28 Oct

The VIII Centenary rescues the importance of Burgos and the merchant Cristobal de Haro in the first circumnavigation

The exhibition ‘Burgos, zero league of Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation. A history of kings, merchants and oceans. Cristóbal de Haro, merchant from Burgos’ will highlight the role played by Burgos and the people of Burgos in the first round-the-world trip before, during and after the journey, as part of the commemoration of the eight centuries that Burgos Cathedral will celebrate in 2021. In five chapters, the exhibition deals with the importance of the Castilian monarchs in the journey to the Spice Islands, the commercial, financial and artistic potential of Burgos as reflected in its Merchant’s University (1443) and the Consulate of the Sea (1494), the importance of the merchant Cristobal de Haro and Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca and the life of the sailors who completed the feat in which Columbus failed.

The exhibition is organized by the Cathedral VIII Centenary Foundation Burgos 2021 and is curated by Adelaida Sagarra, professor of American History at the University of Burgos, who has been studying the transcendental participation of Burgos society in the first circumnavigation for decades. “The first round-the-world trip was a business from Burgos“, she says, because behind it were the merchants from Burgos who “manage, have money and are entrepreneurs”. In fact, she points out that “the trip was not prepared as a circumnavigation, but as a return trip to the Moluccas sailing west”. Cristóbal de Haro was crucial, as the merchant who took on most of the financing of the trip and who had his man of trust in Elcano on the expedition; Bishop Fonseca, in charge of Indian affairs on behalf of the Catholic Kings and Charles I; Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa, major sheriff, who captained the Nao Trinidad after Magellan’s death; and Juan de Cartagena, general overseer of the navy and, therefore, the king’s right-hand man, to whom Magellan had to consult on any decision; all of them born in Burgos or linked to this land.

More than 170 pieces and participation of local artists

173 pieces make up the exhibition, with some coming from the Army Museum, the Naval Museum, the National Anthropological Museum or the Royal Chancery. Highlights include the praying busts of Cristóbal de Haro and Catalina de Ayala, restored for the occasion, several cannons (one of them built in Burgos and used during the war of Isabel la Católica and Juana la Beltraneja), gold coins, armoured spheres, a chest from Goa (India) that arrived in Burgos in 1582, maps such as that of Juan de la Cosa and works by Bartolomé Ordóñez and Diego de Siloé, among others.

It also features the intervention of several local artists. Cristino Díez signs the sculpture at the entrance to the exhibition, which evokes a boat in homage to the nao Victoria captained by Juan Sebastián de Elcano. For his part, the painter José Marticorena is the author of the watercolor that illustrates the exhibition poster. It can be seen on the first floor of the Fórum Evolución, with free admission, from October 31st to March 29th, from Tuesday to Saturday from 10.40am to 2.30pm and from 5pm to 8pm and on Sundays from 10.40am to 2.30pm.

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