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.

The first mention of this document we were able to locate on the Internet belongs to the website of the Ampudia Castle, a location which had been this personality’s main domain. In August 2014 we contacted the vice president of the Fundación Eugenio Fontaneda, Cristina Fontaneda Berthet, being in charge of the fortress management, who kindly informed us about the existence of a copy of the will that was being kept in the parish of San Miguel de Ampudia. However, the parish directed us to the Diocesan Archive at Palencia, since the documents had been transferred there. However, we were unable at that time to make contact with the Archive, so we decided to temporarily postpone our inquiries.

It was in January this year when we casually recalled a piece of information included in the History by Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo. According to this enigmatic author, the Marshal’s will, which he used himself to research some family details on Diego de Herrera, was kept in the Monastery of St. John at Burgos.[1]ABREU (1868), p 65. By browsing the database of the Municipal Archives of Burgos we cheerfully noticed several interesting documents were already scanned:

Nevertheless, we found no reference to the Marshal’s will, so we contacted the Archive’s responsible, Beatriz Fernández García, who informed us that there were still some documents to be classified out of those belonging to the Monastery of St. John, especially those inside a box numbered C3-3-16, so we asked her to try finding the testament for us.

We would like to emphasize here the importance of the anonymous yet invaluable work of the archivist staff, specially for historical research: in a matter of hours, Beatriz kindly told us that she had found the Marshal’s will, proceeding then to digitize it at our request. And so today everybody can publicly access this testimony:

The beginning of the will of Marshal Pedro García de Herrera, father of Diego García de Herrera, last consort Lord of the Isles of Canaria (source: Archivo Municipal de Burgos, catalogue number C3-3-16-27, fol. 2r.).

A curious detail about this document is that at its end a power of attorney granted in the year 1457 by the Herrera brothers for the collection of a number of debts is inserted and at its bottom lines the autograph signature of Diego de Herrera -see the image heading this post- alongside to those of some of his brothers are shown. In addition, the document cover, probably written by an anonymous archivist from between eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a guess based on his calligraphy, tell us the erroneous assertion that Marshal Pedro García de Herrera had been Lord and Conqueror of the Canary Islands.

For reasons of available space, we are offering next only a fragment of our transcription of the will matching the folio recto where it begins (in old Castilian):


In dey nomyne Amen sepan quantos esta carta de testamento vieren como yo pero garcia

de herrera mariscal de castilla e del consejo del rey nuestro señor estando enfermo

de mi cuerpo de dolençia que dios por su merçed me quiso dar e sano en mi buena

memoria e entendimiento por que la vida deste mundo es inçierta por quel ome non


sabe el dia nin la ora que dios embiara por el a la muerte es çierta et por que mu

chas veses acontesçe delos omes morir syn testamento delo qual se sygue

grand peligro al anima por que en los bienes que quedan e dexan quedan ruydos

e escandalos e pleitos entre los herederos et por ende queriendo lo sobre

dicho enmendar e aredrar et creyendo fyrmemente en la santa trinidad padre e


fijo e espiritu santo que son tres personas e una esençia deuina otorgo e conos

co que fago e ordeno este mi testamento e mi postrerisima voluntad a seruiçio

de nuestro señor dios e de nuestra señora santa marya su madre a quien yo tengo

por señora e por abogada en todos los mis fechos e a onrra de todos

los santos e santas de la corte çelestial. primeramente do e ofresco


la mi anima a nuestro señor dios que la conpro e redymio por la su pre

çiosa sangre e el cuerpo a la tierra donde fue formado e creado et man

do que quando la voluntad fuere de nuestro señor dios de leuarme deste mundo que

(mandas) el mi cuerpo sea enterrado e sepultado en la yglesia de san miguel de la

mi villa de fuentenpudia en la capilla mayor delante el altar mayor


(que se haga un) iten mando que se faga e acabe el ospital que yo tengo aqui en esta dicha

(Hospital) mi villa de fuentenpudia otrosy mando para que lo fagan e acaben que se le den

(en Ampudia) dies e seys mill maravedis quel conçejo desta dicha mi villa me han a dar

del seruiçio deste presente anno de la fecha desta carta de testamento et

mando que fagan en el dicho ospital un altar que sea la bocaçion de nuestra


(y) señora santa marya et otrosy mando que se pongan en el dicho ospital

(le dota.) pobres a los quales mando para su mantenymyento e prove

ymiento treynta fanegas de pan e doss myll e seteçientos maravedís dela renta del lu

gar de rayases al qual dicho lugar de rayases con sus terminos e ren

tas dexo e mando que sean para proveymiento de los pobres que en el estouyeren et que


sea pago del dicho ospital el señor de la dicha mi villa de fuentenpudia.

Et mando mas para proveymiento delos dichos pobres los seteçientos maravedis de la

martiniega que el conçejo dela dicha villa de fuentenpudia me da por la martiniega

de valloria et mas los dosçientos maravedis que el dicho conçejo da por el ma

yoradgo de rayases et mando que los pobres que alli estouieren que esten


segund e por la via e ordenança que estan los pobres dela cofradia de esgue [continúa]

Antonio M. López Alonso


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