Here you will find a compendium of the original source documents that are the basis for much of our knowledge of all facets of the vihuela and vihuela playing. The majority of the documents are drawn from the period c.1470–c.1630, but the database also includes references to many of the earlier literary references in particular that are often quoted in vihuela studies and are important with reference to the early history of the instrument. The documents that make up the database include written materials of all kinds, drawn from poetry and prose literature, chronicles, books of all kinds and a variety of archival documents from historical archives in Spain and other Spanish territories.
There is considerable information about vihuela construction, such as the guild ordinances that specify the instruments upon which an apprentice will be examined in order to practice as a violero. There are many vihuelas listed in inventories of the possessions of particular individuals, often at their death. These are rich in descriptive material. Biographical documents provide most of our knowledge of the principal players and composers of vihuela music, and literary works provide many references to the use of the vihuela in a diverse range of social settings, sometimes more imaginary than real. Other documents offer other kinds of insights into the practice of the vihuela, the ways in which it was used and the way it was considered.
The various materials can be searched by kind, manuscripts and prints of various types, either separately or together. Especially to help with locating material by topic, each records has been tagged according to instrument type, performance practice, if it is biographical, or if it is literary and is concerned with symbolic cultural values. The material concerning the vihuela in books published before 1650 are quoted here, rather than in the Bibliography.
As well as identifying the source, a brief summary is provided in English together with the original full text passages from the sources. A list of persons mentioned in each source is given, and a bibliography of secondary literature discussing each document.