Spanish Conquest of Hispaniola, 1493-1504

Note : the island of Hispaniola today comprises two states, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
In 1492, on his first voyage, Columbus landed on Hispaniola; here he founded the settlement of La Navidad, and returned home to report to the Catholic Majesties. Upon his return in 1493 he found la Navidad burnt to the ground; the Spanish settlers had antagonized the Tainos who had killed the Spaniards and destroyed the settlement. Columbus had the perpetrators persecuted and punished. In order to collect revenues - the production of gold was unsatisfactory, the Spanish began to enslave native Tainos, sending slave raiding parties into the interior. Of all villages, tribute was demanded; those who did not pay, were razed to the ground. According to Bartolome de las Casas, by 1497, two thirds of the villages of Hispaniola were waste. In 1497 the first land grants were made to Spaniards.
Intrigants had the Columbus brothers arrested and transported off to Spain in chains (1496); Nicholas de Ovando succeeded Diego Columbus as Governor of Hispaniola. He was ruthless and implemented a policy to subdue the island quickly and effectively. The Taino caciques (chiefs) of the island were invited to a dinner - and brutally killed, most tribes and villages thus deprived of her leaders.
The Spanish 'conquest' of Hispaniola was a rather single-sided affair; there was no organized resistance, the Tainos on repeated occasions willing to negotiate and cooperate with the Spaniards.

History of the Dominican Republic, from

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 11th 2004, last revised on November 16th 2004

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