The Mythical Indies and Columbus's Apocalyptic Letter: Imagining the Americas in the Late Middle Ages 1845197003, 9781845197001

With his Letter of 1493 to the court of Spain, Christopher Columbus heralded his first voyage to the present-day America

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The Mythical Indies and Columbus's Apocalyptic Letter: Imagining the Americas in the Late Middle Ages
 1845197003, 9781845197001

Table of contents :
Front Cover
Title Page
Illustrations and Facsimiles
Preface: Aims and Apparatus
An Introduction to Columbus’s Letter
1 Discovery and Commerce: A Letter in Folio
2 A Slippery Job: Identifying the Folio’s Printer
3 Lasting Impressions: The Initial and the Types
4 The Letter Goes Abroad: The Roman Connection
5 Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered: Peninsular Quartos
6 Manuscripts: Real and Imagined
7 Reading the Variorum
8 A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio
9 Debriefing: Ink and Paper, Men, and Stemma
10 An English Translation of the Folio
11 Parsing the Reading
12 Columbus and His Apocalyptic Letter
Guide to Abbreviations, Short References, Proper Names, and Symbols
Cover Images and Frontispiece
Publications of the Columbus Letter
Incunabula and Early Sixteenth-Century Books Cited
Works Cited
Back Cover

Citation preview

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Portrait of Christopher Columbus attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, courtesy of the Galata Museo del Mare, Genoa.

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The electronic book for The Mythical Indies and Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter features the full text, including all introductory materials, ancillaries, and the index, but we have chosen to include only one of the three facsimiles from the print book, where the facsimiles are collated on unnumbered pages. As most e-book readers are aware, the page display on a device may be distinct from the print-book page, and displays may be inconsistent from one device or library platform to another.These potential inconsistencies in delivery, useful feedback from academics, research in the literature, and — primarily — our concerns over readers’ success in using the facsimiles effectively in the e-book format have influenced this decision. The uses and means of access offered by the print facsimiles of the folio and quarto printings of the Letter (the Folio and the Quarto, respectively) and of the Simancas manuscript will not translate well to the electronic version, and electronic facsimiles, particularly those of the Quarto, set in landscape, and the Simancas MS, with its difficult hand and conventions, would, instead, create an ineffective and ultimately frustrating experience for the e-book user. The print versions of the facsimiles offer certain inherent challenges to print readers, too, because of their late-medieval language and scribal-culture conventions and the surface losses to the originals. These challenges are more readily mediated for readers of the print facsimiles, who are able to view the facsimile pages whole and at full size — not necessarily at original size — on a surface where they can track the (sometimes wavering) lines of text by line number across the full view of the page. The print format also allows readers to move more easily between lines of the edited text and translation and those points on the facsimiles, as well as between critical discussions of words and phrases and the facsimiles. The e-book (human) reader who wishes to use the facsimiles in these ways, would be materially hampered. For such practical and theoretical considerations as these, only the Folio facsimile is included in the e-book. Though the (human) reader may indeed encounter some difficulty in using the Folio facsimile in the electronic format, depending on the device or platform in use, the Folio facsimile, of the three available in the print book, can be expected to offer the most accessible and useful images on a device, and it is the primary basis of the book. Its images are also widely available online in older, recently digitized books and on certain websites, and these may be useful for classroom display or private study using e-book. ***

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With his Letter of 1493 to the court of Spain, Christopher Columbus heralded his first voyage to the present-day Americas, creating visions that seduced the European imagination and birthing a fascination with those “new” lands and their inhabitants that continues today. Columbus’s epistolary announcement travelled from country to country in a late-medieval media event — and the rest, as has been observed, is history. The Letter has long been the object of speculation concerning its authorship and intention: British historian Cecil Jane questions whether Columbus could read and write prior to the first voyage, while Demetrio Ramos argues that King Ferdinand and a minister composed the Letter and had it printed as the Spanish folio.The Letter has figured in studies of Spanish Imperialism and of Discovery and Colonial period history, but it also offers insights into Columbus’s passions and motives as he reinvents himself and retails his vision of Peter Martyr’s Novus orbis to men and women for whom Columbus was as unknown as the places he claimed to have visited. The central feature of the book is its annotated variorum edition of the Spanish Letter, together with an annotated English translation and word and name glossaries. A list of terms from early print-period and manuscript cultures supports the book’s critical discussions. In the context of her text-based reading, the author addresses earlier critical perspectives on the Letter, explores foundational questions about its composition, publication and aims, and proposes a theory of authorship grounded in text, linguistics, discourse, and culture. Elizabeth Moore Willingham is a medievalist, text scholar, and Romance linguist. She is series editor for the Old French Lancelot of Yale 229 for Brepols and has published critical work in Latin American fiction and film, including Laura Esquivel’s Mexican Fictions (Sussex 2010). She is Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at Baylor University where she teaches Old Spanish, Romance Linguistics, and Hispanic literature and film. ***

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Mythical Indies and Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter Imagining the Americas in the Late Middle Ages

Elizabeth Moore Willingham

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Copyright © Elizabeth Moore Willingham, 2015. Published in the Sussex Academic e-Library, 2015. SUSSEX ACADEMIC PRESS PO Box 139 Eastbourne BN24 9BP, UK and simultaneously in the United States of America and Canada All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Willingham, Elizabeth M. (Elizabeth Moore) The mythical Indies and Columbus’s apocalyptic letter : imagining the Americas in the late Middle Ages / Elizabeth Moore Willingham. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-84519-700-1 (hardback : acid-free paper) ISBN 978-1-84519-701-8 (pbk : acid-free paper) ISBN 978-1-78284-037-4 (e-pub) ISBN 978-1-78284-038-1 (e-mobi) ISBN 978-1-78284-039-8 (e-pdf) 1. Columbus, Christopher. Carta (Feb. 18, 1493) 2. America––Early accounts to 1600. 3. Columbus, Christopher––Correspondence. 4. Explorers––America––Correspondence. 5. Explorers––Spain–– Correspondence. 6. America––Discovery and exploration––Spanish–– Sources. I. Columbus, Christopher. Carta (Feb. 18, 1493). English & Spanish. II. Title. E115.3.W45––2015 970.01’5092––dc23 2014037593 This e-book text has been prepared for electronic viewing. Some features, including tables and figures, might not display as in the print version, due to electronic conversion limitations and/or copyright strictures.


This book is dedicated to Bobby and Carol Ann and to Carlos and Yolanda for all good reasons.

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Illustrations and Facsimiles vi Acknowledgments vii Preface: Aims and Apparatus xi An Introduction to Columbus’s Letter xix 1 Discovery and Commerce: A Letter in Folio 1 2 A Slippery Job: Identifying the Folio’s Printer 25 3 Lasting Impressions: The Initial and the Types 51 4 The Letter Goes Abroad: The Roman Connection 65 5 Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered: Peninsular Quartos 97 6 Manuscripts: Real and Imagined 115 7 Reading the Variorum 129 8 A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 153 9 Debriefing: Ink and Paper, Men, and Stemma 175 10 An English Translation of the Folio 189 11 Parsing the Reading 215 12 Columbus and His Apocalyptic Letter 239 Guide to Abbreviations, Short References, Proper Names, and Symbols 259 Cover Images and Frontispiece 273 Glossary 277 Publications of the Columbus Letter 291 Incunabula and Early Sixteenth-Century Books Cited 301 Works Cited 317 Index 360

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Illustrations and Facsimiles

F RONTISPIECE Portrait of Columbus, attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (Galata Museo del Mare, Genoa) P LATE S ECTIONS (after page 146) Facsimile I: The Spanish Folio (New York Public Library, New York City) Facsimile II: The Spanish Quarto (Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan) Facsimile III: The Simancas Manuscript (Archivo General de Simancas, Valladolid) T EXT I LLUSTRATIONS Woodcut illustration, Basel octavo, Encounter between islanders and Spaniards


A rough drawing of the Folio watermark as a plumed helm with a cross/star rising from the crown (E. Willingham)


Woodcut illustration, Basel octavo, 1493, “Fernando”


Woodcut illustration, Basel octavo, 1493, the islands named by Columbus


Detail of the Quarto’s hand-and-flower watermark (Biblioteca Ambrosiana)


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Borrowing from an affirmation expressed by Tennessee Williams, spoken on screen by Vivian Leigh, and echoed by the late Valerie J. Flint in her book on Columbus, I affirm that this project is deeply indebted to the generosity of many people, some of them old friends or valued colleagues, and others whose time and expertise was given as cordially as if they had been.1 I wish to acknowledge the following for their support with essential materials and/or their excellent guidance and advice: Isabel Aguirre Landa, Director of the Reference Department of the Archivo General de Simancas (AGS), for her knowledgeable, gracious, and efficient handling of my requests and questions about the Simancas manuscript and Luis de Santángel; Eric Frazier, Reference Librarian for the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress of the United States, for his guidance and accommodation in the Library and for many useful electronic files for study related to this project; Mark Dimunation, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress, for generously sharing with me his expertise on some of the Library’s Columbus materials; Braulio Vázquez, Jefe de Sección, Archivo General de Indias (AGI), for his able and informative assistance with inquiries concerning Juan de Sanfelices; Inmaculada Delgado of the AGS for her helpful research and correspondence on Luis de Santángel; Ángel J. Moreno Prieto, Jefe de Sección de Archivos, Departamento de Referencias of the AGS for his kind and able assistance in confirming matters related to the letter from Luis de la Cerda, the first Duke of Medinaceli; Antonio Sánchez de Mora, Jefe de Sección de Archivos, for his indispensable guidance in accessing the Libro copiador held in the AGI; Adelaida Caro Martín of the National Library in Madrid for her diligent support with the Floreto de San Francisco (1493); Peter Stinely, Master of Colonial Williamsburg’s Printing Office, for his review of the folio Letter’s print job; the Interlibrary Loan Department of the Royal Pubic Library of Dresden (Königliche Öffentliche Bibliothek Dresden) for providing excellent images of the Maisonneuve Catalogue of American and Asian offerings for 1889; Mr. Florian Hiersemann of Anton Hiersemann Verlag at Stuttgart for his permission to reproduce certain material from two Haebler volumes; Ms. Bettina Rüdiger of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and Ms. AnneMarie Baranowski of the legal office of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek for sharing

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Acknowledgments with me their research into German copyright law and providing contact information for the Anton Hiersemann Verlag; Amelia Koford, Intern at the Perry-Castañeda Library at The University of Texas at Austin, for her diligence in tracing a mislaid title by Martín Fernández de Navarrete; Daniel Hinchen of the Massachusetts Historical Society for information and clarification on several early twentieth-century publications of the Society and for scans of relevant materials; Michele Reilly, Head of Digital Service, and Julie Grob, Coordinator for Digital Projects & Instruction in the Special Collections, both of the University of Houston Libraries, for their assistance with the digital files for the University’s holding of Stultifera Navis (The Ship of Fools) of 1498; Paolo Cavagna of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana of Milan for his diligent support with the Ambrosian quarto and permission to use the facsimile images of it previously produced under the sponsorship of the Library; José María Moreno Martín of the department of Cartografía y Archivo Fotográfico at the Museo Naval at Madrid for sharing with me his examination of an image related to the Juan de la Cosa map held at the Museum; Dr. Marieke van Delft, Curator of Early Printed Editions for De Koninklijke Bibliotheek of The Hague (Netherlands), for her able direction concerning the Martens Latin quarto; Pier Franco Chillin of the Biblioteca Reale di Torino for his assistance with Torino’s Marchant quarto; Adam Strohm, Digital Collections Librarian, and Margaret Cusick, General Collections Services Librarian, of The Newberry Library, for their assistance with the Henry Harrisse-Adam Pilin´ski facsimile of the Marchant quarto and Pilin´ski’s obituary; “Jebulon” of Wikimedia Commons for kindly sharing his photographic image of the Virgen de los Navigantes for the back cover of this book; Director Dr. Pierangelo Campodonico and Ms. Anna Dentoni of the Galata Museo del Mare in Genoa for their kind and generous support with electronic files and permissions for the Columbus portrait shown as the frontispiece; Monika Butz of the Universitätsbibliothek Basel, in consultation with Dr. Ueli Dill for their review and comments on printings donated by Johannes and Hieronymus Froben that include an example of the Basle octavo Latin edition; Spanish writer and philologist Rafael González Gosálbez of the Fundación Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes and the Universitat de Barcelona for providing the digital file of Posa’s Antidotarium and permission to use an image from the book; and Dr. Raymond Ashley, President and CEO of the San Diego (California) Maritime Museum, for his kind assistance with the technical aspects of Hugo Eichler’s nineteenth-century rendering of Columbus’s ship shown on the front cover. To librarians Jessica Pigza and Ted Teodoro of the Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library and to Stephan K. Saks of Premium Services at NYPL, this project has been often indebted. Mr. Teodoro’s informed responses to questions and requests over the last fourteen years, their collective research and responses regarding photographic files and library records, and the production of electronic files of the Latin manuscripts for research essentially moved the project along at several stages. I especially appreciate having had the greatest possible access on several occasions to the folio Letter and its formerly associated Latin manuscripts, all in their old-school, plainest dress. Although I prefer the physical book and pursue it, the needs of this project were often answered by the efforts of the world’s university research libraries who have

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Acknowledgments placed older volumes (here, those of interest to Medieval, Discovery Period, and Victorian studies) online through the Open Library (openlibrary), Internet Archive (, and Google Books (googlebooks) projects. The programming of these scans of older printed books allows full-text searches, a function that in practice exceeds the human limitations of the index. I would also particularly like to express my gratitude to Dr. Ernest Kaulbach of the University of Texas for his support with Leandro de Cosco’s Latin text; to Janet Jasek and Libby Shockley and the librarians of Baylor University’s Interlibrary Loan Department, past and present, for repeatedly locating and securing rare materials; to Robert Lugo and Sarah Harrison Voyles, the kindest and most resourceful of circulation librarians, for many trips to an offsite library storage facility to fulfill my hard-copy requests and for locating books and mediating contesting demands, respectively; to rare book librarian Susan Bowlin for her gracious accommodation of my requests to examine rare book and facsimile holdings; to imaging expert Allyson Riley for preparing and supervising hundreds of high-resolution images related to this project; to Rachel Rooney, Ann Westbrook, and Dr. Michele Toon for their able and cheerfully given technical and logistic support; to Dr. Janya Houston Martin, Rita Abercrombie, Louis Mazé, Mary Londos, and the late Otto and Hilda Levy for their assistance with German text related to Columbus studies at one point or another over the past twenty-five years; to Dr. Michael Ward of Trinity University in San Antonio and to Dr. Julia Kisacky and Louis Mazé at Baylor for support with Italian text; to Dr. Bruce Longnecker, W. W. Melton Chair in New Testament at Baylor, for his vetting of my characterization of St. John’s Revelation; to Dr. Genaro Pérez, editor of Revista Monográfica for his generous support of this project in giving permission to use material from an essay originally published in the journal and for his unfailing kindness toward the author; to Rachel E. Merchant for her diligent reading of the very tiny seal on the etching used as the cover art; and to J. Luther Staton for space and patience. I am grateful and thankful through the decades to Professors Carlos A. Solé, †James L. Kinneavy, Robert G. Collmer, Frederick G. Hensey, and Ernest Kaulbach for their old-school individual mentoring and direction in text study, bibliography, older languages, and discourse, and I am deeply appreciative to Anthony Grahame of Sussex Academic Press for his able, patient, perceptive, and animating guidance through this project. Notwithstanding the direction, corrections, material support, and counsel that this volume has garnered, its remaining omissions, shortcomings, and errors, with whatever “wild blunders and risible absurdities” that remain, are mine.2 ELIZABETH MOORE WILLINGHAM 14 March 2015 Notes 1

I take Tennessee Williams’s “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” from his 1947 play A Streetcar named Desire (178) for its truth in the context of projects like this one, where one depends constantly on the preparedness, skill, and generosity of researchers, librarians, curators, scholars, and administrative assistants whom one has never met. Valerie Irene Jane Flint opened The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus with similar wording. 2

From Dr. Johnson’s “Preface” to his Dictionary by way of Daniel Berkeley Updike’s “Preface to the Second Edition” of Printing Types (xv).


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In a woodcut that appeared in the (supposed) 1493 Basel octavo, naked islanders (to the left) flee from the Spanish landing party while other natives approach the Spanish with a gift. Self-titled “Insula hyspana” [Spanish Island], the illustration is found in the 1892 Lenox Library/Wilberforce Eames issue of Latin editions and in Lowdermilk’s 1893 facsimile and translation of the Basel edition.

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Preface: Aims and apparatus

The over-arching aim of this work is to provide an interdisciplinary and comparative study of Columbus’s 1493 folio Letter to the royal minister Luis de Santángel based on perspectives and principles in bibliography, text study, linguistics, and discourse and literary criticism. The Spanish printing in quarto, a contemporary manuscript, the Latin editions, and other contemporary translations of the Letter provide further important critical perspectives, particularly where these matters touch the Folio in some way. Facsimiles of the Letter in several contemporary guises and an annotated variorum edition and translation of the Letter are intended to provide the reader with fullest access to primary materials for an informed reading and further research. The general reader, student, and teacher will find well-grounded views of the debates and questions that pertain to the Letter, and the scholar, I hope, will find material here to help frame future close studies of the Letter, other Columbus documents, and other incunabula printings. The first six chapters of the book particularly consider the narratives and critical problems attached to the physical forms in which the text of the Letter has survived and the motives and connections that may have figured into its printings. The bibliographical questions attached to the printed versions of the Letter treat where, when, and by whom they were produced, and the answers are only slightly less elusive than the paths that brought those texts to press. In addition to a methodological approach that both examines and applies traditional procedures for arriving at data for orphan incunabula, I also consider associations between and among printers connected with editions of the Letter. Perhaps questions presented in these chapters will suggest to a well-placed historian of the period a dedicated prosopography of the incunabula printers supposed or attested to have been connected with producing Columbus’s Letter.1 Chapter 7, “Reading the variorum,” provides an orientation for textual and typographical studies and historical linguistics, along with the apparatus for the variorum edition. Serving principally as a tutorial for reading the Folio and its variants from the Quarto and Simancas manuscript, this chapter directs itself primarily to readers new to the study of early print culture and text study. The annotated variorum text in chapter 8 aims for the highest levels of accuracy and transparency in order to serve

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Preface: Aims and Apparatus those who use the Letter in research and teaching. Used in conjunction with the variorum edition, facsimiles of the Folio, Quarto, and Simancas manuscript included here allow readers to make direct comparisons and form independent conclusions. Readers having less formal intentions will, I hope, find the edition to be worthy of their confidence as well. Following the edition, chapter 9, “Debriefing,” offers summary comparative comments on the Spanish texts and addresses theories of the stemma.2 The English translation of the Folio in chapter 10 primarily makes the text accessible to those without a reading knowledge of fifteenth-century Spanish, and readers who prefer reading in English may wish to take up the translation ahead of the edition and its notes. The translation text has been “in development” for more than two decades of revision through teaching and study, and I hope that time has been its friend. Notes to the translation reflect my current thinking and lingering doubts, as well as my respect for earlier translators. Chapter 11, “Parsing the Reading,” addresses questions of style, discourse, and culture that are made more accessible to English-language readers by the translation and its notes, and it frames a response to questions of authorship and aim in these contexts, and the final chapter, “Columbus and His Apocalyptic Letter,” explores the Letter’s enduring images of the islands and their people as Columbus presents them in the Letter. The Glossary makes specialized words and expressions used here and related to text study, bibliography, manuscript and early print cultures, and to Medieval Romance language and linguistics conveniently accessible to readers less wellacquainted with these fields. Bibliographical materials are divided into three sections whose distinct functions are self-evident.

Apparatus: Mediating names and languages In the text and notes, I refer to all forms of the Columbus Letter under discussion here as “the Letter,” in roman type and without quotation marks. The designations “Folio” and “Quarto,” given without quotation marks, refer to the unique Spanish texts printed in those formats. For clarity, accessibility, and readability, full references rather than acronyms are used to refer to the various versions of the Letter. Where the words “folio” and “quarto” are adjectives referring to printing formats, they are given in lower-case, as in “the Spanish folio printing.” Spain’s geographic names and its fifteenth-century personal names are given in various academic sources with certain inconsistencies that one cannot entirely resolve, and those names appear here with as strong a critical engagement as possible.3 Where these names figure frequently in the text and are phonologically, morphologically, and semantically accessible to readers of English, they are given in Spanish. Such place names include Aragón, Cataluña (except in the proper name, Biblioteca de Catalunya), Castilla, Córdoba, Sevilla, and Zaragoza, and such personal names include Fernando, Isabel, Juan, Juana, and Luis. “Catalán” and “Castellano” name languages and serve as adjectives where appropriate, but I adopt the anglicized “Aragonese,” avoiding the less familiar “Aragonés” that may appear to be a plural form to English language readers.

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Preface: Aims and Apparatus As is already clear in the case of the most frequent personal name in the text, I use the familiar, Anglo-Germanic “Christopher Columbus” for its high currency in global scholarship, popular culture, and place names.4 For the few references here to Columbus’s sons, Diego and Hernando, I retain Colón, the surname adopted by their father and by which they were known during their lives. Luis de Santángel, mentioned frequently, is “Santángel,” not an ideal resolution but pervasive in work on Columbus’s Letter, which is the primary context in which the name ever appears. Mentioned less often in the text and notes are the Latin translator Leandro de Cosco, whose name has no currency outside this context, and Bartolomé de las Casas, the well-known Dominican friar who defended the natives of the “Indies,” transcribed Columbus’s journals, and wrote a treatise that helped to create Spain’s so-called “Black Legend.” Following the first mention of each in a particular discussion, I give these names as “Leandro” and “Bartolomé,” respectively. The name of the well-known Pietro Martire d’Anghiera (Pedro Mártir), an Italian in the Spanish court during the reign of Fernando and Isabel, is given in its familiar anglicized form as Peter Martyr, a pronounceable and familiar form that accommodates readers of English and Spanish.5 Quotations from medieval and early modern sources in languages other than English are shown in italics without surrounding quotation marks where the prefacing syntax allows. In quoting the work of nineteenth-century commentators, I follow their capitalization, diacriticals, formatting, and spelling as closely as I am able to determine them. Where twentieth-century titles set in “all-caps” lack accents, I have imposed them because it was customary in all-caps printing to omit accents. Within older quotations, readers of Spanish may be surprised to find words like Colon, Sanchez, and relacion written without an accent and á and ó carrying one, and to find months capitalized and the occasional surname or place name italicized, but these elements reflect the originals except where suppression is declared or I have erred in interpreting or transcribing. In quotations in the text where content is omitted, the omission is indicated by spaced ellipses without bracketing.

Apparatus: Semantics, spelling, and usage Because early printing is the topic in several of these chapters, I avoid words like “case,” “initial,” and “type” in text and notes for uses other than those connected with printing. To disambiguate between “form” as a shape and the lines of types that make up a page for printing, British “forme” refers to the latter, and I avoid the former. Individual letters and groups of letters of the alphabet are “graphemes.” Where I refer to the grapheme represented on a typeface, I more often leave the expression open, as in “the h type,” but hyphenate “the a-type” and “the i-type” for clarity’s sake and do so in other instances, particularly in the notes to the edition, where confusion might result. In referring to printers’ types, I prefer terms consistent with the overlapping practices of the manuscript and early print periods: “upper-case E,” as it might be called, is here generally the “initial” or “capital” or even “majuscule” E, as a member of a “majuscule” font or set of initials; e is “small” or “minuscule” and also a part of the printer’s “lower-case” or “under-case” alphabets.6


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Preface: Aims and Apparatus Compounds that refer to the position of a grapheme in a word are given with a hyphen: initial-a, final-b, medial-r, and so on. Where the position of a grapheme is indicated by the grapheme shown preceded, followed, or enclosed by hyphens, the symbols are meant to be read as the following examples indicate: e- : “e initial” or “word-initial e” -r : “r final” or “word-final r” -g- : “medial (or ‘internal’) g” or “word-internal g” Phonological indications in similar format should be read in the same way but with the sound rather than the grapheme expressed in the reading. Supposed phonology is given enclosed between forward slashes (/a/). In accord with early print period practice derived from manuscript culture, the text and notes adopt leaf-numbering designations, counting by “folio” rather than pages: 1r, 1v, 2r, and 2v, and so on. On each leaf of the Spanish and Latin editions, line numbers begin anew, so that each recto and verso of these texts has a line three, as 1r.3, 1v.3, 2r.3, 2v.3, and so on. The Simancas manuscript, however, is numbered continuously in figures added by what I believe to be an early nineteenth-century hand. Certain compound nouns related to bibliography and to print and scribal cultures are treated as closed (blackwork, bookhand, bookseller, handcaster, handpress, printshop, punchcutter, and so on). Used as adjectives, “lower-case,” “upper-case,” and hand-press are hyphenated, and other such terms, like the frequent “line-end” and the less frequent “eye-skip,” are viewed as unitary hyphenated nouns because separating or closing them tends to confuse the reading. Referring to the editorial alterations made to texts of the Letter, “amend” indicates an editorial choice for improvement achieved by altering syntax or morphology, by adding or removing wording, or by making elements parallel. “Emend” refers to an action taken to correct perceived slips of the pen or setting; emendations might include “corrections” to spelling or placing a preposition (de, a) where one appears to be lacking. Fifteenth-century marks of punctuation that look like modern periods and colons appear in modern format in the edition and in quotations, but the function of those marks in their original contexts is not necessarily parallel with their modern usage. Editorially imposed punctuation is always shown in brackets; medieval punctuation may be made explicit in brackets; and the hyphen, which never appears on the Folio but does on the Quarto, is bracketed where it is an editorial mark placed to aid reading.

Apparatus: Transcriptions, translation, citations, and documentation Where word extensions from manuscripts or printed books must be signaled for accuracy, the extension is set in italics within a word otherwise set in roman type or, as in the notes to the edition, by underscoring within a word set in italics. Extensions of abbreviations from the texts are not signaled in transcriptions where the matter of

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Preface: Aims and Apparatus the extension has already been addressed or is outside the question at hand, or where the original setting is shown beside the extension, making it evident. Non-English material is translated within brackets immediately following the original or else in a note to the text except where the meaning of the word or phrase is either sufficiently transparent or is indicated in the exposition to the extent that readers will understand it through cognate forms or context, respectively. Documentation, citation, and Works Cited formats are based on those proposed by the Modern Language Association’s Handbook forWriters (7th edition). Parenthetical page citations appear in the running text of material where they do not intrude on sense and syntax, and other citations appear in the notes; moreover, where a year of publication is significant, the necessary page numbers follow the year in parentheses without intervening punctuation, as in (1946 57–89). The Works Cited format suppresses the inherently obvious and virtually obsolete distinctions of “net” and “print.” Where a search based on the title of electronic material has dependably produced the intended result, the Works Cited marks as “Online” and suppresses the URL.Where a simple search has not produced the page(s) in question, the URL is given and “Online” is suppressed.7 Electronic mail and telephone conversations documented in the text are not given in the Works Cited. In the lengthy book titles of earlier centuries, publishers’ intentions concerning punctuation and capitalization may be unclear, and where capitalization is uncertain and/or no punctuation exists, I capitalize and place periods or colons where line-breaks suggest one or the other and leave the line to run where no pause in reading or grammar is discernable. Where the intention is clear, I strive to follow the original and sparingly have made the notation [sic] when the reader might find an element particularly unusual. Notes 1

No study devoted exclusively to the printers mentioned in connection with the Folio, Quarto, and Latin editions exists to date, and no original bibliographic study on the Folio or Quarto has been done since Konrad Haebler’s final pronouncements, all of which most subsequent studies repeat without demur. A few scholars have recently fleshed out the lives of a small number of Europe’s incunabula printers, yet the task of focusing on the personal and professional relationships among printers associated with Columbus’s Letter has hardly begun. Sandra Hindman’s and Clive Griffin’s ground-breaking studies of individual incunabula printers and printing families provide models of documentary research into the lives of early printers. 2 Modernized editions that lack sufficient transparency into the original fall short of the rigor required for critical work in medieval language and linguistics, in discourse study, and in literary criticism. In upper-level undergraduate teaching and in training advanced students in medieval studies, the modernized text leaves the student of medieval language, literature, text, and/or linguistics at a disadvantage in grappling with primary texts, further removed than is necessary or practical from the real objects of their study. Reading edited and modernized texts without reference to the originals deprives students of competencies and critical understandings that they will only acquire from reading authentic texts. 3

The British Library’s ISTC database, for example, uses Seville (Sp. Sevilla) and Zaragoza (Eng. Saragossa) and as personal names, uses Juan (Juan de Burgos, Juan Varela, Juan de Francourt) rather than converting to John, but converts Pedro Miguel to Peter Michael in most entries though Pedro Giraldi gets his customary Spanish equivalent of Italian Pietro that is likely to have been his “real” baptismal name.


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Preface: Aims and Apparatus 4

Other choices are “Cristobal Colón,” Columbus’s name for himself, given contemporarily as Colon or Colom, and the Ligurian, Portuguese, or Italian “Cristoforo Colombo” — or “Corombo.” 5 This note intends to provide an apparatus and a basis for practices in using medieval and early modern personal names within this book. It discusses personal names in critical work, highlighting perceived disconnects and suggesting mediations for readers with an interest in the question. It may well be omitted by those who have no interest in it and who can easily accustom themselves to “Bartolomé” in lieu of “Las Casas” and “Juan” instead of “De la Cosa,” given sufficient context.

Medieval names are variously and inconsistently presented in global scholarship, probably because of the disconnect we have struggled with since (at least) the eighteenth century between medieval names derived from place names and patronymics and our more recent understanding of surnames, along with the cultural divide between naming customs. As an example of the former, note the names of the men Columbus left at Navidad in 1492 and the names of various people in the Spanish court at the time. It is easy to see that in a world of men called “Juan” and “Luis” and “Diego,” a man’s geographical origin might identify him more quickly than his baptismal name, and his friends and coworkers might tend to call him by it in daily contexts. Some men in these lists bear only a place name with the baptismal name: Domingo de Bermeo, Juan de Cueva, Juan de Valdés, Juan de Villar, and Pedro de Talavera; some have only a patronymic, as with Pedro Gutierrez and Francisco Fernández. The name Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, gives both place names (Oviedo y Valdés) and patronymic (Fernández). Authors have resolved such disconnects variously. At the end of the nineteenth century, for example, the prolific Margaret Oliphant apparently confronted the “d’Arc” problem with Jacques d’Arc (father of Jeanne), and resolved it by using his full name in every instance but one. Kerney and others at the same period resolved Luis de Santángel to “Santangel” or “Sant Angel.” Dominican friar and Bishop of Chiapas Bartolomé de las Casas is named “Casas” in some older works, “De las Casas” or “de las Casas” are encountered occasionally, and more recently, Fr. Bartolomé is fairly consistently called “Las Casas.” Examples of medieval Spanish names that have undergone unfortunate conversions include that of the thirteenth-century poet and monk Gonzalo de Berceo as “Berceo” when he would more appropriately for his period and his artistic contributions to it be called “Gonzalo.” This and similar solutions now constitute wide editorial practice, and such resorts may have come into their present usage based on the pragmatic social custom mentioned above — disambiguating one Diego from another by the distinguishing parts of their names as one would do today. These styles, however, do not represent superior or more authentic critical choices. Examples of accepted usage supporting what seems to be a sounder standard include names like those of the fifteenth century’s Jeanne d’Arc, who is not called “Arc” or “de Arc,” but “Jeanne,” “Juana,” or “Joan” (in French, Spanish, and English, respectively); the twelfth-century Welshman Geoffrey of Monmouth is “Geoffrey”; Marie de France is “Marie”; French poets Robert de Boron and Chrétien de Troyes are called “Robert” and “Chrétien,” respectively; Christine de Pizan is “Christine”; and the French poet-monk of Virgin miracles, Gautier de Coincy (1177–1236) is “Gautier.” The established English forms of the fifteenth-century Italian names, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti (1475– 1564) as “Michelangelo” and Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452–1519) as “Leonardo,” suggest appropriate models. Spanish naming systems present problems for English-language criticism, indexing, and bibliography; consistent resorts to “De Santángel,” “De la Cosa” (Juan de la Cosa), and “De las Casas” would raise questions, as might cutting away “de” to leave “Santángel,” “Las Casas,” and “La Cosa” as “surnames.”Twentieth-century historian Antonio Rumeu de Armas was formerly catalogued as “Armas, Antonio Rumeu de” and is more recently catalogued as “Rumeu de Armas, Antonio.” Compare the latter with entries for eighteenth-century naval officer and historian Martín Fernández de Navarrete, who may be catalogued as “De Navarrete” and as “Fernández de Navarrete,” but who is most often catalogued and routinely referred to in critical work as “Navarrete.” In a different kind of resolution, J. D. M. Ford refers to Spanish scholar Ramón Menéndez Pidal in 1905 as “Menéndez” while the French medievalist Gaston Paris refers to him as “Menéndez Pidal” in 1903, and later twentieth-century critical work from English-speaking scholars also uses “Menéndez Pidal.” There are many cleft sticks between 1600 and today: Viscount de Porto Seguro Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen (1816–1878), in accord with his biographer Stuart B. Schwartz, is given here as “Varnhagen,” and Antonio de León Pinelo (1589–1660) — generally called “Pinelo” — is alphabetized here under “De,” a morpheme that apparently causes confusion to some catalogue search engines. The Library of Congress (LC) uses a system of “authorized names,” its Name Authority File (NAF),

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Preface: Aims and Apparatus but even some of these solutions for medieval names resist acceptable critical results in the text and notes of this book. The LC also provides a list of alternative configurations for each name in the NAF. The inconsistencies and disconnects in our references over the last two centuries direct us to a discerning remodeling of our practices to achieve a better informed critical engagement with the nature of frequently cited medieval and early modern names in twenty-first century scholarship. 6

In manuscript studies, majuscule and minuscule have more exact meanings than to designate the “large” and “small” letters of an alphabet or font, respectively, and the student should confirm these uses. In print culture, the broader meanings of the terms are generally considered acceptable. See Michelle Brown’s A Guide toWestern Historical Scripts and the Glossary here.


Like the foregoing note but one, concerned with medieval names, this note is offered to the reader as the author’s rationale for these choices, to explain critical discomfort and a mediation rather than as a polemic. The word “Online,” a handy preposition-noun compound has a reasonably limited and specific range of uses, all pointing in the same direction over the past twenty years. “Online” is used as an adjective (characterizing data, images, activities, functions, journals, and/or text pages accessible by means of a device connected to the Internet) and as an adverbial in a verb phrase (telling how or where a resource is found, an action is taking place or completed, or “how” a person is engaged, as in “Will James is online.” On the other hand, “Net” is a word compression requiring a foregoing apostrophe, a shortened form, out of place in a formal list of critical sources; the nature of books and articles that are born and exist only in an electronic format to be downloaded to a device is not accurately portrayed by “Net.” Such designations probably reflect a preliminary recourse to cover a perceived difference that we can anticipate will soon be — if it is not already — superfluous and silly, and that will eventually be mediated into more telling and useful designations or rendered unnecessary because distinguishing between materials born in print and those born digital requires no extraordinary discretion and is perhaps of little importance in any case.


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An Introduction to Columbus’s Letter

And You commanded that I should not go to the East by land, as it is customary to go, but by a western route, by which until now we do not know in good faith that anyone has gone. Christopher Columbus, “Prologue” (1v.3–6)1

Christopher Columbus returned to the Iberian Peninsula in 1493, bringing with him the raw material for what would become the first published account written by a European eyewitness of what is today known as the West Indies. Columbus’s writing took the form of a letter composed in Spanish and dispatched from Lisbon — its final dateline — or from Palos or Sevilla to Barcelona where the court of Fernando II de Aragón and Isabel I de Castilla was then in residence. A label apparently written by another hand and appended to the Spanish Letter asserts that it was sent to the “Escribano de Racion,” the title of an Aragonese converso courtier called Luis de Santángel, and that the packet that contained the Letter held a second letter, one directed to the king and queen. Columbus wrote his Letter at a time when the news of his voyage could spread through cities and travel from town to town and across seas and political boundaries, reaching thousands of people within days or weeks by means of pamphlets printed with moveable type. Men who knew Columbus wrote that he had earned his living as a bookseller and mapmaker before coming to Spain from Portugal, and Columbus had lived in cities where the court, Church, and universities kept the printing trade vital.2 Columbus, like other city dwellers and readers of his time, had every reason to be aware of printing as the most effective means of proclaiming news and dispersing ideas to as many people as possible in as short as time as possible. The Spanish Letter as it was first made public exists today in a “small folio” in Spanish, probably produced in Barcelona in 1493; in a quarto printing in Spanish that appears more likely to have been produced after the Folio than before it; and in a

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An Introduction to Columbus’s Letter contemporary Spanish manuscript held in the Archivo General de Simancas [the General Archive of Simancas] in the Spanish province of Valladolid. All three are unique. Several Latin versions appeared in quarto in 1493, along with a Latin edition in small octavo format, and most survivors of the Latin printings are represented by multiple copies. No manuscript of the text given in Columbus’s hand survives, and who printed the Folio and when and where remain speculative. That it was printed in Barcelona is likely because the court was in residence there in the spring of 1493. That it was printed between the closing days of March and mid-April of 1493 is also rather likely because of the date of Columbus’s arrival in Lisbon (4 March), the timing of his arrival in Barcelona (around the middle of April), and the date (29 April) attached to the translation of the Latin Letter, matters that will get further attention in the opening chapters.

Why the Folio? The Spanish Folio’s bibliographic status and historical significance are aptly summarized by Samuel Eliot Morison in the preface to his English translation of the folio Letter in Journals and Other Documents as “the first and rarest of all printed Americana” (180). “Rarest,” of course, applies to both the Folio and Quarto because they are unique incunabula. The Folio also has the distinction of being, so far as is known, the “first,” the earliest known printed version of the text, the princeps editio. The fourhundredth anniversary of the first landing was the first occasion at which the Folio was a part of the available documentation of the voyage, and the practical moment at which it took authoritative precedence over the Spanish or Ambrosian quarto, previously considered the editio princeps. No one has proven that Columbus’s hand is the only hand at work in the Letter proper or even the principal hand, and Demetrio Ramos Pérez, Cecil Jane, and others have proposed contrary views that will be explained further on. The Folio’s first-person announcement of Columbus’s success, his predictions of imminent prosperity, and his views of the Caribbean were presumably enhanced by its distribution in printed form. The presses of Western Europe had been in operation for over forty years by 1493, and the first presses in Spain (whose work has survived) date to the early 1470s. While many people living in Spain in 1493 were born before printshops and their books, broadsides, and pamphlets were a part of town life in Spain, printing may be reasonably considered an integral part of the town culture in the 1490s in university and cathedral cities like Barcelona, Burgos, Segovia, Sevilla, Tarragona, Valencia, Valladolid, and Zaragoza (Saragossa). While print was a medium often associated with religious and courtly authority and scholarly and scientific pronouncements, printed books and pamphlets must have been a somewhat accustomed element of culture among Columbus’s courtly and scientific audience. For laborers and sailors whose worlds were less populated with printed materials and who may have heard the Letter read in some public place, the printed form of the Letter may have argued implicitly for its veracity and status. The Letter’s “folio” format means that a broadsheet was printed on four sides,

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An Introduction to Columbus’s Letter the first and last pages of text on one side and the second and third on the other, and when the paper and ink were dry, the broadsheet was folded once down the center to give it two leaves — or, in modern terms, four pages. This printing layout and the folio format are used today to create print newspapers and newsletters, advertising inserts, weekly news magazines, and supermarket scandal sheets, loose-leaf or stapled. In a sense, then, the folio format continues to be used more than five-hundred years later to present time-sensitive information like breaking news and commercial offers, but unlike the dated and numbered issues of newspapers and news weeklies from the eighteenth century forward, the Letter lacks definitive, internal chronology for its printing.3 The Spanish or Ambrosian Quarto, the other contemporary printed source of the Letter in Spanish, represents a smaller print format in its finished dimensions, a scanty pocket-pamphlet, but because it is folded twice and its pages cut open, the Quarto has twice as many printed “leaves” as the Folio, four rather than two, respectively. The Simancas manuscript, also in Spanish, is attested in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, when it is catalogued in the Simancas Archive’s holdings, but the notes of earlier scholars and archivists, barely known to today’s scholars, may have helped to shape the entry that archivist Tomás González had evidently written by 1818. The manuscript’s hand, the circumstances of its conservation in the Royal Archive, its lack of correctives, its scribal imperfections and eccentricities, the presence of a “later hand” numbering its lines, and the consistency of the marks of damage to its surface tend to confirm its being a contemporary document with the Folio and Quarto. Like the Folio, the Simancas manuscript contains text on four sides and was folded to make two “folios” or leaves (1r, 1v, 2r, 2v), or in today’s terms, four “pages.” Someone folded it a second time, however, making it small enough to tuck into a pocket, box, or small desk drawer. Various other forms of the Letter came from presses outside Spain within a short time of its first publication, and in these editions, Columbus’s Letter quickly reached a large and geographically diverse audience. Where the Letter went, people heard or read Columbus’s affirmations of the beauty and economic potential of the islands and his descriptions of accommodating and handsome people receptive to Christian conversion and averse to armed confrontation, residing in landscapes marked by tranquility, beauty, and abundant resources. Columbus’s extravagant phrases must have made stirring reading, and they perhaps taxed the credulity of some readers. The number of editions of the Letter demonstrates that it held, however briefly, significant interest across Europe, and that people in university towns and seaports and those attached to royal and papal courts were likely to have been aware of the contents of the Letter in one way or another. Columbus’s Letter went through at least two printings in Spanish and was produced in Latin, Italian verse, and German between 1493 and 1497, but public interest soon turned to other voyages and their accounts. Beginning around the second quarter of the nineteenth century, interest in Columbus’s first voyage and other Discovery period materials surfaced in publishing of various kinds and continued to develop through the century. The trend of setting up statues and dedicating plazas and other landmarks and public celebrations to


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An Introduction to Columbus’s Letter Columbus became a contagious sort of civic project, and antiquarians specializing in Americana developed collections, including holdings of editions of the Letter, that serve scholars today.4 About mid-century, the Letter’s Spanish quarto printing had been located by accident in Italy, and the Folio surfaced in Spain about 1889. Successive owners quickly produced and marketed legitimate facsimiles of the Folio while less scrupulous individuals turned out forgeries of the Quarto destined for unsuspecting millionaire collectors, one of whom provided NewYork’s Gilded Age newspapers with a continuing “romance” when he sued the London dealer who had sold him the forgery, and the drama was detailed in print and public records. Toward the end of the century, with the approach of the four-hundredth anniversary of the first landfall, enthusiasm over the Letter and all things “Columbus” reached what was surely the apex of widespread, positive attention on the man and his primary success. Legitimate publishers availed themselves of the day’s photographic and printing capabilities to issue facsimiles of the Spanish folio and of various Latin quartos, accompanying the texts with transcriptions and translations, and placing Columbus’s descriptions of the Caribbean and its islanders before a new generation of readers. Book publishing and other mostly honorific efforts toward Columbus the man and his “discovery” through the nineteenth century shaped education and scholarship on Columbus through most of the twentieth century.

Notes 1

The “Prólogo” to the Diario is directed, as is all the Diario, to Isabel and Fernando. Bartolomé’s redaction of the text, with unremarked extensions of abbreviatura, reads as follows: y ordenaron que yo no fuese por tierra al oriente por donde se costumbra de andar: salvo por el camino de occidente: por donde hasta oy no sabemos por çierta fe que aya pasado nadie (1v.3–6). Bartolomé asserts that the prologue, “which he [Columbus] wrote to the king and queen,” va a la letra [is copied verbatim] (1r.6–7). A good number of commentators are skeptical of Bartolomé’s word on the latter score, of his hand in editing the Diario generally, and of his testimony concerning Columbus. Also see chapter 1 of this book, notes 42 and 66. 2 In his Historia de los reyes de Castilla (1856 edition), Andrés Bernáldez, a contemporary historian and churchman of Sevilla, writes, Obo un hombre de Génova, Mercader de libros de Estampa, que trataba en esta tierra de la Vandalucia, que llamaban Christoval de Colon, hombre de muy alto ingenio, sin saber muchas letras, muy diestro en el arte de la Cosmografia, e del repartir el Mundo. . . . [There was a man from Genoa, a merchant in printed books, who used to do business in this land of Andalucía, who was called Christopher Columbus, a man of very great genius, without much education, very skillful in the art of cosmography and in map-making] (269). Bernáldez’s chapter 118 (“De como fueron descubiertas las Indias” [sic]) opens with a description of Columbus. Also see chapter 1 of this book, note 67. 3

Sandra Hindman places the folio Letter in a category with modern newspapers since “they were certainly meant to be folded because they have an actual title page” (83), but the folio Letter lacks titles of any kind, and there is no space for titles. It is a commonplace that certain broadsides and printings in single folio served as “newspapers” of the time.


I am thinking specifically of the collections of John Carter Brown (d. 1874) and James Lenox (d. 1880). On the later lives, deaths, and bequests of Brown and Lenox, see George Parker Winship (History, esp. 35–37) and Henry Stevens (Recollections, esp. 13–14), respectively. It appears that John Boyd Thacher’s collection may have continued to be developed until his premature death in 1909. See Frederick W. Ashley on Thacher’s work and his final illness and death (esp. 16).

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1 Discovery and commerce: a Letter in folio Printings like the Spanish folio Letter, issued as a single folded sheet, slight in substance and unprotected by boards or cradling leaves, were somewhat unlikely to survive the passing of public and academic interest in the late fifteenth century when waste paper would be repurposed in ways that came to hand in homes, markets, and shops. The Letter’s odds of survival improved when some unknown hand gathered it up with two Latin manuscripts, one concerning Saint Leocadia, a Spanish saint connected with the Cathedral at Toledo, and the other dealing with taxation in the Low Countries. The three documents were stitched together and tucked away, perhaps within a decade of the Letter’s coming from the press, but likely not before mid-year 1502. In this gathering of leaves, the Letter lay hidden from the public eye for nearly four centuries. A Parisian antiquarian book dealer, Jean-Victor Maisonneuve, purchased the gathering — possibly in Toledo, probably in 1889 — and like thousands of other Spanish documents before them, these three traveled to Paris. Unlike those earlier émigrés, these would not return to Spain. Maisonneuve issued a limited edition facsimile of the Letter in 1889 and advertised the original in the firm’s 1889 catalogue as No. 53, set under the heading “Christophe Colomb.”1 Maisonneuve marketed the Folio as a “historical and bibliographical treasure absolutely unrivaled in the world,” an item that would be the most precious holding of any American repository.2 He describes it as a “small folio” of two leaves or four pages, printed in gothic characters with forty-seven lines of printing to the page except the last (having sixteen lines), and having no title or colophon or any indication of its printer or its date or place of production. Maisonneuve notes that the Folio’s first leaf bears damage on the lower sections where several words had been lost, but he makes no further remarks on condition.3 It is noteworthy that Maisonneuve recognizes the Folio as the sole example of the “original Spanish text” and correctly sets its place in the Letter’s publishing hierarchy as the editio princeps, giving it priority over the Spanish quarto that had been so considered until that time.4 Elements of this remarkably accurate summary of the Letter’s salient features and significance will be repeated by its subsequent owners without reference to Maisonneuve, who sold the collation of documents, evidently

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Discovery and Commerce intact, to Bernard Quaritch, one of London’s foremost antiquarian book dealers. Quaritch’s 1891 catalogue offered the items for re-sale, describing the Letter’s format as “a large pamphlet of two leaves or four pages, in a quadrate small folio” (48). In the same year, Quaritch issued his own facsimile of the Folio, this one edited with a historical introduction (“Preface”), transcription, translation, and notes by Michael P. Kerney. The earliest owners’ descriptions of the Folio and its accompanying Latin manuscripts have produced mixed assertions about the Folio’s preservation. A twenty-first century luxury Quaritch printing concerned with the Folio’s history, for example, features an introductory bibliographic essay describing the Folio as having been discovered recycled in the binding of an old book, revealed therein as “two shabby leaves of early printing bound as endpapers,” a “flimsy bit” which “the printer evidently despised as ephemera” and used in binding.5 The story continues with “the owner” (whether Maisonneuve or the person who sold it to him is not clear) having the leaves “steamed . . . off ” because he had recognized the two printed leaves as the Columbus Letter. The essayist writes that Maisonneuve then entered “them” into his sales catalogue at the asking price of 65,000 francs and eventually sold “them” to Quaritch (x–xi). This essay, then, presents the Letter and manuscripts as having been used as binding material by a “printer” and then spotted in the binding and recognized for what they were by a nineteenth-century owner who detached the materials by a steam process. A academic journal reviewer of the aforesaid volume affirms that the Spanish folio Letter was disposed of to be used as binding material and concludes that “this propaganda sheet issued by the thousands would have left no trace had a printer of incunabula not used copies as endpapers in binding” and had “the owner of the Parisian Librairie Maisonneuve” not “[come] across these leaves, steamed them off, and [correctly] identified them.”6 In spite of helpful elements in the original essay and those in its review, it is important to note, among other things, that printers and binders represent two different fifteenth-century trades, that there are no “copies” of the Letter or fragments of “copies” now known, and that the statements of Maisonneuve and Quaritch catalogues, along with the information and images in the earliest facsimiles (1889, 1891, 1893) and the physical appearance of the Folio and its Latin companions today, make it pretty clear that the Folio’s discovery and its physical configuration at the time was distinct from that imagined by the essayist and this reviewer.7 While the matter of whether the Folio is aptly — and pejoratively — described as a “propaganda sheet” and whether it was printed by “the thousands” are questions that I will address further on, the issue of the Letter’s having been “recycled” ephemera “steamed off ” a bound book is of more immediate concern. Copies of the Folio and other printings of the Letter may indeed have been recycled into bindings, as that was one of the common fates of discarded printings and other print shop waste conveyed to binders from printers. Parchment leaves and scraps taken from dismembered manuscript codices are routinely being discovered in the process of conservation and restoration of later codices, and fires, flooding, armed conflict, intemperate environmental conditions, and rough handling also produce

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Discovery and Commerce such discoveries. In older books on our own shelves, ephemera slip into sight as spines and hinges break down.The folio Letter, however, does not show marks of injudicious trimming and none of the dark, brown animal-hide-based glue of early binders — or any such glue — streaks or spots the surface. No tearing or sloughing from its surfaces having been adhered together or to other surfaces is visible either.8 On the contrary, the Folio is a complete, intact, and legible two-sided broadsheet printed as 1r, 1v, 2r, 2v, with generous margins, and it is complete as it stands. The stitching holes that held the Letter and the two Latin documents together remain visible and consistent along the gutter (the spine or folded) edges, telling us that the three were sewn together as a collation of documents, a matter that I will return to below.9 No one who has owned the Letter has presented it as originally a part of the binding of another book.

The Latin Manuscripts Maisonneuve’s 1889 Catalogue de quelques ouvrages rares et precieux sur l’amérique [Catalogue of rare and valuable works on America] describes the two manuscripts accompanying the Letter: the first are fragments, and second are whole manuscript leaves, all “preceding” the Letter: “Ce rarissime document est précédé de fragments et d’une page manuscrite, recto et verso” (38, italics added). The fragments and manuscript pages are written on “recto and verso,” and the latter (une page manuscrite) is dated 1497 and appears to have come from the administrative offices of the Holy See (“de la curie romaine”) under Pope Alexander VI.10 Kerney’s description of the configuration of the manuscripts and the printed Letter in Quaritch’s 1891 facsimile romanticizes somewhat the discovery of the Letter and Columbus’s achievement, but Kerney makes it clear that it was not the Letter that cradled the manuscript leaves and also that no more than the first two leaves were “glued” — along their gutter edge to join them as a reading unit and not as fodder for binding — while the whole is “stitched”: Four leaves of contemporary paper are stitched with it [the Letter], and have been no doubt its companions for nearly four hundred years. Of those four leaves, the first and second are glued together, and the whole four [i.e., manuscript leaves], as we may perceive from looking at the first of them, have served as “end-paper” and “fly-leaves” in a book in which the folio Letter was preserved from the year 1497 until some curious hand extracted it. There is writing on all the four leaves. The matter which fills the third and fourth was written evidently in Bruges in 1497; the matter contained in the first and second [. . .] is in the same hand, but has a direct Spanish interest. (20)11 Kerney’s comments, along with Maisonneuve’s, contest the NewYork Public Library’s catalogue description of the Latin leaves as being located “at end,” and what Kerney means by “book” or why he uses the phrase — perhaps based on information from Maisonneuve — is impossible to say with certainty. Kerney’s stipulation that the manuscripts are “prefixed” to the Letter (21) and Maisonneuve’s description that the Letter


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Discovery and Commerce “est précédé” by the manuscripts are in sync with the physical evidence of the leaves. Kerney’s comparison of their functionality to that of “end paper” and “fly leaves” may lead some readers to infer that the Latin manuscripts cradled the Letter, but his meaning is figurative rather than literal, as his quotation marks indicate.12 Kerney’s wording suggests that both folded sheets were set to precede the Letter and that the whole was stitched together, making flyleaves and endpapers of the manuscript leaves. Progressively greater damage through the leaves and the Letter and certain identical imprints of damage leaf to leaf are physical evidence that the leaves were collated to precede the Letter as Maisonneuve and Kerney affirm, and with the Leocadia manuscript on top, as Maisonneuve asserts with his descriptive “fragments,” and as Kerney implies from his view of its having suffered the greater damage: “as we may perceive from looking at the first of them.”13 The extent of loss and damage on the uppermost manuscript leaves may lead an observer to think that the little group lay without any cover, open to the elements through the years of their storage. They may have done so; nonetheless, the small beasts that attack boards, parchment, and paper are well adapted to get between the boards and the first and final pages of a codex where they can do a great deal of damage.14 The physical evidence suggests either that these leaves, stitched together, comprised the first gathering of the collation of a larger book from which they were removed, or else that the folio Letter and its two companions formed a separate gathering. Either way, the collation, rather than being intended as flyleaves and endpapers, served the purpose de facto, as Kerney’s analogy proposes, and the gathering of the Letter and Latin documents appears to have remained intact at Kerney’s writing. Both Maisonneuve’s 1889 and Quaritch’s 1891 facsimiles of the Letter indicate that the Letter remained sewn with the other leaves at the time of the photography, and the 1891 reproduction of the Letter’s first recto at full size shows thread and careful stitching along the spine edge of the first recto.15

Speculating on the compiler The significance and the texts of these leaves remain to be systematically examined. It is reasonably clear, however, that Maisonneuve’s “fragments” and Kerney’s “first of them” refer to the badly damaged manuscript concerned with St. Leocadia, the virgin martyr and patron saint of Toledo, material that, as Kerney writes, “has a direct Spanish interest.” Kerney’s “third and fourth” leaves, datelined Bruges 1497, also touch Spain because they are concerned with Philippe, Archduke of the Netherlands and husband to Juana de Castilla. Kerney proposes Philippe as the link between the two manuscripts, observing that Philippe and Juana’s restoring a relic of St. Leocadia’s to Toledo connects them to the manuscript.16 For Kerney, this explanation of relevance, privileging Philippe’s role in the relic transaction, helps “to account for the conjunction of the Leocadia legend and the Bruges Council decree in the manuscript leaves” (21), but Philippe’s policy missteps coming to the attention of the Pope (the second document) and his public appearance in Toledo with Juana do not account for the collation of the Columbus Letter with the first two documents; the Letter evidently predates both the documents, and was printed three years before Philippe’s marriage to Juana in 1496.

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Discovery and Commerce The movements of Juana and Philippe in the first years of the sixteenth century, however, remain suggestive in the context of considering how this collation came to exist. In 1501, Juana and Philippe undertook to travel from Belgium to Spain, making the journey overland contrary to Isabel’s wishes and at Philippe’s insistence, apparently so that Philippe might make a state visit to France en route to Spain where he would arrange a marriage between his son and Queen Anne’s infant daughter. Philippe’s itinerary took Juana for the first time close to Saint-Ghislain Abbey where the relics of St. Leocadia, the patron saint of Toledo, Juana’s birthplace, had lain since the eleventh century.17 When Archduchess Juana requested from Saint-Ghislain’s abbot a relic of St. Leocadia’s to be taken to Toledo, she was gifted with the saint’s “right shin bone” for the purpose.18 The year was 1502 by the time that Philippe and Juana reached Spain, traveling through the Cantabrian Mountains and other challenging Spanish landscapes through the winter. Feted by the nobles residing along their route, they remained in Madrid (not yet the capital) for over a month. Their entourage was again delayed when Philippe contracted smallpox, and they eventually reached Toledo where they were honored with further official ceremonies. Following the deaths of her older siblings, the stillbirth of her brother’s only child, and the death of her young nephew in recent years, Juana’s succession to the throne of Castilla was apparent, and her right was confirmed in 1502 at Toledo where Spain’s Cortes officially named Juana “Princess of Asturias” and heiress to Castilla and León.19 Philippe was declared her “prince consort” — apparently a lesser homage than the Archduke felt was his due. In the nineteenth century, José María Quadrado Nieto dated the event and described the fatality that has since been connected with the investiture in Toledo: Proclamados en aquella catedral á 22 de Mayo de 1502 sucesores á la corona Juana la Loca y Felipe el Hermoso, la heredaron en verdad, bien que con auspicios poco afortunados, que de los dos consortes el uno perdió la vida y la otra la razón en lo más florido de sus años. [Proclaimed successors to the crown in that cathedral on the 22nd of May 1502, Juana (the Insane) and Felipe (the Fair) inherited it indeed, notwithstanding scarcely favorable signs, in that one of the two sovereigns lost his life and the other her reason in their most productive years.] (II 266) Both misfortunes have been blamed on Fernando, who was soon displeased with Philippe and with Juana and anxious to preserve his reign in Castilla, and whose name and interests will shortly enter into the dissemination of the Letter through Europe.20 Having been duly invested and having presented the first of St. Leocadia’s relics to the Cathedral, the young royals continued their journey, and the Cortes of Aragón gave Philippe approbation as Juana’s king consort following the death of Fernando, but the enlarged gesture apparently failed to appease Philippe, and he refused to adopt Fernando’s point of view in regard to France.21 Philippe soon departed Spain, leaving Juana, about to deliver her fourth child, behind, fretting over his absence.22 Although both Philippe and Juana took part in public religious ceremonies over the period of their stay in Spain, the restoration of that sizeable relic of the saint to


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Discovery and Commerce Juana’s home cathedral of Toledo and Juana’s investiture created a political and religious event of high importance, particularly for those connected to the Cathedral and to the Cortes. The Leocadia document then, touches a matter more closely connected to Toledo and to Juana than to Philippe, recalling a time when Juana and Philippe’s marriage was highly vulnerable to internal and external tensions and also highly visible politically, when public actions and royal events, besides possessing great significance in the moment to those who participated in them, produced telling portents of future alliances, rifts, and trajectories. Honors and ceremonies that validated Juana’s position, Philippe apparently perceived as degrading to himself, and with a few years’ hindsight, the events at Toledo could be considered a touchstone, as Quadrado Nieto indicates, for the fatality that followed Juana and Philippe.23 The second manuscript document included with the Letter and dated in May 1497 at Bruges is concerned with Philippe as sovereign of the Netherlands, a geography that comprises present-day Holland and Belgium.24 Maisonneuve, as I note above, emphasizes this manuscript’s connection to the Spanish Pope Alexander VI (38), who ascended to the papal throne in August 1492 as Columbus was preparing the first voyage, and who figured decisively into Spanish and Portuguese negotiations over New World rights in the spring of 1493.25 Kerney identifies the document as an Appellatio protesting “the harsh and exorbitant imposition of imperial taxes upon the people of the Low Countries” (20–21).26 This method of taxation, according to Kerney, “had terribly injured the states and caused many persons to fly the country” including “heads of ecclesiastical foundations” (21), an effect suggesting a rationale for the interest of the Roman curia.27 This “Bruges” document related specifically to Philippe is dated in 1497, and it seems likely that the heavily damaged “Leocadia” manuscript may not have existed until later, perhaps, as Kerney speculates, around the time when interest in St. Leocadia was awakened at the restoration of her first relic to the Cathedral in 1502. Chronologically, then, the Columbus Letter was probably the first of these documents to come into existence, the “Bruges” document is likely the second, and the “Leocadia” document, the last. The fact that the Latin documents are written in at least two different fifteenth-century hands rather than in a single hand may be taken as loosening the chronology and geography attached to their respective productions.28 Unfortunately, nothing more than guesswork topped off with surmise can suggest what interests and circumstances brought these documents together, who might have been responsible for making the collation, and at what date. The three documents were collated and then apparently stored and forgotten for the better part of four-hundred years somewhere in Spain, possibly in Toledo. It is interesting that the Latin documents and the collation as an entity have had virtually no attention since Maisonneuve and Kerney described them, yet these papers are important because they worked at the outset, before type comparisons or other bibliographic studies were applied, to establish the authenticity of the Letter as a fifteenth-century printing. Perhaps prepared by Kerney, the text of the Quaritch Rough List of 16 April 1891 associates the Letter with Toledo: “[. . .] it would seem that the unique letter and the leaves of MS were put together just as they are now in Toledo in 1502,” and he sub-

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Discovery and Commerce sequently refers to their being found “not many months ago . . . in Spain” (47–48).29 The place name and the fact that the collation is still “put together” in April 1891 are the sole specifics of the catalogue text. Kerney, in his 1891 “Note” to Quaritch’s facsimile edition of the Letter, supposes that someone connected with Toledo who was included in Juana’s entourage to the Netherlands in 1496 “carried away” the Letter to the Netherlands, and that “the same man” accompanied the couple to Spain in 1501–1502 (21) and assembled the gathering, not before 1502. This incredibly wellreasoned scenario requires fairly complicated comings and goings to get the grouping back to Spain intact, which may be entirely possible, but the Columbus Letter stands out as the odd document by chronology, geography, and language. While we await better-informed scenarios for the collation, storage, and survival of the flimsy little gathering that formerly included the Letter, one can only say with any certainty that the documents survived through most of four centuries by the grace of inertia and secure Spanish walls that allowed certain elements to reach them but kept them safe from utter destruction. Toledo, a city of importance during the reign of Fernando and Isabel, is a suggestive place name to associate with the forgotten Letter and Latin manuscripts. Besides being a favorite locale for the sovereigns,30 it was the home of some of Spain’s most powerful churchmen and the seat of important Spanish nobles. Among them, Pedro González de Mendoza, for example, the Cardinal and Archbishop of Sevilla and Toledo, was counselor and confidant to Isabel and to Pope Alexander VI and was known as a proponent of Columbus’s proposal to the sovereigns.31 González de Mendoza’s successor as Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Francisco Ximenes (Jiménez) de Cisneros, presided over the Mass that preceded the investiture of Juana in 1502 in the Cathedral of Toledo. In 1512, Columbus’s elder son, Diego Colón, appealed to Ximenes de Cisneros in a letter from the New World because the Cardinal was “the man most likely to influence the King [Fernando] favorably.”32 Diego is himself connected with Toledo, and he died at La Puebla de Montalbán near the city in 1526. These connections to Toledo and to Columbus intersect matters touching Juana and coincide with the Church’s interests during the Borgia papacy (August 1492– August 1503), suggesting various candidates for the compiler of the gathering under discussion. The three documents must have been among the papers of a person whose name we would recognize today, someone who was either a part of the court at Barcelona in 1493 or who had connections in the court who saw to it that he — or she — received a copy of the folio Letter.

Authenticity and the Folio The folio Letter was re-delivered to the world in such a way that whatever doubt was publicly expressed concerning its authenticity was quickly quelled, and in 1892, it was transferred to the Lenox Library in New York for “a stupendous price” but with minimal fuss at about the time Quaritch had completed his “third anniversary” publication of Columbus materials.33 The folio Letter had the confidence of antiquarian book dealers and collectors partly because it was bound with those two contemporary


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Discovery and Commerce documents, hand-written and dated or datable to the period of the Letter, and all bore consistent and coherent marks of loss and damage among themselves. The stature of those who assessed and described the Letter also contributed to the confidence placed in its authenticity. Maisonneuve, Quaritch, and Kerney were among the first to see the folio Letter in the nineteenth century, and after the Lenox Library acquired it, the Letter went into the care of the respected Lenox librarian Wilberforce Eames. Maisonneuve and Quaritch were long-established as scholarly publishers and discerning antiquarians of international repute before the discovery of the Folio. Kerney, a linguist and Quaritch’s chief cataloguer and “trusted literary advisor,” was deservedly honored for the breadth of knowledge he brought to his task, as his self-effacing editorial and critical work and the accolades accorded to him at his passing indicate.34 Eames was Assistant Lenox Librarian under George Henry Moore at the time of the Folio’s purchase, and his work on the Folio further contributed to public confidence in it.35 The Folio’s early owners, then, enjoyed the advantage of solid textual evidence and beneficial business relationships and understood from the outset the nature and import of what they had found. Without any internal information identifying its printer or its place and date of printing, Kerney set the Folio’s dateline as Barcelona, before the middle of April 1493 in Quaritch’s 1891 edition of the Folio, and in the 1893 edition, Kerney proposed, based on a match of types, that “Johann Rosenbach” must have printed the folio Letter.36 Konrad Haebler, a scholar of Western European incunabula, did not demur from Kerney’s view of the printer’s identity at first, writing in 1897 that “no reasons can be adduced why he should not be right,” but by 1900, Haebler’s investigations led him to assign the work to Pere (Pedro) Posa.37 Haebler makes his determination of Posa appear definitive with the first volume of Bibliografía ibérica (BI 1903), writing that those who understand the matter are in accord on Posa: “[P]ero hoy día concuerdan los entendidos en que es obra de Pedro Posa” (68 No. 152). On the other hand, American historian and collector of incunabula John Boyd Thacher rejected Posa as the Letter’s printer in his 1903 work on Columbus, basing his determination on typography.38 The tentative nature of the printing data remains apparent in Salvador Sanpere y Miguel’s cautious phrasing in 1905: he wrote, “[I]t is believed” that the Columbus Letter was printed by Posa, “naturally, in 1493.”39 Haebler, nevertheless, further confirms his determination in Geschichte de spanischen Frühdruckes in stammbäumen (GS 1923) with graphic comparisons of fonts. Haebler’s conclusion on Posa has been echoed without further modification for over a hundred years, presented as fact in virtually every academic and popular book and on every website that touches the subject and in the New York Public Library’s catalogue.40

Dating the Letter and covering the miles Like critical views on the identity of the Folio’s printer, views on the supposed date of the Letter have relied on external documents and comparative methods, and though scholars generally agree on the nature of the problem and its basic solution, significant questions remain. Ideas about dating the Letter’s composition and its dispatch to the

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Discovery and Commerce court affect speculation about when it could have been printed. A postscript (a nema or attachment) to the Folio is dated March 14 with fecha ha quatorze dias de marzo [done on the 14th day of March] (2v.13), and the Spanish quarto version of the Letter agrees,41 as does the Latin version, whose final words give the date as “the day before the Ides of March,” the fourteenth, therefore. In spite of this documentary agreement in chronology, historians and bibliographers have long rejected March 14, based on Columbus’s Diario, the shipboard journal of the first crossing, and on Hernando Colón’s account of his father’s return to Spain.42 Most commentators concur that March 4th should be the date on the postscript. Martín Fernández de Navarrete, who discovered Bartolomé de las Casas’s transcript of Columbus’s Diario and edited the Simancas manuscript, writes in Viages (1825) that his close examination of the date in the Simancas manuscript reveals that it is iiii marzo, written in poorly executed or damaged Roman numerals.43 F.A.Varnhagen (as “Volafan,” 1858), citing the Diario, accepts March 4 as the correct date (25), and Richard H. Major (Select 1870) reviews the case for the correction to the Quarto (the “Ambrosian text”) and Latin editions. Major examines the matter from the perspectives of accounts in the Diario (i.e., that Columbus got into Lisbon on the fourth of March and determined to write to “their Highnesses”) and in Hernando’s biography of Columbus (i.e., that from Lisbon Columbus dispatched a letter to the sovereigns telling them of his news). Major, however, entertained another scenario.44 Founding his case on the account of seventeenth-century historian Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, Major suggests that Columbus altered the date (iiii to xiiii) because his observations of the Portuguese made him wary of dispatching a letter from Lisbon, so he withheld the letter written to the sovereigns until he was in safe territory at Palos, and when Columbus was off Cape St. Vincent, he altered the “remote date” to one more in accord with the date when he would be able to forward his letter to the court.45 Major’s theory has a natural plausibility in representing a resort that many a procrastinating letter writer has employed when a letter has been sitting too long, and this one would have been easy: the Roman numeral iiii, altered to xiiii. Thacher (1903), however, sustains March 4th as an emendation of an error, and Samuel Eliot Morison does the same in his Columbus biography of 1942, sustaining his view in Journals twenty years later, based on the Diario.46 Carlos Sanz concurs with Morison, but he forwards the eccentric thesis that Columbus gave the wrong date (the fourteenth) to cover “his infidelity” toward the Spanish crown.47 The New York Public Library, in a brochure by Claudia Funke, Rare Books Librarian at the time (1991), gives “after March 4” as the date of the Letter, acknowledging the chronology of the postscript as emended by its critics. The British Library’s Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) follows suit with “March 4,” bracketing the date to indicate its tentative nature. In keeping with the long tradition of editorial work on the Letter, Juan Gil and Consuelo Varela’s second edition of Columbus documents offers a corrective note to the Letter’s dateline based on the Diario’s entry of March 4th, confirming Columbus’s having written to Fernando and Isabel.48


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Discovery and Commerce Any port in a storm: From Lisbon to Barcelona In the Diario’s March 4th entry, Columbus writes that he “ran into this port in Lisbon today” because he was “unable to do otherwise,” and his account in the Diario of the storms and the fears and losses they occasioned expands those references in the Letter. When Columbus entered the Tagus (the “River of Lisbon”), Niña had been driven well off course, west and north of Columbus’s intended point of entry into Spain, and the ship had sustained crippling damage in the storms. He could not, with a realistic expectation of success, have headed further north to Galicia or have turned due south and then east toward Palos along the coast of Portugal, as Morison notes, with his ship unfit for sailing and men who had endured weeks of storms, their food supplies and health over-taxed by the extended time and unforeseen troubles at sea.49 Columbus also records in the March 4th entry that he has written to King João affirming his affiliation with Spain and asserting explicit permission from the Spanish sovereigns to resort to the Portuguese if necessary, making payment for any help he receives from them. Columbus writes that he asked João’s permission to proceed to Lisbon, clarifying from whence he has come: not from Portuguese Guinea, but from the Indies.50 The Diario records that locals near the entrance to the Tagus witnessed Niña’s storm-tossed arrival with prayers and wonder, and Columbus’s presence in Portugal over the coming days and his departure from Lisbon are documented by the Portuguese court.51 On the morning of March 13th, a month to the day after Columbus’s last sighting of Pinta in the storm, the restored Niña departs Lisbon, bound for Sevilla. The Diario’s March 14th entry refers to Niña’s sailing the previous day through Portuguese waters, and before sunrise on the fourteenth, she is off Cape St. Vincent. After sailing all day on the fourteenth with little wind — the Diario is not specific about the hour — Niña is off Faro, Portugal’s southernmost coastal town. Still sailing under little wind after sunset on the fourteenth, Columbus finds himself at dawn on the fifteenth at the Saltes. He arrives at Palos shortly after noon,52 and he closes the Diario with the March 15th entry.53 An effort to suggest where the letters mentioned in the postscript were during those intervening days and how Columbus might have decided to use them in getting word of the success of his project to the Spanish court involves a few tantalizing records and — again — much speculation based on relationships, motives, chronology, and geography. Had Columbus’s letters left Lisbon while he was detained there, the packet carrying them could have arrived at Palos or at Puerto Santa María within a few days of leaving Lisbon and have been sent from there to the court overland as Columbus went, or by sea as he had planned to go, arriving in Barcelona before March 20, in a little over two weeks.54 It is virtually a given that Columbus would have attempted to send his news to Spain from Lisbon “early and often,” as today’s expression about voting goes, and clear enough from records of his news reaching disparate locations that he was able to do so through contacts at Lisbon.55 Dispatches from Lisbon would move hundreds of miles over the eight or nine days before Columbus was able to lift anchor on the thirteenth, and with so much at stake, he could do nothing less than make the highest and best use of those days.56

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Discovery and Commerce A letter datelined 19 March 1493 at Cogolludo and held in the Simancas Archive suggests a possible land route and some parameters of chronology for the folio Letter or one very much like it.57 Written presumably in the hand of a secretary and signed Luys in the hand of Luis [Luys] de la Cerda, the first Duke of Medinaceli (Medina Celi), the letter is addressed to el Gran Cardenal Pedro González de Mendoza, Archbishop of Toledo, mentioned above as a supporter of Columbus, and the Duke’s maternal uncle.58 The Duke urges the Cardinal to support his petition to the Queen59 to be permitted to send his ships to the newly discovered lands each year and affirms his claim to partake in the enterprise: Luis had hosted Columbus for two years in his home at Puerto Santa María before the voyage and had been willing to forge an agreement with Columbus supplying the ships, crews, and provisions for the voyage of exploration that Columbus proposed.60 Protocol apparently constrained the Duke from doing so without royal permission, and he sent word of the prospective agreement to court, at which point the queen asked for Columbus to come to her. According to Luis, Isabel had agreed to give him some part in the enterprise that was eventually funded, and in his letter to his uncle, he asks for his uncle’s support in getting the promise of the privilege fulfilled.61 The Duke, keen to reap profits in shipping and goods, tells his uncle that he has already sent the news to the queen “by Xuares” (Juárez) before writing to the Archbishop, suggesting that he may have had word from Columbus on the previous day. News leaving the Duke of Medinaceli’s palace at Cogolludo would travel about 350 miles to arrive at Barcelona, perhaps a journey of eight to ten days for a messenger in a hurry, so if the Duke’s letter to the queen left his hands no later than March 19, the day he wrote to his uncle, Luis’s message would have been in Isabel’s hands some days before the end of March.62 The Duke’s letter, dated about two weeks after Niña’s arrival at Lisbon, implies that he has heard from Columbus at Lisbon and that Columbus has returned after about eight months, having found all that he went looking for: [P]uede aver ocho meses que partio y agora el es venido de vuelta a Lisbona y ha hallado todo lo que buscaua y muy complidamente. Besides the timing of the voyage and its success, the Duke’s letter relates that he had Columbus’s news by March 19th from Lisbon, that he had the news ahead of the sovereigns (according to his understanding), that he had already dispatched a letter to the court, and that he had reason to recognize the potential commercial importance of the voyage. It is fairly clear from the existence of the message that Columbus found an ally in Lisbon with whom he could trust his messenger and/or his message.63 If the message went by sea, it may have come into Spain at Puerto de Santa María or Palos, and Santa María seems to be a more likely choice because while Columbus had friends at La Rábida, Palos was Pinzón territory, and the Duke of Medinaceli held the lordship (el Señorio) of Puerto Santa María, where he kept a household and men. Juan de la Cosa, who had supported Columbus with the flagship Santa María,was a resident there, and he was aboard Niña when Columbus reached Portugal. Both Luis and Juan had personal resources at Puerto Santa María as well as strong financial motives to forward Columbus’s enterprise. What seems little likely is that Columbus would have held onto his letters to his supporters in Spain or his letter to the sovereigns while he was detained and in some danger in Portugal and also constantly aware that


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Discovery and Commerce Pinzón might be stealing a march on him.64 It is more likely that Columbus would have acted swiftly to get his news to court, and that the Duke, Columbus’s friend and advocate, had word of — if not from — Columbus no later than March 19th argues that case. In the Diario’s entry of March 15th, Columbus says that he has heard in Palos that the court is in Barcelona and declares that he will go there by ship, but he does not. His plans change quickly, and he travels to Sevilla, whence Columbus sends un correo al rey e a la reina [a dispatch/correspondence to the king and queen], according to Bartolomé de las Casas’s Historia de las Indias, and where Columbus receives letters from them, remaining there, then, long enough for that exchange to take place before he sets out for Barcelona (Historia LXXVII). Columbus’s date of arrival in Barcelona is uncertain, but most commentators agree that he arrived there via a fairly straightforward inland route running through Córdoba,65 and Bartolomé writes (Historia) that Columbus arrived in Barcelona in “the middle” of April.66 Andrés Bernáldez, a contemporary churchman and historian, writes in his Historia that Columbus was “muy bien recibido” [very well-received] in Barcelona (277),67 and the Italian Peter Martyr d’Anghera (Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, Pedro Mártir), a member of the Spanish court, writes in his De Orbe Novo that Columbus was received at court by the king and queen with “appropriate honor.” 68

Commissioning the printing Who caused the Letter to be printed cannot be accurately determined with documents so far known, but Columbus, for various reasons, is suggested or denied as a possibility. Kerney objects that Columbus’s printing the Letter on his own would have been “a sort of suicide” (30), presumably spelling the death of his expectations for titles, governance, and wealth because of the offence his printing the Letter would have given the crown, and that for such reasons of decorum, Luis de Santángel would not have done so either (30).69 Kerney proposes that what is most likely is that someone got hands on the Letter through Santángel with a pledge to return it “within twenty-four hours” and “smitten with the desire to obtain a few copies for communication to his own friends,” took it to be printed in order to circulate it among them (30).70 Kerney writes that Columbus “could have had no interest in making his discoveries known to the world through the press” — unlike those world travelers of Kerney’s day who sought “notoriety and pecuniary gain” from publishing their travel accounts — but instead was fully gratified by his new title, the sovereigns’ favor, and his prospects for a second voyage, giving him no motive to have the Letter printed. About forty years after Kerney, Jane opines that Columbus did just that, securing royal permission to publish his announcement, but Jane stipulates that Columbus had to have been authorized as well to use the title “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” before the Letter was printed.71 Neither man’s speculation is grounded in a contemporary source, but Jane’s, in part, seems the more plausible of the two because it is arguable that the printed Letter benefited Columbus whether or not he saw it done. It is also true that Columbus knew the power of the press to communicate a message quickly to large numbers of people, had the financial means to print the Letter, and possessed a range of com-

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Discovery and Commerce pelling personal motives to do so. Columbus had reason to know printers and businessmen in the port of Sevilla, where at least one printer — Pedro Brun — had longstanding ties to Posa and other Barcelona printers, but Columbus had no known association with any Barcelona printer.72 It is likely that disseminating news of Columbus’s “victory” by means of the printed Letter and similar messages that went across Spain and into Italy materially affected interest and participation in the second voyage. It launched nearly six times as many ships as the first voyage, a total of seventeen, with their crews, as well as passengers who would aid the commercial enterprises and settlements Columbus had envisioned. Much in Columbus’s actions before and after the first voyage, his drive to convince important people of the rightness of his project, and his being on intimate terms with the pen and the printing press might lead a reasonable person to suppose that Columbus was capable of having the Letter printed because he found it righteous and exigent to do so. The answer to who commissioned the printing, nevertheless, hangs on the future discovery of a relevant document — very much like the matter of assigning a printer to the Folio.

Notes 1

I adopt 1889 as the most likely year for the discovery and purchase of the folio Letter by Maisonneuve. I can find no months of the year given for Maisonneuve’s two 1889 publications related to the Letter and consider it likely that Maisonneuve located and purchased the Folio and its accompanying sheets sometime in that year. In marketing his limited edition facsimile of the Letter (1889), Maisonneuve writes that it was “récemment découvert en Espagne” (45–46). Note that below the offer for this facsimile in Maisonneuve’s catalogue, he advertises a copy of Varnhagen’s 1869 variorum edition of the Letter (46). In dating the discovery of the Letter and its manuscript companions for Quaritch’s publications, Kerney writes “last year” (9) for the 1891 edition and “two years ago” for the 1893 edition (xiii). Though Kerney may have written his text the previous year in each case without updating for the actual year of publication, even that scenario does not entirely resolve the dating disconnect. In Paris, Henry Vignaud, who would possibly have had superior access to Maisonneuve’s information for his 1911 work (Histoire Critique), writes that the Folio was discovered “en 1889 par Maisonneuve” (II 240). Wilberforce Eames traces the Library’s acquisition of the folio Letter in an 1892 edition released by the Lenox Library; he refers to the Spanish Letter as having been found in 1890 (viii), apparently a mistake, perhaps adopted from Kerney’s 1891 essay. An anonymous writer in an 1889 issue of The Nation reviews Maisonneuve’s facsimile publication (397), an indication of the year of Maisonneuve’s discovery of the Folio. 2 “Ce trésor historique et bibliographique, absolument sans rival dans le monde entier, est la pièce la plus précieuse qui puisse orner un Musée ou une Bibliothèque américaine” (Maisonneuve catalogue 39). In quotations from Maisonneuve’s catalogue, I suppress instances of continuous capitals. 3

Maisonneuve’s catalogue description reads: “Petit in-folio espagnol en caractères gothiques” (38). The description of loss and damage reads, “Le premier feuillet de la Lettre a les parties inférieures attaquées par la vétusté, deux ou trois mots du texte ont été enlevés” (38–39). Maisonneuve provides faithful measurements of the Folio: page height at 28.5 cm. or a little over 11.22 in. (“[h]auteur des marges: 285 mill.”) and width at 21.0 cm. or 8.27 in. (“largeur: 210 mill.”). He measures the height of 47 lines of print at 24.7 cm. or 9.72 in. (“[h]auteur des 47 lignes: 247 mill.”) and line width (length) at 16.7 cm. or 6.75 in. (“longeur des lignes: 167 mill.”) (39). Though Quaritch’s catalogue gives no measurements, Quaritch’s 1891 facsimile is one of two showing the Folio at its natural size, to my knowledge. The 1891 facsimile image with margins, depending on the state of loss where the measurement is made, is about 20.5 cm. in width and about 28.5 cm. in height, comporting closely with Maisonneuve’s measurements. 4

Maisonneuve in his 1889 catalogue (38) and Quaritch in his Catalogue No. 111 (47) acknowledge


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Discovery and Commerce the status of the Ambrosian quarto. See also Giuseppe Fumagalli and Pietro Amat de S. Filippo’s Bibliografia degli scritti o stampati in Italia sopra Cristoforo Colombo (1893). See the Maisonneuve catalogue: “La lettre de Christophe Colomb annonçant la découverte du nouveau-monde (15 février – 14 mars 1493). Texte original espagnol, édition princeps, in-folio, différente des deux éditions in-4º connues jusqu’a ce jour. Exemplaire unique, récemment découvert en Espagne” (38). Similar wording, with the insertion of “Reproduction en fac-similé a’apres l’exemplaire” preceding “récemment” opens the title page of Maisonneuve’s facsimile. 5

This commemorative book was published by Quaritch in 2006 and includes the Letter in reduced facsimile. In his “Introduction” to the the volume, Felipe Fernández-Armesto provides extensive references on the Folio’s nineteenth-century history accompanied by facsimiles of salient documents from the period. 6

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, a historian of the period, reviewed the Quaritch 2006 book for HAHR.


Geoffrey West reviews the volume for The Library, observing also that Fernández-Armesto sets the Folio’s discovery into the context of the Spanish Quarto forgeries and adopts Demetrio Ramos Pérez’s theory that the Letter was produced at court using a text written by Columbus for its details. West asserts that the 1891 publication by Quaritch “demonstrated that the recently discovered 1493 imprint [. . .] was genuine,” but it performed that work only by implication. While Kerney’s notes and introduction provide a thorough historical and critical context for the Letter that supports the idea of its authenticity, proving authenticity rests in paper and types, in the nature of the damage to its surface, in the reflections of that damage in its accompanying contemporary documents, in the authenticity of those documents, and in its relationship to other forms of the Spanish Letter, none of which is argued. Its provenance before it came into Maisonneuve’s hands remains unresolved. A case in point is that of a large, mid-twentieth–century volume dedicated to the “Vinland Map” that argues directly for the map’s authenticity (Skelton). In spite of the academic credentials behind the book and its data, along with several facsimiles presented in the volume, the map has been shown to be a forgery based on physical examination and critical historical perspectives. See Kirsten A. Seaver’s book on the map (2004) and Walter McCrone’s essay on the technical and practical considerations of materials testing related to the map (1993). 8 In the images of Elodie Leveque and Louise O’Connor’s online essay “Always judge a book by its cover,” notice the brown smears of glue used in the binding and the fact that the paper “pastedowns” are indeed glued together causing tears in the surface when they are coaxed apart. The strips of parchment used along the spine between the boards (covers) would probably give more support and flexibility than could be achieved with paper, but paper could be so used. See also the curatorial texts and images of Jim Kuhn and Frank Mowery on bibliographically and culturally valuable material used for binding and discovered in the holdings of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Even the prestige illustrated manuscript codexYale 229 shows dark brown dribbles and smears along the gutters and across the writing surface. I believe this material to be binder’s glue because of its concentration in areas of binding and because it covers writing and decoration. See online digital images of folios 359v–360r (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Arthurian Romances). 9 The NYPL’s Rare Book Room librarians refer to “the manuscript and the Columbus letter, still bound together” at the time it was received in the Lenox collection (electronic mail 28 September 2011). Also see n. 13 below.

Had the Folio been “recycled” to form part of the binding for another book, we would probably find it incautiously cropped or notched or cut into strips, with remnants of binder’s glue clinging to the pieces, and we would be unlikely to find the Folio at all unless the book into which it was incorporated fell apart for some reason (fire, moisture, or some violence done to it), or it was taken apart for restoration. The 2006 essay also asserts, based possibly on Michael Kerney’s account, that the Letter formed part of another book’s “end leaves”; this statement perhaps implies that certain parts of the text(s) would have remained visible. None of the conditions that one usually sees in ephemera used as binding material is met in a physical examination of the Letter. 10

Maisonneuve: “Cette pièce parait émaner de la curie romaine, sous le pontificat d’Alexandre VI. On y lit la date de 1497” (38).


The lengthy introduction to the 1891 Quaritch volume is signed “M. K.” (14), identified by Cecil

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Discovery and Commerce Jane (1930) and others as Michael Kerney (Jane cxxiv). Kerney’s role in Quaritch’s business is welldocumented. Citations here to Kerney (“Note” [20–21] and “Notes and Verifications”) come from Quaritch’s 1891 “oversize” folio edition. Quaritch’s 1893 edition of the Folio gives a reduced-size facsimile with a transcription, translation, “Preface,” and “Note” (8–9). 12 End-leaves are composed of a folded sheet, one half pasted down against the boards and the other half free; “flypapers” are the blank leaves, also made of a folded broadsheet, set between the free end leaf and the text of the book. 13

The NYPL catalogue entry for the Letter, reads: “With 4 l. [leaves] of fragmentary Latin mss. at end comprising a life of St. Leocadia and an appeal presented to the Archduke Philip at Bruges [. . .]” (italics added). Ted Teodoro of NYPL’s Rare Book Room writes that after examining the Library’s catalogue entry with special attention to the expression “at end,” the Rare Book librarians “concluded that the note in the catalogue goes back to the time when the manuscript and the Columbus letter, still bound together, didn’t belong to the library but to Mr. Quaritch” (electronic mail 28 September 2011). Quaritch’s sales catalogue records, “This wonderful relic [the Letter] remains still attached to three or four leaves of MS. which were stitched up with it in the year 1497,” and a few lines further on, reads, “[I]t would seem that the unique letter and the leaves of MS. were put together just as they are now [. . .] in 1502” (47 italics added). These assertions make the words “at end” hardly explicable; if “at end” is not simply a misstatement that failed to be corrected, perhaps it is a description formulated by Quaritch in an advance marketing letter to the Lenox Library before he had received the Folio from Paris or perhaps Quaritch dismembered the gathering before sending it to the Lenox Library and packed the printed Letter on top of the Latin manuscripts in the container with some protection over the Letter, so that the librarian opening the box saw the Latin MSS “at end” and duly recorded his witness in the process of unpacking. 14

Moisture held against paper under boards is also damaging, so losses to the writing and printed surfaces do not rule out the collation’s having been covered by boards or other leaves. Boards may be subject to loss and incursions as well.


Though Kerney mentions no boards, spine, or binding materials (20), John Boyd Thacher also asserts that book boards protected the manuscript leaves and the Folio, writing that the Letter and its Latin companions “were joined to some other work, which was protected with an oaken or hogskin [sic] cover until chance revealed the Columbus letter” (II 27). Thacher’s source is untraceable through his Columbus study, and I have found no correspondence to suggest how he came by this information, but he was in a position to have had letters from or conversations with those who handled the leaves in Paris, London, and NewYork. As a collector of rare items, Thacher explored Europe’s antiquarian bookshops and was a public figure and philanthropist in his home state of New York, so it is plausible that he had connections that would have allowed him access to the Letter at home and abroad. Thacher’s uncertainty about the nature of the covering suggests that it was of such low or deteriorated quality to be thought of as bibliographically insignificant. Such remnants might be bibliographically significant today because, with advances in science, they could help establish authenticity and provenance. Ted Teodoro of NYPL’s Rare Book Room, affirms that the Library possesses no binding materials that would have emerged from the process of dissociating the leaves (electronic mail 28 September 2011), and no owner’s record associated with the Folio mentions any.

16 Kerney writes that “[t]his curious adjunct” to the Letter relates to the visit of Philippe and “his consort” Juana to Toledo in 1502 where they presented to the Cathedral, “una reliquia grande de la gloriosaVírgen Leocadia, Padrona de aquella ciudad ” [a large reliquary of the glorious Virgin Leocadia, Patron Saint (Santa Patrona) of that city] (21). 17

See Bethany Aram’s treatment (55–63). Isabel and Fernando’s plan had Juana and Philippe traveling to Spain by ship to receive their public investiture in Toledo. Aram writes that Philippe wished to discuss with Queen Anne the marriage of their children, a plan that countered Spanish interests. Claude, one of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany’s two surviving children, was betrothed briefly by a signed accord in 1504 to Juana and Philippe’s son Carlos/Charles (I/V), but the agreement was broken; the Claude-Carlos match would have allowed Brittany to remain outside France’s control, but the subsequent match between Claude and Francis I achieved the opposite end, for which see Aram (55, 83). It is telling of Juana’s diplomatic and political powers at this period — and also ironic, in light of Philippe’s desire to negotiate a French marriage through the extended contact he arranged — that, according to Aram, Juana managed to arrange the marriage of her daughter on a walk from


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Discovery and Commerce the church with King Juan of Navarre, an accord later confirmed by the Spanish crown (Aram 60). The events of 1502 presaged future conflicts between Spain and the Netherlands and Spain and France. Juana was used to promote Spain’s interests with Philippe, who apparently viewed his French interests as trumping Fernando’s aims. Several public events of 1501 and 1502, in which Fernando or Philippe or both upstaged the Princess, confirmed the Burgundian suppression of Juana and foreshadowed her future suppression as Juana I, first by her father and later by her son, Carlos I/V. In her second chapter, Aram discusses the modes of suppression practiced against Juana and her resistance to them. 18 Jesuit Miguel Hernández’s late sixteenth-century Vida, martirio y traslado de la gloriosaVirgen Leocadia specifies that in 1502, Juana restored the “first relic” of the saint to Toledo from the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Ghislain de Mons in the County of Hainault, in modern-day Belgium. (Aram uses “Saint Gilsen” as the place name.) The remains of St. Leocadia, whose death is set by tradition c. 304, were relocated several times between the ninth century and the late sixteenth century, and were taken from Spain to Belgium in the eleventh century (Kirsch; Rivera Recio). Hernández, a native of Toledo, was intimately involved in negotiations to restore the saint’s complete relics to Spain and recorded these events in his Vida (1591). Aram probes accounts that diminish Juana’s role in the initial restoration and describes the continuing familial interest in the saint. She notes that Juana’s grandson, Felipe II, son of Carlos I/V, negotiated the restoration of the saint’s remaining bones to Toledo, an act solemnized in 1587 (163). Aram notes, however, that the Hapsburg kings (and emperors), rather than Juana, the queen who was born at Toledo and who began the program of restoration, were extolled for their efforts. Aram’s narrative (58–64) is based on archival sources and provides details concerning Philippe and Juana’s journey through France and their long sojourn in Spain. 19

Prince Juan died in 1497, and his child was born dead two months later; Princess Isabel died in childbirth with a son (Miguel) in 1498, and Miguel, aged two, died in 1500. See Rumeu de Armas’s Itinerario and Aram’s and Peggy Liss’s biographies of Juana and Isabel, respectively, for these events.


Pending new evidence, it seems unlikely that Fernando had anything to do with Philippe’s death (at Burgos 25 September 1506), which was well-attended. See Prescott (III 227–231) for his nineteenth-century perspective and Aram, whose focus is on Juana (85–88 with notes); Liss, however, observes that Philippe had “feared for his life” after members of his entourage died in Spain (385). 21 According to Aram, Philippe had presumptuously declared himself “Prince of Asturias” at the death of Prince Juan and sought French support for his position (51), so these lesser validations from the Cortes cannot have gratified him. She also notes that Philippe got the credit for the restoration of the saint’s first relic to Toledo (163). 22 Juana’s depression over the separation is recorded by Peter Martyr and reflected in Juana’s extended stay in Spain after the birth of her child and in her letters. Juana’s fourth child, Fernando, was born 10 March 1503 at the palace of Archbishop Ximenes de Cisneros at Alcalá de Henares. See Liss’s final chapter, “The Queen and her Daughter,” in her critical biography of Isabel (372–401). See Aram’s account as well (173). 23

Kerney’s information on the reliquary comes “from the Primacia de Toledo of Castegon y Fonseca, printed in 1645” (21; in the 1893 edition, 9). Kerney may refer here to volume two of the Primacia de la Santa Iglesia de Toledo of Diego de Castejón y Fonseca, Bishop of Lugo. Quaritch’s firm offered the Primacia de la Santa Iglesia de Toledo in a catalogue of Peninsular books in 1895, suggesting that Kerney may have had the work at hand for his research (28, No. 283, as three parts in two volumes in folio, bound in calf, priced at £1. s4). I believe that this item continued to be offered in the 1900 Rough List 202, though the item there is listed as a “small folio” (9, No. 84). See “Diego de Castejón y Fonseca” and “Quaritch, Bernard” in Works Cited. 24 Léon van der Essen (1915) writes that the “Belgians immediately recognized the infant archduke” (93) as heir to his Burgundian mother, the Duchess Marie, a legacy that J. Ellis Barker characterizes as having “passed like a dowry from the House of Burgundy to that of Hapsburg” (61), i.e., the “house” of Philippe’s father Maximilien, son of Frederick III of Hapsburg. Marie and Maximilien were married soon after the death of Charles the Bold, owing to the rapid action of Frederick III at Charles’ death. When three-year-old Philippe inherited his mother’s titles, Flanders and Brabant initially opposed Maximilien’s regency until he acceded to certain demands. Léon van der Essen records that Philippe “was made duke and count of the different Belgian principalities in 1494” (94), while other sources

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Discovery and Commerce give 1493; at that point, Maximilien’s intervention as regent of the Netherlands ended until the death of Philippe in 1506 again placed him in that role on behalf of Philippe’s son Charles (Carlos I/V). The historical, political, and economic significance of events set into motion by the death of Charles the Bold followed by Marie’s Hapsburg marriage, especially as regards Spain and the Netherlands, from the sixteenth century through the War of the Spanish Succession, is enormous. 25

Pope Alexander VI (Borgia), a native of Valencia in Cataluña, issued three Bulls in May, shortly after the date given for completing the translation of the Latin editions (April 29). The Papal Bull(s) known as the Bulls Inter caetera of May 3 and May 4 formalized the division of the New World before anyone in Europe knew quite what that might mean. An older, accessible source for the Bulls Inter caetera and the Bull Eximiae devotionis (also dated May 3) is Frances Gardiner Davenport’s book. Davenport provides primary documents (English translations, citations of earlier treatments, and archival copies): Inter caetera May 3 as Doc. 5, 56 ff.; Eximiae as Doc. 6, 64 ff.; May 4 as Doc. 7, 71 ff. Davenport stipulates that the second Bull, “instead of merely granting to Castile the lands discovered by her envoys and not under Christian rule,” marks a revision that sets the “line of demarcation one hundred leagues west of any of the Azores or Cape Verde Islands” and gives Spain sole right to claim new lands, to issue licenses to “approach the lands west of the line,” and to conduct trade west of the line unless those lands should have been already among the domains of “any Christian prince” in December 1492 (71). This bull does not address Portuguese rights as the first Bull had done.

26 Kerney writes that the appeal was presented to Philippe by “Johannes Rousselli, Lord of Hernetes, procurator General of Fiscal of his Highness” (20). The Low Countries suffered under Carlos I/V, and under Phillip II as well, from taxation and from threats to their persons, peace, and property through the anti-Protestant religious persecutions of the sixteenth century. See for example,William S. Maltby’s work on Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, Duke of Alba, in regard to Spain’s activity in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century. 27 See the works of historian Aubertus Miraeus (Aubert LeMire, le Mire), edited and published by Franciscus Foppens, for a transcript of the “Appellatio” (II 1268–1270). Kerney writes that these means were “adopted by certain tyrannical officials to increase the revenue (and benefit themselves both directly and indirectly) by enhancing levies and forestalment [sic] of dues” (21). 28

Kerney pronounces the two documents written in a single hand, and though some letter formation styles between these documents may appear to be similar, certain details of execution in the hands are unique. These documents will benefit from close study, but at this point, I see at least two hands — and possibly three — in the scribal work. 29 Quaritch’s shop was either under the impression that the Folio and Latin manuscripts had been found in Toledo or else selected that city name to anchor the find with credible specificity. In spite of the vagaries of “not many months ago,” which may suggest a marketing strategy or a lack of exact information, I accept “in Toledo” as a detail passed to Quaritch by Maisonneuve because a more suggestive Spanish city — Barcelona, Sevilla, Valladolid, or Madrid — would have been more likely to come to mind first had the slate been blank. 30

José María Quadrado describes Toledo as having been “elevada casi al rango de corte con el esplendor que sobre ella derramaba la frecuente residencia de Isabel y Fernando” [elevated almost to the point of being the (Spanish) court, with the splendor lavished on the city by the frequent residence (there) of Isabel and Fernando] (266). 31 The late historical novelist James Michener described the Archbishop as one of the few men who understood the import of Columbus’s proposal (144). 32

A pamphlet printing (London 1929) concerning Diego’s letter of January 1512 characterizes the extent of the Archbishop’s influence on the king (11); a brief chapter (17–19) provides additional information on Ximenes de Cisneros and contains the well-known historical account of his appointment to Archbishop, secured by Isabel — here, “the Catholic Sovereigns” rather than the queen alone — with a request to the Pope for a Bull requiring “the retiring” Ximenes de Cisneros to accept the vacant archbishopric. Also see José García Oro’s Cisneros: un cardenal reformista en el trono de España (1436–1517) (2005) and Javier Malagón-Barceló’s essay on emigrating Toledanos, especially 107– 108 and his notes on churchmen in New Spain. 33

The Letter came into the Lenox Library more than a decade after the death of Americana collector


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Discovery and Commerce James Lenox (d. 1880), who left his collection to the NewYork Public Library. Haebler characterizes the price as “stupendous” (Early 71). Other discoveries and disappearances of fifteenth-century materials occurred in the nineteenth century as well. Henry Harrisse located the so-called Paris codex of Columbus’s Libro de los privilegios apparently while in search of it, perhaps supposing that Napoleon had transferred it along with other Spanish state and royal papers with the aim of establishing a master repository of European state documents at Paris. Other documents were stumbled upon as accidental finds, as appears to have been the case with the Folio and Quarto. Varnhagen’s “Sanfelices” manuscript appeared and was then lost or destroyed, and Cecil Jane asserted that the “original” of the Simancas manuscript had been lost though that does not appear to be the case. The Athenaeum of 10 November 1894 reviewed the Libro de los privilegios edited by Benjamin Franklin Stevens with an introduction by Henry Harrisse, relating the tale of another compilation of Columbus’s Privileges presented, according to the reviewer, by “Mr. Everett” to a public gathering in Plymouth, Massachusetts no later than 1825, having been brought to Boston from Florence where it was purchased in 1818 by an (unnamed) American; the 1894 reviewer reports this compilation as having “completely disappeared” (636); I wonder whether this compilation may be that now owned by the Library of Congress. 34 The obituary notice describing Kerney in these terms appeared in the weekly Athenaeum (192), and The NewYork Times of the same date (August 10, 1901) recorded that Kerney had died “a few days ago” (565). The Athenaeum notice reappeared on August 24 in the U.S. trade publication Publishers’ Weekly (323) and in An Gaodal (The Gael) [sic], also published in New York, in September (279). A recent De Búrca catalogue (2011) describes Kerney as “the brilliant young Irish scholar and assistant to Bernard Quaritch” (17), and the Athenaeum article cited above describes him as Quaritch’s “chief cataloguer and trusted literary advisor,” a “retiring” person who read Arabic and Persian, and “an honourable and warm-hearted man, of rare intellectual gifts and wide culture, a scholar and a gentleman” (192). See publication titles in the Works Cited for further information. 35

Moore was Superintendent of the Lenox Library from 1872–1892. Victor Hugo Paltsits (of the NYPL) records that Eames became Lenox Librarian in 1892 upon Moore’s death. In the year of the quadricentennial, Eames was curator for “an extensive Columbus exhibition” that included the Letter (Paltsits 12), and as Assistant Librarian for the collection, Eames edited a comparative facsimile edition of the Latin quartos in 1892.


See the 1891 facsimile edition (10). In the 1893 edition, the following page references to the printer are of interest: the title page reads, “Printed by Johann Rosenbach at Barcelona early in April 1493” (i); “the type of the Spanish folio is that which was used by Johann Rosenbach at Barcelona in 1493–94” (xiv); concordance of the Letter’s “typographical character” with Rosembach’s types (8); “[the Letter] to Santangel had issued from the press of Johann Rosenbach” (26). The name is attested in Rosembach’s lifetime in several spellings, and I use “Rosembach” here. 37 See Haebler (Early) for his 1897 observations on the matter (71) and José María Asensio’s citing Haebler as favoring Posa in his 1900 essay. In his list of thirteen printings done by Rosembach, J.E. Serrano y Morales shows the “Carta á Luis de Santangel” printed 18 September 1493, the same date he gives for the printing of De modo Epistolandi, but this appears to be an error in adopting Rosembach’s printing data from Haebler (BI 377, for example). Haebler (Early) sets the Letter’s year of printing as 1493, shown with a parenthetical question mark to indicate the doubt (133), and he gives “1493 Sept 18” as the definitive dates for the two printings that follow the Letter in his list, De modo Epistolandi and Carcer d’amor (133). See Haebler’s listing of the Letter among Rosembach’s printings (Early 133; TI 68, No. 152) and his treatment of the Letter with font examples in GS (115–118). 38

See Thacher for his discussion (II 26–27 n.1). Chapter 2 of this book discusses problems in assigning the Folio printer. 39 See Sanpere y Miguel (124). References to the work of Sanpere y Miguel in this chapter are based on his essay on Barcelona’s printers (“Impresores”) unless otherwise noted. 40

As I understand it, no person now living wrote the NYPL’s present entry.


The Quarto records, fecha a .xiiii. dias de marco (4v.22). The month should probably have been set as março.


I refer to Columbus’s shipboard log hereinafter as the Diario and use Benjamin Keen’s English

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Discovery and Commerce translation of Hernando Colón’s Biography of his father. Keen’s book is widely available in either the 1959 or the revised 1992 edition; the latter edition has new chapter divisions and pagination. See the Diario for the dates mentioned and Hernando’s biography (1959 Ch.VII 108–112, esp. 109; 1992 Ch. XXXVII 90–102). Accessible Spanish translations of Hernando Colón’s Biography include Vida del Almirante produced by Ramón Iglesia (Mexico) and an edition produced in Buenos Aires in 1944, Historia del Almirante de Las Indias. Columbus’s Diario has had many editions since Fernández de Navarrete discovered, in the library of the Duque del Infantado, Bartolomé de las Casas’s autograph manuscript of it as a third-person summary redaction with direct quotes from Columbus noted by the editor. Giovanni Battista Torre, for example, explains the third-person conversion of the Diario in Bartolomé’s reworking of it (67–68) at the head of his Italian translation of the Diario, appends Fernández de Navarrete’s certification of his transcription, datelined Madrid 27 February 1791, and details the manuscript’s provenance and bibliographical details (213). Among the many editions and translations of the Diario are those found in the following publications: Fernández de Navarrete’s edition of the Diario as the opening element of his first volume of Colección deViages (1825); Samuel Kettell’s Personal Narrative of the FirstVoyage (1827); the Raccolta completa degli scritti Cristoforo Colombo of 1864 edited and translated by Giovanni Battista Torre (Italian translation); an anonymous Spanish-language issue called Relaciones y cartas (1892); Cesare de Lollis’s text in the Scritti di Cristoforo Colombo (Raccolta Columbiana 1892); Clements R. Markham’s English translation for the Hakluyt Society (1893); Markham’s translation, later excoriated by Morison, is based on Fernández de Navarrete’s transcript/edition, and Markham’s translation is given by Edward Gaylord Bourne (in The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot) with Bourne’s “slight revisions” (85–258) and preceded by a very brief and helpful “Introduction” to the Diario’s text (87); John Boyd Thacher’s annotated translation in his first volume of 1903 is based on Fernández de Navarrete as well; Cecil Jane’s Voyages (1930); Carlos Sanz’s Diario de Colón (1962); Samuel Eliot Morison’s Journals & Other Documents (1963); J. M. Cohen’s Four Voyages (1969); Joaquín Arce and Manuel Gil Esteve’s Diario de a bordo (1971); Consuelo Varela’s “Diario del primer viaje” in Varela and Gil’s Textos y documentos completos (first published in 1982); Manuel Alvar’s Libro de la primera navegación (1984); Luis Arranz’s Diario de a bordo (1985); Robert H. Fuson’s Log of Christopher Columbus (1987); Oliver Dunn and James E. Kelley’s diplomatic transcription of the manuscript with their English translation (1989); Consuelo Varela and Emilio Taviani’s edition of the Diario based on Varela’s transcript of the original (Pt. I, 6), in English translation with copious essays and notes (1990); Barry W. Ife’s Journal of the First Voyage (1990); and John Cummins’s English translation as TheVoyage of Christopher Columbus (1992). Volume six of the Repertorium Columbianum, A Synoptic Edition of the Log (1999), edited by Francesca Lardicci, records Bartolomé’s transcript of the Diario (as “DB”), with parallel references found in Hernando Colón’s biography of his father (Historie, as “FH”) and in Bartolomé’s Historia de las Indias (as “LC”). See Varela’s ten essays (“Paleographic”) and those of Taviani (“Historicogeographical”) on the Diario in the English translation of the Nuova Raccolta (Journal Part II). In the same work (Part II), see Simonetta Conti’s list of published editions of the Diario. Note also Morison’s critical view of Diario texts and translations (Texts 1939). 43 See volume one of Fernández de Navarrete’s Viages (175) and his edition of the Diario in the opening section. My reading of the manuscript, presumed to be the same document transcribed by Fernández de Navarrete, gives March 14 (xiiii março) as the date. See also the variorum edition’s note to this date.

Samuel Kettell’s “Preface” describes the commission that led Fernández de Navarrete to discover the only known copy of Columbus’s Diario. 44

See Hernando’s Biography (1959 111). See also n. 42, ¶ 1, above.


Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas (d. 1625), according to Washington Irving’s Life and Voyages (II), was the “grand historiographer of the Indies to Phillip II” and was responsible for, among other things, the four volumes of the Historia general de las Indias (II 338). Irving and Major remark that the royal historiographer had all the pertinent archives at his disposal, but Irving notes that Antonio relied heavily on Bartolomé’s work, in effect plagiarizing it (Irving II 338 ff.). 46

See Thacher (II 13–14 n. 2); and also see Morison in Journals (180, 187 n. 24) and in Admiral (I 325–329).


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This “infidelity” is the secreto of Sanz’s title (142).


See Textos (226 n. 19).


See the Diario entry for Thursday February 14. The men have enough garbanzos to draw lots (tantos garbanzos cuantas personas [as many chickpeas as men]), but Columbus records that food and water are exhausted (ya comidos los bastimentos y el agua y vino [the provisions and the water and wine already consumed]). Morison writes that the Niña’s “filthy hold [had to be] scraped and disinfected with vinegar,” caulked, and its ballast renewed, and that on the day the renewed Niña reached the river near Palos, Pinta, ironically and by chance, was not far behind (Admiral I 338). 50 See Rebecca Catz’s book on Columbus in Portuguese contexts, particularly her translation of chronicler João de Barros’s account of Columbus’s Portuguese audience on 9 March 1493 at the religious house of Santa Maria das Virtudes in her Appendix. 51

See Catz (n.50) and also Morison’s useful note (Journals 173) with reference to the Pinzón faction and Morison’s opinion, informed by historical research on the storm, the documented customs of sailing along the Iberian coast, and the mariner’s perspective of Columbus’s predicament.

52 As Columbus learned at Palos, the court was at Barcelona. See Rumeu de Armas’s Itinerario (198). Two pieces of news from Barcelona, the attempted assassination attempt against Fernando in December and the signing of the Treaty of Barcelona in January 1493, might have made the whereabouts of the court at that period more widely known than otherwise. 53 Bernáldez has Columbus arriving at Palos on 23 March and in Sevilla on 31 March, Palm Sunday, with much “honor” shown at his anticipated arrival at Sevilla (277). 54

Concerning distances and time for travel, see n. 62, below.


Lisbon was a center of Genoese merchant activity from the fourteenth century until Genoese displacement in the seventeenth by Dutch interests, and Columbus had been an agent there for the Centurioni family in the 1470s, according to Eric R. Wolf’s account of Mediterranean Genoese interests (114–115). Joseph F. O’Callaghan also asserts the position of the Genoese merchants in Lisbon in the fifteenth century (461, 622). 56 We know Columbus’s propensity to have copies of his documents produced and also know of his anxiety for his enterprise at this time. 57 Gustav Adolph Bergenroth summarizes this letter as No. 83 of 1493 (Calendar 49). In the Archive of Simancas, its shelf number is S. E. / L.1 f.342, and I am indebted to the reference librarians there for their assistance with this letter. Fernández de Navarrete gives a transcription of the Letter (II 20– 21 No. 14). See Morison for an English text of the letter (Journals 20) and his comments as a note to the Diario entry of 12 March (178). Sanz gives a reduced image of the letter (Secreto 143). Some features of this letter’s scribal hand and habits of pointing the text resemble those of the Simancas manuscript, but its linear conformation and spacing, by comparison, are a model of clarity and precision. Gil and Varela edit this letter as No. V in Cartas de particulares a Colón [Personal letters to Columbus] (145–146). Kayserling also refers to the Duke’s letter (41–42). 58

Gil and Varela call the Grand Cardinal and Archbishop the Duke’s “friend” (Cartas 144), which he certainly seems to have been though it is the Duke’s friendship toward Columbus that is at issue, and Phillips and Phillips write that the Duke’s mother was the Archbishop’s niece. The Grand Cardinal and Archbishop of Toledo Pedro González de Mendoza and the Duke’s mother, the Countess of Medinaceli, Leonor de Mendoza y Figueroa, were siblings, the children of Íñigo López de Mendoza and Catalina Suárez de Figueroa, as Berkeley’s PhiloBiblon affirms, based on Cristina de la Cruz Arteaga y Falguera’s La casa del Infantado, cabeza de los Mendoza. Luis is, then, the Archbishop’s nephew, the child of his sister. Clements R. Markham records the relationship in his discussion of Luis’s letter to his uncle (Life 42). 59

I translate all instances of su alteza in Luis’s brief letter as referring to the queen, based on Luis’s first mention of la reyna nuestra señora [the queen, our lady] at l. 4. Cogolludo is in Castilla-La Mancha, Isabel’s kingdom. Sanz refers to “los reyes” in his discussion of this letter (Secreto 146).

60 Columbus’s flagship, Santa María, owned by Juan de la Cosa, came from Puerto Santa María on the Gulf of Cádiz, south of Palos de la Frontera where Columbus returned to Spain in 1493. Phillips

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Discovery and Commerce and Phillips write that Columbus made Puerto Santa María “one of [his] early stops” after the first voyage “probably to settle affairs” about the loss of the Santa María, but there is no reference for the event (289). Today, the distance between Cogolludo (from which Luis wrote to the Archbishop and the queen) and Puerto Santa María is calculated at about 450 miles, according to data from Spain’s Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), promulgated by Google Maps. See Collis’s account of the relationship between Columbus and the Duke (47 ff.) 61 See Gil and Varela’s comments (Cartas 144–145). See also Phillips and Phillips’s Worlds for details of Columbus’s seeking support from the Duke (130 and n. 34 and 35) and their account of Columbus’s early interactions with Fernando and Isabel (122–125). 62

For purposes of comparison, according to IGN data, today’s travel distance between Lisbon and Barcelona is about 784 miles; from Lisbon to Cogolludo, about 450 miles; from Cogolludo to Barcelona through Valencia, about 350 miles; from Sevilla to Barcelona, traveling through Córdoba and moving northeast to follow the coast from Valencia, something over 600 miles; and from Palos de la Frontera, Huelva, to Barcelona, following a similar route, close to 680 miles. These figures follow modern highway routes (rather than fifteenth-century ones) but provide an idea of distances separating these locations over land routes. On the time required to travel by horse and mule, the American Donkey and Mule Society cites research done in 2007 to determine the distance Roman mules might have been able to cover per day, arriving at the figure of 4–5 miles per hour (mph) at a walking pace, nine mph trotting, and twenty “or more” at a gallop, and a “lightly loaded [equine] animal” alternating paces might have a pace of 8– 10 mph, but the distances covered are dependent on terrain and weather and the condition of the road, the animal, and the rider. The American Mule Museum’s “History of the Mule” gives the figure of thirty miles per day for mules drawing wagons in settlers’ wagon trains and “six to ten miles per hour” for mules pulling (presumably heavily loaded) stage coaches over “dry, flat land.” The latter figure may suggest shorter periods of work and changes of animals at regular intervals, and it does not describe the terrain a rider across the Spanish landscapes with which we are concerned would have routinely encountered. The “days” calculated in these figures do not appear to have been “eighthour” days, but shorter ones under non-exigent conditions. While there are extravagant claims for horses traveling 100 miles in a day over unwelcoming terrain, a lightly loaded horse carrying an ordinary-sized person might cover 30–40 miles per day. I came very late to a detailed note by Sanz that addresses speed of mail delivery as recorded in a contemporary document and expert estimates that suggest contemporary travel from Puerto Santa María to Barcelona as thirteen days and that of a “rush” packet from Sevilla to Barcelona as ten days over the ordinary travel time of twelve days (Secreto 146 n. 1); from these numbers, allowing no alteration to my note, my estimates appear to be conservative by a small percentage. Sanz’s source also emphasizes the chance for mishaps along the routes and suggests travel times for documents traveling between Barcelona and Rome. It is possible that a packet sent from Columbus at Lisbon could have arrived in Barcelona in the last week of March without the intervention of the Duke, based on a record of Columbus’s letter or some similar extract of material having arrived in Italy in the last days of March, not at Rome, but at Florence. Tribaldo de Rossi records the receipt of this item in Florence between the 25th and 31st of March, according to De Lollis: “Tribaldo dunque dovè registrare nel suo diario la notizia giunta a Firenze tra il 25 e il 31 de marzo” (xxxviiii). De Lollis presumes that letter(s) left 4 March from Lisbon bound for Barcelona: “Che la notizia della scoperta, trasmessa il 4 marzo da Lisbona a Barcellona, potesse, entro venticinque o ventisei giorni, giungere fino a Firenza, non è inverosimile” [That the news of the discovery transmitted on March 4th from Lisbon to Barcelona could get to Florence in twenty-five or twenty-six days is not improbable] (ibid.). Sanz, apparently with De Lollis, considers this communication, whether it was a version of the Letter or something else, to have been sent from Lisbon directly to Italy, and Sanz provides a facsimile of the manuscript and its publication along with a study of the entry (Secreto 149–153). 63 Based on Columbus’s statement in a letter to Nicolás Oderigo (27 December 1504), printed by Fernández de Navarrete (II 336-337 No. CLV), to the effect that Columbus had sent several copies of a report to the sovereigns when he was in the Indies (Secreto 144), Sanz theorizes that Columbus was in the habit of sending his news in multiple packets. Though it was written more than ten years


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Discovery and Commerce after the first voyage, this letter details Columbus’s extreme precautions with his Privilegios, and those measures are another indication of his circumspection in making copies of his papers and sending them to diverse destinations. Note that based on the date and geographical distance between Córdoba and Cogolludo, the letter that passed through Córdoba has no apparent relationship to the news received and passed on through messenger by Luis de la Cerda by March 19; Luis’s news to the queen would have been well on its way to Barcelona by 22 March, so these reports represent separate dispatches of Columbus’s news contemporary with the first voyage. 64 Niña and Pinzón’s Pinta (Santa Clara) lost sight of each other according to the Diario on February 14, and Pinzón came ashore in Galicia. Hernando’s biography records that by the time Columbus got to Palos, Pinzón had already sent a message from Galicia to the court at Barcelona and had received an answer that he must not come to court ahead of Columbus (111; 1992 101). Morison writes that Columbus and Pinzón arrived by chance on the same day at Palos (Journals 165–166 n.2), but Hernando’s account, cited above, delays Pinzón’s arrival until Columbus is already in Sevilla. John Stewart Collis writes that it is “a single day’s journey” from Lisbon to Palos (105), but this was apparently not the case at the time under those conditions. 65

Marvin Lunenfeld (1987) adopts the coastal route to Barcelona through the Catalán cities of Valencia and Tarragona and credits the public outpouring into the streets of Barcelona (71). See Tomás Marín Martínez’s account of Columbus’s return in his third chapter (I 59 ff.), where he addresses Columbus’s movements after landing at Sevilla. Marín Martínez details the points of the debate over the route and presents his conclusions (60–65, including extensive notes). 66 See Bartolomé’s Historia (LXXVII). Antonio Rumeu de Armas (1944) dismisses certain elements of Bartolomé’s account. Fernández de Navarrete, who made an edition of Bartolomé’s rendering of Columbus’s diary directly from the transcript in the first volume of his Viages (1925), summarized his impression of Bartolomé’s access to primary materials: “[P]oseyó muchos papeles escritos por el mismo Colon, con los cuales escribió su Historia de Indias, y compendió la relacion de este viage cual la publicamos, dejando íntegro el prólogo ó carta dirigida á los Reyes Católicos, que tambien insertó á la letra en el cap. 36 de su Historia inédita. Al margen de esta copia puso Casas algunas notas que hemos conservado con su nombre” [He possessed many papers written by Columbus himself, with which he wrote his History of the Indies, and he compiled the record of this voyage that we publish, leaving intact the prologue or letter directed to the Catholic Sovereigns, that he also inserted verbatim in chapter 36 of his unpublished History. In the margins of this copy, (Bartolomé de las) Casas set down some notes that we have preserved under his name] (Spanish text, all sic in Viages I, 1 n. 1). Thacher quotes extensively from Bartolomé on Columbus’s reception by the king and queen in Barcelona (I 668–670). 67

Bernáldez had reason to know Columbus in Bernáldez’s role as capellán for Archbishop of Sevilla, Diego Deza, whom Martín Fernández de Navarrete describes as a “gran protector de Colon” [sic] (Viages I 66), and Bernáldez is described in the introduction to his chronicle as having hosted Ponce de León and Columbus in his home and as having witnessed events or taken first-person testimony from which he writes. Bartolomé (Historia) affirms that the sovereigns arranged a solemn and very handsome (solemne y muy hermoso) public reception (mandaron poner en público su estrado y sólio real, donde estaban sentados, y, junto con ellos, el Principe D. Juan, en grande manera alegres [they ordered their dais and royal seat to be erected in front of the people, where they were seated, and with them the prince, Lord Juan, joyful,in great pomp]); he records that the city’s streets were filled with people (toda la gente y toda la ciudad . . . no cabian por las calles [all the people and all the city . . . overflowed the streets]). In any edition, this passage is found in chapter LXXVIII, within the first two pages of the chapter. See Bartolomé’s Historia edited by Agustín Millares Carlo in Spanish (LXXVII–LXXVIII); George Sanderlin’s edited Selections is an accessible edition in English. See also Bernáldez (Memorias, also called Historia) in the 1856 edition, entitled Historia de los Reyes (I 277); De Lollis (xxxxvii– xxxxviiii); Morison (Admiral I 338–347); and Collis (99, 108). As has been indicated in the previous note, Rumeu de Armas discounts these contemporary accounts and asserts that Columbus received no public, civic reception in Barcelona, but that the ceremony for Columbus’s arrival in Barcelona was limited to the court. Rumeu de Armas bases his conclusion on the absence of documents that specifically attest a public celebration in Barcelona and concludes that Columbus’s reception in Barcelona was “sencillo y solemne, pero recatado y sin participación de la ciudad y el pueblo” [simple and solemn, but private and without the involvement of the city

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Discovery and Commerce and nation] (35/465; for his discussion on this point, see especially 26/456 ff.). Rumeu de Armas’s position is founded on a perceived omission that depends on dismissing contemporary accounts based on his supposing them to be fabricated or exaggerated. Whether one finds his argument convincing or not, Rumeu de Armas’s evidentiary thoroughness provides a helpful bibliographic and documentary record of Columbus’s movements in Spain through the spring and summer of 1493. 68

See Books I and II of the first Decade of Martyr’s De Orbe Novo for Martyr’s writings on the first voyage. For the Spanish, see the introduction and selections of text pertaining to the first voyage in Gil and Varela’s Cartas de particulares (17–47). Also consult Latinist Gil’s observations on Martyr’s late medieval Latin (30–32) and Gil’s extensive comments on the text. In English, Geoffrey Eatough’s recently edited Selections is an accessible text, and the first volume of Francis Augustus MacNutt’s two-volume translation of De Orbe Novo, where Martyr’s account of the first voyage is found in volume I (61–84), is widely reprinted and is also digitized. 69

Santángel’s name is given by early scholars and publishers as “Santangel” and “Sant’ Angel.” Richard Henry Major observes that the identification of Santángel with the title of “Escrivano de Ración” is asserted by the seventeenth-century canon, poet, and chronicler of Aragón, Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola (qtd. in Select cxxxv), who identifies Santángel by his office and his role in Columbus’s enterprise, writing that the queen’s offer to sacrifice her jewels was made unnecessary when “Luis de Santangel Escrivano de Raciones de Aragon” advanced 17,000 florins toward the project (Anales de AragonVol. I, 99–100). Martín Fernández de Navarrete (c. 1825) provides a short history of Santángel’s title and his various roles at court in Colección de los viages (167 n. 1), where he writes that “it appears” that Santángel was Tesorero de la Casa y Corte del Rey en Cataluña in 1470; the note is repeated in Relaciones y cartas (1892 184). See also Kayserling (76–77) and Morison (Admiral I 94–96). Felipe Fernández Armesto (1992) describes Santángel as “treasurer of the crown of Aragon” (101). Santángel’s making a loan to the crown, attested by Argensola, appears to have been part of a fairly common practice. For example, in the Maggs Brothers’ edition of a Diego Colón (Columbus) letter of 1512, the unnamed editor writes, “When Charles [Carlos I/V] was elected Emperor of Germany and sailed from Corunna in 1520 to acquire the Imperial Crown, Diego Columbus was one of the cortège which escorted him from that port. He [Diego] lent the emperor a sum of ten thousand ducats to enable the young monarch to present himself before his subjects in a manner befitting his state” (15–16). As in the day of the first Duke of Medinaceli and Santángel and others who offered various kinds of support to the crown, these loans attached an expectation of favor, and the editor of the Diego Colón letter affirms that Diego’s loan to Carlos I/V was no different, and that “[i]n recognition of this loan,” Carlos confirmed the title of “Viceroy of the Indies,” one “which Diego had often used and which Fernando the Catholic had so persistently withheld” (16). 70

Kerney finds no scholars mentioning the Letter in the sixteenth century, in contrast to the use made at that time of the transcript of Columbus’s Diario (Kerney cites “Herrera”), and Kerney takes the omission to mean that the folio and quarto printings were formally suppressed since “their very existence was unknown” until the discovery of the Spanish Quarto (8–9). Hernando Colón’s library inventory lists a Catalán version of the Letter, discussed elsewhere in this volume, but this item has never been found. 71

See Jane’s article “Announcing” (39–45; 50).

Columbus claims his title in resisting Portuguese demands in incidents recorded in the Diario entries of February 19th and March 5th before he has had an opportunity to get word to or from the court, and he signs the Letter, El Almirante on February 15th, according to the Letter’s dateline, more than two weeks before reaching the Tagus. In this regard, see Diario entries for 19 and 22 February. See Hernando’s Biography for Columbus’s including himself among “the admirals of the rulers of Castile” in defying Portuguese demands (Keen 109; 1992 98–99). In the letter Columbus receives from the sovereigns at Sevilla, they confirm him as nuestro Almirante de la mar Océana e visorrey y gobernador de las Islas que se han descubierto en las Indias [our Admiral of the Ocean sea and viceroy and governor of the Islands that have been found in the Indies]. Bartolomé belabors the point a little in the Historia, writing that todos [everyone] called him and understood him to be “Almirante del mar Océano y visorrey e gobernador de la Indias” (332). Columbus’s “commissions” from the king and queen setting forth his position in Spain must have verified his claims. In this regard, see the Diario entries for 19 and 22 February.


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Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, a nobleman whose family had supported Isabel in the controversy over the crown of Castilla, commanded efforts to prepare the second voyage on behalf of the crown and had connections to Sevilla and to the Barcelona court in the spring of 1493, where, according to Jack E. Patterson, he had already been entrusted with responsibilities connected with Columbus’s discoveries before Columbus arrived there in April. Rodríguez de Fonseca would assume increasing responsibility for administration of the Indies and soon opposed Columbus. See Phillips and Phillips (194 on the second voyage, 214–219) and Patterson, especially on Rodríguez de Fonseca in Barcelona in 1493 (2–5; 25–40).

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2 A slippery job: identifying the Folio’s printer

Setting the provenance of Spanish incunabula printings that lack internal publication data — the “orphans” of incunabula printing — may be more or less tentative than the brackets around the information imply, and as digitization and continuing discoveries enable more accurate determinations, older assessments may be altered. Columbus’s folio and quarto Spanish Letters are among these “orphan” incunabula whose printers and other data were assigned speculatively over a hundred years ago.1 Where printing data is entirely or partly absent, scholars’ assertions about when, where, and by whom a printed piece was produced may be based on various factors: •

• • • • •

types and initials in the unidentified printing may match examples in a printing that carries data; a printer’s having used a distinctive woodcut initial, border, or illustration in a printing having data may connect it with an orphan printing using the same material; two books containing the same text, whether in the same language or in translation and printed with the same types, one having data and one not, may both be assigned with the data contained in the former; internal historical references may provide chronology and/or geographical associations that suggest when and where the work was produced, narrowing the search for the printer; an external document, such as a business contract or civil papers, may refer to a particular printing, identifying the printer and the place and period at which the printing was issued; the language(s) of the printing may limit geography or suggest a specific printer; a match of paper determined by watermarks has occasionally been used to try to set printing data.

Where factors like language and subject matter provide a geographical and chronological window, a match of “types” can become the basis of assigning tentative data to the orphan printing. What actually “matches” in these comparisons are the inked impressions of individual types and other printing materials on the paper. The match, then, implies that the materials — small initials, lower-case types including ligatures,

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A Slippery Job numbers, abbreviatura, marks of punctuation, and other elements — used to create the printing with data were used to create the orphan printing, too, and that the same printer produced both. Assertions of type matches, however, may be affected by internal and external factors, and expert bibliographers studying the same materials occasionally arrive at disparate conclusions. Philip Gaskell writes that “Incunabulists, indeed, work on the assumption that a fount belonging to a fifteenth-century printer was unique to him” but admonishes that while a “fount as cast” might be “unique” to a printer, that “is not necessarily true of its punches” (39).2 These “slight differences,” then, may create unique features that help bibliographers to identify a printing. “Uniqueness” may arise in a particular type or woodcut initial because of a distinctive curve or bit of white space, a mark of wear or breakage, or a minor flaw. Printing materials became “unique” to a printer as he mixed types from different fonts and castings in his cases over the years and as his types suffered wear and minor breakage from job to job.3 Other practical matters in the printing process may undermine assignments of data based principally on type matching. A span of more than a few years between the printings under consideration for matching materials raises a question because types did not last indefinitely. Their wear and breakage is reflected in many incunabula impressions, and badly worn or broken types were apt to be melted down and recast within a few years of their founding if they were in regular use.4 In addition, measurements of impressions on early printed books have to take into account factors that can give ambiguous or misleading results: types might be locked-up poorly or inked too sparsely or heavily, giving distinct impressions from like types, and stray bits of metal, fiber, or trash might wander onto the surface of paper or type, affecting the measurement of an impression. On the press, inked types locked up in the forme would meet a wetted sheet of paper having varying degrees of roughness and dampness across its face, and when the impression was done, the printed sheet would be removed to dry and another set into its place, and so on through the work hours.5 The variables that intervened in these processes, whether in the manufacture or performance of materials, in little acts of God, or through human hands, created the details and character of printings scrutinized for matches and distinctions. In their drying, the damp paper and the ink impressions would shrink somewhat, and because impressions are measured in small units, minor differences in size and features may be important to making or dismissing matches. More than one kind of paper might be used in a single book, producing slight distinctions in impressions made by the same materials. A metal type or woodcut damaged in the course of printing would show a distinction in later impressions. A high degree of similarity among type styles and sizes in use at a given period in a given region may also complicate efforts to see distinctions, and printings using similar types have persuaded one careful observer into seeing likeness where another will see distinctions.6 Matching the Letter’s types and its single framed (champie) initial to a specific printer in a given town in Spain on a given day in the late fifteenth century is an even more elusive goal than this discussion has suggested because Spanish printers’ mobility, their apparently common sources of materials within a geographical area, and

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A Slippery Job their practices of borrowing, lending, inheriting, or selling those materials work against certainty in assigning data to orphan Spanish printings.7 Shifting and overlapping associations among printers and printing workers caused material to move from one hand or shop to another, and fabricators of punches and other printing materials appear to have provided products to a variety of associates. A job contracted and initiated by one printer might be completed by another — though their relationship may not be clear — and relocations of printers and printing workers complicate matters further. Scanty and doubtful indications of apprenticeship and the scarcity of documents related to the lives of many Spanish printing workers at all stages of their careers make it sometimes difficult to determine who is the master and who is the apprentice, and setting the location of a given printer in a month, season, or year may be impossible.8 Johann Rosembach and Pere Posa are the printers most often mentioned in the history of the Folio printing, but crediting one or the other of them with its printing has presented bibliographical problems that are usefully illustrated by the careers of other early Spanish printers. The lives and printed productions of Heinrich Botel, Pierre Brun, Jacobo Cromberger, Fadrique de Basilea, Matthaeus Flandro, Paul and Johann Hurus, Johann Luschner, Pere Miguel, Stanislao Polono, Nicolau Spindeler, and Meinhard Ungut provide useful insight and direction in considering the data assigned to the Folio.9 The associations of Meinhard (Meinhardus or Meynardo) Ungut, Stanislao Polono (Ladislao or Stanislaus Polonus), and Jacobo Cromberger (Iakob or Jácome Kromberger, Jácome Alemán), for example, suggest some of these problems and potentially touch the Spanish Letter’s printing because these men were printing in Sevilla in 1493 when Columbus returned there.10 Ungut and Polono’s shop was credited by José María Asensio with printing the Spanish quarto of the Letter, and the twenty-year-old Cromberger may have been a worker in their shop in 1493.11 Polono partnered with Ungut in the Calle de Génova until Ungut’s death in 1499, soon after which, Cromberger must have married Ungut’s widow and assumed the duties of the shop with the remaining partner.12 Cromberger’s career and movements begin to be particularly well documented about this time and serve to illustrate certain problematic aspects of identifying the printers of orphan books and of founding criticism on time-honored understandings that need further examination. Jacobo Cromberger, as the family’s historian-biographer Clive Griffin notes, may have come from Nuremberg — though no record directly confirms it — and the idea, according to Griffin, is based on “various forms of Jacobo’s surname” as it appears — recorded erroneously — in certain documents (20–21). The salient variant, Griffin suggests, probably arose out of confusion between Jacobo’s surname and that of his son-in-law, Lázaro Nuremberger, who in his turn is given the Cromberger surname on certain documents (20). Griffin though, cautions that the idea of Cromberger’s coming from Nuremberg “remain[s] conjectural,” and that the additional notion that Jacobo was “a scion of a great [German] printing family” — the Kobergers of Nuremberg — as “some historians of Spanish printing” have presumed is simply and categorically untrue (21). Further lessons from Jacobo Cromberger’s well-documented career are his


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A Slippery Job assumption of the printing materials of another, his rise from printing worker to master printer, his enterprise in exporting books, his traveling to complete projects, and his becoming a “publisher” by 1508.13 Cromberger evidently takes over Ungut’s shop and printing materials, including 600 libras of types and initials and presumably all the woodcuts on hand.14 Over his career, Cromberger printed in Portuguese and Spanish as well as in Latin, evidently exported his printings in Latin and Spanish to Portugal, and is recorded as having traveled hundreds of miles to print commissions. Griffin writes that Cromberger’s printing showed his “close knowledge of what would sell” (37), an essential sense for a successful printer who printed books partly or wholly at his own expense and marketed them. Cromwell died in Lisbon where he had gone to complete a printing contract in 1528, and another passing of materials, shop, and business ensued as his son Juan (Johann) took over.15 The elder Cromberger’s assumption of another’s shop, his traveling press, his working at dual enterprises, and his shop being assumed by a male relative at his death are elements of life and work shared by a good number of Spain’s early printers. Like other incunabula printers, the Crombergers were entrepreneurs and adventurers by nature, and their enterprise makes an important connection with Columbus’s return because they evidently were quick to recognize the commercial potential offered in the “new world” from their vantage point in Sevilla, and they established the first press in the Americas.16

The first nomination In 1893, just as the “Americas” were tidying up after the lavish celebrations and unveilings that marked the four-hundredth anniversary of the “First Landfall,” as Columbus’s disembarking on October 12, 1492 in the Caribbean is known, Michael Kerney first published his determination of the Letter’s printer in Quaritch’s second facsimile edition of the Folio. He announced his finding in the titles, declaring that the Spanish Letter had been “printed by Johann Rosenbach at Barcelona early in April 1493.” Kerney, who had had the Letter in his hands for two or three years by that time, appears to have based his theory on a knowledge of history and geography, on samples of Rosembach’s printing that were at his disposal, and on the presence of “Catalanisms” in the text. Considering Kerney’s resources at the time, his conclusion is astute. Rosembach was a prolific printer, working in Catalán and Latin; he used types similar to the ones used in the Letter; he used and may have created the framed S with which the Letter opens; and Rosembach appears to have been in the right place at the right time. Rosembach was not, however, Catalán, as Kerney surely recognized, but Rosembach set printings in Catalán and may have employed Catalán workmen in his shop. My guess is that whether Kerney is right for some of the wrong reasons or wrong in spite of sound logic, he came quite close to the truth. Rosembach was indeed a good candidate and may be so still, and no one has so far seriously disputed Kerney’s nominations of Barcelona as the place or 1493 as the correct year of the printing though the Letter’s printing data is nowhere internally attested. Scholars appear to have accepted that the Folio was printed in Barcelona in 1493

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A Slippery Job and probably by Rosembach until Konrad Haebler suggested Pere Posa, also of Barcelona, as its printer. Two of Haebler’s contemporaries were skeptical about Posa, and a third claimed to have named Posa in advance of Haebler. John Boyd Thacher (1903) and Cecil Jane (1930) were among the few voices rejecting Haebler’s certainty on Posa as the Folio printer, but neither was willing to state absolutely that one printer or another had produced the Folio. Thacher delineates the difficulty of assigning a printer in some detail in his rejection of Posa, basing his determination on the typography of an edition of Franciscus Ximenes’s Pastorale printed by Posa and dated 5 December 1495, more than two-anda-half years after the Folio is supposed to have been printed.17 Thacher notes that the ligatures (“double letters cast on the same type”) used in the Letter are not found in the Pastorale and that the matrices of the types of two printings that Haebler viewed as identical were really of different sizes.18 Since Latin and Spanish use some distinct ligatures, one might expect some differences on that basis, and the measurements of some of the plain initials of the Pastorale appear to me to be short by about 1 mm., but the initials are quite similar. To be more specific: • • • • •

the E of the Folio and that of the Pastorale are clearly distinct though they share some common features; the C, S, and T of the Pastorale (1v) are in the same style as those of the Letter but have distinguishing details; the impressions of A give rather equivocal results, either because of the condition of the types or because of lacunae in the impressions, but at least some of them appear to be the same; D, F, Q, and R of the Pastorale (1v) appear to match those of the Folio in size and features; the M, likewise, though the details vary slightly in ways that may be due to damage or to the particular impression or to a real difference in the types.19

Possibly most interesting are the design features in the framed initial R of the Pastorale (1v) that compellingly suggest that the R came from the same hand as the S of the Letter. This R figures into the discussion of a Rosembach printing of 1494 in chapter 3 of this book.

R, from Posa’s Pastorale (1v)

Thacher may also have been inspired to study the type of the Pastorale closely because


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A Slippery Job of a handwritten notation signed by Henry Harrisse and datelined at Paris in May 1900 on the front pastedown of Thacher’s copy of the Pastorale. In this note, Harrisse attributes the Folio’s printing to Posa, claiming to have done so before Haebler made the attribution, and indeed, before most people had seen the Letter. In accord with his knowledge of Harrisse’s position, Thacher writes, “Both Harrisse and Quaritch regard the Posa press as having produced the folio,” though whether he refers to the man or the firm with “Quaritch” is unclear.20 Harrisse’s note in Thacher’s Pastorale is written in approximately the following format, with the underlining and spacing of the original represented as nearly as possible: This book [Posa’s 1495 Pastorale] was printed with the same type employed for printing the folio letter of Columbus, now in the Astor Library. So was Posa’s edition of De la [sic] imitatio de Jesu Christ, 1482. See my letter to the NewYork Tribune, March 4, 1891. Henry Harrisse Paris, May 14 1900. Harrisse here claims that by 1891 he had cited the Pastorale and Miguel Pérez’s Catalán translation of Imitatio Christi (Del imitatio de Jesu Christ) printed by Posa and dated 1482 as being set in the types found in the folio Letter. The latter match is also mistaken according to my comparison, and it implies a type survival that seems most unlikely.21 The match Harrisse sees between the types of the Pastorale printed in 1495 and the folio Letter is flawed, too, but types used in 1493 having been in use in 1495 falls within the range of years estimated for type survival if the types had not been in use for much more than a year or two in 1493, though a good number of the Letter’s types show wear or breakage in 1493. What is interesting about this note is that Harrisse’s claim, if his dating is accurate, precedes Haebler’s pronouncement on Posa.22 The British Museum’s Robert George Collier Proctor did not consider Posa the Letter’s printer either, but he determined that the types used in the folio Letter could not be definitively assigned to Rosembach or to Luschner, with whose materials he apparently connected the folio Letter. Proctor noted that the Folio types appear in a Catalán Llibre de Consolat (Consolat del mar) thought to be from the mid-1480s that Proctor assigned to Barcelona.23 Proctor was not able to determine the Consolat’s printer definitively, but Haebler assigns this Consolat to Spindeler (as Libre de consolat). If Proctor were right about the type match and Haebler were right about who printed the Consolat, then Spindeler would be a candidate for having printed the folio Letter.24 The British Library’s Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) cites two copies of the Consolat del mar, one a folio printing without data and attributed tentatively to Spindeler and Brun around 1483–1484 (the copy Haebler attributed to Spindeler), and

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A Slippery Job the other assigned by colophon to Posa in 1494. The British Museum Catalogue (BMC), however, offers a caveat to the tentative attribution of the 1480s Consolat to Spindeler that is of interest to this discussion: the first and last quires and a single sheet “are printed in Pedro Posa’s type 107G, after 3 June 1484”; this is the type (style and size) of Posa’s that Haebler identifies in the folio Letter.25 Caveats and convergences duly considered, I suggest that Proctor’s declining to assign the Letter’s printing definitively in the presence of the indications he observed is best bibliographic practice, but as the years rolled on, dissenting judgments on the Folio’s printer faded from view, and Haebler’s pronouncement won over virtually everyone concerned. Most scholars have presented Haebler’s bibliographic attribution as beyond debate, as a simple historical fact.26 In one example, a review written in 2006 by a highly respected historian of the period assessing a recent luxury edition of the Letter asserts, based on the book under review, that the folio Letter was printed by the “prominent Barcelona printer Pere Posa.”27 ISTC’s record for the Folio, however, gives “Barcelona, Pedro Posa” within brackets.28 Assertions about the place and year of the Folio’s printing, first set by Kerney, may be accorded a much higher degree of probability than the name of the printer because the court was in residence at Barcelona in March of 1493 when Columbus and the sovereigns were corresponding. Though the Letter could have been printed in Sevilla or in one of the Catalán centers of printing along the coastal route to Barcelona, Barcelona is a reasonable site for the printing for the historical reasons cited. Proctor’s conclusions and a century of research on Spain’s incunabula printers since Haebler pronounced on Posa suggest that a closer examination of the work and associations of Barcelona printers like Spindeler, Luschner, Brun, Posa, and Rosembach can offer details of interest to the Letter’s printing history. Luschner, for example, is known to have been an associate of Rosembach’s in Barcelona, and Posa’s types, as has been observed, are said to appear in the 1480s edition of the Consolat, along with types tentatively attributed to Spindeler and Brun’s partnership, under which Posa may have done his apprenticeship in the 1480s. While types used in the 1480s in a busy shop would be unlikely to be in use in 1493, new types could have been cast that would closely resemble those of the older font. Other printing materials imply further connections among these printers, and the discussions of printers’ work and careers that follow will address those convergences as they have interest for the Letter’s printing.

Nicolau Spindeler Closely connected to Rosembach and Posa, as well as to Pierre Brun, is Nicolau Spindeler, a Southern German printer and engraver, whose professional activity makes him a kind of focal point for several Barcelona printers at the period.29 Spindeler is known to have practiced his trade in Valencia, Zaragoza, Tarragona, Tortosa, and Barcelona in the Catalán region, and modern bibliographers have admired his work for its engraving and printing.30 It is, however, the production of ornaments and initials for which Spindeler is most honored. Haebler calls Spindeler “un impresor excelente”


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A Slippery Job [a fine printer] and observes that Spindeler “supo fundir y grabar orlas y capitales de dibujo muy gracioso” [knew how to found and engrave borders (marginal decorations) and capitals of very graceful design] (TI 16). Spindeler’s attested work as an engraver and printer indicates that his services were in some demand in both industries and that he was well connected to the mainstream of Spanish printing in its earliest days.31 Spindeler’s work and character, however, have not been viewed positively by all bibliographers, some of whom have judged him less prosperous and less dependable than printers like Posa, whose active shop and stable residence in Barcelona are substantially documented facts of Posa’s life and work. In the eighteenth century, Benigno Fernández described Spindeler as “uno de esos impresores de grandes iniciativas, dotados de ingenio y habilidad, pero poco constantes o poco afortunados, y por lo mismo propensos a andar errantes de aquí para allá en busca de negocios nuevos . . .” [one of those printers of great promise, gifted with genius and ability, but of uneven effort or else somewhat unlucky, because of which, they are wont to go wandering here and there in search of new business].32 Spindeler’s signed work, however, shows him remaining in the Catalán region from his beginnings through several decades until his printing apparently ceases within a few years after the turn of the century — though some of the middle years remain undocumented. Records cited by Josep María Madurell i Marimon and Jordi Rubió i Balaguer give witness to Spindeler’s itinerant ways as late as 1500: the colophon of a Villanova grammar in quarto, printed in February 1500, puts Spindeler at Valencia, and a contract shows him in Barcelona on 28 November in that year at work on “cincuenta ejemplares de la Grammatica nova de Nebrixa” [fifty copies of Nebrija’s new Grammar (New Grammar)].33 Spindeler’s relocations may be argued as ordinary practice in the early print period, as we see by the movements of men like Cromberger, Rosembach, Brun, and others within Spain, and in the evidence of every German-born printer who left Germany in those first decades of printing to set up his press in France, Spain, Switzerland, or Italy. Spindeler’s creativity, skill, and enterprise, rather than a defective character, then, may have called him to travel periodically to complete contracts.34 Whatever prompted his moves, Spindeler shows himself to have endured in his trade for about thirty years and to have been a gifted craftsman, as his 1490 production of the Catalán romance Tirant lo Blanch [Tirant the White] causes Haebler to observe. Haebler judges this Tirant to be “una de las producciones más hermosas de las antiguas prensas de la Península” [one of the handsomest productions from the early presses of the Peninsula] (Haebler TI 16), and I will return to it later in a further discussion of Spindeler. Rather than betraying his waywardness, Spindeler’s movements may be evidence of his work having been in demand, his time accommodating the highest bidder or the oldest friend, no matter the distance. Evidence of his associations and production confirm that Spindeler — whether troubled artistic genius or adept tradesman and craftsman or some of both — was recognized for his dual competencies and the quality of his workmanship, two matters that his surviving work confirms.

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A Slippery Job Spindeler and Brun In their salad days, Spindeler and Pierre Brun may have learned the printing trade in Zaragoza under the Flemish master Matthaeus (Mateo) Flandro (de Flandres, of Flanders), whom Haebler names as the printer of the first book in Spain to declare its printer, year (1475), and place of printing internally.35 Haebler theorizes that Spindeler and Brun were either Matthaeus’ apprentices or his associates because they turn up printing with his types, according to Haebler’s judgment of a match, when Matthaeus’s printing apparently ceases.36 Only one printing of Spindeler and Brun’s exists from Zaragoza, from which they appear to have moved to Tortosa, where they get credit in 1477 for producing a folio of Nicolaus Perottus’s Rudimenta grammatices that exists today in a unique example as Tortosa’s first known printing. Haebler writes that its types are those of Matthaeus’s Manipulus curatorum dated 15 October 1475 in Zaragoza, but not all commentators agree with the match.37 Spindeler and Brun’s 1477 colophon identifies them as “master” printers, and they apparently do not remain in Tortosa for long afterward because they are printing together in 1478 in Barcelona, where they are credited with two issues of works of Aristotle with Aquinas’s commentary.38 Haebler speculates that the roman types of these printings were recast in Barcelona by Spindeler and Brun — “fundieron de nuevo caracteres romanos” — but the following year, he finds Spindeler is again making use of Matthaeus’s gothic and continuing to print with it in Barcelona until 1482.39 Despite some “small differences” [ligeras diferencias] between Matthaeus’s types and the gothic Spindeler uses in Barcelona, Haebler ascribes the differences to wear and affirms the match though he appears to be surprised to have found it. Indeed, one would expect fresh founding of types over this period of time, and Antonio Odriozola dissents from Haebler’s view.40 Spindeler is in Barcelona with the 31 August 1479 printing of Guido de Monte Rochen’s (Guido de Monte Rhoterio) Manipulus Curatorum, in which Spindeler achieves “a technical advance” with a red impression in the opening of the book.41 The 1480 Psaltiri [Psalter] attributed to Spindeler is marked by an outstanding handpainted initial B that Salvador Sanpere y Miguel (Sanpere i Miguel) rates as being as beautiful as those adorning the finest Catalán manuscript codices of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.42 In a document of 10 June 1480, Spindeler (alone) is credited with printing certain bulls of indulgence in Barcelona, and a document dated 2 May 1481 refers back to Spindeler and Brun’s business in the Aragonese town of Tortosa, showing Spindeler as “alamannus” [German] and Brun, as “Petrus Bru, francigina,” both “cives Barchinone” [citizens of Barcelona], settling accounts with Girardus, “alamannus magister de estampa” [German master printer] of Tortosa.43 As the dates of these documents indicate, both Spindeler and Brun were in Barcelona no later than the spring of 1481, where E. Gordon Duff places them as the city’s first printers.44 Sosa summarizes the story of Spindeler and Brun’s travels and notes that in 1481, not only are Brun and Spindeler in Barcelona, but Brun associates himself there with Pere Posa, collaborating on the Historiae Alexandri Magni [Histories of Alexander the Great] (472), a printing that will come into the discussion further on. Brun and Spindeler separate at some point over 1479–1480, and, as Haebler notes, Brun “seems


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A Slippery Job not to have left the town,” and he reappears with a new associate, Posa, for whom it is thought Brun served as “master.”45 Following the separation of Spindeler and Brun, Brun apparently goes to Sevilla, and Spindeler moves between Barcelona and Tarragona from 1481 through 1485 and is possibly in Barcelona until sometime in 1482, when a colophon puts him in Tarragona using, according to Haebler, a newly struck gothic font (TI 16).46 Agustín Millares Carlo notes that from the latter months of 1485 until 1489, no extant printing gives notice of Spindeler (503),47 but all agree that in 1490 Spindeler is in Valencia, where he prints the Tirant lo Blanch, mentioned above, using a border — perhaps produced by Rosembach — that subsequently appears in Rosembach’s Barcelona work.48 Spindeler’s time in 1493 may have been divided between Valencia and Barcelona, but all the printings assigned to Spindeler in Valencia in 1493 are tentative or disputed. No printing done in Barcelona in 1493 is attributed to him, but Spindeler becomes visible again in Valencia between 1494 and 1500.49 With order and even beauty as hallmarks of Spindeler’s printing, is it unlikely that the folio Letter emerged from his press, but his business as a type founder, his Barcelona location, his long career in the Catalán-literate region, supposed matches of materials, and his associations with Rosembach and Brun keep him close to this discussion. It is possible that Spindeler was in Barcelona in the spring of 1493, perhaps because of the business potential offered by the court’s being in residence there. One can only say that no printing or legal document has emerged to show otherwise, and neither does any confirm his presence there. What Brun did between September 1481, the dating of his last printing with Posa, and 1492 is not known for certain. One printing is tentatively attributed to him in company with Spindeler (about 1483–1484), and two are attributed to Brun and Juan (Iohannem) Gentil (Gentile, Gentil), both about 1490, possibly in Sevilla.50 F. J. Norton describes Brun as a “veteran of Catalan printing” by 1492, at which time Brun is printing in association with Gentil in Sevilla.51 Brun may (or may not) be the “maestre Pedro” of Sevilla, where Gentil and “Maestre Pedro” printed the Libro de la Nobleza (Nobiliario, Nobiliario vero) [Book of (True) Nobility] of Hernando Mejía (Fernando Mexía) in 1492 using small-initial types remarkably similar to those used in the folio Letter.52 Brun, then, is found at Barcelona and Sevilla in company with various partners and, as is the case with some of the other printers mentioned here, surviving records give no evidence of his work or movements for several years. Brun’s having been first in company with Spindeler at Barcelona and later with Posa, whose types he is known to have used (or vice versa), sets him into this discussion. The probability is that when Columbus arrived in Sevilla in 1493, Brun was there, and Brun or other Sevillano printers — Gentil or Ungut and Polono, for example — could have printed a version of the Letter in Spanish. Having a copy of such a marketable piece of printing come to hand, whether he had printed it or not, an astute man might send it to associates in other cities. It is also possible that an enterprising printer in Sevilla, understanding the potential market in Barcelona at the time for such a project and being no less able but certainly less encumbered than Columbus to go there, would speedily travel to

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A Slippery Job Barcelona to print on speculation or to fulfill a printing commission involving the Letter, perhaps using the types and press of a former associate there.53 Nevertheless, no document or colophon nor any printing assigned tentatively to Brun shows or supposes Brun to have been anywhere other than in Sevilla in 1493 and through the rest of his career.

Pere Posa Pere Posa, also given as Posa I or Posa the Elder, is Haebler’s nomination as the Folio printer based on a match of types, and according to Norton, who may be basing his statement on the books listed in the Elder Posa’s will, he “was also a considerable bookseller.”54 Haebler gives Pere Posa — hereinafter “Posa” — as the “discípulo” [apprentice] of Pierre (Pedro, Peter) Brun because Brun and Posa are attested as partners on a printing of 1481, a history of Alexander the Great, mentioned above, that carries the first known colophon to mention Posa, but Posa’s name precedes Brun’s in the colophon.55 Three printings are attributed by colophon to Brun and Posa in 1481, one in July and two in September, but three documents connected to the court of 1481 are tentatively credited to Posa alone at a time when it seems likely that Posa and Brun still might have been partners;56 nevertheless, these printings probably date to the following year, when at least five colophons show Posa printing solo.57 Though Federico Carlos Sainz de Robles asserts that Posa operated in Barcelona for eighteen years between 1481 and 1499 (155), the statement is only partly substantiated by documents and printings, and no printing is assigned (even tentatively) to Posa during 1485–1487. Haebler found no Posa production assigned to 1493 at the time he credited the Letter’s printing to Posa, but today, one Posa edition, Alexander de Villa Dei Maillet’s Doctrinale pro eruditione puerorum, a lengthy metrical instructional grammar with a brief prose preface, is identified by colophon as Posa’s and dated 25 September 1493.58 An incomplete volume of Miguel Pérez’s Catalán translation of the Imitatio Christi is now tentatively assigned to Posa in Barcelona, and its conjectured production year is given variously as “about 1493” and as 1500, a span of time that tends to place some discount on type matches and doubt on the dating.59 The tentativeness of this assignment and other editions of the same work in the 1490s make this printing of interest in this discussion. A quarto printing of Pérez’s Catalán Imitatio Christi is datelined Valencia, 16 February 1491, but, like the fragmentary quarto tentatively assigned to Posa in Barcelona “about” 1493, this 1491 edition lacks the printer’s name. The 1491 edition survives intact in several copies and is credited tentatively to Spindeler, possibly “for Jaume [de] Vila,” a man with whom Rosembach also had connections.60 Proctor credits the work “doubtfully” to “Peter Hagenbach [Pedro Hagembach] and Leonardus Hutz,” and Haebler opines that the Hagenbach and Hutz partnership probably printed everything attributed to Jaume de Vila, countering the Spindeler attribution.61 The close associations of these printers and their use of the same or similar materials probably contribute to these differences of opinion. At Posa’s death in 1506, the inventory of his possessions, written in Catalán, stip-


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A Slippery Job ulates that Posa owned four presses, three “outfitted” or “with fittings,” and a fourth, bigger press for printing larger books.62 Posa died a well-to-do man, as his will, written in Latin and dated 1 May 1506, shows. All of Posa’s positively identified production is in Latin or Catalán, and if he printed Columbus’s Letter, it is the only known Posa printing in Castellano.63 Posa is identified in his colophons as “presbyter” [priest], “Vir eruditus” [learned man], and “dominus” [master], causing Haebler to conclude that this Catalán priest “was no common person.”64 During his career, Posa had various printing associations, including that with Brun, and the impressions of printing materials used in Posa’s attested work are also found in that of Rosembach and Pere Miguel.

Johann Rosembach The first Barcelona printer nominated as the printer of the folio Letter, Johann Rosembach, printed a great many books in a variety of genres in Latin and Catalán and left a trail of legal documents that helps to place him geographically over the years and to suggest his level of productivity.65 Tracking Rosembach’s movements in his years of traveling to complete contracts is a matter of cobbling together city names provided in colophons and matching them with periods of time of uncertain duration, and the fact that he may have printed under Spindeler’s colophon tends to complicate speculation about Rosembach’s work and movements.66 In 1488, one of Rosembach’s “travel years,” Rosembach was in Tarragona, but by 1490, he had settled in to print at Valencia where his mutually supportive association with Spindeler resulted in Rosembach’s finishing an edition Spindeler had begun.67 Rosembach is attested in Valencia in 1491 as well, in partnership with Spindeler’s former associate Hans Rix (Hans Rich de Chur, Iohannes Rix).68 Based on surviving documents and Spindeler and Rosembach’s use of what appear to be one another’s materials, Spindeler was a knowledgeable veteran of Catalán printing by the time Rosembach arrived on the scene in the 1490s, and the Spindeler– Rosembach relationship looks to have been a working partnership and perhaps a friendship since they shared a native country and language as well as their trade. Rosembach is in Barcelona by January 1492 after rescinding a contract made in Valencia in the previous month, and he is identified as “Iohan Arrosbac,” a printer and native of the city of Heidelberg, in a leasing document of 6 April 1492 and is named in other formal documents datelined Barcelona in the spring of 1492.69 Del Arco argues for Spindeler’s collaboration with Rosembach on two of Rosembach’s Catálan printings in Barcelona in the mid-1490s, attributing the engravings in Rosembach’s Carcer (Cárcel) de amor (September 1493) and those in his Llibre de les dones [Book of Ladies] (May 1495) to Spindeler’s hand (111–113).70 Haebler finds Rosembach in Barcelona until March 1494 (TI 57), and Sainz de Robles places Rosembach in Barcelona from 1492 until 1498, “acaparando el mercado de libros” [monopolizing the book trade] (149).71 A surprising amount of contractual documentation provides clues to Rosembach’s movements. A printing contract dated 12 January 1492 for a quantity of Brevarios [breviaries] between Rosembach and Jaime de Vila was completed, according to another

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A Slippery Job notarial document, by 14 May 1492 (Sosa 411). A notarized document of 27 February 1492 lists Rosembach as “Iohanni Ros Bach alamanni, stampatori,” the lessee of houses located in La Calle de Sant Just for a three-year period (MR 153–155), including the year of Columbus’s visit to the court at Barcelona. In 1493, Rosembach produced his Carcer de amor (Prison of Love) in Barcelona, and in mid-February 1494, he printed the first of two editions of documents issued by the Barcelona court of 1493.72 Several printings, then, affirm Rosembach’s being in Barcelona in 1493 and attest his connections with the court. These printings are set in Catalán and Latin, and as with Posa’s known work at present, no incunabula printing attributed by colophon to Rosembach is done in Spanish though he has a Spanish printing in the sixteenth century. Though several scholars affirm that Rosembach printed in Valencia, probably in partnership with Spindeler, Guillermo S. Sosa observes that no books printed by Rosembach are known to have come from Valencia.73 During his later career, Rosembach printed in Tarragona and Perpignan, France (north of Barcelona), as well as in Barcelona, and more than two dozen printings are attested as his after the incunabula period, and others are tentatively assigned.74 About Rosembach’s learnedness, his command of printing’s aesthetic elements, his skill as a printer, and his combative spirit, evidenced in legal documents, one finds little disagreement. Madurell and Rubió consider Rosembach to have been the “maestro en Cataluña [. . .] en la impresión de libros litúrgicos” [master in Cataluña . . . in the printing of liturgical books].75 Millares Carlo calls Rosembach “indudablemente el más importante de cuantos trabajaron en su época en Cataluña” [undoubtedly the most important of those working at his time in Cataluña] (511). Even Sainz de Robles, who sees Rosembach’s limitations as well as his strengths, calls attention to Rosembach’s use of fancy initials and praises “esta joya del Misal ” [this jewel of a Missal] that is “la más bella y acabada” [the most beautiful and accomplished] of Rosembach’s production.76 Haebler remarks that Rosembach’s work featured fancy initials from the first and speculates that in Rosembach’s later productions these initials were Spindeler’s creations, but Haebler opines that Rosembach does not make the accomplished use of them that one finds in Spindeler’s work (TI 60). Del Arco, on the other hand, asserts that “Rosenbach brilló más que Spindeler” [Rosembach shone brighter than Spindeler].77 Sainz de Robles affirms Rosembach’s erudition and aesthetics when he writes, “Importa mucho hacer resaltar la limpieza de las ediciones de Rosembach debida a su mucha erudición y a su mucha sensibilidad” [It matters a great deal that we emphasize the beauty of Rosembach’s editions, (a characteristic) owing to his deep learning and to his great sensitivity] (149).78 Madurell and Rubió note that Rosembach’s total production must have been “muy importante, en calidad y en número” [very important in quality and number] and suppose that during the forty years Rosembach worked in Spain, the greater part of his work must have been lost (717).79 Rosembach lived until 1530, a man aptly described by Rubió as “spirited and demanding” until the last.80 Among these printers, then, only Posa appears to have printed exclusively in Barcelona while Rosembach, who was primarily based in Barcelona, and Spindeler and others are known to have taken their materials and craftsmanship on the road,


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A Slippery Job sometimes partnering with associates in other Catalán printing centers.Whether they did so to avoid political problems, to escape the plague, or to follow business opportunities is a matter of speculation. Rosembach’s and Spindeler’s printings and the initials, fonts, and illustrations attributed to one or the other of them suggest that their work, along with their learning, may have been valued by consumers in the book market and by their fellows in the printing trade. Posa’s attested work shows his education and mastery of his craft and implies an informed market for his work, and some of Posa’s woodcuts — probably produced by one of his German-born connections in Cataluña — are quite striking.

Spanish printing in Cataluña Printings in Spanish are scarce among Barcelona’s surviving incunabula, though Rosembach is credited with a Spanish printing there in the sixteenth century.81 I have found only one surviving printing in Spanish positively attested to have been printed in Barcelona in the incunabula period and another that is printed as a parallel text of the same material in Spanish and Latin. Both represent a translation of St. Bonaventure’s Meditationes, and both printings are probably the work of Pere Miguel, who produced the Latin Meditationes in a folio dated 14 July 1493 and its Spanish translation, also in folio, dated 16 July 1493, both in Barcelona. The second printing using the Spanish translation is a parallel text in Latin and Spanish that exists in a unique folio with losses (including the colophon) that is tentatively assigned to Pere Miguel with similar data because of the two “sister” printings.82 The only Barcelona printer documented with more than one printing in 1493 is likewise Pere Miguel, to whom several printings are attributed in Barcelona that spring and summer, the period at which the Folio is likely to have been produced. Miguel is credited with five printings dated by colophon in 1493 and a sixth, with the supposed colophon among its losses, that makes a plausible companion to two of those printings. Pere Miguel’s folio of Ramon Llull’s Proverbia in May 1493 and two (or perhaps three) issues of St. Bonaventure’s Meditationes in July of that year set him, so far as we know, in Barcelona, actively printing closer than any other Barcelona printer to the probable date of the folio Letter’s production.83 Pere Miguel is also the only Barcelona printer to have a surviving, attested printing in Spanish in 1493. Because surviving books and leaves printed in Spanish are exceptional in the stream of work produced in Barcelona at this period, one might well doubt that the Letter was printed there. Most of Pere Miguel’s known production, like that of his fellow Barcelona printers, is in Catalán and Latin, but his surviving work from 1493 suggests that he was the most likely printer to have engaged in printing work in Spanish in Barcelona that spring.84 It is intriguing but probably of no critical value that Pere Miguel’s quarto of St. Bonaventure uses a paper with the same genre of watermark as that found on the paper of the surviving folio Letter. On the other hand, that Pere Miguel’s 1493 Barcelona production of a Vida of St. Jerome features what appears to be a border used by Posa in 1482 and 1488 adds another germane bit of information to theorizing the folio Letter’s printing data.85

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A Slippery Job

A rough drawing of the Folio watermark

Notes 1

Printings may lack data because of losses to the printing, because the printer attached little value to including the data on certain pieces, and/or because the printer suppressed the data intentionally. Datelining and claiming printing in those years was a somewhat irregular practice, and if a printing were somehow eccentric, (religiously, politically, or philosophically), it might be prudent not to claim it. Losses to books are most likely to involve the first or last pages, and those are the pages where the printing data and printer’s marks or illustrative woodcuts are generally found.

Some early printers “signed” their work with names or initials and with place or date or both, and some used what might appropriately be characterized as “trademarks” in the form of identifying woodcuts using stylized initials and/or designs instead of or in addition to other identifying information set in type. Colophons, whether as recognizable “marks” (emblems) or typeset data, are absent on many examples of early printing. Haebler’s collection of early Spanish printers’ marks (Bücherzeichen) collects the marks of Fadrique, the Hurus brothers, Lope de la Roca, the Crombergers, Rosembach, Posa, Pere Miguel and Diego de Gumiel, Ungut and Polono, Hagenbach, Hutz, and others. The detail and motifs of some of these woodcuts suggest the pride of the printer in claiming certain of his work, as well as the artistic sensibility and skill of those who made the drawings and executed the woodcuts. A series of similar designs suggests a couple of possibilities: that multiple projects were locked up in the formes at once, making it necessary to have several marks available, or the marks were constantly evolving as the printer desired that his work bear new and improved marks. 2

Gaskell affirms that a set of punches used to create a particular font was what it was even when the types cast (from the matrices derived from those punches) turn out to be “unique.” A font is cast from matrices produced by punches. A set of punches might be used to create as many sets of matrices as demand required, and a set of matrices would produce a complete font. Each matrix (in the set of matrices) could be used to cast as many types of its letter (number, mark of punctuation, etc.) as desired. Specialized punch-cutters might produce sets of matrices for themselves and for other printers in the city or region, in which case, they used the same punches, but possibly the matrices and more likely the “types as cast” in the shops might turn out to be somehow “distinctive” — and so “unique.” In producing a set of punches, punchcutters used tools like specialized counterpunches to promote consistency throughout a font and took other steps to reproduce faithfully the desired design. Gaskell, bibliographer and librarian and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, applied his bibliographic principles to textual criticism, as I attempt to do here. His New Introduction to Bibliography has been the standard text and reference in the field for over four decades. The older Oxford edition has some typographical problems such as omitted lines; the Oak Knoll–St. Paul’s Bibliographies’ corrected edition is the better choice for reference. See Nicholas Barker’s obituary of Gaskell. 3

In this vein, Gaskell observes that “No two printers of the hand-press period possessed stocks of exactly similar founts of type and of ornaments; a printer’s typographical equipment was unique, and identifiably so” (38–39).

4 Types could be cast from the matrices used to cast their predecessors, so generations of types might derive from the same sources. New punches, I think, might produce some distinctions even when the punchcutter followed steps to copy an existing font.


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A Slippery Job On the subject of incunabula type durability, see Michael Pollack’s 1970 essay where he summarizes the most significant scholarly opinions and research on the subject at the time and reviews latter-day estimates and experiments and presents his calculations of type life related to the hardness and durability of incunabula types and the specific use they received. Pollack concludes that types might last for several tens of thousands of blows against the platen, or for two to three years of service, depending on the variables of print run numbers and the level of activity in a given printshop. 5

Composing, imposing, and presswork involve more steps and detail than are indicated here. See Gaskell’s introduction and his sections on type, composition, paper, ink, imposition, and presswork, for example. Gaskell refers to the period 1500–1800, but the processes of the incunabula period are represented. 6 Note the probable use of the same punches to produce certain fonts within a region, described above, and disagreements discussed in this and the subsequent chapters between Asensio and Haebler; Antonio Odriozola and Haebler;Thacher and Haebler (and Harrisse); and Norton (Printing), Haebler and Francisco Vindel, whom Norton notes “fail[ed] to distinguish” a particular roman font from “its quite distinct successor” (21). 7

Ruth Mortimer remarks the “itinerant nature” of Spain’s printers and the problems in identifying the printers of works produced in the course of these “wanderings” — difficulties that are only “compounded by a lively traffic in types and decorative blocks.” Mortimer makes these comments in reviewing Norton’s Catalogue (83), so her comments may relate specifically to assigning sixteenthcentury work. “Wanderings” and the “lively traffic” in materials affect efforts to assign the Folio and other orphan printings. Norton’s Catalogue includes the post-1500 printings of incunabula printers like Spindeler, Posa I, Rosembach, Luschner, Brun, Polono and Ungut, Hagenbach, Diego de Gumiel, and others mentioned in this chapter. Mario Emilio Cosenza, a scholar of Italian printing, for example, laments the effects of “itinerant printers” on efforts to assign data in Italian printing (vii), and Margaret Bingham Stillwell tracks the march of printing across Europe as traveling printers set up presses where none had been before, citing Heinrich of Cologne, a German printer who worked in eight Italian towns in twenty years (10). 8 Francisco Méndez, in his 1796 Tipografía española, pointed to twenty-five Spanish cities where printing was practiced before 1500 (apud Ángel del Arco y Molinero 6). The second edition of Méndez’s work (1861) is more readily available than the earlier one. Del Arco also refers to Dionisio Hidalgo, who edited Méndez’s work anew “in 1866” (6).

The third edition of Daniel Berkeley Updike’s study of printing types from the fifteenth century to the twentieth, published in 1962, gives twenty-four centers of Spanish printing in the fifteenth century (106). In the Medieval Iberia encyclopedia of 2003, †Theodore S. Beardsley, Jr., recorded that about nine-hundred “editions” had been printed at twenty-five locations in Spain by “the end of the fifteenth century,” with more than seventy-five percent of these printings emerging from only six cities: Sevilla, Salamanca, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Burgos, and Valencia. Beardsley lists the major printers in those cities “respectively” as Meinhard Ungut, Stanislao Polono, the “second gothic group,” Johann Rosembach, Paul and Johann Hurus, Fadrique de Basilea, and Lope de la Roca (680). A count done through the ISTC database with “Spain” as the “Country of Printing” in 2012 yielded 1059 incunabula titles attested or thought to have been printed in Spain — though some may be inadvertent repetitions, and some may have actually been printed in Portugal or Italy. In mid-2013, the count was 1066, and that for mid-2014 was 1067, for both of which the caveat applies. Haebler’s “gothic groups” of Salamanca, nominated as “first” and “second” based on his assessment of the fonts employed, may be listed at ISTC as “Printer of Nebrissensis.” Some works of Antonio de Nebrixa (de Nebrija, Aelius Antonius Nebrissensis) printed in Salamanca are tentatively attributed to Juan de Porras. For examples of Haebler’s determinations based on type (roman or gothic) and chronology (first or second associations of printers), see Bibliografía Ibérica (I 216 ff.). 9

Printers’ names may be Hispanicized or Latinized in some colophons and references, to the point of obscuring their origins, and many show spelling variants in their colophons and in other contemporary references. Some of these variants are noted parenthetically for further research purposes in the text and in the list of incunabula cited here. The modern letter “j” in names like Juan, Joan (Catalán), and Johann is written (and intended) as “I” in the fifteenth century.


María del Carmen Álvarez Márquez gives Polono as Estanislao Polono (42, passim). The elder

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A Slippery Job Cromberger’s grandson is also called Jácome Cromberger. See Clive Griffin’s The Crombergers of Seville on the career of Jácome the younger. 11

See Griffin (Crombergers 23) and Asensio (1900).


See Griffin (Crombergers 20–24). In the same work, see also Griffin’s catalog of printing workers who married printers’ widows (25–27). See Álvarez Márquez’s treatment of women involved in Spanish printing in the sixteenth century (283 ff.) Polono had connections to the court, and his four-volume translation of Vita Christi, printed by royal order, makes the point with a woodcut showing Polono presenting his work to Fernando and Isabel. Norton notes that Polono’s printings ceased in 1504 when a smaller version of the Vita Christi was left partly printed and was not completed until 1511–1512 by Cromberger, who “was in sole possession of the Seville printing house [formerly of Polono]” from 1504 until 1525 (Printing 10 and Catalogue 279–347). In addition to Clive Griffin’s work on Jacobo Cromberger, also see Haebler (Early 55–67) and Norton (Printing 9–16; on Cromberger’s travels, esp. 11). Also see Norton (Catalogue) on Polono and his partners, including Cromberger (275–282). 13

Cromberger was also a bookseller or distributor of printings done on speculation for which he outsourced binding. See Griffin (Crombergers 37–38). In Griffin’s discussion of Cromberger’s markets, he notes that Hernando Colón (a resident of Sevilla) was a frequent buyer of Cromberger’s editions (39–40). 14 Griffin (Crombergers) gives the inventory of the Polono and Ungut printshop at the time of Ungut’s death as including this amount of type, citing an article by Nicolás Tenorio Cerero (1901) on the document (31 n. 51;Tenorio 636). Tenorio further records eight cases (for composing), three presses, and three “arrobas de libros viejos defectuosos” among many interesting items (636–637). An early single-lay tray of type when filled might weigh, according to Gaskell, as much as 75 pounds (34). 15

See Griffin (Crombergers 41–45; 68–69).


See Griffin’s third chapter on the expansion of the Crombergers’ enterprise under Juan, Jacobo’s son and heir. Johann [Iohann, Juan, or Iuan] Cromberger founded the first press in Mexico, the first in the New World. 17

See Thacher (II 26–27 n.1). Haebler presents the beautiful title page of this printing facing his image of the Barcelona Letter’s second verso (GS 118–119 Abb. 101–102). Concerning Haebler’s image of the Letter, the reader should note that it is slightly under full size; the images of some graphemes do not precisely represent the original; and some marks appear on Haebler’s facsimile that are not found on the original at any date for which it is attested by facsimile. Haebler’s reproduction, however, is useful for noting that the C initials on the second verso are not all alike in size, and apparent distinctions exist in the condition or styles of certain types of the same initial or lower-case. 18 Thacher’s conclusion on Posa reads as follows: “The type used by Petrus Posa is identical in face, but a careful metric comparison shows the matrices to have been different.” (Thacher owned the Posa Pastorale and may have had access to the folio Letter in the Lenox collection.) Further on,Thacher cites another distinction: “There are several double letters cast on the same type used in the folio letter . . . which do not appear” in the Pastorale (II 26–27 n. 1), i.e., Franciscus Ximenes’s Pastorale. Thacher apparently gives two erring dates for this book (26–27 n. 1); the colophon of Thacher’s book (LC) reads 5 December 1495 (quinta Decembris/anni salutis. M.cccc.lxxxxv.) at the final verso.

Haebler based his typographic study of the Pastorale on copies he had seen in the library of the University of Barcelona (BI No. 707 344–345). The only work attributed to Posa in 1493 today is Alexander de Villa Dei’s Doctrinale. Thacher wrote more than twenty years before Haebler created his collations of Posa’s fonts, and those that Thacher measured were possibly not those to which Haebler refers in GS (110–114). Haebler’s Abb. 92 (Posa Type 2) is gothic, as are 1, 3, and 4. Haebler refers to the Pastorale printing in GS (117–119). No work of Franciscus Ximenes printed in Spain is firmly dated in 1493. ISTC lists several of the Bishop’s works positively datelined at Barcelona in 1494 and attributed internally to the presses of Rosembach, Diego de Gumiel, and Pere Miguel. At ISTC and elsewhere, see “Peter Michael” and “Pedro Miguel” for the fullest account.


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A Slippery Job 19

With the usual disclaimer concerning minor but sometimes important discrepancies introduced by the quality of the impressions on the folio Letter, the following initials of Posa’s Pastorale and the corresponding initials in the Folio are similar: A (two styles in the Folio), C, E, F, I, N (the Folio example may be damaged), S, and Q; however, the Pastorale’s initials are distinctive from those of the Folio in the degree of their curves, their relative proportions and shapes of specific parts of the grapheme, the conjunctions of lines, and specific embellishments. They are probably unlike in size as well, as Thacher theorizes. A good number of abbreviatura and marks of punctuation in the font used in the Pastorale are absent in the Letter, owing at some level to the distinct needs of composing in Latin and Spanish. 20

See Thacher’s long footnote of dissent (II 26 n.1; 26–27). I have no reference on Quaritch’s making a pronouncement on Posa or on Kerney’s doing so on Quaritch’s behalf. Bernard Quaritch died in 1899, and Kerney, in August 1901.


The sole copy of the Posa 1482 Imitatio was held at the Bibliothèque Nationale at the time (and now), so Harrisse would have had access to it and possibly to the folio Letter by means of Maisonneuve before the latter delivered the Letter (and its companion manuscripts) to Quaritch, possibly by the end of 1890. Some of the Imitatio’s minuscule impressions (a, e, h, m, n, o, q, and v) possess design elements in common with those of the Letter, but its g, ∂ (uncial d), and y have subtle differences, and the y used at 109v is clearly distinct. Examples of the Imitatio’s i, p, upright and rotunda r, longs, ligatures for st and geminate long-s, and its z, along with its abbreviatura, colon (:), and punctus (.) are distinct in style. The text uses parallel lines to indicate end-line word breaks that the Folio does not observe, and the Imitatio uses a ç (perçio 113v.17 and elsewhere) not present in the folio Letter. 22 Both Harrisse and Thacher died within ten years of this 1900 note (Harrisse in 1910, and Thacher in 1909). Searches of the NewYork Tribune have failed to turn up Harrisse’s letter. 23

See Proctor’s An Index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum (PR) and also Millares Carlo (512, 532). Proctor made the assignment at least partly because the work is printed in Catalán though, based on language alone, it could have been printed elsewhere in the region. “Proctor” and “PR” are found in the Guide to Abbreviations. 24 Haebler makes an extended discussion of the attribution of the Consolat printings (GS 76–79). The Consolat is available digitally through the Biblioteca de Catalunya. Rudolf Cronau wrote in the 1920s that Columbus’s “announce[ment] of his discoveries [was] printed in Gothic types” and “may have been printed by Peter Braun [i.e., Pedro Brun] or Nicholas Spindeler” (78). 25

Thacher refers to two Consolats, both as British Museum holdings (Nos. 9555 and 9556), and references Proctor’s Index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum,where the type of the Folio is identified with that of (what Thacher calls) the Libro del Consolat. See Thacher’s footnote (II 10). Types as identified by Haebler and recorded online at GW and at Japan’s National Diet Library (GfT Fonts) give the font measurement in millimeters of twenty lines of type followed by G (gothic) or R (roman): Posa “Typ.1:110G” refers to Haebler’s collation No. 1 of Posa’s types (GS 110 Abb. 87); Posa Typ.3:107/108G refers to Haebler’s collation No. 3 of Posa’s types (GS 114 Abb. 94). GW gives the folio Letter as being in 108G/[Posa] Type 3, and GfT Fonts shows 107/108G. For the folio Letter, my measurement is 107 mm. for twenty lines of type on the Folio at 1v and 2r, with some slight variations. At 1r, I measure 108 mm. through the uppermost section of the page; about 107 mm. through the middle section; and 104.8 mm. for the lower section measured above the damaged lines. Rosembach in Barcelona and Heinrich (Enrique) Botel in Lérida (Cat. Lleida) are credited with a 107G, too. This rather common size gothic font has significant variations in style. 26 A good many commentators whose work is not focused on identifying the Letter’s printer cite Haebler’s tentative determination as straighforward fact. Sanz labels the Letter as “estampada en Barcelona en los talleres de Pedro Posa” (39); Varela specifies “talleres de P. Posa” as the source of the Folio (Textos y documentos 139); Ramos refers to the folio Letter as “la impresión de Posa” and as “la carta de Posa” (Primera noticia 105–106); and Posa’s having been the Letter’s printer informs and shapes the Quaritch 2006 volume edited by Anthony Payne and introduced by Felipe Fernández Armesto. The attribution, usually without question, appears on most (perhaps on all) online sites that mention the Letter’s printer. A Christie’s announcement for an incunabulum at auction declares Posa (who is the attested printer of the 1499 incunabulum at auction) as “THE PRINTER OF THE LEGENDARY COLUMBUS LETTER” and subsequent marketing text both asserts and hedges the attribution: “Among the few works he printed is the famously elusive Columbus letter of 1493

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A Slippery Job announcing the discovery of the New World, Epistola Christofori Colom, known only in one copy at the New York Public Library. While issued without an imprint, the Columbus letter is convincingly attributed to Posa’s press at Barcelona” ( Among the academic sites that treat the first voyage and one of the most critically informed and helpful, that of the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine, offers the following summary: “Columbus’s letter to the ‘escriuano deraciõ’ was soon passed on to a Barcelona printer, Pedro Posa. The time elapsed between the receipt of the letter by Luis de Santángel, the secretary to the treasury, and Posa’s publication of the letter (in April?) could only have been one or two weeks. [¶] Posa’s edition was in Spanish, printed on two leaves of folio-sized paper . . . . [ without “a printer’s imprint.”] That it was published by Posa has been established by the similarity of its design and layout to the works known to have been printed by Posa” (“Barcelona, 1493: The First Printed Letter”; added italics). See also Stephen Ferguson’s entry on Columbus Letter holdings with digital files. ISTC brackets the printing data. 27 Previously cited in chapter 1 of this book, Cañizares-Esguerra reviews the 2006 Quaritch book on the Letter. In addition to the introductory essay’s references to Posa, the book includes a chapter on Posa as the Letter’s printer. 28

Bracketing indicates that the designation is not based on documentary record and remains speculative. ISTC gives the title as Epistola de insulis nuper inventis [Spanish] Epistola de su gran descubrimiento.

29 On Spindeler’s relationship with Brun, see Del Arco (34 ff.). Sainz de Robles (149), Sosa (392), and Odriozola (127) give Spindeler as a native of Zwickau, in Southern Germany (Saxony), information that Haebler had previously published (Haebler TI 16; GS 72; Early 18 ff.). The basis of this identification is probably that Spindeler is given as “de Czuickau, Germanum” in a printing of the grammar of Perottus [Niccolò Perotti or Perotto] done in Tortosa in 1477. Haebler was tentative in interpreting “Czuickau, Germanum” because the only scholar who had seen the book up to that time read “Cruickau,” and another suggested “Zwickau” as the real reading. (“Czuickau” is an older, variant spelling of “Zwickau.”) Haebler stipulates that Spindeler “nicht mit dem Nikolaus de Saxonia [Nikolaus von Sachsen] in Lissabon identisch sei” [is not the same man as Nicolas of Saxony in Lisbon] (Zentralblatt 181). Haebler rejects the possibility on the basis of printings done in two places at the same time; he identifies one of them definitively as Spindeler’s (Early 19–21 n. 1). 30

See Haebler (TI 16); Sainz de Robles (115); and Del Arco in his chapter “El arte de Spindeler y Rosembach,” where he opines that Spindeler was “a no dudarlo, mejor grabador que impresor” [undoubtedly a better engraver than a printer] (108 ff.) On the quality of Spindeler’s printing, Sainz de Robles writes, “Escasísimos fueron en España los impresores que excedieron a Spindeler en el afán nobilísimo de superar su arte en cada nueva impresión” [Rarest in Spain were printers who exceeded Spindeler in that most noble desire to surpass one’s previous artistic achievement with each new printing] (149). A good number of early printers, such as Konrad Sweynheym, Nicolas Jenson, and Johannes Gutenberg are known or supposed to have worked as metal smiths and/or engravers before turning to type and printing. 31 Del Arco details Spindeler’s career in his first chapter (29–80), expressing doubt and disagreement with various statements recorded in Haebler’s 1902 Tipografía ibérica. 32

Del Arco cites Fernández. See Fernández’s Tipografía y bibliografía españolas de siglo XV and Del Arco (108–109). That Spindeler’s mobility should inspire a negative perception of his character and work may owe to Benigno’s mirroring the view of itinerant printers of his own eighteenth century.

33 I have found no record of an existing copy of this Grammatica (de la lengua castellana); both Rosembach (by colophon and tentatively) and Luschner (tentatively) are credited with printing Nebrija’s Introductiones latinae in Barcelona. On Spindeler’s activity after 1500, also see Madurell and Rubió for documents (372–373, 390–391). See Sosa on Spindeler (“La imprenta en Valencia” 392–396). 34 Méndez calls Rosembach “[el] impresor maestre,” citing Rosembach’s being called from Barcelona to print breviaries and missals at the Monastery of Montserrat in 1518 (175). Six men described as oficiales and another as maestre accompany Rosembach. As I have suggested in the case of Spindeler’s movements, Rosembach’s being called to do work outside Barcelona may be viewed as a credit to his reputation in the trade(s). Besides relocating to do specific or specialized work, a printer might also relocate in the fifteenth century to escape the plague or a rumor of the plague. The printer Enrique Botel, for example, apparently disappears from Lérida during 1493–1494, but Haebler notes


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A Slippery Job that the last Botel book printed there is set at 1495 (Early 24). Sanpere y Miguel supposes that Botel’s temporary absence may have been due to the plague and cites a supporting document of November 1494 (145). Sanpere y Miguel describes Barcelona as “apestada” [plagued, fraught with plague] in 1489 (esp. 106). In both essays cited here (“Impresores” and “Barcelona”), Sanpere y Miguel refers to the Inquisition as a “plague” and notes that the bacterial plague at least caused the Inquisition to seek other venues. 35

See Haebler (TI 13; GS 67–68). Sainz de Robles mentions the five-hundredth anniversary of Spanish printing in 1974 (7). George D. Painter credits the partnership of Heinrich Botel, Georgius vom (von) Holtz, and Joan (Juan, Iohann) Planck (Plannck, Blanch) with a folio printing of Aristotelian texts headed by the Ethica ad Nicomachum speculatively dated 1473 or 1478 in Barcelona (145–146); Serrano y Sanz and Haebler assign the work to Botel (alone) in Zaragoza in 1478, and Douglas McMurtrie, in accord with Haebler, concludes that “nothing is known of any printing actually done by these three partners” (193). See ISTC (ia00984000). No fewer than five printings whose chronology is estimated at 1473 or 1474, all without colophon, are attributed to Lambert Palmart in Valencia; printings attributed to Palmart begin to show the place and date of printing in 1475, but no printing catalogued by ISTC shows his name in the colophon before a folio printing of Aquinas’s Summa theologiae dated 18 August 1477; several complete or partial copies of this printing exist (ISTC it00220000). Haebler puts Iakob Vizlant in Valencia in 1473 with a printing datelined there in 1475, but without the printer’s name (GS 3). Haebler (GS) puts Botel and Planck in Zaragoza in 1478 and Hurus there in 1480. 36

Words like “apparently” and phrases like “are known,” used frequently in these discussions of printing, reflect the understanding that the majority of books, pamphlets, and broadsides issued by Spanish incunabula printers probably do not survive. See the 2011 essay by Jonathan Green, Frank McIntyre, and Paul Needham on incunabula survival for quantitative assessment of the production of nearly eighty incunabula printers or printing partnerships including those of Stephan Plannck, Guy Marchant, and Eucharius Silber, who are credited with printing Latin versions of Columbus’s Letter (tables 159–161). Green, McIntyre, and Needham make distinct estimates depending on the size of the book and put the dividing line between “thick” and “slim” at 100 or more or fewer than 100 leaves, respectively (171). My sense of the survival of Spanish incunabula into the late nineteenth century is that their rate of disappearance is likely to be somewhat higher because of circumstances under which even large books privately owned or still in printers’ or booksellers’ shops were destroyed hundreds of years ago intentionally or as collateral damage in acts motivated by religious or political interests. It is clear from the library lists of Spain’s royal collections and the inventory of a great library like that of Hernando Colón, Columbus’s younger son, that “large” books and books printed as series have gone missing in Spain. In their introduction to an edition of the Baladro del sabio Merlín, Pedro M. Cátedra García and Jesús D. Rodríguez Velasco point out what are apparently several (large) codices of chivalric narrative, some in manuscript and others likely to have been mechanically printed (because of the dates), listed in two important library inventories of the early sixteenth century that are now lost (77–87). Also see my commentary on these missing items (Willingham “Baladro”). Needham’s sense that “institutional ownership” is “paramount” in the preservation of incunabula (175) perhaps helps to justify the (apparently) high loss of the Letter’s Spanish quarto and folio examples. The Folio and Quarto as unique survivors of their print runs appear to have weathered the centuries in private libraries for about 350 and 400 years, respectively, with the Folio perhaps insulated from destruction within a church or cathedral. Afterward, both came to be housed in institutions, as some of the Latin quartos are known to have done. The Quarto was certainly in the library of an Italian nobleman, and the Folio may have been preserved in the private papers of a churchman or courtier prior to its residence in the NYPL. Arguing against my theory of the complete loss of some printings of the Letter is the observation of Green, McIntyre, and Needham that examples of octavos and broadsides exist today in many copies while some larger books survive in fewer copies (168). These authors specify, however, that “destruction of entire print runs affected all types of literature” (175). On the intentional and the random destruction of books for other uses, see María Carmen Marín Pina’s discussion of the twentieth-century discovery of various fragments of medieval narrative, including an edition of the Cárcel de Amor, as recycled material (76–78, especially 77 and n. 7). In June 2012, Micah Erwin, Project Archivist at the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, asked for scholars’ help in identifying fragments in its collection (Micah Erwin email).

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A Slippery Job These images (“Ransom Center Fragments”) provide a sampling of the nature and sources of such fragments and their condition. See Nancy Mattoon’s posting of images and descriptive comments on “recycling” at the Yale Law Library (2010). 37 On Matthaeus’s relationship to Spindeler and Brun, see Haebler, who writes that their master– apprentices relationship is “beyond doubt” (TI 13, 16, and 54; GS 69–70). Del Arco (29–31) and Sainz de Robles (12) adopt Haebler’s theories of Spindeler and Brun as apprentices of Matthaeus’s in Zaragoza and their partnership in Tortosa. Odriozola does not see the match (125), for which see n. 40, below. The colophon of the Rudimenta grammatices states that the book was printed “per magistrum Petrum Brun Gebennis genitum [by master Peter Brun Geneva born] . . . et magistrum Nicolaum Spindeler.” See the following: ISTC No. ip00307900 and British Library IB.52250; Haebler (Early 18); McMurtrie (193–194); Odriozola (128); and Del Arco (30). With a question mark assigned to each of the data, Odriozola assigns a c.1476 Psalter to Brun and Spindeler in Tortosa, but this item is now tentatively assigned to Spindeler alone in Barcelona about 1480 (128). Del Arco sets the break up of the Spindeler-Brun partnership about 1479 (40–41), probably based on the information of Spindeler’s 1480 printing in Barcelona, apparently without Brun. The dating of the dissolution of their association may be erroneous if a tentative assignment to the partnership for a Consolat del mar (1483–1484?) is merited. 38

See Haebler (Early 18), Sanpere y Miguel (43), and Odriozola (128–129 Nos. 33–36). These printings of Aquinas on Aristotle are in a sense companion pieces to two other printings, Aristotle’s (supposed) Oeconomica (Economics) and his Politica (in Latin), that Odriozola suggests were printed by Spindeler and Brun in Tortosa and by Spindeler (alone) in Barcelona, respectively (128 Nos. 33–34). GW also assigns the Oeconomica to Spindeler and Brun at Tortosa (GW 2433) but assigns the Ethica ad Nicomachum to Spindeler, alone, at Barcelona c. 1479 (GW 2372); it is assigned by ISTC to him c. 1481. ISTC notes the probability of “companion” printings, citing BMC; in Incunabula Cited, see also the entry for Georgius vom Holtz. On Brun and Spindeler’s printing in Barcelona, particularly relating to the details of these books, see Sanpere y Miguel’s exposition of the confusion and doubts among commentators (38–52). 39

See Haebler (TI 16). Roman type is used in the earliest Spanish printing, but gothic types soon become frequent. Updike quotes Haebler as “saying” that although there are many examples of roman fonts in extant Spanish printing (including the large print runs of an anonymous printer of Salamanca), examples in gothic so far outnumber the roman that gothic types are felt to give a particular Spanish character to Spain’s early books and printed materials (qtd. by Updike 100–102). Updike’s summary of Haebler’s view is supported in TI (2). See Sanpere y Miguel for his observations on Spindeler and Brun’s use of roman and gothic types (40–44).


Haebler writes: “[E]s muy curioso y raro el ver aparecer de nuevo en su poder las letras góticas de Zaragoza y Tortosa” [It is strange and unexpected to see the(se particular) gothic letters (types) appearing again in Zaragoza and Tortosa] (TI 16). Odriozola writes, “[T]ampoco he podido comprobarlo y dudo que sea exacto” [I have not been able to verify it and doubt that it is correct] (125) and finds the editors of the British Museum Catalogue “prudentes” [prudent] when they write, “la característica caja alta de Flandro se parece a los tipos usados por Brun and Spindeler” [the characteristic upper case of (Matthaeus) resembles the types used by Brun and Spindeler”] (125, italics added). Odriozola finds no impressions in any Spanish example that resemble those definitively identified as Matthaeus’s. In assigning types with a disclaimer of supposed wear, one is on less certain ground than usual because, as has been pointed out, types might be melted and recast and fonts renewed piecemeal as circumstances demanded, and subtle differences might exist between older and newer types because matrices might be renewed in the meantime. See Gaskell for his discussion of the regular process of renewing types (39) and Talbot Baines Reed for his discussion of English typecasting of the period (esp. 14–30) and his summary of Benjamin Franklin’s initiative in the eighteenth century in founding his own types (15). Today’s hand-press printers include those who produce punches and matrices to cast types for their own use. See also n. 4, above, on type wear and replacement. 41 See Odriozola (128 No. 30). ISTC also credits Spindeler with a folio printing of the Manipulus Curatorum published 3 August 1484 in Tarragona. The conclusion of the text and colophon of Spindeler’s Barcelona folio of Manipulus Curatorum is given in Haebler (GS 73 Abb. 51) and may be compared there with the concluding text of Matthaeus’s folio of the same work (68 Abb. 48). 42

See Sanpere y Miguel (205) and Haebler (TI VII No. 14).


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A Slippery Job 43

Cives is translated here as “citizen”; “denizen,” which is what one might expect of men described as being “foreign,” was a kind of resident alien status. Not finding the designation francigina applied elsewhere, I suggest two possibilities: that francigena be interpreted straightforwardly as “of the French/Frankish (race)”; the designation recalls that of Joannes Scottus or Joannes “Scottigena,” also called “Eriugena,” which designated Joannes as a native of (of the race of) Scotland or Ireland, respectively. Taking i as a copulative and gina as a form of Geneva (> Genua, Gennava), Francigina might otherwise be taken to have common origins with the name of the pilgrimage route La via francigena, a somewhat variable route from Italy through the Alps that extends into England, that may refer to two regions, France and Geneva; the route runs around the east side of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and across eastern France, connecting along the way with other pilgrimage routes (to Santiago de Compostela, for example). Francigina might be construed, then, to refer to a person who considered himself to be Frankish (>L. franci = Frankish) and Genevese (gina) though construing “igina” to mean something other than “native to”/“of the race” in a surname seems unlikely. On the other hand, Haebler’s theory that Brun called himself aleman (Mod. Sp. alemán) in some colophons and saboyano elsewhere (because “Geneva was a part of the German empire in Brun’s time”) (TI 54) makes the latter explanation an alternative one might consider. 44

See Duff (115). For the documents, see Madurell and Rubió, No. 8 (14–19) and No. 9 (19–21).


See Haebler (Early 18). This speculation is grounded on Posa’s not appearing prior to this time in the printing record and on Brun’s status as a master printer, but Posa’s name appearing first in colophons suggests cause for doubt. See Norton, who writes that Brun “doubtless supplied the technical experience” in the partnership “as Haebler suggests” (Printing 96). 46

See Haebler (GS 67), Sainz de Robles (149), and Del Arco (31, 110).


See Josefina Mateu Ibars’s treatment of Millares Carlo’s sources and counts of printed materials, especially 246 ff. The spaces of two or more years when printers “disappear” — in the sense of there being no extant printed works giving their names or using types identified with them — is common. ISTC gives no printing attributed to Spindeler in the years 1485–1489. 48

Rosembach and Spindeler are credited with using one another’s decorative materials in various printings. See Del Arco (113–117). See also Haebler, who finds Rosembach working with Spindeler on the Tirant and gives Rosembach credit for producing the border (TI 59 ff.) Spindeler is tentatively credited with a Valencian plague document of “about 1490” (ISTC).

49 See Haebler (GS 67) and ISTC. The following printings name Spindeler as printer and give the city (Valencia) and the year (if not month and day, too) of production: 1494 (Vida de la Verge Maria); 1495 (Antidotarium); 1496 (Phalaris. Epistolae); 1497 (Art de be morir. Tractat de confessio); 1499 (Omelia); and 1500 (Rudimenta grammatices). Other printings exist with partial information and tentative assignments of other data. E. Michael Gerli, in his introduction to his and Christopher McDonald’s edition of the Arte de bien morir (Art de be morir, Ars moriendi) summarizes the extant printings under that title. See Del Arco (108–111). 50 The printing dated to 1483–1484 is the Consolat del mar, and the two printings with Gentile are both indulgences of 1490 for “promoting the crusade against the infidels” (ISTC). 51

See Nigel Griffin’s extended essay on Spanish incunabula holdings of the John Rylands Library for his notes on the Gentile family and his discussion of Genoese merchants in Sevilla at the period (77 and n. 115). Gentile may be of some so-far occult interest to the Letter because he printed with Brun of Barcelona, and because he printed in Sevilla, a city that Columbus knew well, and because Gentile, according to Griffin, “may have” come there from Italy, possibly from Genoa, whose native merchants had a “monopoly” in the paper trade of Southern Spain at the period. 52

Nigel Griffin characterizes the Nobiliario’s types as showing “the influence of Venice and Valencia” (77) and gives examples of the Nobiliario’s illustrations. See Haebler on Gentile’s probable role in the printing (19). On Brun, see Norton (Printing 14); Haebler (TI 54–55); and Griffin, who describes business relations between Brun and Gentile (64, 77). Copies of the incunabula abound (ISTC, Griffin 69–70). Note that the Nobiliario facsimile (1974) gives the author as “Ferrand Mexía.” 53

Brun apparently continues printing in Sevilla until 1508, but by 1514, Francisco de Torres is using types that formerly belonged to Brun, suggesting that Brun has been disabled or has died by that year. See Norton on Brun, Gentile, and Francisco de Torres (Printing 14–15).

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A Slippery Job 54

Posa the Younger or Posa II is apparently the Elder’s nephew and namesake who took over the business at the death of the older man in 1506: theYounger is identified as the “sobrino y homónimo, hijo de su hermano Jaime” [a nephew of the same name, the son of his brother Jaime] to whom he left his shop and its equipment with the proviso that a master printer teach the young man the trade. See Madurell and Rubió for Posa’s personal inventory, made shortly before his death (No. 235 404– 415), and his will (No. 238 422–426). See Millares Carlo’s essay on Barcelona’s sixteenth-century printers for his assessment of the inventory: “De suma importancia es el inventario [. . .] de los libros que poseía en su tienda y en su casa y en su taller” (507). Posa’s name is Latinized in printed work as Petrus (L. acc. Petrum; Sp., Pedro, Eng., Peter). Posa’s surname also appears as Poses and Posen. See Norton (Catalogue) for Posa’s later career and the “bookseller” reference (38–39). 55 See Haebler (GS 20) and Millares Carlo (507). The 1481 Catalán Alexander is attributed to Posa and Brun by colophon: “Pere posa Preuere catala e Pere Bru sauoyench companyons” [Pere Posa, Catalán priest, and Pere (Pierre) Bru(n) Savoyaard, partners] in the printing of “[l]a present elegantissima e molt ornada obra de la hystoria de Alexandre per Quinto Curcio Rufo” [the present most elegant and much ornamented book of the History of Alexander (Historiae Alexandri Magni) by Quintus Curtius Rufus] (Berkeley Bancroft Library). See also Méndez (48–49). 56

In addition to the Alexander, the 1481 printings of Brun and Posa’s include two quartos, Ramón Llull’s Ars brevis (12 September 1481), and Petrus Paulus Vergerius’s (Pietro/Pier Paolo Vergerio, the Elder) De ingenuis moribus ac liberalibus studiis [adulescentiae], its title translated by Craig Kallendorf as The Character and Studies Befitting a Free-Born Youth. See ISTC for three court documents printed in folio and attributed tentatively to Posa alone and dated tentatively in 1481; each is held in two or more U.S. libraries. I suggest that these documents were more likely printed in 1482, when Posa is known to have been printing solo (without Brun); 1482 allows a reasonable time lapse between the “act of the court” and its being contracted to the printer. One of these documents was devised by the court in October, and internal dating on the other two bears further study in the interest of a more plausible date for the printing.While many such documents bear only hypothetical print years, Rosembach printed two court documents from the 1493 court in February and May of 1494. 57

See Incunabula Cited for “Pere Posa” and for “Pierre (Petrus, Pedro, Peter) Brun.” At ISTC, search “Pedro Posa” and “Peter Brun.”

58 The Biblioteca Nacional de España owns a copy. The author is given also as “Alexandre, de Villedieu.” Posa prints the Doctrinale again in August 1499. 59 The types of this Catalán Imitatio are of interest because it is tentatively assigned to Posa by ISTC; GW tentatively assigns it to Pere Miguel (Miquel); and its holder, Biblioteca de Catalunya, does not speculate except on its dating “ca. 1500,” in contrast to GW (M4689250) and ISTC (ii00036093) where “about 1493” is tentatively adopted. The Biblioteca de Catalunya’s quarto is incomplete: an owner’s or librarian’s flyleaf notation reads “Gerson / Imitatio Christi / versió catalana de Miguel Pérez” [Catalán version of (translated by) Miguel Pérez] with the alternate catalog title given as “Gerson [, Jean] Del menyspreu del mon.” The Catalán quarto’s losses include its opening folios — it opens on 4r — and sustained loss occurs in the concluding pages as well; the Biblioteca de Catalunya provides images online. Another unique quarto of Imitatio Christi in Spanish (as Libro de remedar á Christo) is datelined Toledo, 31 May 1500 and claimed by Peter (Pedro) Hagenbach, and detailed at ISTC (ii00057200) and GW (M46899); images online are linked through both databases. To my knowledge, a relationship between these printings has not been found, but they suggest companion printings and bear additional, comparative study. 60

Norton suggests that Spindeler may have had an agreement to print the work for Jaume (“for Jaume [de] Vila?”) and describes Jaume as a “press-owner” based in Valencia (Printing 49–50). Norton also refers (Catalogue) to a 1491 agreement between Rosembach and Jaume de Vila for the printing of breviaries that Rosembach only partly completed “when, in Jan. 1492, Rosembach cancelled the agreement, doubtless because he had decided to move to Barcelona” (Catalogue 39–40). Haebler expresses doubt that Jaume was a printer and writes that Jaume caused books to be printed at his expense (Early 72). 61 ISTC quotes from BMC: “‘[I]t may well be that Spindeler was the printer on De Vila’s account’ (p. xlviii).” This 4° printing of the Imitatio (Valencia, 16 February 1491), Haebler records as the Menyspreu del mon (Jean or Johannes Gerson), crediting it to Spindeler (Committee [1918] “Census”


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A Slippery Job 479, No. 9133). In contrast to the uniqueness and the imperfect condition of the Imitatio quarto credited to Posa in Barcelona in 1493, the “Spindeler” quarto is found in several libraries in the US, in several Spanish libraries, and in the British Library. A Confessionale datelined at Valencia, 25 February 1493, has produced a similar case of mixed attribution, being tentatively credited to the same two shops to which the 16 February 1491 Imitatio is credited: Hagenbach and Hutz’s and Spindeler’s. 62 The document reads: “Item tres premses guarnides” and “Item una gran prempsa de prempsar libres de forma mayor.” A comparative context for the number of presses associated with Posa early in the sixteenth century is found in José del Campo’s Historia de la imprenta en Madrid, where Del Campo enumerates presses in Madrid printshops a little over a hundred years later; in 1604, Del Campo finds two shops each with twenty-one presses, one with twenty, two each with two, and one shop with only one (18). See also Millares Carlo’s account of Posa’s career (507). 63

Pere (Pedro) Posa II or “the Younger” printed books appearing with the Posa imprint following the elder Posa’s death in June 1506. See n. 54, above.

64 See Haebler Early (24) and GS (esp. 110, 100–121). On Posa’s name and profession as recorded in contemporary documents and his apprenticeship(s) and work as a printer, also see Haebler (TI 5; 20–21); Sainz de Robles (155); Sosa (273); and Madurell and Rubió (987; 373, No. 215, may also refer to Posa). Most commentators echo Haebler. It is fair to observe that many of these early printers laid claim to a clerical education that is supported by their apparent ability in Latin, and though Posa, a native Catalán, seems to have been a quick study, a young man eager for opportunity, and a highly organized, stable, and successful man of business in his maturity, a good number of Spain’s early printers — Spindeler, Brun, Rosembach, Cromberger, as examples — might be described as “uncommon” men as well. 65

Rosembach figures prominently in the studies of José Enrique Serrano y Morales, Haebler, Del Arco, Vindel, Millares Carlo, and Madurell and Rubió. Rosembach’s life became the subject of Johan Rosembach, Agustí Rodes i Català’s intriguing historical novel. 66 Francisco Vindel asserts that Rosembach used Spindeler’s mark on two examples of printing widely separated by date: the mark appears in Constitutions de Cathalunya (1494) and also in a Nebrija grammar done after 1500 (37). Haebler recorded one of the typical Rosembach marks as being on the Constitutions, but Vindel notes that the example he saw bore Spindeler’s mark unquestionably (38). The large number of Nebrija-authored printings produced during this period may complicate the task of matching references to them with surviving examples that lack some or all data. Norton describes a Rosembach issue of a Nebrija work done at Barcelona in 1514 (Catalogue 51) and another in 1516 (Catalogue 55–56), but neither is a Grammaticae. See Vindel’s 1942 collection of marks used by Spanish printers. 67

See Sainz de Robles (148–149).


See Haebler (TI 59 and GS 67) and Millares Carlo (511). See also De Vinne (1878), writing prior to Haebler’s research on Rosembach (507), and Sainz de Robles (148). Del Arco cites a number of older studies on Rosembach, including Méndez’s (1796), Dionisio Hidalgo’s (1866), and Ernst (“Ernesto”) Volger’s (455). Del Arco, I believe, refers to Volger’s “Die áltesten Drucker und Druckorte der Pyrenáischen Halbinsel” [the earliest printers and sites of printing in the Iberian Peninsula] (1872). The association with Hans Rix may have involved financial backing and not hands-on printing, like the supposed association with Jaume de Vila, mentioned above. Millares Carlo characterizes Spindeler’s associations with Rix and Jaume de Vila as no more than “transacciones comerciales” and cites José Enrique Serrano y Morales’s study of Valencian printing (504 ff.; Millares Carlo 511 n. 1). Serrano y Morales credits Haebler (Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen) with setting Rosembach in Valencia in 1492 through documentary evidence (502–504). 69

In this Catalán document, Rosembach is identified as “stamper, nadiu de la ciutat de Adilberc de Alamanya.” See Madurell and Rubió’s documents related to Rosembach (155–161). There is some quibbling about the month of Rosembach’s move, for which see Millares Carlo (511) and Norton (Catalogue 39–40). Haebler observes that Rosembach used an “H” signifying his native city of Heidelberg in his printer’s mark, and that Rosembach affirmed his birthplace in nearly all his colophons (TI 59). 70

For this edition of La Carcer (Carcel) de amor by Diego de San Pedro, see Haebler (BI 606); in spite of the Catalán translation, the cover is in Castellano, Carcel rather than (Catalán) Carcer. A newly found “Aragonese” edition of the Cárcel printed in gothic type (22 and 18 point) and datelined at

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A Slippery Job Zaragoza in June 1493, is attributed, in the absence of internal evidence, to Pablo (Paul) Hurus at Zaragoza on the basis of type. This printing was unknown until 1994, according to María Carmen Marín, when Miguel Ángel Pallarés published thirty-three salvaged leaves of it, including eleven of the supposed seventeen original woodcuts [xilografías] (77–78 n. 8). Marín’s count of the woodcuts is based on that of the complete Barcelona edition, and both Marín and Deyermond affirm that the Zaragoza edition woodcuts are those used in Rosembach’s 1493 Barcelona (Catalán) edition. This view should perhaps raise questions about the attribution to Hurus. Marín writes that the woodcuts are “until now considered originals in the Catalán translation and credited to [Rosembach]” (79, my translation) and speculates that the Spanish title on the Barcelona Catalán printing implies a lost Spanish edition, namely, the recently discovered Zaragoza edition. She further points to Tomás Ubert’s shop in Zaragoza as the source of the illustrations for both (79). See also Sanpere y Miguel (216– 217) and Del Arco (111–112). See also Alan Deyermond for his essay on woodcuts found in the Cárcel’s fifteenth-century editions. 71

This statement may be something of an exaggeration. For Rosembach’s credited printing, see a catalogue of Catalán printing Exposició Commemorativa del V Centenari de la Imprenta: El llibre incunable als Països Catalans, Millares Carlo’s chapter on Rosembach (511–531), and Mateu Ibars’s essay on Millares Carlo’s research in Catalán libraries. Madurell and Rubió find Rosembach’s surname recorded in various forms: Arosbach, Resanbach, Ros Bach, Rosabat, Rosamba, Rosbach, Rosbachs, Rosbade, Rosompach, Rosonat, Rossat (992). Marín calls him “Hans” (77). Rosembach’s origin is substantiated by extensive documentation, often repeated; see Sainz de Robles (148), Duff (115), and Sosa (411). 72 Three additional printings are tentatively attributed to Rosembach at Barcelona in 1493 on the basis of type, and one other printing (a Missale) is set “about June 1492–June 1493” (ISTC). 73

Serrano y Morales’s research indicates that Rosembach operated in Valencia, and Haebler also is apparently satisfied that Rosembach operated there. See Haebler (GS 143–144) and see Sosa’s reference to Haebler’s attribution (“Valencia” 392); Madurell and Rubió note the disagreement (717). Valencia is a coastal city in Cataluña and lies south of Tarragona, which lies between Valencia and Barcelona. Sosa notes Serrano y Morales’s “abundant documentation” of Rosembach’s movements (Serrano y Morales 503–513; Sosa 411). 74 For these printings, see Norton (Catalogue 39–59); De Vinne (505); Madurell and Rubió (290); and Sainz de Robles (116). 75

See Madurell and Rubió (717).


See Sainz de Robles (115–117). See Del Arco’s discussion of Rosembach in Tarragona and the “famoso Missal” (14–16) produced in Tarragona in 1499. 77 Del Arco also points to documents that give Rosembach the honorific, “Venerabilis magister,” with venerabilis probably based on Rosembach’s clerical office. Del Arco cites Manuel Serrano y Sanz’s assertion that the title was given to — or might be assumed by — printers who were clerics (115; 113–114 n. 1). 78 I give “beauty” as the sense of “limpieza” here, literally, “cleanness,” suggesting composition and presswork without obvious blunders. J. Huizinga in TheWaning of the Middle Ages (1965) and Umberto Eco in Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages (2002) discuss expressions of fifteenth-century aesthetics that comport with this translation. 79 Millares Carlo lists fifty-two works of printing done between 1506–1530 attributed to Rosembach (520–531). Norton and Del Arco also catalogue Rosembach’s later work. See n.71 above. 80 Rosembach’s will is dated 5 September 1530 and is followed on 7 October 1530 by a supplementary document naming Climent Bertrán to represent him in all matters. According to Madurell and Rubió, Rosembach died one month later and may have been on his deathbed from the writing of the will in September until his death in early November. Rubió writes, “En el lecho de muerte, después de dictar su testamento y un mes antes de fallecer, todavía Rosembach nombra un apoderado para que le representara . . .” [Despite being on his deathbed and having dictated his will, a month before passing away, Rosembach names an executor who will represent him]. About Rosembach’s final arrangements, Rubió observes: “Fué fiel hasta el último momento a su carácter batallador y exigente” [He maintained to the last moment his fighting spirit and exacting character] (718). See Madurell and Rubió (715–717) and Sosa (412, pace).


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A Slippery Job 81

Norton credits Rosembach with a printing in Spanish of the “romance of the twelve peers of France,” setting its date about 1513–1520 (Catalogue 59).


In considering whether Pere Miguel is a good candidate for the folio Letter’s printer, it is useful to observe that of the printings credited to Pere Miguel in 1493, five of seven are in folio format and two are in quarto; the only printing credited to him in 1492 and his two known printings of 1494 are also in folio. Posa’s positively attributed surviving work is about evenly divided between quarto and folio printings. Rosembach’s count is similar to Posa’s, and it appears that Spindeler may have more often printed quartos. 83 Pere Miguel’s 1493 quarto of a Life of St. Jerome bears only the year of its printing; a quarto of Nicolaus Bonetus’s Metaphysica bears the date 24 November 1493; and a folio printing of Constitutions from the 1493 court is also attributed to him.

Ramon Llull (Catalán) or Ramón Lull (Sp.) is given as Raymond Lully or Lull in English. 84

Only Johann Luschner, among those who printed in Barcelona before 1501, is credited tentatively with printing Spanish material at that period, and these works were produced at Montserrat. Arnaldo Guillen de Brocar is credited by colophon with several printings in Spanish in Pamplona from 1495 forward. No definitive statement can hold sway in any case because research on incunabula is always dependent on the shaky ground of “survivals” and tentative attributions. It does appear that most Barcelona printings were in Latin or Catalán or both (as parallel texts), suggesting compelling information about the book market in Barcelona at the period with which the Letter is concerned. The same appears to have been true in Valencia, where I have found only one incunabula printing in Spanish, and its assignment to Valencia is tentative. These numbers indicate that the majority of the region’s buyers of books and printed leaves preferred to read in Catalán as a vernacular and that Castellano held less sway there in the printing market, and that parallel texts were in Latin and Catalán also suggests that Catalán was the preferred vernacular. What is less clear is the significance of the language of the Folio as a telling element in the search for its printer. The language question may be regarded as soft data partly because we do not have a full record to consult and partly because Spanish as the language of the text may not have made a difference to the compositor’s results. Although much has been made of the Letter’s supposed traces of Catalán and the fact that Posa is not known to have printed anything in Spanish, the fact is that Spanish and Catalán are close relatives, and both are derived from Latin; furthermore, good evidence exists that an illiterate man could set type, so setting in Spanish when one was moderately accustomed to setting in Catalán would not have been a significant obstacle for a compositor, whether he was German or Catalán by birth. Spanish texts set by Pere Miguel at the period and by Rosembach in the sixteenth century might be analyzed for their “Catalán” influence. On literacy, see Clive Griffin (84–85), who cites Natalie Zemon Davis’s Lyonsbased study. 85

Haebler notes that a border found in Posa’s 1488 quarto of Phocas’s De nomine et verbo, sive De principalibus orationis partibus subsequently appears in Pere Miguel’s quarto Vida e transit de San Ierónimo (St. Jerome, San Jerónimo, Hieronymus, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) in 1493 (GS 115; BI No. 549 260–261). This border is discussed in chapter 3 of this book. See Incunabula Cited for links to images of these printings. James Patrick Ronaldson Lyell’s Early Book Illustration in Spain gives a reduced facsimile image of Posa’s Imitatio border (41). The watermark of the Folio has been beyond easy access for several years and no pre-existing slides of it have yet been located by searches. My drawings and measurements of the Folio mark (made before the Folio went behind protective cover) do not appear to comport in important respects with those of the watermark of the same genre in Pere Miguel’s St. Bonaventure quarto. Librarians at the U.S. Library of Congress made the latter accessible to me in person and electronically; the electronic images, enhanced by Retro Reveal, show design elements that appear to be distinct from those of the Folio’s mark.

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3 Lasting impressions: the initial and the types The framed initial S and other printing materials that left their features in the folio Letter are implied as concrete objects only by the ink and incidental marks of impression that remain on the paper. None of these materials exists today, and one cannot trace their movements with certainty from hand to hand on a given day or week in the spring of 1493. Various attestations and assignments of their ownership, the mystery of their manufacture, the use of one person’s materials by another, the likelihood that useful and attractive materials were copied repeatedly, and the alleged matches of materials about which experts disagree add to the uncertainties of their existence and of our determinations about their employment.

The telling framed initial 1 Michael Kerney asserted Rosembach’s ownership of the framed initial S at the head of the folio Letter when he assigned the Letter to Rosembach in 1893, and J. B. Thacher correctly pointed out about ten years later that the S that opens the folio Letter is not only identified as belonging to Rosembach (by Kerney), but Robert Proctor identified the initial as having also been used by Luschner.2 Konrad Haebler

Twelve initials attributed to Rosembach by Haebler, with the Folio S on the lower level (GS 116 Abb. 99). (Image used by permission of Mr. Florian Hiersemann of Anton Hiersemann Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.)

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Lasting Impressions later assigned to Rosembach the ownership of twenty-five framed initials of similar size, one of which is the S meant to be that of the Folio (GS 116 Abb. 99).3 This group of initials assembled by Haebler, shown in part on the preceding page, serves to demonstrate stylistic features they have in common. This image also indicates that Haebler’s reproductions in his collations of initials and lowercase types fall short of being adequate for research conclusions.4 The framed initial C of Posa’s 1488 printing of Phocas’s De nomine et verbo, sive De principalibus orationis partibus (GS 115 Abb. 97) and the Q shown in a facsimile of Posa’s printing of Pedro Cijar’s Opusculum on the facing page (GS 117 Abb. 100) are apparently meant to be represented in this collation as well. Haebler’s facsimile of the final verso (2v) of the folio Letter on the following page (GS 118 Abb. 101) and Haebler’s attribution of the folio Letter definitively to Posa imply that the framed S was in Posa’s shop at the time; nonetheless, the surrounding ornamentation within the frame of Haebler’s reproduction in his collation of Rosembach’s initials of what is apparently meant to be the Folio’s framed S (GS 116 Abb. 99) is unlike that of the original.5 Haebler proposes that during the nineteen years of Rosembach’s tenure in Barcelona, Rosembach and Posa were simultaneously using the same initials, and that these belonged in Rosembach’s establishment and appeared in Posa’s work through the business relationship. Haebler’s hypothesis envisions joint ownership of reproducible printing materials that apparently were in frequent use and further theorizes that the materials had a principal and a subordinate owner. In that the arrangement seems impractical, complicated, and unnecessary, it merits further scrutiny.6 Another example of a framed initial similar to the S of the Letter is an S at the first recto of Posa’s folio printing of Nicolaus Salernitanus’s Antidotarium with commentary by Stephanus Arnaldi (August 17, 1490). Its impression is very like that of the folio Letter’s S, but distinctions suggest that the Antidotarium impression was made with material other than that used to print the Folio S — or perhaps this impression shows the Folio’s S at a younger stage of life.7 Arguing for the latter possibility, the Antidotarium’s framed S shows much the same detail in the vining around the S as the Folio impression, but the Antidotarium example gives virtually complete detail of the three levels of framing (ink-reverse-ink) in 1490. The impression given in the folio Letter of 1493 implies significant losses to the frame or else debris picking up ink and obscuring elements of the frame. The Folio example shows no shadow line at the superior terminal of S, and the shadow line on the Antidotarium example is generally absent or spotty on the Folio S, differences that may reflect a loss or bad inking or a slight design distinction. A close examination will indicate these same kinds of contrasts in the impression along the outer bows though the similarities are also striking. More telling are apparent design differences that suggest distinct materials: the superior terminal of the Antidotarium S is rather flat near the upper frame, the bend is deeper in the Folio S than in that of the Antidotarium, and the concavity of the Folio S at the outer edge is greater than that of the Antidotarium example. The Folio example appears to show a diagonal joint to the corner of the frame at the lower left and possibly at the upper left, and these are absent in the Antidotarium impression though there may be vestiges of one intended at the upper right.

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Lasting Impressions Less immediately noticeable are what may be the most telling and substantive distinctions, those between the floral designs in the two initials. In the inferior (lower), inner bow of the Antidotarium S, the open flower has slender, gracile petals while the Folio’s are broader, with its fourth petal on the upper right clearly distinct in shape and angle. The single floral design within the superior bow of the S is distinct between the Antidotarium and Folio impressions, and the vines in that space show differences in terminals and in their relationships to one another and to the body of the initial.

Detail of framed initial, 1r, Antidotarium with commentary. From the digital edition provided by the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, courtesy of the Universitat de Barcelona.

1r. framed initial S Folio Letter.

The framed S Haebler shows in situ (GS 175 Abb. 168) from the Latin printing in 1500 of García Ximenes de Cisneros’s Exercitatorio de la vida spiritual (GS 175 Abb. 168) assigned to Luschner contains elements in common with the Folio S, but certain discrepancies — the configuration and details of the frame, the spatial relationships between the reverse areas, and various small features — suggest that this initial may be a different piece of material.8 This framed S and the other framed initials of similar design in Haebler’s collation were plausibly produced at various times for various printers in the Catalán region, and “editions” of these initials would show slight differences in their respective impressions due to distinctions in their execution as products of human hands and/or because of wear or minor damage to the material.9 The very similar framed S initials represented in the Antidotarium, the Exercitatorio, and the folio Letter appear to me at this point to represent separate pieces of material, rather than ground on which to assign a printer definitively to the Folio.

Gothic proliferation and survival in Spain Whether one assigns the folio Letter printing on the basis of a framed initial, as Kerney may have done, or provides that initial with an alibi of joint ownership in order to make the assignment based on other types, as Haebler may have done, the problem appears to merit further examination. The impression of the Folio’s framed initial, after all, may or may not match those with which it has been compared historically, and assigning the Folio printing is further complicated by the proliferation of similar gothic lower-case fonts and small initials and the question of their survival. The distinctions — where they exist — between given elements of these fonts are often


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Lasting Impressions slight, and one finds very similar and perhaps the same fonts attributed to multiple printers within a region or country, suggesting common sources.10 Consulting Haebler’s collations with the usual caveats and his facsimiles with somewhat greater confidence, one sees an example of such similarity in types used by Paul and/or Hans Hurus in Zaragoza.11 The collations labeled as Hurus Type 2 and 3 (GS 284 Abb. 288, 289) and the facsimile of Hurus’s Flor de virtudes show lowercase types that are generally like those of the Folio in design, and the small initials of both sets (D, E, I, R, S, T, O, for example) use features in common with those in the Folio, suggesting common models or a common source for casting materials and perhaps implying a desire to duplicate particular features for aesthetic or practical reasons.12 A later printing, Arnao Guillen de Brocar’s 1499 compilation of diverse texts from various authors (Libros menores), shows a mix of styles and several sizes of gothic initials and lower-case types, a good number of which are quite similar in style to their counterparts in the folio Letter.13 The folio Letter’s distinctive small initial M (2v.5), categorized by Haebler as M88, is found in Posa’s printing and in that of Pere Miguel, also in Barcelona, and in the work of Fadrique de Basilea (Friedrich Biel) in Burgos and Arnao Guillen de Brocar in Pamplona.14 M88 is also located in printing from Lyons and Paris. This trail of likeness suggests the movement of materials over considerable distances and commerce in matrices. New punches created to reproduce desirable letters might have seen small details altered in the process.15 Any collection of facsimiles of Spanish gothic printing at this period will show multiple examples whose impressions are reminiscent of the Folio’s types in size and in design details and whose types look similar in many respects, perhaps suggesting a foundation for the claim that Spanish printing has a distinctive “look.”16 These resemblances suggest that a relatively small number of founder-printers fashioned the punches and created the matrices used to produce these types and that one or more punch cutters must have made progressive changes to designs by incorporating borrowed and experimental elements. Theodore De Vinne theorizes that printers were casting their own types at the time and that likenesses are due to commerce in matrices. Basing his claim on certain typefaces used by several distinct German printshops, faces that were “identically the same,” he suggests that commerce in matrices was an essential practice among early printers, and that the “identica[l]” types he observes “must have been cast from matrices struck from the same punches” at a period before specialists in founding type had evolved (515). Most punchcutters of the “early days” of printing were “specialist engravers,” according to Gaskell, and he supposes that by the late fifteenth century, the period of the Letter, some were “independent professionals, cutting sets of punches to order for particular printers or [. . .] striking matrices from punches which remained their own property” (12). The punches remaining the property of the engraver makes a great deal of business sense because creating the punch was the most time intensive part of the process and punchcutting required artistic skill and skill in the craft of engraving. A punch could be used to produce as many matrices as the trade required, and printers who were not engravers might then cast their own types from sets of purchased matrices.

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Lasting Impressions The nineteenth-century research of Talbot Baines Reed on English printing practices supports the idea that early printshops often obtained types by in-house casting,17 and Margaret Bingham Stillwell observed in the 1930s that opinion was divided as to “whether type-founding existed as a specialized industry before the end of the fifteenth century,” but she cites Haebler’s count of “[a]bout fifty documentary sources dating from 1470 to 1500” that suggest that “type-founding as an industry apart from the printing shop was apparently unknown” during the incunabula period — meaning that printers cast their own types in-house.18 Gaskell’s assertion that a skilled handcaster in a shop with necessary matrices on hand could turn out 4,000 types each day and the various motives and forces that moved printing materials from hand to hand and place to place help to explain how types of the same or of similar designs could come to be in use by different printers within a city or region.19 The specialization of the punchcutter who produced punches to create and sell matrices to printers in his region helps to explain why the surviving impressions of initials and lower-case types in Spanish gothic incunabula are frequently remarkable for sharing design features and similar dimensions. This “division of labor” in the printing trade may account for supposed matches in types that are considered to be separated by too many years between their appearances to be the same types, according to theories of type survival. Only further study of printings in that category from new perspectives can confirm or suggest a revision to these ideas. A mixed-font setting, like the one evidenced in the folio Letter, represents an early printshop economy that may affect bibliographers’ efforts to identify printings by type matches. Mixed fonts “happen” when types of the same or only slightly different sizes and styles are housed together in the printer’s tray and are picked randomly in composing. These types work together in a given printing because they are closely enough aligned in size and style that they can be set together without producing mechanical problems for the printshop or jarring visual disruptions for the reader. The practice may also suggest that it was the similarity among fonts — perhaps those most frequently used? — that allowed printers in a city or region to acquire compatible types to fill out their cases.20 The similarities one notices among the “fonts” assigned to different Spanish incunabula printers and the mixing of fonts in the cases, evidenced in printed pieces, may also suggest that Spanish printers operating in the same region moved inadvertently in the direction of a practical level of de facto standardization in the last decades of the fifteenth century. Such a scenario would facilitate mixing lowercase fonts — and sets of initials — as need arose and would have made it easier to work in replacements and borrowed cases to fill out needs in materials.21 Printing with types that shared stylistic likenesses and dimensions with those being used by one’s neighbors might also frustrate the efforts of a political body to discover who had printed what. While bibliographers’ disagreements about who produced a printing are sometimes a matter of the eye seeing likenesses between (or among) similar fonts and mixes of fonts, their differences may involve a question — often unanswerable — about who owned or used certain materials on a given day.


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Lasting Impressions Posa’s “fonts” Two of the fonts that Haebler assembles and assigns to Pere Posa in GS are of interest in this discussion for comparative purposes and for their broader implications. The font Haebler collates as “Posa font 3,” hereinafter HP3 (as “Haebler’s Posa 3”), Haebler describes as being narrow or crowded in effect — “auf das engste” (113–114). Haebler describes the set he labels Posa’s font 1, hereinafter HP1 (Haebler’s Posa 1), as “eine schöne klaren neue Type” [a beautiful, clear new type].22 Although Haebler describes the visual effects of HP1 and HP3 in terms that appear to be quite opposed — beautiful and clear versus narrow and crowded — the types are obviously related in design though design details and size differentials make them distinct.23 Haebler presents images from Posa’s printings to illustrate the use of HP1 and HP3. The materials in HP1, derived from Posa and Brun’s 1481 printing of Llull’s Ars brevis (110 Abb. 88), actually appear to be worn in 1481, and Haebler marks the appearance of a “brand new” font — labeled HP3 — in two 1488 productions of Posa’s and its reapperance in a Llibre de Consolat, a Catalán Consolat del Mar, of 1494 (113–114), some five or six years later.24 HP1, Haebler asserts, belonged first to Pedro Brun, under whom it is believed Posa apprenticed (GS 110; TI 54), and the assignment here is based, then, on a partnered printing.25 Haebler assigns to HP1 some 104 lower-case types including ordinary single graphemes, ligatures and “biting” graphemes, abbreviatura, six signs of punctuation of the plainest kind, and Arabic numbers having no resemblance to the graphemes. HP1 contains the Tironian et (a type not found in the Folio) and nineteen small initials. The types of HP3, a smaller collation, are meant to be represented in the Folio. HP3 has about 51 lower-case letter types including abbreviatura, ligatures, rotunda d and r, and opening and closing parentheses. Its twenty small initials include two styles of E, suggesting that Haebler intended his font collations to be inclusive of multiple styles if not exhaustive, but HP3 represents one uncial ∂, where several styles appear in the Folio, a matter discussed in chapter 7 of this book. Haebler’s Posa 1 (HP1), below:

Images are shown by permission of Mr. Florian Hiersemann of Anton Hiersemann Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.

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Lasting Impressions Haebler’s Posa 3 (HP3), below:

Images are shown by permission of Mr. Florian Hiersemann of Anton Hiersemann Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.

The folio Letter’s lower-case types are well represented by HP3, particularly c, d, e, i, q, r, s, and v, though the reproductions may not be precise in each instance. While the l type in the Folio is like that of HP3 in having a rounded foot, for example, the Folio’s l (lower-case L) shows a lightly concave serif at the finial of the ascender, a feature the HP3 example lacks. Some types not represented in HP3 also left their impressions in the Folio; these include small initials I and N, discussed below, and several styles of g and rotunda d, ss and st ligatures, and small initial D.26 Note that the D belonging to HP3 is in some respects like each of the three examples of D set in the final section of the Letter on 2v, but it is not entirely like any of them. D of HP3

f. 2v.14 Deración

f. 2v.15 De las

f. 2v.16 De Sus

Folio examples of small initial I at 1r.4, 9, 20, and 21 possess sharper, finer inside curves than the I represented in HP3, and the Folio examples lack the heavy lower curve that ends in a small bulb finial in HP3.

I from HP3


The Folio N (1r.1) gets a spotty impression but clearly is not a match for the N


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Lasting Impressions of HP3, though HP3’s N is similar in size (about 4.2 mm) to the Folio N (about 4 mm.) and has several similar features. N of HP3

1r.1 SENOR

Small discrepancies in size and design between impressions from an original and their respective representations in Haebler’s fonts may be due to reproduction methods, or they may be incidental because of various kinds of wear or damage to the types in the original. Even a slight difference noted in the theoretical measurement of types based on measurements of impressions may be meaningless, as Gaskell points out: “[M]inor differences of thickness, of body size, and of individual variant sorts” exist even when fonts are “derived ultimately from the same punches” (39). It bears restating that excessive or scanty inking or stray debris hung on types or on woodcut initials may mislead the viewer about small details, and possible losses may affect measurements. Rosembach’s 1494 Catalán editions of Constitutions, issued in Barcelona in February and May and reflecting the Barcelona court of 1493, are of some interest, too, because of the printing materials used in them. In both printings, the opening recto of the text (2r) shows Spindeler’s borders from his 1490 Tirant lo Blanch with Spindeler’s elaborate heraldic emblem featuring his name (as Niculaus Spindeler) at the center of the lower block.27 While Rosembach’s February issue has the right and lower pieces of the border joined precisely and the left side off by perhaps less than an em, the May printing misses the right joining by as much as three ems and cuts off a like section of the right edge of the border. The left margin piece is set upside down. While this use of material in one of these printings and the employment of certain off-style framed initials within the text might suggest the Folio, other elements of these printings contest that conclusion: double hyphens appear at line-end, other punctuation is regular, numerals are set off by punctu-s, the Tironian et appears regularly, main titles are printed in red, and generally clean work indicates the master’s care. Another matter of interest in Rosembach’s Constitutions editions is that its framed R looks like a match for that used in Posa’s 1495 Pastorale, adding support to Haebler’s “moveable initials” theory.28 Some of the framed initials used in the Constitutions bear the design details of the framed R and S and so recall those used by Posa more than a decade earlier in his Imitatio Christi (1482). Posa’s Imitatio was mentioned at the end of chapter 2 of this book because its border or a copy of it reappears six years later in Posa’s printing of Phocas’s De nomine et verbo and turns up again in Pere Miguel’s 1493 Barcelona quarto of a Vida e transit de San Ierónimo.29 In Pere Miguel’s printing, however, the piece that comprises the left side of the border has been inverted, and the designs do not intersect correctly.30 The right end of the lower section of the border has been damaged or re-cut — or badly inked? — making the design awkward

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Lasting Impressions and clumsy rather than graceful as it is in Posa’s 1488 printing.31 What may be the letters “ach” followed by a tiny cross are visible in an irregular white space at the lower right corner of the 1493 printing, just inside the innermost (white) frame; this feature is obscure or absent in the 1488 printing and may suggest the final letters of “Rosembach.” Close examination of these borders will reveal additional distinctions. Rosembach appears to be the creator and owner of the initial in question and appears to have used it (and perhaps copies of it) in two court printings in 1494. His court connection in 1493–1494 is attested, and his personality as revealed in Madurell and Rubió’s documents shows him to be eccentric, combative, deeply opportunistic, and circumspect. Rosembach, rather than Posa, seems to be the kind of man who would pull out an old case to do an after-hours job that he didn’t intend to claim, or who would accept a jobbing printer friend who needed money to do a small job in those hours, whether the commission came in with the friend or came to the master directly. Based on the nature, quality, and features of their surviving printing, however, neither Rosembach nor Posa is readily suggested as the Folio printer. The idea that Barcelona printers lent materials or owned them in common and traveled to work turns out to be only one source of doubt in assigning the Folio printing, but it is an important consideration. The reappearance of what have been thought to be the same materials in the work of several printers and the tendency of some printers to relocate temporarily undermine the possibility of knowing exactly who was holding what materials and who was on hand in Barcelona in March and April 1493. That Rosembach, Posa, and Pere Miguel were there, nevertheless, seems reasonable, given attested printings or apparent residency there in the early 1490s or both. The span of years between the printings used for the matches of types suggests a disconnect that is critically difficult to surmount, and no single lower-case type or small initial with a compellingly identifying birthmark, quirk, or loss that is found in the Letter has been detected thus far in a corresponding data-attested printing from the immediate period in Cataluña.32 The fact that the Folio’s composing and presswork fail to accord in quality, language, and content with the work of printers such as Rosembach, Posa, Spindeler, and Luschner argues against their having worked directly on the Letter’s printing — at least in a good light and in sound physical and cognitive condition. One cannot now verify that any of these four printers except Luschner printed in Spanish before 1500, and only Pere Miguel is known to have printed for a Castellano-reading public in Barcelona in 1493. At present, we remain at sea on the matter of identifying the Folio printer based on a preponderance of evidence, and it may be that only new discoveries of Iberian data-attested printings or other documents from the spring of 1493 can set the matter on solid critical ground. Notes 1

See the Glossary for “framed initial.” Framed initials may have been engraved in a “soft” metal by some artisans at some point, but at this period in Spain, those under consideration here are probably in wood, despite Spain’s printers’ personal and professional connections with Germany, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, so with all — I think — other commentators on these initials, I refer to them


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Lasting Impressions as “woodcuts.” Damage to some initials and the variants between similar examples in impressions of the period suggest wood. Whether wood or metal, the framed initial is set into the text and printed in the same way. Oscar Jennings (1908) proposes that “schools of cutters and engravers in wood and soft metal” were working “before 1490” in Italy, France, and the Netherlands and in Germany “some twenty years earlier” (105), but even sixteenth-century examples continue to be treated as woodcuts by critics. See, for example, Goff’s report on LC acquisitions made in 1971, including a Venetian Missale Pragense of 1507 that features a historiated “woodcut initial” that Goff writes is “[o]ne of the earliest examples of woodcut initials framing Biblical scenes” (298). Lilian Armstrong’s 1996 essay on early sixteenth-century Venetian craftsman, artist, and cartographer Benedetto Bordon takes a strong interest in his production and use of woodcuts, and Armstrong cites a project of 1499–1500 that required his custom production of twenty-three “large woodcut historiated initials” (70). Kay Amert’s 2008 essay suggesting a revision in Stanley Morison’s theory of the relationship between Aldus Manutius’s roman types and later French roman types cites a “revision” of Simon de Colines’s supply of woodcut initials in the 1520s (64). These essays tend to affirm that use of woodcut initials, even historiated ones, probably continued to be the rule rather than the exception well into the sixteenth century, even in Italy. 2 The book and manuscript holdings of the British Museum in Proctor’s time are now in the British Library. Thacher cites Proctor (II 10). Framed, embellished initials and borders, like the illustrations of early printed books, were produced as woodcuts and could be approximately duplicated as need arose. On the enhancement of value through illustration and decoration, see Guido Biagi’s “Introduction” to William Dana Orcutt’s study of early Italian printing (24–25). 3

See the S of Haebler’s second set of collated initials attributed to Rosembach (GS 116 Abb. 98, 99), where the S example is meant to reflect the one at the head of the folio Letter. 4 Fidelity to design details of the materials represented in Haebler’s collations may be limited by the means of reproduction available. Margaret Bingham Stillwell describes the processes used at the time to create facsimiles of original printings and refers also to those made from tracings “in earlier days” (179). The individual initials shown in Haebler’s collations may include lacunae or be intended only as approximate representations. The size indicated may be slightly off that of the original, and a few initials are shown upside-down. To take several examples: the framed initials A, C, D, E, and H that Haebler attributes to Luschner’s Montserrat printings (GS 173 Abb. 166) do no more than suggest features of the actual impressions, and Q and H are shown inverted. Luschner’s Exercitatorio’s framed initials are distinct from those shown in Haebler: A (2r, 4v); C (9v); D (7r, 24r); E (14r); H (6r). See Haebler GS (175 Abb. 168). Consult the Spanish Exercitatorio held at the Biblioteca de Catalunya for two examples of framed S (29v, 73r) represented in Haebler’s set as inverted (GS 173 Abb. 166); though this S is entirely distinct from the framed S that opens the Letter, it may certainly be from the same hand. The framed S that Haebler shows in situ in a facsimile page from Luschner’s Latin Exercitatorio (GS 175 Abb. 168; cf. 173 Abb. 166) is remarkably close to its original at 36r (Biblioteca de Catalunya). Other examples of framed S in the Latin Exercitatorio (4r, 11v, 25v) are not like that of the Folio but are almost certainly from the same hand as its S. The 4r example in particular shows significant wear or damage to the frame and a quite distinct floriated design that yet shares features with the Folio S. The two editions of the Exercitatorio attributed to Luschner use a woodcut of Christ surrounded by various symbols, and these printings survive whole or in part in a good number of examples. Both are digitized by the Biblioteca de Catalunya and accessible through its catalogue. In addition to the digital images, also see Haebler (GS 175 Abb. 169) and Lyell (95–99, esp. the image at 98). 5

Haebler does not show the Letter’s first recto with the framed S in situ. The Folio’s example measures approximately 26.8 mm. vertically and 22 mm. horizontally at its fullest points, according to my measurements; the specimen reproduced in Haebler (GS 116 Abb. 99) is approximately 26 mm. high by about 21.5 mm. wide, so direct magnification of a tracing or photograph does not appear to account for the difference in size.

6 Haebler explains this relationship and the use of the initials by both printers: “Diese Initialen nun gehören durchgängig solchen Serien an, die wir weiterhin im Besitze des Johann Rosenbach antreffen. In den neunziger Jahren, wo Rosenbach in Barcelona gleichfalls eine eigene Druckerei besitzt, kann man geradezu die gleichzeitige Benutzung derselben Initialbuchstaben in beiden Druckereien feststellen [. . .] . Es muß deshalb für sehr wahrscheinlich gelten, daß diese Zierbuchstaben vom Anfang ihres Vorkommens an dem Johann Rosenbach zugehört haben und in Posas Drucken nur so lange

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Lasting Impressions vorgekommen sind, als geschäftliche Beziehungen zwischen den beiden Druckern bestanden haben.” [These capitals belong consistently to such sets (of fonts) which we meet later on in the possession of Johann Rosenbach. In the nineties when Rosenbach had his own press, one can confirm the simultaneous use of the same initials in both presses. It must therefore be considered very likely that these decorative letters from the beginning of their appearance belonged to Johann Rosenbach and appeared in Posa’s printing only as long as business relations existed between the two printing establishments] (GS 115–116). 7

Printing data appears in the colophon on 82v. Haebler does not call attention to the Antidotarium or its framed S in the collation of framed initials attributed to Rosembach (GS 116 Abb. 99), and distinctions exist between Haebler’s reproduction of the framed S in this group (GS 116 Abb. 99) and the framed S of Posa’s Antidotarium of 1490 (1r), though Haebler knew the Antidotarium from his view of it in 1898 at the library of the University of Barcelona (BI I 16 No. 36). For comparison, the details of the framed initial in the Antidotarium may be studied in digital form courtesy of the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes where the entry is found as “Antidotarium cum commento Stephani Arnoldi.” Sanz writes that the framed initial of Posa’s Antidotarium is “exactamente igual” to the Folio’s initial though it is not. Sanz gives Francisco Vindel’s reproduction in reduced facsimile (Secreto 217; El arte tipográfico I, No. 58). 8

Luschner is credited by colophon for at least seven printings at Montserrat in 1499–1500, and at least four additional printings identified by place and date only are credited to him there. Ten printings lacking all data are assigned tentatively to Luschner at Montserrat over 1499–1500. The Exercitatorio in Latin and in Spanish are among those giving the place and year of printing without the printer’s name; Luschner is tentatively assigned as the printer, based on data from the other printings there at the period and the materials used, so the assignment seems highly likely. 9

See slightly more detail on this theme in chapter 7 under the heading “The sole ornament.”


In his study of Spanish printing, Agustín Millares Carlo designates the “Gothic Period” as beginning in 1501 as a continuation of the incunabula period: “[E]l gótico . . . continuando la producción llamada incunable, se inicia en 1501 y se prolonga hasta los promedios, aproximadamente, del siglo XVI” (497). Updike sets the first gothic in Spain at 1482 (108), but based on the use of gothic types by Matthaeus de Flandres, Spindeler, and Spindeler and Brun, this “period” has its beginnings in Spain in the 1470s. Note Matthaeus’s Manipulus curatorum of 1475 (115/116G); Spindeler and Brun’s Rudimenta grammatices of 1477; Spindeler’s De regimine principum of 1480 (109G); and Posa’s Catalán translation of the deeds of Alexander the Great, Historiae Alexandri Magni of 1481 (110G), as early gothic printings in Spain. See facsimiles produced by Haebler, Updike, and Vindel and those online linked through ISTC and GW. 11

The “fonts” that Haebler compiles for GS exist nowhere in reality but represent impressions in printings from which Haebler made his collations. Haebler’s collations are more representative than exhaustive though some contain more than one example of a given grapheme or symbol. It would have been impractical, as this and the previous discussion have indicated and as chapter 7 will further suggest, for all the variations of individual types that appear in the source printings to have been shown in his collations.

12 While the set shown in collation as Hurus 3 and impressions in the facsimile of Flor de virtudes are slightly higher in the body (about 1 mm.), and the m is slightly wider (perhaps .5 mm.), the lower case of Hurus 1, a small set, is very near the size of the Folio types, but with generally slight distinctions in features of certain individual types. The distinctive lines along the inner curve of the long-I type in Hurus 1 and 3 make these fonts a close match for those types in the Folio although the descender’s curve is distinct. 13 Two pages of Brocar’s Libro, from a copy indicated as privately owned in Madrid at the time Haebler studied it, are shown in Haebler’s TI (LXV). The copy held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France is digitized and linked through ISTC and GW. The BN France’s digitized copy shows titles (1r) in Spanish. 14

See also Haebler BI for his M classifications (201–202). The M of the Libros menores in examples that I studied is not the M88 design used in the folio Letter. See also the following note concerning the M classification system. 15

In the online pages entitled “List of GfT Fonts,” the National Diet Library charts the use of fonts and M initials by nation and printer as the data is presented in volumes of the Veröffentlichungen der


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Lasting Impressions Gesellschaft für Typenkunde des 15. Jahrhunderts (GfT). M88 includes at least five similar designs according to the chart of M-types given in the summary prepared by the National Diet Library (, where it is asserted that M88 is the second most frequent pattern of M and is found “mainly among Italian printers” (“Statistics of Incunabula Types”). In France, M88 is found in the work of Paris printers of the 1490s Andre (André) Bocard, Denis Meslier, Felix Baligault, and Guy Marchant, who printed the Letter’s Latin translation, and in the work of Lyons printers Nicolaus de Benedictis, productive through the 1490s; Iohann (Iohannes, Johann, Johannes) Siber, attested from the late 1470s through the next two decades; Jean Pivard, whose work in Lyons is attested beginning in 1497; Jean Du Pre, active from the last half of the 1480s through about 1492; Jean de Vingle, positively identified by a good number of colophons dated from 1494 through 1505 and credited speculatively as the printer of work dated in 1492 and 1493 as well; Guillaume Le Roy, attested by colophon in 1473 and tentatively credited with many other printings at Lyons through the close of the 1480s; and the unnamed “Printer of the Ars moriendi” credited to Lyons (ISTC ia01096000). The earlier Lyons printers using this style M are of possible interest in connection with Haebler’s comments on “Lyoner” style types used in Valladolid, the presumed site of printing the Spanish quarto of the Letter, discussed in chapter 5, an inquiry that I do not pursue. Haebler also addresses this matter in TI (2). In Rome, Eucharius Silber, credited with printing a Latin translation of the Letter, is among those in whose printing M88 appears. 16 See, for example, Haebler’s reproductions of Spanish printing in GS and TI; those reproduced by Vindler, James P. R. Lyell, Carlos Romero de Lecea et al.; and those available as print and electronic facsimiles. Haebler may have mentioned this characteristic “Spanish” appearance first in TI, writing that “asi todas las [producciones] que salieron de las prensas de España, desde los primeros tiempos, tienen un caracter peculiar, que hace notar en seguida un estilo español que se reconoce muy facilmente, hasta en las obras de los maestros recien llegados á España” [thus all the printings that came from presses in Spain, from the first days (of printing), have a certain character, so that one quickly notices a Spanish style that is easily recognized, even in the works of master (printers) recently arrived in Spain] (2). 17

In the context of English practices, Talbot Baines Reed writes, “[I]t is necessary to bear in mind that the most obscure printer of that day, unless he succeeded in purchasing his founts from abroad, or in obtaining the reversion of the worn types of another printer, probably cast his letter in his own moulds, and from his own matrices” (83). 18

Stillwell refers to Haebler’s Ars Typographica article (10).


See Gaskell’s discussion (10–13).


Posa’s Phocas quarto of 1488 and Posa and Brun’s 1481 Vida del Rey Alexandre (TI XVI No. 28) confirm similar indications in the folio Letter: the compositor must have picked randomly from his tray where types from two or more similar sets were housed as one because a mix of types occurs through the printing. 21

Shared design elements and proximate sizes work to mediate the appearance of disparate materials on the page and across a printing as a whole (running titles, headings, etc.); the implication is that the lowercases probably contained mixes of fonts of similar size and design, and that pulling initials and numerals from other fonts of reasonably compatible design was an accepted practice.

In addition to a mix of lower-case types having similar sizes and styles being combined randomly in a printing, small initials used in a given printing may clearly fail to correlate in style with its lowercase types; in addition, larger initials may look out of sync with the printing’s small initials, as in Posa’s De nomine et verbo, sive De principalibus orationis partibus (1488) where several large initials bear no resemblance to the style of other initials. Haebler shows these larger initials as a part of HP3 (GS 114 Abb. 94), but they are not reproduced here. Though I suggest the beginnings of a de facto standardization in the later decades of Spain’s incunabula period, the movement toward standardization is usually set at a later period. Gaskell, for example, notes a gradual tendency to standard type in the early and middle years of the sixteenth century, though he specifies that international standardization was not achieved until the nineteenth century (10–13). 22

For Haebler’s Posa 3, see GS 114 (Abb. 94); for Posa 1, see GS 110 (Abb. 87).

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Lasting Impressions 23

Comparative vertical measurements shown in millimeters for the indicated graphemes from the two fonts appear below, with some approximations; m and n widths follow in each set. HP1: A (4); C (4.2); D (4.1); I (4.2); P (5); R (4); S (4.5); g (4); n (4); v (3.6); m width (3.5 ); n width (2.2). HP3: A (4.6); C (4.8); D (4.2); I (5); P (5); R (4.5); S (4.5); g (4); n (3); v (3). m width (3); n width (2). 24

See the facsimile of De principalibus orationis partibus with initials on the first verso (TI XVII; GS 115 Abb. 97). The quality of the two reproductions of De principalibus in Haebler’s two studies indicates the possibility of misjudging details of a given piece of type based on a single example from a printing and the pitfalls of using (even better quality) older facsimiles for comparison. For the Llibre de consolat (Consolat del Mar) of 1494 (referred to in GS at 113–114), no facsimile is given in GS. About the materials used to set these books, Haebler writes, “In diesem Jahre [1488] sind zwei Bücher erschienen, die seinen [Posa’s] Namen tragen und die mit einem vollkommen neuen Schriftenmateriale hergestellt sind” [In this year (1488) two books appeared that bore (Posa’s) name and that were produced with completely new printing materials] (113); he continues, “Mit diesem Schriftenmateriale hat Posa dann auch das Libre del Consolat vervollständigt. Es ist Nicht, ausgeschlossen, daß er sich unmittelbar zu diesem Zwecke seine neuen Schriften verschaffte und daß sie hier zum ersten Male verwendet wurden” [With these printing materials (HP3 and HP4), Posa also then completed the Consolat del Mar. It is possible that (Posa) acquired these materials specifically for the purpose of printing these new works and that they were used here for the first time] (114). HP4 (not shown) represents a set of larger types for rubrics etc.

25 The implication of assigning a font to Posa alone following an apprenticeship is that the apprentice took over the materials as a part of his apprenticeship agreement to receive materials at the end of the period to begin his own shop; nevertheless, the possibility of a master-apprentice arrangement between Posa and Brun needs further study. 26 See chapter 7 for detail on these distinctions. The reader may consult the Folio facsimile and images of representative types reproduced in comparative groupings. 27

The Catalán Constitutions also demonstrate Rosembach’s connection with the court at the period in question and the printing of materials for a Catalán readership in Barcelona.


Such a practice, used routinely it seems, would create inefficiency and frustration and would be soon remedied by the duplication of materials. One wonders whether a need for materials is indicated by the lacunae in Pere Miguel’s Vida e transit where spaces for many initials are left blank. The framed R in question appears at 17r in both printings. The Biblioteca de Catalunya numbers the folios of the May edition beginning after the first titles, which puts the count off by one folio, making this folio 16r in the digital files. The framed R from Posa’s printing is shown in chapter 2. 29 Pere Miguel’s printing of the Vida e transit is digitized by the Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart (Epistola de morte Hieronymi) where the border is found at 1r, and a partial copy of it, missing the opening folio with the border, by the Biblioteca Catalunya, both accessible through links at GW (09476). 30

Posa’s printing of Miguel Pérez’s Catalán translation of Imitatio Christi (assigned by colophon to Posa in Barcelona 1482) was cited in the previous discussion because Harrisse claimed that its types appeared in the folio Letter. The reduced facsimile of the title is given in Lyell (41).


Posa’s edition of Phocas is digitized at the Biblioteca Digital Hispánica (Biblioteca Nacional de España): A facsimile of the title page is given by Haebler (GS).


See Reed’s discussion and graphic of impressions produced by types cast from the same matrix (18–19).


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4 The Letter goes abroad: the Roman connection The Latin translation of the Letter was released in a series of pamphlets that were probably circulating around the streets of Rome in the early days of May 1493. Shortly afterward, editions of the Roman Latin Letter reached readers in Basel, Antwerp, and Paris, and a German translation was made that claims to be partly based on a lost Latin issue produced in Ulm. Until the discovery of the Spanish Quarto in the midnineteenth century, the Latin quartos took precedence as the first issues of the Letter. For over a hundred years, scholars have debated the order in which the Latin editions were printed and where and by whom; how many separate editions should be counted among the survivors; what was the source text for the translation; whether there were two recipients of Columbus’s Letter — and therefore two Letters — or only one; and exactly who were the Latin text’s translator and the poet of its closing verse.1 A good many commentators emphasize the Letter’s “popularity” as evidenced by the number of its editions, but its extant printings suggest that it may not have been considered marketable as a solo printing after 1493. Only a German translation dated in 1497 and an Italian verse rendering that was published several times give definite testimony of contemporary solo printings of the Letter after 1493, and both are treated below.2 The number of extant Latin printings, described more fully further on in this chapter, may be generously counted as follows: • • • • •

one and possibly two “Fernando” (“F”) Roman quarto printings, nearly identical, presumed to have been done by Stephan (Stephanus) Plannck (Planck)3 one “Fernando and Isabel” (F&I) Roman quarto presumed to have been done by Plannck one F&I Roman quarto printed by Eucharius Silber (Eucharius Argentus, Argenteus, Silver, Frank, or Franck) two or three Paris “F” editions attributed to Guiot (Gui, Guy, Guido) Marchant (Merchant, Mercatorem) the first “Illustrated” Latin octavo, also an “F,” tentatively assigned here to Johann (Iohann) Bergmann von (de) Olpe and presumed to have been printed in 1493 at Basel

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The Letter Goes Abroad • • •

the Antwerp “F” quarto assigned to Thierry (Theodoricus) Martens (Mertens, Martin d’Alost, Martinus) and presumed to have been printed not before the latter part of 1493 the second “Illustrated” edition (1494), giving the Letter collated at the end of the book behind other literary works honoring Fernando, attributed to Johann Bergmann von Olpe at Basel on the basis of his initials in an emblem a ghost Latin edition made at Ulm, attested in the German quarto of 1497; the “Ulm Latin” has not been found or elsewhere attested.

Other printings of the Latin pamphlets in quarto and octavo, like the Spanish printings, may have slipped from public view within a few years because they lay in private hands or their leaves had been repurposed and forever lost, and we have no indications at this time of any stand-alone printing of the Letter being issued between the 1497 German quarto and the facsimiles of the nineteenth century. Henry Harrisse (BAV) wrote that his efforts to locate references to the Latin editions and later printings of the Letter in subsequent centuries had yielded little fruit: We have never seen, among the early historians, a direct reference to any of the [fifteenth-century Latin] editions . . . , although we fancy that traces can be found in the works of Sabellico, Maffei of Volterra, and Bergomas. After 1511 it becomes obvious that all the references to Columbus and his voyages are inspired by the Raccolta of Vicenza, its various translations, and the Decades of Peter Martyr. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, authors . . . begin to quote the Letter itself, but in almost all instances it is with the addition of an honest apud, referring directly to the monk Robert’s Bellum Christianorum Principum.4 Harrisse concludes that the Latin Letter must have become generally inaccessible early in the sixteenth century, and that by the end of the century, scholars were relying on the Bellum Christianorum Principum for its text.5 Justin Winsor seconds Harrisse and cites other sources, noting that the “next earliest reprint” of the Letter is found in Jesuit Andreas Schottus’ Hispaniæ Illustratæ, published in the first decade of the seventeenth century.6 Chroniclers who were Columbus’s contemporaries had access to the Letter or to primary manuscript material very similar to it, as Harrisse indicates. One sees, for example, a resonant account in Peter Martyr’s De orbe novo, whose first Decade — which Martyr calls his “Ocean Decade” — was published in Spanish in 1511 and in Italian in 1504.7 Andrés Bernáldez completed his Memorias del reinado prior to his death in 1513, and its narrative of the first voyage is often cited as a reflection of the Letter. Cesare De Lollis, for example, made extensive use of Bernáldez’s Memorias in his comparative approach to the Letter’s editions and translations in the Raccolta. The first part of the Historia general y natural de las Indias by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo was published in Sevilla in 1535, but the printing project of three parts, including a revision of the first part, was abandoned at his death.8 Bartolomé’s manuscript of Historia de las Indias, based on contemporary Columbus materials and the priest’s personal experience, was compiled through several decades and left incompletely edited prior to his death in 1566. It was apparently

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The Letter Goes Abroad copied in manuscript “many” times following his death, but neither Bernáldez’s Memorias nor Bartolomé’s Historia was printed until the nineteenth century.9 In the “Bibliographical Notice” that concludes his edition of Nicolaus Syllacius’ (Nicolo Scyllacio) De Insulis Meridiani, Americana collector James Lenox also cites a brief German account covering the period from the “voyages of Columbus” through the “conquest of Mexico” that is supposed to have been produced about 1522 at Augsburg, an account that may have availed itself of the supposed “Latin of Ulm” or of Bartlomeus Küstler’s 1497 German translation.10 In the nineteenth century, too, copies of the Latin edition were at times felt to be scarce. An anonymous essayist for The Gentleman’s Magazine (July 1836) limited the number to four and asserted that they were all held in England.11 Richard Henry Major, in 1847 counted four known examples of the “F” edition attributed to Plannck (iii–iv); four of Plannck’s F&I editions (iii); and three of Silber’s F&I, two of which were then held in the personal libraries of John Carter Brown and Lenox, the third having already passed from Grenville to the British Museum (ii–iii). Lenox in 1861 counts “F” quartos in the Grenville and Munich Royal libraries and in the collection of Thomas Aspinwall of Boston, and he sets F&I quartos in the Grenville collection and the Munich library, in his own collection, and in Brown’s.12 In the 1890s, the public had notice of several Latin quartos changing hands at the auctions of collectors in the United States. S. L. M. Barlow’s library, for example, included two Latin quartos that were offered at auction. One of these, an “F,” sold to Brayton Ives for $2900, and another, purchased by Aspinwall in 1831 and referred to by Lenox, above, was acquired by the Boston Public Library.13 In 1891, the Barlow–Ives quarto was auctioned for $1500.14 Today, according to ISTC, no fewer than twenty-three libraries now claim Plannck’s 1493 “F” as an incunabulum holding; at least forty-three now catalogue Plannck’s F&I edition; and eleven libraries hold the Silber F&I quarto.15 These numbers are indeed impressive considering the perceived scarcity of these items in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

A Letter to Sánchez? The progress of the Letter from Spain to its Roman printer has been given in various scenarios, propelled by supposed political or self-aggrandizing motives or casual circumstances, but whether the Spanish Letter was put into Latin in Barcelona or at Rome or Florence, or whether a Sánchez Letter ever existed or the idea of Sánchez as its recipient arose from a misunderstanding or an intentional obfuscation concerning the Letter’s recipient, no one knows though many have speculated.16 The motivation for Columbus to write a letter to Sánchez has been doubted because nothing known to have happened between them recommends Sánchez as having been as much a friend to Columbus as Santángel, but the Latin editions assert Sánchez as the Letter’s sole intended recipient. Fragmentary Italian versions of the Letter, dated by critics to the sixteenth century and of uncertain provenance, also imply for some commentators that Columbus wrote a letter specifically to Sánchez. Even though the Simancas manuscript of the Santángel Letter had been in evi-


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The Letter Goes Abroad dence since the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the discovery of the printed Spanish Letters, first in quarto and then in folio, prompted a closer examination of whether or not Columbus had written two letters, one to Santángel and another to Sánchez. In his later edition of Select Letters, following the discovery of the Spanish Quarto, Major observed that the idea of two intended recipients (Sánchez and Santángel) for the Letter was probably a misunderstanding (cxxvi), opposing the opinion of Pascual de Gayangos y Arce (1867), who accepted the idea that two letters went to two distinct court officials.17 Varnhagen (1869), however, opined that there was a single addressee, neither Santángel nor Sánchez but the crown, and the wording had been altered in the printed Letter to conceal the fact — though he makes his Sanfelices manuscript directed to Sánchez the source of the Letter.18 Haynes, who translated a Plannck “F” quarto for an 1891 issue of the Bulletin of the Boston Public Library, writes that “the two texts [Spanish and Latin] differ considerably from each other” and must have been “derived from different, though similar, originals” (3). Kerney (1891), on the other hand, credited the (already discredited) Varnhagen–Sanfelices manuscript as lending substance to the idea that a Sánchez letter existed and found plausible the idea that Columbus sent a separate letter to Sánchez, probably from Sevilla (6–9), though he avers that Sánchez “was personally a stranger to Columbus” (7).19 Cesare de Lollis found nothing to distinguish the two letters and apparently considered a descriptive label (very similar to the Letter’s) preceding each of two fragmentary Italian translations and describing their respective texts as having been written ad certi conseieri del signor re [to certain ministers of the lord king] as worthy testimony, arguing in 1892 for only one Letter having two addressees.20 Haebler, too, doubted the logic of a separate Sánchez letter and suggested that if the Sánchez Letter ever existed, it must have been a copy of the Santángel Letter.21 Jane is also among the doubters on this point and suggests several candidates who would have had greater and more direct influence on the king than Sánchez, and Demetrio Ramos (1986) also asserted that the addressee was altered from Santángel to Sánchez by some misunderstanding.22 Juan Gil’s stemma for the printings theorizes that the manuscript that served to produce the fair copy used to compose the Spanish Folio was directly employed to create the Latin translation (Textos 20). Consuelo Varela, however, appears to support the idea that two very similar but separate letters went out to Santángel and Sánchez: “Existe una carta muy similar dirigida a Gabriel Sánchez, tesorero de Aragón” [There is a very similar letter directed to Gabriel Sánchez, the treasurer of Aragon] (Textos 219); and this is the position of most recent commentators, who either argue for two separate letters sent to two different addressees or else treat the existence of the two Letters as a given.23 The intriguing notation appended to two fragmentary Italian translations of the Letter (mentioned above in connection with De Lollis’s view of Sánchez as a recipient of a separate letter) places a text very like the Spanish Letter in Italy “with Sánchez’s brother.”24 In the nineteenth century, images of two of these “fragments” went to Major in England and to Harvard Classicist William Watson Goodwin in the U.S. via photographs.25 Sanz (Secreto) describes the three separate translation fragments,

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The Letter Goes Abroad focusing on the two Major and Goodwin examined, and shows Goodwin’s photographic copy of the original with its transcript, demonstrating slight variants and omissions from the other (395 ff.). Sanz sets these Italian manuscripts as having been produced “well into” the sixteenth-century as later copies of translations made at the time the Letter came to Italy (395–396).26 Goodwin remarks that the photographed fragment “agrees in substance, except in a few points” with the Spanish quarto letter, and its foregoing label identifies it as a copy of the letter written by Columbus, admiral of the king of Spain, who wrote to court to certain counselors of the king, and that the Treasurer of the King of Spain (Sánchez) had sent to his brother Zoane Sanzio (Zoan, Ioan, or Joan Sánchez) in Florence: Copia de una letra scritta dal armiralgio Colon del Signor re de Spagna laqual scrive ala corte regal ad certi conseieri del signor re, mandata dal grande Tresorir del ditto signor in fiorenza al fratello Zoane Sanzio.27 These translation fragments have convinced some commentators of the existence of a Sánchez Letter and have led others to rationalize a single Letter.28 If Zoane received from Gabriel a letter that had been sent to “certain counselors” in the Spanish court, the translator or an intermediary might have assumed that Zoane’s brother, a minister, had received the original, leading the translator to name Sánchez as the Letter’s recipient and to add his courtly office. To the objection that Sánchez lacked the connections with Columbus that are evident between Columbus and Santángel, Meir (Meyer) Kayserling offers his perspective on two intimately connected converso court officials who, Kayserling asserts, both befriended Columbus. In his seminal work on the involvement of Spain’s late fifteenth-century Jews in the discovery and exploration of the New World, Kayserling defends the Sánchez connection, explaining that Santángel and Sánchez were among “the most zealous patrons of Columbus” (79), and asserts that Sánchez was among those who “resolutely interposed” in Columbus’s favor when he was sent from court (59). In years afterward, according to Kayserling, Columbus “frequently asked his old patron Gabriel Sanchez to intercede with Ferdinand and Isabella” on his behalf (123).29 Kayserling also envisioned a personal relationship between Santángel and Sánchez beyond their careers in the Aragonese court and their religious heritage. Kayserling writes that Santángel and Sánchez were “kinsmen” (79), but their kinship was legal rather than genetic in that Kayserling also records that on 18 August 1487, “Mosen Luis de Santangel, father-in-law of the treasurer Gabriel Sanchez” was burned by the Inquisition in Zaragoza (67). This “Mosen Luis de Santangel,” according to Kayserling, was the uncle of Fernando’s Escribano de Ración, the Luis de Santángel who supported Columbus’s venture (70).30 Kayserling, however, offers an imaginative scenario concerning the Folio: “Gabriel gave a copy of Columbus’s letter to a bookseller in Barcelona, who had it printed in Gothic characters” (102).

Translation matters Despite experts’ disagreeing about the Latin Letter’s provenance, certain matters about it are reasonably clear.


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The Letter Goes Abroad •

• • •

First, the Latin translation of the Letter possesses enough distinctions from the Spanish versions to suggest that Columbus may have written two letters to two different court officials at the same period, though these letters were near copies of each other. Second, either a copy of the Spanish Letter or its Latin translation went in a timely way to Italy, where the Letter’s recipient was understood, correctly or not, to be Sánchez. Third, the translator’s baptismal name is emended from Aliander to Leandro between Plannck’s F and Plannck’s F&I, a change reflected in Silber’s F&I. Fourth, Plannck’s printings give the name Sánchez in two forms — Sanxis and Sanchis — along with Latinized forms of two distinct, archangelic baptismal names, Gabrielem and Raphaelem. The changes to the baptismal name, along with the spelling modification to the surname, imply a progressive concern with correcting an error in regard to a personal name rather than the suppression of a name that came to be understood as an error. (Silber’s F&I gives Sanches.) Fifth, the royal title accorded to Sánchez was sustained through the repeated printings of 1493 and 1494, showing that any concern over his personal name or Leandro’s did not extend to regarding Sánchez’s title as an error.31

These matters, along with certain textual distinctions, argue for a second letter written to Sánchez. The textual differences suggest that the Spanish text from which the Latin translation derived had several different readings from the one that produced the Folio, Quarto, and Simancas manuscript.32 Plannck Latin “F,” for example, begins with wording that serves as its title, Epistola Christofori Colom: cui aetas nostra multum debet: de Insulis Indiae supra Gangem nuper inventis (1r),33 and continues with summary details concerning the narrative. The Letter proper then opens without a salutation and omits crediting God as author of Columbus’s success. Wilberforce Eames, the Lenox Librarian, translates, “Because my undertakings have attained success, I know that it will be pleasing to you: these I have determined to relate, so that you may be acquainted with everything done and discovered in this our voyage” (1).34 God goes unacknowledged until the christening of the first island as diui Saluatoris [divine Savior]. The Latin gives thirty-three days as the time consumed in the outbound voyage, a discrepancy between the Spanish Letter’s “twenty days” at this point and the Latin Letter’s thirty-three that might have been mediated by means of the number given in the post-script of the Folio — had the basis of Leandro’s text included it, and had he then suppressed the postscript, using only its count of days and dateline in his translation. In addition, the Latin specifies Cádiz (Gadibus < Gades) as Columbus’s point of departure — rather than Palos or the Canaries — though no point of departure is considered in the Spanish Letter.35 Subsequent wording recalls the passages from the Folio of taking possession of “many islands” with “innumerable inhabitants,” but the Latin specifies that possession is taken only in the name of “our most fortunate king,” and in the section of naming the islands, the Latin translation lacks the Spanish Letter’s ordinal numbering of them as primera, segunda, tercera, quarta, quinta.36 The Folio’s Matremonio and Guanaham are

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The Letter Goes Abroad Mateunin and Guanahanin, respectively, in the Latin.37 Leandro’s Latin uses dies e ocho [eighteen] rather than the Folio’s (1r.21) diez o ocho [ten or eight] to arrive at a count of miles, so either Leandro saw the disconnect in the odd range of numbers and mended it to a logical possibility, or his text reflected the number he gives.38 He may also have mediated guinea (f. 2r.17) into ethiopes as a measure of the darkness of skin if some equivalent of the latter was not given in his base text. In describing the nature of the coastlines, Leandro translates a hypothetical Spanish fertilissimas [most fertile] rather than the fortissimas [best fortified/strongest (coastline)] of the Folio (1r.24), Quarto, and manuscript.39 Where the Spanish texts give only the information that the island of “fierce inhabitants” is the second of those encountered at the entry into the Indies, the Latin text names the island: insula Charis nuncupata [(an) island called Charis]. No similar phrase appears in the Spanish versions. Where the Spanish records that the native women cover “only one part” with an arrangement of leaves or cotton, the Latin is slightly more explicit: folio frondeue aliqua aut bombicino velo pudenda operiunt [(with) a gathering of leaves or a cotton covering to some degree they cover up the shameful parts].40 A phrase near the close of the Latin Letter, exultet Christus in terris quemadmodum in coelis exultat: quom tot populorum perditas ante hac animas saluatum iri praeuidet [let Christ rejoice on earth as he rejoices in heaven when he anticipates the salvation of so many people’s souls heretofore lost], does not appear in the Spanish Letter but may be a mediation of the Folio’s call for “Christendom” to celebrate at 2v.1–3.41 It is noteworthy that where Spanish text refers internally to sus altezas or nuestras altezas at mention of the crown, the Latin refers to Fernando only, even in the F&I editions. The Latin Letter ends with the line found at Folio 2v.4 and records, Uale [Vale], a “farewell” that does not appear in the Folio. While two datelines and a postscript appear on the three Spanish texts of the Letter, the Latin version gives Lisbon, 14 March — not 4 March — in Roman dating that leaves no room for doubt (Ulisbonae pridie idus Martii). The Latin translation, in eliminating the postscript, rejects a geography that would set the Letter’s composition at sea, merely “off the Canary islands” — or Santa María — and it suppresses Columbus’s implications of Divine intervention having spared Nina and her men from the “worst ever” storms at sea, along with Columbus’s reaffirmation of the beautiful weather of the islands. These results suggest a réécriture of the close of the Letter that suppresses the first dateline (F. 2v.5) and the postscript (2v.8–13) almost entirely, picking up only its geography (2v.9) and its “executed” date (2v.13). The Latin augments Columbus’s El almirante signature from the Letter proper with his full name accompanied by a Latinized title, Christoforus Colom Oceane classis Prefectus [Prefect of the Ocean Fleet]. This significant réécriture of the close of the Letter gives Columbus’s full name for the second time and acknowledges his title. Furthermore, it shows that its editor or its translator viewed the postscript as dispensable and judged the magnificent claims for Spain and calls to Christian action that precede its signature a more fitting closing flourish.42 A verse epigram dedicated to Fernando and attributed to “R. L. de Corbaria, Bishop of Monte Peloso” closes the printing — and mentions Columbus honorifically for the third time.


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The Letter Goes Abroad While some of these differences, along with other distinctions between the Spanish texts and the Latin translation may be due to the translator’s initiative, it can hardly be the instrument for all of them. Leandro, attributed as the Latin translator, was probably Aragonese like Fernando, Sánchez, and Santángel in that “de Cosco” places his origins at Cosco, a university town in the west of Cataluña, near Lérida (Cat., Lleida), but Leandro does not seem to be the writer of the opening lines that work as the edition’s preface, and he is not named as the author of the lines that close it.43

The Aragonese connection The Latin translation’s preface is interesting in that the writer takes a partisan perspective of the Letter and works to establish its claims to veracity. He identifies the text by genre and validates its writer: it is a letter from Christopher Columbus “to whom our age owes a great deal” to the magnificum dominum [great lord] Gabriel Sánchez, treasurer of “the most serene king.” The writer treats the translator with honorifics also and indicates familiarity with the details of the work: ab Hispano ideomate in latinum conuertit tertio kalendas Maii. M. cccc.xciii [from the Spanish language into Latin (he) converted (the text) the third kalends of May].44 The redundant, papal format of the date uses the Roman calculation with the year of the pope’s reign that requires mention of Borgia: Pontificatus Alexandri Sexti Anno Primo.45 In these eight or so lines, then, the writer orients the reader with specific chronology and events and associates the material with the king who sponsored the voyage, with the pope, and with the men through whose hands the Letter had passed — its writer, recipient, and translator. The spirit of the preface is consistent with that of the epigram, where the poet again asserts the primacy of Fernando and Spain, dedicating and addressing his verse “To the Most Invincible King of the Spains” [Ad Inuictissimum Regem Hispaniarum], in the light of whose greatness (“to such men”), the whole world is small. The verse credits Fernando for Columbus’s deed, alludes to Fernando’s successful campaign against the Moors with the epithet Betice magne [great Baetica], and affirms Columbus — Columbo — as the “true discoverer” to whom the poet urges the king to give “due thanks” — but to God greater, in that God has made “new kingdoms” [noua regna] “for you [i.e., Fernando] and Himself ” [tibique sibique].46 Because Monte Peloso is in no convenient spot near Rome — much less Florence — the bishop, a cler Barchinon, must have been at Rome at the time, available for the work.47 These pious, partisan details indicate that the writer of the preface, like the poet of the epigram, was a literary churchman sympathetic to the Aragonese and anxious to do honor to the pope and the Spanish king. This man, I suggest, was charged with preparing the Letter for the printer, and perhaps he assigned its translation to the Catalán Leandro, and meanwhile prepared the identifying title and preface and the closing verses, and sent the text to be printed. “R. L. de Corbaria, Bishop of Monte Peloso,” mentioned above as the author of the epigram, is the most straightforward candidate for these roles in that his and Leandro’s hands are the only ones attested in the Latin text. The workman-like rubic above the epigram has the marks of the poet’s own signature: it contains the simple facts of his name and office without the honorifics offered to every other man mentioned in these opening and closing texts.

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The Letter Goes Abroad It is notable in the context of the poet’s name and title that through the corrections and changes to the names of Sánchez and Leandro, this rather complicated identification remains static through the surviving editions, suggesting that it was a name known to those who saw the text through the press and that it was recorded correctly in the first instance. That Leonardus Carmini de Cerbaria, the bishop of Montepeloso at this period, is identified as cler. Barchinon, a “priest,” native to “Barcelona,” supports the likelihood of this hypothetical scenario. The tone and message of the texts framing the Letter are consistent, and the bishop’s nativity suggests a rationale for the focus on Fernando and the nationalistic pride that inform the preface and epigram.48 It is also telling that the forces that took the Latin translation to the press apparently spared it the faults perceived in the Spanish Folio. It was printed several times and in good order. Had the Folio printing been driven by a powerful mandate, I suggest that the Folio, too, would show signs of oversight — and perhaps survival — that the Latin editions possess. A Latin translation and printing, overseen by a Catalánborn bishop perhaps operating under an impressive warrant, responds coherently to Aragonese interests in Italy. Such a project comports with Fernando’s propensity to create a public display implying sole sovereignty, validates Spain’s Roman and papal connections, and works to justify the production values and graceful touches on the Roman quartos. On the other hand, that the earliest Latin edition was devised to announce Columbus’s discovery to the pope, as has been proposed by Ramos, is most unlikely. From the court at Barcelona, the official essentials of Columbus’s success and Spain’s desires found their way to Alexander VI with all due speed; moreover, the Valencian pope could have read Columbus’s Letter in Spanish — or in Catalán — as Leandro and the bishop were apparently able to do. Setting it into the lengua franca of Europe and its Church and gracing it with laudatory prose and verse worked to make Spain’s and Fernando’s continuing triumphs accessible to a vast audience well beyond the Aragonese in Italy.

Precedence among the Latin quartos The order of precedence among the earliest Latin quartos has been variously interpreted and is generally based on findings of internal evidence of addition and correction since only one of the editions assigned to Rome — Silber’s F&I — bears a date.49 The quarto most likely to have been the first, the “Fernando” attributed to Plannck, is so designated because of corrections to its text that appear in other quartos. Plannck’s “F” edition is distinguished by its readings of Aliander as the translator’s baptismal name and Raphaelem Sanxis as the name of the recipient. It is logical that the slightly corrected version of the Plannck F quarto followed the first. This variant printing, here, “Corrected F,” contains two corrections discovered by Jay Dillon, both at 2r in the inner forme where the readings of “F” (Dillon’s “a”) are upote [vpote] (l. 6) and permultu (l. 17), and the readings of Corrected F (Dillon’s “b”) are utpote (vtpote) and permulta.50 As many as seven 1493 Latin editions were produced in Rome (2), Paris (3), Basel


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The Letter Goes Abroad (1), and Antwerp (1) with only Fernando’s name and fame intact in the titles, and the two 1493 Italian verse editions honored only “the King” — il Re — of Spain. In Rome, however, an emended version of the Letter was soon released to honor Isabel, along with Fernando, in its preface. This “Fernando & Isabel” quarto survives in two editions, one assigned to Plannck and the other with Silber’s colophon, both reflecting the small changes of the Corrected F printing credited to Plannck. It is likely that the F&I quarto attributed to Plannck immediately followed the Corrected F because the F&I quarto adopts utpote and permulta (from Corrected F) and makes the previously noted changes to personal names in the preface, in addition to including the queen in its honorifics. It seems as likely that Silber’s datelined F&I quarto followed Plannck’s in that Silber’s incorporates Plannck’s changes but makes what is perhaps an unintentional distinction in the final vowel (i > e) of the treasurer’s surname, setting Sanches, as noted above. It is impossible now to say with certainty whether the editions made in Paris and Antwerp chronologically preceded or followed the F&I quarto attributed to Plannck — not to mention Silber’s signed one — but bibliographic evidence and the geography involved suggest that Plannck’s F&I quarto must have been issued hard upon the heels of the Corrected F quarto, probably before the external quartos were printed. I would like to suggest one thing further in the context of this chronology that also bears on there having been a second letter written to Sánchez: in addition to the distances between Rome and cities where the surviving editions were issued, the nature of the corrections in the opening paragraph of Plannck’s F&I suggests that they were made to redress significant errors and omissions that someone beyond the printshop had noted. It is likely, then, that such corrections would have been made under the shadow of someone’s displeasure and therefore, done timely. It is also reasonably clear that the Corrected F quarto had already gone on its way to Marchant in Paris, Martens in Antwerp, and Bergmann in Basel — and perhaps to one of the printers of Ulm — before the F&I came available. The Paris and Antwerp editions would have been fairly short work because they could be composed from a printed text and required no new art to be prepared, but the Basel edition would have had to wait for its woodcuts to be executed. Each of these printings gives the name of the Letter’s recipient as Raphaelem Sanxis and the translator as Aliander de Cosco and incorporates the two changes that appear in Corrected F.51 That their printers used the Plannck Corrected F as copy-text, then, is as clear as anything can be at this distance without direct testimony from the principals.

Fernando, heroic and visionary The Letter’s dispatch to Italy and its printing there had the effect of promoting Fernando’s fame and accomplishments to educated readers and churchmen in Rome and beyond, and Aragonese interests in Spain and Italy evidently worked toward that end.52 The name of the translator and the aggrandizing of Fernando alone as heroic and visionary, along with the Letter’s recipient being recorded as Sánchez, suggest an Aragonese engine behind the Letter’s travels.Though the Latin text posits no explicitly “Aragonese” possession of the New World, possession taken “in the name of our most

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The Letter Goes Abroad fortunate king” and the Latin editions’ epigrammatic verse dedicated “To the Most Invincible King of the Spains” [Ad Inuictissimum Regem Hispaniarum] credit Fernando alone. Suppressions of Isabel’s name and titles in every instance, with the sole exception of the preface to the F&I editions, imply a disconnect with the spirit and letter of the Spanish text where credit is accorded jointly at every mention.53 In 1494, the second Basel “Illustrated” edition, where the Letter is preceded by Sebastian Brant’s poetic homage to Fernando, made Fernando’s achievements a global and imperial model. Brant’s poem declares the “heartfelt wish” that Germany had such a ruler [as Fernando], in which case, “‘the whole world would soon be subject to our laws.’”54 Following the poem, Carlo Verardi’s (Carolus Verardus) Historia Baetica celebrates Fernando’s conquest of the remaining Spanish lands (Baetica) under Moorish control, an event that his supporters in Rome had timely observed.55 Verardi’s verse drama (2r–29r) spins out the tale with a copious introduction, many changes of scene, and a considerable number of characters.56 Verardi’s play had been first printed 7 March 1493 at Rome by Silber, so the play honoring Fernando was almost as fresh from the press as Columbus’s Letter that Roman spring. The Historia’s modern editor, Gary R. Grund, notes that the first printing of the play included an elegy by Marcellino Verardi (Marcellinus Verardus), Carlo’s nephew, and that it was accompanied by Carlo’s instrumental piece, “Viva el gran re Don Fernando” [Long Live the Great King, Lord Fernando].57 The play had previously been performed at the Palazzo Riario for the new Borgia pope and members of his court, according to Grund. The printing of another Fernando-centered play, Marcellino Verardi’s heroicizing Fernandus servatus, is assigned to Silber and is plausibly set in early 1493 following Fernando’s three-week recovery from an assassination attempt in Barcelona on 7 December 1492.58 The prolonged anxiety felt among his supporters for Fernando’s survival and the relief that ensued when his recovery was certain may help to explain to some degree the celebratory focus on Fernando that year. Grund asserts, however, that while the election of Pope Alexander VI in August 1492 may have made Fernando “a popular figure” for Italian drama, he had been so under Genoese Pope Innocent VIII as well (xxxv) — almost certainly, it appears, with the initiative and certain Spanish cultural touches provided by Rodrigo Borgia. In the light of such emphasis on Fernando in the Roman winter and spring of 1493, the addition and corrections applied to the Plannck F&I quarto suggest that the printer was externally prompted to reprint his work, altering elements that certain readers would recognize as lapses. That these changes related to personal names and repute merely found their way casually and separately into the printer’s shop, or that the printer realized his omission and his errors and languidly made the decision to reprint does not seem plausible. The queen’s name is unlikely to have been added to the text without a specific prompt from one whose word mattered, and its omission may have come to the attention of a person intimate with the Aragonese and knowledgeable about the principals named in the opening paragraph; this person, it seems likely, also felt a duty toward the queen, but the amendment on behalf of the queen did not extend beyond the introduction to the Letter’s opening paragraph nor get consideration in the closing verse.


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The Letter Goes Abroad

The "Fernando" woodcut from the 1493 Basel octavo (10r) is given as a facsimile in the 400th anniversary printings by Lowdermilk (publisher) and by The Trustees of the Lenox Library (publisher) with Wilberforce Eames as editor.

The roads from Rome The printers credited with the Roman printings, Plannck and Silber, appear to have had business connections with the papal chancery, both before and after Borgia’s election as pope, and they shared their German nativity as well. Plannck, “a printer of Passau” in Lower Bavaria, was in Rome by about 1478,59 and he enjoyed a long-standing business association with the papal curia. Plannck’s working relationship with the curia supports the idea of his having printed what are generally supposed to be the first Latin quartos. Plannck is credited by Alfred H. Guernsey with having printed a papal chancery “Tax-Book” (Taxae cancellariae apostolicae) with a preface written by Borgia during the papacy of Innocent VIII in 1484. Under Borgia’s early papacy, other such documents are assigned to Plannck. One is dated “after 27 August 1492” and another, a quarto, sometime “after 4 May 1493,” based on the dating of its final document. This latter date, of course, falls into the chronology supposed for the first issues of the Latin Letter, but neither assignment to Plannck is absolute. Plannck is

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The Letter Goes Abroad tentatively credited with further printings of the Taxae cancellariae and with other work attributed to Borgia, including two papal bulls dated 28 March 1499. Orcutt (1928) asserts that Plannck was Rome’s most “popular” printer in his time, crediting him with 243 editions between 1479 and 1500, and researchers Allen Kent, Harold Lancour, and Jay E. Daily give him credit for “some 300 books” by 1500 as well as credit for being the only fifteenth century printer “who made extensive use of the same type font in different sizes” (319). Duggan gives a lower estimate of Plannck’s editions, writing that Plannck printed 325 works, more than any other Roman printer before 1500 (85).60 The true number of Plannck’s productions is certainly greater than the count now assigned to him by colophon, and Plannck’s shop is currently attached, often tentatively as with the Columbus quartos attributed to him, to nearly 500 printings in those years.61 Plannck’s fellow German Roman printer Silber produced an F&I edition whose chronology probably followed Plannck’s F&I edition in that Silber incorporates Plannck’s revisions.62 Silber’s shop also had a business relationship with the papal chancery, it appears, because of a good number of printings of Regulae cancellariae definitively or tentatively attributed to Silber, along with other papal printings, before and during Alexander VI’s reign.63 Silber’s connection to the papal administration and Spanish printing interests includes his 1493 productions of Historia Baetica and Fernandus Servatus, mentioned above, and he may have also printed Diego de Muros’s Panegyris de obitu Iohannis [Joannis] Hispaniae principis, a quarto text mourning the death of the young Spanish crown prince, “after 20 November 1497.” 64 Silber was remarkably productive if even half the 400–500 printings (depending on the search and the source) associated with his shop were produced there, but most of these are assigned to Silber and given dates and location speculatively, and several are also or primarily credited to other printers.65 In addition to his definitive assignment of what is supposed to be the second F&I quarto of the Letter and the last of the extant Roman quartos, Silber is credited tentatively with a quarto of Guiliano Dati’s verse rendering of the Letter that is internally datelined at Rome on 15 June 1493. This dating may mean that the Latin quartos published in Rome, the last of which is probably the F&I claimed by Silber, were all published, then, “before 15 June 1493” when the first known edition of Dati’s poem (based on a Latin version of the Letter) was released, apparently giving the Columbus Letter a new life in five surviving editions.66 This dating perhaps gives a tentative window of time for the printing of the Roman quartos, then: after April 29 and before June 15, 1493.

The Letter goes to Paris Guy Marchant is credited with the Paris Latin Letter editions because his shop location is given internally as printing data in the titles of each of the “Paris” quartos (1r). In addition, one or two attractive woodcuts known to have been his appear in two of these quartos.67 Marchant is mentioned most often for his “curious editions” of the Dance of Death (Danse macabre) and also for multiple printings of the Shepherd’s Calendar (Compost et calendrier des bergers) and the Ars moriendi.68 Marchant’s awareness of Penin-


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The Letter Goes Abroad sular writers is suggested by his being credited tentatively or by colophon with works authored by Andreas de Escobar, St. Isadore (San Isidoro) de Sevilla, Antonio de Nebrija, and Ramon Llull. These works also reflect the interests of Marchant’s university and cathedral market, and his printings of the Columbus Letter were probably directed to that readership as well. Marchant, a printer/priest like Plannck, Posa, and Rosembach, often issued quarto or octavo tracts that would be especially convenient — cheap and portable — for scholars and religious. By 1493, Marchant may have been printing for that market in Paris for as long as ten years, and Sandra Hindman’s assertion of Marchant’s “day-to-day connections” with his university audience is evidenced by his production in grammar, science, mathematics, philosophy, and theology (80–81), along with sermons, legal texts, and the works of Church Fathers. Although Marchant’s Danse Macabre and his Compost et calendrier des bergers were issued most often as folios, his production of octavos and quartos, like those produced by Plannck and Bergmann in their respective towns, implies the preferences and financial constraints of members of university and cathedral communities. Pocket-sized pieces sold at modest prices made marketing sense in university and cathedral towns where the Letter was printed in small format, and at least one of Marchant’s Compost et calendrier des bergers was printed, like the Latin Letter, as a quarto (1497).69 Marchant’s printings of “tracts” like the Columbus Letter, then, reflect choices typical of Marchant’s understanding of his market, and Hindman notes that such materials could be bound together by Marchant’s book distributor cum bookbinder, Denis Roce, who “could assemble and bind these disparate books for individual customers, mostly priests and students” (82–84). Though Marchant is generally credited today with two Latin editions of the Letter, based partly on the identification of his shop in the titles (Impressa parisius in cãpo gaillardi), he has been credited with three editions by some bibliographers and historians.70 One definitive quarto assignment to Marchant is made based on its detailed woodcut of two shoemakers engaged in their work with the words Guiot and Marchant given on either side of a shield in the center of the illustration. In addition, a particular woodcut of the “Annunciation to the Shepherds” recognized as Marchant’s appears in two Paris editions of the Letter, one of which also has the shoemaker woodcut. The common thread is that all — or both, if two only are counted — identify Marchant’s shop location.71 Lenox in 1859 counted two editions, designating them as E and F, and he affirms that at his writing, facsimiles had been produced of both examples, “very correctly and beautifully executed” (“Notice” xlvii). Lenox’s E is described as a unique small quarto, undated and without a printer’s name; Lenox gives the titles as Epistola de insulis de || nouo repertis. Impressa || parisius in campo gaillardi (1r). The pamphlet lacks any woodcut or device on the first recto. The verso (1v) gives the poetic epigram in its unusual place in all the Paris editions, set before rather than after the Letter, and beneath the epigram is the “Annunciation” woodcut associated with Marchant’s work. This quarto concludes at 4v with Columbus’s “signature” as Christoforus Colom Oceane classis Prefectus. Lenox reports that this edition is held in Brown’s library and “formerly belonged to Mr. Ternaux. (?).”72

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The Letter Goes Abroad Lenox’s second Marchant quarto, his Marchant F, was held in the Bodleian Library (the Laud and Douce examples) and in Göttingen, he notes, and he shows distinctions from his E edition in several features: F’s titles are distinct, Epistola de insulis noui || ter repertis Impressa parisius In campo gaillardi; it gives a woodcut identifying the printer set beneath the titles; and it omits Columbus’s “signature” at the end.73 In 1872, Harrisse, like Lenox, lists only two Marchant editions (BAV), his Nos. 5 and 6. In 1892, however, Eames lists three quartos credited to Marchant and distinguished by their titles, his 7, 8, and 9,74 and Harrisse in 1893 and 1894 also mentions three Marchant editions. In Lettre, they are his V (Turin and Göttingen); VI (Brown and possibly the “Imperial Library,” now BNF); and VII (Bodleian, in the Laud and Douce copies).75 The first assignments of two quartos to Marchant and details of where they were held appear to depend to some degree on Major, who had cited two Marchant (Merchant) quartos in 1847 (iv–v), but without presenting titles or images. Major lists first the Brown copy, as Lenox does, and another having “a wood-cut on the title, one copy of which is in the Bodleian, and another in the University of Göttingen” (my italics). This statement agrees with that of Lenox in 1859 in associating the Bodleian copy with the Göttingen example, an association maintained by Harrisse (BAV 23, No. 6) and Eames (x–xi, No. 9). Lenox, however, describes the example more fully and gives an image. Harrisse reproduces the image whole in BAV (22) and acknowledges it as coming from Lenox (Lettre 27). In BAV, Harrisse cites only one copy at the Bodleian, through the Douce catalogue, but in Lettre, he cites the Douce and Laud copies and mentions the two woodcuts, acknowledging earlier work by Lenox and Henry Stevens (27).76 In Lettre, Harrisse disassociates the Göttingen copy from the Bodleian examples and sets Göttingen’s small quarto as one with Turin’s, his V. The Göttingen example given digitally today by the University Library is quite distinct from the examples described by early bibliographers as belonging to the Bodleian and Göttingen university libraries. The Göttingen quarto contains no woodcuts and no identifying printer’s device of any kind. It opens at 1r with titles — Epistola de insulis re || pertis de nouo. Impressa || parisius in campo gaillardi — that identify only the place of printing.77 The Bodleian’s Laud copy, it may be worthwhile to reiterate, gives the titles as Epistola de insulis noui || ter repertis Impressa parisus In campo gaillardi at 1r, gives both woodcuts, and lacks the Columbus signature at 4v. Dillon has located a variant at 4v that applies to two printings: for A, perhibere-t; for B, perhibebu-t. The Göttingen example gives perhibebu-t (perhibebunt ) at 4v.3; the Bodleian Laud copy gives perhibere-t (perhiberent) at 4v.3.78 For the count of Marchant Paris editions here, then, I adopt the possibility of three, based on the attestations of three distinctly set titles at 1r, the identifying inclusion or omission of woodcuts in what are evidently complete quartos, and inclusion or omission of Columbus’s full name and title at 4v (in complete quartos). The “first” printing is without woodcuts (represented by Göttingen); the second gives the “Annunciation” image beneath the epigram (represented by Brown); and the third gives both woodcuts without Columbus’s name and title at the close (represented by Bodleian, Laud).79 That Marchant’s Paris market could have taken up three printings seems quite likely based on the three (or perhaps four) issues produced in Rome in


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The Letter Goes Abroad an apparently brief time, and on Marchant’s numerous titles, some in multiple printings, that indicate his high-activity approach to the trade. Of further interest is Marchant’s using his “Annunciation” woodcut with his eccentric setting of the bishop’s epigram at 1v. Both elements are made especially prominent in the “second” printing in that they face the opening page of the text and the “Annunciation” is the sole woodcut of the printing. The shepherds gaze, marvel, and gesture toward the verse — and the angel. Marchant’s placement of the epigram and his device suggests that he had given thought to the material and saw its significance, as Hindman has cogently remarked.80 The verse urges Fernando to give “greater [thanks] still to God on high,” as the marveling shepherds appear to be doing.81 The “new worlds for himself and thee” phrase of the epigram juxtaposed to a sign of Christ’s nativity in the “Annunciation” anticipates the spirit of Francisco López de Gómara’s often-repeated sixteenth-century characterization of Columbus’s first voyage in a dedication to emperor Carlos V as la mayor cosa después de la creación del mundo sacando la encarnación y muerte del que lo crió, es el descubrimiento de Indias; y así las llaman “Nuevo Mundo” [the greatest thing since the creation of the world except for the incarnation and death of Him who made it is the discovery of the Indies; and so they call them “the New World”] (7, with additions to the original). Hindman also suggests a possible connection between Marchant and Plannck, noting that Stephan Plannck’s 1500 twentyfourmo (24°) of the Roman guidebook may have been an effort to tap a market that Marchant had envisioned several months previously when he produced a duodecimo (12°) in November 1499. She notes that “[i]t is tempting to see Plannck’s publication [of the tiny “pocket” size guide] as a response to the success of Marchant’s” (84). This coincidence of Marchant’s and Plannck’s printings of the Roman guide usually produced in quarto or octavo in reduced size, she suggests, may indicate that Plannck and Marchant had a mutual awareness of one another’s publications.82 Marchant’s printing the Columbus Letter attributed to Plannck poses the question of whether Plannck and Marchant were aware of one another by the spring of 1493 when the two published the same Latin translation of the folio Letter.

The Letter in Switzerland The first Basel edition (1493) is attributed here to Bergmann based on the appearance of its woodcuts in a second printing in 1494 in which the Latin Letter appears in an edition whose principal material is a Spanish drama followed by a verse extolling Fernando; this octavo printing contains a colophon featuring the initials “I. B.” — tentatively interpreted as the signature of Iohann Bergman von Olpe at Basel. Based on this colophon, the first “Illustrated” or “Pictorial” edition is also assigned here to Bergmann and given a tentative year of 1493, based on its having been “earlier”: it is a stand-alone edition of the Letter, and the woodcut giving a full-length portrait of Fernando is considerably improved in the 1494 collation. In addition to its apparently customized woodcuts, the 1493 Basel edition is significant in another way as well: one of its woodcuts depicts a group of islands labeled with the names Columbus puts

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The Letter Goes Abroad

The islands named by Columbus represented in the 1493 Basel edition (3v) reproduced by Lowdermilk (publisher) and by The Trustees of the Lenox Library (publisher) with Wilberforce Eames as editor.

into his Letter and so represents — if loosely — “the first printed attempt to depict any part of America in a cartographic form.”83 Other matters of interest to the “Illustrated” editions are the differences of opinion about its printer and its format, and some bibliographers’ perspectives have probably been affected by the incomplete state of the survivors. Bergmann, the printer tentatively credited with producing the Basel printings here, has been identified with the Cologne (Köln) printer known as “Petrus in Altis von/de Olpe,” active from the late 1470s, from whose shop only folios are known to survive, from whom no printings survive for a period of a little over two years between August 1478 (a tentative printing assignment) and 27 November 1480, and who has no known printings after that date. If we take the two men and their careers as one, then Petrus (Peter) resurfaced in Basel in 1492 as “Iohann” twelve years after his last recorded printing in Cologne. Bergmann’s last known printings, two works authored by Brant, are datelined Basel, 1 March 1495.84 Whether Peter and Johann are one man or two may make some difference in our view of the printer who printed the “Illustrated” edition, as our view of the edition


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The Letter Goes Abroad may influence our thinking about who might have printed it. A man who had been printing since 1476 might produce work reflecting greater skill and polish than one who had only begun to print on his own in the previous year. Bergmann’s apparent connections with Brant in a “publisher-writer/editor” relationship, his use of custom woodcuts in the 1494 Verardi/Brant/Columbus octavo, and even his telegraphic colophon suggest sophistication, and the former imply Bergmann’s connections with German Humanism and with skilled tradesmen and artists, respectively, presenting him as a more rather than less experienced tradesman. Another matter in the assignment of the two printings of the “Illustrated” Letter is that the 1493 printing is identified as having been printed “by Michael Furter for Johann Bergmann” rather than simply by Bergmann. The Basel Library catalogue, for example, records the “Illustrated” edition as “[Basel]: [Michael Furter für Johann Bergmann, von Olpe].” A like assignment of “Michael Furter for Johann Bergmann” is given to two printings with internal dating of 1492 and the “I.B.” colophon that is generally interpreted as standing for “Iohann Bergmann.” Bibliographers have assigned as many as five printings to “Michael Furter for Johann Bergmann,” but only one, a German translation of Geoffroy de La Tour Landry’s Livre pour l’enseignement de ses filles dated 1493, gives that specific data — printed by Furter for Bergmann — internally. Other such assignments, including that for the 1493 “Illustrated” edition, are speculative.85 To add to the problem of attributing the edition to a printer, the NYPL tentatively assigns the 1493 printing to “Jakob Wolff,” noting that “it was formerly assigned to Michael Furter and to Johann Bergmann,” and the Basel catalogue notes that the BMC and Pierre Louis van der Haegen, Basel’s incunabula bibliographer, assign it to Jacobus (Iacobus) Wolff (de Pforzheim), a German-born printer working in Basel at the period.86 Furter and Wolff, not incidentally, are known to have made one joint printing. Between 1489 and 1514, only three Furter printings, including the “for Bergmann” (1493) just cited, provide internal data showing that they were printed on behalf of another; one is printed for Andreas Helmut (1 October 1490) and the other for Wolfgang Lachner (1495).87 The “x for y” phrasing may indicate a printerpublisher or printer-distributor relationship, or it may indicate a printer sending a contracted job to a colleague for completion. Two dated editions of Brant texts issued in 1492 with Bergmann’s initials (I.B.) given in the colophons are attributed to Furter “for” Bergmann, but the 1494 “Illustrated” Verardi/Brant/Columbus edition, also featuring the emblem containing “I.B.” as the printer’s mark, is attributed simply to J[ohann] B[ergmann de Olpe].88 Partial copies of the first “Illustrated” edition may have created some confusion over its format as well as its printer. Lenox affirms that his unique intact copy of the first Basel edition is a small octavo of ten leaves and eight woodcuts that has no printing data nor any catchwords or signatures (xxxvi), and it is so recorded in the NYPL public catalogue.89 The Basel Library catalogue, however, gives the 1493 as a quarto. While the extant 1493 “orphan” editions may be fragmentary, the 1494 “Illustrated” edition of Verardus-Brant-Columbus is found complete and copies abound.90 Even so, Lenox’s 1494 Basel edition, he notes as a large octavo (xlviii), but the item is listed

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The Letter Goes Abroad in ISTC as a quarto. Its internal attribution is simply to the emblem with “I.B.” and the ISTC notation is “Iohann Bergmann” with the name extensions bracketed. The booklet’s primary contents, referred to above, are Carlo Verardi’s drama and Brant’s poem followed by the Columbus Letter at 30r–36r. The 1494 Basel printing opens with a Fernando woodcut similar to but superior in execution to the one found at the conclusion of the 1493 Basel edition, and the second edition includes other images that appear to have been produced with the same materials used in the 1493 Basel octavo, the coincidence of materials mentioned above that supports assigning Bergmann as the printer of the 1493 edition.91 Bergmann worked frequently in concert with Brant, who is the author, editor, or translator in just over half the printings attributed to Bergmann’s shop. Of the other printers connected with the Letter, it appears that only Guy Marchant of Paris is credited with printing Brant’s work as editor or author. As Bergmann appears to have been, in effect, Brant’s primary printer, Marchant’s printing of Brant in Paris may suggest a connection between Marchant and Bergmann directly or through Brant.92 An updated version of the Bellum Christianorum Principum, cited above as a source of the text of the Latin Letter in the sixteenth century, was printed in folio in Basel in 1533 with a text of the Latin Letter and Carlo Verardi’s Historia Baetica, reprising the 1494 Basel edition’s pairing of those texts.

Martens’s rare edition The Latin quarto attributed to Thierry Martens at Antwerp was probably printed in 1493, perhaps after one or more of the Paris editions, based on the time it would have taken to bring the Latin text into Martens’s hands.93 Martens is recorded as a printer in Belgium from about 1473, and he printed in Aalst (Fr., Alost), the native town sometimes given with his name, and in Louvain and Antwerp.94 He is known for religious works, including the writings of Church fathers, breviaries, and indulgences, among them several broadsides in the interest of the Brotherhood of Santiago de Compostela.95 Like the Roman printers attached to the Latin Letter, Martens is credited with printings having papal connections; among these are two Regulae Cancellariae [Regulations of the Chancery] of Alexander VI tentatively assigned to Martens. Martens is also credited with a Muntplacaat [a currency edict] of about 1499 issued by Philippe, husband of Juana de Castilla. Martens printed Erasmus’s works in the sixteenth century, and at his death in 1534, Erasmus wrote a verse epitaph in his honor.96 Martens’s tentatively assigned Columbus Letter quarto survives in a unique copy held in Brussels’ Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, never, it appears, having traveled very far from its supposed Antwerp origins.

Moveable type For Major, writing in the 1840s, prior to the discovery of the Spanish editions, the Latin editions were “the first and by far the most interesting of [Columbus’s] letters”


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The Letter Goes Abroad (Select ii). They were “the first” because no Spanish printings were known and “interesting,” according to Major, because the Latin “contained so much excitement as to occasion numerous editions to be issued in the same year from the various great printing cities of Europe” (Select ii).97 Popular and scholarly interest through the nineteenth century saw the Latin editions in print again, variously transcribed, photographed, and translated. Luigi Bossi included a version of the Latin Letter in his Vita of Columbus published in 1818, and Fernández de Navarrete, in his 1825 compilation and study of Columbus documents, used a seventeenth-century transcript of a Latin edition and provided a facing-page Spanish translation of the Latin.98 In the 1890s, publisher W. H. Lowdermilk (1893) and the Trustees of NewYork’s Lenox Library (1892) were among those who took the opportunity of the four-hundredth anniversary and the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to reproduce and translate the “Illustrated” version into English, and Edward W. B. Nicholson prepared a facsimile edition of the Bodleian copy of Marchant’s Letter (1892).99 In 1847, Major voiced his yearning after the unknown Spanish text upon which Leandro’s translation was based and wrote encouragingly of the possibility that “it may still lie, like a diamond in the mine, in some unexplored Archivo in Spain” (ii). The Folio, of course, did lie undiscovered in Spain at that period, but the Spanish Quarto came to light ahead of it, not in Spain but in Italy. It would not be discovered lying hidden in an archive by a scholar explorer but would be revealed because of the death in 1842 of a titled Milanese gentleman scholar and the bequest of his personal library.100 Notes 1 Major, having access to materials based on the Simancas manuscript and the Quarto by 1870, suggested that the Latin Letter was based on the Quarto (cxxxv–cxxvii), but later commentators like Ramos (1986), in possession of the Folio, suggested the Folio as the source of the Latin translation. Jane, however, called the Latin translation source “z,” an unknown document that also, he opined, had informed the work of Hernando Colón (cxxvi–cxxvii). Gil, however, dissented, writing that the Latin translation is based on the original Columbus autograph Letter, Gil’s arquetipo X (20). 2

The discovery of a new edition dated after 1493 or a credible new dating of a known quarto after 1493 could alter this perception. No new editions of the Letter have come to light since the nineteenth century. 3

Harrisse (Barlow) suggests that a typographical comparison between the “F” quarto and Plannck’s Memorabilia urbis Roma demonstrates the validity of this assignment (v).


See Harrisse (BAV 14 and notes 81–82). In his edition and translation of Scyllacio’s De Insulis Meridiani, Lenox described his copy of the Bellum Christianorum, noting that it was “not of remarkable rarity” at his writing (lviii).


Other nineteenth-century commentators knew the 1533 printing of the Bellum Christianorum Principum; Major (1847) refers to the Basel folio of 1533, with the Letter “forming a sequel” to Verardi’s work (Select vi); Lenox, in his discussion of Scyllacio’s letter on the second voyage, refers to a copy of the Bellum Christianorum then owned by John Carter Brown (lviii). The John Carter Brown Library’s exhibition “Islamic Encounters” prepared by Dennis C. Landis describes its holding of what is apparently the 1533 Basel folio mentioned by Lenox as a “remarkable 16th-century compendium [that] found its way to Providence because it contains a Latin translation of the initial report of Columbus on his first American voyage,” a focus of John Carter Brown’s personal collection. It is important to note that the Bellum Christianorum Principum is a new edition of an older text. “Robert” self-identifies

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The Letter Goes Abroad in the eleventh-century text as a “monk,” but his identity remains obscure; his long identification with an Abbot of the same period is probably in error, according to Carol Sweetenham (2–4). Justin Winsor cites Harrisse’s largely frustrated efforts to glean references to Columbus among the early sixteenth century’s “standard chroniclers” (Christopher Columbus 14–15). 6

Winsor gives the work as “Andreas [André] Schott’s Hispania illustrata” (“Notes” 51 n. 5). Titles and versions of Schott’s name vary, and entries may give the names of Schott’s co-writers/editors, Johann Pistorius and Franciscus Schottus. The Beinecke catalogue notes that Andreas Schottus “published only the first two volumes; the third was published by Johann Pistorius, the fourth by Franciscus Schottus, brother of Andreas.”The conquest of Granada and the explorations of the Atlantic conclude the second volume. 7 In the opening of the second Decade, Martyr complains that his “Ocean Decade” was printed without his permission, and the English editor of the De Orbe Novo, Francis Augustus MacNutt, appends a note to the effect that Martyr’s “friend” Lucio Marineo Siculo saw the “premature” Spanish edition printed and that it was printed it in Italian in 1504 (I 190 n.1). Harrisse writes otherwise (BAV 75); also see chapter 6, n.41. A 1511 Sevillano edition of the first Decade was found by Harrisse and apparently acquired by Barlow, for it was sold at the Barlow auction in 1890 to Brayton Ives for $1,010, “a great bargain,” as reported in the NYT (“Brayton Ives’s Bargain”). 8 Oviedo, for example, in his introductory section, refers to tanta diversidad de aves, [t]antas montañas altissimas y fertiles, vegas & campinas dispuestas para la agricultura, muy excelentes puertos, and rios navegables (1v), in echoes of the Letter. See Jesús Carrillo’s narrative of the printing history of Oviedo’s Historia general (esp. 321–322 and notes). 9

See Hanke’s introduction to the Historia for his estimate of its thirty-five-year period of composition, beginning in 1527 (xviii–xxxi), and its apparently incomplete editing at Bartolomé’s death (xxxiii). Though Bartolomé stipulated only that his Historia should not be published until forty years after his death (Hanke xxxviii), it was first published in 1875 in five volumes (xxxvii–xlvi). Bernáldez’s work was published as Historia de los Reyes Católicos, Don Fernando y Doña Isabel: Crónica inédita del siglo XV in 1856; Memorias, from the title of the 1962 edition, is used here, disambiguating Bernáldez’s work from Bartolomé’s Historia. 10

Lenox notes the German account as lacking all printing data (“Notice” lvi–lvii), but the arms of the city of Augsburg appear in a woodcut at the last recto, giving that clue to its printing location. It is attributed to Sigmund Grimm, and Lenox includes an image of the title woodcut (ibid. lvii) and writes that he acquired the book from a private German library in 1850. It is a quarto of eight leaves, now held by the NYPL.


This editor affirms that he knows of four Latin Letter quartos “in England” — that “all four copies” are there, in fact — and that “the Duke of Buckingham has one at Stowe” (20). “Stowe” was home to the Temple-Grenville family, and according to Henry Rumsey Forster’s The Stowe Catalogue Priced and Annotated (1848), the library at Stowe featured “an assemblage of early Voyages and Travels” including “original editions of Marco Polo and Contarini, Columbus and Vesputius [sic] . . .” (xxxvi). Thomas Grenville was great-uncle to the second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, Richard Plantagenet, who assumed the title in 1836 (the year of the essay), and by 1848, the family was forced to answer its debts through public auctions. Thomas Grenville, Forster supposes, may have foreseen the family financial disaster and directed his library to the British Museum to preserve it intact: “It is perhaps not improbable that Mr. [Thomas] Grenville, with that wisdom and sagacity for which he was so eminently distinguished, foresaw the ruin impending over Stowe, and was, therefore, induced to alter [the terms of his bequest]” (xxxvi). The Henry Stevens–Victor Hugo Paltsits study of James Lenox’s collection quotes Stevens, writing to Lenox in 1849 to affirm Stevens’s knowledge of only two copies of the “German Columbus” Letter, one then up for auction (that Lenox would buy in 1850) and one in “the Grenville library” (75). See the Stevens–Paltsits chapter on “The Columbus Letters” (67 ff.). The first two volumes of John Thomas Payne and Henry Foss’s catalogue raisonné of Thomas Grenville’s library include several editions of the Letter, including a Silber (Eucharius Argenteus) F&I quarto, an “F” quarto considered to be Plannck’s, a Basel “quarto,” a Basel octavo, and a German edition (I 158–159). Under “Verardus, Carolus,” Payne and Foss note the “fourth edition of Columbus’s Epistle” (II 761), but this is, of course, the second “Illustrated” edition, the 1494 printing having the drama of Carlo Verardi preceding the Letter. Payne and Foss’s characterizing it as “probably the only edition”


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The Letter Goes Abroad of the Letter “ornamented with woodcuts” (II 761) is very near the mark, but some thousands of items after they completed their “Columbus” entry, the other editions they enumerated must have naturally slipped their minds. Interestingly, in 1892, Eames ranks the 1493 Basel edition as one of the “first four” Latin editions of the Letter (v ff.). Of interest to Columbus studies, Payne and Foss also record that Grenville’s library contained a first edition of the Polygot Bible with its well-known note on Columbus accompanying Psalm 19 (II 578). 12

See Lenox’s essay in The Historical Magazine of February 1861 (34–35), an adaptation of his “Biographical Notice” in his edition of Scyllacio’s letter.

13 See Henry W. Haynes (1), who dates the purchase by the Boston Public Library in February 1890. The NYT (“Brayton Ives’s Bargain”) story is dated February 7, 1890; its writer refers to “Wednesday evening” (the 5th) and to “yesterday,” presumably Thursday the 4th, as previous sessions of the auction (8). The Barlow auction catalogue prepared by James Osborne Wright with a biographical essay on Barlow by Henry Harrisse (1889) provides details of Barlow’s acquisition of Aspinwall’s library, including the loss of “about 3,700 volumes” in a warehouse fire (iii–iv). 14 Auction prices and provenance are based on a news story (“Brayton Ives Sale” [sic]) in the NYT of 6 March: Ives’s “F” quarto is reported as having previously been Barlow’s and the price paid for it at the Ives auction as $2900. A copy of Wright’s Barlow auction catalogue from the University of Michigan gives the “F” quarto description a notation of “$2900” beside the entry (81). According to Winsor, Barlow had published a run of fifty copies of a facsimile of his Latin edition of the “F” quarto in 1875 (“Notes” 48), which Haynes also mentions (1). Winsor details the ownership of Latin quartos (ibid. 48–51; “Statement” 306–307). 15 One beautiful and fraudulent nineteenth-century Columbus Latin quarto masquerading as a fifteenth-century artifact has been noted in recent years and is retained by a London book dealer. Charles H. Kalbfleisch is said to have purchased two Latin quartos, one of which turned out to be a “facsimile,” from the library of Henry C. Murphy, auctioned about 1884 (Winsor “Statement” 307). 16

See Asensio (Boletín 452). Other scenarios include Winsor’s, Harrisse’s, and Kerney’s. For Kerney’s, see his “Introduction” to the Latin Letter of Columbus (iii–vi). Winsor, in a statement to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1890, said that the “letter was put into Latin in Spain” (306) and elsewhere asserts that “Alexander de Cosco” finished the translation, probably in Barcelona, and that he “sent it at once” to Rome to be printed (Narrative 15). Harrisse suggests that the Bishop of Montepeloso saw the Letter and wrote an epigram for it, and then (Harrisse implies), the Bishop most likely sent it to be printed (BAV 8). Another reconstruction of events based on competition between Spanish factions appears in a Maggs Brothers’ sales catalogue (1925) whose text is essentially borrowed with incidental editing from Kerney’s 1893 introduction to the Latin Letter to supply information on an catalogue item. Theorizing a workable chronology for the translation, Kerney wrote that the Folio “reached the hands of Leandro de Cosco in Naples somewhere about the 23rd or 24th of April, 1493” (1893 iv), and at this point, the sales catalogue picks up Kerney’s tale, recording that the Letter was “rendered into Latin by Leandro de Cosco in Naples. This Leandro was a subject of the Kingdom of Aragon. The natural jealousy between Aragon and Castille [sic] accounts for his evidently wilful [sic] omission of Queen Isabel’s name in the heading of his translation. Leandro presented the work to Leonardus, Bishop of Monte Peloso, a prelate of Catalonian birth. The Bishop, who was no less patriotic and prejudiced than Leandro, carried the translation to Rome with him, and, having added to it some verses enthusiastically laudatory of his sovereign Ferdinand (but ignoring the Queen of Castille) he gave it to Stephen Planck [sic] to print, and he [Plannck] produced this small quarto of four leaves. Planck, however, was reproved by Castilians [sic] in Rome for having produced a book so pointedly injurious to the credit of Queen Isabel. [sic] he therefore printed a second edition adding the Queen’s name” (7). 17 Major cites a salient article by Gayangos (cxiv, cxxvi, cxxxvii, cxxxi). See also Cristina Álvarez Millán and Claudia Heide’s edited volume on Gayangos, in which Thomas F. Glick’s essay on Gayangos’s relations with American writers such as Washington Irving and William Hinkling Prescott is of particular interest in Columbian contexts. 18 Before the Folio was known,Varnhagen supposed that the Spanish Quarto represented the text of Columbus’s letter to the king and queen and that the pronouns were altered in the printed versions to conform to those of a single addressee, and from those changes, the Letter went into Latin. Varn-

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The Letter Goes Abroad hagen’s idea requires an intentional and consistently applied alteration from manuscript to print that sets the care over the production of the Spanish Quarto at an excessively high standard. Chapter 6 treats Varnhagen’s ideas in the context of his Sanfelices manuscript. See Major’s observation (Select cxxvi). Like Major, Kerney (1891) dismisses Varnhagen’s earlier theory and writes that the Santángel Letter was “no more than a brief compendium” of Columbus’s letter to the king and queen mentioned by Bartolomé (Historia LXXVII) and Bernáldez (Memorias). The latter records the existence of a separate letter to the sovereigns, as is attested in the post-script to the Spanish printings and the Simancas manuscript. 19

I refer to Varnhagen’s manuscript here as the “Varnhagen–Sanfelices MS” for its apparent owners’ names. Varnhagen eventually judged it to have been a later document, but he published a transcript of it dated 1858, under the pseudonymous editorship of “Genaro H. de Volafan.” See Eames (xiii); Kerney (1891 10–11); and Harrisse (“Early” 5–6). This manuscript is discussed in chapter 6. At the time, this manuscript had the confidence of historians and bibliographers, and Justin Winsor (Notes) wrote that Henry Harrisse, along with Varnhagen, opined that the “text [was] the original from which Cosco translated” (47). See the discussion of the Varnhagen–Sanfelices manuscript and Varnhagen’s connecting it with the Latin translation in chapter 6. 20 See De Lollis’s Raccolta, “Illustrazione al documento II” (l); see also his foregoing discussions at xxv–xxxi and xxxvi–xxxix, the latter concerning the path through “Giovanni Sanchez” and his conclusion that confusion about the recipients produced the assumption of two Letters (xli–xlix, esp. xlix).These Italian translation fragments are discussed further on in this chapter. See Sanz (Secreto 393 ff.). 21

This was the eventual reasoning of Varnhagen as well, as Kerney notes in his 1891 “Preface” (11). Jane’s reasoning is that the Letter was sent to the sovereigns to whom, in an attachment, Columbus explained his idea of using the Letter to produce a public announcement, with his request that they “publish it or distribute copies” to whomever they liked (“Success” esp. 40–44). This theory is supported by no corroborating pattern in Columbus’s record or in the record of Fernando and Isabel’s court as far as I know. Also see Thomas Winthrop Streeter for a reading of Jane’s view, that the Letter was not intended for any private person, but that it was written for publication (Streeter 3). Streeter’s inclusion of Morison in adopting this view in Admiral, however, does not appear to be supported by Morison’s own text (see esp. 375–385). 22

See Jane’s agreement with De Lollis (Voyages cxxxii) and his argument against a separate Sánchez Letter (“Announcing” 37–39). Ramos’s Primera noticia (esp. 109–111) and an earlier essay explain his theory of the Letter’s authorship and distribution. See Gil for a review of Ramos’s theory.

23 See Miles H. Davidson’s 1997 revision of Columbus’s biography (142, 197–203, 271–274); Liz Sonneborn’s 2007 edition of her reference on American Indian History (“1493: March” 29); and Jane S. Gerber’s study of Spain’s Jews (xix), among others, for treatments of Sánchez as the unquestioned recipient of a second Letter. Margarita Zamora (Reading 5–12, 20), repeated in Harold Bloom (17– 19, 27), also treats Sánchez as the intended recipient, writing that the “Latin editions are addressed not to Santángel . . . but to Gabriel Sánchez . . . whom the texts misidentify as Rafaél Sánchez” (5). The latter part of this statement, of course, is inaccurate; only Plannck “F” and extant Latin printings produced outside Rome and apparently based on Plannck “F” name the treasurer “Raphaelem Sanxis.” 24

Italians with Spanish connections were quickly versed in news of Columbus’s voyage. Some reports are sketchy and others are richer in detail, but they resonate with bits of familiar information from the Letter. Morison cites and summarizes some of these notices in his chapter “Spreading the News” (Admiral 375 ff.). De Lollis (in Italian) and Guido Biagi (in English translation), with Morison, cite Florentine Tribaldo de Rossi’s diary entry of March 1493 referring second-hand to a “letter” received there and containing news of some “young men” who had found a “great island” populated by “men and women all naked” (Biagi 351; Morison 376; De Lollis xxxviii–xxxix).

25 These photographs were apparently taken by different persons photographing different manuscripts in different locations. See Goodwin’s “Letter of Columbus” presented to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1891 and Sanz’s Secreto (395–396). Major (1870) describes his material as “a copy of [a letter] ‘sent by the Grand Treasurer to his brother, Joane Sanxis’” (Bibliography 56) and gives the provenance of his fragment as having been located in the Ambrosian Library Catalogue by Varnhagen, affirming that “[t]he Marquis d’Adda has kindly sent [him] a photo-lithograph” of the fragment” (55). Sanz prefaces his images and transcript of this fragment by affirming that it is held in


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The Letter Goes Abroad the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, vol. R 113 (403). Goodwin (1891) presented to the Massachusetts Historical Society a photograph of “two pages of a copy of a letter of Columbus” taken at the request of a colleague, James B. Thayer (382, italics added). Goodwin describes the image as representing a “fragment” written in Italian of the beginning of a Columbus letter. The image, he avers, is “one of a small number [. . .] taken, in 1883, from an original in the Municipio of Genoa” (382). Goodwin recalls that Major wrote about such an Italian fragment in the second edition of his Select Letters (1870) where Major recounted Varnhagen’s having found the document catalogued in the Ambrosian Library at Milan (Select cxxxvi). Though Sanz observes that Goodwin’s photographed fragment, which Sanz and Goodwin describe as held by the City of Genoa (Génova), was reproduced for the historical society’s Proceedings in 1891 (Sanz 405), my copy of the Proceedings contains a transcript of the text only rather than a photographic facsimile of it (383–385). Sanz produces an image of the original as his document No. 18 and gives the transcription (407–409; 411–413). 26

Though De Lollis did not examine the manuscripts personally (xxxvii), his consultants date them at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and in response, he provides some “flexibility” in dating them (xxxvii) and suggests that they are based on a Spanish manuscript (xxxi–xxxviii). De Lollis notes that they accord with the Santángel Letter in important respects (lxiiii–lxxiiii). De Lollis comments on the Ambrosian fragment and transcribes it for the Raccolta (lxiii–lxx and Allegato A; Sanz 403–404). 27

See De Lollis’s transcript in his Raccolta’s “attached documents” — Allegato — A, B, and C (lxviiii–lxxiiii) and Sanz’s facsimile and descriptions (403–415). See also Goodwin’s text (382–383). In English: “Copy of a letter written from the admiral Columbus of the Lord King of Spain who (i.e., Columbus) writes to the royal court to certain counselors of the king, sent from the Grand Treasurer of the said lord (Fernando) [to] Florence to (his) brother Joan Sanzio.” 28

See Asensio (Boletín 451–52).


Kayserling’s Christoph Columbus und der Anteil der Juden an den spanischen und portugiesischen Entdeckungen was published in 1894, shortly after the folio Letter might have come to his attention through European publications. When the Quarto was discovered in Milan, Kayserling was serving as a rabbi in Switzerland (Encyclopedia Judaica [1906]; see the Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe online, in an entry by Gábor Schweitzer). See also Gerber’s study of Spain’s Jews. Others who interposed on Columbus’s behalf, according to Kayserling, were Juan Cabrero and Alfonso de la Caballería, and all who did so were conversos or from converso families (59). Also see Kayserling (72–75) for details of Santángel’s intervention and the tale of “the queen’s jewels.” Kayserling records evidence of the trust and value Fernando placed in both Santángel and Sánchez (123–124). The archival documents used by Kayserling are transcribed in his “Appendix” (135–171). 30 Gerber writes that Santángel probably secured some of the funding for the voyage from “his relative” Sánchez (xvii). 31 32

For comparative texts of four of the Latin editions, see Eames’s transcriptions (16 ff.).

Translation losses and gains naturally occur with mediations to the original where equivalent expressions are lacking in the target language, but some differences between the Spanish and the Latin Letters cannot owe solely to the translator’s mediations and initiative. The Latin translation may have been done from a manuscript copy, and a transcription of the Letter will have suffered losses and additions, too, as the Simancas manuscript suggests. The Latin translator, “Leandro,” is working with cognate languages, though Latin is more synthetic than Spanish, but his translation — which I would call “author-centered” — had to mediate the experience and language of sailing and to express Columbus’s references to New World material and biological culture for an audience that like himself had few reference points to enable their understanding. Samuel Kettell, among others, complains of the quality of the Latin translation, calling it “semi-barbarous” (239); the Latin translation may be occasionally or even generally “betrayed upward,” not “transfigured” for the better in style or scope, as George Steiner applies his expression (in After Babel), but nevertheless, it is an “improved” text over the original in some respects because of the translator’s filling in supposed lacunae and making sense where his original may not have done so. See Steiner (423) and his analysis of the translation process in his chapter 5, “The Hermeneutic Motion” (esp. 312–315). The reader interested in theorizing Leandro’s challenges and strategies should consult Reuben Brower’s still-excellent, standard collection, On Translation, in which Eugene Nida’s “underlying principles” and his graphics illustrating

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The Letter Goes Abroad the translation process as a communication triangle are basic. Nida’s communication triangle shows how the text is processed and transmitted from translator to reader, and Nida’s comments on the translator’s effort to find the “closest equivalence” when no easy equivalence presents itself are clearly germane in his instance, as is the observation that the translator may be concerned with the reception of the text by his perceived readers, adapting it, then, to suit their cultural and stylistic expectations. It is important to note that the translator functions as a reader as well as the “de-coder” of the text for another reader. Also in Brower, see Willard van Orman Quine’s reflections on the question of equivalence when cultures lack shared signs. See Basil Hatim and Ian Mason’s first chapter on “Issues and debates” in translation studies as a tutorial and their chapter “Translating and language as discourse,” especially for their analysis of the translator’s negotiating meaning and the multiple constraints on the translator (64–75). Like these essays, Peter Newmark’s chapter on “Pragmatic Translation and Literalism”(115–128) in About Translation (esp. 115–117, 125–126) is relevant in considering Leandro’s task and his results critically. Gregory Rabassa’s illusion-breaking “No two snowflakes are alike” characterizes the translator as a “new Adam” who will never quite reach the goal of a satisfactory translation and broadens the translation critic’s perspective. Leandro is a “new Adam” in this sense, and he translates the experience of a place that may sound very close to Eden in important ways. 33 The title is read from the Beinecke’s Plannck F. As is often the case at the period, the opening sentence serves as the quarto’s “title.” Eames’s translation reads, “Letter of Christopher Columbus, to whom our age owes much, concerning the islands of India beyond the Ganges, recently discovered” (1 n. 1). 34

For his 1847 edition of documents, Major translates: “Knowing that it will afford you pleasure to learn that I have brought my undertaking to a successful termination, I have decided upon writing you this letter to acquaint you with all the events which have occurred in my voyage, and the discoveries which have resulted from it” (1). 35

Cádiz is the point of departure for the second voyage about five months later (September 1493).


It is interesting that Bernáldez also adopts the ordinal numbering of the islands in his Historia, along with the summary e asi a cada isla . . . un nombre nuevo, reflecting the organization and expression of the Letter (271–272).

37 The Quarto and Simancas manuscript read Auan where the Latin reads Anan, closer to the Folio’s possible Anau; these latter results no doubt owe to confusion over minims that the Quarto and Simancas appear to have gotten right. Also see Sanz on the Italian fragments and this toponym (397–399). 38

The Quarto accords with the Folio.


Fertilissimas is routinely considered an error in the Folio; fortissimas, however, appears to be plausible.


Bernáldez draws a yet more detailed picture of these items and how the women wear them on the body (Historia I 272–273). 41

The Latin text comes from the Beinecke “F” attributed to Plannck (4r).


The final label on the Letter (2v.14–16) is not found in the Latin editions.


The translator’s baptismal name is given as Aliander in the Plannck Fernando edition and as Leander in the Fernando and Isabel edition. Leander, then may be a master’s correction or it may be another reading of the manuscript, depending on whether the Plannck F&I was set from a copy of the Corrected F (which it would appear to be) or from the manuscript. “Leandre” may have been the Catalán name. Lérida is known as an early center of Spanish printing because Heinrich Botel printed there, producing work in various genres in Catalán and Latin, from the last years of the 1470s until about 1500.


Dating by kalends works in reverse order, counting back from the first day (the “kalends”) of the month and including the first day in the count; therefore, “tertio kalendas” [the third of the kalends] of May is the next-to-the-last day of the previous month, April 29. See Cheney and Jones’s Handbook of Dates, for example (145–146).

45 I have recently noted that De Lollis pointed to the papal form of dating as indicating Leandro’s affiliation with the court of Alexander VI: “Tale data è evidentemente nel più puro stile cancelleresco della curia romana” [Such a date is clearly in the purest chancery style of the Roman curia] (li).


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The Letter Goes Abroad 46

Regem is the masculine singular accusative, so the Queen stands outside this address. Tibique is also singular (dative) rather than the royal plural. The following line, admonishing Fernando or Baetica to be “strong and pious” also takes this form of address. 47 See Conrad Eubel’s Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi (II 196, 257). Barcelona appears in other Latin documents as “Barchione” (as in judeis Barchione, civis Barchione) “of Barcelona.” I am indebted to David M. Cheney’s online Catholic-Hierarchy for direction to Eubel. 48 In his 1891 “Preface” to The Spanish Letter, Kerney identifies the versifying bishop as R. Leonardus de Corbaria, a Catalán, born in Corbaria, a “little town on the confines of Catalonia and Roussillon” (12–13). In his 1893 “Introduction” to the Latin Letter, he adds that the town is “now called Corbière” and that it lay “on the frontiers of Aragon and Roussillon” (iv). Kerney seems right about the area associated with the bishop being in Cataluña, but the geographical references to the town name seem unclear today. Corbières in eastern France is possibly Kerney’s reference; Roussillon lies in the southeastern part of France, nearer to Genoa than to Zaragoza (in Aragón) or Barcelona (in Cataluña). On the other hand, Harrisse notes in BAV that although he can glean nothing on the translator, “there is no lack of precise details concerning the author of the epigram,” and Harrisse identifies him as “Berardus [sic] or Leonard de Carninis,” who was “Bishop of Monte-Peloso” between 1491–1498 “in the kingdom of Naples” (Harrisse BAV 8–9 and note; Harrisse cites Ferdinando Ughelli’s Italia Sacra I.1072). The Boston Public Library’s “new translation” of the Latin letter (1891) adopted Harrisse’s conclusion in its first footnote, calling “R. L. de Corbaria” a “pseudonyme [sic] of Berandus [sic], or Leonard de Carninis, Bishop of Monte-peloso in the Kingdom of Naples, from A.D. 1491–1498” (Boston 17), an identification that Kerney refers to in 1891 as “a purely gratuitous assumption” (12), but that with later research and publication of Eubel’s work looks substantially correct. The Bodleian (Bod-Inc online catalogue), however, gives “Carmini, Leonardus, de Cerbaria (d. 1502)” as “probably from Cerbaia, Tuscany.” The Bodleian’s citations (Eubel 216, 282) indicate an edition other than the one cited here. 49 See Haynes for a historical summary of the ordering of the Latin editions (2–3); see Winsor (“Notes” 49 ff.; “Statement”); Harrisse (“Early”) corrects ordering and assertions about the Latin editions in Edward W. B. Nicholson’s issue of the Bodleian Marchant quarto, for which see Nicholson’s “Introductory Notes” to the facsimile; Major (Select) gives bibliographical data from the Latin editions (1847 2–6); Eames orders and describes these editions briefly, with the Italian verse and German translation, for his collation of four Latin texts (iii–xii). Also see Goff for a discussion of the editions (1946). In 1886 (several years before the discovery of the Folio), Winsor pointed out that Major (Select cxvi) and J. R. Bartlett (JCB Library Catalogue) were among those setting the F&I edition first (“Notes” 48). The Gentleman’s Magazine essayist referred to above (1837) had already asked the appropriate rhetorical question on the order of the “F” and the F&I quartos: “Would the Queen’s name, once introduced, have been afterwards dropped?” (20). It is also unlikely, as the hindsight we now enjoy suggests, that corrections to two personal names might also have regressed. 50

See the summary “Notes” at ISTC: “(a) appears at Boston (Mass.) PL, the Newberry[,] Vaticano BAV, Univ. of Southern California,Yale, Pierpont Morgan, and John Carter Brown libraries. The second state (b) appears at Berlin, Jerusalem, London, Rio de Janeiro, the Lilly, British, James Ford Bell, New York Public, Alessandrina and Huntington libraries” (No. ic00757000). Plannck’s “F” (A) quarto is available through the Beinecke’s “Digital Images and Collections” (Yale University) online and through the Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg’s digital collections (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg), the latter linked through ISTC. The Rio Corrected F (B) is linked in black and white images through GW (07173). The facsimile printed by Sanz is the A version of Plannck’s “F” quarto. 51 The Basel edition of 1493 has vtpote at 4v and permulta at 5v; Marchant’s quartos give these at 2v and 3r, respectively; the Antwerp edition has vtpote and permulta at 2r. 52

Kerney found “one-sided and distinctly Aragonese influence” (13) driving the Latin printings in his 1891 remarks on the Letter (10–13). See Rumeu de Armas’s 1944 essay in which he discusses “los problemas de la llamada exclusión aragonesa” [the problems of the so-called ‘exclusion’ of Aragon] in the question of possession in the New World and the Bulls of Alexander VI. 53 Several translations of the Latin epigram exist: those of Eames (13), Harrisse (BAV 13, given in Fiske I), and Fiske (Discovery I 450). Fiske’s is literal and therefore, probably most serviceable. Eames’s verse is more faithful to the original than is Harrisse’s.

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The Letter Goes Abroad 54

These lines begin, “O patria / o foelix Germania” (ll. 19–22). See Donald F. Lach and Edwin J. Van Kley for their observations about Brant’s poem extolling Fernando and the translation (Literary Arts 332–333). Brant immediately mends his digression with praise of Maximilian, who was emperor at the time. The 1494 Basel edition is available digitally with files linked through ISTC (iv00125000). 55 Gary Grund writes: “On the first Sunday after the news of Granada had reached the city [Rome], all the clergy and religious congregations gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica, where the pope celebrated Mass. Afterward, a tauromachia, a bullfight, was organized in the streets by Rodrigo Borgia[,] . . . a mock battle of Granada took place in the Piazza Navona, and a mascherata was staged, in which the figures of Ferdinand and Isabella rode in a carro trionfale with a defeated Moor at their feet” (xxxv– xxxvi). The event, according to Grund’s assessment, “was designed to integrate the solemn Christian ritual typically found in sacre rappresentazioni with pagan blood sport, allegorical battles, and a classicizing trionfo — a Christian revival of ancient Roman glory” (xxxvi). 56

In terms of choice and presentation of material, compare Verardi’s drama with that of John Dryden on the same subject (the two-part Conquest of Granada by the Spaniards) and note the parodies of Dryden’s extravagances that arise in later English literature. Washington Irving, too, following the completion of his biography of Columbus tackled the topic using contemporary Spanish accounts, making the events connected to it accessible to English-speaking readers in the hundred chapters of his Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada. See Irving’s introductions in the revised edition of his Conquest (xiv–xviii).


See Grund (xxxvi).


Fernandus Servatus:Tragicomoedia is the title translated by Grund as Ferdinand Preserved (2011). The play narrates the assassination attempt against Fernando on 7 December 1492 from which the king took several weeks to recover, giving the play a probable date of early 1493. Henry Carrington Lancaster (1907) discounted the date of 1493 as undocumented at the time of his writing (155 and n. 3), but Grund’s reading of Carlo’s preface to Fernandus Servatus affirms that in 1493 Carlo had given his treatment of the incident to his nephew to versify (xxxvi). Grund writes that the play was “probably written early in 1493” and that it was a “dramatic hybrid,” serving as “a vehicle of propaganda couched in the trappings of Senecan drama, a religious allegory, a court entertainment, and a contemporary history” (xxxiv–xxxv). A copy of Fernandus Servatus offered at a recent auction by an Italian firm was advertised as printed in Rome by “Eucharius Silber,” and was claimed to have been printed “non prima del gennaio 1493, ma non oltre il 27 marzo 1493” [not before January 1493 nor after 27 March 1493] ( Lancaster records a 1494 printing of the play jointly attributed to both Verardis and also an edition (undated) that collates their two Fernandian plays, Fernandus Servatus and the Historia Baetica. See Grund’s discussion of the “novelty” of these plays and the significance of the designation tragicomedia (xxxvii–xxxviii). Hartmut Beyer’s study of Fernandus Servatus considers the political significance of the play, largely in the context of papal conduct toward Spain and France (39–48 ). 59

See Harrisse (“Early Paris” 3).


Kent, Lancour, and Daily also nominate Plannck’s “specialities” as mathematics and astronomy (319), which I doubt is accurate, and Duggan suggests that he may have founded types for music printings after the death of Hahn who originated the genre in Rome (85). 61

See ISTC for entries under “Stephan Plannck.”


A copy of Silber’s F&I quarto sold at auction in the U.S. during the recovery years of the Great Depression. This Latin quarto was described in the The NewYork Times as “[a] copy of the first dated edition (Rome, 1493)” and “addressed to Ferdinand and Isabella,” so, therefore, a Silber quarto. Abraham Simon Wolf (A. S. W.) Rosenbach, a well-known literary scholar and prominent collector and dealer of rare books and manuscripts, reportedly purchased the item from the auction of William D. Breaker of Brooklyn in April 1937 for $4350 (Anonymous news writer). 63

These include printings between late August 1492 and December 1499, listed at ISTC under Alexander VI as “author.”

64 Haebler characterizes the work as a verse or poetic “consolation” (GS 354; BI I No. 457 214–215). Worldcat lists a version of it as Epistola consolatoria in obitu Johannis Hispaniae principis and its author as Cardinal Bernandino López de Carvajal. The printing was earlier assigned to Valladolid in 1497,


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The Letter Goes Abroad the same geography and chronology assigned to the Spanish Quarto, but Proctor set the Panegyris at Rome with Silber. 65 See “Eucharius Silber” in ISTC. Among the thirty-four or so printings attributed to Silber through 1481, at least four are assigned by colophon, another four are tentatively assigned to other printers as well, and the remaining printings are tentative assignments to Silber alone. 66

The 1493 editions of Dati are tentatively assigned to Silber (15 June); to Lorenzo Margiani and Iohannes Petri in Florence (possibly 26 October); and to an unnamed printer of Brescia (ISTC). Two more editions are known, both dated internally at 1495. See also Major (Select cxxiii–cxxiv); in this volume, see “Columbus Letter Publications” for these entries and the note to F. 1r.23 in the variorum. See Lenox on the two unique Dati editions held at the British Museum in Lenox’s time and today at the British Library (“Notice”). 67

See Harrisse (Lettre 22).


On the “curious editions” of Marchant, see Duff (84). See also Alphonse-Honoré Taillandier, who refers to Marchant’s being known for his Danse Macabre ou des morts from 1486 forward (10). Bouchot gives a brief mention of Marchant’s Dance of Death (101) in his survey and shows a woodcut from it (102). Hindman nuances claims about the nature of Marchant’s work, fleshes out his printing activity in all genres, establishes his business relationships with Paris booksellers and binders, and studies his modes of distribution and the clientele he aimed to serve. See Hindman (esp. 71–77). See also ISTC for Marchant. 69 See Kenneth A. Strand’s discussion and notes on sixteenth-century pamphlets. Concerning the purpose of these printings in the first half of the sixteenth century, Strand writes in his second note that Flugschriften (pamphlets) were printed and distributed unbound in quarto and octavo formats in order to have “small and handy items for ready and reasonably priced distribution” (178). 70

See ISTC (title: Epistola de insulis nuper inventis) and GW (07175) and Marchant entries in fifteenthcentury Letter printings in this volume. 71 Taillandier describes a small Marchant device with the musical notes, motto, and hands coming from clouds shown in the upper portion of the shoemaker device, and Taillandier places the initials “GM” beneath the illustrations (34). Henri Bouchot’s The Book shows a mark identified as Marchant’s having the illustrative features, notes, and words of the device as Taillandier describes it, but Bouchot’s image shows no “GM” in the device that I can detect (102 fig. 61, dated 1485 in its caption);Taillandier and Bouchot may have seen two similar devices. Marchant’s having several devices would not be unusual at the time. The hands and clouds of the smaller device Bouchot reproduces appear to be more skillfully executed than those in the shoemaker device of the Columbus Letter quartos. Taillandier shows another Marchant device that is merely floral. Like the woodcuts used in the Basel printings of the Letter, those used by Marchant merit specialized study. 72 Lenox’s discussion of the Marchant quartos cited here comes from his “Bibliographical Notice,” Appendix B (Syllacius xlv–xlvii). He prints two images and the titles from these editions, his E and F. A version of this essay is reprinted in the February 1861 issue of The Historical Magazine (33–38).

On Ternaux, see Lenox (xlvii). Major in 1847 had indicated that the “only known copy of [this printing] is in the library Mr. J. C. Brown of Providence” without reference to Ternaux (Select iv), but in his 1870 edition, he cites Brunet, who states that a copy formerly held by Henri Ternaux-Compans (1807–1864) went to Brown (cx). See also Harrisse and Winsor, who may be taking their references from Major and Lenox (BAV 20–22; Winsor “Notes” 49 and “Statement”). If digital images and photographic facsimiles can be trusted, the Brown copy suggests neither the Bodleian Laud edition nor the Göttingen holding. See the Quaritch facsimile of the Laud copy (1892) and the Göttingen University Library digital images linked through GW. The Brown Marchant quarto is catalogued in the John Carter Brown Library (Rare–H493 .C718d10) under the title Epistola de insulis de nouo repertis ( The Josiah catalogue entry for the Brown copy also refers to the Library’s physical guide to European printings concerned with the Americas (Alden Vol. I). Harrisse later supposes in BAV (ibid.) that the BNF may also have a copy (like Brown’s) based on a facsimile of Rosny’s he had recently seen at the time of his writing. 73 Lenox (xlviii). This quarto is an “F” (Fernando) Latin quarto, but Lenox is merely organizing his entries alphabetically, and E and F are his Marchant entries.

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The Letter Goes Abroad 74

See Eames’s Lenox Library edition of the Latin Letters and note the disconnects that have come to light over time (x–xi). GW 07175 gives only two editions (A, B) and distinguishes them on the basis of their distinct titles; I find GW’s references to Eames unclear. See also Thacher, accepting three Marchant editions (II 47); Haebler in Der deutsche Kolumbus-brief (1900) (8); and José Toribio Medina (15–18 Nos. 8, 9, 10). Harrisse writes in Lettre that the only distinction between Marchant’s three editions is that between “les vignettes” (i.e., the woodcuts), but it is uncertain that he examined the three editions himself in that he thanks a well-known Prussian librarian for examining the Göttingen example (Harrisse’s V). 75 See Harrisse’s bibliographical descriptions (“Early” 4–5; Lettre 21–25). Winsor in 1890 indicated that he understood the Turin copy to be unique (“Statement” 307).

Harrisse asserts that one of the Marchant quartos then owned by Brown is a facsimile of his No. VII (having both woodcuts, no final subscription) produced by John Harris, Sr., an example of which was sold among the books of Henry C. Murphy in 1884 (Lettre 26), a matter validated by Winsor (ibid.). Harrisse writes that the skill of the production was go great that it was taken for the real item: “Harris l’aîné a reproduit cette édition en fac-similé et avec une telle adresse que ces imitations ont plusieurs fois passé pour des originaux, notamment à la vente des livres de M. Henry C. Murphy, à New York, en 1884 . . . où l’une d’elles a atteint la somme de 340 dollars; mais le commissaire priseur dut la reprendre quelques jours après. C’est aussi un de ces fac-similés de Harris qui se trouve dans la Bibliotheca Browniana, et non un original” [The elder Harris reproduced this edition in facsimile and with such skill that these imitations have several times passed for originals, in particular with the sale of the books of Mr. Henry C. Murphy, in New York, in 1884 . . . where one of them reached about $340; but the auctioneer afterwards had to accept it back within a few days. It is also one of these facsimiles of Harris’s that is in Bibliotheca Browniana, and not an original] (Lettre 26). See Leavitt’s Catalogue for the Henry Cruse Murphy sale where two Marchant quartos are listed, one shown as an issue of Barlow’s facsimile, gifted to Murphy (No. 631), and the other, No. 630, presented as “a very fine copy” bound in “super extra” “olive morocco” without printing data but “supposed to have been [done] in 1493 or 1494” (87, italics suppressed), apparently the copy to which Harrisse refers. The sale also featured a Basel (“Verardus-Columbus”) edition of 1494, and No. 629 was advertised as a genuine Silber F&I quarto bound in red morocco. A like item is noted as selling for 5000 francs in a recent auction (86). The “elder Harris” is John Harris who also “about 1850” created a facsimile of the German 1497 edition for Henry Stevens (21 No. 130), the compiler of his own auction catalogue for Sotheby’s sale of his library (1881). Brown also held the Marchant quarto (one woodcut only, the “second” edition) that Lenox cites as unique, formerly belonging to Ternaux (xlv–xlvi). 76 Both “Douce” and “Laud” came to the Bodleian through the Francis Douce (d. 1834) bequest. Walsh writes that the name “‘Denis turi[n?]’” appears “with MS monogram ‘DT’ in the printer’s device” (16), along with the Bodleian stamp in the “Douce” example, an incomplete copy that was presented to Harvard in 1936. See Walsh (IV 16); Harrisse (“Early” 4–5); and ISTC (ic00761000). 77

The punctus in the titles is a well-defined rhombus; in the final word, gaillardi, -di is somewhat separate from gaillar-. The facsimile edition of Marchant’s “first Paris edition” prepared (1885) by Adam Piliński (and Harrisse) shows no woodcuts. 78 Dillon’s variant readings: a: perhibere-t; b: perhibebu-t (GW 07175). Harrisse describes the watermark in the Göttingen example: “Le filigrane de la présente édition représente un quadrupéde à museau très allongè, probablement une licorne (Exemplaire de Göttingue, obligeamment examiné à notre requète par M. [Karl] Dziatzko)” [The watermark of this edition represents a quadruped with a very elongated muzzle, probably a unicorn (the Göttingen example, was kindly examined at our request by Mr. Dziatzko)] (22). Karl (Carl) Dziatzko was a professional bibliographer, well-qualified to describe the watermark for Harrisse; Gordon Stevenson describes Dziatzko (1842–1903) as “a prominent figure in the reform of Prussian librarianship,” a man whose models continue to influence “modern German librarianship” (260). 79 See the three Marchant quarto printings apparently represented in the Photostat Americana Series of the Massachusetts Historical Society: No. 1 (1919); No. 17 (1920); No. 156 (1926). 80

Marchant’s use of the “Annunciation” woodcut is suggestive in this context, as Hindman points


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The Letter Goes Abroad out (10; with a translation, woodcut facsimile, and comments 84–85). Hindman remarks that although Marchant uses woodcuts randomly, without their having any relation to the text, she finds that in the case of the Columbus Letter, the Annunciation woodcut coincides with the spirit of the verse epigram. 81

The translation is Eames’s with original capitalization and punctuation suppressed (13). The verse usually appears at the close of the Latin editions, as in the 1493 “Illustrated edition,” where a woodcut of Fernando offers an illustration to accompany the verse.


Most printers, including Plannck, printed these guides as octavos, sometimes with various addenda. The 12° attributed to Marchant is dated internally 9 November 1499 and is a unique incunabulum held at the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York); ISTC gives the book as an octavo, but the Pierpont Morgan Catalogue (Corsair) identifies the printing parenthetically as a duodecimo (12°). The 24° of Plannck’s to which Hindman refers is dated 7 March 1500; three examples of this book, according to ISTC, are held at the Beinecke, the Pierpont Morgan, and the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek (Duchess Anna Amalia Library) in Weimar, Thuringia, Germany. To my knowledge, the only study dedicated exclusively to Marchant is Hindman’s, and none is devoted to Stephan Plannck. Silber printed several issues of the Mirabilia Romae. 83 The John Carter Brown Library notes this distinction on its “Maps” collection webpage (Susan Danforth, Map Curator). 84

Assigned dating ranges for two other printings extend to 1497 and 1499, and for these printings, all printing data is tentative. I do not list them in Incunabula Cited here. See Ferdinand Geldner (I) and John L. Flood on the business of incunabula printing in Basel. 85 The “Illustrated” Letter (1493) and the Verardus (1494) text with the Letter as the final text of the printing are not listed at ISTC under entries for Michael Furter. 86

Van der Haegen was bibliographer and compiler of the UB’s incunabula catalogue; its reference to his work is I: 23.8. 87 Furter’s first two “signed” Basel printings are set about 1489–1490, with one determined by internal data and the other set tentatively. Other printings are tentatively (some doubtfully) attributed to Furter, and some of these assignments to Furter may reflect the work of other Basel printers. Of the 170 incunabula and early sixteenth-century printings currently showing Furter as the printer in an ISTC search, about fifty are assigned by colophon; additional assignments made on the basis of concordance of material and/or type matches with printings having data seem fairly certain, while others are more speculative, and some older tentative assignments are now doubtful. Proctor, according to ISTC, for example, assigned the BL’s “imperfect” example of a printing signed in another example by Parisian printer André Brocard to Furter in Basel and set another printing with Furter that was later assigned tentatively to Brocard (1493). In spite of his enterprise, at his death around 1516/1517, Furter was bankrupt, according to Geldner’s research (I 126), cited by Flood (259 n.37). 88 See ISTC iv00125000. This item is not indexed at ISTC under the title of the Columbus Letter but under Verardus and the Historia Baetica. The item is not found in the listing for Bergmann’s printing (last checked 7 July 2014). 89 The BSB also lists it as an octavo. The BSB provides digital files that may be linked through ISTC (“Bergmann”). 90

Several libraries offer digital images of its pages linked through ISTC (iv00125000) or GW (M49579).


Lenox observes slight differences, mostly in the shading, between woodcuts used in this and the 1493 edition (xlix). These differences may be due to factors in the printing or, as he writes, some freshening up of the woodcuts. The woodcuts of the Basel editions are of bibliographic and artistic interest in early book studies that cannot be pursued here. The 1493 edition includes an opening woodcut of the quartered arms of Castilla and León, crowned; a ship illustration that appears twice; an illustration based on Columbus’s description of his experience in the islands; a futuristic image of mining and settlements in the islands; a standing portrait of Fernando in body-armor; and a closing image of the arms of Granada, crowned. Payne and Foss describe the 1494 printing accurately as a

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The Letter Goes Abroad “tract” featuring “a Pageant in honour of King Ferdinand, acted in 1492” (II 761). Lach and Van Kley, in their discussion of German literature, emphasize Brant’s poem and, given the experience of the printer and the fact that the drama had been previously printed in Rome, may overestimate Brant’s role in the printing: “Brant edited for Bergmann a Latin book on the Spanish conquest of Granada [i.e., the drama] to which was appended a reprint of the Columbus Letter and a Latin poem by Brant” (Literary Arts 332–333). Brant’s name is Latinized as Titio. Harrisse, referring to the 1493 Basel edition (“in the same year at Paris, Antwerp and Basle [sic]”), asserts that a typographical comparison between it and “Brandt’s De fulgetra anni 92 [sic] bearing in the colophon the initials and device (in German) of Bergmann” will bear out the assignment of Bergmann to the 1493 Illustrated edition “like the Verardus of 1494” though he “earlier” (in BAV) had assigned its printing to Rome (Barlow v). Harrisse cites his Christophe Colomb (II 22–30) as a reference and sustains his assignment of the printing in 1894 in Christophe Colomb et les Académiciens espagnols (92). For Harrisse’s reference to Brant’s work, see the German title Von dem Donnerstein vor Ensisheim at ISTC. 92 Printings of Brant’s work are also located tentatively in Lyons, and other Brant work (apart from the Marchant) is attributed to a Paris printer, but by far, most printings of his work (as translator, editor, or author) are attributed to German-speaking locations, and Bergmann may have been the largest printer of Brant materials. 93 See Eames on the Antwerp edition, as dated 1493 or 1494 (ix). Winsor writes that the Antwerp edition “has only recently been made known” (II.1 50, citing Brunet, Supplement, col. 276). 94

A. B. notes that Martens name in Flemish, as it is found on his tomb, reads “Diedrych Meertens” and is Latinized as “Theodoricus Martinus”; in French, Thierri Martin; in Flemish, Diedrych Meertens, and occasionally as “Dierix Martens” (218). See “A. B.” in Works Cited. 95 See Thacher on Martens (II 62–65). See Andre F. Van Iseghem’s early biographical and bibliographical study of Martens (1852). 96

Martens’s printing for popes includes materials attributed to him both definitively and speculatively, done alone and in partnership. These printings include a work of Iohannes XXI formerly Petrus Hispanus (Peter of Spain), a native of Lisbon, and two issues of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini/Pius II’s pre-papacy love novel. Clarence Miller (138) and Léon-Ernest Halkin (242), for example, credit Martens with sixteenth-century printings of Erasmus. “Hermes” (Notes and Queries) gives the verse and comments on the various spellings of Martens’s name (218). 97

Major notes that the “Ambrosian” Quarto agrees with the Latin text addressed to Gabriel Sánchez “in certain forms of expression, which are entirely different from those used in common in the Valencia [Varnhagen –Sanfelices] and Simancas MSS. to describe the same thing” (cxxv–cxxvi). Varnhagen asserted that the Quarto was the basis for the Latin translation and that the difference in the close of the two texts is due to the translator’s difficulty in making a translation, an explanation that appears implausible considering the foregoing work. See Major (Select 1870), where he extensively quotes Varnhagen’s judgments on the relationship between the Quarto and the Latin translation (cxxvi). 98

In his facing-page Spanish translation of the Latin F&I (I 178–195), Fernández de Navarrete’s notations to his text include material from Bossi’s text (included as an appendix in Bossi’s Vita). Fernández de Navarrete cites certain “defects” of Bossi’s text (175–177) and includes notes from the España Ilustrada (Viages 178–195, esp. 177). Bossi’s transcription of the “Illustrated” edition is accompanied by what appear to be tracings of its images. See Harrisse’s discussion of “the diligent” and “lynx-eye[d]” Bossi (BAV 9 n. 68). Harrisse (BAV) identifies Fernández de Navarrete’s base text as Harrisse’s “No. 3,” the Silber F&I edition (14). Major opines that “the very worst Latin text [is] that taken by Navarrete” from the España Ilustrada of Andrés Escoto (Select cxxxvii).


Eames appears to be sole editor and translator for the Lenox Library’s facsimile of the “Illustrated” edition with side-by-side, facing transcriptions of four of the Latin editions; the facsimile is based on Lenox’s 1493 Basel edition, a small octavo lacking all data. Lowdermilk, a publishing company based in Washington, D.C., produced at least two small books on Columbus material on the occasion of the 1893 Exposition: Lowdermilk’s production of the Latin Letter includes a facsimile of the Basel “Illustrated” edition and names no editor or translator, and


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The Letter Goes Abroad The Relics of Columbus, edited by William Elroy Curtis and published by Lowdermilk, is a fairly substantial paper-cover book, listing 1067 numbered entries that name and describe items “of the Historical Collection in the Monastery of La Rabida [sic]” (title page). The Relics of Columbus includes black-and-white images of objects, maps, sites, portraits, and drawings. 100

Baron Pietro Custodi’s dates are given as 1771–1842 by Riccardo Faucci, who examines his Scrittori classici italiani di economia politica (50 vols.); Custodi’s work remains “a fundamental source for the knowledge of Italian economists of the past,” according to Faucci (69).

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5 Lost, found, and yet undiscovered: Peninsular quartos

While the Latin Letters and Dati’s poetry claimed attention as printed versions of Columbus’s Letter having great bibliographical and historical interest, and observers wondered if a Spanish editio princeps might one day be found, the Quarto lay undiscovered in Italy in Pietro Custodi’s private library. After the death of the baron on 15 May 1842, a portion of his library, including the Quarto, was eventually transferred to the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.1 Like the Folio, the Ambrosian Quarto was printed in Spanish, so it was presumably produced in Spain, and like the Folio, it has the status of being a unique incunabulum. The Quarto has thirty-two lines of print to a full page, and, like all the quartos and octavos of the Letter, it is slight in appearance, as critical references to it confirm: José María Asensio describes the Quarto as a “folleto” [pamphlet], Henry Harrisse calls it “the Ambrosian plaquette,” Konrad Haebler refers to it as “die kleine Flugschrift” [a small pamphlet], and J. B. Thacher calls it a “tract.”2 Unlike the folio Letter, whose world debut was marked by several printings that included full or partial facsimiles in natural or reduced size within a few years of its discovery, the Quarto’s appearance, types, and format remained a persistent dark space in Discovery period bibliography for decades. In the nineteenth century, the unique Quarto was never put up for auction viewing, had never been professionally photographed for a catalogue or book, and had never changed hands through antiquarian dealer-publishers, as the Folio had done. Scholars demonstrated confusion about its types and watermark because — evidently — few men had seen the Quarto up close, and among them was at least one man ready to profit on those circumstances.3

The real and the faux Spanish quartos Nineteenth-century issues of the Quarto Quaritch, the London antiquarian who entrepreneurially issued publications featuring the Folio while it was in his hands, expanded the enterprise with a facsimile of one of the Paris illustrated Latin editions from a copy in the Bodleian Library, which had

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered been a gift of “Archbishop Laud.” In the United States, Lowdermilk of Chicago produced a Basel Latin edition in facsimile in 1893, the edition identified simply as the “illustrated edition.” With sponsorship of the Lenox Library, four Latin editions were transcribed for a volume showing the texts in a parallel format on facing pages. In 1893, Quaritch published the “Fernando and Isabel” quarto that had been produced by Plannck in Rome in 1493, Quaritch’s third “anniversary” publication of Columbus materials. A view of the Spanish Quarto, too, would be vigorously sought by Americana collectors and libraries in the U.S., where its small substance and obscure existence and confusion about the number of surviving quarto printings of the Letter offered the possibility of forgery. The Quarto forgeries that began to be noted late in the century appear to have had their beginnings in a legitimate effort of 1866 to make the Quarto text more widely available, but the dishonest possibilities of the process generated a series of strange and unfortunate events that Thacher called “[a]n interesting bibliographical romance” and that Goff characterized as “caus[ing] considerable repercussions in the world of books” (4).4 The first effort to reproduce the Quarto was a bona fide plan to create a facsimile of the printing. Around 1866, Girolamo d’Adda Salvaterra (“Gerolamo d’Adda”) contracted with Enrico Giordani to produce a facsimile of the Quarto.5 D’Adda appended several distinguished quotations to the opening of the volume, wrote a prefacing bibliographical study treating primary and secondary sources, and printed a run of 150 issues.6 R.H. Major honored the D’Adda-Giordani enterprise, writing that “all who are interested in the subject are . . . deeply indebted to the enlightened liberality of the Marquis d’Adda” who reproduced the text by “photo-zincography”: “Riprodotta a Fac-simile . . . dall’unico esemplare a stampa sinora conosciuto che si conserva nella Biblioteca Ambrosiana” [Reproduced in facsimile from the only printed exemplar thus far known, which is held in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana].7 The facsimile entailed a reproduction achieved by hand tracing and filling to create an image of the original.8 Despite “all his care,” Giordani worked in certain miscues, creating r for t, h for b, t for f, e for o, and a for s, and showing the usual confusion between n and u, along with poorly executed initials and non-existent variations in the impressions; by Thacher’s time, examples of the work were scarce — “seldom met with” — and costly.9 About sixteen years after the production of the legitimate facsimile, in a scheme whose beginnings Thacher sets at “about the year 1882,” a Bolognese citizen whom Harrisse eventually identified as Vittorio Villa (Apocrypha) reportedly set about creating five forged examples of the Quarto that he intended to sell as unique originals before anyone caught on to his scheme, and his fraudulent quartos surfaced by 1889 — in an air of authenticity. According to Henry W. Haynes, the 14 November 1889 issue of the NewYork Nation featured “[a] notice of the three editions in Spanish” (two quartos and the Folio), basing the notice on an article previously run in the London Athenaeum on 31 August 1889 (2).10 The scheme was successful enough that a facsimile of one of the fraudulent quartos was released in 1889 under the title, The Letter in Spanish of Christopher Columbus

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered Written on his Return from his FirstVoyage, Addressed to Luis de Sant Angel, 15 Feb. –14 March, 1493. Announcing The Discovery of The New World. Reproduced in Facsimile from a unique copy in the possession of the Publishers [or of Mr. Brayton Ives of NewYork], with Introductory & Critical Remarks, accompanied by a Revised Spanish version, and a literal translation into English.11 The facsimile, complete with an introduction, notes, transcription, and an English translation, made antique-looking with the long-s at every word-internal position, was published by Ellis and Elvey. The photography credit in the (fraudulent) quarto edition of 1889 asserts the document as having been “Facsimiled from the unique original . . . for Ellis and Elvey 29 New Bond St. London,W.” (italics added). The item was almost certainly a “unique original” — as Wilberforce Eames’s later observations of the variants among the forgeries suggest — though not in the sense Ives or the edition’s translator and editor understood it to be. The editor of the edition does not appear to understand its nature and evidently based the book’s introduction on the idea that the subject text was an authentic hand-press quarto printing somehow preceding the Ambrosian Quarto and taking precedence over it. The editor credits a supposed Columbus autograph copy of the Letter with various traits that appear in the forgery, leading to a theory of “Italian” influence on Columbus’s spelling. Other editorial errors probably owe to misunderstanding the nature of the Ambrosian Quarto with which the editor compares the forgery.12 The deception continued with external validation. In the 1891 Boston Public Library translation of a Latin quarto, translator Haynes, cited above, wrote that Justin Winsor had recently reported to the Massachusetts Historical Society that “two more [editions of the Letter] in Spanish, one in folio, the other in quarto” (italics added) had been located and that the quarto “has since passed into the possession of Mr. Brayton Ives of NewYork” (2).Winsor is recorded as having said “within a year or so” (of 1890) “two other editions were discovered,” and at the time of his report to the Society, they were in Paris and London (306); Paris may be a reference to Maisonneuve and the Folio, and London may be a reference to Ellis & Elvey. The forgeries not only went undetected, then, but were spoken of as authentic over 1889–1890, and at the period of the discovery and publication of the Folio facsimile by Maisonneuve, the idea of three authentic Spanish incunabula printings was credited on both continents.13 By February 1891, however, the scheme had been uncovered, and Winsor wrote from Paris that he had seen “the proofs of the forgery” in London “as Quaritch’s man [Kerney] had made them out.”14 In the same letter, Winsor records that Gilbert Ifold Ellis, the London book dealer, had offered him an example of the forgery in Cambridge for the price of $1500 “or the like,” an amount that Winsor supposes Ellis “afterwards got Kalbfleisch to give him.”15 According to the The New York Times, however, American collector Brayton Ives purchased a fraudulent quarto as a genuine issue from Ellis on 21 March 1890 for “£900 or $4374.”16 When Ives put his collection up for auction in 1891, shortly after Winsor had seen the forgery in London, the fraudulent Spanish quarto that Ives had bought from Ellis & Elvey was listed at the head of the “Columbus” section of the Ives auction catalogue as genuine: No. 196, a “unique copy” described as a “separate and different” edition from the Ambrosian


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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered Quarto, with its provenance given as “found in the possession of an Italian family only two years ago” (73). A manuscript notation beside the entry records the apparent auction price as “4300.00” [sic]. Apparently the seller, buyer — Dodd, Mead, & Co., according to the NYT — and auctioneer, had not heard Winsor’s news.17 A few years afterward, on February 27, 1895, Eames wrote a brief letter to Bernard Quaritch refusing Quaritch’s offer of a forged quarto to the Lenox collection and mentioned that he had examined the Ives quarto and knew it for one of the Columbus forgeries. The Lenox Library’s forged quarto, bound in red morocco, was in the library by 1895, and it had its own “romance,” a tale told in Eames’s letter to Quaritch. Eames relates that the Lenox collection already owned a copy of the forged quarto at his writing, having acquired it when “an Italian bookseller” had immediately ripped it up in consternation in Eames’s presence when Eames confirmed to him that it was a fake. Eames relates that the remains were “picked out of the waste basket” and restored, and at his writing, they were “preserved in the original morocco cover” in the collection.18 Eames concludes his note to Quaritch by observing that the Lenox copy, the Brayton Ives copy, and the one Quaritch had described to Eames were “slightly” different from one another, an observation that comports with their having been produced separately, by pen and ink and letter-blocks, rather than by mass mechanical means. Goff reports that Thacher himself owned “a rather handsome” forged quarto in “red morocco binding” acquired at a Boston auction in 1899 for a curiosity (now in the John Boyd Thacher Collection in Washington). Thacher observed, nonetheless, that the “same gratuitous” errors he finds in the D’Adda-Giordani Quarto facsimile of 1866 are “copied and perpetuated in exactly the same places” in Villa’s quarto forgeries.19 The timing of the Eames letter comports with Ives’s statement in a NYT article of 1899, where Ives reported “discover[ing] that he had been deceived” only “some five years” after his purchase of a forged quarto. In 1899, Ives sued Ellis and Elvey to recover his losses, and in the final chapter of the “romance,” Ives lost his suit. Ironically, of all the productions of the Letter, the five forged examples have been those most successfully tracked.

The scholars and the printshop Like the Folio’s printing history, that of the Quarto is also uncertain because no printer’s name, date, or geography identifies it. In the second edition of his Select Letters, Major noted that D’Adda considered the Quarto to have been printed from the Simancas manuscript (cxxv) or one very like it. D’Adda got near the truth because the Simancas manuscript’s text is — as we now know and D’Adda could not have known — closely related to that of the Folio, a copy of which has been thought to have served as the fair copy for the Quarto. At the period of the Folio’s discovery, scholars took a fresh interest in the Quarto’s origins. Michael Kerney, in “Notes and Verifications” on the newly discovered Folio, praised the Quarto’s “corrections” of the Folio and especially its suppression of what he determined were the Folio’s possible forty-six “Catalonianisms,” reduced to

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered twenty-two in the Quarto, with twenty-four of them having been eliminated in favor of “proper Castilian forms” (32). Kerney found nineteen “absurd blunders” shared by the Folio and Quarto, a body of supposed waywardness that still adds to the weight of evidence that the Quarto was printed from the Folio.20 Kerney set the Quarto’s printing in Naples in 1493 (33), basing his view on “the j consonant” and on certain settings that for Kerney bespoke an Italian compositor.21 He reasoned that the only place outside Spain where both Catalán and Castellano were spoken at the time was Naples.22 In his introduction to Quaritch’s publication of an “F&I” Latin quarto (The Latin Letter) two years later, Kerney sustains his earlier view, citing Aragonese connections in Italy and theorizing that the Barcelona Folio went “by sea to Naples, where the dynasty of Aragon was reigning and where the languages of Catalonia, Valencia, and Castille were familiarly used,” and where the Quarto was printed (iv). Kerney’s ideas answer his findings of Italian and Catalán traits in the Quarto’s printing, and his theory of the Folio’s being present in Italy in a center of Aragonese sympathies is a plausible part of his reasoning. It is interesting in respect to Kerney’s speculation about an Italian printing of the Quarto that twenty years before the Folio came to light, Major and Gayangos had found “the faults in the Ambrosian text” to be “many and great” and that Gayangos had ventured the opinion that the Quarto might have been printed in Portugal, probably in Lisbon, based on those “faults.”23 Asensio set the Quarto’s printing at Sevilla in 1493 before the printing of the Folio, apparently taking as his starting point the testimony of Pedro de Tudela, a forty-fiveyear-old sailor who appeared as a witness in legal proceedings brought by Diego Colón in Santo Domingo in 1514.24 In responding to the second question that was put to witnesses, Pedro refers to a printed letter that he saw in Sevilla, and to pilots and sailors there who expressed their wish to have gone with Columbus, too, implying that the printed letter prompted their regrets. Pedro’s matter-of-fact statement, offered without any apparent personal motive, that he had seen a printed letter concerning the first voyage, appears worthy of consideration as an attestation of a lost printing. The printed letter to which Pedro refers is not the burden of his testimony but a detail that helps him to explain his experience in Sevilla when Columbus returned there in 1493. His recollection suggests an experience that was likely to have been particularly memorable for him personally as well as a time of public excitement in the port city. Pedro’s hearing of the islands from a printed letter and recalling the rueful laments of others who wished they had gone with Columbus perhaps marked Pedro’s determination to see the islands for himself: A la segunda pregunta dixo, que oyó dezir lo contenido en la dicha pregunta á muchas personas, pilotos é marineros, que desyan aver venido con el dicho Almirante el primer viage, é que vido una carta enpremida en molde en la ciudad de Sevilla, en la qual recontava muchas yslas que abian descubierto, é que los nonbres de los dichos pilotos é marineros no se acuerda” [To the second question he said that he heard discussion about the matter of the said question from many people, pilots and sailors, who wanted to have come (gone) with the said Admiral on the


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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered first voyage, and that he saw a letter printed in type in the city of Sevilla, in which it told about many islands that they had discovered, and that the names of the said pilots and sailors he does not recall] (411–412).25 Pedro’s testimony asserts, then, that a printed letter relating the “discovery of many islands” existed in Sevilla after the first voyage. The court recorder’s syntax suggests that the letter Pedro saw was printed in Sevilla and that he saw it there, but it is ultimately unclear whether Pedro intends to say that the letter he saw was printed in Sevilla or whether it was printed elsewhere and came to his attention in Sevilla. Pedro’s sworn testimony that such a letter existed in Sevilla at the time Columbus returned from the first voyage suggests no fatal disconnect with historical fact but comports with the circumstances of Columbus’s return to Spain. Columbus himself might have sought such a printing upon his landing in Sevilla, a port and a city he knew well and where he had friends, and Sevilla was an ideal place to attract crews and potential investors for a second voyage. Pedro’s description of the contents of the printed letter that he saw and the response it elicited from the sailors who heard it rather supports a motive for printing a letter and distributing it around the port. Unfortunately, Pedro’s testimony does not hint at the printing format of the piece he saw, and no lost printing of a Columbus Letter is connected with Sevilla in any other source. Asensio appears to have focused his comparative efforts on Sevilla, examining as many examples of printings done in Sevilla from the period as he could lay hands on. Asensio concluded in 1891 that the Ambrosian Quarto had been printed in Sevilla by Meinardo Ungut and Ladislao (Lançalao, Lansalao, Lanzalao) Polono before the Folio was printed.26 In 1893, Wilberforce Eames asserted that the Quarto “was probably printed in Spain” (viii), and Henry Harrisse speculated that Sevilla, Valencia, and Barcelona were its most likely printing sites, sites that make plausible suggestions.27 In 1899, Haebler published his conclusion that the Quarto had been produced not in 1493, but in 1497 at the Valladolid shop of Pedro Giraldi and Miguel de Planes (GS 357), but Asensio contested Haebler’s assertions in a subsequent article and reaffirmed his previous conclusions.28 In an essay of 1900, Asensio argued again for his conclusions based on typographic similarities and on a perceived match between the Quarto’s watermark and that seen in Ungut and Polono’s printing of Floreto de San Francisco done in Sevilla in 1492 (454).29 Asensio describes the Ambrosian Quarto’s font as “gótica picuda” and the watermark as an open hand with the stem of a star or flower standing on the tip of the third finger, an exact match for the Floreto’s.30 The D’Adda reproduction of the Quarto watermark is inaccurate in many respects and sadly, does not match the watermark of the Floreto. D’Adda’s efforts, however, remain useful in that he notes that his search for a match to the watermark led him to communicate with James Lenox, who was searching for matches. Lenox writes that he has found the glove and flower watermark in other early Spanish printings: “Since you informed me of the correction of your first reference to the watermark[,] I have found the same in two folio volumes printed in Seville, by Juan [Johan] Cromberger a German: Enciso’s Suma de Geographia in 1519, and Oviedo’s Historia

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered General etc. in 1535” (D’Adda xxix). Lenox goes on to remark, “A Spanish gentleman with whom I have corresponded upon the subject says, that the open hand with a monogram over the third finger is to be found as a watermark on paper used both in Spain and Portugal, and he promises an etude on this point to shew that the letter was probably printed at Lisbon immediately upon the arrival of Columbus there” (D’Adda xxix–xxx).This tantalizing promise, made no later than 1866 does not appear to have borne fruit, and, of course, there are numerous variations on the watermark. Fortunately, the Quarto’s watermark has fairly recently been represented photographically in a Quarto facsimile sponsored by the Biblioteca Ambrosiana (1989) and is given here with its permission. It is not a match for the watermark of the Floreto, nor is it one for D’Adda’s representation, though they come from the same genre. A typographic comparison suggests additional disconnects between the Floreto and the Quarto. Though the terminology used to identify scripts and early fonts is notoriously changeable from age to age and commentator to commentator, Asensio’s “gótica picuda” characterization of the Quarto font was probably based on a tracing and does not characterize the Quarto’s type.While some types in the font suggest textura characteristics — a blunted thorn terminal on l and a somewhat narrow and economical e and s — the effect and the components are not textura. On the other hand, while the Quarto’s font may not suggest quite the rotunda character of the hand of the Cantar de Mío Cid, known as the Spanish “redonda de libros,” the Quarto’s font is more rotunda than not.31 The Quarto types lead the eye horizontally and suggest space and roundness communicated by its bows (like those of a, d, ∂, h, p, q) and curvilinear designs (like those of &, ç, rotunda r, y).32 The font of the Floreto and that of the Quarto are similar in some elements, but details of their respective types eliminate the possibility of their being a match.33

Details of the Quarto’s hand-and-flower watermark as represented in the recent facsimile sponsored by the Biblioteca Ambrosiana (1989), reproduced here with permission.


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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered A few years after Asensio’s reiteration, Haebler elaborated his own earlier stance, calling the conclusions of Kerney and Asensio “erroneous” and making some allowance for the fact that their ideas were evidently based on a facsimile made “sobre un calco a mano” [based on a tracing by hand], by which he probably alludes to the Ambrosian Quarto facsimile produced by D’Adda.34 Haebler refers to the proofs for his conclusions presented in his Bibliographe moderne essay (1899), where he published “a photomechanical reproduction” of the last verso of the Quarto. In Tipografía Ibérica (1902), Haebler described a third Valladolid printshop, the apparently short-lived partnership of Pedro Giraldi and Miguel de Planes, and he set its years of operation to fall between the years of activity of Johan (Juan) de Francour (Froncourt, Francourt) (1492–1493) and Juan de Burgos (1500–1501) in Valladolid — i.e. approximately after July 1493 and before February 1500.35 Haebler identified Pedro and Miguel as partners with six possible printings, three without “indicaciones tipográficas”; two printings of 1497 with full colophons, one dated August 6th and the other August 23rd; and the sixth, also dated in the summer of 1497 at Valladolid but without a printer’s name. Though Haebler had dated the Quarto at circa 1493 with a question mark in the index to Bibliografía Ibérica (370) and at circa 1497 in its main entry (No. 153 68–69) in 1903, he wrote there that he was “convinced” that the booklet had been printed in Valladolid by Pedro and Miguel’s partnership in 1497. In Geschichte de spanischen Frühdruckes (GS 1923), where he again prints the “photomechanical reproduction” of the Quarto’s 4v (GS 357 Abb. 396), Haebler seems even more committed to the partnership and the chronological limitation of 1497 in his assignment of data for the Quarto.36 Today, Pedro and Miguel’s partnership is credited with the two printings fully attested in their colophons, and two additional printings giving only chronology and geography, 1497 in Valladolid, respectively, are tentatively assigned to their shop. Two printings of the same text, dated internally at 12 August and 12 June 1493, respectively, but giving no printer’s name are now also tentatively assigned to the partnership, as are printings tentatively dated “after” December 7, 1492 and at “about” 1499: the 1492 printing is set based on a historical event, and “about” 1499 is the year attached to three related printings whose chronology is anchored to contributions toward constructing a hospital at Saldaña in 1499. With the chronology of Miguel and Pedro’s work tentatively expanded to include years that take in the period of activity assigned to Johan de Francour in Valladolid, a new look at these printings and at contemporary documents associated with these Valladolid printers is warranted, particularly in the context of supposing the Quarto’s printing data. Haebler’s theory that the materials of Johan de Francour passed into the hands of Pedro and Miguel when Johan supposedly ceased to publish is bolstered by their turning up with a large heraldic device that Johan used, but that assumption may ultimately be unhelpful in proposing the best available data on the Quarto’s printing.37 Obviously, 1497 is an odd chronology to assign to a new, stand-alone Spanish printing of the Letter, and that the Quarto was probably printed fairly quickly after the first voyage, as some nineteenth-century scholars theorized, seems more plausible circumstantially than a 1497 printing. The printed Folio was available in the spring

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered of 1493, and since it probably served as the Quarto’s fair copy, access to it is important in creating a printing scenario for the Quarto. The convergence of content — the Letter’s — that was directly linked to news of an immediate, high-interest event with a text that could be set in short order from a previously printed version and quickly marketed suggests a motive for printing the Quarto as soon as possible after the Folio. The idea of reprinting the Letter in Spain as a stand-alone printing three years after the conclusion of the first voyage and after several other Spanish voyages had made its content old news invites understandable skepticism.38 Despite his expressions of certainty about 1497 as the year of the Quarto’s printing, Haebler’s speculations also question whether Pedro and Miguel’s shop might not already have been active before 1497 because of the historical events that inform the Historia Baetica that he assigns to them in 1497 and “particularly” (“besonders”) because of the events that inform Columbus’s Letter (GS 355–356). Neither printing makes any apparent claim on 1497 — other than as a retrospective of more fortunate days for the Spanish sovereigns than those they experienced in the fatal year of 1497. Another interesting point is that this printing of the Historia Baetica showing the large device associated with Johan de Francour has also been attributed to the shop of Arnao (Arnaldo) Guillen de Brocar, who, perhaps not incidentally, made use of framed initials that appear to have come from the same hand as initials attributed to Johann Rosembach.39 Guillen was probably French, and he was printing in Pamplona, according to surviving incunabula, between 1492 and 1500.40 The types of the Columbus Letter and the Historia Baetica, attributed by Haebler to Pedro and Miguel in 1497, the only year in which he had found a printing internally claimed by the partners, in Valladolid, where printers were ever few, are similar in style but distinct in size.41 Haebler finds two other curious matters in the work he attributes to Pedro and Miguel: he notes that some of their work features rr- (erre perruna), a Spanish character, and that other work he attributes to them does not, and second, that the partners only employ types of French origin — “de forma lyonesa” (TI 79; GS 351). Types, of course, could be and were copied over a broad geography, but Haebler notes that neither printer appears to be French according to his name.42 In Tipografía Ibérica, Haebler had presented his speculation on the two printers’ origins: “El primero á juzgar por su apellido deb[e] de ser italiano, mientras que el segundo parece ser español” [The first, to judge by his surname (Giraldi), must be Italian while the second (Miguel de Planes) seems to be Spanish]. In the corresponding French text, Haebler expands the net a bit, concluding “l’autre parait être un Espagnol ou Catalan” [the other (Miguel) seems to be Spanish or Catalán] (TI 79).43 Little scholarly attention has been focused on Pedro and Miguel’s partnership, but Antonio Odriozola, in his chapter on their production (1982), characterizes the shop as “enigmática” and predicts that an exhaustive typographic study of their work would have many surprises in store (176).44 If the Quarto is more likely to have been printed in 1493 than in any other year, as I suggest in concert with earlier scholars, and if its types are indeed associated with Valladolid as Haebler concluded, then Johan de Francour who was printing in 1493 in Valladolid may be a sounder candidate than Miguel and Pedro for the Quarto’s


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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered printer — if for nothing else. Johan’s Spanish text of Fernando Díaz de Toledo’s Notas del Relator is dated July 4, 1493, and his printing of Ordenanzas Reales is dated June 28th of that year, and both are unique Spanish-language folios attributed by colophon.45 Only one other printing is attributed to Johan, and the attribution is tentative; it is a confessional guide in quarto, internally datelined 2 February 1492 in Valladolid. In addition to the doubtful nature of Haebler’s basis for the assignment of the Quarto’s chronology and that chronology’s plausibility, along with the fact that Johan de Francour was printing at an opportune time for the production of the Quarto in Valladolid, what is even more persuasive — if not absolutely convincing — as a basis for adopting “Johan de Francour,Valladolid, 1493” as the Quarto’s more plausible tentative printing data is Johan’s use of what I am reasonably certain is the Quarto’s opening initial, the framed S of Señor, in his printing of the Notas del relator on 4 July 1493 in Valladolid.46

Another lost Quarto? The attestation of another quarto printing of the Letter, this one cited in Hernando Colón’s bibliographic inventory of the sixteenth century and mentioned as one of two sources for the 1497 German translation, bears mention. Like the “printed letter” that Pedro de Tudela cites in his testimony, no example of this printing is known. Hernando Colón, the Admiral’s younger son, dedicated much of his life to amassing a library of rare and significant works representing many genres, languages, and authors. The inventory of that immense library lists a Catalán-language version of the Letter with the notation “Letra enbiada al escriua[no] de racio[n] a.1493. en catalan. 147,43” [letter sent to the minister of finance in 1493, in Catalán].47 A tiny rectangle, one of the emblems used in the inventory to indicate the format of the listed item, is drawn above the midpoint of the writing space following the entry to signify a holding in quarto format.48 Hernando’s “Catalán quarto” entry appears in a section listing works authored by Columbus and indicates a quarto that no one living has seen.49 Thacher suggests that the entry refers to a copy of the folio Letter because Hernando would have considered the Folio to be “Catalán,”50 and Ramos, in his 1986 study, minimizes the importance of the entry, denying the existence of a printed Catalán edition and suggesting that Hernando must be describing a hand-written letter in “Catalán” produced for a Catalán audience or devised as a crib for a Catalán compositor, such as Posa, who Ramos theorizes would have had trouble composing in Castellano.51 Obviously, neither a bibliophile who grew up in Spain nor his secretary/cataloguer could read, “Sennor, porque se que aureis plazer dela gran vitoria” and so on, and have thought that he was reading Catalán. Neither man would have taken a folio for a quarto though one might record the format amiss. Ramos’s theory is also implausible in that a compositor accustomed to working in Latin or Catalán would need no crib to compose in Castellano, and a second manuscript written in Catalán would offer him none in any case. If the item in Hernando’s library were indeed a manuscript, as Ramos posits, the entry would be likely to show, as elsewhere in the inventory, “de mano” and to lack the graphic indicating a printed piece.52

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered Barcelona’s early printers catered to a Catalán reading audience, as one may see by the range of surviving Catalán-language printings, including court documents, indulgences, didactic treatises, histories, medical guides, saints’ lives, reflections on the lives of Christ and the Virgin, romances, Psalters and Bibles, and the works of philosopher and theologian Ramon Llull. The market that made it profitable to print in Catalán throughout the region would have provided ample rationale for a Catalán edition of a high-interest item like the Letter to have been produced in the Barcelona shops of Rosembach, Posa, Luschner, Pere Miguel, or others, particularly when the market was expanded by the presence of the court. Around Barcelona’s seaport and in the ports of Valencia — where Spindeler, Palmart, Hagenbach and Hutz, and Lope de la Roca worked — and Tarragona, where Spindeler and Rosembach occasionally set up shop, the Letter would have found a maritime audience in addition to its usual market for Catalán printings.53 The matter-of-fact entry of the bibliophile Hernando Colón and his librarian, men who were intentional and careful in everything concerning the great library, and Küstler’s disinterested care in citing the source of his German translation merit credibility. Given the evidence of a sufficiently large Catalán reading audience over a broad geography where a good number of printers worked to explain the many Catalán printings produced at the period, the high-interest material of the Letter for readers at various levels of society and with varied interests, and the number of presses available to execute such a small job, it would be a noteworthy lapse if one of Cataluña’s enterprising masters had not seen to printing a Catalán edition of the Letter in a timely way. Notes 1

On Baron Custodi, in addition to Faucci, see Livio Antonielli’s article in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI) and Faucci, cited in chapter 4. According to Antonielli, Custodi’s library was willed by testament to the Ambrosian Library, and though the greater part of it ended up in Paris “by strange vicissitudes,” the Columbus Quarto remained in Italy. See also Antonielli’s significant bibliography (DBI); Asensio (1900 452); Thacher (II 41–44); and Lucien Auvray for the Paris holdings from the Custodi library.

2 See Asensio (ibid. 456), Harrisse (BAV 24–27), Haebler (GS 354), and Thacher (ibid.). See also Strand’s second “Note” on Flugschriften, literally, “flight writings,” a format used for polemical or apologetic purpose (178–180). “Flight writing” suggests the English, “flyers.” 3

D’Adda’s Quarto facsimile of 1866 was inadequate for bibliographical purposes because of the means of reproduction available at the time, and few researchers appear to have journeyed to the Ambrosian Library, though Thacher may have done so. Thacher published a good quality black-andwhite facsimile of the “Ambrosian” Quarto in 1903 (II 33–40), making its text accessible to a wider audience. The Massachusetts Historical Society produced a reproduction of the Quarto in its Photostat Americana series in 1921 in ten issues. 4

Thacher details these schemes, including the discrepancies between the Quarto and its reproduction (II 41– 42 n. 1). Thacher writes that the printing was achieved with a “lithographic” process. Also see Haebler (GS 354–355).


See Elvira Cantarella’s biographical essay on D’Adda (b. Milan 1815–d. Milan 1881) in DBI. See Thacher on the chronology (ibid.). 6

Thacher (ibid.) and Paul Leicester Ford (275) cite Giordani. Note the reverse of the title page in the D’Adda edition: “Edizione di soli 150 esemplari.” D’Adda’s introduction and notes are worthwhile


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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered for use in research on the editions and for early Columbian bibliography. Writing prior to the discovery of the Folio, D’Adda concludes in his preface to the facsimile that the Ambrosian Quarto was based on the Simancas manuscript: “Il testo . . . che noi pubblichiamo a fac simile, fu tratto dall’originale documento tuttora esistente negli archivii di Simancas” [The text that we publish in facsimile is drawn from the original document still held in the Simancas Archive]. He also notes that the Latin editions lack the postscript given in the Quarto. 7

See Major’s comments on the D’Adda edition (Select cxxv–cxxvi).


Edward Nicholson, for example, in writing about the Marchant Paris quartos, mentions “John Harris, senior, the celebrated facsimilist” who “was allowed to make five facsimiles [of the Douce copy of the Marchant quarto] by hand” (4). Thacher describes D’Adda’s result as a “pen-fac-simile,” produced by Giordani, an “expert” with whom D’Adda had contracted; Giordani’s tracings were “transferred to stone” to produce the printing (ibid.). 9 Some of the observations concerning Giordani’s errors come from Thacher (ibid.) and reflect typical visual miscues in reading manuscript and early printed materials. 10

Haynes (2) appears to quote from his or another’s notes on Winsor’s talk because the details he provides in his introduction are not included in the printed “statement” reflecting Winsor’s presentation in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society. See Winsor (“Statement”) in Works Cited and Haynes. 11 The variants shown in the titles (“in the possession of Mr. Brayton Ives of New York” rather than “of the Publishers”) give the same year, 1889, as the year of the issue. Ives’s copy of his item is listed in the Ives auction catalogue as No. 203. 12

“Julia E. S. Rae” is credited only with the critical notes to the text, and whether she acted as editor is unclear to me. She is evidently Julia Emily St. Quintin Rae, translator of at least two other works, both originally in French: Hector Malot’s novels Conscience (1893) and Micheline (1884). She is credited as author of Tasso’s Enchanted Ground: The Story of Jerusalem Delivered and National Pictures in the titles preceding the notes to the forged quarto. I have not found a copy of the latter publication. Based on notes indicating her thorough familiarity with the material and the style of the text, Rae may have written the book’s editorial introduction as well. 13 Thacher writes that the forger later confessed the details of his work to Cesare de Lollis, and Winsor relates the forger’s confession to Henry Harrisse, who eventually identified the forger as Vittorio Villa (Apocrypha). For the Harrisse –Winsor conversation, see Joseph Borome’s article (Winsor “Interview). Thacher cites De Lollis’s Raccolta, Part 6. Vol. 1 (14; Thacher ibid.). See also Goff’s report on the quarto acquired by the Library of Congress in 1946 (4). 14

See NYT “Brayton Ives Sues” and Winsor (“Interview” 378). It is likely that the “blunders” vary somewhat among the forged quartos, as Eames’s assessment of difference among the three examples with which he had reason to be more or less familiar indicates (Goff 4).

15 See Winsor (ibid.). This comment obviously does not comport with the sale of the item to Ives. Winsor elsewhere refers to Kalbfleisch’s purchase of a forged Latin quarto in the Murphy auction (“Statement” 307). Kalbfleisch was a prominent New York Americana book collector of the period. See note 15 of chapter 4. 16 For details on the Ives quarto, see the NYT (“Brayton Ives Sues”; “Mr. Ives’s Columbus Letter”); Publishers’Weekly for an unattributed article of 18 March 1899 (517); and the Ives auction catalogue (Ives). The Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator ( goes back only to 1913, and sets Ives’s $4374 (< £900) in 1913 as having about the “same buying power” as $99,816.45 today.

Without naming Ives or Ellis, Thacher (ibid.) writes that “a NewYork amateur” paid “a London bookseller” £900 in 1890 for one of the forged quartos that he understood to be genuine and for which the firm (Ellis & Elvey) had paid £285. Ives began what he describes as “only a collection” and not a “library” about 1871 (NYT “Mr. Brayton Ives’s Books”) and put it up for auction about twenty years later. After Ives’s death, another sale of his “literary treasures” took place in 1915 (“Gen. Ives’s Library”). Some of Ives’s bibliographical treasures are now held at Princeton through separate bequests by subsequent owners (Ferguson). Thacher asserts that the errors attributed to the legitimate Giordani facsimile are likewise those of Villa’s forgery, sold to Ives and others (ibid.).

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered Besides the legal records of the NewYork Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, the events of the Ives case were recorded in the news media and in books, lectures, and exhibits related to forgeries in general and to the Ives case in particular. See Winsor on Ellis & Elvey, the firm that sold Ives the “unique” quarto (“Interview” 378). See Randolph G. Adams’s work on Ives’s subsequent sale of the quarto at auction and the ensuing court case when the buyer discovered the forgery. See Howard Mumford Jones’s exhibit entries for two forged items of Columbus interest, one of which is the Ives quarto, in Facsimiles and Forgeries (3–4). The NewYork Times of 6 March 1891 covered the Ives sale that included the false quarto as legitimate (“The Brayton Ives Sale”); the appellate court’s conclusion of the case is covered on 12 May 1900, with information attributed to “‘G. R. C.’ Bayonne” (“Mr. Ives’s Columbus Letter”). 17

Selling-price figures from the auction are hand-written in the margins of the copy of the sales catalogue held at the University of Michigan and labeled “Price per lot” (Ives; figures in the UM googlebooks digitization). See NYT “Mr. Ives’s Columbus Letter” (28 December 1901).


Eames’s letter to Quaritch is a part of the Thacher forged quarto at the Library of Congress. Goff tells the story as well (4). 19

A Quaritch catalogue noted that the forgeries were produced “by means of types fabricated in imitation of those in the original” (Rough List No. 188. 34). Possibly two methods were used: tracing and filling in combination with “fabricated” types. Thacher ibid.


See Kerney’s “Notes” (14; 31–33). Some readers of the Quarto may believe that they see the apostrophe in agglutinated forms such as d’′muchas and a’desear but the mark beside d is the abbreviatura signaling e of de, and following a (shown above) is the abbreviatura for ra. Modern use of the apostrophe to indicate a contraction probably springs from this kind of abbreviatura. 21 Kerney considers tierra firma, christianidad, ruiseñol, creancia, and ay estado as possible signs of Italian language interference in the Quarto’s setting (33). The editor of the false Ives quarto also notes “Italian spellings.” See n. 12, above. 22

See Kerney’s introduction to the Folio facsimile (10, 12–14) and his closing notes, where he lists his data and gives his rationales (30–33). Kerney connects Dati’s translation to a lost Latin translation of the Quarto (32–33). Though Kerney was probably mistaken about the Quarto’s geography, it appears that at least two printers at Naples in the approximate period were native-born rather than German though German masters might hire native compositors. At ISTC, see Francesco del Tuppo and Ayolfus de Cantono. 23 See Major (cxxxvii). A fifteenth-century Spanish-speaking reader of the Letter would probably have noted fewer “faults” than a nineteenth-century reader might have done.

Columbus’s writing has been credited with Italian and Portuguese influence. Ramón Menéndez Pidal (1978), Joaquín Arce (1971), Varela and Gil (Textos), and others have shown that Columbus’s writing reflects a mix of Romance influences. Menéndez Pidal (La lengua) finds Portuguese a stronger influence than Italian in Columbus’s writing and compares Columbus’s Spanish with that of Portuguese poets of the period, but Virgil Milani advocates for a predominant Genoese substrate and suggests that Columbus is an innovator in Spanish. Arce, in an introductory study of the Diario, argues for Italian as the principal influence on Columbus’s Spanish. Peter Boyd-Bowman (1976) notes that Milani’s sources are too limited to support Milani’s claims, and Ralph Penny (1990) finds a greater number of traits in the writing attributed directly to Columbus in the Diario coming from Portuguese (xxx–ccciii). Gil cites the complexity of Columbus’s language and recognizes the influences of Columbus’s native Ligurian dialect and Portuguese on his written Spanish but affirms that Portuguese is the stronger influence (31–43, 51–63). 24 Sanz cites Asensio’s assertion that the Quarto was published in Sevilla (Asensio I 430, qtd. in Sanz’s Secreto 232). The title of Asensio’s book is listed as “[1891]” in the Harvard Bulletin of 1892 (Winsor 27), and Sanz writes that the book was published in that year (232). 25

For Pedro de Tudela’s full testimony as the sixth of the witnesses in the proceedings of the suit brought by Diego Colón against the crown in order to succeed his father in titles and rights, see the Real Academia’s Colección de documentos inéditos (411–414) in the context of the full transcript (362– 434). The Examiner’s second question to the witnesses is as follows: “Iten si saben, creen, oyeron dezir y es publico é notorio quel Almirante don Cristobal Colon en el primer viaje que fue a descubrir


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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered con tres carabelas, falló e descubrio muchas yslas questan a la parte del Norte de la Isla Española, é luego en el mismo viaje descubrió a Cuba y a la dicha Española” [Item (enumeration of the questions to be put): if they know, believe, have heard it said and it is common knowledge and evident that the Admiral Christopher Columbus, on the first voyage of discovery that he went on with three caravels, found and discovered many islands that lie to the region north of the Island Hispañola, and then on the same voyage discovered Cuba and the aforementioned Hispañola] (365). 26 The colophon at the final verso of the Floreto provides printers’ names: Menardo Ungut aleman y Lançalao Polono. Variants of Polono’s given name are evident in Nicolás Tenorio’s transcribing (diplomatically) “lansalao” and “lançalao” from the inventory made at the time of Ungut’s death; Tenorio writes “Lanzalao” in his text (636–637). 27 See Harrisse (BAV 8–9). In Quaritch’s 1893 edition of the Latin Letter, Kerney writes that “it was probably in . . . [Naples], not in Spain, that the Spanish quarto . . . was reprinted from the Barcelona Folio” (iv). In the earlier Quaritch (folio-size, 1891) facsimile of the Letter, Kerney suggests that the Quarto was “printed probably at Naples about the end of April 1493” (10). 28 See Asensio’s essay of 1891 (esp. 6–7); his essay of 1900 (esp. 453–454) responding to Haebler’s essay in Le Bibliographe Moderne (“Quelques Incunables Espagnols relatifs a Christophe Colomb”); and Asensio’s two-volume work on Columbus (I 430). For Haebler’s view, see BI (I 68–69). 29 The Floreto de San Francisco, dated 24 August 1492, contains narratives of miracles and revelations of St. Francis and his associates in 150 chapters. It appears to be a translation from Italian. Note this printing’s “Italian” connection with Ungut and Polono, who are given by Haebler in the first generation of his “Italian School” in Spain (GS 362). José Adriano Moreira de Freitas Carvalho in 1988 published a facsimile edition of the Floreto based on the holding in Lisbon’s National Library (Incun. 175). 30 Asensio describes the watermark as “la filigrana de una mano abierta de cuyo dedo central se prolonga un bastón terminado por una estrella ó flor de seis puntas [the watermark of an open hand from whose center finger a vertical line extends, terminating in a star or flower of six points] (454). Haebler notes the watermark as one of many described as “la mano y estrella” (BI I 68), as does Thacher (II 41). Harrisse notes the lack of “title, colophon, date or printer” and records the watermark as “an open hand with a kind of small flower over the third finger” (BAV 24), a frequent mark with religious significance (BAV 27). Although Asensio, Haebler, and others describe the watermark, the question of who actually saw and examined it at that time has no absolute answer. The mark, rather than a “hand,” represents a glove or a gauntlet, in my view, as one can see by the characteristic renderings of the lower edge of the shape as the hem of the glove, shown as a broad curve, as if hemmed with a border, or as a crenellated curvilinear hem. The five-petal (or star-point) design is frequent on examples that lack interior embellishments on the glove. The star or flower with the six-petal design (attached at the tip of a vertical line rising from the middle finger) that Asensio describes appears less frequently. See Briquet (III) 10712, 10713, 10720, 11135, 11136, 11139, 11153, 11154, 11157, 11159–11161, 11163–11165, 11175, and 11182 for six-point terminals on vertical lines rising from the middle finger above gloves/gauntlets with no interior embellishment where the sixpoint design is probably a flower and perhaps a star. The gloved/gauntleted hand held vertically with fingers pointing upward, having a stem or a vertical line rising from the tip of the middle finger and ending in a star, stylized cross, or flower is said to have been a charm against the evil eye, as one may imagine, holding up the flat hand and making the sign of the cross with the middle fingers toward perceived evil. María del Carmen Hidalgo Brinquis, for example, explains that “La mano abierta y extendida era considerada en la Edad Media un acreditado talismán contra el mal de ojo y demás maleficios” [the open, extended hand was considered in the Middle Ages to be a tried and true charm against the evil eye and other curses] (230). It is a frequent design in medieval watermarks, one attested in a plethora of creative variants. Its variants are represented in other printings of the time: Posa’s 1482 printing of a Catalán Imitacio; Fernand Mexía’s Nobiliario vero, produced by Brun and Gentil in 1492 in Sevilla; Ungut and Polono’s printing of Bernardo Gordonio’s Lilio de medicina produced in Sevilla in 1495 and their De las malas mujeres of 1498; Rosembach’s Tarragonese Esposito aurea hymnorum of 1498; and Posa’s Latin printing of Franciscus Ximenes’s Pastorale (5 December 1495) in John Boyd Thacher’s copy, where it is found beneath the massive title (1r).Víctor de Lama de la Cruz locates a hand and six-petal flower watermark in a Spanish codex known as the Cancionero de Segovia, dated toward the end of the fifteenth century (Cancionero 101–102). See Briquet (III): Nos. 10641,

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered 10669–10681, 10699–10702, 10706–10770, 10779–10893, 11086–10895, 11134–11225, and so on intermittently, through approximately 11470, for examples. I am indebted to José López de Toro’s discussion of the hand-flower watermark being connected with paper production in Genoa — and more broadly in Liguria — from the late fifteenth century forward and for his emphasis on the far-flung trade in paper between a number of mills in Northern Italy and buyers in Spain, Sicily, and Southern France (Alonso de Palencia 213–214). Hidalgo Brinquis, in her presentation to the Bernstein Symposium on paper, noted that Sevilla’s main street was once called “Avenue of the Genoese” because of the Genoese paper industry’s commerce through the Port of Sevilla (4) though Genoese commerce was broader than dealings in paper. On the Avenida de la Constitución in Sevilla, ceramic tiles mounted above the newer street name give the older designation of a section of the avenue as “Antigua Calle de Génova,” a name that located early Genoese commercial interests in the port. I am also indebted to Dr. Hidalgo Brinquis’s study on Bofarull y Sans’s work and other Spanish sources on paper and watermarks. The mention of Genoa in connection with a watermark found in a unique issue of Columbus’s Letter is interesting but can only add to this study a further notion of the variety of associations and regularity of commerce between Genoa and Spain and perhaps suggest interests that might have led to an early printing of the Letter at Sevilla. 31

The manuscript of the Cantar de Mío Cid, also known as Poema de Mío Cid, is viewable online through various sites, the Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services (LAITS) at the University of Texas at Austin, for example. Ramón Menéndez Pidal’s facsimile edition gives it in hard copy (1961).


Many of the types of the Folio and the Quarto are strongly reminiscent of the Italian font used to set a Venetian Missale Dominicanum seu Ordinis Praedicatorum produced by Octauiano Scote da Monza (Octavianus Scotus, Ottaviano Scoto) and dated 1482. Though the Missale font is called “textura” at Japan’s Diet Library pages on incunabula printing (“Various Typefaces”), I characterize it as being more gothica rotunda, like those of the Folio and Quarto. Scribal gothic hands and the fonts based on them are somehow hybrids, sharing certain elements of design. See Juan-José Marcos’s excellent visuals on gothic hands and fonts, including a snippet of the Cid manuscript in his Latin Paleography (online). 33 The majuscule types of the Floreto lack the embellishments of those in the Quarto; compare E, C, and A, for example. The lower-case y, p, uncial d, and others are also distinct. 34

See BI (I 68–69) and n.36. Haebler appears to refer to D’Adda’s 1866 facsimile of the Quarto. Also see Asensio on D’Adda’s facsimile 1891 (7).


Today, Juan de Burgos is tentatively credited with a Valladolid printing in 1493, for which, see GW M2908920. This item is a unique incunabulum held in Madrid’s BN and appears to have been little studied. Its material is associated with Valladolid. Haebler sets Juan de Burgos in Valladolid from 1499–1500 (TI 79) rather than 1500–1501, generally given, above. 36 Haebler concludes: “[E]stoy convencido de que el librito se imprimió en Valladolid por Giraldi y Planes en 1497” [I am convinced that the little book was printed in Valladolid by Giraldi and Planes] (I 69). Haebler’s BI was originally published in 1903 and 1917; these references appear in the first volume of the more accessible two-volume reprint (68–69).See also GS (354–355) for Haebler’s further confirmation. 37

See GS (esp. 341–346 and Abb. 377). Johan de Francour’s types (shown in facsimiles of 1492 and 1493) are markedly textura, as Haebler illustrates (Abb. 375 [p. 344], Abb. 376 [345], Abb. 377 [346]).


For scholarly speculation on Columbus’s possible rationales for seeking a printing of the Letter in Valladolid in 1497, see Sanz (Secreto 242–245). Collis comments on the political climate in 1497 (146).


For the Johan de Francour device, see GS (346 Abb. 377; cf. GS 355 Abb. 393). The device is deeply political and Spanish, with Castilla, León, and Granada represented on it. Haebler’s GS uses the device, embossed in gold, as a cover ornament. For a framed initial of Guillen’s, see an example, no doubt somewhat approximate, in GS (352 Abb. 388). 40 GfT makes the attribution of the Historia to Arnao Guillen. See ISTC for references to Guillen in Goff,Vindel, and GfT, whose attribution Haebler notes is in error. Haebler observes that Guillen had ample materials, including “two or three” sets of types at his disposal and that he used several designs


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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered and sizes of initials. Also see Haebler on Guillen in TI (61–62). Haebler was a contributor to GfT, whose authorship is collaborative; see Works Cited for “Gesellschaft für Typenkunde des XV Jahrhunderts.” Haebler assembles a font from the quarto Letter as Giraldi and Miguel de Planes’s “Type 3” (358 Abb. 399). The font collation asserts a font in the possession of the partnership in a given year and place based on a speculative shop assignment and date for the Quarto printing. 41 Among the framed initials that Haebler assembles as belonging to De Planes and Giraldi (GS 354; 356 Abb. 394), the S used in the Quarto is decidedly odd. 42

Haebler writes of these “French” types in GS as having “Lyoner Charakter” (GS 351–355). As examples of the “Lyoner” style, Haebler collates two such fonts that he attributes to Giraldi and Miguel de Planes as Abb. 397 and 398 (GS 358). 43 Mariano Alcocer y Martínez identifies Miguel de Planes as Catalán (11). “Miguel Planas” is mentioned in 1525 as a citizen of Barcelona in a legal document pertaining to Barcelona printers (Madurell and Rubió 669). Miguel de Planes or members of his family (with alternate spellings of the name) may appear in other documents in Madurell and Rubió (817). It is possible that “de Planes” may be an adaptation of the French “des plaines” (now Desplaines) and that Miguel de Planes may have been French. 44

In 2002, Juan-Carlos Conde and Víctor Infantes published a paper on a newly discovered incunabulum attributed tentatively to Giraldi and Miguel de Planes in Valladolid in 1496. See also an article by Arthur L-F. Askins and Victor Infantes (142). The thorough examination Odriozola suggested over thirty years ago remains to be done. 45 Haebler notes that while the French-appearing name “induced Herr Volger to attribute to [Johan] a French origin,” Johan states in one of his printings that he is German; Haebler writes, “We only know three books issued by him, one of which bears no name at all, but is certainly his; the others spell the name Froncourt or Francour. It is not improbable that the word really signifies Frankfurt, from whence he may have originally come” (Early 71). Haebler later changed his view of Johan’s origins, writing that his previous statement “[s]in duda es un error, pues basta dirigir una sola vez la vista sobre las impresiones de Juan de Francourt para convencerse de su origen francés” [without doubt it is an error, in that it is enough to see only once (Johan’s) printing to confirm his French origin] (TI 53). 46

The initial appears on a verso (l.10v under “Titulo [sic] lxxiiii”). Along with highly consistent detail in the grapheme and the surrounding floriate design in both impressions (that of the Quarto and that of the Notas del relator), the missing corner of the material is telling. I am deeply grateful to Ms. Vanessa Pintado, Librarian in the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Hispanic Society of America, for her generous and expert assistance with the Society’s unique copy of Notas del relator. 47 Some readers may question the word letra as “letter” (as an epistle) rather than “handwriting.” Letra signifying “letter” is attested at the period, for example, in the Real Academia’s Documentos inéditos. See, for example, No. 44, a letter from the king to Diego Colón dated 23 February 1512: “Vi vuestras letras de xx y xxi y xxii de diziembre, y por que ellas llegaron cinco o seys dias antes que este correo se despachase para Sevilla . . . .” [I saw your letters of the 20th and the 21st and the 22nd of December, and because they came five or six days before this mail was sent to Sevilla . . .] (321). In the same volume, see a similar context in No. 7, also from the king to Diego, “Recibi vuestra letra de 7 de Septiembre” (21). 48

The entry comes from the Index of the Columbian Library (Biblioteca Colombina). Ramos gives the location of this item as Indice general alfabético, also known as the Abecedarium B, Repertorio No. 9, column 369, line 23. The photographic versions of this page that I have seen do not contain those references. The page with the entry is shown in facsimile on the pastedowns for Tomás Marín Martínez’s two-volume study of the contents of Hernando’s library; the single entry is viewable online at Viquipèdia (Catalán), posted by XpoferenSIX, as author. Another entry in Hernando’s inventory among the Christopher (C[h]ristophorus/i/o) group is Christophorus Barzizius’s “de fine oratoris pro ciceronis et quintiliam assertione . . . br. 1492,” and it is also marked with a tiny rectangle, like that placed beside the “Catalán quarto” entry. ISTC lists De fine oratoris pro Ciceronis et Quintiliani assertione, a quarto, printed in Brescia by Baptista Farfengus on

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Lost, Found, and yet Undiscovered 7 September 1492. Several items listed under Cristophori Hegendorffini (Christophoro Hegendorffino) give the little rectangle sketched around the respective catalog numbers, and in the interpretative entries of Marín Martínez’s Catálogo concordado of Hernando’s library (1995), these items are all listed as quartos (Nos. 671, 875, 963, and 956) under the author’s name, modernized as Christoph Hegendorff. 49

These works authored by Columbus follow other works by authors with the baptismal name Christophorus ordered by surname, but the names are given in natural order.


Thacher noted that the book so entered was “no longer in the Columbian Library at Seville” at his writing in 1903 (II 45 n. 1). Ramos interprets the absence of further bibliographic information by don Hernando, “tan minucioso en todo” [so detailed in everything], as a clear indication that “a tal pieza no la dio rango especial” [to such an item he gave no special importance], and, based on Ramos’s consultation with Tomás Marín Martínez, Ramos writes that the lack of further notation at this part of the inventory is the rule rather than the exception (Primera 106 n. 89). Ramos’s statement about Hernando’s care as a bibliographer and the normalcy of the entry appear to contest his conclusions. 51

Ramos is alluding to Posa’s having printed no known work in Castellano and writes that because of that (supposed) inexperience, “se deslizan en su impreso palabras que son más catalanes que castellanas” (Primera 106 n. 89). 52

Items listed above this entry include a manuscript in Columbus’s hand, specified as “de mano”: it is titled “prophetie de recuperatione ierusalem en inuention[e i]ndiarum [.] de mano 2,091” [prophecy of the reconquest of Jerusalem on the discovery of the Indies (.) by hand (i.e., manuscript)]. No graphic follows other entries that appear to be manuscripts. For example, immediately above the “catalán ‘quarto’” entry, also under the items authored by Columbus, is entered “carta ad reges hispaniarum [or, hispainarum] data .7. Julii. 1503. 12,650.” [letter to the sovereigns of the Spains. dated 7 July 1503]; this entry appears to refer to a manuscript and has no graphic closing the entry. The item above the “letter to the sovereigns,” labeled “vita et xesta en español,” is designated as “de mano”; this title may be translated as “the life and deeds in Spanish” (xesta = gesta) of some personage. The third entry preceding that of the “Catalán quarto” is “di lanavigatione dispanie in india entoscano” [about navigating (around) Hispania in the Indies in Tuscan (i.e., written in Dante’s Tuscan dialect)], which may be a manuscript as well because no graphic appears in the entry. Above the Tuscan guide is an entry for the Latin translation of the Letter, catalogued as “Epistola de insulis nuper inventis” with the note, “traducta per leonardum de cosco” [translated by Leonardo de Cosco]. All the italics in titles in this note are mine, used to differentiate titles from other elements in the entries and not indicated in the original. 53

Pere Miguel, for example, is identified by colophon as having printed a Catalán translation of Franciscus Ximenes’s Llibre des angels [Book of the angels] in 1494 in folio; a folio of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Catalán in 1494; and two examples of a treatise on surgery (Chirurgia) in Catalán in 1492. All of Posa’s positively credited work is in Latin or Catalán.


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6 Manuscripts: real and imagined

Having been known to historians and archivists somewhat longer than the Spanish Quarto and Folio, the Simancas manuscript has been a subject of interest since the early nineteenth century, but only a few scholars had access to it in the nineteenth century, and no full view of the manuscript was presented, to my knowledge, until Demetrio Ramos Pérez produced what appears to be a full-size traced facsimile of the manuscript, folded and tipped-in for his 1986 Primera noticia. Scholars have recorded their impressions of the manuscript, some with mere notices of its existence and others making assertions about its nature, all providing potential points of departure for examining the physical evidence of the manuscript as it exists today. Mid-nineteenth-century historian of British relations with Spain Gustav Adolph Bergenroth records that Simancas Archivist Tomás González found the Simancas manuscript of the Columbus letter on 12 September 1818 “when [González] was occupied in putting in order the documents returned from France” (48).1 Martín Fernández de Navarrete set the transcript into type in the first volume of his Colección de Viages, affirming that he had copied it from the original document,2 and he prints González’s certification of the document at its close: “Está copiado literalmente del documento original que obra en este Real Archivo de Simancas” (I 175).3 It is dated 28 December 1818. González’s handwritten transcript of the Simancas manuscript for Spain’s Royal Academy of History, reproduced in Sanz’s Secreto, is dated 20 January 1821. Alexander von Humboldt refers to the manuscript in the second volume of his geographical history (1837): “la lettre de l’amiral écrite en partie le 15 février de las islas Terceras, en partie du port de Lisbonne, le 4 mars 1493, à l’escribano de razon de los Sres. Reyes Catholicos (don Luis de Santangel), lettre conservée aux archives de Simancas” [the letter of the Admiral, written partly in the Azores (Islas Terceras) on the 15th of February and partly in the Port of Lisbon the 4th of March . . . the letter preserved in the Archives of Simancas].4 That the Letter has remained there and that González’s transcript of it and the original are accessible today suggests extraordinary archival care and good fortune.5 In 1827, Samuel Kettell made an English translation of the Santángel Letter based on Fernández de Navarrete’s transcript, and in the 1860s, Bergenroth provided an

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Manuscripts English-language summary of the Simancas text in his Calendar of late fifteenth-century documents pertaining to Spain and England. Bergenroth describes the document he saw in the Archive as “a letter written by Columbus from the Canarian Islands to a friend of his, when he, on his first expedition, was on return to Europe.”6 A contemporary of Bergenroth’s, British Museum librarian and geographer Richard Henry Major, noted (Select) that the Simancas manuscript contained a closing text lacking in the Latin versions: “At the end of the Simancas copy is the expression: ‘Esta carta envio Colon al Escribano de Racion de las islas halladas en las Indias e otra de sus altezas.’”7 This label appears on the Spanish quarto printing, with which Major was familiar by the time of his book’s second edition in 1870, and would be found on the Folio at its discovery nineteen years later. José Asensio, in an article published in 1891, soon after the discovery of the Folio, rationalizes the Simancas manuscript as one of many copies that circulated at the time, having served as fair copies for the Folio and Quarto impressions.8 In 1892, Clements R. Markham, a Columbus biographer, concluded that the Simancas manuscript must be “a careless copy” whose copyist wrote “Canarias” rather than “Sta. María” — or sa only — and the number 15 rather than 18 as the day in February when the Letter proper was completed (131). In the late 1920s, historian Cecil Jane asserted that the original of the document to which González’s notation refers “no longer exist[ed],” and Jane interpreted González’s catalogue notation to mean that González had transcribed a “very damaged” fifteenth-century document for the archives because the original was in a dilapidated condition.9 For that reason, Jane theorizes, Fernández de Navarrete published his transcription in 1825 from the copy González had made (FourVoyages cxxiv).While Jane’s surmise on Fernández de Navarrete’s transcript may be true, the fifteenth-century manuscript existed when González found and copied it, as its condition today attests. Another twenty-five years passed before Carlos Sanz (Secreto 1959) declared, in some accord with Asensio and Markham, that the Simancas manuscript was “no más que otra copia servil de la primera edición castellana en folio” [no more than another servile copy of the first edition Spanish folio] (245), but Sanz had the foresight to provide Tomás González’s manuscript transcription of the document with González’s certification immediately following the text as the final item of Secreto (509–517).10 The document is dated 20 January 1821. A little more than twenty-five years after Sanz published his theories on the Letter and the manuscript, Ramos (Primera 1986) attempted to quash Sanz’s conclusion that the Simancas manuscript was just another “servile copy” of the folio Letter by elevating the textual status of the Simancas manuscript based on his theory of its composition and aim. Asensio’s idea of several manuscript copies of the Letter, one of which is represented by the Simancas manuscript, along with Jane’s theories of courtly “editing” by Santángel, Columbus’s virtual illiteracy, and a royal impetus to print the document converge in Ramos’s theory that the Simancas manuscript is one of two nearly identical final copies of a letter devised by Fernando and Santángel from a letter of Columbus’s and produced in court by simultaneous dictation. Ramos asserts that the Simancas manuscript’s fellow went to the printer as the Folio’s fair copy and that the Simancas manuscript, the surviving twin, assumes precedence over the Folio and other printed editions.11

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Manuscripts The pervasive concurrence between the readings of the Simancas manuscript and the Folio suggest that the manuscript used as the printer’s copy for the Folio was a close relative to the Simancas manuscript, but certain distinctions noted here, in the variorum, and in chapter 7 indicate that the compositor’s copy was unlike the Simancas manuscript in important ways. The evidence further suggests that the Simancas manuscript was produced from a master document by one who was reading it for himself as he copied rather than taking down the text by dictation. Some of the orthographic (spelling) differences between the Simancas manuscript and the printed Folio may suggest dictation, but these may as well owe to an educated writer’s preferences at a period when formal spelling standards did not exist. The errors and omissions one finds in the Simancas manuscript are clearly the kind that arise in the process of document-to-document copying, in which the moving eye loses its place and falls amiss, picking up the expected word or phrase in a nearby line, an error known as an “eye-skip.”12 Carlos Sanz’s theory of the origin of the manuscript — that the Simancas manuscript is and was meant to be a “servile” copy of the Folio — may have been partly based on Sanz’s observations of visual-error variants and omissions. The Simancas scribe writes como de aquella, for example, and then writes como de a second time and strikes it out. Where the Folio reads pase A las indias, the manuscript reads pase las yndias, omitting A; where the Folio reads para fazer otras y grande amistad (2r.7–8), the manuscript reads para fazer y grande amystad (2r.107), omitting otras; where the Folio and Quarto agree on clxxxviii, the MS 1v.97 reads cxxx viii, omitting l; where the Folio and Quarto read mandaran cargar y, the MS 2r.137 reads mandaren y, omitting cargar; and where the Folio and Quarto read vna arro[u]a o dos, MS 1v.161 reads, una o dos, lacking arroua (arroba).13 Each of these omissions is likely the result of an eye-skip, and the manuscript presents at least several additional distinctions with the Folio, none of which is a result of taking a text by dictation. At MS 1r.9–10, for example, the scribe writes segui la costa, perhaps intentionally suppressing the redundant pronoun of segui io la costa (underscoring added). The manuscript’s corrective la ysla ysabella (1r.8) with ysla stricken through may be compared with the Folio’s la isla bella (1r.8).14 At MS 2v.154, the scribe writes que no solamente ala espana mas a todos; suppressing the word a preceding todos, he changes the syntax of the sentence, apparently getting the understanding as he is reading that cristianos (the following noun) does not work as a dative. Without a, cristianos might then be taken as the subject of the next verb (ternan) though the change is problematic.15 In the next line (2v.155), the scribe writes and strikes caravela and writes calauera immediately after, for the spelling used in the Folio (2v.5) and Quarto (4v.9).16 The Folio and Quarto’s tornandose is replaced at MS 2v.153 with ay[u]ntandose (prob. rdg), a distinction not based on auditory misunderstanding. The Simancas manuscript omits an entire line in the close of the Letter, yet the omitted line is found on the Folio and Quarto. No manuscript that duplicates the Simancas manuscript in these ways could have been used as the fair copy for the Folio.17 So why was this copy produced? The manuscript considered holistically reveals something about the writer’s practices, whether they were those of a professional court scribe or those of a courtier who was familiar with scribal protocols like


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Manuscripts abbreviatura and conventions of pointing a manuscript, and also suggests the nature of the initiative that prompted its copying. Like hand-written materials in later periods, those of the Middle Ages had a hierarchy. A man copying a document for his or another’s private use might relax his vigilance and produce a text with characteristics of the Simancas manuscript — its uneven lines, the inconsistent size of the script, numerous strikeouts and corrections, and ambiguous word formations — yet his retaining scribal abbreviatura and punctuation shows his customary use of them as a reader or writer. While more careful scribal work may show some similar features, their frequency through the Simancas manuscript strongly suggests pragmatic or personal ends for its copying. Its being folded twice beyond the vertical fold that marks off its writing areas supports that idea: someone folded the pages in half horizontally and then vertically to make the manuscript a convenient size for tucking away into a pocket or chest. These folds, according to rubbing and wear along both fold lines and the losses at their mid-page intersection and outer edges, make them good candidates for being closely contemporary with the production of the text. I doubt we can get nearer than that. They perhaps imply that the manuscript was never intended to be gathered up with others and bound in a codex, but that it was retained and put away as a personal keepsake, bumped around at the corners and opened and refolded often enough to produce some of the wear to the writing area that we see today, whatever the motive for its genesis. The (vertical) gutter fold, viewed between the inside “pages” (1v and 2r), goes beyond the expedient hand folding that reduced the size of the finished document. Viewed from the perspective of 2r, the fold shows a neat set of parallel crease lines, probably made along a rule, with the edge of the rule creating the “gutter.” Beyond the discoloration made by handling at the upper and lower extremes of the fold and the broadly distributed, spotty discoloration around it that suggests foxing, two shades of discoloration, a lighter, straight-line inner area and an irregular, darker area extending toward the writing surface at 2r and into it at 1v, become visible beginning at lines 2r.108–118 and 2r.123–139. Creating an exact fold around the edge of a rule probably reflects contemporary as well as later practice, and the straight-line area in a distinct shade may suggest a strip of sizing or a thin paste laid down along the fold.18

Varnhagen’s mysterious manuscript Commenting on Fernández de Navarrete’s edition of the Simancas manuscript, Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen,Viscount of Porto Seguro, Brazil, wrote that the Simancas manuscript was “not the original,” that there must have been another, “more correct” version of the Letter that preceded it (v–vi).Varnhagen was certain of all this because he had found just such a manuscript, he asserted, and he published his transcription of it at Valencia under the editorial pseudonym “Genaro H. de Volafan.”19 In the “Advertencia preliminar” [foreword] to his edition,Varnhagen/Volafan described the manuscript as being collated in the middle of a small quarto of manuscript leaves that bore the inscription “de D. Juan de Sanfelices” [belonging to don Juan de Sanfelices] on the first leaf (vi).20

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Manuscripts Having few references to the manuscript’s previous private ownership, bibliographers of the late nineteenth century treated the “Varnhagen–Sanfelices” manuscript, as I will refer to it here, as if it were a document virtually contemporary with the recently discovered Quarto and the newly discovered Folio. Varnhagen’s dating its hand at the “sixteenth century” (v) had apparently been persuasive. The editor of an 1892 Spanish edition of Columbus materials (Relaciones y cartas de Cristóbal Colón), one of the few to pick up the personal name, calls the manuscript “una copia antigua” that had passed from the hands of “D. Juan Sanfelices” [sic] to the Colegio Mayor de Cuenca at Salamanca (184).21 De Lollis assigns the Varnhagen–Sanfelices manuscript a place in his textual comparisons (li–liiii), and Michael Kerney, Justin Winsor, and Henry Harrisse all regarded it as a useful text of the Letter. Varnhagen (as Volafan) recognizes, in the foreword to his comparative edition, his Sanfelices manuscript and Leandro de Cosco’s Latin as “idénticos” and its Spanish (castellano) text “como el verdadero original de la epístola dirigida de Lisboa al tesorero de Aragon D. Gabriel Sanchez, que [fue] traducida al latin [sic] por Leandro de Cosco” [as the true original of the letter directed from Lisbon to the treasurer of Aragon . . . that was translated into Latin by Leandro de Cosco] (v–vi). Varnhagen eventually recanted these claims, and Michael Kerney, commenting in 1891 on that change of heart, laments Varnhagen’s distancing himself from his “Valencia MS” (11). Despite Varnhagen’s rejection, Kerney asserts that it is “the best text of the Columbus letter” (11), and his confidence apparently carried weight. In 1893, for example,Wilberforce Eames refers without disclaimers to the Varnhagen–Sanfelices manuscript as “[a]nother manuscript, in Spanish, addressed to Don Gabriel Sánchez,” and in the same year, Edward W. B. Nicholson, in his introduction to one of the Paris Latin quarto editions, adopts Kerney’s confidence, too, writing that the manuscript represented the “first edition in the original language” (3).22 In Quaritch’s 1893 Spanish Letter, Kerney continued to regard Varnhagen’s transcript as sufficiently worthy of confidence to supply readings for the Folio.23 By 1930, Cecil Jane’s references to the Varnhagen–Sanfelices manuscript show greater caution. In his Four Voyages, Jane offers the fresh insight that the manuscript could not have been a copy made from the original Letter as Varnhagen had thought (and had already discounted), and Jane surmises, based on Cesare De Lollis’s conclusion, that the Varnhagen–Sanfelices manuscript was probably in a hand later than was previously thought. Jane, ever skeptical but perhaps correct in this instance, stipulates that the manuscript was only ever known “through [Varnhagen’s] account” and had been lost at his writing (cxxv). I have found no evidence to contradict either claim. The identity of the owner and the dating of the manuscript, like its eventual fate and provenance, remain problematic. I suggest that it probably belonged to the Juan de Sanfelices who was active in Spain’s relations with “the Indies” in the seventeenth century — though my conjecture is based only on a confluence of circumstances and chronology that appear to be supported by the nature of the collation in which the Letter manuscript was found, by notices of Juan de Sanfelices in contemporary documents, and by later references to him at the period.24 Among the contents of the Varnhagen–Sanfelices collation, according to Jane, were “extracts from the Ceremonial


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Manuscripts del Consejo de las Indias” and “other documents relating to the New World” (cxxv). The collation appears to comport with the career of “D[on] Juan de Sanfelices” who is titled licenciado in a letter of 1640 written by Jesuit Sebastián González in Madrid to Jesuit Rafael Pereyra, who was then in Sevilla (Real Academia 467–468).25 Among the papers of Juan Palafox de Mendoza, Bishop of Puebla, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo describes a letter written to Palafox’s “old friend” Juan de Sanfelices, “councillor [sic] of the Indies” in 1645.26 A twentieth-century article in the weekly newspaper El Motín (1913) refers to “D. Juan de Sanfelices de Guevara, del Consejo Real de Castilla y Presidente de la Real Audiencia de la misma ciudad,” as having discovered and published Jesuit abuses in Sevilla in 1645.27 Álvarez de Toledo records that in 1645, Juan de Sanfelices and others on the Council of the Indies (the Real y Supremo Consejo de Indias) “had been replaced” (191).28 Braulio Vázquez of AGI has located a letter dated 12 January 1648 citing a disbursement to “Don Juan de Sanfelices Guevara del Consejo de Castilla.” José Miguel Gallardo translates a letter datelined 12 February 1674 from the “War Board” (Consejo) of the Indies to the queen and finds the name “Don Juan de Sanfelices” among those written “on the margin of the documents.”29 The noble Juan de Sanfelices, licenciado, member of the Council of the Indies, defender of private rights compromised by Jesuit misdeeds, and correspondent of the Bishop of Puebla in the 1640s remains a good candidate for the owner of the quarto volume that Varnhagen describes, and it is plausible to suppose his involvement in the governance of the West Indies would give such a man reason to possess a copy of Columbus’s Letter along with other documents related to the islands.30 Varnhagen evidently understood at some point that his manuscript was later than he had thought, and a seventeenth-century chronology for it, along with a view of the Spanish Quarto facsimile, helped to distance Varnhagen from his claims. Harrisse reports that Varnhagen eventually decided that the manuscript was “an amalgam, fabricated more than one hundred and twenty years after the event [i.e., after 1643], and made out of elements borrowed from a text akin to the Simancas copy, from de Cosco’s Latin translation and from Herrera.”31 Varnhagen writes that the “remaining errors” in his manuscript gave him pause in light of other matters, making him conclude that “that copy of ours” did not come from any original, but from the same defective — printed? — copy from which Simancas was made.32 Varnhagen discounts the value of the Simancas manuscript, then, too, assigning both to a single bad original from which Simancas derived the greater number of errors, though his manuscript had the advantage of clearing up some of them. “Tales son nuestras convicciones,” he concludes, observing that he is devaluing a personal holding, acquired legally and in good faith, for the sake of “un impulso mas [sic] noble,” namely, the love of truth (“Introduccion” [sic] xv). Still, with its hint of a don Juan de Sanfelices connection and its unique inclusion of the place name Teneryfe in an area of problematic text that is otherwise unresolved, this missing manuscript and its accompanying leaves have a small role in the story of the Spanish Letter.33

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Manuscripts Another mysterious find Shortly before the 500th anniversary of the first landfall, a libro copiador, a copybook, having Columbus interest was reported to have been located by an antiquarian dealer based in Tarragona, and by October 1988, Antonio Rumeu de Armas had completed his edition and critical study of the materials. The first item in the libro copiador is a letter to Fernando and Isabel, ostensibly the “lost” one that was enclosed with the Santángel Letter. Rumeu de Armas’s two-volume work giving the texts and his criticism of the libro copiador was published in 1989, but the quality of the editorial work was greeted with dismay by some critics, leading Juan Gil to edit the work anew for his and Consuelo Varela’s new edition of Textos y documentos completos in 1992.34 This writing no doubt contains some resonant and high-interest material, and it is tempting to accept it as presented. In considering the libro’s probable documentary value — particularly that of the ostensible letter to the sovereigns (No. 1) — as a part of the critical work on the Letter and in annotating its text, one must grapple with the essential nature of the libro copiador. A libro copiador begins its existence as a gathering of blank pages used by a young person for copying out assigned materials in the process of mastering the complete range of skills necessary to produce formal penmanship. In English usage, a “copybook” is understood more as a pupil’s “notebook” than as a “book” per se. By the nature of the exercises meant to be done in the copybook, the student performing them lacks experience and competence in penmanship, and in the work of copying, the writer is also a novice. In presenting the texts, Rumeu de Armas refers to the copybook exercises as “el manuscrito,” a term that applies to this compilation of tutorial exercises only in the literal sense of their being “written by hand,” a claim that one can make for a grocery list having no scholarly interest or merit. He refers to the exercises as “escrito colombino” [Columbian writing], which it is not in any critical sense, anymore than a nineteenth-century schoolboy’s copying Alice in Wonderland would be a “writing” of Lewis Carroll’s. Rumeu de Armas’s title and text name the set of exercises the “Libro copiador de Cristóbal Colón” [Christopher Columbus’s Copybook], and again, the slippage is obvious if not intentional. These rhetorical leaps amount to critical fallacies that work to validate the find without basis and to persuade the reader to adopt an unwarranted conclusion by dint of repetition. Such designations populate the work and are picked up whole, along with their implied assumptions of value and authenticity, by subsequent commentators.35 In spite of the attractive content of these copied texts, this misdirecting presentation of them by the person who knew more about them than anyone is off-putting. Rumeu de Armas asserts that the said copybook exercises are closely related to the “original texts” based on his approximate dating, but dating this hand requires, in my view, a long window of chronology with the potential to reach into the eighteenth century, where Spanish hands having similar characteristics are well-attested.36 Unfortunately, any effort to subject important data of date, place, writer, and context


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Manuscripts to minimally informed speculation based on geographical or personal provenance is forestalled because, as Rumeu de Armas affirms, the origins — recent and historical — of the notebook are cloaked in secrecy: “[I]t is difficult to clarify [the copybook’s] remote provenance” as its origins are “covered in mystery,” and “an unconfirmed rumor” whispers that it was first held in an unnamed library on the island of Mallorca (I 19, in translation) and that a book dealer of Tarragona, José del Río, owner of the shop “Catedral” (la Librería Anticuaria Catedral), was its most recent owner and knew nothing of its provenance that was worth sharing (I 20). Juan Gil’s essay and Gil and Varela’s informe on these papers validating paper and ink, recording the book dealer’s transaction, and noting some of the problems, along with Gil’s exacting transcriptions of the texts (Textos 76 ff.) merit further attention. Gil and Varela refer to these copies as “Tarragona” (Tarr.) and recognize their limitations and possibilities as comparative texts. A highly skeptical or conservative view of the authenticity, dating, and value of these texts remains warranted, and critics who denigrate the Diario or reject it entirely because it is an edited and summarized compilation might be expected to find a great deal less value in the copy book texts since their dating and nearness to Columbus’s hand, as well as the copyist’s identity, are unknown factors — and they are found in a libro copiador. If the copybook could be given an authentic historical provenance and dating, one might then tentatively affirm certain things about the copybook’s contents; for now, some unknown person, probably in early-to-mid-adolescence, was set to practice his or her handwriting and copying (?) skills on these leaves at some undetermined time, probably no earlier, based on the hand, than the last quarter of the sixteenth century and as late as the close of the eighteenth century, at some undetermined place, whether in Spain or Italy (suggested by the traits of the hand), using a cache of texts of unknown derivation and provenance.37 If the copybook is authentic, its writer’s primary aim may not have been to reproduce an exact text, but to practice penmanship by copying some text, and these might have been selected because of family connections or a history lesson – or perhaps the pupil was born on October 12th. On the other hand, should these leaves not be historical in nature but have been created as a forgery coming to light at the threshold of the 500th anniversary in the hope of financial gain, the project is admirably suited to the task: by its nature, its hand will not have to meet the standard of belonging to any known person, and its material will not be required to be associated with autograph copies nor with a particular family, private library, or period. Four texts in the libro copiador treat the second voyage, which has always been the lacuna of Columbian accounts of the voyages though Hernando records a log for the voyage.38 If I am not mistaken, only one text, the last in the collation, has been before published in any form, and that “end of the book” offering of a text with its only contemporary, extant correlative as a unique 1505 printing in Italian translation is — convenient.39 In the same vein, it is noteworthy that each of the voyages is represented and that the better known and attested contemporary documents are absent. Gifted and determined forgers specialize in the acquisition, preparation, and production of period materials, so authentic paper and ink are no certain proof of a document’s authenticity, as Gil (“Falsificaciones colombinas”) and others have pointed out. The libro copiador is eminently an ideal forgery project.40

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Manuscripts Transparent proofs must converge absolutely and become public in matters of text, history, and science before a document can be considered “authentic” in any sense that matters in the study of Columbian texts. One element out of place, and, like the Vinland Map or a fake Monet, the whole is rendered a forgery. Varnhagen’s efforts with his Sanfelices manuscript and De Lollis’s, in his careful and constant regard for Varnhagen’s manuscript in his Raccolta, are professional and personal investments that need not be repeated. It would be pretty to think the story might come out on the other end with a historically verifiable provenance of writer, place, time, and source texts because the libro copiador contains so much tantalizing and intriguing material that it is tempting to accept it as it is. Angelo Trevigiano’s assurance to Domenico Malipiero in August 1501 that Columbus has just promised to accommodate Trevigiano by allowing him to copy all the letters that Columbus had written to the king and queen on the subject of his voyages is a tale suggestive of the nature of such a provenance. The assertion of that promise implies that Columbus at that date claimed to possess copies of all those letters and that he was willing to allow them to be copied by certain people.41 The first term — Columbus’s possession of copies of his writing — is completely credible, and it is possible that he had caused multiple copies of those letters to be produced. One might suggest, then, that some such copies derived from copies that eventually track back to his autograph document might have been laid away in the early sixteenth century, and at some distant day, a cache of them was taken from a holding place in some great personal library to serve the tutor of a young descendant of some courtier or foreign diplomat of Columbus’s time as material for copybook exercises. To compare the libro copiador’s letter to the king and queen with the Folio, then, might be worth some trouble, though the problem remains of the derivative copy and the unknown scribes who intervened between the — quite possibly difficult — Columbus autograph or its copy, written in a “rounder” hand by Columbus’s order, and the supposed young writer of the pages of the libro copiador. By comparison with the discoveries of historians and scholars of texts in places and contexts that have some logical connection to the document in question and its writer, the copybook exercises have little to recommend them at present except the temptation of their tantalizing content and — possibly — a youthful cursive hand seen in the progress of development.42 If they are truth and not fiction, their discovery suggests that the documents from which they were copied — documents that then had to exist alongside them in time and space — may one day be found. Notes 1 Justin Winsor later gives Bergenroth credit for “discovering” the Simancas manuscript (“Notes” 47), and indeed he may have “rediscovered” it when many had forgotten it. Bergenroth’s first volume of his Calendar (Henry VII 1485–1509) was published in 1862, and he records in his “Introduction” that he was at work on the documents cited there for two years (cxxxvi). Bergenroth, then, came to the Simancas Archive around 1859–1860, many years after González (1780–1833) had transcribed the manuscript and Fernández de Navarrete had published his transcription of the text in 1825. See Bergenroth’s Calendar (48 No. 80, bracketed note). Bergenroth writes that González “superintended the arrangement of the State Papers after their restoration by France” following the defeat and abdication of Napoleon in 1814.


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Manuscripts William Cornwallis Cartwright, Bergenroth’s biographer, calls the removal by Napoleon’s order “the spoliation of the Archive” and records that when ordered “to restore their plunder,” the French Government “imperfectly fulfilled its obligation” leaving “certain pigeon-holes in the Archives of Simancas covered with a paper on which is written ‘Los Documientos [sic] estan [sic] in Paris,’” where monsieur “Teulet of the Archives of France . . . treats them with tender care,” holding the conviction that the papers would be more useful “if they [all] were in his keeping” (60). Neither González nor the archivists of Bergenroth’s time, however, “detected any loss [among Spain’s state papers] which could be attributed to . . . wanton spoliation” by French troops (Calendar ix). Such destruction would have been against the aims that Bergenroth ascribes to Napoleon of establishing a master archive of Europe’s historical papers at Paris (vii–ix). Though neither Bergenroth nor Cartwright credits the story that Spain’s state papers were wantonly destroyed by Napoleon’s troops, both record the tale of the documents’ imperfect restoration. Cartwright gives detail of the depositions on the incidents and the character of the witnesses (60–61). Also see the introduction to Benjamin Franklin Stevens’s 1893 edition of Columbus’s Book of Privileges for a further perspective on Napoleon’s effort to move Europe’s archives to Paris (xxv–xxxii). 2 See Fernández de Navarrete (167–175). Tomás González discovered, catalogued, and transcribed the manuscript ahead of Fernández de Navarrete’s publishing his edition of it. Ramos (Primera) asserts the Simancas manuscript to be in the hand of Santángel, based on an entry cited by Ramos as having been written by Tomás González and recorded, not on the sleeve of the present document nor as an attachment to it, but in the Inventario razonado de los papeles de Estado de la Negociación de España que se hallan en este Real Archivo de Simancas (1818): “Copia de mano de Luis de Santangel, escribano de ración de los Señores Reyes Católicos, de una carta que le escribió el Almirante Cristóbal Colón . . .” [copy in the hand of Santángel . . . a letter written to him by the Admiral Christopher Columbus.] (90). Margarita Zamora either repeats Ramos’s assertion or else gives her personal reading of the notation: “A manuscript copy in Santángel’s hand . . .” (5). I have been unable to locate any document definitively attributed to the hand of Santángel, however, and the Simancas Archive reports being aware of no document in Santángel’s hand among its holdings. Nowhere in Fernández de Navarrete’s printed edition of the Simancas manuscript or on González’s autograph transcript of the text (reproduced in Sanz) or on the original manuscript held at the Archive (given here in facsimile) is thereany assertion concerning in whose hand the Simancas text is written. Having the hand definitively identified by comparative methods would be significant. 3

Translation: (The foregoing) is copied literally from the original document housed in this Royal Archive of Simancas. The affidavit is dated 28 December 1818. The certification of González’s transcript of the Simancas manuscript in González’s hand given in facsimile by Sanz (Secreto), however, is dated 20 January 1821. 4

See Humboldt’s Examen critique (II 338).


William Cornwallis Cartwright, praising Bergenroth and the Simancas Archive, observes that “Private persons (and their names are as well known in [the Royal Archive of ] Simancas as in the Manuscript Department of the British Museum) have carried away some interesting letters. . . ” (59). Such an “interesting” letter as the Simancas manuscript and González’s transcript of it would have made attractive pickings for any serious manuscript thief over the past two-hundred years, yet it escaped being carried off during the years when it was most vulnerable. 6

See Bergenroth’s Calendar 15 Feb. 1493, No. 80 (43 ff.) and Cartwright’s “A Memorial Sketch” on Bergenroth’s difficulties in the Simancas Archive (esp. 98 ff.). See Cartwright for his excerpt of Bergenroth’s account of the Simancas manuscript (98). 7

The quotation comes from the 1870 revision of Major’s 1847 edition of Select (cxxv). On Major, see Lee’s entry in The Dictionary of National Biography.

8 Asensio writes, “[A]unque es muy importante, parece que debe tenerse por una de las muchas copias que en el mismo tiempo circularon, y que sirvieron de originales á los impresos antes mencionados [i.e., the Folio and Quarto]” (11). This sounds much like the statement De Lollis makes in the Raccolta (1892) (xl) theorizing the circulation of many manuscripts of the Letter. 9 Jane sets Gonzalez’s transcript in 1818, the year Bergenroth sets for its discovery, but González’s dating of the document is 1821. See Jane (cxxiv). 10

Sanz’s reproductions are provided as reduced facsimiles. See Bergenroth (43–48) and Sanz’s 1959

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Manuscripts Secreto (509–517). By “otra copia,” Sanz implies the Quarto as the first “copia servil” of the Folio (245). For Sanz’s theory on the genesis and use of the manuscript, see Secreto (246–248). 11

See Jane (lxxxvii; cxlii–cxliii). Asensio and Jane do not figure in Ramos’s work.

Ramos “facsimile” of the Simancas manuscript, while serviceable in some respects, is not the same as that attested by the Archive to be the manuscript. The Ramos reproduction appears to be a tracing and at best may be the product of González’s initial step in reading the original for his transcript or his effort to preserve the text in a traced facsimile. 12 Dictation errors and omissions result from an individual’s ear-to-paper misinterpretation of the spoken word, from a misunderstanding of the speaker, from inattention, or from the scribe’s recasting approximations of what he has heard without trying to clarify. Should the speaker be reading from a text rather than dictating original material, the speaker could produce an eye-skip, and either the speaker or the scribe would be likely to catch it unless both were distracted. 13

A consideration in Sanz’s theory of the Simancas manuscript is that this passage in Andrés Bernáldez’s Memorias, both in manuscript (reproduced in Sanz Secreto 462, in the final lines on the page) and in Bernáldez’s printed chronicle (1 273) include arroba. Other interesting distinctions exist between Bernáldez’s manuscript pages (as reproduced in Sanz) and the Simancas manuscript around this phrase. Differences exist elsewhere between Bernáldez’s manuscript pages (as reproduced in Sanz) and the printed chronicle, and many others exist between Bernáldez’s texts and the Folio and Simancas manuscript. These latter distinctions are usually in the form of enlarged detail and are probably explained by the time Bernáldez spent with Columbus and his access to Columbus’s papers (Sanz 246). For Sanz’s ideas about the Simancas manuscript’s production and use, see his Secreto (esp. 247–248 and 450). 14

These matching line numbers are, coincidentally, correct.


See Folio 2v.3–4 for this sentence. The scribe does not return to the end of the previous line to repair the sense of the foregoing part of the sentence that then becomes problematic.

16 This striking out and rewriting may suggest a landsman correcting caravela, the word he anticipated, for the one he read, calauera. The “correction” produces metathesis of the laterals, /l/ and /r/. 17 A second manuscript taken down by a copyist working alone, using as a copy text the same one used to create the Simancas manuscript, would be likely to have its own set of distinctions from both the Folio and the Simancas manuscript. 18

The material may have been applied at some point to strengthen the joint. These signs may suggest to some observers that the folded sheet was placed into a collation, but there are no prickings to indicate binding into a codex and no clear area of glue. Between 1v.66–69 are what appear to be, with extreme magnification, vestiges of writing that I believe have not been previously noted. 19

See Varnhagen/Volafan’s edition (1858) of his Sanfelices manuscript reproduced in Sanz (Secreto 485 ff.). Varnhagen had previously published an essay on Brazil under the pseudonym “amante do Brasil” (Schwartz 187), and he published another edition of Columbus material in 1869 under a pseudonym. Varnhagen was engaged in diplomatic service in Brazil and in various countries of Spanish America and was at work on several historical projects between 1854 and 1859, the period during which he presumably found the manuscript codex that he later disclaimed. If anyone other than Varnhagen saw and described the manuscript, I have not found that record though Henry Harrisse (because of the time period, his location, and his later comments about the manuscript) may have seen it. Kerney also showed confidence in it. The manuscript appears now to be lost, perhaps destroyed. 20

Varnhagen writes that the words “de D. Juan de Sanfelices” appear [E]n el primer pliego [on the first leaf] (vi). The manuscript is known as the “Valencia” manuscript in some sources, implying that Valencia was the geography of its discovery, as Jane specifies. Its transcript was published at Valencia.


Some notes in the 1892 Relaciones y cartas de Cristóbal Colón are cited as “—Navarrete” ([sic], without further reference). Fernández de Navarrete (d. 1844) is not the immediate author of the notes for this publication, but they come from his Colección de los viages (1825 167 ff.). 22 Eames writes that the manuscript, “in Spanish, addressed to Don Gabriel Sanchez [sic], was discovered by Varnhagen in the Colegio Mayor at Cuenca” (“Introduction” xiii). While Varnhagen’s historical work and opinions on Brazilian history had their critics, confidence in him seems well-


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Manuscripts placed; he enjoyed connections with men such as Alexander Von Humboldt and was known for exhaustive investigations in Peninsular archives and libraries. To Varnhagen’s researches, for example, we owe discoveries in Peninsular chivalric literature with its redactions and reworkings of the matière de Bretagne (Da Litteratura dos Livros de Cavallarias. Vienna, 1872), and he was known as “the father of modern Brazilian historical scholarship” (Schwartz 185). See Stuart B. Schwartz’s study of Varnhagen. 23 See Kerney’s references (x, 13 n. 5). Sanz reproduces the Varnhagen/Volafan tract (Secreto 483– 493). 24

“Fray Juan de Sanfelices, de Zalamea, escritor,” is given by Nicolás Diaz y Perez [sic] in his chronological listing of “los mas [sic] célebres escritores extremeños” among eighteenth-century writers (240), a gentleman who seems less likely to be the book’s owner. 25 Licenciado is a professional title conferred upon completion of requirements for a profession such as the law. Marvin Lunenfeld, in his discussion of titles designating signatories in certain Royal Council correspondence of the period, finds the title licenciado accompanying the names of “legally trained officials” beginning in the early 1490s (77). Sevilla is the location of the Casa de Contratación, from which the crown exercised control over New World commerce and enterprises and over which the Real y Supremo Consejo de Indias had authority; papers of the Consejo reside in the Archivo General de Indias (AGI) in Sevilla. Braulio Vázquez of AGI reports that Juan de Sanfelices is represented in the documents there as “regente de la Audiencia de los Grados en Sevilla, como presidente de la Casa de la Contratación y como miembro del Consejo de Castilla, en la primera mitad del siglo XVII” (personal email correspondence 28 January 2013). 26

See Álvarez de Toledo (147); she cites the document as AI (Archivo de Indias) 34, f. 25v.


See “Fray Gerundio” in Works Cited (El Motín 5c–6b).


Álvarez de Toledo cites Ernst Schäfer’s Consejo Real as her source (I 358–361).


See Gallardo’s series of articles published in the 1930s on Charles Town (Charlestown) and Spanish interests (59–64 and n. 22). The date of this letter is some thirty years after Juan de Sanfelices was supposed to have been removed from the Council according to Schäfer’s record. Neither of the two articles that continue Gallardo’s study of relevant correspondence at the period refers to Juan de Sanfelices. Names written in the margin do not ensure that those named are contemporary with the document or even that the men named are still living at the date of the document. 30 Certain disconnects appear in the document record, however. In his nineteenth-century account of the mid-seventeenth-century uprising against the Spanish in Naples, Ángel de Saavedra, Duque de Rivas, recalls the violent death of an elderly Spaniard called “don” Juan de Sanfelices, “este buen anciano” [this good old man], in 1647. See Ángel de Saavedra’s history of the uprising (240–281, esp. 240; 280–281), where he describes Juan de Sanfelices pleading for his life but being stoned and beaten before being beheaded and having his remains dragged through the streets. Braulio Vázquez’s careful research into this question revealed the disconnect in the dates (personal email 28 January 2013). The Duke’s narrative and the documents located by Vázquez and Gallardo either cloud the issue of when Juan de Sanfelices died or refer to two prominent men bearing the same name, perhaps closely related, living during overlapping years at the period. I came very late unfortunately to Varnhagen’s statement that he felt his manuscript might have belonged to “some counsellor of the Indies” at the end of the sixteenth or the beginning of the seventeenth century. See the following note. 31 Harrisse (“Early” 121) translates and quotes Varnhagen’s introductory remarks to his Carta de Cristobal Colón of 1869. 32

In his “Introduccion” [sic] to his variorum edition of the Letter in 1869,Varnhagen/Volafan writes: “[N]os hacen creer que ella [‘esa nuestra copia’] no precedió de ningun original, sino antes de la misma mala copia procedente del impreso, de la cual se sacaria tambien la de Simancas, aumentandose en esta los errores, y mejorándose aquella por la crítica” (XIV–XV [sic]). Varnhagen published an edition in a few copies in 1869, in which he refers to his discounting the authenticity of his manuscript. See Sanz (Secreto 481). 33

See Varnhagen/Volafan’s edition (6) for the Teneryfe passage. See Folio 1r.26–27 for the corresponding passage.


The abbreviation “Tarr.” in Gil and Varela’s Textos y documentos completos (newer edition) refers to

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Manuscripts the “Tarragona” location of the libro copiador at the time that it was purchased by the Spanish Ministry and became a holding of AGI. The late Juan Adolfo Vázquez’s review of De Armas’s book (along with three other titles) provides a helpful summary of each of the nine letters contained in the libro copiador (Vázquez 271–273). 35 See, for example, the “Introduction” and notes in Zamora’s Reading Columbus where she writes that the “Carta a los Reyes” or “4 March letter” (of the libro copiador) “was probably [the] common matrix” of all the editions of the Letter and of the Simancas manuscript (5 and note, n. 5 in the endnote reference, but corresponding with n. 4 [200–201]). Zamora refers to the copybook’s “Carta a los Reyes” as “lost or suppressed for half a millennium” and writes that it “was only known to have existed at all because it was mentioned in a postscript to the 15 February version” (6), i.e., in the Spanish versions of the Letter. 36

Rumeu de Armas writes, “La fecha aproximada del escrito colombino nos permite colegir el parentesco próximo con los textos originales, de los que pudiera considerarse segunda or tercera copia” [The approximate dating of the Columbian writing permits us to set their close relationship to the original texts, among those that might be considered the second- or third-hand copy] (20). For now, pace. 37

These texts probably reflect originals at a remove of three or four copies in the best case and quite possibly more. For example, should Columbus have caused copies to be made of his papers (as he did), he might have given a set of copies to be copied by a member of the court who requested them for some state or personal reason, and those copies might then have been reproduced twice or more to achieve clean copies for sending to a higher-ranking person, and so on up the line. From Columbus’s diligence in having documents (the Book of Privileges) copied and stored in various safe places before the fourth voyage, one can hardly doubt that Columbus took care to have important papers copied professionally, a habit that Varela substantiates and explains (Textos 81). Columbus also writes of copying and recasting important papers in surviving autograph Letters. In Thacher VIIII / Varela LIV, for example, Columbus thanks Padre Gaspar Gorricio for preparing a document on Columbus’s behalf that will then be suitable to show to the sovereigns (la qual viene proprio fixada para tan altos prinçipes) and asks that it be executed in “a more legible (mas redonda) hand that as a gentleman (señor) you know well how to do” (os la tornar a enbiar para que se escriua en letra mas redonda como señor la sabeys bien hazer). Varela’s transcript sets señor as a nominative of address with a slightly different result (449). A second autograph letter to Padre Gorricio (Varela LVI / Thacher X) refers to Columbus’s need for a certified, durable copy of a document concerning his rights and titles: Mucho he menester un traslado abtorizado de escriuano publico de una provision . . . y queria que fuese en pergamino [I greatly need a copy authorized by a public scribe (notary public) of a provision . . . and was hoping that it might be done on parchment] (Varela 450–451). Thacher reports that the copy, given by Fernández de Navarrete (II 221), was produced within four days (Thacher III 159). Autographs are numbered in Thacher (volume III), where a facsimile of the autograph is given prior to its transcription and translation into English, and in Varela’s Textos, where she provides notes with her transcripts. The systems are naturally distinct between Varela and Thacher. The numbering of texts in the earlier edition of Varela was updated to include the “Tarragona” texts (libro copiador), and the numbering given here reflects that of the later edition and its reprint.


For firsthand accounts of the second voyage, see chapter 12, note 19.


The item known as the Lettera Rarissima is represented by this text, No. 9 in the libro copiador. It is contained in a manuscript dated in the second half of the eighteenth century (Madrid) and in a unique printing of 1505, the translation and its printing taking precedence over the manuscript. Fernández de Navarrete gives it (I 445–460), as do DeLollis (I Pt. 2, 175–205); Jane (II 72–111); Morison (Journals 371–385); and Varela (Documentos No. LXXIV, 485–503), collating it with the text of the libro copiador (Tarr.) edited by Gil. The letter is datelined Jamaica, 1503 and is directed to the sovereigns concerning the fourth voyage. It was edited and published in 1810 (Morelli) in a text available online at courtesy of Brandeis University. 40

See Gil’s essay in Textos (70 ff.). The Vinland Map forgery mentioned in chapter 1 took in respected twentieth-century academics and experts;Thomas Chatterton’s medieval verse manuscript forgeries in the eighteenth century convinced scholars and antiquaries of his day; and Vittorio Villa’s forged quarto apparently took in a few antiquarians in the nineteenth century. More recently, Mark Hofmann, a master forger of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century documents and nineteenth-century Latter-Day Saints materials, also fooled many experts, and Thomas McNamara had considerable


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Manuscripts success forging autograph poems by twentieth-century U.S. poets. The Mark Hofmann Case Collection compiled and catalogued under the direction of David J. Whittaker at Brigham Young University contains documents and provides chronology showing that New York autograph dealer Charles Hamilton both purchased materials directly from Hofmann and certified one of Hofmann’s forgeries. See Kirsten A. Seaver’s Maps, Myths, and Men on the Vinland forgery; Joe Nickell’s Detecting Forgery; Hamilton’s Great Forgers; and Whittaker’s Register of Hofmann-related documents as MSS 1571. Juan Gil describes known Columbus autograph forgeries (70–71). A sketch of the coasts and islands around Hispaniola that was purchased by the House of Alba (described in Thacher I 477 n. 1 and shown in III 89) is now generally considered a forgery. Gregory C. McIntosh describes the “Alba sketch-map” as being “of questionable authorship” (88) and elsewhere notes that it is “[p]robably a forgery of 1892” (Spanish-made), and Fernández-Armesto laments that images of the map continue to appear as illustrations “in sublime indifference to the fact that [the map] was forged” (Amerigo 95). See Gil’s exposition in “Falsificaciones colombinas” regarding the map forgery (Textos 71–72). 41 The text of the Trevigiano (Trivigiano) letter is given as a transcript in Italian and in an English translation by Thacher, who describes the provenance of the letter (II 440–444). Thacher identifies Trevigiano as “Secretary of Domenico Pisani, Ambassador from the Republic of Venice to the Spanish court” (441), and Harrisse describes Trevigiano as “Chancellor [an administrator or “secretary” in the political sense] to the Venetian Embassy and, of course, a frequenter to the [Spanish] Court” (BAV I 75). Trevigiano knew the Italian courtier Peter Martyr and was on terms of friendship, he says, with his countryman Columbus. Trevigiano is credited with publishing the first Decade prematurely, according to Harrisse, quoting Brunet quoting Morelli, and citing additional probative circumstances (BAV 75). Columbus’s determined production of the documents contained in his Privilegios in multiple copies and his circumspect distribution of them to multiple locations on a short timeline before the fourth voyage strongly attests to his care in preserving important documents. I cite Brunet (5th edition) as the most likely to have been used by Harrisse and others in the late nineteenth century. 42

To take another case, Tomás González’s locating the Simancas manuscript of the Letter in crates of royal documents returned to the Archivo Real from France is entirely logical; the hand is undoubtedly contemporary with the Letter and the damage and markings are consistent. Fernández de Navarrete’s discovery of Bartolomé de las Casas’s transcript of Columbus’s shipboard Diario from the first voyage in the library of the Duque del Infantado is entirely plausible in terms of its lengthy possession by a noble family and its preservation in that family’s library. Fernández de Navarrete, like González, provides a formal certification of the document on his transcript, validated by himself and Juan Bautista Muñoz, and stipulates that he located it in the “archivo” of the Duque del Infantado as a “tomito de á folio, forrado en pergamino, con 76 fojas útiles de letra menuda y metida” [small volume in folio covered in parchment (vellum) with 76 leaves of writing in a small, deliberate hand] along with another “old” copy that he judged to be somewhat later than the first, also in folio, with the same kind of covering and 140 leaves. See Fernández de Navarrete’s Viages (I 166). On the owners of the library where the Diario text was found, see Juan Miguel Soler Saucedo’s Nobleza española for “Infantado,” from which come subsequent citations (241–262). The Duque del Infantado at the period of Fernández de Navarrete’s discovery appears to have been Pedro de Alcántara Álvarez de Toledo Salm-Salm de Silva y Salm (255), who became the thirteenth Duque del Infantado in 1790 at the death of his father (254), and who held the title until his death in 1841 (255). The title, established by Fernando and Isabel, was first conferred on Diego Hurtado de Mendoza y Figueroa, and at the time of the first voyage, Iñigo López de Mendoza y Luna was the second duke, suggesting a plausible chain of possession back to the court and to powerful personalities at the period of its creation. De Lollis labels his text of the Diario as originally held in the library of the “Duca d’Ossuna” (1). The fourteenth Duque del Infantado, Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y BeaufortSpontin, who apparently died without legitimate issue, was the eleventh Duque de Osuna (256, 450), and the titles appear to have been united at De Lollis’s writing. Even Varnhagen’s Sanfelices quarto collation whose first leaf was described as attesting the names of two of its owners, Juan de Sanfelices and the Colegio Mayor de Cuenca, suggests a provenance that would bear renewed investigation if the collation could be found.

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7 Reading the variorum

The physical evidence of the Folio impression speaks to practices in early print period culture and presents interesting problems in bibliography.1 The men who created the fifteenth-century texts of Columbus’s Letter gave no particular value to consistent punctuation or spelling or to the placement of capital letters (initials, upper-case letters). They might write or set as one word what today are two or more words; or words might be set down in a casual and convenient form of scriptio continua, without space between; or what today is considered one word might be given as separate (or separate-looking) words — and the items may appear inconsistently from instance to instance. For example, the Folio compositor tends to set what are now considered separate words as one: in ala (1r.8); enla and dela (1r.11); and deno (1r.16), for example. In other instances, his setting without word boundaries observed by spacing might have the practical rationale of fitting characters into the line, as in sabersihauia (1r.17) and pierdenlafoia (1r.28).2 The Folio and Quarto compositors’ results suggest that some word boundaries were a moveable feast: where the Folio reads andadolos (1r.7), the Quarto reads andado los (1r.11); where the Folio compositor sets marauillosamente (1r.7) and solamente (2r.11, 33), the Quarto’s compositor sets marauillosa mente (1r.10) and sola mente (3v.7; 4r.11–12); where the Folio compositor sets pidiendogela (1v.6), the Quarto’s compositor sets pidiendo gela (2r.20).3 Reading the text aloud, especially where a puzzling setting appears, will help to make sense of the words. These and other kinds of orthographic variants may bear on ideas of a manuscript’s author or scribe or on a compositor’s identity in a printed piece. Though the edition’s notes intend to be silent on purely orthographic variants among the Spanish texts, some of these variants suggest insights that will be useful in further research, and a familiarity with them will facilitate a smoother reading of what may appear to be quirky texts. Certain variations are fairly regular in these texts while others appear to be less predictable: •

The ç (read: “ce cedilla”) appears in the manuscript in words such as abundançia

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Reading the Variorum

• •

(1v.65), çeuiles (1v.56), çibdades (1r.17), çielo (1r.28), çiento (1r.22), coraçones (1v.54), oçidente (1v.90), fuerça (2r.105) and fuerças (1v.67), nasçe (1v.93), and preçio (1v.54). The Quarto gives ç in examples like pareçen (1v.12), coraçones (2r.21), fuerça (3r.30) and fuerças (2v.8), ganança (3r.29), pedaços (2r.25), and xalçalamiento (4v.5),4 but no ç type is used in the Folio.5 The manuscript gives initial rr- in words such as rruysennor (1r.30), rremedio (MS 1r.51), rrotos (1v.61), and rremo (1v.81). The Folio gives rr- only twice.6 The following words written with y (indicating the vowel /i/) in the Simancas manuscript, in the Folio are spelled with i: avreys (MS 1r.1), ylustrisimos (1r.3), posesyon (1r.4), asy (1r.23, etc.), camyno (1v.91), guynea (2r.117), myll (1r.27, 1v.63, 2r.141). The manuscript generally gives y: mynas (2r.102), ponyente (1v.92), poquyta (2r.136), syerras (1r.26), syn (1r.4, etc.), venyt (1v.78), yndias (1r.2, etc.), ynglaterra (1v.91), and ysla[s] (1r.21, 1r.4, 1r.8). The Folio’s -i- (for the vowel) may be -y- in the Quarto, both representing the vowel, as in sin (Folio) and syn (Quarto). All three texts, however, produce yslas in the closing paragraph of the Letter proper.7 The manuscript may have a different resolution from that of the Folio in cases of b/v/u vacillation, as in veuer (MS 1v.80), where the Folio (1v.30) and Quarto (2v.27) give beuer (Mod. Sp. beber). The Simancas scribe’s convenyble (2r.102) is rendered conuenible in the Folio (2r.2) and Quarto (3r.26).8 The Folio reads uende (2r.37) and the Quarto vende (4r.17); the Folio’s uandera (1r.5) is vandera in the Quarto (1r.8) and MS (1r.5); but the Folio (2r.26), manuscript (2r.127), and Quarto (3v.31) all record vsan. The word viage in the Folio (Mod. Sp. viaje) is vyaie in the manuscript (2r.136, for example), with the Folio’s g (viage) and vyaie’s consonantal i both calling for phonology that approximates the voiced, second sound in English azure and the initial sound of the second syllable of English vision. In the Folio, i of maior (1v.40) heads the second syllable as a consonant with the same sound. Where the Folio (2r.13) reads trabaxan, with the x suggesting unvoiced pronunciation. Simancas (MS 2r.114) — and the Quarto (3v.12) — give trabaian, using i to represent the consonant. At Folio 1v.1, -ii- of hiio has orthographic and phonological interest in that the first is a vowel, and the second represents a consonant.9

Additional spelling distinctions involving consonants may indicate phonological uncertainty or difference. The manuscript gives plaser (1r.1) and dezir (1v.91) while the Folio and Quarto give plazer (1r.1 in both) and the Folio gives desir (1v.40) but the Quarto gives dezir (3r.23). The Folio (2r.41, 42) and Quarto (4r.24–25) give ficiera and razon where the manuscript gives fiziera and razon (both at 2v.144).10 Both the Folio and the manuscript give fazen, azero, and vezes (1r.43 and 1r.46 in both texts). The Folio reads segun (1v.39) where the manuscript reads segund (1v.91, 94; 2v.154), and the Folio has ningun (2r.32, 40) where the manuscript has ningund (2r.133, 142). The Quarto gives mill (1v.10, 4v.9) for the Folio’s mil (1r.27, 2v.5), and where the Folio has vitoria (1r.1), the Quarto (1r.2) reads victoria, restoring the Latinate consonant cluster.

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Reading the Variorum Another set of orthographic variants reflecting consonant variation or vacillation is what is known as f/h/ø (efe, hache o nada). The texts reflect the orthographic freedom — and probably the oral/aural uncertainty — of the period and perhaps the absence of hierarchical value placed on certain choices; nevertheless, there is some tendency toward the suppression of /h-/ in the manuscript writer’s approach.11 Where the Folio gives h- in words such as haura (2r.4), horas (2r.5–6), and harto (2r.42), the Simancas manuscript gives abra (2r.103), oras (2r.105), and arto (2v.144); oras may be considered a hypercorrection, suppressing h- even though the Latin hora has it. Where the Folio gives haunque and hoffender (both, 2r.9), along with hun and huna (both, 1v.33), perhaps indicating a speaker who occasionally places an exhalation (a breath, a “rough breathing”) at the opening of certain words beginning with vowels, the Simancas scribe writes aun que (2r.108–109), ofender (2r.109), and vna (frequently), respectively.12 The Folio, Quarto, and the manuscript concur, however, in giving he (F. 2r.6; Q. 3r.31; and MS 2r.105, for example) and he fallado (F. 1r.41; Q.1v.32– 2r.1; MS 1r.40), along with fecho (F. 2r.6; Q. 3r.32 ; MS 2r.106).13 The Quarto, too, shows the tendency to suppress the Folio’s h- (ø), but it may become f- in the Quarto. Some of the previous examples will illustrate: the Folio’s hun and huna (1v.33) are vn and vna at Quarto 2v.31; the Folio’s haunque and hoffender (2r.9) are avn que and offender, respectively, in the Quarto (3v.4, 5); and where the Folio gives haura (2r.4), the Quarto produces aura (3r.28). An instance of hecho in the Folio (1v.2) is given as fecho in the Quarto (2r.13). Their compositors concur, however, in giving hallado (Folio 2v.10–11; Quarto: 4v.17), fasta (Folio 1r.16, 20; Quarto 1r.25, 32), and fuyan (Folio 1v.1; Quarto 2r.12), and in recording alike fecho and fecha (Folio 2r.5, 6, 33; 2v.4, 5; Quarto 3r.30, 32; 4r.12; 4v.8 [fecho and fecha], 14, and 22). While these orthographic comparisons are not exhaustive, and other researchers may find more meaningful patterns with close study, they serve to raise the reader’s consciousness about the nature of certain kinds of variants and to indicate some of the more obvious distinctions and likenesses between and among texts that have been presented as “servile” copies of one another. They also indicate how “copying” may affect a text.

Reading the Folio: Extending abbreviations Word abbreviations in the Folio, Quarto, and Simancas manuscript are of two kinds. Some are word suspensions, where the word is shortened by the omission of final letters that are signaled by a graph (in the sense of a “visual symbol”). Others are word compressions where one or more internal letters are suppressed and signaled by a graph.14 Extensions of word suspensions and compressions in this chapter and in the edition are shown in italics except where the word is already given in italics as a part of a quotation, and in these instances, underscoring indicates the extension. Among the devices signaling extensions in the Folio is the signaling que (1r.3, for example) and in ñro signaling nuestro.15 A stylized, biting abbreviatura based on scribal styles for Latin quem [which] signals qual and quales (1r.2, 1r.12).16


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Reading the Variorum

1r.3 que

1r.2 qual

1r.12 quales

An omitted nasal consonant, m or n, as in ombre or onbre (both for Mod. Sp., hombre), may be indicated with the bar or tilde over the preceding letter in words such as cõ = con, dõde = donde, señor = sennor, and the examples shown below.17 1r.41 hombres

1r.38 traen oro en

1r.13 pensando

The tilde set over c (shown in creh- from 1r.37) and p with a horizontal bar through the descender may indicate additional extensions (such as er, re, ar, ro) in the Folio, leaving the reader to determine the correct one by context, as in the examples below.18 At Folio 1r.2, por is set using this method, but the compositor has set –or with it, and he repeats this setting with por at 1v.44.

1r.2 por

1r.37 creh-

1r.36 paracriar (para criar)

1r.47 para

1v.6 la persona

1v.20 perdido

The compositor avails himself of several shortcuts in setting comprehender que (1r.29), shown below. 1r.29 comprehender que

Types from the lower case Critical scrutiny of certain lower-case types used to set the Folio contributes another layer of understanding to the study of the Letter’s history and to an informed reading of the printed text. The apparent mixing of fonts, or “sorts,” in the Folio represents what was probably a universal printing practice at the time,19 but as mentioned in chapter 2, damage and conditions of printing can produce distinctions among impressions of types from the same font.20 Among the lower-case types, the rotunda d, sometimes called “round” or “uncial” and set in type approximately as ∂, offers a productive context for close observation

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Reading the Variorum of types and for reading practice. This type, mentioned in chapter 3 for its variations in the Folio, has a rounded or oval bow with lines connecting at angles around the perimeter. The examples below suggest at least three designs of ∂. At 1r.4, straightline segments on either side of the base meet, standing the letter on point at the baseline, an element that is especially clear in the first example but somewhat obscured in the second. The feathered impression at 1r.1 may cloud that feature, but the letter seems to be essentially round in the bow and thicker around the perimeter than the previous examples. At 1v.1, ∂ in padre has a tiny ascender flourish similar to that in grand at 1r.1, but padre’s example is different in other respects: the thin, barely curved ascender attaches to a bold, curvilinear head stroke that quickly turns downward, becoming narrow and flat, reaches its thinnest point, and angles into a straight-line segment whose point touches the baseline and turns up as a single, broad curvilinear segment that stops just short of the cusp, leaving a slight opening where a hairline-thin ligature may be visible. This latter trait appears in the ∂ of delo (1v.5), too, but the two designs are otherwise distinct. The hairline and opening are the kinds of features that ink and paper interactions, damage, or debris might obscure.21 The ∂ of segunda (1r.7) may be a damaged and more worn fellow of the example that begins dellas (1r.4).

1r.1 ∂ (grand)

1r.2 dado

1r.4 dellas todas

1r.5 –dida

1v.1 aguardar

1r.7 segunda

1v.1 padre

1v.5 delo

The impressions of “straight” or “upright” d in the Folio have typographical interest as well. The suffix –dida (1r.5, above) shows d with its right finial thorn apparently worn or chipped away, as is that of d in dias (1r.2, shown below with other examples). At 1r.19, the ascender of d in indios shows a forked (textura) finial with distinct thorns and an angled foot stroke, the latter like those of the upright d of –dida and dias. The upright d of delos at 1v.14 (below) is akin to other examples in its thorn, but the type makes a slightly narrower impression around the bow, and its foot looks filled and flat, possibly rounded. Examples from 1v.36 (dela) and 1v.32 (dediez) cloud the matter of difference further. Those of dediez appear to have more open bows (white space,


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Reading the Variorum counters) than do other examples, but the imprints of both ascenders suggest that they are — or were — like those in other examples, perhaps with more damage, and the feet are indeterminate, either damaged or so designed. Apparent hairlines at the lower cusp between the bow and ascender suggest differences between the examples of dediez and others shown here. Two styles of d, with the second represented in dediez, may be represented in the Folio, or all these may come from the same font. Also note in these examples that some impressions of i show a serif (í) while others do not, probably indicating distinct fonts or loss of the serif.

1r.2 dias

1v.14 delos

1r.19 indios

1v.36 dela

1v.32 dediez

In addition to its two styles of d, upright and rotunda, the Folio gives two styles of r and two of s, all common in gothic fonts of the period and all derived from manuscript culture. The round-s (rotunda, curly-s) and upright-r are those of today’s printed materials, but the long-s and rotunda-r may be new to readers unfamiliar with older printings. The element distinguishing f from long-s, is the smooth ascender of long-s. LongS is smooth or has a slight bump on the upper left (back) side while f has the customary horizontal bar through the ascender, as the examples in falle asi (1r.11) and fasta (1r.16) show.

1r.11 falle asi

fasta (1r.16)

Both long-s and round-r appear in sabersi (1r.17), and a slightly different long-s appears in asi at 1r.23 compared with that of falle asi at 1r.11. The flattened base and hairline curve toward the terminal of the first long-s in sabersi and that of asi (1r.23) differentiate them from the second example in sabersi.

1r.17 saber si

1r.23 asi

The first example in sabersi and the sole example in asi (1r.23), then, are from different fonts. Compare the higher-angled, shorter upper section of long-s in asi (1r.23) and the thickness and shape of the straight-line section of its ascender with those features in the first long-s of sabersi. The long-s types in sant saluador (1r.6), shown below, are distinct, and the second example comes from a slightly larger font.

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Reading the Variorum

sant saluador 1r.6

The rounded foot of the example in sant is more like that of the second example in sabersi (above). The quality of the imprint of the upper curve in the long-s of sant and its rounded upper terminal may be due to wear, so the second example in sabersi and that of sant may come from the same font. The rotunda r in saluador and sabersi (above) bears notice because in saluador, it is set as it should be, but in sabersi, r has been turned; the turning does not disrupt the line of type vertically, however, because the grapheme sits at the center of the body.22 Additional examples of round-r appear at 1r.1 (below), and they may come from the same font.

por 1r.1

nuestro sennor 1r.1

Both long-s and rotunda-r have the advantage of being economical graphemes, compressing writing space in print as they do in pen and ink. The foregoing examples present several o types with differences and matches among them. The o types of nuestro sennor (above), for example, represent one — perhaps two — of at least three different o types in the Folio. Below, compare the tiny, oval o with a decorative center at 1v.1 (in los) with that at 2r.27, where o has a slightly different shape and embellishment. They are suggestive of one another, and their seeming distinctions are probably unsubstantial. A third, larger o with a decorative center appears in enotrotermino (1r.30) with two other sorts of o, and its middle example may be a turned and soiled version of that seen in ferozes at 2r.27. At 1v.3, como has two sizes of o that reappear nearby in 1v.5, in the words no, lo, sino, and quelo. Like examples of round d (∂), the o type stands on point.

1v.1 (los)

1r.30 enotrotermino

2r.27 (ferozes)23


1v.3 como

no lo




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Reading the Variorum While Spanish no longer uses rr- (erre perruna) at the beginning of a word, it is commonly used in 1493, as it had been for centuries. The manuscript gives rr- dependably, but the Folio gives rr- only in uanderarreal (1r.5), shown below, and rrios (1r.25, not shown). 1r.5 uanderarreal (bandera real [royal banner])

Reading capital R as geminate (as RRey for example) is arguable because of the shadow staff, but such a resolution appears to be unjustified by the evidence of the Folio. A related problem in editing the Folio appears at the end of 1r.1 where a light impression of a tidy, superscript, upright r follows sennor, well within the printing space of the line. A superscript character usually signals a word compression to be recognized and extended by the reader, and here, the result would then be sennorr. The figure may be pen work, however — perhaps the notation of a nineteenth-century reader who had figured out the rotunda r and made an interpretative note — rather than a stray impression. The grapheme does not comport with the r types used in the Folio, as shown by a comparison with examples of the Folio’s upright r, and the strange grapheme is pale by comparison to impressions in this area of the recto.

1r.1 sennor




Minim types (i, m, n, and u) may present certain reading problems, especially where they coincide within words, because inking, damage to types, and depth of impression may affect the distinctions among them.24 Some ambiguous imprints of n and u in the Folio may owe to these factors, too, but n and u types may be set upside down, as the Folio examples (below) suggest.

1r.6 no[n]bre (for Mod. Sp. nombre)

1r.13 de[n]o

Regular setting of inverted types suggests a foul case, and the lack of correction, an indifferent or impaired compositor (or no corrector), along with a foul case.25 The Folio’s n types are distinguished from u types by having a steeply angled hairline ligature connecting the two minims at the upper end, a flat foot on the straight minim, and an angled (lifted) foot on the curved minim, as shown definitively in Iuana (1r.9), shown below.

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Reading the Variorum

1r.9 Iuana

1r.23 leguas

A well-formed u type, like those in leguas (1r.23), above, and the u of hauria (1r.37, below) are distinguished by arrow points or half-arrow points at the heads of the minims. The straight (right) minim of u, like the curved (right) minim of n, finishes with an outward angle at the base, like a foot flexed upward at the ankle. The u of muchas (1r.39) is less clearly impressed, but the flexed foot on the straight leg, the open area between the heads of the minims, and their slight angles clarify the reading. Note the series of u and n types in aqui no hauria crehencia sin, shown below.

aqui no hauria . . . 1r.37

1r.39 muchas


The edition indicates Folio types perceived as turned by setting the supposedly correct type in brackets, as at 1r.44, where I read the graphemes as dispnesta and edit as disp[u]esta, showing the supposed intention (u) rather than my perception (n) within brackets. The small m, like that in muchas, above, seldom gets a full impression, and its connections may be barely visible. The m type may be easily misconstrued at first glance, as may n and u even when they are not turned, as in numero (1v.1), below, whose r is also misleading.

1v.1 numero

Impressions of b and h are scantily distinguished by a tiny opening between the feet (of the ascender and limb) of h that may be obscured by inking, as in the example of hauia at 1r.17, where h- may be taken for b. Note below the examples of h that preserve the opening and the suggestion of a supporting bit of metal between the bow and the base of the ascender, as in hauia (1r.17). See further examples below.

1r.19 harto

1r.14 hauia

1r.17 hauia

1r.16 bolui


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Reading the Variorum

1r.17 hombres

1r.47 hombres

Though they are unproblematic for reading, the Folio’s g and y types are interesting for their contrasting styles and purposes. The g consists of a series of filled straight lines, hairlines, connecting angles, and spacious, balanced bows. The loop or descender, held by a barely visible hairline ligature to the left corner of the head stroke, sweeps down the back of the bow (or counter), thickening at the turn and moving down and up in approximately equal lines to mimic the shape of the upper space. The shape of the bow and inner loop and detail of the serif in each example may suggest distinctions between and among examples.

g 1r.1

g 1r.7

g 1r.9

g 1r.38

1r.43 g (algodon)

The narrower, predominantly straight-line style of the y distinguishes its design principles from those that inform the d and g types, and its restrained features produce a highly economic result. The y’s upper arms sit close together, the right finial reaching toward the left arm and nearly closing the space between them. The descender runs down from the right arm at a steep angle and ends in a curled finial that counterbalances the descender’s trajectory. The apparently broken arm at 1r.5, the lack of the lower finial at 1r.4, and the light impression of the descender at 1r.3, along with other examples of y, suggest much use.




Ligature types from the lower case The spirit of printshop economy, embodied literally in rotunda r, long-s, and y types, is augmented by the use of graphemes cast together on one body as ligatures. Ligatures conserve space on the line — and therefore, paper — and the compositor’s movements in setting and in distribution. The economic long-s doubles its economy in ligature types -ss- and -st, both represented in the Folio. Below, see esta (1r.2), costa (1r.14), fasta (1r.16), and esta (1r.21) for st ligatures. The angled, heavy bar seen in esta at 1r.2 recalls that of nuestro’s ligature at 1r.1, shown above. The st of costa (1r.14) shows the curve set high on a thin ascender, similar to those of esta (1r.21) and fasta (1r.16), where ink and paper factors may account for minor distinctions. 1r.2 esta

1r.16 fasta

1r.14 costa

1r.21 esta

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Reading the Variorum A geminate long-s ligature, pointed out to me by Peter Stinely, Printshop Master at Colonial Williamsburg, is used to set illustrissimos (1r.3), where three ligatures (ll, st, and ss) are in evidence.26 The pair of -ss- ligatures used in possession (1v.47) are unlike those of fortissimas (1r.24) and illustrissimos, whose -ss- ligatures may have distinctive features between them — though some of these perceived differences may be due to press work and type wear.

1r.3 illustrissimos

1r.24 fortissimas

1v.47 possession

A second example of possession (2r.4) shows two ss ligatures that appear to be from the same font as those used at 1v.47 but with distinctive wear to the types.

2r.4 possession

The geminate ll of Spanish is also likely to be a single type in words like illustrissimos (1r.3, above) and falle (1r.11), where the space set around ll, compared with the tidy space between the graphemes, suggests them as ligatures. In some — perhaps many — examples, no physical ligature is visible, for which note palillo (printed pa lillo) and aquellas at 1r.46, where ligatures seem likely. Possibly in della (1r.10) and certainly in ello (1r.43), a physical support prints between the two graphemes.

1r.46 pa lillo

1r.46 aquellas

1r.11 falle

1r.43 ello

1r.10 della

1r.31 alli

1v.3 de

The Folio gives a few examples of less frequent ligatures like the “biting” ligature at 1v.3 in de. This biting ligature appears outside de, too, but most encounters between d and e in the Folio are separate types.27 The reading of a and l in algodon (1r.43, below) may be set from a ligature, and the impression of calidad (1r.30) suggests it for an al ligature as well, but the tightness of these settings may have other rationales.28


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Reading the Variorum

1r.43 algodon

1r.30 calidad

A mix of small initials? Small initials stored in the compositor’s uppercase are used in early printing to set titles and section headings, to signal text divisions, and to begin some proper nouns, and they are the most frequently encountered initials in incunabula texts. Hairlines or shadow lines enhance the essential contours of small gothic initials like those used to set the last four letters of SENOR (1r.1), and their serifs and finials are likely to be more prominent than those of other types. Initials, like minuscule types, may have their features obscured or made more prominent by factors of ink, paper, and moisture, and their embellishments are prone to wear, damage, and loss. On examples of A that are shown below, the details of the feet, bar, and serifs show close resemblances, despite the absence of a left-foot extension on A at 2v.14 and the distance between the feet of the example at 1r.6. Among initial types used in the Folio, A appears to represent a design style characterized by the thickness, curvilinear details, and rounded feet and finials common to E, F, I, L, S, and T. It is also notable that A and S types show a tiny rhombus at the bar of A and at the meeting of the curves of S. A second grouping based on design includes D, H, M, N, O, and Q. These are distinguished by parallel hairlines supporting negative space and generous bows (except in H). R, somewhat in a class by itself, is compatible with the first group for its rounded serif or terminal, like that off the shadow ascender of L; because of its conservative bow and curvilinear leg, its design works with the D group as well. The Q type is another interesting mediator between these designs with its rhombus-shaped foot suggesting its relationship to A and S.29 Impressions of initials E, F, I, L, and O present variations like those shown for A, but they probably come from the same font. The first L (2v.1) shown may have damage or loss on both ascenders, a supposition on condition supported by the lack of the hairline attaching the rounded finial at the head. Belonging to neither or to either group, the two C examples shown present distinctions in the curves of the spines and heads and in the cusps where the heads and spines join. These differences and a possible difference in body size — very slight — suggest these two examples of C as coming from two fonts. A 1r.6

C 2v.7

D 2v.15

A 2v.7

C 2v.8

D 2v.16

A 2v.14

A 2v.16

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Reading the Variorum

E 1r.1

F 2r.47

H 2v.15

L 2v.1

M 2v.5

O 1r.1

E 2v.14

E 2v.6

F 2v.6

I 2v.15

I 1r.9

L 1r.35

N 1r.1

O 2v.16

O 2r.44

Q 1r.9

R 1r.3 (Rey e Reyna)

S 2v.14

S 2v.16

R (or RR) 1r.1

T 2v.14

The Folio’s sole ornament At a level above the small initials are large, framed, and embellished initials produced as woodcuts. In chapter 3, the framed S that opens the Folio was treated from a comparative and historical perspective in the context of is its ownership and control on a particular day in 1493. This discussion, on the other hand, considers the framed S as a piece of early print culture material, scrutinizing its visual effects and physical properties and comparing it in these contexts to its counterpart in the Quarto. The initial’s maker achieved its printed effect by the principle of reverse printing, where “white” space (surrounded by ink) holds the reading message of the grapheme — here, the Folio’s S. This technique also creates the foliate design around the S, along with the interior layer of the frame. The design elements lie below the inked printing surface and come from the press in the color of the paper. The designer’s handling of the foliation shows his characteristic style: the vining never crosses over the grapheme, but the artist achieves organicity by using the concave, bracketed serifs at both ends of the initial as the source of the vining that shadows the interior curves


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Reading the Variorum of the initial and fills the frame. The tendency to curvilinear design, the separation of the grapheme from the vining, and the open, slightly drooping acanthus facing the front of the design in the lower space are distinguishing features of this engraver’s work.

Folio 1r. framed S

Something is amiss in two places along the upper ridge where the impression has laid down ink along the white space of the interior frame. If the lacunae in the impression are due to loss and breakage, perhaps they indicate that the printer found a favored and useful go-to piece in this initial despite its imperfections. A brief consideration of the two framed S initials that open the Spanish printings suggests convergences and differences in conception and influence reflected in the designs of early printing materials. The Quarto’s stylized S is enclosed by four levels of framing and shaped by thorny stems sprouting leaves and vines along the curves and ending in open flowers at the initial’s four terminals. At the center of the S, two open flowers suggesting the lily almost meet around a tiny, crooked rhombus with a dark, irregular center. The Quarto’s frame is ornamented by floral stems of various shapes emerging from each corner toward the initial. The design is reinvented at each space, with no effort at side-to-side, top-to-bottom, or corner-to-corner symmetry. A background filler consisting of various shapes adds interest to enclosed areas. The impression suggests that areas of loss may exist around the frame.

Quarto 1r. framed S

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Reading the Variorum Reading like a medieval reader Capitals, punctuation, and spacing are probably more likely than other features of medieval manuscripts and printed texts to try the reader’s patience, and this discussion will both describe some of these and indicate how medieval punctuation (pointing) is represented in the edition in chapter 8. Little correlation exists between the usage applied in these texts and today’s practice. The reader of the Folio immediately notices that the first word of the Folio is set in initials (“all caps”) and on the next line, a small initial A (1r.2) appears in mid-sentence, followed quickly by the place name indias [Indies] (1r.3), set with lower-case i. In subsequent lines, Isla, not part of a proper name (1r.4, 20, 21), gets an initial, but place names like san salvador and santa maria open with lower-case types. As today’s reader might expect, initial-A opens what may plausibly be construed as sentence openings at 1r.6 and 1r.7, and at 1r.8, Q (Quando) begins a sentence. In what appears to the modern eye as an irregular practice, a punctus is set at the close of what might be construed as a periodus, but no capital letter follows it at 2v.10.30 A punctus that has no discernable reading or grammatical application appears at 2v.8 where it stands between de and Castilla: estando en mar de. Castilla salio [while sailing in the Sea of Castilla, there arose . . .]. At 1r.7, a break in sense and grammar falls in the midst of three words set in lower-case types and printed as one word: andadolos (Mod. han dado. Los).31 A punctus may also be used to set off Roman numerals from text, disambiguating the minims and alphabet characters of the numeral from those of the text. This disambiguating use of the punctus may be the reading at line-end on 1r.22 following oriente [east] and just before a numeral at the head of the next line, yet no punctus follows the numeral.32 At 2v.5, the Letter proper closes with a double-duty punctus; it is the second of the pair used to set off the Roman numeral characters that make up 1493 (Mil. cccclxxxxiii.). The punctu-s of the Quarto, unlike those of the Folio, are rhombus-shaped, and the Quarto uses them with consistency to set off numerals. In the notes to the edition, a punctus that falls at the close of the variant is followed by the explicit “[punctus].”

2v.5 1493

Above and to the right of the punctus, a vague mark makes an impression following oriente at 1r.22. Though this bit of ink may be unintentional, taken together with the punctus, it suggests the punctus elevatus, a mark of punctuation that took the force of the modern colon, signaling a significant pause before an explanation or direct speech that was to follow.

1r.22 oriente[.]


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Reading the Variorum One form of the punctus elevatus is something like a superscript comma, rotated just short of 180 degrees and set above a mid-line punctus. This description does not exactly fit the graph following oriente — but the use of the punctus elevatus accords with the syntax at 1r.22–23, where Columbus tells how far he has sailed eastward around the north coast of La Española: just the number of leagues he had earlier sailed east along the coast of Juana. Interestingly, the last marks of punctuation in the Folio at 2v are two points set one above the other like the modern colon, an alternative sign for the punctus elevatus. In each case on 2v, this mark suggests a pause before a clarifying declaration. In the notes to the edition, where I read the punctus elevatus in the Simancas manuscript, it is represented with a modern colon (in italics) and is explicitly noted as “[punctus elevatus].” Though none appears in the Folio, the Quarto uses the virgula suspensiva (/) and the manuscript may do so, too. In the Quarto, the virgula suspensiva is a short, vertical bar, its upper end tipped to the right; it signals a grammatical and/or reading pause in the text. The Quarto’s virgula suspensiva does double duty by modern standards, indicating in some instances a brief, medial pause like that signaled by the modern comma, and elsewhere, a full stop, like that called for today by a period or semicolon. In the notes to the edition, where a variant closes with a virgula suspensiva, the symbol is shown as / and is followed by the explicit notation [virgula suspensiva]. Along with its handling of punctuation and capital letters, the Folio’s setting and spacing of words and graphemes and its justification of margins seem lawless by today’s standards. Lines frequently show inconsistent internal spacing and a good number of lines extend beyond the ostensible print area. What are perceived today as two or more words may be set as single words joined together (agglutinated), written as one might speak them; what one expects to see today as single words may be printed as if they were several words; and words may be divided without regard to syllables. These settings depend on the necessities of the line in composing rather than on syllabic division or word boundaries, and reading aloud will usually resolve a difficulty. An interesting example of spelling and word division occurs at the head of 2r.33, where t ras, shown below, continues otras [others] from the previous line (2r.32), where o is orphaned at line-end without a hyphen.

2r.33 [o]tras

Another striking example of crowded words and ambiguous line-end division occurs at 2v.12 where the reading is marqia, with an extremely faint horizontal bar over q. The reading is mar que ia(mas) [sea that never], with the second syllable, -mas of iamas (Mod. jamás), set on the following line.

2v.12 marqueia

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Reading the Variorum The lack of the hyphen at line-end is usual in vernacular texts of the Middle Ages, and word divisions may go unmarked in Latin printings, too. In Plannck’s “F” edition, hyphens indicate some divided words, and other words are broken without hyphens: Raphaelem, simul, and iuxta are broken without hyphens while most word divisions at 1r give hyphens. At 1v, operiri, habitationes, orientem, prospexi, and hispanam lack hyphens. In the Latin quartos, word divisions are generally well-defined, but in Plannck F at 1v.11, the final words of the line are virtually scripta continua, a setting that fits the words into the line. Hyphens may be represented as “double-stroke” hyphens, two parallel lines tipped upward at their right ends, like those of the Quarto, or by a single stroke at a steep angle, like those of Plannck’s F Quarto.33 The hyphen’s angle conserves space on the line.

Ghost types and crooked lines Like the Folio’s wayward spacing and word divisions, its uneven justification and “falling” and “jumping” types catch the reader’s attention. Theodore De Vinne notes that when early pressmen locked up the formes, a task “roughly done,” the result frequently made the types “crooked, springing them off their feet and making the spaces [blank pieces of metal set in below the print area] work up” (527). The word indios (1r.19, shown at p.134) has its last two types print slightly awry, and the setting of marquia (2v.12), described and shown above, gives more extreme results. At 1r.27, various letters have fallen too low to print more than shadows of themselves, and the baseline is erratic.

1r.27 frei todas fermosissmas

Another example occurs at 2r.42, where the first two letters of nuestro are some distance apart and on different planes.

2r.42 nuestro

At 2v.11, the second x type (xxviii), widely spaced from the following numeral, prints but appears to have loss to the face. A similar result is achieved in the shadow imprint of the second x at 2v.12 (xxiii).

2v.11 xxviii

2v.12 xxiii

The Folio’s most egregious instance of types moving out of expected configurations and a significantly marred right justification converge in this area of the last verso. At


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Reading the Variorum 2v.11, two types (e and n) extend beyond the supposed justification line, and the n has made a serious slide. One line down (2v.12), two types, i and a, as described above, exceed the vertical margin and are evidently forced downward as the formes are locked up.


Abbreviatura in the Quarto While reading the Quarto is relatively straightforward, its compositor uses several abbreviatura that merit mention. One of these is the Tironian et (a sort of stylized 7 that may have a stroke through the leg or limb) for the copulative y [and], seen at Quarto 1r.5 in Rey & reyna.34 Another appears in the Quarto’s setting of comprehender (1v.13), which opens with an abbreviatura that consists of an open bow facing left with a right-curved hook at the lower terminal, signaling cum (Latin), but here, com- or con- (Spanish).35 The Quarto compresses grandes at 3r.19 and gracias at 4v.3 as shown below.36 The Quarto’s types for signaling extensions opening with p, such as per and pro, are somewhat distinct from those used in the Folio, as the following images suggest.

The Quarto’s Tironian et

Quarto 1v.13 comprehender

Quarto 2v.11 perdido

Quarto 2v.11 procede

Quarto 2v.20 proposito

Quarto 3r.19 grandes

Quarto 4v.3 gracias







































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Reading the Variorum Editions of the Simancas manuscript Transcriptions of the Simancas manuscript created by Tomás González and Martín Fernández de Navarrete amount to editions of it because both men freely exercise editorial function in their work, and their results possess value for interpreting the manuscript. Where their work may clarify or oppose a reading of the manuscript or Folio or contribute to the discussion on a difficult or damaged reading, it is noted. Their editing of pauses, sentencing, and paragraphing may assist readers in making sense of the text, sometimes in alternative ways. There is one caveat: Fernández de Navarrete’s note that the manuscript at 1r.2 gives Roman numerals that are difficult to read aright for the number veinte (twenty) — “En el original [el número veinte] está en números romanos muy confusos” [In the original, the number twenty appears in very confusing Roman numbers] (167 n. 2) — is a puzzle.37 The notes to the edition also suggest that Fernández de Navarrete did not merely have González’s transcript printed, as Jane and Ramos have suggested, and as far as I know, there is no compelling cause to think that Fernández de Navarrete was unable to read fifteenth-century script. It is, nevertheless, likely that Fernández de Navarrete was instructed by González in some readings and/or that he had access to González’s transcript. For example, both men arrived at the same understanding on at least one feature of the manuscript, interpreting (in some instances of its appearance) a large sweeping stroke with a curve at either end as the grapheme c. This reading occurs at MS 1v.93 where the probable reading is avan and both men record Cibau, and at MS 2r.123 where both record cala for ala.38 Fernández de Navarrete’s text modernizes some spelling and capitalization to those of his time or taste and adds punctuation, accents, italics (for names of islands), and capitalization (with names of months and islands) that González does not, and González places accents sporadically on third-person singular preterits and prepositions (á, ó) but adds comparatively little punctuation and uses few abbreviations.39 Except where their placement of punctuation and capital letters suggest an organization of a reading, these matters go unremarked, and where their differences are merely orthographic, the notes equate them. Where I read a virgula suspensiva in the manuscript, and González and Fernández de Navarrete place a comma in their texts, their transcriptions are considered essentially representative of the manuscript reading and are not noted. Because of what appears to be a ready interpretation of areas of indeterminate script and abbreviations, along with the scribal corrections, and an addition to González’s transcript that reflects nothing present on the Simancas manuscript, it seems likely that both men had resort to another manuscript or edition of the Letter with which to compare their readings. Fernández de Navarrete refers in Viages (1825) to his having owned a copy of a Latin edition since 1791 (I 177), and González’s mediation of the manuscript’s omitted line (between 2v.156 and 157) into Spanish implies his use of a supporting version of the Letter, probably one in a language other than Spanish.40 Fernández de Navarrete records González’s certification, as mentioned in chapter six, but, clearly, Fernández de Navarrete consulted the manuscript and exercised editorial license, as is indicated by the results shown in the variorum.


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Reading the Variorum Apparatus for notes to the variorum Notes to the text use an explicit format that offers access to experts and non-experts alike. The variorum aims for authentic and transparent editorial work based on the three contemporary Spanish texts, interpreting as accurately as possible the compositors’ intention in setting types and the writer’s intention in shaping graphemes and words. The Latin text of Plannck F and the work of several previous editors and translators provide selective notes where they differ from the Folio reading or clarify it. Sources used in the variorum should be understood as follows: • • • • • • • •

References to the Quaritch facsimile are to the 1891 edition edited by Michael Kerney. References to Maisonneuve’s facsimile refer to his single, limited release in 1889. Most of the surface loss to the Folio reading falls into lines 46–47 at 1r, 1v, and 2r, and readings from the Quarto, manuscript, and older Folio facsimiles may inform damaged readings, as indicated at each instance. Readings from Tomás González’s text of the Simancas manuscript are based on the reproduction of his autograph transcript in Sanz (Secreto 507–517). Readings attributed to Martín Fernández de Navarrete are based on the edition of the manuscript given in his Viages (1825).41 Page references to González’s and Fernández de Navarrete’s transcripts are suppressed in the notes except where there is some unusual circumstance.42 Notes from Consuelo Varela’s edition of the Letter come from the second, enlarged edition of Textos y documentos completos (1992, reprinted in 1997) where emendations are directly incorporated into the text. Cesare De Lollis’s comparative text is not generally cited in the notes to the edition in that he juxtaposes the Latin translation with an amalgam of the Spanish Quarto and Folio (120–135); exceptions include two of the final numbers given in the Letter.

Other editorial matters that inform the edition include these: • Previous editors’, transcribers’, and translators’ observations are recorded where these provide a corroborative or dissenting perspective on a problematic reading. • The variorum is silent on editors’ modernized spelling, punctuation, word division, and capitalization unless these happen to be elements in a variant, or clarify a reading. • For contemporary texts, the notes are silent on distinctions in spelling and capitalization; they appear only when they are part of a variant or the distinction reflects an alternative reading.43 • Where punctuation is a part of a variant, it appears in italics and is followed by a bracketed description if it falls at the end of the variant. Roman punctuation (as a period, semicolon, or comma) used with a variant is merely a separator. • Readings from the Folio, other printed editions, and the manuscript appear in italics without surrounding quotation marks where syntax permits. In these phrases, word extensions are underscored. • Bracketed graphemes in the edition and notes indicate material supplied from context or from other sources where a reading is lost or indeterminate.

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Reading the Variorum •


“Folio: read, —” offers a clarification of a reading in the case of an unaccustomed spelling or a separation or agglutination of graphemes or morphemes in the Folio.

Notes 1

As is noted in the Preface, this chapter is primarily directed to those new to early print and manuscript materials and unfamiliar with the written vacillations of medieval Romance languages. The need for such an orientation will be apparent to those who present these kinds of materials to students.While critics in these studies experience epiphanies about the material throughout our careers, some mistaken perspectives persist. A recent editorial statement showing one critic’s disconnect with the print culture that formed the Letter describes a printing as “riddled with typographical errors, compounded by senseless letter- and word-spacing and by the lack of punctuation and paragraphing” (citation data suppressed).

2 Read: saber si hauia (Mod. Sp., saber si había) and pierden la foia (Mod. Sp., pierden la hoja). For foia, whose consonantal i is pronounced like the second sound in English azure, see n. 9, below. 3

The Quarto compositor splits mente at line-end without a hyphen in the second instance. The Simancas manuscript scribe tends to split these adverb conversions as well. In Columbus’s time, the grammarian Nebrija, for example, writes tan poco (Mod. Sp. tampoco) and nos otros (Mod. Sp. nosotros), and Nebrija’s works may also give the adjective-to-adverb conversion in two words, as in nueva mente and primera mente. Agglutinations (and separations of syllables and morphemes) and words spelled in variant ways continue to appear through succeeding centuries.


The initial x (grapheme) of xalçalamiento reflects phonology in which the Folio, manuscript, and Quarto agree in items such as paxaricos (Folio 1r.30–31; Quarto 1v.16; MS 1r.30), dixe (Folio 1v.38; Quarto 3r.8; MS 1v.89), dexar (Folio 1v.46; Quarto 3r.21; MS 1v.98), and Xio (Folio 2r.37; Quarto 4r.17; MS 2r.139). The grapheme signals the so-called “shushing” (or “hushing”) sibilant. The “shushing” sibilant (akin to the English vocalization that urges quiet) is represented as /š/, //"//, and /S/, a voiceless palatal alveolar fricative. Unlike the durative (lengthened) English vocalization to shush, /š/ is short and tense. 5

The ç is pronounced something like English /t/ + /s/. The result is a voiceless affricate, composed of both a stop /t/ and stage of friction /s/, with the passing of air forcibly through a small aperture. The sound may be represented by / /, /ts/, or /ts/. The grapheme continued to be used into the seventeenth century in words like alboroço, braço, cabeça, fuerça, and Çaragoça (Zaragoza, Saragossa), Q examples found in the front material of Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola’s Anales de Aragón (see n.8 below). The lack of the ç in the Folio is a distinction between the phonological and/or written indications of p.143 ¶ 3 Columbus autographs and those of the Letter, but the absence may be owing to the simple explanation that no ç types were a part of the case used to set the Letter. 6

The sound is a trilled lateral, then as now.


This variation (y/i) for the vowel sound continues over the following centuries. It is attested, for example, in the front material of Argensola’s Anales in words such as cuydados, traygo, seyscientos, and treynta, but with i/I in Ignorancia. Cf. ygnorantes (MS 1v.69) and maravylla (MS 1v.70). 8

The rather free variation (or vacillation) of these graphemes in succeeding centuries suggests that native speakers since the Middle Ages have viewed the phonology associated with these graphemes as virtually identical. In Argensola’s Anales, examples like estava, govierno, and embidia appear. In Spanish today these graphemes signal like phonology — bilabial and occlusive or fricative (“approximate”). 9

This sound is a sibilant consonant in Old Spanish, alveolar and palatal (post-alveolar and pre-palatal, needs the second more specifically) in its points of articulation, and voiced and fricative in its manner and effects. This one— phonology is realized in gente (iente) and cobigan (cobiian) with graphemes g or i, and in fiio, foia, and /" /#//, /Z/, oio, by i.The sound may be represented phonologically in various sources by symbols /ž/, or /z. /. The manuscript’s i is written sometimes like a vertical slash with a descender of various extensions, something like the long-i type in printing. This result would eventually become the modern consonant j, differentiating it from the vowel. See n.4, above, for x in trabaxan and axa (alla).


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Reading the Variorum The Quarto compositor sets a long-i in initial position for inposibles (4r.27–28) where it is certainly a vowel. The long-i is also used to close the minims of a Roman numeral, where it is certainly intended as the grapheme i and is used to disambiguate the number from the wording of the text. 10

The letter z in these words is a sibilant consonant beginning with an alveolar voiced stop consonant like English /d/ and finishing with the voiced sibilant /z/ for a voiced affricate that is represented by / /,/dz/, or /dz/. Argensola’s Anales contains examples such as hazer, haze, and Deziembre. Note that where the letter s is given, as in desir (Folio 2v.40), it probably represents the simple voiced (apico-alveolar fricative) sibilant /z/, like that heard in English “buzz.” The -c- of ficiera is probably understood as the unvoiced version /ts/. 11

See Robert J. Blake’s study of these variants as recorded in Nebrija in 1492 and from other data, including the use of scribal graphemes to represent contrast and printed orthographic variations. Also see Menéndez Pidal’s discussion of the southern tendencies at the period in Orígenes (esp. 231– 232). 12

The first word at 1r.19 of the manuscript may provide an example of the scribal ff that Blake writes is meant to emphasize the labial component of the initial phonology of the word as [f], as opposed to an aspiration, [h], or [ø]. See Blake’s discussion and conclusions (56–59). 13 In the seventeenth century, Argensola uses avre (Ø) along with ha (/h-/) (Mod. Sp., haber) in the dedication to the Diputados de Aragón of his Anales (1630). 14

These graphs are derived from the abbreviatura of Latin scribal culture, from which they came into vernacular scribal cultures and early printing.

15 Plural and/or feminine forms of nuestro are signaled on the same basis. See also the Quarto (1r.2) and MS (1r.1) for nuestro Sennor. The “tilde” used as an abbreviation graph looks like the macron used by pronunciation guides to signal a long vowel, a horizontal bar approximately as long as the letter is wide. 16

See Cappelli (303).


The geminate “nn” reflects spelling of the period in which words now written with ñ and pronounced as two sounds (/n/ + /j/) were then spelled with nn, like anno, sennalado, and sennor where those words were written without compression. 18

The ch (with a tilde or horizontal bar over c) may be set here as a ligature type.


De Vinne observes in his historical treatment of printing that early printers were blithe about mixing fonts in a single text. He writes that Gutenberg combined rotunda and textura fonts in a single job and that the “types of many printers at Paris and Venice show irregularities of body which seem remarkable to the modern printer” (518) — even in the late 1870s. 20

The paper laid on the press is more or less rough; theoretically, the less valuable the printing, the rougher the paper that might be chosen to do the job.The fibers of the paper and its degree of dampness affect how the paper takes the ink. How a type impresses is also affected by the paper’s raw condition in the area of the impression, by the mix of the ink, and by the job of inking. As paper and ink dry, the effects continue to develop as everything that was wet or damp contracts until the work is dry. 21 Types with an effaced or broken ascender would give a distinct impression from that made by an intact example even though they were cast from the same matrix. This contingency probably does not misdirect identification in this instance. 22 Turns of p, q, d, and b are also theoretically possible (q for b, d for p, and vice versa). It would be relatively easy in distributing types to mis-distribute p and q or d and b, especially if one were inexperienced or impaired or the light were dim. 23 24

Two additional examples with a decorative center are a p at 1v.39 (porla) and a v at 1v.1 (veyan).

Graphemes formed by minims in gothic manuscripts present the same reading problems. A serif off the i minim and the “arrow points” at the top of u, as in the print period, aid in distinguishing those scribal graphemes — where those details are present.

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Reading the Variorum 25

Having many turned types in a print run argues against a corrector, but turned types are a common enough occurrence in early printing. See John Johnson’s 1824 caveats to the proofreader (228–229). 26 The spooning of the -ss- indicates a single type since types on separate bodies could not fit together in this way. These ligatures make practical sense for composing in Latin, Catalán, or Spanish. 27 See many examples at 1r: for instance, de at 1r.1, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, and 22 as ligatures; de appears to be set with two types at 1r.4, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. 28

In both impressions, the literal ligature may be the source of a lightly inked line between the graphemes; if this is the case, note that the joining is located differently between these examples. A a+l ligature makes sense in Spanish where the combination is frequent as a single word (a + el = al) and in word-initial position, where it often reflects the remains of the Arabic article (al) or opens frequent words like algo and alguno and related forms. Al is also frequent in word-internal and wordfinal positions, as in qual, mal, saluo, and ualor. See liberales 1v.5, for an example of a probable al ligature (with no physical link visible) based on the proximity of the two types in the setting. See also allend at 1v.16 where the ligature is probably ll and the a-type is separate. Note also that Gaskell describes “tied letters” composed of “several” letters being cast together as a single type having been produced in the fifteenth century; he distinguishes these from true ligatures (made from a single matrix) though they may be hard to “distinguish” visually (33). Further scrutiny of the Folio and Quarto for “tied letters” may be productive. 29

Haebler mixes these initials in the fonts he assigns to Posa.


While a dot or point printed on the base line may look like a modern period, that is not its grammatical or reading role in the Folio. In 1493, periodus referred to a grammatical structure, and the punctus, represented by the familiar point (.) or by a tiny plus (+) or rhombus, was the basic naming and graphic unit of punctuation and the most common component of punctuation signs. It might be used to point to grammatical boundaries or to signal reading pauses. 31

This may be an instance where the compositor tries to correct a verb (ha > han), perceiving that its subject is los indios. I take the subject to be San Salvador.


The function is observed erratically elsewhere as well. See 1v.43, 1v.45, for example, where editorially imposed punctu-s appear bracketed around Roman numerals. 33

An early Catalán-language example showing end-line hyphens is a Regiment dels princeps attributed to Spindeler in Barcelona in 1480 (Haebler BI No. 154; Odriozola 128 No. 31, pl. XII); this Regiment’s gothic type is very similar to that of the Folio, both in its lower-case types and initials. See several examples of post-1501 printings by Cromberger in Norton (Printing) where divisions are sometimes marked by hyphens and sometimes not (Pl. I, II); the gothic types in these plates are strikingly similar to those of the Folio. 34

The edition does not show the Tironian et as a variant, and the notes to the edition render it as & where it appears in text recorded from the Quarto showing other variants.


See Cappelli for variants of this figure (39).


This abbreviatura may not be clear on some reproductions.The type may be a ligature as gr (with tilde).


The comment suggests that Fernández de Navarrete was not looking at González’s transcript nor at the manuscript reflected here in facsimile because in both texts, “twenty” is expressed verbally and easily read. See MS 1v.85 with n. 160 and MS 2v.161 with n. 321 in the following chapter. At 1v.85, for example, a superscript stroke, similar to a u or a c opening upward set above the second figure might be taken as representing c (cien [100]) but does not seem logical; as cum (con [with]), this stroke would make more sense set above the first figure. González writes visto 60 y Ochenta (Sanz 513 ¶ 3). Fernández d--e Navarrete gives visto sesenta y ochenta (171). At 2v.161, following his recording setenta y ocho, Fernández de Navarrete sets a footnote: “en el original [. . .] está escrito en números romanos y enmendados” and gives the basis of his calculations (I 174–175 n. 3). MS 2v.162 is much effaced. See also the stricken text in the year given at MS 2v.156 (shown as 2v.116 in error, following 155). These readings might be described as “números romanos muy confusos,” and Fernández de Navarrete may have conflated the instance at 1r.2 with another instance of numbers on the manuscript as he was writing notes to his text — easily done.This “problem” remains a doubt, but for the rationales


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Reading the Variorum given, it does not appear to be a fatal disconnect in a comparative reading using Fernández de Navarrete’s transcript. It is also interesting, but perhaps merely a slip, that Fernández de Navarrete refers to the manuscript he is editing as “el original de Colon [sic]” (175 n. 1). 38 This stroke may be a reading signal or a mark of punctuation — or it may be, occasionally or in every instance, merely a scribal tic. The matter could use a systematic study.

Ramos’s readings of the Simancas manuscript (1986 Primera), performed by an able assistant, are not useful in this context because they are apparently founded on the “facsimile” featured in his edition, apparently a tracing of the original. The manuscript is presented here in facsimile with the kind permission of the Spanish Ministro de Educación, Cultura y Deporte and the generous assistance of the librarians at the Archivo General de Simancas. 39

Another distinction is that González imposes paragraph divisions, but Fernández de Navarrete blocks the whole text, essentially as it appears in the manuscript.Where González makes a new paragraph, Fernández de Navarrete makes only a new sentence. Both men modernize I to J, or else they read the long-i as J (or j), and both leave some agglutinations (ala, della, ques) intact, common practice at the time of their work. 40

MS 2v.156 is numbered “116” — a slip of the pen.


If Fernández de Navarrete had available to him the original of the document reproduced in Sanz, he does not appear merely to follow it without demur. He does not, for example, adopt the missing line that González supplies, an editorial emendation that strongly suggests that González must have been relying on some non-Spanish edition, for in no other way could he have supplied his mediated version of the line that appears in somewhat different wording in the Folio (2v.6) and Quarto (4v.11).


The notes are busy with parenthetical citations of prioritized texts. While both transcripts are published, they are considerably less accessible than others cited. Readers who wish to compare the Simancas manuscript to one of its transcripts can do so by following the MS lines as given through the transcription and/or by setting some signal phrases as benchmarks for cross-referencing. 43

An example of a modernization is Fernández de Navarrete’s transcription of habréis from the Simancas manuscript’s avreys (1r.1). Modernizing spellings and adding diacriticals like the accent in habréis were standard practices in text editing from the nineteenth century into the last quarter of the twentieth century and do not reflect Fernández de Navarrete’s readings of the manuscript in the 1820s per se.

Varela’s edition divides the Letter into paragraphs and adds or standardizes punctuation, accents, apostrophes, and capitalization, modernizes spelling according to accepted standards, and uses modern conventions of word separation in the text. The result is that Varela’s text modernizes quando to cuando and qual to cual; revises spellings with u to v or with v to u (vmana > umana, Mod. Sp. humana) as necessary according to whether a vowel or consonant is represented, maintaining v, therefore, in imperfect forms (demandava); modernizes the copulative i to y; mediates i to j to conform with modern spellings; leaves consonantal i in words that now use g as in iente (gente [people]); and records the Letter’s ñ as modern ñ. For these reasons, her text sustains many older spellings in addition to those already cited (nonbre, fartos, io), alters a few (conversasion > conversación), expands compressions according to modern spellings, usually adds accents (fazía), and capitalizes or suppresses capitals according to present-day sensibilities (magestat > Magestat; Isla > isla). Note Varela’s apparatus (86).

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8 A variorum edition of the Spanish Folio

Folio 1r (page one) 1

1 Senor por que se que aureis plazer dela grand vitoria que nuestro sennor me 2

2 ha dado en mi viaie vos escriuo esta por la qual sabryes como enueinte dias pase A 3

3 las indias con la armada que los illustrissimos Rey e Reyna nuestros sennores me dieron 4 dondeyo falle muy muchas Islas pobladas con gente sin numero : y dellas todas 4


5 [h]e tomadoposesion por sus altezas con pregon y uanderarreal estendida y non mefu 6


6 e contradicho Ala primera que yofalle puse no[n]bre sant salvador a comemoracion desu alta mages 8

7 tat el qual marauillosamente todo esto andadolos indios la llaman guanaham. Ala segunda 10



8 puse nonbre la isla de santa maria deconcepcion ala tercera ferrandina ala 12 quarta la isla bella 13


9 ala quinta la Isla Iuana e asi a cada v[n]a nonbre nueuo Quando yo llegue ala Iuana seg 15


10 ui io la costa della alponiente yla falle tan grande que pense que seria tierra 17 firme la prouincia de 18

11 catayo y como no falle asi villas y luguares enla costa dela mar saluo pequennas poblaciones 12 con lagente delas quales 22 todos:andaua yo a de 23




hauer fabla


por qu[e] luego fuyan

13 lante por el dicho camino pensando de[n]o errar grandes Ciudades o villas y al cabo de muchas

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 14 leguas visto que no hauia innouacion i que la costa me leuaua alsetentrion de adonde mi voluntad 24


el yuierno era ya encarnado yo tenia proposito de hazer 15 era contraria porque 26 del al aust[r]o y tan bien 16 el viento medio adelante determine deno aguardar otro tiempo y bolui atras fasta vn sennalado puer 27

17 to de adonde enbie dos hombres por la tierra para sabersihauia Rey o grandes 28 Ciudades andoui 29

18 eron tres iornadas yhallaron infinitas poblaciones pequennas i gente sin numero mas no cosa dereg 30

19 imiento porlo qual seboluieron yo entendia harto de otros indios que ia tenia tomados como conti 31


20 nuamente esta tierra era Isla e asi segui la costa della al oriente ciento i siete leguas fasta donde fa 33




21 zia fin : del qual cabo vi otra Isla al oriente distincta de esta diez o ocho leguas ala qual luego 37


22 puse nombre la spannola y fui alli y segui la parte del setentrion asi como dela iuana al oriente. 39



23 clxxviii grandes leguas por linia recta del oriente asi como dela iuana la qual y todas las otras 42

24 son fortissimas en demasiado grado y esta enestremo en ella ay muchos puertos enla costa dela 43

25 mar sin conparacion de otros que yo sepa en cristianos y fartos rrios y buenos y grandes que es mara 44

26 villa las tierras della son altas y en ella muy muchas sierras y montannas altissimas sin conparacion 45


27 de la isla de centre frei todas f[e]rmosissmas de mil fechuras y todas andabiles y llenas de arboles 28 de mil maneras i altas i parecen que llegan al cielo i tengo pordicho que iamas 47 pierdenlafoia segun lo 29 puede conprehender que los vi tan verdes i tan hermosos como son por mayo en spanna i dellos stauan flor 48

30 ridos dellos con fruto i dellos enotrotermino segun es su calidad i cantaua el 49 ruisennor i otros pa 31 xaricos demil maneras en el mesde[n]ouienbre por alli donde io andaua ay palmas de seis ode 50


32 ocho maneras que es admiracion verlas por la diformidad fermosa dellas mas 52 asicomo los [o ]

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 53


33 otros arboles y frutos eieruas en ella ay pinares amarauilla eay can pinnas grandissimas eay mi 55


34 el [.] i de muchas maneras de aues y frutas muy diuersas en las tierras ay muchas minas deme 57



35 tales eay gente instimabile numero La spannola es marauilla la[s] sierras ylas montannas y las uegas 36




ilas campinnas y las tierras tan fermosas ygrue[s]as para plantar ysembrar paracriar ganados de to 63

37 das suertes para hedificios de villas elugares los puertos dela mar aqui no hauria 64 crehencia sin 65

38 vista ydelos rios muchos y grandes y buenas aguas los mas delos quales traen oro en los arbo 66


39 les y frutos e yeruas ay grandes differencias de aquel las dela iuana en esta ay muchas specie 68



40 rias y grandes minas de oro y de otros metales. La gente desta ysla y de todas las otras que he 71

41 fallado y hauido : ni aya hauido noticia andan todos desnudos hombres y mugeres asi como 42 sus madres los paren haun que algunas mugeres se cobiian vn solo lugar con vna 72 foia de yerr 73



43 ua:o vna cosa dealgodon quepara ello fazen ellos no tienen fierro ni azero ni 76 77 armas nison par 44 aello no por que no sea gente bien disp[u]esta y de fermosa estatura saluo que son muy te[m]oroso[s] 78


45 amarauilla no tienen otrasarmas saluo las a[rm]as delas cannas quando estan 81 82 conla simiente [ala] 83


46 qual ponen al cabo vn pa lillo agudo eno o[s]an vsar de aquellas que m[uchas] 86 vezes m[eha aca] 87




47 escido embiar atierra dos otres hombres alguna villa para hauer fabl[a] y salir 89 [a ellos dellos]

Folio 1v (page two) 90


1 si[n] numero:y despues que los veyan llegar fuyan a no aguardar padre a hiio y esto no por que a nin 92




2 guno 96se aya hecho mal antes a todo cabo adonde yo aya estado y podido hauer fabla les heda


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 3 do de todo loque tenia asi panno como otras cosas muchas sin recebir por ello 97 cosa alguna mas 98


4 son asi temerosos sin remedio:verdad es que despues que aseguran y pierden 100 este miedo ellos son 101

5 tanto sin enganno y tan liberales delo que tienen que no locreerian sino el quelo viese:ellos


de cosa que

6 tengan pidiendogela iamas dizen deno muestran tanto amor que 7 darian los corazones y quieren luego por qual quie



antes conuidan lapersona

sea cosa deualor quien



con ello y

sea de poco precio


8 ra cosica de qual quiera manera que sea que sele deporello sean 109 110 contentos:yo defendi que noseles die


9 sen cosas tan siuiles como pedazos de escudillas rotas y pedazos de vidrio roto y cabos dagu 111

10 getas:haun que quando ellos esto podian llegar los 113 ioya del mundo. que


parescia hauer lameior

11 se acerto hauer vn marinero por vna agugeta de oro depesode 115 y medio:y otros 116

12 de otras cosas que muy menos valian mucho mas y a por ellas todo 117

13 quanto t[e]nian haun que 119 o dos de algodon fila



dos castellanos

por blancas nueuas dauan

fuesen dos ni tres castellanos de oro o vna arro[u]a


14 do fasta los pedazos delos arcos rotos delas pipas tomauan ydauan loque tenian como besti 15 as asi que me parecio mal:yo que yo leuaua por



lo defendi ydaua yo graciosas mil cosas buenas

16 que tomen amor y allenda desto 125 amoreceruicio de sus altezas


se faran cristianos 126

17 y de toda la nacion castellana: eprocuran 128 que tenen en abundan

de aiuntar de



que seinclinan al

nos dar delas cosas

18 cia que nos son necessarias y no conocian ninguna seta nin idolatria saluo que todos creen que las 19 fuercas yelbien es en[e]lcielo ygentevenia del cielo yental 131


y creian


muy firme que yo conestosnauios


20 catamiento me recebian entodo cabo despues dehauer perdido elmiedo[.] 133 y esto no procede porque 21 sean ignorantes saluo demuy sotil ingenio y onbres que nauegan todas aquellas mares que es

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 22 marauilla labuena cuenta quellos dan de todosaluo porquenunca vieron gent[e] vestida nisemeian 135



23 tes nauios yluego que lege alas indias enla primera isla que halle tome porforza algunos dellos pa 24 ra que deprendiesen yme diesen notia 138 que luego entendiron


delo que auia enaquellas pa[r]tes easi fue 139


25 y nos aellos quando por lengua osennas:y estos han aprouechado mucho oy endia los traigo 141

26 que sienpre estan deproposito que vengo del cielo por mucha conversasion ayan hauido conmigo y estos


27 eran los primeros apronunciarlo adonde yo llegaua y los otros andauan corriendo descasa en 142


28 casa :y alas villas cerca[n]as con bozes altas cielo asi todos honbres


venit : venit a uer lagente del


29 como mugers despues dehauer elcorazon seguro de nos venian 147 cadauan grande nipequenno 148



que non


decomer ydebeuer quedauan con vn amor mara[u]illoso 30 y todos trayaan algu 151 ellos tienen todas 31 las yslas muy muchas canoas amanera defustes deremo dellas maioras menores yal 153




dellas 156

32 gunas :y muchas son mayores que h[u]na fusta dediez eocho bancos :no son tan a[n]chas porque son 157

33 dehun solo madero mas queno es cosa decre


huna fusta noterna con ellas alremo porque van

34 er y con estas nauegan todas aquellas islas que son innumerables:ytraten sus 159 mecaderias:algunas 35 destas ca[n]oas he visto con lxx ylxxx 161 en todas estas islas no


onbres enella y cada vno con suremo


36 vide mucha diuersidad dela fechura dela gente ni en 164 lengua:saluo que


las costumbres ni enla

37 todos se entienden que escosa muy singular para lo que espero que determinaran sus altezas para la 38 conuersacion dellos de nuestra santa fe ala como yohauia andado


qual son muy dispuestos :ya dixe



39 c.vii leguas porla costa dela mar por laderecha linna deosidente aorie[n]te por la isla iuana segun el 40 qual camino puedo desir que esta isla esmaior que inglaterra yescosia iuntas por que allende des


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 168

41 tas c vii.leguas me queda[n] 170 nohe andado :lavna de 171



42 las quales llaman anau : adode nopueden tener enlongura

dela par[t]e deponiente dos prouinsias que io 173



43 menos de.l.o [.]lx. leguas segun puede 178 179 tengo los quals saben todo[s] 180

44 las yslas esta otra espannola encierco 182 colunya por costa de


la gente concola las



quales prouinsias

entender destos indios qu[e]



tiene mas que la espanna toda desde

45 mar fasta fu[e]nte rauia en uiscaya pues en vna quadra anduue[.]clxxxviii 184 grands leguas por rec 185

46 ta lin[ia] de occident a oriente esta es para desear:e de[x]ar enla qual puesto 47 [que de tod]as tenga tom[ad]a 189 abastadas delo que[]io 48






es para nunca

possession por sus altezas ytodas sean mas


[se y puedo dezir (que)] todas las tengo por sus altezas que dellas pueden [disponer como] y [tan compli. .]

Folio 2r (page three) 191

1 se y puedo dezir ytodas las tengo por de sus altezas qual como y ta[n] con 192

dellas pueden disponer



2 plidame[n]te como delos Reynos de castilla e[n] [e]sta espannola en ellugar mas conuenible ymeior 3 comarca para las minas del 196 mo de a quella 197


oro ydetodo trato asi dela tierra firme deaqua co

4 dealla del gran can adonde possession de vna villa gran


haura grand t[r]ato






5 de ala qual puse nonbre la villa denauidad :ye[n] ella hefecho fuerza y fortaleza que ya aestasho 202


6 ras estara del todo acabada yhedexado enella gente que abasta para semeiante fecho con armas 204

7 y artellarias evituallas por mas de vn anno yfusta artes para fazer

ymaestro dela mar entodas


8 otras ygrande amistad con el Rey de aquella tierra en[t]anto preciaua deme llamar y 207


9 etener porhermano e haun que 212 gente el nilos suios nosaben 213


le mudase



grado quese

la voluntad a hoffender 214

10 que sean armas y andan desnudos como yahe dic[h]o que ay en el mundo



son los mas temerosos

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 215

11 asiquesolamente la gente que alla queda y es ysla sinpeligro 12 de sus personas sabie[n]doseregir [:] en 218 los onbres sean conten



es para destroir toda aquella tierra

todas estas islas me parece que todos 219

13 tos con vna muger i asu maioral o Rey dan fasta: veynte: las que trabaxan 14 mas que los onbres [n]i hepodido en tender sitenien parecio ver que a quello


mugeres me parece

bienes propios que me

15 que vno tenia todos hazian parte en especial delas cosas comede[r]as en estas islas fasta aqui 16 no hehallado onbres mostrudos commo muchos pensauan mas gente demuy lindo 17 acatamiento ni son negros como en guinea 223 ynosecrian adondeay 224



18 impeto demasiado delos rayos solares es fuerca puesto que esdi 227


antes estoda

saluo con sus cabellos corredios

verdad quel

19 distinta dela linna inqui nocial veinte eseis 231 adondeay mont[a]nnas grandes :ay tenia 232




sol tiene alli gra[n]d



en estas islas



20 a fuerca el frio este yuierno: [m]as ellos lo sufren porla costumbre que conla 235 ayuda delas viandas 236

21 comen con especias muchas y muy calientes endemasia : asique nohe hallado ninoti 238


22 cia saluo de vnaysla que es aqui es poblada de vna




enla segunda ala e[n]trada delas yndias que

23 iente que tie[n]en en todas las yslas por muy ferozes los qualles 242 vmana estos tienen


comen carne


24 muchas canaus conlas quales corren todas las yslas de india roban ytoman quanto 244 p[u]eden ellos 25 no son mas disformes que los otros saluo que tienen encostumbre detra[e]r los cabellos largos com 245

26 omugeres y vsan arcos y flechas delas mismas armas decannas con vn palillo alcabo pordefec 27 to de fierro que no tienen son endemasiado grado couardes 248


28 mas yo no los tengo en nada tratan conlas mugeres 251

ferozes e[n]tre estos otros pueblos


mas que alos :otros estos



que son

son aquellos que

29 dematremonio que es laprimera ysla partiendo despanna para las indias que se falla enla qual no ay


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 252



30 honbreningu[n]o:ellas [n]o vsan exercio femenil saluo arcos y frechas como los sobre dichos de cannas 255

31 ysearman ycobigan conlaunes de arambre meseguran mayor que la


deque tienen mucho otra

32 espannola e[n]que las perso[n]as no tienen ningun cabello. En 259 260 cuento y destas y delas o



33 t ras traigo comigo indios para testimonio:e conclusion 263 solamente quesea fecho este




esta ay oro sin afablar desto

34 viageque fueasi de corida que pueden versus altezas queyo les dare oro quanto 264 oui[e]ren menester con 35 muy poquita ayuda que sus altezas medaran agora sus altezas mandaran 267

36 cargar y almastica fallado saluo en gre 270




quanta mandaran cargar e:dela



y algodon quanto

qual fasta oy no seha


37 cia enla ysla de xio y el sennorio la uende como quiere[.] y 274 275 quanto mandaran cargar y es 276


38 clauos quantos mandaran cargar e seran: delos 280 fallado ruy baruo. y ca[n]e





ydolatres y creo



39 la e otras mil cosas desustancia fallare que ha[u]ran fallado la gente que yo alla dexo porque yo 40 nomehe detenido ningun cabo e[n] quanto eluiento me aia dado lugar: 281 denauegar solamente en la 41 villa de nauidad enquanto dexe asegurado E bien asentado E mas ficiera 42 si los nauios me siruieran co mo razon demandaua Esto 285 dios n [u]estro sennor



ala verdad mucho

es harto y



43 el qual da a todos aquellos que andan sucam[in]o victoria de cosas que parecen 286 imposibles:yesta 44 sennaladamente fuela vna por que h aun que 288 escripto todo va por con 289



destas tierras aian fallado O

45 [i]ectura sin allegar deuista saluo conprendiendo a tanto los mas escuchauan e[/] 46 iuzgauan mas por fabla que por poca c[osa] 293 Redemtor dio esta. vic 294

47 toria A nuestros Illustrisimos rey :ereyna 297 alta cosa A donde toda




que los oyentes

dello asi que pues nuestro :

easus reynos Famosos d[e t]an


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio Folio 2v (page four) 298

1 La christiandad deue tomar alegriay fazer grandes fiestasy dar 300 solemnes ala sancta tri 301

2 nidad con muchas oraciones solemnes por el tanto en xalcamiento 302 en tornando se 303

3 tantos pueblos a nuestra sancta fe :y solamente ala espanna 304



que hauran

despues por los bienes tenporales que no


4 mas atodos los christianos ternan aqui refrigerio y ganancia esto segun el 306 fecho a si embreue 5 fecha enla calauera 310 cccclxxxxiii.


sobre las yslas de canaria



de febrero anno Mil.

El Almirante

que venia dentro en la Carta.

8 Despues desta escripto:y estando migo.sul y sueste que


en mar de. Castilla

9 me ha fecho descargar los nauios pero cori que fue la mayor 316

10 marauilla del mundo he siempre halla 319

a xv


6 Fara lo que mandareys 7 Anima




salio tanto viento con

aqui en este puerto delisbona oy


adonde acorde escriuir


asus altezas. entodaslas


11 do y los tenporales como en mayo adonde yo fuy en xxxiiidias 322 xxviii saluo questas tormen 12 tas me ande tenido x[x]iii dias corriendo 326 los honbres dela marqueia


por esta mar:dizen




y volui en





13 mas ouo tan mal yuierno no ni tantas perdidas de naues328 fecha ha quatorze dias de marzo:329 330 331 14 ESTA Carta en bio Colom Alescriuano Deracion 332

15 De las Islas Halladas en Las Indias : Contenida 16 A Otra


De Sus Altezas

Notes 1 Quarto 1r.1: SEnnor. MS 1r.1.: Sennor, prob. rdg. Plannck F (1r): [distinct recipient] Magnificum dominum Raphaelem Sanxis: eiusdem serenissimi Regis Tesaurarium [(addressed to) the noble lord Raphael Sanxis, of the same Most Serene King, his “Treasurer”]. Plannck F opens with a précis of the Latin Letter’s data and aims, and its Letter proper opens without a salutation. 2 Quarto 1r.3: xxxiii. MS 1r.2: vey[n]te dias. Plannck F (1r): Tricesimotertio die [on the thirty-third day]. Cf. Folio 2v.11: xxxiiidias. Varela emends: treinta y tres días and notes, “Son efectivamente 33 días los que duró la travesía, contando desde el día 9 de septiembre, en que salió de la Gomera, hasta el 12 de octubre, llegada a Guanahaní” (220 n. 1).


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 3

MS 1r.2: pase las yndias.


Folio: h-type barely prints in the shadow of the initial.


Plannck F (1r): pro foelicissimo Rege nostro [for our most fortunate (or most blessed) king].


Folio: read, me fue.

Quarto 1r.8: contradicho. [punctus]. MS 1r.5: contradicho /. [punctus elevatus?], poss. rdg. González: contradicho. ¶.


Varela: a[n] dado; los (220). Folio: n is present in the scriptio continua setting as shown and does not appear to be printed from an inverted type.


9 MS 1r.7: guana bam. [punctus], poss. rdg.; also poss. guania bani. [punctus]. González: Guanabani. [period]. Fernández de Navarrete: Guanahaní. [period]. The Folio’s poor impression of -m could be read -in, as Morison writes for his translation. Plannck F (1r): Guanahanin. Varela: Guanahaní (220). 10

Quarto 1r.12: concepcion. [punctus]. Plannck F (1r): Conceptionis. [punctus].

Quarto 1r.12–13: ferrandina. [punctus]. MS 1r.8: fernandina, prob. rdg. Plannck F (1r): Fernandinam. [punctus].


Quarto 1r.13: la ysabella. [punctus]. MS 1r.8: la ysla ysabela / [virgula suspensiva]. The ink of the series of strokes striking ysla looks entirely consistent with that of the writing. Plannck F (1r): aliam Hysabellam. [punctus]. The Latin does not order the islands numerically. Varela: la Isabela (220).



Quarto 1r.13: quinta la isla Iuana. [punctus]. MS 1r.8: quinta ysla iuana.


Folio: read, una.


MS 1r.9: segui la costa.


Folio: Only the upper ascender of l (al) is visible. Quarto 1r.15: al poniente. MS 1r.9: a poniente.

Quarto 1r.16: tierra firma. [punctus]. MS 1r.10: tierra [poss., terra] firme. [punctus]. (L., terra firma.) Plannk F (1r): continentem. 17


MS 1r.10: Catayo. [punctus]. Plannck F (1r): Chatai.


Folio: abbreviatura for qual is hypercorrect.

Quarto 1r.18: non podia. MS 1r.11–12: non podia. Simancas gives non (prob.rdg.) at each instance, reflecting the Latin form. Fernandez de Navarrete writes non and González, no at these instances with great consistency; therefore, the notes are silent on non as a variant in the MS and in its transcribers’ results hereinafter except where it appears as a part of other variant passages.



MS 1r.12: fablas.


Quarto 1r.19: todos.andaua.


Folio: read, adelante.


MS 1r.14: ynvierno.


Varela: encarnado [y] yo.

Folio: i-type set for r, poss. rdg., supported by Quarto (1r.24: austro) and MS (1r.15: alaustro). Varela: de huir d’él al austro [to flee/speed from it toward the south] (220).



MS 1r.17: e, prob. rdg. González and Fernández de Navarrete: o.


MS 1r.17: çibdades. Andovyeron, prob. rdg.


MS 1r.18: gentes.


Quarto 1r.29: harta.


Read: de ella (= [of her] de la isla).


Plannck F (1v): miliaria. cccxxii.


Quarto 1r.32: fin: [punctus elevatus].

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio MS 1r.20–21: del cual cabo avia otra isla. Quarto 1r.32: issa; read, isla. The ligature ss (a geminate long-s) is set rather than the sl (long s + l) ligature. 34

35 MS 1r.21: dist[a]nte, poss. rdg. Andrés Bernáldez writes that they saw another island “distante” eighteen leagues (272).

MS 1r.21: dies e ocho [eighteen]. Plannck F (1v): miliaribus. liiii. [punctus], for “fifty-four miles,” taking the number as eighteen (leagues) and using three leagues to a Roman mile to get 54 miles. Diario 12 February: setenta y tres millas que son dieciocho leguas y un cuarto [73 Roman miles which are 18.25 leagues]; four Roman miles to a league, therefore. Columbus repeats the 4-miles-per-league equivalence in the Diario at several places: Friday August 3 (60 miles = 15 leagues); Sunday September 9 (120 miles = 30 leagues); Monday September 10 (10 miles per hour = 2.5 leagues per hour); and Thursday October 11 (90 miles = 22.5 leagues), as examples. See Morison (Journals 44) for the results of his research on Columbus’s measurements and the systematic supression of the correct data in the Diario, for which Morison gives an English translation. Kerney emends: o > y (16). 36


MS 1r.22: seguirla, prob. rdg. González: segue, poss. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: seguí.

MS 1r.22: setentrion, with some graphemes indeterminate. González: Se[s]entrion, poss. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: setentrion. The sailing and directional context and the Latin per Septentrionem (Plannck F 1v) may have served admiral Fernández de Navarrete’s reading. 39 Quarto 1v.3: oriente.c.lxxviii.[punctu-s set off numerals]. MS 1r.22: çiento e se[t]enta i ocho. Plannck F (1v): miliaria. dlxiiii. [punctus], or 564 Roman miles; though some may interpret miliaria as “leagues,” the number here, compared with that of the Spanish text, indicates the translator converted leagues to miles. Silber’s Latin edition drops d (the number 500) here, printing lxiiii. In Plannck, then, the figure represents 3.16 Roman miles to a league. Kerney emends: clxxxviii. 38

See n. 183 to Folio 1v.45, below, for the corresponding passage. Varela emends to conform to the Latin text (221 n. 7). Major (Select 1870) considered the Giuliano Dati verse rendition of the Letter to be of great bibliographical interest because Dati gets the number of miles along the north coast of Hispaniola “correct” at both mentions of them where others are inconsistent. This circumstance led Major to wonder, before the discovery of the Folio, “whether the real editio princeps has perished, or not as yet come to our knowledge” (Select cxxii; Bibliography 27–28). In contrast to Dati’s supposed correct redaction of the numbers, the Quarto has only the second instance of the number correct (clxxxviii leguas); the Latin translator converted the Spanish leguas to Roman miles by a multiple of three (188 x 3) for 564 Roman miles, so the Plannck and Silber Latin editions give millaria [miles] in Roman numerals. The Plannck edition gets the number right only at the first mention, but Silber makes both consistent with the first, getting neither right. See also Major (Select cxxiii–cxxiv). MS 1r.23: oriente./ [punctus elevatus, poss. rdg.] asy. González: [penstrokes perhaps indicating a tentative sense of a break in the thought preceding asi]. Fernández de Navarrete: oriente así. See also the following note and notes to this section of the translation.


Varela notes the probable error of the scribe’s having duplicated this phrase from the previous line in the compositor’s fair copy and brackets it (221). Ramos denies this possibility since he finds that each phrase has a distinct referent: “la mención anterior se refiere a la costa recorrida y dirección de la navigación, en tanto que ahora alude a la forma de navegar, en linea recta” [the previous phrase refers to the coast (they had) sailed and their direction, whereas now he alludes to how they sailed, in a straight line] (125). I see no logical referent for la qual without iuana standing where it does in the second example; the words preceding the phrase asi como de la iuana are different in the two instances, and the reading, then, does not suggest an eyeskip prompted by identical words in close proximity (i.e., falling on the same or consecutive lines). 41


Plannck F (1v): fertilissime. Varela: fertilíssimas (221).

Quarto 1v.7: xpianos intending crianos > christianos; gothic types xp, meant to be Greek chi rho (cr). See also Quarto 2v.4.



Quarto 1v.8: marauilla. [punctus].

Quarto 1v.10: centre son todas. MS 1r.27: çe[n]tir frey todas, prob. rdg. Plannck F (1v): the Latin suppresses the name.Varnhagen–Sanfelices (per Varnhagen): Teneryfe, a volcanic island in the Canaries. Varela: Tenerife, todas (221).



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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 46

Folio: e-type barely prints. Cf., Quarto 1v.10: fermossimas.


MS 1r.28: la foia. [punctus].


MS 1r.29: estan floridos.


Quarto 1v.16: ruisennol.

Quarto 1v.19: disformidad. The Quarto compositor may have used a separate horizontal bar placed against t of the st ligature, st > sf. 50

51 Quarto 1v.19: dellas / más asi. Varela: dellas, mas *** asi, apparently indicating the perception of an anacoluthon (Textos 221). 52

Folio: o-type repeated, probably anticipated from otros. Quarto 1v.19: los otros. MS 1r.32: los otros.


Folio: read, frutos e ieruas (Mod. Sp. frutos y yerbas).

Quarto 1v.20: yeruas/en. MS 1r.32–33: yeruas [en?]; an ink blot at the head of the l. 33. González: yerbas. En. Fernández de Navarrete: yerbas: en.


55 Folio: punctus, poss. rdg. Compositor may read i as a numeral and place a punctus before it. Quarto 1v.21: & ay. MS 1r.33: e Ay, prob. rdg. 56

Quarto 1v.22: diuersas/ En.


Quarto 1v.23: inestimable. MS 1r.34: ynstimabile.


Quarto 1v.23: numero. La. MS 1r.35: numero. la. prob.rdg.


Folio, sic: lacking -s. Quarto 1v.24: las. MS 1r.35: las.

Folio: four sizable holes, consistent between the two leaves, mar the final thirteen or fourteen lines of each leaf.



Folio: ilas, prob. rdg. Quarto 1v.25: y las. MS 1r.35: y las.


Folio: reading is from the Maisonneuve facsimile, intact in this area.


Quarto 1v.27: lugares. [punctus].


Quarto 1v.28: creancia.


MS 1r.38: aguas. los. González: aguas, lo [sic].


Folio: read, aquellas.


Quarto 1v.30–31: iuana.enesta. MS 1r.39: Iuana. en esta.

Quarto 1v.31: [s]pecierias, with the first letter possibly damaged. MS 1r.39: espeç[u]as, poss. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: espeçias.


69 70

Quarto 1v.32: MS 1r.40: metales. la. Folio: de printed in an area of loss to the surface.

MS 1r.40–1.41: que he fallado y he avido [ny] aya auido notiçia, also possible is [y] for [ny]. González and Fernández de Navarrete: que he hallado y hé habido noticia, with spelling distinctions merely. Plannck F (2r): cuius quidem & omnium aliarum quas ego vidi & quarum cognitionem habeo [of this place (huius) assuredly and all of the others that I saw and of which I have knowledge]. Kerney: que he fallado, y havido (ni haya havido) noticia, [comma]. 71


Quarto 2r.3–4: con vna sola foia [with only one leaf].


Quarto 2r.4: yerua/o.

Quarto 2r.4: ellos fazen. [punctus]. MS 1r.43: ello fazen [punctus]. Plannck F (2r): folio frondeue aliqua aut bombicino velo pudenda operiunt [(with) an arrangement of leaves or a cotton covering they hide the shameful parts]. Fernández de Navarrete appears to make the following ellos the subject of fazen but punctuation and gender disagreement suggest otherwise.


MS 1r.43: tiene[n]. The stroke shown over tiene, interpreted as signaling final -n here, may have an indeterminate purpose in the MS.


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio MS 1r.43: fierro ny azero [para] armas. González: fiero ni acero [leaves an open space] Armas. Fernández de Navarrete: fierro ni acero: armas, [comma]. These early nineteenth-century readings suggest that the run of ink or blot on the MS (abbreviatura for para?) in question here dates from before that period; ink color comports with that of the scribal work as well. 76

77 Folio: line-end, a vertical line prints following par. This is probably the final long-s of temorosos, directly below, jumping up in the forme. Compare this figure with the long-s still shown in the word. Line 44 opens with -a (completing para). 78

Quarto 2r.7: a Fernandez de Navarrete: á maravilla. Non.

Folio: armas comports with ink remnants and is supported by the Quarto (2r.7–8: armas) and MS (1r.43: armas). 79

Quaritch–Kerney facsimile: -an of estan is not visible, but more recent facsimiles show it. In the lines below estan, the Quaritch–Kerney facsimile appears to have effacement or an obstruction that the modern image does not show. 80

81 Folio: reading the first minim as i, per the serif, rather than as u, as the excessive ink at the foot suggests. Quarto 2r.8: simiente. MS 1r.45: senie[n]te, prob. rdg. Plannck F (2r): gestant tamen pro armis arundines sole perustas, in quarum radicibus hastile quoddam ligneum siccum et in mucronem attenuatum figunt [they carry for weapons, however, reeds dried by the sun on whose ends they fasten a sort of wooden shaft shaped into a point]; ergo, a kind of javelin made of a reed stalk. 82 Folio: reading is based on Quarto 2r.8 and MS 1r.45: ala. Quaritch–Kerney facsimile: shows ink that is not visible on the modern photograph of the page near the tear, but these remnants do not suggest vestiges of an a-type. 83

Folio: read, palillo.


Folio: reading is supported by Quarto 2r.9 and MS 1r.46: osan.

Folio: reading is based on Quarto 2r.9–10 and MS 1r.46: muchas. What may be an impression of -s sits to the upper left of the v of vezes (following the supposed muchas). I suspect that in the 1891 Folio facsimile, the tag of what is now a hole in the surface remained partly attached, folded back over this area, obscuring what we see today and also hiding part of the word estan (above), intact today but obscured on the 1891 facsimile. To set muchas without excessive crowding requires about 14 mm. of space, a measurement that comports with the space between the beginning of m- and the space where –s should sit, making muchas a plausible intention. It may appear that a word once sat between m[uchas] and vezes because of the blank space and vertical imprints, but this is probably not the case. A letter (probably a) has been hand-written, so lightly as to be barely visible, perhaps to construct -as just above the incomplete character to the left of vezes. 85


Folio: reading is based on Quarto 2r.10: me ha acaesido. MS 1r.46: me a[c]aescio.


Folio: read, a alguna. MS 1r.47: a alguna.

Folio: a type appears to have fallen down in the forme leaving an extra space between fabl and y. Reading is confirmed by Quarto 2r.11 and MS 1r.47: fabla. 88


Folio: reading is based on Quarto 2r.11: salir a ellos dellos. MS 1r.47: salir aellas dellos [sic].


Folio, sic: i lacks tilde. Quarto 2r.11: sin. MS 1r.47: syn.


Quarto 2r.11–12: numero.&..


Folio: u and n may be set with n types, or with u for n, and vice versa.


MS 1r.48: se aya fecho mal. [punctus].


Quarto 2r.14: toda.


Quarto 2r.14: ay estado.


MS 1r.49: a[v ], effaced (?), illegible.


Quarto 2r.16: alguna/mas.

Quarto 2r.17: remedio.verdad es. MS 1r.51: rre[m][ed]io verdades. A large dot of contemporary ink above the last syllable of rremedio may reflect an effort to signal graphemes (ed) or punctuation (as



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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio punctus elevatus), but I cannot guess at it, magnified many times. González and Fernández de Navarrete: remedio.Verdad. 99

MS 1r.51: que se aseguran.


Quarto 2r.17–18: miedo. ellos.


Varela suggests creería (222).

Quarto 2r.19: viese.ellos. MS 1r.52: viese./ [punctus or punctus elevatus] ellos; viesen is possible. González and Fernández de Navarrete: viese. Ellos. 102


Quarto 2r.20: de no/antes. MS 1r.53: deno antes. González and Fernández de Navarrete: de no; antes.


MS 1r.53: a la persona.


Varela: quier[en], indictating that she suppresses -en (222). See also the following note.

Folio: read, cualquier . . . cualquier. Folio: two errors (both underscored) are apparent: quieren sea cosa de valor quien sea, as in Quarto 2r.21–22. MS 1v.54: quer . . . quer. González: qualquier . . . qualquier. Fernández de Navarrete: quier . . . quier. Kerney mediates each as quier. The modern parallel for each item, if both intentions are taken as quier, is cualquier/a [whatever, whichever]. Varela: quier (222). 106


MS 1v.55: cosa; the graph over cosa is the cedilla element in coraçones, above (1v.54).


MS 1v.55: sea. González and Fernández de Navarrete: son.


Quarto 2r.24: contentos.yo. MS 1v.55: contentos yo. González and Fernández de Navarrete: contentos.

Yo. Folio: i imprints above its place and appears to have pushed apart two letters just above (i and e) in quier. 110


Quarto 2r.26: de agugetas: avn que. MS 1v.57: deagugetas aunque.


MS 1v.57: les.


Quarto 2r.27: mundo/que.


MS 1v.58–59: de oro peso de, prob. rdg., a correction overwritten for peso.


Quarto 2r:29: medio.y.


Folio: read, ya. Quarto 2r.30: mas/ya.

Folio: an e-type has apparently fallen below the print area, leaving a shadow impression and holding the space open.


Quarto 2r.31: tenian auer que. MS 1v.60: tenya / avnque, prob. rdg. González: tenia[?]. aunque, poss. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: tenian aunque. Kerney notes that the Quarto compositor must have taken the abbreviation in ha as intending hauer >auer (32). 118


MS 1v.61: una o dos, lacking arroua (arroba).


Quarto 2r.32: algodon.fylado.

Quarto 2v.2: mal. yo. MS 1v.62: mal [i] yo, poss. rdg. González: mal. e yo, poss. rdg., with much striking and rewriting. Fernández de Navarrete: mal é yo.Varela: mal [y] yo, indicating that she provides y in the phrase (222). 121

Quarto 2v.4: amor.y. MS 1v.64: amor y, prob. rdg.; an ink dot under the left arm of y is probably accidental. 122


MS 1v.64: Allende desto, prob. rdg. Kerney emends: allende. Varela: allende d’esto (222).

Quarto 2v.4 and MS 1v.64 use cr as abbreviatura for the first syllable in christianos. Quarto in gothic types: xptanos, with bar over p as the extension (-is). 124


Folio: read, amor y seruicio.

Quarto 2v.6: castellana. & procuran. MS 1v.65: castellana e procuran. Jane: procuren (subjunctive), possibly a misprint of his intention (9).


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio MS 1v.65: ayuntar de, poss. rdg. González: ay[ud]ar de, with several additions and changes to his reading (Sanz 512, final line). Fernández de Navarrete: ayudar é. 127

128 Quarto 2v.6–7: tenen. MS 1v.65: tien[e], poss. rdg., lacking abbreviatura for -n. González and Fernández de Navarrete: tienen.


Folio, sic: ennlcielo. Quarto 2v.9: enel cielo. [punctus]. MS 1v. 67: çielo. [punctus]. González: cielo [end of sentence, no period]. Fernández de Navarrete: cielo; [semicolon].

130 Quarto 2v.9: creyan. MS 1v.67: creyen, prob. rdg. González (prob. rdg.) and Fernández de Navarrete: creían. 131

MS 1v.68: acatamyento, prob. rdg. See Gil’s view on Columbus’s eliding a- in Spanish (58, final ¶).


Quarto 2v.10: recibian. MS 1v.68: rreçiben.

Folio: poss. rdg., the punctus, possibly hand-written. Quarto 2v.11: miedo. y. MS 1v.69: miedo y. González: miedoY, prob. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: miedo.Y. 133


Folio: a superfluous extension at the end: genten.


Quarto 2v.15: nauios.y luego. MS 1v.72: navios y luego. González: navios. ¶ Y.


Quarto 2v.15: legue. MS 1v.72: llegue, prob. rdg. González and Fernández de Navarrete: llegué.


MS 1v.73: notiçia. Kerney emends: noticia. Varela: noticia (223).


MS 1v.74: entendieron. Kerney emends the Folio: entendieron.

Quarto 2v.18: osennas.y. MS 1v.74–75: luengua /o sennas y. González: lenguas o señas.Y, poss.rdg. with lenguas as a superscript over previous writing that is not stricken. Fernández de Navarrete: lenguas ó señas, y. 139


MS 1v.75: mucho / oy, poss. rdg. González: mucho. Hoy. Fernández de Navarrete: mucho; hoy.


Quarto 2v.20: conuersacion[-]; hyphen appears to be written in.


Quarto 2v.23: casa.y. MS 1v.78: casa y. Fernández de Navarrete: casa, y.


Quarto 2v.23: altas. [punctus].

Quarto 2v.23–24: venid venid a. MS 1v.78: venyt / a. González and Fernández de Navarrete: venie á. Plannck F (2v): Uenite venite a.



Quarto 2v.24 and MS 1v.79: mugeres. Varela: mugeres (223).

MS 1v.79: venyeron, poss. rdg. González: venian. Fernández de Navarrete: venieron. A logical sequence of tenses suggests venyan (Mod. Sp., venían). 146

Quarto 2v.25–26: no quedauan. MS 1v.79: no quedavan González: quedaban. Fernández de Navarrete: quedaba. Varela: quedavan (223).



MS 1v.80: pequenno que.


Folio: sic. Quarto 2v.26 and MS 1v.80: trayan algo. Varela: traían algo (223).


Folio: read, que davan (Mod. Sp., que daban).

González and Fernández de Navarrete: tienen en todas, supplying en to make sense of the MS (1v.81). Kerney: tienen [en] todas, noting that the preposition was “omitted” (17 n. 24).Varela: tienen [en], indicating an addition to the text (223). At one stage or the other, -en of tienen may have led the compositor or the manuscript scribe to “eye-skip” a second en for tienen en las islas, but the Spanish texts agree: Ellos tienen todas. 151


MS 1v.81-82: mayores.


Quarto 2v.29: algunas y.


Quarto 2v.29–30: mayoras.


Quarto 2v.30 and MS 1v.82: vna.


Quarto 2v.30: MS 1v.82–83: vancos non. Fernández de Navarrete: bancos: non.


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 157

Quarto 2v.31 and MS 1v.83: de vn.


Quarto 2v.31: madero/mas.


Quarto 3r.2: mercaderias.algunas. MS 1v.85: mercaderias algunas.


Quarto 3r.2–3: visto con.lxx.y lxxx.honbres. MS 1v.85: visto lx[y] lxxx.


Quarto 3r.3: remo.en. MS 1v.86: rremo en. González: remo. ¶ En.


Quarto 3r.4: vi de.

Folio: Quaritch–Kerney facsimile shows a tear through this area without loss to the surface, but a loss now takes in most of impression across several spaces: [ni e]n. Quarto 3r.4–5: ni en. MS 1v.87: ny en.



Quarto 3r.5: lengua/saluo. MS 1v.87: lengua / saluo.


MS 1v.89: fe / a la.


Quarto 3r.8: dispuestos.ya dixe. MS 1v.89: dispuestos ya dyxe. González: dispuestos. [¶] [Ya] dixe, poss. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: dispuestos.Ya dije. Quarto 3r.8: andada.c.vii. [punctus]. MS 1v.89: andado: [punctus elevatus] c vii [no punctus]. González and Fernández de Navarrete: andado ciento y siete.



Quarto 3r.12: destas.c.vii.leguas. MS 1v.92: destas./ [punctus elevatus?] cvii leguas.

Folio: prob. rdg., with loss in the space and a slight impression visible above the loss. Quarto 3r.12: me queda. MS 1v.92: me quedan. 169


Quarto 3r.13: vna.

Folio: anau, poss. rdg. Quarto 3r.13: auan. MS 1v.93: avan. González and Fernández de Navarrete: Cibau. Plannck F (3r): Anan.



Folio: read, adonde. No abbreviatura (õ) is visible. Kerney: donde, with a note (18).


MS 1v.93: nasçe, prob. rdg.


Quarto 3r.14: cola/las.

Folio: punctus preceding lx, poss. rdg. Quarto 3r.15: de.l.o.lx.leguas. MS 1v.94: de l o lx leguas / [virgula suspensiva]. González: cinquenta o sesenta leguas, [comma]; underscoring indicates superscript (514 ¶ 2)]. Fernández de Navarrete: cincuenta ó sesenta, [comma]. 175


MS 1v.95: puedo.


Folio, sic: -e lacking.


Folio: sic. Quarto 3r.16: quales. MS 1v.95: quales.

Folio: a space lies between the o- and s-types. Quarto 3r.16: todas. MS 1v.95: todos, prob. rdg. González and Fernández de Navarrete: todas.



Quarto 3r.17: yslasEsta.


MS 1v.96: en çierto, prob. rdg. González: en cierto. Fernandez de Navarrete: en cerco. Kerney: en cerco.

Kerney notes an error of omission and writes: “Co[libre en Cata]luña” (18 and n. 10). Kerney’s idea is reflected in Bernáldez’s account: “Colibre, que es en Cataluña cerca de Perpiñan” (275).



Quarto 3r.19: anduue.clxxxviii. [punctus]. MS 1v.97: anduve: [punctus elevatus] cxxx viii, [sic] lacking l.


Quarto 3r.19: grandes.


Folio: reading is based on the Quaritch–Kerney facsimile.


Quarto 3r.20: desear.&. MS. 1v.98: desear:[punctus elevatus] e.

Folio: reading is based on Quarto 3r.20–21 (vista) and MS 1v.98 (vysta). Kerney: v[ista]. Quaritch–Kerney facsimile: the lower section of the loss (below vista) is intact. 187

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio Folio: reading is based on Quarto 3r.21–22 (que de todas tenga tomada) and MS 2r.99 (que de todos tenga tomada). Maisonneuve and Quaritch–Kerney facsimiles: -a of tomada is legible; otherwise, the loss is approximately the same today. 188

Folio: reading is based on Maisonneuve and Quaritch–Kerney facsimiles and on the Quarto and MS readings. Folio: a partial impression remains between e and i, and as the Quarto and MS readings suggest, it may owe to a type from the line below jumping up into that position. Quarto 3r.23 and MS 2r.100: que yo. 189

This suppressed line (48) is reset as 2r.1. The Maisonneuve and Quaritch–Kerney facsimiles give todas intact and the upper part of a foregoing type. Cf. MS 2r.100, reading with the reset line. Editors give the line as set at 2r.1. 190


Kerney: quales. Varela: que (224).


Folio, sic: no abbreviatura (horizontal bar) signals n.


Quarto 3r.25: castilla. en.


Folio: an erring tilde over e.


Varela: de (224).


Folio: read, como de aquella.


Quarto 3r.28: grand.


Quarto 3r.28: can /adonde.


Folio: two t types instead of tr.


Quarto 3r.28–29: grand trato & grand ganança.


Plannck F (4r): Natiuitatis.


Folio: read, a estas horas.


Quarto 3r.31–32: y hedexada.


Quarto 3v.1: anno.y fusta.


MS 2r.107: fazer y grande.


Folio: a t-type prints its shadow.


Folio, sic: doubling the conjunction (y + e). Quarto 3v.4: y tener. MS 2r.108: y tener.

MS 2r.108: hī (as abbreviatura), poss. rdg. González and Fernández de Navarrete: hermano. As an abbreviatura, hī might convey huius (gen., of his) or huiusmodi (gen., of this/his kind); either might make sense here as “regarding me as one of his own (class, kin, people).” 208


Folio: read, aunque.


MS 2r.109: mudase, prob. rdg. González: muda[sen]. Fernández de Navarrete: mudasen.


Folio: read, ofender.


Quarto 3v.5: gente/el.


MS 2r.109: son, prob. rdg.


Folio: d-type set for h. Quarto 3r.6: dicho.


Quarto 3v.7: sola mente, with the abbreviatura for n possibly handwritten.


MS 2r.111: quedo, poss. rdg., as preterite.

Folio: brackets indicate a punctus elevatus that may have moved up and fallen in the forme to leave a shadow impression in the space. Quarto 3v.9: regir.en.



MS 2r.112: sean. González and Fernández de Navarrete: son.


Quarto 3v.11: fasta veynte. Las.


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio Varela: tienen, present tense (224). Imperfect (Mod. Sp., tenían) accords with tenía and hazian that follow.



Quarto 3v.16: pensauan/mas.


Plannck F (3v): ethiopes.


Quarto 3v.18: corredios.y. MS 2r.117–118: correndios y, prob. rdg. Kerney, emending: correntios; y.

Folio: inpeto is also possible. MS 2r.118: impeto or inpeto. González: ipeto (prob. rdg.). Fernández de Navarrete: espeto. Varela: speto, noting that espeto has the older meaning of asador [roasting spit] and is still used in Andalucía in the sense of fuego [fire] or calor [heat] (224). Impetu is attested in Spanish texts over several centuries and also in late Latin (Spanish) texts with the meaning of fuerza or violencia [force, violence]. See D. J. Gifford and F. W. Hodcroft’s book of medieval texts (274). See related listings in Mark Davies’s Corpus. 224


Quarto 3v.19: solares.Es.


Folio: read, que el.

Folio: sic, repeating di. Quarto 3v.19–20: grande fuerça puesto que es didistincta. MS 2r.119: gran fuerça puesto que es distynta. González: grand fuersa [;] pienso ques distinta, prob. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: gran fuerza puesto ques distante. Editors from Kerney (18) to Varela (224) have noted the miscue. 227

228 229

Folio: sic. Quarto 3v.20: linia. MS 2r.119: linna. Quarto 3v.20: .xxvi., punctu-s set off the numeral. MS 2r.119: veynte e seys.

Quarto 3v.20: grandes.En. Editors and translators, including Leandro de Cosco, Fernández de Navarrete, Kerney, Thacher, and Varela, have viewed grandes as an error for grados [degrees].



Folio: read, a donde hay.

Quarto 3v.21: montannas ay tenida a fuerça. Read, ay tenida (in Mod. Sp.): allí tenía [there it was cold]. Varela: aí tenía [a] fuerça (224).



Folio: m-type appears turned. Quarto 3v.22: yuierno/mas.

Kerney notes that que here is “transposed” (i.e., set into the wrong place), and he emends: las viandas que. See also the two following notes. 234

235 Quarto 3v.23: viandas que. MS 2r.121: viandas como [c]o[n], prob. rdg. González: las viandas como son. Fernández de Navarrete: viandas, como son.Varela: viandas [que], maintaining la costumbre que (224). MS 2r.121: effacement and loss at the intersection of the folds.

Reiterating: MS 2r.121: viandas como [c]o[n], prob. rdg. González: viandas como son. Fernández de Navarrete: viandas, como son. 236

Quarto 3v.24: demasia. asy que. MS 2r.122: demasya ansy que, prob. rdg., with light effacement following demasya. González: demasia. Ansi que. Fernández de Navarrete: demasía: ansi que.



Quarto 3v.24: innoticia, probably an accidental reversal of types for ni.


MS 2r.122: note de, given as superscript, supplying an omission.

Plannck F (3v): insula Charis nuncupata [an island called by the name of Charis] that is specified to be “the second” in entering the Indies. Bernáldez refers to “certain islands” (plural) at the opening (en la entrada) of the “Indies” called by the Indians Carives (276). Varela: que es Carib, la segunda, without notation, suppressing aqui and adding the proper name (224).



Quarto 3v.27: quales. MS 2r.124: quales.

Quarto 3v.27: humana.Estos. MS 2r.124: vyua estos. González and Fernández de Navarrete resolve: viva. Estos. 242


Quarto 3v.28: canaos. MS 2r.124: canoas.


Quarto 3v.29: pueden.ellos.

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 245

Folio: read, como mugeres.


Quarto 4r.1: tienen/son.


Folio: abbreviatura (p-type with bar through the descender) set in exigency or error.


Quarto 4r.2: couardes/ mas.


Quarto 4r.2–3: tengo a nada.


Quarto 4r.3: otros.estos.


MS 2r.130: matrimonyo, poss. rdg. Plannck F (3v): Mateunin. Kerney: Matinino (19).

Quarto 4r.5–6: ninguno.ellas. MS 2r.131: ninguno ellas. González: ninguna. [sic] Ellas. Fernández de Navarrete: ninguno. Ellas.



Quarto 4r.6: exercicio. MS 2r.131: exerçiçio.


Folio: read, flechas [arrows]. Quarto 4r.6: flechas. MS 2r.131–132: flechas.


Quarto 4r.7: cobiian.

Quarto 4r.7-8: lannes de arambre. MS 2r.132: lavnes de alanbre, prob. rdg. González and Fernández de Navarrete: laminas de alambre. 256


Quarto 4r.8: mucho.otra. MS 2r.133: mucho / otra. González: mucho. ¶ Otra.

Quarto 4r.9–10: cabello [line-end, no punctuation] En. MS 2r.133–134: cabello [line-end, no punctuation] en, en at line opening (134). González and Fernández de Navarrete: cabello. En. 258


Quarto 4r.10: cuenta.


Quarto 4r.10: desta. Varela: d’esta (225).


Folio: read, otras. MS 2r.134: y de otras.

Folio: [sic]. Quarto 4r.11: & conclusion. MS 2r.134: e conclusion./ [punctus elevatus], prob. rdg. Kerney: [E]n (19). Varela: En (225).



Kerney reads, sea fecho. Varela: se a fecho (Mod. Sp., se ha hecho).

Folio: sic. MS 2r.136: ovyieron, poss. rdg. González: hobieron, prob. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: hobieren. 264

Quarto 4r.14: daran.agora. MS 2r.137: medaran / agora, poss. rdg. González: me darán. Agora. Fernández de Navarrete: me darán: agora.



MS 2r.137: espeçiaria. González: especeria, prob.rdg.

Quarto 4r.15: mandaran cargar/y. MS 2r.137: mandaren y. González: mandaren: y, colon as prob.rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: mandaren, y. 267

268 MS 2r.137: al mastigua, prob. rdg. with ending effaced. González: almasiga, prob.rdg. Fernández de Navarrete: almasiga.

Quarto 4r.16: cargar & dela. MS 2r.138: cargar / e de la. González: cargar, e de la. Fernández de Navarrete: cargar; é de la. 269


Fernández de Navarrete, evidently emending: Grecia y en la.


Quarto 4r.17: xio/y. Plannck F (3v): Chium. Varela: d’Exio, y (225).


Folio: poss. rdg. Quarto 4r.17–18: quiere/y.


MS 2r.139: lignaloe. Kerney: lignumaloe (19). Varela: lignáloe (225).


MS 2r.139: mandaren.


Quarto 4r.18: cargar/y.


Quarto 4r.18: quanto.


MS 2r.140: mandaren.


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 278

Quarto 4r.19: seran delos.

Quarto 4r.19: ydolatres. y creo. MS 2r.140: ydolatres y creo. González: Idolatras. Creo. Fernández de Navarrete: idólatras; y creo. 279

Quarto 4r.20: ruybaro y. MS 2r.140: rruy varuo y. González: rubarbo y. Fernández de Navarrete: ruibarbo y.



Quarto 4r.22–23: lugar de nauegar.

Quarto 4r.24: & bien asentado/& ala. MS 2v.143: e bien asentado e a la. González: é bien asentado. ¶ A la. Fernández de Navarrete: é bien asentado. E á la.


Quarto 4r.25–26: demandaua. Esto. MS 2v.144: demandava esto. González: demandaba Esto, [sic]. Fernández de Navarrete: demandaba. Esto.


Kerney emends: [gracias á ?] eterno dios, recognizing the anacoluthon that also appears in the Quarto (4r.26) and MS (2v.149). No other translation has observed it to my knowledge, and Kerney’s insertion makes sense of the Folio. In editing the Folio, Varela inserts ***, apparently indicating her perception of an anacoluthon. 284


Folio: read, nuestro.


Quarto 4r.27–28: inposibles.y esta. MS 2v.146: ynposybles yesta.

Folio: haunque (Mod. Sp. aunque). Quarto 4r.28 and MS 2v.146: avn que. González, apparently emending: la una. ¶ Aunque. Fernández de Navarrete: la una, porque aunque.


Quarto 4r.29: ayan fallado/o escripto todo. MS 2v.146–147: ayan fablado o s[c]rito todo, prob. rdg., with t, under a blot of ink, read by magnification. González: hayan fablado [strike out] creo todo. Fernández de Navarrete: hayan fablado otros, todo.


Folio: read, i as consonant (Mod. Sp. conjetura). Quarto 4r.29–30: conlectura. MS 2v.147: con ie tura. González: congetura. Fernández de Navarrete: conjetura.



Folio: read, a llegar. MS 2v.147: alleg[a]r. González and Fernández de Navarrete: alegar.


MS 2v.147–148: conprehendiendo tan[t]o.

Folio: reading is based on Quarto 4r.32 and MS 2v.148: cosa. Folio is loss fairly consistent from facsimile to facsimile. 292


Quarto 4r.32: nuestro redentor. MS 2v.149: nuestro Redentor, prob. rdg., with probable RR intended.


Quarto 4r.32–4v.1: dio victoria. A. MS 2v.149: dio esta vitoria a.


Quarto 4v.1: rey & reyna. MS 2v.149: Rey e Reyna, with probable RR intended.


Folio: reading is based on Quarto 4v.1–2 and MS 2v.150: famosos de tan.

Quarto 4v.2: cosa a donde. MS 2v.150: cosa [/] a donde, poss. rdg. Fernández de Navarrete, evidently reading the scribe’s large, open stroke before a as a pause: cosa, adonde. 297


Quarto 4v.2 and MS 2v.150: toda la.


Folio: read, fiestas y dar. MS 2v.151: fiestas dar. Fernández de Navarrete: fiestas, dar.

Folio: solemnes might be extended as solennes, here and at the instance below (Folio 2v.2), as in the Quarto’s first instance (4v.3).



Folio: read, enxalcamiento, Mod. Sp., ensalzamiento.


MS 2v.152: avran a[yu]ntandose, poss. rdg.


Quarto 4v.6: santa fe.y. MS 2v.153: santa fee y. Fernández de Navarrete: Santa Fé, y.


Quarto 4v.7: espanna/mas.

MS 2v.154: mas que todos, poss. rdg. The scribe writes and strikes a (a), or else may intend to remodel a into q as an abbreviatura for que in a “not only, but also” phrase. Plannck F 4r: non solum Hispania sed vniuersa Christianitas est futura particeps [not only Spain but all Christianity is a future sharer/participant]. 305

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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio Plannck F (4r): sic breviter enarrata. Uale. Ulisbonae pridie idus Martii [thus recounted in brief. Farewell. At Lisbon, the day before the Ides of March (14 March)]. See pages 183–184 of the following chapter on this matter.


307 MS 2v.155: caravela calavera, i.e., caravela is stricken, and the scribe writes calavera afterward. The rewriting reflects an exchange of liquid consonants /r/ and /l/ (trueque de líquidas) that occurs in spoken Spanish (calavera < caravela). Kerney: caravela, noting the correction (20). Varela: caravela (226).

The printed Spanish texts agree; the MS reading may do so as well (MS 2v.155) though I suggest that it is open to interpretation. Canarias is generally regarded as an error in the copy text or in composing.


See the Diario for Columbus’s position from Sunday, February 10 though Monday, 18 February and Morison’s notes to his English translation of it (Journals 162 ff.). 309 Quarto 4v.9: a.xv. [punctu-s set off the numeral]. See the Diario for 15 February. 310 Spanish texts agree on the disputed dateline with only punctuation and format distinguishing their readings. Quarto 4v.9–10: xv de febrero. Mill. & quatrocientos & nouenta y tres años. [punctus]. MS 2v.155–156: xv de febrero d[two numerals (?) stricken]xciii.

MS 2v.156 is numbered on the original as 116. Quarto 4v.11: almirante. [punctus]. MS 2v: [the line is lacking]. González, possibly extrapolating from a translation: á servicio de Vmd –– Almirante Colon —, approximating González’s short and long pen dashes. Vmd may be read as a compression for Vuestra Merced [your grace], a deferential form of address. Fernández de Navarrete: no text. 311

Plannck F (4r): Christoforus Colom Oceanae classis Praefectus. [punctus] [Christopher Columbus, Prefect of the Ocean Fleet]. This line concludes the Latin edition. Quarto 4v.12: Nyma. MS 2v.157: a ny ma (a nyma). González and Fernández de Navarrete: Anima, both giving this line in parentheses, perhaps intending to signal a non-authorial interpolation. In addition, González underlines each of the words, and Fernández de Navarrete gives the line in italics. 312


MS 2v.158: escrito estando. González and Fernández de Navarrete: escrita, estando.


Quarto 4v.13: de Castilla. MS 2v.158: de castilla.


Quarto 4v.15: por cori.


Quarto 4v.16: mundo/ adonde.


MS 2v.160: a[c]orde de escrevy[r].


Quarto 4v.17: En todas las.


Quarto 4v.17: hallado los.


MS 2v.161: los tiempos.

MS 2v.161 (line-end): xxxiii /, prob. rdg. For the reading at MS 2v.161–162, Fernández de Navarrete, essentially duplicating González, writes: fuí en noventa y tres dias, é volví en setenta y ocho salvo que estas tormentas me han detenido trece corriendo por esta mar. Underscoring represents italics in the original. MS 2v.162 is especially effaced, and loss to the line has occurred because the horizontal fold falls along this line, and the intersection of the “pocket-fold” lines falls at its center. Indications are that this line was damaged to some extent before the enumeration hand set the number “162” at the head of the line, setting a little high to avoid the loss and perhaps writing with less pressure than at the subsequent lines. 321


Quarto 4v.19: en.xxviii.saluo. MS 2v.162: xxvi[ii] / [sa]luo, prob. rdg.

Quarto 4v.19–20: .xiiii.dias. MS 2v.162: [effaced]. González: trece, corriendo. Fernández de Navarrete: trece corriendo. De Lollis: .XIIII. días corriendo (135). 323


Quarto 4v.20: mar. Dizen. MS 2v.163: mar dizen. González: mar. ¶ Dicen.


MS 2v.163: a ca, poss. rdg. González and Fernández de Navarrete: acá.


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A Variorum Edition of the Spanish Folio 326

Folio: abbreviatura is present for ue; nevertheless, Kerney: q[ue].


MS 2v.163: yn vierno ny. González: invierno, ni. Fernández de Navarrete: invierno ni.


Quarto 4v.22: naues. [punctus].

Quarto 4v.22: .xiiii.dias de marco. [punctus]. MS. 2v.164: xiiii março. [punctus, poss. rdg.]. González: 14. de Marzo. [period]. Fernández de Navarrete: los cuatro de Marzo. [period]. Fernández de Navarrete notes, “Esta fecha puesta en el original de Colon [sic] en números romanos está muy confusa, y parece significar 14; pero bien examinada no puede ser sino de 4 de Marzo” (Colección I 175 n. 1). De Lollis: .IIII. días de marzo (135). 329

330 Latin editions lack this imposed label or notation stipulating to data concerning the Letter.Varela suppresses this section (226). 331

Folio: l-type of Alescribano barely prints but is visible under magnification.


Quarto 4v.24: Indias.Contenida.


MS 2v.167 (unnumbered): e otra.

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9 Debriefing: ink and paper, men, and stemma

The Folio is infamous for its plain and tatty appearance, for its supposed mix of languages and wayward composition and its slip-shod presswork. The opening initial presages the quality of the rest of the printing: it looks slightly tipsy with its smaller lower compartment and rocking base, and its position overshadows the opening type (h) of the third line. No organizing headings or text divisions that one finds in other contemporary printings — and in some efforts to edit the Letter — announce its contents. Margins may be more ragged than justified, and the types appear to come from different fonts of about the same body size. Spacing, punctuation, and the use of initials respond to no regular rationales, and words are broken, unannounced by hyphens at line-end. The effort to suppress a line set in error is only partly successful, and a good many lines waver along their courses. Inking is uneven, and types print awry. Other than the knocked-down line, no contemporary mark of correction, insertion, or suppression indicates that a fifteenth-century person holding a writing instrument took an interest in sorting out the reading. In contrast to the hidden grace of its watermark — the plumed helm of a knight crowned with a long-stemmed cross or a star — and the forthcoming prominence of its writer, the folio Letter presents itself as an utterly inconsequential piece of early printing. Print-period scholar Theodore De Vinne could have had his eye on the Folio when he catalogued his complaints of the early compositor’s and pressman’s work: No feature of early printing is more unworkmanlike than that of composition. Imitating the style of the manuscript copy, the compositor huddled together words and paragraphs in solid columns of dismal blackness, and sent his forms to press without title, running-titles, chapter-heads and paging-figures. The space for the ornamental borders and letters . . . seems extravagant when contrasted with the pinched spaces between lines and words. . . . Proper names were printed with or without capitals, apparently to suit the whim of the compositor. [Punctuation was . . .] employed capriciously and illogically. Crooked and unevenly spaced lines and errors of arrangement or making-up were common. . . . Words were mangled in division, and in the display of lines in capital letters, in a manner that seems inexcusable. . . . [H]e made the words fit, chopping them off on any letter or in any position indifferent to the wants of the reader or to the properties of language. (525)

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Debriefing De Vinne applies the printing standards of his time to early printed books, and however disconnected his understanding may appear from the context of the period it addresses, he provides a useful view of the distinctions between earlier and later norms.1 When the Letter was printed, standards of practice for capitalization, spelling, and punctuation for vernacular languages did not exist in any sense that parallels those of De Vinne’s time, and what was essentially a read-and-recycle printing like the folio Letter is unlikely to have warranted great care in those respects in any case. “Haste” seems to enter most discussions of the Letter’s provenance. Commentators cite “haste” in printing the folio Letter because of its supposed errors and poor appearance, and some theorize that “haste” was necessary because of the Letter’s urgent political role in securing Spain’s interests in the “Indies.”2 The idea that the Letter was ordered as a “rush” printing by the court to support Spain’s claims to geography fails to comport with the Letter’s appearance, even if nothing else were off. The nature, timing, and sophistication of Spain’s diplomatic efforts to secure its supposed rights of possession and Spain’s intimacy with the papal administration argue against the Letter’s value as an urgent or decisive element in those negotiations. That it might have been printed in the dead of night by tired — or tipsy — men working with insufficient light offers one plausible explanation for the appearance of the folio Letter.3 Due speed and competence were signal elements of the commercial printshop of the twentieth century as of the fifteenth, and together, these forces shaped an efficient shop environment and produced income.While working quickly under pressure may indeed multiply composing errors, even in “haste,” copy must be cast off, can be marked with paragraphs and white space worked in, and an experienced man could pick types with a high degree of accuracy — as the Folio’s compositor did in most instances.With no significant loss of time, a sober, experienced compositor can use initials or dress up a printing with borders or an in-stock woodcut. The smallfolio format of the Letter allows for such ornamentation, and the printer’s observing these niceties would have taken a matter of minutes, but borders and woodcuts might have been perceived as narrowing the field of suspects if the printing were thought to be actionable. The significant investment in time that the Folio’s printer chose not to make was that of correction, and skipping that process, whether for the sake of getting it onto the street to be sold or into a commissioning agent’s hands, would work to explain some of the elements that mar the printing.4 The Roman Latin editions discussed in chapter 4 provide cases upon which to expand these points. The Roman printings focus on Fernando as king of “the Spains” in the opening and closing additions to the text, and they demonstrate higher — if not prestige — values in setting, correcting, and pointing the text, and their titles, preface, and epilogue comport with that idea. These elements demonstrate the diligence inherent in higher production values, and it is reasonable to assign those values to the job’s association with an elevated level of initiative. Perhaps this initiative arrived at the printer’s through the papal curia, as the connections of the Roman printers credited with the first Latin quartos suggest, and as the graces we see in the Roman Latin editions tend to confirm. 5

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Debriefing How many compositors? The reset line of 2r has been posed as evidence for two compositors on the Folio with the rationale that compositor A set 1v, and that through a misunderstanding, compositor B set the last line of 1v a second time to open 2r. It makes sense, however, to think that a new man coming to the work would check the marker on the fair copy against the previously set line with more care than the man who had placed the marker would do; the latter might have relied on his marker and his memory and so fallen into error. More significantly, it is usual to divide work between two compositors by formes, and the lines in question were composed for the same (inner) forme. The practical rationale for two compositors on the folio Letter is simply that two men could have set the formes about twice as fast as one might have done working alone, perhaps getting the second forme onto the press in a more timely way than otherwise. The standard test for multiple compositors is to examine separate formes for distinctions — setting and spelling preferences or habits and the like. The most notable visual difference between the pages of the inner (1v, 2r) and outer (1r, 2v) formes is that the pages of the inner forme have generally tidier margins (justified left and right), and types have not fallen or jumped up as has happened at 2v, but this result may mean that the inner forme was locked up — not composed — under better conditions or by a more alert or competent workman than the outer. Spelling and setting preferences between the inner and outer formes argue against two compositors as well. A comparative study of y- and i-types, representing graphemes that are possible variants in Spain at this time, reveals that i as the copulative [and] appears with much greater frequency on 1r (at least twelve times) than elsewhere, though y as the copulative still appears more often (at least thirty times) on 1r than i, and e also appears on 1r as the copulative at least six times. No phonological rationale or spelling convention or need for space seems to determine the choice, and the vacillations appear practically next to each other. At 1v (inner forme), whose justification is superior to that of 1r, i as copulative never appears; on 2r (inner forme), it appears only once, and on 2v (outer forme), not at all, though the final page allows for few opportunities. Folio 1v, however, uses e at least three times and features i in io and iuntar, along with y for yo (four times).6 Folio 1r shows a preference for yo and ya over io (one instance) and ia (one instance) but vacillates between islas and yslas, as is also the case at 1v and 2r in the inner forme. Variations between b, v, and u (enbiar, boluieron, embreue, andaua, seruo, saluo, vmana, nauio) provide no pattern of composing either. The implied prothesis of h(the aspiration /h/) to certain words opening with a vowel appears on each leaf except the last (2v) in examples like hoffender, haun, and hedificio, and vacillations (vmana, onbres, ovo, fechura) are distributed throughout. Typographical agglutinations of prepositions (a, de, con) with following nouns, articles, pronouns, and adverbs, as well as agglutinations of articles with nouns, occur regularly, without any apparent pattern by forme or folio. One can only speculate about whether and to what degree these


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Debriefing vacillations reflect the copy text, to what degree the copy text reflects the original from which it was drawn, or to what degree some of these settings arise from the compositor’s choices. Surveying the initials in the Folio suggests, rather than two compositors, a matter of printing practice that still privileges the outer pages of folio printings as those likely to fall first under the reader’s eye. The compositor locates the Folio’s sole ornament (its framed initial S) and twenty small initials at 1r, where he sets thirteen small initials in the first nine lines. In the inner forme at 1v, the compositor set not a single initial though the last ten lines present several candidates for initials (altezas, iuana, and several toponyms). These words represent no revealing pattern, however, in that they and their fellows in the same categories open with lower-case types on other pages. In the first thirteen lines of 2r (inner forme), three words (Reynos and two instances of Rey) get initials, and about twenty lines further on, En begins a sentence (2r.32). In the last seven lines of 2r (41–47), nine initials appear — as if the compositor were deliberately setting the tone for 2v where small initials abound,7 but the initials in the last lines of 2r follow no particular rationale: Redemtor, Anuestros, Illustrisimos, Famosos, O (conjunction), and A (preposition) get initials, while rey, reyna, and reynos open with lower-case types.8 At 2v, twenty-eight small initials appear in sixteen lines, about one-third the number of lines set on each of the first three pages. No pattern exists either between the compositor’s placing an initial to open a sentence and a punctus set before it to mark the close of the previous thought. See contradicho Ala at 1r.6 and numero La at 1r.35, and in contrast, see metales. La at 1r.40; the virtual stream-of-consciousness setting in the inner forme at 1v has no examples either way and uses : (two points, set one over the other) to indicate pauses. 2r.41–44 gives three initial-E types and one O, at least two of which appear to open a new line of thought, but no foregoing punctus appears. At 2r.32, both punctus and capital appear (cabello. En), and in 2v.10, a punctus is set (altezas. entodaslas), but no initial follows. Another use of the punctus, to disambiguate Roman numerals from the surrounding text, is employed erratically in the Folio and does not follow the formes or the pages. This punctus may appear at line end on 1r.22 and is followed, at the beginning of the next line, by the Roman numeral it may have been intended to separate from its fellows, but no mark follows the numeral. The mark at the end of 1r.22 could also be a punctus elevatus, having nothing to do with the following Roman numeral. At 1v.43, punctu-s are present (.l.), but the next numeral lacks the opening punctus (lx.), and at 1v.45, neither is visible (clxxxviii). At 2v, none of the three Roman numerals of lines 11–12 is set off; the example in line 5 has the first punctus set a space apart from the numeral, but the closing punctus immediately follows it. Patterns of composing miscues like inverted letters and abbreviatura used inappropriately in place of plain types might suggest two compositors of different ability working on the Folio, but that is not the case. Folio 1r shows a scattering of such settings distributed over the page, more of them occur at 1v, and incidence peaks at 2r of the inner forme with one or more intervening in every few lines. Types for n and u, excellent candidates for setting amiss — and the recipients of inversion in the Folio on a good many occasions, especially on 2r — are, nevertheless, accurately set more often than not. As a conservative count of miscues, consider the following: 1r has six

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Debriefing or fewer of these missteps, all as possibly inverted types; 1v has perhaps as many as eleven inverted types and two other kinds of setting errors; 2r may have as many as twenty-one inverted types (h, n, u) and as many as five additional settings that are faulty in some respect, due to possible misreading of the fair copy or setting an abbreviatura unnecessarily; and 2v, which may have been set immediately following 1r, is comparatively clean in these respects, but its reading is marred by crowded types that have fallen or sprung up.9 The pattern of turned types and other small blunders suggests, if anything, a single compositor, given to the occasional turned type but increasingly apt to turn his letters and to err in other ways as the hours passed. The pattern appears to intensify around the last fourteen lines of 1v, where the knockeddown line appears, and through most of 2r, the compositor appears to grow less rigorous in picking types and/or checking his stick before emptying it. Folios 1r and 2v (the outer forme) exhibit poorly executed right justification in that 1r has visibly undulating text, and 2v shows instances of extra characters and fallen types along the right margin. Right-hand justification at 1v and 2r (the inner forme) appears more competently done on the whole, but at 1v, line length varies somewhat, and at 2r, line length varies by several millimeters, the left margin meanders, and lines undulate.10 Left margins at 1r and 1v (different formes) are the best justified of the four, and the right justification of 1v is visually the most competent of the four pages. At 2v, however, the indented blocks of text and generous spacing leave significant “white” space, making 2v a bit more accessible and appealing to the reader, where the foregoing, crowded pages put one in mind of De Vinne’s complaints about early printing.

What the knocked-down line suggests The semi-obliterated line at the foot of 1v (48) reset as 2r.1 is indeed one of the notable features of the folio Letter. The first editor to make a critical comment on the line was Kerney, who wrote, “It is curious that the words from ‘have skill’ down to ‘as com[pletely]’ are printed twice,” and he remarks that the “extra-regular [line] at the bottom of page 2 . . . is so blurred and broken that its duplicate presentation (with a slight variant) at the top of page 3, seems to be a deliberate repetition.”11 Through the years, critical views concerning the line may have changed, but its presence still calls for rationales. That the line is set twice, that the second setting is different from its fellow, that the first setting may have been inked before being suppressed or else was carelessly inked in spite of it, and that the suppression takes the form of a quick fix suggest three separate events. The first two events are, of course, that the compositor set the line at 1v and set it again at 2r, tasks that were presumably separated by some space of time, and the third event, the effort to repair the miscue by knocking down the line, betrays the lack of value attached to this piece and/or the printer’s general lack of production values in such jobs. After the last line at 1v was set, then, the compositor turned to something else that drew his attention and later returned to set the line at the head of 2r forgetting or losing his place and resetting the line with certain differences.12 A comparison of


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Debriefing his settings shows that while the measurement from the left margin to the middle of d in the word todas is approximately the same (about 35 mm.) in both lines, the legible portions of the lines then show two variant readings within a few words.While 1v.48 reads, todas las tengo por sus altezas que dellas, the resetting at 2r.1 reads, todas las tengo por de sus altezas qual dellas, with underscoring to indicate the distinctions. The spacing and text of the obliterated line (1v.48) may present a slightly more straightforward reading than that of the reset line with its morphemes added (de) and altered (que to qual), but the Quarto and Simancas manuscript have the second reading. Absent a corrector, the discrepancy in page length might have become obvious as the inner forme was being locked up, and in that event, the compositor and the pressman might have collaborated in deciding how to address the problem. Given that 1v.48 probably contains, in a barely legible fashion, at least the second syllable and possibly the third (shown underscored) of complidamente, both of which fall on 2r.2, options other than knocking down the erring line apparently presented too tedious a solution to pursue. Removing the superfluous line of type and setting in the appropriate furniture might not have taken much time had the duplicated line had the same reading, or had the hour not been late, the men tired, and the job close to completion. Whatever the reason for the printer’s taking the path of least resistance, his knocked-down line suggests that things had gone a bit far to warrant a full-scale correction on this job. Since the correction reveals no obliteration of damning or incorrect prose, the error, one may safely conclude, owes merely to one of the omnipresent human factors connected with early printshops: fatigue, frustration, indifference, inebriation, or inexperience. The last possibility, we may be able to discount because printing details suggest the Folio compositor as an experienced man, even a master printer, though perhaps one with a somewhat checkered reputation,13 who would probably have been called upon to do the job through his connections and because of his experience. Perhaps this printer was itinerant, perhaps he printed in another city and merely happened to be in Barcelona on some other business, or possibly he was someone we would know and his contemporaries would have known as a “Barcelona printer.” It is certain only that he was in the right place at the right time to get the job. His time in the trade is indicated in the number and nature of word compressions and suspensions he employs, in his having in his power a variety of ligatures and initials, in the many Folio types showing wear and breakage, and, more broadly, in what serves him as a set of types cobbled together from what appear to be several different gothic fonts similar enough in size and style to be used as a set. The physical Folio tends to confirm a few matters only: the production values that inform it were fairly low in spite of some notable touches in the use of initials in the opening and closing sections; the final verso features competent and aesthetically pleasing blocked text and white space; some sort of disconnect probably occurred in the work between setting the two pages of the inner forme; the remedy for the resulting misstep is consistent with the holistic visual of the printing; and in the more than half a page left to him for a colophon, its printer did not claim the printing or date the work. In these matters, the Folio speaks for itself though the signs have occasionally been misconstrued.

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Debriefing The Folio and the Quarto: Distinctions and consistencies In order to obtain a graphic idea of salient readings between the Spanish Quarto (Q.) and Folio (F.), the following comparisons, suppressing editorial extensions and doubtful readings except where they are central to the question, may be useful. Among the positive distinctions between the two, corrida (Q. 4r.12) is considered an improvement over the Folio’s corida (2r.34), as is the Quarto’s occidente (3r.20) over the Folio’s apocopated occident (1v.46), and, likewise, the Quarto’s mugeres (2v.24) over the Folio’s mugers (1v.29).14 The Quarto breaks up some agglutinations set in the Folio,15 but these modifications constitute “distinctions” rather than “corrections” in that no set of rules dictated those matters — or the matter of spelling — in the vernacular languages, and practice in joining and separating morphemes in writing continued to vary over subsequent centuries. A few examples will indicate the quality of these differences.Where the Folio (1r.40) reads metales. Lagente, for example, with an odd space following L, the Quarto adopts the punctus and breaks up the morphemes of lagente but suppresses the initial following the punctus, arriving at gente (1v.32). In an opposite kind of alteration, the Quarto assembles adelante (1r.19) where the Folio reads a de lante (1r.12–13). What one might call the Quarto’s “semi-emendation” (according to modern standards) of the Folio’s lege (1v.23) with legue (Q 2v.15), as the first person preterit (Mod. Sp., llegué), is also interesting. Notwithstanding the Spanish Quarto’s reputation for being a cleaner printing than the Folio, the edition reveals instances where the Quarto reading is perceived as inferior to that of the Folio: • • • • • • • • •

harta (Q. 1r. 29) for harto (F. 1r.19). vna cosa de algodon que para ellos fazen (Q. 2r.4) sets the Folio’s vna cosa dealgodon quepara ello fazen (1r.43) amiss with ellos for ello. tenian auer que (Q. 2r.31) for t[e]nian haun que (F. 1v.13), misconstruing haun (Mod. Sp. aún) as auer (Mod. Sp. haber). y hedexada (Q. 3r.31–32) for yhedexado (F. 2r.6). ay montannas ay tenida (Q. 3v.21) for ay montannas grandes :ay tenia (F. 2r.19), the Quarto making tenida of tenia and omitting the Folio’s adjective and its punctus elevatus. no he hallado innoticia (Q. 3v.24) for no he hallado ni noticia (F. 2r.21–22). lannes (Q. 4r.7-8) for launes (F. 2r.31). dio victoria (Q. 4r.32) for dio esta. victoria (F. 2r.46–47), though the Folio’s punctus is erring. por cori (Q. 4v.15) for pero cori (F. 2v.9), possibly due to the Quarto compositor’s misreading an abbreviatura.

While tenian auer que (Q. 2r.31) might be argued as an effort to create a logical reading, most of the differences shown above may reasonably be perceived as lapses.16 Various other small miscues occur in the Quarto, such as the setting of the ss (double long-s) ligature rather than the sl (long s + l) ligature for isla (set as issa) at Quarto 1r.32.


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Debriefing Perhaps the most telling group of comparisons between the Quarto and Folio are those where the Quarto compositor duplicates the Folio’s setting in places where other options were available, some of which would have served as correctives. These coincidences include the following examples: • • • • • • •

• •

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Rey & reyna (Q. 1r.5) set as at Folio 1r.3. nonbre nueuo Quando (Q. 1r.14) where, except in setting the extension of the Folio’s nonbre, the Quarto compositor duplicates this rather odd Folio setting that omits punctuation and uses the initial Q (F. 1r.9). de catayo (Q. 1r.16), without agglutination or initial (C) for the geographic name (F. 1r.11). hauer fabla (Q. 1r.18) as at Folio 1r.12. yuierno (Q. 1r.23) as at Folio 1r.15. distincta (Q. 1v.1) as at Folio 1r.21. The manuscript reads distante (1r.21), considered by most editors and translators to be the “correct” reading. diez o ocho (Q. 1v.1), like the Folio’s diez o ocho (1r. 21), in spite of its appearance as a miscue. Andrés Bernáldez’s printed text (I 271) and MS 1r.21 agree upon dies e ocho [eighteen] probably the intention, and an emendation made by editors from Kerney forward. hedificios (Q. 1v.26–27) keeps the h- of the Folio (1r.37).17 metales. la gente desta isla & de todas las otras que he fallado y hauido:ni aya hauido noticia andan todos desnudos (Q. 1v.32–2r.2) and the Folio’s metales. Lagente desta ysla y de todas las otras que he fallado y hauido:ni aya hauido noticia andan todos desnudos (1r.40–41) concur with surprising fidelity, losing the sense.18 enbiar (Q. 2r.10) accords with Folio 1r.47. maioras (Q. 2v.29) accords with Folio 1v.31.19 artillarias (Q. 3r.32–3v.1), like Folio 2r.7; the manuscript gives artillerias (2r.106). allenda (Q. 2v.4); cf. the Folio, allend a (1v.16), which editors emend to allende. de aiuntar de (Q. 2v.6) as at Folio 1v.17. tenen (Q. 2v.6–7) as at Folio 1v.17. catamiento (2v.10) as at Folio 1v.20.20 entendiron (Q. 2v.18), as at Folio 1v.24, gives the penultimate syllable undipthonged (> -dieron). osennas:yestos (Q. 2v.18–19) as at Folio 1v.25. notia (Q. 2v.17) as at Folio 1v.24.21 tienen todas las yslas (Q. 2v.27–28) accords with Folio 1v.30–31, where en following tienen is supposed to have been omitted in error (Kerney 17 n. 24 and other editors). colunya (Q. 3r.18) as at Folio 1v.44. fuente rauia en viscaya (Q. 3r.18–19) compares with the Folio’s fuente rauia en uiscaya (1v.45). corredios.y. (Q. 3v.18) accords with the Folio (2r.17), where it is judged to be an error by Kerney (31). didistincta (Q. 3v.20) duplicates the first syllable of the word as at Folio 2r.18–

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• •

19, where di at line-end is repeated in setting the word whole at the opening of the next line. y ligunnaloe quanto (Q. 4r.18) uses the same compression, spacing, and spelling found at Folio 2r.37. calauera (Q. 4v.8–9) duplicates the metathesized setting at Folio 2v.5.22

In the matter of toponyms, the Quarto adopts the Folio’s spelling in xio, sant salvador, guanaham, sta. maria de concepcion, ferrandina, matremonio, and iuana. The Quarto and Folio’s convergence on guanaham, ferrandina, and matremonio is especially noteworthy since those names were previously unknown. A noteworthy difference is that between the Quarto’s ysabella (1r.13) and the Folio’s isla bella (1r.8).23 The Folio and Quarto give the same numbers in the text in over ninety percent of instances, disagreeing only on the first number given for the outward passage to the Indies. Another convergence between the Folio and Quarto where one might anticipate a difference is the narration of the natives’ repeated calls to their neighbors to “come see” the Spaniards: the Folio reads, venit : venit auer lagente del cielo (1v.28), and the Quarto, venid venid a ver la gente del cielo. [punctus] (2v.23–24). The Simancas manuscript has no repeated command, but the Latin translation adopts it, suggesting that the basis for the Latin translation was like the Folio text in this respect.24 Other differences between the Folio and Quarto suggest a master, compositor, or corrector who was at least occasionally attentive to the text, and in touches like the setting off of Roman numerals by punctu-s and his use of other marks of punctuation, the Quarto’s compositor appears to have slightly higher standards of practice. In an example of the Quarto’s reading being more logical than the Folio’s, the compositor has set mandaran cargar /y (4r.15), with a pause (as a virgula) before the conjunction where the Folio’s mandaran cargar e: (2r.36) makes the pause (as a punctus elevatus in the form of the modern colon) follow the conjunction. Elsewhere, the Quarto mends a grammatical disconnect making the adjective todas accord with its noun phrase, las islas (3r.16), from the Folio’s todos (1v.43).

Other slips in common: Datelining the Letter Dating in the Folio and Quarto asserts that Columbus concluded his letter by March 14 and implies that he sent it to Barcelona where the king and queen were then holding court and where Santángel resided with the court. Echoing Martín Fernández de Navarrete’s view,Varnhagen affirmed “no abrigamos ninguna duda” that this date must correctly be March 4, based on the date of Columbus’s arrival in Lisbon recorded in the Diario.25 With the same rationale, Samuel Eliot Morison, who translated the Diario, affirmed March 4 as the correct dating of the postscript.26 J. B. Thacher considered the dateline geography of the Letter as las yslas de canaria (F. 2v.5) to have been “a slip of the pen” – lapsus pennae – on the part of Columbus (III 11) though others have assigned a darker motive to this reading in the Letter. Varnhagen had called attention to Canaria as an error by the mid-nineteenth century, noting that Fernández de Navarrete’s text of the Simancas manuscript also read sobre las Islas de Canaria (I 174) while


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Debriefing Varnhagen asserted that his manuscript read sobre la Isla de Santa María, in concert with the Journal entry for 18 February.27 What is taken for the c of canarya in the Simancas manuscript (2v.155) looks enough like a tiny loop that it could be read as a crabbed execution of s, and the following a is generously formed and lies over the upper right portion of the foregoing grapheme (s or c), obscuring its detail a bit. Following a space (i.e., ma or ca + a space), an n that is made of two or even three minims might be read as n or m, and –arya is common to marya and canarya.28 Beyond this apparently erring dateline that belongs to the Letter proper and that is reflected in the Quarto and Folio, both close with three brief, add-on texts that are telling in several ways. The first identifies the nature of the postscript text and its relationship to the Letter proper, the second is the postscript that stipulates and justifies a date later than and a geography different from those found in the last words of the Letter proper, and the third identifies the Letter’s writer and recipient and affirms that the packet containing the Santángel Letter came with a letter for the sovereigns.

Theorizing stemma and copies The notes to the edition and these comparative readings work to clarify the relationship between the Quarto and Folio in an informed way in the light of historical critical perspectives. In the mid-nineteenth century, Richard Henry Major (Select) noted that Gerolamo d’Adda considered the Quarto to have been printed from the Simancas manuscript or a text very like it.29 At the time, no Spanish printing of the Letter other than the Quarto was known, but D’Adda’s noting correspondences had merit, and the Simancas manuscript is still regarded as a close relative of the Quarto and the Folio, as the variorum demonstrates. Following his study of the Folio, Kerney remarked in 1891 on the Quarto compositor’s supposedly studied suppression of the Folio’s “Catalanisms,” but he also counted nineteen “absurd blunders” shared by the Folio and Quarto and deduced that the Quarto was a corrected version of the Folio based on their “many common errors.”30 Cesare de Lollis in the 1892 Raccolta avers that he cannot disagree with Kerney (“il critico anonimo dell’edizione Quaritch”) that B is substantially a corrected version of A (Raccolta li). De Lollis adds, however, that the printer of B (the Quarto) had recourse to another text, probably a manuscript — by which he does not mean a Columbus autograph manuscript but a copy at some distance from it. This “manuscript,” then, served as a corrective to the Folio, De Lollis’s A, for the printing of the Quarto: “tuttavia, il trovarsi in B rettificato qualche errore sostanziale contenuto in A, ci obbliga a concludere che nella ristampa si ebbe modo e cura di controllare la lezione di A con quella di qualche altro testo (probabilmente manoscritto)” [Nonetheless, finding in B corrections to substantial errors contained in A forces us to conclude that in the reprinting there was found a way and means to revise the reading with that of some other text (probably in manuscript)] (li). This “manuscript,” he writes, must be a copy of the autograph because none of the named potential recipients would be willing to give up an autograph Letter from

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Debriefing Columbus, so he supposes an autograph and “a copy of a copy” (x) — that he refers to as “questo originale” (xl) and “un capostipite (non certo autografo)” (xlix) — produced because of the “curiosity” that the discovery aroused: “Non è supponibile che il Sanchez o il Santangel, e meno ancora i re di Spagna si privassero dell’autografo di Colombo: l’originale x quindi sarà stato una copia di copia, poichè la curiosità che destò la scoperta dovè essere immensa” (xl, italics added).31 De Lollis’s “original that must have been a copy of a copy” — and not an “original” in the sense of an autograph — informs the thinking of later scholars on this question, and his “copy-of-a-copy original” (De Lollis’s x) used to set the Folio becomes Cecil Jane’s X1 (cxxvi).32 De Lollis and Jane (who never adopted Haebler’s 1497 Valladolid data) theorized the printed Folio and its fair copy (De Lollis’s “a manuscript”) as the source for the Quarto printing (Jane cxxvi).33 Jane writes that while the Quarto is “an edition” of the Folio, the Quarto printer had “reference to the source” of the Folio in setting the Quarto (ibid.). Juan Gil sets his Folio printer’s copy (X’ “el hiparquetipo”) at one remove from the Columbus autograph (X, “el arquetipo”) and proposes that X’ alone served as the fair copy for the Folio (A, “de Barcelona”) in 1493, as well as for the Quarto (B, “de Valladolid”) in 1497.34 The printed Folio has no role in printing the Quarto in Gil’s theory. Gil notes that X’ presents “typically Columbian forms” (from X) that maintain their character more clearly in the Folio (A) than in the Quarto (B). If one accepts Haebler’s dateline for the Quarto (Valladolid 1497), as Gil may imply in labeling the Quarto “Valladolid (B),” a reconstructed scenario accommodating the details of the theory requires that the Quarto be printed using the printer’s fair copy preserved three to four years after the Folio was produced. Some other copy of X made at the same time would not do — for De Lollis’s theory or anyone else’s — because that copy would show variants (from the “master” text, presumably X) that were distinct from the variants in the printer’s fair copy because that is the nature of scribal work. The difficulty of who might have preserved a printer’s fair copy from the folio Letter until the Quarto could be printed in 1497, however, requires a plausible, practical scenario that would respond to these requirements. That the correctives applied to the Quarto suggest that Columbus was responsible for the Quarto printing, as Sanz theorizes (Secreto 227–229), or that the Folio’s fair copy solely informed the Quarto setting, or that it was present in company with the Folio and used as a corrective at the Quarto’s printing is unlikely considering the comparative settings. That where the Quarto was printed, the Folio was present and in exclusive use by the compositor, however, is virtually certain. Notes 1

To the point is Cañizares-Esguerra’s appraisal: the printing is “a poorly crafted document . . . full of Catalan idioms, typographical errors, ill-separated words, and poorly justified margins” (298).


Advocates of a rushed and/or courtly authorship and/or printing for the Letter include Jane (“not the work of Columbus himself ” cxxxiv); and Ramos (esp. 1986), who is followed by Henige (1991, 1994), Zamora (1993), Fernández Armesto (1992, 2006), and others. Ramos refers to the Letter’s physical printing as “esa rápida impresión” (105), and Cañizares-Esguerra calls it “hastily put together” (298). Fernández Armesto, in 1992 (Himself), described one of the “attractive theories” explaining “the [Letter’s] textual problems”: the Letter was “a pastiche concocted at court from Columbus’s


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Debriefing papers and printed hurriedly to establish the priority of the claims of the Castilian crown to the lands discovered” (102). Cañizares-Esguerra writes, in agreement with Fernández Armesto’s 2006 essay, “Agents of the crown rushed to print thousands of copies of a letter allegedly written by Columbus to an anonymous ‘escribano de ración,’ an officer in the treasury of the crown of Aragon” (298). Henige uses Ramos’s “variorum edition” of the Letter as his text and affirms (1991) that both the Letter and the Diario demonstrate “the lengths to which Spanish officialdom was willing and able to go, and with great dispatch, to fabricate sources by manipulating other sources” in order “to foster and legitimize Spain’s undisputed claim to the new discoveries” (see 49–53, esp. 52–53 and notes). Zamora also finds a royal hand behind the Santángel Letter and writes of the “active promotion of the Santángel version” versus the “suppression” of the “royal version” of “Columbus’s announcement” (20) that she finds in the libro copiador as edited by Rumeu de Armas (10–20), validating, she notes, Ramos’s theory that “the version of 15 February was composed as propaganda,” though Rumeu de Armas’s edition, she asserts, undermines other aspects of Ramos’s idea (11). Kathy Pelta’s children’s book on Columbus records, “Before Columbus reached Barcelona, the sovereigns had already sent the letter he wrote to them to a printer” (23). 3 Kerney suggested the Folio as an unauthorized printing, and Sanz asserted that it must have been “clandestine” (Secreto 246–247).While “clandestine” printings were produced, it is good to remember that printing is a repetitively noisy task that is apt to create unexpected noise when it is done carelessly or in semi-darkness, and it is a process rather than an instantaneous trick to carry off. As masters and their families lived together with the workers, “clandestine” could not have meant that the process was secret, but the material may have been. In the sense that like hundreds or thousands of others, the Folio bears no marks of its maker, it may or may not have been an unlicensed printing.

It has been suggested to me that the surviving folio Letter is a proof sheet (galley) preserved by chance while all its betters — so far as is known — have perished; this possibility appears unlikely in that no mark on the Folio suggests it, and the Folio’s preservation with manuscript papers concerning Spain’s political and cultural affairs, suggesting ownership by one residing at or connected with the Court and perhaps also connected with Toledo, does not support that idea either. 4

See John Johnson’s 1824 list of notices to the printshop “reader” (i.e., the proofreader or corrector) with the following “minutiae” as “imperfections of workmanship” that one might be “apt to overlook” and into which even the “most careful compositor” might occasionally slip: “imperfect and wrongfounted, or inverted letters, particularly the lower-case s, the n, and the u; awkward and irregular spacing; uneven pages or columns; a false disposition of the reference marks; crookedness in words and lines; bad making-up of matter, erroneous indention, &c.” (228–229).

My printshop experience in the 1970s and 1980s did not confirm that a “rush job” produced poor printing. A job might be “rushed” into the queue, but once it was there, certain processes were followed as with any printing job, including proofs and correction — which do not appear to have affected the Folio; it must have been run without that process, for whatever reason, low prestige, potential profit, or someone’s — who was not the king or his minister — being in a hurry. Had the Folio been printed for Fernando to pass among his courtiers or to send to the pope, he would have been heartily disappointed to see a printing –– and a text –– that flattered neither his vanity nor his pride in recent events. 5 See Gaskell on corrections of various kinds (115–116, 134–136, for example). See D. F. McKenzie on views of time, delays, and efficiency in early printing, a few comments on stop-press correction methods, and his references to views of Charlton Hinman and others (esp. 24–26 and notes). 6

Ayuntar is also possible at the time, but it is not attested in this spelling in the Folio.


One might guess that the compositor had redistributed initials from another forme at that point, but these impressions (at 2r.41–47) do not appear to be made by the types used in 1r and 2v.

8 9

Rey and reyno, are given with initials elsewhere; see 1r.3, 17; 2r.2 [Reynos]; and 2r.8, 13.

Some of the readings suggested in the edition as possible miscues take their uncertainty from what may be factors of wear, inking, or debris. The following references are telling: at 1r, see l. 6, noubre (nombre); l. 44, dispnesta (dispuesta); l. 43, the first instance of ni (in ni azero) may be ui or merely a bad type or faulty inking. At 1v, n/u types are inverted or ambiguous in a good number of instances: l. 28 cercauas (cercanas); l. 30 maranilloso (marauilloso); l. 32, hña (h +una), and a bad type or faulty

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Debriefing inking gives auchas (anchas); l. 35 cauoas (canoas) and vuo (uno); l. 38, dispnestos (dispuestos); and l. 39 aorieute (a oriente). At 2r, see l. 1 taucõ (tan con); l. 2 eu (en); l. 5, a poor u type or an n, in p[u]se and yeu (y en); l. 12 person/uas (personas) and sabieudo (sabiendo); l. 14 ui (ni); l. 16 peusauan (pensaban); l. 18 graud (grand); l. 22 eutrada (entrada); l. 23 (first example) teuien (tienen); l. 27 eutre (entre); l. 30 ninguuo (ninguno) and uo (no); l. 32 euque (enque); l. 36 a poor type or inversion in quauta (quanta); l. 37 in ligunnaloe, u- signals n or m, which may or may not be a setting error; l. 38 caue[-] (canela) and l. 41 mncho (mucho), like quauta (quanta), above at l. 36, show n or u types that appear worn and that are difficult to distinguish; and at l. 40 eu (en) may be another worn type, but it looks to be a u in this case. At 2r.44 (though it seems that it would have been more trouble than it was worth), a utype looks as if it has been repaired to restore the lower curve in aun, with u- signaling final n. 10

Line measurements may vary by several millimeters at each page and between pages.


The bracketed form is in the original. See Kerney (25 n. 3).


It is useful to note that the compositor did not stumble into setting an extra line at 1v by crowding his lines into the space; the line spacing at the foot of 1v is the same as that for other pages, meaning that the Folio could have been set with forty-eight lines per page in the first three pages, but its 47line count allows for more white space around the text of the first three pages and still leaves room for the more elaborately formatted conclusion of the Letter at 2v.

13 To understand how a poorly executed artifact of an earlier century came to exist, one can attempt to approximate the result by giving the task of producing the same item — whether a tool, a bucket, a piece of ironwork, the hemming of a petticoat, a bit of decorative painting, or piece of printing — to the least experienced apprentice and have him or her begin the work at dusk after a long day’s work under the lighting of a previous century. I borrow this method of trying to understand the production of low quality artifacts at second hand from an insightful master tradesman at a location where trades from previous centuries are practiced. The reputation of printers for drunkenness and brawling in the shop also enters into my thinking about the Folio print job. 14

MS 1v.98: oçidente.


Examples of these settings include quesea fecho este (F. 2r.33) > que sea fecho este (Q. 4r.12); queyo (F. 2r.34) > que yo (Q. 4r.13); and versus altezas (F. 2r.34) > ver sus altezas (Q. 4r.12–13).


The Quarto compositor may have intentionally suppressed h- of haun (h- is printed a space away from the rest of the word), and he extended the Folio’s compression, signaled over -u-, as er rather than as n, setting auer. 17

This instance may represent a slip because the Quarto generally suppresses the Folio’s h- except with honbres. See for example, creancia (Q. 1v.28) for the Folio’s crehencia (1r.37), where an h is attached at the opening of a syllable where two vowels were understood to be in contact; aun (Q. 2r.2) for the Folio’s haun (2r.9); and una (Q. 2v.30) for the Folio’s huna (1v.33).

18 The Quarto suppresses the Folio’s initial L (in La) and sets copulative variants with i/y and y/&. See also the note to the edition for F. 1r.41. 19

The Folio gives mayores at 1v.32, its pluralizing morpheme probably perceived as preferable, but the Quarto again reads mayoras (2v.29–30). 20

Prob. rdg. for the MS 1v.68 is acatamyento.


Kerney: noticia. MS 1v.73: notiçia.


This commonality is one of the enticing features shared between the Folio and Simancas manuscript, too, where the “correct” spelling of caravela, probably anticipated by the scribe, is recorded and stricken, and calavera is then written as a “correction” to conform with the copy text (MS 2v.155). In one of several instances that does not involve sailing culture, the manuscript “corrects” the Folio (and Quarto) at MS 2r.21: distynta for didistincta in the Folio (2r.18–19) and Quarto (3v.20), supposed by editors to be an error for distante.

23 24

Plannck F: Hysabellam, very similar to the Quarto’s solution.

Plannck F: Uenite venite et videbitis gentes aethereas (2v.4). Repetition of excited utterances is often found in medieval narrative.


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Debriefing 25

See Varnhagen/Volafan’s notes to his edition of his Sanfelices manuscript (25). Varnhagen knew Fernández de Navarrete’s work intimately through his comparison of his Sanfelices manuscript text with that of Simancas transcribed by Fernández de Navarrete and refers often to Fernández de Navarrete’s transcript. 26 See Morison (Journals 180, 187 n. 24). Other scholars of the Letter adopt this objection to the date on the same basis. 27 See Varnhagen/Volafan’s edition of the Sanfelices manuscript, referred to in chapter 5 (118–120), available in reduced facsimile in Sanz (Secreto 485 ff.). 28

It is also possible that the autograph or its copy had a part of the reading compromised by some accident to the text or because the words were written in a disfigured way due to the writing surface or a failure of the nib or ink. 29

See Major (cxxv); the statement is somewhat unclear.


Kerney found forty-six “Catalonianisms” in the Folio, reduced to “twenty-two” in the Quarto — with twenty-four of them having been eliminated in favor of “proper Castilian forms.” See Kerney’s notes (31–32). Thacher concurs with Kerney’s assessment (III 43). 31

Trans: “One cannot suppose that Sánchez or Santángel, much less the king of Spain, would be deprived of the Columbus autograph (Letter). Then the original x must have been a copy of a copy, given that the discovery would have aroused a great deal of interest.” This interest, we are asked to conclude, would have inspired many copies of the Letter. 32

Jane writes that De Lollis “has shown that while B [the Quarto] is an edition of A [the Folio], it is an edition made with reference to the source of A” (cxxvi). See Jane’s 1930 summary essay (“Announcing”) and his Four Voyages for details of De Lollis’s theory as adopted by Jane (cxxvi). De Lollis’s inclusion of the already-discredited manuscript and the Italian translation fragments of uncertain date tends to over-complicate his comparative text studies. 33

Jane writes (in the 1930s) that the printing year of the Quarto, “it is agreed must be 1493” (Voyages cxxiv). 34

Gil designates the Folio as the basis for the German translation printed in 1497 and proposes that the Columbus autograph was used for the Latin translation reflected in the Roman quartos. See Gil (esp. 20–21).

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10 An English translation of the Folio

English translations of the Spanish Letter have a comparatively young history. Before the Simancas manuscript came to light early in the nineteenth century and the Spanish Quarto and Folio were unearthed from their respective hiding places in the second half of the century, the Latin translation of the “Sánchez” Letter was the basis of the earliest known English version of the Letter, which appeared in the Edinburgh Review in 1816.1 Shortly after, the Simancas manuscript was edited in Martín Fernández de Navarrete’s Viages (1825), providing Samuel Kettell the raw material for his 1827 English translation of the Santángel Letter, the first of the Spanish Letter translations known.2 Richard Henry Major presented an English translation of the Latin Letter in his 1847 edition of Select Letters (1870), and in his second edition (1870), he added his English translation of “the Ambrosian text” — the Spanish Quarto — that had been discovered in the meantime and set a semi-diplomatic transcription of the Quarto below the corresponding English text, using Fernández de Navarrete’s text of the Simancas manuscript (“S”) to record variants.3 Following the discovery of the Folio, Michael Kerney’s “literal” English translation of the Letter appeared in the Quaritch editions of 1891 and 1893, and J. B. Thacher’s Folio translation in the second volume of Christopher Columbus (1903) followed Kerney’s with little variation. Cecil Jane first published a translation of the Letter in 1930 (259–265), and for his two-volume study of Columbian documents (1930, 1933), he included an extensively annotated translation set facing his Spanish edition of the Letter. Samuel Eliot Morison made his translation of the Letter for Christopher Columbus, Mariner, published in 1955.

Apparatus for the translation Translation notes are meant to provide alternative interpretations of sense or syntax and to illustrate areas of problematic translation and their resolutions. Notes come from translations that were prepared more or less independently of one another, generally at widely separated points in time, and most come from Major, Kerney, and Morison, whose translations were produced at important moments in cultural and

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An English Translation of the Folio documentary history, and others are of some interest as well. All require some justification for their use. Kettell’s 1827 translation, for example, is the only one to be based on the Simancas manuscript, and Kettell’s “period English” phrasing of the material is sometimes quite apt (255–264). Major’s 1870 edition (1–18), the first translation based on the Quarto, is used here unless the 1847 edition is noted. Michael Kerney’s 1891 translation (Quaritch) is the first based on the Folio, and most early-twentieth-century efforts appear to have relied on it (22–27). Edward Gaylord Bourne, editing Columbus documents in the volume The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot (1906), provides an image of 1r of the Folio and Kerney’s 1893 English translation of the Letter (Quaritch), but Bourne’s conscientious notes to the translation provide much additional interest (259–272). Cecil Jane’s translation of the Letter in Select Documents, set facing his Spanish edition of the Letter, attempts to correct views of nineteenth-century scholars (2–19).4 Morison brings his naval scholar’s critical perspective and his preparedness in Spanish documents of the period to the task, and his translation, edited for the last time, I believe, in Journals and Other Documents (182–186), has been reprinted several times on both sides of the Atlantic.5 The chronology of notes to the Letter’s translations has importance, especially where monetary values and developing fields of knowledge form the context. I include notes and editorial clarifications that bear on the translation from what I believe to be the most informed Spanish edition of the Letter in the late twentieth century, namely that prepared by Consuelo Varela, along with material from Juan Gil’s extensive introduction to the volume.6 References to passages in the Diario are cited by date, making them accessible in any edition or translation, and recto and verso numbers are given in instances where researchers may want to consult the original facsimile in Carlos Sanz’s two-volume facsimile edition or the diplomatic transcription in Oliver Dunn and James E. Kelley’s edition.7 This annotated translation is based on the results of the variorum edition and its supporting documents and presents a reliable text for the general reader that is true to the ideas, images, events, and authorial tone of the Spanish Letter, mediating wordfor-word and sense-for-sense translation to achieve that end. In an effort to smooth the reading in English, parenthetical words and phrases provide clarification where the reference may not be clear in the original, and the translation occasionally makes explicit the referent suggested by a pronoun where the antecedent tends to be unclear in a word-for-word translation.8 These clarifications rank as interpretations of the text with which some readers may disagree. For critical transparency and teaching purposes, the translation text provides tracking through the Folio at five-line intervals, though some indications may be approximate, placed with an eye to the reading as well as to textual correspondence. Translation notes contain comparative translations and grammatical interpretations, critical commentary, and selective phrases from the Letter that are directly annotated. Quotations from the Letter are silent on word extensions and on print and textual matters that may be consulted in the edition. Where a reading is anacoluthonic or the material is damaged, the translation re-

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An English Translation of the Folio sorts to the Letter’s earliest facsimiles, to other contemporary texts of the Letter, and to accounts of the first voyage whose writers had resort to Columbus autographs or to contemporary copies of them. These instances, like the translation as a whole, aim to maintain the integrity and spirit of the text while smoothing its reception in English though in a few spots, the reading is decidedly sketchy. All references in the notes and text to folios and lines come from the Folio (Letter) unless otherwise stated.

The Letter My Lord,9 because I know that you will be pleased by the great victory that Our Lord has given me in my voyage, I write you10 this letter by which you may know how in twenty days I reached the Indies, with the fleet11 that the illustrious King and Queen, our lords gave me, where I found a great many islands populated with countless people; and of all these islands, (1r.5) I have taken possession for their highnesses with royal proclamation and the royal banner unfurled, and I was not challenged. The first island I found I gave the name St. Salvador in commemoration of His Great Majesty who wondrously all this has given. The Indians12 call it Guanaham.13 To the second I gave the name Santa María de la Concepción; to the third, Isla Ferrandina; to the fourth, Isla Bella; 14 to the fifth Isla Juana,15 and so to each a new name.16 When I arrived at Juana, I followed (1r.10) the coast of the (island) westward and found it so extensive that I thought it must be a mainland, the Province of Cathay,17 and since I did not find villages and hamlets18 along the coast — except for small settlements19 of people with whom I could not speak because they all fled straightaway20 — I proceeded along the same course, intending not to miss great cities or towns, and at the end of many leagues, having seen that there was no change and that the coast was bearing me toward the north (1r.15), to which my will was contrary because winter was already coming in21, I was intending22 to make haste away from there23 toward the south, and in addition, the wind pushed me forward,24 (so) I decided not to wait there for the weather to turn25 and reversed course26 as far as a harbor that I had already charted27 from which I sent two men inland to find out if there were a king or great cities. They walked three days’ journey and found numberless small villages28 and people, but no sign of government,29 owing to which, they returned.30 I understood enough from the other Indians31 that I already had captured how (1r.20) this land was a single island,32 and so I followed the coast of it east for 107 leagues until it came to a cape33 from which I spotted another island to the east, (an island) separate from this34 by eighteen leagues,35 to which I then gave the name La (Isla) Española36 and sailed to it and followed the northern coast as with Juana to the east 178 great leagues in a straight line from the east, as with Juana,37 which, along with all the others, is most fortified38 to an extraordinary degree, and this one (i.e., Juana), particularly so.39 Here are many harbors on the coast of (1r.25) the sea without comparison among others that I know of in Christian lands40 and plenty of rivers — running so fresh and deep that it is wonderful.41 Her (i.e., Juana’s) lands are high, and she has many mountain ranges, and her highest mountains are without comparison among those at the island of Tenerife42 — all most beautiful, in a thousand shapes, and all accessible43 and filled with trees of a thousand varieties, so tall they seem to reach the sky, and I take


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An English Translation of the Folio it for truth that they never lose their leaves, according to what I can44 understand45 for I saw them so green and so handsome as they are around May in Spain, and some of them in flower, others with fruit, and others in another phase according to their species, and the nightingale was singing, along with a thousand varieties of other little birds in the month of November.46 Around where I sailed47 were palms of six or eight kinds, wonderful to see for their beautiful diversity, just as with the other trees and fruits and plants. On the island (i.e., Juana)48 are wondrous pine forests,49 and there are great meadowlands,50 and there is honey and many kinds of birds and a great variety of fruits. In the interior,51 there are many mines containing metal, and there are people of inestimable number.52 (1r.35) Española is a wonder: the mountains and green valleys,53 the meadows and fields, the earth so beautiful and substantial54 for planting and sowing, for raising livestock of all kinds, (and) for the buildings of villages and settlements. The harbors of the sea must be seen to be believed, and among the many large fresh-water rivers, the greater part of them bear gold.55 Among the trees and fruits and plants of Española there is great diversity compared with those yonder at Juana.56 On this island (Española),57 there are many fields of spices and large mines of gold and of other metals. (1r.40) The people of this island (Española) and of all the others that I have found and possessed or have had news of 58 all go naked, men and women, just as their mothers bore them59 although some women cover only one area with60 a plant leaf or piece of cotton61 that they make for it.62 They do not have iron nor steel nor weapons, nor are they suited for such, not because they are not well-proportioned and of fine stature,63 but because they are quite timorous — unbelievably so. (1r.45) They have no other weapons than those fashioned from canes gone to seed,64 onto which they set at the end a little sharpened stick,65 and they do not dare to make use of those, as I know, for many times it has occurred to me to send ashore two or three men (to) some settlement to try to talk to them,66 and people come out in droves to observe them (approach) (2v.1), but as soon as the men land, the natives flee (in such haste) that a father does not wait for his child,67 and this (reaction) is not because there has been any ill done to anyone before. At every cape68 where I have been and have been able to speak to them, I have given them everything I had — cloth, as well as many other things — without receiving for it a single thing in exchange, but they are that way, incorrigibly fearful.69 The truth is that after they reassure themselves and lose this fear,70 they are (1v.5) so guileless and so free with what they have71 that men would not believe it, except one who had seen it.72 Asked for something that they have, they never say, “No,” but rather accommodate the person with the thing73 and show so much love that they would give their hearts,74 no matter whether it be a thing of value or whether it be rather worthless, and for whatever trifling thing in any sort of condition that is given them in exchange for that item, they seem to be pleased.75 I prohibited76 the sailors from giving the islanders things so vile as shards of broken bowls and bits of broken glass and the (broken) ends of (1v.10) laces,77 although when they could end up with some of this stuff, it seemed to them to be the best jewel in the world. I know for a fact that a sailor in exchange for a strap78 (got) the weight of two and a half castellanos in gold,79 and others, for things of much lower value, got even more. Thus far, in exchange for new blancas80 they (the islanders) have given whatever they had, though (it) might be two or three

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An English Translation of the Folio castellanos in gold (given) for an arroba81 or two of spun cotton.82 Even the pieces of the broken hoops of the casks,83 the natives accepted and gave all they had, as if they were beasts,84 (1v.15) to the point that it seemed evil to me. I forbade it85 and personally have given the islanders a thousand good things86 that I had brought in order that they may accept our friendship,87 and above all,88 that they may become Christians who devote themselves to the love and service of their majesties and of all the Spanish people.89 Besides, they make an effort to support us, giving us things that they have in abundance that to us are essentials.90 Nor do they follow any cult or idolatry,91 save that they believe that the power and the good come from the heavens,92 and they would maintain steadfastly that I, with these ships and people,93 came from the heavens,94 and with such (1v.20) reverence,95 they would receive me in every place — after having lost their fear — though this fear does not arise because they lack knowledge or understanding, but on the contrary (they are) of very fine intelligence96 and men who sail all these seas, so that it is marvelous the careful account that they give of everything.97 Nay, (their timorousness) owes to their never having seen people clothed nor such ships as these.98 So as soon as I arrived in the Indies, at the first island that I found, I took some of them by force so that they might confide in us99 and tell me news of the things that were in those parts, and thus it was that soon they understood (us) (1v.25), and we them, whether by language or signs,100 and these people have given (us) much advantage.101 Even now I carry them with us, always holding to their notion that I come from the sky, (as I know) by means of many conversations they have held with me,102 and they would be the first to declare it wherever I would come ashore, and the others would go running from house to house and to nearby settlements, shouting,“Come! Come to see the people from the sky!”103 Thus all the men as well as women, after reassuring themselves of us,104 would come so that neither the greatest nor the smallest remained behind (1v.30), and everyone would come bringing things to eat and things to drink that they would offer (to us) with the greatest show of affection. They have in all the islands a great many canoes like rowing galleys,105 some larger, some smaller, and many larger than a galley of eighteen benches. They are not so wide (as rowing galleys) because each is made of only one timber,106 but a galley will not overtake them rowing107 because they move so fast that it is unbelievable,108 and with these they sail around all these islands — which are of infinite number — and deal in their goods.109 (1v.35) Some of these canoes I have seen with seventy and eighty men in them, each man with his oar. In all these110 islands, I didn’t see much difference in the physical features of the people,111 nor among the customs, nor in the languages. To the contrary, they all understand each other, a thing very noteworthy,112 owing to which I anticipate that their majesties will decide in favor of their conversion to113 our Holy Faith, to which they are very much disposed.114 Already I reported how I had gone 107 leagues along the coast of the sea, sailing a straight line from the west to the east around Isla Juana,115 according to (1v.40) which route, I can say that this island (Juana) is larger than England and Scotland taken together116 because beyond these 107 leagues, two provinces remain on the west side where I have not sailed,117 one of which they call Anau,118 where people are born with tails;119 these same provinces cannot be in extent fewer than 50 or 60 leagues, according to what one can understand from those Indians that I have (with


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An English Translation of the Folio me), who know all the islands.120 This other island, Española, in circumference measures greater than all of Spain from Col[ibre in Cata]lunya121 along the coast (1v.45) of the sea to Fuente Rauia in Viscaya,122 for I sailed around a quarter of it in a straight line for 188 great leagues west to east.123 This island is desirable, and once seen, never to be abandoned.124 On this island, as with all of them, I have taken possession on behalf of their majesties125; and all the islands may have greater resources126 (2r.1) than I know and am able to relate,127 and all the islands I have claimed for their majesties who may rule in them in the same way and as fully as in the kingdoms of Castilla.128 On this island of Española is129 the most manageable and best point of access130 to the gold mines and for all kinds of commerce, whether from the mainland here131 as from that yonder of the Great Khan, from whence there will be great trade and profits.132 I have taken possession of a large village (in Española) (2r.5) to which I have given the name La Navidad,133 and in this village, I have built fortifications and defenses134 that by now will be entirely finished, and I have left there people who will be sufficient for such a project, with arms and artillery and provisions for more than a year and a boat135 and a master in all the arts of the sea in order to make more.136 I have developed a great friendship137 with the King of that land to such degree that he would exalt himself138 by calling me and having me for a brother, and even though his will might move him to assault139 these people (at Navidad), neither he nor his people (2r.10) know what weapons are and go about naked.140 As I have already said, they are the most timorous people in the world, so that no more than the people remaining there are enough to destroy all that land, and it is an island without danger for their persons, so long as they know141 how to govern themselves. In all these islands, it seems to me that all the men are content with one wife, and to their overlord or king they give as many as twenty. It seems to me that the women work more than the men. Nor am I able to determine whether they have private property, in that it seemed to me that I noticed that of a thing (2r.15) that one had, all partook, especially of foodstuffs.142 In these islands up to now, I have not found misshapen men143 as some people might have expected. On the other hand,144 all the people are of very pleasant bearing,145 nor are they black as (people are) in Guinea, except for their straight, flowing hair,146 nor do they settle147 where there is excessive heat from the sun’s rays.148 It is true that the sun is very hot there since there is only a difference of twenty-six degrees from the Equator.149 In these islands where there are great mountains, there was150 (2r.20) intense cold this winter, but the people bear the cold by the custom of eating dishes with an abundance of many spices and quite excessively hot ones.151 So it is that of monsters, I haven’t had the slightest report,152 except for one island that is here, the second island in the gateway to the Indian Islands,153 that is settled by a people who are held among all the islands to be very fearsome; these people eat human flesh and have many canoes with which they go around all the Indian Islands robbing and carrying off however much they can. (2r.25) They are no more strange looking than the other islanders,154 except that these follow the custom of wearing their hair long like women,155 and they use bows and arrows like the other weapons of cane with a little stick at the end156 in the absence of iron, which they lack. They are fierce compared to the other nations157 that are cowardly to the greatest degree, but I hold them as no greater a threat than the others. These people are the

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An English Translation of the Folio ones who have dealings with the women of Matremonio,158 which is the first island one finds sailing from Spain to the Indies, wherein one encounters (2r.30) no men at all. The women do not practice feminine pursuits but use bows and arrows, like those aforementioned ones made of cane, and they arm themselves (with bows and arrows) and defend themselves with sheets of copper,159 of which they have a great deal. (There is) another island larger than La Española, they assure me, where the people have no hair on their heads.160 In this island there is endless gold, and from these islands and from the others,161 I am bringing with me Indians162 to give testimony. In conclusion, then, to speak only of things accomplished by this voyage — that was done, as you see, much on the run163 — so that their highnesses can see that I will give them gold in whatever quantity as may be necessary with (2r.35) the very small help that their majesties shall give me now; also many spices164 and cotton, as much as their majesties command to be shipped, and mastic165 — as much as they will have shipped — of which until today none has been found except in Greece on the island of Chios, and the Señorio sells it at whatever price they care to set,166 and liguñaloe167 in whatever quantity they will order it shipped, and slaves — as many as they will order shipped from among the idolaters.168 Further, I believe to have found rhubarb and cinnamon, and a thousand other things of value I will find because the people whom I am leaving there (at Navidad) will have found them.169 Because (2r.40) I have not lingered at any point as soon as the wind blew with me,170 but only in the village of Navidad (did I delay) until I might leave it secure and well established;171 the truth is that there is much more I might have done had the ships served me as one might have expected.172 This is enough,173 and [glory to]174 eternal God our Lord, who gives to all those who follow in His path victory over things that seem impossible. For this most assuredly was one such (victory) because in spite of men’s having spoken or written about these lands,175 it is all by means (2r.45) of conjecture without direct witness — people only grasping just so much as they would most often hear, and they would take it mainly for talk rather than for little grains of truth about (those lands).176 So it is, our Redeemer gave to our most enlightened king and queen and to their renowned kingdoms this victory, so noble a thing,177 wherein all (2v.1) Christians ought to take joy and hold great feast days and offer solemn prayers of thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity with many solemn prayers for the great glory that they will have in converting so many nations to our Holy Faith and afterwards, for material riches, for which not only Spain but all Christian lands, henceforward178 will have179 consolation and profit.180 This according to what was done, thus briefly. (2v.5) Done181 in the caravel182 off the Canary Islands183 on the fifteenth of February, the year 1493.184 Thy will be done,185 The Admiral

An attachment186 that came inside the Letter After having written this letter, as we were sailing in the sea of Castilla,187 such a wind arose188 from the south and southwest that I was forced to lighten ship,189 but I have run in here today into this port of Lisbon, which was the greatest (2v.10) wonder in the world, and here I determined to write to their majesties. In all the Indies, I always found the weather190 there191 like in May (in Spain). I went there in thirty-three days and


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An English Translation of the Folio returned in twenty-eight, except for the storms that have detained me running for twenty-three days around this sea.192 All the men of the sea around here are saying that (2v.13) never has there been such a bad winter, nor such a great loss of vessels. Done on the fourteenth day of March.193 This letter Columbus sent to the Escribano de ración194 (2v.15) about the islands found in the Indies; enclosed with another to their majesties.195

Notes 1

It would seem that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries some English translation of the Latin Letter was likely to have been published, but I have not located one. Major, in the midnineteenth century, writes that the Edinburgh translation is the first English translation of the Letter and describes it as done “very loosely and without comment” (Select 1847 ii). Winsor also marks it as the first English translation (Christopher 17). A separate printing of the Edinburgh Review translation (having no print data) is collated with a Latin quarto held at the Library of Congress, whose catalog records the Edinburgh printing as the first English version of the Letter and says that it is based on the 1493 Basel edition. Because the translation omits the introductory and closing honorifics, it is virtually impossible to set the basis of the translation as a particular Latin version, so the statement may be based on a contemporary source. At the time of the translation, the British Museum may have owned the copy of the 1493 Basle edition that is now in the British Library. 2 Kettell’s Personal Narrative of the FirstVoyage contains his English translation of the Diario along with Fernández de Navarrete’s Simancas transcript translated into English (253–264). Kettell’s translation of the Latin Letter in his edition also appears to be based on the Latin version given in Fernández de Navarrete’s Viages. Bergenroth, mentioned elsewhere, made available an English-language summary of the manuscript in his Calendar (1862). Morison comments on the quality of the English translations of the Diario and cites their publication dates and venues (Journals 43). He wrote in 1939 that the best text of the Diario to that time was De Lollis’s in the Raccolta of 1892 (Texts 235). See “Columbus” in Works Cited and Publications of the Columbus Letter. 3

Major separates items perceived as agglutinated and imposes punctuation in the Spanish text; his translation notes are often helpful in their use of Dati’s Italian version to clarify the Quarto. 4 Jane’s comments on the Folio and other versions of the Letter are found in his introduction (cxxiii– cxliii). Morison, borrowing Jane’s description of others’ translations, writes that Jane’s translation of the Letter is “disfigured by numerous blunders” (181), yet it is useful for its notes and its reflection of its historical, critical, and linguistic milieu. 5 Citations from Morison’s translation here come from Journals (1963 182 ff.). His translation of the Letter is also found in Sanz (Secreto), and it was again published in Spain in 1959 and in a 1989 book published by USC Fine Arts, listed here in Publications of the Columbus Letter.

Morison’s expertise as a discovery period scholar and naval officer and historian, along with the Harvard Columbus Expedition of 1939–1940, which he planned and led (U.S. Navy), suggest that his work on the Letter’s maritime passages will be particularly attentive and grounded. In addition, Morison’s translation of the Letter had the support of J. D. M. Ford, a recognized authority on Old Spanish. Morison credits La parla marinera en el Diario del primer viage de Cristóbal Colón by Admiral Julio F. Guillén Tato, then director of Madrid’s Naval Museum, for insights into the Diario’s nautical terms (Journals 43). Fernández de Navarrete and Mauricio Obregón brought maritime perspectives to their respective studies of Columbus’s first voyage, and Jane’s translation notes to the Letter and the Diario show his efforts to be informed in marine contexts — though Morison observes that Jane’s “superior” work is, nevertheless, “careless on navigational matters” (Journals 43). Luis Marden, who wrote the “Foreword” to Fuson’s translation of the Diario, also traveled Columbus’s route. The translation notes here do not include the results of more recent translations, including that given in the English anniversary edition of the Raccolta, because these offer few distinctions that would contribute to the translation study.

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An English Translation of the Folio 6

Since 1982, Gil’s commentary and Varela’s text of the Letter (Textos y documentos) have been formative for most critical work on the Letter — or should have been. I cite, as usual, from the second printing of the second edition (1997). Recent translations such as that of Lucia Graves (Obregón) do not figure into the notes. 7

Translations, readings, and summaries of longer Diario passages are also cited here by folio number to be consulted in Sanz’s facsimile and/or in Dunn and Kelley.


For example, the word la referring to an island may be rendered as “the island,” or los referring to the inhabitants of the islands may be rendered “the natives” or “the islanders,” whom Columbus calls indios. Along with other works cited here, standard etymological dictionaries, like those compiled by Martín Alonso, Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke, and Joan Coromines, have served this translation. Also see Guillén Tato’s La parla marinera, referred to above, and Foster Provost’s specialized Columbus word list. 9

While “sir” is the current equivalent of señor, the medieval Sennor may be correctly translated as “Lord,” denoting a man of noble station; therefore, translating sennor into English as “My Lord” seems to reflect more clearly the nature of the addressee’s social and political status in 1493.


Though English does not reflect the distinction between “familiar” and deferential or formal modes of address, I take Columbus’s vos as a deferential rather than a familiar form of address to Santángel. Vos is used here with the second person plural form of address, recognized as deferential though its appearance here is considered a holdover from earlier usage, antiquated at this date. 11

Armada suggests a fleet fitted with guns. In his study of the sixteenth-century “Spanish Armada,” Garrett Mattingly writes that caravels were among “types of small coasters, sometimes used in war” (xvii), and he notes that merchant ships could be armed (xvi).

12 The first naming in print of the people of the present-day Caribbean islands as “Indios.” Indios appears three more times in the Letter, at 1r.19, 1v.43, and 2r.33. 13 Guanaham is probably a misreading of the original manuscript’s minims or those of the printer’s fair copy. Kerney: Guanahanî (15). Thacher: Guanahani (21). Morison: Guanahani (sic 182a).

Efforts to set the first landfall generally begin with the Diario. Major notes that at his time (1870), Santa María de la Concepción is “Long Island”; that Ferrandina is “Great Exuma”; that Isla Bella is “Saometo or Crooked Island”; and that Juana is “Cuba” (2, notes 2–5). A map attributed to G. W. Colton and based on German journalist and artist Rudolf Cronau’s replication voyage accompanies Emilio Castelar’s essay and shows Columbus’s Santa María de la Concepción as Rum Cay and “Yuma Fernandina” as Long Island, along with other distinctions, though some of the designations are ambiguous because of the size of the reproduction. Cronau undertook the mapping project in 1890 in anticipation of the anniversary, and he shows Columbus’s first landing at Watlings Island (Castelar 683; Cronau 10–11, 13 ff.). Cronau eliminates other nominations for the first landing — Samana Cay, Mariguana (Varnhagen), and Grand Turk (Fernández de Navarrete) — that others also considered (14-15). A similiar map is given in Cronau’s monograph (33). Morison notes (Journals 65–66 n. 5) that the Spanish had no reason to make “good charts” of the Bahamas and that the consensus that Watlings Island was Guanahani was disrupted by twentiethcentury voyages, but the Harvard Expedition of 1939-1940, Edzer Roukema’s study (1959), the Morison-Obregon expedition (Morison and Obregón 1964), and Obregón, working solo after Morison’s death in 1976, again confirmed Watlings. See Morison (ibid.) and Obregon (Papers 16– 24). Morison describes Captain Roukema as a “Dutch master mariner” (Journals 66 n. 5). While subsequent determinations, based on computer models, sailing the route, and archeology, have settled on Samana Cay — a NG expedition resulted in Luis Marden’s and Joseph Judge’s tentative conclusion of Samana Cay in 1986 — a reconstruction whose results were published in 1987, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, again nominated Watlings (Goldsmith and Richardson). See articles by Marden and Judge, mentioned above, along with two brief features on the landfall in the same issue of the magazine; for the latter, no authors are given, and both are attributed here with “(?)” to Judge and Marden. See also America before Columbus (National Geographic Channel) for a useful “bonus program” on the computer-aided landfall search; the feature does not identify its participants, but Judge provides narration, and (I believe) anthropologist Charles Andrew Hoffman, who studied the landfall, and Nancy Watford Hoffman also appear in the video.


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An English Translation of the Folio 14

Kerney: Fair Island [sic] (22); Thacher notes that the “Catalonian printer” has made what must have been LaYsabella in the original copy text (as it is in the Quarto printing) into La Isla Bella (21 n.1). Morison notes that this is a “[m]isprint for Isabela, the name [Columbus] gave to Crooked Island” (187 n. 2). 15

Bernáldez stipulates, “Joana en memoria del Principe D. Joan” (271).


Note that punctuation and one of the capitals to this point have reading or grammatical logic behind them, but this logic is soon abandoned.

Literal English translations of the islands’ names are as follows: San Salvador = Holy Savior; Santa María de la Concepción = St. Mary of the (Immaculate) Conception; Isla Bella = Beautiful Island. Isla Bella creates a play on the queen’s name that is mostly lost in English, and Ferrandina and Juana are feminized forms (accommodating isla) to honor the king and Prince Juan. 17 Clements R. Markham suggests that Columbus remained in some disbelief that this land was an island in spite of the assurance from natives he had taken that it was so life (98). 18

Based on villas y lugares (1r.11). Among the more than two thousand instances of villa found in the fifteenth-century documents featured in Mark Davies’s Corpus (Español), are many examples like villa o lugar, villa o posada, villa o ciudad, and similar doublets and triplets with the same elements, along with villa de Madrid and villa de Ualladolid so that “town” appears to be a sound translation. In the same chronological context in Davies’s Corpus, the phrase un lugar, often used in a more general sense as it is today, also may describe some organized, named locale, and suggests a smaller (un lugar o rincón) civic entity, whose name may not be known outside the locale, a “hamlet” or “village” or “small settlement.”


Among the fifteenth-century uses of the word poblaciones featured in Davies’s Corpus, Columbus documents comprise about half the instances. Expressions like villas o poblaciones and ciudades y [et, e] poblaciones suggest its loose — but perhaps comparative — parameters of usage. The Moors, for example, won poblaciones y tierras, and poblaciones may be “large” as well as “small.” The sixteenthcentury citations of poblaciones (Davies, Corpus) show a significant increase in frequency (262 citations) even with duplications considered, and the overwhelming majority are located in writings connected with the New World. Kerney: “hamlets” (22). 20

1r.12: “All fled straightaway,” i.e. as soon as we were sighted.


Kerney: “winter was already confronting us” (22) with the corresponding note on encarado or encarando as correcting the Folio’s encarnado. Varnhagen suggested entrado for encarnado (Major 2 n. 8).


1r.15: tenía propósito: “I had the intention.” Aspectually tenía indicates a state of mind whose outcome is uncertain as presented in the moment of speech or writing.


i.e., “from it,” with “it”as “the North,” or “the winter.”


1r.16: me dio adelante: i.e., pushed me to the North. Major: “the winds were contrary” (3). Kerney: “the wind also blew against me” (22). Morison: “the wind was favorable” (182b). Varela interprets: “En el sentido que el viento le empujó” [In the sense that the wind pushed him] (220 n. 4). It seems that the wind is favorable in the moment, but Columbus’s sense is that it is likely to change direction and go against him. 25

1r.16: determine deno aguardar otro tiempo: I decided not to stay there (waiting for) other (a turning of) weather (wind).


Kettell: “and accordingly put about” (254).


1r.16–17: un señaldo puerto = indicated, notable, a port already known. Kerney: “a port agreed upon” (22). The two interpretations are complementary in that the expedition’s leaders might have agreed upon returning to a certain (natural) port they had noted. Columbus cites a good many fine ports in the Diario in these days. 28

Bernáldez’s account elaborates the word poblaciones as made “todas de madera o paja” [all (made) of wood or straw], indicating that poblaciones might intend here a small, informal (appearing) settlement or community of people (27), as Major writes, “hamlets” (3).

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An English Translation of the Folio 29

1r.18–19: regimiento: implying a “regulated” settlement, a community with some form of “civic organization.” Kerney: “nought of ruling authority” (22). Varela concurs: “En el sentido de que no tenían ninguna organización ni gobierno” [In the sense that they didn’t have (civic) organization or government] (220 n. 6). 30 See the Diario for reference to a two-man expedition that leaves on 2 November, is referred to on November 4, and returns on November 6. 31 1r.19: otros in the sense that they are not among those found on the land. These captive islanders probably come from Guanahaní (San Salvador). See the Diario entries from October 11 (that includes events of 12 October)–16 for pertinent references. 32 1r.19–20: como continuamente esta tierra era Isla, i.e., there is no break dividing the land along the coast; continuamente seems to be emphatic here to demonstrate perhaps that Columbus’s original hope for a large island is answered. Morison writes that the syntax leaves the question of what continuamente modifies open to interpretation (187 n.5). 33 1r.21: cabo: “lugar lateral o extremo” or “fin, término.” Martín Alonso (Diccionario) shows this use in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 34 Editors and translators since Kerney (22) have emended distinta to distante (1r.21). Distinta, might be rationalized as a contrast with continuamente era Isla just above, with which Columbus perhaps suggests that he is hoping for large islands and is gratified to find one, but at this point, there is another visible but “distinct” (unconnected) body of land lying in the distance. Supporting this idea, one finds that in Bartolomé’s Historia, he writes that on the second voyage, Columbus names an island “creyendo que era otra isla distincta” (chapter CXXXIV). Cronau’s comments on his progressive views of Concepción and Rum Cay from the schooner Richmond in the fall of 1890 are of interest in this matter: he writes that Concepción “appeared sometimes like three, at other times like four, five, and even like six separate islands, no connection being visible between them. The same illusion forced itself upon me in regard to Rum Cay” (20–21). Cronau makes reference to the Juan de la Cosa map as corroborating Columbus’s view of Concepción (21). See 2r.19 for the passage recording that the islands are distinta from the equator by twenty-six degrees. 35

Emending the reading from eight or ten to accord with the MS 1r.21, dies e ocho [eighteen], and Plannck F (1v ) seems to make better sense than the Folio’s range of reversed numbers. Kerney’s 1891 translation emends (o > y ) for “eighteen” (22). From points at and south of Punta de Maisi, Cuba, along the cape, the nearest landings directly across to Haiti (along the cape around Jean-Rabel), for example, might be around 100 kilometers — or 18 leagues — distant. 36

Translated into English as “Spanish Island” (from la [isla] spañola) and transcribed from the Letter by various interpreters as “Española,” “Hispañola,” or “Hispaniola,” the name appears here, as it does in Bartolomé’s mediation (la isla española), as “Española,” but I do not extend ñ for obvious reasons. Peter Martyr Latinizes it to “Hispaniola” (78). 37

This repetition appears in each of the Spanish texts though with a possible distinction in pointing (punctuation) in the MS at 1r.23. Recent commentators such as Varela (221) have noted that como dela iuana (1r.22–23) is probably an inadvertent duplication. Note that al oriente (1r.22) and del oriente (1r.23) stand in contrast. The Latin quae dicta Iohana following the number of miles offers the possibility of a new clause: “the aforementioned Juana” (and the other islands there . . .).


1r.24: fortissimas has created difficulties for the Spanish Letter’s editors and translators, and most alter to fertilissimas in concert with Plannck F’s fertilissime (1v). Either way, Columbus’s series of three superlative/comparative modifying phrases also creates problems. The Spanish texts of the Letter agree on this word (Q. 1v.5: fortissimas; MS 1r.24: fortissimas), and González and Fernández de Navarrete keep it. Major: “extraordinarily large” (4). Kerney: “most strong to an excessive degree” with the note that fortissimos “should be fertilisimos [sic]: most fertile” (22). Thacher: “very large to an excessive degree” (21). Morison: “very fertile to an excessive degree” (182b). Ramos suggests that fortissimas (MS.) should be taken as “abruptas” or “escabrosas” (without mention of degree) and observes that “fertil” would be an unlikely way to describe a coast (Primera 125), and I concur with Ramos’s latter statement. Though “fertile” does not seem to suggest a coastal description, Columbus uses it in the Diario to


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An English Translation of the Folio describe his view of the islands, perhaps because they are “lush” with vegetation. Fortissimas is more Latin than Spanish; in Latin, it means the “strongest” or “rockiest” or “most stalwart/steadfast” or, more literally in this context, the “most fortified” coast, suggesting a favorable configuration for coastal defenses and for the “stability” of foundations in building and settlement. Flat, sandy beaches could not offer these immediate advantages. Fortifications and building are matters with which Columbus concerns himself in the Letter (1r. 36–37) and in many passages of the Diario; see 4, 12, 16, 27 November, based on sailing around Juana, for example. As to Juana’s coast being “particularly so” (1r.24 esta enestremo), Columbus’s observations on Juana in the Diario entries for 16 and 27 November especially suggest that fortissimas may be intentional though, certainly, Columbus also remarks the “fertile” land of Juana and other islands in the Diario, as has been noted. On the matter of a “most fortified” coast at Juana, Bartolomé’s summary in the 16 November entry reads, “there, a height of stone and a rock for[m] a cape, at whose foot it was very deep so that the biggest carrack in the world could set its deck alongside the land [. . . and] it seemed to him that a fortress could be made there with little effort” (25r.1-7). “A height of stone” is a literal translation, but a word may be missing; el bordo appears in the 15th century, according to results so far recorded in Mark Davies’s Corpus, only in Columbian documents, but in the sixteenth century el bordo appears several times where the sense of “the ship’s deck” seems accurate. I suggest that Columbus is creating an image of the height of the “rock” as well as of the depth of the water and lack of impediments at its edge allowing the ship’s deck and land to meet. The problems here are similar to those that Eleanor Cook points to in translating Dante’s description in Canto 28 of a fountain as “salda e certa” (28:124), rendered in various effective ways through the history of Dante translation; Cook takes the Vulgate Hebrews 6:19 “tutam ac firmam” as the spirit of the phrase and Tyndale’s “sure and steadfast” English translation as a telling rendering of Dante’s phrase (Cook 9), and one that finds an echo in fortissimas. 39 The descriptive narrative digression that follows (1r.24–35), I take to be concerned with Juana rather than Española. Bernáldez takes these passages as referring to Española (272) and without being explicit, Morison casts them as meant for Juana. 40 Bernáldez writes, “en ella ai muchos Puertos de mar muy singulares sin conparación de buenos, e los mejores que en tierra de Christianos se pueden hallar . . .” [on (the island) are many sea ports, quite striking, without equal among good ones, and (even) the best ones (that) can be found in Christian lands] (Memorias I 272). 41

Columbus describes the rivers as buenos y grandes. Kettell: “large and beautiful” (255). Kerney: “good and great” (22). I interpret these adjectives as I have because what would make rivers on islands “good” is their waters being fresh (rather than salt or brackish). The literal “good” and “large,” as Morison translates (182b) may suggest that their width and depth indicates year-round waters, suitable for barges and boats; useful, then, in establishing settlements, conducting agriculture, and raising animals, and in mining and commerce.


1r.27: centre frei. This result has been universally adopted as intended to be “Tenerife,” owing to several comparisons with Tenerife given in the Diario. Varnhagen’s transcription of his Sanfelices MS gives “Teneryfe” (6). Someone — the copyist of the original or the compositor from his fair copy — apparently saw an unfamiliar word and took t for c and eri as tre and saw the f as sufficiently separate to suggest a new word. Tenerife is quite mountainous, with hills descending onto the beach or into the sea. Major: “Cetefrey,” noting variants (4). Kerney: “very many ranges of hills, and most lofty mountains incomparably beyond the Island of Centrefrei,” noting that it “Ought to be Tenerife” (22–23). Also see Thacher’s interesting note (22 n. 1). 43

1r.27: mil fechuras refers to the shapes of the mountains.


1r.29: taking puede [he can] > puedo [I can] rather than puede for pude [I could], with the logic of the rest of the passage and the slender basis of the manuscript reading, for which see the line in the edition. Varela records “pu[e]de” reading as preterit, “I could” (223). In considering a composing error, puede for pude, note pueden a few words before. 45 Kerney: “And I am assured that they never lose their foliage; as may be imagined . . .” (23). Morison: “; and I am told that they never lose their foliage, which I can believe” (183a).

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An English Translation of the Folio 46

Bernáldez clarifies: e alli . . . cantaban Ruiseñores e otros Pájaros en el mes de Noviembre como hacen acá en Mayo [and there . . . the nightingales and other birds were singing in the month of November as they do here in May] (I 272). See the Diario entries for 17 and 23 October for similar declarations. Columbus ends the entry for 11 (–12) October by writing that he has seen no “beasts” at Guanahaní except for papagayos. 47

Morison: “. . . in the month of November there where I went. There are palm trees . . .” (183a).


1r.33: en ella = on the island, i.e., Juana. Kerney: “. . . plants therein. There are . . .” (23). Morison: “plants; therein are . . .” (183a). I continue to interpret this section as referring to Juana.

49 1r.33: pinares, as a grove or forest of pine trees appears twice in the Letter and signifies a tree that Columbus was able to compare to an Old World species. 50

1r.33: canpiñas is a variant of campo (Coromines), attested as early as 1295. Penny gives campiña [area of cultivated land] as a Latin-based “probable” Mozarabic word adopted by Castilian (History 271). Kerney: “very large plains of verdure” (23). Morison: “extensive meadow country” (183a).

51 1r.34: en las tierras refers, I think, to the “interior lands.” Bernáldez’s tierra firme is reasonably read in the sense of inland areas used for farming, industry, settlement, and transportation (275). Kerney: “In the earth there are” (23). Morison: “Upcountry there are” (183a). Just below, at Folio 1r.36, Columbus refers to fields to be planted as tierras. 52

Varela notes that the final words of the phrase at 1r.35 (instimabile numero) are a Latin expression from Job 36: 26 (221 n.11). The passage reads, “Ecce Deus magnus vincens scientiam nostram numerus annorum eius inaestimabilis” [Behold God is great beyond our knowledge, the number of his years inestimable]. The Latin phrase without the intervening text is, then, numerus inaestimabilis. Material objects (islands, ships, settlements, people, fine things) are frequently “beyond counting” in medieval travel literature. 53 1r.35: uegas (vegas), fertile land, probably the level land (plains) in the mountain valleys, green, with lush vegetation and, because of the level terrain and sheltering mountains, convenient for planting or grazing. 54

1.36: gruesa here seems to refer to the soil type and implies coarseness or heaviness, probably as opposed to the sand that one would expect near the shores of an island and that would be inhospitable to some crops essential to Spanish culture and to foundations for substantial buildings. Gruesa might be translated (optimistically) as “loamy,” indicating a soil having substance. Kerney, Thacher, Jane, and Morison give “rich.” Columbus’s gruesa (L. grossus) is Spanish (Portuguese, grosso; Catalan, gros; Italian grosso), according to Meyer-Lübke. I find no use of gruesa describing land for farming or building cited by Coromines, Meyer-Lübke, or others. 55

Kerney: “as well as the many and great rivers, and excellent waters, most of which contain gold” (23). Morison: “and so the rivers, many and great, and good streams, the most of which bear gold” (183-a).


This might be translated as “with Juana’s (over) there.”


1r.39 en esta, I suggest, refers to Española (rather than to Juana, the nearest noun to esta), and using aquellas in this clause to refer to Juana’s flora, along with a repeated use of esta at the head of the next clause (La gente desta isla), tends to back up that reading. These deictics perhaps point to Columbus’s spatial location at the writing: “on this (island).” Kerney: “In this, [comma],” noting, “i.e. Hispaniola” (23). Morison: “; in this [island]” [sic] (183a).


This reading is problematic, and most translators read the first hauido as a part of a doublet with the phrase ni aya hauido (1r.40–41). Major: “I have found or gained intelligence of ” (5). Kerney: “that I have found and seen, or not seen” (23). Morison: “I have found and seen, or have not seen” (183a). See the notes to Folio 1r.40–41. 59

See Gil’s discussion of Columbus’s vacillations with plurals, especially those in the Diario as recorded by Bartolomé and the Letter (54–55, esp. 54, ¶ 2). Kerney: “just as their mothers bring them forth” (23).


Kettell: “wear at the loins” (256).


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An English Translation of the Folio 61

Kerney: “or a cotton something” (23). Morison: “or with a net of cotton” (183a).


1r.43: para ello = for it, i.e., for the place they are covering, or else for the purpose of covering it. Bernáldez elaborates this section, demonstrating more curiosity than is in evidence here (272– 273): Las gentes…andaban todos desnudos, asi hombres como mugeres como nacieron tan sin empacho, e tan sin verguenza, como las gentes de Castilla vestidos [sic]: algunas mugeres traian cogido un solo lugar abajo con una hondilla de Algodon. e [sic] con una cuerda a la cintura por entre las piernas, que cubrian no mas de lo bajo por honestidad, otros traian tapado aquello con una oja de árbol que era larga e propio para ello: otras traian una mantilla texida con algodon, recinchada que cubria las caderas, e fasta medio muslo, e creo que esto traian quando parian [The people all went about naked, men and women alike as they were born without embarrassment or shame, as do the people of Castilla (when they are) dressed; some women wore over one place down below a little sling of cotton with which they cover no more than the lower part for shame; others covered that (lower area) with a tree leaf that was long and rightly shaped for it; others wore a small cloth woven of cotton fastened around that covered the hips to the mid-thigh, and I think that they wore this when they were pregnant] (272–273). See the “words of the Admiral” section at the end of the Diario entry for 11 October, which covers in the majority of its text 12 October at Guanahaní (San Salvador). In this entry, Columbus writes (through Bartolomé’s transcript) his impressions of the natives, remarking that “it seemed to him” that the people were lacking in everything — pobre de todo — and he immediately describes their complete lack of clothing as if to give a proof of their poverty. On 16 October, he writes that the women of Fernandina wear “in the front” a little cotton that barely covers their private parts (su natural). Consult Lardicci’s Synoptic edition, which will lead the researcher through passages of interest in the several treatments. See, for example, the Historia’s chapter XLII for Bartolomé’s treatment of this theme. 63 Columbus conveys the idea that they are indeed sufficiently “athletic,” fit for war and physical conflict; bien dispuesta = well-proportioned, as opposed to put together in some “monstrous” way. Major: “well-formed and of handsome stature” (6). Kerney: “well-formed people and of fair stature” (23). Morison: “well-built people of handsome stature” (183b). Also see the Diario for 11 and 13 October, for example, for related expressions. 64

1r.45: las cannas quando estan conla simiente: “when they are gone to seed.”


Bernáldez describes these weapons as “canes and sticks without iron and with a sharpened thing at the end: de cañas y de varas sin fierro, con alguna cosa aguda en el cabo (1962 274). Kettell: “They have an instrument consisting of a cane, taken while in seed, and headed with a sharp stick, but they never venture to use it” (256). Major: “reeds cut in seeding time,” noting a probable comparison to similar plants used by “the natives of Guiana” (6). 66 1r.47: hauer fabla = to hold speech/conversation, to gather information; these men would make contact with the natives and attempt to communicate with them to obtain ideas about the land and people and to note the nature of settlements and civic organization to report those matters to Columbus. 67

Bernáldez: e salir a ellos gente sin numero, e despues que los vían [sic] llegar a cerca fuían todos, e no parava uno con otro [Countless people would emerge, but seeing (the Spaniards) draw near, all would flee, none stopping (to aid) another] (ibid. ). Kettell: “whole multitudes have taken to flight at the sight of them” (256). Major: they “would flee with such precipitation that a father would not even stop to protect his son” (6).


Major: “wherever I went” (6). Kerney: “At every headland” (23). Morison: “At every point” (183b).


Major (7) and Kerney (23): “incurably timid.”


Kettell: “After they have shaken off their fear of us” (257).


Kettell: “they display a frankness and liberality in their behavior” (257).


Note the move from a plural (creerian; Mod. Sp. creerían) implying a nonspecific plural like “men” as its subject in the first clause to el, a singular subject like “one” or “he” in the second clause. Varela suggests that creerian may be an error for the singular (222). 73

Kettell: “No request of anything from them is ever refused, but they rather invite acceptance of what they possess” (257).


According to Morison and Obregón, these generous and trusting natives were the Bahamian Arawaks (22).

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An English Translation of the Folio 75

Kettell: “[they] receive anything which is tendered in return with perfect content” (257). Kerney: “they are straightways content with whatsoever trifle of whatsoever kind may be given them” (23). See the entries for 17, 21, and 22 October in the Diario for some of the items the Spanish used for gifts and for bartering with the natives. 76

This is first instance of defendi, which might be translated as “I shielded —” or “I protected —,” but here (and below) it is used in the sense of “I forbade —” or “prohibited —”; therefore, in the sense of shielding the innocent from a practice perceived as unethical. See 1v.15 as well.


Major: “pieces of broken porringers . . . and ends of straps” (7). Kerney: “fragments of broken platters, . . . and strap-buckles” (23). Morison: “pieces of broken crockery . . . and lace points” (183b). 1v.9–10: dagugetas < de + agugetas, as laces or strips of leather (or woven material) used to hold shoes or articles of clothing on the body (Mod. Sp. agujetas). Bourne (1906) gives agugetas and defines it as “a leather lacing or strap” and the translation of the “ends” as “the metallic tips of lacings or straps” (266 n. 1). See the following note. 78 1v.11: agugeta. Major: “a leather strap” (7). Morison: “a lace point” (183b). An interpolation (underscored) seems to clarify the event: se acerto hauer vn marinero por una agugeta [algo] de oro de peso de dos castellanos y medio. The wording of this phrase in the Letter may be ambiguous, but Bernáldez is clear: Alli acaescio a un marinero, por una agujeta, aver peso de dos castellanos de oro e mas [There it happened that one sailor for a strap got the weight of two castellanos and more of gold] (ibid.). 79 1v.11: castellanos: Bourne (1906) writes that the castellano “was one-sixth of an ounce of gold” (266 n. 2). Jane notes in 1492, the castellano “was worth 490 silver maravedis” and that its weight “has been estimated at 46 decigrammes” (9 n. 1). See also the note to 1v.13, below. 80

1v.12: blancas, according to Major, are “[s]mall copper coins, equal to about the quarter of a farthing” (7 n. 2). Bourne records that “Blancas were little coins worth about one-third of a cent” (266 n. 3). Jane notes that the blanca is a “copper coin, worth half a maravedi” (9), as does Morison, adding (in the 1960s) that the value was “about a third of a cent” (187 n. 8). 81

1v.13: castellanos and arroua (from Arabic) represent units of weight in gold and in (agricultural or manufactured) goods, respectively. Major in 1870 identifies the castellano as an “old Spanish coin, equal to the fiftieth part of a mark of gold” (7 n. 1). Martín Alonso writes that an arroba was 11 kg., 502 gm., roughly eleven-and-a-half kilograms or 25 pounds (Diccionario). The 25-pound measurement may come from a source like the Ordenanzas reales of Alonso Díaz de Montalvo printed in 1484 (text, John O’Neill), recorded in Davies’s Corpus: “en la libra dos marcos & en el arroua veynte & çinco libras destas & en el quintal çien libras destas [in the pound, two marks & in the arroba 25 of these pounds & in the hundredweight (centner) 100 of these pounds] (see Incunabula Cited under Álvaro de Castro). Jane stipulates that these are “pounds” of 14 ounces (Voyages 9). Fernández Armesto translates as “bushel,” a unit of volume rather than a unit of weight, though the U.S. has standard bushel weights for certain agricultural products. The cargo lists given in Enrique Otte Sander’s Sevilla, sigloVI include the entries 106 pipas de 25 arrobas (149–150 for example) and 20 pipas y 40 arrobas de aceite (137).


Kettell: “The whole of an indian’s [sic] property might be purchased of him for a few blancas, this would amount to two or three castellanos’ value of gold, or the same of cotton thread” (257).


Morison is more specific, writing “wine casks” (184a). A pipa might contain water, vinegar, or oil as well. The phrases pipas de vino, pipas de aceite, and pipas de harina appear frequently in cargo lists given by Otte Sander in Sevilla, siglo XV (146, 158, for examples). Otte Sander explains that pipa is a unit of cargo (56). See Otte Sander’s chapter 3 (“El comercio exterior”) for exports of wine and other products (158–162). Besides a citation from Otte Sander (160), “arcos de hierro” appears in Antonio Vázquez de Espinosa’s Compendio y descripción de las Indias Occidentales (originally published in 1600): dos pipas con arcos de hierro (Davies’s Corpus). Otte Sander points to wooden hoops made of hazel and chestnut in one instance (116) while other citations (118, for example) are not specific about the material. 84 85

Kettell: “with the greatest simplicity” (257). Major: “like fools” (8). Kerney: “like senseless brutes” (24).

The reading of the Diario entry for 4 November where Martín Alonso Pinzón is recorded as bringing Columbus two bits of a spice that the Spaniards were supposing to be cinnamon (canela) implies that Columbus had entirely banned the Spaniards’ taking anything from the natives. Pinzón


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An English Translation of the Folio reports that one of the Portuguese men on his ship had seen a native with two big bunches (handfuls) of this spice, but that the sailor was afraid to try to trade [Por. resgatar as “redeem, recover”] for it because of “the penalty the admiral had imposed [por la pena quel almirante tenia puesta], that none of them should trade” [que nadie resgatase] (Diario f. 20v). On December 22, in “the words of the Admiral,” Columbus mandates a practice of giving “something in exchange” because the natives are generous (and guileness). 86

Major: “a thousand good and pretty articles” (8). Kerney: “a thousand useful things” (24).


1v.15–16: por que tomen amor might be “that they might accept our goodwill.” Major: “in order to win their affection” (8). Kerney (seconded by Thacher and Jane): “that they may conceive affection” (24). Morison: “that they might be fond of us” (184a).


1v.16: allend a desto is used figuratively: “beyond or above this.” See below, at the comparison using “England and Scotland together,” for the literal sense of allende (1v.40) to describe distance. Also see the Diario entry for 14 February for another figurative use: Allende los votos generales o comunes [Beyond the general vows or those shared in common].


Major: “the whole Spanish nation” (8). Kerney: “all the Castilian nation” (24).

Like Major (8), Jane continues the sense of this sentence into the next, with the natives “striv[ing] to aid us [Spain] and to give us of the things . . .” (8 sic). See the following note as well. 90

Kerney: “they strive to combine in giving us things which they have in abundance, and of which we are in need” (24). Morison: “in order that they . . . furthermore might . . . try to help us and to give us of the things which they have in abundance and which are necessary to us” (184a). It is reasonable to extrapolate that native coöperation with Columbus in the moment is seen as a portent of future serviceability because Columbus has the intention early in his contact with the natives to win their goodwill with kindness and generosity so that they will give good reports of the Spanish as Columbus sails the islands and in later times, will receive the Spanish well and aid them. See, for example, the Diario entry for October 15th, about three days after the first landfall and before Columbus has landed at Fernandina.

91 While idolatría (1v.18) carries a fairly clear meaning, secta is interpreted here in the sense of there being a system of religious practices that Columbus would have found unacceptable in the context of his Christian beliefs, an impression he would have formed from visual and/or aural witness. The idea of secta as a subgroup of a wider religious community, as we may think of the word used in the context of the medieval Church, would have been impossible in this context. In English “sect” and “cult” are somewhat ambiguously differentiated today, and a truer translation here might be merely “religion.” The Diario qualifies the observation (1 November): they follow no secta que yo conozca [sect that I know of], but on 12 November, the observation shows greater certainty: yo vi y conozco . . . que esta gente no tiene secta ninguna [I saw (witnessed) and know . . . that this people follow no sect at all]. Columbus first mentions their apparent lack of a religious system in the entry for 11 October (“the Admiral’s words). Also see the following note. 92 This section on the beliefs of the natives precedes the reassurance of their intelligence in Bernáldez’s account. Bernáldez elaborates slightly: “les parescio que todos creian en dios de los cielos . . . y creian que alli era la fuerça y santidad toda” [to them (Columbus’s people) it seemed that they all (the natives) believed in the God of Heaven . . . and they believed that there lay all power and holiness] (ibid.).

José J. Arrom’s groundbreaking study of the linguistic roots of the naming and nature of the Taíno’s Supreme Spirit (1980) supports Columbus’s conclusion that the people associated their “Great Lord” as the “source of good” with the heavens. Arrom’s analysis takes accounts written by monks Ramón Pané (whose historical study of the natives Arrom edited) and Bartolomé, both contemporaries of Columbus, as its starting points. According to Pané, Taíno comes from the native word nitaíno, a term used to refer to an elite class among them; for a densely informative discussion on the topic and a thorough bibliographic background on Taíno social stratification and culture at the time of their contact with the Spaniards based on archeological and documentary records, see Kathleen Deagan’s 2004 article (esp. 600 –603). Also see Raymond Breton’s Caribbean language dictionary. 93

Kerney: “crew” (24).

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An English Translation of the Folio 94

Kerney (24) and Morison (184a): “sky.”


Major: “with this belief ” (8); Kerney: “in such opinion” (24). Morison: “in this belief ” (184a). At 1v.26, Columbus begins decribing the Spaniards’ reception by the natives in more detail. See also the Diario entry for 6 November describing the reverential ceremony of hand-kissing and hospitality with which Columbus’s landing party described their being received. 96

Bernáldez: E esto non porque ellos fuesen tan inocentes e de tan poco entender; que sabed que es gente muy aguda e de sotil ingenio [And this was not because they might be so naïve or of such slight capacity; may you know that these are people of very discerning and subtle intellect] (ibid. 274–275).

97 Arrom characterizes the Taíno (people) as “skilled farmers,” “excellent fishermen,” and “bold seamen” (22). In addition to his statements about their skill on the water, Columbus also notes several times in the Diario that the lands are “worked” (13 December on Española, for example). 98 Kettell: “giving a remarkably good account of every part, but do not state that they have met with people in clothes, or ships like ours” (258). 99

The “first island” Columbus records, he calls San Salvador. 1v.24: desprendiesen is interpreted here in the sense of “they might disburden themselves,” a figurative sense that one find elsewhere in Spanish for prender. This sense is consistent with the second member of the doublet “me diesen notia.” Martín Alonso (Diccionario) gives prender as agarrar, sujetar una cosa, coger, tomar, recibir. Penny (Ife) notes that prender meaning “‘steal, seize’” (agarrar, coger) was “probably obsolete by the end of the fifteenth century,” but that Columbus uses it “in this sense” perhaps because prender retains that meaning in Portuguese and Genoese (xxx). This point may deserve further study in that conjugated forms of prender appear to be used frequently in this very sense, literally or figuratively, in various kinds of discourse into the seventeenth century, for which see entries for prende, prenden, etc., in Davies’s Corpus. Latin prendere, too, has the sense of “grasp” or “seize,” and the Spanish prefix des-, expressing a reversal of action, like “away from, break from,” attached to Spanish prender is consistent with contemporary and later usage, here suggesting that the Indians “might ‘give up’ what they know” of the islands. Note also examples like desayunar, deshacer, despedir, and others with prefixes of des- and dis- from Menéndez Pidal’s Manual (§126 and 347–348). Varela has desprender equivalent to aprender. Morison: “in order that they might learn [Castilian] and give me information of what they had in those parts” (184a). 100 Kettell: “We succeeded ere long, in understanding one another, by signs and words” (258). Kerney: “what by speech and what by signs” (24). The Diario entry of 27 November speaks of Columbus’s impression that there is a common language, of the language barrier, of his misunderstanding the natives on board, and of his intention to learn the language and to have it taught to others. 101 Fernández de Navarrete, Kerney, Jane, and others break the sentence following mucho. Folio 1v.25 and Quarto 2v.19 show no punctuation at this point; MS 1v.75 indicates a break. 102 Morison interprets por las muchas conversaciones que hayan hauido conmigo (1v.26) as “in spite of all the intercourse which they have had with me” (184a). 103

This narrative appears in the Diario entry for 14 October.


Kettell: “having gathered confidence” (259).


1v.31, etc.: fusta. Guillén Tato defines fusta as a small type of galley [galera], a long craft propelled by oars and sometimes with lateen sails (69–70). Mattingly writes that galleys “were warships purely” and that “they usually cruised under sail, but used oars in battle” (xvii). Here, Columbus distinguishes the canoa from a European galley with both sail and oar as fusta de remo in that it works by oar only. Major: “row-boats” (9). Kerney: “rowing-galleys” (24). Jane describes a fusta as a “light-oared vessel of not more than three hundred tons” (11). The Latin gives scaphas solidi ligni; scapha (f.), as a skiff (though a skiff has a flat bottom), launch (pre-motorized), or rowboat; solidi (sing. n. gen.), here meaning “entirely” may be taken by editors to mean “solid”; and ligni (sing. n. gen.), here, as hewn wood. Concerning the building of native canoes, Bernáldez adds the detail that they are held together by very sharp pieces of flint rock: . . . fazen [las canoas] con piedras de pedernales muy agudos (ibid. 275). 106

1v.33: canoa made of a single, large “beam” or tree. Kettell: “although [they are] narrow, on account of the material” (259). Major: “one single piece of timber” (9). Kerney “a single log of timber” (24). Morison: “a single log” (184b). See the Diario for 27 November: Columbus reported that in exploring


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An English Translation of the Folio a river he found a large canoe as big as a fusta of twelve benches made of a single tree (as a “dugout”) that lay sheltered from the elements under a wooden shed roofed with palm leaves (f. 30r). 107

1v.33: terna as future is considered a syncopated, metathesized form of tener + ha [will have/hold/possess]. For linguistic details, see Menéndez Pidal (Manual 323 §123 2.b ), Gifford and Hodcroft’s texts No. 15 (12th c.) and No. 18 (13th c.), and Penny, giving terné from tener(lo) he (212). See the Letter’s second instance, ternan, at 2v.4. Varela edits as terná (223) and ternán (226), repsectively, indicating inflection as future tense. Al remo (1v.33) is interpreted as “at the oar” or “in oarsmanship,” referring to the skill and speed of the oarsmen working without the aid of sail. Kerney: “a galley could not keep up with them in rowing” (24). Morison: “a fusta could not keep up with them by rowing” (184b). This section appears compressed or otherwise mediated in the Latin translation. Bartolomé’s transcript of the Diario uses tornasen (30 March) as “they might return.” 108

Kerney: “their motion is a thing beyond belief ” (24). Morison: “they make incredible speed” (184b).


Kerney: “ply their traffic” (24). Morison: “carry their merchandise” (184b).


Kerney: “those” (24).


Bernáldez elaborates: non vieron diversidad en la fechura e color e costumbres de las gentes ni en la lengua, salvo que todos eran las caras e las frentes anchas, las cabeças redondas . . . los cabellos prietos e correntios; gente de medianos cuerpos, de color loros, blancos, mas que negros . . . [they did not see differences in the form and color and customs of the people, nor in the language, but that all had broad faces and foreheads, round heads . . . dark and flowing hair; (they were) people of medium build, tawny in color, white more than black] (ibid. 275–276). See loro in Davies’s Corpus, where it is cited from Alfonso (Alphonsus) de Palencia’s Universal vocabulario de latín en romance (Sevilla: Compañeros alemanes, 1490). 112 Kerney: “which is a thing of singular towardness” (24–25). Morison: “which is a very singular thing” (184b). 113

Kerney: “as to making them conversant with” (25).


Columbus writes of the natives’ aptness for imitating the Spaniards’ prayers and religious gestures at several points in the Diario: see entries for 1 and 5 November, for example. Again, in the 12 November entry, he is earnest about the conversion of the natives and their docile nature. In this entry, he voices his amazement that the islanders all use one language in contrast to Guinea where he says there are “a thousand” languages. On this question, Bernáldez optimistically repeats the Letter’s conclusion but adds detail: se entendian e eran de una lengua [they understood one another and were of one language], and further on: es cosa maravillosa en tantas islas no aver diversidad de lenguas [it is a wondrous thing among so many islands not to have (or “see”) a variety of languages] (ibid. 276). Douglas Taylor, a prolific scholar of Caribbean language who often used comparative methods, provides a brief overview of lexical and phonological similarities and distinctions between Taíno and other Arawak languages from a mid-twentieth-century perspective (1954) that is enlightening in the context of Columbus’s claims, and Michael Tennesen summarizes more recent archaeological findings (2010) on the culture and language of the Arawaks. Both “Arawak” and “Taíno” designate languages, peoples, and cultures. 115

Kerney: “along the sea-coast of the Island of Juana” (25). Morison: “along the coast of the island Juana” (184b). 116

Jane writes that England alone measures 50, 874 square miles and Cuba, 43,000 (12).


Kettell: “for besides the extent of it which I coasted, there are two unexplored provinces to the W.” [sic] (259–260). 118 Kettell (MS 1v.93): “Cibau” (260). Major: “Avan” (10).The name recalls “Havana.” Morison (184b) vnotes this word should have read Avan. Bernáldez: Nahan or Hanan (ibid.). 119

Morison suggests that the “men born with tails” must have been monkeys rather than men, a distinction lost somehow in the translation process between Columbus and his informants (CCM 154), one that would have included drawing or signing. See Wilford’s article in the NYT (1990) for a popular press report on evidence of “monkeys” in Cuba based on a cooperative research project between U.S. and Cuban scientists, led by Ross D. E. MacPhee, and see also MacPhee (2005) and MacPhee and Don Jeffrey Meldrum (2006).

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An English Translation of the Folio 120

Or “all of whom know the islands.” 1v.43: todos probably refers to islas in spite of its gender.


Major sees the nature of the problem — a misreading “from an abridged word in the original” — and records Varnhagen’s “Colibre” and “Catalonia” (11 n. 1). Kerney’s notes to this section in his edition and translation (18, 25) are supported by Bernáldez’s text: tiene un circuito mas que toda España desde Colibre en Cataluña . . . e fasta Fuente rabia ( 275). Jane interprets Colivre as Collioure and notes that the circumference of Española is about 1500 miles, and the coastline of Spain and Portugal, about 1900 miles (13 n. 4–5). Morison: “from Colonya by the coast to Fuenterauia” (185a). 122

Viscaya, Eng., Biscay.


1v.45: pues en vna quadra anduue. Major: “since on one of its four sides I made [188] great leagues” (11). Morison translates: “since I went along one side . . . in a straight line from west to east” (185a). Bernáldez: anduvieron . . . en quadra por derecha linea de Occidente, e Oriente [they sailed in a square along a straight line from west to east] (275).


Major: “never to be lost sight of ” (11).


1v.46–47: en la cual puesto que de todas tenga tomada posesión por sus altezas has presented continuing problems in translation (and in reading because of the loss to the surface). Kerney sets this section through “the kingdoms of Castile” (2r.2) in parentheses (25). 126

“Resources” is used in the sense of the islands’ having topography, soil types, and mineral, animal, and plant resources that will lend themselves to settlement, agriculture, and exploitation of precious metals. Major: “more abundant in wealth” (11); Major casts this series as dependent clauses with “although” leading up to the “yet” of Columbus’s taking possession of Navidad. Kerney: “more richly endowed” (25). Morison: “more richly supplied” (185a). 127

1v.47–2r.1: may appear to read de lo querio se y puedo dezir. The reading is plausible as de lo que io se y puedo dezir. See notes to 1v.47 in the edition. Kerney: “than I have skill and power to say” (25). Morison: “than I know or could tell” (185a).


The Latin narrates possession taken on behalf of “our most invincible king” [inuictissimo Rege nostro] and all is “at the command of the said king” [dicto Rege] (3r). These elements remain in the F&I issues. 129

2r.2: reading es for the Folio’s en.


2r.3: comarca: in Medieval Latin, “boundary” or “border land” from cum + Germanic marka [boundary] (J. D. M. Ford 199). Martín Alonso cites uses in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as “región fronteriza” in Nebrija. 131 I suggest that this tierra firme signifies the continent or mainland that Columbus believes that he will return to find, and that he supposes the land of the Great Khan to be some distance from his writing location as well. Although I have not studied all their examples, I note that Dunn and Kelley translate terra firme (f. 19r, 30 October) as “landmass.” 132

This section evokes diverse interpretations, as the following translations indicate.

Kettell: “as much at their disposal as the kingdoms of Castile, . . . yet the preference must be given to Espanola [sic], on account of the mines of gold which it possesses, and the facilities it offers for trade with the continent, and countries this side, and beyond that of the Great Can, which traffic will be great and profitable” (260). Kerney: “ ( — . . . as completely as of the kingdoms of Castile —) in this Española, in the place most suitable and best for its proximity to the gold mines, and for traffic with the continent, as well as on this side as on the further side of the Great Can, where there will be great commerce and profit — I took possession of a large town . . .” (25 sic). Bourne: “That is, with the mainland of Europe on this [aqua] side of the Atlantic and with the mainland on that [aquella] side of the ocean belonging to the Great Can, i.e., China” (268 n. 4). Jane: “in this Española, in the situation most convenient and in the best position for the mines of gold and for all intercourse as well with the mainland here as with that there belonging to the Grand Khan, where will be great trade and gain” (12). Morison: “In this Española, in the most convenient place and in the best district for the gold mines


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An English Translation of the Folio and for all trade both with this continent and with that over there belong to the Grand Khan, where there will be great trade and profit” (185a). Alexandre Cioranescu’s French translation, whose principle of reference is adopted by Varela, must be quoted beyond this phrase to illustrate the latitude with which he interprets the Spanish: “Cependant, ce n’est que dans cette Ile Espagnole que j’ai pu prendre possession d’une grande ville, a laquelle j’ai mis nom ville de la Nativité. Elle [referring back to Navidad] est située dans un endroit des plus convenables, et le meilleur du point de vue des mines d’or, aussi bien que de celui du trafic avec la terre ferme d’Europe et avec celle du Grand Khan, avec laquelle on pourra établir de très utiles relations” [However, it is only on Española that I was able to take possession of a large city, which I have named City of the Nativity. It is located in a most suitable place, and best from the point of view of the gold mines, as well as of that for the traffic with the continent (or “mainland”) of Europe and that of the Grand Khan, with which Spain will be able to establish very profitable relations] (185). In Plannck F, the comparison of circumferences and Columbus’s assurances of Spain’s possession and disposition of the lands is immediately followed by the narrative of “taking” Navidad (3r). The original omits or the translator suppresses this section. 133 Literally, “The Nativity [of Christ],” due to its founding on or around Christmas Day, 1492. The Diario for Tuesday December 25 contains an entry for “yesterday . . . . at the twelfth hour” after which time, the nao ran aground on reefs. Bernáldez (Memorias) writes that this settlement was established in “Hayti” and clarifies the point, here obscured, that Columbus founded and named it and left forty men there after the loss of the ship (ibid. 275–276). In Memorias, as in the Diario, the rationale for this settlement — the loss of Santa María that made it impossible to return to Spain with those men — is made clear (Bernáldez 276). Morison calls the episode of the loss of Santa María “The Tragic Christmas” and accords Columbus a share of the blame (“Route” 257–261). See Markham for the listing of men left in the fort (144–145); per Markham, the names are derived from accounts written by Fernández de Navarrete, Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés. See Deagan’s discussion of En Bas Saline, “a large classic Taíno town” thought to have been Guacanagarí’s town, based on accounts of the loss of the ship and the town’s “size and prominence” in the region (605 ff.). 134

Morison: “a fort and defenses” (185a).


2r.7: fusta. Plannck F 3r: carauellam [caravel].


What more will be made is not entirely clear, but producing fustas comports with the logic suggested by the “master of the sea.” 137

2r.8: an anacoluthon? I take ygrandeamistad as possibly existential: ay grande amistad > there exists great friendship > “I have made a great friend,” or the like. See Bernáldez (276).


Kerney: “prided himself ” (25). Morison: “he took pride” (185a).


2r.9: hofender [to give offense], is taken in the sense of the islanders’ attacking the Spaniards — though they have no competitive weapons. Kettell: “should their friendly inclinations change, and become hostile” (261). Morison: “if he were to change his mind and offer insult” (185a). 140 The sentence might be broken following this phrase instead of at this point. Deagan describes the Taíno cacique Guacanagarí as “the principal chief of the province of Marien at the time of contact” in what is “today northern Haiti and northwestern Dominican Republic,” and the site thought to be “his town” is identified as En Bas Saline (605). 141

2r.12: this rendering is from the gerundive: sabiendose regir. Kettell: “they may remain there with perfect safety, taking proper care of themselves” (261). According to reports, they did not govern their passions well and due to some offensive behavior, were all dead, whether at one another’s hands or at the Indians’, when the Spanish returned on the second voyage (Morison CCM 153). 142 143

Major: “eatables” (13). Morison: “victuals” (185b).

2r.16: hombres monstrudos = misshapen men, men created as monsters. Kettell: “people of monstrous appearance” (261). Kerney: “monstrous men” (25). Morison: “human monstrosities” (185b). The Diario entry of 26 November describes Columbus as disbelieving when the natives “tell” him about people who have only one eye and the snouts of dogs.

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An English Translation of the Folio 144

Columbus uses this phrase frequently to set up a contrast between ideas, and it may be translated as moreover, on the other hand, to the contrary, and so forth. 145

Plannck F (3v): sed homines magne reuerentiae [sic] atque benignos [but men in great awe (very timid) and harmless]. Kerney: “on the contrary all the people are very comely” (25). Morison: “among all these people good looks are esteemed” (185b).


Kettell: “not resembling the blacks of Guinea, as their [the islanders’] hair is straight, and their colour lighter” (261). 147

2v.17: no se crian = they don’t grow up, they’re not raised. Kerney: “they are not begotten” (26). Morison” they are not born” (185b).

148 Fernández de Navarrete notes that espeto in the “old language” meant asador and that Columbus uses it here to mean calor [heat] (172). Inpeto (impeto) may mean “force” or “power,” here referring to the intensity of the sun near the equator. 149 2r.18–19: distincta dela linna inqui nocial. Kerney in his translation (26) emends, reflecting his editing of the Folio: distante. Mauricio Obregón, in his essays on matters pertaining to the Letter, writes that Columbus “corrects the [Diario’s] major errors in latitude by saying that the latitude of the north coast of Hispaniola was twenty-six degrees north, which leaves an error of only five degrees” (Barcelona 12). See n. 34 above for a corresponding phrase with a reading of distincta that is routinely emended to distante. 150

Reading ay tenia speculatively as allí tenía.


The translation is mediated by the Quarto reading at 3v.23 (de las viandas que comen con especias muchas) and the Simancas manuscript reading at MS 2r.121 (viandas como son especias muchas). I suggest interpolating que in por la costumbre que con la ayuda as que e[s], so that the custom they follow is the use of their highly spiced foods; otherwise, they bear the cold “through custom/habit” in addition to “the help of spicy foods.” The translation variants have points of syntactic and semantic interest. Kettell: “which the inhabitants endure from habit, and the use of hot spices with their food” (261). Major: “not only from being habituated to it, but by eating meat with a variety of excessively hot spices” (13). Kerney: “but they endure it by being accustomed thereto, and by the help of the meats which they eat with many and inordinately hot spices” (26). Morison: “they endure it through habit and with the help of food which they eat with many and excessively hot spices” (185b). Based on uses of the word at the period, I suggest that viandas has a broad application as raw or basic elements of diet, like English “foodstuffs” and “meat” in the broadest sense of “food.” See also Davies’s Corpus for viandas and n. 142, above. 152

2r.21: the original may be corrupt. Major: “As to savages” (13). Kerney: “Thus I have not found, nor had any information of monsters” (26). Morison: “Thus I have neither found monsters nor had report of any” (185b). See Austin Whittall’s Patagonian Monsters online for an intriguing image of “dogheaded creatures” on a Turkish mappa mundi of 1513. See also Frances W. Pritchett’s online collection at Cosmographia, by Sebastian Münster, 1544, particularly for “Münster on India” where types of men/monsters assigned to India (1080) comport with types mentioned in the Letter and the Diario (Münster). See Heinrich Petri for Münster in the listing of incunabula and early sixteenth-century printings cited. 153 154

i.e., the second island that one comes to upon entering the Indies.

Major: “They are no worse formed than the rest” (14). Kerney: “They are no more ill-shapen than the others” (26). Morison: “[T]hey are no more malformed than the others” (185b). Penny observes that Columbus uses diforme and disforme as meaning “different” (xxx). The use of más [more] as comparative argues against “different” in this instance, though an elliptical expression like “they are no more different [from us] than the others” might work as a translation employing “different.” Since these writings, Davies’s Corpus has shed new light on questions of dating, frequency, and semantics whose answers were previously limited to information held in two voluminous dictionaries and studies in Old Spanish based on selected literary texts and legal and religious texts. The Corpus entries for diforme and disforme argue more often for a pejorative sense of the adjective rather than the more neutral sense of “different.” Diforme is in several instances linked with feo [ugly] and instances of disforme are linked with ideas of “broken,” “frightening,” or “disfigured,” suggesting the Latin


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An English Translation of the Folio idea of deformis as “misshapen” or “malformed.” In the Letter, the “other” inhabitants have already been described as physically attractive in comparative contexts; here, in a phrase that damns with slight praise, the Caribs are described as no more “ugly” or “misshapen” than they. How Columbus’s writing Carib interpreted his native informants’ speech and what the word may have meant to the Taíno and Caribs is of interest. Taylor writes that “Carib” is accepted by both the Caribs and their enemies, indicating that the name was not felt to be pejorative and that these “archenemies” were once friendly. Taylor supposed that Carib might be interpreted literally as “manioc people” (157), perhaps an identification of the people with the cultivation and use of manioc (1958). See William F. Keegan’s The People Who Discovered Columbus for his view of the Columbian Taíno and Carib dichotomy. 155

Implying, then, that the islanders of Juana and Española do not “wear their hair long, as women do.”


Major: “made of reeds, with a small stick at the end” (14). Kerney: “of the same reed-stems, with a point of wood at the top” (26). Morison: “of the same stems of cane with a little piece of wood at the tip” (185b). 157

Major: “They are ferocious amongst these exceedingly timid people” (14). Kerney: “Amongst those other tribes who are excessively cowardly, these are ferocious” (26). Morison: “They are ferocious toward these other people, who are exceedingly great cowards” (185b). Ramón Pané, a monk who accompanied Columbus on the second voyage, attests to the fear with which the Taíno regarded the “cannibals” (34–35). 158 2r.7: tratan might mean “they have dealings/relations with” in a commercial or social sense, but the intimation in the orginal and in translations that the “fierce” Caribs act as the procreative partners of these warrior women adds to the mystique attached to both groups and the awe with which they are regarded. Plannck F 3v: qui coheunt cum quibusdam feminis: quae solae insulam Mateunin . . . habitant [who meet/mate with certain women who alone on the island of Mateunin . . . live]. Varnhagen records: “que tomaban las mugeres de Matinino” [who take the women of Matinino]. Kettell: “They exchange their wives” (262). Major: “These are they which have intercourse with the women of Matenino” (14). Morison: “These are those who have intercourse with the women of Matremomio” (185b). Major’s “intercourse” probably refers to trade though the earliest uses of “intercourse” as a sexual connection cited by the OED appear in scientific treatises in 1803 and 1804. Note that Morison uses “intercourse” in the sense of “contact” or “conversation” elsewhere in his translation, but his translation of the Diario means that he knew the facts of Columbus’s understanding. See the Diario entry for 16 January where Columbus gives details of the procreative practices between the Caribs and women of Matinino. Concerning the geography, Bourne writes that this “island is identified with Martinique” (270 n. 1). Varela notes, “se identifica con la actual Martinica” [Martinique] (Textos 225). 159

1r.31: arambre > alambre, owing to a slippage of the liquid consonants /r/ and /l/. Alambre was apparently interpreted as “copper” by Leandro, to whom the Roman Latin translations are attributed, as aeneis (Plannck F 3v; L. aeneus, of copper, of bronze). Kettell writes “copper” (262) and is seconded by Kerney (26). Bartolomé’s transcript of the Diario for 13 January includes relevant passages: “al alambre o a un oro bajo llaman en la Española tuob” [they call alambre or a base gold tuob] and in the same entry, “en [Matinino] hay mucho tuob, que es oro ó alambre” [in Matinino there is much tuob, which is gold or alambre]. Bartolomé’s Historia (LXVII) records, “[H]abía mucho alambre; yo creo que quiere decir cobre” [there was a great deal of alambre; I believe he means to say copper]. See Varela’s note to the Letter (225 n. 18). 160

What “bald” Indians might have meant puzzled Morison (CCM 154).


Kerney: “concerning these and the rest” (26).


Morison remarks that this Indios is “the first appearance in print of this name” that Columbus gave to the islanders of the Caribbean (187 n. 15), but this is the fourth instance in the Letter. See also n. 12, above.

163 Kerney: “which has been so hastily performed” (26). Major: “which has been so hasty” (15). Morison: “which was so hasty” (186a). 164 2r.35: speciaria uses a Latin [a female spice dealer] or a non-Spanish Romance spelling, plausibly Portuguese or Italian [light-weight goods; spice shop, spicery]. González and Fernández de Navarrete render with Spanish epenthetic e- as “spicery.” Bernáldez: “muchas especias, como Pimienta que

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An English Translation of the Folio quema” [lit. many spices like Pepper that burns] (ibid. 276). Kerney (26) and Major (15): “spices.” Morison: “spice” (186a). 165

Morison: “gum mastic” (186a). See the reference to gathering “mastic” in the Diario entry for 5 November.


2r.37 el señorio = Genoese government. Kerney: “Seignory,” noting “Of Genoa” (26 n. 5). Bourne explains that el señorio “was the government of Genoa to which Chios [Scio] belonged at the time” (270 n. 2). In Journals, Morison remarks that Columbus had sailed to Chios one or more times (187 n. 16). See the Diario entry for 12 November for another discussion of the potential for harvesting mastic.

167 Bernáldez: “árboles de Linos áloe” [trees of wood aloe (linos from L. lignum rather than “linen[s]” from Sp. lino)] (276). Morison: “aloe wood” (186a). Morison theorizes in his edition of the Diario that Columbus is impressed by this “discovery” of supposed lignaloe because he supposes erroneously that it is a variety of medicinal aloe like those aloes known in the Mediterranean and suggests that Columbus may have seen the agave of the region (78 n. 3). William Seifriz documents varieties of agave found frequently in Cuba but mentions no aloes (1943), while John W. Harshberger (1901) located both agave and Aloe vulgaris in Santo Domingo and Haiti (559), but Aloe vulgaris is not apparently what Columbus describes as “aloe wood.” Bond describes central and south African tree aloes as having a “conspicuous stem 1.5 m or more in height” whose leaves, he implies, are harvested for medicinal purposes (110) and aloe comosa in “succulent shrublands of the north-western cape” (113 qtg. Reynolds 1950). On the presence of aloes in Guinea, which Columbus mentions, see Holland (esp. 215a–b, 216b–217; medicinal aspects 217b–218). Agave might be described as “woody” in comparison with medicinal aloes in that the agave leaves are thinner and more rigid and fibrous compared with the thicker, fleshier leaves of medicinal aloe; furthermore, agave produces a tall, spiky, “woody” flower stem. Columbus’s confusion may have arisen because both plants are similarly configured succulents having spiked leaves. Bond shows that tree aloes (aloe ferox) produce new leaves along a woody stem (“bark”) where older leaves have declined so that the green plant appears at the crown of a tall “tree” formed by “a skirt of persistent dead leaves” along the stem (111). Varieties of agave and medicinal aloes are common in the drier regions of the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico, and Harshberger describes them thriving in similar regions in the Caribbean; such climate and ground conditions, conducive to succulents, do not suggest the lush and fertile views that Columbus emphasized. See the Diario entry for 21 and 23 October and 5 November where Columbus writes of his interest in aloes. 168

Morison observes that by contemporary standards the slave trade will be a “legitimate” enterprise if the slaves are not Christians (187 n. 17).

169 What Columbus thought might be rhubarb was not; he describes it at the close of the Diario entry for 30 December, and Morison provides a note (Journals 141 n. 1). Columbus finds that what was reported to him as cinnamon is not (4 November), but the bark of the “wild cinnamon” tree, native to the Caribbean, yields a similar spice. See Morison’s note (88 n. 1). 170

Major: “so long as the wind allows me to proceed” (15–16). Kerney: “so long as the wind gave me an opportunity of sailing” (26). Morison: “provided the wind allowed me to sail” (186a).


Major: “where I took the necessary precautions for the security and settlement of the men I left there” (16). Kerney: “till I had left things safely arranged and well established” (26). Morison: “[to have it] secured and well seated” (186a).


Kettell: “had those in the other vessels done their duty” (263). Major: “if my vessels had been in as good a condition as by rights they ought to have been” (16). Morison: “if the vessels had served me as the occasion required.” Morison observes that Columbus might have been referring to Santa María’s loss or, obliquely, to Pinta under Pinzón’s command (187 n. 18). 173

Major: “This is much” (16).


2r.42: es harto y eterno dios. The text is anacoluthonic, with an obvious lacuna at the opening. The Latin embellishes the material with several lines of pious exclamations, and Major sorted it out with “and praised be the eternal God” (16. Italics added). Kerney: “and [thanks to] eternal God” (26, brackets, sic. Italics added). Morison (without interpolation): “And the Eternal God” (186). 175

2r.44: fallado O escripto, a doublet usually emended to fablado o escripto, as the first term does not


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An English Translation of the Folio comport with the spirit of the pair, and fallado does not make sense in the context. Major emends (16) and Kerney does the same and so notes (26). See the following note as well. 176 The phrase is problematic, and the translation is tentative. Kerney: “for although men have talked or written of those lands, it was all by conjecture, without confirmation from eyesight, importing just so much that the hearers for the most part listened and judged that there was more fable in it than anything actual, however trifling” (26–27). Morison’s is similar (186a-b). 177 Major: “an event of such high importance” (16). Kerney: “so high a matter” (27). Morison: “so great a matter” (186b). Also possible: “such a noble thing.” 178

2v.4: aqui, interpreted here as an adverb of time rather than an adverb of place.


The translation here is based on an indication at MS 2v.154: mas todos, poss. rdg. The scribe writes and strikes a (a), the dative, or else may intend to remodel a into q as an abbreviatura for the relative pronoun (que > mas que todos). Note Plannck F 4r: non solum Hispania sed vniuersa Christianitas est futura particeps [not only Spain but all Christianity is a future sharer/participant]. For ternan, see also n. 107, above. 180 Major: “temporal benefits which will bring great refreshment and gain” (17). Kerney: “temporal benefit which will bring hither refreshment and profit” (27). I read “converting so many nations to our Holy Faith” as offering spiritual “consolation,” and take the second element of the first phrase, “material riches,” as corresponding to the second term, the “profit,” of the second phrase. 181

2v.5: fecha (Mod. Sp. hecho/a [made, done]), as “made” or “executed.”


Niña is “the caravel” to which Columbus refers. Jane writes that a caravel was known for its “mobility” and might have either lateen sails only (Portuguese) or both square and lateen, or square only (Castilian), but that the term was used loosely (18). Columbus’s Pinta and Niña were probably squarerigged on the foremast and mainmasts with a lateen sail on the aft-mast (mizzenmast). Santa Maria was not a caravel, but a nao (Morison CCM 30–31, 104), as Bernáldez writes (276). See Obregón on the ships’ types and their names (Barcelona 9–10). 183

2v.5: islas de canaria may have been read for isla de Santa María (in the Azores) written in abbreviation. Consult the note to the edition on this point and the index for discussion in the contexts of the Simancas manuscript and Varnhagen’s Sanfelices manuscript. 184

Storms have given signs of what is to come by February 14 though Columbus writes one of the longest entries in the Diario under that date. The ship makes headway and on the fifteenth, Columbus records the shipboard debate about where they are located. Opinions range from Madeira to Portugal. With a turning of the wind that seems to follow that debate, they can see land “five leagues distant,” and Columbus, according to Bartolomé’s summary, puts them in the Azores while the “pilots and sailors” think they are “already in Castilla.” That night they realize the land is an island. 185

Major: “At your orders” (17). Kerney: “At your command” (27). Morrison: “At your service” (186b). Kettell and Giovanni Battista Torre, following the Simancas transcript, omit this line.


Kerney: “Postscript” (27). Morison: “Additional note” (186b). I describe this section as having been recorded from a post-scriptum enclosure written on a separate piece of paper (venía dentro, 2v.7) and associated with the leaves of the Letter. Asensio (1891) notes that the Folio’s Anima is “meaningless” (10), and taken as one word, it probably is. With a as a preposition (Eng., for, to, in, by way/means of) preceding nima (nema, nyma) the phrase may intend something akin to “as a postscript.” The Quarto gives Nyma (Sp., posdata; Eng., postscript; from Greek, NEMA), and the MS., a ny ma. Morison (187 n. 21 [sic]) and Hanke and Rausch (31 n.21 [sic]) propose “Anima (modern nema): a paper wrap[p]ed around a letter after its conclusion, and to which the seal is affixed.”This explanation appears to refer to the medieval version of the “envelope” as a sealed sheet that encased a memorandum and showed directions for delivery. A nyma (nima) would, in any case, be an additional bit of writing following the “farewell” and dating of the main document and might be written, theoretically, on any size piece of paper and enclosed within the folds of the letter or attached to it in whatever manner came to hand, or it might be written on the inside surface of the enveloping sheet, as Hanke and Rausch appear to suggest. Battista Torre (1864) translates, Qui trovavasi nella lettera il seguente P. S. [Here was found in the letter the following post-script], repeating “P.S.” at the head of the paragraph (221).

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An English Translation of the Folio 187 Kettell: “being at sea near Castile” (264). Jane: “being in the sea of Castile” (18). Columbus is separated from Pinzón on 14 February (see the Diario) and will not see Pinta again on the voyage. See Morison (165–166, n. 2). 188 Major: “there arose a south-west wind” (17). Kerney: “there rose upon me so much wind” (27). Morison: “there rose up on me so great a wind” (186b). Morison notes that sueste is a “misprint” for sudoeste (187 n. 22). 189

2r.9: descargar. I suggest Columbus speaks of rigging because of the violence of the wind and the heaviness of the rain rather than “cargo.” Kerney: “caused me to lighten the vessels” (27). Morison: “I was obliged to ease the ships” (186b), noting the plurals los navios in the Spanish editions (187 n. 23). The idea of jettisoning cargo does not comport with the Diario’s recording that the ship suffered from “want of ballast” [falta de lastre] and that as they were able, the men filled empty casks [henchir las pipas . . . vazias] with sea water (Spanish text from Varela, “14 de Hebrero”). Columbus does not report that he was forced to dispose of any items from the Indies, which would have composed most of the “cargo” at this point. What the Diario also records is Columbus’s changing or lightening his sail twice on this day, once at the beginning of the entry when he has had the papahigo (Guillén Tato: “la vela mayor sin bonetas” 103; Morison: “main course” 163, 165; Battista Torre: “vela maggiore” 197) lowered before he loses sight of Pinzón’s ship, and in the close of the entry where Columbus describes running with only the popa (Morrison: “he scudded with only the foresail” 165), having taken in the papahigo — Battista Torre here translates (my underscoring): Aveva abbassato l’albero della vela maestra (200) — for fear of losing it altogether; l’albero would in Spanish be árbol, (Eng., tree) and in seaman’s language, l’albero refers to the mastil (mast) or palo (pole) according to Guillén Tato’s entry for árbol. In Italian, Battista Torre uses l’albero, for example, in landsman’s terms to refer to “a single tree” when he describes the dugout or canoa that Columbus finds. In 1939, Morison corrects Jane’s translation of papahigo as “scudding-sail” to “the squaresail” (261). 190 2v.11: temporales appears to refer specifically to the sailing environment he found in the Indies, where he first thought there were no such storms, as he also writes in the Diario (14 February). Note the use of temporales to refer to secular or earthly matters at 2v.3. 191

2v.10–11: hallado y, I read hallado allí [there].


Major: “knocking about in this sea” (18). Morison: “beating about in this sea” (186b). Note that in Michele (Miguel) de Cuneo’s account of the second voyage, he writes that they made the crossing from Ferro in the Canary Islands to the first Caribbean islands they saw in twenty-two days, but Michele speculated that the crossing might have been made in sixteen days had they had more favorable weather (Varela Cartas 240; Morison Journals 210–211). 193 Kettell follows Fernández de Navarrete’s reading: “March 4th” (264). Major concludes his translation at this point (cxxxv). See the index for other references to the date of the post-script. 194

Kerney sustains the Spanish (27). Morison: “Keeper of the Privy Purse” (Admiral I 94; Journals 186b). Kettell: “Comptroller of the Treasury of the King and Queen” (253). Cecil Roth: “Secretary of the Royal Household” (22). All agree in implying an officer responsible for managing finances for the royal household. The title is problematic to translate for modern understanding, and “Keeper of the Privy Purse” is a British-English-based translation that may not communicate to other speakers of English while “Secretary” does not imply to modern readers the elevation of the office. Santángel was Aragonese, directly in Fernando’s service, so it may be misleading to describe him as “the Queen’s Keeper of the Privy Purse” as Morison does in his introduction to the Letter (Journals 180). I suggest that the phrase describes the accountant/banker who had financial oversight and management of the royal household, its goods, and accounts. 195

2v.16: a la otra refers to the letter to the sovereigns just cited in the post-script.Varnhagen submits that this line should have read Contenida en otra, but Major argues for Contenida la otra, translating “Contained the other of their Highnesses” (cxxxv), making Santángel the bearer of Columbus’s Letter to the king and queen. Major’s idea is reasonable and comports with the logic suggested by this sentence, that the Santángel Letter and the letter to the sovereigns were enclosed in the same dispatch package, the latter perhaps entrusted to Santángel’s delivery. Morison, with sense that comports with the Spanish: “Contained in another for their highnesses” (186b). The Simancas manuscript lacks the participle (contenida) and reads more directly: and another letter for their highnesses (e otra de sus altezas). Major omits the label, but he discusses its wording in his “Bibliography” essay. Thacher omits this text (26).


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11 Parsing the reading

As the notes to the translation suggest, Samuel Eliot Morison’s extensive work on Columbus biography, his studies of the route and landings of the first voyage, and his translations of documents related to the four voyages have had enormous power in forwarding and influencing Columbus and Discovery Period studies. Nevertheless, titling the Letter in Journals as “Columbus’s Letter to the Sovereigns” and the scenario he presents of “Columbus compos[ing] this letter on board caravel Niña . . . during a spell of good weather prior to 10 February 1493” (180) communicate ideas about the Letter’s addressee and its composition that suggest spaces for revision based on the Letter’s discourse, its grammatical structures, and its connections to the text of the Diario.1 In the first place, the Letter gives every indication of being intentionally directed to Santángel rather than to the sovereigns. Other pieces of writing from Columbus, lost or extant, were just as clearly directed to specific recipients: Fernando and Isabel, Padre Gorricio, Juan de Fonseca, doña Juana de Torres, Pope Alexander VI, Diego Colón, to the queen alone, and to various other named contemporaries.2 Furthermore, though the Letter was probably written in some form “prior to 10 February,” it is possible to theorize more coherently about the place and time of the composition with a close reading of the Letter. Morison writes that Columbus “dated” the Letter — not that he wrote it — on February 15th around Santa María in the Azores.3 Thacher, with other commentators, takes the dateline at its face value, referring to “the holograph letter penned by Columbus on board the Niña when off the Azores.” The dating provides a plausible terminus for the composition of the Letter proper based on the Diario’s recording that the wind at one point was slackening on that day and that at another point, Niña was close to land in the Azores. That Columbus wrote a politically serviceable conclusion to his Letter, datelined, and signed it when he thought he was near Spain in mid-February is likely; that he composed a letter, one that takes several hours merely to copy, at that time and place seems less likely. Considered in the holistic context of the Diario’s account of the storms, Niña’s location, and events that seemed to be drawing the voyage to a close before the worst storms began on February 27th, the dating of February 15th is plausible for Columbus’s completing, datelining, and signing his Letter as “The Admiral” and suggests no ulterior motive.

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Parsing the Reading The Letter’s discourse and grammatical constructions, however, offer convincing evidence that Columbus’s writing the Letter occurred over a period of weeks during which sailing, exploration, resource management, and executive decision-making claimed priority on his time. Some of these tasks — the Diario’s report to the sovereigns and whatever portolan charts he may have drawn or whose execution he supervised or consulted on, for example — must have involved pen and paper, but his personal letters are unlikely to have occupied such a space when validating his achievement to the sovereigns in every way possible and returning to Spain to claim his reward must have driven the prevailing currents of his mind and will. It makes practical sense that Columbus, in the unfolding of his sailing through the Caribbean, was able to set down his message to Santángel only at intervals, as more exigent demands permitted.4 The close reading of the Letter presented in the following pages locates junctures in tone, approach, and topic that suggest broken writing periods and makes a case for a scenario of composition that begins in the “Indies” and concludes in the Azores. Though all readers won’t necessarily mark the same junctures and potential sites of writing across the text, most will agree that certain features of the text imply some number of disparate writing sessions and geographies. Other elements of the text affirm Santángel as the Letter’s intended recipient and have interest for reader reception of the Letter in its printed form by a larger audience.

A noble reader In his opening address, Columbus hails his courtly reader with Señor, a sign of social station that colors the Letter’s message with privilege from its first word,5 implying not only a noble recipient but a writer who is equipped to pen a personal Letter to such a man — a writer possibly worthy of a reader’s attention and confidence. The contemporary señores who became a part of the Folio’s audience read or heard “señor” and perhaps felt themselves called into the unfolding narrative and drawn further in to read the writer’s affirmation of a God-ordained “victory” in a successful voyage to las Indias (1r.3) — stunning news that arrives in the Letter as such news often does, in a plain and understated dress. Columbus’s confidence that the señor will “take pleasure” in the news he has to offer implies shared interests and sympathies, and vos, aureis, and sabryes directed to the reader sustain the courtly address of the salutation and lead into a compact narration of the “victory” that opens in medias res to encapsulate its early results. The writer’s tone of confidence and his implication of mutual loyalties between himself and the reader with nuestros [our] is validated with religious and political honorifics crediting God and the sovereigns, whose will and sponsorship, respectively, made the voyage possible. Having read as far as the first word at the opening of line six, the reader has probably been snared — at least in the short term — by the sum of these implications and the writer’s quantifiable assertions and eye-witness testimony: twenty days in the outward passage and many highly populated islands sighted and claimed with due attention to protocol and zero opposition from the inhabitants (1r.1–6).

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Parsing the Reading Columbus next sets forth proofs of the “victory” in a catalogue of five new islands christened to honor God (San Salvador), the Virgin (Santa María de la Concepción), and the royal family (Fernandina, Juana, Isla Bella) (1r.6–9).6 Columbus’s “and so on” [e asi a cada una nombre nuevo] implies that he has named and claimed still other geography, and those Divine and royal names throw a pleasant glow over Spain’s new lands and their inchoate promise.7 For a courtly, partisan, Catholic audience, they recommend the writer as worthy of particular confidence. Columbus’s brief catalogue of names may also suggest something about his chronology and mode of writing the Letter. His summary close, e asi a cada una nombre nuevo, may imply that other discoveries have less value at this moment than the ones he cites explicitly, or that his writing time has been interrupted, causing him to break off with a wavering finish to a vivid opening narrative. Two additional matters are also noteworthy in respect to the writing time. In the opening line, Columbus quantifies the days of the outward passage only, without mention of the passage home (1r.2), and he omits from his catalogue of islands the next one he will name, Española, indisputably the island with which he is most impressed on the first voyage, and one whose name would have resonated with his reader in concert with the others. It is Española that Columbus will eventually describe as the largest and loveliest of them all, and he will devote more lines of his Letter to Española’s features, people, and culture than to any other.8 If the catalogue of islands at 1r.6–9 gives an approximate idea of Columbus’s location at the time(s) of his writing before he apparently breaks off to begin a narrative cast in past tenses, then the opening lines of the Letter were plausibly composed no earlier than Columbus’s arrival at “Cuba or Juana” on October 28th (Diario). The subsequent passage (1r.9–21) beginning with Quando (1r.9) is about Cuba/Juana (hereinafter, Juana) and narrates Columbus’s coastal exploration of Juana up to his sighting of Española at 1r.21. Columbus presents actions and impressions in this sailing narrative (1r.9–21) as past events and conveys the idea that Juana is the most remarkable and promising island he has seen, a conclusion sustained by the Diario entries from October 28th through the first days of December9 — though after he has some experience of Española, it will not be so. The details of his coastal sailing and exploration narrative — Columbus’s efforts to communicate with the inhabitants, the advance parties he sends to locate cities or towns — read as a much-compressed summary of past events and observations, and his confutations serve to rationalize disappointments and re-affirm Columbus as worthy of Spanish confidence.10 He seems to have anticipated doubts that might arise in his reader’s mind and answers them with a series of confutations: in spite of his methodical and determined exploration of Juana, the expedition dispatched into the interior found no large cities because none existed; his initial failure to talk with Juana’s inhabitants was due to their fleeing from the Spanish (1r.11–12); and he is unable to continue his coastal exploration of Juana due to an unfavorable wind and the nearness of winter (1r.14–16). In addition to mitigating anticipated shortfalls to his reader’s expectations, Columbus gilds these events in ways that will be productive for his cause: the fleeing natives demonstrate their inability or unwillingness to offer


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Parsing the Reading resistance; the yet unexplored coastline suggests future potential; and Columbus’s competence and prudence cause him to turn away from the North to return to un señalado puerto, from which he sends out a landing party. The mention of “an indicated port” (1r.16–17) implies that Columbus already has mapped some part of the coast, and the indefinite un suggests that he has found more than one decent port — hints of encouragement for mercantile interests. Columbus’s having sent a landing party ashore demonstrates his executive competence as Spain’s representative, and the result is a confirmation of a large native population and many separate settlements (1r.17–19). When he announces that Juana is definitively an island according to testimony of his captives (1r.19–20), Columbus affirms that he has exercised foresight in having already taken natives on board and that he has some unspecified degree of communication with them from which he is gaining useful information to push the project forward.11 By the mid-point of 1r.23, the most extravagant attributes assigned to the islands that Columbus has seen are their number (muy muchas) and their populousness (gente sin numero; infinitas poblaciones), and his grandest claim — implied rather than stated — is that Juana is so large it appears to him to be a mainland though the natives say that it is an island (1r.19–20), a view he does not affirm explicitly in this sentence. In the context of writing chronology, it is useful to recall that Columbus considers Juana a “mainland” (as tierra firme) for some period. Bartolomé records in the closing sentence for the Diario entry of October 28th that “the Admiral understood” from the captives that from their position, it was ten days’ journey to tierra firme, and Diario entries for November 1st and 2nd indicate his belief that Juana is continental, and Bartolomé notes that Columbus has only abandoned the idea that Juana is tierra firme by December 5th, the day he sights Española. In the matter of writing chronology, the mention of “winter coming in” (1r.15) during the sailing around Juana suggests Columbus’s November 1st Diario entry in which he records sailing northwest encountering cold. In the following day’s entry, he sends two Spaniards ashore to seek the king there and to learn about the land, telling them to return in six days. The men return on the night of November 5th with news of people, houses, and hospitality (Diario 6 November), and with natives accompanying them, but without having found anything like a city.This Diario narrative appears to parallel the Letter’s account of Columbus’s sending “two men” on a similar mission that lasts three days and that is cut short because, though they have seen many people and settlements, they have seen nothing they recognize as civic organization (1r.17–19). Columbus is again stalled in his sailing plans, and it appears that from 6–11 November, he remains in place, unable to sail as he had planned on November 8th.12 In an organic transition from his narrative of coastal sailing around Juana, Columbus records that from a cape on Juana, he spotted [vi] “another” island (1r.21)13 that he called [puse] Española, and he “went” there and “followed” the coast “as he had done with Juana” (1r.22–23), at which point, he breaks off and returns to describe Juana, and I will return to that juncture shortly. Series of verbs pointed out above as being cast into past time, along with the perfective aspect of these two preterits (vi, puse) in the transition, suggest that the Juana

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Parsing the Reading narrative (beginning with Quando 1r.9) was written soon after Columbus had departed Juana and perhaps in the first days of sailing around Española, at a time before he would rank Española above Juana, but not before he had decided what to call it. In addition, though Columbus achieves several moments of personal validation and meets imagined challenges with confutations in these lines, as he does throughout the Letter, and provides an indication — couched in excessive sailing detail — of Juana’s size, also important to his project of discovering a continent, the extended sailing narratives and Columbus’s failure to go directly to the question of Juana’s physical extent in these lines is disconnected in important ways with the rest of the text. These lines belie the goal of “brevity” that Columbus subsequently asserts and that he achieves in the terse and well-chosen phrases of the opening lines (1r.1–9). More importantly, the choice of topic and emphasis in these lines is detached from those in the remaining narrative –– superlatives and honorifics for Juana’s and Española’s resources, features, people, and culture; how these will benefit Spain; and the great size of Española, offered with a comparison to Spain –– suggesting that this section was written when the experience was still fresh and these events, still highly important from the perspective of the moment. In the Diario, Columbus records that he first saw Española on December 5th, and he names it on Sunday, December 9th, choosing the name, according to editor Bartolomé’s third-person mediation, for its “beautiful” plains that closely resemble those of Castilla.14 These Diario entries suggest that the terminus post quem for this narration may reasonably be set near December 9th. From December 8th through the 13th, Spanish sailing is checked by rainy, “wintry” weather, and the Diario entries of some of these days — the 8th, 9th, and 10th — are relatively brief, and those of the following two days are of middling length. It is probable, therefore, that these days of stagnant progress and poor visibility offered Columbus time for writing, as well as an excellent vantage point from which to relate recent experiences in sailing and exploring Juana.15 This scenario for the writing is further validated only a few lines into the coastal sailing along Española (1r.21–23), where Columbus appears to realize that he has said nothing about the many merits of Juana, the most impressive island that he has seen before he explores Española. He applies a referentially awkward and abrupt remedy with the repeated phrase asi como dela iuana followed by a relative clause (la cual . . .) that takes iuana [Juana] as its antecedent. If the repeated phrase is intentional, as I have treated it in the edition and translation, its repetition, along with the shift in topic, may indicate that a writing session was broken off at oriente. The transition then extends the observation to all the islands [y todas las otras] for one feature: they all are fortissimas — or fertilissimas, if one wishes to emend — “to a great degree” but Juana’s coast is “extremely so” [esta en estremo], and Juana’s other features are superlatively remarkable as well (1r.24 –35).16 Columbus presents November in the past of his writing when he records that the birds were singing “in the month of November around there” (1r.30–31), with por alli referring to Juana. The following phrase where I was sailing may be grammatically a part of that phrase, or it may apply to the coming praise of palms in several varieties, along with other plants, but the reference to November presented as an unfolding


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Parsing the Reading action in the past suggests (again) that Columbus writes this portion of the Letter at a point beyond the month of November, when he may no longer be on Juana but perhaps is nearby. Despite what has been perceived as a lack of clarity or an erring setting in this section, Diario entries between October 28th and November 30th support the idea that Columbus describes Juana in this long, descriptive passage, making a segue from the stalled narration of sailing Española’s northern coast.17 To garner more specificity about these details, one may note that at 1r.31, Columbus refers to actions that suggest his earlier presence on Juana with alli, setting Juana at some (indeterminate) distance from his position at the writing. Verb tenses that stage actions completed in the past (vi) or repeated in the past (andaua) support the spatial distance with chronological distance. I suggest that esta, referring to Juana (esta en estremo), and the following en ella hay . . . (1r.24) are grammatical in nature, referring to the subject of the discourse (Juana) rather than implying necessarily that Columbus remains near Juana as he is writing these lines — though I suspect that he is. Consistent with Columbus’s not having been introduced to the wonders of Española at the time of this writing, he sets Juana apart from “the others” with esta enestremo — with esta, I suggest, referring to Juana — and begins cataloguing Juana’s wonders in a flood of superlative images: Juana’s many coastal ports are superior to those that he has seen in Christian lands (24–25); its many large rivers are a wonder (25–26); its lands are high, it has many mountain ranges [sierras], and its highest mountains are beyond compare with those of Tenerife and are most beautiful, having a thousand shapes (26–27);18 moreover, these mountains are accessible and full of trees of a thousand kinds that seem to reach the sky and that are always green, and as beautiful when he saw [vi] them in fruit or flower, according to their nature, as the trees are in May in Spain (27–29). In addition, the nightingale sings, along with a thousand other little birds of many kinds (29–31).19 The Letter’s descriptive phrasing in this section resonates with material in the Diario’s entries concerned with Juana and dated in late October and in November. Columbus’s October 28th entry refers to his never having seen anything so beautiful as Juana — though he has not yet seen Española — and he remarks its beautiful green trees with fruits and flowers “according to their kind,” birds of various sorts and the pleasant songs of the little birds, grass as tall as Andalucia’s in April and May, and beautiful, high mountains (without great ranges), high lands like Sicily’s, and large rivers.20 On October 29th, Columbus writes of “sweet breezes, neither cold not hot, that blew all night long” and beautiful, high mountains having various shapes, comparing one to a mountain in Granada and noting another with an added peak that looks like “a pretty little mosque” and two “round” mountains and a handsome cape.21 Entries for November 3rd and 4th continue to attest the beauty and pleasantness of Juana’s flora and fauna and record a port that is “better” than others Columbus knows of (i.e., in Europe).22 The entry for November 14th gives what appears to have been a considerably fuller eulogizing of Juana, but in what remains, Columbus supposes her mountains to be among the world’s highest and notes their diverse shapes. It is the signal entry of November 27th, however, that describes Columbus “tarrying more than he was intending because of the desire and delight that he experi-

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Parsing the Reading enced each time that he saw the beauty and freshness of those lands [Juana’s] wherever he went” (28r–28v). Columbus records sighting “marvelous harbors” and river after river, “most” with wide mouths and natural “harbors” large enough to accommodate large ships and free of underwater impediments. He finds “the largest” settlement [población] that he has so far seen, and exploring the area, he locates another remarkable harbor, more worthy of praise than others, along with vistas in mountains and plains that seem to be “the most beautiful in the world.” Columbus narrates entering another deep river and being amazed at its trees, transparent waters, and birds. He tells his companions that it would be impossible to try to describe the wonders they are seeing to the sovereigns, and in the Letter, he compresses these experiences, I think, in these lines about Juana before he has been overawed by Española. In terms of reader reception, Columbus’s assertions and implications in the Letter’s descriptions of Juana would have suggested to his reader potentially high profits in trade, mining, and manufacture, as well as sustainable enterprises in farming and grazing. Successful settlements and comfortable living will be supported by arable land, natural harbors and defenses, abundant labor, fine weather, and plentifulresources of all kinds. Many hills and high mountains suggest mining opportunities and beautiful and varied vistas the year round. Flowers and unnamed plants will delight the eye with color and provide spices for seasoning and medicinal herbs to cure illness and chronic maladies and aid in healing, while varieties of fruit will please the appetite and nourish the body.23 Many varieties of “little birds” and the “nightingale” suggest the pleasing sounds of birds’ songs and the leisure to observe their activity.24 Game birds suggest hunting and a food supply for the nobility, and the pine groves that shelter these fowl will provide fuel, herbal medicines, and building materials for ships, homes, and administrative structures. Meadows and fields call to mind agriculture and grazing, work and leisure activities, and sources of spices and herbs. Columbus asserts the productivity of “mines,” and his references to large populations imply the availability of manpower and proof of the land’s ability to support successful Spanish settlement. Columbus closes his description of Juana, asserting that the island has “mines” and “numberless people” (1r.35), and the next sentence fairly abruptly returns to the topic of La spannola, perhaps suggesting another juncture where the writing was broken off. Columbus takes up the writing then with a transitionless opening, La spannola es marauilla (1r.35), his tense perhaps implying that he writes at anchor around Española, as we might have thought from his narrative of sighting and naming the island at 1r.22 before he returned to narrate Juana’s assets. At 1r.39, he differentiates Española’s flora from Juana’s with de aquellas de la iuana [with those yonder of Juana’s]. With the following en esta ay [on this island there are], he refers to Española,25 and with [l]a gente desta ysla y de todas las otras [the people of this island and of all the others] at 1r.40, he again suggests that he is on Española as he composes this part of the Letter. The present perfects of he fallado y hauido again have the value of an activity repeated in the past whose effects are felt in the present, and Columbus’s observations, cast in the present, speak of durative activities and states of being that may continue to be under his eye — or near it — at the moment of writing.26 Considering the aspectually


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Parsing the Reading perfect (preterit tense) and imperfect verbs in the first twenty-two lines of the Letter, it is reasonable to think that had Columbus been en route to Spain at this writing, the verbs in this section, too, might have been devised in the same way.27 In Columbus’s opening words on Española (beginning at 1r.35), the differences between the elements he claims for Española and those he claims for Juana, along with the similar claims he makes for each, are apparent, and his using similar words and phrases to characterize the islands is consistent with impressions recorded in the Diario. Española is a “wonder” for her mountains and ranges, for her lands that invite Spanish agriculture and ranching, and for soils that offer adequate foundations for Spanish building; Española’s natural harbors “must be seen to be believed,” she (esta [isla]) abounds in spices, there is gold in “most” of her rivers, and her mines hold gold and “other metals” (1r.39–40). The link Columbus forges between Española and its namesake, España, is explicit in the Diario’s passage on naming Española for its resemblance to “the lands of Spain” (9 December), and that connection appears to be in his mind in these descriptions. Columbus’s phrasing and words in this section suggest a comfortable and salubrious setting, something like home, but perhaps even better in some ways, considered alongside the potential for financial gain. In his Diario entry of December 24th, having been on and around Española for almost a month, Columbus judges it to be incomparable among the islands: “Your highnesses may believe that there are no better nor more gentle people in the world . . . that much better people nor land exist nowhere and that there are people and land in such quantity that I don’t know how to write it; you know I have written in superlatives about the people and the land of Juana that they call Cuba, but there is so much difference between Juana and its lands and people and all that this island offers that it is like night and day.”28 In a sizeable section of the Letter (1r.40–1v.38) that might be subtitled, “The first European anthropologist in the Caribbean,” Columbus opens a new topic, the nature of the islanders, about mid-line at 1r.40 with an abrupt shift in tone from his fluid presentation of Española’s attributes. He again alludes to Española’s supposed mineral wealth—large mines of gold and other metals—and breaks off to assert that the people of this island (my italics), Española, are very like those he has seen or heard of on other islands, so opening an extended treatment (1r.40–1v.38) concerned with the qualities and customs of Española’s people. This part of the Letter forwards a series of key assertions about the islanders’ character — their simplicity, vulnerability, timidity, generosity, ethics, and ingenuity — backed with empirical proofs drawn from Columbus’s brief experience. As it does in the previous sections, Columbus’s discourse becomes somewhat repetitious, but the brief narratives presented as his “proofs” serve their purpose and lead coherently to the conclusion that the islanders will make good Christians and good Spanish subjects. Columbus sets out the most transparent proof of their natural state and lack of worldliness: both men and women go unashamedly naked, a state that most contemporary Europeans would have attached to Eden.29 He adds, however, with implications of the natives’ possessing a “natural” sense of propriety, that some women fashion a cotton cloth or gathering of leaves as a covering over “one part.”30 Further proof of the natives’ lack of sophistication is the universal absence among them of iron and other metals used for making weapons, but Columbus specifies that their use of simple

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Parsing the Reading cane weapons is not due to their being physically unsuited for combat because they are handsome people, put together in accord with European standards, rather than as “monstrosities,” but because of their simplicity and fearfulness, which they further have demonstrated by fleeing in haste from the Spaniards though the Spaniards have not only done them no harm (1v.1–2), but Columbus has given them small gifts at every place the Spanish have landed without expecting anything in return (1v.2– 3). He reiterates their fearfulness, but his anecdote also serves to show Columbus’s good character in his relations with the natives, a theme that he treats several times in the Letter. With tales of trading where natives give to the Spaniards all that the Spaniards admire while the islanders take trash and trinkets in exchange for items the Spanish value (1v.4–14), Columbus further emphasizes the lack of native avarice and sophistication and offers evidence of native generosity toward the Spanish. At 1v.15–18, he again records that he has repeatedly given the islanders many things and accepted nothing in return for the sake of future goodwill and stipulates that the natives help the Spanish acquire whatever things they need. Adding to his arguments that the islanders will make good subjects, Columbus claims that the people who meet and assist the Spanish are not “idolators,” but on the contrary, believe that the Spanish have come with their ships from the heavens and receive them everywhere under that impression (1v.18–20). Columbus provides a confutation of an imagined challenge by asserting that the natives are excellent sailors “of subtle intelligence” who are knowledgeable about their environs and merely taken aback by the strangely dressed Spaniards and their unusual ships (1v.20–23). Columbus points twice in this section to his having protected [defendí] the natives from opportunistic sailors (1v.8, 15), augmenting his image as an ethical, prudent administrator.

Questions of aspect In recalling events and writing his narrative as it appears at 1v, Columbus casts images of the islanders and his interactions with them using various kinds of verbs in a variety of tenses whose respective aspects suggest matters about Columbus’s writing location and chronology. At 1v.1, for example, despues que los veyan llegar fuyan [after seeing them (the Spanish) land, they (the islanders) would flee] sets these landings and the natives’ response as scenes recurring in the past, and the reader imagines these events based on the aspectual cue of the imperfect tense: unfolding iteratively at each landing as the Spanish make their way through the islands. In the same way, lo que tenia (also imperfect) at 1v.3 refers to Columbus’s repeatedly having given the islanders “what he was possessed of ” during those contacts; further on, at 1v.15, with daua yo . . . cosas . . . que yo leuaua [I would give them things that I was carrying with me], he conveys the same iterative unfolding of events and his “state of being” at each instance: “possessing” items for trade. In telling the back-story that reveals the natives’ lack of capitalistic drive, podían, parescia, valian, dauan, tenian, and tomaban (imperfect) describe repeated activities in the past — apparently before the trading prohibition — when the natives had been glad to get any little foreign novelty from the sailors in trade for items the Spanish deemed more valuable (1v.10).


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Parsing the Reading Columbus uses preterit tense in this part of the text in three ways that comport with perfect aspect as retrospectively complete at the writing: he indicates a change in his state of being with me parecio [it seemed to me, it struck me] (1v.15); he twice describes a completed action, his prohibition against trading, with defendi [I prohibited, forbade] (1v.8, 15); and he declares the truth of what may be seen as a punctual past act of confirmation or a moment of cognitive assurance (se acertó) about a sailor’s getting a large measure of gold for a lace (1v.11).31 At 1v.2–3, verbs cast in present perfect tense (se aya hecho; aya estado y podido; les he dado) describe past actions whose effects carry into the writing present, and Columbus then returns to present tense (1v.4–8) using verb forms like son, tienen, dizen, conuidan, muestran, and sea to describe the natives’ character and their habitual actions, making his presence with them at the writing at least plausible. Present tense at 1v.16– 18 conveys Columbus’s assertion that the islanders are in the present trying to help the Spanish [eprocuran de aiuntar de nos] by sharing what they have [tenen] in plenty, of which the Spanish are in need [nos son necessarias], and the idea may be extrapolated as predicting future behavior. At this point, in what may signal a continuation of the writing following a break, Columbus turns to the topic of native religious practice rather abruptly with conocian (1v.18), an imperfect form, in the context of denying that the natives, perhaps as he found them originally, “were [then] following” a sect or were engaged in idol worship. He bases his assessment on his shipboard observations of his captives, a backstory he relates in the Diario and compresses into an assertion in the Letter. These observations may be concurrent with writing time because in the same line, he returns to the present tense to affirm that they habitually “believe” [creen] that the Spanish have come from the heavens; he recalls, in the context of their landings around the islands, what the natives “would believe” [creian] about where the Spanish “were coming” from [venia del —] and how the islanders “would receive” him [me recibian] in that belief at each cape (1v.18–20). He then returns, near the end of 1v.20, to narrating in present tense (procede, sean, an elliptical son [de muy sotil ingenio], nauegan, es, dan) to defend native intellect and character, again suggesting that his writing is concurrent with ongoing observations.32 Columbus, as already noted, mediates the natives’ “timidity” for his audience by charging their response to their never having seen such men or ships (1v.20–23). A shift in the writer’s perspective and topic occurs at 1v.23 where y luego turns back the events of the voyage to Columbus’s taking captives at Guanahaní, which he named San Salvador. He provides his rationale in doing so and asserts that these natives have given the Spanish great benefit (han aprouechado mucho, 1v.25), orienting them to the islands and smoothing their contacts with native populations. His rather abrupt deictic, oy endia [hoy en dia = today], points to the moment of writing, while siempre [always] carries habitual and concurrent aspect: he has the captives with him “today” and they “always” espouse the belief that he comes (vengo = I come) from the heavens (1v.26). The narrative then extends into a recollection of how the captives “would always be the first to announce” this belief [eran los primeros apronunciarlo] wherever the ships landed, calling the Spaniards the “people from heaven,” an introduction that

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Parsing the Reading would lead to the consequent success of Spanish contact in those places and to the natives’ welcoming them with food and drink (1v.27–30).33 These imperfect tense verbs describing Spanish landings and native responses paint additional scenes in the past, emphasizing the weight of repeated experience. Perhaps, too, these verbs are what they are because Columbus intends to set sail for Spain, making Española his final stop. These receptions have shown the natives to be curious, generous, and hospitable, and they validate Columbus’s foresight in having taken captives at San Salvador and further affirm the islanders’ affability. Without preamble, about seven lines on, Columbus opens a new topic at 1v.30 that further develops the positive theme of native character with about six lines of text dedicated to the novelty — for the Spanish — of native water transport, the canoa (1v.30–35). He praises the size, swiftness, and design of native canoes and emphasizes their outsized engineering and the remarkable speed with which the men of the islands propel these craft. With a series of present-tense verbs (tienen, son [4], van, nauegan, terna, and traten) and elliptical phrasing, Columbus vouches for the islanders as adept sailors and traders and ambitious designers who, because of their significant knowledge of their part of the world, range around aquellas islas que son innumerables [those islands that are countless] (1v.34). While this phrase may argue against writing time being concurrent with Columbus’s stay in Española, it occurs within the context of the present tense narrative and plausibly affirms that Española’s seamen trade throughout todas aquellas islas, the outlying islands that Columbus has seen before arriving at Española and those whose existence he accepts, based on testimony from his captive informants.34 At 1v.35, Columbus breaks off from marveling at native ingenuity, perhaps indicating the close of another writing session, and launches a further proof of the islands’ promise for the Spanish: the islanders’ consistency in appearance, customs, and language will contribute to their aptness for conversion (1v.35–38). With en todas estas islas (1v.35), Columbus sets in another deictic reference that may be taken to suggest that he is still in the islands at his writing, but the preterit no vide mucha diuersidad [I did not see much variety] (1v.35–36) among the islanders sets a punctual close to his making such observations. He supports this assertion, however, by remarking that the natives mutually understand one another’s speech and are fit for conversion (1v.37–38), casting the verbs in present tense.35 I suggest that Columbus’s no vide implies that he has no plans to explore additional islands because his stay at Española is over or nearly so. His being mindful of an imminent departure from Española, an adieu that was delayed for various reasons, gives contextual logic to the grammatical form no vide.36 Breaking off his “homogeneity” topic at 1v.38, Columbus transitions with ya dixe [as I already said] to open a sailing narrative for which he acknowledges returning to a previous section of the Letter, his narrative of sailing Juana’s coast (1r.20). He makes use of the former passage to assert the size of Juana by comparison with England and Scotland and closes the topic with present-tense phrasing that repeats his ongoing efforts to get information about the Caribbean from his captives (1v.43–44). Columbus records that he “has not” explored (or sailed along) two provinces at Juana, perhaps


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Parsing the Reading implying that he still is in a position to do so should he decide to, and he relates that his captives, who know all the lands, tell him that these areas measure no fewer than fifty or sixty leagues along the coast (1v.40–44). According to what he can understand from these islanders, Columbus writes, setting the context in Spanish geography, Española’s coastline is greater than that of Spain from Colibre in Catalunya along the coast of the sea to Fuente Rauia in Viscaya.37 Columbus’s references to esta otra española at l.44 and to esta [isla (i.e., Española)] at l.46, along with the play of verb tenses in these lines, suggest that he is at Española as he writes. The following lines, at 1v.46–2r.2, read like a conclusion, the first of several such instances. Here, in summary form, Columbus praises Española as once seen, never to be relinquished; restates his secure possession of all the islands for “their majesties” (sus altezas); and assures his reader that the sovereigns may freely avail themselves of their new lands, gesturing to signs of possession, abundance, and disposition that he will reiterate further on.38

The second recto At 2r.2, a shift in topic with en esta espannola at mid-line may suggest another interruption in the writing, as well as a geographical and chronological indication, and at 2r.3–4, two parallel phrases present another deictic perspective that has given trouble to readers and translators: asi dela tierra firme deaqua co mo de a quella dealla del gran can. The Letter’s de aqua [over here/in this place] and a quella dealla [to that one (mainland) yonder/over there] suggest the geographical context at the writing time in a discourse about Española’s supposed gold mines, but the uncertainty in the grammatical point of reference conveyed by de aqua has left the passage open to interpretation. In accord with Bourne (1906), using Kerney’s translation, and with Alexandre Cioranescu’s French translation (1961), Varela reads la tierra firme de acá as referring to the European continent, implying that Columbus is near Europe at the writing time of this section; allá, then, is seen as referring to the “‘mainland’ over there in the Indies” occupied by the Gran Can.39 The sentence’s opening reference point, en esta [isla] espannola, however, suggests that Columbus writes from a perspective around Española, as the deictic tracks of previous readings also suggest. If that is the case, then la tierra firme deaqua refers to the “mainland” of Española as the most propitious area for gold mining and trade rather than to Europe. It is also useful to note that Columbus ordinarily refers to Europe in the Letter and in the Diario as “Europe” or “Christendom,” and when he refers to tierra firme, as a mainland or continent, he is referring to the “Indies.”40 The narrative breaks again at this point (2r.4) to relate the result of Columbus’s greatest misfortune in the islands, the loss of Santa María. The days immediately before the “Navidad” passage of the Letter could have been written would have found Columbus hard pressed under the competing exigencies of saving and sheltering men and salvaging Santa María and her contents —including, presumably, Columbus’s writing and charts and his supplies of paper and ink. No doubt Columbus’s mood was fairly black through this time, as one infers from the Diario passages, but Santa María’s loss

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Parsing the Reading was revised in the Diario as “great luck and the predestined will of God,” and it is suppressed entirely in the Letter.41 Rather than state that the men who could not be accommodated on the return voyage in the two remaining ships had taken refuge on Española because there was no other recourse, Columbus rehabilitates the situation with a narrative of his “ha[ving] taken possession” of a “large town” that he “named” Navidad (2r.4–5). In fact, Columbus found himself having to arrange for nearly forty chosen men to remain behind, supplied with shelter, fortifications, and provisions, but only the witnesses to the ship’s loss and those in Spain with access to the Diario or within hearing of returning sailors’ tales would know that the Letter was setting a positive spin on Santa María’s destruction.42 The narration of Columbus’s activity in relation to Navidad, except for his act of naming, includes several present perfect constructions, and he establishes a new deictic context in this passage implying that he is no longer in contact with the men on the island, where he supposes all his plans have by that time been executed: aestashoras estará . . . acabada [by this time, it must be all finished] (2r.5–6). His affirming that the men he “has left” there “are sufficient” to the task and his avowal of the esteem with which the chief “would regard him” (se preciaua) suggest, too, that he is no longer on the island or in contact with his men (2r.6–9). He supplies a confutation to any challenge relating to his leaving his men in potential danger and again distances himself from Navidad when he writes that those “who remain there” [que alla queda] are enough to destroy all “that land” [aquella tierra] (2r.11). The Navidad narrative implies Columbus’s fitness to manage exploration and organize colonies, and should the settlement fail, he has provided an anticipatory confutation: the failure will be due to the men’s own waywardness — to their not knowing how to govern themselves [sabiendose regir].43 On the heels of that ominous foreshadowing, Columbus turns to something that seems entirely different, but that may have to do with sabiendose regir. He re-opens the topic of native customs, with en todas estas islas [in all these islands] (2r. 12), suggesting the possibility that though he has left Española, he is still among the islands. He further vouches — in contrast to his implied doubt about Spanish conduct — for the natives’ ethical conduct: he finds there a custom resembling Judeo-Christian marriage in which the ordinary man has only one “woman” while the king — who esteems Columbus as a brother — may have twenty; the women seem to work more than the men; ownership of private property in the islands remains doubtful; and their foodstuffs are apparently shared by all. Though this material would have made a logical component of the extended treatment of native life and character at 1r.40– 1v.38, Columbus may have been prompted to return to the topic to further reassure his reader that the men left there were in good company. At 2r.15, Columbus shifts his attention somewhat organically from the personal conduct and interactions of the natives to the misguided ideas Europeans have of beings living in the Western ocean. He begins with a rebuttal to a challenge that he evidently anticipates from courtiers in Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere. With telling deictic expression, he places himself among the islands with the words en estas islas


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Parsing the Reading fasta aqui no hehallado onbres mostrudos [in these islands up to now, I have not found misshapen men], suggesting that he might yet indeed find some monstrous men “in these islands” (2r.15–16). He contradicts the mythological speculation (commo muchos pensauan) current in European popular culture that inhabitants of unknown lands must have their body parts assembled randomly and grotesquely by affirming, as he has already done without reference to mythology, that the people are very handsome to look at (2r.16–17), comparing them here in Eurocentric terms with islanders he has seen in Guinea and citing the Caribbean natives’ resourcefulness in combating the cold in the mountains (2r.17–21).44 From these lines, the attentive reader gathers that Columbus has a seagoing past with the Portuguese, giving him knowledge of their exploitation of “colonial” outposts45; that he is an apt observer of native customs and character; that he has been able to communicate with the islanders; that the islanders are innovative people capable of managing challenges to their survival with local resources; and that European accounts and tales of monster-men on the other side of the earth are mere fables. Between the instances of Columbus’s denials of finding or hearing of monstrosities, what may be a conflicting deictic signal arises at 2r.18 with el sol tiene alli grand fuerca [the sun is very hot there], and it is possible that he is thinking of the sweltering passage through the islands to Cuba/Juana.46 At 2r.21, Columbus concludes his case (asi que [thus]) for “no monsters” by repeating that he found none and adding that neither has he heard of any there. In another deictic phrase that opens a species of exception to his denial of “monster-men,” Columbus implies that he is still in the islands: vnaysla que es aqui enla segunda ala entrada delas yndias [one island that is here, the second island in the gateway to the Indian Islands] (2r.22). He then sets down an extended note on three unusual groups of people, who, in fact, he asserts, are no more malformed physically than the beautiful people he has been describing (2r.21–33). These people might be considered “monstrous” only in certain of their habits or customs, and each exceptional group presents some advantage to the Spanish: the “fierce” human-flesh-eating Caribs are no worse looking than the others, and though they terrorize the timid islanders who are armed only with cane weapons, their ferocity gives him no pause; the warrior women who live to themselves have “much” copper; and the “hairless men” occupy an island that is even larger than Española, according to his informants, and has “countless gold” (2r.22–32). The feared monstrosities of unknown regions are, then, mere fables, and people on the other side of the Atlantic are constructed in the usual way, and by European standards, the natives are attractive, timorous, possessed of poor weaponry and valuable metals, and even the fiercest will easily be overcome. Columbus presents himself as a truth-teller, a close and competent observer, and he guarantees his veracity: traigo comigo indios para testimonio [I am bringing with me Indians as testimony] (2r.32-33).47 Following Columbus’s promise of forthcoming native witness in Spain, he opens his first formal conclusion (e[n] conclusion) by assuring his reader that he will now speak only of what is accomplished in “this [hurried] voyage” (2r.33). He proceeds with a series of assertions that in whatever quantities the sovereigns (as sus altezas) require such things as gold, spices, cotton, aloes, slaves (drawn from “the idolators”),

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Parsing the Reading and mastic, he will see them shipped. Explaining the Genoese monopoly in the mastic trade, Columbus alludes to his experience as a Mediterranean seaman, and his allusions to aloes and slaving suggest his background in Portuguese exploration and colonization along the African coast (2r.36–37).48 Columbus again suggests only a limited degree of distance in time and space from Española when he refers to the people he is leaving there [la gente que yo alla dexo] (2r.39), in the context of their accomplishing further exploration. He implies anew that he may still be in his final days among the islands, this time with a present perfect verb phrase, when he writes that he has tarried nowhere [no me he detenido] as long as weather permitted him to sail.49 Only at Española, he writes, has he remained long enough to see that he left [dexe] Navidad secure [asegurado] (2r.41). Columbus couches a complaint at this point in the form of a regret: he would have done more had the ships only served him as they ought to have done (2r.42). Columbus’s faulting “the ships” works as a preemptive refutation of anticipated criticism. He then reasserts his intention to conclude at 2r.42 with “this is enough” [Esto es harto] and strings his ideas together with coordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns. Unlike the first effort at conclusion (2v.33–41), whose repetitive structures build a concrete case for the islands’ future productivity and Columbus’s efficiency there, the second intention works chiefly to affirm Columbus as a devout Christian and a man of truth and science and treats abstract ideas related to the islands. Columbus directs a pious exclamation to “eternal God, our Lord” who aids His faithful followers to achieve impossible tasks (2r.42–44), but the thought remains anacoluthonic because of an omission in the copying or composing.50 Columbus uses a demonstrative esta and deductive reasoning to anchor his “victory” with those in the history of God’s faithful whose tasks were Providentially brought to fruition (2r.43–44). Proof of God’s grace, he asserts, is that his voyage has produced verities that will triumph over fabulous tales about those lands: where merely invention and surmise were flourishing, Columbus promises the witness of truth (2r.44–46). With such an unassailable invocation hanging over his “victory” and perhaps with a sense of having taken too much credit for himself, Columbus again employs a loosely referential segue, asi que pues, to set up the series of assertions and mandates that end the Letter proper. He asserts that Christ has awarded the “victory” to Fernando and Isabel, the “most enlightened” sovereigns of “renowned” kingdoms (2r.46–47), phrasing that probably speaks, at least in part, to Spain’s 1492 victory over the Moors. The series of calls to action that follow are also cast in Christian terms: “all Christendom,” “the Holy Trinity,” “our Holy Faith” and “oraciones solennes.” Columbus affirms that the Indies’ earthly wealth will “offer consolation and profit” to all Christians. In a formula that is itself “brief,” Columbus reaffirms the truth of all that he has said under the constraints of producing a compressed narrative [esto segun el fecho asi embreue] (2v.4) and closes his text definitively, dating it February 15th. His “farewell” (Fara lo que mandareys) confirms him at the service of his sole, noble addressee, and with the title he has already claimed in Portugal, Columbus signs himself el Almirante, asserting fulfillment of his covenant with Fernando and Isabel.


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Parsing the Reading Other hands Signs of authorship and audience beyond Columbus and Santángel, respectively, appear in two of three texts that do not belong to the Letter proper. One of these can be positively assigned to Columbus, and two appear to be written by another, perhaps by the same clerical hand. Both the non-Columbian texts are serviceable and sober while the one penned by Columbus packs twenty-odd days of peril and its conclusion into six lines. Each has specific interest. The first text of the three (2v.7) appears to be clerical and works as a sub-head or rubric to signal the postscript and describe its relationship to the Letter proper and its packet, informing the reader succinctly that what follows — what is copied there — is a message that came enclosed with the Letter. Immediately following is Columbus’s post-script with its central event referenced against the Letter’s dateline: “After this (i.e., the Letter) was written and (I was) sailing in the Mar de Castilla” (2v.8–13). The post-script is useful and remarkable for several reasons: it is a highly compressed sailing narrative of dire circumstances and miraculous survival cast in the preterit (salio, cori, fue, acorde, fui, volvi, ouo [Mod. Sp., hubo]), and it provides useful deictic references: oy [today], aqua [here], and este puerto de lisbona [this Port of Lisbon], where the seamen’s talk is cast in the present tense: dizen [they say, they are saying]. Columbus now refers to the distant islands as en todas las yndias [in all the (islands of) the Indies], rather than with his previous, en estas yslas [in these islands], and he uses aca, with the present tense dizen, to point to his location and the talk in the port at the moment of his writing. The post-script text shows Columbus to be entirely mindful of his recipient as Santángel when he writes that he has taken advantage of the calm in the port to write to “their highnesses” [acorde escriuir asus altezas], casting his verb in the preterit, signaling no mere intention to write, but the completed act.The letter to the sovereigns that Columbus took time to write before adding the postscript to the Letter to Santángel is likely to be the one associated with the Letter in the label that closes the text in that both are attested here as being in the same place at the same time, and there would have been some urgency in sending both into Spain at the first opportunity. Following the single-sentence summary, Columbus implicitly contrasts the storms with the fine weather he found in the “Indies.” He provides tallies of the days for the outward voyage and the passage home, testily complaining of the delay occasioned by the storms. With this count of days for the outward passage, the attentive reader will note a distinction from that given at 1r.2. In support of his claims for the severity of the storms and the “marvel” of Niña’s survival, Columbus cites the testimony of “all the mariners” in the Port of Lisbon who affirm a greater loss of ships and worse storms that winter than any of them can recall. Following the postscript, the final text (2v.14–16) outside the Letter proper appears, and its author is someone other than Columbus. Its function is to identify the Letter proper according to its material, writer, and recipient, and it works as a document memorandum or notation — a label — written by a clerk. It prioritizes

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Parsing the Reading the letter to the sovereigns, making this one secondary, and on the printed Letter, it serves as an explicit. Its basic, functional purpose requires no extravagant honorifics, and neither was the writer moved to give the Letter’s author his full name or his new title, but merely Colom, and he records only the title of the recipient, escriuano Deracion (2v.14). In that those identifications met the writer’s need for a prompt to identify the document, the label is written for an audience intimate enough with the facts to unpack the details of its telegraphed message. The label also affirms that its writer was aware of the letter to the sovereigns enclosed in the packet, and the absence of a dateline for the Letter’s receipt suggests that the writer regarded the foregoing dates as sufficient for his purposes.51 The non-Columbian texts demonstrate that the Letter or a copy of it passed through hands that understood its provenance, knew the original configuration of the packet, saw that certain explanations of the texts — the Letter and the postscript — would be useful, and set them down.

Esta Carta: ghostwriters and the printing The text of the Letter proper has been attributed by several critics to hands other than Columbus’s, but this idea fails to comport with the evidence of the physical Folio — or of the text. It is patently evident that no court scribe organized the text into paragraphs, imposed regular punctuation, attempted to unravel corrupt or confusing words and phrases, sought to smooth rough turnings, or paused to imbue the names of Fernando and Isabel, their minister, and “the Spains” with grandiloquent praises. The results one sees in the Folio suggest the compositor’s text contained corrupt passages and illegible words that are unlikely to have been produced by the king’s scribe. That the Letter does not reflect material devised by a king and his minister working with a royal scribe to produce the text could only be more self-evident if we had the Letter in Columbus’s hand. If the writing is not royal, then neither, in all probability, is the printing, and the printing shows no signs of having a Fernandian impulse behind it as has been suggested and fairly often accepted. The printer did not claim his work with any emblem or woodcut, and neither his name nor his location or even a year of production sets the Folio printing into time and place, factors that may suggest nothing or everything in terms of royal approval. The Folio’s being entirely unadorned by titles, preface, or epilogue, however, argues with convincing authority against courtly hands in the printing, just as it argues against them in the writing. Except for a single, (apparently) battered opening initial, the printer offered the Folio no graces in the way of borders or regular initials, and except for generous margins on all sides, no white space aids the reader’s eye until the second verso with its signature and the appendices that stand apart from the Letter proper. The Folio’s few printing graces — the opening initial, the generous space around the text, and the indented text and divisions on the second verso — probably tell us about the printer’s values and judgment as well as about the person who contracted the printing. In Barcelona, where the Folio was probably produced, any one of several competent printers might have done a more aesthetically pleasing job on the Folio


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Parsing the Reading with little additional effort, and unlike the Latin versions that show signs of having some degree of higher agency behind them, the Folio text bears no frame of extravagant honorifics. Even with a few minor niceties worked in, any well-equipped shop might have produced a small-folio run of several hundred copies in a day because any such small print job would have been executed with appropriate efficiency. Had such a job been commissioned from the court, that commission could be expected to have placed a different piece of printing before us. Of a piece with its printing is the Letter’s prose. The Letter’s organization — if one exists — appears to be governed by chronology and natural processes of thought and shifts in emotion, rather than according to learned influence. Its infrastructural elements belie the notion that a monastic- or court-educated mind wrote — or even mediated — what is patently a Columbian text. Columbus relates his personal experience and telegraphs his desire and anxiety from the first lines of the Letter proper through to the last words of the postscript — omitting the postscript’s rubric — with apparent confidence that his responses to events and circumstances will be shared as truly as he conveys them. Where gaps in mutual confidence between writer and reader might mar the success of Columbus’s persuasion, he provides appeals to Providential validation, political sentiment, and future economic gain — or exculpatory confutations. Columbus tantalizes his reader with his responses to what he is seeing in his travels using superlative descriptors and a few bits of poetic prose, and he guarantees that corroborative testimony is forthcoming. The Letter’s sprinkling of abrupt phrasing and repetitions and its occasionally clumsy or confusing resorts to subordination are entirely characteristic of Columbian prose and suggest no courtly, clerical intervention. The seaman’s contexts, the focus on sailing, and Columbus’s flashes of either succinct or overly complicated exposition and his ethical appeals run through the text. His anxiety and desire — and none other’s — convincingly inform four closely spaced manuscript pages that aim, chiefly, to persuade Santángel that the Providential “victory” of the project he advocated is bona fide, that it will provide to “their highnesses” and Spain all that Columbus had promised, and that Columbus is a man worthy of the price for which he bargained. These persuasions will benefit no one more than they can benefit Columbus, and they would have been likely to cheer Santángel, too, as Columbus proposes in the first words of the Letter. No one other than Columbus would have cared un comino about either matter. Both the voice and face of the Folio suggest matters much more useful to our thinking about the Letter than the speed of its production. Its final lines, those I refer to as a “label,” may be read productively for their bare and straightforward information — the writer’s name, the recipient’s title, the Letter’s material, the affirmation that Esta Carta was accompanied by another letter for the sovereigns. Insights beginning with this information, offered straightforwardly in the evidence of two of the printings and the manuscript, without the apparent guile of full detail to misdirect our attention, may lead future critics of the Letter to more insightful and serviceable readings of the Letter based on contexts that, in addition to being attested, comport with a studied approach to the Letter’s text and a contextual grasp of its discourse and printing.

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Parsing the Reading Notes 1

See Morison’s detailed note on the ship’s position (Journals 166 n. 2) and Thacher (II 42).


Consult Varela’s Textos for these and other letters, memoranda, and examples of Columbus’s writing.


Between sundown February 11th through the night of the 12th (recorded in the Diario February 12th), they begin to be tossed about with high seas, wind, and storm that continue to greater and lesser degrees through the fifteenth, and Columbus writes that he has not slept from Wednesday (the 13th) until the night (or early morning) of Saturday (the 16th). Morison advises that each Diario entry for the homeward passage begins “at sunset on the previous day, and ends at sunset on the day of the entry” (156), and though I have made an effort to accommodate this timing, I may stand to be corrected about particular dates. Between sunsets on the 13th and 14th or soon after, probably after sunset on the 14th (see the opening of the entry for the 15th), there is sufficient calm that Columbus writes extensively of their peril in the Diario. In the entry of the 15th, the sea is still “very high,” and they disagree about where they are, not for the first time. 4

He may have written or had copied other letters; it is reasonable that a man known as a inveterate writer, wont to have his writing copied and distributed, and who had just realized his life’s mission might have composed letters to others — to his sons, to the Franciscans at La Rábida, to Luis de la Cerda, or even to Sánchez if there were a copy to spare. 5

Transcriptions from the Folio are given here (as in chapter 10) silently extending and “correcting,” maintaining the Folio’s absence of accents and its older spellings. Passages showing English–Spanish equivalencies from the Letter maybe given parenthetically rather than in brackets to make them less obtrusive in this chapter. 6 The verb phrases “I sailed” (as pase), “I named,” and “no one opposed me,” along with other preterit forms, have perfective aspect.Verbs of accomplishment like these are presented as complete (perfect) in the past at the moment of speech or writing. 7

In the Diario, Columbus records having seen, claimed, and christened capes, islands, ports, and rivers up to this chronological point, but he does not mention them in this catalogue of naming islands. 8

Bartolomé records in the Historia (LIII) that Española seemed to Columbus la más hermosa cosa del mundo [the loveliest thing in the world] (Millares Carlo ed. 257).


Some of the verbs in this section are cast as imperfect: podia, fuyan, andaua, hauia, leuaua, era, tenia, hauia, entendia, tenia, fazia; these are aspectually open-ended, viewed by the writer and reader as if they were a scene being acted on a stage or as repeated an indeterminate number of times (always, never, every [summer, year, time, morning, etc.]) in the past. States of being (“understanding” or “knowing” or “having,” i.e., “possessing” natives aboard) are also viewed as durative or continuing in the past. Other verbs in this section, cast as preterit, take perfective aspect: llegue (as lege), segui, falle, pense, me dio, determine, enbie, hallaron, se boluieron, all designating completed actions or else changes in state of being in the past. 10

These elements (1r.9–21) flow together with coordinating, subordinating, and relative constructions that see their first break (in the grammatical sense) at 1r.17 following Ciudades.


While the deictic esta may be taken to suggest that at this writing, Columbus is at or near Juana, esta here is probably a grammatical reference, “this island” in the sense of “this island that I am telling you about”: a grammatical pointing, then, rather than an indication of the fleet’s physical location.


Bartolomé’s condensation appears to have omitted details or combined entries in the closing lines of the entry for 6 November, and no entries appear in the Diario for 7–11 November.

13 Bartolomé’s third person conversion of this idea appears to come from wording similar to that of the Letter. Note that Morison writes, “Haiti, at last!” in a note to his translation of the Diario entry for 5 December (111–110 n. 3). 14

In the Historia, Bartolomé elaborates on the resemblances to Castilla that Columbus finds in the island’s geographical features and compares Juana and Española (XLII and XLIII). Morison notes that


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Parsing the Reading the Historia’s chapter LII contains passages about Columbus’s naming the island for Spain, isla espannola [Spanish Island]. Resemblances to Spain that Columbus recounts in the entry for 13 December are reflected in this part of the Historia (Millares Carlo ed. 256). 15

He cites rainy, “wintry” weather off Cuba/Juana in the entries of 8–13 December.


See the notes to this line in the edition and translation.


If the repeated phrase is considered an error, Española may appear to be the topic of these lines. A reading of all the Diario entries concerned with Juana will be useful in considering the question. Particularly see the following entries, with themes of interest indicated by parenthetical phrases with quotation marks generally suppressed: 28 October (good harbors, deep and great rivers, the height of the land compared to that of Sicily, mines of gold, pearls); 29 October (mention of trees, fruits, lofty mountains, a harbor); 30 October (palms); 3 November (a remarkable harbor, green and fragrant groves); 4 November (a thousand kinds of fruit); 5 November (Puerto de Mares as among the best ports in the world, fruit of a thousand kinds, a cape suitable for a fortress); 11 November (geese and partridges, nightingales singing); 12 November (a larger river, Río de Mares, than any previously found); 13 November (two great mountains come into view); 14 November (a deep port, thousands of kinds of trees, endless palms, generally high lands and mountains than which there are none higher or as beautiful, mountains in various shapes, expectation of finding precious stones); as noted in the main text, 14 November shows indications of Bartolomé’s suppression of additional superlatives about the fertility, beauty, and height of the land, as does 15 November (“he tells wonderful things about the islands”); 25 November (pines so tall that he cannot exaggerate their height or straightness, high mountain ranges, additional indications of suppression of further praises of the land and its features); 26 November (high and beautiful mountains, all accessible); 27 November (wondrous harbor, great/many rivers, steep plains, a great plain, streams, palms, pines, indications of population in many smoke columns); 30 November (indications of villages and many people; cultivated, abundant fields). 18

The Letter records centre frei (1r.27). See n. 20, below.


In what remains of the Diario for the days around Juana, I do not find the nightingale mentioned again. Columbus writes of its song before he finds land (September 29th), and later records a nightsinging bird on Española as a nightingale (December 7th and 13th). 20

Note Columbus’s assertions in the latter portion of the Diario entry for 13 December. Tenerife, a place name probably muddled in the Letter’s composing at 1r.27 and set as centre frei, provides what may be a more familiar comparison of landscape (than Sicily’s) to Santángel, who might have heard of its outstanding mountainous coast even if he had not seen it. Columbus mentions Tenerife several times in the Diario; see entries dated 9 August and 6 September (sailing narratives), and 20 and 21 December for comparative purposes. 21

The entries of 28 October, the day that he sailed “in search of Cuba,” and 29 October are cast in editor Bartolomé’s third-person summary style, perhaps because they consist mainly of geographical description that has become repetitive — even tedious — reading for the editor. One should note, however, in a passage about native domesticity, the phrase no se [I do not know] that slips into the 29 October entry and should probably be attributed to Columbian text rather than to Bartolomé’s editorializing, a lapsus pennae on Bartolomé’s part. The 28 October entry is about 57 lines long and 29 October is especially substantial, but Columbus’s effusive descriptions in these entries may yet be much compressed by Bartolomé’s third-person extraction. Columbus’s 21 December entry, written on Española, treats the ethical conduct and orderly lives of the natives, a topic with particular appeal to Bartolomé, and it is apparently recorded with a more liberal editorial hand; a mix of his third-person summary and “these are his [the Admiral’s] words” runs from the last line of 41r through the first eleven lines of 43v. By this time, Española’s features seem to have bested Juana’s in Columbus’s eye, and he makes claims for Española in the Diario similar to those made for Juana in the Letter. In the December 21 entry, he cites Tenerife explicitly, as he did toward the close of the previous day’s entry, a comparison that may have been suppressed in the October entries. The 21 December entry bears reading against the 28 and 29 October entries for methods and signs of editorial compression in the latter. For the description of Española’s mountains, see especially the closing portion of 21 December for the passage beginning en toda esta comarca [in all this region] (43r.20). 22

No dated entries appear for approximately five days of Columbus’s time in and around Cuba (7–

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Parsing the Reading 11 November). In spite of the possibility that some of Columbus’s praises and comparisons related to Juana may have been suppressed from the remaining entries, it is important to note that Columbus cites Tenerife specifically in two comparisons related to the mountains of Española (20 and 21 December). 23 Columbus’s references in the Diario to plants, animals, and minerals with medicinal and cosmetic value, a topic foregrounded in the Letter and in the logs of subsequent voyages, requires an expansive, interdisciplinary treatment. See Griffenhagen’s essay and sources on the Diario’s interest in medicinals and cosmetics as an overview; note that Griffenhagen assumes that Columbus had read Marco Polo by the time of the first voyage, possibly a doubtful assumption. See also the Medical Formulary of AlKindi (d. c. 870–873), provided in facsimile with a Materia Medica and translated, edited, and introduced by Martin Levey, for example. This Muslim pharmacology discovered in the twentieth century lists “aloeswood” and other aloes, pine (including the cone, resin, and turpentine), and rhubarb with their medical applications; moreover, that this text is known in Latin as De medicinarum compositarum gradibus investigandis is telling of its circulation in medieval Europe. A text known in a good many manuscripts is translated as The Medical Formulary of Al-Samarqand ī (d. 1222, sometimes given as alSamargand) by Martin Levey and Noury Al-Khaledy and is interesting in the context of its botanicals and in its consideration of Indian subcontinent medicinals; in particular, note the curative applications of cinnamon, an eastern spice mentioned by Columbus though its choice and instances of translation have been criticized over the years. See al-Kindi and al-Samarqand ī in Works Cited. Among a good number of works on Egyptian medicine, Cyril P. Bryan’s 1930s edition of The Papyrus Ebers provides an Egyptian pharmacopeia, whose knowledge came into Europe through the Arabs of Spain; the pharmacopeia details the many medicinal and cosmetic benefits of honey, aloe, mastic, copper, and various kinds of tree products. See also Bendix Ebbell’s translation of the Papyrus Ebers (1937), John F. Nunn’s Ancient Egyptian Medicine (1996), and Levey’s Early Arabic Pharmacology (1973). Columbus continues to make these kinds of observations in subsequent voyages; see, for example, his entry in the log for the third voyage on 16 August where he refers to a list of botanicals, metals, fiber, and so on, some with curative or cosmetic properties (Varela Textos 405–406). 24

Columbus might have imaginatively conflated the night singing of the Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus) with that of a familiar, European night singer. The night singing of the mockingbird is documented, and the Northern Mockingbird is immortalized by Walt Whitman for its nighttime singing in Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking; I know the behavior firsthand from the same species (Mimus polyglottos) in Texas. 25 Esta as a deictic referent here may seem ambiguous with iuana (Juana) immediately preceding, but read aloud, it makes sense grammatically as continuing the description of Española and is a geographic or locative deictic that places the writer at the island. Otherwise, it might be read as a grammatical referent meaning “the latter,” a function it does not have. At1r.39, esta is exclusionary, and it locates the writer at the time of writing (i.e., “this island where I am [and not those others]”). For esta used as a grammatical strategy, see esta enestremo (1r.24), as “this island particularly” (i.e., this island that I have been/am talking about); however, esta at 1r.24 does not readily admit translation as “the latter.” 26

At 1r, see these examples: ay (39), andan todos desnudos (41), algunas mugeres se cobiian (42), fazen ellos (43), no sea gente and son muy temorosos (44), no tienen otras armas (45), ponen al cabo (46). 27 Compare particularly the tenses and aspects of verbs from 1r.2 (pase) through 1r.22 (fazia, puse, fui, segui) with those describing Columbus’s observations of Española and his sending men ashore at 1r.46 (muchas vezes . . . ) through 1v.2. 28

See the Diario (45r.7–17). The phrasing ay tanta differençia dellos y della a esta en todo commo del dia a la noche has given trouble to translators, and because of my doubts, not about the essential sense but the word-for-word, I give Morison’s wording with my bracketed additions: “there is as much difference among them [the islands] and between these [Juana and Española] and the others as between day and night” (133); and Kelley and Dunn’s: “there is as much difference between the people and the land of that place and this as there is between day and night” (273). Of the translations I consulted on this passage, I prefer Morison’s though his handling of dellos is based on no clear reference in the forgoing text as I read it. 29

Notwithstanding the Celts.


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Parsing the Reading 30

Columbus mentions native undress several times. See his comments in the Diario entry for Friday, 21 December, for example; these passages parallel this section of the Letter in treating the native reception of the Spaniards, the intercession of the captives, and the newly introduced natives’ generosity and timidity, as well as their nakedness. In the Diario entry, note especially the closing lines at 41v through the opening lines of 43r.

31 An extended discussion in Henige’s work on the Diario (110–111) points to a “peculiarity” in the verb phrase yo crei y creo. While Henige’s impressions are suggestive concerning Bartolomé’s editing, Henige misses the punctual, stative aspect inherent in creí as “I believed/understood/found out,” pointing to a change in state of being at the moment of enlightenment. If one of these terms is a later interpolation, as Henige suggests, it is more likely y creo that is the editorial add-on. I suggest that Columbus records his initial impression upon seeing the wounds on the natives’ bodies and their efforts to explain to him how the wounds came to be there; possibly, he later certifies that initial conclusion [creí] with y creo [and I continue to believe/to hold the conviction] as a durative state of being, emphasizing that information and witness in the meantime have not changed his mind. In any case, this is a Columbian kind of verbal doublet that appears in the Letter. 32

Another way to understand these verbs might be as continuing states and habitual actions cast in present tense.

33 In all Columbus’s references to God and “the heavens,” he never implies that the natives believe him to be a god. This (mis)understanding becomes a feature of later contact and conquest narratives like those of Cortés in Mexico and Captain Cook in the Pacific. See anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere’s The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in the Pacific for a revealing work on the use of this imagery, its integration into discovery narratives — even as late as the latter part of the eighteenth century — and its flawed examinations by a variety of scholars. Obeyesekere makes an important distinction between natives’ treating Europeans as equivalent to “chiefs” and the “myth” of their apotheosis (8 ff; 123–125, for example). The text of the Letter makes no reference to Columbus’s being deified; moreover, since the ships and all the men are included as coming “from the heavens” and the islanders will have seen that the Spanish are men like themselves, native deification of the Spanish is not a plausible argument based on the Letter. The Diario makes several references to the matter of the Spanish “coming from the Heavens” and the entry of 16 December gives a fuller exposition of the matter that I summarize as follows: Columbus (through the captive interpreters) tells the native chief who visits him on board ship that the ships belong to the rulers of Castilla, the world’s greatest princes; but neither the captives aboard ship nor the king believe it, and all maintain that the Spanish come from the Heavens and that the rulers of Castilla must also be there. In another reception of the Spanish, the Diario entry for 1 November narrates an incident in which one of the captives takes it upon himself to inform those on Cuba/Juana about the Spaniards. 34

For example, in the Diario entry of 14 October, Columbus sees so many islands that he cannot decide which he should visit first, and the captives make known that there are innumerable islands and name more than a hundred. Commenting on this passage, Morison notes that from some vantage points, a single Caribbean island can appear to be several (69 n. 7). 35

The Diario passage for 1 November treats both these themes: the uniformity among the people’s habits, appearance, and language, along with their being given to conversion. Columbus bases the latter view on his observations of the captives, who, he writes, have not been seen to pray to native gods or objects on board the ship, but who say the Salve and the Ave María as the Spanish show them and make the sign of the cross. The entry for 12 November is also telling in regard to the perceived character of the islanders, their freedom from all manner of evil, and their readiness to become Christians, about which Columbus is fairly insistent. 36 37

See Diario entries between 25 December and 16 January, especially 3, 7, 8, 13, and 15 January.

These place names are apt material for a composing or copying error, and the correction shown in the edition appears here. Columbus’s comparative measurements may reflect his desire to refute those who denied that large landmasses might exist in the Western Ocean, and that any small islands that might be found would be commercially useless and inhospitable. In the Diario, Columbus is frank about his “often” misunderstanding his captives and admits that the Spaniards and natives do not understand one another. See the Diario entry of 27 November. See notes to the edition and translation on this point.

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Parsing the Reading 38

See the first formal conclusion beginning at 2r.33.


Varela (224 n. 15) notes that she seconds Cioranescu’s rejection of the idea that la tierra firme de acá could refer to a location in the Americas. See the note to the translation for other views. 40

See examples in the Diario’s “Prologue” (Europe) and, allowing for some losses in Bartolomé’s transcribing, in entries for 16 September (tierra firme, twice in reference to finding land); 6 October and 11 October (tierra firme); 14 October (Christendom), 21 October (tierra firme), 28 October (tierra firme), 30 October (tierra firme), 1 November (tierra firme), 2 November (tierra firme), 27 November (Christendom), 5 December (tierra firme), 11 December (tierra firme), 20 December (Christians > Christendom), and 6 January (tierra firme). See also the foregoing note. In addition to using the proper geographical names “Europe,” “Spain,” and “Christendom” to refer to European geography in the Diario, Columbus explicitly names Andalucia, Castilla, and Cordova in comparisons of climate and geographical features in the Diario. It is the elusive tierra firme that he has gone to seek (Diario, “Prologue” 1v.15) and hopes to encounter virtually at every turn in the “Indies.” 41

The translation from the final quarter of the Diario entry for 26 December is Morison’s (138).


The week of May 12, 2014, British news outlets and U.S. media released the story of the possible discovery of the wreck of Santa María off the coast of Haiti. Many versions of the story are available online through the usual searches; none is listed in the Works Cited.


Among those who record the names of those remaining on Española, Fernández de Navarrete lists the names of thirty-six men found (or presumed) dead when the Spanish return there on the second voyage; his record comes from a document in the Archivo de Indias (II 18–20).


Columbus refers to his Guinea experience in the Diario. See entries for 27 November and 9 January, for example. See Morison also (Journals 111 n. 5). That Columbus is thinking of Española as a mainland (tierra firme) in January is reasonable enough given his estimates of its coastline. 45

Peter Denley notes that in the three areas of Atlantic exploration (Africa, the Atlantic Islands, the Americas), the Portuguese “predominated” in the first two areas. While the Portuguese established sugarcane plantations on the Atlantic islands and used some of them as “stopping-off points for further exploration,” Denley observes that the “West African coast was not really colonized because of the indigenous population, but the Portuguese saw the opportunities [there . . .], especially for slaves, and then for trade” (266). Denley also cites the Portuguese quest for gold and their desire to convert the natives as rationales for African exploration and raiding (266–267). See Denley’s discussion of Spanish and Portuguese interests at the period (263–268) and his assessment of the culture that produced them (268–275). 46

The Diario entry of 29 October refers to the heat en route to Cuba/Juana. Bartolomé summarizes: “but en route from those other islands to that island [Cuba/Juana], he said that it was very hot, and there [alli] merely mild, as in May” (19r.3–5). See the Diario for 27 November, where Columbus again comments that Cuba/Juana’s weather is neither too cold nor too hot. 47 Bernáldez remarks that Columbus returned with ten “Indios,” of whom he left four in Sevilla, taking the remaining six with him to Barcelona to show to the sovereigns (277). Columbus stipulates that the natives who are coming to give testimony have been taken destas y delas otras [from these (islands) and from the others] (2r.32–33); the phrase has a grammatical function, referring to one or more of the islands he has just mentioned. 48

See the Diario entry for 5 November, when one of the sailors brings Columbus “mastic” that will turn out not to be what it has seemed at first; based on the text for 12 November (at the close of f. 22v and the opening lines of 23r), Columbus appears to know from his experience at Chios and from some testing they perform on the island that this plant may not be the one that would put the Spanish in competition with the Genoese. Columbus’s familiarity with cotton may have come from Italy, where cotton was cultivated for export to Spain and France from ports such as Venice and Genoa. See Maureen Fennell Mazzaoui’s The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages (1981), still the seminal work on the subject. Old World cotton cultivation was a Muslim practice that came west with Moorish agriculture, while preColumbian New World cotton culture developed independently in diverse locations. Morison (Journals) cites Caribbean varieties of cotton (Journals 89 n. 8), but these varieties do not appear to


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Parsing the Reading comport with what Columbus states that he saw in the Caribbean. The fruit of the Ceiba tree, described at the Florida Museum of Natural History and University of Florida’s website on Caribbean Archaeology (“Silk cotton tree”), is the more likely source. Columbus writes that the natives harvest cotton in the mountains from the pods of “great [flowering] trees” (Diario 4 November), and the Ceiba’s fruit pods indeed contain seeds embedded in a “cotton” fiber. Though Columbus is there in November, and the Florida Museum’s article records that the “whitish to pink flowers” in “dense clusters” appear December to February, Columbus records seeing one of these trees “covered with flowers” (flores todo en vn arbol, at 21r.24) in early November on Juana. The Museum site also notes that the Ceiba, growing to “80 feet or more,” is the source of the large canoes Columbus describes as being made of a single tree. Columbus also describes pines and cedar in the Caribbean and describes large canoes in Diario entries for 27 and 29 November. 49 This statement comports with Columbus’s recording a good number of times in the Diario that he cannot set sail as planned, and weather was against him on Juana and on Española. See, for example, entries for 28, 29, and 30 November, and the first three days of December. Columbus passes five days at Cuba for which there are no separate entries — consecutive Diario entries are dated 6 and 12 November — and Bartolomé explains in the final sentence of the 6 November entry that because the wind was persistently against him, Columbus was unable to continue his exploration toward the southeast until 12 November. 50 51

See the notes to this line (2r.42) in the edition and translation for a possible reading.

Those who wish to study this matter further should consider the notation in the Libro de Actas Capitulares del Cabildo of Córdoba where an entry, significantly, on 22 March 1493 records witnesses to a Carta que enbio Colon [sic] de las islas que fallo [letter sent by Columbus from the islands that he found], in wording similar to that of this text on the Letter. The entry is discussed by Sanz (Secreto 147–149) and others, including José de la Torre y del Cerro (100 ff., and facsimiles), whose book may be more accessible. At this date, Columbus’s sons and Beatríz de Harana were at Córdoba as well.

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12 Columbus’s apocalyptic Letter

This study moves toward its close with several compelling matters remaining, and in one way or another, each relates to the audience of the Letter — the private, courtly one and the contemporary public one — and its writer. The number of contemporary editions of the Letter and the probable sizes of their print runs go beyond bibliographic interest to tell us something about the potential size of the Letter’s contemporary, public audience. Observations recorded by a few members of that audience suggest which elements of the Letter most attracted their attention and tell us something about the Folio’s printing chronology. The topics readers recalled from the Letter reflect Columbus’s choices as writer of the narrative, and through the series of discursive curtain calls he takes before concluding his letter with his new title, he revisits some of them. In these parting appeals, he expresses frustration and points to his personal role in the events he narrates but shows himself entirely mindful of Santángel as his audience by presenting topics that could be expected to resonate with his advocate, casting his ideas in religious, mercantile, and political contexts and implying an urgent mandate for a better equipped second voyage. I have suggested that Columbus’s having been the sole author of the Letter is consonant with its expressions of his interests and values and with the kinds of knowledge and perspectives it conveys, and these passages work to confirm his authorship.

The public Letter In its typeset form, the Letter gained an audience of fifteenth-century Europeans whose social and economic circumstances may be supposed as diverse: noblemen in Spain and Italy record their awareness of Columbus’s news from a reading of the Letter or a text very like it, and sailor Pedro de Tudela reports hearing about the voyage in Sevilla, where, he asserted, he saw a printed letter and heard other seamen commenting on it. In any venue where it came to hand or its words were read, in manuscript or in print, Columbus’s Letter was clearly a consequential document in 1493, and because the Letter’s public uses were so well served by the technology of moveable type, it gained a significant audience in parts of Western Europe in a timely

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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter way.1 Nevertheless, some of the more optimistic claims made for its printing and distribution, like other curious conclusions concerning the Letter’s history, are a bit slippery. While the contemporary documents discussed below indicate that the Letter’s images and messages were worth passing along to correspondents and that a man’s exposure to it might be remembered in later years, and while the Letter was certainly read to or by hundreds or thousands of people in Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Antwerp, and Basel (and perhaps in Ulm), it remains essentially a short-lived printing in its own day in most markets. Dati’s Italian verse, cast from a Latin translation, seems to have had a longer life in printshop economy than the Spanish or Latin prose versions, whose stand-alone printings are all reasonably set at 1493. Dating the Spanish Folio at 1493 is suggested by Columbus’s return earlier rather than later in 1493, by the dates of contemporary documents that mention the Letter, by the internal date of April 29 on the Roman Latin translation, by the stated 1493 chronology of Silber’s F&I quarto, and by the Roman editions of Dati’s verse dated 15 June and 25 and 26 October 1493. Based on these data, too, the undated quartos, the lost ones (if we consider them), and the first Basel octavo plausibly emerged in 1493, too, when the news was fresh and the printing captured public interest at its height. Indeed, a pamphlet printing, like a circus act, is only as successful as its surprises.2 After 1493, the Letter survives collated as the final text of a Basel octavo dated 1494 (the so-called second “Illustrated” edition), in two issues of Dati’s verse probably printed in 1495, and in Küstler’s German translation dated 30 September 1497. No hard evidence suggests, then, that the prose Letter was produced after the last day of the year 1493 and before September 29, 1497 as a stand-alone piece, nor that it continued to be produced as such after September 30,1497. Only Plannck and Marchant appear to have put the Latin Letter on the press more than once, and both printers apparently had resort to standing type for printings that may be perceived as reflecting additional pressruns. Though the Plannck and Marchant printings suggest strong demand for the Letter within a short period in Rome, where the Letter was also printed by Silber, and in Paris, one cannot reasonably claim that the Letter was reprinted often enough to make it competitive with printings that were staples of printshop economy at the time. Nor does our knowledge of the Letter’s bibliography suggest that it reached the level of printings documented with impressively large print runs, with many editions over a short chronology, or with high sales figures.3 In the context of claims that the Letter was a “best seller,” our understanding the Folio as comparable to today’s small, folded, single-sheet advertising circular — one entirely filled with text — rather than a “book” is a useful foundation.4 In bibliographic terms, the Folio, the quartos, and the octavo of 1493 are “pamphlet printings,” “flyers,” or “leaflets.”5 Addressing the idea of “best seller” in the early printing context, John Trevitt’s 1996 revision of S. H. Steinberg’s Five HundredYears of Printing makes a critically conscious — and cautious — examination of its application. Trevitt singles out Thomas à Kempis’s De imitatione Christi as the “first printed book that deserves the appellation of bestseller,” and he characterizes it as “a steady seller” (65), a coherent and telling descriptor of the economic principle behind repeated productions of specific texts at the period. In the annals of what I will characterize as “wildly suc-

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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter cessful pamphlet printing,” Trevitt records that Martin Luther’s Sermon on Indulgences and Sermon on the right preparation of the Heart (1518) saw thirty and twenty-one “editions,” respectively, in a two-year period, and Luther’s Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (1520) sold more than 4000 copies in two days’ time (64–65).6 Unfortunately, no documents exist to allow for comparable claims about the Letter’s printings though its material, like Luther’s, implies significant public interest. The history of tallying the Letter’s editions, moreover, has not produced accord in numbers or in chronological parameters, and the accounting process is not always transparent. In the 1890s,Wilberforce Eames recognized nine Latin editions, crediting Marchant with three separate editions, and several decades later, Margaret B. Stillwell, counting the Spanish editions, the German translation, and some number of Italian verse quartos, wrote that within five years of the return voyage (i.e., by March 1498), “at least seventeen editions” of the Letter had been printed in four languages in six countries (68).7 In 1946, when the Library of Congress acquired its F&I Latin quarto, Frederick R. Goff recorded that “ten of the fifteen well-known distinct editions” reflected the Spanish “original text” or its translations, and that the other five were editions of Dati’s Italian verse (3). David Henige more recently has observed that “well over twenty editions appeared throughout Europe during Columbus’s lifetime” (141), while Margarita Zamora has remarked that the Letter appeared “in Spanish, Italian, Latin, and in Italian verse” (5) and was “the only Columbian text to be published in [Columbus’s] lifetime.”8 Despite these efforts to establish plausible counts and set up helpful chronology, none of the terminal dates offered — Columbus’s death in mid-1506, the month of March in 1498, or the traditional close of the incunabula period on the last day of the year 1500 — provides a meaningful terminus for the task of counting contemporary stand-alone editions of the Letter. The 1493 count, including brief references to the Latin editions listed in chapter 4, may be summarized as follows: • • • • • • • • • •

the Folio, presumed to have been printed in Barcelona in 1493. the Quarto, likely to have been produced in 1493 at Valladolid, and theorized by Haebler as done at Valladolid in 1497. one or two “F” Latin quarto printings apparently produced from the same setting, attributed to Plannck in 1493, and showing two variants only.9 one F&I Latin quarto presumed to have been done by Plannck in Rome in 1493. one F&I Latin quarto printed by Silber in Rome in 1493. two or three Latin quartos that appear to be substantially the same setting with signal distinctions in the opening and closing folios, all attributed by internal signs to Marchant, done in Paris and all reasonably presumed as 1493.10 an “Illustrated” Basel Latin “F” octavo, assigned to Johann Bergmann von Olpe and presumed as 1493.11 an Antwerp Latin “F” quarto assigned to Martens, presumed as 1493. Dati’s Italian versification in perhaps three printings in 1493 are based on a Latin text.12 Two additional printings that may have been produced in 1493 are attested in


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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter contemporary documents and would be considered “editions” were they to be unearthed and found to be as described: a supposed German Latin edition produced at Ulm and a supposed Catalán translation, possibly in quarto. Unfortunately, neither of these two ghost printings has been documented for several centuries, and neither, as far as may be determined, figures into the expert counts cited above. If they existed, these translations would have been printed before 30 September 1497, the date at which both are attested in Küstler’s German translation,13 but the dated evidence around the Folio and Latin quartos suggests that these ghosts, supposing they existed, are likely to have been produced in 1493. The production of a Catalán-language edition, indeed, comports with the reading market around the Barcelona court of 1493 and with the Columbus autograph of the Letter being received there. A German “Ulm Latin” edition is a plausible companion for the Paris 1493 Latin editions and the supposed 1493 Basel edition, all based on Plannck “F,” as the 1497 German translation appears, in part, to be.14 The 1494 Basel collation of texts that celebrates Fernando’s conquest of the Moors and gives the Letter as its final inclusion is not, therefore, a stand-alone printing of the Letter, but it is generally included in the count of contemporary editions, probably because of its relationship to the “Illustrated” octavo assigned to 1493 and its attractive illustrations.15 No more than three issues of the Letter in any form are now known to have been published between 1495 and 1497: these are two printings of Dati’s verse assigned to 1495 and Küstler’s German translation of 1497.16 The Spanish Quarto’s printing data merit reinvestigation, but for the time being, its tentative production date is reasonably set at 1493, when interest in the Letter in Spain was at its height, when Johan de Francour was printing in Valladolid with an initial that seems to be that of the Quarto, and when the Folio, fresh from the press, could readily have come to hand to serve as its fair copy. The most generous count of editions of the Letter in verse and prose through 1497 would consider three Marchant Paris “editions” with the rest of the usual Latin editions (Rome [3], Basle [2], and Antwerp), making nine; Plannck’s “corrected F” might add one printing to a liberal count, making ten;17 the five known Italian verse editions give fifteen; the Küstler German translation adds the sixteenth; and the two Spanish editions make eighteen extant editions by 1497 — applying the term “edition” with speculation and license. Only by stretching the count in these ways and adding the document-attested ghosts — the Ulm (Germany) Latin edition and the supposed Catalán quarto — can one count twenty possible “editions.” If one validates Pedro de Tudela’s testimony of a printed Letter in Sevilla — and it was not the Folio and not the Quarto — that count might be raised to twenty-one.18 A conservative tally would discount the Catalán and Ulm Latin ghost printings and the printed Sevillano Letter Pedro’s testimony cites and reflect only one Plannck “Fernando” quarto and two Marchant printings (if not just one), for no more than sixteen printings between 1493 and 1497. Printers in other European cities may also have produced the Letter in pamphlets that are now or forever lost, but without considering entirely hypothetical issues,

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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter both conservative and liberal counts validate the sense that at least some of Western Europe’s pressmen anticipated immediate public interest in the news of Columbus’s return. From Columbus’s setting sail for the second voyage at Cádiz in late September 1493, however, fresh developments from the “Indies” and new voyages of exploration by Columbus and others continued to unfold, and newer narratives circulated.19 Between the printing of Küstler’s German translation dated 30 September 1497 and the limited-edition facsimiles of the mid-1800s, no stand-alone printing of the Letter is now known to have been produced. Columbus’s writings, including the Letter, had awakenings of interest with the publication of Martín Fernández de Navarrete’s Viages in the early nineteenth century and with Richard Henry Major’s English editions of documents and commentary in 1847 and 1870.20 Commercial anticipation of the four-hundredth anniversary and its grand celebrations, bolstered by the news in 1889 of the recently discovered Folio, again inspired stand-alone issues of the Folio and the Latin editions.21

The audience and the writer Quantifying the copies issued in these fifteenth-century print runs is a matter of educated guesswork because no documents directly related to them strengthen our speculations. Evidence of multiple printings of the Latin Letter in Paris and Rome reasonably raises estimates for the numbers of quartos printed in those cities though other printings, so far as we know, were not repeated. The printer or the person contracting for the job, whether in Barcelona, Rome, Basel, Antwerp, or Paris, would calculate print run numbers according to the supposed demand for the piece in the local market. Printing on speculation, a printer would guess at the potential market and be further governed by the shop’s available materials. Bibliographers’ and historians’ estimates of average print runs in the early period tend to fall into the “several hundred” range though some estimates are slightly higher. John Boyd Thacher, for example, reports that a run of 300 copies was considered average, and he cites the Roman printshop of Conrad Sweynheym (of Mayence) and Arnold Pannartz (of Prague) issuing 275 copies in each of three separate printings of Augustine’s De Civitate Dei (I 204).22 Twenty-five years later, William Dana Orcutt put the partnership’s average number higher, calculating that Sweynheym and Pannartz printed an average of 445 copies of each of the twenty-eight titles they produced in a seven-year period (1465–1472), with their largest run numbering 1100 copies.23 Konrad Haebler documents mid-range numbers of the period in printings by Luschner: a production list of six titles printed by Luschner at Montserrat between 1 March and 15 November 1500 includes three printings numbering about 300 each and two of over 400 pieces each (GS 175). Based on the supposed and documented sizes of other contemporary printings, then, a plausible but conservative estimate for the fifteenth-century printing of the Folio or Quarto or one of the Latin versions might be set at approximately three-hundred pieces. A record of higher print numbers comes from the testimony of Agostino Giustiniani, the Genoese Dominican and linguist who acted as translator and editor for


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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter the Polyglot Psalter. Giustiniani writes that he “had printed at Genoa at [his] expense with what trouble and expenditure every learned man can judge, 2000 volumes of the Psalter of David,” and he had fifty additional Psalters printed on vellum as presentation copies. Despite his apparently optimistic predictions about public demand for the work, Giustiniani recorded that he had barely been able to recoup his investment as “scarcely the fourth part of the books were sold.”24 Among printings of chivalric literature, Miguel Ángel Pallarés Jiménez notes Spindeler’s printing of 715 copies of Tirant lo Blanc (Blanch), each with 369 pages, a large run of a voluminous book.25 Another Catalán chivalric-genre printing, the Tragédia de Lançalot, was issued in 1497 in a thousand copies, a further contemporary example of a run several times that considered “average.”26 An external indication — from the “Cathay” that Columbus sought — of an extraordinarily large print run of a flyer appears in the work of A. C. Moule, who records that a damaged Buddhist text found in the ruins of the tenth-century Huang Fei Pagoda cites 84,000 copies of a pamphlet produced in 975.27 Even the impressive print runs that issued thousands of papal bulls in Spain at the period cannot touch that Chinese sum; nevertheless, examples of higher numbers in Spanish printing history make it tempting to suppose above-average runs of the Folio and Quarto.28 At the other end of the spectrum, in an instance of Spanish printing cited previously, Spindeler is documented in Barcelona on 28 November 1500 in a contract to produce fifty copies of “Nebrija’s new Grammar.” 29

Creating Columbus as a writer When Nebrija’s Grammar really was “new,” in that August of 1492 when Columbus and Martín Alonso Pinzón set off to find continents lying in the Western Ocean, Nebrija had rationalized Spanish as an imperial language on the model of Latin in the Roman Empire, and by that time, Columbus had been focused single-mindedly on his Atlantic project for no fewer than eight years. In Portugal and Spain, Columbus had kept company with churchmen, merchants, ministers, courtiers, and nobles, among whom he furthered his cause. Columbus certainly passed some of his time in those years studying maps, reading pertinent texts, and assembling ideas and arguments based on ancient authorities and on the newer views expressed by his Italian contemporaries. He was deeply experienced, we may plausibly suppose, in studying the faces of those whom he tried to persuade, whether they were seated across a dinner table from him or behind a counsel table, and he had repeatedly heard their challenges to his project. Because these encounters would have schooled Columbus to anticipate his opponents’ and supporters’ interests, their modes of thinking, and their textual and cartographic references, he was practiced in the promotion of his enterprise long before he wrote his Letter to Santángel. Columbus would have understood his audience’s interests and frames of reference, then, and — whether or not he was prepared to meet their opposition with arguments that would convince them — he knew the nature of their objections.30 Columbus’s matter-of-fact references in the Letter and the Diario and the marginal notes in his books suggest that his seagoing life had included stops around the Mediter-

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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter ranean and along the African coast and in the British Isles.31 From his residencies at Genoa, Lisbon, Porto Santo, and Madeira, and from his knowledge of the Canaries, Columbus was conversant with details of Genoese and Portuguese mercantile and political interests, and he had witnessed colonial systems at work.32 Columbus’s surviving letters, memoranda, annotations, and ship-board logs affirm him as a serious reader and thinker and a prolific writer. He described his ideas to others in his writings and voiced conclusions on what were then theoretical matters burdened with an ancient tradition that was just beginning to be enlightened by a Renaissance future.33 It is just as clear that Columbus pursued mistaken notions about the size of the earth and its land-to-sea ratio that favored his project. In Admiral, Morison characterizes Columbus’s reasoning as in concert with Isabel’s: starting “from fixed ideas and religious preconceptions” (103), and Keith A. Pickering (1997) offers a justification for that point of departure when he observes, “Truth for Columbus was not to be found so much in observation or experiment, as it was in the voice of ancient and authoritative texts from which there could be no appeal.” Columbus’s ideas, including at least some of his religious views, nevertheless, sprang from an adult life of continuing observation, study, and dialogue. Indeed, he continued to develop his ideas throughout his life, even if his researches were often directed in self-affirming ways, as assessments like Morison’s and studies like Pickering’s tend to validate.34 Morison notes that Columbus’s cosmographical views “remained stubbornly and obstinately, to the end of his life, absolutely and completely wrong” (Admiral 385),35 and indeed, though Columbus may have allowed his view of the people he found in the Indies to conform to a version of reality, the Letter and the Diario affirm that Columbus’s earliest geographical views of the Caribbean remained susceptible to mistaken preconceptions as well.36 Columbus’s sense of triumph, for example, in having found the tierra firme that he sought at “Juana or Cuba” after encountering a series of smaller islands, and his assessments of Cuba, first taking it for Japan and then for China, are conclusions based on his idea of a Western Ocean populated with countless islands off a large and wealthy Asian mainland. He is likewise wrong in another way when he makes extravagant comparative claims for the extent of the respective coastlines of Juana and Española — unless he is deliberately fudging the comparison.37 In spite of the kinds of mistaken notions that surface in the Letter and in the Diario, Columbus’s ideas of geography and the cosmos were apparently subject to remodelling, and he was not inextricably bound to “ancient authority.” In a carefully crafted passage in the 1498 log of the third voyage, Columbus writes that he had “always read” that “the earth with its lands and water was spherical,” as Ptolemy and “all the others” had affirmed with various kinds of proofs. He theorized, however, that it was not “round in shape [as had been] written, but that indeed it was like a pear that may be quite round except where the stem sits, for there, it is higher.”38 Like a teacher aware of a student likely to misconstrue the lesson, Columbus then tries a second graphic comparison: suppose you had a “very round ball” upon which you imagine setting a woman’s breast, and where the nipple is, “in that part, the ball is higher and closer to the heavens.”39 Though he theorized that the Terrestrial Paradise


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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter might stand in that very region, accessible only to God’s chosen, Columbus was substantially correct about our pear-shaped home.40

Writing desire into a landscape Columbus concludes the Letter with discourse that is as telling of his desire and disquietude in the winter of 1493 as the 1498 passage on the shape of the earth is telling of his deliberations on the cosmos. In wording that explicitly suggests a discourse of desire and implies an intention to make a summary close, Columbus declares that Española es para desear: e vista es para nunca dexar [it is a thing to desire, and once seen, it is never to be abandoned] (1v.46). He follows that passionate, poetic riff with assurances of Spain’s absolute disposition of all the Caribbean’s wealth. At 2r.4, however, in the course of telescoping his vision of island trading and gold mining with Española as its center, Columbus abruptly breaks the news of his “hav[ing] taken possession of a large village” there. He sets a positive face on the loss of Santa María and his administration of the Navidad settlement and extends the discussion with about twentyfive lines on native culture, each of his points arguing, in one way or another, for the potential success of the “settlement.” At 2r.32, he returns to the theme he broke away from — En esta hay oro sin cuento [In this island, there is countless gold] — at 2r.4, and he tries again to end the Letter. At 2r.33, Columbus opens the first of three formal efforts to conclude with en conclusion, and he proceeds to catalogue some of the products he believes he has found, assuring Santángel that the sovereigns can get as much of these goods as they desire.41 He sprinkles these few lines with references to his efforts and problems and bookends the section with implied complaints: first, Columbus suggests the limitations of the “hurried” voyage, and he winds up the section by lamenting how much more he “would have done” had “the ships” — whether the ships themselves or the men in them — served him “as they ought.”42 Indeed, Columbus’s plan to see Carib and Matinino before setting sail definitively for Spain is disappointed by his men’s reluctance to tarry longer and by the state of the ships.43 In the Diario on January 16th, he writes that he is loath to head for home when the wind compels him because it defeats his intention to continue on a roundabout course that would take him by la Isla de Matinino and la Isla de Carib, but with the wind’s turning, the men are “gloomy” about remaining, and the ships are taking on water in an alarming way: noto en la gente que . . . començo a entristeçerse por desviarse del camino derecho por la muncha agua que hazian ambas Caravelas y no tenian algun remedio saluo el de dios [he noted that people . . . began to grow despondent because of changing course from the direct route (home) because of the water that both caravels were taking on, and they had no sort of help except God’s] (57v.18–22). A few lines further on in the Diario (57v.32–33), he repeats his concern for the ships (el peligro del agua que cogian las caravelas [the danger of water that the caravels were taking on]), and within what Columbus asserts is only a short distance from the islands he hoped to survey, he loses sight of Española on January 16th. After referring to these islands with some frequency, Columbus records the Diario’s final mention of Matinino, Carib, and Española on January 18th.

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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter Reclaiming his intention to close the Letter at 2r.42, Columbus writes tersely, “this is enough” — esto es harto — but in spite of the assertion, he returns to focus on his Indies experience in tones that suggest immediacy and anxiety: he affirms that the Indies are the site of God’s having given him, one of the faithful intent on accomplishing the “impossible,” a “victory” (2r.42–46), and he implies that he is set apart by his witness of the Western Ocean and its inhabitants because he can speak of things as they are, dispelling the fabulous tales that circulate among credulous Europeans. Columbus’s third — and final — formal effort to conclude comes at 2r.46 and is distinct from the foregoing ones in tone, references, and language. Though he deploys eterno Dios nuestro señor in praise of his own faith and courage at 2r.42, his references to religion in the third effort to close have an outward, honorific trajectory. Ironically, this formulaic discourse with its elevated tone opens with a clumsy notice of Columbus’s shift into a different key: asi que pues (2r.46), a sort of “well, anyway . . .” Such a phrase might suggest a writer’s resolve to take up the pen for the last time, to end with some resounding appeal to the Aragonese minister’s interests. In accord with such an intention, Columbus populates a long, subordinated construction with political and religious formulae praising Christ and laying accolades at the feet of the sovereigns and their “kingdoms” (2r.46 –2v.4). Calling for national and global recognition of Spain’s Christian offensive, Columbus urges immediate responses, religious and worldly, to the “victory” that now belongs to Fernando and Isabel — and to God. Not once does he mention himself, his trials, or his contribution to the event in this conclusion, and he closes it with another formula, a succinct certification, esto segun el fecho asi embreue [this according to what was done, thus in brief] (2v.4), and the dateline. By the time the reader reaches the end of the Letter, he or she may have found its organization given to abrupt turns and repetition, its expression often clumsy, its phrases self-referential, and its reading in some places virtually impenetrable. Yet Columbus’s occasional rhetorical competence appears in the Letter as it does in the autographs. In the Letter, it is evident chiefly in the compact and well-knit opening synopsis and in the closing honorifics and their pious, nationalistic appeals. For the sake of these passages, the Letter’s reading is more pleasing to the ear, as its Folio printing is to the eye, at either end.

Writing back How many people might have heard the Letter’s closing calls to action and found them compelling, we cannot even guess. It is reasonable to suppose that the Letter was read in the court, perhaps in the autograph or in copies of it, and in its printed form, it is likely to have been read among friends within some houses and among associates within some shops and in gathering spots around the port of Barcelona. Pedro de Tudela’s testimony implies that it was read in Sevilla in a location where seamen congregated. It is clear that the practice of reading aloud and passing along copies of the Letter through correspondence multiplied the folio Letter’s audience, and a few of its contemporary readers’ comments recount what for them were its more striking images and resonant phrases. Their messages, moreover, contribute infor-


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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter mation about the Folio’s chronology and tell us that whatever class differences existed among the Letter’s readers, they responded to its narrative with wonder and desire. Discussions in foregoing chapters have cited contemporary records acknowledging awareness of the Letter’s existence or content between mid-March and the second week of April 1493. Pedro de Tudela’s testimony that he saw a printed Columbus letter in Sevilla after Columbus landed and that he heard other seamen discussing it around the port, rueful that they had not signed on for the voyage, has been mentioned previously,44 as was the first Duke of Medinaceli’s having news by March 19th of Columbus’s landing in Lisbon, prompting the Duke to write to his uncle that Columbus had found all he had searched for on the voyage and to express his desire to partake in Columbus’s further enterprises as a business venture.45 On March 22nd, the Cabildo of Córdoba recorded a letter from Columbus passing through the city,46 and in the last week of March 1493, Tribaldo de Rossi recorded a letter having arrived in Florence with news of “young men” finding a large island where they had also found gold, cotton, pine trees, and spices, along with naked people wearing leaves over the private parts and knowing nothing of iron.47 A letter problematically and tentatively dated at April 9th was written, according to Cesare De Lollis, from Annibale de Zennaro at Barcelona and sent to Milan to his brother, by whom a copy was given to Giacomo (Iacobo) Trotti, also in Milan, and by Trotti, the letter was passed to Ercole [Hercules] I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, whose ambassador to the Sforza court Trotti was.48 Annibale’s letter survives as an enclosure in Giacomo’s letter to the Duke and recounts news of Annibale’s having seen a letter, presumably in Barcelona (in accord with Annibale’s letter’s Barcelona dateline). Annibale describes the voyage, specifying the days of the outward passage and the numbers of men that native “canuas” can carry. Annibale relates that Columbus has left men in the islands, furnishing them with supplies and a fortress, and he reports that the natives there are exceedingly susceptible to Christian conversion. Annibale’s recollection is rich with detail, and he promises to acquire and forward a copy of the Letter to his brother. Italian sources dated after Zennaro’s letter also appear to refer to the Spanish Letter and tend to corroborate the Letter’s presence in Italy prior to the timing supposed for the release of the Latin editions in Rome. Guglielmo Berchet transcribes an account recorded by “the great Venetian chronicler” Marino Sanuto and dated 18 April 1493; its text refers to a letter from Rome with news from Portugal and provides detail that appears in the Santángel Letter.49 In Fonti italiane per la storia della scoperta del Nuovo Mondo, Berchet provides a photographic facsimile and transcript of a letter from Luca Fancelli, datelined Florence, 22 April 1493; the text refers to a very large island with huge mountains, naked people who use a covering of leaves over the menbro gienitale, and the greatest abundance of gold (164–165). Berchet also transcribes a brief note datelined Venice, 27 April 1493, written to the Duke of Milan by Taddeo Vimercati referring to a printed letter he hopes soon to receive that contains news of some Spaniards who have found islands not previously known where gold, spices, and other good things have been discovered (193)50. The datelines attached to these messages suggest that Kerney’s assessment of the Folio’s being “printed . . . at Barcelona early in April 1493” is very near the mark.

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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter A message with a view Columbus achieves an Escher-like result in his inscription of the voyage’s narrative, offering the reader a view of the textures, colors, tastes, and vistas of a place so entirely distinct from the European world that it was “new,” a world that had only, as Columbus writes in the Letter, been conjectured — and that, wrongly.51 As scant as the Letter’s account may be by comparison with the Diario’s, the Letter’s readers follow an array of beckoning images and tantalizing sensory impressions: in that distant place, handsome, kind, principled, ingenious, and stark naked people apt for Christian conversion move about in community and peace on large and substantial islands amid bounty and variety set into breath-taking landscapes where gold and other metals and spices abound, where little birds sing, the climate is perfection, the trees are laden with blossoms, flowers, or fruit in a November that is like May in Andalucia, and the men manufacture canoas that run like the wind under their skillful oars. These images are among the impressions that contemporary readers remark in surviving documents, perhaps because they imply that every important attribute for pleasant domestic life and prosperous commerce are to be found in that place, along with familiar flora and fauna and people who will be good Catholic servants of Spain. The seas there are calm and navigable, moreover, and the route has been proven. The Letter’s perspective on the Caribbean is simultaneously illusory and veridic, and as the reading unfolds, its discourse is repeatedly rendered apocalyptic — though not in the sense of Judeo-Christian eschatological prophecy or theology, nor in the popular, secular sense of scorching annihilation that certain vivid details painted in St. John’s vision have attached to film, popular culture, and literature.52 Instead, the Letter’s discourse is apocalyptic in the literal sense of the New Testament Greek that labels St. John’s prophecy: it forms a disclosure; it acts to “uncover”; it is a revelation. In “showing forth,” Columbus’s discourse plays on at least two tropes of antithesis. First, in a rhetorical trope that is implicit for almost three of the Folio’s roughly threeand-a-half printed pages, the Letter displaces a dark space of fantastic imaginings with attractive forms and brightly colored images attested by an eyewitness who affirms himself as ethical, competent, and pious. His assertions, moreover, were being corroborated in real time by the testimony of the seamen who returned with him and by the incontrovertible physical evidence of material items and Caribbean islanders. A secondary trope of antithesis, one that must have spoken to Columbus on an emotional and religious level, runs a true thread through the Letter: the mariner who had departed Spain with derision and doubt at his back had returned to Portugal and then to Spain graced, he writes, by God with victory and physical salvation, both validated by various kinds of witness. Where Columbus writes that he is among God’s chosen, one of those given a victory over what men have judged to be impossible (2r.42–44), he telegraphs his mystical leanings, and in the postscript, he narrates another Providential intervention: God has spared him from the deadly storms raging off the coast of the Peninsula in the winter of 1493 when so many others were lost. These messages, explicitly and implicitly, respectively, put the lie to his detractors, and the tale of the underdog whom God has brought to triumph suggests Columbus as being particularly worthy of readers’ sympathy and credibility.53


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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter Columbus’s millennial leanings may be expressed in the final call to action where he indicates himself as the instrument for carrying Christ to the Indies to save its people from final damnation. The Letter’s seeming allusion to the ultimate goal of the conquest of Jerusalem in its call for all Christendom to “take joy in the profits” that will come from the Indies comports with its millennial image of thousands of souls being brought to Christ in a politicized, religious union of “the round ocean” with its diverse people and lands under Spain’s Christian banner.54 Columbus’s vision of funding the recapture of the Holy Sepulcher is likely to have been strongly validated when he found the islanders so apt in spirit for Christian conversion and adorned with gold that they gave to the Spanish as gifts and in trade for trifles. The islands as geography were sufficiently beautiful, bountiful, and golden, then, to suggest a preface to Eden, and that Columbus’s mysticism and elements of millennial prophecy helped to construct his vision of global union is hardly to be doubted. Insofar as the Letter’s audience read the signs in that way, those signs would work to validate a common interest between some members of the audience and Columbus and to enhance the reader’s confidence in him.55 Santángel and other courtiers and certain nobles and religious who were Columbus’s intimates may have known that he had already spoken to the sovereigns on this aspect of his project prior to the first voyage, anticipating that the gold he would discover for Spain would fund her recapture of the Holy Sepulcher. Toward the close of the Diario entry for 26 December following the Navidad disaster, Columbus turns to the theme in a passage that opens with Bartolomé’s third-person redaction: And he [Columbus] says that he hopes in God that upon the return that he would make from Castilla, he would find a barrel of gold that those whom he had to leave behind would have gotten in bargaining [with the natives], and that they would have found the gold mine and the spicery, and the former in such quantity that the sovereigns would within three years undertake and prepare to go to conquer the Holy Sepulcher. [Bartolomé apparently quotes from his text henceforward:] For thus (he says) I exhorted Your Highnesses that all the profits of this my enterprise might be used toward the conquest of Jerusalem, and Your Highnesses laughed and said that it would please them, and that even without this profit, they had that desire. These are the Admiral’s words.56 For Columbus, these thoughts may reflect his rationalizing the forced settlement at Navidad following the loss of Santa María as God’s will, enacted to further the Spanish conquest of Jerusalem that he envisioned. Columbus’s post-1493 writings confirm his belief in the distant approach of St. John’s vision and in his immediate role in preparing for it.57 Based on his annotated readings and his later exposition, Columbus attached his funding Spain’s recovery of the Holy Sepulcher with the New World’s precious metals and his discovery of a near-Eden to eschatological prophecy, sentiments to which he alludes in his emphasis on being favored by God and in his exhortation to all Christendom to honor the “victory.” The unknown vistas that Columbus painted for his European audience possibly contested their immediate experience of the “old world” where constraints were variously dictated by birth order, familial obligations, geography, natural resources, limited

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Columbus’s Apocalyptic Letter markets, and class distinctions. Some of those who read or heard the Letter read were seamen like Pedro, men accustomed to labor and its risks, others may have been like the first Duke of Medinaceli, already involved in trade and commerce and financially prepared to take advantage of new opportunity, and a few were men like Michele da Cuneo, free to travel for adventure and profit. Still others may have envisioned the Indies as a place where ambitions — evangelical or military, scholarly or artistic, mercantile or agricultural — might be forwarded, where destiny might leave a window ajar for men sufficiently energetic or desperate or moved by religious conviction to answer the Letter’s call. Certainly, no one can claim that all those who contributed financially to Columbus’s second voyage had copies of the Letter, or that those who signed on for it as crew or as passengers had read the Letter or heard it read or even had knowledge of its most compelling phrases, yet the second voyage’s fleet of seventeen ships with as many as 1200 men aboard them setting sail from Cádiz in September 1493 tends to confirm that “word” of the first voyage was, in one way or another, powerfully persuasive in regard to the second.58 Notes 1

John L. Flood paints a brief and vivid scenario of well-chosen incidents and telling numbers to show the difference moveable type made in the history of the book. See especially the opening paragraphs (139–140) of Flood’s chapter on the evolution of the printed book and printshop economy. See references to this question in the Introduction to this book, and see the Glossary (invention of printing). 2

Printings of Dati’s verse in 1493 are dated 15 June in Rome; 26 October in Florence; and 25 October in Florence (or in Brescia?). See Publications of the Columbus Letter. I am adapting the “circus act” maxim/metaphor from Gustavo Pérez Firmat, who applies it to literary criticism; Maryellen Bieder recalls Pérez Firmat’s using it in his “recent” MLA convention presentation in her review of Idle Fictions:The HispanicVanguard Novel (91). 3 In contrast to what now appears to be a general disinclination to return to print the Letter after 1493, its printers made repeated resorts to other texts at the period. See ISTC for titles such as Calendrier des bergers, the Danse Macabre, the Ars moriendi, Mirabilia Romae, (Andrea de Escobar’s) Modus confitendi, and (Publius Faustus Andrelinus’s) Elegiae printed in the Roman and /or Paris markets, for example. Among these, only the Mirabilia, Marchant’s Compost et calendrier des Bergers, and the Danse Macabre (all mentioned in chapter 4) are listed in Incunabula cited. USTC is helpful for tracking later sixteenth-century printings of these titles in France. 4 For this characterization of the Letter’s printings, see, for example, Bethencourt (102); Boorstin (236); and Pelta (1991). Fernández Armesto, perhaps writing tongue-in-cheek, calls the Letter “something of a best-seller” (Himself 101). 5

Though these designations, too, may trouble efforts to visualize the Letter’s printings because of the overlapping definitions and degrees of inexactness attached to them, they are historically consonant terms for such printings and come closer than our understanding of “book” as descriptors. 6

See Trevitt–Steinberg. These titles may be searched as follows (with variants in some listings): “Sermon on Indulgences” is Eynn Sermon von dem Ablass unnd gnade, durch den wirdigenn doctorum Martinum Luther (Sermon on Indulgences and Grace); “Sermon on the right preparation of the heart” is Sermo de digna praeparatione cordis pro suscipiendo sacramento Eucharistiae (Sermon on worthy preparation of the heart for reception of the Eucharist); Luther’s first address to the German nobility has the German title of An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation. Works Cited here provides limited references to these titles.

7 Harrisse gave an early listi