Most Americans would tell you that Columbus discovered America in 1492, when he sailed the ocean blue. They would also say that Plymouth Rock, The Mayflower, and Pilgrims marked the beginning of civilization in America in 1620. These are, unfortunately, only half-truths. In actuality, the “new world” was being explored and invaded by many different European powers.
In this period in Europe, they’re busy with Holy Wars and killing everyone in the name of God (theirs that is). The Spanish Catholics are running the Moors, Jews, and Muslims out of Spain, and this was termed “The Re-conquest,” or “La Reconquista.” In 1536, John Calvin is publishing “The Institutes of the Christian Religion,” and in 1564, French Huguenots establish Fort Caroline near the St. John’s River in Florida. The religious and political power struggle in Europe carries over in America as the Spanish destroy Fort Caroline and massacre hundreds of Frenchman in Florida in 1565. This is recorded mainly as a great day for Catholics and a bad day for Lutherans. This is the beginning of St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest permanent city. The score then is Spain – 1 and France – 0, in the Great American Ballpark. This Spanish “La Conquista” is to be continued on this side of the pond, but now it’s about eliminating Lutherans and Lutheran bibles. In 1630, the Puritans come to modern day Massachusetts and in 1634 Maryland becomes the American refuge for English Catholics, while in 1664, the English take New Amsterdam from the Dutch and call it New York. When everyone is escaping Europe for reasons of religious persecution, it would seem that they found it again in America, all in the name of god (theirs that is). If the Indians had been smart, they would have just let all the white guys kill each other off and charged admission to watch. Remember we’re bringing “civilization” and “Christianity” to these “heathens,” so the story goes.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Europe, there are some significant factors that set the stage in America. In England, we see the reign of King James, his Bible, King Charles, Restoration, King Charles II, and King James II, England’s last Roman Catholic ruler. This comes after Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon. This is a big deal because she is the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain and they’re the ones who sponsored Christopher Columbus on his famous trip across the Atlantic. It was Isabella who was the brains of the bunch. She understood that an army “fights on its stomach,” and wanted Columbus to take pigs, dogs, and horses on his voyage.
In those days, dogs and horses were used often in battle and pigs were considered a very good food investment. They are very fertile and they can root and forage for themselves. They breed at nine months and have litters of 9 – 12. The carcass will yield about 75% dressed meat and a 4 ounce serving will yield 400 calories. This makes pigs “the ambulatory meat locker.”
When DeSoto brought pigs from Cuba, they may have been the descendants of the pigs Isabella had Chris take with him on his second trip.
Once again, when you study American History, you read about Pilgrims, Columbus, and other explorers, but what seems to be a well- kept secret would be the religions and personalities of these explorers/conquerors. I think it safe to say that the messy details of America’s exploration and exploitation is left out of most textbooks, but it’s those details that make the historic dates and names more interesting. It’s the things like Isabella’s pigs that worked well, but is left out of most books. In The Flip Wilson Show of the 70’s, he did a skit, in elaborate drag, portraying Isabella of Spain. According to Flip, Chris told Isabella that he was “gonna find Ray Charles.” I’m just sayin’.