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.

Tenesor Semidan

It is mandatory that this character, titled and Christianized as Don Fernando Guanarteme, occupying the core of the controversy we dealt with in the second part of this series, appears in the selection of candidates. Pedro Gómez Escudero’s account tells us in chapter XIV:[1]All texts adapted and translated to English by PROYECTO TARHA.

As pleased the Spaniards as so sad Galdar Canarians were, and arrogant those of Telde, owners of the other half of the island, we were taking care to send King Guanartheme to Spain to their Highnesses. A well-equipped vessel was given to one of the conqueror knights named Miguel de Moxica, […] and with the King other Canarians of fame and great braveness of his royal bloodline and relatives, who did not leave him, and Juan Mayor as their tongue […]. They landed in Seville, and so many people came out to see them, that it is not to be told […]. Arrived at the court in Calatayud, Moxica gave his errands and venturing knights, who at his expense with arms and horses and people had come and gone with Guanartheme[…].


Having said that he would himself subject to such a mighty King and Lord as his Majesty, may God keep, and that they wanted to be Christians, the King was very happy, his godparents being the Monarchs Don Fernando and Doña Isabel, and the Archbishop of Toledo poured water over him […]. He was named Don Fernando Guadartheme;

Note that it is unlikely that Fernando Guanarteme received the baptism by the hand of the Archbishop of Toledo in Calatayud and in 1481, because that year the Archbishopry Chair was still occupied by Don Alfonso Carrillo y Acuña, an old man who had only one year left, at odds with Queen Isabel I of Castile due to his proverbial political ambiguity and who in his last years seldom went out his palace at Alcalá de Henares. In the Chronicle of the Catholic Monarchs written by Diego de Valera the name of Fernando Guanarteme is not included. However, we find the following relevant passages having cited the first of them in a previous installment of this series, a citation we shall repeat here:

[Grandcanarians] sent to tell [Pedro de Vera] whether he would like to give them peace and that they wanted to be Christians, which they then put to work by baptizing many of them, and sent to the King and Queen four principal Canarians to give them obedience, which they gave them in Calatayud.

We already pointed how Valera, in a later passage of his story, said that one was the most important of the four emissaries:

And then, on the tenth day of November [1480 according to Valera], said knights [Pedro de Vera and Mikel de Muxica] rode and took with them the principal of the four who they had sent to the Monarchs, who had come with Miguel of Moxica, and went to the fortress of Agayte to speak with certain Canarian relatives of his, and there he arranged with some of them to become Christians.

Shortly after, the narration continues this way:

And in fifteen days of the month of December [1480 according to Valera] above said Governor and Captains, and with them the Canarian which had come from Castile, which was in Galdar with nine Canarians and their wives and children and cattle, which were come to become Christians. 

A passage we are tempted to identify with Tenesor Semidan’s capture together with some of his followers in a cave of Galdar, as described in the Cronica Ovetensis, among other accounts, an event that some witnesses assert that it was in fact a surrender agreed beforehand, which fits better with what is described in these last lines. The diffuse identification of this character becomes even more blurred when, almost at the end of his account, Valera uses for the first time the titles guanarteme and faycan, recognizing the existence of two of each, but omitting any association with the principal Canarian that had come from Castile:

[The principal Canarians] with their children and their wives and cattle came to put themselves in the obedience to the Governor, who received them on the condition that all men should come to Castile on the ships they would dispatch, and with this condition came the guanarteme of Telde with all the people that were of his side, and the faycan of Galdar with his side. Where faycan means a sort of bishop, of which there were two on the island. And seeing this, the other faycan of Telde withdrew with the people who wanted to follow him, saying that he better wanted more to die in defense of his ancestors’ law rather than being a Christian.

Therefore, the surrender of the Guanarteme of Telde, according to Valera, takes place after the return of the principal Canarian from Castile, which would deny the former’s presence in Calatayud. But on the other hand the Guanarteme of Gáldar is explicitly mentioned as such only once in the episode of the Siege of Ajodar, which incites to discard the identification of the latter with the principal Canarian, although nothing prevents it from being a simple omission on account of the chronicler:

He [the Governor] entered from the sea and went to land in the very same Tasarte place, and took with him the guanarteme of Gáldar with forty Canarians, and they went to the fortress where the other Canarians were.

Although Valera is very brief in his narration of the conquest of Gran Canaria which begins with the arrival of Pedro de Vera to the Island –ignoring Juan Rejón’s campaign for unknown reasons–, nevertheless it offers us a sequence of events ordered with quite neatness including some dates. However, its accuracy in dating leaves much to be desired, since he groups all events in the year 1480 although from some of them we could infer an unnoticed transition to later years. Another author who maintains that Fernando Guanarteme was in Calatayud is Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas, in Chapter IX of his History of the Seven Isles of Canaria. In addition, this historian from Telde affirms that the indigenous name of the Grandcanarian leader was Guayedra, matching a toponym well-known on Gran Canaria:

As fast as possible, on a well-supplied ship, Pedro de Vera sent King Guayedra to Spain to Their Highnesses along with four of his comrades whom Miguel de Muxica was in charge of taking care with other venturing noblemen[…]. They arrived in Sevilla[…] until arriving in Calatayud by the road to Córdoba where Their Highnesses were […] and the day after his arrival Guaiedra came in to kiss King Don Fernando’s hand. […] Baptized with royal solemnity, the King and Queen were his godparents, the archbishop of Toledo, Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, poured water over him; called him Don Fernando Guadartheme. He came to visit him, and was with Guadartheme three days, Muyel Adaly, King of Granada, nicknamed the Younger […]

It is impossible that Tenesor Semidan received the baptismal waters from Pedro González de Mendoza as Archbishop of Toledo in 1481, since this position was granted by Pope Sixtus VI on November 13, 1482, although on the other hand it is possible that the error only affects the ecclesiastical title: nothing prevents the baptism was celebrated by González de Mendoza as a cardinal. Likewise, the visit of the younger Emir of Granada, traditionally known as Boabdil, seems out of context in 1481, as this character did not accede to the Nasrid throne until 1482, being captured by the Castilians after the Battle of Lucena in April of the following year. As for differences with the preliminary text of his History, written in 1687, Marín de Cubas does not contribute significant data beyond varying the number of companions of Guanarteme’s entourage, three instead of four.

Finally, now in an official context, in Fernando Guanarteme’s merit report, initiated by his own daughter Margarita Fernández Guanarteme in 1526, several witnesses confirm the journey of this indigenous leader across Castile, where he was sent on an imprecise date by Pedro de Vera and from where he returned as a Christian with the Catholic Monarchs and Cardinal-Archbishop González de Mendoza as his godparents, but none of them explicitly mentions Calatayud. Nevertheless, this merit report contains two valuable testimonies that allow to partially reconstruct these events’ chronology.

On the one hand, Alonso Hernández de Arévalo, identified as one of the so-called pardillos –referring to their dun-colored cloaks but also double-meaning either linnets or gullibles– who came in the first detachment commanded by Juan Rejón, and who personally knew the island leader and his daughter, declared that after returning from Castile, Fernando Guanarteme persuaded a viceroy and vicelord of Telde to surrender with his kin to the Catholic Monarchs under the threat of making him war to death if he did not accede. And the witness indicates a specific date for this milestone, St. Peter’s Day (April 29), not the year though, but possibilities are reduced to 1482 and 1483, as we shall see.

This information is complemented by the witness Fernando de Álvarez, Treasurer and Canon of the Cathedral Church of Gran Canaria, who accompanied Fernando Guanarteme, at least temporarily, during his stay in the Castilian court and returned with him to the island. This character claims he saw Guanarteme first in Córdoba after receiving the baptism, where the Monarchs stayed, and then in Sevilla, sitting at Bishop Juan de Frías’ table with whom the witness lived, of whose words it is not easy to determine whether baptism was received by Guanarteme in Córdoba or in another location. Álvarez also asserts that without the said governor [Pedro de Vera] were Captains mosén Pedro [de Santisteban] and Cristóbal de Medina and Miguel de Mujica, which leads to think that Pedro de Vera was at that moment absent from Gran Canaria, perhaps to present the indigenous delegation to the monarchs. In any case, it is necessary to agree a chronological order in certain milestones that preceded Tenesor Semidan’s capture in order to determine if this prison took place in the first quarter of 1481 making possible, therefore, the presence of this personage in Calatayud. These events are:

  1. Pedro de Vera’s first arrival in Gran Canaria.
  2. Rebellion of the Canarians lodged in Real de Las Palmas after being cheated by Pedro de Vera.
  3. Arrival of Castilian reinforcements commanded by captains Pedro de Santisteban, Cristóbal de Medina and Esteban de Junqueras.
  4. Canarian warrior Doramas’ death in combat.
  5. Construction of the Tower of Agaete.
  6. Tenesor Semidan’s capture.

Of these events, presented in that order by a number of ethnohistorical sources with some variations and / or omissions, we can only certify the dating of the following:

  1. Pedro de Vera’s arrival in Gran Canaria: mid-July 1480, endorsed by chroniclers Benito de Cárdenas and Alonso de Palencia, who personally knew the captain from Jerez and who assure that Vera embarked on Friday 7 of July (Cárdenas) and sailed towards Gran Canaria the next day (Palencia).
  2. Pedro de Santisteban’s arrival in Gran Canaria: mid-April 1481, estimated from public documentation.
  3. Tower of Agaete’s completion: September 30, 1481, verified by public documentation.
  4. Cristóbal de Medina’s arrival in Gran Canaria: mid-October 1481, estimated from public documentation.

As for Esteban de Junqueras, who appears under other names in some of the sources, there is no official record of his intervention in the War of Canaria.

Of all the authors mentioning Tenesor Semidan’s capture only Historian Pedro Agustín del Castillo offers a precise date for this event: February 12, 1484, although we completely ignore the origin and quality of his information. However, if day and month were to be true, the year would have to be taken back to 1481 to make possible the presence of the Canarian leader in Calatayud, perhaps sent to court on the vessel Buen Jesús that transported Santisteban and his hosts to Gran Canaria but even so, admitting that Fernando Guanarteme was captured after the construction of the Tower of Agaete, then it would be necessary to discard such presence in the Aragonese town unless we are willing to admit the existence of unknown trips of the indigenous leader to Castile during the biennium 1480-1481. We refer readers to the detailed analysis of this issue carried out by the archivist and researcher Miguel Santiago y Rodríguez in 1973 in his masterful article Los viajes de Don Fernando Guanarteme a la Península y el final de la conquista de Gran Canaria (precisiones cronológicas).

Tufia neighborhood (Telde, Gran Canaria) where Maninidra was originally from, according to Marín de Cubas. Note the cave houses and, right upon the point, part of the ruins of the ancient stone houses that formed the indigenous village, nowadays archaeological site (source: PROYECTO TARHA).


It is very unlikely that the shorn warlord who rose up against the island aristocracy was the leader of the entourage presented in Calatayud, but we include him among the candidates because there is no lack of ethnohistorical testimonies that assert Doramas proclaimed himself Guanarteme of Telde after the death of the previous title holder. Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo for instance (Book I, Chapter XXVIII):

By this time Canarians were ruining the tower [of Gando …] Guanarteme Bentagoyhe died in Telde […]. Doramas, who was one of the island’s bravest, gathered some of his friends […] and went to Telde, telling them that land should be rightful given to whoever won it with braveness, and because he deserved it, may them obey him for he would treat them very well as they shall see. Those in Telde, with the fame they had of him, and because of the fear they gained from him, obeyed him.

A testimony turned into explicitness in Chapter X, Book II:

Doramas, favored by friends, sought to rise with the lordship of Telde seeking to support the party against the Guanarteme of Gáldar Gonayga Chesemedan, his Lord. […] Doramas, who claimed to be Guanarteme of Telde […]

But the Cronica Ovetensis distinguishes two identities in chapter VIII during the first assault to Real de Las Palmas:

[…] in space of three days they were upon the royal camp with the King Guadarteme and brave Doramas[…]

Cronicae Lacunensis and Matritensis –chapters IX and VI, respectively– in turn replace Doramas by Adargoma and specify that the Guanarteme was that of Telde:

[…] in space of three days they were upon the royal camp with the King Guadarteme of Telde and brave Adargoma[…]

And in Ovetensis’ chapter XV, during Pedro de Vera’s campaign:

At last the Canarians gathered and made a council, to which brave Doramas attended […], and they all agreed to fortify themselves on a high crag […] on the road to Arucas village  […] and the kings of Telde and Gáldar, each one in his kingdom […]

Marín de Cubas also gives an account of Doramas’ pretensions after the death of the Guanarteme of Telde in chapter XVII, book II, in his History:

[…] Doramas is rebelling with 60 comrades, gives fear to the [Guanarteme] of Gáldar, and wants to be the King of Telde […]

By now, the only absolutely discriminatory milestone regarding the presence of Doramas in Calatayud is, apart from a foreseeable disavowal by the contending sides as an indigenous political representative, the date of his death.

Unfortunately, only two sources offer a specific date for this milestone: if we believe Diego de Valera, the fall in combat of the Canarian warrior on August 20, 1480 would definitively rule out that presence, especially if we take for granted the best documented evidence from which the arrival of Pedro de Vera in Gran Canaria in mid-July is inferred, since the date that Valera attributes to this last event –just two days before Doramas’ death– opens an interval too narrow for the newly incorporated agent to dispatch the arrest of Captain Juan Rejón and catch up on the campaign’s logistic, military and administrative issues, as other authors have argued.

The other proposed date, this time by Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas in Chapter VII of his History, is a Saint Andrew’s Day, Wednesday. In the Catholic santoral this day corresponds to November 30, but this date did not coincide with a Wednesday in any of the years in which the royal conquest of Gran Canaria took place. In this regard, current official chronicler of Arucas, Pablo P. Jesús Vélez-Quesada, defends Wednesday, May 9, 1481 as the date of Doramas’s death, arguing that this had been St. Andrew’s Day until the century XVII. We believe that this author confuses the translation of the alleged relics of the apostle –which is actually commemorated that day– with that saint’s day, which remained November 30 throughout the sixteenth century as shown by some chapter acts of the time. It was only on November 30, 1481, therefore, that the presence of Doramas in Calatayud was to be conjectured, but it is correct that the socio-political circumstances in which our character was involved weaken significantly this hypothesis.


We pointed out in the second part of this series that the candidate proposed by Professor Antonio Rumeu de Armas was so-called Aymediacoan or, according to this historian from Tenerife, Armide Yacocon Guanarteme, whom he proposed to identify with the so-called Rey (King) Pedro who resided in Galdar in 1501. Who was this character?

Aymediacoan stars in Chapter XVI in the second book of the ethnohistory by Brother Juan de Abreu Galindo, as a Grandcanarian indigene who professed Christianity in secret and who belonged to the ruling elite, bearing the title of gaire –each of the six warrior captains and councilors of each Guanarteme– according to Abreu Galindo, although he does not figure as such in the lists that the ethnohistorical sources offer on this remarkable position. In the story, when some Canarian leaders decide to burn at the stake eighty Christian prisoners for not being able to keep them, this character, paying attention to his mother’s advice not to execute the Europeans for not giving rise to worse evils decides to set his captive free, an example that the other leaders imitated with their own. Abreu Galindo finishes this way:

The son of this religious Canarian woman was named Aymediacoan, a secret Christian among them and a very close relative of the Guanartemes of Telde and Galdar. This Aymediacoan had a daughter who got married after the conquest of the island of Canaria with Maciot de Betancor, who was named Luisa de Betancor, from whom the Betancor in Galdar descend. This Aymediacoan also had a son they called Autindara from whom the Cabreja on Canaria descend.

In fact, there is an official evidence, not only of the existence of this personage, but of his performance in the episode quoted as well as the relevance of his position in the indigenous social hierarchy, an important public document to which we shall devote one of our essential posts: the nobility report initiated by his own daughter Luisa de Betancor, whom some sources identify with the indigenous noblewoman Tenesso or Tenesoya, kidnapped by some Inés Peraza’s agents while resolutions emanated from Cabitos’ Inquiry were been ruled, according to Cronica Ovetensis. For now, suffice it to note that surviving copies of this document emphasize that Armide Yacocon Guanarteme –and other variants of the name, which indicates the difficulty that the notary had in transcribing this indigenous anthroponym– was both Luisa de Betancor and Autindara’s father, the latter invariably appearing as Gaire of Telde in several ethnohistorical sources, and brother to Ventagoo, Guanarteme of Telde. One of the witnesses claims that this Armide Yacocon:

[…] was a Christian and did Christian deeds among the Canarians; and that the Castilian Christians whom the Canarians took in Agüimes and wanted to burn alive, […] he had defended them and favored them and brought them to his land, so they could do them no harm, and so it was public and notorious.

Who were these Christians and when were they been captured? According to Abreu Galindo:

[…] those who had been imprisoned and captivated on the island, and in the skirmish in Tirahana with Captain Pedro Hernández Cabrón,[…]

Marín de Cubas, however, relates in Chapter IV of his History that most of them were Portuguese to whom Guaiedra or Fernando Guanarteme ordered to execute by traitors after the failure of the attack of the Portuguese armada to Juan Rejón’s camp, and complicates somewhat the plot stating that the “one-eyed” of Telde, whom he distinguishes from Aymediacoan, delivered his captives from the Tower of Gando. In turn, Cronica Ovetensis omits references to our character but points out that the “one-eyed” was a faycan and governor of Telde, and places the action during the rule of Guanarteme the Good, Fernando Guanarteme’s uncle, right after the destruction of the Tower of Gando. Let us adapt the text to modern English:

[…] known by Guadarteme the captivity of his niece [Tenesoya] he had a lot of anger about it, so he sent to collect all the Christians who had been captives on the island and all of those they had they sent them to the Guadarteme who was the King of Galdar, except the Governor-Faycan of Telde, who was the one-eyed man who wanted to rise with the Christians and with the arms, and the outraging Guadarteme went out of Galdar against him, and as the Faiçan knew he waited for him halfway with the Christians and arms, asking him forgiveness of his disobedience, which he forgave leaving half the arms and Telde’s government as he had.

For his part, Pedro Gómez Escudero attributes to this “one-eyed” the anthroponym Tarira and makes him responsible for the destruction of the Tower of Gando:

Herrera cunningly tried to make peace with an one-eyed Canarian, a stout and broad of limbs man named Tarira, tricky and clever and very courageous who lived two leagues from Gando, away from Agüimes. [All around the Tower of Gando] there were Canarian ambushes that his friend the one-eyed Tarira had laid.

The reason why we bring up this one-eyed character is that Grandcanarian historian Pedro Agustín del Castillo, a good connoisseur of both public documentation and local ethnohistory as well as a descendant of the indigenous aristocracy, unifies them in the same person in book I , chapter XXIX of its Historical Description, although he points later the existence of two one-eyed characters, Bentejui Semidan and Faya:

After some time, became Fayacan of Telde Aymedeyoacan, younger brother of the Guadartheme Thenezor Semidan and son of Soront Semidan Guadartheme, a man adorned with all moral virtues, flourishing among all that of Christian piety […] as proved by Doña Luisa his daughter. […] More than two hundred Castilians were lost [at the Tower of Gando], and it would have been greater not to have the superiority of those parts Aymedeyoacan; for demanding those in Agüimes that the prisoners should pay with fire their treachery and damage; and to do the same with the thirty hostage boys, not only he did not consent, but made them deliver the prisoners to him in Telde to secure their lives the most.

There is no doubt that this Aymediacoan, of whom we ignore his Christian name, if it were true the identification that Castillo makes with the Faycan-Governor of Telde, met enough requirements to act as a Canarian ambassador to the Catholic Monarchs: his profession of Catholicism, his position in the indigenous hierarchy, and his immersion in a serious political scenario: the death of Guanarteme Ventagoo of Telde, the upward trajectory of the rebel Doramas and the rapid progression of the Castilian invasion, not to mention the kidnapping of his own daughter at hand of the Herrera-Peraza family. However, Aymediacoan’s identification with Rey Pedro of the colonial era defended by Professor Rumeu de Armas does not seem feasible: according to researcher José Antonio Cebrián Latasa, “King” Pedro, also called Pedro el Rey, was a conqueror living in Galdar. We know nothing more about the fate of Aymediacoan except that his two known children, Tenesoya and Autindara, received Christian burial in the old indigenous capital.


The candidacy of this famous Gaire of Telde, brother of Fernando Guanarteme according to concurrent witnesses in his merit report, is justified by Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas’ account. This Telde-born physician reports in chapter XVII, book I of his History finalized in 1694 that:

[…] by death of  [Guanarteme] Bentagoje of Telde, who died of drowsiness in three days left two children boy and girl to whom their uncle the King took to Gáldar for the One-Eyed rules Telde, and the latter was who did the cruelty and the ravage and is against the Christians, and is appointed as King of Telde Mananidra in the government.

And in chapter I, book II when describing the first attack of the Canarians to Juan Rejón’s camp:

[…] three mightier captains stood out: Telde’s chieftain named Mananidra boasting on his victories against Herrera, and another taller one, and the third they say his name was Adargoma[…]

In the draft he wrote in 1687, he further states that Maninidra:

[…] was appointed to be the King until the boy of King Bentagoihe, who was dead, were older enough.

It is not officially stated whether he surrendered to the Castilians or was taken prisoner, although some variations on the story of the Battle of Guiniguada embody in his person the Canarian warrior who was wounded in a thigh by Juan Rejón’s spear, while others affirm that captured character was Adargoma instead.

In any case, lack of documentary evidence leaves open the possibility that Maninidra was the guanarteme presented in Calatayud, pointing in his favor to be the most relevant Grandcanarian in the ethnohistorical sources among those who joined Castilian side, second to Fernando Guanarteme. Perhaps his baptismal name –Pedro– is indicative that Governor Vera himself was his godfather in recognition of his social relevance, but we can not raise this idea by now beyond a weak conjecture.


Trying to identify the anonymous guanarteme who rendered obedience to the Catholic Monarchs in Calatayud, though unfeasible by now, leads to note that part of this indefinition, which would of course end with the discovery of new relevant documentary evidence, arises from present unknowns related to the indigenous power organisation on Gran Canaria that existed at the time of the royal conquest of the Island.

It should not be overlooked that this ignorance emanates in a large part from hidden interests defended by ethnohistorical sources describing these structures which tried at their convenience to prove that these belonged to one of the following:

  1. Existence of two guanarteme kingdoms (Gáldar and Telde).
  2. Existence of a single guanarteme kingdom (Gáldar) with an eventual political delegation in Telde (faycán / viceroy).

Options to which we want to add a third, combining both: the existence of two kingdoms (Gáldar and Telde) who suffered a temporary vacuum of power –death of both guanartemes in a short time and Doramas’ rebellion–, precariously fixed up with provisional forms of government by the circumstance of the Castilian invasion.

For now, and not to make this series more extensive than advisable, we will leave the discussion and analysis of these points for future posts.

Antonio M. López Alonso



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