Colon, Hernando. Historia del Almirante.

Spain, c. 1550.

Spanish ms. on vellum. 247 x 285 mm (written space 160 x 210 mm). 2 cols. 16 lines. With a large initial "L" in red, green, and blue on gold. Large illuminiation with rich gold and coloured tendril designs on reverse.


The "Historia del Almirante", the story of the life of Christopher Columbus, is said to have been written around 1530 by his son Hernando Colón (1487-1539). The original manuscript is lost. The work was first printed in 1571 in Italian. The 1749 Spanish edition is merely a re-translation (cf. Sabin 14674) and thus contains many departures from the present ms. copy, which is obviously based on the original version. Judging by the style of the tendril initial (strongly rubbed), this ms. probably was created in the mid-16th century. The text begins, "Los rebeldes perseverando en su mal animo el Almirante resolvio enviar contre essos al Prefecto su hermano que con buenas palabras sgredviese a juicio y arrepentimento pero con compania hastante para que si quisiesen onfendere oudiese resistirlos" (the later printed version has: "Perseverando los rebeldes en su mal ánimo y propósito, llegaron hasta un cuarto de legua de los navíos, a un pueblo de indios llamado Maima, donde después edificaron los cristianos una cuidad llamada Sevilla").

It could not be established whether the illumination on the reverse belongs to the original composition or is a later addition in contemporary style. The image does not fit the text well: it depicts three legendary scenes of the conquest of Brittany by a commander of Charlemagne in 799 (Brittany, personified by a female allegory "Armorica", and Charlemagne ["Karolus Fran(corum) Rex"] as a young ruler in Roman dress).

Margins of text page browned; some rubbing (initial rather strongly rubbed); edges of illumination slightly browned; gilding and colours (especially green) chipped.

Stock Code: BN#18222 Tags: , ,