The Spanish Trinidad exhibition wrapping up its brief run at the UWI Museum, Mona, Jamaica, is not the only collection shedding light on this centuries-past period in the life of the country that Christopher Columbus called La Trinidad. The University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine campus in Trinidad & Tobago also has a collection of complementary material .
In fact, that material was the subject of a special exhibition in 2009, when Queen Sofia of Spain visited the St Augustine Campus as part of a royal tour.
The exhibition featured letters of Christopher Columbus, trade maps, documents, books, historic photographs of the first Spanish capital at St Joseph and other materials related to the Spanish influence in Trinidad and Tobago. That exhibition was facilitated by the UWI’s Professor Bridget Brereton, Dr. Lancelot Cowie and Ms Jennifer Joseph.Many of the items then on exhibit were from the library’s own collection, including Pietro D’Anghiera’s The Decades of the Newe Worlde or West India, translated by Richard Eden in 1555, published in a facsimile series in 1966. D’ Anghiera, the earliest Chronicler to the Council of the Indies, drew on various papers and reports, as well as Christopher Columbus’ letters and accounts by various persons of their voyages to the New World.
Early originals in the collection include José de Veitia Linaje’s 1688 Spanish Rule of Trade to the West Indies and the 1730 Historia General de Los Hechos de Los Castellanos en Las Islas y Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano, four volumes with engraved titles and numerous maps and plates, written by Antonio De Herrera.
The exhibition on display at the UWI Museum from November 13 – 27, features facsimiles of archival documents at the Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain, which were presented to Trinidad & Tobago on its 50th anniversary of Independence in 2012 and which are normally housed at the Trinidad & Tobago National Archive. These include one of seven letter chronicles that Columbus wrote to the Spanish monarchs during his third voyage to the Americas; this one from September 1498 when he first saw Trinidad. The Spanish held Trinidad until 1797 when it was captured by the English.