Kingdom of the Canary Islands

Infobox Former Country
native_name =
conventional_long_name = Kingdom of the Canary Islands
common_name = Kingdom of the Canary Islands
national_motto =
continent = Europe
region = Mediterranean
country = Spain
era = Middle Ages
government_type = Monarchy
status = Vassal of Castile
year_start = 1402
year_end = 1448 / 1496
event_start = Juan de Béthencourt conquers Lanzarote
event_end = Lanzarote lordship sold to Portugal / Last conquests and full sovereignty to Castile
p1 = Guanche
flag_p1 =
s1 = Kingdom of Portugal
flag_s1 =
s2 = Crown of Castile
flag_s2 =

image_map_caption =
capital = Betancuria (1404-1425)
Teguise (1425-)
common_languages = Castilian, Norman, Guanche
religion = Roman Catholicism, Islam
currency =
leader1 = Jean de Béthencourt
year_leader1 = 1402-1425
title_leader = King

The Kingdom of the Canary Islands was founded in 1402/1404, though it always recognized another country as their overlord. Its purpose was probably entirely to conquer the Canaries, and to eventually be fully incorporated into the Crown of Castile when complete.

First contact by Europeans

Besides earlier contact, one of the first known Europeans to have encountered the canaries was the Genoan navigator Lancelotto Malocello. He arrived on the island of Lanzarote, which probably was named after him, in 1312 and stayed for almost two decades until getting expelled by a revolt from the native Guanche under leadership of their king Zonzamas.


The conquest of the Canaries started in 1402 by French-Norman explorer Jean de Béthencourt. He had set sail from France one year earlier with a small army, and started the conquest rather friendly by taking over the island Lanzarote with support of the locals. They would soon also take Fuerteventura and El Hierro. Their present king Guadarfia was actually the grandson of Zonzamas, who was king when earlier Lancelotto Malocello had visited the island.

When Béthencourt had left the island for reinforcements from Castile, there had erupted an unstability because of fighting between Norman officers Gadifer de la Salle and Berthin which the natives had been involved with. However Béthencourt managed to calm the situation when he came back, and the Guanche leader was baptized on 27 February 1404 thus surrendering to the Europeans. After this Jean de Béthencourt was proclaimed king of the Canaries by Pope Innocent VII, though he recognized the Castilians as overlords. After this the remaining islands, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and La Palma, was gradually conquered over the course of a century or so.Jean de Béthencourt was after his death succeeded by his nephew Maciot de Béthencourt, who turned out as a tyrant. He established Teguise as the new capital. The Portugese had been competing with the Castilians over the islands, and thus the Castilians suspected that Maciot would sell the islands to them, which he did in 1448. Neither the natives nor the Castilians approved of this, and this led to a revolt which lasted until 1459 when the Portuguese was forced to leave. Portugal formally recognised Castile as the ruler of the Canaries in 1479 as part of the Treaty of Alcáçovas.

Military governor Alonso Fernández de Lugo finally conquered the last islands of La Palma (1492-1493) and Tenerife (1494-1496) for the Crown of Castile, thus completing the Castilian conquest of the Canary Islands.


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