The Year of Wonders

136 The year of WondersThere are some certain dates and years which we learn about at school and never forget during our whole life. One of them is 1492 which is well known as the “The Year of Wonders” and is related to several noteworthy and remarkable events that happened both on the Old Continent and in the New World that changed history. Here I can add one thing which is from my own perspective, i.e. this was the year of Spain as well. And why …?

The Moors invaded most of Southern Europe starting from the Iberian Peninsula in 711. In the course of 3 years they managed to conquer the whole peninsula (including both Spain and Portugal) stretching the borders beyond it. Thus they formed the third largest Moorish Caliphate of that time (after Syria and Egypt) with a capital city Córdoba. The Moors remained on the peninsula for about 800 years when in 1492 Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II of the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon shooed the Moors from these territories. The Queen forced them to surrender and thus the last Moorish bastion – Alhambra, fell in the hands of the Spaniards on January 02 which has been commemorated as The Conquest Day of Granada since then.

The money and treasures which Isabella found in Alhambra were given to Christopher Columbus. I will open a bracket here. According to some gossips, the Queen gave one of her most valuable and precious necklaces which she liked most, to the Italian dreamer from Genoa so he could equip his fleet and rumours say that there was a love affair between them. The bracket closed. Thus in 1492 Columbus signed a contract with Spain to find out the Indies and started his first voyage from Palos de la Frontera in Southern Spain to the new and unknown lands about which he never got to know that they were part of the New World. Owing to his unlimited adventurous spirit the Old Continent and especially Spain, could bring their culture and traditions, languages and architecture to the new continents from where in return they obtained brand new and exotic materials and goods like cocoa, chocolate, potatoes, etc..

Spain nowadays expresses her gratitude to Columbus’ feat through monuments like Mirador de Colon in Barcelona (Columbus holding a globe in one hand and his other hand is stretching pointing out to the New World), the Monument to explorer in Granada (he is talking to Queen Isabella). On the other hand, DNA tests have approved that the remains of Columbus lay in his tomb in the Cathedral of Seville (although there’s still been a lead box in Santo Domingo inscribed with the words: “The illustrious and distinguished man, Don Cristobal Colon, Admiral of the Ocean Sea”).

There are some disputes about the final resting place of the great explorer as he travelled more in death than even in his life. The discoverer himself wanted to be buried on the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola. After his death in Valladolid in 1506 he was first buried in the city. Later his remains were brought to Santo Domingo (today’s Dominican Republic) where they remained for a couple of centuries. In 1795 the island was captured by the French and the Spaniards moved the bones to Havana in Cuba. His “fifth voyage” continued after about a century later (in 1898) during the Spanish –American war. At that time his remains were brought back to Seville and since then they have been kept in Christopher Columbus’ tomb in the third largest cathedral in the world. The tomb itself is held aloft by four male figures that represent the four Spanish kingdoms: Castille, Aragon, Navara and Leon.

And finally, there are two other events of cultural and religious importance that occurred in 1492. The first one was the appearance of the first Spanish (as a matter of fact, Castilian) Grammar Book and the first Latin-Spanish Dictionary. They both were introduced to Queen Isabella on January 16. They were created by Antonio de Nebrija who had completed his education in Italy and who was of the opinion that an explanatory grammar would be of much help to all those who wanted to learn the Spanish language as he and others had learned Latin before. Thus the very first grammar of any modern European language was introduced and the Spanish language became the imperial language with the discovery of the Americas. The second event was related to religion. Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja became Pope Alexander VI. He was most probably the most provocative and controversial pope whose Ambition … Passion … Power  were his driving force as a leader of the whole Catholic world but at the same time helped him bargain successful political unions, obtain new lands and pile up gold and treasure.

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8 thoughts on “The Year of Wonders

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