Lecture: Cartography and Empire - Christina Connett
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 5:30 pm
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Central Library
Cartography and Empire in "Historia general de los hechos de los castellanos en las Islas y Tierra Firme del mar Océano" by Antonio de Herrera y Tordesilla - Christina Connett (Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the New Bedford Whaling Museum)
In the sixteenth century, some of Spain’s most intriguing imperialistic strategies of asserting its New World claims are the official histories commissioned by the monarchy and the use of cartography to support these narratives and their relevant agendas. This talk will reflect upon the cartographic elements employed in one of the most ambitious of these projects, the Historia General de los hechos de los castellanos en las Islas y Tierra Firme del mar Océano, 1601-1615, by Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, with the purpose of better understanding and broadening the arc of historical discourse on this work.
While much scholarship has been given to the text of the Historia, its author, context, and sources, there have been no thorough examinations of the title pages and maps, particularly using a methodology which combines cartographic and art historical analyses. Herrera’s use of maps was an active, not a passive effort in legitimizing Catholic Spain’s claims on the Americas and to analyze and contextualize this cartographic strategy of possession. By using Christian and classical iconography and humanist historiographical structure embedded in a cartographic program, Herrera addresses Catholic obligations in the Americas particularly in response to Protestant propaganda; unifies and nationalizes the New World within the Catholic Habsburg monarchy; and legitimizes possession of new territories and the governance of the Indians.