Spanish Treasure Fleets


From the 16th to 18th centuries, two treasure fleets sailed each year, one to Mexico and the other to Central America, then part of the Spanish Empire. There they collected precious eastern goods and the riches of the Americas, including tons of silver from mines in Peru and Mexico. Known as the plate fleets, from plata (silver), the two convoys grouped at Havana, Cuba, before sailing back to Spain.

More about: Spanish Treasure Fleets


  • 1510
    The Spanish found Nombre de Dios in Panama.
  • 1519
    The Spanish found the city of Panama.
  • 1519
    Veracruz, Mexico is founded by Hernán Cortés.
  • c. 1520 - 1789
    Spanish treasure fleets transport the riches of the Americas to Spain.
  • 13 Aug 1521
    The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan falls into the hands of Spanish forces led by Hernán Cortés.
  • 1522
    Jean de Fleury (aka Florin) captures three Spanish treasure ships off Cape Vincent.
  • c. 1530
    The first Spanish galleons come into operation.
  • 15 Nov 1533
    Francisco Pizarro takes the Inca capital of Cuzco.
  • 1555
    Captain-General Pedro Menendez de Avilés begins a system of large and escorted convoys for the Spanish treasure fleets.
  • Jul 1555
    The French privateer Jacques de Sores brutally attacks Havana.
  • 1565 - 1815
    The Manila galleons each year take eastern trade goods from Manila to Acapulco (and return with American silver).
  • 1572 - 1573
    Francis Drake explores Panama and seizes a Spanish silver mule train.
  • Mar 1579
    Francis Drake captures the Spanish treasure ship Nuestra Señora de la Concepción (aka Cacafuego).
  • 1585 - 1587
    Sir Francis Drake attacks Spanish vessels and ports in the Spanish Main.
  • Nov 1587
    The English privateer Thomas Cavendish captures the Manila galleon Great Saint Anna (actually a carrack).
  • Aug 1595
    John Hawkins and Francis Drake lead an unsuccessful expedition against Spanish ships and settlements in Panama and the Caribbean.
  • 1596
    Portobelo replaces Nombre de Dios as the chief Atlantic port in Panama.
  • 1620 - 1697
    Buccaneers operate in the Caribbean and attack both ports and ships along the Spanish Main.
  • 1622
    The Nuestra Señora de Atocha Spanish treasure ship is wrecked in a storm off the Florida Keys.
  • Sep 1628
    A Dutch force led by Admiral Hein captures the entire New Spain treasure fleet on its way to Havana.
  • Jul 1668
    A buccaneer force led by Henry Morgan attacks and captures Portobelo on the Spanish Main.
  • Jan 1671
    A buccaneer force led by Henry Morgan attacks and captures the port of Panama on the Spanish Main.
  • 1681
    The Nuestra Señora de Encarnación Spanish treasure ship is wrecked in a storm off the coast of Panama.
  • 1683
    Laurens De Graaf leads a buccaneer attack on Veracruz on the Spanish Main.
  • 1697
    The conquest of the Maya Civilization completed by the Spanish conquistador Martín de Ursúa.
  • 1697
    The last great buccaneer operation captures Cartagena on the Spanish Main.
  • 1 Jan 1710
    The English privateer Woodes Rogers captures the Manila galleon Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación Disengaño.
  • 1743
    The Manila galleon Covadonga is captured by a Brtiish naval fleet near Manila.
  • 1762
    A British fleet commanded by Admiral Cornish captures the Spanish Manila galleon Santísima Trinidad.
  • 1815
    The last Manila galleon, the San Fernando, arrives in Acapulco.