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Old May 23rd, 2017, 04:33 PM   #1
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Western Europe and the Med 1492-1512 (or so)


I'm opening this thread because I'm hoping to learn a bit about what was happening in western Europe and the Mediterranean region within about the first 20 years after Columbus's discovery of the "New World". As far as European history this isn't a period I'm well read on so it'd be great if yall could help me with sharing whatever you know on the period. Any interesting events, people, inventions, etc.

By no means do the events have to be tied to Columbus or anything like that, in fact I'm primarily interested in what was happening locally in western Europe and the Med. I just picked 1492 as a start date because imo it's a handy transition point between the old medieval era and the early beginnings of a more globalized world.

Also if anyone knows any interesting events that happened slightly before or after my 20 year time-frame that you think are relevant please share them too.

Last edited by hama; May 23rd, 2017 at 04:53 PM. Reason: tightened up a sentence
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Old May 24th, 2017, 02:05 AM   #2

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Originally Posted by hama View Post
I'm opening this thread because I'm hoping to learn a bit about what was happening in western Europe and the Mediterranean region within about the first 20 years after Columbus's discovery of the "New World". As far as European history this isn't a period I'm well read on so it'd be great if yall could help me with sharing whatever you know on the period. Any interesting events, people, inventions, etc.

By no means do the events have to be tied to Columbus or anything like that, in fact I'm primarily interested in what was happening locally in western Europe and the Med. I just picked 1492 as a start date because imo it's a handy transition point between the old medieval era and the early beginnings of a more globalized world.

Also if anyone knows any interesting events that happened slightly before or after my 20 year time-frame that you think are relevant please share them too.
That is also a period were the historian usually don’t take much interest of that area. Since more “important” things were happening in other regions with the Spanish arriving to America and the Portuguese to the Indian Ocean.

Even so the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic near the strait of Gibraltar was the paradise for pirates, I would even say the “Golden Age of Piracy”, if this designation wasn’t already taken.

Note that with this I am not talking solely about the well know Berber pirates in what today is the coast of Morocco, Algeria, Tunis and Libya, I am talking also about the huge numbers of Christian pirates operating in that area.

Also, Piracy in the Christian kingdoms and states was not seen as a task for the lower classes and in some way was seen some centuries after. The usual was that nobles or merchants took that profitable task for themselves. And we can find people from Greece to the British Isles operating in those waters.
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Old May 24th, 2017, 02:05 AM   #3

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double click - double post

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Old May 24th, 2017, 03:23 AM   #4
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...
Thanks Tulius. Were those pirates usually operating individually as outlaws, or were European nations like Spain, Portugal, England, etc. also authorizing privateers to operate there? I don't know a lot about the wars that were happening in Europe at the time, but I know in Spain the Reconquista was going on and there were also the 'Italian Wars'. I didn't know if maybe some of that involved naval battles or nations sending privateers to prey on each others shipping?
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Old May 24th, 2017, 04:02 AM   #5

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Thanks Tulius. Were those pirates usually operating individually as outlaws, or were European nations like Spain, Portugal, England, etc. also authorizing privateers to operate there? I don't know a lot about the wars that were happening in Europe at the time, but I know in Spain the Reconquista was going on and there were also the 'Italian Wars'. I didn't know if maybe some of that involved naval battles or nations sending privateers to prey on each others shipping?
Both. In Peace as “outlaws” in war as corsairs. But since the war with the Muslims in Africa (or Granada) was almost constant… they had always work…

For instance, working for/ at the time of the King of Portugal, D. João II*:

Gonçalo Pacheco, one of the richest men of the kingdom, treasurer in Ceuta;

Infante D. Fernando, brother of the King D. Afonso V; had a Corsair Caravel in the West Mediterranean;

Lopo de Almeida, “Vedor da Fazenda”/Treasurer Overseer (translation?!), in 1461 had a Corsair Caravel in the Mediterranean;

Bartolomeu Dias (we don’t know if is the same that reached the cape of the Good Hope for the first time)…

At the same time period (basically the last quarter of the 15th century)…

Yann (Jean/João) Koatanlem (Coetanlem), known as the John the Briton (from Morlaix, Brittany, France), “king of the sea”. It seems that first attacked Portuguese and then begun to work for them after 1484;

Martim Lem (Leme) from Bruges… and then is son António Leme (in the Portuguese version) with an Hulk…

Ferdinand Van Olmen (Flemish)… with 2 caravels…

There were two with the name Colon. Colon the Younger, and Colon the Older (probably not related)

The French Cuillaume de Casenove, or Coullon, or Coulomp, identified by some researchers (Henry Harrise in “Les Colombo de France e d’Italie”, 1874) as Colon the Older!

There was a Jorge Bissipat/George the Greek)... on the service of the king of France, in 1485. This one could be Colon the Younger!

Castilian:

Juan Alós (from Deva, Biscay)

Antonio Martin Neto… had a letter from Queen Isabel…

Juan de la Guerra and Alfonso Izquierdo from Palos attacked Mina (1477)…


Etc...

* Here I mostly followd Fernando Pedrosa, in a book from the Naval School, entitle “Cristóvão Colombo – Corsário em Portugal (Corsair in Portugal) (1469-1485)”. His research is quite good, his conclusion, that Colon was a Corsair, is more an open door…

There is an excellent book also, but in Spanish, from another Portuguese author: Luís Adão da Fonseca, “Navegación y corso en el Mediterraneo Occidental” (Navigation and corsairs in the West Mediterranean), 1978. This book has naturally a Portuguese perspective, for the 15th century, but if I recall well it mentions also Portuguese working for Aragon.

With the new discoveries, after 1492, the interest of Portuguese and Castilian in these waters lowered a bit, but it didn’t disappeared. Also the interest of French and English grow, since that now they could attack some interesting Portuguese and Spanish ships full of new merchandises.
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Old May 24th, 2017, 10:52 AM   #6

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During this period in Western Mediterranean the main 'history' as far as politics and recorded events revolved around three things-

Habsburg expansion with repercussions in alliances throughout western Europe.

Italian Wars between France, Imperial Romans (German dynasties primarily Habsburg at this point and Italian provincial families), Crown of Aragon, and Papal States.

Consequences of Reconquista capture of Grenada and the expulsion of Spanish Muslims.
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Old May 24th, 2017, 11:50 AM   #7

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During this period in Western Mediterranean the main 'history' as far as politics and recorded events revolved around three things-

Habsburg expansion with repercussions in alliances throughout western Europe.

Italian Wars between France, Imperial Romans (German dynasties primarily Habsburg at this point and Italian provincial families), Crown of Aragon, and Papal States.

Consequences of Reconquista capture of Grenada and the expulsion of Spanish Muslims.
Good list, Ichon.

Charles V figured prominently after his election as Holy Roman Empire.
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Old May 24th, 2017, 11:58 AM   #8

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The most important clash was that of Spain and France in regard to Naples, particularly the Italian War of 1499-1504, but let not forget the first war and the League of Cambrai.


I'd like to highlight as well the Spanish campaign in North Africa, which led them first to conquer Melilla (1497), Oran (1509), Peñón of Algiers (1510), Bejaia (1510), Tripoli (1510) and the catastrophic expedition to Djerba (1510) when a 15,000 strong Spanish army was routed and 4,000 resulted killed. This expansion resulted in Spain deeply involved in Maghrebian affairs. However, a further stablishment in the area was checked.

The key event in this part of the world was the capture of Algiers by Oruç and Hayreddin Barbarossa, in 1516. This totally changed the evolution of the Mediterranean and North Africa.
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Old May 24th, 2017, 03:53 PM   #9
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Thanks guys for the replies.

Tulius great list, one for my list of future research definitely. So at the time were there French, English, or other corsairs who would specifically lay in wait between the western Med and the Atlantic for Spanish ships coming back with New World goods?

Ichon thanks for pointing out those events. If you get time would you mind explaining a bit of what that Hapsburg expansion was all about, even around the time period I mentioned? I know almost nothing on them so it'd be great if you could elaborate a bit.

Frank81 thanks a lot for that info on Spain in North Africa. Very interesting topic I'd like to learn a bit more on. I'll have to look up some of those events you mentioned. I might be wrong but I'd assume any Spanish bases acquired in North Africa back then would probably be pretty dangerous to maintain. I've heard of guys like the Barbarossas running crazy in that region, and correct me if I'm wrong but I think the Ottomans were also involved with those guys somehow (I think the Barbarossas made their North African territories vassals of the Ottomans)?

Last edited by hama; May 24th, 2017 at 03:59 PM.
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Old May 24th, 2017, 04:28 PM   #10

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Yes that's true. At first, the three Barbarossa brothers didn't subject Algiers to the Ottomans, but it happened later. Oruç Barbarossa was sultan of the country, in a way similar to William the Conqueror, being vassal of the king of France, became king of England. Oruç, the older brother, from Algiers occupied Tlemcen, but the Spanish attacked him and killed he and his brother Ishaq.

Surviving Hayreddin Reis subjected to Ottomans and ruled Algiers. He promised revenge and eternal punishment of the Spanish, in a similar way Hannibal promised his father eternal hate to Rome. The man became a true living legend, and he never stopped destroying the Christians.

In regard to Spanish presidios in North Africa, they were the worst stations of the Spanish Empire. Soldiers hated serving there, because the cities were continuously isolated and harrased by neighbouring Moorish parties, climte was torrid, population was unfriendly and communications with Spain were cut oftenly by pirates. Some of the most terrible 16th century sieges happened in the area: Tunis 1535 (Barbarossa defeat), Oran 1563, Tunis-La Gollette 1574 (easily the most epic and forgotten siege in history)...
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