When the Spanish conquered the Canary Islands in the name of the Castilian flag, the archipelago was inhabited by the Guanches. This name initially only referred to Tenerife's aboriginal tribe, but it was soon used to cover all of the islands' native dwellers. The research carried out so far has revealed that the origin of the Guanche people comes from the Berber tribes that live in the north of Africa. They dwelt in natural caves and lived off farming and herding, but they were not very good sailors and therefore developed differently on each island.
During the conquest, Tenerife's population was divided into nine kingdoms governed by different Menceys (kings). The aborigines put up a tough fight against the invasion, but the Island eventually fell under the power of the Castilian Crown in 1496. Many survivors were relegated to slavery and shipped off to the mainland, whilst those who stayed on the Island were forced to take on the lifestyle and religion of the conquistadors.