D E D I C A T I O N T O T H E I N F A N T A
D O Ñ A I S A B E L C L A R A E U G E N I A
D E A U S T R I A
To Her Most Serene Highness
the Infanta Doña Isabel Clara Eugenia de Austria
My lady:
The Majesty of the King our lord having given me permission to o√er to
Your Highness this little work entitled Natural and Moral History of the Indies,
I should not like to have any lack of consideration attributed to me in wishing
you to occupy your time, which Your Highness in so saintly a manner spends
on matters of importance, by directing it to subjects that because they have to
do with philosophy are somewhat obscure and that seem not to be suitable
owing to the fact that they deal with heathen peoples.∞ But because knowl-
edge and speculation concerning the works of Nature, especially if they are
remarkable and rare, cause natural pleasure and delight in persons of ex-
quisite perception, and because news of strange customs and events also
pleases by way of its novelty, I believe that my book can serve Your Highness
as honorable and useful entertainment. It also o√ers an opportunity to ob-
serve the works that the Most High has performed in the fabric of this world,
especially in those parts that we call the Indies. Because these are new lands
they are worthy of consideration, and because they belong to new vassals
whom Almighty God has given to the Crown of Spain I believe that they are
1. The recipient of Acosta’s dedication, the infanta Doña Isabel Clara Eugenia de Austria (1566–1633), was
the elder daughter of King Philip II, born to his third wife, Isabel de Valois. She was twenty-four years old
when Acosta made the dedication in the Historia natural y moral de las Indias. As a young girl, in the wake of
the death of the queen (Philip’s fourth wife, Anna of Austria, who died in 1580), she had become her father’s
closest confidante. Acosta anticipated that the infanta would read his work and recommend it to her father.
Her energies, however, focused largely on Spain’s European possessions and she served as queen of the
Netherlands from 1598 to 1621.
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