The concept behind the fort of San Fernando de Omoa grew from the unrest caused by pirates along the coasts of Central America in the 17th and 18th centuries. The poor condition of the Caribbean defenses resulted partly because Spain did not know how to deal with the pirates. The latter did not have very much strength, and changed tactics as often as the Spaniards did. Several military strategists, including the Count of Aranda, Juan Bautista Antonelli, and apparently, Luis D!ez Navarro, recommended forts--in the case of this study, San Fernando de Omoa--to serve as bases and safe ports from which fleets might seek out and fight aggressively against the pirates, and later the British Navy. But the Spanish Crown, with its paternalistic and parsimonious theories, did not follow a consistent plan during the construction of the system, and ended by arming and manning Omoa defensivelys no fleet ever complemented the defense of the fort. For that reason Omoa fell at the first attempt by an enemy to take it.

This study explains the background to this specific case of Omoa, then provides a chronological overview of the construction period. Besides an analysis of strategic value, it mentions the commercial activity during the construction period, and analyses any influence this activity could have had on the planning and construction and eventual use of the fort. A chapter is devoted to the use of Indian and black slave labor during the construction period.

Materials found especially useful during the research include the Annual Register, in the Loma Linda University, La Sierra Campus library; the unpublished "Historia" of Rubio Sanchez at the Academia de Geografia e Historia de Guatemala which the author so graciously made available from his personal library; Manuel Zapatero's Organization of American States-funded technical assessment of the fort, found in the Instituto de Geografia e Historia in Honduras (IHAH); the long and enjoyable chats with Victor Cruz Reyes, research director at IHAH; Mario Argueta's article on the Indian labor at the fort, in the Universidad Nacional Aut6noma de Honduras library; and finally, a visit to photograph the fort itself.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Delmer G. Ross

Second Advisor

Frederick G. Hoyt

Third Advisor

Ernestina Garbutt-Parrales

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Subject - Local

Fortification -- Honduras -- History; Honduras -- History -- To 1838; Honduras -- Coast defenses; Spain -- Colonies -- Defenses



Page Count

v: 182

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives