35 results in English
Map of the City and Bay of Cartagena de las Indias
This hand-colored pen-and-ink manuscript map was drawn by Antonio de Ulloa (1716–95) in 1735, based on an earlier map by Juan de Herrera dating from around 1721. It shows in great detail the bay of Cartagena de Indias and the adjacent coastal area of the present-day city of Cartagena, Colombia. The territory was then part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the Spanish Empire. The map is oriented by a compass rose with north pointing to the left. Longitude is set in relation to the Royal Astronomical Observatory ...
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Upper View of the Castillo del Morro Situated at the Mouth of the Bay of Havana
This 18th-century manuscript map shows the plan of Morro Castle, located at the entrance of Havana Bay, Cuba. The fortress was built by the Spaniards, starting in 1585. The Italian military engineer Battista Antonelli (1547–1616) was commissioned to design the fortifications. The structure originally was conceived as a small fort surrounded by a dry moat, but it was expanded and rebuilt on several occasions and became a major fortress of great strategic importance for the island. The map is oriented with north to the left and tilted up at ...
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A Hydrographical and Chorographical Chart of the Philippine Islands
This magnificent map of the Philippine archipelago, drawn by the Jesuit Father Pedro Murillo Velarde (1696–1753) and published in Manila in 1734, is the first and most important scientific map of the Philippines. The Philippines were at that time a vital part of the Spanish Empire, and the map shows the maritime routes from Manila to Spain and to New Spain (Mexico and other Spanish territory in the New World), with captions. In the upper margin stands a great cartouche with the title of the map, crowned by the ...
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General Atlas of All the Islands in the World
Islario general de todas las islas del mundo (General atlas of all the islands in the world) is the greatest work by Seville cosmographer Alonso de Santa Cruz (1505–67). The atlas was begun during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V and finished in that of his son King Philip II, to whom it was dedicated. It consists of 111 maps representing all the islands and peninsulas of the world, and showing all the discoveries made by European explorers from 1400 to the mid-16th ...
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Atlas of Joan Martines
This manuscript atlas by Joan Martines, cosmographer to King Philip II of Spain, dated 1587, represents the combination of two cartographic schools that existed at the time of its creation. The older one was the traditional school of Majorca, which specialized in decorative portolan maps that by this time were obsolete with regard to the geographic information they conveyed. The newer one was the cartographic school of the Low Countries, which applied Renaissance principles and used different forms of cartographic representation based on new concepts in astronomy, mathematics, and geography ...
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History of Byzantium
This Greek manuscript on parchment dating from the 12th to the 13th centuries is one of the most valuable codices in the National Library of Spain, treasured for the richness of its illumination. The work, by Ioannes Scylitza (flourished 1081), is a history of the Byzantine emperors from 811 to 1057, covering events from the proclamation of Michael I Rangabe in 811 to the reign of Michael VI in 1056–57. The manuscript contains 577 miniatures by different artists. Most of the scenes are accompanied by a caption that explains ...
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The Art of Making Mechanical Timepieces for Church Towers, Rooms, and Pockets
Manuel del Río was a Spanish Franciscan, said to have been a skilled watchmaker, who probably learned the trade in Oporto, Portugal, with Tomás Luis de Sáa. Del Río belonged to the Franciscan community in Santiago, where in 1759 he published Arte de los reloxes de ruedas (The art of making mechanical timepieces). The work was reissued in 1789 in Madrid by del Río’s disciple Ramón Durán. That edition is presented here. The prologue states that one of the reasons for writing the book was the lack of manuals ...
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Theatrical Design
Francisco Rizi was a painter of Italian descent who trained in the workshop of Vicente Carducho. In 1637 he began to work for King Philip IV of Spain, who appointed him the royal painter in 1656. His most productive period coincided with the reign of Philip, for whom he worked both on decorations of a mythological character for the Alcázar de Toledo and on the design and construction of theater sets from 1657 on. This drawing probably was made for a theatrical presentation at the Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid. It ...
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An Examination of the Talents Required for the Sciences
Examen de ingenios para las sciencias (An examination of the talents required for the sciences), first printed in 1575, is the only known work by Juan Huarte de San Juan, who was born in Navarre, Spain, in around 1529. The work seeks to clarify various questions regarding human knowledge and the capacities and abilities found in some persons but not in others, and such questions as what makes a person skilled in one science but not in another and how to recognize which art and science are best suited to ...
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Account of the Composition of the Human Body
Juan Valverde was a Spanish medical anatomist who was born in Amusco, in the present-day province of Palencia, around 1525. He left for Italy around 1542, and later practiced medicine and taught in Rome. He was the great Spanish follower of the new anatomy established by Andreas Vesalius in 1543 with his work De humani corporis fabrica (On the fabric of the human body). Vesalius was responsible for a new vision of the human body in the modern world. Valverde helped to spread this vision through the 16 editions in ...
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El melopeo y maestro: Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Music
Pedro (Pietro) Cerone (1566–1625) was born in Bergamo, Italy. After training as a musician, singer, and priest in Italy, he travelled to Spain as a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela in about 1593. A year later, mired in poverty and living in Madrid, he came under the protection of Santiago Gratii (Caballero de Gracia), in whose music academy he was able to work. Thanks probably to Caballero de Gracia, he was able to serve in the Royal Chapel of Phillip II and later that of Philip III. Around 1603 ...
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The Book of Calixto and Melibea and of the Old Whore Celestina
La Celestina is undoubtedly one of the greatest bestsellers in Spanish literature. It is said to have been printed in more than 200 early editions, although fewer than half of these have survived. The work, by Fernando de Rojas (died 1541), began as a comedy in 16 acts, which was extended to 21 acts in the tragicomedy, which became the popular version. In addition to being published throughout Spain, the Spanish text was printed in Lisbon, Rome, Venice, Milan and Antwerp. Early translations into Italian, French, German, English, and Dutch ...
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Codicil of Queen Isabel the Catholic, Executed at Medina del Campo, on November 23, 1504
On November 23, 1504, three days before her death, Queen Isabella of Spain signed, in Medina del Campo, a codicil before the same notary, Gaspar de Gricio, and five of the seven witnesses who had been present on October 12 for the signing of her last will and testament. In the testament, the queen addressed the fundamental aspects of government by the Catholic monarchs. In the codicil, besides reaffirming what she had stipulated in the testament, she addressed questions directly affecting peninsular government and showed her concern for Spanish policy ...
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The Seville Bible
Biblia hispalense (The Seville Bible), also known as the Toletanus Codex, is a manuscript from the first half of the tenth century, in Latin written in lower-case Visigothic script by at least four copyists. The titles also appear in Hebrew, and there are notes in Arabic in the margins. The manuscript consists of booklets of eight sheets each, on parchment, with the text in three columns of 63–65 lines. Included are the texts of the Old and New Testaments, with a preface, prologues, and commentaries by Saint Jerome, Saint ...
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Beato of Liébana: The Codex of Fernando I and Doña Sancha
Around the year 776, a monk by the name of Beato or Beatus, possibly the abbot of the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, wrote a work entitled Comentarios al Apocalipsis (Commentary on the apocalypse), which had an extraordinary success in the following five centuries. Thanks to his great erudition, Beato combined in this text, as a summa, many commentaries on the topic of the apocalypse by such authors as Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Isidore of Seville, and the 4th-century scholar Ticonius. The genre of ...
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Etymology
Etymologiae (Etymology) is the best known work by Saint Isidore of Seville (circa 560–636), a scholar and theologian considered the last of the great Latin Church Fathers. It takes its name from a method of teaching that proceeds by explaining the origins and meaning of each word related to a topic. Saint Isidore drew on many different sources in his attempt to summarize all ancient knowledge and save it for posterity. The fame of the work led to it being widely copied and disseminated, and its popularity lasted even ...
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Playing with Fire: Operetta in Three Acts
Francisco Asenjo Barbieri (1823–94) is one of the best known figures in the history of Spanish music. He was a composer, musicologist, director, and bibliophile. The core music holdings of the National Library of Spain consist of Barbieri’s own library, which he bequeathed to the institution in his will. Barbieri’s bequest is one of the most important sources for the history of Spanish music. The national library also acquired, in 1999, Barbieri’s personal archive, which includes autographed scores. The relationship between Barbieri and the national library ...
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Seven-Part Code
This illuminated manuscript of the Siete partidas (Seven-part code), on parchment in Gothic script, dates from the 13th–15th centuries. The codex is important for several reasons. It was written in one scriptorium (except for Partida I, which was added in the 15th century) and it includes the complete Partidas with their ornamentation, and bibliographic clues that shed light on their origins. This body of law, commissioned and begun by Alfonso X and supplemented by later reforms, constitutes the most widely known legal system that governed Spain from the Middle ...
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The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha
In 1829, the Spanish scholar and bibliographer Vicente Salvá determined that this book was the true editio princeps (first printed edition) of the first volume of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha (The ingenious gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha). Until then, it had been considered a second edition, printed in the same year. Encouraged by the success of other fictional works, such as Mateo Alemán’s Guzmán de Alfarache (The life of Guzman de Alfarache), Francisco de Robles, printer to the king, bought the rights to publish ...
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Painting of the Governor, Mayors, and Rulers of Mexico
This 16th-century pictographic manuscript, written in Mexico, contains the declarations of the defendants and witnesses in an investigation into charges of misrule and abuse against Viceroy Don Luis de Velasco and other Spanish authorities in New Spain, as Mexico was then called. The investigation was carried out in 1563–66 by Don Jeronimo de Valderrama, who was sent to Mexico for this purpose by order of Philip II of Spain. The people and their statements are represented through pictographs, followed by an explanation in Nahuatl and Castilian Spanish for the ...
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Map of the Kingdom of Aragon by Juan Bautista Labaña
This map is the oldest known image of Aragon, the first Spanish map produced according to scientific procedures, and the most important map for 17th- and 18th-century Spanish cartography. It became the basis for all subsequent maps of the region, and is the only one that was made using direct measurement and surveys. The map was created by order of the Deputation of the Kingdom of Aragon by cartographer Juan Bautista Labaña (1555–1624), who employed the triangulation method. In 1610–15, Labaña travelled around the country making the necessary ...
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Book of the Alphonsine Tables
A reflection of the knowledge of astronomy of the time, these tables were produced in Spain between 1263 and 1272 under the direction of Isaac ben Sid and Judah ben Moses Cohen. The Ptolemaic belief that the planets orbited the Earth was then the predominant cosmological system, and the heliocentric model of the solar system formulated by Copernicus, who personally studied and copied the tables, was still two centuries away. Known as Alfonsine tables after King Alfonso X of Castile (reigned 1252–84), the tables are a compilation of data ...
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Canticles of Saint Mary
There are four manuscripts of the Cantigas de Santa María (Canticles of Saint Mary): this copy from the National Library of Spain that formerly belonged to the Biblioteca Capitular in Toledo, two copies in the Escorial, and one in Florence, similar to the Toledan copy, but unfortunately missing some content. Written during the rule of Alfonso X, King of Castile and Leon (also known as Alfonso el Sabio, Alfonso the Wise), the canticles are a collection of monodic songs, in Galician language and mensural notation, in honor of the Virgin ...
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A Modern Map of Spain
Nova Hispaniae Descriptio (A modern map of Spain) is the first map bordered by cartouches, one of the most attractive developments of 17th century Dutch cartography. Cartouches were used to supplement the geographical information provided by a map as well as to add aesthetic appeal. In this map, which is based on a plate made by Gerard Mercator (1512–94), the cartographic image is surrounded by plans, city views, and characters in the dress of the day. The top margin includes views of the cities of Alhama, Granada, Bilbao, Burgos ...
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Valentia Edetanorum, Plebs of Cid
This important early map, on four sheets, of the city of Valencia is by Tomas Vicente Tosca (1651–1723), a local priest, scholar, mathematician, cartographer, and theologian, who was a founder of the Novatores group, a scientific society established with the aim of challenging and renewing prevailing ideas and practices. Father Tosca’s most important book was Compendio Matemático (Mathematical compendium), a nine-volume work composed in 1707–15 that covered, in addition to mathematics and geometry, such subjects as astronomy, geography, seamanship, military architecture, optics, and perspective. The success of ...
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Amadis of Gaul
Amadís de Gaula (Amadis of Gaul) is a famous prose romance of chivalry, first composed in Spain or Portugal and most likely based on French sources. An early version of the work probably existed by the late 13th century or early 14th century. A version in three books, of which brief fragments are extant, can be dated around 1420. Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, ruler of Medina del Campo, reworked that version, added a fourth book, and continued with a fifth, entitled Las sergas de Esplandián (The adventures of Esplandian). The ...
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About the Natural History of the Indies
Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo (1478–1557) was one of the most important early chroniclers of the Spanish presence in the Americas. Born in Madrid of noble parents from Asturias, at age 12 he became a page to the Duke of Villahermosa. He witnessed the surrender of Granada and, in 1492, entered the service of Prince Don Juan I, whose death in 1497 changed the path of his life. After living several years in Italy, Oviedo returned to Spain around 1505 and, from then onward, began traveling between the Iberian Peninsula ...
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Life and Deeds of the Cunning Rogue Guzman de Alfarache
Vida y hechos del picaro Guzman de Alfarache (The life and deeds of the cunning rogue Guzman de Alfarache) is an important early example of the picareseque novel, a fictional genre that developed in Spain and that takes its name from picaro, a Spanish word meaning rogue or rascal. Written more as a moralizing discourse than for amusement, Guzman de Alfarache offers all of the features of the picaresque novel. The author, Mateo Alemán (born in Seville in 1547, died in Mexico circa 1615), developed an original personal style, not ...
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Book on Geometry, Practice, and Patterns
This landscape-shaped printed work is the first treatise on tailoring published in Spain. It paved the way for other such works in the late 16th century and early 17th century. The author was Juan de Alcega, born in Guipuzcoa, in the Basque region of northern Spain, and a tailor by trade. In his dedication, to a theologian called Tejada, he describes "this, my small work, something brand new, never seen so far in our Spain." The usefulness of the work was confirmed by Hernan Gutierrez, tailor to the princess of ...
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Four Books on the Nature and Virtues of Plants and Animals for Medicinal Purposes in New Spain
Francisco Hernández de Toledo (1514–87) was a court physician, who in 1570 was ordered by King Philip II of Spain to embark on a scientific mission to New Spain (as Mexico was then called) to study the medicinal plants of the New World. For seven years Hernández traveled throughout the country, collecting specimens and gathering information on how plants were used by indigenous physicians. He returned to Spain in 1577 with 16 volumes of notes and with numerous illustrations made by three indigenous painters who assisted him in his ...
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Narrative Letter by Hernán Cortés
The name of Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) and the controversy surrounding him are linked to the conquest of Mexico, which was the most important event of his life. Cortés was born in Medellín, Spain. He studied at the University of Salamanca, took part in Spain’s conquest, in 1506, of Hispaniola and Cuba, and rose to become a municipal official in Cuba. In 1518, he took command of an expedition to secure the interior of Mexico. Cortés’s letters are an essential source for understanding the early Spanish presence in ...
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Atlas of Battista Agnese
Battista Agnese (circa 1500–1564) was an Italian cartographer, born in Genoa, who worked in Venice between 1536 and 1564 and became one of the most important figures in Renaissance cartography. He created approximately 100 manuscript atlases, of which more than 70 are extant, either with his signature or attributed to his school. His atlases, which are considered works of art for their high quality and beauty, are mostly portolan, or nautical, atlases printed on vellum for high-ranking officials or wealthy merchants. This 1544 atlas contains 15 full-page illuminated plates ...
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Compendium of Cosmography
Pedro de Medina (1493–1567) was a cartographer, author, and a founder of marine science. He lived in Seville, the center of the Spanish ocean-going commerce and the starting point for ships headed to the New World. He worked in an environment shaped by the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade), the Spanish government agency that controlled exploration and colonization, although he was never employed by it. In 1545 Medina published his most important work, El arte de navegar (The art of navigation), an overview of existing knowledge on this ...
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Writings of Lope de Vega: Daza Codex
Félix Arturo Lope de Vega (1562–1635) was a playwright and poet during Spain’s literary Golden Age and known for his prodigious output. He wrote some 3,000 sonnets, three novels, four novellas, nine epic poems, and about 1,800 plays. This manuscript, known as the Daza Codex, is a signed draft, written by Lope between 1631 and 1634, near the end of his life. It is not a book in itself but a cartapacio misceláneo (miscellaneous notebook) that belonged to the Duke of Sessa, Lope’s patron and ...
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The Poem of the Cid
The document shown here is the sole surviving manuscript copy of Poema del Cid (The poem of the Cid), the crowning piece of Castilian medieval epic literature and the earliest Spanish epic poem to have survived complete. The poem recounts the story of Castilian nobleman Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, who lived in the second half of the 11th century. El Cid (meaning lord) battles against the Moors in an effort to restore his honor after being unjustly accused of stealing money from the king. The poem, in its written form ...
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