The Story of Lanzarote The 16th Century

On the 17th of September 1569 on the orders of the Moorish King of Fez, Lanzarote was attacked by the Corsair Galafat with his 9 galleys, 7 regiments, and 600 armed men. The islanders led by Count of Lanzarote managed to capture one of the regiments and put 50 of the invaders to death. Nevertheless the pirates laid waste to much of the Island, and captured more than 90 people.

Towards the end of 1586 the Algerian Pirate Morato raided Lanzarote with 7 galleys, 800 armed men as well as 400 Turks. Guanapay Castle, (near Teguise- then the capital of the island), was attacked twice causing the death of the Governor, Diego de Cabrera Leme. During the raids Morato burnt more than 1600 bushels of wheat and Barley, as well as setting fire to the Island's Official Archives, not one of the ancient documents and manuscripts contained there surviving.The Moors also kidnapped Dona Inez Benitez de Las Cuevas, wife of the Marquis of Lanzarote, Don Agustin de Herrera y Roxas, and her daughter Dona Constanza de Herrera. They were freed following the payment of a 5000 ducat ransom, and the exchange of two hostages, Don Diego Sarmeinto, brother of the Marquis and Marcos de San Juan Peraza. The hostages remained in Morocco until 1590.

On the 13th of April 1596 a squadron led by the Englishman John Berkley landed on the island of Alegranza, before stepping ashore on the main island at the Port of Naos, (Arrecife), with some 500 or 600 hundred men whose intention was to steal the one hundred thousand pounds sterling held in the capital. When they arrived at Teguise they found that the inhabitants had fled, taking everything of value with them. Berkley sent a detachment to pursue the fugitives who had taken refuge in Guanapay Castle, where they surrended to the English. The castle contained 12 pieces of dismantled artillary, and stockpiles of cobble stones for use against attackers.According to the acounts of Count George of Cumberland, and the Chaplain Dr Layfield, Teguise consisted of a little more than 100 small houses covered with cane and straw or made of mud bricks dried in the sun. The church had no windows the only light coming in through the door. There was no screen for the choir, and stone benches lined the walls up to the alter. The Convent of Saint Francis surrounded by its abundant gardens was being built at the time.

The Marquis of Lanzarote, Don Agustin de Herrera who had no heir by his marriage to Dona Ines Benitez, became enamoured of Dona Bernadina de Cabrera y Leon, wife of the Genoan Teodoro Espelta.
The Marquis was often at her house, and one day on a whim, and being 5 months pregnant, she sent her husband out to find her some fruit. The following morning Teodoro was found dead behind a wall at his own house, although there were no signs that of violence.Everybody blamed his death on the Marquis. Three months later Dona Bernadina gave birth to a daughter Dona Juana, who took the name Herrera. Two years later another daughter Dona Constanza was born. The Marquis supported both girls.
Dona Bernadina was overcome by Christian remorse so she decided to retire to a convent on Maderia, where she become a nun in the order of St Clara.
As the Marquises' marriage was childless, they decided to care for Dona Bernadina's daughters as if they were their own, declaring their intention for all to see. They obtained Royal assent to adopt Dona Juana, although the Marquis favoured Dona Constanza, believing that she was his natural daughter, as she had been conceived after the death of Teodoro, whereas he always thought that Juana was the daughter of the dead man. As the future Marquess of the Island Constanza's hand was much sought after in marriage, and she became engaged to none other than the 24 year old Sevillian Nobleman Gonzalo Argote de Molina, a man known for his illustrious birth, as well as his writing. The wedding took place on the Island amidst rejoicing and public fiestas.
Some years later Dona Juana de Herrera was married on Maderia to Don Francisco Achioli de Vasconcelos.
On the 8th of May 1588 at the age of 70 Dona Ines Benitez de las Cuevas y Ponte died.On the 22nd of November while on a trip to Madrid the Marquis married again, this time to Dona Mariana Enriquez Manrique de la Vega, daughter of Diego de Tebes y Brito noblemann at the King's Court. Tebes y Brito gave a dowry of 10,000 ducats.
Taking advantage of his father in law's absence Gonzalo Argote tried to take control of the Civil and Miltary Governership of Fuerteventura which was consequently granted to him by Don Luis de la Cueva y Benavides, Captain General of the Canaries, who put the Island's miltary at his disposal, supposedly because of the threat of an enemy invasion, although the truth was that there was a threatened uprising by the local nobility.
Gonzalo Argote solto a los presos de las carceles, abolio los Regidores que componian el Ayuntamiento, nombrando en su lugar a 24 Sevillanos. Impuso tributos y ejecuto notables vejaciones a quienes osaron resistirsele.
Gonzalo released the inmates of the prisons, and dismissed the local council, naming in their place 24 of his fellow Sevillians. He imposed new taxes and persecuted those who dared to oppose him.
The local nobles took their grievances to the King, who commanded Don Luis de la Cueva to withdraw support from Gonzalo Argote, forcing him to abandon Fuerteventura, enabling peace to return to the island. In 1594 Dona Mariana gave birth to the son and heir Don Agustin had longed for filling him with joy, although his happiness was tempered with sadness several years later by the death of Constanza in the Palace of Lanzarote, leaving three children, Agustin, Alonso and Isabel. Her death was followed by that of Gonzalo Argote, who who died in poverty following the loss of his inheritence. He was buried in the grounds of the hospital of San Martin, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

The island of Santa Clara passed into the hands of Juan de Leon Monguia, brother of Dona Bernadina de Cabera y Leon, and and the keeper of her household. Later his wife, Ana Viciosa sold it to Marcial Martin. The Island of Alegranza was sold by Diego de Cabrera Leme, Augustin de Herrera's governor to Luis de Hemerando, whose successor Dona Geronyma sold it in 1613 to Don Andres Lorenzo Arias de Saavedra a knight from Fuerteventura for the sum of 10,000 silver ducats. The island of La Graciosa passed to the Cabildo,(Local Goverment), of Lanzarote.
On the 18th of Febuary 1598 Don Augustin de Herrera, Count and Marquis of Lanzarote died in Teguise. At the time plague was rife on the island, but he died of a chronic illness.
He was succeeded by his first born son and legimate heir, then aged 4.
Dona Mariana took charge of the estate as her son's guardian on the 11th of October of 1598. This act was celebrated in the Church of Our Lady of Gualalupe. The Governor Sancho de Herrera Ayala and his Aldermen, kissed her hand, and swore to protect all laws and ordanances.An inventory presented to her at the time included 11 parts in 12 of the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, along with contol of Civil and Criminal jurisdiction, and all rents due to the state. The fortresses at Guanapay and Arrecife with 12 pieces of artillery. A palace in Teguise, and other properties.95 pairs of oxen, 6 camels, 8 mares, 4 colts, 148 goats, and a number of fields for grain production, 4 female and 3 negro slaves, and vineyards on Fuerteventura.



Esta pagina ha sido realizada por Sarabel y Chino.

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