Tag Archives: Pact of Calatayud

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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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 Pact of Calatayud (1/3)

Façade of the church of San Pedro de los Francos, seat of the Aragonese courts in Calatayud. Probably, the Catholic Monarchs received in this temple the delegation of Grandcanarian indigenes that rendered them obedience in May of 1481 (source: Diego Delso – Wikimedia Commons).

The proximity of May 30th, official date of the so-called Day of the Canaries, awakens among lovers of the ancient history of the Archipelago the memory of a controversial event wrapped in the unknowns of the scarcity of documentary records: we speak of what has been known either as the Letter, Peace or Pact of Calatayud.

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Two Canarian monarchs

Fragment of folio 134v. of Juan de Carasa y Zapico’s Nobiliario in which interesting data on the conquest of Gran Canaria do appear (source: Biblioteca Digital Hispánica – Biblioteca Nacional de España, catalogue number Mss. 11633).

While we were preparing our essay Los pactos indígenas de Gran Canaria y Tenerife, we ordered from the Biblioteca Nacional de España a digital copy of a genealogical book –Nobiliario– written in the middle of the sixteenth century, being the only known work by Cordoban genealogist Juan de Carasa Zapico. Request was motivated by the intention to firsthand check a piece of information referred to in the latter nineteenth century by Spanish zoologist, explorer and scholar Marcos Jiménez de la Espada (Cartagena, 1831 – Madrid, 1898) in an interesting article entitled La guerra del moro a fines del siglo XV (The Moor War at the End of the Fifteenth Century), we recommend reading.

The manuscript we refer to, a 1630’s late copy, it is kept at the BNE with catalogue number Mss. 11633 and the digitalization we requested it is now available for public, free downloading via Biblioteca Digital Hispánica.

As we say, this work contains some interesting data not appearing in any other source.  The text in question is as follows, as it appears in folio 134v.:

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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, known in the past as Antigafo, likely an indigenous toponym. 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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