The Essentials (XIII): Alfonso de Palencia's Fourth Decade and his lost work on Canarian customs and religions

An excerpt from folio 548v. of the Universal Vocabulary in Latin and in Romance (1490) by Alfonso de Palencia where he declares having written a work on the customs and religions of the Canarian people (source: Biblioteca Virtual de Andalucía / PROYECTO TARHA -boxes-).

Unfortunately all this does not make up for the lack of Alonso de Palencia’s work, a loss that we will always deplore due to the the first-hand Canarian news it would provide and for being the first Castilian information on Gran Canaria’s indigenous customs.

Prof. Juan Álvarez Delgado (1963) –Alonso de Palencia (1423-1492) y la historia de Canarias, p. 77–[1]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

He negotiated in the name of the Catholic Monarchs the capitulations preceding the royal invasion of Gran Canaria, supervised and coordinated the logistics of the conquest expeditions put under the command of Juan Rejón in 1478 and 1479, and shortly thereafter personally proposed Pedro de Vera as the most qualified man to end the war of Canaria, entrenched from the beginning by the interpersonal quarrels of the Castilian captains and the strong indigenous resistance.

With this background, no one would suspect that Alonso or Alfonso de Palencia (Palencia, 1423 – Seville, 1492) was the author of the first monographic study devoted entirely to the culture and religion of the ancient Canarians. And it is true that a brief analysis of this character and his extensive literary production makes it hard to find in the Castile of his time a better connected and prepared individual to face a work of this kind.

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Taxanicuvidagua: The Pass of the Staff

Risco Faneque, in Agaete (Gran Canaria), one of the highest sea cliffs in the world (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

Fortunately, the project […] that aimed to turn the valley into a tourist exploitation has been paralyzed for the time being. However this threat, anti-ecological and made of irrational modernization, looms over what is called to be an archaeological-natural park, and not one of those horrifying tourist condensation spots.

Celso Martín de Guzmán (The ethnohistorical sources and their relationship with the archaeological surroundings of the Guayedra Valley and Tower of Agaete (Gran Canaria), 1977)[2]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA. 

To the people of Agaete, Artenara and La Aldea (Gran Canaria) in support of their advocacy of their natural, cultural and historical heritage.

One of the most important legacies the ancient Canarians left to us is the rich indigenous toponymy treasured by the Islands. The cause of this survival would have to be found in the innocuousness of these place names from the perspective of the European invaders, to whom only the customs related mainly to the islanders’ religious cults and rituals would be intolerable, being obviously incompatible with the imposition of Christianity.

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The conquest of the Canary Islands in TV historical fiction: the cases of "Isabel" and "Conquistadores Adventum"

An idealization of a Canarian indigene according to lithographer A. de Saint-Aulaire, created to illustrate the first volume of the Histoire Naturelle des Iles Canaries, published in 1842 by botanist Philip Barker-Webb and ethnologist Sabin Berthelot (source: Archive.org).

The ancient history of the Canary Islands and, especially as best documented, the period that comprises the European conquest of the Archipelago have had little treatment in both historical novel genre as in cinematography, and almost invariably by the hand of either local authors or foreigners who have maintained some kind of relationship with the Islands, whether residential, sentimental or family.

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The Essentials (XII): The Gomerans sold by Pedro de Vera and Doña Beatriz de Bobadilla

Indigenes of La Gomera, depicted by Leonardo Torriani in 1590 (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, fol. 81r.).

To fully clarify the content of these 120 documents has been an immense job. And since an illustrious Canaryman has described me as a typical German, with a file, I must confess frankly that I own an immense one, […][3]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

Dominik Josef Wölfel (The Gomerans sold by Pedro de Vera and Doña Beatriz de Bobadilla, p. 23)

Present year 2018 began with very good news for Canarian historiography: the acquisition by El Museo Canario of the personal file of Professor Dominik Josef Wölfel (Vienna, 1888-1963), kept at the Institutum Canarium in Vienna. Making the most, in addition, of the recent publication of our last two posts on the Gomeran rebellion of 1488, now we issue another of our recommended essentials, which we owe to the prestigious author of the Monumenta Linguae Canariae.

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The Ganigo of Guadajume (2/2): reprisal

A map of San Sebastián de La Gomera town at the end of 16th century, by engineer Leonardo Torriani (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, fol.83v.).

[…] old Chupulapu[…] told them crying, and repentant, I shall die soon so there you stay, who will pay well Lord Peraza’s death, woe to your children, and families, woe to you miserable ones, and soon after he died;[4]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas (Historia de las siete islas de Canaria –1694–, Book II, Chapter XII)

The dramatized end of Pablo Hupalapu, or Chupulapu, in the story shared by both Abreu Galindo and Marín de Cubas, preludes the atrocious reprisal that Gomeran people would suffer at the end of 1488 or the beginning of 1489 after the death of Fernán Peraza the Younger at the hands of his own vassals.

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The Ganigo of Guadajume (1/2): A colactation pact on La Gomera?

Idealized statue of Pedro Hautacuperche located at Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, by sculptor Luis Arencibia. He is holding in his right hand the Ganigo of Guadajume, already broken, and in his left hand the weapon with which he killed Fernán Peraza the Younger, giving rise to the uprising of La Gomera in 1488 (source: Erik Baas / Wikimedia Commons).

To the Gomeran people, brave and beautiful, with love and respect.

November 1488. A man dressed as a woman falls murdered in the vicinity of a cave. Soon after, on the wings of an ancestral whistling language, the echo of the deep ravines on La Gomera carried a war cry: “The Ganigo of Guadajume is broken now”.

The victim was Fernán Peraza the Younger, Castilian lord of the Island and Doña Inés Peraza’s favorite son, who a few months before had constituted in the second of her male offspring the entail of the Seigneury of the Isles of Canaria, which had been de facto extinct for more than ten years before. The executioner, Pedro Hautacuperche, a pastor who shepherded his flock on Plan de Asisel, in front of the imposing massive Agando Rock.

Tradition among Gomeran natives states that theirs was the only one of the Canary Islands that was never conquered by Europeans. But the truth is that the death of the Castilian chief was met by one of the most cruel retaliations carried out on the Archipelago ever.

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The Pact of Calatayud (3/3)

Northeast view of Gáldar Mountain, Gran Canaria. Was it by surprise or his own free will, in an unknown cave near the ancient indigenous capital Guanarteme Tenesor Semidan was captured by Castilians (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

In this third and last part of our series devoted to the so-called Pact of Calatayud we are dealing with one of the mysteries this event raises: the identity of the anonymous guanarteme who paid obedience to the Catholic Monarchs. Let us note that, for the moment, the lack of official documentary evidence –starting with the petition letter presented by the Grandcanarian embassy arrived to the Aragonese town in May 1481– makes it impossible at present to dispel such anonymity. However, in this post we present a list of four names we consider to be the most likely candidates to embody this enigmatic character.

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Mareta: the elusive origin of an imported word

Parque de la Mareta in 2016. This playground for the children was built upon the old Gran Mareta’s site at Teguise, Lanzarote (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

The Spanish we speak in the Canary Islands owes its exceptional wealth not only to the contributions of the different languages that make it up –fundamentally Castilian, Portuguese, French and Island Tamazight– but also to the preserving action that the relative physical isolation has given to the Archipelago for centuries, unfortunately put in danger in relatively recent times by a phenomenon that, in personal opinion, we tend to interpret as the result of a desire for recognition and modernity in some misunderstood ways.

It is precisely this preservation that has allowed the survival of numerous archaesms that have disappeared, in whole or in part, from their original languages and, as an example, today we want to offer a modest and brief study of a term closely linked to the field of island agriculture and society. We refer to the word mareta.

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The Pact of Calatayud (2/3)

The monument dedicated to Don Fernando Guanarteme at Calatayud (source: Escultura Urbana en Aragón – Armando González Gil).

Professor Wölfel did not imagine that in 1959, almost three decades after publishing his transcription of the Letter of Calatayud in Anthropos journal, a bitter and almost surreal debate of political and intellectual nature was about to begin on account of his discovery.

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