Eugenio Cajés: The recovery of San Juan de Puerto Rico, 21 okt 1625 (1634)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

The city of San Juan in Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony in the 17th century and was attacked by Dutch forces during the Dutch war of independence (1568-1648), fought between the Spanish empire and the Netherlands. The Dutch wanted to capture the precious Spanish treasure fleets which transported gold and silver from the Spanish colonies in the Americas to Spain to cut off this important financial supply-line for the Spanish empire. The Dutch West India Company (W.I.C.) send two fleets of about 41 ship to America make this happen. The 2 fleets were commanded by Boudewijn Hendricksz. the mayor of Edam with no real naval experience. Boudewijn Hendricksz. first planned to sail to Salvador da Bahia in Brasil which was captured by Dutch forces earlier. This plan failed however as spanish troop had recaptured the city. Boudewijn then decided to sail to Puerto Rico to capture the colony and wait for the Spanish treasure fleet, which would gather in Havana in August. Juan de Haro y Sanvitores, The governor of San Juan, had learned of the Dutch approach and strengthed his defences. Boudewijn laid siege to San Juan and managed to capute the town. The Spanish however had retreated to the forts of San Juan and counterattacked the Dutch. After losing about 200 men, the Dutch retreated allowing the Spanish to recapture San Juan. Boudewijn remained in the Carribean, hoping for better luck bu after he died in June 1626 his ships returned to the Netherlands. Later, the Dutch admiral Piet Heyn managed to capture a large part of the Spanish treasure fleet in 1628. This painting, commemorating the succesfull defence of San Juan, was made for the 'Salón de Reinos' of the  Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid in 1634.

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