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Robinson A. Herrera

who lived in Trujillo, Honduras, an important Caribbean port during the colonial period, which is today an area with a substantial population of Garifuna people, the descendants of Africans and indigenous peoples from St. Vincent. Juan’s origins are unknown, as no documents indicate where he was born. He was married and was the father of several children, but the names of his family members are also unknown. In accordance with the Spanish pattern of naming African slaves, Bardales likely received his surname from a former owner. Juan’s origins and years of birth and death remain unclear, although the evidence indicates that he was likely born in the early sixteenth century and lived past 1565.

In 1544 and again in 1565, Bardales sought a royal reward for his services to the Spanish Crown. As a necessary step in requesting royal favors, Bardales had a probanza de méritos proof ...

Article

Trevor Hall

an enslaved West African who lived in Portugal and worked as a translator and mariner aboard Portuguese ships trading in West Africa. He appears in the historical record in 1477, during a war between Portugal and Spain (1475–1479) when he escaped his Portuguese master, who had taken him from Portugal to West Africa many times as a translator aboard Portuguese trading vessels. But on what proved to be his last voyage, Garrido escaped and remained in the region of Guinea in West Africa. It was there that he wrote Prince João, the future King João II (r. 1481–1495) of Portugal, requesting his freedom. Because Garrido was then resident in Africa, his request was granted.

In his 1477 letter to Prince João Garrido stated that he was a Christian who had been enslaved in Lagos southern Portugal by the squire Gonçalo Toscano The African informed the ...

Article

Jane G. Landers

explorer, Indian fighter, and gold miner, was born in West Africa and traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, in the late fifteenth century. It is not known if he went to Portugal as a slave or as a free man: both were possible. From Lisbon, Garrido went to Seville and joined a Spanish expedition sailing for the island of Hispaniola (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Garrido may have been part of Governor Nicolás de Ovando's expedition of 1503 and he stated he was a free man when he sailed for the Americas. Alongside other free blacks, Garrido took part in the “wars of pacification” against the Taíno Indians, and there he found a patron in Juan Ponce de León. In 1508 Ponce de León received a charter to conquer Puerto Rico and Garrido went with him as did several other free and enslaved blacks Garrido identified himself ...

Article

Robert C. Schwaller

was probably born in West Africa during the last decades of the fifteenth century. As a youth, Garrido was sold to Portuguese slave traders and taken to Lisbon, the kingdom’s capital and major trade center. In Lisbon, Garrido converted to Christianity. Around 1500, he traveled to, or was taken from, Portugal to Seville, in the kingdom of Castile. After about seven years, Garrido left Seville a free man and traveled to the Caribbean where he became a participant in Spanish conquests.

Most of the details concerning Garrido’s life are preserved in a 1538 petition in which he solicited royal favor for his participation in Spanish conquests. Unfortunately, Garrido did not make mention of his life in Portugal or Africa. Instead, he began his narrative by noting that he traveled to the Americas as a free man arriving sometime before 1510.

Even though a freed slave Garrido s life in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

African-born conquistador, was born sometime in the late fifteenth century somewhere in Africa. Details about his origins and early life are very sparse. He claimed to have converted to Catholicism in Lisbon, Portugal, and lived in the Spanish kingdom of Castile for some time. However, it is clear that Garrido had arrived at the Santo Domingo colony (in the present-day Dominican Republic) by 1502. This settlement, established on the island of Hispaniola by the Italian sea captain Christopher Columbus, became a destination for slaves almost immediately, since Spanish and Italian seafarers had been using African slaves as servants for centuries. Garrido and other slaves also helped to provide military support against armed attacks by Native Americans. African soldiers helped Spanish leaders capture Puerto Rico in 1508 and lay claim to Cuba in 1511 and 1512 Juan Garrido later claimed to have served under the Spanish commanders Ponce de Léon ...

Article

Peter Gerhard

While the role played by the people of equatorial Africa in the colonization of Latin America is relatively well known, it is for the most part an impersonal history that emerges from the contemporary documents; the establishment of a Negro slave trade as a result of the demand for labor to replace a devastated native population; the employment of these black slaves in the more arduous tasks throughout the colonies; and, in most areas, their gradual assimilation through Miscegenation with natives and to a far lesser extent with Europeans Information about individual blacks is usually confined to a brief statement of age physical characteristics and degree of acculturation at the moment of sale or the taking of estate inventories less frequently the place of origin of a slave is indicated Only rarely do we hear about a Negro slave who achieved distinction in some way Two examples that come ...

Article

Santa Arias

Iberian-born free black or mulatto, conquistador, and settler in San Juan de Puerto Rico, probably from Andalusia, best known for his supposed relationship with the Taíno female chief Yuisa (Luisa or Loaiza). Along with his parents, Anton Mexía and Violante García, he was one of the first black conquistadors to arrive in the Americas. In 1502 the new governor of Hispaniola, Nicolás de Ovando, brought with him a number of free blacks as unarmed auxiliaries who assumed military responsibilities in the defense and settlement of the territories. Francisco’s father acted as Ovando’s assistant crossbowmen (ballestero), and later received an encomienda (royal grant of indigenous laborers). Francisco decided to venture away and joined Juan Ponce de León in what became the challenging “pacification campaign” of Puerto Rico in 1508 Although writers like Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo Juan de Castellanos and Íñigo Abbad y Lasierra chronicle much of Francisco ...