Lecture 4. Spanish Cartagena: Evangelical Colonialism and the Architecture of Fortification

Over the course of several generations, the Spanish transformed the excellent port of Cartagena into one of the most effectively defended harbors in history. Through the fortifications of the port, town, fortified hill, and especially through a series of strategic choke-points between the port, inner harbor, outer harbor and the sea resulted in a deadly gauntlet of remarkable force despite the relatively small number of ships, cannon, and soldiers emplaced there. The greatest test came in 1741 with the British and American Colonial forces of some 27,000 mounted an attack sustained for almost two months only to be turned back when disease, the rainy season and the sheer tenacity of the Spanish defenses proved insurmountable. From this point, the Spanish effectively controlled the flow of gold, silver and slaves in and out of the Spanish Americas. Of particular importance was the unprecedented flow of silver from the Petosí mines of the Viceroyalty of Peru (Bolivia) through Havana (Cuba) to Seville (Spain) and later through Acapulco (Mexico) to Manila (Philippines) and Canton (China).

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Lecture Notes