Front Door to Cuba

Timetable History of Cuba

Early History

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3500 BC

The first humans arrive in Cuba.

1250 AD

Taino Indians arrive from the east.


Spain's King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella ask permission of Pope Sixtus IV to begin the Spanish Inquisition.


Tomas de Torquemada becomes the inquisitor-general for most of Spain. He is believed to be responsible for the execution of 2,000 Spaniards in the next 15 years.


August 3. With three ships, Cristóbal Colón (aka Christopher Columbus) sails into the unknown.

October 12. The expedition lands in what Colón calls "San Salvador," and the natives call "Guanahani" (and may possibly be the Watling Island).

October 14. Colón continues his expedition, soon along the shores of Cuba, which he calls "Juana," thinking that he's found Asia's mainland.

October 29. Cristóbal Colón lands in Cuba, claims island for Spain.


January 4. Colón leaves for Spain, and a number of his men stay behind.

May 3. The Spanish Pope (Alexander VI) confirms Spanish claims to all lands "discovered" or "to be discovered" in the Western Ocean.

May 4. Pope Alexander VI issues a series of bulls that assigns a fixed dividing line (known as the Demarcation Line) between the possessions of Spain and Portugal. It runs 100 leagues west of the Cape Verde Isles. The region laying east of this line is to be settled by the Portuguese, and the territory to the west is to belong to Spain.

August 26. Pope Alexander VI issues a secret bull, the Dudum Siguidem, which nullifies any previous papal orders that had favored the Portuguese regarding the new world.

September 25. From Cádiz, Cristóbal Colón begins his second voyage to the New World. He brings 17 ships and 1,500 men, including missionaries, soldiers and laborers. There are about one hundred stowaways, as well as agricultural equipment, cattle and seeds.


June 7. In an agreement known as the Treaty of Tordesillas, the Line of Demarcation is moved 370 degrees West of the Cape Verde Island (supposedly half way between these lands and Antillia).

September 22. The lost Fourth Bull, the Dudum Siguidem, issued secretly by the Pope in August 1493, virtually abolishes the Demarcation Line and gives Spain the right to all territory.


Sebastián de Ocampo circumnavigates Cuba and proves that it is an island.


Ponce de León begins the conquest of Puerto Rico, and Juan de Esquivel, under orders of Diego Columbus, "settles" Jamaica.


Diego Colón (son of Cristóbal Colón) settles Cuba. Diego Velázquez is appointed governor of Cuba by Spain.


February 12. Hatuey is burned at the stake. Most of the indians (Ciboneys and Taíno Arawaks) that inhabit the island are eventually wiped out, and Cuba remains under Spanish rule for the next four centuries.

December 12. King Ferdinand of Spain thanks Diego Velásquez for the occupation of Cuba and for his "humane treatment of the natives."


The first record of slavery in Cuba. Landowner Amador de Lares gets permission to bring four African slaves from Hispaniola.

March - April. Juan Ponce de León discovers and sails along the South and Southeastern side of Florida (which he considers to be an island).

April 2. Juan Ponce de León lands on Florida's east coast and names it "La Florida."


The city of Havana is established by Pánfilo de Narváez. The city is named after San Cristóbal de Habana, a local chief.


Conquistador Hernán Cortés prepares a fleet in Cuba and sets sail for Mexico. After the conquest, Havana becomes the natural stopping point for fleets returning to Spain.

December 17. The first Catholic mass in Havana takes place under a ceiba tree.


The first large group of slaves (300) arrive in Cuba to work in a gold mine named Jaugua.


April 22. In the Treaty of Zaragoza, Spain and Portugal divide their claims in the Pacific by drawing an imaginary line from pole to pole 297-1/2 leagues east of the Moluccas.


December. A large Spanish force defeats Guamá and his followers.


The first recorded Negro slave uprising in Cuba takes place at the Jobabo mines. Four slaves battle a large military force until their death. Their heads are brought back to Bayamo to quiet the alarmed colonizers.


French pirates, with the help of disgruntled local slaves, burn the city of Havana.
See a map of the Western hemisphere from 1546

At this time there are six Christian towns in Cuba; Santiago, with 80 houses; Habana, with 70-80 homes, Baracoa, Puerto Príncipe, Sancti Spíritus, and Bayamo with 30-40 homes each.


Hernando de Soto lands on Florida and sets out to explore the interior.


In the early 1550's, a Taino chief named Guamá, along with his wife (Habaguanex) and about sixty other men, battles the Spaniards in hit-and-run, guerrilla-style attacks. By this time, however, the Spaniards have spread across the entire island.

The Spanish Crown allows a privileged group of merchants to import African slaves to Cuba because "of the laziness of the Cubans, who resist all kinds of work."


French pirate Peg-Leg Leclerc attacks Santiago de Cuba.


Another pirate, Jacques de Sores, a Lutheran, plunders the city of Havana.


It is estimated that only about 2,000 Tainos are left in all of Cuba (out of a population of about 3,000,000 before Spanish arrival).

May 14. An order of the Havana City Council prevents Negroes from owning taverns and inns, and from selling tobacco or wine (on penalty of fifty lashes).


September. A Royal decree regulating the sale of tobacco states that penalties for breaking this law shall be doubled if the law breaker is a Negro. They shall, in addition, receive 200 lashes in public.


The Castillo del Morro is completed. Strategically situated above the eastern entrance to the Havana harbor, the fort is designed to protect the city from attackers.


Cuba's population is estimated at about 20,000, of which about 13,000 live in and around Havana.


In order to end smuggling activities (mostly in Bayamo) the government decrees that the sale of tobacco to foreigners is punishable by death.


Havana is officially named the capital of Cuba.


A 10-year ban against tobacco cultivation is lifted, but the entire crop must be shipped to Seville.


The Treaty of Ryswick outlaws buccaneering, ending many pirate raids on the island.


According to a Royal decree, a slave may purchase his freedom. Slaves who obtain their freedom in this manner are known as cortados.


Spanish authorities create a monopoly known as the Factoria. This agency purchases all Cuban tobacco at fixed prices and sells it abroad.


April 17. All Cuban tobacco production falls under government monopoly, and a general purchasing agency (Estanco de Tobacco) is established in Havana, with offices in Bayamo, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. This leads to the "Insurrection of the Vegueros" (Sublevación de los Vegueros). The Vegueros again revolt in 1720 and 1723.


A slave revolt takes place at the sugar mill Quiebra-Hacha (in the west of Havana). About 300 slaves are involved, and only government troops are able to prevent the revolt from spreading.


The first theatrical work by a Cuban author appears. El Principe Jardinero y Fingido Cloridano (The Garener Prince and the False Cloridano), written by Don Santiago de Pita.


Based on the "Factoria" model, another monopoly company is created to handle all imports and exports in Havana. The "Royal Compañía de Comercio " soon acquires a bad reputation with Cubans, who complain they are being fleeced and that commerce is restricted in order to keep prices high.


The University of San Jerónimo opens in Havana.


José Martín Félix, a Havana native, expresses pride in his Creole identity in Key of the New World, Havana Described: News of its Foundations, Growth and Condition. The author also expressed sadness that Creoles are not allowed to participate in Cuba's government.


January. King George III of England declares war on Spain

June. A large British force captures Havana. They do not expand their occupation beyond the port, and leave the island in less than two years.

Between 1762 and 1838, about 391,000 slaves are brought to Cuba.


The English and Spanish governments make a trade: Florida (which had been captured by the Spanish) for Havana.


August. A royal decree by King Charles III gives Cuba the right to trade with Spain from various Cuban ports (not just Havana, as before). The new locations include Trinidad, Batabanó, Nuevitas, Remedios, and Matanzas.


The "Real Colegio Seminario de San Carlos y San Ambrosio" is established in Havana.


According to the sensus, Cuba has a total population of 172,620 inhabitants: 96,440 whites, 31,847 free blacks, and 44,333 black slaves.


Cuba produces 4,700 tons of sugar.

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