Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

SECOND VOYAGE OF ALONZO DE OJEDA (1502.)

THE first voyage of Alonzo de Ojeda to the coast of Paria, and its meagre termination in June, 500, has been related. He gained nothing in wealth by that expedition, but he added to his celebrity as a bold and skilful adventurer. His youthful fire, his sanguine and swelling spirit, and the wonderful stories, that were told of his activity and prowess, made him extrermely popular, so that his patron, the bishop Fonseca, found it an easy matter to secure for him the royal favour. In consideration of his past services and of others expected from him, a grant was made to him of six leagues of land on the southern part of Hispaniola, and the government of the province of Coquibacoa which he had discovered. He was, furthermore, authorized to fit out any number of ships, not exceeding ten, at his own expense, and to prosecute the discovery of the coast of Terra Firma. He was not to touch or traffic on the pearl coast of Paria; extending as far as a bay in the vicinity of the island of Margarita. Beyond this he had a right to trade in all kinds of merchandise, whether of pearls, jewels, metals, or precious stones; paying one-fifth of the profits to the crown, and abstaining from making slaves of the Indians without a special license from the sovereigns. He was to colonize Coquibacoa, and, as a recompense, was to enjoy one-half of the proceeds of his territory, provided the half did not exceed 300,000 maravedies: all beyond that amount was to go to the crown.

A principal reason, however, for granting this government and those privileges to Ojeda, was that, in his previous voyage, he had met with English adventurers on a voyage of discovery in the neighbourhood of Coquibacoa, at, which the jealousy of the sovereigns had taken the alarm. They were anxious, therefore, to establish a resolute and fighting commander like Ojeda upon this outpost, and they instructed him to set up the

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