Last post, I was able to muse about all the lovely + pensive thoughts my visit to Salamanca evoked. I’ve saved the WHAT-MY-MIND-IS-BLOWN history for this post. In discussing this topic with different folks, both American and European, I’ve concluded that Europeans (and other people groups, I’m sure) have a very different ability to comprehend history than Americans do. While all of humanity has the same length of history, American history was written by the winners (ie, Europeans) and thus, for most purposes, begins in the 15th century.
Obviously, there were inhabitants of the Americas with a rich, varied, profound history and culture before Columbus ‘discovered’ the Indies. But when Columbus and those who came after him arrived, they dramatically shaped the landscape and the narratives of the New World. Goodness, we even call it the ‘New World’, as if it didn’t exist before it was viewed through European eyes. That gives us a starting point to start to understand how different the mindsets are, and how varied historical accounts can be from different perspectives. Is history recorded, or created?
Whew. That is a bit of a wandering introduction to begin, but I think it’s important to have in mind as my mind could not wrap around the history of some of what I saw in Salamanca. And I think that for Europeans, their minds can wrap around it a little bit more. Oh, this building is 500 years old? I can conceptualize that. This ROMAN BRIDGE WAS AROUND BEFORE CHRIST!? No big deal. Whereas for me, I see this things and my mind hits a stop gap and gets confused, as it did when we saw the Roman Bridge in Salamanca, or the monastery where Christopher Columbus asked for funds for his exploratory voyage. Yep. That exists.
Full disclosure, I went to the people’s free encyclopedia for the following information. I looked at the sources–they were legit. Ish.
Anyways, we saw a monastery that our professor told us Columbus went to petition funds before his visit to “the Indies, because in Europe that’s what he was looking for and that’s what we called it. Not the Americas”, because of course we don’t change our vernacular even after 500 years. According to her, Columbus was denied funding by the nice monks and so then went to Isabella and Ferdinand.
According to wiki, Columbus made his case to a council of geographers at the university of Salamanca, and lectured there when he got back while Cortés attended classes as a teen.
Real life, folks. Our university towns seem to lack a little feel and history after Salamanca . . . but considering the history, I think I’ll take it.