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Abstract

It is frequently difficult to write a geographically-integrated history of Portugal and Spain prior to the late nineteenth century because researchers often lack a means by which to identify the locations of historical places on the basis of the geographic coordinates of their modern counterparts. This article presents a free, downloadable digital gazetteer, which the authors have founded on a 1546 traveler’s guide to 139 major routes in “Spain” (as the Iberian Peninsula was then known), in which the author, Juan Pedro Villuga, listed each stopping place along each route and indicated the approximate distance between each of them. The authors explain the technical problems of gazetteer and database design and of associating historic placenames with their modern equivalents and geographic coordinates of longitude and latitude, and of visualizing them in geographic information systems (GIS). In the gazetteer, the authors link the sixteenth-century Iberian place names with more modern ones, which were largely solidified in the modern country of Spain by the territorial organization in 1834. More importantly, the authors offer suggestions about how this type of research infrastructure can be used to address various historical problems in Portuguese and Spanish history, which are related to geographic space, topography, and distance.