Biography of fray Juan Pérez (s. XV)

Spanish Franciscan religious that his date of birth is unknown and who died in 1514 in La Rábida. It was, precisely, keeper of the convent. He decisively helped Christopher Columbus in 1492 discoverer trip.

All matters relating to the biography of this religious Franciscan unknown until their encounter with Columbus. Traditional historiography pointed out that it was guardian of the convent of la Rábida in 1485, when the Genoese came to Spain, and he helped introduce to the Catholic monarchs, taking advantage of their status as confessor of Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of Castile and Leon.

The presence of fray Juan Pérez in la Rabida the year 1485, when Columbus arrived has based on a statement by physicist sticks García Hernández, who testified in the Columbian lawsuits that "still there then this witness, a frayle called fray Juan Pérez, who is already deceased, wanted to talk with the the Cristóbal Colón in 1515, and seeing him available to other Earth and alien realm in their language, asked him who he was and where he came... "." The statement seems quite convincing and it is possible that effectively fray Juan Pérez provide you some recommendations for influential Court figures (perhaps to the Chief Accountant Alonso de Quintanilla, who then became a defender of the Genoese and possibly introduced him to the great Cardinal Mendoza) and even the same Kings, although there is no evidence of any of this. It is also possible for the Franciscans to propose Columbus that you left them to his son Diego, young, as then said his brother Hernando and corroborated several chroniclers, Las Casas between them, but historically is has been able to demonstrate that fray Juan Pérez was guardian of the convent at that time and even less was confessor of Isabella the Catholic, as I assure you the Mayor of Palos Alonso Vélez in the Columbian lawsuits in 1532, adding that fray Juan Pérez had served as waiter in counter trade to Isabella the Catholic, what seems impossible; the confessor of the Queen in 1478 was fray Hernando de Talavera.

Until the end of the last century was also confused fray Juan Pérez with a Franciscan astrologer called fray Antonio de Marchena. Rumeu noted that this custodian fray Antonio de Marchena indeed had contact with Colon, but subsequently and in court. The error persisted for many years and actually proceeded from the father Gómara, which fused in one the two figures of fray Antonio de Marchena, calling him fray Juan Pérez de Marchena and fray Juan Pérez. Several historians of the late 19th century showed that they were two different people.

The figure of fray Juan Pérez appears clearly from 1491, when Columbus thought to leave Spain and go to France, because of continuous delays of the Catholic Kings in supporting your discovering company. It then passed through la Rábida (perhaps to pick up his son Diego) and met with fray Juan Pérez, who decided to take her as their own problem. He then wrote to the Queen recommending the plan and Columbus to carry it out and the Queen answered 14 days ordering the Genoese to interview with her. He sent a help of 20,000 maravedís that it arose with dignity in the Court.

Fray Juan Pérez then supported Colon during the negotiations to achieve the mercedes requested the Kings in Santa Fe and the Friar came to sign on its behalf on 17 April 1492 the famous capitulations of Santa Fe, while the Kings he signed Juan Coloma, his Secretary. The religious returned to la Rábida and was then present in sticks when the provisions were read to launch the discoverer trip (23 May 1492). Later, when the Genoese found difficulties to enroll the sailors, fray Juan put him in contact with Martín Alonso Pinzón, something that proved decisive. The Franciscan finally helped Columbus in all preparations. No, he embarked with the Admiral, as it is known, but it was one of the first people who received him on arrival at Palos de la Frontera in 1493. Then the figure of fray Juan Pérez back to disappear from history. In 1515 he had died already, as testified the doctor García Hernández.


BALLESTEROS BERETTA, A. Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America. Madrid, Espasa, 1942, 2 vols.

COLON, H. history of the Admiral. Madrid, 1984.

THE houses, B. history of the Indies. Vol. II of the complete works of... Madrid, Atlas, 1961.

MANZANO MANZANO, J. Cristobal Colón; Seven years of his life, 1485-1492. Madrid, 1964.

MANZANO MANZANO, J. Colon and his secret. Madrid, 1976.

Manuel Lucena Salmoral