Monthly Archives: May 2016

Diego García de Herrera's signature

Signature by Diego García de Herrera, consort Lord of the Isles of Canaria, in 1457 (source: Archivo Municipal de Burgos, catalogue number C3-3-16-27, fol. 5v.).

Studying public documentation is extremely useful when reconstructing historical events, since it provides us with an officially attested vision thereof. Unlike chronicles and histories, being these accounts written from the subjectivity of either an observer or, at most, a remote-in-time inquirer, public documents, being drafted by such a group of professionals in writing data down –scribes and notaries–, offer a direct testimony by those events’ main persons or at least by firsthand informants.

This is why in the course of our research we try to locate a larger quantity of public deeds, and although some of them are not directly related to the history of the Canary Islands, the possibility that these end up providing unknown, unnoticed or at least curious data always does exist. This is the case of the testament of Pedro García de Herrera, Marshal of Castile and father of the last consort Lord of the Isles of Canaria, Diego García de Herrera.

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The Essentials (IV): Description and History of the Kingdom of the Canary Islands

mapa-canarias-cancer

The notorious map of the Canary Islands related to the zodiacal sign of Cancer, by Engineer Leonardo Torriani in the late sixteenth century (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, folio 8r.)

In 1584, King Philip II of Spain commissioned one of his trusted technicians, Engineer Leonardo Torriani (Cremona, Duchy of Milan, c 1560 -. Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal, 1628), to design and build a keep and a dock on the island of La Palma. This mission, which lasted about two years, was extended by re-hiring the Cremonese in 1587 to carry out a more ambitious project: the inspection of all defensive infrastructure of the Archipelago with the drafting of a comprehensive report on them including expansion and reform proposals.

His stay in the Archipelago lasted about twelve years, until 1596, during which he was provided with the opportunity to acquire a deeper insight on various aspects of its culture and history. Fortunately, in line with the prevailing Baroque style in Italian culture, Torriani decided that a simple technical report would be too arid for the monarch’s taste:

Having been ordered by Your Majesty, in past years, to make the description of the Canary Islands, I felt such small lands, detached from Africa and so lonely, by the smallness of the case, could not be more than scarcely welcomed by You. And so, finding in the monuments of letters how to embellish them, I determined myself to add the story and events that happened on them, until our times, with the views and drawings of their strongholds.[1]TORRIANI (1959), p. 1. This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

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The death of Guillén Peraza

Possible remains of Guillén Peraza, marked number 4, discovered during archaeological excavations conducted by Professors Bertila Galván Santos and Juan Francisco Navarrro Mederos in the Church of the Assumption, San Sebastián de La Gomera (source: PÉREZ (2005), p. 294).

Between 1979 and 1980, a team of archaeologists led by Professors Bertila Galván Santos and Juan Francisco Navarro Mederos executed an excavation of urgency in the Church of the Assumption (San Sebastián de La Gomera), a building that would be subjected to a major reform. At the deepest level of the burials located in the former Main Chapel, beneath the remains of other dead, the experts discovered the skeleton of a young man who had a lateral skull fracture and who was lying in an oblique orientation relative to that of the temple’s nave. The presence of a blanca –a Castilian coin minted during the reign of Enrique IV– at a level just above that of the remains allowed to date the burial as possible before 1471. Fragments of Andalusian tiles and stone-and-mud rubble ventured the existence of an ancient chapel, oriented differently from the current church, which would explain the unusual position of the body.[2]NAVARRO (1984), pp. 588-590, 593-594.

Even without the modern techniques of genetic identification, evidence suggested a name in an almost incontestable way: that young man was likely to be Guillén Peraza, only legitimate son of Fernán Peraza the Elder.

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