North America 1511: Spanish expansion in the Caribbean
Following their colonization of Puerto Rico (1508), the Spanish began the settlement of the other two large islands neighboring Hispaniola: Santiago (Jamaica) in 1509 and Cuba in 1511. Meanwhile, in 1510, Spanish attempts on the mainland finally produced two lasting colonies, at Santa María la Antigua del Darién and Nombre de Dios (both on the Isthmus of Panama).
10 Jul 1509–23 Feb 1526 Diego Columbus’ governorship▲
In 1508 Diego Columbus, Christopher Columbus’ son and heir, was named Governor of the Indies by King Ferdinand II, arriving in Santo Domingo in July 1509. Diego mounted a series of lawsuits against the Spanish crown (technically the Crown of Castile and León) to inherit all his father’s rights and was eventually recognized as Viceroy of the Indies in 1511, albeit with less powers than his father had. However, Diego remained at odds with the crown and was recalled in 1515–20 and again in 1524. After his death in 1526, he was succeeded by his son Luis, still a young child, effectively ending the Columbian Viceroyalty in the Indies.
Nov 1509 Colony of Santiago▲
On 10 July 1509 Diego Columbus, Christopher Columbus’ son and successor, took up the governorship of Santo Domingo, soon dispatching the captain Juan de Esquivel with seventy men to take possession of Santiago (Jamaica). Despite threats from Alonso de Ojeda—who the King had officially appointed as governor of Santiago—Esquivel arrived on the island in November, establishing peaceful relations with the local Taíno and founding the settlement of Sevilla la Nueva on the north coast. However, the location was not ideal and the capital would be moved to Villa de la Vega (Spanish Town) on the south coast of the island in 1534.
20 Jan–Sep 1510 San Sebastián de Urabá▲
In November 1509 Alonso de Ojeda departed Santo Domingo with 225 men to take up his governorship in New Andalusia (Colombia). After being repulsed in a battle with indigenous tribes in the Cartagena area, Ojeda landed on the east coast of the Gulf of Urabá (close to the modern border with Panama) and founded the settlement of San Sebastián de Urabá. However, the native inhabitants were hostile and—after eight months of conflict, with no reinforcements in sight and only 42 colonists still alive—the settlement was abandoned.
Sep 1510 Santa María la Antigua del Darién▲
During the collapse of San Sebastián de Urabá (Jan–Sep 1510), Governor Alonso de Ojeda departed by sea in search for help, leaving Francisco Pizarro in command. Shipwrecked off Cuba, Ojeda did not return, but the colonists were eventually rescued by an expedition under Martín Fernández de Enciso. Among Enciso’s crew, Vasco Núñez de Balboa suggested a location west of the Gulf of Urabá as ideal for settlement and together they traveled to what is now the Colombia–Panama border. After defeating the indigenous people under the chief Cémaco, Balboa founded the town of Santa María la Antigua del Darién.
Oct 1510 Nombre de Dios▲
In 1508 the influential noble Diego de Nicuesa was appointed governor of Veragua by King Ferdinand II. Arriving in the New World in 1510 to take possession of his governorate, he explored the coast of Panama and, undeterred by clashes with the indigenous peoples, established the settlement of Nombre de Dios in October. Despite this shaky start, Nombre de Dios would survive to become the longest continuously inhabited European settlement in the continental Americas.
Feb 1511–?? 1529 Taíno–Spanish War▲
In 1510 the Taíno chief Agüeybaná I—who had established peaceful relations with the Spanish on San Juan Bautista (Puerto Rico)—died, leaving his more belligerent brother, Agüeybaná II, as the most powerful cacique on the island. When Spanish lieutenant-governor Cristóbal de Sotomayor seized land and native workers for himself, Agüeybaná II executed him (1511), encouraging the other Taíno chiefs to join the revolt. Although the Spanish eventually prevailed, it would not be until 1518 that they secured all of San Juan Bautista and Taíno raids from neighboring islands would continue throughout the 1520s.
15 Aug 1511–25 Aug 1515 Conquest of Cuba▲
In 1511 Diego Columbus, Viceroy of the Indies, placed Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in charge of an expedition of 330 Spaniards and some native auxiliaries to apprehend the Taíno chief Hatuey, who had fled west to Cuba. Crossing from Hispaniola, Velázquez established the town of Baracoa in southeast Cuba and, despite Hatuey’s attempts to rally the local population, captured and burned the chief at the stake at Yara in February 1512. Moving north to found more towns, including Havana, Velázquez proceeded to consolidate the Spanish hold over almost all of the island by 1515.