Biography of Pedro Mártir de Anglería (1459-1526)

Humanistic and Italian geographer born in Arona (Lombardy) in 1457 and died in Granada in 1526, whose real name was Pietro Martire D'anghiera.


Poor family, he/she was protected by the count Juan de Borromeo. He/She was Secretary of the Governor Francisco Negro in Rome. His reputation as a humanist was working its way and awarded large and influential friends such as the Bishop of Pamplona and the scholar Pomponio Leto. He/She was also Secretary of the count of Tendilla, Ambassador of the Catholic Monarchs in the Italian capital, which proposed him to move with him to Spain, where he/she participated as a soldier in the war of Granada and became friends with the confessor of the Queen, Hernando de Talavera, who in turn advised him to take the ecclesiastical habit. Shortly after, he/she was called to the Court, where he/she lived as a chaplain of Queen and master of the nobility. In 1495 he/she was appointed as Ambassador of Bohemia and Hungary, but failed to play the position. Subsequently, however, was Ambassador to Egypt, work that reflected in his Legatio babylonica, very important for studies of humanism and its penetration into the Iberian Peninsula. With the Government of D. Carlos was appointed as a member of the Royal and Supreme Council of the Indies and official chronicler, serving since his position as historiographer.


His work Opus Epistolarum, is a collection of 813 letters, written in latin, which collect events from the Spain of the time, and which constitute a magnificent thermometer of culture and Spanish society during the era of the Catholic Kings. Between 1494 and 1526 he/she wrote his history of the Indies, called Orbe Novo decades, his most important work, collecting Indian events since the first Columbian journey, considered the first general on Indian history. Become chronicler of King Fernando, it spent thirty-two years to write his famous decades.

The fundamental geographical meaning of his work (following the analysis of Edmundo or ' Gorman) was in its conceptualization of the 'new world'. Was aware that only half the world was known and stated that the intent of Christopher Columbus was exploring "by Western down under a new hemisphere of the Earth" and discover islands adjacent to the Asiatic coast Indies. Subsequently to their discovery, Pedro Mártir de Anglería had to deal with the problem of whether the Islands were in fact Asian.

Although it is doubtful that he/she projected his famous characterization of a novus orbis as a proper name (for example, a new world), and, in spite of this, he/she doubted that Columbus had reached Asia, given the magnitude of the globe. It rejected the basic premises of Columbus as soon as the size of the Earth and Earth to water ratio. He/She considered those islands as identical to the Antilles of the ancient geographers, situated between Europe and Asia. While Columbus believed that Cuba was dry land, he/she always thought that it was an island.

When Columbus to have reached Asia was more convinced, firmer was the skepticism of D'anghiera. He/She described recognition by Columbus in Jamaica as "the imaginary mainland coasts". He/She refused to characterize native Americans as "Indians" and cared to use native place names rather than the Asian names preferred by Columbus. After third voyage, Columbus believed that the Paria peninsula was the Asian continent, in the area next to the River Ganges, while Pedro Mártir de Anglería was convinced, by the journey of Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, that pariah was really solid ground although he/she still doubted that they were from the Asian mainland. Amerigo Vespucci was the first to affirm unreservedly the existence of a new continent. Pedro Mártir de Anglería estimated that the situation was still debatable and tried to reconcile the old geographical concepts with new facts.

Decades contain numerous passages of geographical interest. Its underground speculation between the two oceans in Central America (decade II, book 9) is based on a specific theory of the origin of the rivers: "if it is true that, as some think, flows all freshwater ebb by hidden channels of the land of the sea, bound by the heavy mole, similarly flowing out to the surface to rush into her womb"the phenomenon here would be less strange than elsewhere, because even we have not read anywhere there are two seas like these that get a land within as narrow limits, if it is true that have the natives". Discussion reappears in the third decade, book 6, relating to ocean currents.

Martyr acted as a clearing house for information on the discoveries. Thus, it describes to Sebastián Cabot as "my guest". His work is written with first-hand sources, because although not visited India, its position in the Court gave him occasion to meet the navigators of his time and thus collect the data needed to give us a journalistic overview of the facts.



The Spagna Re navigatione tutta libretto of le isole novamente trovati, Venice. (s.l.: Albertino Vercellese, 1504). De orbe novo. (Alcalá de Henares: Miguel de Eguía, 1530). Decades of the new world. (ed. dir. by Edmundo or ' Gorman, 2 vols.), (Mexico: Porrúa, 1964), (with a bibliographical Appendix of Joseph H. Sinclair, vol. i. pp. 45-71).


REVELLO, José Tower. Pedro Mártir de Anglería and his work de Orbe Novo. (Bogota: Thesaurus, 12, 1957), (pp. 133-153).Or ' O'GORMAN, Edmundo. "Pedro Mártir and the process of America", in decades of the new world (Mexico: Porrúa, 1964), (2 vols., pp. 9-37).JIMÉNEZ CALVENTE, "Pedro Mártir de Anglería and his historical poem" T., Equestria, humanistic Lovaniensia, 42, 1993. (pp. 71-101).