the medieval European tradition, “the Moors were commonly supposed to be mostly black or very swarthy.” The Partidas seem also to use the term synonymously with Saracen (“Saraceno”), a term derived from the later Greek and Roman designation for “the nomadic peoples of the SyroArabian desert which harassed the Syrian confines of the Empire” (OED). By extension this came to refer to an Arab or, by further extension, to “a Muslim, esp. with reference to the Crusades.” The direct derivation is from late Latin Sarac ēnus, late Greek Σαρακηνός, with the ultimate etymology listed as “uncertain.” Commonly given derivations from Arabic (e.g., the most frequent, Arab sharqī eastern, oriental, f. sharq sunrise) are considered “not well founded.” The OED entry notes the medieval European association of the term with Sarah, the wife of Abraham, and the coincident tendency to identify the Saracens with the descendants of Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden and the mother of Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn son (Gen. 16), the patriarch of the Ishmaelites. A medieval Peninsular expression of the latter tradition is the Carmen Campidoctoris, a panegyric devoted to the exploits of the Cid, that refers (Montaner and Escobar 204) to rumors concerning the hero’s reliance on Muslim allies: “quod Campidoctor, Agarice gentis / optima sumens” (“marshaling the elite of the Hagaritic tribe”). As in the case of the Jews, the Partidas (VII, title XXV, intro.) define “moros” in terms of descent and religious nonconformity. They are, first of all, “gentes que creen que Mahomat fue profeta et mandadero de Dios” (“peoples who believe that Mohammed was a prophet and a messenger of God”). Here again, we have to do with an out-group, a race, rather than a caste. Like the Jews, the Moors maintain a “ciega porfia . . . contra la verdadera creencia” (“blind faith . . . opposed to the true belief ”). The duty of Christians with regard to these people is defined: “por buenas palabras et non por premia los deben convertir á la fe” (“by means of persuasion and not by force they should be converted to the faith”). The first law of title XXV of the Alfonsine law code explains the meaning of the ethnic label: “Sarracenus en latin tanto quiere decir en romance como moro: et tomaron este nombre de Sarra que fue muger libre de Abraham” (“Saracen in

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Latin means the same as Moor in the vernacular, and they get this name from Sarah, who was the free wife of Abraham”). However, the text clarifies that “el linage de los moros non desciende della, mas de Agar que fue servienta de Abraham” (“the lineage of the Moors does not descend from her, but rather from Hagar, who was the servant of Abraham”). The Moors are then subdivided into two branches: those who “non creen en el nuevo testamento nin el viejo” (“those who do not believe in the New Testament or the Old”), and those, called Samaritans, who “recibieron los cinco libros de Moysen, mas desecharon los profetas et non los quisieron creer” (“received the five books of Moses but rejected the prophets and refused to believe in them”). The Gospels, declares the code, refer to a prohibition regarding these folk: “dice que non deben vevir nin usar en uno los judios con las samaritanos” (“it is said that Jews and Samaritans should neither live together nor have anything to do with each other”). Moors may live among Christians “guardando su ley et non denostando la nuestra” (“keeping to their law and not disparaging ours”). However, in Christian towns they must neither have mosques nor sacrifice publicly. Although Moors do not hold to the “buena ley” (“divine law”), so long as they live among and under the protection of Christians, they should not be deprived or robbed of their property, under penalty of making a restitution double the amount of the stolen property (VII, XXV, i). Moors should be converted “por buenas palabras et convenibles predicaciones . . . et non por fuerza nin por premia” (“by sweet words and suitable preachments . . . and not by either force or coercion”). For the Lord “non se paga del servicio quel facen los homes amidos, sinon de aquel que lo face de su grado et sin premia alguna” (“is not pleased by the service rendered to him by men who are unwilling, but rather by one who does so of his own free will, with no kind of coercion”). It is therefore forbidden “que ninguno non los apremie nin les faga fuerza ninguna sobre esta razon” (“that anyone coerce or do violence to them regarding this matter”); likewise, no one may in any way hinder or obstruct those who willingly seek to become Christians (VII, XXV, ii). Those who subject such converts to “aviltamientos” and “deshonras” (“vilifications,” “defamations”), despising them as “tornadizos” (“turncoats”) and abusing them variously, shall be liable to severe punishment, given that, having renounced the beliefs “en que nascieron ellos et su linage” (“in which they and their lineage were born”), they thereby recognize “la mejoria de nuestra fe, et recíbenla et apártanse de sus padres et de sus madres, et de los otros sus parientes et de la vida que habien acostumbrado de facer” (“the superiority of our faith, and receive it and forsake their fathers and mothers, along with all their other kinsmen and the life they used to lead”). Because many such converts, reviled for their conversion, are



tempted to recant and abandon their new faith, it is decreed that “todos los cristianos et cristianas . . . fagan honra et bien en todas las maneras que pudieren á todos aquellos que de las creencias extrañas vinieren á la nuestra fe” (“all Christians, men and women alike . . . show honor and respect in every way they can to all those who come from alien beliefs to our faith”), precisely as they would to anyone whose parents and relatives had been Christians. It is therefore strictly forbidden that “ninguno sea osado de los dehonrar de palabra, nin de fecho, nin de les facer daño, nin tuerto nin mal en ninguna manera” (“anyone dare to dishonor them in word, nor in deed, nor harm them nor do them any kind of wrong or injury, in any way”), under penalty of the severest punishment (VII, XXV, iii). Christians who renounce their faith “et tórnanse moros” (“become Moors”)—whether from a perverse desire to adopt Moorish ways, or on account of harm done them by relatives, or losing loved ones, or from being reduced to poverty, or from a desire to escape punishment for crimes or misdeeds, or any other reason—are guilty of “grant maldat et muy grant traycion” (“great perfidy and very great treason”). Those guilty of this crime are to be deprived of all property and the said property is to be distributed amongst family members or next of kin who remain Christians; in the absence of kin, such property is to be assigned to the king’s exchequer. Furthermore, all those convicted of this grievous offense shall suffer execution (VII, XXV, iv). Apostates who renounce the Christian faith and afterward repent of their apostasy merit punishment for their treachery and contempt for the law, being ever after vilified as guilty of the gravest infamy and deprived of all capacity to bear witness, serve in public office, inherit property, or receive or retain any manner of gift or endowment (VII, XXV, v). Any married Christian man or woman who becomes a Moor or Jew or heretic shall forfeit all property accruing to them through marriage, including the dowry, trousseau, or any other goods or property, in favor of the spouse who remains a Christian (VII, XXV, vi). At the same time, the Partidas declare a principle of immunity with regard to the persons and property of envoys from Moorish nations and other places. Even if representing enemy nations, any such messenger, be he Christian, Moor, or Jew, must be allowed to come and go safely through the dominions of the king. All subjects of the king are forbidden to “facerle fuerza, nin tuerto nin mal ninguno á él nin á sus cosas” (“to do him violence, nor wrong, nor any harm whatsoever, either to him or his property”; VII, XXV, ix). A principle of endogamy is enunciated by severe prohibition against sexual intercourse between Moorish men and Christian women. The

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man in such cases is to be stoned to death. If the Christian woman be a virgin, at the first offense she shall forfeit half her personal property, to be transferred to parents or grandparents; in the absence of these near relatives, to the king. At the second offense, all her property is to be similarly forfeited and disposed and she herself stoned to death. Widows who commit this crime are subject to the same penalties. In the case of the Moor who lies with a married Christian woman, he is to be stoned and she to be handed over to her husband, who may have her burned alive, or let her go, or dispose of her in any way he sees fit. In the event of sexual intercourse between a Moorish man and a Christian prostitute (“muger baldonada que sea á todos”; “a public woman, belonging to any and all”), public f logging is stipulated for the first offense and the death penalty for the second (VII, XXV, x). The Partidas represent Jews and Muslims as out-groups. Because they are seen as peoples apart, they are described and defined by the Alfonsine code in terms analogous to those of later racializing discourses. Akin to the ethnographic thumbnailing of the classical authors mentioned earlier—a descriptive habit likewise typical of many of the travel works we will discuss in the next chapter—the Partidas profile Jews and Muslims in terms of a minimal enunciation of characteristic traits. The latter consist of two fundamental imputations: that of a shared descent distinct from that of the members of the greater society, the supposed in-group, and that of heterodox religious beliefs and associated ways of life. While the religious designations can presumably be annulled by conversion to Christianity, the genealogical attributions adhere with inappellable rigor and with no regard for the actual descent or family histories of those affected. The Partidas define all Jews as descendants of those held responsible for the immemorial crime of bringing about the Passion of Christ. Even more fictive and arbitrary is the genealogical coherence postulated by the Partidas with regard to Moors as descendants of the biblical Hagar or Sarah, given that a likely majority of Spanish Muslims and moriscos must have had numerous native-Iberian ancestors who had once converted to Islam. In both cases, the genealogical component of the racial profile is “locked in,” insuring the retention of a racializing feature that will perpetuate caste subordinacy. The Partidas’ treatment of other marginal categories (heretics, VII, title XXVI; and convicts, VII, title XXIX) reveals a similar inclination toward segregative taxonomy. The codified classifications presume to enunciate not only specific laws regarding the licit or illicit behavior and interaction of individuals and groups; in addition, the Partidas apply general principles of social organization and ethical propriety. Their



systematic classification of groups according to common characteristics or modes of life, their identification and assignment of groups to suitably or unsuitably determined categories, implies a systematic distribution. To each group its due; superior groups are owed more, inferior groups less. This distributive classification is also expressed in the allocation of other group identities. Of special importance is that of vocational types. These are dealt with in the second law of title VII of the fifth Partida. There we read of “cotos et posturas” (terms and policies) established by merchants among themselves, swearing oaths and forming brotherhoods (“cofradías”) mutually beneficial to their members. Craftsmen (“menestrales”) establish prices of goods and materials and “facen postura que otro ninguno non labre de sus menesteres sinon aquellos que ellos rescebieren en sus compañas” (“make it a matter of policy that no one else may work in their crafts save those that they admit into their confraternities”). Exclusivity of production and distribution is insured by proprietary and hereditary control of specialized knowledge: “que non muestren sus menesteres á otros ningunos sinon á aquellos que decendieren de sus lineages dellos mismos” (“that they not reveal their crafts to any others save those who descended from the own lineages”). Because of possible abuses, such agreements and associations may not be established “sin sabidoria et con otorgamiento del rey” (“without the knowledge and consent of the king”), with violators of this regulation to be punished by royal confiscation of property and permanent exile from the king’s domains (V, VII, ii). This is an organic utility to the system, from the perspective of the monarch who wishes to foment the safety and prosperity of his realm. Lands and places “en que usan los mercadores á llevar sus mercadorias son . . . mas ricos, et mas abondados et mejor poblados” (“in which merchants are wont to convey their wares are . . . richer, and more prosperous and better populated”). Therefore, all merchants attending fairs, whether Christian, Moor, or Jew, and all those entering the kingdom at any time and on whatever business, are to be “salvos et seguros de sus cuerpos, et sus haberes, et sus mercadorias et todas sus cosas” (“safe and sound in their persons, in their property, and in their wares and all other things”). This safe conduct, applicable “en mar como en tierra” (“on sea as well as on land”), bans commercial travelers from being subjected to “fuerza, nin tuerto nin mal ninguno” (“force, nor wrongdoing, nor harm of any kind”; V, VII, iv). Presiding over the system is a tripartite division of labor, that of the medieval estates system. In this aspect also the Alfonsine code closely adheres to caste thinking as defined by the present-day sociologists cited

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earlier. The introduction to title XXI of the second Partida, for example, expressly divides society into three categories of contributors to the body politic: Defensores son uno de los tres estados por que Dios quiso que se mantuviese el mundo: ca bien asi como los que ruegan á Dios por el pueblo son dichos oradores; et otrosi los que labran la tierra et facen en ella aquellas cosas por que los homes han de vevir et de mantenerse son dichos labradores . . . los que han á defender á todos son dichos defensores. (II, XXI, intro.) Defenders are one of the three estates through which God desired that the world be maintained; for just as those who pray to God for the sake of the people are called pleaders; and likewise those who work the land and perform on it those actions by which men are to live and be maintained are called workers . . . those who are bound to defend everyone are called defenders.

The select corps of defenders is that of the knights. The Partidas explain that the elite group assigned the task of defending the community was called militia by the ancient Romans because “escogien antiguamente de mil homes uno para facerle caballero” (“in ancient times they would choose one from among a thousand men, to make him a knight”; II, xxi, 2). Because these knights, furthermore, were chosen “de buenos logares, e con algo, que quiere tanto dezir en lenguaje de España como bien, por esso los lamaron fijos d’algo” (“from the higher stations of life, and possessed of ‘something,’ which means in the language of Spain, ‘property,’ they were therefore called ‘hijos de algo,’ ‘sons of wealth’”). While “Nobleza de bondad” or “gentileza”— “inborn nobility,” “gentility,”, the attributes of the “fijos d’algo”—may be legitimately obtained “por linaje,” “por saber,” or “por bondad de costunbres e de maneras” (“by lineage,” “by knowledge,” “by virtuous habits and comportment”), the truest nobility resides in those “que lo han por linaje antiguamente, e fazen buena vida por que les viene de lueñe como heredad” (“who come by it through ancestral lineage, and lead a good life because it comes down to them from far back in time, as an inheritance”; II, xxi, 2). “Fidalguia,” the Partidas summarize (II, xxi, 3), “es nobleza que viene á los omes por linage” (“The property of the hidalgo . . . is nobility that comes to men by virtue of lineage”). The Partidas, meanwhile, condemn money and trade as status disqualifiers, that is, as factors that fatally compromise nobility: “non debe seer caballero home que por su persona andodiese faciendo mercadorias” (“no man may be a knight who personally engages in commercial dealings”; XX, xxi, 12).



Primera Crónica General This notion of estates and of their vocational subcategories bespeaks caste thinking of the kind outlined earlier. It falls to a nephew of Alfonso X, as we will see, to compose one of the principal medieval expressions of caste theory. Before we discuss this latter work, we must note the significance of another document whose redaction was sponsored by Alfonso X. This is the Primera Crónica General (“First general chronicle”; hereafter: PCG), whose depiction of the Muslim conquest of the Peninsula articulates a rudimentary notion of indigeneity from the perspective of late-thirteenth-century Reconquest ideology. Presented in folk-mythical terms, the Muslim invasion is seen to be the result of an immemorial crime: the treason of Count Julian, a heinous act committed in vengeance for the rape of his daughter at the hands of King Rodrigo. Count Julian is “un grand fidalgo,” “de grand linnage de partes de los godos,” a man “muy preciado en el palacio et bien prouado en armas” (“a great nobleman,” “of a prominent lineage descended from the Goths,” “highly respected in the palace and well proven in the use of arms”). Whilst the Count is away, sent by Rodrigo on a mission to North Africa, the king takes the Count’s daughter “por fuerça, et yogol con ella” (“by force, and lay with her”; PCG 307). The chronicle tells us that from this deed arises “destroymiento de Espanna et de la Gallia Gothica” (“the destruction of Spain and of Gothic Gaul”). Dissembling, Julian “fizo enfinta que non metie y mientes et que non daua por ello nada, et demostraua a las yentes semeiança de alegría” (“pretended not to care at all about the matter and presented to everyone a cheerful semblance”). Completing his mission, he then takes his wife and property, without bidding farewell, to the Moroccan city of Ceuta, where he enters into talks with the Moorish governor Muza: “prometiol quel darie toda Espanna sil quisiesse creer” (“he promised to deliver Spain to him if he would only take him at this word”). With the aid of “cient caualleros et trezientos peones” (“one hundred knights and three hundred footmen”) assigned by Muza under the leadership of a certain Tarik, Julian enters into Spain. Here the narrator remarks how the vengeful count initiates the downfall of “la mezquina de Espanna” (“wretched Spain”), a country made vulnerable and complacent by having been too long at peace: “començosse estonces a destroyr et a sentir las pestilencias que ouiera ya otra uez en el tiempo de los romanos” (“Spain then began to undergo destruction and to suffer once again the calamities that once had occurred in Roman times”). After wreaking “grand danno et grand mortandad” (“great harm and wholesale slaughter”) in southern

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Spain, Julian, “brioso et soberuio” (“proudly and in high spirits”), returns across the strait to rejoin Muza (308). Afterward returning to Spain with a much larger force, Julian and Tarik take advantage of the decadence into which the Spanish Goths had fallen: “ca por la luenga paz que ouieran desacostumbrandosse darmas non sabien ya nada de los grandes fechos que los godos fizieran en otro tiempo, et eran tornados uiles et f lacos et couardes, et non pudieron soffrir la batalla” (“for, on account of the long peace they had enjoyed, growing unused to the practice of arms they no longer had any understanding of the great deeds they, the Goths, had accomplished in earlier times, and had become base, cringing, and cowardly, unable to endure battle”). Count Julian, meanwhile, was henceforth regarded by his Moorish allies as “bueno et leal por aquello que auie fecho, ca tenien quel auien ya prouado” (“a good and loyal man by reason of what he had accomplished, for they considered that they had put him to the test”; 308). As King Rodrigo resolutely leads his forces to confront the Moorish invaders and their treasonous Gothic allies on the banks of the river Guadalete, the narrator observes that the defenders and their leader are foredoomed to disaster: la gracia de Dios auie se arredrada et alongada dellos et auie tollido el su poder et el su deffendimiento de los omnes de Espanna, assi que la yente de los godos que siempre fue uengedor et noble et que conquerira toda Asia et Europa . . . aquella yente tan poderosa et tan onrrada fue essora tornada et crebantada por poder de los alaraues . . . e los godos que solien uerter la sangre de los otros, perdieron ellos alli la suya, en poder de sus enemigos. (309–310) God’s grace had retreated and been withdrawn from them, and He had taken away their power to defend the people of Spain, so that the Gothic folk who had always been so noble, such righters of wrongs, conquerors of all Asia and of Europe . . . that people, so powerful and honorable, was in that moment repulsed and broken by the power of the Arabs . . . and the Goths who had been accustomed to shed the blood of others there lost their own, having fallen under the power of their enemies.

The mythographic perspective on the downfall of Visigothic Spain is confirmed by the narrative’s simplification and personalization of events. On the one hand, the complex causality of such an event is partially reduced to a dramatized investment of responsibility in the person of a single traitor: “su nombre siempre sera maldito de quantos del fablaren” (“his name will ever be cursed by all those who speak of him”; 310). On the other hand, blame for the disaster is shown to be shared. It was



the fallible King Rodrigo who committed the crime that provoked vengeance in the first place. What is more, the Goths are shown to have made themselves liable to attack by having become complacent and unaccustomed to warfare. The protagonists of this just-so fable of betrayal and debacle are, to be sure, the Visigoths, clearly understood to be a people not native to the Peninsula. This factor, however, in no way detracts from the nativism of the chronicle’s viewpoint. The genealogy of conquered peoples, whether historically verifiable or mythically retro-projected, often involves foreign origins. The Romans, for example, down to the time they saw their decadent empire over-run by outsiders, continued to cherish the legend of their Trojan origins. Such genealogical details do not necessarily diminish the victimized status of an invaded people. From the viewpoint of the Alfonsine chronicle, the question of the Visigoths’ extra-Peninsular origins seems to have little bearing on the cautionary melodrama of the invasive event and the pathos of its aftermath. The ancestral culpability and divinely ordained overthrow of the Spanish Visigoths is clearly meant as an allegorical foreshadowing, in the context of an irredentist scenario, of Christian vindication and recovery as achieved through the supposed repossession of Muslim Spain. Additionally, this chronicles’ fatalistic account of a defenseless native people’s overthrow by opportunistic invaders, along with the biblical and classical precedents already mentioned, moralistically prefigures the view of many New World conquerors and colonists, who cast the vulnerable native in the role of propitious victim, by reason of ethical deficiency or cultural inferiority. Don Juan Manuel: A Theoretician of Caste The medieval estates system—oratores, defensores, laboratores (“those who pray, those who defend, those who toil”)—does not represent social reality. It is, rather, a set of medieval sociological topoi. The degree to which real-world society conformed to the strictures of this supposed system has been the matter of prolonged historiographical debate. Here we focus not on the latter controversy, but on representations of the concept of estates as articulated by the treatise known as the Libro de los estados (“The book of estates”; hereafter: LdE), written by Don Juan Manuel, nephew of Alfonso X. In this work, Julio, the philosopher who counsels a crown prince in the ways of the world and of men, surveys the various estates, from the highest on down (272–293). Each is ostensibly held accountable to the same moral standard encompassed by the tripartite structure: “todos los estados del mundo . . . se ençierran en tres: al uno llaman defensores, et al otro oradores, et al otro labradores” (“all the estates of the world . . . are

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encompassed by three: one is called defenders, another those who pray, and the last, those who toil”; 277). The highest level of defenders is that of the “fijos dalgo, que son los nobles defensores” (“those of gentle birth, who are the noble defenders”). Beneath these, but still belonging to the military estate, are the “defensores que non son fijos dalgo” (“defenders who are not of gentle birth”). These non-noble defenders include “los oficiales que ponen los señores por las tierras et en sus casas, et los otros omnes que biven en las villas” (“officers that the great lords appoint to positions in their domains and in their houses and the other men who live in the towns”; 277). These defenders are different from those who serve the great lords in that they do not make their living “por mercaduría nin por menesteres que fagan que labren por sus manos” (“from commerce nor from trades that oblige them to work with their hands”). The work of these non-noble defenders is warfare, waged in benefit to the community, and their titles and functions are variously stipulated and stratified: “son así commo adables et almocadenes et ballesteros; et otros, omnes de cavallo et de pie que ponen por escuchas et por atalaines et por atajadores para guardar la tierra; et otros, peones que se an de guiar por estos que son dichos (“they are such as marshals, captains, and crossbowmen; and others, cavalrymen and infantrymen that are assigned as sentinels and lookouts and scouts to keep guard on the land; and others, foot soldiers, who are under the command of the aforementioned”; 277–278). The religious estate is recognized by Juan Manuel in his clarification regarding the spiritual significance of these divisions of labor. All these categories, he declares, may save their souls in the performance of their respective duties, so long as “non lo fizieren por cobdiçia nin por mala voluntad” (“they do not do so out of greed or bad intentions”). However, because their functions are often the occasion of “muchos tuertos et muchos pecados” (“much sin and wrongdoing”), these non-noble defenders often risk damnation. So long as a man faithfully holds to the obligations incumbent on his estate, resisting the circumstantial temptations attendant on each, that man may save his soul. As we descend down the scale, however, this moral liability increases. The tendency becomes more notable as Juan Manuel comes to describe the inferior vocational categories, among which he pointedly includes those functions that involve trade and handling money. His scheme in many ways paraphrases the Indian system of the jāti: Como quier que los ruanos et los mercaderos non son labradores, pues que non viven con los señores nin defienden la tierra por armas et por sus manos; pero porque la tierra se aprovecha dellos porque los mercaderos compran et venden, et los ruanos facen labrar la tierra, et dar ganados, et



bestias, el aves así como labradores, por esta razón los estados de los ruanos et de los mercaderes enciérranse en el estado de los labradores. (279) Although the peasants and the merchants are not laborers, since they do not live among the lords nor do they defend the land by means of arms or work it with their own hands, nonetheless, because the land benefits from them, because the merchants buy and sell, and the small farmers oversee the working of the land, and provide livestock, and animals, and fowl, just as the agricultural workers do; for this reason, then, the peasants and the merchants are included in the estate of those who toil.

After this, Juan Manuel lists other kinds of work, all under the general category of “ofiçio,” that is, of “duty” or “service.” The number and variety of the services provided, the degree of training and specialization, correspond to the proliferation of such categories mentioned by Duby as a ref lection of the expanding monetary economy and the increased status competition among members of the nobility. In the terms of modern economics, the service sector expanded and diversified in response to an expansion and diversification of the consumer class, distinguished both by its array of titular statuses and by the very fact of its avoidance of toil. 3 In his description, Juan Manuel doubly stratifies. First, he lists a number of categories of servile labor. Then, he compounds the depreciatory stratification, intimating that many more could be listed, but are too trivial, too basely servile, to be worthy of specific mention in his essay. There are then those that work in the palaces and mansions of emperors, kings, and great lords, such as “coperos, et çatiqueros, et reposteros, et cavallerizos, cevadores, et porteros, et mensajeros, et coçineros” (“cupbearers, bakers, pastry cooks, grooms, equerries, doorkeepers, messengers, and cooks”). After these come “otros muchos ofiçiales más menudos, que paresçe mejor en los callar que en los poner en tal libro como éste” (“many other, lesser specialists, such that it seems better to leave them unmentioned than to list them in a book such as this”; 291). I translate “ofiçiales” as “specialists” because the kinds of work being performed are defined by the minute exactitude of the tasks assigned and, implicitly, by their association with royal and noble households. The high and the low of the situation impinge on the essayist’s perception of the inferior categories. An even longer list of such types is presented in the case of those who work on the extended grounds of the manor or in lands that pertain to it (292). This enumeration involves the recurring double stratification of servile categories, some of which are deemed noteworthy, while others are dismissed as unworthy of mention. The list of “menestrales” (“skilled workers”) includes “tenderos, et alfayates et orebzes et carpenteros et ferreros, et maestros de fazer torres et casas et muros, et

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çapateros et freneros et selleros et albéitares et pellejeros et texedores” (“tent-makers, tailors, goldsmiths, carpenters, blacksmiths, master builders of towers, houses, and walls, shoemakers, harness-makers, saddlers, veterinarians, furriers, and weavers”), followed by those that “non faze grant mengua de ser todos scriptos” (“are not really necessary to write down in this book”). All these kinds of skilled workers, and even those who work on their own account—“quinteros o yunteros o pastores o ortolanos o molineros, o otros de menores estados” (“farmers, plowmen, shepherds, truck farmers, millers, and other workers of inferior estate”)— are capable of saving their souls, observes Juan Manuel, if they do their duty faithfully and without succumbing to greed. However, by reason of their tendency to not do their best and because many of them are “atan menguados de entendimiento que con torpedat podrían caer en grandes yerros non lo entendiendo” (“so mentally deficient that from sheer stupidity they are liable to lapse into grave error without even knowing it”), their estates must be seen as hazardous to the salvation of their souls. In his catalogue and assessment of the many estates occupied by men, Julio allows that all are capable of testing a man’s moral quality. However, he more forcefully correlates morality with the obligations and temptations that test the incumbents of the various lower functions. He attributes to the lower estates a greater propensity for sin. In other words, those who do the dirtiest and most servile work are more liable to damnation than those who do the work of the higher estates. Exemplifying the invidious aspect of the medieval estates system outlined by Duby, this account thus associates, from the viewpoint of late-medieval Iberian Christian elite, the sacral and the servile, the pure and the impure, in a manner distinctly analogous to the Indian caste system’s treatment of similar issues. Why Juan Manuel’s schema specifically, and the medieval European estates system in general, so strangely resemble the Indian system is a matter of sociological and ethnographic debate far too complex to discuss in detail here. We can, however, point out variable affinities and contrasts within the climate of late-medieval thought on such questions, as ref lected by the two prominent Iberian works discussed here. For instance, we could note that, with regard to the estates, the Alfonsine code, in keeping with its legislative purview, is tersely compendious with regard to specific types and subtypes but circumstantial in its regulatory stipulations with respect to their management. Don Juan Manuel’s book, by contrast, is fulsomely catalogical and invidiously taxonomic in its survey and analysis of the estates and their many subcategories. In



terms of Christian society (as opposed to that society’s relationship with out-groups), both works seek to account for a total community. Different kinds of persons are classified and situated within the supposedly coherent system. A likely consensus of present-day medievalists would agree that the system as explicated by its medieval theorists and apologists—such as Juan Manuel and the authors of the Partidas— cannot be taken as a face-value representation of the day-to-day existence of medieval European society. The articulation of such systems, however coherent, does not necessarily insure real-world compliance with, or even awareness of, the supposed hierarchy among the populations that such formulations affect to inf luence and organize. The system as explicated is a mental construct, a set of wishful axioms; to the degree that its contours can be traced, it exists, in the minds of authors, as a set of textual artifacts inviting application as juridical superintendence, political policy, or social regulation. An idealized f lowchart rather than a realistic likeness, the system nonetheless greatly inf luenced institutions on the one hand and individual and collective comportment and social perception on the other. It furnished the trappings and outlined the etiquette of a proper society, while justifying earthly hierarchy as the manifestation of a divine plan. The works and authors cited in this introductory chapter represent only a few examples of the many expressions of thought on questions of race, caste, and indigeneity that can be garnered from the textual universe that inf luenced medieval and early-modern authors. This study does not pretend to be a survey of all such expressions, any more than the following discussion of travel works intends to cover all possible relevant examples. I have selected prominent specimens of racializing thought and caste-mindedness in order to demonstrate a climate of perception and opinion. The works and authors referred constitute an aggregate testimony as to the existence of such a mental climate. This does not necessarily mean that any given travel author read or was consciously inf luenced by any of these witnesses. Nonetheless, the array of biblical, classical, and medieval tropes, however incoherent and contradictory, must be seen as the background of travel writers as they go forth, along with their readers, among alien peoples and civilizations. In the case of the Alfonsine code, the racial question centers on Jews and Moors, while the caste question in both the Partidas and Juan Manuel involves numerous specifically Peninsular social categories. The history of Spanish colonial expansion reveals how the specific terms of racial and caste logic are modified according to emerging circumstances. This logic involves a perception of discrepancy and analogy. Racialization is taxonomy; caste, subordinated to race, is a taxonomy within a taxonomy. What

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is perceived is not just the other, but the multiple, variegated, subdivisible other. This contrasts with the undifferentiated xenophobia, the us versus them of straightforward racialization. The latter perspective looks outward: the world against us. Race thinking joined with caste thinking, by contrast, looks inward, dividing and subdividing. This articulated array of attitudes and axioms will readily find a place, both marginal and integrated, for newly discovered Others classifiable as Natives. The concepts of race and caste seen as distinct ideas by the texts surveyed here constitute the elements of a totalizing system awaiting expansion. As methods of looking at people, these concepts are susceptible to generic paraphrasing and extrapolation and to contextual amalgamation. Eventual overseas discovery and conquest will come across additional variegated populations that will lend themselves to incorporation into an eventual, ethnically composite system. Meanwhile, these notions of how people are classified and organized according to race and caste inform the perceptions of travel writers who contemplate the differences and analogies revealed by other, distant peoples of the Old World.



edieval travel literature, judging the peoples of distant lands sometimes positively, sometimes negatively, and occasionally neutrally, tends to characterize whole groups on the basis of a limited number of traits. The alien collective, rather than individual natives, is generally the preferred focus of description. Any quality or trait, rumored or verified, is liable to correlation with the totalizing ethnic portrait: physical attributes; ethical and moral tendencies; shared propensities and typical behaviors; rituals and folk traditions; noteworthy events or personages of tribal or community history—these are typical elements in the composition of medieval travel literature’s racial profiles. Sometimes in the form of brief thumbnails, at other times variously expanded, such profiles may either express preconceived stereotypes or convey more idiosyncratic opinions. In either case, the focus generally remains on the typical and the general, rather than on the individual and the specific. Like modern ethnographers, medieval travel writers generalize regarding alien collectives. However, where modern ethnographers categorize multiple peoples on the basis of generic terms (e.g., “nomadic,” “patrilineal,” “hunter-gatherers”), medieval travel authors tend to characterize single peoples by the application of one or more comprehensive epithets (“treacherous,” “generous,” “handsome”). Even when a passage focuses on the singular actions of individual persons, the description is mostly assumed to apply synecdochically to the entire group. In addition, these racialized descriptions frequently, if not invariably, ref lect a predisposition to organize perception of the human world in terms of invidiously differentiated groups. The racializing gaze, sorting ethnographic data in terms of a vast array of ethnic collectives, maps its observations and data on to taxonomic schemes that lend themselves to unwitting or surreptitious refractions. Among medieval travel authors, purportedly objective description often bespeaks a prejudicial selection of traits to be



evaluated. At other times, vacillating between contrariety and affinity, travel authors seem to feel obliged to express a relativistic sympathy for the alien and the unusual. In narratological terms, travel works are decidedly un-Aristotelian. Imitating the one-thing-after-another movement of travel itself, the sequential profusion of phenomena forming the story arc of travel narrative involves no necessary causal or motivational link from place to place, interlude to interlude, anecdote to anecdote. The stream of incidents, data, and observations either describes a singular there-andback-again movement or takes the form of diversely convoluted meanderings. The sinuous structure of the latter variation may be digressively appended to various points along the Odyssean story line of the former. A narrative generally structured along the lines of one or the other of these linear progressions, or mixing the two, may be called a work of pure travel literature (e.g., the Embassy, Tafur’s Travels). When other genres, such as biographies, chronicles, polemical essays, or novels, brief ly or extensively incorporate these itinerant patterns, travel writing takes on a narrative or discursive mode (e.g., the Victorial, Cortés, Amadís). Additionally, the peregrinative arc may be literal or implicit. The former entails the narration of an actual journey or series of journeys, or the tracing of an itinerary or sequence of itineraries (e.g., the Alexander, the Embassy, Tafur). The latter, only intermittently narrating journeys or following itineraries, implicitly bases its geographical information and opinions, at least in part, on a deducible background of prior trajectories—followed by the author or by others—variously hinted at or alluded to (e.g., Marco Polo, the Book of Knowledge, Mandeville, and—ultimately—Herodotus). In common with such popular genres as medieval chivalric romance and modern westerns and action films, travel literature is in many ways formulaic and repetitious. Just as every crossroads confrontation between knights, every gun fight, every car chase, resembles every other, each encounter with alien folk and outlandish situations tends to recall or anticipate other, analogous encounters. Amid this episodic repetition with variation, the effect of reiterated themes and orientations often seems more perfunctory than descriptive. The medieval travel writer, often under the detectable inf luence of the traditional folkloric human geography referred to in the previous chapter, profiles racially because to do so complies with generic expectations. This is what travel writers do. Travel writing is opinionated with respect to foreign peoples and exotic races. Its racial and cultural profiles, furthermore, tend to be framed in either epithetic or anecdotal terms. The former mode applies limited strings of adjectives or descriptive phrases. The latter, by contrast,



characterizes collectively by the presentation of episodes, scenes, personages, events, or summarized customs whose profiling implications may either be pointed out by accompanying commentary or presumed to speak for themselves. In the latter case, this essentially dramatic technique—showing more than telling—is often enhanced by the shock value of the situation. At such moments, sensationalism itself becomes an additional method in the travel writer’s stylistic repertoire, nudging the reader’s judgment, however equivocally or ambiguously, in the direction of the implied profile. Racial Profiling In its sociological aspect, profiling is defined by the OED (“Profiling”) as the “recording, itemization, or analysis of . . . psychological, intellectual, and behavioural characteristics.” An additional factor is the use of such information “to identify any particular subgroup of people.” In the context of present-day law enforcement, another meaning has emerged: “Selection for scrutiny . . . based on superficial characteristics (as ethnic background or race).” Travel literature’s frequent summary descriptions prefigure these definitions. Their extrapolative characterization of whole peoples based on ascribed ethnic or racial characteristics must be seen as a medieval version of the racialized thinking typified by the practices referred to in the previous paragraph. The principal difference between the profiling in our texts and its present-day analogues is that the former concentrates on identifying and defining groups, while the examples mentioned by the OED either alternate between collective and individual registers (the first two examples) or (the second example, from police practices) match individual persons with preestablished, group-defining lists of ethnic attributes. Medieval travel literature’s generalized ascription of traits and customs to whole populations and the use of such details to identify and name peoples and races, may be couched, as we have seen, in positive as well as negative terms. The Alexander’s depiction of the funerary monument to the dead Persian king exemplifies this variability. Inscriptions on this edifice summarily profile whole peoples: the “pueblos de España” (“peoples of Spain”) are “tan ligeros” (“so f leet of foot”), while Frenchmen are all “valientes cavalleros” (“valiant knights”; 1797ab). Normans are “orgullosos varones” (“proud and manly fellows”), and Englishmen are “fermosos, de blandos coraçones” (“handsome and tender-hearted”; 1798bc). Lombards, by contrast, are “cobdiçiosos” (“greedy”) and Germans are “fellones” (“savage”; 1798d).



The Zifar, showing the same propensity for positive and negative ethnic profiles, characterizes all the inhabitants of “India” in laudatory terms. The region referred to, of course, does not correspond to the subcontinental peninsula we call by that name, but rather to one of the three Indies vaguely defined, with many variations, by ancient and medieval pseudogeography. One of these Indies, which “comarca con la otra de los negros” (“borders on the one inhabited by negroes”), is the protagonist’s country of origin: “desta Yndia fue el caballero Zifar” (“from this India came the Knight Zifar”; Zifar 95). This country, the narrator tells us, has been, since ancient times, a “fuente e manera de çiençia, e fueron omes de grant mesura e de buen seso” (“a fount and model of learning, and they were men of great sense and sobriety”; 97). This is despite the fact that “son loros, que tiran a los negros quanto en la color, porque comarcan con ellos” (“they are dusky of complexion, tending a little toward the coloring of the negroes, living close to them as they do”). Black people in general are then negatively profiled in an appended explanation of the Indians’ immunity to their inf luence. God, we are told, “los guardo de las maneras dellos e de su torpedat, e dioles mesura e bondat en manera e en seso, mas que a muchos blancos” (“spared them the uncouth manners and ignorance of the blacks and granted them temperance and decency, in both conduct and understanding, more so even than many whites”). The Marvels describes Chaldea’s inhabitants in similarly broad terms. The men are “muy fermosos” (“very handsome”), and very well dressed, while the women are “muy feas y mal vestidas, y andan todas descalças y . . . y traen los cabellos negros y luengos, y son mugeres negras y de mala gracia” (“very ugly and badly dressed, and go about unshod . . . and their hair is black and long, and they are dark-skinned and graceless”; Marvels 253). Later, the same narrator remarks upon alien standards of modesty observing that among Ethiopians, men and women bathe together: “las mugeres no han vergüença alguna de los hombres . . . y los hombres y mugeres tienen rabos detrás como animales” (“the women have no shame at all in front of the men . . . and the men and women have tails hanging behind, like animals”; 258–259). The additional attribution of primitive or animalistic traits underscores the racialization; these people are monstrously like us but not like us. Other passages in the Marvels (94–95; 284–290), under the inf luence of the Plinian tradition, extensively describe numerous races defined by similarly freakish traits: headless people; f lat-headed folk; people with lips like umbrellas; pygmies with holes where their mouths should be; horse-footed men; hermaphrodites; six-armed men; hirsute folk, like bears; six-fingered men; men with four eyes in their heads; cyclopean giants; anthropophages whose feet point in the opposite direction from



normal folk; hairless people; men with necks as longs as those of cranes; long-eared men; and quadrupeds. In a section on Prester John’s empire, the Marvels refers to savage men, “de bella forma” (“well formed”), but who “no fablan cosa, sino que gruñen como puercos; e tienen cuernos en la cabeça e piedes como cabrones, los cuales son llamados «sátiri»” (“have no speech of any kind, but rather grunt like pigs; and they have horns on their heads and feet like those of goats; these creatures are called ‘satyrs’”; 326). When the Book of Knowledge characterizes racially, it is usually with a single typical trait, as when it refers to mountains in West Africa “poblados de gentes de los negros como la pez” (“populated by peoples who are negroes who are those black as pitch”; 376–377). The very fact that these African peoples are also settled, politically organized folk, and Christians, accentuates the anonymous author’s racial awareness. Skin color is a criterion of discriminatory subcategorization, as in the case of the kingdom of Dongola: “es tierra muy poblada de cristianos de Nubia, pero que son negros” (“it is a land well settled by Nubian Christians, but who are negroes”). The phrase “poblada de negros” (“inhabited by negroes”) is sometimes the only descriptor used to characterize islands and whole countries (378, 379, etc.). This color consciousness is highlighted by the narrator’s reference to the fabulous Prester John as a patriarch of Nubia and Ethiopia, the lord of “muy grandes tierras e muchas cibdades de cristianos, pero que son negros como la pez e quémanse con fuego en señal de cruz e en reconocimiento de bautismo” (“very great lands and many Christian cities, although they are black as pitch and burn the sign of the cross into their skins, in recognition of baptism”). Despite the blackness of their skin, these people are “omes de buen entendimiento e de buen seso, e an saberes e ciencias” (“men of fine intelligence, and of good sense, and possess knowledge and science”; Book of Knowledge 380).1 The Canarian engages in the same sort of ethnic generalization based on one or two traits. The inhabitants of the island of La Palma, for example, are “belles gens et ne viuent que de cher” (“handsome people who live only from eating meat”). Sickness is unknown, and the “les gens y viuent longuement” (“people there live a long time”; 237). The inhabitants of Gomera are a “grant peuple qui parlent le plus estrange langage de tous les autres pais de pardessà” (“great people who speak the strangest language of any of those spoken in these parts”), for they speak only with their lips, “ainssi que si fussent sans langue” (“as if they had no tongue”; 239). Tenerife is likewise inhabited by “moult grant peuple” (“a very numerous people”), who are “les plus hardis de tous les autres peuples qui habitent ès isles; et ne furent onquez courus ne menés en seruage come ceulx des autres illes” (“the bravest of all the peoples inhabiting the



islands; and they have never been vanquished nor reduced to slavery like the peoples of the other islands”; 241). Santaella’s translation of Marco Polo judges North Africans in similarly broad terms: “son gente bárbara en lengua e costumbres” (“they are a barbarous people in language and in customs”; 8). Regarding the land called Ethiopia, he is as color-conscious as the Zifar: “es nombre común a muchas provincias pobladas de negros” (“it is a name common to many provinces inhabited by negroes”). The name and barbarous condition of all these peoples extend to the entire continent: “de allí adelante son los etíopes idólatras hasta el cabo que dizen de Buena Esperança” (“from there on all the Ethiopians are idolaters, down to the cape called Good Hope”; 9).2 Physical and characterological stereotypes abound in Santaella’s descriptions of peoples; these profiles may be either derogatory or encomiastic. Georgians are “hermosos de persona e hombres arriscados y valientes en las armas y buenos frecheros” (“handsome in their persons, resolute men, valiant in warfare and good archers”; 32). The Moors of the city of Totis “son muy mala gente, traidores y salteadores y matadores” (“are a wicked people, knaves, highway robbers, and murderers”; 34). The men of the city of Tunchái are “hombres muy crueles que se matan unos con otros” (“very cruel men who kill one another”). Skin color, religion, morality, economic practices, customs, and artistic tastes are all fodder for minimalist ethnic profiling in Santaella. Concerning the inhabitants of Cormoe (Hormuz), for instance, we are told: “La gente de aquella tierra es negra y sigue a Mahomad” (“The people of that land are black and follow Mohammed”; Santaella 41). In the land called Bosor: “Las gentes . . . biven en los montes altos e adoran los ídolos, e son gentes montañesas e biven de ganados e son muy cruel gente” (“Those people . . . live in the high mountains, and adore idols, and are uncouth folk, living from their herds, and are a very cruel people”; 47). Concerning the people of Chamul we learn that they “adoran los ídolos” (“adore idols”); “biven de la labor de la tierra” (“get their livelihood from agriculture”); “se dan a plazer tañendo y cantando” (“enjoy playing music and singing”; 52). The national character of the Tartars is summarized in approving terms. They are “hombres valientes en las armas y duros para todo trabajo, e sufren hambre e sed” (“men valiant in warfare and steadfast in the face of all hardship, and endure hunger and thirst”; 58). The Tibetans, by contrast, are dismissed as “idólatras e malos hombres e robadores e crueles” (“idolaters, wicked men, and merciless robbers”), while those of the province called Mangi are “nigrománticos y astrólogos y encantadores e hombres malvados y de malas costumbres” (“necromancers and



astrologers and enchanters, wicked men evil in their ways”; 3). Those of the province of Chariar are particularly “perversos e malvados” (“perverse and wicked”), preying on any wayfarers who seem “prudentes e hermosos” (“prudent and prepossessing in appearance”). Superstition is added to the mix, as according to this wicked race “la hermosura e prudencia de los muertos se passa a ellos, e por esto los matan, e no por roballos” (“the beauty and prudence of the dead will pass on to their killers, and for this reason they kill them, rather than simply to rob them”; 86). On the one hand, such overstated characterizations undoubtedly ref lect legend and folkloric fantasy. The legendary racial cavalcade inherited from or inf luenced by the ancient fantastic geography of Pliny and other classical authors inf luences descriptive preferences. At the same time, Santaella, like others among the later travel writers, lays it on more thickly, enlarging and complicating racial profiles. Thus, in the account of the natives of the island of “Tanguibar” (Zanzibar), the people in question are thoroughly dehumanized. They are “idólatras” (“idolaters”), and “tan grandes e gruessos que parecen gigantes” (“so big and ungainly that they seem like giants”). Any one of their males can carry “carga por seis de los nuestros” (“a load equal to that carried by six of ours”). A black-skinned people, they “andan desnudos sin alguna cobertura” (“go about naked, with no covering of any kind”). As for their features, they are “espantables en los rostros” (“frightful-looking in the face”), have huge mouths, big red noses, large ears, bulging eyes. The females are “suzias y feas” (“filthy and ugly”), while the males are “fuertes en sus personas e grandes combatidores, porque no estiman su vida” (“physically very strong and great fighters, because they have no regard for their own lives”; 118) In Amadís, the theme of the humanoid races—similar to man, but with monstrous or animalistic features that distinguish them from normal human beings—is represented by the race of giants. An example is Ardán Canileo, who, though not quite human, nonetheless aspires to the love of the human princess Madasima. This creature is characterized by “miembros gruesos y las espaldas anchas y el pescuezo grueso y los pechos gruesos y cuadrados y las manos y las piernas a razón de lo otro” (“massive limbs, broad of back, thick-necked, barrel-chested, with hands and legs in the same proportion”; 866). Facial features are no less alien: “El rostro había grande y romo de la hechura del can . . . las narices había romas y anchas y . . . los bezos había gruesos y retornados y los cabellos crespos (“the face was big and wide, like a dog’s muzzle . . . blunt-nosed . . . with thick, up-curled lips, and kinky hair”; Amadís 866–867). This image of a manlike creature, monstrous in appearance and character but capable of aping the usages of knighthood and of seeking to mate with human



females, is typical of the racialized travel narratives of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, densely populated with species who similarly parody human form and customs. It is as if, in these later works, the menagerie of Plinian races had been thinned out, leaving only those races most closely resembling human beings. Simone Pinet points out the frequency with which giants and their kin appear in Amadís and the other chivalric romances (96–97). Alternately opposing or allying themselves with human characters, they make it difficult to verify, observes Pinet, the Amadís’s understanding of the difference between giants and ordinary humans. Several characters, the offspring of mixed marriages between giants and normal humans, attest to the near-humanity of the former. The giants’ variability of character and appearance—some ugly, others beautiful; some good, others bad, with some converting from good to bad—is a persistent indication, suggests Pinet, of the romances’ ambiguous understanding of the Other. This ambiguity with regard to the relative humanity or inhumanity of monstrous or not-quite-human beings probably ref lects a long-standing theological debate regarding the general nature and spiritual status of the monstrous races. From the thirteenth century on, observes Lynn Tarte Ramey (82–84), discussion focused on the question of whether such races were men or beasts, and, if the former, whether or not they were susceptible to salvation. On one side of the debate was the enduring inf luence of St. Augustine, who, in The City of God (XVI, 8), argued that any “rational, mortal animal,” no matter how strange its appearance, or how bizarre in “some power, part, or quality” of its nature, must, if in any way manlike, be presumed to partake of the “common human nature,” and to be therefore “descended from Adam” (Augustine 479–480; cited by Ramey 83). The other side of the controversy, exemplified by Albert the Great’s characterization of pygmies as manlike but not quite human, emphasized the deficient rationality of such creatures (Ramey 84). Others, such as the encyclopedist Bartholomaeus Anglicus and the Franciscan friar and missionary Odoric of Podernone, remained undecided or contradictory regarding the question (Ramey 86–89). The paradox of racial identity in the romances, argues Elizabeth Spiller (41), may be addressed in terms of a relative “fixity and absoluteness of identity.” Amid the innumerable one-on-one confrontations of chivalric romances, the significant subset that opposes members of distinct races only sketchily differentiates between the concepts of lineage and race. The alien adversary is marked, to be sure, by physical and characterological differences. But at the same time he remains “ultimately indistinguishable” from the protagonist. The Other is recognized, argues Spiller, “less because of his utter difference than because his identity is



some version of yours.” Physical attributes serving as the criteria of racial profiling confirm, in other words, a shared identity “rooted in blood and kinship,” paradoxically holding up a distorted but recognizable mirror of the antagonist as both an individual and as the representative of a race. A similarly specular view of the Other often skews travel writing’s fascination with humanoid creatures in a humanizing direction. In the old-fashioned Book of Knowledge, for example, we read of beings manlike in form, “omes viles” (“vile men”), eaters of raw meat with “los rostros luengos como canes” (“long faces like dogs”), but who are, at the same time, “blancos e fazen todas las cosas que veen fazer, e llámanlos sinofalos” (“white-skinner and do anything they see done by others and are called cynocephali”; 390). The text, in effect, plays up the dual nature of hybridity. These creatures are at once thoroughly canine and thoroughly man-like. Likewise strangely humanoid are the freakish inhabitants of a desert country vaguely situated in the legendary region of Hyrcania (403), “ommes que han las cabeças pegadas sobre los ombros, que non han cuellos ningunos” (“men with their heads stuck on their shoulders, having no necks at all”). Added details—beards covering their chests, enormous ears hanging down to their shoulders—are outlandish, but quaintly, even comically, within the realm of human possibility. While exceedingly grotesque, these creatures are nonetheless referred to as “men” by the narrator. Other texts humanize in a different sense, seeking to portray strange races in familiar terms. Thus, in accounting for collective racial character, the Marvels typically mixes physical attributes and practices. A certain nomadic Tartar race, for instance, displays a morbid aversion to town life and has no notion of private property. The profile is summed up by combining bizarre physical traits with behavioral proclivities: “Todos . . . tienen pequeños ojos y pocas barbas ralas, y son muy falsos y traidores porque cosa que prometen ellos no la mantienen” (“All . . . have small eyes and short, scraggly beards, and are very false and treacherous, for they never keep any promises they make”; 314). The Embassy, mostly disregarding legendary human geography, nonetheless sometimes profiles historical peoples in the minimalist Plinian style, condensing racial character into a cluster of brief descriptors. A good example is its appraisal of Tamerlane’s nomadic followers, tersely described as “gente de grande afán e cavalgadores” (“a most valorous people, great horsemen and archers”) and “fuerte para el campo” (“very good on campaigns”) by reason of their unusual toughness and endurance (“sufren frío e sol e hambre e sed más que gente del mundo”; “they endure cold and sun and hunger and thirst better than any other people in the world”; Embassy 233). The Chactay (Zagatai) people, by contrast,



are dismissed with equal concision as “gente engeniosa y sotil y nunca dizen . . . verdad” (“sly and underhanded people, and who never tell . . . the truth”; 342). In its comparative profiles of the English and the French, the Victorial speaks from a broader perspective. The fact that this Spanish author discusses two European nations does not detract from the racializing bias of his portraiture; the racialization is in the profiling, regardless of specific ethnicities. Transcending Plinianism and entering the realm of outright ethnopolitics, the narrator seems at first to allow for diversity among the English, declaring them to be “unas gentes muy diversas en condiçiones” (“people very diverse in their condition”). What seems to bespeak multiplicity is, however, immediately reduced to a singularity. The English are “desavenidos de todas las otras naçiones” (“at odds with all other nations”). Their collective character is derived, first of all, from heredity: “les viene ansí de su naturaleza, de aquellas gentes donde ellos vienen” (“these attributes come down to them from their lineage, from the people from whom they descend”). Another factor defining them is the plenitude of resources provided by their environment: “biven en tierra muy abastada de viandas e bíveres, e rica de metales” (“they live in a land well stocked with food and provisions, and rich in metals as well”). Yet another factor is the density of their population: “son muchas gentes en poca tierra” (“many people live in a small area”). Their land, furthermore, is relatively free from natural disasters: “nunca ay mortandad grande, ni mal año” (“there are never many fatalities, nor years of bad harvest”). Finally, their country is blessed with a natural advantage: “son çercados de mar, por lo que no an miedo a nunguna naçión” (“they are surrounded by the sea, and thus fear no other nation”; 317–318). The Victorial generalizes, speculates, and theorizes. It mentions causal factors such as heredity, demography, agriculture, natural resources, and geographical isolation. A notion of national character is clearly expressed—the English, a proud and insular folk, do not get along with other peoples. An objective tone is maintained, but the image of the English is grounded in what we would call genetic inheritance and geographical determinism, two of the most reductive criteria that can be invoked in the characterization of a people or a civilization. A few chapters later, the narrative profiles another European people, whose characteristics are implicitly comparable to those of the island-dwelling English. The Victorial’s portrait of the French, while no less totalizing than its deterministic effigy of the English, is appreciative and laudatory. It stresses discretionary behaviors and spontaneous predispositions. The French are a “noble naçión de gente” (“a noble race of people”) and “sabios,” “muy entendidos,” and “discretos” (“wise, very knowledgeable,



discerning”) in all things “que pertenesçen a buena criança, en cortesía e gentileza” (“pertaining to good breeding, courtesy, and gentility”). Their mode of dress is elegant; they display a personal style and demeanor all their own. They are “francos e dadivosos” (“liberal and open-handed”) and “aman fazer plazer a todas las gentes” (“take delight in making other people happy”). They treat foreigners with respect, and “saben loar e loan mucho los buenos fechos” (“they know how to praise, and lavishly praise, valorous deeds”). They are, furthermore, a tolerant and forgiving people: “Non son maliçiosos, dan pasada a los henojos; non caloñan a honbre nin fecho, salvo si les va allí mucho de sus honras” (“They are not rancorous, and overlook affronts; they utter no calumny regarding persons or deeds, save when it most directly affects their honor”). Courteous and charming in their speech (“corteses e graçiosos en su fablar”), they are, in short, a most cheerful people (“muy alegres”), who “toman plazer de buena mente, e búscanlo, ansí ellos como ellas” (“readily enjoy pleasure, and seek it out, both men and women”). Finally, they are “muy henamorados, e préçianse dello” (“of a most amorous disposition, and take pride in being so”; 390). Though generally less elaborate than the Victorial, Tafur profiles national character in similarly comparative terms. The contrast is typically implicit rather than overt; in each case the author’s home culture must be seen as the standard from which other peoples presumably deviate. The Genovese, for example, are “gente muy fermosa de color, pero no de faciones” (“very handsome in their coloring, but not in their features”). His profiles blend physical features with the particulars of social life, such as kinship and marriage. The Genovese, to cite the same example, are a tall folk (“muy cresçidos”) and prefer women of a certain stature (“toman á las mugeres por medida”; “they choose their woman according to their size”). The taller a woman, the smaller her dowry (“con menos dote la reciben”; “they accept her with a smaller dowry”). Remarriage of widows is frowned upon: “non toman segundo marido, e si le toman a gran peoría suya” (“they do not marry a second time, and if they do, it is very detrimental to their good name”; 223). Female chastity is highly valued and rigorously upheld: “ellas se precian tanto de su bondat, que apenas se falla muger fallada en adulterio, e donde se fallase, en ningun caso pasaría sin pena de muerte” (“the Genoese women set such store by their virtue that rarely, if ever, is a woman caught in adultery; and if any ever be caught, the death penalty would be inescapable”; 223). Tafur habitually sums up the character of whole peoples on the basis of pervasive traits and behaviors. Describing the Turks who live in the subject country of Greece, he observes that they are a “noble gente en quien se falla mucha verdad” (“noble people, who set great store by telling the



truth”). They live “como fidalgos así en sus gastos como en sus traeres e comeres e juegos” (“like noblemen, in their spending habits, attire, diet, and sports”). At the same time, “son muy tahures, gente muy alegre e muy humana e de buena conversación” (“they are all inveterate gamblers, yet jovial, very personable, and good conversationalists”). In sum, “cuando de virtud se fabla, no se dize de otros que de los turcos” (“whenever virtue is the topic of conversation, no people other than the Turks are cited as exemplary”; Travels 300). For Columbus, profiling is a positive mania. In method, if not in content, his descriptions bespeak the catalogic, thumbnailing style of earlier travel writers. The first people he encounters, described in the entry for October 13, 1492 (400), are “gente farto mansa y por la gana de aver de nuestras cosas y teniendo que no se les ha de dar sin que den algo y no lo tienen, toman lo que pueden y se echan luego a nadar” (“a quite gentle people, and owing to their eagerness to obtain our things, and thinking that nothing will be given them unless they give something in return, if they have nothing they take whatever they can and immediately swim away”). Innocence correlates with exploitable vulnerability: “todo lo que tienen lo dan por cualquiera cosa que les den” (“all they have they will give away for anything at all one gives them in exchange”). Wherever he goes in the islands, he tends to emphasize similarly primitive traits: “esta gente es muy mansa y muy temerosa, desnuda, como dicho tengo, sin armas y sin ley” (“these people are very tame, and very fearful, naked, as I have said, without weapons and without law”; 420); “gente . . . muy sin mal ni de guerra, desnudos todos, hombres y mugeres, como sus madres los parió” (“a people . . . without malice or warlike spirit, all of them naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them”; 422). The attribution of innocence to the native peoples recurs frequently in Colombus, as in his account of the second voyage, where he characterizes other natives as “muy simples e sin malicia” (“very simple and guileless”; 512). Encountering, in the region of Trinidad, a canoe rowed by 24 natives, Columbus shows both color-consciousness and an eagerness to discover analogy as well as difference. These Indians are “de muy linda disposición y no negros, salvo más blancos que otros que aya visto en las Indias (“of a very attractive appearance, and not black, but rather whiter than others that I have seen in the Indies”; 529). Other Indians encountered in another place are described in similar terms: “Esta gente es muy mucha y de buen parecer, de la misma color que los otros de antes y muy tratables” (“These people are very numerous and good-looking, of the same color as those mentioned before, and very approachable”; 532). A little later, Columbus reiterates his appreciation of these people by comparing them to other natives, especially with regard to skin color (532–533): “La color



desta gente es más blanca que de otra que aya visto en las Indias” (“The color of these people is whiter than that of any other people I have seen in the Indies”). Referring to such passages, Todorov extensively critiques the Admiral’s ethnographic perspective. Columbus, according to Todorov, is guilty of indifference—indeed, blindness—to even the most obvious cultural distinctions. This ethnographic insouciance is supposedly revealed by Columbus’s preoccupation with the forms and variations of proper names; his mania for renaming places with a general disregard for existing native toponyms (Cuba would be an exception to this); his sense that names must have a preordained fitness and correspondence to the things they refer to (Todorov, The Conquest 25–28). Although himself multilingual, the Admiral shows no interest in foreign languages: “linguistic diversity does not exist, since language is natural” (29). An unintelligible language is not a language at all, as we see (argues Todorov, The Conquest 30) in the Admiral’s response to communication problems with the islanders encountered on the first voyage. He intends to bring some of these people back to Spain, “para que deprendan fablar” (“so that they may learn to speak”; Journals 399). Columbus’s perception of the Indians, according to Todorov’s reading, is “summary,” his attitude toward them “a mixture of authoritarianism and condescenscion” (The Conquest 33). In their nakedness, lacking real language, customs, religion, or economy, the islanders, for Columbus, are, in Todorov’s view, “deprived of all cultural property” (35). For Todorov, Columbus’s insensitivity toward the natives prefigures the schizoid colonial mentalities of subsequent centuries, which construed native character in terms of both diabolical savagery and edenic innocence. On the one hand, argues Todorov, Columbus, like his successors, sees the native as his equal, thus laying the foundation for assimiliationism: “the projection of his own values on the others” (we will return to this topic in the chapter on indigeneity). On the other hand, differences are perceived and exaggerated, resulting in an invidious distinction of superiority/inferiority, with the native assigned to the lower category (42). Even when slavery is not the issue, Columbus nonetheless sees the Indians as “living objects,” “on the same level as cattle” (48). The doublethink is palpable: the Indian is both noble Savage and “a dirty dog,” a “potential slave” (49). Could Columbus have been as deludedly ethnocentric as Todorov suggests? On the one hand, of course we must concede that the Admiral regards the natives with a distinctly racializing gaze; is only too ready to cast them in the role of inferior beings and convert them into human capital; is ruthless, materialist, exploitative, duplicitous, ethnically



insensitive. From the viewpoint of present-day commentary, however, overemphasis on his undoubtedly destructive relations with the Indians runs the risk of falling into the trap pointed out by Byrd in our introduction. Advocacy of the native by non-natives, as Byrd argues, enables whole other scenarios, however well-intentioned, of exploitation and racialization. She refers to the realm of cultural politics. In the scholarly domain, retroactively siding with the Caribbean peoples of five centuries ago may lead to a distracting identification with pronative advocates of the past, notably Las Casas. Conceding, then, that conquerors, including Columbus, are destructive and often racist, it might be instructive nonetheless to explore their outlook and their motivation. Readings of Columbus other than those proposed by Todorov are possible. The Admiral was a man of his era. His geographical and ethnographic knowledge are not negligible with respect to his milieu and generation. Appraising the geographical sophistication of the educated classes of Spain and the Mediterranean world at the end of the fifteenth century, William D. Phillips points out the wide array of works—including Marco Polo’s somewhat realistic Description, the plausibly fanciful Mandeville versions, the detailed output of Mallorcan cartography, and the almost journalistic Embassy—that would have been known, directly or indirectly, thoroughly or partially, to literate persons of that era (“The Spanish Kingdoms” 429–430). These elements point to a climate of geographical erudition with which even an autodidact like Columbus would have been presumably at least somewhat familiar. Stylistically, his descriptive style and his racial profiling strongly resemble those of other travel writers cited here. His approach to racial profiling very possibly bespeaks, at least to some degree, an attempted adherence to a literary tradition, rather than the particular racism attributed to him by Todorov. To condemn Columbus in this regard is to condemn the tradition, which is, in turn, to state the obvious: that medieval geography, as often exemplified by travel authors, was parochial and ethnocentric. To do so, at the same time, overlooks the ways in which medieval travel literature and geography occasionally speak from an ecumenical or relativistic perspective. In assessing Columbus’s possibly cosmopolitan perspective on the peoples and places visited during his voyages, the most obvious approach is to take him at his word. Thinking to arrive in the exotic but civilized Far East, the land of the Great Khan, as he several times declares, Columbus instead encounters various peoples who walk about as naked as the day they were born; who have no knowledge of property or commerce; who have no understanding of governance or polity in the sense that Columbus and his fellow Europeans would have understood such



things; whose languages are utterly unknown to Columbus or any of his men. Expecting to make eventual contact with a centralized but polyglot empire, Columbus claims to perceive seemingly primitive islanders and villagers as the marginal inhabitants of far-f lung, outlying districts of the anticipated, highly civilized Khanate. The Admiral’s representation of history’s most famous First Encounter, and the reading of his work that it has inspired, has been summarized by Serge Gruzinksi (La Guerre 25). He speaks of the Admiral’s alleged “perplexity” at what confronts him in the islands, of the supposedly tentative irresolution of his observations. Convinced of having reached the coasts of Asia, of being close to the storied cities of China and Japan, Columbus is prepared to meet with the followers of idolatrous but organized religions, even with sectarian adversaries such as Jews or Muslims. The reality that confronts him is quite different. His subsequent attempts to account for what he actually sees, people without idols in any recognized sense, and, in addition, with no visible signs of political or cultural complexity, constrain him to improvise more nuanced interpretations. Nicolás Wey Gómez proposes another reading of the Admiral’s seemingly provisional responses to native peoples (64–69). Columbus, argues Wey Gómez, may well have subscribed to revisionist views regarding the ancient theory of climates and its model of the habitable zones into which the Earth was supposedly divided. Basing his appraisal of Columbus’s geography on close readings of such inf luential medieval works as the De naturae loci of Albertus Magnus, Wey Gómez argues that the Admiral might well have selected a southern route precisely because he expected to find an unpredictable variety of peoples in his way, some of whom were likely to be lacking in sovereignty—that is, to be truly savage and primitive—and thus to be legally susceptible to subjugation and exploitation. Columbus would have favored one of the variant models of human geography, according to which the white-skinned peoples of northern climes were “fierce but unwise,” and the dark-skinned folk of the hot regions were “wise but tame.” These extremes rendered the peoples of the hot and cold zones incapable of self-governance. By contrast, those of the temperate regions—of medium complexion, moderate in their customs, keen in their sensibilities, productive in their intellects—were eminently suited “to wield political authority” (70). Seen in the light of this expanded range of resources, Columbus must be seen as deeply beholden to both geographical authors and travel writers. The patchwork ethnography bequeathed to him by the latter group—especially Marco Polo, whom we know he read, but also, at least indirectly, Mandeville, the Embassy, and perhaps other works—might well have encouraged a sense of human geography as an opportunistic pastiche



of possible ideas and methods adaptable to multiple real-world scenarios and to redacting reports about them. Columbus is a businessman, a social climber, a mariner, an explorer, a conqueror, and—yes—a would-be slave trader. But he is also a travel writer. His entrepreneur’s resourcefulness persuades him to consult his varied literary sources in search of promising descriptive techniques. He racially profiles, then, because in his capacity as a travel narrator he feels compelled to do what other travel writers do when talking about exotic peoples and alien encounters. His entry devoted to that fateful October 12 follows the familiar pattern: details concerning the newly encountered people’s ways of life, attitudes toward outsiders, habits of grooming and dress, technology. We note as well the usual implicit comparison with the allochthon’s culture. The islanders go around “todos desnudos como su madre los parió, y también las mugeres” (“all of them naked as their mothers bore them, including the women”). They are a surprisingly youthful race, none of them much over the age of 30. Physically, they are all “bien hechos, de muy fermosos cuerpos y muy buenas caras” (“very well built, with very handsome bodies and attractive faces”). As to skin color, another invariable concern of the other travel authors, none of them is “prieto” (“dusky-skinned”), but rather the same color as the Canarians, that is, neither white nor black ( Journals 398–399). His profile, as if conforming to a medieval travel writer’s handbook, includes an assessment of their religious status, coupled with an evaluation of what we would call their cultural receptivity: “No le conozco secta ninguna y creo que muy presto se tornarían cristianos, porque ellos son de muy buen entender” (“I see in them no religion of any kind, and I believe they would readily convert to Christianity, because they are quite intelligent”; 405). Everywhere he goes in the islands, he similarly generalizes regarding the same basic set of physical and cultural criteria (e.g., the entries for October 17 [407] and October 22 [411]). Naturally, his descriptive habits also have to do with agendas other than the literary. Nonetheless, much of his narrative style, especially in its more habitual and formulaic aspects, must result, and perhaps do to a considerable degree, from a perceived sense of adhering to a stylistic standard. Cabeza de Vaca, the final author to be discussed in our survey of medieval travel writers as practitioners of racial profiling, is in many ways an exception to the travel writing pattern. At first glance, he seems to replicate the profiling noted so far. Describing, for example, a number of peoples encountered during a certain segment of his journeys (100), he notes that “todos son f lecheros” (“all of them are archers”), that all are naked, and so “crecidos de cuerpo” (“so tall in stature”) that “desde lejos



parecen gigantes” (“from a distance they appear to be giants”). In short, they are “gente a maravilla bien dispuesta, muy enjutos y de muy grandes fuerzas y ligereza” (“marvelously well-proportioned, very lean, and possessed of great strength and agility”). Earlier writers similarly generalize in their summary accounts of peoples, often correlating typical behaviors and ways of life (e.g., nomadism, matriarchy, the use of certain implements or weapons) with comprehensive characterological labels (e.g., honesty, duplicity, cleverness, generosity, courage, etc.). Even when, as in the Embassy and Tafur, we may discover a certain degree of objectivity, a certain nuancing of the racial question, the totalizing compulsion still seems to predominate or at least recur from time to time. With Cabeza de Vaca, the tone and viewpoint seem more spontaneously descriptive. The level of observation is tribal, communal, or individual, rather than racial. Often, the coherence of a seeming profile is undercut by anomalous or complicating details. A good example is an encounter with local tribesmen described as “tan sin razón y tan crudos, a manera de brutos” (“so bereft of reason and so savage, like brute animals”). These same people, despite their apparent primitivism, take pity on the shipwrecked narrator and his companions: “con el gran dolor y lástima que hubieron de vernos en tanta fortuna, comenzaron todos a llorar recio” (“owing to the great sorrow and pity they felt for us, seeing us in such a plight, they began to weep convulsively”; 121). In another passage (126–127), a certain tribe is characterized in the most sympathetic terms: “Es la gente del mundo que más aman a sus hijos y mejor tratamiento les hacen” (“Of all the people in the world, they are the ones who most dearly love their children and treat them the best”). Where other travel writers might tend to conclude the profile at this point, and move on, Cabeza de Vaca embellishes, adding that “cuando acaece que a alguno se le muere el hijo, llóranle los padres y los parientes, y todo el pueblo, y el llanto dura un año cumplido” (“when someone’s child happens to die, the parents, relatives, and the whole village weep over the child’s death, and this weeping lasts an entire year”). Further details show how the family and villagers weep at dawn, midday, and evening every day; how, when the mourning concludes at the end of the year, everyone washes their bodies and cleans the ritual soot from their faces. All deaths are mourned in the same fashion, notes Cabeza de Vaca, except for old people, “de quien no hacen caso, porque dicen que ya han pasado su tiempo y de ellos ningún provecho hay; antes ocupan la tierra y quitan el mantenimiento a los niños” (“to whom no attention is paid, for they say that their time is done and they are of no further use; rather, they merely take up space and divert people’s attention from taking care of the children”; 127).



The account continues, supplying further details on the family life, daily routine, social roles, and material apparatus of the people in question. The interlude is matched in several other places in the book, each committed to a conscientious representation of idiosyncratic tribal customs. Cabeza de Vaca’s method, to conclude our discussion of him, is that of a portraitist rather than a profiler. Especially when compared to the earliest works in our list, such as the Alexander and the Zifar, his detailed characterization of the various groups he and his companions encounter, and his attitude with respect to native communities, marks a significant stylistic and philosophical discontinuity. Regarding the racial themes explored in this essay, his most striking aspect is his diversion of the profiling focus away from broadly racial implications and toward a more specific consideration of local communities. Sensationalism As mentioned earlier, medieval travel writers often employ an anecdotal, as opposed to an epithetic, style of ethnographic reportage. This generally involves brief episodes, sketched-out scenes, snippets of dialogue, aimed at illustrating the customs and collective character of a given people. Often this anecdotal focus correlates with the presentation of particularly grotesque, frightful, or troubling elements, from the viewpoint of the author’s home culture. Even when singularly odd or forbidding personalities are highlighted, often without commentary, the personage depicted seems to embody some typical quality of the race in question. Often entailing implicit rather than overt profiling—although the oldfashioned epithets are also sometimes part of the mix—this manner of intimating the general characteristics of a given people could be called the voyeuristic, or even the yellow-journalistic, aspect of travel literature. The technique favors the depiction of shocking phenomena for the sake of their shock value. At the same time, any given author, regarding the peep-show component of his account, might present doctrinaire disclaimers and pious excuses for lingering over this or that freakish detail. Nonetheless, it often seems that the primary intention is to engage in crowd-pleasing or crowd-scandalizing excess. This dramatization of startling or outrageous customs or revolting physical traits among alien races, compatible with and often supportive of racial profiling, often contrastively highlights—positively or negatively—features or tendencies of the home culture of the author and his readers. Concerning monstrous practices, for example, the Marvels refers to certain peoples on the western coast of India who practice “una malvada costumbre: que comen más de grado carne de hombre que de ninguna



otra carne” (“a wicked custom: that they eat human f lesh more readily than any other meat”; 270). In another place, an island not far from the empire of Prester John, live people of enormous size, some attaining a height of 35 or 40 feet. Aside from their nudity, their clothing made from animal skins, and their lack of houses, their most shocking tendency is cannibalism: “comen de mejor grado carne de hombres que otra cosa alguna” (“they more readily eat man f lesh than anything else”). The narrator concludes this brief description by noting that no outsider dares land on that island for fear of these wicked and monstrous people (Marvels 332). Referring in another chapter to the great slave market of Cairo, the Marvels observes how non-Muslim men and women are bought and sold, “assí como nosotros traemos las bestias al mercado por estas partes” (“just as we bring animals to the market in our part of the world”; 182–183). The narrator does not explain whether he approves of or deplores the practice described; there is only the possible hint of disapprobation in the contrastive statement regarding the treatment of these human chattels, sold in the market just as Christians would sell animals in the marketplace. In a similar vein, Tafur, ever on the alert for signs of the grotesque or the barbaric among alien folk, often depicts bizarre practices without comment, as in the case of a Muslim sect in Egypt whose members completely shave their heads, including beards, eyebrows, and eyelashes, while making a great show of living “como locos” (“like crazy people”), all in service to God, showing thereby their contempt for “el mundo e su pompa” (“the world and its vain glory”; Travels 258). Relating the Italian traveler Nicolo de’ Conti’s account of certain barbarous customs in an unspecified Indian land, Tafur is similarly noncommittal, letting his witness do the talking: “dize que vido comer carne de ombres e que esta es la cosa más estraña que él vido” (“he related how he saw human f lesh being eaten, and said how this was the most outlandish thing he saw”; 271). We occasionally see in Columbus a readiness to believe hearsay regarding monstrous customs, or even outright physical monstrosity, among strange races. This tendency, presumably ref lecting the Plinian heritage, is seen in the Admiral’s somewhat gullible report of native accounts of men “de un ojo y otros con hocicos de perros que comían los hombres y que en tomando uno lo degollavan y le bevían la sangre y le cortavan su natura” (“with one eye and others with the snouts like those of dogs, who ate people and who, on capturing a man, slaughtered him and drank his blood and cut off his private parts”; 420). The Admiral also indulges in the imputation of barbarity. In Cariay, “grandes fechiceros y muy medrosos” (“great and very fearsome sorcerers”), determined to see



the Europeans gone, send to Columbus “dos muchachas muy ataviadas” (“two girls, very gaudily dressed”). The elder of the two is barely eleven, the younger only seven and “ambas con tanta desenvoltura que no serían más unas putas” (“and both so brazen that whores could not be more so”). These two bring with them “polvos de hechizos escondidos” (“spellcasting powders, hidden on their persons”; 554). Medieval travel literature’s racialized portraiture of alien peoples frequently focuses on gender issues and alien sexual practices. In Santaella, for example, we encounter a description of the idolaters of a city called Campion, where they “cásanse con las parientas y madrastras y biven como bestias” (“marry their female relatives and step-mothers and live like beasts”; Santaella 54). Concerning the people of Chamul, he observes, this time without comment, how native women enthusiastically welcome the sexual attentions of any foreigner. Even husbands, the narrator reports, order their wives to honor male guests, even to the extent of having sexual intercourse with them (52–53). Regarding the marital preferences of the Tibetans, Santaella reports how men refuse to marry virgins, or any women who have not had sexual relations with men, especially with foreigners. In the same country, girls of marriageable age are stationed along the roads encouraging strangers to sleep with them. The girl who has had sexual intercourse with the greatest number of foreigners “halla más presto casamiento y es más preciada y amada de su marido” (“is most readily married and is more valued and loved by her husband”; 83). A prominent gender-related theme is the frequently recurring, age-old motif of the Amazons and all they represent by way of outlandish inversions of European norms. The Marvels, for example, tells how Amazonia, situated near Chaldea, is a country “de mugeres solas, porque los hombres no podrían vivir en aquella tierra” (“of women only, because men are not allowed to live in that land”). The reason for this is “porque ellas no quieren tener señoría sobre ellas” (“because they do not wish to be subject to any man’s authority”; 252). However, whenever these women require male company, they go to nearby lands, where they have their male friends; after remaining with them for eight or ten days, they return home (252–253). This unisex society is maintained by a gynocentric kinship system: “Y si ellas paren fijo toman mucho enojo, y como sabe comer y andar, embíanlo a su padre o lo matan” (“And if they give birth to a manchild, they are most vexed, and as soon as the boy can eat and walk, they send him to his father, or else kill him”; 253). In contrast to this elaborate account, the Embassy’s brief and understated report of a people it calls “Amazons” tells how, eleven days’ journey from Samarkand, in the direction of Cathay, lives a population of



women who never consort with men except at a certain season of the year. Traveling at that time to a land where willing men are to be found, they engage in sexual relations, then return home, after which, “si paren fijas, tiénenlas consigo; e si paren fijos, envíanlos a los lugares onde son sus padres” (“if they give birth to daughters, they keep them with them; if they bear sons, they send them to where their fathers come from”; 317). The Embassy’s narrator feels obliged, based on matriarchal hints and other details provided by his informants, to apply a classical name to this female tribe. At the same time, the description attenuates the harshness of formulaic classical and early-medieval versions. Avoiders rather than slayers of males, the Embassy’s Amazons are subjects of Tamerlane and “cristianas a la fe griega” (“Christian women of the Greek faith”; 318). Neither Santaella nor Tafur makes reference to the Amazons, although the former provides an account of a certain people inhabiting two islands, one called Masculina, the other Femenina. The men and women of these islands only consort with one another for three months out of the year. Male children resulting from these brief liaisons are brought up by their mothers until the age of seven, at which point they are sent to join their fathers (Santaella 117). Concerning a similar gender-based division among certain Indian peoples (possibly the matrilineal peoples of the Malabar coast), the Marvels observes the absence among them of married women: “todas ellas son comunes y no reúsan hombre alguno” (“all of them are shared by all men and no man is refused by them”). In short, no woman of that country may say: “‘Este es mi marido’” (“This is my husband”; Marvels 270). Although Columbus does not mention Amazons by name, his account of the first voyage relates how he and his men hear of the island of Matitinó, “poblada toda de mugeres sin hombres” (“entirely inhabited by women, with no men”; 489–490). The mating habits of these females resemble those of the legendary warrior women: “cierto tiempo del año venían los hombres a ellas . . . y, si parían niño, enviábanlo a la isla de los hombres y, si niña, dexávanla consigo” (“at a certain time of the year men came to them . . . and, if they gave birth to a son, they sent it to the men’s island, and if to a girl, they kept it with them”; 490). Early-modern fiction’s most famous reference to a race of man-hating women occurs in the Esplandián. On an island called “California,” situated “a la diestra mano de las Indias . . . mucho llegada a la parte del Paraíso terrenal” (“on the right hand of the Indies . . . very close to where the Earthly Paradise is located”), there resided, reports the narrator, a race of “mugeres negras” (“black women”) ruled by Queen Calafia. These women lived “sin que algún varón entre ellas oviesse, que casi como las amazonas era su estilo de vivir” (“with no men whatsoever living among



them, for their way of life was very similar to that of the Amazons”). Graced with “valientes cuerpos y esforçados y ardientes coraçones, y de grandes fuerças” (“robust bodies, intrepid and passionate hearts, and great strength”), these women used weapons and accoutrements of gold, for their island possessed no other metal (Montalvo, Esplandián 727). Sometimes mating with male prisoners from their many raids, at other times with the men of enemy nations with whom they come to terms, these warrior women perpetuate their kind, keeping and raising female children as their own, while killing male infants. The motive for these practices, the narrator informs us, was to reduce the population of males as much as possible, allowing them to be more easily ruled, while keeping just enough of them around to prevent the women’s race from dying out (728). Avalle-Arce suggests (53–54) that Montalvo’s depiction of this Amazonian race would seem to have as immediate inf luence Guido delle Colonne’s widely read Historia destructionis Troaie (“History of the Trojan War”), in which the Amazons, lead by their warrior queen Penthesilea, fight alongside the Trojans against the Greeks. Unlike Guido’s version, which more or less resembles ancient versions, Montalvo’s Amazon-like queen, fighting in the siege of Constantinople, sides not with the defenders but with the attackers. Rather than die in battle, like her ancient counterpart, she survives the war, going over to the defenders’ side, converting to Christianity, and eventually marrying one of the Christian heroes. Finally, the traditional Amazons are a white race, while Montalvo’s warrior women are black (Avalle-Arce 54, n 33). We know that some Spanish explorers and conquerors, including Cortés, expected to find, in the course of their expeditions, Amazonian races of the type described by Montalvo. The notion of such peoples, one of the principal elements retained from classical and folkloric geography, seems to nurture a patriarchal fantasy of seeking out matriarchal societies whose subjugation would affirm the conqueror’s way of life (Vogeley 173; Goodman 70–71; 147). Montalvo, probably writing the Esplandián after the first Spanish and Portuguese discoveries, and possibly looking ahead to future real-world discoveries of unknown lands, uses “Amazon” generically, extrapolating based on the ancient ethnographic precedent (Leonard 36–40). In this he shows some sense of a typology of societies, as when modern ethnographers contrast patrilineal and matrilineal systems. The attribution of atrocities, such as the feeding of male prisoners and infants to the monstrous griffins (Esplandián 728), enhances what amounts to a dystopic speculation, a worst-case scenario from the viewpoint of early-modern Spanish patriliny and male-centered chivalric ideology.



Tafur, one of the few medieval travel writers who makes no reference to the Amazons, is nonetheless alert to the possible existence of outlandish customs and practices analogous to the legendary warrior women’s sensational deviations. An example is the episode in which three Egyptians are executed for not intervening in a robbery. Tafur protests this punishment of innocent bystanders as a “bestial sentençia” (“cruel and unusual sentence”), to which his interpreter replies that, because the local population dwindles by the day, if punishment is not meted out “también en los culpados como en los circunstantes” (“both on the guilty and on the by-standers”), life would become impossible; for it behooves the magistrates to “usar de la justicia, mas de sobrada, cruel e rigurosa justicia” (“maintain not only justice but extreme, cruel, and rigorous justice”; 279). In his account of a sojourn in Venice, Tafur describes another startling custom, the ancient Venetian ritual of propitiating the sea as if it were a pagan deity. Before crowds of onlookers and a harbor filled with ships, relates Tafur, the Prelate pronounces a blessing while sprinkling holy water. The Doge, meanwhile, removes a ring from his finger and casts it into the sea. Tafur allows the paganism of this ritual to be confirmed by the locals themselves. Pointing out the antiquity of this ceremony, the informants explain that this custom allows them to marry the land to the sea, thus placating the latter’s fury, “que ellos sobre la mar están fundados e en la mar traen cuanto tienen” (“for they are a seafaring people, and all they have they owe to the sea”; 323). In Tafur, cosmopolitan tolerance often seems to countenance even extreme examples of departures from European Christian norms. At other times, despite an absence of overt commentary, it is difficult to see him as the unruff led observer or that he does not intend his readers to share his outrage. A striking example is his noncommittal account of certain Venetian practices involving infanticide. In the waters of that city, he observes, fishermen often pull dead babies from their nets. He learns that this phenomenon is the indirect result of the Venetian merchants’ prolonged absences from home. During these long periods of separation from their husbands, Venetian wives, succumbing to carnal desires, often become pregnant. Seeking to save their reputations, they cast the newborns at the moment of birth out of the windows and into the sea (Travels 332). Emitting no opinion, but clearly considering this a practice worthy of particular attention, Tafar reports the city’s response, noting that the same community that gives rise to the practice is the very one that provides a remedy. “Veyendo pecado tan inorme” (“seeing the commission of a sin so atrocious”), he reports, the Venetians took counsel among themselves



and founded a great hospice, richly appointed and solidly constructed, at the same time staffing this institution with a permanent staff of one hundred wet nurses. All the infants born to women who feared falling into disrepute could then be suckled and brought up (332). Another remarkable example of Tafur’s noncommittal mode is his reference to de’ Conti’s account of the Indian practice of sati (or suttee, the English term conventionally applied to this practice). We are told (272–273) that among a certain “generación de gentiles” (“a heathen race”), when a man dies “la muger se a de quemar con él” (“the wife is expected to be burned along with him”). A surviving widower does not do the same, for “dizen que la muger fue fecha por servicio del ome, e non el ome para el de la muger” (“they say that the woman was made to serve the man, and not the man the woman”). Upon her husband’s death, and after his body has been placed on the funeral pyre, his widow dresses in her finest garments, “diziendo que aquella es otra boda mejor que la primera, que va acompañar a su marido para siempre, e va al lugar do su marido está” (“saying that this union is another wedding, better than the first, and that she is about to accompany her husband for eternity, and is going where her husband awaits her”). Amid merry-making and singing that include the widow and her relatives, she asks those in attendance if they wish her to “embiar dezir algo a los del otro siglo, porque ella entiende partir para allá en compañía de su marido” (“convey a message to those in the other world for she intends to depart for that realm in the company of her husband”). Removing her festive raiment, she then dresses in mourning, “como mortaja, e diziendo ciertas endechas e cantares tristes, despídese de todos e va e acuéstase cabo su marido e pone su cabeça sobre el braço derecho de él” (“as if in a funeral shroud, and, all the while chanting certain dirges and sad songs, she takes her leave of all those present, and gets up onto the pyre and lies down alongside her husband, and puts her head down on his right arm”). Once in this position, and after making additional remarks, she concludes by declaring that “la muger no deve más bevir de cuanto es onrada e defendida por aquel braço” (“ a wife may live only so long as she be honored and defended by that arm”). She orders the fire to be set and joyfully and voluntarily accepts her death (Travels 273). This startling example of medieval ethnographic reportage more or less agrees with the ethnographic literature on the Indian custom of widow-burning (Weinberger-Thomas 19–21; Hawley, Introduction 11–12). Referring to the same custom, Santaella considers that the selfimmolation of widows exemplifies that people’s sense of loyalty and devotion, for when a husband dies and his body is burnt on the pyre,



according to custom, wives who willingly, even eagerly, throw themselves on to the fire in order to be burnt with their dead spouse are praised by all as the best of women (110). The Marvels more succinctly describes the same practice, with some differences as to detail, such as a widow’s being allowed to live for the sake of raising her husband’s children. However, in what may be seen as an allegorical exemplum held up to European women, we are told that any childless widow who showed herself unwilling to die along with her husband, declaring that she would rather live instead, would thereafter be shunned by all as a false and evil female, never again to be respected or trusted by any man (266). We may hazard, on the one hand, that these depictions of sati could be intended as an extreme depiction of an idealized patriarchal custom, to be pondered and appreciated by a society that fancied itself chivalric, but which had already begun to witness the deterioration of a system of masculine autonomies and prerogatives associated for centuries with the feudal, patrilineal, warrior-centered society of the early Reconquest. On the other hand, there is perhaps a slyly pandering feminism at work in the writers’ representation of what surely must have struck many urbane European readers, particularly women, as an example of unmitigated barbarism. In any event, deciphering authorial intentions in these passages is matter for speculation. In all three authors, especially Tafur, we may nonetheless tentatively detect a hint of épater-le-bourgeois, a naughty manipulation of the scandalizing shock value of outlandish customs. Perhaps there is even an irreconcilably schizoid coincidence of both attitudes—feminism and patriarchalism—in these separate representations of the same alien custom. Perhaps then these passages express both nostalgia for a lost world defined by absolute patriarchal autonomy and unconditional wifely devotion and acceptance, reluctant or unfeigned, of a newer social universe in which getting along with women has become a pragmatic social necessity. Perhaps the most spectacular example of sensationalism in our travel works concerns the references of Cortés and Díaz del Castillo to the ritual human sacrifice practiced by the Indians. In his first letter, he condemns the custom as a “cosa horrible y abominable y dina de ser punida” (“a horrible and abominable thing and worthy of being punished”). The centrality of the practice to their religion exacerbates its hatefulness, he affirms, noting that whenever the Indians wish to ask some favor of their gods, “toman muchas niñas y niños y aun hombres y mujeres de mayor edad, y en presencia de aquellos ídolos los abren vivos por los pechos y les sacan el corazón y las entrañas (“they take boys and girls, and even older men and women, and in the presence of those idols they open the victims’



chests while they are still alive, taking out their hearts and innards”). The extracted organs are then burned “delante de los idolos ofresciéndoles en sacrificio aquel humo” (“before those idols, presenting them the smoke as an offering”). This idolatrous slaughter is, he adds, the “más cruda y más espantosa cosa de ver” (“the most abhorrent and frightful thing”) ever beheld by man (Letters 66). The passage just cited focuses on ritual atrocities committed against the natives themselves. In numerous other places in his narrative, Cortés’s outrage is especially intense as he describes the Indians’ writing of his men into their devilish scenarios. In his third letter, for example, he refers to a temple in the place called Tesuico, where the Spaniards come upon the evidence of recent sacrifices: the remains of five horses, their very hooves and horseshoes boiled in cauldrons, as if for a feast; the clothing and accoutrements of captured Spaniards, offered up in victorious celebration to their idols; the blood of the same captives, “derramada y sacrificada por todas aquellas torres y mesquitas” (“spilled and sacrificed in every tower and mosque”). Throughout his narrative, we note in passing, native temples are referred to as “mosques,” a significant hint of the Spanish Christian’s lingering view of the Muslim as the personification of infidel barbarity. Regardless of specific vocabularies, the Conqueror’s generically ethnophobic view extends, a little later in the same passage, to an epithetic reference to the Indian inhabitants of Tesuico as “los traidores de aquel pueblo” (“the treacherous people of that town”), who ambush the Spaniards, then carry off their living captives “a sacrificar y sacarles los corazones delante de sus ídolos” (“to be sacrificed and to have their hearts torn out before those same idols”; 206). After another encounter, later in the same letter, Cortés highlights race-specific details, describing how the Spaniards, observing from a distance the ritual slaughter of their comrades in a native market-place, recognized the victims as Christians “en los cuerpos desnudos y blancos que vieron sacrificar” (“by the naked, white bodies that they watched being sacrificed”; 251). Díaz del Castillo, like his former commander, likewise frequently describes the barbarity of the Aztecs’ custom of human sacrifice. His perspective, more often than not, is that of the common soldier. The chief significance of the practice, for him and his comrades, is that of all the hazards of that interracial war, the one most feared by the Spanish troops was that of being sacrificed. His account is often graphic. “Cada día veía llevar a nuestros compañeros a sacrificar” (“Every day I watched as comrades of ours were carried off to be sacrificed”), he recalls. In the same passage, he adds gruesome details, explaining the reason for the constant terror he and his mates endured: “y había visto . . . que les



aserraban por los pechos y sacarles los corazones bullendo, y cortarles pies y brazos y se los comieron” (“and I had seen . . . how they sawed open their chests, snatching out their still-beating hearts, and cutting off their feet and arms and devouring them”; True History, B 118). A little later, he clarifies his manner of describing the fate of unlucky comrades in battle in terms of being “carried off ” rather than “killed.” The Indian warriors fighting against the Spaniards, he explains, “aunque pudieran matar luego a los que llevaban vivos de nuestros soldados, no los mataban luego” (“although they could have killed outright those of our soldiers they carried away alive, they refrained from killing them immediately”). Instead, he clarifies, they inf licted crippling wounds that prevented the captured Spaniards from defending themselves, then carried them off still alive to be sacrificed to their idols (B 120). Toward the end of his long narrative, in a chapter devoted to the benefits conferred on conquered regions and peoples, including Christianity and all the advantages of civilization, Díaz del Castillo emphasizes the suffering and sacrifice of the common Spanish soldier in furtherance of this holy project. He underscores the magnitude of this contribution by reminding his readers of the supreme sacrifice endured by so many of his comrades. Where, he asks, may their graves be found now? “Digo que son los vientres de los indios” (“I tell you that they are the bellies of the Indians”), he declares, “que los comieron las piernas y muslos, brazos y molledos, pies y manos” (“for they devoured their legs and thighs, their arms and the fatty parts of their limbs, as well as their feet and hands”). The parts they did not want, meanwhile, were thrown to “tigres y sierpes y halcones . . . y aquellos fueron sus sepulcros y allí están sus blasones” (“tigers, and serpents, and falcons . . . and those were their graves, and there may be found their escutcheons”; B 464–465). Even amid horrific episodes, confronted by continuous hardship and unthinkable barbarity, neither Cortés nor Díaz del Castillo ever lose sight of the overriding priorities of their religion, their identities as Spaniards, and their special status as representatives of a higher civilization in many ways defined by the racial confrontations in question. Despite the fact that Cortés routinely imposes punishments on native transgressors (lopping off of limbs, burning alive, etc.) that would be considered cruel and unusual by modern standards—and by those of many of his contemporary critics, not all of them clerics like Las Casas—he sees his cause and his methods as righteous. He never forgets—at least not officially—that his specific mission, synergetically and pretextually supportive of personal ambition, serves the ecumenical program he claims to personify.



Analogy and Accommodation To one degree or another, the universalist Christian European sensibility observed in Cortés is shared by all our travel writers. Everything, even the most outlandish or atrocious phenomena, even the most alien of races, can be in some way accommodated by the greater plan, if only as items to be listed and accounted for in the pluralistic catalogue. This programmatic awareness, representing what might be called the highest level of profiling, is especially evident when travel writers contemplate the multiethnic landscape from what could be called a managerial perspective. Ethnic diversity, from this viewpoint, is seen as both a disorder to be superintended and a resource to be husbanded. We see this notion at work in the racialized taxonomy of the Alexander’s delineation of the Persian king’s polyglot host. The armies of Darius consist of racially defined units: “Doze pueblos que eran de sendas regïones, / de diversos vestidos, de diversos sermones, / que serién a lo menos bien doze legïones, / éstos dio que guardassen a essas religiones” (“Twelve peoples there were, each from its respective region / of diverse dress, and diverse languages, / for there were upwards of twelve legions, / those he appointed to keep watch over those religions”; stanza 852). The magnitude and ethnic multiplicity of the Persian host are emphasized: “!Tan grant era la cosa, los pueblos tan largueros, / que a la parte que ivan tenién quinze mijeros!: / !las muebdas de los pueblos cobrién los oteros!; / !ensordién las orejas al son de los tromperos!” (“So great a thing it was, the peoples so numerous, / that wherever they went they covered fifteen miles of ground!: / the movements of those peoples covered the hills!; one’s ears were deafened by the sounds of the trumpeters!”; stanza 873). Ethnic diversity is framed by the poet’s perception of a cosmographic order. This is seen in the account of Alexander’s undersea adventure: “Non vive en el mundo ninguna crïatura / que non cría el mar semejante figura. / Traen enemizades entre sí por natura: / los fuertes a los f lacos danles malaventura” (“There lives no creature in the world / of which the sea does not nurture some allegorical figure. / They maintain enmity among themselves, by their very nature: / the strong incessantly work mischief against the weak”; 2312). The natural biological order, of which the sundry races of man form a significant element, is subject to the hierarchical domination that results from the rule of force. Alexander, and the reader along with him, comes to understand this as he beholds the denizens of the deep: “que los mayores comién a los menores; / los chicos a los grandes tenienlos por señores; / maltrayén los más fuertes a todos los menores” (“that the greater ones devour the smaller; / the small



ones regard the greater as their lords; / the strongest always mistreat all the lesser fish”; 2316bcd). In stanzas 2319–2320 the poet, showing himself a practitioner of what could be called medieval sociobiology, expresses a deep pessimism regarding human nature. All men, he tells us, tend to be insatiably greedy, self-seekingly competitive, and incorrigibly violent: “Qui más puede más faze, non de bien mas de mal; / qui más ha más quier’, muere por ganar ál; / non verié de su grado ninguno so egual” (“Whoever can do more, does more, but for evil, not for good; / he who has the most wants still more, is dying to obtain something in addition; / and would never willingly look upon another as his equal”; 2319abc). No natural principle of sociability oversees or alleviates the chaos of this combative environment; all species of animal—and, by allegorical extrapolation, all the races of man—are to be seen as warring collectives within an eternally bellicose environment: “Las aues e las bestias, los omnes, los pescados, / todos son entre sí a bandos derramados” (“The birds and the beasts, men and fish alike, / are all, among themselves, dispersed into separate factions”; 2320ab). Compounding this biological tendency toward divisive contention is a trait peculiar to rational beings, whether man or fallen angel: “¡de viçios de sobervia son todos entecados!: / ¡los f lacos de los fuertes andan desaf ïados!” (“with the sin of pride they are all infected! / the weak are treated with contempt by the strong”; 2320cd). While the poet declares the characterological equality of all races—all men are equally violent, prideful, rivalrous, and tyrannical—he allows for another criterion of inequality. In a world ruled by force, where the races of man are contentiously divided, the notion of might makes right will exert a preemptive inf luence. This circumstantial inequality explains, among the many injustices that man must cope with in a postlapsarian world, the conquest and domination of one race by another. The author of the Alexander does not necessarily approve of this reality; rather, he observes that it is the case. The concept of racial inequality as a pervasive effect of the randomly unequal distribution of the means of physical coercion determines, among other correlatives, the poet’s skeptical representation of the arbitrary power of the conqueror. The Alexander reveals the churchman’s understandable sympathy for the ecclesiastical side of the Church-Kingdom controversy. This orientation is central to the author’s motivation in selecting for adaptation a work from pagan antiquity devoted to the life and exploits of the ancient world’s most famous conqueror. Regardless of the use he makes of his various sources, the Alexander poet is attracted to those sources by the imperial themes they represent. These must be seen as particularly relevant to a Spanish churchman alert to certain analogies between the campaigns of



the ancient conqueror and those of contemporary Christian Peninsular monarchs and their allies. The protagonist of the Alexander, for example, emphasizes revenge as a principal motive for attacking the Persian Empire (stanzas 22–26). The Greeks in the poem, with Alexander as their leader, are honor-bound to make the Persians pay for past transgressions and ongoing oppressions. The theme of a restoration of compromised honor suggestively parallels the irredentist ideology of the Reconquest, which portrays the conquest of Muslim Andalusia as a morally correct reclamation of lands rightfully belonging to Peninsular Christendom. While the Alexander may be egalitarian in its view of ethnic diversity, it is implicitly authoritarian regarding the proper management of that diversity. As the representative of a school of poetry—the mester de clerecía, “the cleric’s craft”—avowedly dedicated to Christian principles and priorities and to upholding the church’s status as the first of the three estates, its author would presumably defend the church’s preemptive authority in matters relating to the propagation of the Faith, including conversion of non-Christians, and the spiritual indoctrination and supervision of the faithful. The secular power’s obligation is to enable and support these vital priorities, through religiously sanctioned territorial acquisition, defense of the realm, or keeping the peace. These worldly functions, though essential to the physical well-being of the faithful, are nonetheless ancillary to the church’s spiritual priorities. Assuming that the Alexander author subscribes to this basic tenet, it would not be surprising to detect in his work signs of the anxiety and resentment that often characterize the medieval church’s perception of the secular powers’ perceived or actual mismanagement of its obligations and encroachment on ecclesiastical prerogatives. Yet, again, the author has chosen a pre-Christian work to convey his message. While his choice may expresses a personal preference for historical erudition, as well as a desire to regale his audience with a profusion of exotic yet familiar elements, he must have had other reasons. One plausible motive, in keeping with Christian didactic tradition, would be to provide an allegorical commentary on the pitfalls and temptations that confront kings and great lords in the exercise of their earthly authority. But this aspect—the preceptive function of the mirror of princes, a prominent medieval genre—is only part of the story. The greater aim, compatible with and encompassing that genre’s tutorial function, is to provide a critique of imperial methodology in general. In the Alexander, this commentary is sometimes tacit, oblique, even evasive; the reader is often left to infer parallels to contemporary personalities and events as they arise in the course of the long and episodic narrative.



An example of this subtextual parallelism occurs in an episode involving the classification and collective characterization of races in terms of monarchical favor and disfavor. Playing favorites, as in the designation of some peoples as vassals and others as adversaries, is exemplified by Alexander’s partiality with regard to the Jews. Acting in accordance with a prophetic vision, and against the objections of his generals, Alexander, at the moment of conquering Jerusalem, privileges the Jews above all other groups. Ordering his army and his personal entourage to remain on the outskirts, he enters the town and visits the sacred places of the Jews, performing the prescribed ceremonies at each of their holy places. He then grants the Jews a special status: “Confirmoles su Lëy e todas sus acçiones” (“He confirmed their Law, and all their customs”;1143d). In addition, he exempts them of all tributes and taxes (1144a), while urging them to be steadfast in upholding their faith (1144b). He concludes by informing his people that “avié por jamás con ellos pazes fechas” (“he had established an enduring pact with them”; 1143d). The favoritism shown by Alexander apparently applies to a specific tribe or community of the Jewish people. Other branches are characterized in negative terms. Behind the Caspian Gates, Alexander encounters a strange folk, whom a local wise man, answering Alexander’s question (2104), identifies as “Judíos” (“Jews”) who lie in “cabitividat” (“captivity”), punished for their disloyalty toward man and God: “Por ende, son caídos en esta mesquindat” (“For this reason, they have fallen into this wretchedness”; 2104d). Providing another example of epithetic racialization, the informant cites attributes often associated with Jews (stanza 2105): “Omes astrosos son, de f lacos coraçones” (“They are all despicable, faint-hearted men”); “de suzia mantenençia” (“unclean in their eating habits”); “cobdiçian dineruelos más que gato pulmones” (“they greedy for filthy lucre, like cats are for offal”; 2105). Hearing of their sinful ways and unclean nature, Alexander orders the mountain passes to be sealed up, forever closing off this contemptible race (stanzas 2112–2113). These passages ref lect the anti-Semitism prevalent among medieval Christian authors, including those of the mester de clerecía school (cf. the anti-Jewish perspective of several tales in Berceo’s Miracles of Our Lady). In addition to a general prejudice against Jews, the Alexander, however, may well express specific criticism of a tendency among Spanish Christian kings and lords to appoint Jews to important positions in their households and administrations (a widespread and enduring notion among Peninsular anti-Semites). This pro-Jewish favoritism would have been interpreted by clerics as a prominent example of the arbitrary exercise of worldly authority. That the Alexander reconfigures the ancient Caspian motif in order to



express an oblique criticism of royal favoritism toward the Jews is indirectly suggested by the Book of Knowledge’s different treatment of the same geographical reference. As in the Alexander, special attention is paid to the Caspian mountains as a barrier protecting lands to the south from the incursions of pagan hordes (Book of Knowledge 389). Unlike the Alexander, however, the Book of Knowledge defines the enclosed peoples beyond the walls not as lost Jewish tribes but as a multiplicity of races: “Dentro d’esta Tartaria son muchedumbre de gentes sin cuenta, e non guardan ningún mandamiento de Dios, salvo non fazer mal a otro” (“Within this Tartary there are a countless multitude of peoples, and they hold to none of God’s commandments, save that they do no harm to one another”; 390). Associated with the biblical Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38–39), these peoples, “muy asentadas e fuertes lidiadores de pie e de cavallo” (“very resolute and great fighters on foot or on horseback”), are the origin of other heathen races, including those of the empire of Cathay, and the Arabians, Mesopotamians, Persians, Saracens, and Goths. Like the Alexander, the Book of Knowledge employs this motif to promote a Christian thematic agenda. Unlike the earlier work, however, which seems to lean toward a specifically political allegory, the Book of Knowledge appeals to a general Christian paranoia regarding the infidel menace. According to certain Tartar prophets, the narrator observes, these godless enclosed races are destined to become “señores de toda la faz de la tierra, e que farán tornar todas las gentes del mundo a su ley e a su libertad” (“lords of the whole face of the earth, and who will submit all the peoples of the world to their religion and authority”; 390). A similarly uneasy awareness of unruly racial diversity is expressed by Santaella’s definition of effective governance as an efficient management of populous diversity. This notion is expressed by the work’s admiration for Kublai Khan: “entre cristianos y moros no ay príncipe de tan gran poder” (“among Christians and Moors there is no prince more powerful”; 56). Here the state is understood to be a subduer and unifier of races and peoples, an imposer of order on ethnic chaos. The approving, perhaps wistfully admiring reference to the Mongol emperor suggests the view of nations and kingdoms expressed in the Partidas: as inherently unruly conglomerations of peoples and sects in need of supervision and chastisement. Similarly assuming the need for effective government in the management of racial chaos, the Marvels presents a judgmental catalogue of the ragtag diversity of peoples, united only by their common depravity and immorality, who occupy the Holy Land. The narrator observes that these “muchas y diversas naciones” (“many and diverse nations”), including Jews, Canaanites, Syrians, Persians, Medes, and others, are “gentes traidoras” and “pecadoras” (“treacherous” and “sinful”;



199). The narrator suggests the desirability of an eventual division of peoples, separating the just from the unjust. Elsewhere in the same work, this notion is further substantiated by observations regarding a church near Nazareth, much frequented by Christian pilgrims. Pointing to the need for order to be imposed by a suitable authority, the narrator accuses the infidels not only of mismanaging this spiritual resource out of materialist motives, but of sacrilege, and of a particular propensity for atrocity: “ellos son mucho más malvados moros que los otros y más crueles” (“they are much more evil and more cruel than the other Moors”: 224–25). Concerning the question of social disorder and the need for proper political control, some traveler writers seem to contemplate authoritarian, even tyrannical, practices with an approving eye. A hint of this is seen in the Embassy’s reference to a central Asian race called the White Tartars (219). Conquered and relocated by Tamerlane, and unhappy with their new location, these fair-skinned people decide to return to their original homeland. Along the way, they fall to pillaging and destroying everything in their path. Tamerlane’s punishment, once his horde overtakes and defeats the fugitives, is genocidal. All those conquered in the field are slaughtered, and their decapitated heads used to construct columns standing as deterrent monuments to the Mongol lord’s authority. Additionally, the Emperor orders all White Tartars to be thereafter exterminated anywhere they may be found (220). Although the narrator states neither approval or disapproval of the emperor’s ruthless methods, it is tempting to see, in this account of a powerful ruler’s handling of a threat to the security of his domains, a possible model for Christian monarchs, such as King Henry III of Castile—the royal master of the Embassy expedition’s members—who also had to deal with analogous threats to the peace of his realm in the form of chronic violence committed by fractious nobles, bandits, and other lawless elements. Santaella, approaching similar issues from a different angle, tells us how the Great Khan imposes a single style of worship on all his highly diverse subjects. All the emperor’s vassals, recounts the narrator, whether merchant or traveler, or any and all others living within his lands and provinces, including Tartars, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, are required to pray for the great Khan, each before their own idols, so that each deity might safeguard the Great Khan’s person and domain (71). Perhaps this image of unquestioned imperial authority imposing a unifying code of worship was seen by Santaella as a laudable analog of the systematic religious orthodoxy that, by the time of his rendering of the Venetian traveler’s book, had long since been installed as a cornerstone of statist centralization under the Catholic Monarchs. The passage would certainly have seemed an appealing allegory to Spanish Christian readers



who agreed with the prevailing approach to problems perceived to arise from ethnic multiplicity and confessional nonconformity. The coercive, de facto ethnocentrism implied by state-supported and Church-mandated orthodoxy must have seemed to many a necessary measure imposed in service to the social order. The sanguine authoritarianism implied by this interpretation of Santaella and his orthodox Peninsular readership paradoxically reinforces the cosmopolitan spirit manifested by most or all of our travel works. Aside from the fact that ordinary travel in its many forms—as opposed to its military and exploratory congeners—itself relies on firmly established polities and stable, well-protected communications networks, the appeal of domestic uniformity to outward-looking exoticism lies in the provision of a standard by which to measure the unusual. The pragmatic relativism implied by cosmopolitanism is therefore not the same as tolerance. The authors discussed in this study, as we have seen, are prone to judge, at least tacitly, the numerous peoples and practices that attract their attention; this judgmentalism may well ref lect a climate of opinion on the subject among their readers. Bias, therefore, is seldom absent from the travel writer’s attitudinal portfolio; it is nuanced, refracted, by the need for an expedient accommodation of difference in the traveler’s response to the obdurate reality of alien cultures. In this sense, the traveler’s predicament is a simulacrum of the dilemma confronting political leadership in an ethnically diverse polity. The implicit situational analogy does not predict or confirm the author’s actual political sympathies; it simply highlights the problem for readers alert to such issues. Ethnographic relativism, a tentative accommodation of the alien, is frequently suggested by our authors’ emphasis, tacit or overt, on analogies between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Every weird phenomenon is a potential buried nugget of sameness-within-difference, waiting to be unearthed. Such disinterred similarities may be pointed out in terms of endorsement, condemnation, or apparent neutrality. The Embassy, for instance, seeks to understand strange ways and practices that seem like modified versions of familiar European or Spanish usages. Variations on Christian practices among Eastern sects exert a particular fascination. Concerning the details of sacerdotal practice and the fine points of the Greek liturgy, for instance, the narrator observes that clergymen may marry, but only once, and “con mujer virgen” (“with a virgin wife”). Other details, strange yet familiar, are presented for the reader’s delectation: on the death of their spouse they never remarry; they say Mass only twice a week, on Saturdays and Wednesdays; all their time is spent in



church, preparing for Mass; fasting is observed during six lenten seasons per year (166). Mandeville’s account, as Ernst Bremer has pointed out (341), goes particularly far in seeking out common denominators across confessional lines. Departing from Catholic orthodoxy’s depreciation of non-Western Christians and non-Christians alike, the Marvels expresses tolerance and accommodation with regard to other sects and faiths. An example is its explication of the many similarities between Islam and Christianity (241), concluding with the narrator’s declaration that “tienen muchos buenos artículos de nuestra ley, aunque ellos no tengan la ley perfecta, según que nosotros los cristianos” (“they hold to many righteous articles of our faith, although they do not hold to the perfect law, as we Christians do”; 241). In a similar spirit, Tafur notes the international and multicultural scope of the pilgrimage industry of his day, as confirmed by his description of the peaceful coexistence of the many different nationalities and denominations of his fellow pilgrims, including Catholics, Greeks, Jacobites, Armenians, Indians, and Copts (246). Evincing an openmindedness akin to that expressed in the Marvels, he remarks, in a passage describing a visit to Bethlehem, that even Infidels are capable of piety: “Allí los moros fecieron tanta reverencia como nosotros” (“There the Moors showed as much reverence as we do”; Travels 248). Later, in the long digression conveying de’ Conti’s account of his travels, the Eastern Christians ruled by Prester John are described as being as Catholic and devoutly Christian as one could want, save for their absolute ignorance of the Church of Rome (274). Describing the Black Sea trading city of Kaffa (302–303), Tafur, his tolerance put to the test, both judges and deplores, condones and, to a certain degree, participates. He notes the city’s extreme exoticism, describing its profusion of things “muy estrañas a los de nuestra nacion” (“quite alien to those of our nation”); the great diversity of its population, including Christians, both Catholic and Greek, and members of all the world’s nations. The town’s polyglot inhabitants constantly engage in “grandes travesuras” (“great abuses”) such as fathers selling sons, or brothers selling sisters (303). Very much the seasoned raconteur, he intimates a certain degree of shock and titillation in his eyewitness account of the distasteful procedures and protocols of the great slave market of Kaffa. He then engages in the distasteful activity himself, prefiguring the f lirtation with going native that is one of modern tourism’s favorite constructed scenarios. Here, in the world’s greatest slave market (303), a papal bull is cited, encouraging Christians to purchase Christian



slaves of all nations, lest they fall into Moorish hands and renounce their faith. Tafur buys two female slaves and one male, informing his readers that they remain with him yet, years later in Cordoba. Showing sympathy for the slaves on the block, he describes the market’s harsh procedures, whereby all slaves, males and females alike, are made to strip down to the skin, then paraded naked before prospective buyers (303). His subsequent hyperbolic reiteration of the astonishing diversity and strangeness of this foreign environment can be read as an exculpatory, “anything-goes” disclaimer regarding his f leeting involvement in alien ways, among a motley horde of races people with whom he has nothing in common (304). Of all our travel works, the Embassy is perhaps the most consistent in its ecumenical reaching-out. The cultural program implied by the Embassy, as López Estrada convincingly argues, expresses the expectation that monarchs and those who would emulate them practice tolerance toward the diverse peoples of the world and their characteristic ways (“Viajeros castellanos” 64–67). Ref lecting this concept, the Embassy is guided by a rule of courteous accommodation and adaptation, a pervasive spirit of “when-in-Rome.” An example is its description of the ambassadors’ acceptance of a local lord’s hospitality. Bowing to them, their host graciously bids them to sit next to him, while ordering sweets to be served. A scene of delicate interaction takes place, as the host invites them all to drink wine with him, all save the one among them who does not drink wine (Clavijo himself ). While the rest of the group consumes the wine offered them, the host drinks from a large jar of sugared water he has ordered to be brought in, after which he offers the jar to Clavijo, who follows suit (178). In a somewhat similar spirit, Tafur expresses his appreciation of the mingling and equalizing effect of international trade and commerce revealed by the Dutch city of Sluis. There, despite whatever conf licts there may be among the many nations represented by the numerous ships in port, all who come ashore are bound by a strictly enforced local rule: “cumple que en el puerto ni en la tierra no muestren los omecillos, mas cada uno ande derecho e seguramente faga su mercaduría” (“it behooves everyone, whether in port or on land, to set aside their feuds, and go safely and correctly about their business”). In this way, he concludes, “verés todas las naciones del mundo comer en un pesebre sin rifar” (“all the world’s nations may be seen eating from a single manger, with no sign of quarreling”; 354). An analogous homage to intercultural communication is revealed by the Amadís’s idealized representation of worldly hospitality and reciprocal consideration among hosts and guests of different races. Occurring



toward the end of the novel, in the passage in question the protagonist, confronting Balán, lord of the Isle of the Vermilion Tower, the “más bravo y más fuerte que ningún gigante de todas las ínsulas” (“the fiercest and mightiest of any giant in all the islands”; 1645), collaborates with his chivalric adversary, striving toward mutual accommodation. Balán shows magnanimous hospitality toward his foe, assuring Amadís, who has come to defend the cause of the lady Darioleta, that he will be provided with food and a choice of horses and weapons in anticipation of their duel (1658). Similarly, the Victorial endorses a sportsmanlike compliance with local customs, as exemplified by Pero Niño’s resilient allowance for, and even enthusiastic imitation of, foreign ways. As the narrator says of the protagonist: “El capitán, como fue usando con los cavalleros e con las gentileshonbres de Françia como aquel que hera criado sienpre en gentileza, conosçió la manera de la gente” (“The captain, since he was often in the company of French gentlemen and knights, like one who was raised in the most genteel manner, grew accustomed to people’s ways”). Pero Niño, we are told, “guarneçióse muy bien, segund el reyno en que estava” (“acquitted himself well, according to whatever realm he found himself in”; 391). Cabeza de Vaca, again, is the great example in Spanish travel literature of an outside observer who adapts to the harshest foreign conditions, while describing the most alien of folkways from a mostly dispassionate but sometimes empathetic perspective. Like his predecessors among the travel works discussed earlier, he is inclined to generalize regarding the peoples encountered. His focus, however, as noted earlier, is on the customs and living conditions of singular local groups, rather than on large collectives defined in wider-ranging, more comprehensive terms. His localized generalizations, often minutely detailed, yet not without nuance, are at times strongly suggestive of modern anthropology’s monographic specificity. Unlike Columbus, who is sometimes superficially similar in his recording of details, Cabeza de Vaca shows little sign of a preconceived, programmatic interpretation of human phenomena. In Chapter 15, for example, certain Indians are characterized by their lack of any kind of government or authority: “No hay entre ellos señor” (“There is no lord among them”). In general, they wear no clothing: “Toda la gente de esta tierra anda desnuda; solas las mujeres traen de sus cuerpos algo cubierto con una lana que en los árboles se cría” (“All the people of this country go about naked; only the women cover parts of their bodies with a wool-like material that grows on the trees there”). Differing from neighboring peoples, they group themselves according to kin groups: “Todos los que son de un linaje andan juntos” (“All those of one lineage



stay together”). All these folk share generously among themselves of their property: “aquel que es visitado . . . da al otro cuanto posee” (“the one who receives a visitor . . . gives away all he possesses to the other”). These Indians, he summarizes, have many strange customs; these are only the principal ones (Shipwrecks 130–131). In Chapter 18 of his account, Cabeza de Vaca observes, concerning another tribe, such customs as the killing of one’s own sons on account of dreams and the feeding of newborn female infants to dogs. Despite the extremism of these customs, Cabeza de Vaca, refraining from judgment, attributes to the natives what we would term a collective paranoia. He reports their justification for female infanticide as a rational policy, allowing the natives themselves, as it were, to explain their reasons. All neighboring peoples are enemies, according to this native testimony, waging ceaseless war against their tribe. Marrying daughters to other peoples would so multiply the enemies’ numbers that they themselves would eventually become subjugated and enslaved. “Por esta causa” (“For this reason”), the tribesmen conclude, “querían más matarlas que no que de ellas mismas naciese quien fuese su enemigo” (“they preferred to kill them rather than have them eventually become the mothers of potential enemies”). When the Spaniards wonder why girls do not marry within the tribe, their informants declare that “era fea cosa casarlas a sus parientes ni a sus enemigos” (“it was just as improper to marry them to their own relatives as it was to give them away to enemies”; 143). In the examples cited in this chapter, we have observed a common propensity among our travel narrators for seeing other peoples in terms of ethnic profiles and a general tendency to point out alien ways, sometimes judgmentally, sometimes approvingly, sometimes leaving the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. At their most open-minded, these works could be categorized as expressions of late-medieval or earlymodern cosmopolitanism: nothing human is alien to them. The essentially ethnographic aspect of the travel works’ style, thematic biases and narrative design, bespeaks, especially in the later works, a moving away from the traditional racial tropes inherited from the ancient world. The special case of Cabeza de Vaca stands out as the most consistent example of this tendency. At the same time, the works often, as if by force of habit, populate countries and regions with named groups defined by more or less narrow ranges of physical and characterological traits, shared behavioral tendencies, and common beliefs. In this they are analogous to the nonscientific, politically motivated racializing discourse of more recent centuries. The general focus in this chapter has been on this variable discernment of foreign ethnic groups as total, profiled units, rather



than on the works’ treatment of internal structures and hierarchies. Our next chapter will consider how travel works organize their perception of the inner workings of alien societies by projecting on to these foreign contexts an image of organic society familiar to the authors and their European audiences.


Preliminary Considerations The ethnically distinct societies observed by our travel authors often present internal divisions that more or less correspond to what modern social science discusses under the heading of caste. Although race and caste would seem to foster separate taxonomical and structural regimes, a connection between the two has been pointed out by a number of commentators, notably Max Weber. He defines caste formation as a ritualized rigidification of statuses hitherto upheld only by law or social convention. The process is intensified when ethnicity becomes a factor. Caste, in fact, asserts Weber, can be seen as “the normal form in which ethnic communities usually live side by side in a ‘societalized’ manner” (189). Such communities may be observed in many regions and historical contexts. Unlike other commentators, such as Dumont, Weber looks at castes as autonomous, self-governing groups that safeguard collective identity through shared kinship and cultural values, prohibition of exogamous marriage, and discouragement of contact with outsiders. Dumont defines caste in similar terms—group classifications, commandments, taboos against exogamy—but sees these group-defining strictures as imposed on the various stratified levels by the overall system. Castes are what they are because they fit into a hierarchy. Weber, by contrast, emphasizes the tendency of “‘pariah’ peoples” to found separate communities, to master handicrafts and arts and transmit them generation to generation in “specific occupational traditions,” and, finally, “to cultivate a belief in their ethnic community.” Segregated from others, their situation is often “legally precarious”; they lead a life of “diaspora” ( Jews are mentioned as a prominent example); yet, owing to their frequent “economic indispensability,” they are often tolerated, even “frequently privileged,” by the mainstream societies among which they live as “interspersed political communities.”



Weber, in effect, sees castes not as units in a coherent hierarchy, but as marginal, independent cultural communities. His model more or less corresponds to what Sharon Gmelch calls “groups that don’t want in,” defined by her as unintegrated ethnic communities—such as Gypsies, the best-known example—made up of “small, endogamous populations of artisans, traders, and entertainers” (309). To be sure, the components of this model—marginality, endogamy, cultural and social solidarity, hereditary vocational specialization—are to some degree observable in traditional rural Indian society. What could be called the tribal aspect of individual castes has been pointed out by M. N. Srinivas (165), who notes the esprit de corps exhibited by members of a given caste, largely emanating from a shared sense of pride in the practice of their traditional, castespecific expertise, and in their perception of its importance. However, this situation is distinguished from that of the out-groups discussed by Gmelch by the castes’ mutual dependence and frequent interaction within a shared village environment and in the fact that the encompassing system assigns them a place, which they regard as proper and natural. Caste hierarchies resembling the system referred to by Srinivas and many others have been seen as a logical if not inevitable outcome of racialization imposed through conquest. In the case of India, the racial question arises in terms of the imputed origins of the caste system in the primordial invasion of the subcontinent by Indo-Aryans and the consequent institution of a racially determined subjugation of the indigenous inhabitants of the subcontinent and adjacent regions. Evidence suggests, allows Brian K. Smith, that these conquered native peoples were indeed classed as slaves by the Indo-European invaders. In the course of time, as the invaders settled and colonized, the aboriginal peoples were assimilated, to a certain degree, into Aryan society, occupying, as a servant class, the lowest level of the social order (15). It is tempting to regard the latter theory as analogous to the discovery and conquest of the New World, seen as a series of interracial encounters leading to the domination of autochthons by allochthons, and to the emergence of Hispanic colonial societies that rigidified caste divisions based on varying degrees of perceived racial purity. This notion assimilates societies of the postdiscovery New World to both the racial concept of Indian caste formation and to theories of caste that explain such formations as a ref lection of race relations within a single society. The latter model, applied by some social scientists to the Indian Subcontinent and to race relations in the United States, has been summarized by Julian Pitt-Rivers in developmental or evolutionary terms reminiscent of Weber’s correlation of ethnicity and caste: “what were formerly racial elements became castes once they were merged together” (240). The New World colonist/native dichotomy,



in the light of this concept, invites analogy with the Indian quadripartite system, in which the fourth varna, the non-Aryan category of the Shudras, constitutes a servile, outsider category. Pitt-Rivers, however, questions the applicability of the concept of caste to New World societies, especially Latin America, where systematic intermarriage between Europeans and natives has consistently undermined the endogamic integrity of incipient caste groups. The Latin American division of populations into Hispanic and Indian communities involves relations of super- and subordination, but these do not exactly conform to those of the Indian caste system (248–250). In the traditional Indian configuration, varna is the term for the four general rankings or estates into which traditional Hindu society is divided. The four varnas include, in order of hierarchical precedence, the Brahmans (priests and scholars), the Kshatriyas (rulers, governors and soldiers), the Vaishyas (herdsmen, agriculturists, artisans, merchants), and the Shudras (laborers and servants). In this system, as summarized by Smith, the major divisions are traditionally understood to be separate and hereditary, with each class possessing “functions that are best not filled by members of other classes” (28–29). The functions comprised are each identified with a domain of human existence. The realm of the sacred and the cosmic was assigned to the Brahmans—“systematizers,” in Smith’s terminology, of the overall hierarchy. The second category, the Kshatriyas, “are rulers and warriors in whose hands coercive physical force is consolidated.” The third category—that of the Vaishyas, or commoners, with its numerous jāti or subcastes—is assigned the domain of “material productivity, increase, and prosperity” (28). The Brahmans are seen as above and apart from the other categories. At the same time, the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas are conjoined into a single ruling class, with all others standing in a subordinate relation to them (a pattern noted by Meillassoux [9]). Additionally, the two dominant groups constitute, along with the Vaishyas, an inclusive category of those regarded as full members of Aryan society, to be distinguished from “the lowly Shūdra servants,” a fourth, outsider category excluded from the realm of the sacred (Smith 28–29). This quadripartite hierarchy, corresponding to the ancient division of Indian society into the so-called principal castes, is not to be confused with the later Indian caste system based on variously categorized occupations. Such considerations become particularly relevant in the later travel works, composed after the New World’s discovery. From the European viewpoint, the latter development physically juxtaposed worlds that were hitherto only virtually connected through travelers’ accounts. Regardless of eventual outcomes in the formation of colonial societies, and the



political, social, and economic mechanisms that conduced to them, our travel works, including those composed after the discovery, variously embrace the European estates system as a social norm. Justified by the organicist-functionalist principle of an ethically cooperative division of labor (as explicated, e.g., by the Partidas and by Don Juan Manuel; see chapter 1 in this volume), the tripartite schema’s categories consist of those who pray, the clergy; those who fight, the nobility; those who work, everybody else. The king and the nobiliary hierarchy, in this system, embody and superintend the defensive function, just as the pope and the church hierarchy personify and govern the spiritual. The third category, that of generic laborer and bread-winner, is a vast, majoritary fold to be shepherded by the other two categories (Harney, “Estates Theory” 5–14; Duby, Three Orders 76–80, 322–326). The principle of functionalism, in addition, generates ancillary service-based ideologies, such as that of public-spirited chivalry, whose real-world efficacy and degree of general social acceptance are debatable, but whose appeal as a conceptual legitimation of social inequality, from the viewpoint of elites, is irrefutable. The European estates system presents striking analogies to the ancient Indian caste system in its broader outlines. Factors that distinguish the two systems include, in the European context, the disputation between the two superior castes (i.e., the conf lict of church and state), and the absence of a fourth, racially excluded category. A feature common to the two systems, however, is their rigidification, at least in theory, of functionally defined social and vocational roles, and their pervasive emphasis on the supposed fixity of stratified categories. In both cases, group identity and membership are defined by what Mary Douglas defines as the human tendency “to try and make over our existence into an unchanging lapidary form” (162). Purity, the term for the thing sought if not obtained by this urge, “is the enemy of change, of ambiguity and compromise.” Fostering a collective “yearning for rigidity,” the group of reference differentiates itself from other groups by adherence to “hard lines and clear concepts,” despite the ambiguities and contradictions of social reality. The Europe estates system’s obsession with fixity and purity uneasily coexists—revealing another feature distinguishing it from the Indian system, at least in the latter’s more coherent formulations—with a paradoxical allowance for the possibility of upward social mobility. Despite the many barriers to social advancement, the ecclesiastical and nobiliary estates, each with its numerous subdivisions and ostentatious trappings and accouterments, present an alluring array of enviable statuses, imitable practices, and status-verifying possessions. This does not imply outright



social climbing in the modern sense. The standards by which medieval nobility was calibrated and noble titles confirmed or assigned (the chief foci of those aspiring to improved status) were those of genealogy, public service, and societal recognition (Thompson 380–381). On the one hand, the fundamental criterion was verifiably appropriate ancestry; what mattered most was “evidence not of life-style but of inheritance.” On the other, the functionalist aspect of the system necessarily valued service and sacrifice as the most important components of a noble portfolio. Service to crown and community as a justification for ennoblement was thus characterized by the petitioner as a “secular treasury of merits built up by his ancestors and relatives.” While outstanding service officially substantiated inherent nobility rather than personal virtue and achievement (382), titular verification was readily construed on the basis of fabricated or exaggerated genealogies. The New World variant of the system, complicated by ethnicity, manifests as an intensified deployment of racial categories as a means of reducing or eliminating, with variable success, the unofficial yet exploitable leeway detectable in the Peninsular context. The implications of the caste-related concepts just discussed become evident as we contemplate our Peninsular travel works, written by casteminded authors for a like-minded readership. The travel works frequently focus on the highly structured societies of certain peoples, particularly those residing in cities. The authors seldom clearly indicate whether or not they regard a given alien race as itself a caste or potential caste, from the viewpoint of the author and his compatriots. However, the frequently critical and occasionally distasteful opinions regarding alien ways of life, overtly or tacitly conveyed by travel accounts (as in the previous chapter’s discussion of sensationalistic elements), suggest that if certain races or peoples, particularly the oddest, ugliest, most deformed, darkest-skinned, or least civilized, were somehow transported to the author’s homeland, they would in fact be stigmatized as inferior castes, or, at best, as marginally tolerated, unintegrated minorities. Rationally organized social inequality, discerned in foreign societies in terms that echo the concepts and terminology of estates and castes, and sometimes those of race, is one of the most pervasive themes of medieval European travel literature. Expressions of these themes in our travel works are too numerous to be completely surveyed here. The following examples will stand, therefore, as typical illustrations. In all cases, no attempt is made to verify the accuracy of the writers’ observations with regard to the historical or ethnographic environments purportedly observed by travel narrators. What is of interest is the texts’ axiomatic projection of caste-like structures on to conjectured or construed realities.



Estates and Castes Straightforward expressions of the tendency to project the estates template on to foreign environments are found in the two earliest works in our sequence, the Alexander and the Zifar. In the former, the conqueror is shown as he triumphantly enters into Babylon. The narrator, with typical anachronism, describes the principal divisions of those marching—presumably including the inhabitants of the newly occupied metropolis—in precisely the tripartite terms dictated by medieval estates ideology: “Ivan las proçessiones ricamente ordenadas / los clérigos primeros con sus cartas sagradas” (“The ranks of those in the procession were richly caparisoned, / with the members of the clergy out in front, their holy scriptures in hand”; 1542ab). Next to the churchmen rides the conqueror (1542c), and after him (1543) his “senadores” (“councilors”), “cónsules” (“ministers”), and “perfectos” (“prefects”), followed by the “cavalleros que son sus defensores / que los pueblos a estos acatan por señores” (“knights, who are his defenders / whom the people regard as their lords”). Bringing up the rear are the common people of the realm, an aggregate third estate presented by the narrator as a disorderly, undifferentiated rabble: “cuemo vinién de buelta era muy desbaratado” (“as they moved along in an unruly fashion, there was a great commotion”; 1544b). Later, in a passage devoted to the moral truths conveyed by inscriptions on the tomb of Darius, the moral utility of the estates is pointed out by emphasizing their vulnerability to the corruptive inf luence of wealth. Society itself, maintained by the integrity of a system in which every man knows his useful place, is undermined by greed: “Lavradores non quieren derechament’ dezmar” (“Workers refuse to pay their proper taxes”; 1817a); “Anda grant falsedat entre los menestrales: / las obras fazen falsas; los puntos, desleales” (“Fraudulence runs rampant among the craftsmen: / their products are a sham; their workmanship is shoddy”; 1818ab); “Los rëys e los prínçipes con negra de cobdiçia / han a grant mercado vendida la justiçia” (“Kings and princes, tempted by foul greed / have come to sell justice itself on the open market”; 1821ab). Even the clergy are subject to this corruption: “Clerigos e calonges çertas nin las mongias / non andan a derechas” (“Churchmen and canons, and, of course, nuns / have gone astray”; 1822ab). We recognize the poet’s notion of a viable society by his portrait of its disintegration. For the Alexander poet, what upholds the social order is precisely the rational array of estates in which all members of society are assigned a rightful place and a meaningful role. The system, perceived as self-evident, mandates a sincere performance of the duties incumbent on each category, from the highest to the humblest. Without the structure



provided by this ethical hierarchy, there is no social order, only a tumultuous assemblage of self-seeking individuals. This is lapidary thinking of the sort defined earlier, according to which any deviation from the pristine specificity of a given category—in this case, a social and economic role—is perceived as an adulteration and thus a potential threat to the total system. It is thus not surprising that the Alexander poet—embracing a literary form, the mester de clerecía, “the cleric’s craft,” that largely defined itself as a vehicle of Christian values and ideals—should praise the estates concept while deploring its deterioration. What does seem somewhat puzzling is the selection of a vastly exotic expeditionary narrative, set in the ancient world, as the means of expressing this orthodoxy. In this the Alexander poet seems to point the way for later travel narrators, whose foreign settings provide an opportunity to exhibit multiple specimens of the estates principle in action. The presentation of these examples, furthermore, seldom involves any overt critique of the internal workings of the local hierarchies selected for observation. In furtherance of implicit agendas whose motivation is largely left to the reader’s imagination, the works surveyed seem to deliberately seek out exotic venues that certify the universal viability of the estates model. That model, in turn, is the armature on which the inequalities of caste, race, and ethnicity may to be maintained. The Zifar shares the Alexander’s estates-centered view of human society, as we see in its tendency to characterize groups and communities in terms evocative of the tripartite division. For example, in the prologue’s account of the transference of a deceased Spanish cardinal’s remains from Rome to Toledo (69), the narrator describes how the coffin and its escort are solemnly received in Logroño by a local bishop and “toda la clerecía” (“all the clergymen in a body”), along with “todos los omes buenos de la villa” (“all the upstanding citizens of the town”). Later, outside Burgos, the dead prelate is honored by the king himself, by members of the royal family, and by “muchos ricos omes e infançones e caualleros” (“numerous grandees and barons and knights”). The presence of all three estates—clergy, nobility, commoners—reveals the narrator’s sense of society’s constituent elements. However, as the coffin reaches its destination of Toledo, the narrator changes descriptive registers. The general participation of the town’s inhabitants in the beloved Cardinal’s elaborate funeral rites is described in terms of broad ethnic categories: “No fincó cristiano ni moro ni judío que todos no le salieron a reçibir” (“No Christian, Moor, or Jew remained where they were, but rather all came out to receive him”; Zifar 69). In this context, to be sure, these could be seen as notional categories; using the three



ethnonyms is tantamount to saying “everyone without exception,” as in the expression “every man, woman, and child.” But the terms employed by the Zifar are not devoid of ethnic significance; the very off-handedness of their use betrays axiomatic racial thinking. The two non-Christian groups are unmistakably separate from the Christian society defined by its constituent estates. In contrast to the prologue, distinct races and ethnicities are seldom mentioned in the course of the Zifar’s main narrative, which is entirely set in ancient “India” and vaguely adjacent regions. Its protagonist, his family, and apparently all the other characters are Christians. The narrator applies the same estates template to this homogeneously eastern Christian world as it does to the Peninsular Christian community depicted in the prologue. In all the distant lands traversed by the hero and other characters, “caballeros” (“knights”; 76, 77, 99, etc.) are presumed to be upholders of justice and defenders of realms; social elites always bear such European titles—in addition to that of knight—as “vassallo” (“vassal”; 117, 122, 137, etc.), “fidalgo” (“hidalgo,” “nobleman”; 99, 101, 111, etc.), “conde” (“count”; 100, 101, 127, etc.), “duque” (“duke”; 161, 242, 253, etc.), and “ricombre” (“grandee”; 161, 253, 313, etc.). Religion is represented by “clérigos” (“clergymen”; 112, 113, 441, etc.) and “obispos” (“bishops”; 233, 376, 378), while commoners are “burgeses” (“burghers”; 140, 141, 206, etc.), “mercadores” or “mercaderos” (“merchants”; 403, 404, 438, etc.), or generic “labradores” (“workers,” “laborers”; 229), “pobladores” (“settlers”; 322), and “menestrales” (“craftsmen”; 354). The Zifar’s India, therefore, shows no hint of the racial divisions observed in Spain at the time of the work’s composition. It is as if the author sought to strip the setting of its racial component, in order to emphasize the estates and their related subcategories as the only meaningful social structures. This anachronism with regard to historical eras, and ethnocentrism with respect to non-European regions, amounting to a Christianization of alien cultural space, is, of course, very typical of medieval European literary and pictorial representation of exotic settings. Earlier scholarship tended to attribute this metaphorical “take-over” of alien environments to the ethnographic naïveté or outright ignorance of authors and artists. However, Ian Michael, in his study of the Alexander, counters this older view, proposing instead a model of deliberate “medievalization” on the part of the poet, whose Christianization and accompanying reduction of classical pagan elements in the Alexander narrative distinguishes it from the Alexandreis, the French version of the tale on which the Spanish poem is largely based (88–116). Refuting the notion of “quaint anachronisms” as the catch-all explanation for medieval representations of the exotic, Michael demonstrates that medievalization in the



Alexander is a “conscious literary process” (176). Although some elements are retained from earlier French versions, many others (e.g., protagonist’s education, conforming to the medieval liberal arts curriculum; the depiction of Aristotle as a medieval schoolmaster) are clearly the deliberate work of the Spanish poet (177–178). Although the question of the Zifar’s intentionality with regard to its historical anachronism and Eurocentric perspective cannot be debated in any detail here, Michael’s concept of medievalization suggests a plausible reading. The Zifar’s eurocentrism promotes an expectation of similitude among its readers, an atmosphere of familiarity amid the exotic. Viewed as a narrative technique, it establishes a benchmark in the straightforward projection of supposed European social norms on to foreign environments, against which we may gauge the coherence and consistency displayed by later travel works with regard to their perception or attribution of the same structures. All our travel narratives tend to see the human world in the functionalist terms of the medieval estates template. The Marvels, for example, preoccupies itself with orderly divisions of labor, as in its depiction of a castle in which “ay continuamente gente de armas, los cuales no salen del castillo, mas están allí por servir al soldán y por guardar el castillo, y son más de VI mil personas que han toda su provisión de la corte del soldán si él tiene guerra y otras cosas de hazer” (“there are always men at arms, which do not leave the castle, but rather are there to serve the sultan and to watch over the castle, and there are more than six thousand persons who are completely in charge of providing for the sultan’s court, whether in case of war or anything else that needs to be done”; 172). Complementing the military estate, there must also always be a corresponding contribution from the productive categories. Thus, concerning a city in Persian territory, Mandeville remarks that: “el emperador recibe más renta d’esta ciudad por causa del gran trato y mercadería, que no el más rico príncipe de cristianos de todos sus reinos, porque allí ay de todas mercadurías y mercaderes sin extima” (“the emperor receives more income from this city, owing to the great amount of business and market activity, than the richest of Christian princes of any kingdom, because there are in that place such countless market places and merchants”; 250). Analogs of the European religious estate are readily discovered. Regarding one of the most famous examples of such analogues, the Marvels provides one of the earliest European references to the annual Hindu festival involving the Hindu Ratha Yatra temple wagon, called the Juggernaut in English, from the name of the god conveyed by the vehicle ( Jagann ātha, one of the names of Krishna). He describes how the idol is placed on the wagon, reverently draped in cloth of gold, and



carried about the city in a great procession. All the damsels of the land go in orderly fashion, two by two, followed by foreigners from many distant lands. Particular attention is paid to the extreme devotion displayed by those worshippers who “se dexan caer delante de las ruedas del carro, y el carro passa por encima d’ellos de manera que algunos d’ellos mueren y algunos se quebrantan los braços o piernas o toda la persona, y aquesto fazen ellos por amor de su dios, por gran devoción, por amor de aquel ídolo” (“some of them falling down in front of the wagon’s wheels, with the wagon rolling over them so that some of them die and others break their arms and legs and their whole body, and this they do for love of their god, out of great devotion, for love of that idol”; 268). What might seem at first an expression of dispassionate ethnographic comparativism is in fact a seeking after common ground on which to gain invidious purchase. These alien folk are like us, only too much so: “Fazen assí grandes penitencias y grandes trabajos, y se disponen a sofrir muy grandes martirios de sus cuerpos por amor de aquel ídolo, que apenas se fallaría en cristianos quien osasse fazer o sufrir la dezena parte por amor de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo” (“They thus perform great atonements and undergo great hardships, and are disposed to suffer great self-mortification of their bodies for love of that idol, such that one could scarcely find among Christians anyone who would dare to undergo and suffer a tenth as much for love of Our Lord Jesus Christ”; 268). The holier-than-thou of caste is expressed in paradoxically exemplary terms from the viewpoint of a European Christian readership: “por amor de aquel ídolo y por reverencia d’él, se matan allí dozientas o trezientas personas de hombres y mugeres y, como ellos son muertos, dizen que ellos son santos en el otro mundo, porque ellos son muertos de buena voluntad por amor de su Dios” (“for love of that idol and reverence for it, two or three hundred men and women kill themselves there, and once dead, it is said that they are saints in the next world, for they have willingly died for love of God”; 268). At the same time, invidious debates are carried on among competing families of survivors: “dende se glorifican deziendo unos a otros: ‘Yo tengo más santos en mi linaje que tú’” (“on which account they take great pride, saying to one another: ‘I have more saints in my lineage than you do’”; 269). The Embassy describes the ancestry of Tamerlane’s father in terms of his estate: “fue home fidalgo de linage destos chacatays, pero fue de pequeño estado” (“he was a nobleman of the Zagatays, but of a lesser estate”; 249). Tamerlane’s father and his people are differentiated from others of the same race by their lifestyle: “vivía en un aldea cerca desta ciudad de Quex, ca los gentiles homes de ellos más se pagan de bivir en las aldeas e en los campos que no en las ciudades” (“he lived in a village



near to this city of Quex, for their noblemen prefer to live in villages and in the countryside, rather than in cities”; 249). A certain emperor of Samarkand, a predecessor of Tamerlane, is described, referring to his relationship with his own highly stratified people, as “malquisto de los suyos, señaladamente del pueblo menudo e de los comunes, e de otros homes grandes que lo querían mal” (“disliked by his own people, especially the populace and the commoners, and by other grandees who wished him ill”; 250–251). The narrator of the Embassy represents the ethnically diverse polity as a social order grounded in a well-managed vocational diversity and commercial heterogeneity within a multiethnic context. The perspective is that of the by-standing observer appreciative, on the one hand, of trades and handicrafts as productive and exploitable categories, while, on the other, ever mindful of the need to coordinate vocational and ethnic multiplicity. The concept is overtly expressed by a certain sultan in the Embassy who justifies tolerance and outright sponsorship of Christian residents of his kingdom: “tenía a los Cristianos en su tierra porque se aprovechaba de ellos en sus menesteres” (“he kept the Christians in his country because he made use of them and their trades”; 180). A little later, Tamerlane, after conquering and sacking Damascus, reveals a similarly appreciative regard for specialized trades and an analogously pragmatic view of their practitioners as an exploitable resource: “cuantos maestros allí falló de todas las artes, atantos fizo llevar a la ciudad de Samarcante” (“all the master craftsmen he found there, in all the various arts and crafts, he ordered without exception to be conveyed to the city of Samarkand”; 183). The Embassy’s description of a great assembly convened by Tamerlane on the occasion of a wedding serves as a miniature likeness of the great lord’s disciplined, highly stratified, and ethnically and vocationally diverse realm: “ya sabía cada uno onde avía de venir a poner sus tiendas e a cuál parte desde el mayor fasta el menor sabe su lugar e lo tiene ya conocido, todos ordenadamente e sin ruido” (“each one already knew where and in which exact location he was to set up his tents; from the greatest to the least of them, each knew his place and was already well informed concerning his rightful position, everybody without any noise and in good order”). Among the great horde, twenty thousand strong, “andan todavía carniceros e cozineros, que venden carne cozida e assada, e otros que venden cevada y fruta e forneros que fazen sus fornos e amassan e venden pan” (“there move about all manner of butchers and cooks, who sell meat, boiled and roasted, and others who sell fodder and fruit, and bakers who prepare their ovens, kneading and selling bread”). In short, one could behold “todos los officios e menesteres que les son



necessarios . . . e todos ordenados por calles señaladas” (“all the crafts and specialties necessary to them . . . all arranged in orderly fashion, in clearly marked rows”). Wherever they went on campaign, marvels the narrator, “aún traen . . . vaños e vañadores, los cuales arman sus tiendas e fazen sus casas para los vaños de fierros, que son calientes, y dentro sus calderas en que tienen e calientan su agua e todo lo que han menester, e assí como cada uno venía, ya sabía do avía de estar” (“they even bring with them baths and bath-keepers, who set up their tents and booths equipped with baths heated by iron plates, and, within, their cauldrons containing heated water and everything needful, and as each arrived, he already knew where he was supposed to set up”; 270). The narrator’s description of the event underscores the essential caste structure of stratified vocational divisions, articulated in terms of the simultaneous dependency and beck-and-call servility of tradesmen with regard to the warriors’ estate. The dominance of the latter is forcefully reiterated in a passage that describes Tamerlane’s proclamation, throughout the city of Samarkand, that all craftsmen residing in that city should remove themselves to the countryside, and there set up their tents and make their wares available in that place, rather than in the city, for the sole convenience of their master and his horde. The narrator stresses the inclusive variety of trades and crafts affected, listing “los que vendían paños como aljófar, e cambiadores e todas las otras cosas e mercaderías e cosas que podían ser, e cocineros e carniceros e panaderos e alfayates e zapateros e todos los otros ministrales” (“venders of cloth or pearls, money-changers, and all the other wares, merchandise, or anything else, as well as cooks and butchers, bakers and tailors and shoemakers“; 282). The effectual subjugation, management, and maximal exploitation of vocational and mercantile castes is further highlighted by Tamerlane’s summary judgment of “ciertos tenderos porque avían vendido la vianda más de cuanto valía de cuando él allí llegó” (“certain shopkeepers because they had sold meat for more than the price charged since last the lord had been there”). Other venders are treated in the same way: “zapateros e borzeguineros e de otros officiales, por cuanto vendían caras las cosas, mandó levar de ellos cierta moneda” (“shoemakers and bootmakers and other craftsmen, inasmuch as they were selling their wares at a high price, he ordered to be levied against them a certain sum of money”; 283). The emperor’s economic interventionism is exemplified by his ruthless control of the mercantile venue. Because Samarkand has no “plaça solemne para en que se vendiessen ordenada e regladamente” (“official site in which trade could be conducted in an orderly and well-regulated fashion”), the great lord orders a special street to be constructed “que oviesse de una parte e de otra boticas en ella e tiendas para en



que se vendiessen las mercadurías” (“to have on both sides shops and tents where merchandise could be sold”). This operation is to be carried out by demolishing all existing houses and buildings, regardless of their owners: “assí como derrocavan unos assí venían los maestros labrando detrás” (“as some workers went along tearing down, the builders came along behind them doing their work”; 305). At the completion of these structures, “luego las hazían poblar de homes que vendían en ellas algunas cosas” (“straightaway they had them occupied with tradesmen who offered certain goods for sale”; 306). The operation is itself an example of mandated division of labor, as the workers go about their appointed tasks, “los unos a derrocar casas e otros a allanar el suelo e otros a fazer” (“some in tearing down houses, others in leveling the ground, and others in construction”). Santaella declares the vital importance of exploitable inequalities in similarly functionalist terms, listing as vital elements of the body politic “las grandezas de los señoríos e provincias, ciudades, riquezas e diversidades de naciones e gentes con sus leyes e sectas, costumbres e maneras” (“the grandeur of domains and provinces, cities, riches, and diversities of nations and peoples, with their laws and sects, customs, and ways of life”; 5). The book addresses all “príncipes, varones e cavalleros, o a cualquier otra persona que este . . . libro viere o oyere” (“princes, nobles, knights, or any other person who . . . reads or hears this book”; 21). Later, Santaella emphasizes the hierarchized multiplicity and ethnic diversity of those who render homage to the Great Khan at his court in the imperial city of Cambalu (Beijing): “vassallos, mercaderes o viandantes o cualesquier otros que se hallen en sus tierras e provincias . . . agora sean tártaros o cristianos o judíos o moros” (“vassals, merchants, and travelers, or any and all others to be found in his lands and provinces . . . whether they be Tartars or Christians or Jews or Moors”). Those who attend the Great Khan are likewise stratified according to their rank and function as “reyes, duques, marqueses e capitanes e regidores de las tierras e otros oficiales” (“kings, dukes, marquises, captains, governors of the various districts, and other functionaries”; Santaella 71). Here, as elsewhere, to name the topmost levels is to imply the productive presence and interaction of manageable lower levels. The productive health of the system must be maintained by constant vigilance on the part of those whose function it is to exert authority over all. Concerning this central concept, Santaella recounts the cautionary tale of a certain caliph, ruler over the city of Baldach, “de las mejores y más nobles del mundo” (“one of the greatest and noblest in the world”). This caliph was “muy rico en gran manera de oro e piedras preciosas” (“surpassingly rich in gold and precious jewels”; 33). The Tartar lord Alan conquers the city.



Finding within it “una gran torre llena de oro y plata y piedras preciosas” (“a great tower full of gold and silver and precious jewels”), and marveling at this treasure, the conqueror has the caliph brought before him and pronounces judgment. Declaring himself astounded at the man’s greed and foolishness, Alan points out that, despite possessing so enormous a treasure, the defeated caliph had refused to share it with brave warriors who might have been able to defend him against a man known to be a mortal enemy. When the caliph has nothing to say in reply, Alan declares: “Pues tanto amaste este tesoro quiero que te hartes de él” (“Since you have loved this treasure so much, I want you to have your fill of it”), and afterward has him locked in the tower, where the caliph lives on for four days before dying a miserable death from starvation (34). This caliph’s punishment is exemplary. His error is to have been enamored of mere wealth and to have failed to establish and maintain a morally viable society by enacting a proper division of labor among its inhabitants. The notion of such functional distinctions is emphasized by Santaella’s classification of the inhabitants of the city of Totis, in the province of Baldach, into “officiales y mercaderes” (“craftsmen and merchants”) who manufacture “paños de oro y de seda de gran valor” (“textiles of gold and silk of great value”). Importing from many places in Asia and Latin Christendom, the merchants of this city also prosper owing to a “gran abundancia de piedras preciosas” (“great abundance of precious stones”; 34). Merchants and craftsmen are dependent on the warrior’s estate, as in the case of the city of Tunchái, whose cruel warriors only refrain from pillaging due to the authority of a greater power: “si no fuesse por el miedo del Tártaro de Oriente, que es su señor, ni mercaderes ni viandantes podrían passar sin ser presos o robados” (“if it were not for fear of the Tartar of the East, who is their lord, neither merchants nor travelers could make their way without being captured or robbed”; 38). Frequently, the focus is on a people’s way of earning their livelihood, as in the case of the kingdom called Encina: “tienen abundancia de camellos e otros animales con que biven de la lavor de la tierra” (“they have an abundance of camels and other animals with which they get their livelihood from farming”; Santaella 54–55). The people of another region are described similarly: “biven de oficios y mercaderías” (“they get their livelihood from handicrafts and commerce”; 60). Yet another country’s inhabitants are described in similarly pragmatic terms: “biven de mercadurías e de artes, ca labran paños de oro y de seda en gran cantidad” (“they get their living from commerce and handicrafts, for they manufacture cloth of gold and silk in great quantities”; 78). Concerning Kublai Khan’s four official wives, one of whom is designated as the paramount queen, we learn that “cada una d’estas cuatro



reinas tiene en su corte más de cuatro mill personas entre varones e donzeles y donzellas e servidores e servidoras” (“each one of these queens has in her court more than four thousand persons, including barons and ladies and damsels, and male and female servants”; 68). In the province called Nocteam one observes a strict division of labor according to gender. The men “no hazen otra cosa salvo andar a caça e tomar plazer en el campo e ir a la guerra” (“do nothing but engage in hunting and enjoy themselves out in the countryside and make war”), while the women “compran e venden e hazen todas las cosas necessarias a la casa, e goviernan e rigen toda la hazienda con sus siervos e siervas” (“buy and sell and do all things necessary for the household, and govern their whole estate with their servants, male and female”; 86). The juxtaposition of the sectarian and the vocational as group delimiters is seen in Santaella’s description of the country called Catayo, populated by “muchos cristianos y muchos idólatras y muchos que adoran a Mahomat, e todos son officiales o mercaderes” (“many Christians and idolaters and many who adore Mohammed, and all are craftsmen and merchants,” 62). In the southeast Indian kingdom of “Orbay,” not far from Maobar, there are Christians, Jews, and Moors (113). There is, at the same time, “gran trato de mercaderías” (“a great amount of business and commerce” (114). Judgmental distinctions of lifestyle betray the fine gradations of caste thinking, as in the differentiation of two types of priests in a certain Eastern realm: “algunos d’estos religiosos tienen muchas mugeres, e algunos biven castamente” (“some of these priests keep many wives, and others lead a chaste life”; 65). We see in Santaella’s rendering of Marco’s text an awareness of the difference between ordinary Indians and the austere and virtuous estate of the “bragmanos” (“Brahmans”): “son los más verdaderos hombres del mundo” (“they are the most truthful men in the world”) and “no dirían una mentira ni consintirían una falsedad por el oro del mundo” (“would not tell a lie nor consent to any falsehood for all the gold in ther world”). They are, moreover, “gente muy casta e cada uno se contenta con su muger sola, e jamás veven vino” (“very chaste people, and each one is content with only his one wife, and they never drink wine”). Under no circumstance “tomarían lo ageno ni comerían carne ni matarían animal por cosa del mundo” (“would they take another’s property nor would they eat meat nor kill any animal, for anything in the world”; 113). In the narrative of the initial conquest of the Canary Islands, carried out by Frenchmen contracting with the Castilian monarch, estates thinking is revealed by the colonizers’ notions of the overseas society they seek to found. An example is that moment in the Canarian in which Béthencourt goes on a tour of inspection. Accompanying him is a stratified entourage.



One group is made up of “gentilz hommes” (“gentlemen”) who collaborate with him in the appraisal and governance of the newly founded domain. Another is made up of artisans and craftsmen. They are indispensable but subject to supervision. One is Jean le Masson (“Jean the Mason”), along with “autres du mestier” (“others of his trade”). There are also “charpentiers et gens de tous mestiers” (“carpenters and people of all the other trades”; 325). It is clear that this new society will replicate the status hierarchy of the old, with the genteel categories presiding over the harmonious productivity of a laborious third estate. The native Canarians themselves will find a place in this new and productive society, as we see from the chronicler’s account of the situation arising after Béthencourt’s departure from the islands. The efficacy of the kinsman he appoints as his successor is shown to be particularly marked by his successful management of the natives: “ce fait amer à grans et à petits, et principallement à ceulx du pais, et ceulx du pais commencent fort à labourer, planter et ediffier” (“he was loved by everyone, high and low, and above all by the inhabitants of the country, and the inhabitants of the country began in earnest to work, to plant, and to build”). The natives’ eagerness to contribute is seen in their contribution to the building of a church: “ils apportent pierres, ils besongnent, et aydent de se qu’il sceuent faire, et ont vng grant et bon vouloir” (“they bring building stones, they labor mightily, and assist in any way they know how to, and do so with a right and proper goodwill”; 351). As with the boundaries and discontinuities that define racial demographies, so it is with those that distinguish castes as quasiracial subgroups within broader ethnic or national categories. The Marvels, for example, gives a detailed account of the Egyptian Mamelukes’ maintenance of collective identity and competitive political advantage through deliberate coordination of kinship, inheritance, and religious affiliation. This de facto warrior caste, the descendants of slaves, had seized the Egyptian throne in the thirteenth century and become the country’s ruling class. They systematically converted their sons to Christianity, observes the narrator, not from spiritual considerations but rather so that, on their fathers’ death, “queden sucessores en el herencia” (“they can be their fathers’ heirs”). For, the narrator explains, “todos los bienes d’esta gente . . . luego que mueren son confiscados para el soldán, y ningún moro natural puede ser mamelluco” (“all the property of these people [i.e., ordinary Egyptian Muslims] . . . is confiscated for the sultan as soon as they die, and no natural-born Muslim can be a Mameluke”; 176). In order to circumvent their own strict rule of excluding Muslims from membership in the caste, as soon as sons come of age, “llevánlos ante del soldán, diziendo que son muy prestos de negar la fe de Cristo Jesú, para que sucedan en la herencia,



lo cual otorgado, assí reniegan y son subrogados en el lugar mismo de sus padres” (“they are taken before the sultan, with the fathers declaring that their sons are quite ready to deny the faith of Jesus Christ, so that they may inherit the paternal estate; the request being granted, they then renounce the Christian faith and are assigned the same status as their fathers”). This would not be allowed, the narrator clarifies, “si en la secta de Mahoma fuessen del vientre nascidos” (“if they were born-in-the-womb members of the Muslim sect”). Such practices, designed to guarantee the group’s exclusivity of membership and, indirectly, its political supremacy, benefit all Christians, for “si moros puros tuviessen las tierras santas en manos, no se daría consentimiento que algún cristiano a ellas entrasse, por ser tan terrible la enemiga” (“if pure Moors had control of the Holy Land, no consent would ever be given to any Christian to enter there, so terrible is their enmity [toward Christians]”). However, “como el mismo soldán es de aquellos y los que tiene en las armadas, aún fallamos defensión alguna” (“since the sultan himself is one of theirs, as well as the men of his armies, as of yet we encounter no such prohibition”; Marvels 177). The Marvels, as it were, inserts Christianity into the competitive mix of the Egyptian caste system. In his own account of the Mamelukes, by contrast, Tafur (Travels 260) speaks from a somewhat different perspective on the group’s recruitment and training of its members and the implications of its religious and social practices. Purchased as slaves in the Black Sea ports, new members are brought to Egypt, where “tórnanlos moros e muéstranles la ley e a cavalgar e jugar con el arco” (“they are converted to Islam, and are taught the religion, and how to ride and to wield the bow”). Furthermore, he informs us: “No puede ser soldán ni almirante, ni aver onor niguna ni oficio si no es destos renegados” (“No man can become sultan or admiral, nor have any kind of honor or office, unless he be one of these renegades”). In common with other caste elites, the Mamelukes reinforce collective prestige and competitive solidarity by the exclusive exercise of privileged activities and the imposition of correlative behavioral taboos. This is exemplified by a Draconian prohibition aimed at Muslims: “ni puede cavalgar en cavallo moro de natura sin que mueran por ello” (“Nor may any Muslim by birth ride on horseback, on pain of death”). Where Mandeville describes an implicitly stable system, Tafur discerns an evolutionary trend. While the privileges and exclusions maintained by the Mamelukes allow a monopoly of “todas las onras de la cavallería” (“all the honors of knighthood”), ethnic identity is incidentally undermined over the course of generations as castespecific prerogatives are enjoyed by “sus fijos un poco menos e los nietos menos, e dende adelante quedan moros de natura” (“their sons a bit less so, and their grandsons even less, and from that point on they become



Moors by blood”). This intergenerational dilution of lineal purity conduces to a paradoxical absorption of the caste into the greater population over which the group supposedly holds sway, so that the Mameluke, in effect, becomes known as “el acrecentador de la ley de Mahomad” (“the increaser of the Muslim religion”). Differentiation by color-coding and comportment, suggestive of the New World castas system of later centuries, is exemplified by Columbus’s account of an encounter with certain natives, whom the Spaniards appraise as “gente más hermosa y de mejor condición que ninguna otra de las que avían hasta allí hallado” (“better-looking people, and of a better condition, than any others that they had so far encountered”). A further subdivision is based on the appraisal of their looks: “Cuanto a la hermosura . . . no avía comparación, así en los hombres como en las mugeres, y que son blancos más que los otros, y que entre los otros vieron dos mugeres moças tan blancas como podían ser en España” (“Regarding physical beauty . . . there was no comparison, in the men as well as the women, and they are whiter than the other peoples, and that among these others they saw two young women as white as any in Spain”; Journals 450). The color-coding is reiterated with respect to yet another population of natives: “andavan desnudos como sus madres los parieron, y así las mugeres, sin algún empacho, y son los más hermosos hombres y mugeres que hasta allí ovieron hallado: harto blancos, que, si vestidos anduviesen y se guardasen del sol y del aire, serían cuasi tan blancos como en España (“they went about as naked as their mothers bore them, the women as well, completely uninhibited, and they were the handsomest men and women that they had met with so far: very white-skinned, such that, if they were clothed and protected themselves from the sun and open air, they would be as white as people in Spain”; 453). Ever alert to fine gradations of status differences among natives, the Admiral refers to relative superiority of a certain chieftain: “En su comer, con su honestidad y hermosa manera de limpieza, se mostrava bien ser de linaje” (“In his manner of eating, in his gentility and delicate regard for cleanliness, he clearly showed himself to be of high lineage”; 471). Frequent descriptions of countrysides as arable land, as opposed to unpopulated and undeveloped tracts, bespeak an implicitly caste-minded perspective implying potential productivity through an eventual division of labor: “todas aquellas tierras estavan labradas” (“all those lands were cultivated”; 450). Comparisons are frequent, as in the description of a country more prosperous and advanced than others as “muy hermosa y muy poblada de gente como la de la isla Española, y la tierra así toda labrada, que parecía ver la campiña de Córdova” (“very pretty and well



populated with people, like that of the island of Hispaniola, and all the land so thoroughly cultivated that it seemed as if one were beholding the countryside of Cordoba”; 451). The suitability of native populations for assimilation into the existing system is expressly summarized: “Ellos no tienen armas y son todos desnudos y de ningún ingenio en las armas y muy cobardes . . . y así son buenos para les mandar y les hazer trabaxar, sembrar y hazer todo lo otro que fuere menester y que hagan villas y se enseñen a andar vestidos y a nuestras costumbres” (“They have no weapons and are all naked, with no skill in bearing arms, and very cowardly . . . and thus they are good for following orders and being made to toil, plant seed, and do whatever is necessary, and to build towns and be taught to wear clothes and learn our customs”; 454). Justifying the need for reinforcement of manpower and replenishment of supplies, Columbus, in the log of the second voyage, points out that his crew needs “mantenimientos que en España acostumbravan” (“the materials they were used to in Spain”). In order to establish agriculture in the islands, his expedition must address a serious problem: “adolecieron aquellos poquitos labradores que acá estavan” (“those few laborers that were here have fallen sick”; 514). In context it is clear that Columbus refers to Spaniards who belong to the estate of “laborers,” that is, those who toil. It is apparently out of the question that other Spaniards there will do the needful work. The estates system as division of labor has been transported to the newly discovered lands; the shortage of suitable laborers will presumably have to be supplied through caste-specific recruitment. Having complained of a shortage of suitable agricultural labor, the Admiral then blames another specialized category of labor for yet another crucial shortage: “a culpa de la mala obra que los toneleros fizieron en Sevilla, la mayor mengua que agora tenemos aquí o esperamos por esto tener es de vinos” (“through fault of the bad workmanship of the coopers in Seville, the greatest shortage we presently have here, or expect to have on this account, is of wine”; 515). A specialized labor shortage is likewise addressed by Columbus with regard to a pressing need for suitable interpreters. He informs their Catholic majesties that he intends to send back to Spain a number of “caníbales, ombres e mujeres e niños e niñas, los cuales sus altezas pueden mandar poner en poder de personas con quien puedan mejor aprender la lengua, exercitándoles en cosas de servicio e poco a poco mandando poner en ellos algún más cuidado que en otros esclavos” (“cannibals, men and women, girls and boys, which your majesties can order to be placed under the care of persons with whom they may better learn our language, training them in matters of service, and little by little ordering them to be treated with greater care than other



slaves”). Thus they will become “mucho mejores intérpretes” (“much better interpreters”; 516). The beginnings of New World caste systems may be in Columbus’s division between good Indians and bad Indians, as we see in his assurance to his royal masters: “toda esta gente desta grande isla e de las otras, viendo el buen tratamiento que a los buenos se fará e el castigo que a los malos se dará, verná a obediencia prestamente para poderlos mandar como vasallos de sus altezas” (“all these people of this greater island and of the others, seeing the kind treatment accorded to the good ones, and the punishment handed out to the bad, will readily submit to authority, so that they may be commended to your majesties as your vassals”; 516–517). Captured Indians are therefore seen as fodder for the estates system’s lower echelons. Columbus assures his royal lords that supplies and reinforcements may be paid for with this human commodity: “las cuales cosas se les podrían pagar en esclavos destos caníbales, gente tan fiera e dispuesta e bien proporcionada e de muy buen entendimiento, los cuales, quitados de aquella inhumanidad creemos que serán mejores que otros ningunos esclavos” (“which things the suppliers may be paid for with these enslaved cannibals, a people so proud and healthy and well-proportioned, and of very good understanding, who, once separated from their barbarity, we believe will be better than any other slaves”; 517). Columbus, in the second voyage, refers to “oficiales que acá vinieron, como son albañiles e de otros oficios” (“craftsmen who have come here, such as bricklayers and other traders”; 522). A little later, the Admiral requests that his royal addressees send him “lavadores e de los que andan en las minas allá en Almadén, porque en la una manera e en la otra se faga el exercicio” (“workers such as those to be found in the mines of Almadén, so that one way or the other the work may get done”; 522–523). This outline of job descriptions to be urgently filled portends the eventual casticized division between skilled and unskilled labor, with the former category to be manned by various specialized guilds, the latter by a homogeneous pool of unskilled native or immigrant workers. Along the Central American coast, during his fourth voyage, Columbus hears rumors of a higher civilization, Ciguare, nine days’ journey inland. Referring enthusiastically to what are probably Mayas, he mentions crafts and trades analogous to those of European cities: “dizen que ay infinito oro y que traen coronas en las cabezas, manillas a los pies y a los brazos de ello y bien gruesas, y las sillas, arcas y mesas las guarnecían y enforran de ello” (“they say there is an immense wealth of gold, and that the people wear tiaras on their heads, weighty anklets and bands of gold on their feet and arms, while their chairs, chests, and tables are lined with the same



material”). The women, it is said, wear “collares colgados de la cabeza a las espaldas” (“circlets hanging down from their heads to their shoulders”). The people of this place “usan tratar en ferias y en mercadurías” (“are accustomed to trading in fairs and markets”). In short, “traen ricas vestiduras y tienen buenas casas” (“they wear costly garments and have well-built houses”; 547). All this bespeaks not only wealth in gold and goods, but the presence of trade, commerce, and specialized guilds. Later, concerning another region, the vocational motif is reiterated (555–556), as the Admiral describes the varied arts and crafts of certain natives, “grandes mineros de cobre” (“great miners of copper”), forgers of “hartas cosas labradas y fondidas y soldadas” (“many implements, worked, or cast, or soldered”), weavers of “sábanas grandes o paños de algodón, labrados de muy sotiles labores y otras pintadas muy sotilmente a colores y con pinzeles” (“sheets of fabric and lengths of cotton cloth, embroidered with subtlest workmanship, and others very exquisitely dyed in many colors”), and craftsmen equipped with “fragua con todo aparejo de platero y los grisoles” (“forges, and all the equipment of a silversmith, including melting pots”). The passage concludes with a tantalizing reference to a region further inland, toward Cathay, where textiles “tesidas de oro” (“interwoven with gold thread”) are manufactured. In Columbus, thick description is never neutral or gratuitous. In their sheer accumulation, all details implicitly further an ultimately colonial agenda grounded in the axiomatic assumption that a functional society, an appropriately hierarchical and productive society, requires an extensive personnel of appropriately trained workers, both specialized and nonspecialized, overseen by a properly entitled elite. Whatever the local origins of the specific categories that constitute this aggregate labor force, the total roster must be, as it were, filled out in order to become the society the Admiral envisions as one of the most important objectives of his foundational ambitions. Ideally, this filling-out will be achieved through adaptation of native populations to the European system. The Admiral makes no provision for, and cannot foresee, the impending demographic catastrophe that will render this solution impossible in many areas of the New World. Cities Historians of travel and travel literature have pointed out the particularly intense interest in cities shown by medieval travelers and tourists. Jean Verdon, for example, mentions the special attention paid to cities by guidebooks, gazetteers, and travel chronicles (244–245). Rolf Eberenz (“L’Image de la ville” 30–31), introducing his study of city themes and



imagery in the Embassy and Tafur’s Travels, notes the frequent elaboration of such themes and images in European travel literature throughout the middle ages. He cites Marco’s widely read Description and Mandeville as prominent and inf luential examples. The urban focus of the Embassy and the Travels, for example, reveals, suggests Miguel Ángel Pérez Priego, a discernible “compositional scheme” traceable to late-classical rhetorical tradition. The latter observed a set of specific descriptive protocols with regard to cities, singling out certain elements for appreciation or appraisal, such as: the antiquity and founders of the city; the city’s walls, situation, and surroundings; the fertility of its fields and waters; the customs of its inhabitants; its architecture, buildings, and monuments (“Estudio literario” 227). This stylized descriptio urbis (“description of the city”), entailing “amplificatory and digressive procedures” (228), also accommodates descriptions of courtly ceremonies, festivals, modes of dress, social usages, political organization, visits to buildings and monuments. These elements, in turn, are the cue for digressions on religious cults, relics, hagiographic legends, and encounters with important or interesting persons. Additional digressions concern the history of the city currently visited; its political relations with other places; celebrated personages associated with it; descriptions of local costume, marketplaces, and the various kinds of artisans (229). In connection with this thematic tendency, Pérez Priego cites Ernst Robert Curtius, who, summarizing the detailed rules for composing the eulogies of cities developed by the literary theorists of late antiquity, mentions typical descriptions of the fruitful plains surrounding the town; depictions of walls, towers, and gates; of town forums and central markets, paved streets and public baths, and so on (Curtius 157; cited by Pérez Priego 227). In connection with such urbanistic topoi, Paul Zumthor (111–112) interprets the medieval habit of describing cities as an adherence to the customary variations on the theme of laudatio urbis (“praise of the city”). Such descriptions delimit a privileged urban space by referring to such factors as the names of the founders, the significance of city names, the peculiarities of location, and so on. Access points, such as bridges and gates; the configuration of city walls, towers, and moats; the specifics of local shrines and churches, with their associated relics; the contours and fertility of associated hinterlands; the town’s general wealth and architectural splendor—all these elements form what Zumthor calls a “schème passe-partout” (“catch-all schema”). This formulary of descriptive fragments constitutes the typical medieval descriptio civitatis (“description of the city”). Earlier texts, up until the thirteenth century, confine themselves to stereotypical depictions, avoiding concrete details. The words that name



the enclosed, protective urban space in the various languages (bourg, stadt, borough, town, etc.) are notional, minimalist appellations that conjure up the walled-in, collective habitat (112–113). Later accounts become more elaborate, expressing astonishment at the marvels of the big city; concrete and specific details begin to accrete to the traditional urbanocentric formulae. In both chronicle and romance, the descriptio civitatis, disregarding earlier conventions, alludes to an increasingly variegated, collective human presence. Such phenomena as moneychangers, street venders, artisans, the different social classes, and so on become assimilated to the urban profile. The civic way of life, summarizes Zumthor, kindles the imagination of poets and romance writers alike even more than the material aspects and structures of these intramural spaces (114). The city of cities in the medieval urbanocentric tradition, the most fascinating of all intramural domains for western Europeans, is Constantinople. The great city’s special status is confirmed by lengthy accounts devoted to it in the Embassy and other travel works. Such extended descriptions of the Byzantine metropolis, argues Pérez Priego, may well have inf luenced the composition of similarly elaborate urban profiles, such as that of Genoa in Tafur’s Travels (“Prólogo” xiii–xiv).1 Long regarded by Christians as “the great reliquary,” Constantinople remained, Higgins notes, both “a sumptuous waystation” and one of the principal touristic destinations even after having been looted of most of its treasures during the Fourth Crusade (Writing East 69). For Spanish monarchs of the earlier Reconquest era, it was the imperial paradigm that inspired the fashioning of their titles, their irredentist policies, their modes of governance (Ciggaar 316–319). The participation of Spaniards in the Fourth Crusade (1203–1204) and the intensification of trade relations between Catalonia and the Eastern Mediterranean in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries complicate the already multifarious cultural inf luence exerted by Byantium. In the fourteenth century, the mercenary service, military and political interventions, and eventual depredations of the Catalan Company in the Byzantine Empire entail a prolonged and complex interaction between an upstart Peninsular region—Catalonia and Aragon—and a diminished, vulnerable, but still occasionally formidable Constantinople (319–320). The matter of Byzantium, in broad terms, became the basis of a cluster of topoi, conventional images, cultural themes, and narrative motifs. Appearing in many kinds of literary text, including travel narratives and romances, it enchants authors and audiences throughout the Middle Ages. During the period of the Crusades (late eleventh through late thirteenth centuries), and up to the fall of Constantinople in the mid-fifteenth century, literary representations of the Byzantine capital and its empire,



suggests Luciana Stegagno Picchio (“Fortuna iberica” 110–111), ref lected a peculiarly Occidental view of the East. The emperor and his court were endowed with something of the mystical prestige, the fairy-tale exoticism, the idealistic militancy of the legendary Prester John, the supposed rex et sacerdos (“priest-king”) of a fabulously opulent and militarily powerful Eastern Christian realm. Chronicles and travelers’ accounts of the early fifteenth century, including those of the Embassy and Tafur’s Travels, contributed realistically supportive details to the image of Constantinople as the epitome of imperial grandeur, diminished yet still majestic. The narrator of Amadís pronounces a hyperbolic encomium on the attractions of the Byzantine capital, describing how the hero, beholding the great metropolis, with all its “cosas estrañas y maravillosas” (“strange and wondrous things”), thanks God for guiding him to this marvelous place and for allowing him to be welcomed by the Greek Emperor, “mayor hombre de los christianos” (“the greatest man in Christendom”). The latter’s palace is not only breathtaking in its magnificence, containing as it does “toda la riqueza del mundo” (“all the riches in the world”), its opulence confirms the emperor as the pinnacle of earthly authority, as symbolized by a certain “aposentamiento donde el Emperador mandava aposentar los grandes señores que a él venían (“residence in which the Emperor ordered to be lodged all the great lords that came to visit him”; 1158–1159). The Byzantine capital’s political supremacy and unequalled cultural prestige are similarly highlighted by the Esplandián’s depiction of the sumptuous quarters of the imperial princess Leonorina, who resides there with her tutor and lady-in-waiting, Menoresa, a queen in her own right, and surrounded by “otras muchas donzellas, fijas de reyes y grandes príncipes” (“many other damsels, the daughters of kings and great princes”; 286). Although a recurrent fascination with cities, as exemplified by the matter of Byzantium, has characterized travel writing since ancient times, this predilection is deeply rooted in the real world and is not merely derived—or at least not exclusively—from literary tradition. The city is an understandable obsession of travel authors. Cities are the stars of the peripatetic firmament, the substantial points that give meaning to vast, empty spaces perceived as vaguely defined wastelands stretching between scattered islands of urban significance. Circulatory nodes on the itinerary network, towns and cities are supply points and rest stages, as well as, in many cases, destinations and attractions in their own right. Ready-made foci of exegetic encapsulation, they naturally draw the traveler’s attention and the travel writer’s preemptive regard. In the travel works discussed here, a city is therefore never just a city. It is a storehouse of goods and services, a concentrated treasure trove of



noteworthy sights, a model of urbane and cosmopolitan life styles. These multiple attractions are ref lected in descriptions of cities that stand apart as visual set pieces. Marvelously detailed, like clockwork miniatures, they are offered for the reader’s delectation. At the same time, a city is not merely an architectural array or even a varied population of exotic subjects. It is above all a teeming hive of categorized and stratified productivity, a model of exploitable diversity, a dioramic microcosm of the well-ordered society. The preponderant allure of towns and cities is dramatically highlighted by their strategic importance in medieval warfare. Philippe Contamine (101) shows the complex ways in which siege warfare, with all that it implied in terms of deployment of military and resources, was preferentially focused on urban centers as concentrations of economic, administrative, and human resources. Securing control of these “true masters of space” was thus an “absolutely vital” objective of kings, great lords, their vassals, and their mercenary allies. Something of this perspective, as we will see, distinctly persists in the conquest narratives of Cortés and Díaz del Castillo. This covetous urbanophilia, however, is not limited to military authors. Just as warfare is subject to greater scenarios of territorial acquisition, strategic expansion, and political ascendancy, so too is travel writing contingent upon implicit narratives of intrusive curiosity, invidious scrutiny, and cultural hegemony. Travel writing’s extensive descriptions of urban spaces are therefore never casual. To account for a city in all its marvelous detail—to capture it metaphorically—is to invite the reader’s vicarious participation in the joys of virtual conquest. The Book of Knowledge exemplifies medieval travel writing’s love of cities, with breathless minimalism, as it lists and very brief ly describes numerous cities (e.g., Constantinople [32, 76, 92]; Alexandria [40]; Damascus [38, 66, 88]; Canbalech [the Cathayan capital, 76]). Its urbanocentrism is confirmed by the sheer profusion of its enumerations. The Marvels, by contrast, embellishes its accounts of such famous places as Alexandria (24–25), Bethlehem (31–32), Jerusalem (34–46), Nazareth (55–56), Damascus (60–61), and many others throughout the book, with historical, folkloric, and Bible-related information (e.g., the state of the Holy Sepulcher; the location of the True Cross; the sites of Gethsemane and Golgotha) that distinguish these urban profiles from the minimal thumbnails of the Book of Knowledge on the one hand, and the more detailed city descriptions of Marco Polo and the travel writers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries on the other. The elaborate city descriptions of the latter frequently serve as vehicles for the expression of functionalist ideology as epitomized by the estates concept.



The Embassy and Tafur’s Travels stand out for their especially meticulous accounts of urban structures, both social and material. Both narratives, suggests Eberenz, exalt the city as an expression of national character, above all because one may behold in cities the principal artistic productions that, for these authors, define ethnic identity. The city is, in effect, the achievement and embodiment of local genius, “an architectural creation perfectly adapted to its natural environment and in accordance with the objectives of its founders” (Eberenz, “Ruy González” 34–35). The two works, Eberenz points out, value foreign cities for the opportunity they afford of finding a comparative vantage point from which to comment on civic realities back home, as when the Embassy contrasts the Spanish cities of Seville and Triana with the Byzantine Constantinople and Pera, or Tafur compares the size, situation, and population of Nuremberg and Toledo (Eberenz, “Ruy González” 36–37; referring to Embassy 144, and Travels 269). The Embassy’s description of the Moorish port of Málaga, highlighting the city’s social divisions and organization, and its many forms of generating wealth and exploiting resources, points out, on one side of the town, “unas atarazanas” (“some shipyards”), and, on another, a certain enclosure containing “muchas huertas hermosas” (“many fine orchards”). In the hills above and beyond town are “casas, e viñas, e huertas” (“houses, vineyards, and orchards”), while between the city walls and the sea “están unas pocas de casas, que son lonjas de mercaderes” (“are a few entrepôts belonging to merchants”; Embassy 82–83).2 Downplaying the glamorous aspects later exalted by Amadís and Esplandián in depicting Constantinople, the Embassy elaborately describes the great city’s architecture and artful town planning. The choice of themes indirectly points to all three of the estates: the ecclesiastical, represented by Constantinople’s more than three thousand churches, chapels, and shrines, and its great cathedral; the secular power, represented by the city walls, the imperial palace, and the municipal jail; the laboring and productive classes, implicitly responsible for these constructions and for the use and maintenance of vineyards, orchards, and water supply systems; the great port with its voluminous trade and constant traffic of ships (Embassy 142–143). The Armenian city of Arzinga, to cite another example, reveals casteconscious divisions by vocation, sectarian affiliation, and ethnicity: “era muy poblada e dentro de ella avía . . . muchos officiales, y es ciudad muy rica y de muchas mercaderías . . . e en ella avía muchos cristianos, armenios e griegos” (“it was well populated, and within it were many . . . tradesmen, and it is a very rich city, very engaged in all manner of commerce . . . in it there were many Christians, Armenians, and Greeks”; 179–180). The city of Tauris (Tabriz) is likewise described with great attention to vocational



divisions. The streets are “muy ordenadas” (“very well laid out”), and the “officiales” (“tradesmen”) very well organized, with many kinds of wares for sale. Numerous large buildings serve as entrepôts within which are located “muchas casas e boticas” (“many stores and shops”) housing many “officiales de muchas maneras muy bien ordenados” (“tradesmen of all kinds, very organized”). The great variety of available products include “paños de seda e de algodón e cendales e tafetanes e seda e alxófar” (“textiles of silk and cotton, sandal, taffeta and velvet, and also pearls”). It is, in short, a “ciudad de gran bollicio e de muchas mercaderías” (“a city of much activity and very active trading”; 200), whose produce and merchandise are sold “muy reglada e muy limpiamente” (“at a fair price and subject to strict regulation”; 201). The city of Soltaniyeh is similarly appreciated. It is “muy poblada” (“densely populated”) and possesses a “mayor escala de mercadurías” (“larger emporium for the sale of merchandise”), which is stocked by “muy grandes caravanas de camellos que traen grandes mercadurías” (“very great caravans of camels, bringing great amounts of merchandise”). It is “ciudad de gran meneo e que rinde mucho al señor” (“a city full of lively activity, and which renders great tribute to its lord”; 205). The appraisal is repeated a little later, after detailed enumeration of the many kinds of wares bought and sold (spices, textiles, jewels, etc.), and after emphasizing that the merchants who come there may be of various races and sects, whose thriving commerce: “rinde al señor de cada año muy gran cuantía” (“renders to its lord every year a very great amount of tribute”; 208). In his account of Tamerlane’s hometown of Quex, the narrator continues the pattern of urban description couched in terms of interlaced themes of commerce, vocational variety and organization, ethnic diversity, and social stratification. He emphasizes the impressive skill and subtlety of Quex’s artisans, creators of “obras de oro e de azul e de otras muchas colores hechas a muchas maravillas e para dentro en París, onde son los maestros sutiles” (“works decorated with gold and deep blue, and many other colors, done with a marvelous artistry worthy of Paris, where the artisans are so skillful”). The interior of a palace belonging to Tamerlane reveals “extraña obra e rica, e assí en las paredes como en el cielo e en el suelo, y destos palacios estavan labrando muchos maestros de muchas maneras” (“a fine and rich workmanship, in the walls as well as in the ceilings and f loors, and on these palaces were working many of the finest craftsmen, of many different sorts”; 248). The Embassy represents Tamerlane’s capital, Samarkand, as a commercial magnet attracting the implicitly voluntary convergence of numerous and ethnically diverse tradesmen: “En esta ciudad . . . se tratan de cada año



muchas mercadurías de muchas maneras que allí vienen del Catay e de la India e de Tartalia e de otras muchas partes” (“In this city . . . are traded throughout the year goods of many kinds that are brought there from Cathay, and from India, and from Tartary, and from many other places”; 305). Because a variegated array of tradesmen and artisans is an essential component of city life, the narrator informs us, Tamerlane orders to be brought from all countries he has conquered “maestros de todas artes” (“masters of all the arts”; 312). These master artisans include: from Damascus, silk weavers, bow makers, armorers, glassmakers, and potters; from Turkey, crossbow makers, bricklayers, silversmiths. In short, “de todos los maestros e menestriles que quisiéredes, fallaríades en esta ciudad” (“all the master craftsmen and specialists you could hope to see were to be found in this city”). Tafur’s persistent fascination with cities and with urban society, observes Sof ìa Carrizo Rueda (“Gentiles casas” 3–7), is expressed by his frequent emphasis on the configuration of urban habitats; on the details of residential construction, both interior and exterior; on the architecture of walls and ramparts. Such details are not merely a matter of visual adornment. They imply the presence of the rationally organized vocations that perform the labor of design and construction. The distinctive urban admixture likewise informs Tafur’s notion of civic obligation as a motive of travel: the conscientious voyager, gaining beneficial insight through observation of the workings of foreign peoples, will return home a better and more knowledgeable citizen. Law, money, commerce are exemplarily represented, throughout Tafur’s narrative, as paramount elements of a city’s identity. Early in his account (Travels 220), for example, he emphasizes Málaga’s significance as a “cibdad muy mercadantesca” (“a thoroughly mercantile city”). In Genoa he finds himself “pleyteando con unos mercaderes, que non me acudíen con el cambio que en ellos tenían” (“haggling with certain merchants, who declined to assist me in arranging a letter of exchange against their accounts”; 12). In Venice he provides more details of financial dealings: “Fuí á saver la lonja de miçer Sylvestro Morosin,” he relates, “en quien yo traya mi cambio, é luego lo fallé, é lo aceptó, é me aparejó la paga” (“I went to seek out the counting house of Messer Sylvester Morosini, with whom I had a bill of exchange, and found him straightaway, and he accepted it, and had the money paid out to me”; 226). He notes the peculiar dedication of Venetians to this international system: “Esto es cosa que ellos non la tardaríen por ninguna cosa del mundo, é bien que todos los mercaderes en todas las partes lo usan, pero éstos más que todos á complir la verdat que esfuerçan” (“This is something that they would not for the world delay in carrying out, and although all merchants everywhere do



the same thing, these more than any others are determined to keep the word that they have given”; 226). Eberenz (“Ruy González” 40) correlates Tafur’s fascination with urban society and economy, including its industrial and commercial aspects, with the Spanish travel writer’s supposedly bourgeois mentality. For Eberenz, this explains Tafur’s appreciation of the intimacy and comfort afforded by private residences, his acknowledgment of clean and well-maintained streets, his recognition of the splendors of public buildings. However, Tafur, transcending what we would call a middle-class orientation, shows himself a theorist of caste, and thus the intellectual heir to Juan Manuel, in his preoccupation with urban structures based on rational divisions of vocational labor. This is seen in his description of the utilitarian disposition of an Italian city’s commercial districts: “las calles e casas de los armeros es una singular cosa de ver, e asimesmo asteros e silleros e xastres . . . así de los otros atavíos maravillosamente e con gran orden tienen sus oficios” (“and in the same way with all the other specialties, all plying their trades in most admirably and in a very orderly fashion”; 338). Indeed, Tafur pays close attention to trades and the multiplicity of crafts wherever he goes, whether in Europe or in the Middle East. In the streets of Cairo, barbers roam about shaving heads and necks, while “de todos los oficicos, por las calles andan los oficiales requiriendo a quien los a menester” (“tradesmen and venders of all kinds go about in the streets advertising their goods and services to whomever might have need of them”). Even the cooks serve their customers on the streets: “traen colgado un brasero e fuego e olillas de guisado para vender, otros platos con frutas” (“they carry about with them a brasier and fire, and little pots of stew for sale; others offer plates of fruit”), while “innumberable gente . . . anda a vender el agua, así en los camellos como en los asnos e otros a cuestas, porque la gente es mucha e no ay otra agua sino de aquella ribera” (“innumberable people . . . go about selling water, some using camels, others donkeys, and some carrying it on their backs, for the people are many and there is no water save that which is obtained in the river”; 280). Cologne is a city “muy bien murada, con buen fossado e barrera, e muy gentiles calles, e muchos artesanos de todas artes mecánicas” (“very well-walled, with an good moat and outer barrier, very nice houses, and many artisans, of all specialities”; Travels 345). The Germans, Tafur affirms a little later, are “gente muy sotil, mayormente en estas artes, que dixe, mecánicas” (“very clever folk, especially in these arts I have mentioned, that is, the mechanical”; 346). Bruges, likewise, is a “grant pueblo” (“great town”) of many “gentiles casas, todas pobladas de artesanos” (“handsome buildings, all of them inhabited by artisans”; 351). “La



gente es muy industriosa a maravilla,” speculates Tafur, perhaps owing to “la esterilidat de la tierra,” for in that land “nace muy poco pan e vino non ninguno” (“The people are marvelously industrious . . . the sterility of the land . . . very little wheat grows and there are no vineyards”; 351–352). In Vienna there are “muchos artesanos e de todas cosas” as well as “grandes estudios de ciencias” (“many artisans, manufacturing many things . . . and much study of all fields of knowledge”; 368). Padua is notable for its great town hall, beneath which “están fechas boticas do caben todos los que fazen oficios de vestir e calçar” (“shops are constructed in which are found every kind of artisan specializing in clothing and footwear”; 371). From the number and variety of artisans “se puede ver quan grande es, pues de tan grant cibdat caben todos aquí” (“one can see how big it is, so big that it can accommodate all of them in one place”). Regarding Palermo he states: “es muy rica por las muchas mercadurías, e muy abastada de toda cosa” (“very rich by reason of all the many kinds of merchandise, and very well stocked with every kind of goods; 378). This hyperawareness of cities and what they represent is seen in Santaella’s account of Lesser Armenia: “En esta tierra ay muchas ciudades e villas y gran abundancia de toda cosa” (“In this country there are many cities and towns and great abundance of all things”). In the town called Gloza, “ay gran trato de mercaderías” (“there is a great amount of trade”), while “todos los mercaderes que tratan en aquella comarca tienen sus alhóndigas en aquella ciudad” (“all the merchants who trade in that district maintain their warehouses in that city”; 30). When a people is characterized, it is often by reference to their way of making a living, as in the case of the Turkomanic tribesmen of Lesser Armenia: “aquella gente bive de industria de ganados” (“that people gets its living from the keeping livestock”). Neighboring peoples, Greeks and Armenians, are contrasted: “biven en uno y biven de sus artes y mercaderías” (“they dwell together and get their livelihood from their skilled handicrafts and from commerce”; 30). In Georgia, the people “bive de mercancía e labor de la tierra” (“get their livelihood from trade or from working the land”; 32). The city called Baldach is known for its handicrafts: “se hazen paños de oro de muchas maneras, y paños de seda . . . de . . . muchos colores e maneras” (“cloth of gold of many kinds is manufactured, and silken textiles . . . of . . . many kinds and colors”; 33). The city of Jasoi is “muy noble e grande llena de mercaderes, donde se labran paños de oro y de seda en gran cantidad” (“very great and noble, full of merchants, where cloth of gold and silk are manufactured in great quantity”; 39). Not far from there is the city of Crerina, where “se labran muy gentiles jaezes e otras guarniciones de cavallos e de cavalleros, y espadas e arcos e carcaxes e otras armas de toda manera” (“very fine



harness cloth and other caparisons of horses and horsemen are manufactured, as well as swords, bows, quivers, and other armaments of all kinds”; 39). By contrast, the inhabitants of the city called Singui are all “filósofos, médicos, mercaderes y officiales muy sotiles de todas artes” (“philosophers, physicians, merchants, and artisans, very skilled in all manner of handicrafts”; Santaella 95). The readership of travel works would of course include the explorers and conquerors of the New World. Thus, in his own way, Columbus alertly seeks out urban agglomerations in terms analogous to those employed by the Embassy, the Travels, or the Amadís when they refer to Constantinople and other great cities. He notes the islanders’ domestic architecture and patterns of settlement: “las casas, son todas a manera de alfaneques y muy altas y buenas chimeneas, mas no vide entre muchas poblaciones que yo vide ninguna que pasasse de doze hasta quinze casas” (“the houses, are all in the form of pavilions, with very high, well-made chimneys, but I never saw, among the many settlements that I saw, any with more than between a dozen and fifteen houses”; 407). The Admiral’s contrastive inclination is likewise ref lected, a little later, on the island of Cuba, where a larger settlement is described in terms of houses that are “más hermosas” (“prettier”) than ones he had already seen on other islands. Assuming that the settlements and houses would be of finer and more elaborate construction as the Spaniards approached the mainland, he compares the village, with its spacious pavilions and lack of defined streets, to a royal encampment (415). In a similar vein, Cortés, in the second of his Letters, shows himself fascinated by the urban agglomeration as a locus of activity and prosperity. In this he participates in the urbanocentric literary tradition that was one of several common features shared by fifteenth-century travel works and the earlier chronicles of the Indies (Martínez Crespo 425–439). The theme, as Inga Clendinnen observes, is especially embodied by Cortés’s perception of Tenochtitlan: “It was the dream of the city that had fired his ambition, and provided the focus for all his actions.” The Aztec metropolis, she summarizes, eclipsed “all other cities in Mesoamerica (and Europe) in size, elegance, order, and magnificence of spectacle” (“‘Fierce and Unnatural” 90). It is not surprising, then, that Cortés describes the Aztec capital in a manner reminiscent of the ornate urban descriptions of the Embassy, the Travels, or the Amadís. Cortés, however, exceeds his predecessors in the proliferation of detail. Particular attention is paid to the city’s numerous markets, where a fabulous variety of goods is made available to hordes of shoppers. Concerning one great marketplace, twice as spacious as the central square of Salamanca, Cortés declares that “hay cotidianamente arriba de sesenta mill ánimas



comprando y vendiendo” (“there are, every day, upward of sixty thousand souls, buying and selling”; 132). Every conceivable kind of merchandise, commodity, and service is available, all of them implying the activity of specialized producers, purveyors, and providers. Products for sale include all manner of clothing, and varied jewelry made from many different metals, such as gold, silver, lead, brass, copper, and tin, or from such other materials as precious stones, bone, conch and snail shells, and even feathers. Also for sale are such building materials as limestone and other kinds of stone, both dressed and undressed; adobe, brick, and wood, both finished and unfinished. On one street, every kind of bird is for sale, including chickens, partridges, quails, wild ducks, turtle doves, pigeons, parrots, eagles, falcons, and sparrowhawks (132). In other streets, the meat of rabbits, hares, deer, and other animals is sold, while in another district, herbalists vend every sort of herb, plant, and root, and elsewhere apothecaries provide medicines, unguents, and plasters (132–133). Also available are the services of barbers, restaurateurs, day laborers, woodcutters and charcoal venders, upholsterers, furniture makers, carpet sellers, and grocers (133). Cortés continues this intricate panegyric on the mercantile charms of the Aztec capital for another several pages. Not the least of his motives in providing this detailed account is the need to impress his imperial master with the magnitude and elegance of the place. The sheer ostentation and compulsive accountability of the portrait reveals, at the same time, an obsession with the city as a functionalist microcosm, at once a hotbed of laborious productivity and a consumer’s paradise. In short, the author’s gaze seems covetous. He reminds his reader that this is what kings support and what soldiers sign up for: to hold sway over such swarming activity, to have unlimited access to such bounty. Cortés concludes the section with a reiterated emphasis on the vital significance of a maximum array of specialized trades: “Hay en todos los mercados y lugares públicos de la dicha cibdad todos los días,” he observes, “muchas personas, trabajadores y maestros de todos oficios esperando quien los alquile por sus jornales” (“Every day there are, in all these market squares and public places of the aforementioned city, many people, laborers and masters of all trades, waiting for someone to come and acquire their services”; 137). As if not to be outdone by his former captain in the depiction of alien splendor, Díaz del Castillo presents his own elaborate description of the great marketplace of the Mexican capital, unparalleled for its multitudes of buyers and sellers, its many specialized trades, and its vast quantity and variety of merchandise (1A: 330–333). Notable is the great emporium’s order and systematic organization, in which each type of merchandise is assigned its own section. There are dealers in gold, silver, precious



stones; the slave market is comparable in its volume of sales to that of the Portuguese Guinean trade. All manner of cloth and fabrics, of many different materials and design, are represented, while chocolate is sold by numerous dealers. Comparing the market to the fairs of his hometown of Medina del Campo, Díaz del Castillo observes that each kind of merchandise is assigned its own line of booths. Sisal cloth, as well as ropes and sandals of the same material, are each sold in their own section, as are animal skins of all kinds, including those of tigers, lions, otters, jackals, deer, badgers, and bobcats. Kidney beans, sage, and many other sorts of herbs and vegetables are displayed for sale, as well as many kinds of birds, rabbits, hares, and dogs. Numerous fruit vendors and women selling prepared foods, f lour, honey cakes, and tripe, all plied their wares in separate sections and arcades of the great market. Also in evidence are pottery of many types and sizes; other foods, such as honey and nougat; timber and wooden furniture of many kinds; pitch-pine for torches, and other combustibles; manure made from human excrement (here Díaz del Castillo apologizes to his readers), used for the salt production and curing of animal skins; paper of native manufacture; ointments and dyes; cutlery and tools. Concluding his digression on the market, Díaz del Castillo admires the systematic evaluation of goods by official inspectors, as well as the Mexican system of measurement and accounting, using goose quills of varying length and thickness. Showing a fascination with arts and crafts similar to that exhibited by Tafur and Cortés, Díaz del Castillo describes in great detail the variegation and high degree of specialization of the Mexican artisans. There are jewelers, gold- and silversmiths, and other kinds of metalworkers. Others specialized in crafting precious stones of all kinds, feather-work. Not lacking are highly skilled painters and carvers. Díaz del Castillo even names three specific Indians who are such prodigious painters and sculptors that their work rivals that of famous Europeans artists like Apelles or Michelangelo. Also appreciated are the weavers and seamstresses, makers of the finest robes and feather designs. Montezuma’s mistresses, highly skilled artisans, produce the finest of garments, while other highly specialized women, sequestered like nuns in a convent, weave elaborate robes of fine feather-work. Likewise present is what appears to be a specialized guild of entertainers, dancers, stilt-walkers, acrobats, and clowns. An entire quarter, remarks Díaz del Castillo, is given over to the lodging of these performers. Elsewhere, stone-cutters, masons, and carpenters ply their trades, while the many elaborate gardens, with ponds and aviaries, and many kinds of trees, f lowers, fruits, and herbs, are tended by large numbers of highly trained gardeners. He and his comrades, Díaz del Castillo writes,



never tire of contemplating the great wealth of the Mexican palaces and the host of skilled artisans working at many crafts. Throughout this passage, and in others in which the tumultuous activity of the Aztec metropolis and other Indian cities is described in similar terms, Díaz del Castillo presents a positive orgy of evidence supporting the vision of a functionalist and mercantile utopia worthy of being conquered and possessed. Earlier in his account, in a chapter describing the foundation of the town of Vera Cruz, Díaz del Castillo provides instructive hints regarding his understanding of functional society as a cooperative organization of labor, and of the city as the dioramic epitome of a suitably stratified social order (A: 189). The work begins, significantly, with the emplacement of vital structures, each emblematic of a respectively associated estate: “iglesia y plaza y atarazanas, y todas las cosas que convenían para ser villa” (“the church, the central plaza, and the arsenals, and all the things required for it to be a town”). A fully equipped and carefully designed fortress is constructed, with everyone pitching in, beginning with Cortés himself, who is the first to carry baskets of earth and pieces of dressed stone for the structure’s foundations. His example is followed by all the “capitanes y soldados” (“captains and common soldiers”), some continuing work on the foundation, others constructing the outer walls, and still others carrying the water, lime, and sand required for mixing mortar and producing bricks and tiles. Others, meanwhile, distribute food among the workers or procure and prepare wood. Smiths busy themselves with the fabrication of nails. Teamwork, in short, is the order of the day: “desta manera trabajábamos en ello a la continua desde el mayor hasta el menor” (“in this way we worked at it continually, from the most prominent among us down to the humblest”). Díaz del Castillo concludes the description by adding one last detail: “y los indios que nos ayudaban” (“along with the Indians who were helping us”). The Indians in question, inhabitants of nearby mountain villages, have been mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. Renouncing their allegiance to Montezuma, they have allied themselves with the Spaniards and sworn loyalty to the Spanish king. “Se prefirieron a nos servir” (“they firmly committed to serving us”), reports Díaz del Castillo. At first, the off-handed way in which he writes them back into the scene at the end appears innocent enough. But the very triviality of this casual reinsertion of the native element seems portentously mimetic of big-scale developments to come. To the construction scene’s replica of an idealized society is appended—however unwittingly from the narrator’s point of view— this one last building block, the final piece, a fourth estate that distinguishes the resulting structure from the tripartite Old World original that the Spaniards have brought with them.



Chivalry Unlike the narratives of Cortés and Díaz del Castillo, the Victorial shows itself imbued with high-caste ambivalence regarding the marketplace and the products and handcrafts associated with it. On the one hand, such activities represent a sordid, laborious reality unworthy of undue attention on the part of the high-status observer. On the other, the narrator is very conscious of the lucrative utility of the market and of labor, and their symbolic significance to the status system: they represent the higher castes’ indirect or eventual source of income and populate the lower social strata without which there can be no hierarchy. In his appreciative ambivalence with regard to the commerce and craftsmanship of those who variously toil, the narrator of the Victorial even goes so far as to show his protagonist invoking elaborate commercial and vocational metaphors to inspire his men before an engagement. Just as every man, Pero Niño declares, engages in commerce intending to come out on top, but finds himself in the event having to endure the outcome determined by his own luck and destiny, so it is in war: each man hopes to conquer, but afterward must accept that things turn out according to God’s plan. There are, in other words, no guarantees; any man who worries himself excessively over the uncertainty of the enterprise is best advised never to leave home in the first place. Above all, he who would look to warfare as a means of improving his lot must accept the risk and suffering that attend the warrior’s life: “Non fazen la guerra broslados, nin forraduras, nin cadenas, nin firmalles, mas puños duros e honbres denodados” (“War is not made with brocades, and fur linings, and chains, and clasps, but rather with fists and dauntless men”; 367). Each of the objects and materials in Pero Niño’s enumeration of the kinds of things irrelevant to waging war corresponds to a handicraft or specialty: weavers, furriers, jewelers, metal workers. These artisanal categories—and, by implication, all other analogous trades and crafts—are the servile antithesis of warriors’ work. Equally contrary to the authentic bellicose spirit is the notion that ostentatious ownership of such products has anything to do with war. Would-be warriors who put their faith in fancy trappings and elaborate accoutrements are both deluded and cowardly; looking to secure themselves from harm and risk, mistaking the superficial for the substantial, they are, in short, fearful, stay-at-home men, for whom it is better not to set out in the first place. Earlier, the narrator of the Victorial had contrasted the virtuous life of the true knight with that of the “ofiçios comunes” (“ordinary occupations”) whose practitioners always eat well, dress elegantly, sleep soundly in soft beds, and lead an untroubled existence with their wives and children. “¿Qué galardón o



qué honrra meresçen?” (“What reward, what honor, do they merit?”), he asks, then answers: “No, ninguna” (“None, none at all”; 205–206). This pampered, stay-at-home life is contrasted that of the knights (206), whose leisure consists of “dolores e sudores” (“suffering and sweat”), and who subject themselves to “todos los travaxos” (“all manner of travails”) while enduring “muchos miedos” (“countless terrors”), undergoing “muchos peligros” (“many dangers”), and constantly risking “sus vidas a morir o vivir” (“their lives in do-or-die situations”). Their only comfort consists of “malas posadas, peores camas” (“bad lodging and worse beds”) and “mal sueño” (“fitful sleep”) at best. A commonplace of chivalric ideology and its literary manifestations is this notion of the knight’s suffering and sacrifice—which is to say, that of the defenders’ estate in general—as both meritorious and indispensable to the body politic. In keeping with the post-factum logic of functionalism, the privilege and prestige accruing to noble status are justified as an incidental outcome of knighthood’s altruistic labors. Nobility, in turn, is a core element in the hierarchization of society. This concept of principled stratification is overtly expressed in the Amadís, in which the society of the hero’s fiefdom, the fabulous Firm Isle, is emblematically divided into estates. This division, portrayed as self-evidently reasonable, is confirmed by the manner of arranging hospitality for guests: “Todos aquellos señores y caballeros y la otra gente más baxa fueron aposentados a sus guisas en aquellos lugares de la ínsola que más a sus condiciones y calidades conformes eran” (“All those lords and knights and the other, lesser folk, were lodged according to their station, in those places in the island most in conformity with their condition and their quality”; 1320). Later, hosting a great feast with many guests of various degrees of royalty and nobility, Amadís assures that all are seated appropriately, “cada uno según su estado lo merecía, y todo era hecho muy por orden” (“each one according to merits of his station, and all was arranged in most orderly fashion”; 1608). The needs of the hero and his guests are scrupulously attended to: “muy abastadamente se les daban las cosas necesarias a la buena y sabrosa vida” (“very lavishly were they supplied with all things necessary to the good and enjoyable life”). The impersonal passive formulation masks the presence of a dutiful staff of servants, an armorial sine qua non in the postfeudal, late-medieval era that persistently imagined social ascendancy in terms of a manorial and titular acquisition. The point—to which we will return in the next chapter’s discussion of indigeneity and colonial mentalities—is reinforced by the hero’s sense of the before-and-after of his chivalric career: “aunque Amadís siempre anduvo como un caballero pobre, halló en aquella ínsula grandes tesoros de la renta de ella” (“although Amadís always traveled as



a poor knight, he found at his disposal in that island great treasures from the rents it provided”). The fantasy is further enhanced by the image of hierarchic servility joyfully embraced by the domain’s native populations: “demás de esto todos los vecinos y moradores de la ínsula, que muy ricos y muy honrados eran, habían a muy buena dicha de le servir con grandes provisiones de pan y carnes y vinos y las otras cosas que darle podían” (“in addition which all the island’s householders and residents, who were very rich and honorable, felt themselves fortunate to serve him with great provision of bread, meat, and wine, and anything else they could provide him with”; 1320). In real-world history, the chivalric and seigneurial lifestyle represented in chronicle, biography, and romance ref lects centuries of accumulated privilege. But the texts themselves represent privilege as a benefit grounded in the notion of service, which is to say, in fulfillment of caste obligations, which redound to the benefit of all. This caste thinking is revealed in Amadís’s speech to his friends and vassals (1321–1323), in which, not long after the great victory over the Romans, he summarizes knight-errantry’s contributions to the common weal, and the individual knight’s aversion to private gain and self-indulgent leisure. Eschewing an easy life on their estates, surrounded by “vicios y plazeres” (“luxuries and pleasures”), pampered by “muchos servidores con otros grandes aparejos que para recreación de la vida viciosa y folgada se suelen procurar y tener” (“many servants, along with other showy trappings customarily procured and enjoyed to pass the time in a life of luxury and leisure”), Amadís’s followers are not merely “allegando riquezas a riquezas” (“piling riches upon riches”). The difference between dedicating one’s life to bearing arms and merely chasing after sensual gratification and “bienes temporales” (“worldly goods”) is that between “el juizio de los hombres y las animalias brutas” (“human reason and the minds of brute beasts”). Pursuing the age-old “oficio militar de las armas” (“military calling”), foregoing material rewards, exposing themselves to “grandes trabajos peligrosos” (“great and dangerous travails”), proper knights have garnered “gloria y fama” (“fame and glory”) while rendering “gran servicio a Dios . . . que es socorrer a los corridos, quitando los agravios y fuerças que les son fechas” (“great service to God . . . namely, the succoring of the oppressed, righting the wrongs and mischiefs done to them”). A little later, in a letter to the Byzantine emperor, Amadís summarizes: “he puesto mi persona a muchos trabajos y peligros, sin que de ello otro interés esperasse, sino servir a Dios y cobrar prez y fama entre las gentes” (“I have personally undergone many perils and travails, expecting no reward in exchange except the opportunity to serve God and win public recognition of my honor and fame”; 1341).



Earlier in the book, Amadís explains how Apolidón, his predecessor as lord of the Firm Isle, obtained dominion: “según la costumbre de ella, fuele forzado de se combatir con un gigante que a la sazón la señoreava, al cual con gran esfuerzo matando quedó él por señor en la ínsola” (“according to its custom, he was obliged to do battle with a giant who ruled over it at the time, the slaying of whom, after a great struggle, obtained for Apolidon the lordship of the island”; 1169). This must be seen as a fantasized rendition of the theme of dominion by right of conquest. The giant faced in the ordeal personifies the collective adversaries confronted by real-world conquerors; knightly service to the community pertains to a greater conceptual domain in which propagation of the Catholic faith—an officially pious motive of territorial expansion throughout the Peninsular Reconquest and the subsequent age of New World conquest—stands as a prominent but not unique benefit of chivalric commitment. In terms of legitimate collateral motivation, what is worthy of the knight’s dedication is the populated space, inhabited by a productive demography of hierarchized workers; uninhabited space holds no interest from the viewpoint of the caste-minded social climbers who both perform and supervise the work of conquest. The happily-ever-after of the fairy tale of conquest is the exploitation of subject populations through the formation of a caste system. The latter eventuality—not lands, noble titles, social prestige, or political power, which are important but subordinate to this primary factor—is the conqueror’s ultimate objective. The leadership cadre of territorial expansionism, throughout the Reconquest and the period of overseas exploration and conquest that followed, largely consisted of men who enjoyed or sought either the status of caballero (“knight”) or other, more prestigious titles on the nobiliary roster, or the closest possible approximation to such honorific entitlements. The idealized objective of soldierly effort—the most coveted prize in the tournament of conquest—is procuring a private domain supportive of something approaching the idealized lifestyle of the romances. The real-world infrequency of this outcome—the grim violence, coarse ambition, and monetary greed of Pizarro and countless others would have been the perceived reality—only intensifies the fantasy’s escapist charm. Although the chivalric romance is one of literary history’s most graphically gory genres—comparable in this respect to the action and horror genres of the present day—violence generally plays out in terms of man-to-man combat and small-scale confrontations. Territorial acquisition in the romances is usually achieved not through organized military effort but through variations on the folkloric motif of the heroic trial or test. Amadís, to cite the most prominent example, wins his Firm Isle not by outright conquest but by acclamation, after



successfully completing the ordeal of the Arch of Faithful Lovers (Book II, chap. 44). This fairy-tale circumvention of the brutality of military subjugation allows readers to focus on the leisured respectability of aristocratic landownership. The chimerical transcendence of this double-bind—defined by the antithetical distance between manorial gentility and the means often required to obtain it in the real world—is an important factor adding to the popularity of Amadís and the other chivalric romances that extol the efficacy of violence on the one hand and the utopian feasibility of its domestication on the other. The cultural inf luence of the popular romances of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is largely explicable in terms of this literary delusion. As Teofilo Ruiz points out, the genre “created a context for the creation of . . . a culture of nobility” (73). Nobles imitated art and fiction, while the fiction of the era “imitated and borrowed from life,” blurring the boundaries of reality and fiction. With specific regard to New World conquest, we know that the chivalric romances particularly appealed to the first generations of Spanish conquistadors in the New World (Leonard 40–48). The preponderant inf luence of this genre on the soldierly worldview of Spanish conquerors is typified by Díaz del Castillo’s famous comparison of the Aztec metropolis and its environs to the fabled cities and landscapes of Amadís: “desde que vimos tantas ciudades y villas pobladas en el agua, y en tierra firme otras grandes poblazones . . . nos quedamos admirados, y decíamos que parecía a las cosas de encantamiento que cuentan en el libro de Amadís” (“as we beheld so many populous cities and towns on the water, and on the main land many more large settlements . . . we were struck with amazement, and said that it seemed like the enchanted things recounted in the book of Amadís”; True History, A 310–311). For Stephen Gilman, Amadís shows Díaz del Castillo “how to tell the new with old words” (100). Amadisian exoticism enables Golden Age readers to appreciate the “f lesh and blood authenticity” of New World conquest as chivalric enterprise; the great romance provides as well “a ready-made style with built-in expectations and connotations” (102). Díaz del Castillo thus equips himself with the “narrative tools” with which to represent alien cultures and newly discovered landscapes (103); coping with the marvelous, he “communicates the vital situation of the conqueror” (105). For the conquistadors, in Gilman’s view, the Amadís provides a “literary shorthand” for representing “the breathless wonder of first encounter” and for maintaining “a sense of self as knighterrant” (111). The True History has thus served “generations of vicarious adventurers” (112) in affording the reader the capacity to imagine “an architecture alien in shape and function” as the analogy of “the turrets



and crenelations of medieval fancy” (113). At the same time, the chivalric romances represent more than an inf luential methodology for taking in the wonders of a new world. Their righteous, invincible heroes are the defenders of a system whose exportation is both possible and necessary. The chivalric romance’s glamorized subjugation of alien races supplied, as David Boruchoff observes, a “normalizing element” (334) and “analogic design” (335) for territorial acquisition and imperial hegemony. The normalization in question involved the exportation of a caste system, as envisioned in the functionalist terms favored by the latemedieval Peninsular discourse on estates society. The enduring inf luence of the estates model and of its implicit caste structures is confirmed by Cervantes’s summary of these themes in the Quijote. In Chapter 39 of Part I, Ruy Pérez de Viedma, the protagonist of the captive’s tale, describes how his father advises his three sons on how to make their way in the world. The three choices he presents more or less correspond to the three estates of the medieval system and to their three respective domains: the spiritual and scholarly, the commercial, and the military. “Iglesia, o mar, o casa real” (“Either Church, or Sea, or Royal Palace”), the father declares to his sons (Quijote 400), explaining that each must seek advancement through either “las letras” (“letters,” i.e., the acquisition of a university degree), “la mercancía” (“the mercantile profession”), or “la guerra” (“warfare”). By Cervantes’s day, the ecclesiastical exclusivity of the first estate had come to accommodate, at least in popular discourse, such secular careers as law and administration. This updating of the model, ref lected in the father’s use of both “church” and “letters,” also seems to entail a worldly extenuation of the supposed functionalist integrity of the estates. In this regard it is noteworthy that Viedma’s father does not emphasize the moral utility of the three estates or the careers they define with respect to the greater society. He merely advises his sons in terms of honorable alternatives for those seeking to make their way in the world. The fact that commerce, broadly defined, is classed along with arms and letters as a viable career ref lects a further mitigation of the system; stricter articulations would disallow anything resembling toil or implying direct contact with the marketplace. At the same time, this mundane f lexibility, taken for granted by the captive’s father, does not extend to ordinary, servile trades, but only, we may deduce, to the mercantile profession understood in terms of entrepreneurial independence or managerial autonomy. In the two chapters preceeding the captive’s account, Don Quijote has pronounced his lengthy discourse on the relative value of Arms and Letters. From the viewpoint of worldly pragmatism, the quaintness of the Manchegan’s metonymic characterization of the military and the



academic or clerical vocations lies in its naïve summary of the age-old rivalry and debate between the two higher estates regarding their relative contributions to the commonwealth. Completely ignoring the third estate, Don Quijote emphasizes public service and visible suffering: he who serves and suffers more and better may call himself holier than thou. While allowing that the scholar suffers privation and discomfort, he may nonetheless hope to attain, Don Quijote points out, a position of authority and a life of ease. The soldier, by contrast, far exceeds the man of letters in the number and degree of his privations, discomforts, and physical risks. Don Quijote is the parodic avatar of the knight-errant, a figure that was in turn the fantasized literary effigy of the real-world knight. The latter type was the combative personification of the military estate’s supposed defensive function. Cervantes, however, lived in an age when chivalry in the literally militant sense was seen as largely a thing of the past. Knighthood in his day had become merely a matter of honoric ascription, of titular status. Impecunious hidalgos, his real-world analogs, were generally not allowed “don” of caballero status. The Manchegan’s fervent defense of chivalric service and sacrifice, as conveyed in his passionate comparison of those who fight and those who study, would thus have been tinged with pathetic irony from the viewpoint of many of Cervantes’s original readers. While allowing that the career of Arms could not be sustained without Letters, given that warfare also has its laws and is subject to them, and that laws fall under the authority of men of letters, Don Quijote points out that the law itself could not be upheld without Arms: “porque con las armas se defienden las repúblicas, se conservan los reinos, se guardan las ciudades, se aseguran los caminos, se despejan los mares de cosarios” (“because with Arms republics are defended, kingdoms preserved, cities safeguarded, highways made safe, the seas cleared of pirates”). In short, concludes the Manchegan, without Arms, republics, kingdoms, cities, highways, and sea lanes would all be utterly at the mercy of war’s arbitrary, chaotic violence (I, 396). This compendious reiteration of the tropes of medieval estates functionalism incidentally summarizes a thousand years of disputation between the church and various representatives of the secular power. Of course, Don Quijote is, in a word, “quixotic,” out of touch with his own age and deludedly misinformed in his understanding of history. His discourse, therefore, speaks only obliquely to the state of things in the Spain of Philip III, where soldiers more resembled mercenaries than knights, and in which the church, as the dominant arbiter of holierthan-thou mentalities, had attained a degree of inf luence approximating the Brahmanic authority that presides over the traditional Indian castes.



The fact that ecclesiastical inf luence prevailed in Golden Age society only after its competition had more or less faded from history was yet another irony lost on Don Quijote but sadly or humorously obvious to Cervantes’s readers. The quixotic digression reminds us, nonetheless, that the European estates system differs from its subcontinental counterpart in the lack of a general recognition of the religious estate’s moral superiority. This discrepancy, as we will see in the next chapter, was still a notable factor in the colonial century that preceded the publication of Cervantes’s novel.



aste thinking and racializing discourse prepare the way for a special and broader category, that of the “native.” The spatio-temporal criteria determining indigenous status are sometimes vague and unverifiable. The native designation, furthermore, is often imposed by outsiders. A native is generally the presumed descendant of an ethnic group—a tribe or people—named and defined as such at the time of the non-native’s first awareness of, or actual encounter with, the group in question. “Native,” however, is a generic and multitudinous label applied to and encompassing many different groups (e.g., “Native-American”). The native status of such groups is determined by their racialized history, attributed to them by the appliers of the label: not that they are really what they are said to be, but that they have to live with being so classified. The individual and collective response of group members to this categorization may vary; native status may be ignored or rejected, negotiated or reclaimed, by those to whom it is ascribed; tribes and peoples may migrate or be forcibly relocated. What tends to persist through time, despite circumstantial tinkering, is the nativized profile. However much the groups defined by the latter may differ among themselves, they are collectivized under the catch-all heading of “native” or its synonyms. Collective and individual identity, under such conditions, is f luctuant and problematic. Indigeneity, as one study suggests, is therefore “determined not by some original state of purity but by the relationships between peoples” (Venkateswar and Hughes 1). Marisol de la Cadena and Orin Starn point out, furthermore, that the criteria of indigeneity are not “self-evident or intrinsic” (2). To historicize indigeneity, they assert, is to reveal its lack of “preestablished, ‘natural’ boundaries” (3). Indigeneity emerges, they argue (4), within more inclusive social fields defined by difference and similarity, acquiring its meaning not from any “essential properties of its own” but from an interaction with “what it is



not.” As a condition defining human collectives, it is “historically contingent and encompassing of the nonindigenous.” While indigeneity is dichotomously defined by both insider and outsider—the colonist defines the native, and vice versa—the political contours of the multiethnic landscape tend to be delineated by the outsider, guided by supposed criteria of “native original sameness” (5). Indigeneity, then, like race, is a construct, a fictional attribution. In earlier travel literature, as we saw in chapter 2, the diagnostic sameness of specific alien races is conveyed by single-trait profiling of groups (e.g., Monopodes, Blemmyaea, cannibals, etc.), who were not specifically located. They were, in the Plinian tradition, somewhere “out there,” in fanciful spaces: the East, the Indies, the Tropics, Darkest Africa, the Antipodes, the Edge of the World. If a vaguely situated “land of the pygmies” or “country of the dog-faced men” was mentioned, what mattered was that somewhere such races existed. The races defined lands whose precise geographical location was nonspecific, variable, inconsequential. What mattered most was the race itself, not its verifiable location. With increased travel, exploration, and discovery, well-defined territoriality in conjunction with racial identity becomes an issue. Lands define races, rather than the other way around. The earlier travel works studied here, beginning to move in this direction, tend to correlate geographical situation with ethnic identity. At first they rely on the ancient and medieval theory of climates, earlier expressions of which defined races and peoples in terms of a geographical determinism.1 The Zifar can therefore be seen as traditionalist in its correlation of collective racial character with geographical location and the diagnostic attributes that emanate from it: “los yndios ouieron estas bondades porque la prouinçia de India a por natural partiçion Saturno e Mercurio, e fizieronse loros por Saturno; ca son ssabios e ssesudos e de ssotil engeño, porque les cupo de la partiçion de Mercurio, que fue mesclado con Saturno” (“the Indians possessed these aptitudes because the province of India has as its natural partition Saturn and Mercury, and they became dark on account of Saturn; for they are wise and intelligent and of subtle understanding, because it fell to them to be of the Mercurial partition, which was mixed with Saturn”; 97). Other medieval authors elaborate their own versions of the theory, introducing other geographical factors into the deterministic mix and adding to the list of races so affected. The Book of Knowledge, for example, attributes the unusual longevity of the Irish to the peculiar conditions of their country: “algunos d’ellos biven dozientos años los que ý son nacidos e criados, de manera que non pueden morir demientra que están en la isla” (“some of them live two hundred years, that is, those that are born



and raised there, so that they cannot die as long as they stay on the island”; 360). Referring to other peoples, the anonymous narrator is traditionally climatological, noting, for instance, that the people of the Antipodes “son gentes negras quemadas de la gran calentura del sol” (“are peoples burnt black by the great heat of the sun”; 386). He assumes that the Tibetans’ moral and intellectual superiority is owing to climatological advantage: because these people live “el comienço del Oriente del poblado” (“at the very eastern-most extreme of populated countries”) and their kingdom is rooted in “la clima de medio” (“the middle clime”), they are characterized by “naturas templadas” (“temperate natures”). Under such conditions, therefore, “alégranse ý, e estiéndense ý los spiritus” (“people are of a happy disposition there, and they are open-minded”). In short, being of “mejores entendimientos e más sanas memorias” (“clearer understanding and sounder memories”), they are worthy of “greater honor” (“mayor nobleza”) than other folk (391). Meanwhile, beyond this blessed realm are found those Indians who dwell along the “línea equinocial” (“equinoctial line”). Although their land is “de gran calentura” (“very hot”), most of its towns, located on the “ribera del mar” (“on the shores of the sea”) or on the many islands, enjoy an atmosphere that “rescibe la humidad del mar con que se tiempra la sequedad e la calentura” (“receives the humidity of the sea by which the dryness and heat are tempered”). Owing to these geographical advantages, “se fezieron de fermosos cuerpos e de apuestas formas e de leznes cabellos, e non les faze ál la calentura salvo que los faze baços de color” (“they become handsome in body, of graceful form, with f lowing hair, and the heat does nothing more to them than make them dark in color”; 391). To the west of this India, meanwhile, live the Babylonians and Persians, who likewise benefit from conditions determined by their location: “son otrosí sotiles e de buenas memorias, e entremeten se de las sciencias e de los saberes han señorío e setas e leyes” (“they are subtle and with good memory, and dedicate themselves to science and have mastery of fields of knowledge, and sects and laws”). For this reason, they also, like the Tibetans, enjoy a meritorious “nobleza” (“honor”). The Romans, by contrast, living to the west of them and thus further removed from the primordial excellence conferred on the Indians by their environment, possess “señorío e ley e sciencias e saberes, como quier que menos que los otros” (“sovereignty and law and science and fields of knowledge, although less than the others”). Because of their climatological situation, the Romans, therefore, “son ufanosos e orgullosos e lidiadores e guerreros” (“are arrogant, proud, combative, and warlike”; 392). In the Marvels, skin color, among other ethnically defining factors, is likewise attributed to climate: “entre Nubia y Egipto a bien XL jornadas



de desierto, e los nubianos son cristianos, mas son negros por la gran calor” (“between Nubia and Egypt there easily forty days’ journey of desert, and the Nubians are Christians, although black owing to the great heat”; 181). Later the narrator refers to “Albania, adonde las gentes son más blancas que nosotros d’estas partidas, cualesquier que sean” (“Albania, where the people are whiter than any and all of us, here in these parts”; 246). In another passage, concerning the region of the Indus river, Mandeville remarks: “las gentes que moran alderredor de aquel río son todos de color verde y amarillo” (“the people that dwell around that river are all green and yellow in color”; 257). Tafur also dutifully correlates skin color with climate: “La color de los ombres de la India Mayor es un poco más baços que nosotros e viniendo a la Etiopía, mucho más baços, e toda vía fasta los negros ateçados que son al Mediodía, que dizen la zona quemada” (“The color of the men of greater India is a bit darker than ours, and coming toward Ethiopia, the people are much darker, and even more so as we approach the truly back Negroes of the South, which is called the Torrid Zone”; 276). Describing a vaguely defined region, full of islands, near the mouth of the Indus river, the Marvels, like the Zifar, racially categorizes on the basis of the theory of climates. There are sedentary and mobile races. Those of the Indic region in question “nunca se mudan, por cuanto ellos están en el primer climate de Saturno, que es muy tardío y muy poco movible, porque él está en fazer su curso por los doze signos mucho tiempo” (“never move about, inasmuch as they are in the first climate of Saturn, which is very dilatory and slow-moving, for this planet takes a long time to make its way through the twelve signs”). By reason of this inf luence, “las gentes de aquellas partes son poco movibles de su natura, y assí no tienen voluntad de andar de una tierra en otra” (“the peoples of those parts are slow-moving by nature and thus have no will to go from one land to another”). By contrast, the peoples of Europe show an opposite tendency: “porque estamos en el climate de la Luna, que es de ligero movimiento y faze gran camino, por lo cual ella nos da materia y forma de movernos ligeramente y de andar por el mundo y de ver cosas estrañas, porque la luna rodea la tierra más prestamente que ningún otro planeta” (“because we are in the climate of the Moon, which is quickermoving, and describes a long trajectory, it gives us matter and form to move about swiftly and to go about the world, seeing unusual things, for the Moon goes around the Earth more quickly than any other planet”; Marvels 258). Later travel works, especially those written after the discovery of the New World, reveal a new kind of geographic determinism. Intensifying the correlation of race and place, they see the inhabitants of newly



discovered and colonized zones as de-exoticized human beings more or less analogous to themselves. Spiller, as we have seen, points out how the respective identities of the protagonist and his humanoid adversary, in chivalric romances, are confirmed not by absolute difference but by recognition of the Other as a variant of one’s self (41–42). On the other hand, these subtly alien Others, classed as discrepant variations of a norm represented by Us, may also be classed as inferior by right of conquest and by an ethnocentrically defined cultural superiority. With this recognition of exploitable humanity— susceptible to religious conversion, military and political domination, and economic exploitation—comes the tendency, among intruding outsiders, to define native populations in terms of their autochthonous association with specific areas. Like the travel writers cited earlier, Columbus correlates skin color with climate. Thus, as one proceeds into hotter zones, he observes, people get darker and darker. In the area of Arguin Island, off the West African coast: “allí es la gente negra y las tierras muy quemadas” (“there the people are black and the land very scorched”). Further south, on the Cape Verde Islands: “es la gente mucho más negra” (“the people are much blacker”). “Cuanto más bajo se va al Austro,” reports the Admiral, “tanto más llega al estremo” (“the further south one goes, the more extreme is this tendency”). In Sierra Leone, at five degrees latitude, “es la gente negra en estrema cantidad” (“the people are black to an extreme degree”; Journals 536). By contrast, moving West, away from these hotter zones and toward regions of milder temperature, skin color becomes lighter. While often guided by the theory of climates, Columbus also begins to nuance his perceptions, considering such factors as the conceivable utility of newly discovered regions—a factor, as we saw in chapter 3, often correlated with perceived native caste hierarchies. Pointing to analogy as well as difference, he observes, with regard to Trinidad and nearby areas of the mainland, exceedingly mild temperatures and green, tree-filled landscapes, “tan hermosos como en abril en las huertas de Valencia” (“as pretty as April in the huertas of Valencia”). Ethnic identity seems to emanate more from the specific locale than from climate, as we may deduce from his observation that the people here are “de muy linda estatura y blancos más que otros . . . en todas las Indias” (“very graceful in stature, and lighter-skinned than any . . . in all the Indies”), as well as “más astuta y de mayor ingenio y no cobardes (“more subtle and intelligent, and not at all cowardly”; 537). Previewing Columbus and the other authors of the postdiscovery era in this regard is the Canarian. Mixing ancient and medieval geographical and racial tropes with pragmatic and empirical responses to the often contradictory circumstances of colonial reality, the account includes episodes



and descriptions that prefigure modern concepts of indigeneity and its related issues. At the beginning of the narrative, Béthencourt straightforwardly declares his intention with regard to the Canary Islands: to set up fortifications and to remain “iusques à tant que le pais seroit conquis, et mys les habitans à la foy catholique” (“until such time as the country should be conquered and the inhabitants converted to the Catholic faith”; 35). A little later, a perennial theme of colonial history is announced, that of the Bad Christian as opposed to the Good Christian. Anticipating Las Casas, the narrator describes how Bertin de Berneval, a mutineer among the French forces, treacherously welcomes a number of Canarians as his guests, then captures and holds them prisoner, intending to hand them over to a Spanish ship anchored nearby, which will convey them to be sold into slavery (61, 63). A Canarian chieftain among these prisoners escapes his bonds to spread the word of the perfidy and bad faith of the Europeans (63). Bertin is compared to Judas Iscariot: “ainsi fit Bertin qui bailla et liura ces poures gens innocens en la main en la main des larrons qui les menerent vendre en estrangez terres en perpetual seruage” (“thus did Bertin, who handed over and delivered these poor, innocent people into the hands of the brigands who then lead them away to be sold, in strange lands, and into perpetual servitude”; 63). In contrast to the nefarious Bertin, Gadifer de la Salle, Béthencourt’s cocaptain in the Canarian entreprise, deplores the “grant mauuestié et grant traizon qui a esté faite sur ces poures gens que nous auions asseurés” (“great perfidy and great treachery that has been done to these poor people whom we had promised to safeguard”; 81). The Canarians, a pagan folk (“paiens”), come to form a bad opinion of the Europeans. Their reaction is expressed in terms of the bad example set by the treacherous Bertin and the consequent dissension among the forces led by Béthencourt: “tant qu’ilz disoient que nostre foy et nostre loy n’estoient point si bonne que nous disions, quant nous traissons l’vn l’autre, et que nous faisions si terribles choses l’vn contre l’autre, et que nous n’estions point fermes en noz fais” (“so that they said that our faith and our law were not so good as we said, seeing how we betrayed one another, and how we did just terrible things to one another, and how we were not constant in our dealings”; 113). The wicked actions of Bertin and his followers, by which the Europeans are “fort diffamés,” and their Christian faith “desprisée” (“grievously defamed,” “held in contempt”; 115), are clearly blamed for the ensuing conf lict between the Christian outsiders and the indigenous population. Asche, a native pretender to the kingship, secures the support of Gadifer, “par condicion qu’il feroit baptizer lui et toulz ceulx de sa part” (“on condition that he would, along with all his followers, would be baptized”; 125).



From that moment on, observes the narrator, there is war between the outsiders and the natives, a war ultimately caused by the treachery of Bertin (125). Gathering up men, women, and children, the Canarians take refuge in caverns (127), prompting Gadifer and his companions to consider a regrettable policy of killing all adult males, while holding captive the women and children with the intention of baptizing them; thus it was that more than 80 were baptized by the time of Pentecost. This, the narrator informs us, was a thing divinely ordained: “Et Dieu par sa grace les veulle tellement confermer en nostre foy, que ce soit bonne exemple à tout le pais” (“And God by his grace saw fit to so confirm them in our faith, that they should be an example to the whole country”). The example will serve for other countries yet to be colonized: “on conquerroit biaucoup de plus grant pais . . . et de bien peupplé de gens mescreans, et de diuerses lois, et de divuers langagez” (“other, great countries will be conquered . . . and densely populated with unbelieving peoples, of different laws and different languages”; 129). The islands are described as susceptible to profitable conquest, “de grant prouffit et fort plaisantes” (“very profitable and pleasant”); the presence of people like the Frenchmen, “qui sceussent faire leur prouffit,” would render the islands “vnes fort bonnes isles et profitables” (“who knew how to derive profit”; “quite excellent islands, and profitable”; 161). On Béthencourt’s arrival on the island of Lanzarote, the islanders who had been baptized “se couchoient à terre en lui cuidant faire reuerance, disant que c’est la coustume du pais et leur maniere” (“prostrated themselves, intending to do him reverence, saying that this was the local custom and their way”). The scene, foreshadowing Columbus’s later encounter with West Indian peoples, shows all the natives, old and young alike, weeping with joy as they do obeisance (165). When the rest of the Canarians saw their king capture and made to submit to the Europeans, “ils se venoyent tous les iours rendre à la mercy de monseigneur de Bethencourt” (“they came every day to surrender to the mercy of lord Bethencourt”). As the native chief declares his desire to be baptized, Béthencourt and all his men rejoice, “car ilz esperoient que c’estoit vng grant commencement pour aouir le demourant des isles et pour les tirer toulz à la foy crestienne” (“for they hoped that this was a fine beginning to securing control of the rest of the islands, and to converting all of them to the Christian faith”; 165). Again prefiguring Columbus, the narrator remarks that if any other Christians would seek to conquer other islands and places, they would do well to follow the example of Béthencourt and Gadifer de la Salle, for “seroit vne chose bien fesable et bien resonable” (“it would be a thing quite feasible and reasonable”), given that the infidel inhabitants “sont telz qu’ilz n’ont nulles armures quelconquez, ne sens de faire



bataille, ils ne scevent que c’est que de guerres” (“are such that they have no weapons of any kind, nor any sense of how to do battle, they have no idea what warfare is”; 189). Returning to the islands after a trip to Europe, where he has replenished his finances, manpower, weaponry, and supplies, Béthencourt is joyously welcomed by his native subjects (305). As they catch sight of his vessel, “Les gens de l’Isle de Lancelot virent et apperceurent bien que c’estoit leur roy et leur seigneur” (“The people of the Isle of Lanzarote came and clearly perceived that it was their king and lord”). All the inhabitants, including women and children, come down to the shore to welcome Béthencourt, crying out in their language: “Vecy nostre roy venir!” (“Behold! Our king is coming!”). In short, “ils aouient grant ioye de la venue de leur roy” (“they were filled with joy at the arrival of their king”). Their rejoicing intensifies as he comes ashore: “les Canariens se couchoient à terre, en lui cuidant faire le plus grant honneur qu’ilz pouoient, c’estoit à dire qu’ilz se couchoient que cors et bien estoient à lui” (“the Canarians prostrated themselves, thinking to show him the greatest honor they could, which is to say, that they prostrated themselves to show that all they had, their bodies and their property, was his”). This image of a foreign king worshiped by adoring native subjects is echoed, a century after the events described in the Canarian, in the chapter in Amadís that shows the hero’s triumphant return, after numerous adventures abroad, to his adoptive kingdom of the Firm Isle. Having previously secured dominion over this realm—as mentioned in the previous chapter—by his successful completion of the ordeal of the Arch of True Love, Amadís is welcomed as the island’s beloved and rightful sovereign: “llegaron a la Ínsula Firme, donde con mucho placer y alegría recibidos fueron de todos los moradores de ella, porque así como con gran tristeza aquél su nuevo señor habían perdido, así en lo haber cobrado con doblado placer sus ánimos fueron” (“they arrived at the Firm Isle, where with much joy and pleasure they were welcomed by all its inhabitants, for just as with great sadness they had lost their new lord, the joy in their hearts was doubled on getting him back”; 914). Later, returning after another protracted absence, he is again received with unconditional adoration by his subjects: “Bien venga el nuestro señor, que tanto tiempo de nos ha sido alongado” (“A heartfelt welcome to our lord, who has been so long away from us”; 1280). Earlier, as he invites certain knights to join him in his newly won domain, Amadìs describes the island’s charms: “aquella tierra es muy viciosa, abundada de todas las cosas y de muchas caças y fermosas mugeres” (“that land is very agreeable, abounding in all things, and with many kinds of game and beautiful women”; 901). In a later chapter, we see



how the hero’s guests delight in the “muchos pasatiempos que en aquella ínsula tenían” (“the many amusements that were available to them on that island”; 1588). Amadís’s domain, in short, is a land of “grandes viçios y deleytes . . . y otros infinitos que se no pueden contar, así naturales como artificiales” (“great pleasures and delights . . . and infinite others that cannot be numbered, natural and artificial alike”; 1599). In the context of the earliest phases of Castilian expansion into the New World, combative and ambitious conquerors might have been of two minds with respect to native populations. On the practical side, they would have identified with the Canarian’s portrayal of the material difficulties, doctrinary contradictions, and internal conf licts of the colonial enterprise. On the escapist side, they would have found the Canarian’s optimistic depiction of native enthusiasm, and the Amadís’s fantastical representation of the same basic situation, as an agreeably idealized outcome. This image of a private domain staffed by cheerfully servile natives will live on, exerting a persistent charm over subsequent generations of actual and armchair colonialists and, eventually, tourists. Neither of the two emphases, the pragmatic or the utopic, implies a systematic notion of indigeneity as an encompassing category. To be sure, the late-medieval Peninsular Reconquest might be seen as an inf luential precedent for the invaders’ outlook on populations susceptible to conquest and colonization. However, to the degree that the conquistadors were aware of such precedents, this would not necessarily have been conducive to the formulation of a catch-all concept of native otherness. The adversarial term moro, inherited from the Reconquest, might be seen as a racializing generalization and a terminological precedent for “Indian” or “native.” But Moor, a religious as well as an ethnic disparagement, never referred, in the mind of reconquering Christians, to people who belonged where they were. In the Reconquest era, the view of the conquered Other was defined, as we saw in chapter 1, by a Peninsular history and folklore that saw Spanish Christians as a native people once conquered by an alien outsider. At the level of ideology and propaganda—not necessarily a level recognized or understood by the military rank-and-file—the Christian ideologues of the Reconquest justified the Andalusian campaigns, we recall, as a piously irredentist righting of wrongs, as the undoing of a primordial usurpation by infidel outsiders. After the Reconquest, persons of supposed Moorish ancestry residing in Christian territory continued to be profiled as racial outsiders (the mudéjares, unconverted Muslims) or as a maligned caste allowed to remain on sufferance (the moriscos, converts to Christianity). The fact that many or even most mudéjares and moriscos were at least partially descended from native Peninsular Christians who had converted to Islam during the centuries of Iberian Muslim presence



had no impact on the attribution and perpetuation of Moorish status. This consistent marginalization of those of Muslim ancestry, even after conversion to Christianity, backgrounds the eventual expulsion of the moriscos in 1609. Moro, in short, implies racialized alterity, but not autochthony. Awareness of the term and its background may inform the conquistadors’ habit of calling pagan temples “mosques,” but this usage bespeaks religious prejudice rather than any systematic correlation of adversarial Otherness with territorial origin. A sense of New World autochthony among the conquistadors would have to be expressed by a term of the same taxonomic breadth and extensibility as “native.” In the early phases of New World discovery and conquest, this nomenclatural amplitude, conveying the notion of an “epistemology of native original sameness,” begins to be supplied by the catch-all term indio, the one most frequently used throughout Cortés’s Letters (e.g., 43, 45, 46, and passim). While the Latinism indígena does not appear in that work, the supposition of autochthony as a generalizing criterion is apparent in the Conqueror’s frequent use of phrases like “los naturales” (“the natives”; 43, 46, and passim) and “los indios naturales de la tierra” (“the Indians native to that country”; 59). While the term indio puts a somewhat territorial spin on the fairgame vulnerability that pragmatically defines conquered populations, raw susceptibility to military expansionism and colonial exploitation do not necessarily allow for a conceptualized nativist essentialism. We detect this conceptual deficiency in the opening section of his second letter, where Cortés summarizes his activities in the New World for the benefit of his royal lord. In the same passage, he declares his dedication to the “conquista y pacificación” (“conquest and pacification”) of the newfound lands, while defining the human subject of these operations simply as “los naturales de estas tierras” (“the natives of these lands”; Cartas 80, 81). While he describes the customs and physical appearance of these populations, Cortés’s report does not materially differ in this regard from similar accounts rendered in previous centuries with respect to subjugated populations in other regions, such as European areas subjugated by invading European armies. Focusing on practicalities, Cortés does not engage in the subtleties of identity politics. To get a sense of how the secular conquistadors perceived New World peoples, we must take into account the church’s doctrinaire orientation with regard to native peoples. This affected royal policy from the very beginning of the overseas enterprise. Hence the schizoid logic, in overseas Castilian domains, of such institutions as the encomienda (“commission,” “charge”) and the repartimiento (“redistribution,” “sharing-out”).



Originating in the Peninsula, where it was one of an array of different forms of land distribution effected during the Reconquest era, the encomienda, in its earlier version, appointed more or less autonomous adelantados (“governors,” “lord-lieutenants”) authorized to levy tribute on the subject populations of conquered and resettled lands. The New World encomienda system likewise retained crown authority over the ceded land, while ostensibly recognizing native ownership. The system was justified by the ostensible benefits of evangelization, Hispanization, and the physical protection provided by the encomenderos (“holders of an encomienda”) to the native populations assigned to them. In compensation for this service, the encomenderos were allowed to exact tribute from these subject populations. The New World encomienda system tended to exact its due tribute in the form of forced labor in mines and fields, provoking criticism for its abuses from the very beginning. Later it was replaced by the repartimiento, in which native labor was directly supervised by the Crown. Like the encomienda, the repartimiento did not alienate native lands in favor of private owners, but rather allotted contingents of native workers to the Crown, which then, through the agency of crown-appointed officials, assigned these contingents to work for settlers for set periods of time (McAlister 136–137, 210–211). Despite various officially altruistic objectives, these systems in practical effect persistently tended toward a practical autonomy for grantees and to conditions of virtual slavery for supposed trustees (Himmerich 43–48; see also Parry 184–186). Feudal concessions during the Reconquest did not generally involve the local autonomy exhibited by the de jure feudalization practiced in France and other European regions. Seigneurial jurisdiction in the Peninsula tended to be limited to economic control, accorded through royal dispensation; administrative and judicial authority was generally retained by the monarchy. Nonetheless, later phases of the Reconquest reveal a tendency toward effective usurpation of Crown authority by local magnates and nobles and a consequent institutionalization of aristocratic dominion (Payne 69–70, 75–76). The assignment of lands in the newly conquered Grenadine kingdom and in the Canary Islands represented a departure from earlier patterns, introducing modifications that would, in aggregate, constitute inf luential precedents for the settlement of the New World. Land distribution in the Canaries occurred on a smaller scale and was carried out, observes Fernández-Armesto, “at a humbler social level.” It can be deduced that the new system was regarded by the Crown as a desirable norm, for example, from the Catholic Monarchs’ ruling in 1497, ordering Columbus to apportion lands on Hispaniola among settlers, according to their social ranking and subject in all cases



to a uniform set of conditions regarding fiscal privileges and residential requirements (The Canary Islands 49–50). Beginning with the Canaries, we start to see a pattern subsequently destined, in various guises, to characterize the early phases of New World colonization. On the one hand, there was the stipulation of policies intended to promote the fair treatment of native populations. As Hugh Thomas points out, the Catholic kings and their successors, inf luenced by such churchmen as Cardinal Cisneros, tended to view the inhabitants of newly discovered lands as royal subjects and potential Christians (Rivers 138–142). On the other hand, settlers continually sought to circumvent such policies in furtherance of their own interests. Thus, in the Canaries, native populations were generally classed as free, with some designated as special protected categories (e.g., under ordinances such as the bandos de pazes, “peace proclamations”) that established native tribal areas and disallowed the enslavement of their inhabitants. Despite such official protections, a f lourishing slave trade bought and sold native Canarians regardless of legal status. The existence of such a trade is confirmed, among other indications, by the manner in which even the notorious Alonso de Lugo, “a slaver whose rapacity respected few legal limits,” felt obliged to categorically deny involvement in the trafficking of natives who benefitted from such statutory guarantees (Fernández-Armesto, The Canary Islands 54). What Thomas refers to as an escalating “bureaucratisation of the discoveries” (Rivers 141), arising from legalistic debate and ministerial rivalry among various individuals and interest groups, by no means eliminated the phenomenon of the land grab. While land concessions—typified by the encomienda’s uneasy hybridization of monopolistic incentives, compromised sovereignties, and religious imperatives—had to be sanctioned, adjudged, or finessed, the fact that the encomienda system’s exploitative autonomy was incidental rather than official did not necessarily diminish its redistributive allure, nor attenuate its impact on subject populations. The system conferred practical control over native lands and their inhabitants. From the viewpoint of such subject populations, the supposed protections afforded by the encomienda system were both invisible and inconsequential. All such institutions, furthermore, correlated territorial apportionment with the arbitrary segmentation and exploitation of native populations, regardless of the Indians’ officially free status. In terms of native cultural identity, neither the territorial allocations of the encomienda system, nor such attempted reforms as the organization of tribal peoples into so-called reducciones (“reductions”), necessarily implied consistent verification of actual tribal integrity or principles of membership. Whatever the experience of the indigenous peoples themselves—or



the degree to which they resisted, complied with, or even understood the systems imposed on them—specific tribal designations, from the colonial viewpoint, tended to be primarily an administrative convenience. Each local instance contributed to the diffusion of the generic indio as a term and a concept that reduced the native to the status of an economic commodity. Hovering over all these developments, the notion of economic redistribution among conquerors and colonists was a key motivational and organizational principle. Inf luencing policies and practices having to do with apportionment in all its forms, including such practices as the encomienda and the repartimiento, it is to the secular arm of overseas expansion what religious conversion is to the ecclesiastical. It is the conceptual catalyst of processes conducive to the commodification of all things seen as worthy of, or susceptible to, appropriation by right of conquest. The memory of the Reconquest era, of whose history Cortés, Díaz del Castillo, and most conquistadors must have been more or less aware, probably sustained diffuse expectations of social betterment through the redistribution of loot. The historical and legendary example of the Cid, whose conquest of Valencia and other Moorish places involved the sharing-out of a vast plunder of moveable goods among his followers, and a distribution of lands and titles among the most prominent of them, had been perpetuated by chronicles and, to a certain degree, by ballads and legends. The Peninsular Reconquest down to its completion at the fall of Granada in 1492 offered numerous additional examples of fortunes made or greatly augmented by analogous redistributions. The Canary Islands represented another significant example. Added to these factors were the historical and literary precedents mentioned earlier—from classical Antiquity, the Bible—for viewing conquered natives as suitable objects of domination and exploitation, and thus of redistributed wealth. The prospect of landownership, under the practical circumstances of expeditionary warfare, must have seemed a rarified and abstract notion, the stuff of Amadisian fantasy. The concept, to be sure, might have retained some of its pie-in-the-sky allure; might have been vaguely contemplated as the most transformative of acquisitions, possessed of the quasi-mythical power of converting soldiers of fortune into men of property. The down-to-earth reality, meanwhile, dictated a more expedient preoccupation with the tangible plunder of the moment, including human captives. We thus see numerous signs of the redistributive imperative in Cortés and Díaz del Castillo. The former, in this regard, personifies the expeditionary leader urgently aware of the need to motivate his followers with the promise of both immediate and eventual rewards. The latter exemplifies the followers, who closely resemble the typical participants in



speculative military operations led by a warlord or condottiere. The common denominators that define the warlord as an organizer and leader are: relative autonomy and freedom of movement; economic predation, with resultant parallels to banditry and piracy; internal economic redistribution within the mercenary band. This kind of military leader therefore thrives in an environment of weak or failed states, or in areas not subject to the effective authority of a central state. Involving mercenary companies and chieftains who exercise de facto authority in their respective domains, warlordism is further defined by clientelism, weakness or outright absence of bureaucratic and administrative control, and the extortion of tribute from subject regions and populations (Rich 1–2). Running counter to this view of Cortés as a kind of warlord is the commercial aspect of the Spanish overseas enterprise. As Matthew Restall persuasively observes, expeditions were, in their motivations and methodology, more like speculative commercial ventures than straightforward military operations. Each participant was an independent investor in a cooperative effort chief ly funded and organized by the company’s captain. The conquistadors, therefore, were more like “armed investors” than soldiers in the modern sense (35). This pervasive capitalistic spirit is confirmed by Cortés’s account of the disgruntled reaction of many Spaniards to policies obliging property holders to settle on the lands they own. “No están muy satisfechos” (“they are not very satisified”), reports Cortés, because “todos o los más tienen pensamiento de haberse con estas tierras como se han habido con las Islas que antes se poblaron, que es esquilmarlas y destruirlas y después dejarlas” (“all or most of them have the intention of taking possession of the lands in the way that was done in the Islands which were settled before, which consisted of reaping the harvest of them to the point of devastation, and afterwards abandoning them”; 333). This picture of rank-and-file settlers looking to get rich quick, exploiting the land and its inhabitants with little regard for the long term or for the colonial community, would seem to confirm Restall’s entrepreneurial model. While his forceful allegation of rapacity might well be an expression of the Cortés’s self-servingly defensive posturing, his statement nonetheless incidentally confirms the paramount importance of equitable redistribution—whether in moveable goods or through acquisition of landed property—as an issue among the majority of Spanish soldiers during this phase of the conquest. Cortés is a businessman, to the degree that he is an organizer of and principal investor in a commercial enterprise. But he is also, at the same time, a warlord, to the degree that his practical everyday performance as a military leader, thousands of miles from the Peninsula and hundreds of miles from Spanish New World settlements, casts him



in the role of a semiautonomous organizer of military expeditions whose most urgent concern is economic predation and the redistribution of plunder that stems from it. For purposes of the day-to-day supervision and motivation of violent and covetous men, the condottiere’s efficacy is largely defined by his skillful management of the divvy-up. An abiding concern for redistributive accounting is thus made clear by Cortés’s account of the protocols attendant on dividing up and dealing out the spoils at a particular moment in his campaign (272–273). Subject to the approval of representatives of the royal treasury present in the expedition, all gold and “otras cosas” (“other things”) are melted down; from the resulting mass of bullion the traditional fifth (“el quinto”) is deducted for the king’s treasury, to be added to the fifth of all other spoils “de esclavos y otras cosas” (“consisting of slaves and other things”) duly pertaining to the king. All remaining gold is shared out among the expedition’s members, starting with Cortés himself, and then “en los españoles segúnd la manera y servicio y calidad de cada uno” (“among the Spaniards according to the manner, service, and quality of each one”). In addition to the melteddown gold, the account concludes, an unspecified number of “piezas y joyas de oro” (“artifacts and jewels made of gold”) are included among the loot, with one-fifth automatically set aside and handed over to the king’s representative. The inventory of plunder and the details of its distribution are necessary elements of conquest carried out as an act of large-scale economic predation. Unlike the bureaucratized and more or less salaried armies, conscripted or voluntary, of the age of nation states, the rank and file personnel who invaded the New World, the followers of warlords, had to be motivated by more immediate and improvisational methods. Under such conditions, the spoils of war are defined as all captured things of value— precious metals, money, moveable goods, and human captives—serving as fodder for the expedient sharing-out, viewed as a return on their investment by the expedition’s members. Any postponement or suspected manipulation of the expected distribution will compromise morale. The redistributive fixation is further confirmed, from the soldier’s viewpoint, by Díaz del Castillo’s account of dissatisfaction among Cortés’s men regarding their captain’s mismanagement of the divvy-up. In Chapter 135 of his narrative, Díaz del Castillo describes (A: 504) the duplicitous procedures applied by Cortés in the division of the spoils, in this case a human plunder of captured women and young men. “Cuando no nos catamos, apartan el real quinto, y luego sacan otro quinto para Cortés” (“when we were not looking, they set aside the royal fifth, and then set aside another fifth for Cortés”). In addition, Díaz del Castillo



observes, when the captives had been brought together the night before “habían ya escondido y tomado las mejores indias, que no pareció allí ninguna buena, y al tiempo del repartir dábannos las viejas y ruines” (“they had already hidden and gathered together the prettiest Indian women, so that not a single pretty one remained, and at the moment of sharing out they gave us the old and ugly ones”). This f lagrant misappropriation, Díaz del Castillo reports, provoked “grandes murmuraciones contra Cortés y de los que mandaban hurtar y esconder las buenas indias” (“vehement protests directed at Cortés and concerning those who ordered the prettier Indian women to be stolen away and hidden”). As the confrontation between Cortés and his disgruntled men escalates, the captain is accused to his face of wrongfully confiscating a second fifth for his own use. One of the soldiers loudly threatens to denounce Cortés to the king and to the Royal Council of the Indies; another openly demands to know if the earlier division of gold, in Mexico, were not already enough of an imposition, considering that Cortés had reported, at the sharing out, a sum of 300,000 pesos, when everyone knew, as they left the city, that the real estimate was 700,000 pesos. And now the poor soldier, having undergone such hardships and suffered so many wounds, was being denied even the reasonable reward of having a decent-looking Indian woman of his own. This scene of wrangling and dissent concerning the division of spoils underscores the unqualified materialism of the conquerors, who take it as axiomatic that human captives are property susceptible to redistribution along with all other items of plunder. This instrumental view of the native, entailing the chattel status of captives, is never an issue; only the method of sharing out the human loot is subject to debate. In this Cortés and the common soldiery knowingly or unknowingly subscribe to the position defended by those opposed to Las Casas in the so-called Great Debate of 1550–1551. In the latter dispute, Las Casas maintained that deprivation of native sovereignty was illegitimate, given that armed conquest had no legal basis and that the enslavement of innocent native peoples disregarded the element of free will, which was an essential condition of authentic conversion. In this he was countered by the Aristotelian scholar Ginés de Sepúlveda, who invoked Aristotle’s concept of natural slavery and Augustine’s notion of servitude as a punishment for sin. The Indians were justly subjugated and enslaved, according to this notion, by reason of their barbarity and the moral superiority of their European conquerors. Sepúlveda was additionally supported in the debate by his assimilation of New World peoples to the medieval monstrous races, whose humanity was considered deficient by many theologians, owing



above all to the natives’ lack of reasoning faculties (Traboulay 168–170; Lupher 122–148; Ramey 90, 93). While the position of Cortés and his men regarding such questions implicitly if unwittingly seems to endorse the dehumanizing side in this debate, their perception of the matter, devoid of nuance, does not imply a reduction of the native to the status of animalistic humanoid. For the conquistadors, it is simply a matter of might-makes-right. Their military orientation and the chief ly materialist motives of the Conquistadors do not, in fact, necessarily support a systematic racialization of these peoples. As a military chronicler, Cortés—aside from an occasional acknowledgment of the bravery or tenacity of the enemy, his references to barbaric native customs such as human sacrifice, and frequent if perfunctory disclaimers regarding the need to promulgate the Christian faith—does not expatiate regarding the collective identity or character of native peoples. The assignment of chattel status dehumanizes but does not necessarily racialize or nativize. For one thing, the servile condition, even when assigned to captives won by conquest, applied only to some Indians. For another, the status was also assigned to members of other racial groups, such as Africans. This lack of systematic correlation with membership in racially defined native groups disqualifies slave status as a synonym of indigeneity. The latter concept would require, in addition to imputed differences between newcomers and natives, a more essentializing contrast of conquered peoples and their subjugators. The inf luence of such a concept cannot be deduced from the conquerors’ treatment of the natives they interacted with. The concept of subjugated peoples ref lected in Cortés and Díaz del Castillo, like that revealed in the biblical examples or Virgil’s depiction of the immigrant Trojans’ relations with native Italian peoples cited in chapter 1, merely classifies the conquered as losers in war. No special cultural or psychological difference between the two sides is discerned. There is only the axiomatic subalternity of the conquered, the obvious ascendancy of the conqueror. For the latter, according to this minimal, traditional concept of the subjugated native, connubial access to native females would be among the principal redistributive benefits accruing to the victors. This factor is confirmed by the readiness of the conquistadors, at least as they are represented in our later travel works, to regard Indian women as acceptable sexual partners, and thus as not untouchably different from themselves. Concerning issues of connubium and miscegenation, a crucial and often discussed figure is that of Doña Marina in the saga of New World conquest. A voluminous commentary on this figure has invested her with tremendous cultural significance. For Octavio Paz (86), to cite a



prominent voice, she is la Malinche, the personification of all indigenous women “fascinated, violated or seduced” by the invader. From a similar perspective, Nancy Vogeley addresses the Spanish perception and possibly predatory treatment of New World women. She emphasizes, among other significant elements of the Spanish cultural climate, the probable inf luence of the Esplandián, whose pagan Amazonian queen, Calafia, is defeated by the Christian host led by the protagonist and his father Amadís. The pagan horde’s military defeat, in the Esplandián, is facilitated by enthrallment of the hostile female: Calafia, “sojuzgada y cativa” (“subjugated and captivated”) owing to her mad infatuation with the eponymous hero, contemplates converting to Christianity and betraying her pagan allies (783). After Esplandián’s marriage to the Byzantine princess Leonorina, Calafia converts nonetheless, consenting to Esplandián’s arrangement of her marriage to his comrade-in-arms Talanque (799–801). For Vogeley, this taming of a bellicose matriarch—and the consequent use to which she is put, in effect, by Spanish patriarchy on the one hand, and European Christianity on the other—encapsulates the conquerors’ perception of both natives and their women. “America would submit,” summarizes Vogeley, “if its women could be seduced” (173). According to this reading, Calafia, standing in for all her indigenous sisters in literature and folklore, compulsively “goes native,” in effect, in the opposite direction, assimilating to the conqueror’s culture, while the interloper remains immune to the inf luence of the native queen’s culture. In terms of a broad overview of conquistador mentalities and motivations, the idea is persuasive: that intrusive allochthons saw warlike indigenous populations as potentially more receptive to outsiders if their women could be won over. Another possible inf luence prompting such a notion, exerted by a broader and more venerable tradition than that represented by the admittedly popular Esplandián and other chivalric romances, can be found in the cluster of motifs centered on the seduction of non-Christian native women by Christian outlanders, a fixture of medieval epic and romance. Reworked versions of the motif were not uncommon in traditional Spanish ballads. Cortés and Díaz del Castillo, their followers and comrades, were probably at least somewhat familiar with such literary and folkloric precedents. The basic situation is summarized by F. M. Warren in his study of the typical epic and romance motif of “The Enamoured Moslem Princess.” The stereotypical plot involves a young woman who, madly in love with a captive Christian knight, helps him escape and later converts to Christianity (345). The miscegenic scenario thus involves not only the amorous relationship between a Muslim woman and a Christian captive, but the woman’s resourceful collaboration and sincere conversion (347). The native princess, in this tradition, is



resolutely treasonous and ingeniously helpful to her alien lover—a “willing apostate,” in Warren’s phrase (358). This conventional medieval motif corresponds to a still broader tradition of stories and folklore about native women of superior status—princesses, queens, daughters, and heiresses of rich fathers—who betray their own people by collaborating with an intruder. Ariadne in the story of Theseus and the Cretan labyrinth, and Medea in the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece of Colchis are ancient examples. Zoraida, in Cervantes’s tale of the captive in the Quijote (Part I, Chapters 39–41) is an earlymodern echo of the same basic story line. The primordial element is the native woman’s exogamic betrayal of her own people; under the inf luence of Christianity, the additional factor of religious conversion becomes affixed to the core motif during the European Middle Ages. Doña Marina, at least in Díaz del Castillo’s account, does indeed seem to personify this motif, at least to some degree. The True History (A: 155) describes her as “india y señora” (“an Indian woman and a great lady”), a “gran cacica e hija de grandes caciques y señora de vasallos” (“great chieftainess and the daughter of great chieftain and a lady commanding vassals”). She is among “las primeras cristianas que hubo en la Nueva-España” (“the first Christian women to be found in New Spain”). The narrator informs us that becoming the consort of Cortés, she eventually bears a child: “e della hubo un hijo” (“and from her he obtained a son”). After this, the correspondence of Díaz del Castillo’s portrait of her to the folkloric model begins to lose coherence. There is no clear sense in the narrative that she directly betrays her people of origin. Unlike the purposeful apostate of medieval legend or the treasonous schemer of older myth, she is, in her girlhood, an unwanted stepchild, given to Mayan slave-traders after her father’s death and her mother’s remarriage (True History A: 158). Although indispensable to the Spanish cause owing to her abilities as a translator (A: 158), her contribution does not suggest the self-centered immaturity or impulsive character of her folkloric counterparts. Díaz del Castillo admires her for “esfuerzo tan varonil” (“a fortitude so virile”), her tranquil spirit in the midst of grave danger and extreme adversity: “jamás vimos f laqueza en ella” (“we never saw any weakness in her”; A: 158). Her constant presence at Cortés’s side, finally, suggests an indispensability beyond that of a mere translator and certainly transcending any analogy with the love-struck girl of legend; she is, apparently, a general advisor clearly valued for her general knowledge and good judgment (A: 264). The folkloric and literary traditions summarized earlier, possibly somewhat inf luencing Díaz del Castillo’s otherwise realistic portrayal of Doña Marina, might well have inspired at least some conquistadors



in their perception of native women as potential collaborators and possible sexual partners, just as visions of an Amadisian adventure probably inspired, at least to some extent, their view of alien cities and estatesstructured native civilizations. But none of these elements were required for the conquistadors to regard sexual access to the women of subjugated native populations as a rightful perquisite of conquest. Their attitude is undoubtedly preemptive and aggressive. It is not clear if it bespeaks racialization of the populations in question. Racialization as a profiling act implies some sort of systematic classification grounded in a distinct formulation of essential differences. Racism as a programmatic mentality requires duration over time; the specific articulation of disqualifying or depreciative traits; the maintenance of ongoing segregationist policies along the lines of North American Jim Crow laws and South African apartheid; the prohibition or at least the vilification of interracial sexual relations. Policies and practices analogous to such factors may emerge in Latin America in subsequent centuries. But the ideological mentalities supporting them are at most only vaguely hinted at by Cortés and Díaz del Castillo, or Cabeza de Vaca. The conquerors’ pragmatic perception of the Indians, in short, lacks the globalizing essentialism, the strict calibration of contrastive identities, that marks racialization in its fullest form. Where the latter is lacking, no coherent sense of indigeneity can emerge. In our travel works, both from the conquest era and from earlier centuries, the perceived difference between native and outsider does not support, therefore, the “going-native” scenario of the later colonial administrative cultures of the various European powers, and the travel and adventure literature of recent centuries (cf., e.g., Tarzan novels; Conrad’s Heart of Darkness or Coppola’s Apocalypse Now; the film Lawrence of Arabia). The discreditable crossing of what we would call cultural boundaries is understood not in terms of a transformative psychological crisis but rather in those of individual circumstantial adaptation, or of expedient confessional apostasy. Such adaptations and conversions do not necessarily imply coherent notions of separate psychological regimes corresponding to distinct cultural identities. To demonstrate the conspicuous absence of the going-native theme as a ref lection of coherent notions of indigenous identity, I will cite from six works: Marco Polo, from around 1300, as channeled through Santaella’s later version/translation; Tafur’s Travels, from the mid-fifteenth century; Amadís, from the early sixteenth; Díaz del Castillo and Cabeza de Vaca, from later in the same century; Cervantes, from the early seventeenth. In all cases I refer not to the possible sociopsychological historical reality, but to relevant situations as presented in our core texts.



The first chapter of Santaella’s version might seem to imply a goingnative scenario, as we hear of how the young Marco, welcomed at the court of the Great Khan, aprendió muy bien las costumbres e lengua y condiciones de aquella gente y otras tres lenguas, y leer y escrevir en cada una d’ellas, e por ello alcançó mucha gracia con el dicho señor Gran Can, al cual plugo, desque hizo experiencia del dicho Marco Polo cuán bien hazía una embaxada, embiarlo por embaxador a una comunidad donde caminó seis meses. (27) learned very well the customs and language and condition of that people, and three other languages as well, as well as how to read and write in them; and for this reason he found great favor with the said Great Khan, who was pleased, as soon as he confirmed Marco Polo’s diplomatic abilities, to send him as ambassador for six months to one of the communities subject to the Khan.

This account of the young Venetian’s experience, providing another example of the accommodation and adaptation discussed in chapter 2, does not suggest the psychological ambiguity of the going-native theme in its fuller and more recent expressions. The passage is about the protagonist’s linguistic talent and training, his circumstantial adaptability and diplomatic acumen. There is no indication that he does not remain a Venetian the whole while. Another kind of adaptation is revealed in Tafur’s second-hand report of the experiences of the Italian traveler Niccolò de’ Conti, whose long sojourn in the East is summarized by Tafur in an extensive digression (Travels 269). As in the case of Marco Polo, there is no real indication of anything transformative taking place in de’ Conti’s account of his time in Asia, where he married a native woman with whom he had four children, nor during his return to Europe after 40 years’ absence. 2 His story of the forced conversion of himself and his family while sojourning in Arabia is couched in the most pragmatic terms. Arriving in Arabia, he and his wife are presented with an ultimatum: either renounce the Christian faith and convert to Islam, or be burned alive. “Yo dispuesto estava para resçebir el martyrio” (“I myself was willing to undergo martyrdom”), de’ Conti explains to Tafur; however, he adds, “yo sentí en muy muger é fijos que ántes querían renegar la fé que morir, é yo pensé de me renegar ansí mesmo” (“I sensed that my wife and children would rather renounce their faith than die, and I thought it best to do likewise”). He justifies this decision by stressing that he fully intended to save his own soul and those of his family members by an eventual reconversion to Christianity, and concludes his account by noting the cynical materialism of the Sultan who presides over the system of forced conversions: “fue partiçionero en



esto por aver parte del robo que me avían fecho” (“he participated in the proceedings in order to obtain a share of what they robbed from me”). The Amadís echoes Santaella’s theme of pragmatic adaptability in its protagonist’s propensity for learning the languages of the countries he spends time in. In one scene, we are told that “comoquiera que el lenguaje de la doncella era alemán, entendióla luego muy bien porque él siempre procuraba de aprender los lenguajes por donde andaba” (“although the damsel’s language was German, he understood her very well because wherever he went he always sought to learn the local language”; 1117). Language-learning as a cosmopolitan norm is further confirmed a little later in the story, when the hero begs the indulgence of his hostess, the Byzantine empress: “si yo, señora, no acertare en aquellas cosas que la voluntad y lengua decir querrían, por ser este lenguaje extraño a mí, mándeme perdonar, que muy poco tiempo ha que del maestro Helisabad lo aprendí” (“if, my lady, I do not quite understand the intention and meaning of what is said, on account of this language that is still so foreign to me, please forgive me, for only recently have I learned it from master Helisabad”; 1160). A resourceful response to linguistic diversity is, the Amadís makes clear, an essential aspect of knight-errantry, as we see in the hero’s declaration to the lady Grasinda in praise of what we would call the cultural advantages of traveling “por muy extrañas tierras y gentes de lenguajes desvariados” (“through many foreign countries and among peoples of various languages”; 1184). Nowhere in the story is there any hint that this highly accommodating behavior, involving a significant acculturation on the part of the outsider, has anything to do with identity, on either side of the linguistic boundary. Similarly matter-of-fact is Díaz del Castillo’s account of two Spaniards captured by Indians. One, Jerónimo de Aguilar, resists assimilation into the Indian culture and yearns to be rescued by his countrymen. The other, Gonzalo Guerrero, assimilates readily, marrying into the tribe, rising in the ranks of his adopted people, and otherwise adapting to their ways. A thorough-going turncoat, he will later warn his own and other tribes of the coming of the Spaniards, and help them in actively resisting the outsiders. As in the passage from Tafur, there seems to be no indication of any drastic metamorphosis of the acculturating person. Guerrero has married into the tribe, and now has three children; he is regarded by his adopted people as a “cacique y capitán cuando hay guerras” (“chief and captain in time of war”). Reminding Aguilar that he, Guerrero, has “labrada la cara y horadadas las orejas” (“tattooed his face and pierced his ears”), he demands,”!Qué dirán de mí desde que me vean esos españoles ir de esta manera!” (“What will the Spaniards say about me when I show



up looking like this!”), then points out how beautiful his little children are (“mis hijitos cuan bonicos son”). Guerrero’s Indian wife then angrily intervenes, declaring to Aguilar in her own language: “Mira con qué viene este esclavo a llamar a mi marido; idos vos y no curéis de más pláticas” (“Look how this slave comes in here, pestering my husband! You, then: be on your way, and stop spouting such nonsense!”). Ignoring the irate wife’s disapproval, Aguilar continues his attempt to persuade Guerrero to abandon his life with the natives, reminding him that he is a Christian and should not lose his soul on account of an Indian woman. Even if Guerrero’s reluctance to return to his own kind was out of concern for his wife and their children, concludes Aguilar, he could bring them with him if he did not want to leave them behind. Despite Aguilar’s arguments, Guerrero remains committed to remaining with the tribe (1A: 130–131). Clendinnen remarks upon the difficulty of interpreting the real-life situation on which Díaz del Castillo’s account is presumably based. We cannot determine, for instance, the reason why one man resists assimilation, holding on to “his Spanish and Christian sense of self,” while the other apparently undergoes “remaking as a Maya.” We can only conjecture possible explanations: a succumbing to depression brought on by isolation, followed by recovery and adaption to the alien setting; a facility for languages or an unusual receptivity to foreign cultures—any one of these factors might possibly explain Guerrero’s transformation, and his unshakable resolve to side with his adoptive people in their war against “his erstwhile countrymen” (Ambivalent Conquests 18). The issues Clendinnen raises are undoubtedly valid. They highlight the psychological complexities of individual cultural adaptation and the probable impossibility of resolving the mystery of the two men’s diametrically different response to the same basic situation. However, Clendinnen speculates concerning the real-life experience of two historical personages. Our focus here is not on the unknowable reality but on Díaz del Castillo’s representation of that reality. In his version, the dispute between the two comrades, and the parallel confrontation between the Indian wife and the homesick Spaniard, are recounted in downright homely terms. Guerrero’s circumstances are those of the renegade. They involve resourceful role-playing, but nothing like a makeover of the personality. Not only is the recalcitrant Guerrero shown to be simply a Spaniard who has made up his mind, choosing one way of life over another, while emphasizing his inability to live among his fellow Spaniards in the most practical terms; the wife herself is depicted with a homespun realism intelligible to any observer of the human condition.



She resents an outsider’s interference in her family life and tells him to mind his own business. Nothing in the passage distinguishes her from a Spanish or European wife in an analogous domestic situation. Cabeza de Vaca’s account of his adaptation to life among the tribes, in Chapter 16 of his Shipwrecks, is equally pragmatic. His response is nothing if not commonsensical, revealing no hint of an identity crisis. He is intent on getting by and keeping or regaining his freedom. Traveling as a wandering merchant, he declares: “Procuré de usar el oficio lo mejor que supe” (“I sought to pursue my vocation the best I could”; (133). Treated well and freely going from place to place, he trades principally in sea snail shells, conchs, beads, and other trade goods. These things he barters for hides and red ocher, much valued among the tribes as skin paint and hair dye, as well as f lints for arrow heads, cane shafts and glue for making arrows, and other goods. “Este oficio me estaba a mí bien” (“This line of work was a really good thing for me”), he summarizes, “porque andando en él tenía libertad para ir donde quería y no era obligado a cosa alguna, y no era esclavo” (“because by pursuing it I could go where I liked. I was bound by no obligations, and was not a slave. Wherever I went they treated me well and fed me, out of respect for my goods”; 133). Throughout this passage, the emphasis is on the practical details of his performance, the sensible benefits of his role-playing. There is no hint of problematized identity, no indication of the narrator’s remaking himself in the native image. He is simply a man, a Spaniard, responding resourcefully to often harsh and sometimes violent conditions. Cabeza de Vaca’s actual experience might have been quite different. His cultural identity might have been compromised in some way; he might have, at least temporarily, refashioned himself. Whatever really happened, his narrative conveys the image of a Spaniard who never forgets what he is. As Alberto Prieto Calixto observes, Cabeza de Vaca’s experience, as narrated, presents many details that allow us to see his eventful wandering among the tribes in terms of a pragmatic acculturation. However, during his period of captivity, Cabeza de Vaca, despite his adaptability, never stops thinking of himself as a captive (128). His travels may well have had a spiritual dimension to them, may have subtly but substantially transformed him, as Jackeline Nanfito has suggested (186). Nowhere in his narrative, however, does he show a tendency toward immersive psychological surrender to the native milieu. The last of the six passages, from Part I, Chapter 40 of the Quijote, depicts another character confronted with the choice between cultural resistance and assimilation. The passage in question, from the section of the novel devoted to the adventures of the captive Ruy Pérez de Viedma in North Africa, concerns the Christian renegade, “el Tiñoso”



(“the Mangy One”), who is the captive’s master. Here again, we see roleplaying and resourceful adaptation, but no sign of psychological crisis or transformation. The character, a Calabrese by birth, is provoked to religious conversion by a point of honor. Outraged by a Turk who strikes him, he renounces the Christian faith solely “por poderse vengar” (“in order to take revenge”). Once converted, he eventually ascends, owing to his valor, to the kingship of Algiers and the rank of admiral in the Grand Turk’s f leet. The captive notes that, despite his integration into infidel society, the Mangy One remains “un hombre de bien” (“an honorable man”) who treats his captives “con mucha humanidad” (“in a very humane fashion”; 409). The character’s response to the original provocation is perhaps unusual in terms of the extreme circumstances in which he finds himself. But there is nothing metamorphic about his basic reaction, given his cultural origins; back home in Italy, we may suppose, he would have reacted with similar outrage to an analogous insult. His character and personal values remain essentially intact, uncompromised by his practical adaptation to the foreign cultural milieu. Furthermore, the Turks and North Africans among whom he is obliged to live are depicted as religiously objectionable and sometimes barbaric, but not as particularly or essentially different from other peoples. We may attribute Cervantes’s apparent cultural egalitarianism to his recognized tolerance of humanity in all its guises—nothing human is alien to him. In this he does not appreciably differ from the authors of the other examples cited, who, while perhaps somewhat less tolerant, show a similar disinclination to particularize the native. All the authors of our examples depict cultural assimilation in purely behavioral terms. People play roles and make decisions, responding to alien ways as best they can. Travelers, therefore, may do as the Romans do, but do not thereby become actual Romans. Invoking another metaphor, we could compare the dilemma of the cultural assimilator, as depicted in the travel narratives, to the professional circumstances of the present-day method actor. The performer may be fully in character—“in the moment,” as they say—but nonetheless remains an actor playing a part. Actors who crossed the line, becoming, or thinking they become, the character they play—allowing the role, as it were, to colonize the original personality— would be considered psychotic (and also, incidentally, unprofessional). The works surveyed, to the degree they represent going native as a peril or a temptation to which travelers may be subjected, understand the experience in a manner akin to the way the actors of our metaphor perceive their job: as a playing of roles, each with its various demands, but in no case implying an adaptive transformation of the personality. On the



level of cultural awareness, the travel writers, furthermore, show no clear sense of an essentially distinct autochthonous identity, either in the case of a given people or in the general sense of any and all peoples who fundamentally depart from European norms. Travel works may habitually profile other peoples, as demonstrated in chapter 2, but racial profiling, even in its more nuanced, sympathetic, and deducibly accurate manifestations, does not necessarily imply any deep understanding of or concern for the complexities of actual difference. A superficial, reductionist attribution of mental and behavioral properties, profiling focuses on sets of descriptors rather than on the peoples, which are their ostensible subjects. Among the authors and works discussed, only Cabeza de Vaca, with his greater regard for local ethnic specificity, stands out as a possible exception to the pattern. This more generally simplified perception of difference, and of the traveler’s response to it, is not incompatible with the cosmopolitanism referred to in chapter 2. The travel works’ representation of the going-native experience may be seen as an expression of that seemingly open-minded outlook. To the extent that this perspective bespeaks a tolerant accommodation of difference, it agrees with Augustine’s position, referred to in chapter 2, regarding the human status of even the most monstrous races. However, even this recognition of an inner humanity common to all men or manlike races may imply something quite distinct from humane cultural enlightenment. To reduce the native to “just folks,” and going native to mere apostasy, treason, or behavioral adaptation, is to assume that there is no real separate, special native identity. Todorov discusses this problem under the heading of “assimilationism,” which he defines as a “projection of [one’s] own values” onto the Other (The Conquest 42–43). This process, denying “the existence of a human substance truly other,” induces in the Eurocentric observer a tendency to perceive the outsider as “an imperfect state of oneself,” and thus to a chronic “identification of our own values with values in general, of our I with the universe.” To deny or ignore Otherness, in other words, is to enable its absorption. This presumption of sameness correlates with the Spanish conquerors’ view of subjugated natives as human plunder. A homogeneous view of mankind facilitates thinking that anyone could be fair game, according to the fortunes of war. Winners and losers are what they are because of the luck of the draw; the conquerors’ good luck is the natives’ bad; there is nothing more to be said. The best status the native can aspire to is that of the ancillary collaborator, the auxiliary ally. This viewpoint precludes any real concept of indigeneity resulting from a particularized perception of the native condition, or of native cultural identity as a set of uniquely



inclusive mental and cultural attributes defining natives in collective and individual terms. To discern indigeneity is to theorize regarding the supposed phenomenon. This is something of which our travel writers, especially the military narrators, seem incapable. As we are about to see, it is precisely the task that Las Casas takes upon himself. In presenting his theory of the autochthonous, he not only imputes a set of diagnostic cultural qualities to a geographically specified array of ethnic groups; he also incidentally formulates the basic principles of indigenism as a political advocacy practiced on behalf of such groups. What transforms the opportunistic minimalism of the conqueror’s indio into a more complex perception of the native is the insistent projection of an aboriginal nuance. The latter feature is chief ly an artifact of the Churchmen, as exemplified by Las Casas. In the post-Conquest and early Colonial reality, the concept of indigeneity paradoxically originates in the very foundation of indigenism as a unilateral, pronative advocacy. This advocacy is a collateral effect of Christianization, circumstantially defined by Las Casas in terms of a protective, pronativist mandate. The two principal elements of his campaign consist, first, of a definition of wrongs committed and, second, a characterization of the population victimized by those wrongs. The tone and style of his initial presentation adumbrates terms and concepts of present-day activism and legality, such as victimology, on the one hand, and the class action suit on the other. In his prologue, addressed to the king, Las Casas sets forth his basic argument (Succinct Account 72), first emphasizing the general nature of the atrocities committed by the conquerors, and the divinely ordained responsibility of monarchs to rectify the unparalleled “males y daños, perdición y jacturas” (“wrongs and injuries, losses and detriments”) inf licted on the natives of “aquel vastísimo y nuevo mundo de las Indias” (“that boundless new world of the Indies”). The control of this measureless domain, Las Casas reminds his royal addressee, has been entrusted by God and by His Church to the kings of Castile, “para que se los rigiesen y gobernasen, convertiesen y prosperasen temporal y espiritualmente” (“so that they might rule and govern these realms, converting them and promoting their prosperity, both temporal and spiritual”; 72). A real-world practitioner of what could be called Quixoticism avant la lettre, Las Casas (72) establishes an immense virtual protectorate, characterizing the beneficiaries of his mandate in terms that both globalize and essentialize. In this he adumbrates the race-making methodologies of the twentieth-century Afro-American civil rights movement, which, as Banton observes (“Historical” 60), willingly adopted the so-called onedrop rule earlier propounded by white racist ideologues; the effect of this response was to build up a “maximal constituency.” Similarly converting



a negative to a positive, Las Casas expatiates regarding the inhabitants of all the territories subjected to the ruinous activities of the Conquistadores are described as “indianas gentes, pacíficas, humildes y mansas que a nadie ofenden” (“peoples of the Indies, peaceful, humble, and meek, offending no one”). The actions of their oppressors, meanwhile, are “inicuas, tiránicas, y por toda ley natural, divina y humana condenadas, detestadas y malditas” (“wicked, tyrannical, and by any standard of law, natural, divine, or human, contemptible, hateful, and reprehensible”). In describing how the conquerors have been guilty of “derramar tan inmensa copia de humana sangre” (“spilling so immense a quantity of human blood”), Las Casas (Succinct Account 73) identifies victimized inhabitants with the territories they occupied at the time of the conquest, alluding to how the invaders depopulated whole regions, “de sus naturales moradores y poseedores” (“their natural inhabitants and possessors”). These natural inhabitants, he reiterates, are all “gentes inocentes” (“innocent folk”), the victims of the “cudicia y ambición” (“greed and ambition”) of those who “hacer tan nefarias obras pretenden” (“intend to commit such heinous deeds”). The prologue concludes with Las Casas’s beseeching the king to take all possible measures to prevent such “nocivas y detestables empresas” (“harmful and detestable enterprises”; 73). Consistently referring to the indios as the “naturales gentes” (“native peoples”) who inhabit the Americas (75, 161), Las Casas pointedly identifies Indians with the lands they occupy: “Porque es averiguado y experimentado millares de veces que sacando los indios de sus tierras naturales, luego mueren más fácilmente” (“Because it is has been proven and verified thousands of times that, once removed from their native lands, Indians quickly and more easily succumb”; 103). In this he echoes Anghiera’s view of New World peoples, enunciated several decades before the composition of the Succinct Account, as both natural inhabitants of their own lands and innocent victims of aggression. This notion is expressed by Anghiera in his account of how “insulares reguli, qui hactenus suo parvoque contenti tranquille quieteque vitam duxerant, quom nostros in eorum solo natali pedem figere conspicerant, graviter id ferebant” (“the kings of the islanders, who hitherto had led their lives in peace and quiet, content with the little they had, could scarcely tolerate the sight of our people establishing themselves on their native soil”; De Orbe 168). While perhaps not as inclined as Las Casas to idealize New World peoples, Anghiera is not averse to generalizing in favor of natives deemed to be inherently innocent. In a passage toward the end of the third Decade (165), he presents an encounter between Columbus and an aged tribal chief that portends a triangulation destined to become a cultural topos



during the colonial centuries to come: that of the Europeans, the Good Natives, and the Bad Natives. As Columbus announces that he has been sent by the King and Queen of Spain to take possession of all these lands, he assures his native interlocutor that he also comes to mete out justice to the Cannibals “et reliquos scelestos homines indigenas” (“and other evil-doing natives”), while promising to honor and protect the innocent “ob eorum virtutes” (“owing to their virtues”). As the conversation continues, Anghiera invokes the classical pastoral topoi of the Golden Age, describing the old man’s awe upon hearing of the power and magnificence of the Catholic Kings, of their mighty armies, the size and number of their cities, and the strength of their fortified palaces (165). The splendor and opulence of the Spanish world is then contrasted with the primordial simplicity of the “honoratus senex” (“honorable old man”) and his people. Anghiera informs his readers—prefiguring Don Quijote’s Golden Age speech in Part I, Chapter 11 of the Quijote—that among these people the land belongs to all, like sunshine and water, and that among them the concept of “meum aut tuum malorum omnium semina” (“mine and thine, the seeds of all evils”) is entirely unknown. It is, in fact, a “aetas aurea” (“golden age”), in which no fences or barriers enclose any lands, a world without laws or codes or judges, in which every man acts fairly and all judge any man to be evil and wicked who takes pleasure in mistreating his neighbor (165–166). Las Casas and Anghiera thus perceive the native New World peoples— the former more generally than the latter—as “natural” in the Roman vernacular sense of “native-born,” “of a particular place or region,” but also, at their best, as “natural” in the sense of approximating primordial human nature. As such they are subject to the divine protection of which the Catholic Church is the only rightful custodian. From this perspective, there can be no legitimate governance or exploitation of these peoples without clerical supervision. The Empire of the Indies is only justly governed if priests have the last say; to the degree that this mandate is circumvented, colonial rule is both unlawful and ungodly. Generalizing monolithically, Las Casas profiles both Spaniards and natives. Concerning the latter, his approach differs from the Partidas’ depiction of Jews and Muslims in terms of ancestry and religious heterodoxy; the biblical passages cited earlier, which define the native by the mere fact of conquest, subjugation, and legitimate exploitation; and the travel writers’ ethnic profiles, discussed in chapter 2, consisting mainly of a few epithets, with occasional interludes that provide more details. Las Casas profiles New World peoples much more elaborately, emphasizing presumed autochthony, a generically non-Christian or pre-Christian way of life, a set of primordial virtues, and, last, a historically victimized



condition. At the same time, the native, collectively and singularly, is viewed as a tabula rasa upon which this complex profile is projected. Little or no attention is paid to the particular histories, customs, or languages that distinguish individual native peoples from one another. On the one hand, these edenic natives of the New World are “las más simples, sin maldades ni dobleces, obedientísimas, fidelísimas a sus señores naturales y a los cristianos a quien sirven” (“the simplest of peoples, without treachery or deceit, and the most obedient and faithful to their natural lords, and to the Christians whom they serve”). To the string of traits just cited he adds that New World peoples are “más humildes, más pacientes, más pacíficas y quietas, sin rencillas ni bollicios no rijosos, no querulosos, sin rancores, sin odios, sin desear venganzas” (“the humblest and most patient, the gentlest and most peaceful; with no inclination to wrangling or troublemaking; neither spiteful nor quarrelsome; devoid of malice and vengeful inclinations”; (Succinct Account 75–76). Opposed to the prelapsarian innocence of these “ovejas mansas” (“mild-mannered sheep”) is the absolute villainy of the Spaniards, who, having arrived in the New World, set upon the easy prey represented by unsuspecting natives like “lobos y tigres y leones crudelísimos de muchos días hambrientos” (“wolves and tigers and lions most cruel, ravenous after going many days unfed”; 77). From the time of its arrival up until the time of his writing, this pitiless, invading horde, asserts Las Casas, has done nothing to all the peoples of the New World, but “despedazallas, matallas, angustiallas, af ligillas, atormentallas y destruillas por las estrañas y nuevas y varias y nunca otras tales vistas ni leídas ni oídas maneras de crueldad” (“tear them apart, murder them, torture them, aff lict them, torment them, and destroy them by means of outrageous, novel, and varied forms of cruelty, the like of which has never been seen, nor heard, nor read of ”; 77). Sermonic in his style and intentions, Las Casas blames the depopulation of the Americas on this savage warfare waged by the Conquerors against native peoples. Their violence stems from inherent perversity; other than an unfettered lust for plunder, no motives are adduced. Without denying the ruthlessness of the conquerors, the reader may wonder if the systematic genocide of native peoples depicted by Las Casas would not have been extremely costly in terms of the medium- and long-term utilization of such populations as the labor force of colonial society. One might regard as more likely that the many undoubted acts of extreme violence committed by the invaders resulted, at least at the level of planning and leadership, from canny pragmatism rather than gratuitous sadism. Las Casas himself (107) hints at a pragmatic motive in his description of the systematic application of terroristic methods by the Conquerors. Referring



to a massacre in Cholula, for example, he observes that the Spaniards determined to carry out what they themselves call “una matanza o castigo” (“a slaughter or chastisement”), in order to “poner y sembrar su temor y braveza en todos los rincones de aquellas tierras” (“establish and disseminate a fear of them and of their brutality in every corner of those lands”). The general and strategic intention of the conquerors, Las Casas allows, was the deployment, in all the lands invaded by the Spaniards, of a systematic policy designed “hacer una cruel y señalada matanza, porque tiemblen dellos aquellas ovejas mansas” (“to perpetrate a cruel and notable slaughter, so that all those mild-mannered sheep would tremble at the very thought of them”). The concept of a strategic and selective use of exemplary terror, aimed at intimidation and demoralization rather than outright extermination, undermines the theory of all-out genocide proposed by Las Casas. Selective terrorism, strategically employed, is not the same as genocide. It bespeaks some kind of longer-term plan with regard to subject populations. Once we allow that the conquerors’ ruthlessness was, to certain degree at least, subject to some rational program of action, assessment of their motives requires consideration of pragmatic factors that might inhibit the indiscriminate use of violence. In assessing possible political motives underlying Las Casas’s profile of victimized native peoples, and his single-minded attribution of genocidal intentions and methods to the Spanish Conquistadors, two qualifying factors must be addressed. One is the impact of disease on native populations. The other is indigenous collaboration with the conqueror. Neither of these factors is mentioned by Las Casas. Regarding the first factor, the findings of present-day epidemiological research confirm that the drastic depopulation of indigenous New World peoples in the first centuries after the European discovery chief ly resulted from devastating outbreaks of such Old World diseases as smallpox (see, e.g., Watts 84–102). Historians and demographers, too numerous to cite here, have debated the problem of the relative impact of factors other than disease, including violence committed by Europeans, on New World populations. The more thoughtful summaries of the question point out the propagandistic intentions of many participants in the discussion, especially those minimalizing the destructive impact of the European presence (see Thomas, Conquest 609–613; and McCaa). Whatever the exact population numbers might have been, the losses suffered by indigenous populations, especially during the sixteenth century, were catastrophic. These losses were probably chief ly caused by a series of epidemics occasioned by the spread of new pathogens brought to the New World by Europeans.



Concerning the second factor, the frequent complicity of native peoples in the Spanish conquest of the New World has been convincingly demonstrated. In recent decades, research on this question emphasizes the resourceful—in fact, indispensable—collaboration of numerous indigenous elements in the business of Spanish conquest and colonization (Restall 45–51; Oudijk and Restall 32–37, 43–46, 54–56). The intention here, in any event, is not to debate the impact of these factors, nor to assess the degree to which Las Casas was willfully or unwittingly ignorant of them. What is of interest is the ax-grinding to be detected in Las Casas’s account. He is a single-issue polemicist who profiles two opposing groups: the Conquistadors and their indigenous victims. On both sides of the divide, he elaborates his profile, proclaiming in detail the unmitigated barbarity of one side, the abject victimization of the other. In both cases he essentializes. His indigenism, moreover, makes for a cultural authentication—to be an Indian is to suffer—that itself insures the perpetuation of the label and the status of native-born person. With the best of intentions, he thus unwittingly creates a fourth, outsider caste consisting of all persons who satisfy his nativist criteria. The conquistadors, while giving Las Casas and allies plenty of iniquitous fodder with which to enhance their vilifying antimilitarist screed, view the native, as we have seen, only in minimally racial terms. These imply, as seen earlier, a classification of the Other as barely but unmistakably an outsider, not-one-of-us, but essentially the same as us. By contrast, Las Casas and his ilk, seeking to bring natives into the Christian fold, engage in caste formation and reinforcement. The essential division, going back to the Peninsular Middle Ages, was, we recall, between those racial groups—particularly Jews and Muslims—who were beyond the pale, who lay outside the jurisdiction of the church. Their racial condition was determined and reinforced by their outsider status. These external groups—or at least a significant number of them—were transformed by religious conversion, voluntary or involuntary, into Christians who thereby became accountable to ecclesiastical authority. They were also thereby made liable to the manifold invidious stratifications of caste. In the latter concept’s calibrations of relative virtue, suffering and sacrifice rank among the principal judgmental criteria. Evaluations, negative or positive, are carried out by the participants themselves and by fellow members of the system. Sponsoring the native, Las Casas emphasizes the pain and anguish—in effect, the martyrdom—undergone by innocent Indians at the hands of evil conquerors. By so doing he both vastly enlarges his constituency, at least potentially, and valorized this extended congregation as a new and ethically prestigious category. This inclusion is effected within a caste system whose dominant moral voice—the



institution that ultimately calibrated the “holy” in “holier than thou”— was the church. His model of integration and assimilation corresponds, therefore, to theories of caste that see the latter formation as a race-like category within multiethnic formations. In his systematic advocacy of the native, Las Casas is integrationist. His objective is facilitated by a purposefully invidious profiling of the perpetrators and their victims. These conquerors, “que se llaman cristianos” (“who call themselves Christians”), he declares (78), have employed two chief methods in order “estirpar y raer de la haz de la tierra a aquellas miserandas naciones” (“to extirpate from the face of the earth those wretched nacions”). The first method is by waging “injustas, crueles, sangrientas y tiránicas guerras” (“unjust, cruel, sanguinary, and tyrannical wars”). The second is by “oprimiéndolos con la más dura, horrible y áspera servidumbre en que jamás hombres ni bestias pudieron ser puestas” (“oppressing them with the harshest, most horrible, and most excruciating servitude to which men or beasts could ever be subjected”). The chief motivations for this cruelty are greed and the unjustified social climbing it ultimately makes possible: “solamente por tener por su fin último el oro y henchirse de riquezas en muy breves días, y subir a estados muy altos y sin proporción de sus personas, conviene a saber, por la insaciable cudicia y ambición que han tenido” (“only by reason of the ultimate end of obtaining gold and of glutting themselves with wealth as quickly as possible, thus ascending to exalted estates all out of proportion to their persons, to wit, by means of the insatiable greed and ambition they have shown”; 78–79). The victims of the Conquistadors, asserts Las Casas (82), have thus been entirely justified in either f leeing to the hills before men who have shown themselves to be “tan sin piedad y tan feroces bestias, extirpadores y capitales enemigos del linaje humano” (“such ruthless and ferocious beasts, exterminators and capital enemies of mankind”), or, on rare occasions, fighting back “con justa razón y santa justicia” (“with good reason and divinely ordained justice”). Perhaps even more destructive, according to Las Casas, is the conquerors’ heedless destruction of the natural order of indigenous society, confirmed by the tendency to make special example of the native royalty and nobility. One kingdom on the island of Hispaniola, for instance, was governed at the time of first contact by a ruling class “en la policía y crianza más ordenada y compuesta, en la muchedumbre de la nobleza y generosidad, porque había muchos y en gran cantidad señores y nobles, y en la lindeza y hermosura de toda la gente” (“most orderly and well regulated, and in the great numbers of its nobility and their generosity, for there were many who were lords and nobles, and in the charm and beauty of all the people”). Summoned to



a meeting and given assurances of safety by the corrupt governor of the island, three hundred of these elite were treacherously burned alive (86). Las Casas, in his propagandistic efforts on behalf of New World peoples, engages in racial profiling that is methodologically akin to the examples discussed in chapter 2. The chief difference between his method and that of the other writers cited earlier is his attempt at race-making. A precursor of modern racial theorists, both attackers and defenders of racial outgroups, he introduces demography into the equation. To view a racial group as an expandable constituency is to refigure its collective character, remaking it in the image of something different than it once was. The profiling of earlier travel writers sought to capture a racial likeness, to characterize completely an entire population by the synecdochal attribution of one or more physical or behavioral traits—the part represented the whole. They assumed there was something to be captured. Las Casas, by contrast, disregards specifics not only because to do so furthers his political and ethical agendas but because he sees collective native character as malleable—not as a tabula rasa, but as a marble statue, waiting to be remade by the sculptor’s art. In this he entertains a concept of collective identity that almost amounts to an abstract theory of the indigenous. Reversing the direction of the profiling synecdoche, he assumes that the whole can stand for the part. Provocative of unintended consequences, his race-making paradoxically prepares the way for nativization as a pretextual response to perceived or alleged racial difference, and for the eventual movement of colonial society from its dominant to its hegemonic phase. The earlier stage, the one whose effects Las Casas sought to undo, has been summarized by Abdul JanMohamed (80–81) as one involving direct physical subjugation and ruthless material exploitation of land and people. The second phase, characterized as “neocolonial,” is marked by relaxation of direct military and political control and by internalization of Western values, attitudes, and institutions by native peoples. The process is characterized throughout by the contradiction between the colonial program’s covert agenda, centered on exploitation of natural and human resources, and its overt objective of Christianizing and “civilizing” the native. At the same time, the assimilationist mentality, the feigned or unfeigned assumption that there is no there, there, in terms of essential native difference, never goes away. Intermarriage, facilitated by this attitude, will continue to thin the biological ranks of the dominant, as ongoing miscegenation produces its array of racial blends destined to build up other racial constituencies, yielding the casta system of later colonial times, in which Mestizos (those of Amerindian and White parentage) and Mulattos (the offspring of African and white parents) were only two of the



numerous groups cohabiting with those of European descent, themselves divided into peninsular immigrants and criollos (whites born in the New World; Cope 6, 24, 51–55; Restall and Lane 204–205). Last, Las Casas founds a discourse that will convert all of transatlantic Hispania—top to bottom, dark-skinned and light, the just and the unjust—into the subaltern poor relation of the Western World. From his profiling and race-making, both of Indians and their oppressors, emerges the concept of the so-called Leyenda Negra (“Black Legend”). The term may have been first coined by Julián Juderías, in a book published in 1914, but the idea crystallizes under the inf luence of Las Casas. The negative image of the Spanish conquest and colonization of the New World readily expands, in race-making style, into a pervasively negative perception of Hispanic culture in general among other European peoples ( Juderías 28). Like an errant star and its attendant planets, Hispania has hovered in the outer reaches of the Eurocentric galaxy ever since.



he travel works discussed here were products of a European literary culture grounded in a late-medieval society and economy for which travel was a common if not universal activity. However, even for those who could not afford it, travel was a known thing, a fact of life. It is perhaps for this reason that the journeys and voyages referred to in our travel works describe real or imaginary trajectories that take the reader far beyond the familiar western European world. Until the age of transatlantic discovery, the really exotic directions were only two: southward into Africa or eastward into Asia. The former was problematic: a relatively narrow habitable zone along the Mediterranean coast, a vast and frightening desert to the South, hostile infidels to East, and a formidable and largely unknown west coast. More options were available in the direction of the rising sun. In that vast world, the thirteenth century had witnessed the establishment and systematic maintenance of trade and travel routes connecting Asia with Europe and the Middle East. Always the theater of rising and falling empires, Eurasia witnessed, before and during the centuries encompassed by the present study, a constant if fitful competition among “contentious hegemonic political and military systems,” observes Eric Wolf (25). The hegemonic accumulation of wealth and resources synergetically interacted, both in the Eurasian heartland and on its periphery, with expanding long-distance trade, creating extensive and complex “grids of communication” that linked numerous regions and distinct populations (25). Between the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and northwestern China, regions and oases were connected by trade routes also used for other kinds of travel. These principal corridors were in turn connected to adjacent regions and urban centers by a ramified system of maritime and secondary land routes (27). Even the Black Plague of the mid-fourteenth century could not completely shut down the communication networks built up over



the previous several centuries. From 1400 to the late eighteenth century, the “archipelagic distribution of agricultural areas,” notes Wolf, encouraged the development and maintenance of connecting routes. Because such routes require upkeep and defense, a perception arose throughout the system of the need to maintain local police power; at the same time, local groups increasingly aspired to seize control of connecting links on the grid (30). These centers and routes constituted the vast Eurasian communications network into which travelers in any part of the circuit could be said to “check in” when moving beyond their local region. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Pax Mongolica guaranteed a relative stability of caravan routes throughout the vast territories lying between Eastern and Western markets. Interrupted by the subsidence of Mongol power after the middle of the fourteenth century, and by the Black Plague’s disastrous impact on European society and economy at around the same time, the interregional networks previously maintained by the Mongols began to be restored at the turn of the fifteenth century (around the time of the Embassy’s journey to the court of Tamerlane). These newly restored linkages fostered the “sustained cross-cultural communications and global interdependence” that would eventually lead to the emergence of the modern world (Bentley 164). Fifteenth-century economic expansion and cultural interaction, although involving to some degree all cultures throughout Eurasia and much of Africa, were particularly notable in Europe and the Muslim world (165). In Spain, the end of the fifteenth century saw the fall of Muslim Granada and the conclusion of the Reconquest era, whose peculiar mix of issues and outcomes, summarizes Bentley, form the background of the “formative attitudes, the policies toward different peoples, and even the specific institutions that Spaniards took to the Americas” (176–177). During the centuries of the Reconquest, travel and the multiregional industry that supported it were expanding. Organized, multipurpose travel became increasingly frequent and democratized among a broad range of social types (Urry 4). Along with trade, one of the collateral factors interactively fostering this development was the medieval European pilgrimage culture. As an allegory of the Christian’s spiritual progress toward salvation, pilgrimage was considered the most exemplary behavior and the pilgrim the ideal human type (see also Hopper 1–11; Urry 5–16; Fernández-Armesto, “Medieval” 277–278). Medieval European pilgrimage, as Rubio Tovar reminds us (“Viajes, mapas” 23–24), reveals a gradual expansion of what might be called the



franchise of pilgrimage. With the coincident expansion and stabilization of travel networks, and the increasing bourgeoisification of society, a growing number and greater variety of Christians undertook expeditions to holy places. Any man or woman, of any social class, could undertake pious travel. Merchants, nobles, bishops, artisans—all could play the role of homo viator (“wayfaring man”). Abetted by a specialty book trade of guidebooks and spiritual manuals, pilgrimage as an expanding industry provided opportunities for mixing the incidental pleasures of travel with its ostensible objectives (Ohler 56–57, 82–96; Webb 45). Throughout Christendom, every church and chapel—through sermons, sculpture, paintings, glass windows, hymns—represented visually, textually, and musically, the narrative of saints and holy places. Certain destinations, as Rubio Tovar observes, tend to be converted into “literary places” (“Viajes, mapas” 26). This trend has continued throughout the development of the travel industry and is apparent in present-day historical sites, which, in a manner analogous to medieval pilgrimage destinations, can be seen as providing a narrative framework in which the experience of the visitor is coscripted “in the present by the simultaneous participation of both narrative agents and active readers.” Such sites enable the elaboration of so-called storyscapes in which “an event of the past is not a fixed text, but rather is . . . created through performance” (Chronis 389). As travel writing comes into its own in the fifteenth century, argues Pérez Priego (“Estudio literario” 234–235), the traditional clerical and didactic affiliation of travel authors, as exemplified by the Book of Knowledge, gave way to more secular partialities. The courtier, the knight, the functionary join the cleric as both readers and composers of travel literature, as shown by the frequent presence of books such as the Marvels and the Book of Knowledge in aristocratic libraries. The dominant ideology of this later medieval travel literature, suggests Pérez Priego, is chivalry. Travel to distant lands finds its fullest justification within the chivalric estate and its concomitant ethos, which, emphasizing the constant need to seek out confirmations of chivalric virtue, naturally lends itself to chronic pretextual itinerancy (“Estudio literario” 235). From the twelfth and thirteenth centuries on, observes Le Goff, the quest for individual identity, so bound up in literature and in social discourse with an idealized chivalry, so intimately expressive, in social practice, of the struggles and interactions of various classes, began more and more to focus on “extant cultural reserves” in the formulation and defense of its several agendas. A receptivity to oral and secular culture, in which the marvelous plays an important role, supported a perception



of the chivalric adventure, typically involving multiple exposures of the protagonist and other characters to various kinds of mirabilia (“marvels”), as a kind of marvel in its own right (“Le merveilleux” 21). The literary knight’s wanderings, observes Zumthor (202–203), like that of the pilgrim’s circuit, were sanctified as a quest for the sacred and the miraculous. In the course of the thirteenth century, chivalric fiction comes to represent the fairy-tale wonders encountered by the knight-errant in ways that suggest a substitution of the sacral by the aristocratic. The succession of outlandish personages, creatures, objects, and places constitutes a circuitous series of milestones linking the exotic space traversed by chivalric errantry with the familiar space of the wanderer’s country of origin. As he roams through distant lands, the knight, argues Zumthor, never completely cuts himself off from his homeland and remains ever aware of where he comes from. This deliberate but temporary uprooting and isolation of the self disengages the traveler from the condition of ordinary men. Even as he wanders—often anonymously or pseudonymously—in the no-man’s-land of open, unclaimed, uncharted space, he is himself a blank slate on which is imprinted a miscellany of ethical and ideological values and precepts: noblesse-oblige, piety, Frauendienst, concern for the common good. What confers his status is, above all, his errantry, his instability (203). The errantry of literary knights simulates, sometimes very closely, a social reality in which youth, for noble males, was a phase of life during which far-ranging itineration was the norm. Motives for roaming could include the demographic pressures of the family and inheritance system, which tended to disinherit second-born sons; the quest for honor-enhancing combative venues and opportunities for pillage; a competitive status-seeking focused on the hunt for heiresses; and, possibly, sheer, adventuresome wanderlust (Duby, “Youth” 112–120; Belmartino 298–316). Chivalric romances portray, in their glamorized way, the basic dilemma of the disinherited second-born sons of the noble or aspiring classes, for whom an acceptable avenue to social betterment was to marry an heiress, preferably a royal or noble one. However, in the fantasy world of the romances, the preferred mode of self-affirmation and improvement is the outright acquisition of a domain of one’s own. For real-world conquerors like Cortés, often the impoverished sons of hidalgo families, the New World was literally the chance to see a dream come true. As noted in chapter 3, the concept of knighthood and the “noble ethos” pointed out by Ruiz were “a formidable force in the construction of identity” in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Spanish Society 68). The bellicose requirement of a literal and constant exercise of arms



as the definitive confirmation of knighthood fades in the fifteenth century, to be tempered by “an ethics of knighthood, and a new sense of aesthetics” that emphasized the dress codes and overall lifestyle of courtly culture (71). In anticipation of Castiglione’s Courtier, the nobles of the Peninsula organized their “self-fashioning” in terms of sophisticated literacy, authorship, patronage of the arts, and learned participation in the festivals of their communities (72). This fifteenth-century spirit of nostalgic, anachronistic chivalry mandated, as Antonio Antelo Iglesias observes (39–43), a vigilant search for opportunities to display knightly attitudes and comportment, in conformity with a courtly lifestyle, which included duels and pasos de armas (44–47), as well as recreational travel for its own sake (48–56). Carrizo Rueda (“El viaje y las crisis”) points out, as an example of this status system, Tafur’s representation of his quest for knowledge of foreign lands as an imitation of errant chivalry. The chivalric world, she observes, is constantly present in his account, as revealed by the episode involving an encounter with a noble host, in which the latter’s deduction of the narrator’s high-born status and exalted lineage corresponds to the literary motif of the fortuitous revelation of the incognito knight’s true origins (417–418; see also Fick 54–60). The chivalric itinerary of experiences, encounters, and adventures enables a constant shaping of the protagonist’s public persona, as well as a constant engagement in the conscious crafting of his self-image. Traveling under his own name or incognito, he embodies Stephen Greenblatt’s concept of self-fashioning as resourceful affirmation of personal autonomy through “the power to impose a shape upon oneself.” Exercised in an early modern social reality whose intellectual and social environment encouraged the construction of identity as a “manipulable, artful process,” self-fashioning encompasses, notes Greenblatt, the practices of parents and teachers; the discourse of “manners or demeanor”; the “representation of one’s nature or intention in speech or actions.” Selffashioning in this context does not, at the same time, imply any “sharp distinction between literature and social life” (Renaissance 1–3). Composed within this interactive environment, in which authors seem to be guided in their storytelling by the social motives and psychological themes outlined by Greenblatt, the chivalric romances platform the insatiable restlessness of knight errantry as a self-fashioning project. The concept is personified in the Zifar by the protagonist’s younger son, Roboán. Eschewing complacent enjoyment of his position as a member of the royal family, Roboán defines nobility as a search for adventures that publicly demonstrates and augments his honor. Justifying his need to seek out opportunities for honorific adventure he declares to his father, who pleads with him to stay home, that nothing remains of a man after



his death save the honorable deeds he performs in his lifetime. What profit can he obtain, he demands—ref lecting the chivalric status obsession discussed in chapter 3—from leading a “vida muy viçiosa e muy folgada” (“a very pleasurable and leisured life”), unless he accomplish some “bienfecho” (“worthy exploit”). The greatest fault a man can suffer from, he affirms, is “se querer tener viçioso e no vsar de caualleria assi como le conuiene” (“in preferring to remain in indolent luxury and not practice the knightly profession as behoves him”). By giving himself up to leisure a man forsakes all those things “en que podria auer mayor onrra de aquella en que esta” (“by which he might obtain greater honor than that which he presently enjoys”). Honor is not conferred save on the man “que quiere trabajar por ella” (“who will strive to obtain it”; 259). This tug between heroic itineration and complacent sedentarism is one of the chivalric romance’s obsessive themes. Thus, in Amadís, the knight Branfil is described by his brother Bruneo de Bonamar as more interested that he “ganar prez y fama de cauallero” than “ganar vn gran señorío” (“win the honor and fame of knight . . . win a great fiefdom”; 1344). Amadís’s inability to settle down, to be a king and husband, reveals a consuming preoccupation with achievement as an ongoing affirmation of personal status. In contrast to the “cuytas y dolores y congoxas de su apassionado coraçón” (“anguish and pain and woe of his impassioned heart”) brought on by his earlier prolonged separation from Oriana, he now enters a life “todo al contrario” (“the very opposite”), in which he enjoys the constant company of his beloved in “vicio y plazer” (“leisure and delight”). However, as the narrator reminds us, the “cosas perescederas deste mundo” (“perishable things of this world”) can never yield permanent happiness, “pues que Dios no lo quiso ordenar, que quando aquí pensamos ser legados al cabo de nuestros desseos, luego en punto somos atormentados de otros tamaños o por ventura mayores” (“since God did not see fit to ordain it so, for at the very moment we thought to have attained the fulfillment of our desires, we find ourselves instead frustrated by others of equal or even greater intensity”; 1641). Thus Amadís, having attained precisely the stable situation for which he has longed since adolescence, finds himself yearning for “la vida passada” (“his past life”), in which he had gained “honrra y prez” (“honor and glory”) by means of “las cosas de las armas” (“feats of arms”). However, by leading a safe, stationary existence, being a husband to his beloved and the ruler of his own domain, “se podría escurescer y menoscabar su fama” (“his reputation could be obscured and diminished”;1641). There is, therefore, no real happily-ever-after for the knight-errant; the journeying becomes inveterate. The hero’s compulsion to resume



errantry is revealed toward the end of Montalvo’s narrative, when Amadís cannot resist the temptation to embark on yet another altruistic adventure. The lady Darioleta, his mother’s former lady-in-waiting, comes to him for help in rescuing her captive husband. He decides to accompany her on the spur of the moment, declining to send for his armor and weapons and agreeing to use instead those of the lady’s husband. He realizes that if he sends for his own, “Oriana lo detendría de manera que no podría ir con la dueña” (“Oriana would detain him so that he could not go with the lady in distress”; 1644). As separate but reciprocally interactive factors, democratized peregrination and widespread idealization of the chivalric mentality and lifestyle foster the emergence of tourism as the individualistic, recreational perquisite of a leisured class. Characterized by Böröcz as “a type of trade in which the consumer travels to the commodity,” and symptomatic of the “spatial completion of the modern world economy,” the increasingly massified and industrialized tourism of recent centuries finds its original model in the Grand Tour of European aristocratic youth and its emulators from the sixteenth to the late eighteenth centuries ( “Travel Capitalism” 709; see also Böröcz, Leisure Migration 24; Shaw and Williams 29, 53). The leisured, wide-ranging travels of this social elite gradually became the paradigm for travel abroad as a status-affirming rite of passage for the gentry and the emulous middle class. The knight-errantry of chivalric biography and romance is a literary allegory of tourism. The knight travels in cosmopolitan space; he interacts with or confronts all kinds of people, according to the exigencies of the moment; he dedicates himself, through his peregrinations, to the vision of a greater and better world. Personifying the notion of travel as an ennobling and status-confirming experience, he models the traveler on his best behavior. That behavior serves always to justify the title and status of knighthood, considered the epitome of the defenders’ estate, the most prestigious of castes from the viewpoint of the secular traveler. Engaging in the Grand Tour or its status-conscious simulations does not, at the same time, confirm actual membership in the elite. The latter status is not automatically attained by any particular activity, however prestigious, including travel. The viability of status enhancement must be authenticated by various modes of confirmed meaningful performance. Hypersensitive to this issue, travel writers are therefore ever on the alert to themes and dramatized situations that point to such confirmation. The adventures of chivalric romance symbolically glamorize travel as a sequence of experiences in distant and often exotic places. These experiences are literary embodiments of the touristic paradox, which is



that tourism implies leisure in the sense of its requiring and enabling an escape from everyday routines and obligations, while presenting itself as meaningful activity, sacrifice, suffering, self-improvement—the opposite, in other words, of simple idleness. Tourism and knight-errantry as reciprocally decoding styles of travel are manifestations of what Mary Helms has called Herculean nomadism, in the sense that both forms of itineration bespeak a quest for authenticity in terms of self-improving labors to be performed, of opportunities for the traveler to be tested. Viewed from this perspective, touristic destinations and activities, like the literary knight’s encounters and ordeals, function like the shrines and holy places of pilgrimage culture. At once sacral and secular, the touristic escape from the everyday world, conferring individual freedom and esoteric knowledge, endows the traveler returning home “with a different aura or status.” Knowledgeable about the “wider world,” the returning traveler is seen by his kin and his neighbors as “corrupted,” as “an outsider, an odd one, extraordinary” (Helms 79). This paradoxical prestige of the escapee from routine, making the traveler somewhat akin to the hermit or the penitent, is perhaps enhanced in the present-day globalized age of compromised political borders, blurred ethnic and national identities, multiple diasporas, and widespread nomadism. Such conditions perhaps render superf luous or unintelligible what Mary Baine Campbell has called “the old motifs of the journey—home, departure, destination the liminal space between.” Tourism, in her view, is perhaps the only remaining category of travel for which traditional peripatetic experiences have meaning (“Travel Writing” 262–263). Like the Greek hero carrying out his labors, the knight-errant and the tourist, seeking venues for the dutiful performance of virtuous tasks alleged to be beneficial to the traveler and the home community, are animated by the spirit of meritorious functionalism discussed in chapter 3. Whether construed as atonement or betterment, the enterprise of both types of traveler is overseen by a holier-than-thou spirit that nurtures the concept of real-world tourism and literary errantry as self-proving and self-improving performance. As a kind of pilgrim, the knight errant is a role model for the tourist. Just as the virtuous knight is to be contrasted with knights-errant who pursue their own selfish ends rather than the good of the community, the frivolous tourist’s gawking and dabbling are invidiously comparable to the engagement and understanding exhibited by the serious, self-improving tourist. Travel literature narratively mimics the several kinds of real-world travel, simulating the travels of missionaries, pilgrims, merchants, knights, explorers, discoverers, conquerors, colonists, and actual tourists (the case of Tafur). Along with this thematic variety, travel literature is further



diversified into such subtypes as the first- or second-hand accounts of journeys written by or about travelers; journalistic or allegedly nonfictional descriptions of foreign regions or locales portrayed as potential destinations of travel-minded or geographically inquisitive readers; fictional accounts or novelistic interludes written in a “true-story” mode (Sherman 19–20). Whatever the ostensible motives highlighted by its authors, and whatever the subgeneric category of a given account, travel narratives may still direct an incidentally touristic glance at things perceived to be of interest. For readers, the succession of places and peoples makes for a leisured, vicarious displacement and contemplation of foreign or alien settings and their inhabitants. Emphasizing local color and native exoticism, the touristic aspect of travel literature affords the reader a gazetteerish, “guide-bookish” panorama of kingdoms, lineages, tribes, personages. Untouched by the rigors and risks of real travel in its various modes, the readership of such books, even the most dryly practical and descriptive, is converted into a class of armchair tourists, while the native subjects of travel accounts are transformed into a personnel of virtual performers. Travel between cultural spheres or linguistic regimes racializes the human world, dividing it into two moieties: autochthons and allochthons. In its ethnographic mode, travel literature creates a parallel duality of virtual autochthons and allochthons. Readers of travel literature, as virtually itinerant allochthons, are also, in effect, virtual tourists. Long before the establishment of actual tourist circuits and the early-modern expansion of the tourist industry, stay-at-home armchair travelers virtually toured the world, vicariously participating in all the adventures and experiences recounted by travel writers. Just as presentday tourism complexly exploits local cultures, earlier travel literature, before and during the establishment of actual tourist circuits, provided its readership of virtual tourists with a rare show of stereotyped indigenous peoples. The depiction of exotic locales, the narrative of multiple incidents and encounters, metaphorically prefigures modern tourism’s catalogic itinerary of native places and peoples, its multiple venues for simulated enactments of varied interactions between autochthons and allochthons. The implicitly intrusive voyeurism of the touristic purview informs an aestheticized spectacle, a commodified display that incorporates peoples and communities assumed to be the local depositories of native authenticity. Tourism mandates a going forth, a seeking out of analogy and difference. Invoking supposed precedents, improvising or formulating protocols, tourism, whether actual or vicarious, racializes geographical



space. Hence the pushiness, the nosiness of travel writers. Like scooporiented journalists, they think their readers have a right to know. Travel literature, in short, enables what has been called the tourist gaze. The latter phenomenon, as defined by John Urry, selectively focuses on “features of landscape and townscape” that are distinct from “everyday experience.” Sightseeing, in this context, is defined as viewing things “in some sense out of the ordinary.” Often involving “different forms of social patterning,” the tourist gaze is “objectified” through a myriad of objects and signs that “enable the gaze to be endlessly reproduced and recaptured” and that lend themselves to collection and recollection, ostentation and delectation, as “typical,” “exemplary,” or “traditional” symbols of host communities and cultures, and of the tourist’s statusenhancing interaction with them (3). The touristic gaze as a kind of visual opportunism, however, cannot be simply synonymous with the total contents of the tourist’s visual field. Elaborating on the photographic metaphor, we could say that the touristic gaze is refined by its application of thematic filters. The racial gaze discussed in chapter 2 readily articulates with this touristic triage. Touristic elitism, meanwhile, mandates a narrative viewpoint that insulates the writer and reader from the hierarchical fray of alienbut-familiar types and practices analogous to those of the higher and lower echelons of the home society. In this context, what could be called the functionalist gaze readily merges with the tourist gaze. The recurrent theme of a detailed but detached appreciation of finely differentiated trades, crafts, and vocations, and the products and services furnished by them, commits the narrative to what amounts to a detailed inventory of the public and commercial life of the places visited, especially cities. The perspective, at once accommodating and judgmental of economic conditions and occupational details, confirms the perceived need to be above and outside the game. Nobility, broadly construed as the status peculiar to the dominant, overseeing caste, is precisely the social vantage point that can delectate in a proliferation of servile categories precisely because they represent a reference point with which to gauge one’s own prestigious leisure. In its ethnographic aspect, present-day tourism tends to manage and commercialize indigeneity, emphasizing the supposed traditionalism and authenticity of typical local customs, festivals, or rituals as the elements of nativized spectacle (Stronza 267, 270–274). This modern ethnotourism postulates a clientele of travelers who express expectations as to local, typical, or customary behavior. Locals comply with these expectations, acting out roles and presenting images designed to gratify the visitor/customer. The improvisational reconstruction of notional indigeneity aims



at propping up local tourism through the commodification of local color (MacCannel, The Tourist 158–264). As Regina Bendix points out, the economically motivated appeal to touristic audiences in the fabrication of supposedly authentic native profiles is only part of the story. Critics who deplore the supposed exploitation of native cultures, advocating the defense or reconstruction of the latter in terms of supposedly pure or traditional forms, do so from an outsider’s perspective. “Traditionalized displays,” however, even when performed before tourists, perpetuate and reaffirm “local and national cultural identity.” Tourism itself has become an inescapable factor in the actual lives of present-day native communities. The problem of cultural identity is therefore not simply one of distinguishing “folk” from “fake.” Rather, it is a matter of assimilating elements previously deemed “impure” into a model of “created, negotiable tradition” (132). In the creation and maintenance of cultural imagery, host communities, Bendix asserts, are not merely responding to “tourist pressures.” Artisans and touristic entrepreneurs develop an aesthetic profile in a complex interaction of “market, audience, and performers” that involves local appropriation of “externally imposed notions of authenticity,” which are, at the same time, “satisfying to . . . [the local sense of ] cultural identity” (133). The present-day defenders of native cultural integrity referred to by Bendix may be seen as the inheritors of the indigenist tradition founded by Las Casas. On the one hand, their advocacy of native peoples, like that of Las Casas, contributes to the maintenance of de facto protectorates and implicit constituencies. On the other, however, these present-day indigenists operate in a more complex political environment, in which native communities may themselves engage in their own self-starting or self-defining indigenism. The modern touristic system, in all the twisted contours and cultural contradictions of its racial component, and in its interaction with political domains such as the one referred to in the previous paragraph, is still a thing of the future in the world of our medieval and early-modern travel writers. But the roots of the present-day touristic system lie in the economy and society in which these texts were produced, distributed, and consumed. In the evolution of the modern culture industry, foreshadowed in the medieval manuscript culture supportive of travel and pilgrimage, and further developed through the technology and commercial expansion of print, forms of entertainment paraphrase and inf luence each other. The beginnings of the cultural-industrial complex in the later middle ages adumbrate the highly metastasized interactivities of the present day. To the extent that medieval analogues of these activities involve the mythologized perception of a motley host of othered peoples



and cultures, the invidious economy of present-day tourism and entertainment may therefore be seen as an escalation, a same-only-more-so augmentation of the narratized racializing mentalities of earlier centuries. Within our travel texts, therefore, travelers and natives constitute virtual races, in the sense of “race” as a comprehensive term that assigns membership according to perceived or assigned common characteristics. At the same time, to the degree that these greater demographies are seen by travel writers to be hierarchically subdivisible in the ways we have discussed, travelers and natives as players in travel scenarios constitute virtual castes. The ethnocentric voyeurism so apparent in Clavijo, Tafur, and the other travel writers from before 1492 represents, therefore, a virtual colonization that prepares the way for the actual colonization foreseen or depicted in Columbus, Cortés, and Díaz del Castillo. What the conqueror and colonist ultimately has in mind is the exportation of a total cultural system, their system. A central component of this lock-stock-and-barrel is the system of estates and castes outlined in chapter 3. The most appealing part of this structure, from the viewpoint of status-conscious authors, is its support of a leisured elite whose condition is both confirmed and enabled by the subaltern servility of lower castes, whether domestic or foreign. Along with land, titles, and the various material trappings that confirm membership among the elite, leisured travel is one of the most obvious of status symbols. To erect an overseas version of one’s system, therefore, is to establish a way of life in which tourism is both an ostentatious benefit and a circumstantial obligation of superior social standing. In other words, tourism, and its diagnostic gaze, is a precondition as well as an outcome of colonialism. The aggressive cultural voyeurism of travel literature provides its readers with a vicarious simulacrum of status-enhancing encounters and experiences. To see the world with the tourist gaze, to survey the world in an appraising and intrusive way, as our travel authors do, is to see it as a suitable space for leisured, ecumenical visitation supported by a real-world travel industry—in other words, to see other places and regions of the world as rightful extensions of one’s own domain and to regard the complicities and dependencies of touricized peoples and communities as normal and reasonable. The perceived roles and categories of caste identity as represented in the travel texts do not, of course, necessarily coincide with the racial and caste identities emerging from conquest, subsequent colonial expansion, and the social and economic developments of recent centuries. Travel works devoted to New World discovery and conquest, mostly written by Peninsular authors born in the late fifteenth century, still retain, in varying degrees, the medieval hodgepodge of ideas regarding race and



caste. Their notions of indigeneity and native identity are, as we have seen, sketchy among secular writers and highly doctrinaire among the churchmen. Nonetheless, we may detect in their vestigial medievalism a foreshadowing of future social orders grounded in the inequalities of race, caste, and indigeneity.


Introduction 1. See Lida de Malkiel (“El desenlace”), Riquer (8–35) and Avalle-Arce (64–132) for thorough discussions of the Amadisian textual tradition.


Concepts of Race, Caste, and Indigeneity in Medieval Iberia

1. Late-classical, patristic, and early-medieval geography are summarized and their long-lasting inf luence appraised by C. Raymond Beazely (I: 243–375). Tozer (249) explains the inf luence of Strabo on medieval geographers and travel authors and also outlines the work and distinctive legacy of Pomponius Mela and, especially, Pliny the Elder (262–274). 2. Campbell 9; Olschki 132–137. 3. See Harney, “Estates Theory” 5–14, for a discussion of the status anxiety ref lected by Juan Manuel’s systematic presentation.



1. This profiling according to skin color extends not only to kingdoms and peoples recognizably African, according to our modern geography, but also to other regions as well. The European Middle Ages, until well into the Age of Discovery, conceived of East Africa, including Ethiopia, as the westernmost of three Indies. Each was associated with one of the Apostles of the East: St. Bartholomew for the nearer India; St. Thomas for a middle India roughly corresponding to the western part of the actual subcontinent and adjacent regions; St. Matthew for a vast and vaguely defined eastern Asia (Wright 272–273). This is more or less the perspective of the Book of Knowledge as it describes an Indian province called “India la arenosa” (“Sandy India”), whose peoples, the narrator observes, “son negros de color . . . e son gentes de buenas memorias e sabios en todos los saberes” (“are black in color . . . and are people with good memories and wise in all manner of knowledge”; 385).



2. Among many details that distinguish Santaella’s free translation as a subtly separate work in its own right is this reference to the Cape of Good Hope, discovered in 1488 by Bartolomeu Dias (almost two centuries after the appearance of Polo’s original).



1. See also Eberenz, who likewise credits the classical rhetorical tradition, as exemplied by such themes as the laus urbis (“praise of the city”), for many of the motifs and much of the subject matter found in the Embassy and in Tafur (46–47). 2. Eberenz cites from López Estrada 1943 ed. (6); my citation of the passage is from the same editor’s 1999 Castalia ed.



1. Isidore (Book I, III. xliv) inf luentially speaks of the circles of heaven, with their corresponding habitable or less habitable terrestrial zones (cf. Honorius, Book I, LXX and LXXVI; LXXXV–LXXXVI). See also Wright (176–178) for a discussion of the medieval theory of climates. WeyGómez (71–74) provides a detailed summary of the ancient versions of the theory and of the significant modifications represented by Pierre d’Ailly’s Imago Mundi and other works. 2. In keeping with the present study’s focus on the ethnographic ideas expressed by texts and authors, rather than on the accuracy of their accounts, the discussion here refers to Tafur’s perception and presentation of this historical personage, rather than to the real man, who did indeed marry a native woman and raised a family with her, and who used his knowledge of Arabic, Persian, and possibly other languages in his extensive travels throughout East Asia during his many years in the region (Breazeale 100–101). As in other examples cited, determining the nature and extent of a real personage’s psychological response to prolonged immersion in alien cultures is a separate problem too complex to be treated here.


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aborigine, definitions of, 18 Abraham (biblical personage), 60–1 accommodation, 108 and management of ethnic diversity, 108, 110–11 accommodation, cultural, 110, 177, 178–9 adaptation, cultural, 177, 179 adelantados (“governors”), 167 adventure, chivalric, and touristic mentalities, 197 Aeneas, 47–8, 51 Aeneid, 46–7, 50 affemination, concept of (in Caesar’s De Bello Gallico), 48 Africa, East, 207 North, 13 West, 79 agency, social and cultural, and caste, 9, 10 aggression, between racial groups, 6 agriculture, and caste divisions, 133 Aguilar, Jerónimo, 178 Al-Andalus, 2 Alan, Tartar lord, 127, 128 Albania, 160 Albertus Magnus, 82, 89 Alexander, 26–7, 35–6, 76–7, 92 Alexander the Great, 27, 36, 53 Alexander VI, Pope, 22 Alexandria (Egypian city), 139 Alfonso X of Castile, 54, 66, 68 allochthon(s), as antonym of autochthon, 19, 90, 116 and tourism, 201

Amadís, eponymous protagonist of chivalric romance, 164, 174 as example of cosmopolitanism, 178 Amadís de Gaula (chivalric romance), 33–4, 76, 81–2 in Díaz del Castillo’s True History, 153, 164 idealized representation of Constantinople in, 138 and portrayal of native peoples, 165 Amazonia, homeland of mythic female warriors, 94 Amazons, 94–7 ambiguity, in racial profiling, 82 Anabasis, 38 anachronism, and depiction of society in Alexander, 122 Andalusia, Muslim, 55, 104, 165 Andanças e viajes. See Travels Anghiera, Pietro Martire d’ (Peter Martyr d’Anghiera), 37–8, 184 and pastoral view of native peoples, 185 Anna, Carthaginian character in Aeneid, 47 Antelo Iglesias, Antonio, 197 anthropophages, 78 Antipodes, 158, 159 anti-Semitism, 6–7, 22–3, 105 apartheid, 176 Apocalypse Now, 176 Apolidón, character in Amadís, 152 apostasy, and going-native scenario, 177–9, 181 apostates, Christian, in Partidas, 62



appearance, physical, and racialization, 132 apportionment, territorial, 168 Arabians, 106 Aragon, 137 Arch of Faithful Lovers, ordeal of, in Amadís, 153, 154 architecture, urban, 136, 140, 143, 145, 148 Ariadne, as mythic example of native princess motif, 175 Aristotelian biology, 6 Aristotle, 7, 36, 123, 172 Armenia, 109, 140, 144 Armenians, 109, 144 Arms and Letters, debate on, in Don Quijote, 154 artisans, 127, 130, 137 in urban spaces, 141–2, 144–8 Aryans, in east Indian history, 116 Arzinga, Armenian city, 140 Asche, native Canarian islander, 162 Asia, South, 11 Asia, view of, in Columbus, 89 assimilation, cultural, 177, 179 of New World peoples into Spanish Christian society, 189 psychological and cultural, in going-native scenario, 181 assimilationism, 182, 190 Atlas Mountains, 193 atrocities race-based, 6 among Californians in Esplandián, 96, 101, 107, 109, 112 and Spanish treatment of indigenous peoples, 183–4, 186 attributes, physical, and racial profiling, 83 Augustine, St., 82 Augustus Caesar, 51 authoritarianism, 108 authority, seigniorial, 14 ecclesiastical, 155 in Mongol realm, 107 native recognition of European, 164

political, 21, 111, 170 royal, and colonialism, 167–8, 172 secular, 104, 105 autochthon, definition of, 19 autochthons, 116 and tourism, 201 autochthony, 17 in Las Casas, 183, 185 and territorial identification of races, 161, 166, 182 Avalle-Arce, Juan Bautista, 33, 96, 207 Aztec empire, 38 Aztecs, 145, 148 Babylon, 120 Babylonians, 159 Balán, character in Amadís, 111 Baldach, city in Tartar realm, 128, 144 ballads, traditional Spanish, 174 banditry, 170 bandos de pazes (“peace proclamations”), 168 Banton, Michael, 3, 183 baptism, 162 and conquest of indigenous peoples, 163 barbarism, 93, 99, 100, 134, 173 Bartholomaeus Anglicus, 52, 54, 82 Bartholomew, St., 207 Beauvais, Vincent de, 31 Beazley, C. Raymond, 207 Beijing, 127 Belgae (in Caesar’s De Bello Gallico), 47 bellator (“he who wages war”), in medieval European estates system, 14 Belmartino, Susana, 196 Beltrán Llavador, Rafael, 34 Bendix, Regina, 203 Bentley, Jerry H., 194 Berceo, Gonzalo de, 105 Béthencourt, Jean IV de, 36, 129, 162–4


Bethlehem (Holy Land town), 109, 139 Bible, concepts of race, caste, and indigenity in, 42, 46 Biglieri, Aníbal, 31 biologism, 5 biology, medieval notions of, 7 Black Plague, 193, 194 Black Sea, 109, 131 Blemmyaea, mythical race, 158 blood, genealogical meaning of, 3 body politic, and specialized vocations, 127 Book of John Mandeville, original work, 30 Book of Knowledge (medieval Spanish travel work), 30–1, 76, 79, 83, 106 borders, political, 200 Böröcz, József, 23, 199 borough, as term referring to urban space, 137 Boruchoff, David, 154 bourg, as term referring to urban space, 137 bourg (residential agglomeration outside city walls), 14 Brahmans, Indian caste, 10, 12, 13, 117, 129 Braudel, Fernand, 25 Breazeale, Kennon, 208 breed, concept of, and caste, 10 Bremer, Ernst, 109 Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias. See Succinct Account Bruges, 143 Brummet, Palmira, 28, 53 bureaucracy, and emerging state, 21 bureaucratization, of Spanish overseas colonies, 168 Byrd, Jodi, 19, 20, 88 Byzantium, matter of, 137, 138 caballero (“knight”), as honorific title, 155 Cabeza de Vaca, 39, 90, 91, 92, 111, 112


ethnic profiling in, 90, 91, 92 Cacho Blecua, Juan Manuel, 33 Cádiz, Spanish city, 1 Caesar, Gaius Julius, 47–8 Cairo, 93, 143 Calafia, Queen, fictional Amazonian ruler in Esplandián, 34, 95, 174 California (fictional Amazonian realm in Esplandián), 34, 95, 96 Cambalu (Beijing), 127 Campbell, Mary Baine, 200 Canaanites, 106 Canarian, The (Le Canarien, narrative of French conquest of Canary Islands), 79, 161, 164 portrayal of native peoples in, 165 Canarians (indigenous inhabitants of Canary Islands), 79, 90, 130, 162–4 Canary Islands, 36, 129, 130, 162, 163, 167, 168, 169 occupation of, as preview of New World conquest, 167 Canbalech, Cathayan capital, 139 cannibalism, 93, 133, 134 cannibals, 158, 185 Caribbean peoples, in Columbus, 88 Carmen Campidoctoris, medieval poem on exploits of the Cid, 60 Carrizo Rueda, Sofía, 142, 197 Cartas de relación, Cortés account, 38 Carthage, in Aeneid, 47 Caspian Gates, 105 casta(s) (Spanish and Portuguese term), 10, 16 system of, in New World colonial societies, 132 caste, concept of, 2, 8–13, 15–16, 45 and caste systems, 1 categorical oppositions of, 12 concepts of, in medieval Iberia, 41–2 and concepts of racial purity, 22 in Don Juan Manuel, 68 and emergence of modern tourism, 204

226 caste, concept of—Continued and ethnicity, 115 existence of among indigenous New World peoples, 117 in New World colonial societies, 119, 154 and outsider status of nonChristian peoples, 188 and racialization, 8, 116 and social ranking, 11 and travel writing, 28 castes, 10–12, 15, 16, 55, 72 east Indian, quadripartite system of, 117 ethnic definitions of in medieval Iberia, 55 formation of, as correlated with estates system, 148–9 as military category, 130 in Muslim Egypt, 131 perceived among indigenous peoples, 133 and perceived division of labor among non-Europeans, 132 in Spanish colonial society, 189 and stratified vocational categories, 126 in utopic society of Firm Isle in Amadís, 151–2 Castiglione, Baldassare, 197 Castro, Américo, 16, 55, 56 Catalonia, 137 categorization, racial, 5 Cathay, 94, 106, 139, 142 Catholic Kings, 1, 21, 107, 167, 168 statist policies of, 21 Catholicism, 152, 162 centralization, political, 21, 107 Cervantes, Miguel de, 26, 34, 35, 154, 156, 176 Ceuppens, Bambi, 19 Chactay. See Zagatays chain of being, great, 6 Chaldea, 78, 94 Chaldeans, 78 character, national, 84


Charles V (Spanish emperor), 38 chastity, among Brahmans, 129 chattel, as status of human captives, 172 Chaunu, Pierre, 30 China, 89, 193 chivalric romance, 33–4, 76, 82 chivalry, 96 and conquest ideology, 154 and estates system, 150 idealized concept of, 149, 151–3 and political authority, 152 and social stratification, 151 and tourism, 195–6 Cholula, 187 chosen people, concept of, 46 Christianity, 2, 22, 55 conversion to, among Iberian Jews and Muslims, 57 among indigenous peoples, 90, 168 Christianization, 122, 183, 188–90 Christians, medieval Iberian, 16, 17, 56 eastern, 79 Good and Bad, 162 in Partidas, 62 in southeast India, 129 Chronis, Athinodoros, 195 Church-Kingdom controversy, 103, 104 Cid, El (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar), 169 Ciggaar, Krijna Nelly, 137 Ciguare (Central American city in Columbus), 134 Cisneros, Francisco Jiménez de, cardinal, 168 cities, as iconic image of estates society, 135 as idealized social milieu, 137 as idealized spaces, 138–40, 145 residential structures in, 143 as stereotypic microcosm of estates society, 136 civil rights movement, Afro-American, 183 clan, concept of, in biblical context, 44


class, social, and travel writing, 28 class-consciousness, 8 classification, biological, 3 ethnic, in Partidas, 64 racial, 4 Clavijo, Ruy González de, 32, 76, 83, 88, 89, 91, 110 Clendinnen, Inga, 145, 179 clergy, as estate, 118, 120 clientelism, and caste, 13 and Spanish conquistador leadership, 170 Clifford, James, 28 climates, theory of, 158–61 climbing, social, and caste, 9 collaboration, of New World indigenous peoples with conquerors, 187 Cologne, 143 colonialism, 2, 6, 7, 9, 19, 158, 165, 167–8 and emergence of modern tourism, 204 view of in Anghiera, 185 colonist/native, dichotomous contrast of, 116 colonization, 27, 46 color-coding, as racializing criterion, 132 Columbus, Christopher, 20, 30, 37, 38, 54, 87, 88, 89, 94 and depiction of alien customs, 93 and perception of caste divisions among indigenous peoples, 133 racial profiling in, 86 as travel writer, 90 commerce, 123, 126, 128–9, 134–5, 140, 142–8 prohibition of nobles’ participation in, 69 regulation of in Partidas, 64 in urban spaces, 141 commodification, economic, of native peoples, 169, 171, 182 commoners, and medieval European estates system, 120


communities, ethnic, 116 comparativism, ethnographic, 124 complicity, of New World indigenous peoples with Spanish conquerors, 188 condottiere, analogy of to Spanish conquistador leaders, 170–1 confiscation, wrongful, of spoils shared among conquistadors, 172 conformity, religious, 107–8 connubium (Latin term), 47, 50 and native peoples in New World conquest, 173 conquest, books of, 35 ethnic implications of in Tacitus, 49 and idealized chivalry, 153 and idealized cities, 148 susceptibility to, 163 Conrad, Joseph, 176 Constantinople, 96, 139, 140, 145 fall of, 20 as ideal city, 137–8 siege of, in Esplandián, 96 constitutency, political, and racemaking strategies, 183 Contamine, Philippe, 139 Conti, Nicolo de’, Italian traveler, 93, 98, 109, 116, 122, 177 conversion, religious, 57, 61, 62, 131, 161, 166, 169 in caste society, 131 of Christians to Islam, 62 of Christians to Judaism in Partidas, 59 and going-native scenario, 177, 181 of Iberian Jews to Christianity, 58 in medieval Christian Iberia, 57 of Muslims to Christianity, 61–2, 166 among New World indigenous peoples, 188 conversos, converted Spanish Jews, 3, 22 convicts, in Partidas, 63



convivencia (“living together”), concept of in medieval Christian Iberia, 56 Coppola, Francis Ford, 176 Copts, 109 Corbacho, literary work by Alfonso Martínez de Toledo, 3 Cordoba, Spanish city, 1, 132, 133 Cordoban caliphate, 1 Corominas, Joan, 2, 3, 10 corruption, political and economic, and estates system, 120 Cortés, Hernán, 38, 76, 99, 100, 101, 139 cosmography, 102 cosmopolitanism, 88, 97, 108, 112, 178 Courtier, The, work by Baldassare Castiglione, 197 crafts, 64, 126–30, 134, 144–5, 148 craftsmen, 126–30, 134, 144 diversity of, 126 in Partidas, 64 Crerina, 144 Critchley, John, 30, 53 crossbreeding, and caste divisions, 10 between ethnic groups, 50 Crusades, 5, 137 Cuba, 145 culture, 4 Spanish, 17 Curtius, Ernst Robert, 136 customs, as racializing criterion, 132 Cynocephali, mythical race, 83 Damascus, 139, 142 Darioleta, character in Amadís, 199 Darius, Persian emperor in Alexander, 120 Davis, Kingsley, 15 De Bello Gallico, 47 de Berneval, Bertin, example of Bad Christian in Canarian, 162, 163 de Kock, Leon, 9 De la Cadena, Marisol, 157 de la Salle, Gadifer, 36, 162, 163

De orbe novo, book by Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, 37 defensores, military estate, 65, 68 sub-categories of in Don Juan Manuel, 69 dehumanization, and racial profiling, 81 of native peoples, 173 Deluz, Christiane, 30, 31 demography, 4, 84 as factor in defining indigeneity, 190 depopulation, among New World indigenous peoples, 187 descent, genealogical, 3 and caste, 11 descent groups, biblical context, 43 descriptio civitatis (“description of the city”), classical literary trope, 136, 137 descriptio urbis (“description of the city”), classical literary trope, 136 Description of the World (work by Marco Polo), 29, 54, 88 determinism, geographical, 84, 158–60 Diarios de Colón. See Journals Dias, Bartolomeu, 208 Díaz de Games, Gutierre, 34 Díaz del Castillo, Bernal, 38, 101, 139 Dido, Carthaginian character in Aeneid, 47 difference, racial, perception of, 7, 87, 182 differential treatment, of races, 6 differentiation, of racial groups, 8 functional, 12 and skin color, 132 Discovery, Age of, 6 discovery, books of, 35 disease, as factor in depopulation of New World, 187 disinheritance, of second-born sons among European nobility, 196 disorder, social, 107


and corruption of estates system, 120 dissention, among conquistadors over distribution of spoils, 172 distinction, biological, between racially defined groups, 5 diversity, biological, 103 diversity, ethnic and racial, 8, 102, 104, 108 linguistic, 178 and political authority, 102 and political order, 106 and religion, 109 in Tamerlane’s realm, 125 in urban spaces, 141 division of labor, tripartite, in Partidas, 64 in Don Juan Manuel, 68 divisions, social, and medieval European estates, 13 dominance (contrasted with servitude), 46 and castes, 12 racial, 8 don, honorific title, 155 Don Quijote. See Quijote Don Quijote (protagonist of Cervantes novel), 34 Doña Marina, 173–5 Douglas, Mary, 118 Duby, Georges, 13, 71, 196 Dumont, Louis, 11–13, 115 Durkheim, Emile, 15 Earth, climactic zones of the, 160 Eberenz, Rolf, 135, 140, 143, 208 ecumenical perspective, 88 ecumenism, 101, 110 egalitarianism, 16, 181 Egypt, 10, 97, 130, 131, 159, 160 elites, social, and medieval European estates system, 118 elitism, racial, 5 social and political, and caste systems, 131 touristic, 202


Elliott, J. H., 21, 37 Embajada a Tamorlán. See Embassy Embassy (medieval Spanish travel work by Clavijo), 32, 76, 83, 88, 89, 91 empiricism, 25, 26, 28, 36, 161 Encina, eastern realm in Santaella, 128 encomenderos, 167 encomienda, Spanish colonial institution, 39, 166, 167, 168 encyclopedists, 52 endogamy, 11, 62, 116 Englishmen, 77, 84 enslavement, prohibition of, by Jews of Christians in Partidas, 59 entertainment, and tourism, 203, 204 epidemiology, and Spanish New World conquest, 187 epithets, ethnic and racial, 75 errantry, chivalric, and tourism, 196–7, 199, 200 Escobar, Ángel, 60 Esplandián, Las sergas de (chivalric romance, sequel to Amadís de Gaula), 33, 34, 95, 96 idealized representation of Constantinople in, 138 inf luence of on New World conquest narration, 174 essentialism, and development of nativizing vocabulary, 166 and definition of indigeneity, 183 as feature of racialization, 176 estates system, European, 13–14, 122, 149 correlated with race, 15 and emergence of modern tourism, 204 and idealized chivalry, 149–50, 155 and idealized cities, 139 in medieval Iberia, 16, 68–9 and medieval idea of organic society, 72 and military castes, 128 as model society, 129



estates system—Continued projected on to exotic and indigenous societies, 120–3, 133 in Quijote, 154, 156 recreated in New World, 134 and seigneurial lifestyle, 151 structures of, attributed to New World peoples, 176 tripartite system of, and caste formation, 118, 148 Ethiopia, 78, 79, 80, 160, 207 Ethiopians, 78, 80 ethnicity, and caste, 11, 115, 121, 130 in Bible, 43 concept of, in Tacitus, 49 concepts of, in medieval travel writing, 75 and imperial identity, 102 and indigeneity, 17 and New World caste systems, 119 in Partidas, 57 and racial profiling, 77 taxonomic aspects of, 166 ethnocentrism, 3, 6, 43, 87–8, 108, 161 ethnography, 26–8 in ancient world, 96 in Columbus, 89 in late-classical tradition, 52 medieval notions of, 8, 98 and medieval travel literature, 26 in medieval travel writing, 75 and tourism, 202 ethnoreligious groups, in medieval Iberia, 16 ethnotourism, 202 Eurasia, 193 Eurocentrism, 123, 124 and assimilationism, 82 exogamy, 50, 115 exoticism, 109 as aspect of tourism, 201 in chivalric romances, 153 correlation of with estates system, 121 and religious diversity, 108

expansionism, military, 166 exploitation, economic, and racialization, 8 and colonialism, 66 of specialized trades, 125 of subject populations, 152 exploration, books of, 35 expulsion, of Jews from Spain, 57 Ezekiel, 106 facial features, and racial profiling, 4 familia (Latin term), 44 Femenina (island populated solely by females), 95 feminism, medieval, 99 Fernández Armesto, Felipe, 37, 167, 168, 194 feudalism, and medieval European estates system, 15 feudalization, 167 Fick, Barbara W., 197 fifth, royal, conventional assignment of in distribution of spoils, 171 fijos de algo (hijos de algo, “sons of wealth”), 65, 69 Firm Isle, fabulous realm in Amadís, 150–2, 164, 165 as idealized chivalric society, 152 first contact, between races and ethnic groups, 50 in travel writing, 89 folk, ethnic meaning of, 44 folklore, and medieval Spanish travel writing, 36 Frauendienst, 196 free will, and question of native sovereignty, 172 Frenchmen, 84, 85 Friedman, John Block, 30, 52 function, social, and castes, 12 functionalism, 15–17, 118, 127, 135, 139, 146, 148–9, 150, 154 and correlation with tourism, 200 and idealized cities, 139 and image of overseas colonial society, 135


organicist, 15 in Quijote, 155 and social hierarchies, 16 Gaetulians (in Aeneid), 47 García de Cortázar, José Ángel, 24, 25 García Gual, Carlos, 35, 36 Gauls (in Caesar’s De Bello Gallico), 48 gaze, touristic, 201, 202, 204 gazetteers, 54 gender, European perception of among exotic races, 94 and social division of labor, 129 genealogy, and ethnic identity in PCG, 68 genealogy, fictive, attributed to Jews and Muslims in Partidas, 63 and medieval estates system, 119 Genesis, biblical book, 7, 37, 43, 45, 60 genetics, and race, 4 Genoa, 137, 142 genocide, 107 attributed to Spanish conquerors by Las Casas, 186 Genovese, ethnic profile of, 85 gens (Latin term), 43, 45 gentility, and idealized chivalry, 153 gentlemen, as social category in estates society, 130 genus (Latin term), 3, 46 geography, human, 28, 83, 89 formulaic, in Middle Ages, 54, 88 and racialization, 161 in Renaissance, 53 Georgia, 80, 144 Georgians, 80 Germans, 77 in Caesar’s De Bello Gallico, 47 in Tacitus, 49 Geshiere, Peter, 19 Gethsemane, 139 giants, 78, 81, 82, 111, 152 Gibeonites, 46 Gilman, Stephen, 153


Glick, Thomas, 16 Gmelch, Sharon, 116 Gog and Magog, 106 going native, in conquest narratives, 174, 176–9, 180–2 Goldberg, David Theo, 5, 21 Golden Age, pastoral topos invoked by Anghiera in defining indigeneity, 185 Golgotha, 139 Gomera, Canary Island, 79 González, Cristina, 33 González de Clavijo, Ruy. See Clavijo Good Hope, Cape of, 80, 208 Good Native/Bad Native dichotomy, 185 Goodman, Jennifer R., 96 Gospels, 61 Goths, 67, 68, 106 governance, concept of in Christian ideology, 185 Granada, Emirate of, 1, 20, 194 fall of, in 1492, 169 Grand Tour, customary European travel practice among upper classes, 199 Graves, Joseph, 6 Great Debate (1550–1551), 172 Great Khan, 88, 127 Greece, and original definition of aborigine, 18 Greeks, 6, 109, 144 Greenblatt, Stephen, 197 Gruzinski, Serge, 50, 89 Guadelete, Battle of, in PCG, 67 Guerrero, Gonzalo, 178 guidebooks, mode of travel writing, 54 and emergence of tourism, 195 guilds, 135, 147 Guinea, Portuguese, 147 gynocentrism, among Amazons, 94 Gypsies, 116 Hagar, biblical personage, 60, 61 Ham, biblical personage, 43



handicrafts, 128, 145 Hawley, John Stratton, 98 Hayton of Corycus, 31 Heart of Darkness, Conrad novella, 176 Heers, Jacques, 29 hegemony, discourse of, 9 cultural, and idealized cities, 139 imperial, and idealized chivalry, 154 Hellenic period, 53 Helms, Mary, 200 Henry III (Castilian king), 30, 32, 36, 107 heredity, and ethnic profiling, 4, 84 heretics, in Partidas, 63 hermaphrodites, 78 Herodotus, 52, 53, 76 heterophobia, 7 hierarchies, racial, 6 of castes, 16 hierarchization, social, and idealized chivalry, 150 and castes, 11–13, 115–17 hierarchy, social, 17 and castes, 117 and idealized chivalry, 151 and medieval European estates system, 13, 118, 121, 130 quadripartite, in east Indian caste system, 117 and subalternity, 9 Higgins, Iain Macleod, 31, 137 Himmerich y Valencia, Robert, 167 Hispanicity, concept of, 56 Hispaniola, 133, 167 Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. See True History Hodgen, Margaret T., 52 holier than thou, and caste mentalities, 124, 189 and tourism, 200 Holy Land, 107, 131 racial diversity in, 106 Holy Sepulcher, 139 homo viator (“wayfaring man”), 195

honor, chivalric, and tourism, 198 Honorius of Autun, 31, 208 Hopper, Sarah, 194 Hormuz, 80 hospitality, 110 Hughes, Emma, 157 humanity, concept of, 82 of indigenous peoples, 182 as problematic attribute of the Other, 161 humanoid races, 81, 83 Hyde, J. K., 52 Hyrcania, 83 Iarbas the Gaetulian, 47 Iberia, Islamic, 1 medieval Christian, 16, 27, 41 Ibero-America, 10 identity, cultural, in medieval Iberia, 56 and castes, 131 and climate, 161 ethnic, 64, 112, 131, 140, 157, 158 and going-native scenario, 180 among indigenous peoples, 168, 182 of native peoples in Las Casas, 190 psychological, 178 racial, 160, 166, 176 and theory of climates, 160 and tourism, 197, 203 tribal, and colonialism, 169 and urban spaces, 140 idolatry, 81, 124, 129 Imago Mundi (book by Honorius de Autun), 31, 208 immunity, diplomatic, of nonChristian emissaries in Partidas, 62 imperialism, cultural, 9 impurity, concept of, and caste, 12 as criterion of social inequality, 118 in medieval European estates system, 14 Inden, Ronald B., 11


India, 19–20, 37, 39, 52, 78, 86, 87, 92, 95, 98–9, 100, 116, 117, 129, 134, 142, 160 ancient and medieval concept of, 33, 207 caste system of, 10–13 concept of, in Columbus, 37 image of in European travel narratives, 122 races of, and theory of climates, 158 Indian Ocean, medieval European view of, 52 Indians, New World peoples, 19, 134, 148 racial profiling of, in Columbus, 86 Indies, the, ancient and medieval classification of, 78 indígena, Latinism in Spanish vocabulary, 166 indigeneity, 2, 17–19, 20 and caste thinking, 157 and collective identity of native peoples in Las Casas, 188, 190 and colonialism, 158 concept of, among Spanish Christians, 165, 168 and concept of tabula rasa, 186 concepts of, in medieval Iberia, 41–2 and correlation with territorial location, 158, 184 and Eurocentric assimilationism, 182 and Eurocentric perception of the Other, 183 and going-native scenario, 181 and pastoral topos, 185 and racialization, 176 and tourism, 202, 205 as universalizing term, 17 and victimization of New World peoples, 189 indigenism, as pro-native advocacy, 183


and tourism, 203 indigenization, 18 indigenous peoples, treatment of according to Spanish overseas colonial policy, 168 indigenus (Latin term), 17 indio, as catch-all ethnic taxon, 166, 169 Indo-Aryans, 116 Indo-Europeans, 116 Indus River, 160 industry, cultural, and tourism, 203 inequality, racial, 5, 27, 103 social, and castes, 118, 119 social and cultural, 9 infanticide, 97 female, 112 male, 96 inhumanity, attributed to monstrous races, 82 innocence, attributed to indigenous peoples by Las Casas and Anghiera, 184, 186, 188 insurgence, and colonial subject, 9 integration, of ethnic and religious minorities, 57 integration, social and pyschological, in going-native scenario, 181 integrationism, in Las Casas, 189 interaction, between Jews and nonJews in Partidas, 59 intermarriage, between castes, 11 between ethnic groups, 47, 50 interpreters, 134 interventionism, economic, 126 Invasion, Muslim, of Iberia in 711 C.E., 55, 66, 67 investment, commercial, and participation in Spanish overseas expeditions, 170 irredentism, 68, 104, 137, 165 Ishmaelites, 60 Isidore of Seville, 31, 54, 208 isolation, geographical, 84 Italy, and original definition of aborigine, 18



itinerancy, and tourism, 195 itineration, as travel norm, 196 and knight-errantry, 198, 199 and tourism, 198 Jacob, biblical personage, 44 Jacobites, 109 JanMohamed, Abdul, 190 Japan, view of, in Columbus, 89 Jasoi, 144 Jason, as mythic analogue of miscegenic outsider, 175 jāti (east Indian caste term), 12, 69, 117 Jerusalem, 105, 139 Jesus, 45 Jews, 1–3, 6, 16–17, 55–9, 60–1, 63, 72, 106 adversarial view of among travel writers, 89 in Alexander, 105 as caste, 115 expulsion of from Spain, 20 in southeast India, 129 Jim Crow laws, 176 Joshua (biblical personage), 46 Journals, Columbus account of voyages, 37, 90 Juan Manuel, Don, 68–72, 118 Judah, tribe of, in Partidas, 58 Judaism, ideological and ethnic definition of in Partidas, 57 Judas Iscariot, 162 Juggernaut, Anglicized term referring to Hindu Ratha Yatra temple wagon, 123–4 Jugurtha (Numidian king in Sallust), 48 Julian, Count, character in PCG, 66–7 jurisdiction, seigneurial, 167 Kaffa, Turkish trading city, 109 Kagan, Richard L., 22 Kamen, Henry, 21, 23 kinds, human, 8

kingship, European, among subject peoples, 164 kinship, concepts of, and travel writing, 28 and ethnicity, 130 gynocentric, among Amazons, 94 knight-errant, literary figure of the, 155 as idealized traveler, 196 knighthood, as attributed feature of non-European societies, 131 idealized concept of, and medieval tourism, 196–7 in Quijote, 155 knights, in Partidas, 65 Krishna, 123 Kshatriyas, Indian soldier caste, 10, 12, 117 Kublai Khan, 106, 107, 128 La Palma, Canary Island, 79 Labarge, Margaret Wade, 24, 52 labor, division of, 12, 13, 127, 129, 130, 134, 148 as caste-defined category in Columbus, 133 categories of, in medieval European estates system, 14, 69 in colonized Canary Islands, 130 concept of, and castes, 12, 129 contrasted with leisure, 46 forced, imposed on native peoples, 167 and idealized chivalry, 150, 151 perceived division of among nonEuropeans, 132 servile, stratified categories of, in Don Juan Manuel, 70 stratification of, in medieval European estates system, 15 vocational division of, 135 laboratores (“those who toil”), in medieval European estates system, 14, 68 laborers, as medieval estate, 118 as productive social category, 140


specialized, 146 land, distribution of, in colonialist practice, 167 seizure of, 168 landownership, 153, 169 languages, of native peoples, 79, 87 learning of, in cosmopolitan ideal, 178 Lanzarote, Canary Island, 163, 164 Larner, John, 29, 54 Las Casas, Bartolomé de, 27, 37, 39, 88, 172 and emerging concept of indigeneity, 183 latifundium (Latin term), 1 Latin America, 117 Latini, Brunetto, 31 Latium, 46 laudatio urbis (“praise of the city”), classical literary trope, 136 laus urbis (“praise of the city”), classical literary trope, 208 law, international, 6 Lawrence of Arabia (film), 176 Le Goff, Jacques, 52, 53, 195 leadership, and idealized chivalry, 152 military, in New World conquest, 170 legal codes, 54 legalism, and racialization, 5 leisure, contrasted with labor, 45 and tourism, 199–200 León Portilla, Miguel, 38 Leonard, Irving A., 96, 153 Leonorina, Byzantine princess in Esplandián, 138, 174 Libro de Alexandre. See Book of Alexander Libro de los estados, treatise by Don Juan Manuel, 68 Libro de Marco Polo, Spanish-language version of Santaella, 29 Libro del caballero Zifar, medieval chivalric romance. See Zifar Libro del conoscimiento de todos los regnos. See Book of Knowledge


Lida de Malkiel, María Rosa, 207 lifestyle, seigneurial, and idealized chivalry, 151 limpieza de sangre (“purity of blood”), concept of, and racialized Iberia, 22 lineage, 111, 124 concept of, and caste, 10, 16 correlation of with nobility in Partidas, 65 Linnaeus, Carl, 4 Lombards, 77 López Estrada, Francisco, 30, 32, 110, 208 Lovejoy, Arthur O., 30 Lugo, Alonso de, 168 Lupher, David A., 173 luxury, and seigneurial lifestyle, 151 MacCannel, Dean, 203 Málaga, 140, 142 Malinche, la, epithet of Doña Marina, 174 Mamelukes, Egyptian warrior caste, 10, 130, 131, 132 Mandeville, Sir John, semi-legendary travel author, 30, 31, 76, 78, 79, 83, 88, 89 Mangi, province of, in Santaella, 80 mankind, Judeo-Christian concept of, 43 marginality, 8, 56, 116 ethnic, 56 marginalization, of racial groups, 8 of immigrant groups, 11 marketplaces, 145, 146, 147 as constructed mercantile venues, 126–7 marranos (pejorative term for Jewish converts), 22 marriage, and caste, 11 and caste systems, 13 Marriot, McKim, 11 Martínez Crespo, Alicia, 145 Martínez de Toledo, Alfonso, 3



martyrdom, ascribed by Las Casas to New World peoples, 188 marvelous, notion of the, in travel writing, 196 Marvels, (Book of the World’s Marvels, Spanish version of Mandeville book), 31, 78–9, 83, 88, 92–5 Masculina (island populated solely by males), 95 Mason, Peter, 31 Matitinó, island populated solely by women, 95 matriarchy, 91 among Californians in Esplandián, 96, 174 in Journals, 95 matriliny, and sexual promiscuity, 95 Matthew, St., 207 Mayas, 134 Mayr, Ernst, 4, 8 McAlister, Lyle N., 167 McCaa, Robert, 187 Medea, as mythic example of native princess motif, 175 Medes, 106 medieval, definition of, 20–1 medievalism, and emergence of modern tourism, 205 medievalization, and depiction of society in Alexander, 122–3 Medina del Campo, 147 Mediterranean Sea, 193 Meillassoux, Claude, 13, 117 Mela, Pomponius, 52, 207 Memmi, Albert, 5, 6, 7 Ménard, Philippe, 29 Mendi, Valentinetti, 29 menestrales (“skilled workers”), 70 mercenaries, 170 merchants, 70, 127, 128, 129, 140, 141, 142, 144, 145, 154 as members of third estate, 69, 123 in Partidas, 64 in Tartar realm, 127 in urban spaces, 141 Mesoamerica, 145

Mesta, La (Honrado Concejo de la Mesta de Pastores), pastoralist agricultural association, 25 mester de clerecía (“clerics’ craft”), medieval Spanish literary genre, 35, 104, 121 mestizos, 190 metamorphosis, psychological, and acculturation, 178 method acting, analogy of to goingnative scenario, 181 métissage, concept of, between ethnic groups, 50, 52, 56 Mexico, 146, 147 Michael, Ian, 122 Middle Ages, definition of, 5 Middle East, 143, 193 Mignolo, Walter, 2 milites (“knights”), in medieval European estates system, 14 Mills, C. Wright, 15 Mills, Charles, 5 mine and thine, pastoral topos invoked by Anghiera in defining indigeneity, 185 ministeria (“occupations”), in medieval European estates system, 14 ministri (“specialized underlings”), in medieval European estates system, 14 minorities, racial, and caste, 11 ethnic, 55 mirabilia (“marvels”), and travel writing, 196 mirror of princes, medieval literary genre, 104 miscegenation, 173–6, 179, 190 correlation of with racialization, 176 and going-native scenario, 179 Mohammed, Muslim prophet, 129, 131 moneychangers, 137 Mongols, 54, 106, 107, 125, 194 Monopodes, 158 Montalvo, Garci Rodríguez de, 33, 34, 96


Montaner, Alberto, 60 Moon, the, and theory of climates, 160 Moor(s), as catch-all term, 165 Moore, Wilbert E., 15 Moors (“moros”), 63, 72, 80 and concept of autochthony, 166 as ethnic and religious category in Partidas, 60–1, 63 marginalization of, in Reconquest era, 166 moriscos, Iberian Muslim converts to Christianity, 1, 35, 57, 63, 165 Morocco, 193 Mosaic Law, 57 Moses, biblical personage, 61 mosques, term used for Indian temples in Letters, 100 motifs, narrative, 17 folkloric and literary, in conquest narratives, 174 mudéjar(es), Iberian Muslims living in Christian territory, 1, 165 Mulattos, 190 Muslims, 2, 57, 62, 63, 89, 100 adversarial view of among travel writers, 89 in medieval Iberia, 16, 17, 56 in Partidas, 55, 59, 61 in southeast India, 129 Muza, Moorish governor in PCG, 66, 67 mythic projection, as aspect of racism, 5 Nanfito, Jackeline, 180 narrative, styles of, in relation to ethnography, 28 natio (Latin term), 44 nation, concept of, in biblical context, 45 ethnic concept of, 43 native, definition of, 18, 157 concept of, 50, 73 as ethnic taxon, 166 in medieval travel writing, 75


in Sallust, 48 Native American, as generic ethnic designation, 157 native populations, 6 native princess, motif of the, 174–5 nativization, 19, 190 nativus (Latin term), 18 natural world, medieval European view of, 8 Nature, concept of, 8 Naufragios. See Shipwrecks, Cabeza de Vaca account Navas de Tolosa, Las, Battle of, 1 Nazareth, 107 negroes, 78, 79, 80 neocolonialism, as phase of Europeanization of New World, 190 networks, communication, 108 New Christians ( Jewish or Moorish converts to Christianity), 22 New World, 1, 2, 27 and caste divisions, 10, 134 indigenous societies in, 117 late-medieval European perception of, 23 Niño, Pero, Count of Buelna, protagonist of the Victorial, 34, 111, 149 Noah, biblical personage, 6, 44 nobility, concept of, in Partidas, 65 and idealized chivalry, 152, 153 as medieval estate, 69–70, 118, 119 and tourism, 202 noblesse-oblige, and chivalric concept of tourism, 196 Nocteam, Asian province, 129 nomadism, 83, 91 Herculean, and tourism, 200 nonconformity, confessional, 108 non-whites, problematic humanity of, 6 Normans, 77 North Africans, 80 Nubia, 79, 159 Nubians, 160



nudity, among alien peoples, 111 Numidians, in Aeneid, 47 Nuremberg, 140 obedience, as factor in indigenous character, 186 obeisance, of native peoples with regard to Europeans, 163–5 objectivity, in Cabeza de Vaca, 112 occupation, and caste, 11 Odoric of Pordenone, 31, 82 officium, Latin term for duty, obligation, service in medieval European estates system, 13 Ohler, Norbert, 195 oikoumene (Greek term), 53 Old Christians, 22 Olschki, Leonardo, 207 oratores (“those who pray”), in in medieval European estates system, 14, 68 Orbay, southeast Indian kingdom, 129 ordo (“order,” “rank”), in medieval European estates system, 14 Oriana, character in Amadís, 198, 199 Orientalism, medieval European, 35, 37 in Zifar, 33 orthodoxy, and religious authority, 108 orthodoxy, religious, 109 ostentation, social, correlated with status, estates, and castes, 149 Other, the, concept of, 2, 6, 9, 51, 82, 83 in Caesar’s De Bello Gallico, 48 in chivalric romances, 82 and classification of the native, 73 and concept of New World indigeneity, 188 devaluation of, 7 and indigeneity, 17 indigenous peoples as, 20 representations of, 161

in Sallust, 48 Otherness, 3, 27 and Eurocentrist assimilationism, 182 native peoples as examples of, 165 Oudijk, Michel R., 188 out-groups, 5 Jews and Muslims as in Partidas, 63 pacificism, attributed to indigenous peoples by Las Casas, 184 Padua, 144 paganism, 162 among Venetians in Travels, 97 Palermo, 144 Paradise, earthly, in Esplandián, 95 Parry, J. H., 167 Partidas, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 71, 72, 118 view of Jews and Muslims in, 57 pasos de armas, ritualized chivalric challenge, 197 pastoral topos, invoked in defining indigeneity, 185 paternalism, governmental, and indigeneity, 20 patriarchalism, 99 patriarchy, in Esplandián, 174 patriliny, 46, 96, 99 Pax Mongolica, 194 Paz, Octavio, 173 peasants, in estates system, 69–70 pedigress, falsification of, and caste membership, 10 peregrination, 199 Pérez, Joseph, 23 Pérez de Viedma, Ruy, character in Quijote, 154, 180 Pérez Priego, Miguel Ángel, 32, 136, 137, 195 Persian Empire, 52 Persians, 106, 159 perversion, sexual, attributed to alien races, 94 Philip III, Spanish monarch, 155


Phillips, Carla, 25 Phillips, William D., 25, 88 philosphers, as specialized vocation, 145 phylon (Greek term), 44 phylum (Latin term), 44 physicians, 145 Pian del Carpine, Giovanni da, 31 Picchio, Luciana Stegagno, 138 pilgrimage, as motive of travel, 24 international industry of, 109 and tourism, 195, 200 pilgrims, Christian, in Holy Land, 107 Pinet, Simone, 82 piracy, 170 Pitt-Rivers, Julian, 116, 117 Pizarro, Francisco, 152 Plinian races, 52, 78, 82, 93, 158 and question of native sovereignty, 172 Pliny the Elder, 31, 52, 53, 207 plunder, distribution of among conquistadors, 171, 172 Polo, Marco, 29, 30, 31, 52, 54, 76, 80, 88, 89 poltical systems, and racialization, 5 Popeanga, Eugenia, 52 populations, human, 4 populum (Latin term), 44 predation, economic, and Spanish conquistadors, 170 prejudice, religious, 166 Prester John, legendary Asian Christian priest-king, 31, 52, 79, 93, 109, 138 Prester John Letter, 31 pride, sin of, as human attribute, 103 Prieto Calixto, Alberto, 180 Primera Crónica General (“First General Chronicle;” PCG), 66 primitivism, attributed to indigenous peoples, 91 privilege, and seigneurial lifestyle, 151 productivity, economic, and idealized cities, 139


and laboring classes, 140 and urban spaces, 144, 146 professions, and caste, 11 profiling, 63, 75–7 ethnic, 84, 85, 111, 112 and ethnic diversity, 102 and ethnocentric cultural voyeurism, 92 of Indians in Columbus, 86–8, 90 and indigeneity, 182 of Jews and Muslims in Partidas, 63 by Las Casas in characterizing natives and Spaniards, 185 of native peoples by Las Casas, 188, 190 racial, 75, 76, 80, 81, 82, 83 racial and cultural, 75–6 and skin color, 79 promiscuity, sexual, and matriliny among east Indian people, 95 property, confiscation of, in Partidas, 63 as motive of conquest, 169 pseudo-Callisthenes, 36 Ptolemy, 53 purity of blood, concept of, and caste, 12 as criterion of social inequality, 118 of lineage, 132 in medieval European estates system, 14 in racialized Iberia, 22 ritualized notions of, 13 in Tacitus, 49 pygmies, 78 Quex, city in Tamerlane’s realm, 124, 125, 141 Quijote (Don Quijote de la Mancha, Cervantes novel), 26, 35, 154, 180 Quixoticism, 183 race, concept of, 2–3 and caste, 15, 116, 119



race—Continued concepts of, in medieval Iberia, 41–2, 45 and ethnography, 28 as factor in Church-State controversy, 27 as factor in estates system, 15 historical ideas of, 6 and indigeneity, 18 social divisions based on, 130 theories of, 5 race-making, as political strategy, 183, 190 racialization, 2, 4–6, 7–9, 20, 45, 72, 78, 105, 122, 132, 157, 158, 161, 176 and emerging European nation states, 21 epithetic, 105 and geography, 161 of Iberian Jews and Muslims, 57 and indigeneity, 157 and medieval European estates system, 122 in medieval Iberia, 41 in Partidas, 55 and purity of blood, 22 and racializing gaze, 75 and social organization, 16 and theory of climates, 158 and tourism, 204 and treatment of native peoples, 173 and xenophobia, 73 racism, 5, 6, 7, 176 and conquest, 88 Ramey, Lynn Tarte, 82, 173 Randles, W. G. L., 53 ranking, social, and caste, 11 among conquistadors, 171 in overseas colonial society, 167 Ratha Yatra, Hindu temple wagon, 123, 124 raza (Spanish term), 2 readership, varied, of travel literature, 195

Reconquest, Christian, of Iberian Peninsula, 1, 2, 5, 24, 25, 27, 45, 55, 66, 165 redistribution, economic, 170, 171, 172 and Spanish New World conquest and colonial policy, 169 reducciones, 168 refashioning, psychological, and going-native scenario, 180 relativism, ethnographic, 108 religion, Christian, as motive of imperialist aggression, 104 renegade, figure of the, in goingnative scenario, 180 repartimiento, Spanish colonial institution, 166, 167 Restall, Matthew, 170, 188 revenge, as justification of ethnocentric aggression, 104 rex et sacerdos (“priest-king”), personified by Prester John, 138 Rich, Paul B., 170 Rieger, Dietmar, 29 Riquer, Martín de, 207 Roboán, character in Zifar, 197, 198 Rodrigo, King, character in PCG, 66, 67, 68 Rodríguez de Montalvo, Garci. See Montalvo role-playing, and going-native scenario, 180, 181 Romance languages, and caste terminology, 10 romances, chivalric, and cultural inf luence in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 153 in True History, 154 Romans, ancient, racism among, 6, 159 Romm, James S., 52, 53 routinization, of extralegal racializing practices, 6 Royal Council of the Indies, 172 Rubiés, Joan Pau, 28


Rubio Tovar, Joaquín, 24, 25, 30, 31, 194, 195 Ruiz, Teofilo, 21, 153, 196 Rustichello, 29 sacrifice, human, 99, 100, 101, 173 Said, Edward, 35 Salamanca, 145 Sallust, 48 Samaritans, biblical people, 61 Samarkand, 94, 125, 126 as commercial magnet, 141 sameness-within-difference, 108 Sánchez-Albornoz, Claudio, 16, 17, 56 Sancho Panza, 34 Santaella, Rodrigo de, 29, 80, 94, 95 Santiago de Compostela, 24 Saracens, 106 as ethnic and religious category in Partidas, 60 Sarah, biblical personage, 60, 61 sati, east Indian custom of ceremonial widow-burning, 77, 92, 97, 98, 99 Saturn, planet, and theory of climates, 160 satyrs, 79 Savage, Indian, image of in North American history, 20 sedentarism, contrasted with itineration, 198 segregation, ethnic, 55, 56 of Jews in medieval Iberian Christian territory, 58 racial, 5, 9 self-fashioning, and tourism, 197 self-improvement, and tourism, 200 sensationalism, 77, 92, 98 in Cortés and True History, 100 in Tafur´s report of capital punishment among Egyptians, 97 Sepúlveda, Ginés de, 172 servants, 154


in ideal chivalric society, 151 service, social and economic, as justification of noble status, 119 and caste formation, 148 and idealized chivalry, 150–1 servility, spontaneous, of native peoples with regard to Europeans, 165 as condition attributed to native peoples, 173 servitude, concept of, in medieval European estates system, 14 contrasted with dominance, 46 settlers, Spanish, in New World conquest, 170 Seville, 1, 31, 54, 140 sexual relations, prohibition of between Christians and nonChristians in Partidas, 59, 63 Shaw, Gareth, 199 Shem, biblical personage, 44 Sherman, William H., 201 Shih, Shu-mei, 5 Shipwrecks, Cabeza de Vaca account, 39 Shudras, Indian artisan and laborer caste, 10, 12, 117 Siete Partidas, Las, thirteenth-century Castilian law code, 54 sin, correlation of with servile estates, 71 Singui, 145 skin color, 4, 78, 81, 87, 89, 90 and climate, 161 and racial character, 159, 160 and racial profiling, 79, 86 as racializing criterion, 132 slave trade, 168 slavery, 93, 109, 110, 131, 162, 167, 172, 173 and New World peoples, 134, 168 and question of native sovereignty, 172 Sluis, Dutch city, 110 Smith, Brian K., 116, 117



social mobility, 118, 119 society, organicist concept of, 113, 118 colonial, and caste formation, 117 idealized visions of, 148 solidarity, organic, and functionalism, 15 Solinus, 31, 52 Soltaniyeh, 141 sorcery, attributed to native peoples by Columbus, 94 sovereignty, concept of, in Columbus, 89 of native peoples, 172, 173 space, urban, 136, 137, 139, 141, 142, 143, 145, 146 space, urban, idealized in European literary tradition, 136 Spain, Muslim, 1 Spanish Empire, 1 specialization, vocational, 71, 143, 146, 147, 148 and caste, 116 in Don Juan Manuel, 70 within estates system, 149 in Quijote, 155 and urban spaces, 141, 142 species, 3 Spiller, Elizabeth, 82, 161 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, 9, 19, 20 spoils, division of among conquistadors, 171 wrongful confiscation of among conquistadors, 172 Srinivas, M. N., 116 St. Thomas, as apostle to India, 52 stadt, term referring to urban space, 137 Starn, Orin, 157 states, modern, emergence of, 21, 22 statism, and modernization, 20 status, 12 and caste divisions, 9 ritualized confirmation of, 115

stigmatization, of races and ethnic groups, 7, 55 stock, genealogical sense, 3 stoning to death, in Partidas, 63 story arc, episodic, of travel narratives, 76 stratification, social, 8, 15, 125, 127 attributed to non-Europeans, 132 and caste, 11 of castes and estates, 129 of estates in Don Juan Manuel, 71 and idealized chivalry, 150 invidious, 9 among Mongols, 125 and race, 11 of tradesmen and artisans, 127 of vocational specialities, 126 Stronza, Amanda, 202 subalternity, 8, 9, 45 and medieval European estates system, 14 of native peoples in New World conquest, 173 subcastes, 117 Subcontinent, Indian, 116 subdivision, of castes, 10 submission, and caste divisions, 9 subversion, of caste systems, 9 Succinct Account, Las Casas essay on New World conquest, 39 superstition, attribution of, in racial profiling, 81 suttee. See sati Syrians, 106 Tabriz, 140 tabula rasa, concept of, in Las Casas, 186 Tacitus, 49 Tafur, Pero, 32, 76, 85, 86, 91, 93, 95 Talanque, character in Esplandián, 174 Tamerlane, 30, 32, 83, 95, 107, 124, 125, 126, 141, 194 Tarik, character in PCG, 66, 67 Tartars, 80, 107, 127, 128


Tartary, 106, 142 Tauris (Tabriz), 140 taxonomic terms, 3 taxonomy, biological, and race, 4 ethnic, 63, 166 and medieval ethnography, 8 and perspective of medieval travel writing, 26 and racialization, 72 and racializing mentalities, 5 Taylor, Barry, 23 Tenerife, Canary Island, 79 Tenochtitlan, 145, 146 territoriality, and race, 158 as defining factor in indigeneity, 184 terrorism, attributed to Spaniards by Las Casas, 186, 187 test, heroic, folkloric motif in chivalric narratives, 152 Tesuico, 100 Theseus, as mythic analogue of miscegenic outsider, 175 Thomas, Hugh, 168, 187 Thomas, St., as apostle to India, 52, 207 Thompson, I. A. A., 119 Tibetans, 80, 94, 159 Tiñoso, el, character in Quijote, 180, 181 Todorov, Tzvetan, 3, 87, 88 Toledo, 3, 121, 140 tolerance, racial, 6, 109, 110 religious, 109, 125 topoi, sociological, in Don Juan Manuel, 68 Torrid Zone, 160 Totis, city in Tartar realm, 128 tourism, 109, 165 armchair, 201 emergence of, 194 as exotic aspect of travel, 193 and idealized knight-errantry, 199 as interaction of allochthons and autochthons, 201


and leisure, 200 and native peoples, 203 and pilgrimage, 195 virtual, 201 town, as term referring to urban space, 137 Tozer, Henry F., 207 Traboulay, David M., 173 trade, 25, 125, 126, 127, 130, 134, 135, 142, 143, 146, 147, 168, 194 and emergence of tourism, 193 as motive of travel, 24 as status disqualifier of nobility in Partidas, 65 in urban spaces, 141 trades, specialized, 125, 130, 146 tradesmen, 126–7, 134, 141–3 transformation, cultural and psychological, 179 psychological and cultural, in going-native scenario, 177, 181 transhumance, as motive of travel, 24–5 travel, 2 in Eurasia, 194 heterogeneity of, 23–5 recreational, 197 in Tartar realm, 127 travel literature, 2 cultural advantages of, 178 defining criteria of, 23 and emergence of tourism, 193, 195 and episodic story arc, 76 travelogues, 54 Travels, medieval Spanish travel work by Pero Tafur, 32, 76, 86, 93 Triana, 140 tribe(s), biblical context, 43–4 lost, in Book of Knowledge, 106 tribute, levied on subject populations, 167 and economic predation, 170 Trinidad, 161 Trojans, in Aeneid, 47 tropes, racial, and profiling, 112



Tropics, 158 Troy, in Aeneid, 51 True History, chronicle by Díaz del Castillo, 38 Tunchái, city in Tartar realm, 128 Turkey, 142 Turks, racial profile of, 85, 86 Ulysses, Homeric character, 35 universals, unchanging, concept of regarding Nature, 8 Untouchables, Indian out-caste, 12 urbanocentrism, 137, 140, 143, 144, 145 urbanophilia, 139 Urry, John, 194, 202 Vaishyas, Indian merchant caste, 10, 12, 117 Valencia, 161, 169 varnas, Indian estates, 12, 117 venders, 137, 143, 146, 147 Venetians, and international commerce, 142 Venice, 97 Venkateswar, Sita, 157 Verdon, Jean, 135 victimology, 183, 187, 189 Victorial, El, chivalric biography, 34, 76, 84, 85 and idealized chivalry, 149 Vienna, 144 violence, as human proclivity in Alexander, 103 as method of Spanish conquest, 187 Virgil, 46, 47, 50, 51 Visigothic Spain, downfall of, in PCG, 67 Visigoths, 68 vocations, and caste, 116 stratification of, 126, 127 Vogeley, Nancy J., 96, 174 voyeurism, ethnocentric, 92

cultural, and tourism, 201, 204 Vulgate, Latin, 42, 44 warfare, as function of defensores, 69 and chivalry, 149 warlordism, analogy of to Spanish conquistador leadership, 170 Warren, F. M., 174, 175 wealth, monetary, and social order, 128 material, among New World peoples, 134–5 Webb, Diana, 195 Weber, Max, 115, 116 Weinberger-Thomas, Catherine, 98 Wey-Gómez, Nicolas, 89, 208 White Tartars, tribe in Embassy, 107 widowhood, among east Indians, 99 Wilkins, John S., 8 Williams, Allan M., 199 Williams, Raymond, 3 Wolf, Eric, 193, 194 work, invidious depreciation of, in medieval European estates system, 15 workers, as estate or caste, 120 Wright, John Kirtland, 207 xenophobia, and racialization, 73 Xenophon, 38 Young, Robert, 8 Zagatays, 83, 124 Zanzibar, 81 Zifar, eponymous protagonist, 78 Zifar, medieval Spanish chivalric romance, 33, 78, 80, 92 zones, climactic, 89 Zoraida, in Quijote, literary example of native princess motif, 175 Zumthor, Paul, 136, 137, 196