Descriptions by Don Fernando Colón 1517 - 1523

A vision of renaissance Spain. Work written by Antonio Laborda Orihuela

Cover of the publication

It contains a large number of notes on approximately 1,300 places in Spain made between 1517 and 1523 by Don Fernando Colón. This book provides an analysis of the content of said notes, and a summary thereof, supplemented by the transcription of a Geography of Spain and Portugal, written around 1530, the original of which is located in the Library of the Royal Monastery of El Escorial. It constitutes one of the rare sources we hold to gain an insight into what some places in Spain were like at the beginning of the 16th century.

It also contains a selection of texts on Routes, as well as the M.I.16 Manuscript, and provides sources relating to other descriptions of Spain of the period.

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  • Format:  Print
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Publication date: 15-10-02
  • Price (including VAT):  11.42 €

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    One must be immersed in the Spain of the 16th century to be able to fairly evaluate the project that Don Fernando Colon was never able to finish, and that we know as the "Descriptions by Don Fernando Colón 1517-1523.

    The invention of printing had created a new medium, which has not yet run out even despite the Internet, of knowledge and communications. Everything that was known could be written, described or drawn, and later disseminated in print format. The entire world, which was ever larger, could be contained within the bound pages of a book, and made available to anyone who could see and knew how to read. What the son of the Admiral who had discovered America imagined was that he could discover Spain, and all of Spain, with all its nooks and crannies, for anyone who would see and read his book, this book discovering, as precisely as possible, each location, each corner, each site, in such a way that any persons who read it could know how large it is and realise this as if they had been there themselves.

    Don Fernando hired agents to do the necessary research, and with great enthusiasm, he began his stupendous project in 1517. However, only six years later, in 1523, the data collection was forced to end. A Royal Order of Emperor Carlos V prohibited the work from continuing, perhaps due to the strategic value of the information contained in the descriptions.

    The fragments that we have left of the notes taken at that time, which are those that we know as the Descriptions by Don Fernando Colón, may be found distributed between the Colombine Library of Seville and the National Library of Madrid. As a whole, they are an amalgam of multi-faceted annotations regarding approximately 1,300 places in Spain, allowing us to conceive of just what those places were like at the beginning of the 16th century ... almost as if we had been there see them for ourselves.

    In this volume, published by the INE in its collection of "author books", the reader may find, in addition to the analysis of the content of the Descriptions, a summary of the notes themselves, taken by the agents hired by Don Fernando, and other texts about the Spain of the 16th century written by contemporary travellers. This also includes the transcription of a Geography of Spain and Portugal, written around 1530, and the original of which is located in the Library of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, and a Topographic Index summarising all of the places included within the pages of the piece.

    The illustrations reproduce some of the originals, maps and other images of work from that era.