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The Castillo de San Marcos
and the Fortification System in the Spanish Empire
Prepared by Alberto Barrueco
Subject Area: World History II
Intended Grade: 10th grade
Virginia Standards of Learning:
WHII.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the impact of the European Age of Discovery and expansion into the Americas.
WHII.5 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the status and impact of global trade on regional civilizations of the world after 1500 A.D.
WHII.6 The student will demonstrate knowledge of scientific, political, economic, and religious changes during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.
WG.1 The student will use maps, globes, photographs, and pictures in order to obtain geographical information and apply the concepts of location, scale, and orientation;
WG.6 The student will analyze past and present trends in human migration and cultural interaction as they are influenced by social, economic, political, and environmental factors.
WG.7 The student will identify natural, human, and capital resources and explain their significance by
a) showing patterns of economic activity and land use;
b) evaluating perspectives and consequences regarding the use of resources.
WG.12 The student will apply geography to interpret the past, understand the present, and plan for the future by
a) using geographic knowledge, skills, and perspectives to analyze problems and make decisions;
b) relating current events to the physical and human characteristics of places and regions.
1. Students will be able to gather information, interpret data and draw conclusions about the events that shaped the relationships between the main European powers in America during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, and the role that the fortification system played in the Spanish dominions.
2. Students will be able to identify the major characteristics of some main fortification systems in the Spanish Empire, and outline their differences and similarities.
3. Students will understand how the physical environment supports and constrains human activities, and how the Spaniards adapted to the environment to build the defensive buildings.
4. Students will produce their own maps and timelines to graphically organize the information acquire.
Approximate Time Required: varies
Books and encyclopedias
Students will use Internet browsers as tools to search for information,
Timeliner to display their chronological findings, and
word processors to write their charts, graphs, and conclusions.
What are the events that would explain the construction and improvement of the main Spanish defensive buildings in America?
What were the roles that St. Augustine, Cartagena de Indias, Veracruz, and Puerto Rico played in the Spanish Empire in America?
How the environment and local resources (material and human) may help explain the differences between the fortification systems in each of the four building complexes we are studying?
Students will work in small groups (ideally 4 students in each one) to gather information about the following four fortification systems:
1. Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, FL
2. Fortaleza de San Juan de Ula, Veracruz, Mexico
3. Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
4. Fuerte de San Felipe del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico
A) Individual Activities
Each student will create a map of the Americas to include the location of the main fortifications, as well as the territories occupied by the main European powers during the centuries 16th, 17th, and18th.
Using Timeliner and textbook indexes, s/he will create a timeline to include the main conflicts between the major European powers during the chronological framework.
Each student in the group will be responsible for searching and collecting information and graphic material (pictures, graphs, etc) about one of the defensive building listed above. The information should be recorded in one chart, and include at least the following: the materials used for its construction, details and rationale about location, and years of the construction and main improvements.
B) Collaborative Activities
Student will compare their maps and graphs to correct wrong information and add possible missed data.
Students will share their findings about the four defensive building and together will prepare a big chart to be displayed in the class in which they should summarize the information and graphic material collected by the group.
Students will make a presentation to the class about their findings and conclusions.
C) Final activity
Each student will write and essay in which s/he should be able to explain the role that the fortifications played in the Spanish Empire, how the conflicts between the European powers and the technological changes forced the need for the improvement of the defensive system, and why the location and the environment may explain many of the differences between the military constructions.
D) Possible enrichment activities.
Connection to English Arts: Imagine that you are a soldier in the Spanish garrison of the Castillo de San Marcos during the 17th century. Write a letter to your family in Spain explaining your daily life in Saint Augustine and your duties and activities in the castle.
Connection to Arts: Create a model of the Castillo de San Marcos.
Rubrics will assess both individual work --timeline, map, chart, and essay-- and group work --final chart and presentation.
Arana, Luis R. The building of Castillo de San Marcos St. Augustine, FL: Eastern National Park & Monument Association for Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, 1977.
U.S. Department of the Interior. El Morro National Monument (brochure). Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1979.
Segovia Salas, Rodolfo. The Fortifications of Cartagena de Indias : strategy and history. Bogot: El Ancora Editores, 1998
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