Exploration, Religion and Empire in the Sixteenth-century Ibero-Atlantic World
Exploration, Religion and Empire in the Sixteenth-century Ibero-Atlantic World
A New Perspective on the History of Modern Science
€ 119,00
Number of pages
Publication date
15.6 x 23.4 cm
Table of Contents
Show Table of ContentsHide Table of Contents
Index of illustrations
The New World and the problem of Eurocentrism
Science and empire
Summary of the chapters in this book
1. The Iberian Peninsula and the Atlantic
Portugal and Spain
Winds, currents and sailing ships in the Atlantic
Gold, silver, slaves, souls and a thousand kinds of trees
2. The imperial bureaucracy and the appropriation of the New World
Seville and the Casa de Contratación
The universal monarchy
3. The piloto mayor: cosmography and the art of navigation
The post of piloto mayor: seamanship and cartography
The navigation manuals
Manuals for the empire
Publications, dissemination and secrecy
Humanism and the classics
Experience and authority
Man against the sea: shipwrecks and meteorology
Routes and chorographic descriptions: The New World within the new
global order
4. Machines of the empire
The ships
War and artillery
Navigational instruments
The Astrolabe
The Cross-staff
The Mariner’s Compass
Time and clocks
The sounding or plumb line
The navigation charts
Astronomical tables
Instruments, measurements, precision and standardization
The crew
The Captain or Admiral
The Pilot
The Shipmaster (maestre) and Quartermaster (contramaestre)
The boatswain (guardián)
The Ordinary Seamen (marineros)
Midshipmen (grumetes) and Cabin boys (pajes)
The carpenter, steward, cooper and cook
The scribe, master-at-arms and overseer
The cannoneer
The barber or surgeon
The Priest
Life on board
The argot of the sailors
Food and health
Men of the sea and men of God
5. The Master Map (Padrón Real) and the cartography of the New World
Nautical charts and how they were made
The making of a chart
The charts of Tierra Firme: the earliest maps of the New World
Three early maps of the New World
Juan de la Cosa (1500)
Waldseemüller (1507)
Diego Ribero (1520)
6. God’s creatures never seen before: natural history
Nature in the New World
The classics and the Bible
Monsters in Paradise
To describe, classify and name
Medicine, Botany and the knowledge of the natives
The Empire and natural history
7. The New World, global science and Eurocentrism
Plus ultra
Experience and authority
The empire and the challenge of standardization
Primary sources
Manuals of seamanship
Books on natural history
Secondary sources

Reviews and Features

"This study is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature that seeks to re-evaluate Iberian scientific activity in America in the early modern period. It is an ambitious work that takes an original approach to establishing how the Spanish sought to build and understand their Atlantic empire, viewing technological practices as part of the broad networks of diverse actors where scientific, technical, political, religious and commercial factors converged. Nieto’s clear and compelling narrative highlights the importance of understanding the interactions of these ‘machines of empire’, an approach that allows us to understand anew how the Spanish saw themselves as fulfilling a providential mission in America."
- Dr Edward Collins, University College Dublin

Mauricio Nieto

Exploration, Religion and Empire in the Sixteenth-century Ibero-Atlantic World

A New Perspective on the History of Modern Science

The Iberian conquest of the Atlantic at the beginning of the sixteenth century had a notable impact on the formation of the new world order in which Christian Europe claimed control over most a considerable part of the planet. This was possible thanks to the confluence of different and inseparable factors: the development of new technical capacities and favorable geographical conditions in which to navigate the great oceans; the Christian mandate to extend the faith; the need for new trade routes; and an imperial organization aspiring to global dominance. The author explores new methods for approaching old historiographical problems of the Renaissance — such as the discovery and conquest of America, the birth of modern science, and the problem of Eurocentrism — now in reference to actors and regions scarcely visible in the complex history of modern Europe: the ships, the wind, the navigators, their instruments, their gods, saints, and demons.

Mauricio Nieto

Mauricio Nieto Olarte has a Doctorate in the History of Science from London University. He is currently titular Professor at the Department of History and Geography as well as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia. His research has focused on the relationship between science, technology and politics in imperial and colonial contexts. He has worked on European expeditions to the New World, on natural history, cartography and navigation in order to explain the role of such techno-scientific practices in the political and cultural history of the Hispano-American world from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth. He has been teaching courses and seminars in History and Sociology of Science in different universities in Latin America and Colombia for the past 20 years.
His most important publications include Remedios para el imperio: historia natural y la apropiación del nuevo mundo, Bogotá-ICANH, 2000, winner of the Silvio Zavala Award in Colonial History of America, (Mexico) 2001; La Obra Cartográfica de Francisco José de Caldas, Universidad de los Andes, 2006; Orden Natural y Orden Social: ciencia y política en el Semanario del Nuevo Reyno de Granada, Madrid-CSIC, 2007 awarded the Alejandro Ángel Escobar prize in Social Science (Bogotá) 2008; Las máquinas del Imperio y el reino de dios. Reflexiones sobre ciencia, tecnología y religión en el mundo atlántico del siglo XVI, Universidad de los Andes, 2013 and Una historia de la verdad en Occidente, Fondo de Cultura Económico-Universidad de los Andes, 2019.