Saturday, September 26, 2009

Notes from abroad: Campeche (4)

For much of its early history Campeche was constantly on the receiving end of a bit of aarrrrrgh.

Perhaps the aaaaargh-est of the lot was one Laurens Cornelis Boudewijn de Graaf, aka Lorencillo.

In 1685 Lorencillo and his sidekick Grammond turned up here in Campeche with a small fleet and 700 men and generally sacked the place.

Once it was clear that the Spanish government was being a bit codo by refusing to ransom the population, Lorencillo decided that a mass execution might get those pieces of eight flowing. However, he'd only managed to off two unfortunate townsmen before being persuaded of the essential 'uselessness' of his actions by a certain Don Felipe de la Barrera y Villegas.

Earlier, in 1661, Henry Morgan had captured several heavily-loaded Spanish galleons in the port here. 8 years later another sea-going opportunist called Roche Braziliano attempted to blockade the city but foundered and was captured...only to 'escape' after sending the Governor a threatening letter.

Campeche's fortifications were originally designed by the Italian military engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli, also responsible for the defences of Havana, Cartagena, San Juan Puerto Rico and of course, the orthogonal grid street plan of La Antigua Guatemala.

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