Capitulations of Santa Fe

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Capitulations of Santa Fe

Capitulations of Santa Fe, the April 1492 agreements between the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabella I, and Christopher Columbus detailed the terms of royal support for Columbus's voyage to the New World. The capitulation is similar to a royal patent, in this case authorizing and regulating the relationship between the crown and an agent. By these agreements at the military encampment of Santa Fe on the edge of Granada, Isabella and Ferdinand bestowed on Columbus the offices of viceroy, admiral, and governor in any newly found lands. Further, Columbus received the right to one-tenth the value of the sale of "pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices," and other commodities. He was given the title of Don, and the capitulation was transferable to his heirs in perpetuity. In return, Columbus was to undertake the expedition, providing leadership and part of the funding. Many have questioned why the monarchs were so generous in their bestowal of privileges to the Italian; perhaps it was due to the recent fall of Granada, the prospect of converting pagan peoples, or the belief that if Columbus was successful, the crown could recover its investment.

See alsoColumbus, Christopher .


Samuel Eliot Morison, Journals and Other Documents on the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1963).

William D. Phillips, Jr., and Carla Rahn Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Nader, Helen, and Luciano Formisano, eds. The Book of Privileges issued to Christopher Columbus by King Fernando and Queen Isabel, 1492–1502. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2004.

Thomas, Hugh. Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan. New York: Random House, 2003.

                                  Noble David Cook

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Capitulations of Santa Fe

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