Throughout their history, the Canary Islands have been plundered time and time again, sometimes at the hands of Moors from nearby Africa, at other times the attackers were English corsairs and even Turkish pirates. Lanzarote and Fuerteventura were particularly susceptible to attack as the sparse population and low-lying mountains afforded little protection and made them easy pickings.

One of the most devastating attacks occurred in 1586, when a mere 1,500 people lived on the island. If anyone had been in the isolated and deserted area known as Los Ancones* they might have seen the three ships appear on the horizon, carrying pirates that were to threaten the lives of all the inhabitants as soon as night fell.

The captain of the fleet was Algerian pirate Morato Arráez, whose notoriety was such that he was even named by Cervantes. Several hundred men were under his command, ready to take the Lord of the island, Agustín de Herrera, by surprise and snatch a good booty of jewellery, strong men to sell as slaves, and women and girls to be abused.

For almost a month, the pirates sowed terror on the island until they left with 200 slaves. In Teguise there is a street called Blood Alley, so named because of the massacres that took place there. Agustín de Herrera actually survived, but probably got a taste of his own medicine after his years of forays to the nearby African coast hunting for slaves.

* Ancón: Small natural bay where boats can anchor.