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Spanish Myths, And Legends

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The “Lady in Blue” The “Lady in Blue” is a popular Spanish legend in the Southwest and particularly New Mexico. The legend of the lady started with New Mexico Indians in the 17th century and remains popular today.

The “Lady in Blue” was in fact a real person””Maria de Jesus de Agreda, or Sor Maria, as she was called. Sor Maria founded the Convent of the Immaculate Conception at Agreda.

Sor Maria had a very strong reputation throughout Spain for her wisdom and sanctity, as well as her mystical and religious writings.

After July 1643, Sor Maria became widely known for a more important reason. It was during this month, on the way to Aragon, that King Phillip IV stopped at Sor Maria’s convent. Following the visit, the two exchanged letters frequently for 22 years. She became Phillip’s confidante and advisor.

The legend of the “Lady in Blue” begins with the fact that Sor Maria never left Spain.

However, according to the legend, she made over 500 appearances to the Indians of New Mexico. Sor Maria flew with the help of angels to New Mexico and spoke with the Apaches and Jumanos in their own language in attempts to proselytize them. The “Lady in Blue” urged the natives to talk to the Franciscans””she had to remain invisible to them.

The legend holds that Sor Maria possessed bilocation, or the gift of being in two places at one time. During her visits, she was in a state of ecstasy. The nuns of her convent wore bright blue habits, hence the name the “Lady in Blue.” Many years after her visit, Sor Maria began having doubts that her physical body went to New Mexico. She then claimed that it was merely her spirit. The Indians she visited continued to remember her visits many years later.

The Black Legend The Black Legend of the Spanish in America has existed for many centuries. This legend has done much to destroy the fame of the Spanish during the Age of Discovery. Created through the recordings of writers such as las Casas, the Black Legend tells of the mistreatment of the Amerindian population by the Spanish. Although the majority of the events described in the Black Legend are true, this tale does little to explain the justifications of the Spanish.

During the time of exploration, the Spanish conquistadors were greatly influenced by the Catholic Church. Because of Catholic intentions to proselytize all heathens, Spanish explorers were under obligation to do so. Upon arriving in the Americas, the Spanish found different tribes of Amerindians. While some were friendly and accommodating, others were hostile. Although great atrocities were committed by the Spanish towards the Amerindian population, it is necessary to realize that some actions were sanctioned by the Spanish Crown in order to defend the Catholic Church.

Today, the Black Legend does much to belittle the accomplishments of the Spanish during the Age of Discovery. Although no explanation can fully justify Spanish actions towards the Amerindians, one must also take into account the abuse inflicted on them by other European nations as well.

Antilia: Isle of the Seven Cities Antilia, as the legend goes, was discovered and settled in 734AD by seven Portuguese bishops and “other Christians, men and women, who had fled thither from Spain by ship, together with their cattle, property and goods.” After the Moors defeated the last Visigothic king, Don Rodrigo, at the Battle of Salamanca, this group escaped the Iberian Peninsula to seek their fortunes elsewhere. They longed for an idyllic spot, where they were free to worship in the Christian faith without interference from the “African heathen.” The mythical island was rectangular in shape and was, according to the Pizzi Nautical Chart of 1424, about the size of Ireland.

The chart also shows the names of its seven cities: Asay, Ary, Vra, Jaysos, Marnlio, Ansuly, and Cyodne. Bartholome las Casas, in his Historia de las Indias, confirmed the existence of Antilia and stated that in one of Columbus’s notebooks he found the story of a storm-driven ship which landed at the isle of the Seven Cities sometime in the 15th Century. The ship’s crew was surprised to find the island inhabited by Portuguese speaking natives, who urged the sailors to remain on the island and live amongst its people. The sailors declined. Another tale, from Antonio Galvao, also confirmed the presence of the island and its Portuguese inhabitants, who were curious about how the homefolks were doing against the Moors.

Stories such as these prompted men like Columbus and, later, Coronado, to seek out the elusive Seven Cities of Antilia, regardless of the cost in time, men, and finances. They were sure the island was out there, lurking somewhere in the misty folds of the Atlantic.

The legend was so ingrained in European society that most believed Columbus had found Antilia when he landed in the West Indies (the island group soon took the name, Antilles). John Cabot, when he landed in New England in 1497, named the area the “Seven Cities”.

Source: The European Discovery of America: The Northern voyages, A.D. 500-1600 by Samuel Eliot Morison Strait of Anian Christopher Columbus began the search for an all-water route to Asia in 1492. After Columbus’s voyages to the New World, Spain sent numerous explorers with three main objectives: Religious figures attempted to convert the natives to Christianity.

Conquistadors sought gold and silver.

Columbus’s original purpose of finding an all-water route to the Orient was not lost.

As the Spanish explored the Americas with these three goals, a rumor spread which motivated the search for an all-water route to the Far East. The rumor described a waterway that Spaniards referred to as the Strait of Anian. The Spanish believed that the Strait of Anian was the hidden passage that a ship could take from Europe to Asia by sailing through America. It was also believed that rich civilizations existed along the Strait. The Spanish wanted to find the route first so they could control the passage to the Orient.

A variety of sources led to the myth of the Strait of Anian. One source was fray Andres de Urdaneta who had just found a successful route across the Pacific from Manila to Mexico. Urdaneta told a fellow Spaniard in the New World, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, that he felt that the Strait existed somewhere in the northern Gulf of the continent. As a result of his conversation with Urdaneta, Menendez sent a group north in the New World in search of the Strait of Anian. It was in this manner that the rumor of the Strait of Anian influenced exploration of the New World. No expedition found such a passage until the early twentieth century when a group sailed through the Arctic Ocean from Europe to Asia.

The Amazon Queen’s Island Hernan Cortes completed his conquest of Mexico in 1521. Following his conquest, King Charles V instructed Cortes to search for the Strait of Anian. Cortes had additional desires for exploration, as he wanted to find the Amazon Queen’s Island. He had heard rumors of the island which was supposedly inhabited by women only. The Amazons were alleged to possess great wealth including huge quantities of pearls. Rumor had it that the Amazon women sought men once a year for the purpose of perpetuating their race. Other explorers also searched for the mythical Amazon Queen’s Island. All efforts were in vain as the Island of the Amazons was merely a myth.

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