What Henry VII missed out on

Posted by Helen Thursday, October 12, 2006

Probably this will not count as Conservative history in any shape or form but it links in well with the previous posting about J. H. Elliott and Claudio Véliz, who gave the Anglosphere Institute’s inaugural lecture in Washington DC yesterday.

Today is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing on the island he named San Salvadore and the beginning of the exploration of the New World by the Old. It used to be called Discovery of America but Tory Historian understands that those are words not much in vogue these days. And, of course, one doesn’t quite know how to react to Columbus Day. It is celebrated in the United States by Italian-Americans (and there is a splendiferous memorial to the man himself at the bottom of Central Park, in Columbus Circle, in New York City) but in Latin American countries it is called various other things: Día de la Raza (Day of the Race – an odd name, given the descent of various peoples in Latin America), Discovery Day (not unreasonable though it does raise the question of what was discovered by whom and who knew about it before) and the newly named Día de la Resístancia Indigena (Day of the Indigenous Resistance) in Venezuela.

None of which manages to destroy the importance to European and, subsequently, world history of the day on which Columbus and others set foot on “a small island of the Lucayos, called, in the language of the Indians, Guanahani”.

For modern historians the argument has, as this blog has indicated before, shifted somewhat from the rather fruitless victim status competition to a discussion of the difference between the way the Spanish and British empires developed and the continuing difference between the countries of the Anglosphere and Hispanosphere.


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Wasn't it also the year that Ferdinand & Isabella recovered Spanish territory from the Muslim Occupation, and also expelled the Jews ?

    Did Columbus have to go west because Byzantium had fallen in 1453 and Muslims controlled the overland trade routes to India ?

  3. Helen Says:
  4. And? History is full of nasty things.

    Actually, the Jews were expelled in the first place only if they refused to convert. Eventually, they were expelled (if they were lucky) no matter whether they had converted or not. Dittor Muslims who had stayed on after the fall of Granada.

    And, of course, apart from the Muslim control there was the Venetian control of the spice trade.

    All very muddled, I fear, Voyager.

  5. Anonymous Says:
  6. And? History is full of nasty things.

    Oooh I hadn't realised.....do you have to be a Tory historian to realise such things ? Or is that your depth of profundity ?

    My oh my, you are a real pseudo-intellectual, how overpowering........swoon !

    All very muddled, I fear, Voyager.

    I must take over the entire Blog and give you some lectures.....maybe you won't be a smug "Tory" afterwards

  7. Helen Says:
  8. Sorry, Voyager, but on this blog we don't go in for this sort of rubbish. You have something to say, say it. You want to bring up obvious bits of information gleaned from google, do so but stop that childishness. That is not the sort of comments one expects.

  9. Anonymous Says:
  10. Not sure you are altogether correct about the original discoverer of America (their contemporary perception and hence imporatnt despite those who wish to impose anachronism). There is agood case for the Cabots, and if correct, makes H VII more culpable. However, the men who really made a difference are surely Cortez and Pizarro (for better or worse).

    I rather think Voyager has in mind the switch from the Med to the Atlantic on which I seem to recall John Elliott had some very perceptive things to say.

  11. Anonymous Says:
  12. Actually, the Jews were expelled in the first place only if they refused to convert. Eventually, they were expelled (if they were lucky) no matter whether they had converted or not

    Nope. Communities of Marranos (openly Catholics, secretly Jews) have lived in Spain until nowadays. So the converted weren't expelled. Also Diego Lainez (cofounder of the Jesuit order and second general of it) was a son of Jewish converts (I think these were sincere and converted before 1492)

    Dittor Muslims who had stayed on after the fall of Granada.

    Actually Muslims revolted within months of Granada's falls. Picture churches and monasteries burned, priests totured and killed, ditto for nuns but with rape as an addenda. After crushing the revolt Christians were unwilling to tolerate Muslim presnce in Spanish soil.

    Alos in the following century there were more raisngs between the oofically converted Mulims and help provided by them to the Barbary pirats. There was also the fear they would help the Turks in wase they landed in Spain. Finally old Chritians were furious to see that after the Reconquista Mulims were allowed to keep lands they had stolen during occupation through the many unfair provisions of Mulim law (example1: in a trial the word of a Muslim prevails against the one of a Christian, or if one brother converts to Islam he gets all the heiloom) so converted Muslims ended being expelled in 1709

  13. When I was a kid, growing up in the Midwest (USA), Columbus Day was celebrated in school as the day America was discovered. It didn't seem to matter that it was already inhabited, or that there is evidence of Scandinavians having reached the Northeast long before.

    Liberals here have slowly changed our Columbus Day into a day to remember the genocide of the Indians (Native Americans). While it was a true genocide, and not something I'm terribly proud of, it was also a simple scenario of a superior culture arriving on the shores of a vastly inferior one. The results would have been easily predicted.

    Despite the Indian matter, I'm very pleased with the way everything turned out. I'm somewhat arrogantly proud to be an American, and don't give a damn what happened many generations in the past.

  14. Anonymous Says:
  15. "That is not the sort of comments one expects."

    Unfortunately, Tory Historian, it too often is what one expects, or worse, far worse.

    I have a policy of deleting any comment that does is not (1) intelligent, (2) civil, (3) on point, and (4) useful or interesting or otherwise a positive addition to the conversation. The standard is wholly subjective, and is ruthlessly enforced. Voyager, in my view, is pushing the envelope.

    Make of these thoughts what you will.

  16. Gracchi Says:
  17. Having just had some comments attacking me on my blog I can see your point Lexington Green but on the other hand leaving them there just makes the people that make them look like idiots as Voyager does at the moment.

    On the actual argument its a really interesting moment I think in history- the other aspect of it potentially being that it came just at the moment in Spanish history when the reconquista had almost ended- so consequently shifted its focus to America.

    On the Jews point, I remember Diarmard McCulloch in a Cambridge seminar arguing that one of the causes of the reformation was the spreading of Jews throughout Europe following their expulsion. He didn't enlarge upon it so I don't know his evidence and his book on the Reformation doesn't cite much evidence in support but its definitely a fascinating idea. Does anyone have any evdience

  18. Helen Says:
  19. It would be useful to find out what Diarmaid McCulloch had in mind and which countries he was talking about. After all, the Jews were not allowed back into England until Cromwell's rule.

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