“Perhaps the most important single volume on Columbus ever published in English…The authors’ classification of Columbus’s piety as ‘evangelical’ will be controversial but is exactly right He as as cosmopolitan in his piety as in his cosmography….This is a marvelously well-written and organized study that has all the authority of deep scholarship.” –Leonard Sweet, president, Union Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio
The book in which Christopher Columbus explains his vision to his king and queen is now available for the first time in English. Columbus compiled the Libro in 1501-1502 after returning in chains from his third voyage to the New World. He hoped that his notebook of biblical prophecies would inspire King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to finance a fourth trip for him, one that would allow them to fulfill millennial prophecies of becoming monarchs of the New Jerusalem
Though historians and biographers agree that the document is authentic, until now it has been available only to multilingual scholars. Even those with access to the work paid it slight attention, viewing it as an unimportant excursion into fanaticism that occurred late in the explorer’s life.
The commentators argue that apocalyptic thought played a significant role in Columbus’s grand scheme throughout his life and that biblical prophecies were a major factor motivating his explorations, backing their claims with analyses of his intellectual and cultural background, the apocalyptic thought in Spain at the time, and other writings by his contemporaries
The Libro de las profecías was compiled under the direction of Columbus by his thirteen-year-old son Ferdinand, his close friend Father Gaspar Gorricio, and other clerics. It is reproduced in this handsome volume, with the original Latin and Spanish texts and the English translation on facing pages, as the second title in the Columbus Quincentennary Series.
Delno C. west, a research fellow at the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton, is professor of history at Northern Arizona University. He is coauthor of Christopher Columbus: The Great Adventure and Joachim of Fiore: A Study in Spiritual Perception and History.