Philippines to obtain hi-res digitized Magellan sources abroad

Posted on 04 February 2019
By NQC Admin

A page from the Nancy Codex of Antonio Pigafetta’s chronicle on the Magellan-Elcano expedition mentioning Lapulapu and Mactan. BEINECKE RARE BOOK & MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY

The Office of the President of the Philippines has set aside budget for the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) to gather high-resolution digitized copies of the earliest known manuscripts of the chronicles of Antonio Pigafetta, chronicler of the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan and Sebastian Elcano who first circumnavigated the world.

On 18 December 2018, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library in Connecticut delivered to the NQC at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in Ermita, Manila the high-resolution French version (called Ms 351) of Pigafetta’s manuscript.  Dubbed as the Nancy Codex, the Yale manuscript has been available for public online but in low-resolution.

Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan also provided the NQC on 11 January 2019 high-resolution copy of Pigafetta’s manuscript in Italian (the Ms L 103 Sup).

The Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and the NQC already agreed on payment conditions in shipping to Manila two other Pigafetta manuscripts in French (i.e., Ms 5650 and Ms 24224).

These manuscripts, as well as the other important sources which will be gathered abroad, will be made accessible to the public at the NQC Office at the Serafin D. Quiason Resource Center in NHCP, Ermita, Manila.  Nonetheless, owners and custodians of the manuscripts reserve the right on their reproduction and use.

Ateneo de Manila University’s Rizal Library also shared with the NQC and the NHCP the digitized materials about the quadricentenary of the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1921.  These materials are found in the Library’s Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera Collection.

The NQC and the NHCP are still negotiating with the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois to digitize the materials American Philipinologist James Alexander Robertson used in translating a version Pigafetta’s manuscript to English.  The said translation of Robertson mentioned that the controversial 1521 Easter Sunday Mass in Philippine territory was held in Limasawa Island, now in the present-day Southern Leyte.  These materials are located in the Library’s Edward Ayer Collection.

The next project of the NQC is to transcribe and translate the relevant parts of the manuscripts needed by the Mojares Panel in revisiting the controversial site of the 1521 Easter Sunday Mass in the Philippines. A team of paleographers and translators headed by Dr. Francis Navarro of the Ateneo de Manila University History Department is commissioned to undertake the transcription and translation.

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