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First African slave revolt in the New World

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 11:51
Dennis Herrick

The Wolofs, kidnapped from their home in West Africa, led the first African slave revolt against Spanish rule in the Caribbean. Sources seem fairly evenly divided between 1521 and 1522 for the start of the revolt. I went with the more conservative estimate of 1522 in the book on page 31. In either case, it would have been only a few years before Esteban arrived on Hispaniola, so as a slave himself he was bound to hear about the island's slave unrest.

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Unanswerable questions

Sat, 12/22/2018 - 10:29
Dennis Herrick

Among many unanswerable questions about the Narváez expedition is an uncertainty about whether the ship the conquistador purchased on Hispaniola was a caravel.
      In his account, Cabeza de Vaca mentions that Narváez purchased an additional “ship” at the Santo Domingo port. The assumption is that it was a caravel, because that was a principal vessel in those days and would have matched the other Narváez vessels.

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The man left behind

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 21:00
Dennis Herrick

Esteban, Cabeza de Vaca, Dorantes, and Castillo escaped from the Karankawa Indians after about five years and made their way across the continent and to Mexico City. But there was another Spaniard, Lope de Oviedo, who was left behind on Malhado Island — either because the others assumed he must be dead or considered it too dangerous to return to Malhado and take him with them.

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1550 map of "The New World"

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 15:36
Dennis Herrick

The map linked to on this blog entry is the first one that shows all the Americas as being one continent and not connected to any other landmass. From page 23 in the biography, this map was published about eleven years after Esteban left Mexico City to find the rumored rich Indian cities to the north, occupied by what are now known as the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.

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Reasons for writing a biography about Esteban

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 09:40
Dennis Herrick

Whenever I read any mention of Esteban, I was struck about how almost every reference was negative, even though no European ever reported seeing the bad acts attributed to him.
     I began to wonder. Why was all the evidence cited against Esteban based on assumptions and nearly 500-year-old negative hearsay? And why were there so many differing and increasingly dramatic versions of his death? I no longer necessarily believe the conventional wisdom that Zunis killed him the day after they first met him.

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