Alonzo de Santa Cruz

Sketch of Alonso de Santa Cruz, from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Alonzo de Santa Cruz (or Alonso, Alfonso) was a Spanish cartographer, mapmaker, instrument maker, historian and teacher. He was born about 1505, and died in November 1567. His maps were inventoried in 1572.[1][2]

Alonzo de Santa Cruz was a renowned cartographer on the Consejo de Indias (Council of the Indies) and a cosmographer at the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade). There, he worked on the Padrón Real, a Spanish map documenting the discoveries in the New World.[3]

Alonzo de Santa Cruz, described cosmography as a way of making a painting of the earth, "because (gra)phia is the same as painting and cosmos is world"[4][5]

In 1530, Alonzo de Santa Cruz produced the first map of magnetic variations from true north. He believed it would be of use in finding the correct longitude. Alonso de Santa Cruz designed new nautical instruments,[6] was interested in navigational methods, and wrote about John Cabot's method for finding longitude which made use of the declination of the sun, observed with the quadrant.[7]

Alonzo also taught astronomy and cosmography in the court of Charles V. Alonzo then wrote a five volume biography about Charles V which described some of the Spanish atrocities in the New World. This upset Charles' son, Phillip II, and so Phillip removed three chapters of the biography.[8]

He also produced the Islario general de todas las islas del mundo (sometimes called the Islario General), a map and document describing the world's islands, at the request of King Philip II in 1542. He also continued Hernando del Pulgar's work titled, History of the Catholic Monarchs. His son Antonio Ponce de Santa Cruz (1561-1632) published Alonzo's book Dignotio et cura affectuum melancholicorum (Diagnóstico y tratamiento de las afecciones de los melancólicos) about the diagnosis and treatment of melancholy posthumously in 1622.

Further reading


  2. Biblioteca Virtual Ignacio Larramendi
  3. "The European Library 2.2.0", Koninklijke Bibliotheek, with "World map in the form of globe gores" (subsection), 2009, TEL-41.
  4. "Apuntes y Borrador para el Prologo al Yslario General de Alonso de Santa Cruz," Seccion de Patronato, Legajo 260, No. 2, Ramo 6, folio 8, Archive of the Indies, Seville (n.d.).
  5. A Simultaneous View of History: The Creation of A Hypermedia Database, Lily Díaz
  6. Alonso de Santa Cruz, cartógrafo y fabricante de instrumentos náuticos de la Casa de Contratación, Mariano Cuesta Domingo, Revista Complutense de Historia de América, Vol 30, pages 7-40, 2004.
  7. Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  8. Confesionario: Avisos y Reglas Para Confesores by Bartolomé de Las Casas: A Translation and Introduction to Its Historical Context and Legal Teaching, a thesis by David Thomas Orique, O.P.
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