Oceanic galleys

May 2019
215
Earth
Yes, Spain used a few galleys in the Americas.
There was a squadron of galleys at Cartagena de Indias (1578-1624). There were also galleys based at Santo Domingo (1582-1592?) and La Habana (1586-1594?)
Las galeras de Cartagena de Indias
Were those Spanish American galleys rowed by paid labour, or slaves? I know it could be either-or in European galleys (sometimes skilled oarsmen who received wages, sometimes prisoners/slaves).

Edit: Another question for anyone who knows: Wikipedia claims that the Spanish built galleys to combat pirates and enemy privateers in the Philippines. Anyone have more details on these vessels? Did they stick to coastal waters, or were they deployed in Spanish campaigns elsewhere in Asia?
 
Last edited:
Aug 2019
16
SPAIN
Were those Spanish American galleys rowed by paid labour, or slaves? I know it could be either-or in European galleys (sometimes skilled oarsmen who received wages, sometimes prisoners/slaves).
There were "forzados" (prisoners/slaves), but probably not enough of them, and it seems that they were more problematic than those serving in the Mediterranean. In 1589 an spanish official in America suggested that the american galleys shouldn´t use "moors, ottomans, foreigners and prisoners with long sentences" because they tried to break free (and it seems it was easier in America) and they had dealings with pirates.
 
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martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,652
Spain
Were those Spanish American galleys rowed by paid labour, or slaves? I know it could be either-or in European galleys (sometimes skilled oarsmen who received wages, sometimes prisoners/slaves).

Edit: Another question for anyone who knows: Wikipedia claims that the Spanish built galleys to combat pirates and enemy privateers in the Philippines. Anyone have more details on these vessels? Did they stick to coastal waters, or were they deployed in Spanish campaigns elsewhere in Asia?
You are right.. not very much studies about Galleys in Philippines.. and however it was organized a Fleet of Galleys.
In Spanish they is a studio written in 2017: Las Galeras en Filipinas: Guerra, comercio y disciplinamiento social (1580 - 1650).
(The Galleys of Philippines: War, Trade and social discipline, 1580 - 1650).

The only work in English where´s possible to read about Galleys in Phlippines (but not specific about Galleys): Francisco Mallari. The Spanish Navy in the Philippines. 1589 - 1787. Philippine Studies. 1989. Between pages 412 to 439 dedicated to Galleys.

In this book about typology of Spanish Galleys, Galleys in Caribean Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean. (Spanish language, unfortunately).

Here Spanish Galleys in the World (comparative with Venetian Galley Fleet)



According with this scheme... Venetia had more galleys than Spain till the battle of Lepanto.. but from that battle onwards... Spain had the most important Christian Galley Fleet in Mediterranean.

Spanish Galley Mediterranean fleet consisted by:

Fleets of Sicily, Naples, Genoa, Cartagena, Catalonia and Portugal.




Spanish galley fleet in Caribbean Sea consisted by the Galleys based on Havana, Santo Domingo and Cartagena de Indias.



Here you can see Manila too.

Legazpi was in favor of building 6 galleys in Philippines. By 1577, Spanish had built 4 galleys, 3 in service . That same year, Governor Francisco de Sande (1575-1580) sent an expedition to Borneo with 4 galleys and 3 Galeotas (Big Galleys)]. Apparently during the interim government of Diego Ronquillo, the galleys were lost. It was up to Santiago de Vera (1584-1590) to face the situation, who had to use two Portuguese vessels to expel 4 Japanese ships in the absence of galleys.

And I would like to finish this post with a fact attonishing to me... in the year 1577, Two spanish Galleys....crossed the Atlantic Ocean!!! from Cadis to Cartagena de Indias (today Colombia). Both Galleys (one commanded by Don Pedro Vique Manrique and the other one by Don Pedro de Andrade arrived safe and sound but very much deteriorated.

Sincerely I think it is a feat to go from Spain to Colombia with a galley!!!

Regards,
 
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