Santa Fe Capitulations

Santa Fe Capitulations

15th century

An insight into the politics behind his expeditions: the privileges of Christopher Columbus granted by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand

  1. Thanks to his fateful voyages, Columbus gained numerous and extensive privileges

  2. These so-called "Capitulations" were made by King Ferdinand II (1452–1516) and Queen Isabella I (1451–1541)

  3. An unmediated glimpse into the political preconditions of the discovery of the New World

Santa Fe Capitulations

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Santa Fe Capitulations

In the spring of 1492, a decision was made that would change the course of world history. The Catholic Monarchs King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, agreed with the seafarer Christopher Columbus to support his planned expedition to India. Columbus wanted to find a sea route to India over the Atlantic, but in doing so discovered a completely unknown, new continent: America. Christopher Columbus strove and begged for support for years. After the end of the Reconquista he was finally able to convince the Spanish monarchs. He had himself endowed with numerous and extensive privileges in the famous Capitulations of Santa Fe, shortly before he set out west in the name of the Spanish crown.

Capitulations of Santa Fe

In the spring of 1492, a decision was made that would change the course of world history. The Catholic Monarchs King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, agreed with the seafarer Christopher Columbus to support his planned expedition to India. Columbus wanted to find a sea route to India over the Atlantic, but in doing so discovered a completely unknown, new continent: America. Christopher Columbus strove and begged for support for years. After the end of the Reconquista he was finally able to convince the Spanish monarchs. He had himself endowed with numerous and extensive privileges in the famous Capitulations of Santa Fe, shortly before he set out west in the name of the Spanish crown.

A Seafarer in the Service of the Spanish Crown

Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand not only signed a simple contract on April 17th, 1492, but also a capitulation in the truest sense of the word. Christopher Columbus, a Genoese seafarer, had already strove for the favor of the so-called Catholic monarchs of Isabella and Ferdinand for some time. He had also called upon other rulers with his plans. After the recapture of Grenada, the Reconquista against the Moors was ended, and now the kingdom could concentrate on other interests. The planned expedition by Columbus promised seminal discoveries and lucrative profits.

Unbelievable Concessions

The contract was finally signed in the Spanish army camp of Santa Fe and Columbus was therewith taken into Spanish service. He was to be richly paid for this service. Thus he negotiated, inter alia, that he was to be named Admiral of the Ocean Sea. Additionally, Columbus was to be made Viceroy and Governor General over all of the regions he discovered. Last but not least, the seafarer was to be immediately adorned with the title of Don, and was promised a 10 % share of the expedition’s revenues and profits. Such concessions, completely surprising at times, were previously inconceivable and are one reason why a true capitulation of the Spanish monarchs can be spoken of. The Capitulations of Santa Fe are considered today to be “one of the most politically significant contracts to be concluded between a sovereign and a private person”!

Politically and Historically Unique

For these reasons, the Capitulations of Santa Fe were elevated to UNESCO World Heritage status. The original form of contract, which Columbus obtained after a years-long struggle for support for his plan of an expedition of exploration, is unfortunately lost today. However, certified copies do exist. The present document collects the capitulations, contracts, certificates, petitions, and certificates of appointment of the Capitulations of Santa Fe on 72 pages. The documents from the end of the 15th century are of inestimable value, and still offer an unmediated glimpse into the political preconditions of the discovery of the New World!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
La realidad de las Capitulaciones de Santa Fé y el carácter que tuvo la expedición colombina
Capitulaciones de Santa Fé
Kapitulation von Santa Fe
Size / Format
72 pages / 31.0 × 22.0 cm
Date
15th century
Content
Capitulations, deeds, letters of accreditation and appointment, memoranda and other documents

Available facsimile editions:
Santa Fe Capitulations – Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain) / Archivo General de Simancas (Simancas, Spain) / Archivo de la Corona de Aragón (Barcelona, Spain)
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1992
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Capitulaciones de Santa Fé

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1992
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: The facsimiles are presented in a special file in a presentation case.
Commentary: 1 volume (288 pages) by Professor Demetrio Ramos
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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