History Timeline 1500s

Above: Painting, entitled Discovery of the Mississippi, by William H. Powell, 1847, is located in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Right: Giovanni de Verrazzano, 1889, engraving by F. Allcarini, Tocchi, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Giovanni da Verrazzano

Pre-Revolution Timeline - The 1500s


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  • Timeline

  • Detail - 1511

    August 8, 1511 - Catholic Church under Pope Julius II begins to participate in the colonization of the New World, establishing three dioceses, including one in Puerto Rico and two in Hispaniola.

    Pope Julius II

    Seven years prior, and only five years into his papacy, Pope Julius II had issued a Papal Bull Illius fulciti on November 15, 1504. It stated that there would be ecclesiastical provinces in the New World. They would recieve part of the profits in gold and silver; this was an order without Spanish consultation. There were initially supposed to be three, all on Hispaniola; the Diocese of Hyaguata in Santo Domingo and the Diocese of Magua in Concepción de La Vega, and the Diocese of Bayuna in Lares de Guahaba. King Ferdinand II of Aragon opposed it, mostly on the ground of sharing New World fortunes with the papacy. The Papal Bull did not go into effect.

    Seven years later, Pope Julius II would try again. He issued the new Papal Bull Pontifax Romanus on August 8, 1511. It rescinded the previous edict and announced that the Diocese of Concepción de la Vega would be led by Pedro Su&acuaterez de Deza; the Diocese of Santo Domingo led by Francisco Garcia de Padilla; and the Diocese of Bayuna would be moved to Puerto Rico and led by Father Alsonso Manso.

    With two Dioceses in Hispaniola and one in Puerto Rico, the colonization by the Catholic Church in the Spanish New World had begun. The See of San Juan de Puerto Rico was canonically erected on August 8, 1511, its name the Diocese of Puerto Rico on the Island of San Juan. There would later be a switch of names between the capital and the island in 1521.

    At first, Bishop Alonso Manso built a Grammar School in 1513. It was free of charge and located on the site of the first cathedral, which was built, of wood, in 1521. It was destroyed by a hurricane and replaced by the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint John the Baptist in 1540, which remains today as the oldest building in San Juan, the oldest cathedral in the United States, and the second oldest cathedral in the Americas.

    San Juan was raised to the status of an archdiocese on April 30, 1960. The cathedral holds a shrine to the Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago, the first Caribbean born layperson to be beatified, as well as the tomb of the settlement founder, explorer Ponce de León.

    As for the other two diocese in Hispaniola; the Diocese of Magua in Concepción de La Vega was located in the first gold boomtown in the Americas, found in 1508. Three years later the Roman Catholic Church came to build their diocese there, canonically erected on August 8, 1511, the same date as the others, in one of the largest towns in the New World. However, the town would lose its diocese in 1527 and be merged into the Diocese of Santiago de Cuba. The original town was destroyed in an earthquake on December 2, 1562. The new town of La Vega exists on the other side of the Camú River. The site of the old town is now part of Pueblo Viejo National Park.

    The see was erected 8 August 1511 as the Diocese of Santo Domingo and elevated to Archdiocese on 12 February 1546. The name, the Diocese of Hyaguata was not used, except for the period from 1503-1511, prior to its official establishment. Father Francisco Garcia de Padilla, a Franciscan, would be the first bishop at Santo Domingo, but he would pass before taking possession. His successor, Alessandro Geraldini, first occupied the See in 1516. When the See of La Vega de Concepción was suppressed in 1527, the Santo Domingo church gained their territory (this somewhat conflict with the statement of merge with the Cuban diocese, although that may be a timing issue). The Cathedral in the Diocese of Santo Domingo is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, ordered built in 1504, begun in 1512, and completed in 1540. It is called the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor and is now a World Heritage Site.

    The Reign of Pope Julius II

    His reign would begin on November 28, 1503, as Giuliano Della Rovere, his birth name, won the victory for Pope through bribes and promises. Even though he was born impoverished, he had followed his uncle into the priesthood; his uncle had also elevated as Pope Sixtus IV in 1471. The choice of his papacy name was not in honor of the former Pope, Julius I, but of Julius Caesar. There might be a clue there somewhere. By 1504, he was pushing out the Papal Bull Illius fulciti, his first attempt to create three dioceses in Hispaniola and profit from the Spanish mineral gains. He was one of the most powerful popes of the High Renaissance with the nickname the Warrior Pope. As his desires extended to the New World, he also signed the Treaty of Tordesillas, unknown when, dividing it.

    He was a Franciscan, political, his goal to keep the Papal States intact, independent, and centralized during the Italian Wars. His statement, "free Italy from the barbarians." The Italian wars pitted the political powers of France, Spain, and Austria for control of the Italian peninsula. He particularly wanted France out of Italian control. Pope Julius II led the Papal armed forces himself at the victorious Siege of Mirandola, and although there were many victories and losses in his role as military commander, and within the Holy League he cobbled (Spain, Venice, England, and Switzerland), he managed to end the campaigns with Catholic Ferdinand II of Aragon as an ally in the New World, annexation of the states of Parma and Modena for the Papal States, and the French pushed over the Alps by Swiss mercenaries from the Holy Roman Empire.

    He reveled in the arts, including those that painted him. By 1506, he established the Vatican Museums and began rebuilding St. Peter's Basilica. Two years later, Pope Julius II commissioned the Raphael Rooms and Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. He also, prior to his papacy, fathered a daughter.

    His policy toward indulgencies; they were forgiven if money was given to the church. By 1513, Julius II presented himself as the liberator of Italy and planned to retake Constantinople. He died before he could conclude those plans.

    Image above: Portion of the painting of Pope Julius II, 1511, Raphael. Courtesy National Gallery London via Wikipedia Commons. Image below: Montage (left) Catedral de San Juan Bautista in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2009, Oquendo. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 2.0; (right) Santa María la Menor cathedral in Santo Domingo, 2004, Lapo Luchini. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 3.0. Source info: newadvent.org; Wikipedia; Library of Congress; Wikiwand.

    Cathedrals of San Juan and Santo Domingo

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