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One of my family relatives who lives in Seville, Spain (my family is from Andalusian descent) has sent me pictures of a book she owns and has received from her mother. My family claims that the book in question was passed from generation to generation within my family since the XV century.

The book is in bad shape, and my relative doesn't feel comfortable moving it from the apartment where she lives, or even turning pages to take pictures of it. Still, I convinced them to open it and take a few pictures of the document; I include some examples below:

enter image description here

enter image description here

My first question is: How can I research where the escutcheon above is from? What type of escutcheon is it?

My family says that the book talks about two individuals who my family claims to be our ancestors:

  • Juan Núñez Salgero
  • Alonso Númez Salgero

Their names can be seen on pages inside the book (I have pictures below). From the stories my family remember, the two individuals above fought along with Ferdinand I of Aragon (also known as Fernando of Antequera ) during the Reconquista against the Mulsim Kingdom of Granada and conquered Antequera. This story seems to be consistent with what the following page from the book:

enter image description here

where I think the text in large character says ( I can't understand the small text at the bottom):

La nobleza y limpieza de Juan Nuñez Salgero. Descendientes de los primeros ganadores de la ciudad de Antequera

Where I understand limpieza to refer to Limpieza de Sangre. The text seems to say that Juan Núñez Salgero was of the nobility and of "pure blood" (i.e. christian with no muslim or jewish ancestry) and descendant of the individuals who conquered Antequera in September 16, 1410. Back then, Ferdinand I of Aragon was not king yet (he was crowned "King of Aragon" in 1412), and winning this battle gave him the title "Ferdinand of Antequera" (i.e. Don Fernando de Antequera). So this seems to be consistent with the story told by family relatives.

Here is another picture of a different page they took:

enter image description here

My second question: I am having a hard time translating the text above to modern Spanish. For example, the first sentence seems to say:

Por estas preguntas, se examinan los testigos en la XX que hacen Juan Núñez y Alonso Salgero

where I think XX is "provinça", but I don't know what that word means. It looks like provincia, but it would not make much sense considering the rest of the sentence. Also what does the rest of the text say? E.g. What is boco?

My last questions: More generally I am interested in knowing what this book is all about. For example, what was the purpose of the exam and the witnesses? (from the last page above).

I am trying to get my relatives who own the book to take more pictures, but it's not an easy task. They don't seem to be willing to share it physically with anyone, and don't seem resources to pay for a professional historian.

I know that History.SE is not the place to offer things like:

  • How much would a document like this be worth?

But, I am interested in preservation. I personally would like to see it in a museum or some other national repository of antiques, but don't know how to best proceed.

  • What is the best thing I or they can do if we want this book to be preserved?
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    Your second question might get some good answers at Spanish.SE. – American Luke Jan 13 '13 at 1:45
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    And some of the others would be good questions at geneaology.SE. I don't know much about Spain, but this book looks like the type of document created to document the reasons why somebody is given some sort of noble status. – Lennart Regebro Oct 14 '13 at 15:45
  • First question "how much would this be worth" is problematic. Better question would be, "How would I find out how much this is worth, and what kind of information would I need to provide?". Second question is intersting. Third question should be, "What is this document? How can I find out more?" – Mark C. Wallace Oct 15 '13 at 11:47
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    I would hate to see such a lovely historical topic be left to the 'closed' bin, but as it stands now you are asking for matters of appraisal and etiquette, which are beyond the scope of History.SE.... that said, matters of preservation should not be beyond this community, and I encourage that be the direction of your edits to the question. I will attempt, but feel free to continue editing. – New Alexandria Oct 18 '13 at 13:20
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    The purpose of the exam and the witnesses: Antequera was conquered in 1410. Until 1500, last names in Spain were unsure. People changed them through their lives two or three times (for example, several soldiers that took Antequera used it as last name after that) and they gave to children different ones, taking them from the father or the mother or another relative. So the witnesses are there to testify all the information in the book is true because there wasn't any good way. – Alberto Yagos Jun 21 '18 at 18:38
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Interesting series of questions, but I'm afraid I don't have an answer to all of them. I'll answer the language-related in order to set them into context.

It's very hard to read the the last line of the fist picture and I can only see:

"[Anteque]ra que vinieron XXX con Señor XXX Don Fernando"

The word you mention in your second question is not "provinça" but "provança" (demonstration, corroboration), as Juan and Alonso were trying to prove their identity. Hence details about their physical appearance (i.e. their complexion, age, a burn in Juan's face) are given in the book. We don't know who the authors of the book are. Some abbreviations used in the text-- dho (above mentioned), Ju (Juan) can be found here.

A transciption of the text would be:

Por estas preguntas se examinen los testigos en la provança que hacen Juan Núñez y Alonso Núñez Salguero.

1ª Si conocen a los dichos Juan Núñez y Alonso Núñez Salguero, que el [dicho] [Juan] será de veynte y un [sic; 21] años, mediano de cuerpo y una señal de quemadura en la [cabeza] y el [dicho] Alonso Núñez de diez y ocho [sic; 18] años poco más o menos, alto de cuerpo, que le apunta el [bozo], de color rojo y [cabello] negro y si conocen a los [dichos] [Juan] Núñez Salguero y Mayor de Vilches su muger (sic), sus padres, y conocen y conocieron a Alonso Núñez

"Bozo", by the way, is thin facial hair above the upper lip in teenagers, before growing a moustache (definition).

I'm not sure whether your third question should be found in History SE.

  • Could you provide a translation into English of the transcript above for those of us who do not read Spanish please? Putting this through Google Translate would be criminal. BTW, in the U.S. what this document calls "bozo" we would call "peach fuzz" (although that can also refer to chin hairs as well). – O.M.Y. Mar 23 '18 at 11:12
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Matters of language are probably best handled elsewhere, so I'll try to answer the question that I think is answer-able here:

How can my family preserve this artifact?

It is right to understand that this book is a book of title.

Internal Affairs

First, your assertions that this belongs in a museum are very-evidently part of your friction with those relatives regarding documentation or movement of the book.

Many families treat these relics with intense protection, and would consider any outside personnel purely as consultants in the preservation of their family's relics. To such a mindset, transferring such document to another person, even as a service, is maybe what we can call a 'secular form of sacrilege'. If you are uncomfortable with that or cannot grok it, you will not be able to ally with you relatives in any significant way on this matter.

In some societies, noble title grants a birthright to land, political interaction, or other affairs. I do not know Spain's noble system well enough to say more.

For people that value their family's history with this kind of 'hallowed' conscience, the suggestion that such a relic be appraised for monetary value is just plain insulting. One could ask the question "You would peddle your birthright for a meal?"

Preservation

I cannot say yes/no if relinquishing this documentation of title to a museum would forfeit your family's title within the royal system of Spain.

Preservation of this relic is absolutely critical.

If you family has no money to preserve the document, and they have no care for their noble rights, then turning the document over to a museum is a [small] gift to the nation of Spain, as it preserves the history. Preserving History is, itself, an 'act of noble stature'.

But preserving the document within the family is the more respectable thing to do. You are correct that a preservationist should come in to inspect the relic and evaluate:

  • any deterioration that is beginning,
  • what deterioration could come in the future,
  • how to reverse what's occurred thus far, and
  • how to prevent any future deterioration

If I were in your shoes, I would pay for this even if your relatives cannot. I would travel to be with them for the start of this process, and when the conservationist arrives - so that my relatives understood that I share their values regarding this documentation of birthright.

Advice

I glean that you do not have much affection for the noble system nor the meaning of your family's title.

I encourage you not to push on your relatives regarding matters that I have outlined are against their values, as this will only distance you from them and limit the positive impact that you can have on the preservation of this relic. Apologize to them for any insult, and affirm that you will help them with proper preservation, within their household, under their control.

Convey to them how lack of a consultant conservationist could risk the condition of this document. It has survived 500 years — ensure that it can survive no less than 500 more.

  • While I do not know the Questioner I would like to say that I think it is fairly common for people who are unfamiliar with antique documents and other "decaying" artifacts to see museums (and to a lesser extent colleges/universities) as a logical solution. The world of professional preservationists & conservationists is rather obscure unless one actually has a reason to be aware of such. News articles and documentaries seldom highlight this kind of work except in relation to projects being done by institutions. – O.M.Y. Mar 23 '18 at 11:25
  • @O.M.Y. well that's why I took the time to write and try to help others. Thanks – New Alexandria Jun 20 '18 at 13:31
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    Many museums will accept such artifacts on (semi-permanent) loan. The museum gains access to the artifact, while in turn assuming cost of its restoration, maintenance, and insurance (which can be hefty). Such an arrangement can be a win-win for both owner and museum. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 20 '18 at 22:13
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    @PieterGeerkens does this mean the museum (state) holds it under the family is ready to re-assume [a responsibility of their title] ? – New Alexandria Jun 22 '18 at 12:40
  • Exact details depend on the contract drawn up between donor and museum - but the intent is as I stated: semi-permanent loan. If you want, negotiate for a half dozen (or more!) free passes to the museum every year. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 22 '18 at 13:52

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