North America 1494: Columbus’ second voyage
Impressed by his reports, Ferdinand and Isabella sent Columbus back to the New World in September 1493, this time with a much larger fleet of 17 ships. Arriving back on Hispaniola only to discover La Navidad had been destroyed in a clash with the Taíno, Columbus founded the town of La Isabela nearby, hoping to profit from goldfields he believed lay inland. Columbus then explored the Caribbean, unsuccessfully trying to find access to China—which he remained convinced was nearby.
4 May 1493 Inter caetera▲
When Columbus returned from his first voyage to the Americas in March 1493, a furor broke out between his Spanish backers and King John II of Portugal, who held that the voyage was in violation of previous treaties. In response to Spanish requests, Pope Alexander VI—himself a Spaniard—issued a bull (the Inter caetera) recognizing Spanish claims to discoveries beyond a line one hundred leagues to the west and south of the Azores. A final edict, Dudum siquidem, supplemented the Inter caetera on 26 September 1493, although both would soon be superseded by the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494).
24 Sep 1493–11 Jun 1496 Columbus’ second voyage▲
Following Columbus’ embellished descriptions of the New World—which he still believed to be Asia—the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to fund a second voyage, this time with a much larger fleet of 17 ships. Departing from Spain in September 1493, Columbus reached and named the island of Dominiga (Dominica) in November, exploring and naming a number of islands, including San Juan Bautista (Puerto Rico), as he made his way back to Hispaniola. There he established the new settlement of La Isabela in 1494, before traveling west to explore Juana (Cuba)—which he claimed was part of China—and Santiago (Jamaica). After initiating a campaign of enslavement and conquest in Hispaniola, Columbus returned to Spain in 1496.
Dec 1493 La Isabela▲
In late December 1493, on his second voyage, Christopher Columbus established the Spanish town of La Isabela on the north coast of Hispaniola, in what is now the Dominican Republic, to search for gold. Initially housing over a thousand people, the settlement had a troublesome start when expeditions found little gold and the town was hit by hurricanes in 1494 and 1495. Columbus quickly turned to enslaving and extorting the local Taíno people to raise money but failed to save the colony, which was by now wracked by hunger and disease. In 1496 he moved most of the colonists to the new settlement of Santo Domingo.