Competition for Empire
During the centuries of Spanish exploration and colonization, “treasure fleets” made regular trips to the Americas to deliver merchandise and collect treasures and precious metals. As these cargos increased in size and value, so did the risk of capture and theft. Foreign navies, privateers (commissioned agents sent out against the enemies of states), and pirates threatened, attacked, and plundered the ships of the treasure fleets.
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Pirates and Privateers
During the centuries of Spanish exploration and colonization, “treasure fleets” made regular trips to the Americas to deliver merchandise and collect treasures and precious metals. As these cargos increased in size and value, so did the risk of capture and theft. Foreign navies, privateers (commissioned agents sent out against the enemies of states), and pirates threatened, attacked, and plundered the ships of the treasure fleets. Read more about Pirates and Privateers »
La Florida included the vast territory claimed by Spain on the basis of the explorations by Juan Ponce de León (1460–1521) in 1513 and 1521. Encompassing lands from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the Chesapeake Bay, Spanish Florida existed from 1565 to 1763, when Florida (by then reduced in size to today’s Florida and parts of Alabama and Georgia) came under British control. Spain regained possession of Florida from 1784 until 1821 when the territory became part of the United States. Read more about Spanish Florida »
The territory of Spanish Florida once encompassed much of what is now the southeastern United States but decreased with the arrival of English and French settlements. The British controlled Florida between 1763 and 1783, when Florida reverted to Spanish hands. On February 22, 1821, the United States and Spain concluded a treaty that gave Florida and other Spanish-held areas to the U.S. Read more about English Florida »
The United States: An Emerging Empire
Sir Frances Drake’s Voyage Maps
Italian artist Baptista Boazio (fl. 1588–1606). created these handsome hand-colored engravings to accompany A Summarie and True Discourse of Sir Francis Drake’s West Indian Voyage, published in London by Biggs and Croftes in 1588–1589. The maps are illustrated in fascinating detail with the fleet of twenty-three ships, as well as land battle plans of the English attacks on Spanish harbor forts. Animals, flags, crests, and compasses decorate the cartography. These Boazio maps are historically important not only for understanding Sir Francis Drake’s (1540?–1598) activities, but also because the four city plans represent the first printed view of each locality.
The lead “voyage map,” charting the round trip from England, is captioned in English, while the accompanying four bird’s-eye views of ports are captioned in Latin. Drake sailed directly west from Santiago in the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa. The first port Drake reached in the West Indies was Santo Domingo in Hispaniola, present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic. This image shows the English fleet in the bay and the infantry battalions attacking the town. The view of Cartagena, situated on the South American coast of Colombia, depicts the English infantry marching on the city. The view of St. Augustine is the earliest engraving of any locality in the United States. It shows the English fleet at anchor as its infantry troops attack the Spanish settlement.
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