A bibliophile's concern for his extensive library: the Last Will of Christopher Columbus' son

Testament of Ferdinand Columbus

Spain — 1539

Testament of Ferdinand Columbus

Testament of Ferdinand Columbus

Spain — 1539

  1. Ferdinand Columbus (1488–1539), the son of the great explorer, enjoyed a humanist education at the Spanish royal court

  2. He was himself one of the greatest and most critical librarians and book collectors of the 16th century

  3. The last will and testament of a true bibliophile carefully regulates the future maintenance of his library

Testament of Ferdinand Columbus

Legajo 4o de 1539 Archivo Histórico Provincial de Sevilla (Seville, Spain)
Alternative Titles:
  • Ferdinand Columbus Last Will
  • Testament des Ferdinand Columbus
  • Testamento de Hernando Colón
Testament of Ferdinand Columbus – Espagne Archivo de protocolos (Seville, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Ferdinand Columbus, the second, illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus, is not only known because of his famous and historically significant father. He was himself one of the greatest and most critical librarians and book collectors of the 16th century. As the son of the great discoverer of the New World, Ferdinand Columbus enjoyed a comprehensive education at the royal Spanish court and as such was a true humanist. This enthusiasm for education and knowledge expressed itself particularly well in his famous library. As a result, he left the majority of his collection to the library in his last will and testament, which carefully regulates the whereabouts and maintenance of the library as a future precaution. The library of Ferdinand Columbus is managed today as the so-called Biblioteca Colombina of the Seville Cathedral. The last will and testament of a true bibliophile!

Testament of Ferdinand Columbus

Ferdinand Columbus, the second, illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus, is not only known because of his famous and historically significant father. He was himself one of the greatest and most critical librarians and book collectors of the 16th century. As the son of the great discoverer of the New World, Ferdinand Columbus enjoyed a comprehensive education at the royal Spanish court and as such was a true humanist. This enthusiasm for education and knowledge expressed itself particularly well in his famous library. As a result, he left the majority of his collection to the library in his last will and testament, which carefully regulates the whereabouts and maintenance of the library as a future precaution. The library of Ferdinand Columbus is managed today as the so-called Biblioteca Colombina of the Seville Cathedral. The last will and testament of a true bibliophile!

A Historical Personality

Ferdinand Columbus (1488 to 1539) was the second son of Christopher Columbus. He was the result of an illegitimate coupling between Christopher Columbus and Beatriz Enríquez de Arana, his lover and companion in Córdoba. The important explorer was in a very close relationship with Beatriz, which nevertheless manifested itself in a marriage. Ferdinand, called Hernán Colón in Spanish, was a page as a child at the court of the Catholic Monarchs. Together with his half-brother Diego, Columbus’ first born son, he benefitted from a comprehensive education. Thus he enjoyed public legitimation in spite of the stigma of his illegitimate birth. He accompanied his father on his fourth expedition and also undertook many voyages to the New World and throughout Europe later on. Under Charles I, he was active as a cosmographer, and completed, among other royal commissions, the creation of a world map. Furthermore, he was measurably involved in the negotiations over the Treaty of Tordesillas, which sought to resolve territorial disputes in the New World between Portugal and Spain.

The Famous Biblioteca Columbina

His chief occupation and his greatest love was nevertheless his collection of books. Ferdinand founded one of the most important libraries of his time: his collection was comprised of 15,000 books. This comprehensive collection was assembled by the humanist-trained collector from many sources. At times dealing with gifts from important contemporary intellectual giants. As one of the first collectors, Ferdinand Columbus recognized the future importance of incunabula. The collection was managed by Ferdinand Columbus in a very scientific and professional manner. He hired several librarians inter alia, who took care of the collection.

The Last Will and Testament of a Book Lover

Ferdinand Columbus already made arrangements for his beloved and famous library before his death on July 12, 1539. In his will, he decreed that his library should continue and be expanded. The will can be seen in two pieces: the first is a classic will and testament, with notes concerning the desired grave and the conduct of the funeral, directed at his family and servants. The second part on the other hand concerns itself solely and exclusively with the future retention and continuation of the grandiose and famous library of Ferdinand Columbus.

A Significant Gem: Testament and Collection

The books were Ferdinand’s sole and greatest concern as well as his greatest treasures and most important property. In his last will and testament, he specifies that the inheritance of the books is only for the sake of safekeeping. The financial inheritance should solely and exclusively be used for the acquisition of new books and for the expansion of the library, its administration and safe-keeping. This condition was to be reviewed by an inspector appointed by one of the custodians of the collection. Furthermore, Ferdinand gives exact stipulations for the ordering and storage of the books and gives detailed provisions for the future acquisition of new books. Finally, a certain Juan Pérez was named librarian, who was to work in the collection every day for 5 hours for a salary of 60 Ducats. These exact and comprehensive instructions allow the great love of Ferdinand Columbus for his books to be vividly comprehended and are still an impressive testimony of the 16th century.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Ferdinand Columbus Last Will
Testament des Ferdinand Columbus
Testamento de Hernando Colón
Size / Format
50 pages / 32.8 × 23.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
1539
Artist / School

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Testament of Ferdinand Columbus“

Testamento de Hernando Colón
Testament of Ferdinand Columbus – Espagne Archivo de protocolos (Seville, Spain)
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Testamento de Hernando Colón

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1993
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
Leather. All folios are cut according to the original. Presented in a grey velvet case with the commentary volume.
Commentary
1 volume by José Manuel Ruiz Asencio
Language: Spanish
More Information
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
Price: Login here!
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