WEST INDIES

Cuba

Jamaica

Hispaniola inc. Haiti & Santo Domingo

Puerto Rico

Guadeloupe & Dominica

St. Lucia

Trinidad

Curaçao

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In general

[534]* ‘Descripcion de las Indias del Norte’ 1623-4
This map is derived from Juan Lopez de Velasco’s manuscript map, c1570. Although the coastal contours are crude and the nomenclature limited, the overall configuration is surprisingly accurate for the time, although Baja California has aq curious hook-shape and the peninsular of Florida is far too narrow. The Yucatan, the Isthmus and the West Indies are quite well defined and even the latitudes are fairly accurate. Only a few of the Audiencias however are marked, along with some of the more important place-names: £245

[535] Columbus reaches the West Indies: 1594
This shows, symbolically, Columbus’s ship being guided through the shallow waters by Diana towards the islands of Cuba, Hispañola and Jamaica. In the sea is Neptune on a horse-drawn chariot, Sirens, hybrids and other sea monsters, symbolising the dangers of the sea. (This engraving is derived from one published nine years earlier by Stradanus: £465

Cuba

[536] The French defeat the Spanish at Havana: 1595
In 1536 a French ship entered the harbour of Havana and forced the Spanish to pay 700 ducats, to prevent the town from being burnt to the ground. As the invaders departed, the Spanish gave chase in some cargo ships. This resulted in further conflict at sea, with many of the Spanish having to abandon their ships for rowing boats or by jumping overboard and swimming ashore. The French then took possession of their ships, returned to Havana and subsequently forced the Spanish to pay another ransom: £95

[537]
Chorera in Cuba is burnt by the French: 1595
When the town of Chorera was ransacked by the French, they were unable to find any loot, so they captured some of the Spanish and held them for ransom. Instead the Spanish launched a counter attack but when this failed the French set fire to the town and escaped with whatever valuables they could find. While burning the church, some of the French declared ‘men who have no faith shall have no temple’: £95

Jamaica

[538] Mutiny in Jamaica: 1594
On 29th May 1504, Columbus entered St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, but the Porras brothers and a number of Spanish soldiers on the island prevented him from coming ashore and tried unsuccessfully to board his ship, using a number of Indian boats. When the attack failed, Columbus and his brother were eventually able to land their men but fierce hand-to-hand fighting resulted, leading eventually to Francisco de Porras being arrested: £95

Hispaniola (Dominican Rep. & Haiti)

[539] A terrifying storm hits Hispaniola: 1594
In June 1495, a violent hurricane rushed in from the sea and people thought the end of the world had come. There was lightening and the day became so dark that they failed to recognise one another. Trees were uprooted, rocks scattered about, houses flattened and people killed. Three ships, which were thought to be safe in the old harbour of Isabella, sank with all hands aboard. As a result of this storm, Columbus ordered a new harbour to be built in a safer place on the south side of the island, which later became known as Santo Domingo. (This is probably the first illustration of a hurricane ever published!): £65

[540] A religious ritual on Hispañola: 1594
On certain feast-days the Indian cacique, while beating a drum, led a procession of his people to the worship of their idol, which was a strange hybrid-like creature with several heads. The men were painted black, red and yellow and came first, dressed in parrot feathers and necklaces of seashells. The women, decorated with jewellery, followed with their naked daughters. When all were assembled, the cacique inserted a stake into his throat, which made him vomit, so as to rid himself of secrets. While the men sat cross-legged, chanting, the women brought baskets of bread and roses in adoration of their idol: £65

[541] Columbus punishes the seditious Spanish: 1594
In ill health, Columbus returned to Hispaniola on 29th September 1494. He found the island in utter disorder and had some of the seditious Spanish hanged. This caused further unrest because a Benedictine monk denied Columbus the sacrament. Columbus then cut off food supplies to the abbey, whereupon the monks began to write many dreadful things about him and his brother, Bartholomew, whom Columbus had made governor of the island. Two years later, when the king of Spain heard about these troubles, he summoned Columbus to return to Spain for a hearing at the royal court: £65

[542] Columbus and his brother are arrested: 1594
When Bodadilla, the newly appointed governor of Hispaniola arrived on 23rd August 1500, he found that Columbus was away in Vega Real at the time and his brother, Bartholomew, was in Xaraguá. In his absence, Columbus had put his youngest brother, Diego, in command, so Bodadilla immediately had him arrested and put in leg-irons. Later when Columbus and his other brother, Bartholomew turned up, they were also put in chains and eventually sent back to Spain. On their arrival, Columbus disembarked still in chains - refusing to be released. This caused Ferdinand and Isabella such embarrassment that they were only able to correct the misunderstanding by subsequently bestowing honours upon him: £95

[543] Indian suicides under Spanish rule: 1594
The natives of Hispaniola, who saw no end to the fearful oppression of Spanish rule, preferred death. So many, devoid of all hope, went into the woods to kill their children and hang themselves. After taking certain natural poisons, the women followed their husbands to death by means of the noose. Others threw themselves down mountains, jumped into the sea or into rivers, while some died by self-imposed starvation or even stabbed themselves to death with razor sharp stone knives: £65

[544] Black slaves mining gold: 1594

When the indigenous peoples of Hispaniola became worn out under Spanish rule, they refused to work and some committed suicide. Black slaves were consequently brought in to replace them and open up the veins of gold and silver found on the island, especially in the Cibo region of the Cordillera Central. They were purchased from the Portuguese who had already conquered Guinea in West Africa and profiteered handsomely from the slave trade. Here the slaves are shown digging into the mountainside for the precious metals and pouring them in heaps before the Spanish for inspection: £65

[545] Spanish cruelty of the Black slaves: 1594
The Black slaves were punished for the slightest reason. Those that returned from the mines at the end of the day without sufficient gold or silver ore were stripped, bound and flogged until they bled all over, then boiling oil or pitch were poured on the wounds and cured with peppers and salt. They were then lightly covered with sacking until they had revived enough to start working again. Others, after flogging, were buried up to their necks so the earth absorbed their blood. Those that died in this way were easily replaced. The only penalty for killing slaves was for another slave to be forfeited to the king: £75

[546] Black slaves work the sugar plantations: 1595
After the veins of precious ore became depleted on Hispaniola, the Spanish set the Black slaves to work on the sugar plantations. This soon became a highly profitable venture because the sugar cane grew quickly and with minimum attention. The work involved cutting the plant, stripping off the leaves and crushing the cane to extract the juices. These were then boiled in bronze cauldrons to form concentrated syrup. This was then poured into large earthenware pots for transportation. The fertile valleys, west of Santo Domingo near Baní, were found to be ideally suited to grow this sugar-cane plant: £155

[547] Black slaves escape punishment: 1595
Many Black slaves, weary of ill treatment, managed to escape Spanish captivity and freely wandered the island, breaking into prisons and recruiting other slaves. Soon they outnumbered the Spanish and sought revenge by killing some of them. After a meeting at the governor’s palace in Santo Domingo, many Spanish soldiers were sent out to quell the rebellion by catching the Blacks by night and hanging them from trees. The Blacks learnt from this to keep a lookout all night long and, as a result, became much more difficult to catch: £95

[548] The Spanish capture a French Ship: 1594

The Spanish sighted two French ships off the coast of Santo Domingo and pursued them with their fleet. One of the French ships with many Catalan sailors aboard had formerly been under the allegiance of the Spanish Crown, so fled in fear of capture. The other French ships fired at the Spanish flagship, causing it some damage but, because of an accidental explosion aboard it, it was subsequently captured. The French captives were then paraded through the streets of the city to such cheering that one might have thought the whole of France had been taken. The captured French ship was later burnt at sea with all its equipment aboard: £65

[549] Francis Drake attacks the town of Santo Domingo: 1599-1600
The town of Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola was once the capital of Spanish America but in 1586, when Drake arrived, it had deteriorated somewhat in stature. Because it was still the largest settlement in the West Indies, Drake chose it as his first target. He landed 10 miles west of the town and, with an army of 800 men, under the command of Commander Carleill, attacked the weakly defended town from the rear where it was almost without fortifications. The English quickly took over control of the town and ransomed it for 25,000 ducats: £225

Puerto Rico

[550] Spanish immortality is tested on Puerto Rico: 1594
An Indian cacique of Boriquén, which is the old name for San Juan de Puerto Rico, decided to test the apparent invincibility of the Spaniards. While the Indians were helping a Spanish dignitary carry his luggage across a river, they decided to seize him and hold him under the water to see if he could survive drowning. His subsequent death was said to have dissolved the myth of Spanish invincibility and inspired a revolt among the Indians, which was eventually quelled by Diego Salazar: £155

Guadeloupe & Dominica

[551] Vespucci lands on the island of Itius: 1618-9 (rare)
According to the esteemed historian, Las Casas, ‘Itius cannot be other than the islands we reach coming from Spain, named Guadeloupe and Dominica’. When Vespucci and his Spanish companions tried to land there, they encountered resistance from about four hundred Indians, who fought them off at the water’s edge. There were both men and women and their naked bodies were decorated with war-paint. They had bows and arrows and also threw stones at the intruders. The fighting was fierce and many Indians were killed, until, after two days, the Indians finally retreated to the forest, so that Vespucci and his companions were able to land: £155

St. Lucia

[552] The English are attacked on Santa Lucia: 1627 (rare)
During Oliver Leagh’s voyage to Guiana in 1605, Captain St. John went ashore with a number of the crew. There they built a settlement by the sea and for some weeks traded peacefully with the local Caribs. Then, one day, they were suddenly attacked with bows and arrows and a fierce battle ensued which lasted several days. Many of the English died in this battle but those that survived did so by escaping by night in canoes to their moored sailing ship. From Santa Lucia they sailed south-west and eventually made landfall on the Venezuelan coast between La Guaira and Coro. (Engraving only, no text.): £155

Trinidad

[553] Sir Walter Ralegh in Trinidad: 1599
When Ralegh arrived with his ships at Port-of-Spain in Trinidad, he was courteous and friendly to the local Spanish people who had already colonised the island. By so doing, he won their trust and was able to learn much about the strength of their army, along with the geography of the island. Then one night he attacked the town of San José (now called St. Joseph) about six miles east of Port-of-Spain, with 100 men under the command of Captain Caulfield. The town was taken with little resistance, along with the governor of the island, Don Anyonio de Berrío whose residence was there. He was subsequently taken prisoner aboard Ralegh’s ship. (Ralegh usually signed his name without an ‘i’ in it): £155

Curaçao

[554] Vespucci lands on the island of Giants: 1618-9 (rare)
In 1499-1500, when Antonio de Ojeda and his crew, including Vespucci, landed on an island known today as Curaçao, they saw giant footprints in the sand. These they followed for about a mile until they came across a small hamlet, where they met two tall women and three girls who invited them into their dwelling for food. While the Spanish tried forcing the girls to return with them to their ship, about three dozen naked men appeared who were even taller than the women, so the Spanish quickly returned to their ships empty-handed, pursued by the Indians who waded out into the water to shoot arrows after them as they departed: £285

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