Episode 16 – Cash Crops and Slavery

This episode wraps up our discussion of the Spanish Indies prior to 1561. We discuss the history of sugar as a cash crop, and how its cultivation brought about the trans-Atlantic slave trade. We conclude our episode with a brief introduction of that plant which will be so important for Jamestown – tobacco.

Episode 15 – Luna the Lunatic

By the late 1550s, everyone, including the Dominicans, realized that something needed to be done about the Indians of Florida. In 1557, the newly crowned King Philip II of Spain ordered that two settlements be built, one on the Gulf Coast and the other in the Carolinas. Tristan de Luna y Arellano was put in command of the project. Luna’s expedition (1559-1561) was met by horrible luck, Luna himself went mad, and the entire expedition disintegrated into squabbling anarchy. In 1561, Luna was fired and Angel de Villafane took his place, but the project was unsalvageable. Following the final failure of the settlement, Philip II decided that he was through with Florida. Events, however, were soon to prove the necessity of a Spanish military presence in Florida.