CALAFIA

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The California Cooperative Latin American Collection Development Group, better known as Calafia, is a consortium of California libraries. Calafia enjoys the support and strength of the libraries at Stanford University, the University of California System, and the University of Southern California. The combined Latin American holdings of the Calafia group number more than one million volumes and are surpassed only by the Library of Congress’ Latin American Studies Collection.

History About Calafia & The Mythical Queen of California

Calafia takes its name from the Fifteenth Century “libro de caballería” of Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, Las Sergas de Esplandían. Rodríguez de Montalvo wends his chivalric warriors through lands of adventure and the unknown. Some of his tales captivated the hearts of his contemporary audience to such a degree that the boundaries of myth and reality were often confused. Such is the case with Calafia, Queen of the island California.

Now I wish you to know about the strangest thing ever found anywhere in written texts or in human memory. […] I tell you that on the right-hand side of the Indies there was an island called California, which was very close to the region of the Earthly Paradise. This island was inhabited by black women, and there were no males among them at all, for their life style was similar to that of the Amazons. The island was made up of the wildest cliffs and the sharpest precipices found anywhere in the world. These women had energetic bodies and courageous, ardent hearts, and they were very strong. Their armor was made entirely out of gold—which was the only metal found on the island—as were the trappings on the fierce beasts that they rode once they were tamed. They lived in very well-designed caves. They had many ships they used to sail forth on their raiding expeditions and in which they carried away the men they seized and whom they killed in a way about which you will soon hear. On occasion, they kept the peace with their male opponents, and the females and the males mixed with each other with complete safety, and they had carnal relations, from which unions it follows that many of the women became pregnant. If they bore a female, they kept her, but if they bore a male, he was immediately killed. The reason for this, inasmuch as it is known, is that, according to their thinking, they were set on reducing the number of males to so small a group that the Amazons could easily rule over them and all their lands; therefore, they kept only those few men whom they realized they needed for their race not to die out.

* Text taken from The Labors of the Very Brave Knight Esplandían, by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, translated by William Thomas Little.