Martyr, Peter (1459–1526)

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Martyr, Peter (1459–1526)

Peter Martyr (also Pietro Martire d'Anghiera; b. 1457 or 1459; d. 1526), early historian of the discovery and exploration of the New World. Born in Arona, Italy, Martyr moved to Rome in 1477 and became a noted academic. In 1487 he went to Spain, where he became a cleric and adviser to the Spanish mon-archs Isabella I and Ferdinand V, and became a friend of Christopher Columbus. In 1520 he became court historian and secretary to the Council of the Indies. His close relationship to the Spanish court and with the early conquistadores during the time of the Conquest of America provided him with much data, from which he wrote De orbe novo (The New World). The first history of the Spanish Conquest, this work was published in eight parts, beginning in 1511. Although it contains many errors as a result of Martyr's heavy use of the reports of the conquistadores, who often embellished their accounts or relied on memory rather than documentary sources, it remains one of the most important of the early chronicles and reflects the Renaissance spirit of the explorations.

See alsoConquistadores .


De orbe novo, translated by Richard Eden (1612).

De orbe novo: The Eight Decades of Peter Martyr d'Anghera, translated by Francis Augustus MacNutt (1912).

                                     Sue Dawn McGrady