Presentation of the MAPFRE Foundation

Antonio Huertas
President of the MAPFRE FOUNDATION

Patata — Solanum tuberosum. Lámina

The result of a new joint effort by the MAPFRE FOUNDATION and the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation is presented for the fourth consecutive year, which I have the honour and satisfaction to present for the first time.

The Virtual Library of the Salamanca School (2011) was followed by the Virtual Library dedicated to Francisco Sánchez The Sceptic (2012) and the Virtual Library of the Old Toledo School of Translators in 2013. In this latter case, the virtual library was promoted by the University of Castilla-La Mancha together with the two foundations mentioned above.

This new Virtual Library dedicated to the scientific and technical contribution of polygraphs —since this is the name chosen by the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation to designate the authors who make up its virtual libraries - has the peculiarity of being made up of authors born not only in Spain, but also in Portugal and America. In this way, the importance of the work is highlighted, sometimes in parallel, sometimes jointly, which the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula undertook in relation to the discovery and study of the American reality, seen from the perspective of some Europeans and some American Creoles who already gathered the best of both worlds. This Library, as in the first circumnavigation of the globe, closes the circumference of research into the reality of the seas and the lands that cover our planet, since it includes the very interesting studies on Asian botany carried out by Portuguese and Spanish scientists. In fact, they botanized a large number of plants both for economic and pharmaceutical reasons and transferred the knowledge of the reality of the Indian Subcontinent to Europe and America on a journey in both directions, since the American and European reality was also transferred to Asia in this first intellectual globalization. As an anecdote it can be remembered that the famous Japanese tempura comes from the Jesuit tempera and that if the Europeans went to the Indies in search of species, they also took them there, particularly all sorts of chillies, bell peppers and peppers that today we consider so characteristic of the Asian palate. In order to achieve these achievements, it was essential to have first-rate knowledge of the nautical arts, based on cartography and cosmography.

The names and works of those who carried out such a feat are listed in the Virtual Library of Science and Technology in the American venture. In a completely pioneering way, Spanish and Portuguese studied the Amerindian languages diligently, producing grammars and dictionaries of all of them years before the corresponding European languages were written, with the exception of Spanish, of course. Also customs, food, costumes, religious cults were studied by Europeans who went into America for the first time, thus giving rise to the birth of anthropology, which found its perfect correlation in the aforementioned linguistic work.

In short, the scientific and technical contribution of the Spaniards reached an extraordinary intellectual height and also, although this is less remembered, an important dissemination throughout Europe, as evidenced by the very abundant translations that exist into all European languages and Latin, when the original was written in Spanish. However, over the decades this contribution has been forgotten except by a very small circle of scholars. The MAPFRE FOUNDATION is legitimately proud to have contributed, together with the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation, to the recovery and dissemination of all these authors, of all these works, which, put in value by the most advanced technology developed by the DIGIBIS company, interrelates knowledge and places for an extremely wide audience for which all this knowledge is destined, which perhaps was in danger of being forgotten when it constitutes one of the most important factors of what could be called Latin American culture.