Christopher Columbus and the Enterprise of the Indies: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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In 1492, previously separate worlds collided and began to merge, often painfully, into the world-system in which we live today. Columbus’s four Atlantic voyages (1492–1504) helped link Africa, Europe, and the Americas in a conflicted economic and cultural symbiosis. These carefully selected documents describe the voyages and their immediate impact on Europe and the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. Geoffrey Symcox and Blair Sullivan’s engaging introduction presents Columbus as neither hero nor villain, but as a significant historical actor who improvised responses to a changed world. Document headnotes provide context for understanding Columbus’s voyages within the broader context of fifteenth-century Europe and the policies of the Spanish crown. Maps, illustrations, a chronology, questions for consideration, and a selected bibliography invite students to analyze and interpret the documents.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312410216
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 1/26/2005
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 761,390
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

GEOFFREY SYMCOX is professor of history at University of California, Los Angeles and general editor of the Repertorium Columbianum, a multi-volume series of original sources dealing with different aspects of the Columbian voyages. Professor Symcox received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1967 and works in early modern European history, up to and including the French Revolution. His books include The Crisis of French Sea Power 1688-1697 (1974) and Victor Amadeus II: Absolutism in the Savoyard State 1675-1730 (1983).

BLAIR SULLIVAN is director of publications at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at University of California, Los Angeles and associate editor of the Repertorium Columbianum.

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Table of Contents



List of Maps and Illustrations


Introduction: Columbus – The Man, the Voyages, the Legacy

Columbus’s Genoese Origins and Early Life

Columbus in Portugal, 1476–1485

Columbus in Spain, 1485–1492

The First Voyage, 1492–1493

The Second Voyage, 1493–1496: Colonization

The Third Voyage, 1498–1500

The Fourth Voyage, 1502–1504, and Columbus’s Last Years

Columbus’s Legacy

Columbus after Columbus


The Documents

1. Christopher Columbus
1. Agreement Mentioning Domenico Colombo and His Son Christopher Columbus, Genoa, September 22, 1470
2. Notarial Document Mentioning Christopher Columbus's Trip to Madeira to Purchase Sugar, Genoa, August 25, 1479
3. Bartolomé de Las Casas, On Columbus's Appearance, Education, and Character, ca. 1527–1563
4. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, On Columbus's Appearance and Origins, 1535–ca. 1549
5. Christopher Columbus, Undated Letter to Fernando and Isabel, 1500-1502
6 Christopher Columbus, Letter to Nicolò Oderigo with "o ferens" Signature, March 21, 1502
7. Bartolomé de Las Casas, On Columbus as an Instrument of God's Will, ca. 1527-1563
8. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, On Columbus as "First Discoverer," 1535-ca. 1549
9. Agostino Giustiniani, Psalter, On Columbus the Evangelist, 1516

2. The Four Voyages
First Voyage, 1492–1493
10. Santa Fe Capitulations, Santa Fe, April 17, 1492
11. Granada Capitulations, Granada, April 30, 1492
12. Christopher Columbus, Selected Entries from the Log, August 3, 1492-March 15, 1493

Second Voyage, 1493–1496
13. Warrant to Christopher Columbus and Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca Commissioning Them to Outfit the Second Voyage, Barcelona, May 24, 1493
14. Michele da Cuneo, From News of the Islands of the Hesperian Ocean Discovered by Sir Christopher Columbus of Genoa, October 1495
15. Giambattista Strozzi, Letter from Cádiz, March 19, 1494
16. Giovanni de' Bardi, Letter from Seville, April 19, 1494

Third Voyage, 1498–1500
17. Instructions to Columbus for Colonization of the Indies, Burgos, April 23, 1497
18. Bartolomé de Las Casas, On Columbus's Third Voyage, ca. 1527-1563
19. Andrés del Corral, Testimony concerning Columbus's Landing on the South American Mainland, Santo Domingo, June 16, 1512
20. Christopher Columbus, Letter to Juana de la Torre, Making the Case for the Restitution of His Privileges, Late 1500

Fourth Voyage, 1502–1504
21. Writ Ordering Restitution of Property to the Admiral and His Brothers, Granada, September 27, 1501
22. Bartolomé de Las Casas, On Columbus's Fourth Voyage, ca. 1527-1563

3. The Spanish Crown, Portugal, and the Papacy
23. Alexander VI, Papal Bull "Inter Cetera II," Rome, May 4, 1493
24. Alexander VI, Papal Bull "Piis Fidelium," Rome, June 25, 1493
25. Alexander VI, Papal Bull "Dudum Siquidem," Rome, September 25, 1493
26. Treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal, June 7, 1494
27. Alexander VI, Papal Bull "Eximie Devotionis," Rome, November 16, 1501

4. European Constructions of the New World
28. Allegretto Allegretti, Sienese Diaries from 1450 to 1496, April 25, 1493
29. Morelletto Ponzone, Letter from Ferrara, June 11, 1494
30. Diego Alvarez Chanca, From His Report to the City Council of Seville on Columbus's Second Voyage, ca. 1494
31. Ramón Pané, On Taino Religious Practices, ca. 1498
32. Peter Martyr of Anghiera, On Tainos, Caribs, the Flora and Fauna of the Indies, and the Golden Age of Life According to Nature, 1511
33. Alessandro Geraldini, On Caribs and Tainos, March 29, 1522

A Christopher Columbus Chronology (1451-1506)
Questions for Consideration
Selected Bibliography

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