Haunted by Spain: The Past and Identities in English and French America

Jonathan Hart,

Alberta, Canada

One of the aspects of early identity formation in the imperial and colonial era and later in the phase of nation-building, was the way Spain haunted England and France, Canada and the United States. Looking back, the importance of Spain can be occluded, especially in the period of Anglo-American ascendancy from 1763 or, more certainly, from 1815, with the defeat of Napoleon. But this repression, displacement and negligence of Spain is less certain if we look forward from the landfall of Columbus in 1492. The very pillars of Anglo-American myths of the making of nation and empire, like Walter Ralegh and John Smith, looked in part to the Spaniards. Cortés was a model for them despite the making of the Black Legend of Spain in the wake of Las Casas. The Anglo-American use of Columbus as a differentiation from England after the War of Independence and the Columbian World Exposition of 1893 are cases in point. But Columbus’ haunting is also accompanied by the Black Legend, which was brought back out in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The French texts, whether in Nicolas Le Challeux or in Montaigne, also represented the Spaniards in ambivalent ways and sometimes denounced them outright. Since then, the stereotyping of Hispanics has relived some of these negative and ambivalent feelings in these representations. Spain set many precedents in the New World and produced many texts about the Americas, but in the mythology of England and France and their colonies and former colonies, it could be relegated or criticized. For indigenous peoples, the situation is more complex still, and the haunting they suffer is from invasion and genocide, not just in relation to the Spanish, but to other Europeans and their descendants as well. This article will also briefly discuss Native perspectives by contemporary Native artists like Jeannette Armstrong and Buffy Sainte-Marie.[1]

The haunting by Spain is complex and is not something that is emphasized in the myths or fables of identity of the English-speaking peoples of the Atlantic basin. Governments in the United States and Canada do not represent inter-American identities much in the construction of national identities. American and Canadian Studies as fields have only recently stressed this inter-American aspect in any concerted or widespread way, although of course there have been people writing in English about this comparative view of Europe, the Americas and the Atlantic world since the middle of the sixteenth century if not before. In my own work, and in this article, I have tried to make a contribution to this betweenness and comparison in the study of the Americas and the Atlantic world more generally. Here, I have selected from a wide array of topics and examples a number that make more intricate the story of French and English identities in the Americas as well as that of Canada and the United States than those myths based more on a language and nation do. Crossing boundaries and reminding the European narratives of Native views is important for this reconfiguration of these identities and the role of Spain and Hispanic culture in the making of colonies and nations. Although elsewhere I have discussed the role of slavery and of Africans in the New World, I have chosen not to examine that key question here to keep the focus. The Portuguese then Dutch then English (British) –not to mention others – were slavers on a great scale, and the abolition of slavery was, despite the continued hardship for people of African descent in the Americas, one of the great triumphs over exploitation and cruelty. Europeans, Africans and Natives all interacted and mixed to create new identities, which is something I have stressed in other work.

Here, I shall examine Columbus’ representations, Native views, early French and English responses to the Spaniards, translations, refiguring and reimagining Columbus, ambivalent representations of Spain, the end of Spain in the New World, later representations, Native Poets, and Poets and Natives as means to show, in the evidence of texts and images, how mixed these myths of identity are. Tropes and stereotypes cross linguistic, religious, economic and political borders even as those boundaries shift. The French and the English, not to mention the Dutch and the Italians, all use and abuse Spain in their texts and borrow from one another. The imagery in texts and images is not a simple story of opposition or resistance, of emulation or displacement, but a shifting series of stories, myths and ideologies. Perhaps the surprise is how durable these representations of Spain are and how they travel in space and time in their ambivalent and contradictory ways. They criss-cross the Atlantic from the late fifteenth century to the present. The messiness of texts makes it difficult to generalize about the haunting of Spain, so I have elected here to show some of the contours of the traces of Spain in that mimetic network. I begin with Columbus and the Natives.

Columbus’ Representations and Native Views

One of the difficulties for pre-Conquest Native documents, as James Lockhart mentions in relation to the Nahuas of central Mexico, is that even the most informative among them were mostly redone under Spanish influence during the 1540s and after (Lockhart 330). The Europeans and their American settlers frequently wrote about the Natives from the vantage of conquest and triumph (Deloria Jr. 429-30). Gordon Brotherston has attempted to examine the European myth that the Amerindians had no writing: “when the Europeans did encounter undeniable evidence of writing, of literacy equivalent to their own, they did their best to eradicate it, because it posed a threat to the Scripture (the Bible) they brought with them” (Brotherston 15). Columbus and Spain are recurring tropes, but Columbus himself is a good place to begin in the intricacies of representation, imitation and identity. Texts and images seem to affect life and beget more texts and images.

Columbus appears to have found encouragement in Pierre d’Ailly’s Imago Mundi, which stressed the shortness of distance across the Atlantic from Europe to India (d’Ailly 10-11). [2] The opening of the Letter of Columbus about the first voyage begins: “SIR, As I know that you will be pleased at the great victory with which Our Lord has crowned my voyage, I write this to you, from which you will learn how in thirty-three days, I passed from the Canary Islands to the Indies with the fleet which the most illustrious king and queen, our sovereigns, gave to me” (Columbus 2). [3] This letter, of which no original survives, has been reconstructed from four Spanish versions as well as three Italian versions and one Latin version and is the report of first contact between Columbus and the “Indians.” Although Columbus’ motivation is difficult to interpret, it appears that he was stressing the abundant land and the timid people in order to highlight potential settlement, conversion and material exploitation (Columbus 6-9). The Natives fled the Spaniards, but later came to give them whatever possessions, like gold, the Spaniards desired. Columbus said that he soon prevented his men from trading worthless things for gold (Columbus 8-11).

During the first three decades of the conquest (1492-1519), there was no Native chronicler of the encounter. Bartolomé de Las Casas wrote a defence of the Native population (Brotherston 21). [4] Against Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, he also defended the Natives at Valladolid. There, in 1550-51, King Charles of Spain convened theologians and philosophers to debate whether the Indians were human beings with culture or brutes, as Aristotle defined them, who could become servants to the civilized nations. Since the conquest or encounter in 1492, the Europeans had viewed the Natives from a theological perspective in which they were identified with the lost peoples of the New Testament or as brutes who originated in the “Americas” (Deloria 432-35). Las Casas insisted that the Indians were members of a human civil society (Pagden 119).

Although Native images of the Europeans have not been widely disseminated, there are a number of important cases. The annals of the Valley of Mexico (1516-25) involve an account of Cortés’ invasion of the Aztec empire that is copied from a screenfold that recorded the history of metropolitan Tenochtitlan from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries. Moreover, the annal notes the presence of the Europeans (popoloca) in the calendar when they intervene directly in important affairs of state, an Algonkin account of Europeans entering North America (seventeenth century). The Tupi taunt of French missionaries in Brazil (1612) includes a “carbet” or the form used by braves to taunt rivals through instances of the braves’ prowess. The account of Europeans arriving in the late sixteenth century on the mid-Atlantic shore of North America occurs near the end of the second part of the Walum Olum of the Lenape-Algonkin. This section describes in chronicle form the list of successive Lenape sachems (chiefs) over a few centuries (Brotherston 28-32, 48-53). The representation of the Natives and the Amerindian representation of the Europeans have left evidence in the wake of Columbus.

After Columbus’s landfall in the New World, the papacy also played a role in legitimizing exploration. The French and the English had not taken up Columbus’ enterprise of the Indies as Spain had, so they had to try to catch the Spanish. In this they had to contravene the wishes and the gift of the pope. The bull of May 4, 1493 responded to Columbus’ first voyage to the New World and divided the parts of the world yet unknown to Christians into two spheres, one for Spain and the other for Portugal. The pope, who had Iberian connections, issued a direct threat to those who might not accept his donation “under the penalty of excommunication late sententiae to be incurred ipso facto” (Davenport I: 77-78). [5] In earlier bulls, like Romanus pontifex, this kind of threat against other Christian princes breaking the exclusive rights of the parties was named in the donations. Although the Spanish and the Portuguese accepted the terms of this bull, they shifted the line of demarcation from 100 leagues to 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands in the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. Even though Spain ad Portugal claimed the spheres of ownership that the pope had set out, they gave each other rights of passage across each other’s territory. Spain and Portugal also confirmed the changes to the bull Inter caetera in the Treaty of Madrid in 1495. Furthermore, the bull Ea quae of 1506, issued after Vasco da Gama had rounded the Cape of Good Hope, also made this confirmation. France resisted this donation, but its monarchs issued commissions to their own explorers that included instructions for them not to seize land already claimed by another Christian prince. The explorers supplemented the bulls when they claimed title by planting crosses with the royal coats of arms on the “new-found” lands (Green and Dickason 7). The Portuguese thought that the land that John Cabot, who sailed for Henry VII of England in 1497, encountered was quite possibly in their sphere as set out in the Treaty of Tordesillas (370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands) (Biggar, Williamson 119, 200-3). Some efforts, as in the fisheries, could be transnational. From Bristol, in 1501, merchants from the Azores and England joined together to petition for a patent to seek out the new lands in the northwestern Atlantic (Williamson 204). The Company of Adventurers to the New Found Lands served as a model for later companies that helped to extend English trade and settlement to new lands.

Early French Responses

Like Columbus, Binot Paulmier de Gonneville, who sailed in 1503 and probably reached Brazil, also had his intricate interpretation of the Native peoples he met, but their meaning was not always as simple and clear as these European captains thought (de Gonneville). [6] The kidnapping of Natives occurred on Gonneville’s voyage as it had on Columbus’ expedition. On the way home, a debate occurred about whether Namoa, the companion of Essomericq who developed a terrible fever, should be baptized. In the account, Gonneville, like Columbus, represented good Natives and bad Natives (de Gonneville 39).

The Spanish knew the coast north to Florida but not to the cod fisheries. The hope for a short northwest passage to Asia remained, and the French, English and Spanish searched for such a passage. Giovanni da Verrazzano, who sought such a westward passage to Asia, was a Florentine living in Rouen and a member of a network of Italian merchants, principally from Florence, who lived in Lyon, Paris, and Rouen and traded under the French flag (Wroth 58-9). Verrazzano’s expedition of 1523-24 raided the Spanish coast. Afterward, it proceeded to North America at 34 degrees of latitude, then sailed north to avoid Spanish ships. Like Gonneville, Verrazzano had some similarities to Columbus. He seems to have thought that the Hatteras banks were a long, thin finger of land that separated the Ocean Sea from the Indian Ocean. Verrazzano’s narrative was long neglected in France. The neglect or unfortunate fate of the relation of Cartier’s second voyage and Jean Ribault’s narrative are other instances of French originals or versions being lost. Unfortunately, we do not have Verrazzano’s original report in French for the king. However, four Italian versions have been preserved, Ramusio’s version of 1556 being the only one known for years, and an English translation of the Italian text in Ramusio appeared in Divers Voyages (1582) and The Principal Navigations (1589) by Richard Hakluyt the Younger. [7] Key texts in the encounter between Europeans and Natives so important for early modern formations of state and national identity have intricate and sometimes vanishing histories. Like Columbus’s texts, Verrazzano’s work displays textual uncertainty. There are four versions of Verrazzano’s narrative of the voyage. Three of these are full accounts are in Italian in the form of a letter from the leader of the expedition, Verrazzano, to François I, who authorized the voyage: only in 1933 did René Herval’s French translation from the Italian appear. Verrazzano addressed François I and described how they sailed along the coast of Spain ready for war. His account portrays the kindness which the Natives showed by rescuing one of the young French sailors in rough seas (Wroth 125, 135 and Julien et al. 1946, 58-9). Moreover, Verrazzano described the beauty of the men and women of one of the aboriginal peoples (Wroth 127-8, 135 and Julien et al. 1946, 64-5). Some of his ideal representations Natives and land were reminiscent of Columbus and foreshadowed Montaigne. Like Columbus and Gonneville, Verrazzano met friendly Natives and unfriendly Natives, who, after trading, mocked the French by showing their buttocks and laughing. Still, they offered Verrazzano and his crew no violence (Wroth 130, 140-1 and Julien et al. 1946, 70). The trope of—or belief in—good Natives, bad Natives as well as the doubt over whether Natives possessed a human nature occurs when Verrazzano says: “We made no contact with the people and we think they were, like the others, devoid of manner and humanity” (Wroth 141). Columbus’ letters and the debate between Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda also raise this issue.

Spain and Columbus continued to haunt French editors, translators, explorers and others. The opening of a French translation of Peter Martyr echoed this view of a universal evangelization and placed Columbus and Spain at the origin of the exploration of the New World (d’Anghiera 1). [8] Before Jacques Cartier’s voyages to northern America, the Crown and Cartier had to take into account and modify the rights of the Spanish and Portuguese as defined by the pope from the 1490s. Cartier was asked to find new lands full of riches and to discover a passage to Cathay by the west (Julien et al. 1946, Julien 1948 and Sanchez 15-32). His first voyage in 1534 accomplished neither of these aims, but in July, 1534, he planted a great cross in the Gaspé and took possession of Canada for his king (Gagnon 1984). Cartier brought back two Natives as proof of the discovery and as potential interpreters, a common custom from Columbus onward (Julien et al. 1946, I: 11-18). A desire for gold, based on the Spanish experience in Mexico and Peru, prompted François I to support Cartier in a second voyage. The French seem to have been able to keep these voyages quiet from the English, Portuguese and Spanish (Julien et al. 1946, I: 13). From 1538 to 1541, the king of France waited to see how the Pope would answer Charles V’s hope for a condemnation of those who would oppose or ignore the bull of Alexander VI. God and gold mixed as much for the French as for the Spaniards in the New World.

The French tried to explore in Brazil, Canada and Florida. On the fourth voyage to Florida, led by Jean Ribault, Nicolas Le Challeux acted as the chronicler (Lestringant 113-5, 152-5). [9] The massacre of the French in Florida in 1565 evoked a strong reaction in France (Steele 7-20). [10] Various editions appeared in 1566, with and without the additional request to the king for redress. In the Dieppe version, the title page of Nicolas Le Challeux’s discourse on this event displayed outrage with the Spanish: “Discourse of the history of Florida, containing the treason of the Spaniards, against the subjects of the King, in the year 1565. Written in truth by those who are left. A thing so lamentable to hear, that was premeditatedly and cruelly executed by the said Spaniards: Against the authority of our Sire, the King, to the loss and injury of all our kingdom” (Le Challeux 1). [11] The royal commission gave Ribault authority in the enterprise but “forbade him expressly to attempt no invasion of any other countries or islands whatsoever, particularly of none which would be under the lordship of the King of Spain” (ibid. 10). The ghost of Spanish authority and the possibility of Spanish retaliation haunted the voyage even in its commission. Le Challeux’s conclusion summarized of the narrator/author’s views on the Spanish cruelty. From the general abuse of the French by the Spanish, Le Challeux moved to the heroic portrait of Jean Ribault. [12]Le Challeux described the bad faith, cruelty, barbarity of the Spanish: “they have cut the beard of a lieutenant of the King.” [13] The volume ended in a ritual dismemberment of a servant of the French king, a synecdoche for the entire French nation. Le Challeux’s work is a seminal text in the making of the Black Legend and in the relations of the French and English to the Spanish.

Michel de Montaigne also represents the Spanish. In his essay on cannibals Montaigne focuses on the French and Europeans in relation to the New World, but in “Des Coches” he concentrates on the Spanish. [14] In taking possession of the land, they tell the Natives that their king is “the greatest Prince in the inhabited earth, to whom the Pope, representing God on earth, had given the principality of all the Indies” and that they want the Natives to be tributaries who yield up food, medicine and gold, believe in one God and the truth of the Spanish religion (de Montaigne III: 399). [15] Montaigne said that the Spaniards could be brutal, for example, in ransoming and then killing the king of Peru, whose nobility Montaigne contrasted with the ignoble Spanish (ibid. III: 400-1). Moreover, the king of Mexico was subjected to Spanish cruelty and torture (ibid. III: 401). [16] The Spaniards seem to be proud of their abuses: “We have from themselves these narratives, for they not only confess but publish and extol them” (ibid.). For Montaigne, the Spaniards exceeded the force necessary in conquest and have met with providential justice (ibid. III: 401-2).

In Paris another key figure, Phillippe de Mornay, seigneur du Plessis-Marly, had much to say about the Spaniards. A Huguenot hostile to Spain, he was a diplomat serving Henri de Navarre. As Henri’s ambassador in London in 1577-78, Duplessis-Mornay knew Francis Walsingham and Lady Stafford, key figures in the government of Elizabeth I of England and may have known Richard Hakluyt the Younger, who was stationed in France with the Staffords. Duplessis-Mornay presented to the French king an unpublished work, “Discours au Henri III. Sur les moyens de diminuer l’Espaignol,” in April 1584. [17] In this work, Duplessis-Mornay said that Philip II was a tyrant who was undermining France, the Netherlands and Europe and maintained that France and England should blockade Spanish shipping and that France should attack ships in the Spanish in the New World to intercept the bullion that permitted the king of Spain to tyrannize Europe. Not only did Duplessis-Mornay’s anti-Spanish themes echo like positions in Francis Drake and Gaspar de Coligny, but they also foreshadowed those in Hakluyt the Younger. According to Duplessis-Mornay, although the French must, like the Spaniards, use conquest, they should, unlike the Spanish, treat the Natives well and even employ them against their cruel Spanish conquerors (Quinn and Quinn xx-xxi). [18] Later, this theme would echo through the work of Hakluyt, Walter Ralegh and other English writers. A kind of intertexuality occurred among texts in Spanish, English and other languages. Paradoxically, the forging of national identities seem to cross national boundaries through translation and shared economic and religious interests. The English and the French had separate and shared interests that were often focused through representations of Spain and its empire in the New World.

Early English Responses

The English wrote few early narratives of exploration or few survived. Other texts in the sixteenth century do contribute a sense of how Spain haunted the textual record of the expansion of England into the western Atlantic. Richard Eden’s work suggests the intricacy of the English response to the alliance with Spain and plans for exploration. It appeared when England was showing a revived concern with voyages, trade and the New World. Despite the uncertainty of the reigns of Edward VI and Mary Tudor, the English took a renewed interest in expansion. Much of this voyaging derived from the necessity of finding new trading partners.

Richard Eden brought out A Treatyse of the newe India, his translation of a section of the fifth book of Sebastian Münster’s cosmography (Eden 1553, 5). Eden expressed dismay at the gulf between English knowledge of the New World and that of other Europeans, especially the Spanish (ibid.). [19] The Spanish and Portuguese had proved with their circumnavigations that the earth was round and improved knowledge, but all people were made to inhabit the earth (ibid. 11). Through imitation, Eden implied, the English could assume their place beside the Spanish and Portuguese in a passage to Asia.

After Mary ascended the throne, Eden brought out another work — The Decades of the newe worlde of west India– a translation of Peter Martyr that shifted from competing with the Spanish to a vision of a joint imperial destiny brought about by the marriage of Philip and Mary. [20] The title emphasized Spain as an example and a champion of a united Christendom. Eden reports that he was in the crowd on August 18, 1554 to watch the procession of Philip and Mary and says that he decided on translations that would celebrate the glory of Philip’s ancestors in the New World, which in turn would glorify Philip. “The Epistle” remembers great mythological feats the author represents and the glory of the spread of Christianity in the West Indies (Eden 1555, a2r). [21] In contemplating such events of fame and splendour, Eden recollects that in his youth he had read Peter Martyr’s Decades . . . , which was dedicated to the illustrious Ferdinand, Philip’s grandfather and made no mistake as to who was in possession of the New World. [22] Eden also notes Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés’ Summario de la natural y general historia de las Indias (1526), which was dedicated to Philip’s father, Charles V. All Spanish glory led to Philip (ibid. b1). [23] Eden thinks that he had license to praise the kings of Spain as heroes among men and stresses that Peter Martyr was “by the most holy catholyke and puissaunt kynge Ferdinando appoynted a commissionarie in thaffayres of India” (ibid. a1v – a2r). In this logic of imitation, Eden portrays himself as following Martyr in a tradition of Spanish historiography in which the historians also participated in history.

The book became a monument to action. By returning to papal authority on which Spain’s claim to the New World rests, Eden resembles English and French writers about the New World before and after him. The role of the pope in the donation of territory is something that is repeated over and over in texts about the Americas (Eccles 7-8). The legacy of these bulls still made a mark in France and England with writers, like Eden, who concerned themselves with the New World. Nonetheless, these countries continued to challenge the grounds of papal authority in these matters. In 1492, Columbus helped to defeat “the greate serpente of the sea Leviathan” who misted the eyes of men and kept them from these new lands (Eden 1555, a3r). Eden sees Providence in the glorious reign of “the ryght noble, prudent, and Catholike kinge of Aragon Don Ferdinando grandfather to Themperours maiestie by his eldest dowghter, & to the queenes hyghnesse by his seconde dowghter the most vertuous lady queene Catherine her graces moother,” which knew more famous deeds than those the Greeks and Romans had glorified (Eden 1555, a3v). Eden supplements biblical authority and providential history with dynastic genealogy. Philip and Mary share a glorious Spanish past, which Eden brings together through allusion to Catherine of Aragon, which also reminds English readers that this was not the first Spanish match. Eden makes the trope of example of Spain more explicit: “The Spanyardes haue shewed a good exemple to all Chrystian nations to folowe”(ibid. c1r). Eden wants the English to follow the example of Spain and become spiritual Israelites from one promised land to another. The haunting by Spain can be ambivalent as Eden can express impatience for his own country’s lagging behind Spain much the way Richard Hakluyt the Younger, Marc Lescarbot, and others in England and France.

In praising Spain, Eden reveals the deficiencies of his own country’s contribution to colonization of the New World and understood the motives of the Spaniards for colonization were gold and God (ibid. c3r). Although Eden praises Spain and chastises England so much, he concludes by placing the accomplishment of England above that of Spain, including the voyage of Columbus he had lauded so much, that is the English attempt “by the north seas to discouer the mightie and riche empire of Cathay” (ibid. d3r). Eden includes translations of the dedications that both Martyr and Oviedo presented to Charles V. In Oviedo’s “Epistle” to his Summario, Columbus’ discovery was central, but the author compares his dedication to Charles to be like that of his model, Pliny, to the Roman emperor (ibid. 173v, d3v-d4v, 173v-176r).

During the 1560s a shift occurred from Eden’s work in the 1550s. Protestants from France challenged Spain in the New World. These Huguenots became positive examples, for English Protestants, but soon their destruction at the hands of the Spanish in Florida provided, in France and England, a negative instance of Spanish cruelty. This violence against the Huguenots in Florida became one of the main strands of the Black Legend of Spain. Through translation, the English increased the intricacy of their response to the ghost of Spain by doing more than imitating Columbus and the Spanish colonization of the New World. The English writers began to build up their own case against the Spanish.

Humphrey Gilbert is a case in point. He was close to Elizabeth I. Gilbert preferred exploration of the New World and Irish and Continental politics to developing the eastward trade to Muscovy. In 1566, he wrote A Discourse of a Discoverie for a new Passage to Cataia, Written by Sir Humfrey Gilbert, Knight, and he presented a petition to the court asking for the vice-regal and territorial privileges similar to those Columbus had obtained in 1492 (Morison 563-5). Columbus was to be a model for Gilbert even as he planned to create a colony in territory that Spain claimed (Canny 66-7, 72). Elected a burgess for Plymouth in the parliament of 1571, Gilbert held in 1572 a command in the queen’s expedition to support the Dutch against the Spanish. During this time he wrote a proposal for a new academy in London (Morison 565-6). Like Portugal and Spain, England should have a school of navigation. In 1578, the queen did not create this school, but she granted Gilbert letters patent of great importance as a colonial charter (ibid. 566). The legal ground of the patent both recognized and denied the papal donation to Spain and Portugal by avoiding where these countries had colonized but claiming any lands the English would occupy. Gilbert was given vice-regal powers like those delegated to Columbus and to Roberval in Canada. Stephen Parmenius, a Hungarian, Gilbert’s room-mate at Christ Church, Oxford, offered an embarkation poem in Latin. In it, America asked her sister, England, to rescue her from cruel Spaniards. Moreover, America recalled that Cabot sailed there just after Columbus while begging Elizabeth I to extend her rule to the New World (ibid. 580-1). Parmenius also develops the motif of England’s rescue of America or the Natives from Spain, which became a recurring theme in the English literature of promotion. The use of Latin and translation also complicated French and English representations of Spain in the vernacular.


French and English translation of Spanish texts reflected various points of view. Gómara provided a different account of Spanish America from the version of Las Casas. In 1578, the French translator of Gómara, Martin Fumée, saw a lesson in Spanish America that could teach France something (de Gómara ã4v). [24] Rather than the history of Hispaniola by the royal historiographer of Spain or André Thevet’s Singularitez de la France Antarctique, Fumée wanted to provide a proper history of the Indies (ibid.). [25] Fumée used a French translation of Oviedo, a Spanish source, to correct Thevet’s errors.

Spain sometimes served as a way to work out rivalries between authors and authorities within a country over representations the New World. Fumée’s translation of Francisco López de Gómara would replace André Thevet (ibid. ã4v- ã5r). The example of Spain related to war and civil war in the New World and also had implications for the strife France found at home and in Europe. In the preface, Fumée did not make the Spanish into villains and pointed a lesson in Gómara’s book that was not an expression of the Black Legend. Thomas Nicholas’ translation of Gómara represented the heroic example of Cortés and his conquest also became available in England (Priestley iii-xxi, esp. xvii.).

The final years of the reign of Elizabeth I also produced texts that were ambivalent about Spain, its rival and enemy. For instance, in Discoverie of Guiana (1596), Walter Ralegh suggests that England emulate, rival and displace Spain in parts of South America and represented Columbus’ exploration briefly. As Ralegh attempts to make a final rhetorical appeal to Elizabeth I to support a conquest, he returned to the ancient lost opportunity that Henry VII had to employ Columbus in his enterprise (Ralegh 99). Ralegh tries to draw something positive from the wound of Columbus, that is Henry the Seventh’s lost opportunity to have backed the enterprise of the Indies and the “discovery” of the New World.

With the ascension of James I in 1603, these contradictions in English representations of Spain persisted and continued despite a peace with Spain in 1604. Some Englishmen found a positive example in Spain’s colonization of the New World. Robert Johnson had much to say about the Spanish in Nova Britannia (1609), a promotional tract about Virginia (Johnson a3r). [26]Johnson appeals to books and maps as a record of the English claim to Virginia: the assertion of earlier assertions of a claim was made to constitute a proper claim. As in Richard Hakluyt the Younger’s “Discourse” (1584), here the spectre of Alexander’s papal donation in the 1490s still has the power to haunt those who in England who would promote colonization in the northern America (ibid. a4r-a4v). The worry about possession soon comes into focus, addressing the claims of Spain and Portugal (ibid. a4v). He asks what this papal donation is to the English (ibid.). Johnson deems the papal donations “legendarie fables”(ibid. b1r).

The presence of Spain was not so easy to occlude. The ghost of Spain and its ruin of the French Protestant colonies in Florida in the 1560s haunted the English texts of expansion (ibid.). Johnson claims “that the first discouery and actuall possession taken thereof, was in the raigne, and by the subiects of Henry the seuenth of England, at which time did Spaine also discouer; and by that right of discouery, doeth retaine and hold their Noua Hispania, and all other limmits vpon that coast” (ibid. b2r-b2v). Johnson is trying to establish spheres of influence, English based on Columbus’ and Cabot’s discoveries (ibid.). In the context of a mixture of self-criticism and patriotism, Johnson represents the story of Columbus, another part of the haunting of Spain (ibid. b3r).

This praise for Spain recurred in England from Richard Eden onward and balanced anti-Spanish sentiment. The constant revisiting of the origins of rights to the New World and of the mythical, factual, and legal interpretations of the papal bulls, Columbus’ discovery, and Cabot’s voyages decades before and after Johnson supports an argument for a complex ambivalent in the English attitude to Spain. Johnson and his English compatriots found themselves in a similar position to the Spanish. In Spain, Las Casas had questioned the treatment of the Natives and Victoria had called into doubt the legitimacy of the Spanish and European claim to possession of the New World. [27] In Johnson, an incipient Britishness connected the Scots and the English implicitly through King James (ibid. e3r).Like Hakluyt in Principal Navigations, Johnson defined Englishness and Britishness paradoxically through Continental sources. English identity, even as it was being made British, is founded on other languages. Through the translation of study, English writers were establishing a translation of empire.

Another figure connected with the promotion and exploration of Virginia, John Smith, could praise and criticize Spain. Here is some of his criticism: “His Maiesty of Spaine permits none to passe the Popes order for the East and West Indies, but by his permission on, or at their perils. If all the world be so iustly theirs, it is no iniustice for England to make as much vse of her own shores as strangers do. . . .” (Force II: 21). Smith, who elsewhere would imitate the heroic model of Cortés, ends his work by exhorting his reader to read his Description, and whatever defects might be found there. The author hopes to “stir vp some noble spirits to consider and examine if worthy Collumbus could giue the Spaniards any such certainties for his designe, when Queene Isabel of Spaine set him foorth with fifteene saile” (ibid. II: 23). Smith both uses the example of Spain for inspiration for the bold vision and royal support of the Columbian enterprise and of colonization and, next in this passage, discarded the Spanish model of precious metals for the instance of the Netherlands. The Dutch gained wealth had been made from fishing.

Smith’s A Description of New England (1616) has several dedications. The styling of Smith as admiral imitated Columbus’s title. Smith writes that “Columbus, Cortez, Pitzara, Soto, Magellanes, and the rest serued more then a prentiship to learne how to begin their most memorable attempts in the West Indies,” and he does not wish to “keep vs back from imitating the worthinesse of their braue spirits that advaunced themselues from poore Souldiers to great Captaines” (Force II: 6-7).In Smith, Columbus recurs as a bold visionary (ibid.). Smith calls attention to the notion of imitation.

Cortés was also an example to be emulated. Another tract on Virginia declares: “ I dare say, that the resolution of Caesar in Fraunce, the designes of Alexander in Greece, the discoueries of Hernando Cortes in the West, and of Emanuel of Portugale in the East, were not vpon so firme grounds of state and possibility” (Force III: 21). [28] Here is another of the promotional works of the Council of Virginia and shows the mixture of classical and Iberian examples of empire that were common in this ear in the English narratives of the New World.

Later in the seventeenth century, during the English Civil War, Thomas Gage produced a work that contributed to Oliver Cromwell’s “Western Design,” the attempt to attack and supplant Spain in the West Indies. [29] Gage raised the recurrent objection to the seizure of Spanish colonies in the New World that the French and English had largely balked at since the 1490s but more in a minor key (Gage 1648, a4r). Gage’s work was translated into French and served, perhaps unexpectedly, the interests of Colbert, who saw Spain as a rival to France (Boucher 54). [30]About two decades before, Cardinal Mazarin had concentrated on the war with Spain, and gave Cromwell free run of the Atlantic. Another French edition was published in 1720. [31] The dedication emphasized Spanish secrecy in the first century of its colonies in the New World and Gage, who had been Catholic and had lived in New Spain, was seen even this late as providing the secrets of the Spanish empire (Gage 1720, a3r).

In the first decade of the eighteenth century,John Harris’s collection more resembled Melchisédech Thévenot’s than the promotional work of R. B., or Nathaniel Crouch. [32] There was a haunting or recurrence of old attitudes and tropes that led to a kind of multiple concurrence in these representations. R. B.’s work illustrates a double action of recurrence and concurrence.In The English Empire in America . . . (1685), R. B. returns to origins and was reminiscent of earlier English texts that emulated the Spanish drive for God and gold in the Americas. R. B. turns his attention to “the real discovery thereof by Columbus, which is thus related by Gomara and Mariana, two Spanish writers” (R.B. 3). [33] John Harris, like R. B., addresses Columbus and the subsequent rights of Spain to the New World. The precedent of the example of Spain and how that affected English claims in America persisted even as the idea of “Britain” and a “British empire” was being forged anew. As a new British nation was being made in the first two decades of the eighteenth century, the old questions about Spain, with their ambivalent and contradictory aspects, haunted writers in English. The figure of Columbus, as part of the example of Spain, has lasting power in France, England, Spain, Italy, the United States and other places.

Refiguring and Reimagining Columbus

The image of Columbus and the life of Columbus had and have persistent mythological power. Jean François de Troy’s painting of Columbus landing in America, painted some time before 1718 was commissioned to decorate the main room in the Palazzo Ducale. In this picture Columbus stands in a central place and has a commanding presence as the Natives adore the cross and constitutes of a Baroque allegory of the evangelization of the New World.

Some events of Columbus’ life also became the subject of paintings among Romantic artists and painters. In 1838 Eugène Delacroix depicted Columbus and his son, Diego, at the monastery at La Rábida in 1484, where the prior, Juan Peres de Machena helped them in their enterprise to find a western route to Asia. This depiction emphasizes religion and learning and not national identity. Delacroix’s companion piece of 1839 portrays the return of Columbus from the New World and represents Columbus with Natives and riches before Ferdinand and Isabella, the rulers who backed his enterprise (Honour 1975, 306-7). This painting has more national themes, though of Spain and not France.

The nineteenth century prints also depicted the great events of Columbus’ life, and the most popular of these was a set of lithographs by Nicholas Eustache Maurin between about 1835 and 1850, which represented Columbus’ landfall, his reception at Barcelona, his “egg-trick” and his return in chains to Spain after the third voyage (ibid. 312). Columbus has become part of a larger symbolic field than Spain. The biography of Columbus as a man is not always conflated with the national story of Spain or the narrative of the Spanish empire. In 1870 Claudius Jacquand painted in oil an image showing Columbus in his last moments. In this painting, Columbus looks old and weary and shows his chains to his son, something that calls attention to his humiliation in 1500 when he returned to Spain in chains and his death in obscurity and poverty in Valladolid in 1506 (ibid. 314). [34]

Ambivalent Representations of Spain

Columbus helped to make Spain famous and infamous and so it is important to remember that these later images were rooted in earlier ones. The Spanish in the New World provided a negative and positive example. The Black Legend of Spain occurred through images as well as through words. There were Dutch, German and Italian dimensions to the haunting by Spain. Sometimes images could show Spanish power from the vantage of the Native. The conquest, portrayed in Jan Mostaert’s “A West Indian Scene” or “West Indian Landscape” (ca. 1540-1550) is probably the earliest known painting of the Americas. Possibly, as Hugh Honour suggests, there are parallels here between the Spanish advance in the New World and that in the Netherlands (Honour 1976, 22-24). [35] The painting may be encouraging the viewer to take sides with the Natives and, if there is a typology, with the Netherlands against Spain. In Oppenheim in 1614, J. T. de Bry printed Bartolomé de Las Casas’ Narratio Regionem Indicarum per Hispanos quosdam devastatarum verissima, which included one image among others, the Spanish cruelty toward Natives (de las Casas 26). This anti-Spanish propaganda had a strong but not exclusive Protestant element and used Las Casas’ criticism of Spanish mistreatment of the indigenous peoples against Spain. In Part VI of De Bry’s collection of travel accounts to America and the third volume of three devoted to Historia del mondo nuouo by Girolamo Benzoni, there are engravings that show the cruelty of the Spaniards in the conquest of Peru (Honour 1975, 94-5).

Textual representations of Columbus and Spain appeared side by side with visual ones. By 1511, there were already versions of Columbus’s Letter in six countries, Italian, Latin and German editions of Vespucci, and newsletters about the Portuguese in India from German and Italian presses, while nothing had appeared in English (Parker 21-3). During the middle decades of the sixteenth century, the English and French continued to see Columbus and Spain as a model for colonization in the Americas. In 1555, Richard Eden proclaimed that “The Spanyardes haue shewed a good exemple to all Chrystian nations to folowe” but also justified the gold (Arber c1r). André Thevet’s Universal Cosmography (1575), which derived from his experience with Villegagnon in Brazil, represented Spain in a positive light (Dickason 1-11). The Spaniards were the first to discover Peru and the Natives were cruel and bestial (Julien et al. 1946, II: 29). [36] Urbain Chauveton was critical of Spanish abuses in the New World (Chauveton 1r). [37] Chauveton’s summary described Benzoni’s account of how the lands were found and how the Spanish brought with them avarice, cruelty, and other vices to oppress the peoples there (ibid. 1v). [38]

John Smith, as we saw, could fashion himself on the heroic model of Cortés and commend Columbus and Queen Isabella but recommend the imitation of the “Hollanders” who gained more wealth from fishing than from gold (Force II: 23). Gabriel Sagard’s Histoire dv Canada (1636) noted that although America was named after Vespucci, the honour of discovery was due to Columbus (Sagard 12). [39] French and English writing from the sixteenth century onward rehashed the origins of America and the first European contact. Moreover, these writings repeated traumatic events such as Columbus’ discovery of the New World, the papal donation of the new lands to Spain and Portugal, the first meetings of Natives and Europeans, the death of the Huguenots in Florida, the Revolt in the Netherlands, the Spanish Armada — recurred in the French and English writings about the New World (Boucher II: 809). Columbus and Spain haunted these images and texts.

Almost three hundred years after the Columbian landfall, British America was splitting apart during the War of Independence and an interest in Columbus and Spain continued in works like David Ramsey’s The History of the American Revolution (1789) and Jeremy Belknap’s meditation on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landfall. [40] Belknap focuses on Columbus (Belknap 19). His Columbus was a scientist who could sail (ibid. 28). The shift from England to America as the promised land included the use of Columbus as a figure for the United States, to form its identity and mission in history. Columbus became a figure of liberty (ibid. 41). In North America in the late eighteenth century and beyond, the figures of Columbus and “Columbia” were widespread as in names like the Columbia River, British Columbia, the District of Columbia. Harriet Munroe’s Columbian Ode (1893) was written at the request of the Joint Committee on Ceremonies of the World’s Columbian Exposition (Munroe 5). [41] Columbia supplements Columbus as a shifting signifier, sometimes a land and other times a lady and a goddess.

The End of Spain in the New World

Spain had long been on the minds of the English and then their American descendents as a positive and negative example. A translation of empire occurred from Portugal to Spain to the United States, a successor to Britain in the hemisphere. In 1823, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Munroe that adding Cuba to the United States would “round out our power as a nation” (Jefferson 7: 300). [42] Spain had lost most of its possessions to independence in the early nineteenth century. The Spanish-American War of 1898 marked the end of the Spanish empire.

The Spanish-American War lasted from May to December 1898 (Pérez 16-22). The United States was able to annex Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippine and to supervise an independent Cuba. [43] The Americans had foresworn annexing it in the Teller Amendment to the war resolutions of 1898. The end of the Spanish empire came quickly indeed.

In the popular imagination in the United States, the Black Legend of Spain was widespread enough to make the triumph over this tyranny a righteous cause. American imperialism beyond the North American landmass meant that the United States would have to defeat Spain to succeed it. The interest of the American public in the Cuban conflict, was, as David Trask notes, “a phenomenon that rekindled the congenital American aversion to the lingering Spanish presence in the New World” (Trask 473).

Moreover, another aspect of the Black Legend persisted. Las Casas was reprinted in the context of tensions between Spain and the United States in the late 1890s. Blackening the name of Spain or accusing it of crimes went back to texts in French, English and other languages in the decades after Columbus. Las Casas was not alone among the Spaniards in being critical of the actions of his compatriots. In Book III of his History of the Indies, Las Casas reports that in December 1511, Father Antón Montesino, a Dominican or Black Friar, preached two Advent sermons. In these, Montesino faced the Spanish colonists and condemned them for enslaving the Native population much to the ire of the colonists, who protested to the king.

The opponents of Spain were still criticizing Spain more than four hundred years after Columbus’ landfall in the western Atlantic. For instance, on July 24, 1898, the “Sunday Comic Weekly” in The World, a newspaper in New York, represented under two figures, “By Day” and “By Night,” a circle of images of Spanish crimes. [44] The growth of the national and “imperial” identities of the United States was partly defined in terms of Spain and its empire, something long in the imagination of the English-speaking peoples, first in England and then in its former colonies in northern America.

Later Representations

From the 1890s to the present the figures of Spain and Columbus persist in the United States and Canada, as heirs to the French and English in northern America. In 1892 Benjamin Harrison, called up the people of the U. S. to celebrate Columbus Day. It has been celebrated annually since 1920 and was made a legal federal holiday there in 1971 (the second Monday in October). In the twentieth-century Columbus was being institutionalized nationally in the United States but was also being questioned as a symbol.

The commemoration in 1992 of Columbus’ landfall was represented on the internet and in film and television. The article on Columbus in Encyclopedia Britannica Online of that period states: “The past few years have also seen a major shift in approach and interpretation; the older pro-European and imperialist understanding has given way to one shaped from the perspective of the inhabitants of the Americas themselves” (Flint). Two films on Columbus were put together to represent Columbus in the early 1990s. In one, Christopher Columbus –The Discovery (1992) Columbus is all too human but passionate Columbus (Brenner). In the other, 1492, Columbus meets Antonio de Marchena inside La Rabida (Chutkow). [45]

A rejection of the term “discovery” and a preference for “commemoration” occurred in 1992. A controversy over which part of Hispaniola Columbus landed on happened in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (Chanel). With a wonderfully resonant title, which contains its own typology, John Curl’s poem, “Columbus in the Bay of Pigs,” shows a typology of past and present (Curl). Native groups have continued their protest on the web, in the courts and elsewhere. Time produced a special issue on Columbus in late 1991 in conjunction with the “Seeds of Change” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington on Columbus and after (Royal 9-11).

Native Poets, Poets and Natives

Native and settler writers have represented the indigenous peoples of Canada, which the French and English explored and settled from the late fifteenth century. Buffy Sainte-Marie is a good example of addressing the Columbian legacy of colonialism if not always directly representing Spain or Columbus. Sainte-Marie is a Cree born in Saskatchewan but was raised by foster parents in Maine and Massachusetts and was adopted at a Cree powwow when she was eighteen. In the 1960s, Sainte-Marie wrote songs about concerns that were central to the debate on the Viet Nam War for Natives and for many other groups (Moses and Goldie 517). In “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying” she writes about mis-education in the schools, stressing “That American history really began when Columbus set sail out of /Europe!/ And stress that the Nation of leeches that’s conquered this land/Are the biggest and bravest and boldest and best!” (ibid. 176). This a satire on how the European myths of American identity occlude, blame or displace Natives and glorify Europe and its settlement of the United States.

Jeannette C. Armstrong, an Okanagan born on the Penticton Reserve in British Columbia, also invokes Columbus. In “History Lesson” (1979, pub. 1991) she represents a parodic journey from Columbus to the present. This a violent and sick world, “a long journey/and unholy search” (Armstrong 111). The legacy of Columbus and the attempts at healing find their expression in the work of Sainte-Marie, Armstrong and other Native poets.

Marie Annharte Baker, an Anishnabe born in Winnipeg, uses Columbus’ Spanish name in her poem, “Coyote Columbus Cafe” (1994). She writes about his landfall as “500 night years ago” (ibid. 71). The Columbian legacy leaves a dark pall on time for Natives. Indian time is something the colonized coyote girl must face, and she wonders if she discovered Columbus first, and it is her land and so she is the landlord. Baker lists with some irony what Columbus lacked: “cultural awareness/equity/affirmative action/political correctness” (ibid. 73). She alternates “Columbus” with “Colon” and shows that he is lost “like the rest of us,” as the “kindly Native” says (ibid.). The speaker of the poem wonders if Columbus confessed to a priest and considers what he might have said to give church officials the momentum to sit on boards and become Indian experts and addresses “former Columbus clones” (ibid. 73-75).

The coyote girl “educates the oppressor” and ends the poem with a question: “how does a coyote girl get / a tale outta her mouth?” (ibid. 75-76).Here, the pun on “tale” emphasizes the narrative and suggests something stopping her mouth, whether it is hers or the oppressor’s. There is a tension between self-discovery and discovery that calls both into question. Columbus or Colon and his Spanish compatriots is present among Native poets in Canada, a country in which the French and English colonized. The identity of Natives and settlers in Canada and the United States cannot do without Spain and Columbus then or now.

Other Native writers in North America consider the legacy of Columbus for their cultures and identities. Writing in the early 1990s, N. Scott Momaday, a writer of Kiowa and Cherokee descent in the United States, argues for the dignity of the Natives: “The naked people Columbus saw in 1492 were the members of a society altogether worthy and well made, a people of the everlasting earth, possessed of honour and dignity and a generosity of spirit unsurpassed” (Momaday 19). Gloria Cranmer Webster, a Kwakiutl from British Columbia, concludes: “While the white people celebrate Columbus’s five hundredth anniversary, we celebrate our survival in spite of everything that has happened to us since the white people first came to this continent” (Webster 37). Steven Newcomb, whose background is Shawnee and Lenape, suggests ways to “move beyond the quincentennial of Columbus’ invasion of the Americas,” including revoking the papal bulls (Inter Cetera) of 1493 and overturning Johnson versus McIntosh, a case in 1823 in which the US Supreme Court ruled against Natives and for European Christians as having dominion over the land (Newcomb 102-104). [46] The legacy of Columbus has a number of fissures between Spain and its rivals, France and England, and in their colonies and former colonies in the Americas. Part of the disjunction is between Native and European versions of the past and in the living conditions of those who inhabit the so-called New World.


Spain and Columbus more than five hundred years after the landfall in the western Atlantic have implications for the identities of those who speak English and French in the United States and Canada and for those nations. Place names and mythologies informed the building of those states out of the colonies the English and the French forged in the face of Spanish power in the New World. England, France and the United States took over Spanish lands in the Americas, so that their mythologies could not ignore the traces of Spain in Haiti, Jamaica, New Mexico and elsewhere.

A further complication is between those of Native and European descent in the Americas. The myths of discovery, the narratives of conversion, and the spread of European languages put pressure on indigenous peoples—not to mention invasion, disease and widespread killing that has been traumatic for Native cultures. The legacy of Columbus has had consequences even for the northwest of North America in Canada and the United States. The Native writers I discussed briefly present another point of view in this official history of European triumph and expansion. In the last decade or two of the twentieth century, that myth of identity started to change and subside even in the institutions of education and government. Columbus and Spain have taken on new twists.

And there are more complications. The spread of Hispanic populations north of Mexico (the boundaries post 1840s) is one of language because those who speak Spanish are from different backgrounds –Native, African, European, mixed. The representations of Columbus and Spain take on new meaning, especially in the United States, as its Hispanic population increases. Those of various Hispanic identities may very well have different views of Columbus and Spain.

Here, I have tried to show a few strands of the origins of the ambivalent and contradictory representations of Spain, including Columbus, to show that early modernity has affected later modernity in intricate ways and by-ways. For better or for worse, the landfall of Columbus is one of the great marks of modernity, some might say scars. In any case, we are all haunted by Spain and to pretend otherwise is another way to bury our heads and to deny the role of history in the way forward.


[1]For some work in the field during the past decade, see Schoonover, Thomas. Uncle Sam’s War of 1898 and the Origins of Globalization. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003; Envisioning an English Empire: Jamestown and the Making of the North Atlantic World. ed. Robert Appelbaum and John Wood Sweet. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005; Castillo, Susan. Colonial Encounters in New World Writing, 1500-1786: Performing America. London: Routledge, 2006; Day, David. Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008; and Seeman, Erik K. Death in the New World: Cross-Cultural Encounters, 1492-1800. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2010. My article draws on work in a number of my books with Palgrave Macmillan in New York, such as Representing the New World (2001); Comparing Empires (2003); Columbus, Shakespeare, and the Interpretation of the New World (2003); Contesting Empires (2005); Interpreting Cultures (2006); Shakespeare (2009); Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (2011); Literature, Theory, History (2011); as well as my Empires and Colonies. Cambridge: Polity, 2008 and City of the End of Things, Ed. Jonathan Hart. Toronto: Oxford University, 2009. back to text

[2] See 11 n.1. Anthony Grafton assumes Columbus read d’Ailly: see Figure 1.7, Anthony Grafton with April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi, New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1992. 27. Anthony Pagden discusses Columbus’s attitude to gold and the way in which he shrank the globe. See Pagden, “Ius et Factum: Text and Experience in the Writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas.” New World Encounters. ed. Stephen Greenblatt. Berkeley: University of California, 1993. 85-86. back to text

[3] For the original Spanish, see Jane ed. 3. back to text

[4] See also Sauer, Carl Ortwin. Sixteenth Century North America: The Land and the People as Seen by Europeans. Berkeley: University of California, 1971. back to text

[5] All the bulls and treaties mentioned here, as well as other documents, can be found in Davenport, Frances Gardiner. European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648. 4 vols. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1917. I: 77-78. back to text

[6] For a discussion of how Verrazzano and Cartier misread the Natives’ religious beliefs, see Greenblatt, Stephen. Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. 102-04. back to text

[7] See Ramusio, Giovanni Battista. Navigationi et Viaggi. Venetia, 1550. See also Harris, John. Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca: or, a Compleat Collection of Voyages and Travels: Consisting of above Four Hundred of the most Authentick Writers; Beginning with Hackluit, Purchass, & c. in English; Ramusio in Italian; Thevenot, &c in French; De Bry, and Grynæi Novus Orbis in Latin; the Dutch East-India Company in Dutch: And Continued, with Others of Note, that have Publish’d Histories, Voyages, Travels, or Discoveries, in the English, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, or Dutch Tongues . . . London, 1705. René Herval’s French translation, Giovanni da Verrazzano et les Dieppois à la Recherche du Cathay (1524-1528). Rouen and Caen, 1933, was based on Alessandro Bacchiani’s Italian text (1909 edition) and was republished in Les Français, ed. Julien et al., in 1946. For a detailed account of the versions of the text, see Wroth, Voyages, 93-95. back to text

[8] On the discovery, see d’Anghiera, 2 recto. back to text

[9] Addressing a French official, probably Coligny, at the opening of The Whole and True Discovery of Terra Florida. London, 1562, Ribault talks of discoveries, countries who have had this honour, riches and God. back to text

[10] The Spanish failure to conquer Florida seems to have created a vacuum for the French. For other discussions of this conflict, which, along with the war in the Netherlands, fed the Black Legend, see Lyon, Eugene. The Enterprise of Florida: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and the Spanish Conquest of 1565-1568. Gainsville, FL: University Presses of Florida, 1976; and Hoffman, Paul E. The Spanish Crown and the Defense of the Caribbean, 1565-1585: Precedent, Patrimonialism, and Royal Parsimony. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980. 218-28. back to text

[11] My translation. Le Challeux’s original reads: Discours de l’histoire de la Floride, contenant la trahison des Espagnols, contre les subiets du Roy, en l’an mil cinq cens soixante cinq. Redigé au vray par ceux qui en sont restez, Chose autant lamentable à oüir, qu’elle a esté produitoirement & cruellement executee par les dits Espagnols: Contre l’autorité su Roy nostre Sire, à la perte & dommage de tout ce Royaume. Dieppe, 1566. This is the edition I am using (in Houghton Library, Harvard), except I am drawing on one of the two editions, which do not specify a place of publication, that scholars think were printed in Paris. Another edition appeared in Lyons during the same year. The translation of the title and Le Challeux’s text are mine here and below. back to text

[12] The passage reads: ‘Now during this cruelty Captain Jean Ribaud made some remonstances to Vallemande to save his life. Mr. Ottigny threw himself at his feet, reminding him of his promise, but all that accomplished nothing, for when they turned their backs, he walked a few paces behind them and one of his executioners hit Captain Jean Ribaud from behind with a stroke of the dagger, so he fell to the earth and then very soon afterwards, he [the executioner] gave two or three strokes, so that he took way his life.” (Le Challeux 51). back to textv

[13] I am interpreting “picque” here as pike but it might be a pick or pickaxe. In this edition in Houghton Library, 52 is misnumbered as 54, which I have emended. back to text

[14] The translation is “Of Coaches.” back to text

[15] See also Montaigne. Apologie de Raymond Sebond, ed. Paul Porteau. Paris, 1937, cited in Seed, Patricia. Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 55. back to text

[16] Florio emphasizes this contrast by applying the epithet ‘barbarous mindes’ to the Spanish torturers; de Montaigne, Michel. Montaigne’s Essays: John Florio’s Translation. ed. J. I. M. Stewart. 2 vols. London, 1921. II, 317. back to text

[17] The Quinns seem certain that Hakluyt knew this work; see Quinn, David B. and Alison M. Quinn. “Introduction.” Hakluyt, Richard. Discourse of Western Planting. London: The Hakluyt Society, 1993. xvii. back to text

[18] From “Discours au Henri III. Sur les moyens de diminuer l’Espaignol’, cited in Quinn and Quinn, xx- xxi. back to text

[19] See also Franklin T. McCann, English Discovery of America to 1585. New York: Octagon Books, 1969. 112-13. back to text

[20] See the title page of The Decades . . . a Readex Microprint facsimile (n.p. 1966) of Richard Eden, The Decades of the newe worlde of west India . . . London, 1555. back to text

[21] Eden uses the phrase “in mundo theatro.” back to text

[22] Eden employs the phrase “quibis hæc vestra India plena est.” back to text

[23] “Virtus non exercita (inquit Seneca ad Neronem) paruam laudem meretur.” back to text

[24] See also ãiv recto. For the sonnet, see ãiii and for the “Prologue of the Author,” see ãiii verso. back to text

[25] See also aiv recto. back to text

[26] In European Americana . . . vol. 2, the editors note that for Johnson’s Nova Britannia there are two settings of the type (in which the sheets have been indiscriminately gathered) and three states of the title page. I quote from the Princeton copy. back to text

[27] Todorov denies Vitoria’s reputation as a defender of the rights of the Natives. See Todorov, Tzvetan. The Conquest of America. New York: Harper & Row, 1992. 150. For a contrary view, see Pagden, Fall, esp. 32-3, 64-104. On “otherness,” see Elliott, J. H. “Final Reflections: The Old World and the New Revisited,” America in European Consciousness, 1493-1750. ed. Karen Ordahl Kupperman. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. 398-99. back to text

[28] The author of A True Declaration is anonymous. back to text

[29] See also Steele, Colin. English Interpreters of the Iberian New World From Purchas to Stevens: A Bibliographical Study, 1603-1726. Oxford: Dolphin Book Co, 1975; and for an annotated bibliography, see Allison, A. F. English Translations from the Spanish and Portuguese to the Year 1700: An Annotated Catalogue of the Extant Printed Versions (excluding Dramatic Adaptations). London: Dawson of Pall Mall, 1974. back to text

[30] One such translation is Nouvelle Relation des Indes Occidentales, contenant les voyages de Thomas Gage . . . Paris, 1676. back to text

[31] See Thomas Gage, Nouvelle Relation des Indes Occidentales, contenant les voyages de Thomas Gage . . . Amsterdam, 1720. back to text

[32] See Melchisédech Thévenot, “Avis, Sur le dessein, & sur l’ordre de ce Recueil,” Relation de divers voyages cvrievx, qvi n’ont point este’ pvbliees; qui ont este’ tradvites d’Haclvyt; de Purchas, & d’autres voyageurs Anglois, Hollandois, Portugais, Allemands, Espagnols; et qvelqves Persans, Arabes, et avtres avteurs Orientaux . . . Paris, 1663. back to text

[33] I am actually using the edition of 1698 as I was informed at the British Library that the rare edition of 1685 was missing, perhaps for a very long time. See John Harris, Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca: or, a Compleat Collection of Voyages and Travels: Consisting of above Four Hundred of the most Authentick Writers; Beginning with Hackluit, Purchass, & c. in English; Ramusio in Italian; Thevenot, &c in French; De Bry, and Grynæi Novus Orbis in Latin; the Dutch East-India Company in Dutch: And Continued, with Others of Note, that have Publish’d Histories, Voyages, Travels, or Discoveries, in the English, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, or Dutch Tongues . . . London, 1705. back to text

[34] See also Bradner, Leicester. “Columbus in Sixteenth-century Poetry.” Essays Honoring Lawrence C. Wroth. Portland, ME: Anthoensen, 1951. 15-30. back to text

[35] See also Honour, European, 30-32. For an extended discussion, see Snyder, James. “Jan Mostaert’s West Indies Landscape,” First Images of America: The Impact of the New World on the Old. ed. Fredi Chiapelli, Michael J. B. Allen and Robert L. Benson. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976. I. 495-502. Snyder favors Coronado’s expedition of 1540 as the subject of Mostaert’s painting. For this theme in literature, see Lovejoy, Arthur and George Boas. Primitivism and Related Ideas in Antiquity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1935 and Levin, Harry. The Myth of the Golden Age in the Renaissance. Bloomington: University of Indiana, 1969. back to text

[36] Thevet uses the phrase “cruels jusques au bout.” back to text

[37] Brief Discours and Requeste au roy are numbered together and continuously after Benzoni’s work, which was first published in Italian in 1565. For a discussion of Chauveton, see Keen, Benjamin. “The Vision of America in the Writings of Urbain Chauveton” First Images of America: T he Impact of the New World on the Old. Ed. Fredi Chiapelli et al. 2 vols. Berkeley, 1976. I. 107-20. back to text

[38] My translation of Chauveton here and below. back to text

[39] See also Sagard, 627. back to text

[40] See Ramsey, David. The History of the American Revolution. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by R. Aitken, 1789. back to text

[41] I have consulted the “Souvenir Edition” – which was produced on fine durable paper with uneven treated edges that give it an antique feel — in Rare Books at Princeton. back to text

[42] Also quoted in Louis A. Pérez, Jr. The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba and Historiography. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 1998. 5. back to text

[43] Pérez talks about the difficulty of discovering the meaning of the war of 1898; see 2–3. back to text

[44] For a discussion of the relation between U.S. and Cuban historiographies, see Pérez, The War of 1898; for a general view of the historiography of the war, see especially ix–xiii. For essays on the historiography of the war, see Crapol, Edward P. “Coming to Terms with Empire: The Historiography of Late-Nineteenth-Century American Foreign Relations.” Diplomatic History 16 (1992). 573–97; Paterson, Thomas G. “United States Intervention in Cuba, 1898: Interpretation of the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War.” History Teacher 29 (1996). 341–61. back to text

[45] My discussion is indebted to this article here and below. back to text

[46] I would like to thank my colleague, Patricia McCormack, and our students in the combined class at University of Alberta in the course, “Alternative Voices: Reading Narratives of Contact” (Native Studies 403/503; Comparative Literature 448/610) in the Fall term of 2010. back to text

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