Translation No. 001
Date: 1497, July 22nd. Medina del Campo, Spain.
Theme: Decree by the Catholic Monarchs granting lands to the early settlers of La Española for the cultivation of certain crops and under certain conditions, including sugar-canes.
Source: PARES, Portal de Archivos Españoles--Archivo General de Indias, Patronato,295,No. 38, and Archivo General de Simancas,CCA,DIV,6,1-Imágenes Núm: 109/84 and 110/84.
Don Fernando and doña Isabel by the grace of God king and queen of Castille, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Seville, Sardinia, Corsica, Navarre, Jaen, the Algarves, Algeciras, Gibraltar and the Canary Islands, Count and Countess of Barcelona, Genoa, Viscaya and Molina, duke of Athens and Neopatria, counts of Rousillon and Sardinia, marquises of Oristano and Gociano, since it was implored to us by some persons that are denizens of the Española island and of others that want to become denizens in it for us to mandate that lands were given and assigned to them in which they could [sow] wheat and other seeds and grow orchards and cotton fields and olive fields and vineyards and trees and sugar cane fields and other plants and make and build houses and mills and sugar mills for the said sugar and other convenient buildings necessary for their living, which is beneficial to us and an asset and useful for us as well as for the residents in the said island. We therefore hereby give license and power to you don Christopher Columbus our admiral of the Ocean Sea and our viceroy and governor in the said island so that in all its districts you may give away and distribute and indeed give away and distribute to such personas and to each one of them that now live and reside in the said island and to those that from heretofore go to live and reside in it in the lands, mountains, and water that you may see should be given and allocated to each one of them in accordance to who they may be and how much they may have served us, and the condition and quality of their person and way of living, limiting and fencing what you may thus give and distribute to them, so that they may have and own it as of their own and theirs, and use it and plant it and carve it and benefit from it, with capacity to sell, give away and donate and barter and change and transfer and pawn it and to make with it, and in it, everything that may be, and be considered, good as if a thing of their own, owned by just and straight title, the said persons obliging themselves to have and maintain denizenship with their house populated in the said Española island during the immediately subsequent four years, counted from the day you were to give and hand to them the said lands and farms, and to make houses in the said island and plant the said vineyards and orchards in the manner and quantity that you deem good, provided that in the said lands and mountains and streams that you may thus give away and distribute, the said persons may not have and do not have any jurisdiction, civil or criminal, nor anything bounded nor made into pasture nor a round plot besides what they may have fenced with an upright [mud] wall, and that everything else of the fenced lot, once the fruits and remnants of it are picked, should become pasture and commons and waste land to all, and also that the said persons to whom you may give and apportion the said lands may not make nor they make on them, nor on part of them, [any] collecting or unloading of metal nor of brazil wood nor of any other things among those that belong to us and of which a [any] collecting or unloading must be done under our mandate, and that they alone be allowed to sow and harvest and carry and enjoy the fruits of bread and seeds and trees and vineyards and cotton fields that they may sow and collect in the said lands as it has been said, and we want and mandate that, in the lands that you give and apportion to them in the said manner, no person or persons should take them away from them or occupy them or put on them or portion of them any embargo or any impediment but should allow them to freely have and own and enjoy them according to the content of this our letter, and neither some or the others should therefore do otherwise in any manner under penalty of our favor and of ten thousand maravedis for our coffers to each who does the contrary. Issued in the village of Medina del Campo on twenty two days of the month of July, year one thousand and four hundred and ninety seven years since the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. [Rubric] I the King [Rubric] [Rubric] I the Queen [Rubric]. And I Juan de Parra secretary of the King and the Queen our lords had it written as per their mandate [Rubric].