Letter to the King and Queen
Columbus, letter to the King and Queen of Spain
(Undated, probably 1494)
Most High and Mighty Sovereigns, In obedience to your Highnesses' commands, and with submission to superior
judgment, I will say whatever occurs to me in reference to the colonization and commerce
of the Island of Espanola, and of the other islands, both those already discovered and
those that may be discovered hereafter. In the first place,
as regards the Island of Espanola: Inasmuch as the number of colonists who desire to go
thither amounts to two thousand, owing to the land being safer and better for farming and
trading, and because it will serve as a place to which they can return and from which they
can carry on trade with the neighboring islands:
|1. That in the said island there shall be founded three or four towns, situated in the
most convenient places, and that the settlers who are there be assigned to the aforesaid
places and towns.
|2. That for the better and more speedy colonization of the said island, no one shall
have liberty to collect gold in it except those who have taken out colonists' papers, and
have built houses for their abode, in the town in which they are, that they may live
united and in greater safety.
|3. That each town shall have its alcalde [Mayor] ... and its notary public, as is the
use and custom in Castile.
|4. That there shall he a church, and parish priests or friars to administer the
sacraments, to perform divine worship, and for the conversion of the Indians.
|5. That none of the colonists shall go to seek gold without a license from the
governor or alcalde of the town where he lives; and that he must first take oath to return
to the place whence he sets out, for the purpose of registering faithfully all the gold he
may have found, and to return once a month, or once a week, as the time may have been set
for him, to render account and show the quantity of said gold; and that this shall be
written down by the notary before the alcalde, or, if it seems better, that a friar or
priest, deputed for the purpose, shall be also present
|6. That all the gold thus brought in shall be smelted immediately, and stamped with
some mark that shall distinguish each town; and that the portion which belongs to your
Highnesses shall be weighed, and given and consigned to each alcalde in his own town, and
registered by the above-mentioned priest or friar, so that it shall not pass through the
hands of only one person, and there shall he no opportunity to conceal the truth.
|7. That all gold that may be found without the mark of one of the said towns in the
possession of any one who has once registered in accordance with the above order shall be
taken as forfeited, and that the accuser shall have one portion of it and your Highnesses