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History of Lanzarote


"Go throughout the world and you will almost not find in any part people more beautiful nor more elegant than those of this island, as much the men as the woman, apart from being of good understanding if there were someone to cultivate them". (Chronicler of the Bethencourt expedition).

The conquest of Lanzarote or the trick.

Juan de Bethencourt, Norman knight, was lord of the Canary Islands under the crown of Enrique III of Castilla. In 1402, he prepared various ships and set sail from Rochela for the Canary Islands. On the expedition were Gadifer de la Salle, Bontier and Le Verrier. King Guardarfia welcomed them all, and they settled on the beaches of Las Coloradas, where later the diocese of Rubicense would be established. Bethencourt returned to Spain to get reinforcements leaving Gadifer de la Salle in charge. The conquest began and with it the tyranny and abuse of the conquerors.

The guanches, lovers of liberty,

is how the native islanders are known. Really, it means 'descendent of Tenerife'. However, today the term is used to refer to native islanders from all the Canary Islands. Guanche is also their language, lost a little after the conquest, leaving only a few words and terms that are still used today. According to history, they were strong, tall and with beautiful features. They lived in the Neolithic age and their way of life was pastoral. They had a king named 'menecey' or 'guanarteme', they were pacific, and embalmed their dead, worshipped only a single god, they had laws and, therefore, judges. Brave, noble and lovers of liberty. They preferred to die before losing their freedom.

Society and culture.

The society was one in which the women married three men. The native islanders wore goat skins. They ate meat that they conserved in salt, fish, gofio, butterfat and cheese that they also give as an offering to their gods. The native islanders were fishermen and farmers who led a peaceful life, apart from the constant pushes by European explorers, who, as they came from Europe, came across Lanzarote first. The conquest of the Canary Islands lasted about a century. The island of Lanzarote was the first to be conquered by the Norman expeditions under the protection of the Norman knight, Juan de Bethencourt.

Las Islas Afortunadas.

It seems to be that ancient civilisations had knowledge of the existence of the islands, although these facts are not entirely clear. Texts exist that name them as Hesperides or Elysian Fields. Islas Afortunadas was the name by which they were known to the Romans in the books of Pliny. Travels to the islands began in the C13. Of note is the Italian, Lancelloto Malocello (1339), who arrived on the coasts of Lanzarote and gave his name to the island. The motive for these journeys was the capture of slaves, as war and disease had stopped labour and the production of orchilla (dyes). With the Spanish conquest, the capture of slaves continued as it gave a rich income to the conquerors.