Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan

Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan / El imperio español. De Colón a Magallanes.

Non-fiction , 2003

Penguin / Planeta

First book of a trilogy about the Spanish Empire.

“Affirms Hugh Thomas's record as one of the most productive and wide-ranging historians of modern times.” The New York Times

“Splendid ... bold and strong in its outlines, rich in fascinating details.” Paul Johnson, Literary Review

“So steeped is he in the spirit of the time, so familiar with its people and places that we almost feel he must have been there at the time.” Sunday Telegraph

“A vivid, dramatic and compelling narrative.” Arthur Schlesinger, Jr

“As a historian, Thomas is master of the big picture ... Rivers of Gold sweeps us restlessly on.” Jonathan Keates, Spectator

From one of the greatest historians of the Spanish world, here is a fresh and fascinating account of Spain’s early conquests in the Americas. Hugh Thomas’s magisterial narrative of Spain in the New World has all the characteristics of great historical literature: amazing discoveries, ambition, greed, religious fanaticism, court intrigue, and a battle for the soul of humankind.

Hugh Thomas shows Spain at the dawn of the sixteenth century as a world power on the brink of greatness. Her monarchs, Fernando and Isabel, had retaken Granada from Islam, thereby completing restoration of the entire Iberian peninsula to Catholic rule. Flush with success, they agreed to sponsor an obscure Genoese sailor’s plan to sail west to the Indies, where, legend purported, gold and spices flowed as if they were rivers. For Spain and for the world, this decision to send Christopher Columbus west was epochal—the dividing line between the medieval and the modern.