The competition between European nations for wealth, power and religious dominance in the New World began in the 15th Century. Advances in cartography, navigation and shipbuilding fuelled the desire to find new trade routes, gold and spices. Ultimately, this led to the conquest of foreign lands. The Spanish monarchs, King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella, joined in the pursuit of new riches by supporting the expeditions of Italian-born seaman Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Their goal was to find trade routes to the east that were unknown to their European rivals and to acquire the much desired gold and precious stones to be found in Asia. However, what their expeditions discovered was far removed from their original intentions. The exhibition XAYMACA: Life in Spanish Jamaica 1494-1655 tells the story of the Spanish experience in Jamaica from the time of Columbus’ arrival in 1494 until the time of the island’s complete conquest by the English in 1660.