Category Archives: Cultura colonial

"The said Canarians could not live": Return to the Pact of Calatayud

A fragment of folio 1v. of the RGS-1515-01-32 manuscript containing a copy of the so-called Letter of Calatayud (source: Archivo General de Simancas)

[…] the said Canarians could not live without coming to our reigns of Castile and Leon to trade […]

(Letter of Calatayud, 30th May 1481)

INVITED AUTHORESS: CECILIA CÁCERES JUAN

This 30th of May, “Day of the Canaries”, we celebrate the fact that Canarians did indeed live and thrive without trading with Castile. They live and will live.

In a single sentence from the so-called Pact or Letter of Calatayud, signed by the Catholic Monarchs and an anonymous guanarteme –Grandcanarian chieftain– the 30th of May 1481, the downfall of autarchy and dismantling of the polities that sustained the life and society of the ancient Canarians is laid bare.

This short article will examine the effects of the pact on Canarian identity through a subjective analysis of relevant documents and in relation to the theme and ethos of the above quoted sentence. To contextualize this extract, we should consider certain misconceptions regarding the pact, such as the belief that this pact gave origin to the Day of the Canaries, or “Día de Canarias”.

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Conquest of the Seven Ysles of Canaria (1687) : Tomás Marín de Cubas : A Critical Edition by Antonio M. López Alonso

PLEASE FIND BELOW SOME LINKS TO MEDIA INTERVIEWS ON THIS BOOK.

EXPLANATORY NOTE: Due to some incoming enquiries, we must stress as indicated in this post that ours is not a reissue of the 1694 copy-manuscript by Marín de Cubas, but the first edition of his 1687 unpublished manuscript.

We are very pleased to announce the publication in LeCanarien Ediciones of our second printed work; the first and long-awaited edition of one of the fundamental works for the knowledge of the ancient history of our Archipelago: CONQUEST OF THE SEVEN YSLES OF CANARIA by Canarian physician and historian Tomás Marín de Cubas.

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The conquest of the Canary Islands in TV historical fiction: the cases of "Isabel" and "Conquistadores Adventum"

An idealization of a Canarian indigene according to lithographer A. de Saint-Aulaire, created to illustrate the first volume of the Histoire Naturelle des Iles Canaries, published in 1842 by botanist Philip Barker-Webb and ethnologist Sabin Berthelot (source: Archive.org).

The ancient history of the Canary Islands and, especially as best documented, the period that comprises the European conquest of the Archipelago have had little treatment in both historical novel genre as in cinematography, and almost invariably by the hand of either local authors or foreigners who have maintained some kind of relationship with the Islands, whether residential, sentimental or family.

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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.

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Mareta: the elusive origin of an imported word

Parque de la Mareta in 2016. This playground for the children was built upon the old Gran Mareta’s site at Teguise, Lanzarote (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

The Spanish we speak in the Canary Islands owes its exceptional wealth not only to the contributions of the different languages that make it up –fundamentally Castilian, Portuguese, French and Island Tamazight– but also to the preserving action that the relative physical isolation has given to the Archipelago for centuries, unfortunately put in danger in relatively recent times by a phenomenon that, in personal opinion, we tend to interpret as the result of a desire for recognition and modernity in some misunderstood ways.

It is precisely this preservation that has allowed the survival of numerous archaesms that have disappeared, in whole or in part, from their original languages and, as an example, today we want to offer a modest and brief study of a term closely linked to the field of island agriculture and society. We refer to the word mareta.

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The Essentials (X): The Accounts on the Conquest of Gran Canaria

In 1966, as a result of an investigation encouraged by Professor Antonio Rumeu de Armas, then doctoral student Miguel Ángel Ladero Quesada published in Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos the transcription of some surprising documents that shed new light on the royal conquest of the Canary Islands which at the same time raised new questions. This valuable information appeared in three expense accounts, a kind of document whose arid and routine nature does not invite to presage any interesting data. Nothing further from reality.

The first account, dated between 1481 and 1482, right in the middle of the conquest of Gran Canaria, was signed by Pedro de Arévalo, supplier of the conquering army. The second relation of expenses was signed by Juan de Frías, Governor of the Palace of Córdoba –not to be confused with his namesake Bishop of Rubicón–. Finally, the third account showed the rubric of Antonio de Arévalo, son of the former, designated payer of the Castilian hosts that participated in the War of Canaria after its ending.

Puerto de Las Nieves (Agaete, Gran Canaria) in 2015.  In the distance, Mount Amagro, a sacred place to the ancient Canarians. On the right, Roque de Las Nieves. The Tower of Agaete was built at the foot of this geological landmark between July and September of 1481 (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

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Tarha: new database on the Ancient History of the Canary Islands

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QOX4balxGE&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

On the verge of celebrating PROYECTO TARHA‘s first anniversary, we could not but celebrate publishing the first prototype of which we announced as one of …

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The solar eclipse of 1478

Visibility of the solar eclipse happened on July 29th, 1478. Yellow ovals determine the areas in which part of the eclipse took place below the horizon. The blue curve path “flies” over locations from where maximum occultation of the solar apparent surface could be observed (source: Xavier Jubier).

[…] They got into a fortress called the Ansita, which is in the parts of Tirajana. As the Governor knew it, he left with all the people on horseback and on foot that he could take, and went to the said fortress and surrounded it; and he had it surrounded in such a way they came to an agreement to save their lives and keep them from captivity and go to Castile, which were agreed. And the next day the faycán and the other Canarians came out of the fort, and brought them, and became Christians, on which day the Sun made a great eclipse, and afterwards it rained and a great wind blew; and over that island flew many birds that they had never seen before, which were cranes and storks and swallows, and many other birds they do not know their names.[1]MORALES (1978), p. 508. Translated and adapted from old Castilian by PROYECTO TARHA.

This curious passage, at the end of Chapter XXXVII in the Chronicle of the Catholic Monarchs written by Diego de Valera, shortly narrates the end of the conquest of Gran Canaria associating it with an astronomical phenomenon of undoubted transcendence for most of the ancient cultures: a total eclipse of the Sun.

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The Seven Partidas

Alfonso X de Castilla

King Alfonso X of Castile depicted in a miniature included in the Cantigas de Santa María (source: Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes).

Barely having any relationship with the history of the Canary Islands, we could say today we are sneaking an intruder into this project. Not without a good reason, of course.

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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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