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


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[1]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from several historiographical mistakes committed by the author, this opus provides us with interesting, previously unpublished data on the indigenes and some vivid accounts of known episodes of the Conquest showing that the author had access to information outside that in other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.

Birthplace of Historian Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas in Telde, Gran Canaria (source: ARIAS (1986), p.37.)

Two versions for one History

Dr. Marín de Cubas not only composed a draft of his work, but he even wrote a number of notes for its preparation thereof, as those described by Professor Agustín Millares Carlo, which were all kept in the archive of the County of Vega Grande de Guadalupe, Gran Canaria, being then microfilmed by him.[2]MILLARES (1935). However, these documents are currently missing, even those copies by Millares Carlo, though the latter should be presumably found among the still unclassified collections at El Museo Canario.[3]BARRIOS (2008), pp. 319-320.

In any case, we are more interested in pointing out the two versions of the work by Marín de Cubas: the draft and the final work.

History of the Seven Islands of Canaria (1694)

The final version of the History by Marín de Cubas is dated 1694, surviving only one later copy at present:

  • Historia de las Siete Yslas de Canaria [Manuscrito] : Origen Descubrimiento y Conquista : dividida en Tres Libros / Compuesta por D. Thomas Arias Marin y Cubas natural de Telde ciudad en la ysla de Gran Canaria, año de 1694. (18th century, Biblioteca Municipal Central de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, catalogue number Ms. 192)
  • History of the Seven Islands of Canaria [Manuscript] : Origin Discovery and Conquest : divided in Three Books / Composed by D. Thomas Arias Marin y Cubas born in Telde city on the island of Gran Canaria, year 1694. (This translation by PROYECTO TARHA)

Among other curiosities contained in this work, we would like to highlight the peculiar chronology of the Conquest followed by Marín de Cubas, that we have addressed in our essay The Indigenous Pacts of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

This version was partially published between 1901 and 1903 in El Museo Canario journal –volumes 11th-14th–, and in 1986 almost as a whole –lacking the third, last book–, by researchers Ángel de Juan Casañas y María Régulo Rodríguez featuring a preface by Professor Juan Régulo Pérez and accompanied by notes by archaeologist Julio Cuenca Sanabria. There is a comprehensive edition, published in 1993 by researcher Francisco Ossorio Acevedo.

Unfortunately, both editions are currently out of print, although the 1986 issue is available in PDF due to Memoria Digital de Canarias.

Birthplace of Dr. Marín de Cubas, in 17 Julián Torón Street (Telde), year 2014 (source: Google Maps).

History of the Conquest of the Seven Islands of Canaria (1687)

This version is a draft composed out of a compilation made of historiographic fragments by other authors –some of them unknown– Marín de Cubas used towards the final wording of his History.

Despite its preliminary nature, this version has a great value per se which was already pointed out by Professor Juan Régulo Pérez in his preface to the 1986 edition, as it is plenty of ethnographic data that were not included in the 1694 document. However, this work remains unpublished at present.[4]ARIAS (1986), p. 30.

Out of the original manuscript, which was kept at the archive of the County of Vega Grande de Guadalupe, one copy is preserved at El Museo Canario and another one, typed by Professor Miguel Santiago Rodríguez, at the Biblioteca Insular de Gran Canaria, catalogue number MS A57/03.

Special thanks

We would like to thank Professor José Barrios García for his comments and corrections on this post.

Antonio M. López Alonso


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