Published as part of Colecciones MAPFRE 1492, which is to consist of many, many volumes, this book is part of MAPFRE’s Colección Relaciones entre España y América. It is therefore another of those books that have emerged into print using the “hook” of 1492-1992, regardless of whatever may or may not have been honored, commemorated, or celebrated during 1992.

Antonio Sánchez González is, in one of his guises, director of the Archivo General de la Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, and the resources of that archive and others have provided the primary sources and documents used in this study. The book is densely footnoted, both for reference and for explanation and amplification, and it also has an extensive bibliography. Citations and references are almost exclusively sources in Spanish (this reader found three in French and one in Portuguese; there may be more).

Sánchez González is to be complimented for the thoroughness of his work. For in spite of the title, the book really is a history of the Medinacelis from their origins with Luis de la Cerda, also called Luis de España (d. 1348), a great-grandson of Alfonso X of Castile and Louis IX of France, through the end of the fifteenth century—through the Luis de la Cerda (V) of Columbus’ time, the fifth count and first duke. The book undoubtedly will be the last word on the family for this period of more than a century-and-a-half. It includes an exemplary (and needed) genealogical table (one error, possibly typographical, has been detected) and a thorough examination of royal links, marriages, and children. The accretion of lands and titles ranges from the 1340s and the Atlantic and Mediterranean islands (Príncipe de las Islas Afortunatas) to significant holdings in Spain itself (see table and map, p. 136).

Not until well past the midpoint does the text reach the time of Columbus. The “key” section of the work, on “the other alternative,” wanders across landscape, seascape, and timescape while retracing the Columbus in Spain narrative yet again. Not surprisingly, the emphasis is on the Puerto de Santa María and the role of the dukes of Medinaceli and Medina Sidonia. Funds were offered. Nevertheless, despite the near-royal and “would-be king” status of the la Cerda family, Columbus’ funds came from the crown.

The conclusions sum up well what really is an extended family history. Following them is an appendix of nine documents, dating from 1368 through 1501, only one of which has anything to do with Columbus. There are two indexes, one of people and one of places. It is intriguing that while the Luis de la Cerdas (I through V) are listed, as are Bartolomé, Diego, and Hernando Colón, one Cristóbal Colón is not.