Prior to 1402 several European sailors had visited The Canary Islands, describing the local Guanche inhabitants as friendly and accommodating. During the 1300’s, the islands were plagued by pirates, who would come ashore to rape and pillage, while the inhabitants did their best to hide in the tunnels of Cueva de los Verdes.
In 1402 Juan Bethencourt, an ambitious Norman nobleman, put together a plan to conquer the island for Spain. He set sail from La Rochelle in France in May of that year, calling at Vivero, La Coruna and finally Cadiz to take on wood and water. Bethencourt had embarked two native speakers in order to act as interpreters once he reached the islands.
Eight days after departing, the crew spotted Alegranza, Montaña Clara and La Graciosa, before Lanzarote came into view. They tried to land in the north of Lanzarote, but the waves and rocky coastline made it impossible, so in the end, they anchored off Alegranza, which was uninhabited to plan their attack on the larger island. Once the weather had calmed down, they set off once again and made landfall in Lanzarote.
They were expecting a fight, but in fact they were greeted peacefully by The Guanches, who offered gifts and friendship. Having been attacked by pirates so often, they saw in Bethencourt and his men the opportunity for protection. Delighted with the peaceful reception, Bethencourt offered the protection of the kingdom of Spain to the Guanches, who gratefully accepted. read more »