Relation and route of the Travel and discovery of the Strait of the Mother of God, formerly called Magellan

This present document comes from the Hispanic Digital Library of the BNE and is under the title Papeles referentes al Estrecho de Magallanes (Papers referring to the Strait of Magellan). It is a manuscript copy of the eighteenth century that contains in addition to other documents referring to the Strait, the Relación y derrotero (Chronic and course) of Captain Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, cosmographer and historian. The original document, written on request of the viceroy of Peru Francisco de Toledo, is a report that Sarmiento wrote as a result of the expedition to the Strait of Magellan after the surprise attack of the English pirate Francis Drake in the port of Callao in Lima in 1579. The expedition was supposed to close the way to the corsair on his way back to England. However, it did not accomplish its purpose: Drake would have returned to the port of Plymouth heading west, arriving at the Maluca Islands and surrounding the Cape of Good Hope.

The Relación y derrotero of Sarmiento was presented before the Spanish court and led to King Felipe II to establish the South Sea Navy, requesting Sarmiento’s assistance in the process of fortification and colonization of the Strait of Magellan. Sarmiento follows closely the instructions of the viceroy Toledo and makes sure to register meticulously the territories that were still unknown as well as the characteristics of their populations. The text was totally published in 1768, but a summary of it appeared in 1609 in the books three and four of the Conquista de las islas Malucas de Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola.

Reviewed by María Gracia Ríos
maria.rios@yale.edu

Libros de Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa
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