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The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea (Teaching with Historic Places)

In 1715 and again in 1733, Spain's treasure fleets were devastated by hurricanes off the coast of Florida. Although the Spanish managed to recover some treasure, much more remained on the ocean floor. The sunken ships lay forgotten for more than 200 years until modern treasure hunters discovered several of them. Today, the remains of two of the ships—the Urca de Lima from the 1715 fleet and the San Pedro from the 1733 fleet—are protected as Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserves. These ships are time capsules from a bygone era and can reveal much about the history of the mighty maritime system that helped shape the Americas.

Essential Question

How did weather effect the Spanish-American colonial system in the 1700s?

Objective

1. To explain how Spain created an empire from trade routes to the Americas;
2. To describe the convoy system Spain used to collect treasure and native products from the Americas over three centuries;
3. To describe the wrecks of the 1715 and 1733 treasure fleets and consider how these disasters impacted Spain;
4. To discuss the importance of protecting resources such as the Urca de Lima and San Pedro sites;
5. To compare the preservation of local historic sites to that of underwater resources.

Last updated: June 24, 2021