From the mood on board to the description of the discovered islands: a detailed eyewitness account of Christopher Columbus' first sea voyage

Book of the first voyage of discovery

Spain — 1492-1493

Book of the first voyage of discovery

Book of the first voyage of discovery

Spain — 1492-1493

  1. A unique document of world history and a witness to the first voyage of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

  2. It contains descriptions of the discovered islands and sea routes, but also the mood onboard

  3. Although the original is lost, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (ca. 1484-1566) copied the text word for word in 1552

Book of the first voyage of discovery

Alternative Titles:
  • Log of the first voyage
  • Diario de la Primera navegación
  • Libro de la primera navegación
  • Logbuch der ersten Entdeckungsreise
Book of the first voyage of discovery – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The account by Christopher Columbus composed during his first voyage of discovery to “India”, the so-called Book of the First Voyage of Discovery, is a unique document of world history. The original of this official logbook, intended for the Spanish monarchs as the commissioners of the expedition, is lost today. Nevertheless, Bartolomé de las Casas, an important Dominican monk and bishop in the Spanish colonies of South America, made a transcript of this work by the hand of the great explorer in 1552. This offered a glimpse into both the everyday occurrences on the ship as well as the exciting discoveries of Christopher Columbus. A true adventure novel from the 15th century – and an outstanding document of world history!

Book of the First Voyage of Discovery

The account by Christopher Columbus composed during his first voyage of discovery to “India”, the so-called Book of the First Voyage of Discovery, is a unique document of world history. The original of this official logbook, intended for the Spanish monarchs as the commissioners of the expedition, is lost today. Nevertheless, Bartolomé de las Casas, an important Dominican monk and bishop in the Spanish colonies of South America, made a transcript of this work by the hand of the great explorer in 1552. This offered a glimpse into both the everyday occurrences on the ship as well as the exciting discoveries of Christopher Columbus. A true adventure novel from the 15th century – and an outstanding document of world history!”

The Discovery of America

Christopher Columbus (ca. 1451-1506) was finally able to realize his dream in 1492 after years of planning and pleading for support. Under the flag of the Spanish monarchy, he sailed west with three ships in order to find a sea route to India. The first land came in sight on the 12th of October – as we know today, this was not India, but rather a region of the modern Bahamas. For Christopher Columbus and his crew, is was a relief after a difficult crossing and the happy aim of their first expedition. This was followed by exciting discoveries, surprising encounters with the indigenous peoples and finally the famous return trip to Portugal and Spain in the year 1493 via the Azores.

A Detailed Travel Log for the King and Queen

In the Book of the First Voyage of Discovery, Christopher Columbus recorded the events during the first voyage. The account of the events during the crossing – often trivial and mundane, but very exciting and interesting almost throughout – contains both descriptions of the discovered islands, but also the mood onboard and records of the sea routs traversed. The descriptions not only served as the private journal of the writer, but was also intended as an official account for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. After his return trip to the Royal Spanish Court, Columbus presented his logbook to his clients.

The Transcript of the “Apostles of the Indians”

In the year 1552, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas had the opportunity to copy the logbook of Columbus word for word from the original. This proved to be a lucky act of providence, the original is missing after all and this transcript is the only testimony to this important travelogue. Bartolomé de las Casas (1474-1566) was a Dominican monk, who was active as a bishop in the Spanish colonies in South America. As a result of his tireless commitment to the rights of the Indians, he is still famous today as the Apostle of the Indians. De la Casas was an eyewitness to the Conquista, e.g. the conquest of Cuba and Central America, and recorded his experiences in numerous texts. His works included inter alia a “History of the West Indian Lands” and the “Concise Account of the Desolation of the West Indian Lands” from 1552. Thus he became one of the most important Chroniclers of this significant epoch.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Log of the first voyage
Diario de la Primera navegación
Libro de la primera navegación
Logbuch der ersten Entdeckungsreise
Size / Format
133 pages / 32.0 x 20.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
1492-1493
Language
Artist / School

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Book of the first voyage of discovery“

Diario de la Primera navegación
Book of the first voyage of discovery – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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Diario de la Primera navegación

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1984
Limited Edition
980
Binding
Brown leather
Commentary
1 volume (282 pages) by Manuel Alvar and Francisco Morales Padrón
Language: Spanish
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