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Fonseca, Juan Rodríguez de (1451–1524)

Fonseca, Juan Rodríguez de (1451–1524)

Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca (b. 1451; d. 4 March 1524), head of the Casa de Contratación, the Spanish House of Trade. Born in Seville to a noble family, Fonseca came to Queen Isabella's court as a page, became a priest and royal chaplain, and in 1514 the bishop of Burgos. He was entrusted with diplomatic missions, administering the sale of indulgences and the outfitting of Christopher Columbus's second voyage in 1493. In 1503 he was instrumental in establishing the Casa de Contratación, which, merging into the Council of the Indies set up in 1524, was to retain exclusive control of the Indies trade for nearly 300 years. In 1518 Fonseca fitted out Ferdinand Magellan's fleet. Reputedly tight-fisted, arrogant, and impatient, he was at odds with Columbus and, later, Hernán Cortés. He presided over the 1512 Junta of Burgos, which was concerned with the theology of the rights of the Indies. He died in Burgos.

See alsoColumbus, Christopher; Council of the Indies; Magellan, Ferdinand.


Quintin Aldea Vaquero et al., Diccionario de Historia Eclesiástica de España (Madrid, 1972).

Manuel Giménez Fernández, Bartolomé de Las Casas, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1984).

Helen Nader, "Fonseca," in The Christopher Columbus Encyclopedia, edited by Silvio A. Bedini (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Sagarra Gamazo, Adelaida. Burgos y el gobierno indiana: La clientele del obispo Fonseca. Burgos: Caja de Burgos, 1998.

Sagarra Gamazo, Adelaida. Colón y Fonseca: La otra version de la historia Indiana. Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid, 1997.

                                                      Peggy K. Liss

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