Monthly Archives: June 2016

The statute on killing the girls

indigenas-gc-torriani

Indigenes of Gran Canaria as per recreation by Leonardo Torriani (16th century) (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, folio 36v.)

In thriving societies, population control is a topic that inspires debates subjected to ethical, moral and religious considerations, often distorted by the conjuncture of a welfare state that is supposed to hold an indefinite durability. But in human communities subject to limiting factors, whether temporary or permanent, either of productive –scarceness of drinking water, arable land and / or pastures–, environmental –plagues, epidemics, droughts, floods, fires– or political nature –wars– the survival of these could depend largely on the application of restrictive measures on the birth rate, while it is true that, in many cases, these measures seek to promote the interests of the privileged classes by means of eugenics or selection of individuals deemed most convenient.

In the Canarian historiography, specifically in Gran Canaria, the so-called statute on killing the girls is paradigmatic, so named by its best known reference, Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo:

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Canarian slaves at Valencia (A tribute to Vicenta Cortés Alonso)

Professor Vicenta Cortés Alonso in Colombia among some yagua indigenes in 1959 (source: Archivo Histórico Nacional – Archivo Vicenta Cortés).

As it has been repeatedly emphasized, the conquest of the Canaries is like the test tube in the first reaction between two elements that were to intermix very soon and in greater proportions as the large oceanic routes unfold: the European and the aboriginal, each with its own material and spiritual baggage.

Vicenta Cortés Alonso[1]CORTÉS (1955), p. 501. (This translation by PROYECTO TARHA)

Past the International Archives Day‘s celebration, we would like to pay a humble tribute to Professor Vicenta Cortés Alonso (Valencia, 1925), a tireless master of archivists, recalling one of her most significant work for the Canarian historiography: The conquest of the Canary Islands through the sales of slaves in Valencia.

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The Essentials (V): History of the Seven Islands of Canaria

marin_de_cubas-1694

The 1986 edition of Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas’ History of the Seven Islands of Canaria (source: Memoria Digital de Canarias).

[…] History by Marín de Cubas, critically read, therefore constitutes a solid foundation for the knowledge of the prehispanic past of the Canary Islands.

Preface by Professor Juan Régulo Pérez for the 1986 edition of Historia de las siete islas de Canaria[2]ARIAS (1986), p. 28.. This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

Despite its limited spreading, we are facing what is probably the most important surviving work on the world of the ancient Canarians, right after the work by Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo, even surpassing this in some key aspects.

Written by Dr. Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas –or Marín y Cubas– (Telde, Gran Canaria, 1643 – Las Palmas, 1704), who also holds the merit of being the collator of the oldest known transcripts of the accounts by Antonio Sedeño and Gómez Escudero, History of the Seven Islands of Canaria is a work that never ceases to amaze researchers approaching themselves to its pages because, apart from several historiographical mistakes committed by the author, this opus provides us with interesting, previously unpublished data on the indigenes and some vivid accounts of known episodes of the Conquest showing that the author had access to information outside that in other surviving writings dealing with the topic.

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