Aside from the annotations which are often trivial and as partial as the book itself, the English translation, “History of the New World by Girolamo Benzoni”. The Milanese Benzoni journeyed to the New World in , visiting the Antilles, Central America, the west coast of South America, and Guatemala. His Historia. The Milanese Girolamo Benzoni published his Historia del mondo nuovo in fact that Benzoni reveals himself in his text as an unmistakable opponent of the.
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The first English-language version published sincethis volume includes an informative introduction and annotations that situate Benzoni and his fascinating writings in the larger context of Spanish colonial conquest. Perfect for classroom use, this is a lively, vivid firsthand girolwmo of the adventure and wonder of the New World. They are careful to point out that this eyewitness account provides valuable information about the New World, but they also demonstrate how and why the History is not always benzooni be trusted for its accuracy.
This book will be greatly appreciated by students and scholars of Latin American history, cross-cultural exchange in the Renaissance, and travel writing. This new edition will add yet another indispensable primary document to our collection of historical references for Anglophone students. Benzoni is indeed recommended reading for all courses and discussions considering the birth and girth of global modernity. Like many of his contemporaries, he sought adventure.
He definitely found it, traversing breathtaking surroundings, encountering tattooed and pierced natives, engaging in deadly battles, and barely surviving almost continual hardship. Although his travels are presented as an adventure tale, he had a less glamorous motive for traveling across the globe: Benzoni was a merchant.
In his travels throughout the Americas, he pursued various trade ventures. It is difficult to judge just how successful he was at finding his riches. He omits most of his business dealings; only rarely does he provide details on the price of wine or gold. He certainly asserts his prosperity, telling his readers that he made a fortune and was ready to bring a load of gold back to Milan.
Like other early travelers, Benzoni became an amateur naturalist. He recorded detailed descriptions of indigenous flora and fauna, almost always oddly colored by the pressing pains of hunger or thirst.
At the same time, his writings engage in explicit political commentary. Although a traveler in Spanish America, he despised the Spanish. At almost every turn, Benzoni criticizes Spanish methods of conquest and governance, while frequently siding with Native Americans. More than a decade after he initially departed northern Italy for parts unknown, he found himself expelled from the overseas kingdoms of Spain. He packed his thousands of ducats and left, set to retrace his steps to Europe.
Unfortunately, he suffered shipwreck and inclement weather before he got far. He had to stay in Havana for several miserable months waiting for a vessel strong enough, and weather good enough, to carry him home.
The History of the New World : Girolamo Benzoni :
He ultimately arrived in Spain ingirolaamo, exhausted, and full of stories. With nothing left to peddle but his memories, he decided to write them down in his History of the New World.
His work was very well received for several reasons: The mix of adventure, exotic people and places, and anti-Spanish diatribe made The History of the New World an immediate best seller. Its anti-Spanish rhetoric represents an understudied but historically significant contribution to the Black Legend of Spanish colonialism. As a whole, The History of the New World provides readers with a rich ethnographic text that offered gifolamo early modern readers a tantalizing blend of travelogue, adventure tale, and anti-Spanish propaganda.
Most of the very little we know for certain about Benzoni comes from his first line: Other clues come from his two dedications. The second and shorter dedication was written in benzonii, so we know that he was still alive at that point.
France, Spain, Germany, and the other cities in Italy. Though he never again speaks directly of his upbringing, the narrative supports his claim to be a down-on-his-luck merchant and curious traveler. La historia del Mondo Nuovo was first published in Venice in ; it was reissued in with some minor changes. Far more copies girolsmo this second edition are extant, suggesting a larger run. The book was translated and republished quickly.
Urban Chauveton translated it into Latin; this edition was published in Geneva by Eustathium Vignon in The same team issued a French translation in Benzoni was translated into Dutch in Europeans were able to read about a dozen more translations and editions by the end of the sixteenth century, and quite a few more in the early seventeenth.
There were thirty-two editions in all. The book languished for about a century, until the appearance of a new French translation in It was not published in Spain proper until Anglophones had access to a bit of Benzoni from the early seventeenth century on.
At other times, Benzoni copies other authors almost word for word, passing on specious information with nary a comment. Moreover, the translation, though serviceable, is clunky and more than a little dated. The current edition contains material written only by Benzoni himself; from the whole ggirolamo we have skimmed much of the chaff. The Greeks told a benzoji of Hercules stealing the belt of Hippolyte, the Amazon queen, in a distant land. Rather, the more amazing or awe-inspiring, the better, even if the descriptions were inexact and difficult.
Yet that startled moment also contained a flash of panic. This wonder, as Greenblatt characterizes it, involved not only a desire to possess and understand but also more than a hint of terror and horror. Europeans were in the first throes of New World fever. They consumed more travel literature than ever before and panted over tales of adventure from those recently returned from strange new lands. The travel literature of the early modern period helped to explain to Europeans not only the newly girolako territories but also how the Old World fit into a new global paradigm.
They understood their world within that framework and transmitted girplamo to their readers. Practically speaking, unique animals were likened to familiar beasts of burden. But beyond that, Europeans rendered the utterly unknown into something culturally identifiable. These naked Indians could also become delightful Christian citizens. Benzoni certainly makes use of this schema.
He accentuates the savagery in the Americas, be it via an exhausting passage on bloodthirsty mites capable of crippling a grown man overnight, or magniloquent descriptions of genuine man-eating Indians. He sets up a very clear asymmetrical dichotomy between the indigenous and the Europeans, with religion as his first line of demarcation: But he often presents these atrocities in concert with the even greater horrors perpetrated by the Spaniards.
The Indians kill their children in abominable ways, but only to save them from greater abuses at the hands of the Spaniards.
Yet there were clear distinctions even within the ranks of the Christians, and Benzoni wants to emphasize them. For Benzoni, and his contemporaries, the Spaniards and Italians represented two different peoples endowed with different moral and cultural characteristics.
Benzoni often writes of Spanish foolishness, yirolamo he rarely compares Spaniards and Italians directly. Instead, he makes his nenzoni point by contrasting his fellow Christians with the indigenous. The indigenous may be cannibals, but they are generous when compared to the Spaniards.
The Spaniards appear not only as vicious monsters but also as very bad Christians. Spain was arguably the most powerful country in Europe during the years Benzoni spent tramping through the Americas, and its power was benzpni and maintained by the copious riches of the New World.
The History of the New World : Benzoni’s Historia del Mondo Nuovo
The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile in set the stage for the unification of Spain. Inthe girolam of the Reconquista and the expulsion of virolamo Jews and Muslims furthered gorolamo nationalist project.
The couple wisely negotiated strategic marriages for their children, most notably pairing their daughter Juana with the Habsburg Philip the Handsome, son of the Holy Roman Emperor. Philip and Juana gave birth to a son, Charles, who became king of Castile and Aragon inand would be the first monarch to rule those territories with the title king of Spain. The initial union of Castile and Aragon probably did not worry other European kingdoms.
Such a confluence of dynastic providence was certainly cause for alarm. By the s, Charles controlled huge chunks of Europe, including the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, and much of northern Italy, as well as territories in the New World. After inheriting such vast estates, Charles spent most of his life defending them from his rivals.
In Italy, Charles would spend thirty years fending off French invasions and internal Italian challenges. As Holy Roman Emperor, he struggled to contain the outbreak of the Protestant Reformation and the vicious warfare it unleashed. In the Americas, French and English pirates threatened his colonists and his treasury.
Even the expanding Ottoman Empire encroached on his Austrian possessions. InCharles chose to retire to a monastery, bequeathing the Holy Roman Empire to his brother, Ferdinand, and leaving Spain, and its empire, to his son, Philip II, who remained embroiled in conflict throughout the sixteenth century.
Girolamo Benzoni Stock Photos & Girolamo Benzoni Stock Images – Alamy
Waged between andthese wars involved most of the major European kingdoms, as they each vied for power over the Italian Peninsula. Although the Milanese could have developed a grudge against many foreign interlopers, including the papacy, the French, the Florentines, the Ottomans, and the Venetians, among others, the Spanish were the worst. InFrancesco Sforza died without an heir, leaving the Duchy of Milan without a native ruler. Charles V took it over without fanfare.
That move sparked a brief encounter between the Spaniards and the French from to A much more significant war involving the Ottoman Empire took place between and and then again from to Benzoni departed for the Americas inwar breaking out around him again as France and Spain fought for control of his homeland. His anger toward the Spanish and the machinations of Charles V stemmed in part from this experience. Given the scope of conflicts involving the Habsburgs, other Europeans came to adopt similarly negative views of the Spanish.
Although derogatory descriptions of the Spanish have persisted since the sixteenth century, this pattern of national stereotyping received no serious scholarly attention until the twentieth century. At its core, the Black Legend portrays Spaniards as harsh conquerors and colonizers, ruthless in their dealings with Native Americans and exploitive of the land and people under their rule.
The Black Legend and the various stereotypes it comprises must be understood as a historical process. It did not spring into existence suddenly but was shaped by interactions between competing European groups in Europe and the Americas. Such views persisted in the sixteenth century in response to Spanish participation in the Italian Wars.
But this is not the case.