- Show more
Capitulations of Santa Fé and Cristobal Colón
In 1480 Christopher Columbus lived in Portugal, in the Madeira Islands, and by marriage he was part of the Portuguese nobility. Columbus had the idea of navigating to the West through the Atlantic until he reached the Indies, recovering the classic idea that the earth was round. Between 1483 and 1485 he presented his project to King Juan II of Portugal who, after consulting with several expert advisors in Cosmography, discarded the idea.After his failure, Columbus moved to the kingdom of Castile and proposed his project to the kings of Castilla and Aragon, Isabel and Fernando, who also did not accept him. At that time they were conquering Granada, the last Muslim kingdom of the Peninsula.
Columbus traveled new to Portugal, in 1488, where he attended the return of Bartolomeu days of the trip in which he had discovered the Cape of Good Hope, in southern Africa. From then on Juan II focused on the exploitation of that route and dismissed the exploration towards the West. Columbus returned to Andalusia, to the Huelva monastery of La Rábida. There, after a few weeks of reflection and supported by Fray Juan Pérez, he managed a last attempt to get the venia of the Kings. Pérez had been the confessor of Queen Elizabeth and confided that she would attend to him if he asked for it.
On November 25, 1491 Granada surrendered to the Christians. The representatives of the Nasrid kingdom and those of Castilla and Aragon signed the Capitulations of Granada. Columbus joined the court in Santa Fe, the camp used by kings as headquarters during the siege. Negotiations between Columbus and the Crown were established. Taking advantage of the religious ecstasy in which the kings were, Columbus informed that their trip would allow to Christianize the peoples they found, and the profits obtained in the company could be used to finance a crusade that would release Jerusalem from Muslims. He also requested the titles of Almirante and Virrey, so it was not possible to reach an agreement and was fired from the Court. After this, Luis de Santángel, a senior official, interceded for Columbus before the queen and promised to advance the money that the crown would have to invest. Isabel changed her mind, and ordered Secretary Juan de Coloma to accept the requests. On April 17, 1492, the Capitulations of Santa Fe were finally written.
The fundamental idea of the text was the set of rewards that Columbus would receive if the trip was successful. The powers would be military, political-administrative and economic, the latter with limited to a large extent by the kings. In addition, the distribution of land and benefits obtained in the future explorations of Columbus between him and the Catholic Monarchs is established. According to the Columbus document, the title of Admiral of the islands and lands that he discovered, hereditary title, which would pass to his children. It would also be a viceroy and general governor of these territories, also having the privilege of choosing three people for each position of importance and choosing the Spanish monarchs to whom they seem more convenient. As for the profits that will result from commercial exchanges and others, the tenth would belong to Columbus and the rest to the kings. In fourth place the document speaks of the possible legal complaints that could arise following these trips, which Columbus would be authorized to judge. Finally, the decree establishes that Columbus would contribute financing an eighth part of the explorations that had a place after their trip, receiving in return the eighth part of the benefits that result from them.
The trips of the document are part of a first cycle of exploration trips beyond the Mediterranean made by Europe (fundamentally Portugal and Castilla) since the fifteenth century. They had two objectives: to find new alternative routes to the Mediterranean and extend the Christian faith. They are produced by the increase in the profits derived from trade with spices, metals, slaves and ivory, and thanks to the technological advances of the time (maps, compasses, astrolabians …).
The capitulations used by the Catholic Monarchs were also being used in the conquest of the Canary Islands and would continue to use them on future trips. These are agreements between the crown and individuals so that they have exploration trips on behalf of the monarchs. Columbus’s trip finally began in Palos de la Frontera (Huelva), a few months after these capitulations, in August 1492, and after a hard and uncertain route culminates with the arrival in Guanahaní (San Salvador) and the Spanish (HolySunday), in the Antilles, in October.
Three caravels participated in the trip: La Pinta, La Niña and La Santa María, commanding Martín Alonso Pinzón, Vicente Yáñez Pinzón and Juan de la Cosa, respectively. The ships departed from sticks on August 3, 1492 and went to the Canary Islands. On October 12 they arrived on the island of Guanahani. Columbus continued with his journey through the Caribbean, arrived in Cuba on October 28 and the Spanish on December 6. On December 24, Santa Maria ran up in the Spanish and with her remains the strong Christmas was built. The expedition undertook the return on January 16, 1493 and a few days later a storm separated the two ships. La Pinta arrived in Bayona (Galicia) at the end of February and announced to the Catholic Monarchs the discovery. Upon receiving the news the kings decreed the immediate prohibition of going ‘to the yndias’ without authorization and commissioned their ambassadors in Rome to obtain some bulls, (the ‘Alexandrinas’ bulls), with which Pope Alexander VI would grant Castillaand León the monopoly of the lands discovered. Meanwhile, the girl, in which Columbus was traveling, arrived on March 4 to Lisbon. Portuguese ambassadors immediately went to the Court of the Catholic Monarchs, located in Barcelona, to claim the land discovered, in an environment of diplomatic and pre-belic tension. Columbus returned to Castile for the port of Palos and from there marched to Seville and then to Barcelona, where he was received by the Kings, who recognized his discovery and confirmed his titles from Admiral, Viceroy and Governor. At the same time they urged him to complete the preparation of a second trip, much greater.
Columbus undertook a second trip, a third and a quarter, until he died in 1505, convinced that he has reached the Indies, when he had actually reached an unknown continent, as would be discovered thanks to America Vespuccio at the beginning of the 16th century. Given the perspective of all these unknown territories for Europeans, the Catholic Monarchs reach a new agreement with Portugal to distribute the Atlantic and the domain of their lands: the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. With this, with the new exploration trips in America and the Pacific and with the occupation of many of its territories a colonial empire is launched that deeply alters the evolution of the whole world by creating the first world system in history.
In my opinion, the titles that are granted to Columbus are not exaggerated, since after all the trip I was going to make had never been done, and the risk was huge, since it could be a trip without return. Despite this, the kings were left with too many benefits, since the ninth part of the profits found seems excessive to me.