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Itinerarium ad regiones sub aequinoctiali plaga constitutas. Opus antiquitates, ritus, mores & religiones populor u Aethiopie, Africae, Atlantici Oceani, Indicarumque regionum complectens, nunc primo edidit Onuphrius Geraldinus de Catenacciis.

Author: Geraldini, Alessandro
Year: 1631
Edition: First edition
Publisher: Rome; Typis G. Facciotti
Category: Americas
Price: € 3,300.-

 
 

Romae, Typis G. Facciotti, 8vo, 20 ƒƒ, pp. 284, 18 ƒƒ. Contemporary vellum with a gilt, red  and slightly worn morocco label fixed to the spine, contemporary or near contemporary as well. Title page with an engraved vignette and complete with the additional engraved title page. The first four ƒƒ (ffep, title, engraved title, first introductory leaf) professionally restored with paper in the bottom margins. At the bottom of the title page the words instante octauio inghrilano have been lost due to this restoration. No further loss of text. Some scribbling to front  pastedown. Some browning towards the bottom edges of the first few pages following the restored pages, but further a very clean and crisp copy of a rare book in a full contemporary binding.

Contains a description of the discovery of the West Indies, Central Africa and Ethiopia (¹).

Sabin 27116: "A very scarce and curious volume on the discoveries of the West Indies, written in 1524. Its writer was the intimate friend of Columbus the one whose interest prevailed over Ferdinand to fit out the first expedition in search of unknown lands, and proved the feasibility of the discovery by mathematical demonstration.
Previous to being appointed Bishop of Santo Domingo he had been ambassador to the court of Henry the VIII of England. We learn from the twelve leaves of verses in commendation of the author and his travels by various writers, in Greek, Latin, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Hungarian and English languages, the latter written by John Walker, that the bishop had had the charge of four queens, the greatest of whom was Catherine of Arragon, queen of Henry VIII."

Geraldini (Geraldinus), Alexandri (Alessandro or Alejandro), Bishop of Santo Domingo; born Amelia (Italy), 1455, died Santo Domingo, 1525. He went to Spain, where he served against the Portuguese in 1475/1476. He entered Church, and was entrusted with the education of the princesses of the royal family. While at court he supported Columbus, who had come to present to the sovereigns of Castile and Aragon his plan for discovering a new world.

Geraldini says: "They were discussing this project in a council composed of men of the most eminent rank. Opinions were divided, because several Spanish prelates treated the view of Columbus as manifest heresy; they cited the authority of Nicolas de Lyra, who represents the terrestrial globe as not containing any lands on the sides, neither beneath nor beyond the Canaries: and that of St. Augustine, who affirms that there are no antipodes. I chanced to be standing then behind Cardinal de Mendoza, a man equally remarkable for his accomplishments and his learning. I represented to him that Nicolas de Lyra had been a very able theologian, and St. Augustine, a doctor of the Church illustrious for his doctrine and sanctity, but that both had shown themselves bad geographers, for the Portuguese had reached a point on the other hemisphere where they had lost sight of the polar star and had discovered another at the opposite pole, that they had found all the countries under the torrid zone well populated."
This argument produced its effect, and Columbus was heard. (Source: famousamericans.net)

From the two citations here above it is difficult to determine whether Columbus and Geraldini really were intimate friends, however, given the fact that both were Italian it is extremely unlikely that the two would not have spoken with each other while at court. Moreover, it is common knowledge that Isabella of Castile, after the fall of Granada (2nd January 1492), was pursuaded by her confessor, padre Hernando Talavera, and Cardinal de Mendoza to support Columbus. Once Isabella was convinced, an agreement between her and Columbus was signed on April 17th 1492, approximately 7 years after Columbus for the first time had asked to be heard. These facts make it quite possible that they were friends indeed. Also Washington Irving in "The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus" listing the people who had known Columbus, writes: "To these names may be added that of Alexander Geraldini, brother to the nuncio (²), and instructor to the children of Ferdinand and Isabella, a most intimate friend of Columbus." (Italics by us).

In 1520 he was appointed bishop of Santo Domingo and embarked at Seville. Geraldini wrote a great many works on theology, letters, poetry, a biography of Catharine of Aragon, treatises on politics and education, and this important account of his voyage to the Antilles. This work gives a detailed narrative of the voyage of Geraldini along the coast of Africa to the mouth of the Senegal and thence to Santo Domingo. The editor adds a sketch of the life of the author and a list of his works, printed and in manuscript. The best part of the work is the description of Santo Domingo, the condition of which at the time it was written being vividly set forth. We learn from it that already the native race had been almost entirely exterminated. In one of the letters annexed to his relation Geraldini announces that he is sending, among other rarities, two turkeys. This letter was written in 1523, and is consequently prior to the work of de Oviedo y Valdes, who had been regarded as the first author who mentioned these fowls.

This first edition was published by Onofrio Geraldini, the author's nephew. Although it was only published more than a century after the death of Geraldini, it still appears here in print for the very first time.

A pleasing copy, complete with all 20 preliminary leaves. Very often one or more leaves are missing, as was the case with the copy as described by Sabin.

(¹) Ethiopia and Central Africa during the 15th and 16th century are for the greater part overlapping entities. The Portuguese maintained excellent relations with the rulers of this Christian nation. With the interior of Africa unexplored, Ethiopia supposedly stretched from the Indian Ocean in the East allmost till the Atlantic in the West.

(²) Antonio Geraldini. On behalf of king John II of Portugal he requested and obtained papal dispensation for the marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon to Isabelle of Castile. Throughout the 15th and 16th century the Geraldini family held important positions as bishops, governors, diplomats, etc. for the church of Rome.


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