Mercedes of Castile: or, The Voyage to Cathay [NOOK Book]


Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
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Mercedes of Castile: or, The Voyage to Cathay

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NOOK Book (eBook - Digitized from 1852 volume)

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Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940026917945
  • Publisher: Stringer and Townsend
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Digitized from 1852 volume
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper is considered by many to be America's first great novelist. His most popular work, The Last of the Mohicans, has remained one of the most widely read novels throughout the world, greatly influencing the way many cultures have viewed both the American Indians and the frontier period of U.S. history.


James Cooper (he added the Fenimore when he was in his 30s) was born September 15, 1789, in Burlington, New Jersey, to William Cooper and Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper. In 1790 the family moved to the frontier country of upstate New York, where William established a village he called Cooperstown. Although cushioned by wealth and William's status as landlord and judge, the Coopers found pioneering to be rugged, and only 7 of the 13 Cooper children survived their early years. All the hardship notwithstanding, according to family reports, the young James loved the wilderness. Years later, he wrote The Pioneers (1823) about Cooperstown in the 1790s, but many of his other books draw deeply on his childhood experiences of the frontier as well.

Cooper was sent to Yale in 1801 but he was expelled in 1805 for setting off an explosion in another student's room. Afterward, as a midshipman in the fledgling U.S. Navy, he made Atlantic passages and served at an isolated post on Lake Ontario. Cooper resigned his commission in 1811 to marry Susan Augusta De Lancey, the daughter of a wealthy New York State family. During the next decade, however, a series of bad investments and legal entanglements reduced his inheritance to the verge of bankruptcy.

Cooper was already 30 years old when, on a dare from his wife, he became a writer. One evening he threw down, in disgust, a novel he was reading aloud to her, saying he could write a better book himself. Susan, who knew that he disliked writing even letters, expressed her doubts. To prove her wrong he wrote Precaution, which was published anonymously in 1820. Encouraged by favorable reviews, Cooper wrote other books in quick succession, and by the time The Last of the Mohicans, his sixth novel, was published in 1827, he was internationally famous as America's first professionally successful novelist. Eventually he published 32 novels, as well as travel books and histories. Cooper invented the genre of nautical fiction, and in the figure of Nathaniel or "Natty" Bumppo (Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans) -- the central character in the five Leatherstocking Tales Cooper published between 1823 and 1841 -- he gave American fiction its first great hero.

Shortly after publishing The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper moved his family to Europe, but in 1833 he returned to America, moving back into his father's restored Mansion House in Cooperstown. He died there on September 14, 1851.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

Good To Know

Cooper was expelled from Yale due to his passion for pranks, which included training a donkey to sit in a professor's chair and setting a fellow student's room on fire.

Between 1822 and 1826 Cooper lived in New York City, and was a major player on its intellectual scene. He founded the Bread and Cheese Club, which had many high-profile members, including notable painters of the Hudson River School and writers like William Cullen Bryant.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 15, 1789
    2. Place of Birth:
      Burlington, New Jersey
    1. Date of Death:
      September 14, 1851
    2. Place of Death:
      Cooperstown, New York
    1. Education:
      Yale University (expelled in 1805)

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  • Posted August 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "I have heard thee patiently some years, and it is now my turn to speak and thine to listen."

    James Fenimore Cooper's 1840 novel, MERCEDES OF CASTILE, or, THE VOYAGE TO CATHAY is a classic historical and romantic novel in the style set by Sir Walter Scott's WAVERLEY. It takes us readers from the October 1469 wedding of Fernando (Ferdinand) of Aragon and Isabella of Castile to September 1493 and the beginning of Columbus's second voyage to the New World. In 1469 two 18-year-old first cousins once removed overcame formidable obstacles to wed. Isabella had personally chosen Fernando among several candidates for her hand. And their marriage proved a happy one. *****

    We now advance two decades to January 1492, just outside the walls of the last remaining Muslim city in Spain: Granada. Here Ferdinand and Isabella enter in triumph. On hand, still after seven years patiently waiting for his commission to sail west to Japan and China, is the great Genoese navigator, Christopher Columbus. Columbus and Queen Isabella are painted in glowing colors by Fenimore Cooper. Both are far-sighted, religious and persevering. Isabella, in particular, is a mother to all her subjects. *****

    This would not be a classic historical novel if all its characters were real, historical giants such as Fernando, Isabella and Columbus. Another historically attested person, Isabella's girlhood friend Beatriz de Bobabdilla is made to link the two "reyes catolicos" to Luis Bobadilla, a 20-year old nephew of Beatriz and to her ward and adopted daughter, the beautiful young Mercedes de Valverde. Luis and Mercedes are in love. But both his aunt Beatriz, the Marchioness of Moya, and her great friend Queen Isabella worry that Luis is too wild and unsettled to be permitted to wed Mercedes. The young couple have been chums since childhood and for the past two years, Luis, this young Achilles of Spain, has poured out his love to his beloved. Finally, Mercedes demands a half hour to give him her reaction: "I have heard thee patiently some years, and it is now my turn to speak and thine to listen" (Ch. 5). She loves him but will never marry him unless he subordinates himself to Christopher Columbus and goes to seek the New World. This is the wish of Her Majesty to whom Mercedes has vowed that she will wed no one without her permission. *****

    Luis, incognito, joins Columbus, the only grandee to do so. Day by day their epic voyage is detailed by Fenimore Cooper. On the island of Hispaniola, Luis rescues from kidnapping a beautiful Haitian princess, Ozema and takes her back to Spain among those selected by Columbus to present to the Queen. Ozema loves Luis, misconstrues his Castillian gallantry to be a declaration of marriage. Placed in the care of Mercedes and her guardian Beatriz, Ozema causes great woe to both Mercedes and the Queen. Luis is in no little danger of being punished, until Columbus convinces all parties that Luis's only love is Mercedes. Broken-hearted, Princess Ozema dies, a baptized Christian denied by the officiating archbishop her humble request to become Luis's second wife. Queen Isabella was warm to convert all willing New Worlders to Christianty. The tragedy of Princess Ozema is the first of many cross-cultural misunderstandings and failures to come. *****

    This is a grand tale of Christopher Columbus, Queen Isabella and the earliest days of late medieval Spanish imperialism. -OOO-

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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