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Caonabo (d. 1496)

Viviana Uriona

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place The Caribbean » Dominican Republic

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1400-1499

Key-Topics bibliography, colonialism, indigenous, resistance, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00302.x


Caonabo was a cacique of the Cibao region on Hispaniola Island at the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas. A native of the Caribs tribe, he was well known and feared for his skills and ferocity in combat. When Columbus tried to land on the north coast of the island (now known as Punta Flecha), he suffered an attack of arrows and was pursued by Caonabo. The attack forced the Europeans to disembark in the south of the island near where Bartolomé Columbus founded the city of Santo Domingo. The ship Santa Maria was destroyed during the December 25, 1492 landing, so the stranded Spaniards stayed and built Fort Christmas. Caonabo attacked this fort in 1493, destroying it and killing the 39 Spaniards commanded by Diego de Arana. Caonabo's wife, Anacaona, confessed later to having incited him to exterminate the Spaniards because their abuses of indigenous people had led her to see them as a threat. When Columbus returned, he found the fortress destroyed and the inhabitants killed. The following year, Caonabo also tried to attack the fortress of St. Thomas, but was defeated by Alonso de Ojeda and made a prisoner. His brother Manicatex prepared the frontal assault, but the attack became a slaughter. Caonabo was sent to Spain and died during the voyage. His body was thrown into the sea. The governor of Jaragua, Nicolás de Ovando, received false news that Anacaona was plotting ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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