Presentation of the MAPFRE Foundation

Alberto Manzano Martos
President of the MAPFRE Foundation


Toledo en el siglo XVI. Detalle de un mapa de Joris HoefnagelOnce again this year, I am pleased to present this Virtual Library of the Old Toledo School of Translators, which emphasizes the very special characteristics of the Virtual Library of the School of Salamanca.

In this new Virtual Library, texts have been brought together that are very difficult to access, by authors who have unfortunately been forgotten, and that considerably deepen bibliographic knowledge at the same time as, with the collaboration of the University of Castilla-La Mancha and thanks to the impulse of the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation through its subsidiaryDIGIBÍS, technologies have been perfected to keep pace with the latest stage of access to bibliographic information.

We see then the authors of the School of Salamanca and those of the Old Toledo School of Translators and there has been time to prepare another Virtual Library, that of Francisco Sánchez, the Sceptic, which was presented at the Town Council of Tui as the finishing touch to a professional conference of MAPFRE. It was a session in which the relations between classical scepticism and 16th century Spanish authors were analysed, as well as their relations with Montaigne and Descartes. This project has been designated a case study for the Europeana project, in which it can be said that two other MAPFRE institutions also participate, the MAPFRE Insurance Museum  and the MAPFRE Documentation Centre.

The importance of the Old School of Translators in Toledo is fundamental for the constitution of modernity and was the meeting point of classical thought, Arab and Muslim thought, the very important contributions of India and that of the Christian, Sephardi and Andalusians themselves. All were able to cooperate, first thanks to the impetus provided by the Bishop of Toledo, Don Raimundo, and later thanks to the work of the court of the Wise King, Alfonso X, who himself participated in all those works, in addition to promoting them and exercising his royal patronage.

To make this possible, the MAPFRE Foundation, the Larramendi Foundation and the University of Castilla-La Mancha have relied on the computer developments of DIGIBIS, which has built an extraordinary computer application based on the principle of Linked Open Data, i.e. Open and Linked Data.

And it is logical that this is so because if there is anything that characterises the activity of the Old School, or of the Schools, of the Toledo Translators, it is their capacity to work in a completely open manner, without cultural, religious, linguistic or, above all, political prejudices intervening in the task.

How many times has the work process of the schools of translators been told: the wise men, well they were wise, they came from all the countries of Europe and met with those of Sepharad, Al-Andalus and Hispania to compare texts written in the Kufic alphabet, Greek alphabet or Latin handwriting, sometimes to translate from Arabic to Latin and then from Latin to Spanish, or from Greek to Spanish and from Spanish to Latin, and... in every way the reader can imagine.

Often the translation, which went far beyond the version from one language to another, it is signed by only one translator, but sometimes there were two or even three translators involved in the translation of the same work. Therefore, all these links had to be expressed in computer terms with the technology mentioned above and this is how it has been carried out in this project.

In addition, the latest procedures and advances in bibliographic description and the semantic enrichment of concepts have been used, thanks to the efforts of the specialists from the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation and the researchers from the University of Castilla-La Mancha attached to the new Toledo School of Translators with the support of the DIGIBIS librarians and the developments of this company’s IT department.

Undoubtedly, a very important step forward has been made in the dissemination of a key period in the history of Spain and modernity. As of 31 March 2013, the number of visits to the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation website had reached 168,143 unique visitors, an increase of 25.42% over the first quarter of 2012. If we consider the 608,015 unique visitors to the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation website during 2012, it is more than likely that this year the number of visits will increase considerably.

If we also consider that all these digital objects are reused in other major projects already mentioned, both at Spanish and European or worldwide level, we can only acknowledge that the economic contributions of MAPFRE and the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation and the efforts of specialists from the University of Castilla-La Mancha, have a high social return and contribute to promoting the image of Spain as one of the pillars of modernity, especially if we consider that both the Salamanca School as well as as Francisco Sánchez, the Skeptic, or the old Toledo School of Translators all made avant-garde contributions in their time, which are today one of the pillars of modernity, although this is not always duly recognised.

Without a doubt, for the 500 million Spanish speakers, it must be a source of particular satisfaction to know that Spanish civilization is built on such a rich and firm foundation. I stop my presentation here, knowing that it will not be long before I face the task of presenting another new collection, the result of the fruitful collaboration between the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation, the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the MAPFRE Foundation.