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Alonso de Espinosa



Espinosa, Alonso de, Spanish priest and historian of the sixteenth century. Little is known of his early life. He is first heard of towards the end of the sixteenth century in Guatemala where he had become a Dominican. It was while he was in Central America that he first heard of the miracles of Our Lady of Candelaria. This was an image of the Virgin and Child that had been among the Guanches of Tenerife since long before their conversion to Christianity, and had been venerated not only by the Guanches, but later by their conquerors, the Spaniards. Inspired by the fame of this image, Espinosa soon found a member of the fraternity which had possession of it, and resolved to make researches and write a history of the image and its miracles. The result was his "Guanches of Tenerife" published at Seville in 1594. Although the author's main purpose was to record the history of Our Lady of Candelaria, the work is important as being on the whole the best account of the Guanches, a lost race which has left scarcely any remains, even of their language; and also, though less significant, because he gives a good account of the conquest and settlement of the Canary Islands by the Spaniards. He divides his work into four books, in the first of which he describes the Island of Tenerife, gives its early history, and an account of its inhabitants, their customs, food and dress, marriages, training for war, and mode of interment. The second book gives a detailed history of the image, from its mysterious appearance, on the east coast of the island, to Espinosa's own time. The third book is devoted to the invasion, conquest, and settlement of the island by the Spaniards. The fourth and last book contains an enumeration of various cures and other miracles performed by the image. A reprint of Espinosa's book appeared at Santa Cruz in 1848, as one of the "Biblioteca Isleña" series. A translation by Sir Clements Markham was published by the Hakluyt Society in London in 1907.

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