November 30, 2020

The missing manuscripts in five centuries of Canarian history


The archaeologist Antonio Tejera.

The archaeologist Antonio Tejera.
Ramon de la Rocha

A history of the Guanche people written by the son of Mencey Bencomo and a Latin manuscript that was in the Cathedral of Santa Ana in the capital of Gran Canaria are some of the many documents that they have disappeared in the last five centuries on the primitive history of the Canary Islands.

They are part of the texts of which there is evidence through different historical sources, but which have been lost “in the stormy world of manuscripts,” explains whoever was in an interview with EFE. Professor of Archeology at the University of La Laguna Antonio Tejera.

However, the investigator is convinced that unless one of them has been destroyed, documents could be found “at the most unexpected moment”, because “not everything has been lost, and the question is where they are or who has them, since they may have been bought, sold” or deposited in a foreign archive.

In this regard, Antonio Tejera indicates that the parish archives and, above all, the relatives, keep “a great quantity of surprises, they are like a mine” and, as generally they are not properly ordered and cataloged, there may be documents of different sources mixed together and what they contain is unknown until at any moment “the hare jumps”.

As an example, the researcher recalls how in the 80s of the 20th century, lost manuscripts of Columbus appeared, the so-called “Tarragona papers”, and, in the same way, with the documents on the history of the Canary Islands, “something similar could happen, reason why it does not have to give up in the effort of its search “.

First lost manuscript

The first of the lost manuscripts in the history of the Canary Islands, “About Libya (Africa)”, is that of Juba II of Mauritania and of him only a few fragments survived that are contained in paragraphs 202-205 of Book VI of the Natural History of Pliny the Elder.

Y nothing has been preserved either of Estacio Seboso’s, despite having been the first safe name that has been preserved from the first discoverer of the Fortunate, points out Antonio Tejera, who recalls that a very high percentage of the sources from the classical world have disappeared.

Likewise, the information on the religious manifestations of the ancient canaries which appeared in a work by Alonso de Palencia, a book from the late 15th century, “Customs and false religions of the Canaries.”

In turn, the Italian engineer Leonardo Torriani cites around 1590 a doctor Troya who, according to Álvarez Delgado, was a doctor of laws and had previously been a lawyer for the Royal Court of the Canary Islands, who wrote a “Primitive History of the Canary Islands” of whose whereabouts nothing is known.

Another handwritten book, also lost, was kept in the library of the Cathedral of Santa Ana in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, according to the figure cited in chapter V of Abreu Galindo’s work, a work written in Latin “without covers and without beginning no end “.

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