We recently acquired the first English translation of a famous chronicle of the New World, written and compiled by Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas (d. 1625), who was appointed the official historian of the Indies (Cronista Mayor de Indias) by King Philip II in 1586.

Originally published between 1601-15 as the Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas i Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano, the History is, according to one scholar, “a huge work of erudition.  Its author, who never crossed the Atlantic Ocean, incorporated the greatest collection of sources up to that date, including many important writings that had not yet been published, such as the histories of Bernal Diaz and Bartolome de las Casas, and the valuable Geografia y Descripcion Universal de las Indias by the cosmographer Juan Lopez de Velasco.   . . . [It constitutes] a true encyclopedia of all the facts pertaining to the Spanish involvement with the Indies between 1492 and 1555.  The narrated events are arranged in chronological order by decades.  Since the author was sufficiently removed from the facts he narrated, he made judgments without worrying about possible accusations and lawsuits by the people involved, a common problem in many of the earlier histories of the Indies.”

Cited source: Spanish Historical Writing about the New World: 1493-1700 by Angel Delgado-Gomez. (Providence: John Carter Brown Library, 1992).

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