Aruba was now a firm part of the Spanish empire. Even though not a lot of attention was given, it did pay an interesting role in the region. With Coro now an established city and capital of the new world (modern day Venezuela), there was quite some movement. In order to understand the situation we have to move away from the region and take a wider view to get some perspective.
Since discovery by Alonso de Ojeda Aruba was property of the following Spanish monarchs (House of Trastámara):
- 1499 – 1504 Queen Isabella of Castille & King Ferdinand of Aragon (The queen financed Columbus)
- 1504 – 1555 Queen Juana (aka Juana la loca)
The following period in Spanish monarchy is that of the House of Habsburg. Due to strategic marriages with Austrian royals, the Spanish King as of 1556 was also King of:
- The Netherlands (including what is now Belgium)
- Naples (modern day Southern Italy)
- And of course everything Spain conquered in the Americas including Aruba
The most important King is Philip the II. Who would reign from 1556 to 1598. His reign is important to Aruba because the war he was waging against the Dutch protestant rebellion would set things in motion that will impact Aruba later on.
But let’s not jump too far ahead, and go back to Coro around 1528 – 1546. Due to the many wars in Europe the Spanish crown under owed a debt to the German banking family of the Welsers. In exchange for this debt, they got to rule what is now Venezuela from 1528 – 1546. Although their presence did not produce any remarkable activities for Aruba, it did end the agreements between the Spaniards and the local indigenous people. These were agreements made between Juan de Ampies, Cacique Manaure and Father De las Casas. The local indigenous population had to fight again to defend themselves and their right to be there. Aruba being relatively safe due to its location participated in defending the coast north of Coro from invasion and pirates. The people from Aruba even founded a village north east of Coro called Carrizal.
In the cathedral of Coro, there is still a document that gives thanks to the people of Aruba for founding the village of Carrizal (not to be mistaken with the current municipality of Carrizal in current Venezuela). It is a bit unclear wether they founded it pro-actively as a defence or as a result of having to flee to the mainland to escape attacks from pirates a.o. It is also a bit unclear when all of this happened. Some information gives the impression that this happened at the end of the 16th century and other documentation mentions this happening around 1723. Although I could not find any images to provide more clarity on the timeline of this, there is a documentary (in Dutch) that mentions and shows this (you can see it at minute 6:27). And this is the church that was built around 1750 and still stands today:
The take-away from this part of history of Aruba?
- We were part of the largest empire in the world of the time
- Managed by Germans
- We were of little consequence due to not having any valuable assets to support the royal coffers.
- The local population remained heavily native Caiquetios living together with some Spanish colonisers.
The most exiting occurrences of the time were raids by, sometimes famous, pirates.
(The map used as featured image on top can is made by Diego Gutierrez and Hieronymus Cock in 1562 and can be found here)