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   Christophorus Columbus. Paraisos Perdidos



Год издания : 2006

Компания звукозаписи : AliaVox

Время звучания : 2:28:50

К-во CD : 2

Код CD : (7 619986 398501)

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CD, стоящие на полке рядом : Classics (Reconstruction)      

Hesperion XXI, Capella Reial Catalunya

Historical readings and music

Jordi Savall - Conductor, Rebab, Viola, Vielle, Rebec, Program Design, Text Selection, Music Selection, Musical Adaptation, Liner Notes

Recitantes: Nuria Espert, Francisco Rojas y Manuel Forcano

Recording Date and Place : June, July and August 2006, in Sant Pere de Rodes (El Port de la Selva, Girona), Colegiata de Cardona (1998-2005)

=====

"This world would be good if we made good use of it as we should."

-Jorge Manrique (1440-1479)

We are not the sole owners of our past. The geographic space that our culture has occupied over the centuries has contained within it diverse peoples of different cultures and religions, such as the Muslim and Jewish communities in ancient Hesperia. But the Middle Ages, which, like the present day, was an age scarred by religious hatred and incomprehension, saw the decline of the former paradise of Hesperia and its "Three Cultures" where, despite all the intolerance and cruelty, Arabs and Jews lived among us, lived like us, were us. At the close of the 15th century, after the Christian conquest of Granada, they were expelled or forcibly converted to Christianity in compliance with royal decrees. Their departure marked the end of an era, the loss of a possible paradise: events which are decried in the written word, lamented in music, illuminated by memory and dignified by our conscience.

At the same time as Hesperia was being convulsed by these upheavals, an extraordinary figure emerged on the scene: Christopher Columbus, the admiral who in 1492 discovered the New World. Another paradise was about to be transformed: the arrival of the colonists would bring, on the one hand, the destruction and loss of many indigenous American cultures, and on the other, the crystalisation of a social and cultural mestissage that was to bear rich fruits both in the Old and the New World.

The music of the period, as well as the various texts which intersperse the biography of Christopher Columbus, particularly those that Columbus copied in his notebooks, such as the premonition expressed in a quote from the Chorus in Seneca's tragedy Medea (announcing the existence of an unknown world beyond the island of Thule which would be discovered by a daring sailor), provide revealing, first-hand accounts of those profound transformations. The combination of historical and musical sources gives rise to a refreshing new vision in which the beauty and emotion of the music enters into an eloquent dialogue with the recited texts. Some of the texts are descriptive, while others are poetic. Some are starkly cruel, and others more dramatic. But they are all profoundly representative of a period of change, of a past which, although distant, we should not forget. Through the music, we gain an intensely moving insight into the chronicles of that extraordinary century, which reveal the extreme ambivalence of an age both convulsed and highly creative, and which, in spite of its many dark shadows, was remarkable for the dazzling flowering of all the arts. Let us listen to the wonderful music of the carols and ballads of the period, alternating with the heartfelt sorrow of the contemporaneous accounts of Andres Bernaldez, the Sephardic laments, the descriptive prose of Ibn Battuta, the admiral's logbook, the uncompromising royal edicts and the superb poetry of Juan del Enzina and Ibn Zamrak of Granada, not forgetting the marvellous poem in the Nahuatl language on the fleeting nature of the world.

In this project, our aim has been not only to rediscover a major musical legacy, performed according to historical criteria on period instruments, but also to pay tribute to the other principal cultures of the age. Our courtly music, preserved in precious manuscripts, is therefore complemented by music from the Arab and Jewish oral traditions, as well as music from a New World unknown to us today, symbolically evoked by the suggestive sound of various types of flute originating in ancient Amerindian cultures. In recalling the most significant moments of that century, we are not only joining in the fifth Centenary celebrations (1506-2006) to commemorate the death of Columbus. In a symbolic, but deeply sincere gesture, we wish to make amends to the countless men and women to whom we failed to show understanding and respect, simply because their culture and beliefs were different from our own. In Paraisos Perdidos, the music and literature of the period are interwoven, offering a brief but intense picture of those crucial times of religious and cultural metamorphosis in which an Old World disappeared and a New World came into being. The testimony we find in the texts, selected and recited by Manuel Forcano in Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin and Nahuatl, together with those recited in Spanish by Francisco Rojas and Nuria Espert, and the songs sung in Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Quechua, Ladino, Spanish, Catalan and Italian by Montserrat Figueras, Begona Olavide, Lluis Vilamajo and the soloists of La Capella Reial de Catalunya, are the best proof of the cultural richness of an age that was soon to disappear over our horizon. Texts and songs which remind us how important and necessary it is to achieve dialogue and understanding between different religions and cultures if, in this conflict-ridden 21st century, we are to have any hope of preserving and restoring such a vast and meaningful cultural heritage.

The aim of Paraisos Perdidos is to give the literature, history and music of ancient Hesperia and the New World the recognition that they deserve. Keenly aware of the gulf of more than five hundred years which separates us from those remote times, we believe that the beauty and vitality of the music they have bequeathed to us have the power to move today's audiences, in the same way that the poetic quality and expressive power of the texts recited in the programme movingly bring the dramatic events they evoke back into focus. We are also mindful of the fact that, despite the timeless artistic dimension of these various musical traditions, the instruments, individual forms and sounds associated with them - indeed, everything that goes to make up their characteristic styles, inevitably bears the imprint of the age in which they were created. We have therefore opted for appropriate historical accuracy in vocal and instrumental performance, enhanced by the corresponding creative imagination for which the vocalists and instrumentalists of the ensembles Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, as well as the soloists specialising in Oriental musical traditions and in the ancient instruments (Amerindian flutes) of the New World, are justly famous.

The poet Jorge Manrique once wrote, "What became of those minstrels, of the harmonious music that they played?" In the present CD/Book, the writers, musicologists, actors, singers and instrumentalists taking part in the project aim not just to answer the poet's question, but to propose a hypothesis for further reflection: the living music of remote ages, when tuned to the memory of our history, can be kindled into the spirit of a renewed critical and humanistic vision of our own origins, and perhaps also help us to emerge from what might be described as our cultural amnesia, a particularly serious problem in the context of our musical heritage. For it is only by rediscovering and revitalising the musical legacy of the past, at the same time as we approach history and the past from a different perspective, that we shall be better able to imagine and build the memory of the future.

-Jordi Savall

Bellaterra, summer 2006

www.alia-vox.com

========= from the cover ==========

Lost Paradises

1400 -1506

"This world would be good if we made good use of it as we should."

- Jorge Manrique (1440-1479)

We are not the sole owners of our past. The geographic space that our culture has occupied over the centuries has contained within it diverse peoples of different cultures and religions, such as the Muslim and Jewish communities in ancient Hesperia. But the Middle Ages, which, like the present day, was an age scarred by religious hatred and incomprehension, saw the decline of the former paradise of Hesperia and its "Three Cultures" where, despite all the intolerance and cruelty, Arabs and Jews lived among us, lived like us, were us. At the close of the 15th century, after the Christian conquest of Granada, they were expelled or forcibly converted to Christianity in compliance with royal decrees. Their departure marked the end of an era, the loss of a possible paradise: events which are decried in the written word, lamented in music, illuminated by memory and dignified by our conscience.

At the same time as Hesperia was being convulsed by these upheavals, an extraordinary figure emerged on the scene: Christopher Columbus, the admiral who in 1492 discovered the New World. Another paradise was about to be transformed: the arrival of the colonists would bring, on the one hand, the destruction and loss of many indigenous American cultures, and on the other, the crystalisation of a social and cultural mestissage that was to bear rich fruits both in the Old and the New World.

The music of the period, as well as the various texts which intersperse the biography of Christopher Columbus, particularly those that Columbus copied in his notebooks, such as the premonition expressed in a quote from the Chorus in Seneca's tragedy Medea (announcing the existence of an unknown world beyond the island of Thule which would be discovered by a daring sailor), provide revealing, first-hand accounts of those profound transformations. The combination of historical and musical sources gives rise to a refreshing new vision in which the beauty and emotion of the music enters into an eloquent dialogue with the recited texts. Some of the texts are descriptive, while others are poetic. Some are starkly cruel, and others more dramatic. But they are all profoundly representative of a period of change, of a past which, although distant, we should not forget. Through the music, we gain an intensely moving insight into the chronicles of that extraordinary century, which reveal the extreme ambivalence of an age both convulsed and highly creative, and which, in spite of its many dark shadows, was remarkable for the dazzling flowering of all the arts. Let us listen to the wonderful music of the carols and ballads of the period, alternating with the heartfelt sorrow of the contemporaneous accounts of Andres Bernaldez, the Sephardic laments, the descriptive prose of Ibn Battuta, the admiral's logbook, the uncompromising royal edicts and the superb poetry of Juan del Enzina and Ibn Zamrak of Granada, not forgetting the marvellous poem in the Nahuatl language on the fleeting nature of the world.

In this project, our aim has been not only to rediscover a major musical legacy, performed according to historical criteria on period instruments, but also to pay tribute to the other principal cultures of the age. Our courtly music, preserved in precious manuscripts, is therefore complemented by music from the Arab and Jewish oral traditions, as well as music from a New World unknown to us today, symbolically evoked by the suggestive sound of various types of flute originating in ancient Amerindian cultures. In recalling the most significant moments of that century, we are not only joining in the fifth Centenary celebrations (1506-2006) to commemorate the death of Columbus. In a symbolic, but deeply sincere gesture, we wish to make amends to the countless men and women to whom we failed to show understanding and respect, simply because their culture and beliefs were different from our own. In Paraisos Perdidos, the music and literature of the period are interwoven, offering a brief but intense picture of those crucial times of religious and cultural metamorphosis in which an Old World disappeared and a New World came into being. The testimony we find in the texts, selected and recited by Manuel Forcano in Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin and Nahuatl, together with those recited in Spanish by Francisco Rojas and Nuria Espert, and the songs sung in Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Quechua, Ladino, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Italian by Montserrat Figueras, Begofia Olavide, Lluis Vilamajo and the soloists of La Capella Reial de Catalunya, are the best proof of the cultural richness of an age that was soon to disappear over our horizon. Texts and songs which remind us how important and necessary it is to achieve dialogue and understanding between different religions and cultures if, in this conflict-ridden 21st century, we are to have any hope of preserving and restoring such a vast and meaningful cultural heritage.

The aim of Paraisos Perdidos is to give the literature, history and music of ancient Hesperia and the New World the recognition that they deserve. Keenly aware of the gulf of more than five hundred years which separates us from those remote times, we believe that the beauty and vitality of the music they have bequeathed to us have the power to move today's audiences, in the same way that the poetic quality and expressive power of the texts recited in the programme movingly bring the dramatic events they evoke back into focus. We are also mindful of the fact that, despite the timeless artistic dimension of these various musical traditions, the instruments, individual forms and sounds associated with them - indeed, everything that goes to make up their characteristic styles, inevitably bears the imprint of the age in which they were created. We have therefore opted for appropriate historical accuracy in vocal and instrumental performance, enhanced by the corresponding creative imagination for which the vocalists and instrumentalists of the ensembles Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, as well as the soloists specialising in Oriental musical traditions and in the ancient instruments (Amerindian flutes) of the New World, are justly famous.

The poet Jorge Manrique once wrote, "What became of those minstrels, of the harmonious music that they played?" In the present CD/Book, the writers, musicologists, actors, singers and instrumentalists taking part in the project aim not just to answer the poet's question, but to propose a hypothesis for further reflection: the living music of remote ages, when tuned to the memory of our history, can be kindled into the spirit of a renewed critical and humanistic vision of our own origins, and perhaps also help us to emerge from what might be described as our cultural amnesia, a particularly serious problem in the context of our musical heritage. For it is only by rediscovering and revitalising the musical legacy of the past, at the same time as we approach history and the past from a different perspective, that we shall be better able to imagine and build the memory of the future.

- Jordi Savall (Bellaterra, summer 2006)

====

From Prophecy To Tragedy

1. - "The years shall come in which the ocean shall loosen up the knots of things and a great land shall be open, and a great mariner, like the one who was Jason's guide, whose name was Thyphis, shall discover a new world, and then the island of Thule shall no longer remain the remotest land of them all". The haunting voice of Montserrat Figueras is once again that of a Sybil, framed by a whispering chorus of male priests and uttering the prophetic words of Medea, as written by the Roman philosopher and playwright Seneca, in the early first century of the Christian Era.

Medea's prophecy is almost frightening in its crystal-clear description of an event that will not take place until almost fifteen centuries later. But this belief in a new world yet to be reached was already deeply rooted in the cultural tradition of Ancient Greece, as much as in the legacy of the great Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament, and remained permanently at the very heart of the mediaeval and early-Renaissance worldview.

Christopher Columbus was keenly aware of this time-honoured line of thought. Amongst other sources, he had read Pope Pius II's Historia rerum ubique gestarum and Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly's Imago mundi, and he was familiar with the travel accounts of Marco Polo in the Far East. Later on, in the final years of his life, he would in fact convince himself that the success of his voyage of discovery was the actual fulfilment of all these prophecies. With the help of a dear friend, the Carthusian friar Gaspar Corricios, he would begin in 1501 to write down an extensive anthology of all the excerpts from classical, biblical and ecclesiastic authors in which he found any hint of such a view - the Libro de profecias, which miraculously escaped the mysterious fate of so many other original sources associated with the Admiral, plunging Columbus' biography into a mist of uncertainty and feeding a never-ending chain of hypothesis in regard to his family origins and the early stages of his life.

Was Columbus really an Italian from Genoa, as his standard biography has always maintained? Or was he a converted Catalan Jew trying to escape religious persecution? Or perhaps a member of the highest Portuguese nobility, on a mission from the King of Portugal? Or even a Galician? None of these alternative interpretations, often densely interwoven with the wildest theories of historical conspiracy, has yet survived the criticism of mainstream scholars, but they all derive, after all, from the enigmatic lack of so many relevant original sources, starting with his authentic travel diaries. Myth always feeds on the information gaps that scholarly research has not been able to fill in. But on the other hand it is certainly curious to realize that one of the most puzzling extant autographs by Columbus is precisely a text deeply immersed into a mythical tradition: the already-mentioned Libro de profecias., preserved at the Seville Biblioteca Colombina y Capitular (z. 138-25).

This seemingly chaotic assembling of Psalms, biblical prophecies, classical quotations and passages from the writings of Church Fathers has often been dismissed as a mere devotional text, if not as a downright testimony to the Admiral's alleged mental instability at the end of his life. But as a matter of fact it is a highly revealing document which shows the way Columbus' view of the ultimate meaning of his voyage of discovery was in itself grounded on myth: a "great narrative" of Christianity finally encompassing mankind as a whole, due to the conversion of all nations, with the income to be drawn from the newly found lands generating the wealth needed to pay for the reconquest of Jerusalem and the duly fulfilment of God's purpose on Earth as announced in the Scriptures. He strongly believed to be the Lord's chosen instrument to pursue such a purpose of world unification and salvation.

2. - Wherever he may have been born, specifically, Columbus is a product of Southern Europe, of that Western Mediterranean Northern coast which starts in the Italian Peninsula and Sicily, continues through the French Midi and into Spain, goes beyond the strait of Gibraltar and opens into the Atlantic all along the coast of Portugal. From times immemorial, this region had always been the scenery of countless encounters of different cultures: the Roman Empire - in itself a complex inter-cultural mosaic - had yielded to the progression of the various Germanic migratory tribes in the 4th and 5th centuries, and both sides had ultimately merged into the various early Christian kingdoms of the High Middle Ages. Latin and German heritages had combined to establish new, mixed cultural identities drawing on both traditions, and as the Church gradually managed to rebuild its transnational hierarchy, this drive towards cultural integration also became stronger.

But this process, almost from its earliest stage, had to face a serious challenge with the arrival in the Western Mediterranean region of another monotheistic religion with an equally strong strategy of expansion - Islam. The Arabs quickly conquered the whole Mahgreb, crossed into the Iberian Peninsula and occupied it almost entirely, with the exception of a small Christian enclave on the Northern mountains of the Asturias. When Charles Martel, Mayor of the Palace of the Frankish kingdom of Austrasia, defeated the Arab army of Abd-al-Rahman at Poitiers, in 732, his victory had the immediate effect of preventing the further advance of the Muslim military offensive into Western Europe. It also had, however, two further major consequences for the history of the continent, as a whole: on the one hand it was the basis for the political prestige of Charles' family, which later allowed his son, Pippin "the Short", to become in 750 King of all Franks, and in the year of 800 converted Pippin's own son, Charlemagne, into the first Emperor of the West since the fall of Rome; on the other hand, it made the Pyrenees into a cultural frontier as much as a military border, westwards of which things were necessarily much different from what happened in the rest of Europe.

Throughout the Middle Ages the old Hispania was in constant political turmoil, as an ever-changing mosaic of separate entities, both on the Christian and on the Muslim side. The unified Islamic Al-Andalus reached its peak of power, wealth and civilizational brilliancy with establishment the Umayyad Emirate (later Caliphate) of Cordoba, in 755, but in 1031 the fall of the last Caliph led to the subdivision of his territory in various independent states, the so-called taifa kingdoms, which soon engaged in permanent infighting amongst themselves, as well as against the new Muslim armies from Northern Africa that one or another of these sovereigns would call to his help in a moment of distress (the Almoravids after of Toledo, in 1085, the Almohads after the fall of Lisboan, in 1147), only to be soon thus faced with yet another contender for his land. As to the Christians, the early kingdom of the Asturias which had survived the Arab invasion soon gave way to new political entities-the kingdoms of Leon and Castile (later to merge into a single crown), as well as those of Aragon, Navarre and Portugal.

This geopolitical subdivision of the Peninsula was in constant change, due to all kinds of factors: sheer military strength as well as diplomatic cunning, matrimonial alliances as well as trade partnerships. Often, the military conflicts did not necessarily occur along strict religious border lines: a Christian monarch and a Muslim king could find themselves allied against a common enemy, and in periods of weakness a territory ruled by either religion could be forced to pay a heavy tribute to the stronger military power of a neighbouring kingdom of the opposite creed. Furthermore, a wide circulation of commercial products of various kinds took place at the Peninsular scale, also covering Muslim and Christian states.

Internally, despite of occasional migrations or "ethnic cleansings" following a military operation, all of these kingdoms had a steady, mixed population of both Arabs and Christians, to which should be added the wealthy and highly educated Jewish communities located in most important cities. Although it must be said that the Islamic rulers were considerably more tolerant of other religious observations than their Christian counterparts, a certain natural balance had to be kept in this respect if the economy was to function and survival of all was to be achieved. The two main religious communities in a way needed each other, just as they both needed the Jews, who, in turn, could not survive by themselves within this system.

Daily coexistence necessarily meant also cultural exchange. At all levels of society people of different ethnic and religious background listened, for instance, to each other's songs and dances, and instruments such as die 'ud or the rabab circulated from one culture to another. The early Christian universities, such as Salamanca or Coimbra, could not avoid the study of the works of Arab and Jewish mathematicians, astronomers and cartographers, who were often hired by the Christian kings themselves to serve as advisors and administrators, and particularly in the field of Music Theory the treatises of Al-Farabi where considered a basic reference. When the Galician-Portuguese aristocratic troubadours began to develop their own brand of courtly song, under the influence of their counterparts from the South of France, they found a much closer model in the highly refined patterns of Arab poetry and music, and it was amongst the Arab elites that all kinds of now highly desirable luxury items foreign to the austere Visigothic tradition and forgotten since the high times of the Roman Empire could be found. The illuminations of the Cantigas de Santa Maria., assembled under the patronage of King Alfonso X of Leon and Castile, as well as those of the Ajuda Songbook, in Lisbon, depict numerous Arab musicians admittedly involved in the performance of this repertoire. Many of the Muslim kings were themselves poets and/or musicians: the King of Granada, Yusuf III, who reigned between 1408 and 1417, left us, for instance, some marvellous passages of naturalistic-and in some cases blatantly homoerotic-poetry, echoes of which can be found, in many aspects, in the works of late-mediaeval and early-Renaissance Christian poets of his time.

Columbus, wherever his origins may lie, lived undoubtedly through this multi-ethnic reality of constant cultural, intellectual and artistic exchange, in which music, by the very nonverbal nature of its discourse, was certainly fundamental. Unfortunately, Arab-Andalusian music of this time was not notated, and any attempts to reconstruct the musical practice of the time must rely on the orally transmitted repertoire which has been preserved in the strict tradition taught in Moroccan music schools, which claims to have preserved much of its repertoire and performance practice as these were brought back from the Peninsula in the 15th and 16th centuries. Much of this music implies a substantial degree of improvisation according to codified rules.

3. - By the early 15th century the balance of power had evolved significantly in the Peninsula, and there was no doubt any longer as to the military outcome of the confrontation between the local Christian and Islamic kingdoms. In Portugal, Castile and Aragon the centralization of power in the hands of the sovereigns was gradually building the basic pattern of the modem Absolutist State, in which Church and Civil Administration were seen as two pillars of the authority of the monarch. Rather than a mere military commander and primus inter pares within the upper nobility, the King sought to affirm himself as an entity above all classes, anointed and directly legitimized by the will and grace of God. He was to build a court along the lines of the model promoted by the Dukes of Burgundy at their wealthy court of Dijon, assembling around himself the upper echelons of the aristocracy, as well as learned civil servants of the highest rank, and he had no qualm with breaking the traditional privileges of the church hierarchy or of the traditional urban communities established in the Middle Ages.

This was not a purely political construct. The growth of international commerce and the gradual transition towards a monetary economy attributed to the State a new regulatory role, which included a much more significant and widespread collection of taxes and their redistribution in the form of an organized and centralized Administration. Perhaps even more than any other Absolutist sovereigns of Europe at their time, the Iberian monarchs also believed in the need to surround their newly reinforced power with an added aura of majesty and a symbolic affirmation of royal privilege that touched every field of State-sponsored artistic production. The establishment of richly endowed musical chapels at the service of each Peninsular sovereign of the 15th century, staffed with the best musicians available, is an important part of this strategy. The Castilian, Aragonese and Portuguese courts quickly develop into sophisticated cultural centres, in which the development of secular song and dance according to the most cosmopolitan patterns of Europe accompanies the strengthening of the sacred polyphonic repertoire performed by the Royal Chapels.

This is an era of aggressive geopolitical and military affirmation for each of these states. Portugal, caught between Castile and the Atlantic and thus unable to expand territorially in the Peninsula, seeks its way overseas: in 1415 the Portuguese armies conquer the stronghold of Ceuta, in Morocco, in 1418 Portuguese ships arrive to the island of Madeira, and a few years later begin to explore the coast of Africa. Aragon invests strongly in the expansion of its Italian territories, and in 1443 Alfonso V, the Magnanimous, makes his triumphant entrance in Naples as King of Aragon, Mallorca, Naples and Sicily. Castile seeks, most of all, to achieve the final defeat of the Moorish kingdom of Granada, and in 1410 a massive military operation leads to the conquest of the city of Antequera.

The marriage of the heirs to the thrones of Aragon and Castile. Ferdinand and Isabella, respectively, which takes place in 1469, creates a new, powerful alliance between the two traditional adversaries. It would be unrealistic for them to try to annex Portugal, but it is important, nevertheless, to be able to compete with the Portuguese in the lucrative exploration of the Atlantic in which they are already well advanced, and in 1470 Isabella and Ferdinand order the occupation of the Canary Islands. In 1482 a strong joint offensive is launched against Granada: the city of Alhama falls on May 14, leaving the way to the Moorish capital unprotected, and from then on, for a whole decade, city after city fall into the hands of the Castilian-Aragonese armies, until the reigning couple finally enters Granada on January 2, 1492 and accepts the surrender of the last Muslim king of the Nasrid dinaty, Abu'abd Allah Muhammad XI, known to the Spaniards as Boabdil.

All these military victories as properly celebrated in song, and the polyphonic songbooks compiled in the Peninsula [Cancionero del Palacio) or in Naples [Cancionero de Montecassino) include, side by side with the refined love songs which have become a key symbol of musical distinction for the courtly nobility, multiple strophic romances which praise the triumphs of the conquering monarchs. Particularly important for Isabella and Ferdinand, who face the need to build a common cause able to mobilize two traditional rival nations, is the production of a unified "Catholic" discourse opposed to the "heretical" enemy. A vast poetic and musical repertory rekindles the spirit of an anti-Muslim crusade, seen as a basis for a shared national, "Spanish" identity between Aragonese and Castilians led by the "Catholic King and Queen" ("she with her prayers, he with many armed men", as the poem of a narrative romance of the period says).

4. - The victory of Granada marks the beginning of a new era in Iberian Culture in which the cultural and religious diversity which had managed to survive throughout the Middle Ages is simply abolished by the new triumphant Absolutist State. Soon, by the so-called "Decree of Alhambra", of March 31, 1492, symbolically signed at the newly conquered city of Granada, the two sovereigns expel from their kingdom all Jews who will not convert to Christianity, a measure which the King of Portugal, Manuel I, will also enact four years later, applying it both to the Hebrews and to the Moors. Those who leave take with them the sad, loving memory of the land they left behind, a memory they will codify in song, as a key to their own specific identity within the various communities that will accept them, al around the Mediterranean. "Sephardic" songs are kept by Iberian Jews in synagogues in Dubrovnik, Venice, Palestine or Yemen, just as "Andalousi" singing will remain, to this day, the emblematic practice of the Muslims who came from Spain and Portugal to the Maghreb.

Sadly it is this model of a State-controlled, religious fundamentalism and of a brutal cultural intolerance that will now be brought also to the New World. Columbus' dream of a Utopian Christian Epiphany addressed to mankind as a whole will give way to a large-scale operation of genocide and exploitation, driven by greed and ambition. History teaches us few examples of such brutality, such inability to understand and respect cultural differences, such contempt for human dignity.

And yet artists and musicians will here also be able to fight back against cruelty and stupidity with the powers of healing and communication of their craft. Both in the Peninsula itself and all over Latin America the various cultural traditions will somehow find ways of interacting, and a mosaic of cross-cultural processes quickly emerges with an energy and a creativity as stunning as those that characterized the mediaeval Iberian repertoire. A processional hymn in Quechua, Hanacpachap Cussicuinin., published in 1631 in Juan Perez Bocanegra's Ritual Formulario, manages to combine an Amerindian tune with a European polyphonic setting, in a Marian prayer which portrays the Virgin as "the hope of mankind and the protector of the week". Just as the musical dialogue between different cultures can take place even under the most oppressive conditions, religion and sacred singing can be turned from a weapon of domination into the discourse of the oppressed.

-Rui Vieira Nery (University of Evora)

====

1492: The Crucial Year

In the 15th century, a whole constellation of new ideas impacted on physical/material reality, just as material reality had an impact on the intellectual climate of the age. Irrespective of our ideological stance, the so-called "discovery of America" was a great triumph of scientific hypothesis over physical perception. Advances in navigation increased trade and communication between peoples, at the same time that the invention of the printing press aroused immense curiosity and a growing thirst for information and knowledge throughout the world. Men of science asked themselves whether this planet of ours could really be the centre of the universe. They also pondered the shape of the Earth, while artists reflected on the meaning of human life on Earth, exploring the forms of the male and female human body, celebrating the here and now rather than the eternal. The Italian Humanist Marsilio Ficino wrote "Everything is possible... Nothing should be ruled out. Nothing is incredible. Nothing is impossible. What we dismiss as impossibilities are merely the possibilities of which we are ignorant." The expansion of Europe, first towards the East and then towards the West, was, in a sense, a feat of the Renaissance imagination. It was also a triumph of hypothesis over perception and of the imagination over tradition.

From his castle in Sagres, on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, Prince Henry (1394-1460), the son of King John I, gathered together all the nautical knowledge of his day, perfected the science of cartography and the instruments of navigation, developed fast, manoeuvrable new ships such as the caravel, and trained the crews who would man them. Henry the Navigator, as he came to be known, had a grand purpose: to attack the Turks on their western flank by sailing south along the African coasts and then eastward. With the help of Flemish bankers, the Portuguese sailed from the island of Madeira to the Azores and then on to Senegal, finally reaching the Cape of Good Hope, at the southernmost tip of the African continent, in 1488. From there, the Portuguese were rapidly able to proceed to India. On the way, they planted sugar and took slaves.

Although Portugal had its sights set on the South and the East, it was less adventurous when it came to looking westward across the ocean of mystery, the Mare Ignotum, even when a stubborn mariner of supposedly Genoese origin who had been shipwrecked near Henry the Navigator's castle claimed that the best way of reaching the East was to sail West. In many ways, the man himself was less prepossessing than his ideas and his accomplishments: hot-headed and sometimes lacking in self-control, he was suspected of having a pathological tendency to exaggerate. There was, however, one thing that he had in abundance: courage and determination. His name was Christoforo Colombo - Christopher Columbus.

Portugal took no notice of Christopher Columbus, so he turned his attentions to Spain, that isolated, introspective nation which was single-mindedly waging its prolonged wars of Reconquest. He chose just the right time to present his project to the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. Flushed with their victory over the Moors of Granada, the Catholic Monarchs gave Columbus die means to bring about the third great event in that crucial year for the history of Spain: the discovery of America.

On 3rd August, 1492, a small fleet consisting of three caravels - the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria - set sail from the harbour of Palos in south-eastern Spain. Following a westward course, after 66 days of false hopes, misaligned stars, ghostly islands that turned out to be nothing but banks of cloud, disgruntled crews and open mutiny, Columbus reached land on 12th October, 1492, at the small island of Guanahani, in the Bahamas, which he renamed San Salvador. Columbus believed he had reached Asia. He had been driven in his quest by courage, the Renaissance thirst for fame, the pleasure of discovery, a desire for gold and a mission to spread Christianity. Thanks to him, Europe would be able to look at herself in the mirror of the Golden Age and of the "noble savage".

What are we to make of the expression "the discovery of America"? After all, don't all discoveries involve a two-way process? The Europeans discovered the continent of America, but the indigenous peoples of America also discovered Europeans, wondering whether those bearded, white-skinned men were gods or mortals, whether they were as god-fearing as their crosses proclaimed or as godless and cruel as their swords demonstrated them to be. Those men brought with them the boundless energy of the Spanish Reconquest, 700 years of struggle against the Moors and the Islamic faith. They brought a new, militant faith and a militant politics. After 1492, the Jews of Spain were dispersed throughout northern Europe and the Arabs returned to Africa, bewailing their exile from the gardens of the Alhambra. But, what outlet would there be for the impetuous energy of Christian Spain now?

In 1492, Isabella and Ferdinand were driven by their unitary vision of Christianity, Reconquest and expansion. The Spanish captains and soldiers who had crossed the Atlantic undoubtedly shared that vision. But we should not forget that they were also heirs to a multicultural experiment in finely tuned coexistence and mestissage with the Jews and Moors of Spain. Whatever exceptions one might cite to the virtue of tolerance, the fact remains that respectful coexistence with others effectively provided the framework for a tricultural Spain, one which was in stark contrast to the official policy of expulsion and rejection of the Jews and Moors that was pursued under Ferdinand and Isabella and which culminated in the uncompromising regime of censorship inspired by the Counter-Reformation and implemented by the Inquisition.

The conquerors of the New World were part of that reality, but they could not escape the Spanish dilemma. Friars, writers and chroniclers would force Spain to face up to its polycultural, Humanist alternative. The cultural uniqueness of Spain lay precisely in the recognition of "the other": fighting him, embracing him, mingling with him. Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that "hell was others". But, what Paradise is there if not the one we build with our brothers and sisters? History insistently poses the question, "How can we live without others?" When will we understand that "I" am what I am only because another human being looks at me and complements me?" This contemporary question, which is raised every time black and white, East and West, predecessor and immigrant come face to face in our own time, was a pivotal one in medieval Spain and rapidly became the crucial question at the heart of the conquest and colonization of the Americas. When Spain came into contact with the radically "other", with peoples of a different race, religion and culture, the question was: Who are these men? What is the nature of their souls? Do they even have souls?

These were the questions which were to divide Spain. One part of her heart shouted "Conquest!", while the other, recalling Seneca the Stoic, counselled "Do not allow yourself to be conquered by anything except your own soul".

The achievements of Christopher Columbus raised the curtain on a vast clash of civilisations; it was a great epic whose pages sometimes tell of compassion while others are stained with blood, but it was invariably a story of conflict: the simultaneous destruction and creation of culture in the New World.

- Carlos Fuentes (The Buried Mirror, Ch. IV.)

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The Mystery Of Christopher Columbus

History tells us what, happened.

Poetry tells us what should have happened.

- Aristotle

The official version of history does not always reflect the true nature of events. Information is often the helpless victim of manipulation and, whether for political or economic expediency, many of the facts are changed to present history in a guise that is sometimes very different from what actually took place. Nevertheless, as we draw back the veils of oblivion in an attempt to reconstruct the past, we are indebted to documents and other surviving records, not just because of what they say, but because of what they do not say.

The story of Christopher Columbus, or "the Admiral", as he signed himself in some documents, is clearly one of those historical figures whose official history is riddled with unanswered questions and inconsistencies that serve only to breed doubts and envelop him in an aura of mystery. It is therefore hardly surprising that there are numerous theories speculating on his origins, his lineage, his country and the circumstances surrounding the most momentous event of his life - his discovery of the continent of America in 1492.

According to the official version, Christopher Columbus was born into a modest family near Genoa, where his father made a living as a weaver and trader. The story goes that at an early age Columbus decided to become a sailor to escape from the poverty in which the family lived. However, little is known about the early life of Columbus, and his true story does not begin until 1476 when, shipwrecked following a sea battle between merchants and corsairs, he arrived and settled in Portugal. Surprisingly, in 1479 he married a noblewoman called Filipa Perestrello e Moniz, granddaughter of the Portuguese colonizer of the Madeiras, who bore him a son, Didac. Columbus was based in Portugal until 1485, during which time he sailed on many voyages around the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, travelling to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and the Azores. He also sailed the waters of the North Sea and, according to some commentators, reached Iceland, where he learned of the westerly routes leading to new lands.

It was in this maritime world, then, that Christopher Columbus first conceived his plan to travel to the Indies and the lands of the Great Kahn via the West. Encouraged by the geographic and mathematical knowledge of the Florentine physician Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, as well as Marco Polo's Description of the World, he finally submitted a firm proposal to King John II of Portugal, in 1484. Unsuccessful in his bid, in 1486 he offered his project to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Aragon and Castile, this time faring no better than the first. Embroiled as they were in the war against Granada, the Catholic Monarchs also turned him down and his plans came to nought. Nevertheless, Columbus did obtain an allowance from the Spanish Crown and took up residence in the city of Cordoba. There Columbus, whose wife died in 1485, met Beatriz Emiquez de Arana, who was to be the mother of his second son, variously known as Fernando or Hernand, who later became the explorer's earliest biographer with the work Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus, in which the figure of the Columbus is extolled - perhaps excessively so.

Undaunted, Columbus did not abandon his project. Thanks to the intercession of Hernando de Talavera, who at that time was confessor to both Queen Isabella and the powerful Duke of Medinaceli, the queen, who was now assured of the imminent surrender of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada, granted Columbus a new audience and listened to his plans. In December, 1491, Columbus arrived at the royal encampment in Santa Fe de Granada, where negotiations to approve the project finally began. The monarchs"' reservations were overcome, thanks to the conversos Luis de Santangel and Diego de Deza, who persuaded King Ferdinand of Aragon to accept Columbus's conditions. The negotiations resulted in the famous Capitulations of Santa Fe, dated 17th April, 1492. Broadly speaking, in exchange for conceding the discovery of new lands to the king and queen, Columbus was to receive in perpetuity the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Seas, Viceroy and Governor General of all the territories and islands that he discovered, 10% of all the revenues from goods purchased, obtained or found in the new territories (the Crown would receive 20%) and jurisdiction over trade disputes in the territories under his authority as admiral, as well as the option of buying a one-eighth stake in the expedition and receiving a proportional one-eighth share in the profits arising therefrom. Once these substantial rights had been secured by Columbus, the Catholic Monarchs signed the Capitulations in Granada on 30th April, 1492.

According to the official account, Columbus then organized his first expedition, sailing from the Andalusian port of Palos de la Frontera on 3rd August, 1492. After a long and anxious voyage across the deserted expanses of the Atlantic, he made landfall on 12th October of the same Year, disembarking on the island of Guanahani. renamed San Salvador, in the Bahamas. The expedition also disembarked on the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. On 25th December, 1492, Columbus's flagship the Santa Maria ran aground and sank. The timber salvaged from the wreck was used to build the first settlement in America, the fort of La Navidad. The two remaining caravels under Columbus's command returned to Spain on 15th March, 1493. The official announcement of the discovery was made on 3rd April, when King Ferdinand received Columbus in Barcelona.

On his second voyage (1493-1496), after disembarking in Puerto Rico, Columbus explored and colonized the discovered territories. On the third voyage (1498-1500), Columbus commanded a fleet of six ships; with him went his friend Bartolome de las Casas, who would later pen partial transcripts of Golumbus's logs. On this voyage he explored the islands of Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, the coast of Venezuela and the mouth of the Orinoco river. From his descriptions of these territories, it is clear that Columbus still believed himself to have reached the continent of Asia. On 19th August, when he returned to base on Hispaniola, he was met with a revolt: by both colonists and natives. After a number of Spaniards who had returned to the Spanish Court accused Columbus of mismanagement, in 1500 the Catholic Monarchs sent a new royal administrator, Francisco de Bobadilla, to Hispaniola. Columbus and his brothers were arrested, chained and shipped back to Spain. During the voyage, on which he refused to have his shackles removed., Columbus wrote a long, wounded letter to Ferdinand and Isabella. Once in Castile, he was set free, but he had suffered permanent damage to his reputation and lost many of his privileges.

On his fourth and final voyage (1502-1504), during which he was accompanied by his son Fernando, Columbus explored what is now Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Two years later, on 20th May, 1506, he died in Valladolid and was buried in the monastery of La Cartuja in Seville. In his last will and testament, drawn up by Pedro de Inoxedo, royal notary at the Court of the Catholic Monarchs, Columbus is styled as Admiral, Viceroy and Governor of all the islands and mainland territories - both those already discovered and those yet to be discovered - in the Indies. His eldest son Didac was named heir to his father's titles and ranks.

There are many points in this summary of Columbus's official biography that are difficult to accept and which, according to some historians, appear to indicate a willful adulteration of historical fact. Who was this foreigner of humble extraction who dared to exact such extraordinarily lucrative terms and disproportionate honors from the Catholic Monarchs? Who must he have been in order finally to obtain what he demanded from their Catholic majesties? Recent research carried out by eminent historians such as Jordi Bilbeny suggests that Christopher Columbus was in fact a Catalan prince with links to both the Catalan and Portuguese royal houses. Such noble origins would put the titles and privileges granted by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, as well as Columbus's marriage to the Portuguese princess Filipa Moniz, or Filipa de Coimbra, in an entirely more reasonable light. According to Bilbeny, there is overwhelming evidence to support the theory of Christopher Columbus's Catalan origins: the Catholic Monarchs, he argues, would never have conferred such high rank and substantial privileges on an obscure Genoese adventurer. If he had been foreign by birth, they would have obliged him to become a naturalised Spaniard, but such a step was unnecessary because he was already their subject and vassal. Moreover, the office and title of Viceroy was peculiar to the administration of the Grown of Aragon; the famous Capitulations are also 100% Catalan in terms of their legal formulation and content, the titles conferred on Columbus, the civil servants who drafted and put their signatures to the document, and the archive in which they were deposited, the Arxiu Reial or Royal Archive, now the Archive of the Crown of Aragon in Barcelona. There was no provision under the laws of Castile for the granting of hereditary posts, nor, until that time, did the title of Viceroy or any system of viceregencv exist in the kingdom of Castile. Similarly, the contractual form of the Capitulations, whereby the king entered into an agreement with a subject, did not exist in Castile. The period of time during which the Capitulations were drawn up, between 17th and 30th April, 1492, indicates that the conditions set out by Columbus were negotiated in Catalonia, where he was making preparations for his first voyage, and that they were agreed in Santa Fe (Granada), where the Catholic Monarchs were residing, only 13 days later - the time necessary for a dispatch to be sent from Catalonia to Granada.

For many historians, the fact that the Catalan form of Columbus's name, "Colom", is used in almost all the European editions of the Letter in which his discovery was announced, the numerous Catalan place-names that were given to the newly discovered lands in what he believed to be the Indies, the unmistakeable Catalan words and turns of phrase that appear in all his writings and the use of the Catalan term "Almirant" in his signature, all provide clear and unquestionable proof that the explorer was a Catalan. Although Columbus was always regarded as a foreigner in Castile, in his own writings he refers to the Catholic Monarchs as his ''natural lords", which, it is argued, suggests that he must have been a subject of the Crown of Aragon, thus quashing the theory that he was a humble Genoese weaver, wool-merchant or inn-keeper, a provenance which would have made his elevation to the rank of Admiral, Viceroy and Governor General of the new overseas territories quite unthinkable. Such titles, would, however, have been perfectly within his reach as a member of the powerful Colom-Bertran family of Barcelona to whom, it is argued, Columbus was alluding when he wrote "I am not the first admiral in my family", a rank he had already occupied during the civil war that ripped through Catalonia when its government, the Generalitat, rebelled against Castile's Trastamara dynasty in the person of King John II, father of King Ferdinand II. The political allegiances of the Colom family, who supported the House of Urgell and its Portuguese descendants and were therefore opposed to the Castilian kings who had reigned in Catalonia since the Agreement of Caspe in 1413, might well explain the cool relations between Ferdinand and Columbus and the need for powerful intermediaries to intercede on the latter's behalf in persuading the Catholic Monarchs and negotiating the terms of the Capitulations.

Despite his disagreements with the king, two years after Columbus's death, in the Royal Provision dated 29th October, 1508, Ferdinand II confirmed Columbus's son Didac (or Jaume) Columbus in the hereditary titles of Admiral, Viceroy and Governor of the Indies: "It is my grace and will that Jaume Columbus, Admiral of the Indies, both the islands and the mainland, receive in my name the government and judicial authority of the said territories." These words suggest that Columbus's discovery was a Catalan enterprise, for it was the king of Catalonia-Aragon who unilaterally renewed the titles of Columbus's heir and sent him to the New World to serve as an official of his Court. It is evident from subsequent documents and engravings that Columbus's caravels sailed not from the Andalusian port of Palos, but the Catalan port of the same name, Pals, in the Ampurdan region north of Gerona, with Catalan flags flying from their masts. Indeed, the great maritime power of the day was the kingdom of Catalonia-Aragon, with its possessions in Sardinia, Naples, Sicily and Greece, and not Castile, a kingdom which, apart from having no maritime culture to speak of, was totally immersed in its mission to deal the final death blow to the Arab kingdom of Granada.

In the light of all this documentary evidence, some historians argue that the Crown of Castile's manipulation of Christopher Columbus's story was a flagrant act of historicide. But, why? What could have been its motives? Columbus's Catalan origins and the ensuing claim by the maritime power of the Crown of Aragon to the discovery of the New World would have left Castile at a disadvantage when it came to sharing in the colonisation and exploitation of the new territories. The wealth that was soon to flow so copiously from the American continent was immediately coveted by all, giving rise to a conflict of rights and claims between Castile and Aragon over their control of the American territories. It was then, in Christopher Columbus's own lifetime, that a campaign was mounted to manipulate information concerning the discovery, the conditions agreed between the Admiral and the Catholic Monarchs, and even the details of Columbus's life. Seeing the gradual erosion of their rights and privileges, as well as the resulting decrease in their income as stipulated under the terms of the Capitulations, Columbus's heirs initiated a legal battle during which the Crown of Castile progressively ate into their percentages and cut back their privileges and stipends. Columbus's titles, which put him above all the aristocracy of the kingdom, came to be seen as a threat by Ferdinand and Isabella. Given his connections to both the Catalan and Portuguese royal houses, a suspicion began to grow that his true ambition was to found a new dynasty... In a portrait of the Admiral painted by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1519, Christopher Columbus is shown with his left hand resting on his chest, the fingers spread wide in the sign of the pentacle, or pentagram, of the five-pointed star, not only a Cabbalistic sign symbolising introspection and meditation, but also an expression of royalty, or the royal sceptre... Whatever the case may be, it is argued that the documents directly relating to or making specific reference to Columbus were altered to present him as a foreigner of humble origin whose heirs could not legitimately claim all the privileges to which they were entitled under the terms of the controversial Capitulations.

In addition to the official version of Columbus's life and the theories supporting the Catalan origins of the Admiral, there is a new hypothesis according to which this mysterious figure was of Jewish descent. At a time when the Iberian Peninsula was subject to the sinister dictates of the Inquisition, which savagely persecuted everything that was not Catholicism in its purest form, many families of converted Jews took pains to conceal their origins so as not to arouse suspicion and fall into the hands of religious courts that gratuitously sentenced many innocent people to be burnt at the stake or imprisoned. Columbus's mysterious origins have led many to believe that the silence surrounding the precise details of his background was due to a deliberate wish on his part to hide his Jewish ancestry. Although this theory is based on less concrete historical evidence than the previous two hypotheses, there are many references in his writings to his links to King David and his God, the God of the Jews. According to the Jewish hypothesis, Columbus was the son of a family of converted Spanish Jews who had settled in Genoa after fleeing from the Inquisition. Certainly, there is documentary evidence of the Italian form of his name, Colombo, being a common surname among Italian Jews in the late medieval period. Even the Admiral's signature, sometimes incorporating mysterious signs and initials that defy interpretation, leads some historians and handwriting experts to speculate on the presence of Cabbalistic formulae, Jewish benedictions and admonitions invoking the God of the Jews. In the upper left corner of Columbus's private letters to his son Didac there is a peculiar inscription which could be the benediction formula B"H, standing for the Hebrew expression "Be-ezrat Ha-Xem" ("with God's help"), commonly used by Jews in their correspondence.

Columbus's writings reveal that he was able to quote the Bible and was even acquainted with Jewish history. For instance, when referring to the first and second temples in Jerusalem, he uses the term "Casa" (House), a literal translation of the Hebrew word "bayit" traditionally used by Jews to refer to the temple in Jerusalem. It seems that Columbus deliberately postponed the departure date of his first voyage (originally scheduled for 2nd August, 1492) until the following day, thus avoiding setting sail on Tishah B'Av, literally "the ninth of Av", a fateful date in the Jewish calendar commemorating, among other misfortunes, the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. The detailed knowledge of the history of the people of Israel that is apparent from Columbus's writings reveals a sophisticated cultural awareness which, whilst unusual in a lay Christian, would be perfectly natural in somebody with a Jewish background. Moreover, in his first letter to the Catholic Monarchs in which he describes his first voyage to the Indies, Columbus includes a critical reference to their expulsion of the Jews from the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, a subject which has little to do with the central topic of the missive.

Although Columbus's possible Jewish origins are pure speculation, there is no doubt about the enthusiastic support and participation in Columbus's voyages by courtiers of Jewish extraction at the Catalan-Aragonese Court, in particular the noblemen Luis de Santangel, finance minister of the Aragonese Crown, and Gabriel Sanchis, the court treasurer. These two prominent figures, fully aware of their Jewish origins and of the persecution suffered by their own family members at the hands of the Inquisition, offered Columbus moral and political support by persuading the Catholic Monarchs of the attractiveness of his project. Columbus's first voyage was possible thanks to a personal loan of 1,140,000 maravedis by Luis de Santangel, which encouraged Ferdinand and Isabella to become involved in sponsoring the expedition. In fact, the first letters in which Columbus related his discovery were addressed not to the Catholic Monarchs, but to his patrons Santangel and Sanchis. These documents were immediately published and translated, rapidly circulating throughout Europe and spreading the news of Columbus's great achievement. The second and most ambitious of Columbus's four voyages, in which the Admiral commanded a fleet of 17 vessels, was financed entirely by proceeds from the sale of the numerous properties expropriated from the Jews following the Edict of Expulsion in 1492. It is difficult to estimate what proportion of the crew on Columbus's first expedition was of Jewish origin, but at a time of intense persecution by the Inquisition, it would not be surprising if a large number of his sailors were Jews. Most outstanding among them was the Jewish interpreter Luis de Torres, fluent in several languages, including Hebrew, who converted to Christianity just before the voyage so that he could join the expedition. Luis de Torres was never to return to the Iberian Peninsula, settling instead on the island of Cuba.

Columbus benefited greatly from the scientific advances in astronomy, cartography and navigation made by Jewish scholars during the late Middle Ages. Columbus himself wrote that all nations had learned the principles of astronomy from the Jews. Names such as Jacob Corsino, Joseph Vecinho and Abraham Zacuto were central to Columbus's enterprise: Zacuto, a rabbi and professor of astronomy and navigation at the University of Salamanca, not only devised the copper nautical astrolabe, but also, using Corsino's astronomical tables, compiled the famous astronomical tables, the Perpetual Almanach, that Columbus took with him on his travels. The Portuguese scientist Joseph Vecinho translated Zacuto's "Bi'ur Luh.ot," which was published in a Latin translation under the title "Almanach Perpetuum" into Spanish and presented it to Columbus, even though Vecinho had been a member of the Portuguese Royal Commission which had turned down the project that was subsequently sponsored by Spain's Catholic Monarchs.

From a practical point of view, therefore, it is true to say that the voyages and discoveries of Columbus were, in part, thanks to the intellectual and financial assistance of Jews and individuals of Jewish origin. The help, both direct and indirect, given by prominent conversos to Christopher Columbus's project has led some Jewish historians, particularly those associated with the Samson Trust of America, to uphold the possible veracity of the theory of the Admiral's Jewish origin, based chiefly on the gaps in the censored, official Castilian version, a theory which bluntly challenges that of Columbus as a descendant of the Catalan nobility.

If, as a result of Castilian manipulation of the documents, the origins of Christopher Columbus's life were distorted and are now obscure, giving rise to all manner of speculations, the end of his life was no less beleaguered. After being interred in Seville, according to the wishes of his elder son Didac or Jaume, in 1542 Columbus's remains were taken to Santo Domingo. When the island was conquered by the French in 1795, they were transferred to Havana and, after Cuba's War of Independence in 1898, were returned to Seville, where they now lie in the Cathedral. In 1877, however, a lead casket containing dust and bones appeared in Santo Domingo Cathedral bearing the inscription "The illustrious and distinguished Don Cristobal Colon". The casket remained in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo until 1992, when it was transferred to the Columbus Lighthouse ("Faro de Colon"), a monument of Pharaonic proportions erected by the Dominican authorities to honor and preserve the explorer's remains. While historians wrangle and the world awaits the unbiased results of DNA tests to determine Columbus's true origins, Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras offer in this double CD a treasure-trove of texts and music spanning the entire 15th century, a century which on the Iberian Peninsula was dominated by individuals who, directly or indirectly, brought about the loss of the multicultural paradises that had existed both in the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and in the New World. Whatever his origins, and wherever he came from, the enigmatic figure of Christopher Columbus - Genoese, Catalan or Jew - was undoubtedly the chief protagonist of that century.

- Manuel Forcano (Barcelona, 2006)


  Соисполнители :

Begona Olavide (Psaltery)
Carlos Mena (Countertenor Voice)
Daniele Carnovich (Bass)
David Mayoral (Percussion)
David Sagastume (Countertenor Voice)
Dimitris Psonis (Santur)
Driss El Maloumi (Oud)
Fahmi Alqhai (Vihuela, Viola)
Furio Zanasi (Baritone Voice)
Jordi Ricart (Baritone Voice)
Lambert Climent (Tenor Voice)
Luis Vilamajo (Tenor Voice)
Montserrat Figueras (Soprano Voice)
Pedro Estevan (Percussion, Drums)
Pierre Hamon (Flute)
Sergi Casademunt (Viola)
Xavier Diaz-Latorre (Vihuela, Guitar)


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   1 01 1. Introduction         0:00:57 Profecias y Evocaciones Antiguas - Medea (Tragedia, Acto II) - Seneca (s. I D.C)
Musica: Coro: G. Binchois; Solo: Anonimo S. XII
(textos Citados y Traducidos Por Colon En Su Libro De Las Profecias)
   1 02 2. Invocacion: Coro: Tethysque Novos Detegat Orbes         0:01:06 -"-
   1 03 3. Evocacion 1: Medea: Nunc Iam Cessit Puntus Et Omnes Patitur Leges         0:02:34 -"-
   1 04 4. Invocacion: Coro: Tethysque Novos Detegat Orbes         0:01:28 -"-
   1 05 5. Evocacion 2: Medea: Terminus Omnis Motus Et Urbes         0:02:31 -"-
   1 06 6. Invocacion: Coro: Tethysque Novos Detegat Orbes         0:01:53 -"-
   1 07 7. Evocacion 3: Medea: Venient Annis Saecula Seris         0:02:30 -"-
   1 08 8. Recitado: Venient Annis Saecula Seris Quibus Oceanus Vincula Rerum Laxet         0:00:45 -"-
   1 09 9. Invocacion: Coro: Tethysque Novos Detegat Orbes         0:00:53 -"-
   1 10 10. Recitado: Vendran Los Tardos A?os Del Mundo         0:01:14 -"-
   1 11 Himno Sufi (improvisacion)         0:01:25 1408 Reinado Del Emir Nazari Yusuf III
   1 12 Recitado Sobre Improvisacion         0:01:32  
   1 13 Mowachah Billadi Askara Min Aadbi Llama - Al-Andalus (instr.)         0:02:45  
   1 14 El Moro De Antequera (anon. Sefardi)         0:06:50 Ii Conquistas Y Nacimiento De Colon
1410 (Septiembre) Las Tropas Del Infante Fernando Conquistan Antequera
   1 15 Recitado Sobre Percusiones         0:01:54  
   1 16 Zappay (instr. Al-Andalus) CMM20         0:00:54  
   1 17 Collinetto CMM22 & Recitado         0:02:46 1443 (Febrero) Alfonso V El Magnanimo Entra En Napoles
Recitado: "Aci Dire La Gran Honor Que Fon Feta Al Senyor Rei..." (Dietari De Melcior Miralles, Cura Del Rey Alfonso V y Vicario De La Catedral De Valencia)
   1 18 Villota: Dindirindin - CMM127         0:02:03 Anonimo
   1 19 Recitado: 'Siendo Sus Antepasados De La Real Sangre...' Hernando De Colon         0:00:52 1451 (Octubre) Nace Cristobal Colon
   1 20 Strambotto: O Tempo Bono CMM132         0:03:30  
   1 21 Voca La Galiera CMM18 & Recitado         0:01:17 Iii Nuevas Rutas Y Grandes Proyectos
1474 (25 De Junio) Carta Del Fisico De Florencia Toscanelli Enviada Al Principe Don Juan
   1 22 Mappa Mundi (Kyrie De La Misa Mappa Mundi) De Johannes Cornago         0:01:37  
   1 23 Chiave, Chiave CMM131 & Recitado 'El Almirante Salio Al Encuentro De Cuatro Grandes Galeras Venecianas...' (Hernando De Colon, Vida Del Almirante)         0:00:57 1480 Naufragio En El Cabo De San Vicente
   1 24 Improvisacion: Melodia Antigua (s.XI) y Palos De Agua & Recitado         0:00:44 1485 Casamiento De Colon Durante Su Estancia En Portugal
   1 25 Villancico: Meis Olhos Van Por Lo Mare CMP453         0:02:49  
   1 26 In The Domine Speravi (intro) & Recitado         0:00:52 1486 Colon Presenta Su Proyecto A Los Reyes Catolicos
   1 27 Frottola: In Te Domine Speravi - Des Pres         0:03:55  
   1 28 Improvisacion Melodia Arabo-andaluza         0:01:28 Iv El Fin Del Al-Andalus
   1 29 Improvisacion Psalterio & Recitado         0:01:13 Poema En Piedra De La Alhambra De Granada
   1 30 Jarcha: Ya Amlaja Halki (Andalucia S. XIII)         0:06:18  
   1 31 La Spagna (instrum.)         0:01:40 1492 (2 De Enero) La Conquista De Granada
   1 32 Tambores, Campanas & Recitado 'Pasaron Julio e Agosto...'         0:02:00  
   1 33 Recitado         0:00:16 Del Partido De La Alhambra y De Como Se Dio Granada, Por Andres Bernaldez
   1 34 Villancico: Levanta Pascual Que Granada Es Tomada CMP184         0:05:13  
   1 35 Romance: Qu'es De Ti, Desconsolado (Juan Del Enzina)         0:07:32  
   2 01 Las Estrella De Los Cielos - Anon. Sefardi         0:03:28 V La Diaspora Sefardi
   2 02 Patres Nostri Peccaverunt - Cornago CMM2         0:02:16 La Santa Inquisicion
   2 03 Improvisacion & Recitado Edicto De Expulsion De Los Judios, Joan Coloma (Secret. De Los Reyes)         0:04:05 1492 (31 De Marzo) Expulsion De Los Judios No Convertidos
   2 04 Improvisacion & Recitado - Oracion En Arameo: Ha Lahma 'Anya         0:01:02  
   2 05 El Pan De La Aflicion - Anon. Sefardi         0:03:42  
   2 06 Improvisacion & Recitado: 'En Contados Meses...' Testimonio De La Expulsion De Los Judios         0:01:35 Testimonio De La Expulsion De Los Judios
   2 07 Ma Aidej, Ma Adamelaj - Anon. Sefardi         0:07:39 Vi Descubrimientos Y Agravios
1492 (3 De Octubre) Primer Viaje De Colon
   2 08 Improvisacion & Recitado: Cristobal Colon, Carta A Los Reyes Catolicos (Primer Viaje)         0:01:07  
   2 09 Vocal La Galiera (inst.) CMM18         0:02:04  
   2 10 Improvisacion & Recitado: 'Navego Al Ouesudeste...'         0:02:28 1492 (12 De Octubre) Desde La Carabela De La Pinta Se Ve El Nuevo Mundo
   2 11 Lamento Instrumental         0:01:35  
   2 12 Preludio De La Nuba & Recitado: 'Viendo El Rey y La Reyna Que Por Muchas Formas...'         0:01:17  
   2 13 Nuba Hiyay Msmarqi. Mizan Bsit. Ya Muslimin Qalbi (Lamento Arabo Andaluz S. XVI)         0:05:55  
   2 14 Improvisacion & Recitado (poema Nauhatl Sobre La Fugacidad Universal )         0:00:53 1502 Moctezuma II Es Elegido Emperador Azteca
   2 15 Homagio Kogui (quena & Tambores Amerindianos)         0:01:15 Recitado: "Cuix Oc Nelli Nemohua Oa In Tlalticpac Yhui Ohuaye?"
   2 16 Improvisacion & Recitado: 'Acaso De Verdad Se Vive En La Tierra?...'         0:00:52  
   2 17 Departez Vous (instr.) - Guillaume Dufay         0:01:46 Vii Testamento De Isabel I Y Muerte De Colon
   2 18 Improvisacion & Recitado: ' Y No Consientan...' Sobre El Trato A Los Indios, En Una Replica De Fray Bartolome De Las Casas Al Doctor Gines De Sepulveda         0:01:27 1504 Testamento De La Reina Isabel I De Castilla
   2 19 Villancico: Todos Los Bienes Del Mundo - Juan Del Enzina CMP61         0:04:23  
   2 20 Fortunata Desperata - Heinrich Isaac         0:02:17 1506 (20 De Mayo) Muere En Valladolid Cristobal Colon
   2 21 Improvisacion & Recitado: 'En Mayo De 1505, Salio De Viaje ...'         0:01:23  
   2 22 Miserere Nostri & Vexilla Regis CMM106         0:09:40  
   2 23 Fantasia I - Lluis De Mila         0:02:13 Epitafio
   2 24 Improvisacion & Recitado: 'No Soy El Primer Almirante De Mi Familia...'         0:01:00  
   2 25 Hanacpachap Cussicuinin: Hanacpachap Cussicuinin (en Quechua) - Juan Perez Bocanegra         0:05:16  

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