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Christopher Columbus's Naming in the 'diarios' of the Four Voyages (1492-1504)

Christopher Columbus's Naming in the 'diarios' of the Four Voyages (1492-1504): A Discourse of Negotiation

Series: Toronto Iberic
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 296
  • Book Info
    Christopher Columbus's Naming in the 'diarios' of the Four Voyages (1492-1504)
    Book Description:

    In this fascinating book, Evelina Gužauskytė uses the names Columbus gave to places in the Caribbean Basin as a way to examine the complex encounter between Europeans and the native inhabitants.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6824-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-31)

    The contract between the Spanish Crown and Christopher Columbus entitled “Capitulaciones de Santa Fe” (17 April 1492), the agreement that established the legal basis for the latter’s transoceanic voyages of exploration, mercantilism, and conquest, does not include any place names. Notoriously absent are the names of Asia or the Indies, the supposed goal of Columbus’s imminent voyage, and of any places in those vast regions. Absent also are the names of places in Europe, including Castile, Aragon, Catalonia, Andalusia, the Mediterranean lands and waters, and points on coastlines; likewise, absent are the names of mythical or biblical places. All of...

  7. 1 “Named Incorrectly”: The Geographic and Symbolic Functions of Columbian Place Names
    (pp. 32-45)

    Columbus finished the prologue to theDiario del primer viajewith a promise: “También, Señores Prínçipes, allende de escrevir cada noche lo qu’el día passare y el día lo que la noche navegare, tengo propósito de hazer carta nueva de navegar, en la cual situaré toda la mar e tierras del mar Occéano en sus proprios lugares, debaxo su viento.”¹ Traditionally, this promise has been interpreted as an expression of the desire to make a new map and to mark on it the correct locations of places (“situaré … en sus proprios lugares”), corresponding to their correct coordinates (“debaxo su...

  8. 2 Words and the World: The Known Corpus of Columbian Place Names
    (pp. 46-60)

    Columbus was one of the most prolific inventors of names in history. Reportedly, he pronounced as many as 700 toponyms during the first voyage alone and another 1700 during the second voyage.¹ While these numbers are almost certainly exaggerated, the list of Columbian place names in thediariosis nevertheless substantial: thediariosof the four voyages include 130 toponyms that Columbus invented in Castilian (including the additional pages Las Casas transcribed of the third voyage) and twenty-six toponyms of Taino and Island Carib origins. Other sources include additional toponyms.² Seventy new toponyms in Castilian are introduced in theDiario...

  9. 3 “Y saber dellos los secretos de la tierra”: Taino Toponymy and Columbian Naming
    (pp. 61-81)

    In their letter of 16 August 1494 to Columbus, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel requested that he provide them with the all the new place names he had assigned: “Of those islands you have named, what name has been given to each, because in your letters you give the names of some but not all of these.” In addition, they wanted to know “what the Indians call them.”¹ Implicit in this request are the Crown’s two key messages. First, onomastics is viewed here as an important source of knowledge; because of this, the toponymic list must be recorded in its...

  10. 4 Heavenly Bodies and Metallurgy in Columbian Toponymy
    (pp. 82-102)

    This chapter focuses on the toponymic cluster consisting of twelve place names invented during the first voyage:Río de la Luna(first mentioned in theDiarioon 29 October 1492);Río de Mares(29 October);Puerto de Mares(5 November);Río del Sol(12 November);Isla de Baveque(orBanequeorBabeque; 12 November);Río del Oro(8 January 1493);Monte de Plata(11 January);Puerto de Plata(named between 11 and 18 January, included by Las Casas in the margins of theDiario);Punta del Hierro(11 January);Isla de Goanin(orGuanín; 13 January);Cabo de Luna;and...

  11. 5 Iguana and Christ
    (pp. 103-122)

    This chapter addresses the shifting visions documented inCabo de Sierpe, a toponym Columbus invented during the second half of his first voyage, as well as in the toponymsVilla de la Navidad, Cabo Sancto, Monte Cristo, andPunta Roxa, which he assigned to nearby places.¹ According to my earlier definition, these toponyms form a toponymic cluster: they were named during a brief period of time and the places they denominate are located in geographic proximity. Furthermore, as I will argue in this chapter, they form a cohesive visual scene which incorporates elements of the physical and cultural realms originating...

  12. 6 Infernal Imagery: Spirituality and Cosmology in the Final Two Voyages
    (pp. 123-156)

    The larger portions of the cosmographic discussions in theRelación del tercer viajeandRelación del cuarto viaje– that is, the narratives of the third and fourth voyages transcribed by Las Casas – are dedicated to the location of the Earthly Paradise,El Paraíso Terrenal. The discussion of the navigation and the experiences during the last two voyages focus on the physical and spiritual dangers that Columbus and his crew experienced, the fear resulting from these dangers, and the conflicts that Columbus had with Spaniards and the native inhabitants alike. The lengthiest description of extremely exhausting and risky navigation...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 157-168)

    The extensive list of place names Columbus invented in Castilian, which can be pieced together from several historical accounts, reveals a series of verbal mapping acts through which Columbus built a fictional landscape. The letter to Santángel, which announced the official version of the “discovery” of a world previously unknown to Europeans, presented to readers only a small group of toponyms. Carefully chosen from the much longer list, they effectively communicated the idea that, through his acts of naming, Columbus generated in this region yet unexplored by Europeans patterns of hierarchy, progression, and centre, and that these patterns faithfully represented...

  14. Appendix: A Comprehensive List of Columbian Place Names
    (pp. 169-196)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 197-248)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-264)
  17. Index
    (pp. 265-276)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)