Biography of Hernando Colón (1488-1539)

Child natural Columbus and a humble woman, Beatriz Enríquez de Arana, born in Cordoba the 15 August 1488 and died in Seville the 12 of July 1539. He was sent to serve as page to Prince Juan, and to receive a humanistic education in the Court of Fernando and Isabel along with his brother Diego . When he was fourteen years old, he accompanied his father on his fourth and final expedition to the new world. Cristóbal Colón wrote that his son will had been a great help in the hardships and misfortunes of that trip. He returned to the West Indies, again, in 1509, when his brother Diego marched as Viceroy, but remained there only a few months, and he returned to Spain with the fleet carrying the dying Governor Ovando.

Seems that Hernando Colón had wished to follow in the footsteps of his father and, once, after his return from Santo Domingo in 1510, had asked unsuccessfully permission to King Fernando to organize and direct a trip. In fact, he suggested if he had devoted to writing books it was because the King has not had deigned to offer an opportunity to serve you through his practical activity, according to Emiliano Jos. It is also true, however, that the Columbus family was busy at that time in a series of long litigation with the Crown that made reasonable that Hernando be representing their interests in Spain while his brother ruled in the Indies. In these circumstances, it is not strange Hernando to return to the intellectual activities to support its ambitions. One of his first companies was the Organization of your library. Starting with what his father and his uncle had left him, expanded his collection to gather more than 15,000 volumes, most of which follow at the Colombina library in Seville, although many others disappeared after his death. The approach of Columbus to the world of books was very systematic. In a written memorial to Carlos V in 1530, describes its library as a place where all the books published in the Christian world, even some outside it should be collected, and requests the grant of 500 pesos a year that exists for the library make perpetual, so the acquisition of books can continue even after his death"because it is one thing to establish library of what time is, as some have done, and another is to give order to always seek and mobilize those who again they sobrevinieren". Colon was not interested only in collecting books, but also to make them accessible to the intellectuals who need them. Therefore devoted much time and effort to make your library catalogs: a record in which the books were reviewed according to the order in which had been acquired, indexes by authors and subjects, and a summary in which readers could inform themselves of the contents of the book without having to read it full.

Such an organization and systematization also characterized other task which occupied Columbus later to 1510: a geographical study of Spain. The data for this study were collected by the own Hernando or its representatives, sent with very precise instructions, and were used to write a description and cosmography of Spain (also known as route) and a kind of geographic encyclopedia, the topographical vocabulary, in which cities and described peoples were placed in alphabetical order. The ultimate goal was to make a new and more accurate map of Spain. However, for reasons still not entirely clear, Carlos I ordered to stop the project and the manuscript of Columbus was in its library; in fact, much of it disappeared after the death of its owner. It is possible that the Colon work on Spanish territory was known and had some influence on subsequent writers geographical as well as the men who conceived the idea of the topographical relations during the last quarter of the century.

Columbus, in its time, was known primarily as cosmographer, and as such was hired by the Spanish Crown. In 1524, he was sent as a representative to the Board of Badajoz, where experts from both sides of the border were subjected to discussion the problem of whether the Moluccas belonged to the colonial territories of Spain or Portugal that had defined the Treaty of Tordesillas. He made various memorials to the Board related cosmography, although his personal opinion, presented to the Emperor in a memorial, was that the Portuguese did not have any legal rights over what was further to the East of the Cape of good hope. In 1526 was given another task: revise and correct the real register of the Casa de contratación, the map pattern which were based the letters to navigate West Indies. This task was collecting letters from motion sickness, pilot books, notebooks blog, oral testimony and, finally, the layout of the map that included the information drawn from that material. The map was finished in 1536, and was outlined by Alonso de Chaves. Help of letters and papers collected by Columbus ended up in your library. The Casa de contratación, thirty years after his death, still was trying to recover them.

The last years of the life of Columbus were dedicated to write his most famous work, the story of the Admiral, which was published in Venice for the first time in 1571 and the English original was lost. If Columbus was or not the author of this book has been widely discussed, although today it is generally accepted that he wrote at least most. The book has less historical scientific interest, although it contains geographical and anthropological, materials, some of them from the letters and journals of Cristóbal Colón; However, it was not published until were a more accurate information about the West Indies. The book has been used, of course, as a source for the study of the geographical ideas of Cristóbal Colón, but most of the materials - including the famous correspondence between Cristóbal Colón and Paolo Toscanelli - is located in the initial chapter of the work, which has been shown that it is not reliable and that it could be added to the book after the death of Hernando Colónproduced in 1539, when he was about to board a third time for the Indies.




Catalogue of the Library of Ferdinand Columbus, New York: Archer M. Huntington, 1904 (facsimile edition of one of the indexes of the Columbus library; it is, unfortunately, of the so-called "article index", the most incomplete of existing ones). Works and books of Hernando Colón. It includes memory works and books of Hernando Colón, compiled by Juan Pérez, who was his Secretary; edited by Tomás Marín Martínez, Madrid: CSIC, 1970. Biblioteca Colombina. Catalogue of printed books, 7 vols., Seville, 1888-1948. Description and cosmography of Spain, manuscript of the Colombina library, given birth for the first time by the Royal Geographical Society, 3 vols., Madrid: printing of the Board of Trustees of orphans of the military administration, 1908-1915. Collection of unpublished documents for the history of Spain, 112 vols., Madrid, 1824-1895, XVI, pp. 279-483 life of D. Cristóbal Colon, by Hernando Colón, edited by Ramón Iglesias, Mexico and Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1947.


TORRES REVELLO, j.: "Don Hernando Colón: his life, his library, his works", in Journal of the history of America, 19, 1945, pp. 1-59.JOS, e.: research on initial Don Fernando Colón, Seville life and work: Hispanic studies school, 1945.BEAUJOAN, g.: "Fernand Colomb et l'Europe intellectuelle de son temps", in Journal des Savants, Oct-Dec. 1960, pp. 145-159.blazquez Y DELGADO AGUILERA, a.: "The route of Don Fernando Colon and the relations topographic", in Journal of archives, libraries and museums, 10, 1904, pp. 83-105.ROSA and LÓPEZ, S. of the: "The route of Don Hernando Colón and their topographic vocabulary of Spain", in Journal of archives, libraries and museums, 15, 1906, pp. 106-118, 260-274.DRAIN, M-PONSOT, p.: "Les paysages agraires Andalusia Western au début du XVI siècle d' après l' route of Hernando Colón", in Mélanges of the Casa Velázquez, 2, 1966, pp. 73-95.PULIDO RUBIO, j.: the pilot of the Casa de contratación of Seville: older drivers, professors of cosmography and cosmographers, Seville: School of Hispanic-American studies, 1950.RUMEU of arms, a.: Hernando Colón, historian of America, Madrid: Real Academia de Historia, 1970.

Robert G. KEITH.