before 1402 History of Northern Africa Canary Islands, 1496-1660

Canary Islands, 1402-1496

Norman adventurer Jean de Bethencourt began the conquest of Lanzarote in 1402; it was completed in 1405. De Bethencourt placed his conquest under the Crown of Castile. He conquered the island of Hierro in 1405; the population, despite having submitted, was treated as slaves, the land settled by Normans.
In 1406 the conquest was organized, fiefs were handed out, two churches were constructed, taxation fixed. De Bethencourt applied to the pope for the establishment of a Canarian bishopric. Alberto de las Casas was appointed the first bishop, with seat at San Marcial de Rubicon.
The conquest of the Canary Islands, in many aspects, is similar to the Spanish conquest of Latin America in the following century; conquistadores acted on their own, pursuing personal interests, often turning upon each other. Bethancourt was succeeded by Meciot; the new bishop of the Canaries intrigued against Meciot at the court of Queen Catalina, and Meciot was ousted. Fernan Peraza, Count de Valdeflores in 1440 inherited a (not undisputed claim) over the Canaries, and equipped an expedition; he met Portuguese competition; his attempt to conquer La Palma failed. Peraza died in 1452.
In 1433, the pope, who was asked to mediate in the Portuguese-Castilian conflict over the Canaries, decided for Portugal; in 1436, the pope reversed his decision and awarded them to Castile. A 1434 papal bull forbade the practise of slave trade - Canarians were sold to the Portuguese, to work plantations on Madeira).
Peraza's son-in-law Diego de Herrera inherited Peraza's claim; he arrived in the Canaries in 1454. His 1464 attempt to conquer Gran Canaria failed. The costly and futile expedition caused unrest among the population of Lanzarote and Hierro; they protested at court. In 1477 the Catholic majesties themselves took charge of the submission of the further islands. In the Treaty of Sevilla Oct. 15 1477, Diego de Herrera and his wife ceded their claim to the islands to the royal couple. In 1479 Portugal and Castile-Aragon (nascent Spain) signed the TREATY OF ALCAÇOVAS, in which Portugal recognized Castile's (Spain's) claim to the Canary Islands.
Gran Canaria was conquered 1478-1483, Juan Rejon being the commander of the expedition, from the beginning exposed to intrigues by Juan Bermudez, dean of San Marcial de Rubicon. La Gomera was conquered in 1488. In 1492 Alfonso Fernandez de Lugo was charged with the conquest of La Palma and Tenerife. On La Palma, most native princes submitted voluntarily; those who resisted were defeated by 1493. Tenerife was conquered 1494-1495.
The native population of the Canary Islands offered determined resistance to the Norman-Castilian conquest, which took almost a century to accomplish

History of La Palma, from
The Canary Islands, from Catholic Encyclopedia
DOCUMENTS Treaty of Alcaçovas, 1470, from Avalon Project by Yale Law School
REFERENCE Salvador Lopez Herrera, Die Kanarischen Inseln. Ein Geschichtlicher Überblick (The Canary Islands, a Historical Overview), Madrid 1978, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 22nd 2001, last revised on November 6th 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz