North America 1500: Fall of Columbus
Distrusting Columbus’ claimed primacy in the New World, the Spanish monarchs began supporting the voyages of other explorers—beginning with Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci in 1499. At about the same time, responding to complaints about Columbus’ cruelty to settlers and natives alike, they appointed the knight Francisco de Bobadilla to as Governor of the Indies in his stead. Arriving in Santo Domingo in August 1500, Bobadilla found Columbus guilty of the charges and sent him back to Spain in chains. Although he was soon pardoned and allowed to return as an explorer in 1502, Columbus would never hold power again.
May–?? 1498 John Cabot’s final voyage▲
At the beginning of May 1498 John Cabot departed Bristol with a fleet of five ships, intending to return to the New World and possibly open up a trade route to Asia. In July it was reported that one of the ships had been caught in a storm and forced to land in Ireland, but little evidence has been found of the fate of the remaining ships and crew. It appears that if Cabot did indeed reach North America, and survived the journey home, he died shortly after returning.
30 May–20 Aug 1498 Columbus’ third voyage▲
In May 1498 Christopher Columbus left the port of Sanlúcar, Spain, with a fleet of six ships. Sending three directly to Hispaniola, he sailed a more southerly route with the other three and thus sighted Trinidad on 31 July, becoming the first known Europeans to discover South America. Continuing west, he explored the coast of mainland Venezuela and the Orinoco River before heading north to Santo Domingo.
18 May–5 Sep 1499 Ojeda’s first voyage▲
In 1499 the bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, de facto minister of Spanish colonial affairs, began organizing voyages to challenge Columbus’ assumed primacy in the New World. The first such expedition was under Alonso de Ojeda, who, accompanied by Juan de la Cosa and Amerigo Vespucci, made landfall off Guyana then sailed west along the coast of what they named Venezuela (“Little Venice”) before traveling to Santo Domingo.
1500 Nueva Cádiz▲
In 1498 Christopher Columbus sighted the island of Cubagua off the coast of Venezuela, noting its rich pearl fisheries. His reports encouraged European fortune-hunters and by 1500 there were 50 adventurers led by the Italian sailor Giacomo Castiglione at work on the island, exploiting indigenous labor. Eventually the seasonal outpost became a permanent Spanish settlement—the first in South America—and in 1528 was recognized as the city of Nueva Cádiz. Briefly one of the richest outposts in Spanish America, Nueva Cádiz would be abandoned after a series of disasters in the 1540s.
23 Aug 1500 Bobadilla’s governorship▲
In May 1499 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella appointed Francisco de Bobadilla, a Knight of the Order of Calatrava, to succeed Christopher Columbus as Governor of the Indies (Spanish New World). Arriving in the Colony of Santo Domingo in August 1500, Bobadilla found Columbus guilty of tyranny and, in early October, had him arrested and sent back to Spain in chains. Bobadilla’s administration would be short-lived and in 1502 he was replaced by Nicolas de Ovando, ironically dying in a hurricane just as a pardoned Columbus returned.