Abstract: Private Libraries of Navarre in the 16th and 17th centuries

Private libraries are the collections of books owned by private individuals. In the 16th and 17th centuries in Spain, these private libraries were often inventoried as part of wills and/or court proceedings over the goods of the deceased. These inventories tell us what books belonged to a specific individual and can in turn inform us about the individual. For my project, I will be traveling to Pamplona, Spain for four weeks of research in the Archivo Diocesano de Pamplona (ADP) and the Archivo General y Real de Navarra (AGN) to transcribe these inventories and whatever details I can find about the lives of the individuals.

I hope to find correlations between the identity (profession, class, gender, etc.) of each of the 45 individuals that I will be studying and their private libraries. Most are varying ranks of clergymen, but there are a few lawyers and of particular interest, three women: Doña Maria de Ceniceros (1656), Ana de Solehaga (1664), and Mariana Vicenta de Echeverri, Countess of Villalcázar (1684). I also hope to have the time to transcribe the large inventory (38 pages) of a bookseller from 1684 and 5 cases from the AGN about the general print culture of Pamplona including banned books. The earliest case is from 1577 and the latest from 1700. I am limiting myself to cases from the Hapsburg dynasty in Spain (1516-1700).

This project is a continuation of research that I did in Spring 2016 with Professor Lu Ann Homza through her course HIST 212 Spanish Law & Social History. For that project, I transcribed 12 of the 45 inventories that I will be studying this summer. The research from Spring 2016 seems to indicate a strong correlation between profession and the content of private libraries. This is what makes the inventories of the three women particularly interesting because they would not have had professions. After I transcribe these inventories, the hard work will be to track down the title, author, language, and genre for each item mentioned in the inventories. By researching these categories for each title, I will hopefully be able to see patterns of ownership for each individual and across groups and time. As part of my research, I will also be attending the London Rare Books School (LRBS) to take a course called “The Book in the Renaissance.” This course will give wider context on the state of the book in Europe during the period I am interested in.

The products of this project are two-fold. First, I will be creating a website to display the items in the inventories. Users will be able to search for specific titles or limit results by certain metrics (author, full title, genre, sub-genre, language of publication, owner, and case). My goal is to present a product similar to the Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) (http://www.ustc.ac.uk/) or Iberian Books (http://iberian.ucd.ie/index.php). These were extremely helpful to me in my research in the spring, but they did not have information for many titles. My goal is to help fill the gaps in their knowledge. I am considering using the Google Sites platform and the widget Awesome Table to display the information, but I welcome any suggestions. This link shows a test site using the data from 2016. (https://sites.google.com/a/email.wm.edu/catalog-test/) The website will also include short biographies of the owners and information about authors. The second part of the project will be a paper in Spanish focusing on the inventories of the three women. All of the data and research from the Monroe project will be used in an honors thesis  in Spanish in Hispanic Studies directed by Professor Jorge Terukina during the following year centered on how the book owners’ choices participate in and reflect larger social, cultural, and political trends and movements.


  1. Judith Cassilly Trevino says:

    It sounds so interesting ! You are so fortunate to have these opportunities that didn’t exist when I went to college–I’ll be in Spain with Debby, in August, will you be there then ? Love you, Aunt Judy

  2. Meg Miller says:

    Hi Alexandra! I’m also working on a project involving Spanish history, albeit from the 20th century instead. Navarra is such an interesting region given its cultural and geographic proximity to both Basque Country and Castilla. In the civil war, Navarra was one of the most intensely pro-Catholic and pro-Franco regions of the country. My sister lived in Navarra for two years and told me about how tense discussions about the civil war still are there. Even simple acts like giving your child a Basque name are seen as political acts. I wonder if you’ve found any signs of this in your research of the individuals and literature of the 16-17th centuries, or if these cultural and political tensions are more recent creations.
    Espero que te vayan bien el trabajo y tu estancia en Navarra! Un saludo

  3. aewingate says:

    Hi Meg! To be honest, the Basque versus Spain tension is not as readily apparently in the work that I am doing. However, there are certainly some more or less Basque names that appear in the cases. This tension may become more obvious later, but I’m not as focused on it right now. There is a case that I had considered looking at that does not involve post mortem inventories that does have 3 folios in Basque about it. Check out the book “El Iceberg Navarro” for more information on the divide between euskera and español in Navarra in the 16th century.

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