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In 1492 the governor of Gran Canaria Francisco Maldonado organized a raid that ended in disaster for the Spaniards when they were defeated by Anaga's warriors.In December 1493, the Catholic monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, granted Alonso Fernández de Lugo the right to conquer Tenerife.Tenerife was the last island of Canaries to be conquered and the one that took the longest time to submit to the Castilian troops.Although the traditional dates of conquest of Tenerife are established between 1494 (landing of Alonso Fernández de Lugo) and 1496 (conquest of the island), it must be taken into account that the attempts to annex the island of Tenerife to the Crown of Castile date back at least to 1464.The 18th-century historians Juan Núñez de la Peña and Tomás Arias Marín de Cubas, among others, state that the island was likely named by natives for the legendary Guanche king, Tinerfe, nicknamed "the Great." He ruled the entire island in the days before the conquest of the Canary Islands by Castilla.In modern society, the latter term is generally applied only to inhabitants of the capital, Santa Cruz.Later maps dating to the 14th and 15th century, by mapmakers such as Bontier and Le Verrier, refer to the island as Isla del Infierno, literally meaning "Island of Hell," referring to the volcanic activity and eruptions of Mount Teide.

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Castillian forces under the Adelantado ("military governor") de Lugo suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Guanches in the First Battle of Acentejo on , but defeated them at the Second Battle of Acentejo on 25 December 1494.

The city is capital of the autonomous community of Canary Islands (shared with Las Palmas), sharing governmental institutions such as presidency and ministries.

Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands.

About one hundred years before the conquest by king Juba II, the title of mencey was given to the monarch or king of the Guanches of Tenerife, who governed a menceyato or kingdom.

This role was later referred to as a "captainship" by the conquerors.

Tinerfe el Grande, son of the mencey Sunta, governed the island from Adeje in the south.

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