Five Hundred Years from Now

By Fernandez-Shaw, Felx | UNESCO Courier, May 1992 | Go to article overview

Five Hundred Years from Now


Fernandez-Shaw, Felx, UNESCO Courier


THIS is a year of great historical significance, since it enables us to look back and take stock of a remarkable series of events which took place 500 years ago. The passage of time has brought a new perspective on these events, the effects of which can now be fully appreciated. The capture of Granada on 2 January 1492 by the Reyes Catolicos-the "Catholic Monarchs" as Ferdinand and Isabella were known--had a European-wide impact. Spain had abstained from taking part in the Crusades and had instead devoted its energies to its own reunification. When engaged on research in the archives of Genoa, I came across a decree signed by the Doge of that maritime republic ordering that the taking of Granada should be celebrated not only with the usual artillery salute but with a three-day holiday. On 31 March the Edict expelling the Jews was signed. And Spain, the melting pot of European and Mediterranean cultures which she transmitted to the western hemisphere, has the privilege of having been named by Arabs and Jews in their own languages as Al-Andalus and Sefarad, respectively.

Had these two historical events, with their far-reaching geographical and political consequences, not taken place, Christopher Columbus would probably have not been able to secure the signature by the King and Queen on 17 April 1492 of the Capitulaciones de Santa Fe, that extraordinary contract (or so it seems today), between a government and a private individual who demanded advance recognition of his rights to something which no-one yet knew existed. Without this agreement, Christopher Columbus and the Pinzon brothers would not have been able to fit out the three vessels in which they set sail from Palos, in Huelva province, on 2 August and lost sight of land off La Goreera, in the Canary Islands, on 9 September.

In his letter of 15 February 1493 to the Catholic Kings, Columbus reported that, after thirty-three days' sailing, he had made landfall on the previous 12 October, the date that has since been regarded as that of the birth of a New World through the encounter between the indigenous peoples of America and voyagers from the old continent. Apparently, however, Columbus's discovery did not make the same impact as the capture of Granada: in the Genoese archives I was unable to find any trace of a reaction to his exploit, although the letter describing it had circulated widely in Europe. Of course this does not necessarily mean that the event had not been reported, especially in view of the relations that then existed between Genoa and Barcelona, where the Catholic Kings received Columbus on his return to the peninsula after his first great voyage.

Little must have been known in Genoa of the approaches made to European monarchs by Columbus, who, it is true, had more links with Portugal than with his native city. How different was the impact of the letter sent later to Florence by Amerigo Vespucci, then in the service of Spain, which was so considerable that the name of the Florentine navigator would be given to the newly-discovered lands. Columbus had little influence on the political life of the Republic of Genoa, where he was only remembered many years later.

A GRAMMAR FOR AN EMPIRE

It would scarcely have been possible for Columbus's caravels to have taken with them the "Grammar of the Castilian language" which Elio Antonio de Nebrija published at Salamanca on 18 August. The date is worth mentioning, because if Nebrija thought that a language can play a role in strengthening an Empire, he was of course thinking of the Holy Roman Empire and certainly not of the Spanish Empire, which did not then exist.

It is also sometimes forgotten that Nebrija's monumental work, the fruit of many years' study, was on a language that had already existed for 500 years. Today, fortunately, the language has ceased to be an instrument of domination and has become a vehicle of international co-operation and solidarity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Five Hundred Years from Now
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.