Archival practices in Early Modern Spain: transformation, destruction and (re)construction of family archives in the Canary Islands

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Abstract

The Canary Islands were conquered from the aboriginal population and colonised in the fifteenth century. This process subjected its inhabitants to the Castilian legal framework, in which evidence of ownership was demanded through documentary proof. Archives, therefore, proliferated in the new territory as a necessity to demonstrate, prove and preserve privileges and patrimony. At the same time, the ‘value’ of archives made them targets for destruction, theft or seizure in situations of social, political, military and family conflict. Moreover, Canary Island archives were affected by natural causes and natural disasters. Within this context, the present paper focuses on the transformations caused by these factors in family archives. The paper aims to explain how, in cases of damage or destruction, families struggled to reconstruct their archives in order to manage and defend their patrimony and family memory. Drawing on different examples, this paper offers empirical evidence on the multicontextualism of these archives. The results demonstrate that several family archives in the Canary Islands are (re)constructions from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Moreover, the archival practices can be framed within a progressive inclusion in the islands of the ‘New Archive Culture’ from mainland Spain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages19
JournalArchives and Manuscripts
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Family archives
  • archival practices
  • Early Modern Age

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

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