Miramar rural estate © Photo: Gabriel Lacomba


Did you know that...

Some ten years after Cristophe Plantin in the city of Anvers, Gabriel Guasp founded the most prolific European dynasty of printers in Palma, operating from 1576 to 1958. Thanks to his printers' enthusiastic dedication to the art of printing, the Guasp collection is now available to the public, made up of the 17th century printing press and 1,590 woodblock matrixes (authentic gems in the world of printing). Declared an Item of Cultural Interest by the Consell de Mallorca, this magnificent collection is the only one of its kind in the world. Today it can be seen in the municipal cell at Valldemossa Monastery.


Authors: Jean Gerson, Miquel Pascual, Llorenç Pérez Martínez
Published by: Conselleria d'Educació i Cultura del Govern Balear
Published in: 1985
A facsimile of the first book printed in the Balearics in 1485 by Felanitx-born Bartomeu Caldentey and Valldemossa-born Nicolau Calafat.

LLIBRE DE CONTEMPLACIÓ Author: Francesc Prats [Miquel Pascual] Trad.
Published by: Miquel Font Editor
Published in: 1985
A facsimile, with transcriptions and notes, of the first Mallorcan incunabulum in the Catalan language printed in 1487.


Designed by: www.lacomba.com
Text by: Miquela Forteza Oliver
Translated by: Rachel Waters

At Miramar, an emblematical monastery built in the heart of the rugged Tramuntana mountains, Ramon Llull founded a school of Arabic in about 1276 to teach preachers so that they could evangelize the Saracens in Islamic lands. Three centuries later, in around 1480, Bartomeu Caldentey, a famous theologian and writer responsible for disseminating the ideas of Ramon Llull, opened a school of humanities and Lullian science in Palma, together with clergyman Francesc Prats. Five years later it moved to Miramar in search of the peace and quiet that was lacking in a city fraught with social unease. At Miramar, not only were classes given, but books were also printed there.

A study of the origins of the printing press in Mallorca always leads to the controversy of whether the first press was actually in Palma or at Miramar in Valldemossa. What we do know is that the Contemplació de la Passió de Jesucrist by Francesc Prats (the second book printed in Mallorca by the Calafat-Caldentey partnership) was printed at Miramar, and it stands out as being the first incunabulum written in the Catalan language in Mallorca. The colophon to the work states «Stampada en la casa de trínítat o míra mar De la Vila de Val de Musse en la maior illa Balear per Mestre Nicolau Calafat nadiu de la dita Vila. A. 1 de kalèdes de fabrer anys de salut MCCCCL xxx vii». You might well wonder who Calafat was. Well Nicolau Calafat expert smelter and first-class printer. It is not known how he learnt these two techniques, but we do know that he was highly skilled at both. That is why Caldentey sought his cooperation and made him his business partner.

«Stampada en la casa de trínítat o míra mar De la Vila de Val de Musse en la maior illa Balear per Mestre Nicolau Calafat nadiu de la dita Vila. A. 1 de kalèdes de fabrer anys de salut MCCCCL xxx vii»
«Printed at the casa de trínítat or míra mar in the town of Val de Musse in the largest of the Balearic islands by Master Nicolau Calafat, native of the said town. On the 1st day of the calends of February in the year of our Lord MCCCCL xxx vii»

The colophon to the Contemplació de la Passió de Jesucrist by Francesc Prats. Photo of the facsimile and transcription of the original text and translation

At Miramar, not only were classes given, but books were also printed there

After the Llibre de contemplació was printed, Caldentey and Prats continued their evangelizing mission at Miramar. They invested most of their own assets into the maintenance of the old monastery, taking all kinds of steps to achieve land, ecclesiastical allowances or income, and even subsidies from King Ferdinand the Catholic. However, this financial aid was either not forthcoming or it was insufficient. As a result, shortly after Prats' book was printed, they had to reduce the number of residents there and move the printing press to Palma. Calafat and Caldentey's printing press speeded up the introduction of new ideas to Mallorca. The first incunabulum printed in their press was Tractatus de regulis mandatorum by Jean Gerson, printed on June 20th 1485. As for the place where this first Mallorcan publication was printed, its makers only indicate that it was printed in the biggest of the Balearic Islands.

The working relationship between Bartomeu Caldentey and Nicolau Calafat must have been good because in 1489 they signed a notarized document undertaking to continue their printing activities. The agreement, signed on January 4th of the same year, stipulated that Caldentey was the owner of all the printing tools and equipment and that Calafat undertook to remake some damaged type, reform the alphabets and begin the matrixes for two new primers with the capital letters and typeface of the clergyman's choice. Their partnership lasted for about five years. It was wound up on September 3rd 1490. It was a brief initiative that paved the way for more solid achievements fifty years later, with the printing experiences of Ferran Cansoles and Gabriel Guasp Senior, but that is another story.

Printing presses usually came into being when these activities were fostered by places of learning. Thus printers tended to open businesses close to universities and religious centres. Leaving aside the controversy of the exact place where the first book was published, given that it is impossible to demonstrate this from historical records, Miramar - a prime example of learning and spirituality - clearly played an active role in the birth of the first printing activities on the island.

In the 19th century, the Miramar estate was bought by Archduke Ludwig Salvator, who was keenly interested in the Serra de Tramuntana and in the figure of Ramon Llull. He also bought other neighbouring estates, like S'Estaca or Son Marroig

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