Spanish Empire

Viceroyalty of
New Grenada

Spanish Empire > New Grenada

Viceroyalty of New Granada

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


Originally called Tierra Firme, New Grenada was the name given to the Spanish colony that contains the present day countries of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela. It was renamed New Grenada in 1717 after the Spanish consolidated their empire. Bordered to the West by Viceroyalty of Peru, the Northwest by Panama and Viceroyalty of New Spain and to the South by Brazil and the Amazon Jungle, New Grenada was in a prime position to not only collect mineral resources but also become a key trading port along the Caribbean sea.

Originally the Spanish built the first settlements of Santa Marta (1525) and Cartagena (1533). As the settlements were established along the coast conquistadors began moving into the interior in order to loot, plunder and discover in the name of God, the King and glory. The loot they would send back to the coast would eventually be stored in guarded warehouses near the capital of Cartagena awaiting pickup by the Spanish Treasure Fleet.

New Grenada - Tierra Firme Map

Tierra Firme Map - 17th Century

The indigenous people in the colony of New Grenada were either killed off by smallpox or forced to work in the slave labor system of the Spanish. As the Spanish conquered they claimed and the royalty of Spain received vast tracts of land in South America that contained rich mines and large farmland.

In the 16th century the Spanish began to import slaves onto the continent in order to work the plantations and mines.

New Grenada - New Grenada Map

New Grenada Map - Historical Map


New Grenada - Maracaibo and Gibraltar - 1678 Map

Maracaibo & Gibraltar - De Americaensche Zee Roovers, Page 117 (1678)


Maracaibo was an exporting site for the Spanish on the coast of Venezuela. This city got sacked by Francois L'Ollonais in 1667 and in 1669 by Henry Morgan and was looted beyond belief.


Gibraltar was a settlement on the opposite side of Lake Maracaibo from Maracaibo. This settlement was attacked by Francois L'Ollonais and later by Henry Morgan after which the Spanish decided to abandon it for good.


Colombia had very rich gold deposits which were useful to the Spanish after they depleted their other mines in the region. Colombia was also the site of nickel, emeralds and other precious stones. The Spanish used slaves to mine the gems and then transported them to the coast. The rich mines of Colombia made the capital city of Cartagena very wealth and a prime target for buccaneers and privateers including Sir Francis Drake during the 16th century.

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias was an extremely rich Spanish settlement founded in 1533. Beginning with only 200 settlers, the city experienced great growth during the later half of the 16th century. One of the major reasons for the wealth of the city was the plundering of the tombs of the local Sinu tribe. After the tombs were looted of all wealth the Spanish began farming in the country side. Eventually the economy grew into mining precious stones and gold from the surrounding area of New Grenada.

New Grenada - Cartagena

Cartagena de Indias -

Cartagena was an important settlement for the Spanish governance in the New World and contained many wealthy viceroys and was one of the largest centers of wealth along Spanish Empire. It also was a very important trading port for the minerals and previous metals.

Gold and silver were mined from surrounding New Grenada along with the Viceroyalty of Peru and stored near Cartagena pending the arrival of the Spanish Treasure Fleet. Once the gems and metals were loaded onto the treasure galleons they would continue along Spanish Empire before meeting up with the New Spain fleet in Havana.

New Grenada - Cartagena - 1586

Cartagena 1586 -

Cartagena, like Veracruz was one of the only cities in the entire Spanish Main allowed to be a slaving port. The first slaves were used to create roads and destroy the tombs of the indigenous Sinu. They also forced them to construct fortresses and buildings for the Spanish.

In 1586 Sir Francis Drake sacked the city and held it ransom for nearly 107,000 pieces of eight. Drake also destroyed nearly a fourth of the settlement and forced the Spanish to pour tons of money into building defenses for the settlement.

New Grenada - Francis Drake Attacks Cartagena

Francis Drake Attacks Cartagena (c. 1550)

The city regrew after Drake's assault and continued growing into the 18th century. Henry Morgan unsuccessfully tried to raid Cartagena in 1668 however ended up attacking the settlements at Maracaibo and Gibraltar instead. Cartagena was a very well fortified city and was only captured once by French buccaneers.

During the 1600's the Spanish built many military fortifications around the city. Eventually however the city was sacked in 1697 and not really rebuilt until the end of the war of Spanish Succession in 1711. After this the walls were rebuilt and the city fortified. Cartagena would remain under the Spanish control until the 18th century.


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