Aruba Past and Present: From the Time of the Indians until Today

By Johan Hartog; J. A. Verleun | Go to book overview

SECOND CHAPTER 1500-1636
THE SPANISH PERIOD: ARUBA A RANCHO

Aruba's discovery

ISLAS ADYACENTES A LA COSTA FIRME -- THAT IS THE FIRST APPELlation of the islands to which also belonged as yet unnamed Aruba. On the 26th of July 1499, a date rather traditional than historically established, Alonso de Ojeda discovered "the islands lying off the firm shore". At least Curaçao. There is not a single indication to be found in any historical document enabling us to conclude that Aruba was discovered on the same occasion. Juan de la Cosa, Oveda's travelling-companion who drew the first map of the New World, does not designate Aruba by name on it. His map shows two of the Leeward Islands, of which the westernmost, according to Kohl, is Aruba--the other must therefore be Curaçao. Menkman and Van Meeteren, on the contrary, take the most westerly island to be Curaçao, in which case the other is bound to be Bonaire, of course. The latter supposition is more plausible and makes it very doubtful whether Ojeda's party even saw Aruba. It is impossible to construct a truthful narrative of the discovery of our island. The Spaniards, however, cannot have failed to discover Aruba by this time on their reconnoitring cruises along the opposite coast; old documents regulating Spanish administration in these parts actually mention Aruba. We learn that as early as 1502 all three islands are placed under the control of Ojeda as belonging to the district of Coro, which he received in fief that year.

Aruba's prehistory now belongs to times gone by. Written documents have preserved our island's history ever since, even though, for the first period, they were few and far between.

Alonso de Ojeda, born about 1466 at Cuenca, Spain, from the noble family of Ojeda y Ojeda, was a cousin and namesake of the inquisitor Ojeda, who presented Alonso to the Archdean of Sevilla, Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, the future Patriarch of the West Indies. In his capacity as member of the Royal Council De Fonseca was charged with the execution of the Crown's commands relative to the voyages of discovery. Alonso

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