Urcas were flat-bottomed, round-bellied supply ships originally designed for use in the shallow, rough waters off the coast of Flanders (a region including parts of modern Belgium, France, and the Netherlands). They were adopted for use in the Spanish treasure fleets because of their strength and cargo carrying capacity.
Although the Urca de Lima (named for its owner Miguel de Lima) did not have any royal treasure onboard, it did carry 81 chests and some loose sacks of private silver as well as general cargo consisting of hundreds of uncured cowhides, packets of chocolate, vanilla, sassafras, and incense.
Questions for Painting 1
1. What moment is the painting depicting? Why do you think the artist chose this?
2. Why were urcas useful for the Spanish treasure fleet system?
3. What cargo did the ship carry? Why do you think it did not carry any royal treasure? (Refer to Reading 1 if necessary.)
4. Based on Readings 1 and 2, what role did the ship play in assisting survivors?
* The image on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Painting 1, but be aware that the file will take as much as 40 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.