Alonso Fernández de Lugo bigraphy, stories - Founders

Alonso Fernández de Lugo : biography

- 1525

Javier Alonso Luis Fernández de Lugo (died 1525) was an Andalusian military man, conquistador, city founder, and administrator. He conquered the islands of La Palma (1492–1493) and Tenerife (1494–1496) for the Castilian Crown; they were the last of the Canary Islands to be conquered by Europeans. He was also the founder of the towns of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Santa Cruz de La Palma. One biographer has written that his personality was a “terrible mixture of cruelty and ambition or greed, on one part, and on the other a great capacity and sense for imposing order and government on conquered lands,” a trait found in the conquistadors of the New World.

Conquest of Tenerife

During the conquest of Tenerife, he suffered a severe defeat at the First Battle of Acentejo (May 31, 1494). At the First Battle of Acentejo, Fernández de Lugo, though wounded, had been able to escape with his life only by exchanging the red cape of an Adelantado for that of a common soldier. An additional detail from that battle, however, was that a rock thrown at Fernández de Lugo's head by a Guanche resulted in his losing most of his teeth.

By October 1495, he had gathered together a second, larger army, and received assistance from the Duke of Medina Sidonia and other nobles. Humiliated and cautious after the First Battle of Acentejo, which had been disastrous for the Spaniards, Fernández de Lugo had advanced gradually across the island, building and rebuilding forts. The expedition, which Lugo had funded with the sale of all of his properties, had landed at Añazo, where he built two towers on the spot where he had constructed his first fort before his prior defeat. He had more experienced troops under his command -these included 1,000 foot soldiers, veterans of the conquest of Granada, lent to him by the Duke of Medina Sidonia. Fernández de Lugo also had the support of Ferdinand and Isabella, who had given him ten more months to complete his conquest of the Canaries. During this time of regrouping, he also captured many slaves in the area. With this better-planned military strategy, he achieved victory over the Guanches of Tenerife at the Battle of Aguere (November 14–15, 1494) and the Second Battle of Acentejo (December 25, 1494).

Early life

Fernández de Lugo was born in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in Spain, during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, though his family was of Galician origin; his relatives, as his surname indicates, originated in the city of Lugo and other Galician locales.

Nothing much is known of his youth. He enlisted in the navy and ended up achieving the rank of Adelantado and Captain General of the African coasts. In 1478, he participated in the conquest of Gran Canaria under the command of Juan Rejón. Later, he fought alongside Pedro de Vera, Rejón's successor as governor of Gran Canaria, who conferred on him command of the castle of Agaete on the island of Gran Canaria.

After the Conquest

Fernández de Lugo presenting the captured native kings of Tenerife to [[Ferdinand and Isabella]] He was named governor and chief justice of both Tenerife and La Palma, Captain General of the coast of Africa. He was named Adelantado on January 12, 1503, a title confirmed again by Charles I of Spain, in Barcelona, on August 17, 1519. It was an inherited title. The current Rightful Successor of the title "Adelantado of the Canary Islands Tenerife and La Palma, Captain General of the coast of Africa" is Felix Alberto Lugo III. Fernández de Lugo was given extensive powers over these islands, since he had been financially responsible for their conquest. On La Palma, he had control over the distribution of land and water. Though he preferred to live on Tenerife, Fernández de Lugo reserved the rich area of Los Sauces on La Palma, north of the island's capital, for himself. His nephew and lieutenant received La Caldera in 1502.

His rule as adelantado was characterized by extreme despotism and harsh rule, and he treated the defeated Guanches like spoils of war. Legally, Guanches were regarded as being at the same level of Moors –in other words, enemies of Christianity- and he sold many of them into slavery. His treatment of his defeated subjects was so harsh that Ferdinand and Isabella intervened, requesting that the governor of Gran Canaria, Sánchez de Valenzuela, free some of the Guanches who had been enslaved by his counterpart in Tenerife.

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