MEMORIES FROM LANZAROTE

Lanzarote is believed to have been the first Canary Island to be settled. The Phoenicians may have visited or settled there, though no material evidence survives. The first known record came from Roman author Pliny the Elder in the encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia on an expedition to the Canary Islands. The names of the islands (then called Insulae Fortunatae or the "Fortunate Isles") were recorded as Junonia (Fuerteventura), Canaria (Gran Canaria), Ninguaria (Tenerife), Junonia Major (La Palma), Pluvialia (El Hierro), and Capraria (La Gomera). 

Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the two easternmost Canary Islands, were only mentioned as the archipelago of the "purple islands".[clarification needed] The Roman poet Lucan and the Greek astronomer and geographer Ptolemy gave their precise locations. It was settled by the Majos tribe of the Guanches. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, interaction with the Canary Islands is unrecorded before 999, when the Arabs arrived at the island which they dubbed al-Djezir al-Khalida (among other names).


In 1336, a ship arrived from Lisbon under the guidance of Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello, who used the alias "Lanzarote da Framqua". A fort was later built in the area of Montaña de Guanapay near today's Teguise. Castilian slaving expeditions in 1385 and 1393 seized hundreds of Guanches and sold them in Spain, initiating the slave trade in the islands. French explorer Jean de Béthencourt arrived in 1402, heading a private expedition under Castilian auspices. Bethencourt first visited the south of Lanzarote at Playas de Papagayo, and the French overran the island within a matter of months. The island lacked mountains and gorges to serve as hideouts for the remaining Guanche population, and so many Guanches were taken away as slaves that only 300 Guanche men were said to have remained.


At the southern end of the Yaiza municipality, the first European settlement in the Canary Islands appeared in 1402 in the area known as El Rubicón, where the conquest of the Archipelago began. In this place, the Cathedral of Saint Martial of Limoges was built. The cathedral was destroyed by English pirates in the 16th century. A diocese was moved in 1483 to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Roman Catholic Diocese of Canarias). In 1404, the Castilians (with the support of the King of Castile) came and fought the local Guanches, who were further decimated. The islands of Fuerteventura and El Hierro were later similarly conquered. In 1477, a decision by the royal council of Castile confirmed a grant of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, with the smaller islands of Ferro and Gomera to the Castilian nobles Herrera, who held their fief until the end of the 18th century. In 1585, the Ottoman admiral Murat Reis temporarily seized Lanzarote. In the 17th century, pirates raided the island and took 1,000 inhabitants into slavery in Cueva de los Verdes.


Lanzarote and Fuerteventura would be the main exporters of wheat and cereals to the central islands of the archipelago during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries; Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Although this trade was almost never reversed for the inhabitants of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura (due to the fact that the landowners of these islands profited from this activity), producing periods of famine, so the population of these islands had to travel to Tenerife and Gran Canaria. The island of Tenerife is a major focus of attraction for the inhabitants of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, hence the feeling of union that has always existed in the popular sphere with Tenerife.


From 1730 to 1736, the island was hit by a series of volcanic eruptions, producing 32 new volcanoes in a stretch of 18 kilometres (11 miles). The priest of Yaiza, Don Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo, documented the eruption in detail until 1731. Lava covered a quarter of the island's surface, including the most fertile soil and 11 villages. 100 smaller volcanoes were located in the area called Montañas del Fuego, the "Mountains of Fire". In 1768, drought affected the deforested island, and winter rains did not fall. Much of the population was forced to emigrate to Cuba and the Americas, including a group which formed a significant addition to the Spanish settlers in Texas at San Antonio de Bexar in 1731. Another volcanic eruption occurred within the range of Tiagua in 1824, which was less violent than the major eruption between 1730 and 1736.


In 1927, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura became part of the province of Las Palmas. Several archaeological expeditions have uncovered the prehistoric settlement at the archaeologic site of El Bebedero in the village of Teguise. In one of those expeditions, by a team from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and a team from the University of Zaragoza, yielded about 100 Roman potsherds, nine pieces of metal, and one piece of glass. The artefacts were found in strata dated between the 1st and 4th centuries. They show that Romans did trade with the Canarians, though there is no evidence of settlements