“Leo X erected the see of Santo Domingo — the mother church of all Spanish America, and the oldest bishopric in the New World — in 1513. In 1514, under Alessandro Geraldini, its first bishop, the present cathedral church of San Domingo was begun; it was completed in 1540.” England, Spain and France fought over control of the island for centuries. “In 1586 Francis Drake drove the Spanish garrison out of San Domingo and burned section after section of the city until a ransom of 30,000 crowns was paid to him. In the next century French adventurers — the original boucaniers — began to use the little island of Tortuga, near the north-west coast of Hispaniola, as a piratical rendezvous; from Trotuga they gradually spread over the eastern end of Hispaniola.” France eventually gained control of the eastern part of the island which became known as Haiti and the Spanish retained control of Santo Domingo. The country became independent in 1821 under José Núñez de Cáceres.