The largest and most populous of the Canary Islands, part of Spain, but off the north-west coast of Africa.
The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:
Open location in Google Maps: 28.291564, -16.629130
Tenerife island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife provincia (province), Canary Islands, an autonomous community, Spain, located in the Atlantic Ocean opposite the northwestern coast of Africa. It is the largest of the Canary Islands.
The narrower northeastern part rises sharply to a jagged mountain ridge of volcanic origin, except near San Cristóbal de la Laguna, where a corridor-like depression forms the island’s only extensive lowland.
The remaining two-thirds of Tenerife is a vast composite dome surmounted by Teide Peak, the highest point on Spanish soil (12,198 feet [3,718 metres]).
The area continues to be the site of volcanic activity; perhaps the most destructive eruption occurred early in the 18th century, when a lava flow buried much of the town and harbor of Garachico, on the northern coast.
Sir Francis Drake raided the Canary Islands repeatedly in the 1580s. Between commerce (they traded for sweet potatoes and Canary wines) and war, English, Irish, and Flemish sailors turned up in Spanish prisons on the Canary Islands where the Holy Inquisitors took an increased interest in them.
In 1587 the Canaries boasted a population of about 35,000, half on Tenerife.
There was an Auto de Fe at Tenerife, celebrated on July 22, 1587, in which there were burnt 3 effigies of a remnant of the Lanzarote fugitives.**
** In 1569, a Morisco merchant named Juan Felipe, hearing the Inquisition meant to arrest him, fled with about 30 fellow Muslim converts to Morocco. These refugees were punished in Auto de Fe effigies in 1569, 1581, and this case.
But there was also the death of a living man — the first since 1526. He was an English sailor named George Gaspar who, in the royal prison of Tenerife, had been seen praying with his back to a crucifix. On being questioned, had said that prayer was to be addressed to God and not to images.
Gaspar was transferred to the tribunal, where he admitted being a Protestant.
Torture did not shake Gaspar, and he was condemned, a confessor being sent to his cell the night before the Auto to seek his conversion. He asked to be alone and the confessor, on his return, found him lying on the floor, having thrust a knife into his stomach.
The official account piously says it pleased God the wound was not immediately mortal and Gaspar survived until evening, so the dying man was carted to the quemadero and ended his misery in the flames.
Gaspar presents an atypical case. Usually, discretion bought the life of a heretic from a hostile power, and most preferred that way:
An Englishman, Edward Francis, was found wounded and abandoned on the shore of Tenerife.
He saved his life under torture by professing himself a fervent Catholic who had been obliged to deny his religion, a fault punished by 200 lashes and 6 years of galley service.
Another Englishman, John Reman, a sailor from the ship Falcon, asked for penance and, as there was no money to support him in prison, he was transferred to the public gaol.
The governor released him but he talked with a women in which he expressed Protestant opinions.
A second trial ensued in which, under torture, he expressed contrition and begged for mercy, which he received along with 200 lashes and 10 years of galleys.
In addition, there were the crew of 12 from the bark Prima Rosa, 11 English sailors and one Fleming. One of them died in prison; the rest, with or without torture, professed conversion and were sent to the galleys, some of them with 100 lashes in addition.
In short, the life of a sailor included diplomacy and not lingering too long in Spanish ports.
SOURCE: The Inquisition in Spanish Dependencies, available free from Google books.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.