Category Archives: Documentos públicos

On the recruit of delinquents for the War of Canaria

An idealized effigy of Captain Juan Rejón, military commander of the expedition to invade Gran Canaria ordered by the Catholic Monarchs, on a commemorative plaque located in Vegueta neighborhood, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, year 2018. (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

By their nature, armed conflicts have always been a destination and a departure point at the same time. A departure point for those who are forced by violence to suffer the physical, cultural and emotional uprooting that fleeing from a war zone entails. A destination for those who see in the chaos of the conflict an opportunity to escape punishment, reprisals and persecution ordered by the established power or at the design of third parties, either for political or personal reasons, or because the fugitive actually exercised criminal violence against people or assets. In the latter case, war dresses the offender with a cloak of impunity that allows him to continue committing, this time with no other restriction than his own will, those or other crimes and felonies.

An especially profitable case of twinning between delinquency and warmongering is the employ of convicts by political power as war troops in order to fulfill its own interests, freeing those been governed from the risk posed by the presence of the criminal and on the other hand channeling towards the war effort at zero cost the latent aggressiveness in the person or alternatively his will to survive a conflict that he may judge as alien to his interests.

On this matter, the three public documents whose transcriptions we present here are not unknown[1]We detail the appropriate references in the notes of the respective transcripts.. In fact they were listed in 1981 by Professor Eduardo Aznar Vallejo[2]AZNAR VALLEJO (1981), pp. 19, 26-27, 32., one of them was partially copied earlier by Professor Antonio Rumeu de Armas and at least two of them have subsequently been the subject of discreet publications, although one of them is incomplete. We now intend to make them known in their entirety and, at the same time, offer a broader perspective on their context.

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From Guise's side. From Ayose's side

The idealised statues of Guise and Ayose, a work by Lanzarote-born sculptor Emiliano Hernández García, standing on the namesake viewpoint in the municipality of Betancuria in Fuerteventura (source: Luc. T / Wikimedia Commons).

In honor of my father’s family: my great-grandfather Matías Casanova “El Charco”, my grandmother, Susana Casanova Darias, and my great-aunt Manolita. From Vega de Tetir. “From Guise’s side.”

That Guise and Ayose were the names of the two maho chieftains who ruled Fuerteventura island at the time of the conquest by Jehan de Béthencourt and Gadifer de La Salle is something well known in Canarian popular culture. Such is so that the latter has been a relatively frequent anthroponym imposed among males born in the Canary Islands since the mid-1970s, a time when recognition and homage to precolonial cultural and historical roots began to be claimed with some force after being silenced for a long time.

But a much less known fact is that both names survived the European conquest for four centuries without losing an iota of their everyday nature. And even more surprising is that they did not do it in the field of toponymy, a common refuge for forgotten words, but in a very unusual way: the administrative field.

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"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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Tanausu: Benahoare's Hero

“Tanausú, Tierra y Nobleza” (Tanausu, Land & Nobility) (2016), an idealized picture embellishing the facade of Casa de la Cultura Braulio Martín Hernández in El Paso (La Palma), a work by Lanzarote-born muralist Matías Mata, nicknamed Sabotaje al Montaje (source: PROYECTO TARHA).

For La Palma, our Benahoare, nowadays in such a need of strength and courage.

In the traditional historical memory of the Canaries, individuals belonging to the precolonial island societies who faced the European Conquest with the technological and numerical disadvantage inherent to their way of life, environment, material resources and demographics who sometimes chose to sacrifice their own lives rather than surrender are bestowed the role of true people’s heroes regardless of whether the referred subjects enjoyed any sort of privileged social status.

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Confined Quiz (I): The oldest recorded name of Teguise village (Lanzarote)

Teguise – Lanzarote: Plaza de la Constitución (source: PROYECTO TARHA)

Inspired by the current situation of confinement due to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, and under the heading Confined Quiz, we begin a new series of short posts with which we intend to clarify certain aspects of the history of the Canary Islands; in particular, those not well known or, on the contrary, widely disseminated but fundamentally erroneous ideas. We will present each topic with a small test under which you might want to find the correct answer -or more correct, should be the case- with the relevant documentary justification. Without further ado, let’s begin:

WHICH IS THE OLDEST RECORDED NAME OF TEGUISE VILLAGE (LANZAROTE)?

  1. TEGUISE
  2. ACATIFE
  3. GRAN ALDEA
  4. FAMAGÜI

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The Essentials (XII): The Gomerans sold by Pedro de Vera and Doña Beatriz de Bobadilla

Indigenes of La Gomera, depicted by Leonardo Torriani in 1590 (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, fol. 81r.).

To fully clarify the content of these 120 documents has been an immense job. And since an illustrious Canaryman has described me as a typical German, with a file, I must confess frankly that I own an immense one, […][1]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

Dominik Josef Wölfel (The Gomerans sold by Pedro de Vera and Doña Beatriz de Bobadilla, p. 23)

Present year 2018 began with very good news for Canarian historiography: the acquisition by El Museo Canario of the personal file of Professor Dominik Josef Wölfel (Vienna, 1888-1963), kept at the Institutum Canarium in Vienna. Making the most, in addition, of the recent publication of our last two posts on the Gomeran rebellion of 1488, now we issue another of our recommended essentials, which we owe to the prestigious author of the Monumenta Linguae Canariae.

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The Ganigo of Guadajume (2/2): reprisal

A map of San Sebastián de La Gomera town at the end of 16th century, by engineer Leonardo Torriani (source: Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, catalogue number Ms. 314, fol.83v.).

[…] old Chupulapu[…] told them crying, and repentant, I shall die soon so there you stay, who will pay well Lord Peraza’s death, woe to your children, and families, woe to you miserable ones, and soon after he died;[1]This translation by PROYECTO TARHA.

Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas (Historia de las siete islas de Canaria –1694–, Book II, Chapter XII)

The dramatized end of Pablo Hupalapu, or Chupulapu, in the story shared by both Abreu Galindo and Marín de Cubas, preludes the atrocious reprisal that Gomeran people would suffer at the end of 1488 or the beginning of 1489 after the death of Fernán Peraza the Younger at the hands of his own vassals.

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The Ganigo of Guadajume (1/2): A colactation pact on La Gomera?

Idealized statue of Pedro Hautacuperche located at Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, by sculptor Luis Arencibia. He is holding in his right hand the Ganigo of Guadajume, already broken, and in his left hand the weapon with which he killed Fernán Peraza the Younger, giving rise to the uprising of La Gomera in 1488 (source: Erik Baas / Wikimedia Commons).

To the Gomeran people, brave and beautiful, with love and respect.

November 1488. A man dressed as a woman falls murdered in the vicinity of a cave. Soon after, on the wings of an ancestral whistling language, the echo of the deep ravines on La Gomera carried a war cry: “The Ganigo of Guadajume is broken now”.

The victim was Fernán Peraza the Younger, Castilian lord of the Island and Doña Inés Peraza’s favorite son, who a few months before had constituted in the second of her male offspring the entail of the Seigneury of the Isles of Canaria, which had been de facto extinct for more than ten years before. The executioner, Pedro Hautacuperche, a pastor who shepherded his flock on Plan de Asisel, in front of the imposing massive Agando Rock.

Tradition among Gomeran natives states that theirs was the only one of the Canary Islands that was never conquered by Europeans. But the truth is that the death of the Castilian chief was met by one of the most cruel retaliations carried out on the Archipelago ever.

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The Pact of Calatayud (2/3)

The monument dedicated to Don Fernando Guanarteme at Calatayud (source: Escultura Urbana en Aragón – Armando González Gil).

Professor Wölfel did not imagine that in 1959, almost three decades after publishing his transcription of the Letter of Calatayud in Anthropos journal, a bitter and almost surreal debate of political and intellectual nature was about to begin on account of his discovery.

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The Essentials (XI): The Guanarteme Report

Idealized statue of Tenesor Semidán or Don Fernando Guanarteme by sculptor Juan Borges Linares, located at Gáldar, Gran Canaria (source: PROYECTO TARHA)

[…] He told them things of Castile and the Court and the great power of their Highnesses and that he did not recognize his lordship as worthy, nor those on this Island because that of their Highnesses was true […][1]Witness Alonso Hernández de Arévalo’s answer to the ninth question of the interrogation.

As we indicated in one of our Essentials, only three merit reports related to the conquest of the Canary Islands are preserved. This time we deal with the second of these important public documents: Don Fernando Guanarteme’s merit report, also known as the Guanarteme Report. (more…)

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