Pedro de Valdivia

Dafato Team | Dec 3, 2022

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Pedro de Valdivia (Villanueva de la Serena, Extremadura, April 17, 1497-Tucapel, Governorate of Chile, December 25, 1553) was a Spanish military and conquistador of Extremaduran origin.

After participating in various military campaigns in Europe, Valdivia traveled to America, forming part of the army of Francisco Pizarro, governor of Peru. With the title of lieutenant governor granted by Pizarro, Valdivia led the Conquest of Chile beginning in 1540. In that role, he was the founder of the oldest cities in the country, including the capital Santiago in 1541, La Serena (1544), Concepción (1550), Valdivia (1552) and La Imperial (1552). He also ordered the founding of the cities of Villarrica and Los Confines (Angol).

In 1541 he received from his fellow conquistadors organized in a cabildo, the title of Governor and Captain General of the Kingdom of Chile, being the first to hold such positions. After containing the indigenous resistance and some conspiracies against him, he returned to the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1548, where Pedro de la Gasca confirmed his title. On his return to Chile, he undertook the so-called Arauco War against the Mapuche people, in which he died in 1553 in the battle of Tucapel.

On several occasions he was accompanied by Francisco Martínez Vegaso or Don Francisco Pérez de Valenzuela, among other Spanish conquistadors. He was also with the future Mapuche toqui Lautaro.


Pedro de Valdivia was born on April 17, 1497 in the Spanish region of Extremadura, at that time part of the Crown of Castile. The precise place of Valdivia's birth is still under discussion. In the region of La Serena, several localities dispute to be the birthplace of the conquistador. The sources indicate Zalamea de la Serena as the place of birth, although many also indicate Castuera, where his birthplace and that of his ancestors is located. Campanario (where the Valdivia family was originally from) and Zalamea de la Serena are also mentioned as alternatives to his origin.

Pedro de Valdivia belonged to a noble family with a certain military tradition, the House of Valdivia. The chronicler and soldier of the Valdivia host, Pedro Mariño de Lobera, points out in his Chronicle of the Kingdom of Chile: "the governor Don Pedro de Valdivia was the legitimate son of Pedro de Onças (Arias) de Melo, a very noble Portuguese son, and Isabel Gutiérrez de Valdivia, a native of the town of Campanario in Extremadura, of very noble lineage". However, no document (civil, military or ecclesiastical) has ever been found in the Spanish archives to support this statement. On the other hand, the genealogical study La familia de Pedro de Valdivia, published in 1935 by the Chilean scholar Luis de Roa y Ursúa (1874-1947), has established that very probably the conqueror was the legitimate son of Pedro Onças de Melo and his wife Isabel Gutiérrez de Valdivia, both of noble lineage.

Military experience in Europe and America

In 1520 he began his career as a soldier in the War of the Communities of Castile, and later he served in the army of Emperor Charles V, highlighting his participation during the campaigns of Flanders and the Italian Wars, in the battle of Pavia and in the assault on Rome. He married in Zalamea in 1525, with a noblewoman called Doña Marina Ortiz de Gaete, a native of Salamanca. In 1535 he left for the New World and would not see his wife again.

He traveled to America in the expedition of Jerónimo de Ortal, arriving at the island of Cubagua in 1535 with the purpose of initiating the search for the fabulous El Dorado. In Tierra Firme he participated in the discovery and conquest of the province of Nueva Andalucía with his friend Jerónimo de Alderete, companion in arms in the War of the Communities of Castile. He witnessed the foundation of San Miguel de Neverí in 1535. Disagreements with Ortal caused part of his expedition to abandon him in search of other more promising horizons. Alderete, Valdivia and about forty other men were among the rebels. When they separated they reached the territory of the Province of Venezuela under the control of the Welser of Augsburg, and as deserters, they were detained by the German authorities in Santa Ana de Coro, and the leaders were sent to Santo Domingo to be judged.

Valdivia, who was not among the leaders of the rebellion, was released and stayed in Coro. During this long stay he made friends with Francisco Martinez Vegaso, a Spanish advance and moneylender in the service of the Welser family. Years later Valdivia, Alderete and Martinez would associate for the conquest of Chile.

After a period that is still unclear, in 1538 Valdivia went to Peru and enlisted in the forces of Francisco Pizarro, participating as his field master in the civil war that Pizarro maintained with Diego de Almagro. At the end of this conflict with Almagro defeated in the battle of Las Salinas, his military performance was recognized and rewarded with silver mines in the Cerro de Porco (Potosí), and lands in the valley of La Canela (Charcas). Close to this encomienda was the plot assigned to the widow of a military man, Inés Suárez, with whom he established an intimate bond, despite being married in Spain.

Preparing the expedition

For the governor of Peru, the initiative brought some benefits and no costs. Valdivia left the Indian divisions and the mine available for another collaborator. In addition, the authorization did not involve economic support from the royal coffers, since it was customary for the conquistadors to finance themselves on their own. Yielding to the enthusiasm of the Maestre de Campo, he empowered him in April 1539 to go to the conquest of Chile as his lieutenant governor, although "he did not favor me," Valdivia later wrote, "not with a single peso from the Treasury of His Majesty or his own, and at my own expense and mission I made the people and expenses that were convenient for the journey, and I owed myself for the little I found borrowed, in addition to what I had at present".

In spite of his determination, the difficulties to gather financing and soldiers were on the point of frustrating Valdivia's plan. The lenders judged the risk to their capitals excessive, and the people refused to enlist in the conquest of the most discredited land in the Indies, considered since the return of Diego de Almagro as miserable and hostile, without gold, and with a very cold climate. According to Valdivia in a letter to Emperor Charles V dated September 4, 1545:

Until he approached a well-known and wealthy merchant lender who acted as an advance soldier, Francisco Martínez, who had just arrived from Spain with a supply of arms, horses, ironwork and other articles highly valued in the colonies. Martínez agreed to become a partner to contribute, contributing his capital (9000 pesos of gold in merchandise, valued by himself), in exchange for half of the profits produced by the enterprise, a task that fell to Valdivia.

He finally managed to raise about 70,000 Spanish pesos, a meager sum for the scope of the initiative, since at that time a horse, for example, cost 2,000. As for soldiers, only 11 enlisted in the adventure, plus Inés Suárez from Plácido, who sold her jewelry and everything she had to help Valdivia's expenses. She went as his maid, to disguise a little that she was in fact his lover and friend.

When he was about to leave, Pizarro's former secretary, Pedro Sánchez de la Hoz, who had returned to Spain after making his fortune in the early conquest of Peru, arrived in Cuzco. He returned with a royal decree granted by the King that empowered him to explore the lands south of the Strait of Magellan, giving him the title of Governor of the lands he discovered there. At the behest and manipulation of Pizarro, Valdivia and Sanchez de la Hoz entered into a company contract in which the former contributed everything he had gathered at the time, and the latter undertook to contribute fifty horses and two hundred armor and to equip two ships which, after four months, were to bring to Chile various goods to support the expedition. That ill-advised partnership was going to cause numerous setbacks to Valdivia in the future, Valdivia not without reason considered Sánchez de la Hoz as an obstacle to his future patrimonial ambitions.

What moved Pedro de Valdivia to undertake a project that almost everyone considered foolish? He thought that the discredited lands of the south were appropriate to establish a government of an agricultural nature, and he believed he could discover enough mineral wealth, although not as abundant as in Peru, but enough to sustain a province of which he would be Lord. Because above all Valdivia intended to establish a new kingdom that would give him fame and power. "To leave fame and memory of me," he said. Although he was one more of the noble adventurers who came from Spain to "make America", Valdivia's talents were superior. He knew it well, and he was convinced that he would achieve renown in the "so badly infamous" Chile, because the more difficult the enterprise, the more fame for the entrepreneur. Astute, indefatigable and with a great sense of opportunity, this bold, often reckless leader had the virtue - and perhaps the genius - to look above trivial riches and see a future where others saw only difficulties.

Beginning of the expedition

From the highlands of Cuzco they descended east to the valley of Arequipa, continuing south along the area near the coast. Passing through Moquegua and then Tacna, they camped in the Tarapacá ravine. During this journey, new auxiliaries were added to the small host, until they totaled twenty Castilians. Pedro Sanchez de la Hoz, who should have joined the expedition here, contributing the committed species, was not known. The other partner of the company, the capitalist Francisco Martinez, had a serious accident and had to return to Peru.

The news of Valdivia's march had spread throughout the highlands, and several soldiers joined him in Tarapacá. Among them were some who would later play a leading role in the conquest of Chile: Rodrigo Araya with sixteen soldiers; also Rodrigo de Quiroga, Juan Bohón, Juan Jufré, Gerónimo de Alderete, Juan Fernández de Alderete, the chaplain Rodrigo González de Marmolejo, Santiago de Azoca and Francisco de Villagra. Pedro de Valdivia's expedition to Chile already numbered 110 Spaniards.

They then left for Atacama la Chica following the Inca Trail where they made camps in Pica, Guatacondo and Quillagua to reach Chiu-Chiu. There Valdivia learned that his Italian comrade Francisco de Aguirre was in Atacama la Grande (San Pedro de Atacama) and went out with some horsemen to meet him. This providentially saved his life.

In fact, Pedro Sánchez de la Hoz, who had remained in Peru trying to gather the agreed reinforcements, had only managed to collect old debts. But feeling supported by the royal designation of governor, one night in early June 1540 he arrived at Valdivia's camp in Atacama la Chica (Chiu-Chiu) together with Antonio de Ulloa, Juan de Guzmán, and two other accomplices. In stealth they approached the tent where they supposed to find Valdivia sleeping, with the purpose of assassinating him and taking the command of the expedition.

When they entered the darkened dwelling, they noticed that Valdivia was not in the bed but Doña Inés Suárez, who gave loud cries of alarm and reprimanded Pedro Sánchez harshly, while he apologized nervously. Already awakened the camp by the commotion of Doña Inés, the field marshal Luis de Toledo came with some soldiers to punish the intruders, but when he saw that it was about the high personage he chose to send a messenger to alert Valdivia of the suspicious behavior of his partner.

Upon his return, Valdivia, with ill-concealed anger, thought of hanging Sanchez de la Hoz, although he finally spared his life in exchange for the written renunciation of all rights (to his royal charter) of expedition and conquest. Of the accomplices, he banished three, but Antonio de Ulloa won his confidence and was incorporated into the army.

Atacama Desert and La Posesión Valley

According to Vivar, by then the expedition had "one hundred and fifty-three men and two clergymen, one hundred and five on horseback and forty-eight on foot", plus a thousand Indians on duty, whose slow pace of movement due to the load of baggage determined the rhythm of the advance.

Upon entering the vast, dry and fearsome Atacama Desert, hot (40 to 45°C) by day and freezing (-10 to -5°C) at night, Valdivia divided the expedition into four groups, which marched a day apart, thus giving time for the scarce water sources, exhausted by one group, to recover while the next arrived. The chief left in the last group, but went ahead with two on horseback, to encourage his men, "watching how they all went through their labors, suffering with his body those of his own that were not small, and with his spirit those of all".

Already in the depths of the desert, the encouragement of the leader became more necessary. From time to time they stumbled upon the dead remains of men and animals, some of them from Almagro's expedition: "The winds are so harsh and cold in most places of this uninhabited area", Pedro Mariño de Lobera reported, "that it happens that the traveler gets close to a rock and remains frozen and barren standing for many years, as if he were alive, and thus mummy meat is taken from here in abundance". In addition to pointing out the route, those corpses confirmed the fame of the country where Valdivia's initiative was taking them.

Perhaps afflicted by the macabre landscape, Juan Ruiz, one of the broken men who had already been in Chile with Almagro, regretted the adventure, secretly telling his companions "that here there was not enough food for thirty men, and he was mutinying people to return to Peru. He secretly told his companions "that here there was not enough food even for thirty men, and he was mutinying people to return to Peru". Warned of the sedition by his field master Pedro Gómez de Don Benito, Valdivia showed the other hard face of his leadership. He did not even allow the insurrectionist to confess and had him summarily hanged for treason, continuing the march without further ado.

The vanguard group of the expedition, led by Alonso de Monroy, carried tools to improve the passes and prevent the horses from falling off the cliffs, and also tried to deepen the small wells that the Indian guides knew, "so that they would have clear water for the people who came behind them. He also tried to deepen the small wells that the Indian guides knew, "so that they would have clear water that would not be lacking for the people who came behind". However, when they had been on the road for about two months through the driest desert on the planet, they only found exhausted springs, and the army thought they were perishing in the battle against dehydration under the crushing Atacameño sun. The men were losing hope.

But the woman did not. Mariño tells that Inés Suárez ordered a yanacona to dig "in the seat where she was", and when he had dug no more than a meter deep, the water gushed out with the abundance of a stream, "and the whole army was satisfied, thanking God for such mercy, and testifying that the water was the best they have drunk from the jahuel of Doña Inés, which is how it was named". Although it is difficult to give credit to this prodigy, at least in the terms described by the valuable chronicler, the truth is that since then this place is called Aguada de Doña Inés. It is located on a ravine called Doña Inés Chica, about 20 km northeast of El Salvador, and at the foot of a mountain known as Cerro Doña Inés, located immediately north of the Salar de Pedernales.

A few days later the fatigues of the Despoblado ended, although "many service people perished, both Indians and blacks". On Thursday, October 26, 1540, the expedition was able to camp on the banks of a pleasant stream where, says the aforementioned narrator, "not only did the men show extraordinary consolation at being free of so many calamities, but the horses also insinuated the rejoicing they felt, with the neighing, liveliness and vigor they showed, as if they recognized the end of their labors". They were in the splendid valley of Copiapó, or Copayapu in the indigenous language. When they entered the valley, they had to face in battle the Diaguita ethnic group, estimated by Lobera at eight thousand warriors, whom they easily defeated, thus being able to settle in the valley.

As his jurisdiction began here, Valdivia called all the land from this valley to the south the New Extremadura in memory of his native soil. He had a wooden cross placed in a prominent place and then, according to one historian, "the troops formed up, displaying their military uniforms and their shining weapons, and the priests intoned the Te Deum, after which the artillery thundered, the drums and atabales redoubled, and the expeditionaries burst into cheers of joy. Then the conqueror, with the naked sword in one hand and the banner of Castile in the other, gave with martial air a few walks around the site and declared the valley possessed, in the name of the King of Spain, and because this was the first inhabited territory of the conquest entrusted to him, he ordered it to be called the Valley of the Possession".

Even in the midst of the general jubilation, a detail of this ceremony did not go unnoticed by some. Valdivia was supposed to occupy the territory in the name of Governor Pizarro, whose lieutenant he was, but he did so in the name of King Charles V, causing suspicion among the conquistadors who were less sympathetic to him. Some declared in the process that several years later was followed before the viceroy La Gasca, "that arrived to the valley of Copiapó (Valdivia) he took possession of it for S. M., without taking provisions but of don Francisco Pizarro for his lieutenant, giving us to understand that he was already governor".

Foundation of Santiago de Chile

He renewed the march to the south following the Inca Trail. When falling to the valley of the river Laja for the valley of Putaendo, the cacique Michimalonco tried to stop it with skirmishes without success. He then advanced further south, crossing the great swamps of Lampa and Quilicura, until he reached the wide and fertile valley of the river called by the Picunche Mapuchoco (now Mapocho), which rises to the east in the Andes and descends along the southern slope of a hill called Tupahue. When facing a rock called Huelén in Mapudungún, the riverbed divided into two branches, leaving an island of flat land enclosed between its arms. Nearby, at the present location of the Mapocho Station, there was an Inca tambo that started towards the Cordillera on the Camino de las Minas, which ended at the present La Disputada Mine in Las Condes, with at least two intermediate tambos. This road was used to travel to the apu of Cerro El Plomo, where offerings to Viracocha were celebrated, the most important of which was the Capac cocha, in the Inti Raymi.

Valdivia set up camp on this island to the west of the rock called in Mapudungún Huelén, 'Stone of Pain', perhaps on December 13, Saint Lucia's Day. The place seemed to him suitable for founding a city. Flanked to the north, south and east by natural barriers, the location allowed the conquistadors to better defend the town from any indigenous attack. On the other hand, the aboriginal population was more abundant in the Mapocho valley than in the valleys further north, assuring the conquistadors labor to cultivate the land, and above all to exploit the mines that they still hoped to discover, despite the fact that the natives said they were scarce.

However, it seems that it was not his intention to give to this armed settlement the character of capital of the kingdom. Years later Valdivia would sell his lots and other goods in the valley of the Mapocho, establishing his residence in the city of Concepción, which he considered located in the center of his jurisdiction, had in its vicinity gold washing places, and an enormous aboriginal population.

On February 12, 1541, the city of Santiago del Nuevo Extremo was founded at the foot of the Huelén, renamed Santa Lucía. The city was laid out by the master builder Pedro de Gamboa in the form of a checkerboard, dividing the land within the river island into blocks, which were divided into four lots for the first residents. The layout and formation of the city was followed in the month of March by the creation of the first cabildo (town council), importing the Spanish legal and institutional system. The assembly was integrated by Francisco de Aguirre and Juan Jufré as mayors, Juan Fernández de Alderete, Francisco de Villagra, Martín de Solier and Gerónimo de Alderete as aldermen, and Antonio de Pastrana as procurator.

As soon as they were installed, Valdivia heard some very serious information of unknown origin; it was spread in the colony that the almagristas had assassinated Governor Francisco Pizarro in Peru. If the news were true, Valdivia's powers as lieutenant governor and the distributions given to the neighbors could be automatically extinguished, when another conqueror of Peru came to rule the land and distribute it among his host.

Governor and Captain General

Considering the political situation in Peru, the cabildo resolved to give Valdivia the title of Governor and Acting Captain General on behalf of the King. Clever, Valdivia, until then Pizarro's Lieutenant Governor, publicly refused the position initially, so as not to look like a traitor to Pizarro in case he was still alive (Pizarro was assassinated 15 days later). However, faced with the threat of the neighbors to hand over the government to someone else, Valdivia, who in reality ardently wished to be appointed Governor, accepted on June 11, 1541. He did, however, leave a written record that he was submitting to the people's decision against their will, yielding only because the assembly made him see that in this way he would better serve God and the King.

On this matter, it has been speculated that Valdivia himself managed to spread the rumor about the death of Pizarro. The following circumstance sustains the suspicion: although it is effective that the Governor of Peru was murdered by the almagristas, the fact did not take place until June 26, 1541, when already Valdivia had received the position of Governor of Chile of the cabildo of Santiago. In addition, it is somewhat strange that the Extremaduran refused not once, but three times, to accept; since there were presumptions about the death of Pizarro, the request of the cabildo was quite reasonable.

However it may have been, it should be noted that while Pizarro's enterprise in Chile had cost him no more than the paper on which he extended the provision to Valdivia, he abandoned his comfortable position in Peru, assumed debts and accepted partnerships whose terms bordered on usury, "to leave fame and memory of me" by conquering what was believed to be the poorest land in the New World, "where there was no way to feed more than fifty neighbors".

The new colony

The houses in the village were built with the few materials available in the surroundings, wood with mud plaster and thatched roofs. The square was an uncultivated stony area with a large vertical wood embedded in the center, a symbol of the dominion of the King of Castile. An irrigation ditch supplied water from a stream of the Santa Lucía, crossing the town to the east. On the north side of the square was the solar and ranch of Valdivia, a ramada for the assemblies of the town council and the precinct of the jail. The church and the priests' lots on the west front.

The Governor's main concern was the discovery of gold, which in turn was an argument to attract new contingents to deepen the conquest and settlement. Finding gold would justify the expedition and improve the morale of the 150 adventurers who accompanied him, some of whom were already restless. It was taken for granted that gold would not be as abundant as in Peru, but there must have been, because of the tribute in the metal that the Chilean natives had paid to the Inca in the past. Trying to discover where this contribution came from, and to provide themselves with food by stealing it from the Indians' crops, Valdivia and half of his men frequently went out to reconnoiter the surrounding valleys, leaving Alonso de Monroy in the village as lieutenant governor.

One of these excursions took them to the coastal sector of the valley of Chile (Aconcagua) where a bellicose chief chieftain, Michimalonco, the powerful cacique who ruled there and who already had experience with the Spanish presence, having welcomed Diego de Almagro in 1535, and even before that, the first Spaniard to set foot in Chilean territory, Gonzalo Calvo de Barrientos.

Entrenched in a fort with a large number of Indians "well equipped for war", the indigenous leader tried to take advantage of the departure of the invaders to take the fight to a tactically advantageous place for him, and first confront only a fraction of them, and then take care of the rest. Valdivia ordered his troops to attack the fortress and take Michimalonco alive, who he hoped would be of use to him. After three hours of combat and the death of many Indians and only one Spaniard, the Castilians finished ruining the fort, capturing Michimalonco and other Indian chiefs alive.

Determined to get the location of the gold and the indigenous labor force to extract it, he treated very well the captured, who apparently yielded to the attentions and in exchange for their freedom, they guided the Castilians to their washing places in the ravines of the Marga Marga estuary, very close to the place of the battle. The soldier chronicler Mariño de Lobera says that when the Spaniards saw the battle, they broke into jubilant expressions:

The caciques must have watched the scene with great interest, for unexpectedly an ally for the defense of their land appeared: the greed of the invader.

Pedro de Valdivia ordered two soldiers with experience in mining operations to lead the more than one thousand Indians that the caciques had provided. Near there, where the Aconcagua River flows into the beaches of Concón, an area then abundant in forests, he also ordered the construction of a brigantine to transport the gold to Peru, bring supplies and embark the Spaniards who, he imagined, would enlist in the conquest of Chile when they discovered the existence of the metal. Captain Gonzalo de los Ríos, in command of some twenty-five soldiers, was left in charge of overseeing both enterprises.

At the beginning of August, Valdivia was personally supervising the works of the laundry and shipyard, when he received a written message from his lieutenant in Santiago, Alonso de Monroy, warning that there were clear indications of a conspiracy to assassinate him coming from Sánchez de la Hoz and his supporters. He immediately returned to the village and met with his most loyal captains, but there was no convincing evidence against the suspects. The quality of these, two of them members of the Cabildo, advised extreme caution in proceeding. But these worries were interrupted by the news of a new and serious event, a catastrophe that would come to crumble Valdivia's already well underway project: Captain Gonzalo de los Ríos arrived in Santiago one night, after a wild gallop, together with the black Juan Valiente. They were the only survivors of the disaster: led by the chiefs Trajalongo and Chigaimanga, the Indians of the washes and the shipyard had revolted, undoubtedly because if they did not act at that moment, the arrival of more Spaniards on the ship would make it more difficult to expel them from their land. They lured the greedy soldiers with a pot full of gold, killing them in an ambush and then razing the two works to the ground. The Governor left in a hurry with some horsemen to verify the state of the works, and if it was possible to resume the works, but "arriving at the seat of the mines where the slaughter had been made, he had no opportunity to do anything else but to cry for the damage that his eyes saw". Worse, the information that he could gather showed that the natives were preparing the general and definitive insurrection. The shipyard had also been totally destroyed.

When Valdivia was returning to Santiago, his countenance was heavy. Upon seeing him, one of those who conspired against him, a certain Chinchilla, could not prevent his joy from overflowing and began to run around the square jumping for joy with "a pretal of bells". The Governor, whose mood must not have been in a delicate mood, heard of this and ordered him to be immediately imprisoned to be hanged. Valdivia himself later told his King: "I made my investigation there (he probably tortured Chinchilla) and I found many guilty, but because of the need I was in (of soldiers) I hanged five who were the heads, and I dissimulated with the others, and with this I secured the people". He adds that the conspirators of Chile were in agreement with the almagristas of Peru, those who should kill Pizarro. For his part, Mariño de Lobera confirms that "the five confessed at the moment of their death that it was true that they were mutinying". It seems that the purpose of the coup plotters was to return to Peru, perhaps in the ship and with the gold. They belonged to the almagristas side, which now ruled there, so their prospects were much better in that country than in this "bad land". Their way, however, was inevitably through the assassination of the Governor, since he would not allow anyone to leave the colony. The good chronicler Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo describes in these terms the conspirators' feelings: "that they had come deceived; that it would be better for them to return to Peru than to be waiting for something uncertain since they did not see signs of wealth above the earth, and that it was not a just thing for good men, that for making Valdivia Lord they should go through so much work and needs; that Valdivia was greedy for command and that by commanding he had abhorred Peru, and that now that he had them inside Chile they would be forced to do whatever he wanted to do to them".

Good reasons, bad timing. After a very brief process instructed by the Constable Gómez de Almagro, they were executed together with Chinchilla, Don Martín de Solier, nobleman of Córdoba and alderman of the town council, Antonio de Pastrana, Chinchilla's procurator and father-in-law, and two more conspirators. Pedro Sancho de la Hoz, a good friend of the clumsy Chinchilla, in whose company he had come from Peru, narrowly escaped this time. As a lesson to any other impatient who might want to rebel, or even desert after the disaster of the gold and the brigantine, the corpses of the unfortunates floated in the wind on the gallows for a long time, at the top of the Santa Lucia, reinforcing the bad reputation of the Peñon del Dolor (Rock of Sorrow).

The destruction of Santiago

After this second attempt to kill him, Valdivia had no alternative but to proceed in the resolute manner he did. But although he strengthened his authority on the internal front, on the external front the situation of the Spaniards offered the indigenous leaders an unbeatable opportunity to try to expel them from their land or to exterminate them definitively. The murders of Spaniards must have seemed to the caciques evidence that the assault of Aconcagua had severely affected the enemy morale, to the point that they were killing each other. In contrast, the news of Trajalongo's victory spread among the tribes in all the valleys near Santiago, instilling renewed enthusiasm among the Indians.

To organize them, Michimalonco called a meeting, attended by hundreds of Indians from the Aconcagua, Mapocho and Cachapoal valleys. There, they decided on a total rebellion, which would begin by hiding all remaining food, in order to further pressure the Castilians and the thousand Peruvian yanaconas who served them. Thus, "they will perish and will not remain in the land, and if they wanted to persevere, they would be killed on the one hand by hunger and on the other by war". In addition, they hoped that necessity would force the Spaniards to split up, leaving the settlement unprotected and far from the village to get supplies.

Faced with the lack of food and the threat of imminent insurrection, Pedro de Valdivia ordered the capture of Indian chiefs in the vicinity of Santiago. With evident impatience, he told the seven caciques that he managed to capture, "that they should immediately give instructions that either all the Indians would come in peace, or that they would all join together to make war, because he wanted to put an end to it once and for all, with good or bad". He also demanded that they order them to bring "provisions" to the city, and he kept them until that happened. But of course there was no attack nor did the food arrive; they expected the Spaniards to divide.

Time was passing in favor of the Indians. Valdivia knew then that there were two concentrations of Indians of war, one of 5000 lances in the valley of the Aconcagua headed by Michimalonco and his brother Trajalongo, and another to the south in the valley of the Cachapoal river, land of the promaucae, who had never surrendered to the Spaniards.

He then decided to leave with ninety soldiers, "to hit the largest" of these joints, that of the Cachapoal, "so that by breaking those, the others would not have so much strength". There he also hoped to resupply himself with provisions, since he was aware that this land "was fertile and abundant in corn". He must have thought that with the Mapocho chiefs as hostages, he was inhibiting an attack by the natives of that valley. He had already defeated those of Aconcagua in his own fort, and he must have estimated that he could resist them with a not very large contingent, well protected in the town. However, it is somewhat difficult to understand this reckless decision of Valdivia, who was always sensible in his war plans: in Santiago he left only fifty infantrymen and horsemen, a third of the total, divided into 32 horsemen and 18 infantrymen, in charge of Alonso de Monroy. To these must be added a contingent of 200 yanaconas.

With his reduced garrison, Lieutenant Monroy prepared himself as best he could to withstand the announced onslaught. The Yanaconas informed him that the Indians were approaching divided into four fronts to attack the city from each side, and he then divided his forces into four squadrons, one headed by himself and the others under the command of captains Francisco de Villagrán, Francisco de Aguirre, and Juan Jufré. He ordered his men to sleep in combat clothes and with their weapons in sight. He also ordered them to secure the imprisoned caciques, and to guard the perimeter of the city day and night.

Meanwhile, Michimalonco had already stealthily installed his forces very close to the town. His forces numbered up to twenty thousand lances if we follow Pedro Mariño de Lobeira's data, although the Jesuit Diego de Rosales, who wrote a century after the events, reduces it to six thousand (it should be mentioned that Lobeira is known for frequently exaggerating the size of the Indian armies that confronted the Spaniards). On Sunday, September 11, 1541, three hours before dawn, the thunderous roar of war of the Indian armies of Aconcagua and Mapocho initiated the assault. They came armed with a most suitable weapon: fire, "which they brought hidden in pots, and as the houses were made of wood and straw and the fences of the lots of reeds, the city burned very brightly on all four sides".

At the alert of the sentries, the cavalry squads had rushed out to try to lance the Indians in the twilight, who were inflaming the hamlet from their parapets behind the plots of land. Although the formidable impetus of the cavalry managed to thwart them, they were able to recover quickly, protected by the arrows. Michimalonco planned his attack well: the arquebusiers, one of the tactical advantages of the Spaniards, could do little in the dark, and at dawn the fire dominated the whole village.

Daylight and flames showed the Indian leader that the city was already sufficiently vulnerable and he sent his assault squads to take it. From the rocks on the south bank of the Mapocho, one of those platoons advanced resolutely towards the enclosure from where the shouts of Quilicanta and the imprisoned caciques could be heard above the din of the battle. Monroy sent a score of soldiers to block their way.

The chronicler Jerónimo de Vivar says that the hostages were in a room inside the Valdivia lot on the north side of the plaza, put in stocks, and that the rescue squad wanted to enter through the back patio, probably near the current corner of Puente and Santo Domingo streets. The defenders managed to contain them, but more and more refreshing Indians were arriving, "which filled the patio, which was large".

Inés Suárez, Valdivia's mistress and servant, was in another room of the same house, observing with growing anxiety the indigenous advance, while she healed the wounded. She realized that if the rescue took place, the increased morale of the natives would make their victory more likely. Disturbed, she took a sword and went to the prisoners' room demanding the guards Francisco de Rubio and Hernando de la Torre, "to kill the caciques before they were rescued from their own. And Hernando de la Torre said to him, more in terror than with the strength to cut off heads: "Madam, how can I kill them?

"This way!", and she herself beheaded them.

The woman immediately went out into the courtyard where the combat was taking place, and brandishing her bloody sword in one hand and showing the head of an Indian in the other, she shouted angrily: "Away, auncaes, I have already killed your lords and chiefs.... And heard by them, seeing that their work was in vain, they turned their backs and fled those who were fighting the house".

All the subsequent information of the Spaniards tells that after the killing of the caciques, the course of the battle turned in their favor. For example, Valdivia gave the following reasons for giving Inés an encomienda in a document of 1544: "Because you made them kill the caciques by putting your hands on them, which caused most of the Indians to leave and stop fighting when they saw their lords dead, it is certain that if they did not die and let go, there would be no Spaniard left alive in the whole of the aforementioned city. And after the caciques were dead, you went out to encourage the Christians who were fighting, healing the wounded and encouraging the healthy". It is hard to believe, however, that a brave army of eight thousand Indians that was winning a fight so crucial for its destiny, had lost heart until it was defeated by that circumstance. Decisive or not, it seems that the brutal act of Suarez and the leadership that he then assumed, improved the Spanish morale, at the time that the Indians' impetus was decaying. And at the end of the afternoon, a violent cavalry charge led by Francisco de Aguirre sealed the victory of the first Santiagoaguinos, whose lance ended with "as much wood as blood, and with his hand so closed in it, that when he wanted to open it he could not, nor could any other of those who tried to open it, and thus it was the last remedy to saw the shaft on both sides, leaving the hand stuck in the hilt without being able to take it off until it was opened with unctions, after twenty-four hours".

But with the victory also came complete ruin. Valdivia describes the calamitous state in which the colony was left: "They killed twenty-three horses and four Christians, and burned the whole city, and the food, and the clothes, and all the property we had, so that we were left with nothing but the rags we had for the war and the weapons we had on our backs". In order to feed a thousand people, among Spaniards and Yanaconas, only "two pork and a piglet, and a cock and a chicken, and even two lunches of wheat" were saved, that is to say, what fits in two hands together and hollowed out. Mariño de Lobera adds, "and his calamity was so great that whoever found wild vegetables, locusts, mice, and such vermin, it seemed to him that he had a banquet".

The governor, skilled with the pen as with the sword, summarized these miseries in the following sentence of a letter addressed to the King: "The labors of war, most invincible Caesar, men can bear them. For it is a soldier's honor to die fighting. But those of hunger concurring with them, to suffer them, must be more than men".

For much less the hosts of Almagro had returned. The Valdivians, on the other hand, determined to remain in the untamed land of Chile, faced poverty with remarkable tenacity. Inés Suárez, who had saved the treasure of the three pigs and two chickens, took charge of their reproduction. A good seamstress, she also darned the soldiers' rags and made garments out of dog and other animal hides. The handful of wheat was set aside for sowing, and once it was harvested, they sowed it twice more without consuming any. In the meantime, they fed on roots and the hunting of vermin and birds.

During the day they plowed and sowed with weapons. At night, half of them guarded the city and the crops. They rebuilt the houses, now with adobe, and built a defensive wall, of the same material, about three meters high, around the square, some historians and others say that with its center it covered a perimeter of nine blocks. There they stored the provisions that they were able to collect, and they took refuge "in having shout of Indians", while those on horseback went out "to cross the field and fight with the Indians and defend our fields".

They sent Alonso de Monroy with five other soldiers to ask for help in Peru. And so that there they would see the splendid prosperity of this country and would be encouraged to come, the astute Valdivia devised a singular marketing tactic: he melted down all the gold he could gather and made for the travelers glasses, hilt and harnesses for the swords, and stirrups.

They left Santiago in January 1542, but the Diaguita Indians of the Copiapó valley killed four of them and the survivors, Monroy and Pedro de Miranda, did not manage to escape captivity until three months later. It was not until September 1543, two years after the fire of Santiago, that a ship arrived in the bay of Valparaíso with the longed-for relief.

Valdivia was outside Santiago when a Yanacona told him that he had seen two Christians coming from the coast to the city. He galloped back, and when he saw the pilot of the ship and his companion, the strong conqueror remained mute, looking at them, and after a while he burst into tears. "His eyes were filled with water", says the witness Vivar, and he adds that in silence he went to his room, "and kneeling on the ground and raising his hands to heaven, he spoke and gave many thanks to Our Lord God who in such great need had been good enough to remember him and his Spaniards". Shortly after, in December, the tireless Monroy entered the Mapocho valley, at the head of a column of seventy horsemen.

Devout Catholics, the conquering host entrusted themselves to a small polychrome wooden figure of the Virgin, which Valdivia had brought from Spain and accompanied him everywhere, attached to a ring on his saddle. If his lieutenant managed to return with relief, the Governor had promised to erect a hermitage to honor her. Eventually the hermitage became the church of San Francisco in La Alameda, the oldest building in Santiago. And there it still stands, the tiny image of Nuestra Señora del Socorro, presiding over the main altar. Long forgotten by the people of Santiago, it is the only remaining vestige of Chile's embryonic age.

Once the colony was restored, Valdivia continued with his plan of conquest. He encouraged the return of the natives to their fields and won as an ally his then enemy Michimalonco and his acolytes, who no longer harassed the Santiaguinos, even establishing a kind of trade between the indigenous and Spanish communities.

Expansion of the colony

The reinforcement brought by Monroy increased the Spanish contingent to two hundred soldiers, and the goods from the ship Santiaguillo temporarily put an end to the strait in Santiago. Valdivia would have wanted to leave immediately to conquer the southern territories, as he had well-founded fears that other conquerors with royal provisions would come through the Strait of Magellan. Already in 1540, when his expedition was approaching the Mapocho valley, the Indians told of having sighted a ship on the coasts of Chile. It was that of Alonso de Camargo, survivor of a failed expedition that, with royal authorization, had entered the Strait of Magellan from Spain.

The fatigue and dangers faced by Monroy and Miranda in their adventure through the desert revealed the urgency of assigning some soldiers to establish an intermediate port between the bay of Valparaíso and Callao, and an overland stopover to improve the strenuous and risky route that communicated the still precarious Chilean colony. For this purpose, in 1544 he commissioned the German captain Juan Bohón, in the company of about thirty men, to found the second city of the territory. In the valley that the natives called Coquimbo, La Serena was established, named after the homeland of the conquering chief. The place was chosen for its fertility and its proximity to the gold mines of Andacollo, only six leagues inland, which at that time had already been exploited by the local Indians to pay tribute to the Inca.

In the winter of that year, another ship arrived in Valparaíso, the San Pedro, sent by Vaca de Castro, governor of Peru at the time, and piloted by Juan Bautista Pastene, "a Genoese, a very practical man in altitude (skilled in measuring latitude) and things related to navigation". In September, he granted the experienced Italian navigator the pretentious title of Lieutenant General of the South Sea so that with the two small ships, the San Pedro and the Santiaguillo, he would recognize the southern coasts of Chile up to the Strait, and take possession of all that territory "for the emperor Don Carlos, King of Spain and in his name by the governor Pedro de Valdivia". The "armada" only reached a bay that they called San Pedro, like the captain ship, more or less at the latitude of the present city of Osorno. On their return they discovered and took possession of the bay of Valdivia (Anilebu), possibly the mouth of the Cautín river, the Biobío and the bay of Penco. The fertility of the sighted lands, the abundant indigenous population, and the size of the riverbeds that made the Mapocho pale, redoubled Valdivia's anxiety to leave for the conquest of the south.

But their forces were still insufficient to launch themselves into these densely populated regions and make effective the possession proclaimed by their explorers. It was therefore indispensable to bring more soldiers, although, as we already know, "without gold it was impossible to bring a man". In the summer of 1545, he dedicated great efforts to extract it from the Marga Marga and Quillota laundries, and in spite of the fact that a good part of the gold extracted did not belong to Valdivia, he managed to get the portion that corresponded to his subordinates. By hook or by crook: It is said that the devoted Governor took advantage of the masses to "preach" the convenience of giving him the gold to send for new reinforcement and help, "and whoever did not lend it to him should know that he would get it from him. And his skin with it!

He finally obtained around twenty-five thousand pesos that he gave to Monroy, together with powers of attorney that empowered him to contract debts in Valdivia's name, so that he could travel again to Peru, now in the company of Pastene in the San Pedro. One by land and the other by sea would bring men, horses and merchandise.

Yet another concern was on Valdivia's mind: he was still being given the title of Lieutenant Governor of the province of Chile. That is what Governor Vaca de Castro called him in a document that Monroy had brought back from Peru, and also in the authorizations that Pastene brought. Although Valdivia concealed these documents and continued to call himself Governor, it was now indispensable for him to obtain a confirmation of his position by the King, and for this purpose he decided to send with Monroy and Pastene a third emissary, who, passing through Peru, was to continue on to Spain. In a notable mistake as it will be seen later, he chose for this task Antonio de Ulloa, who had gained the confidence of the Governor in spite of being one of the accomplices of Pedro Sancho de la Hoz in that assassination attempt in Atacama.

This delegate brought letters from Valdivia that gave a detailed account to the King of his efforts in this conquest and the characteristics of the territory. In one of them, he draws an enthusiastic picture of Chile to Emperor Charles V.

Regarding this generous description, it used to be said with sarcasm in Santiago, "that the heating of this city in the old winters, consisted in reading the letter of Don Pedro de Valdivia, where he says that in Chile it is never cold".

The purpose of that pamphlet letter was that the monarch would name him Governor of the magnificent kingdom that he was conquering as a faithful vassal. And to tempt the peninsulars to come to the conquest and settlement of the immense extensions between Santiago and the Strait that Valdivia needed to occupy. Or perhaps also, five years after his arrival, the Spanish chief had Chile so deep in his veins that - like a son - he was incapable of seeing a defect in it.

Meanwhile, his soldiers in Santiago insisted on going south. The indigenous population of central Chile decreased considerably, due to war casualties and because many fled to avoid serving. With insufficient Indians to distribute in encomienda among the 170 conquistadors waiting in the capital city, the conquest of Chile came to a halt.

The conquest of America was based on the encomienda, which consisted of a simple but extraordinarily effective legal artifice: The Pope, with his authority, had ruled that both the territory of the Indies and its natural inhabitants were the property of the King of Spain. The Indians, who for dozens of millennia had inhabited America, now suddenly and by decree occupied the soil of the Hispanic Empire, and therefore had to pay taxes. On the other hand, the conquest expeditions obtained little or no financing from the crown, so that to compensate them, the good monarch, through his representatives in the Indies, ceded or entrusted a certain number of Indians and their corresponding tribute to the officers and soldiers who had shown some merit in the conquest. But of course the Indians had no money with which to pay tribute, so this payment was replaced by work for the encomenderos, who forced them to extract gold from mines and laundries. Once the conquistador had collected enough gold, it was common for him to return to Spain to enjoy his fortune. The King, for his part, thus expanded his empire.

In January 1544, as soon as the first reinforcement of Monroy arrived, Valdivia had assigned the first encomiendas, but the reduced indigenous population was only enough for sixty of the two hundred neighbors. But since the number of Indians that inhabited the already conquered area was not well known, he assigned to those few encomenderos quantities that could not be completed. Even in the distribution of the natives of the city of La Serena, "so that the people that I sent would be willingly, said the Governor, I deposited Indians that were never born". Informed of the abundance of inhabitants to the south of the Itata River, the soldiers that had been left without distribution in Santiago urged to leave as soon as possible to found a city there and to submit the Indians to the profitable regime of encomiendas.

"And since Valdivia was so anxious to continue the conquest", he decided not to wait for the reinforcement of Monroy and Pastene, which could take more than a year, and left for southern Chile in January 1546 with an expedition of sixty soldiers. "He walked lightly," says Vivar, "until he passed the mighty Itata River, the last of what he and his companions had conquered, and from there on no Spaniard had passed. They were very happy to see the fertility of the land, its beauty and abundance and, above all, the great multitude of people that covered the valleys.

Being in a lagoon five leagues to the south of the river (perhaps the Avendaño lagoon in what today is Quillón), he attacked a reduced group of natives that was disarmed easily. By the cacique of that lagoon Valdivia knew that all the natives of the region were making great meeting to face the Spaniards, and he sent them to say with the Indian chief accompanied by a Yanacona translator, that he came of peace, but if they wanted to fight he was waiting for them.

Although without words, the answer was quite clear: they returned the unfortunate Yanacona, well beaten, and walked for two more days until they reached Quilacura, "which is thirteen leagues from the seaport (Penco Bay). They walked for two more days until they reached the place of Quilacura, "which is thirteen leagues from the seaport (Penco Bay)". While they were setting up camp under the full moon, they suddenly felt "so much shouting and thundering that it was enough to terrify half the world". It was the Araucanians, attacking with a fury never seen before by the Spaniards. The battle lasted most of the night, "being the squadron closed with Indians as strong as if they were Tudescos", that is to say, as German soldiers, the bravest that the Europeans knew until then. And finally the advantage of the horses and arquebuses managed to break the choke and saved the Castilians once again. The cacique Malloquete and some two hundred Indians died, and the exhausted Spaniards counted twelve badly wounded soldiers and two dead horses.

Once the Indians were dispersed, Valdivia decided to leave the area immediately. He went to the valley of the Andalién River, where they were able to rest and heal the wounded. The next day they captured some natives, and he learned from them that at dawn the following day a much larger army would fall upon the weakened conquistadors, "because if at night they did not hit a few, they wanted to attack during the day". Now the Spaniards were lost. Valdivia gathered his main captains in a war council that did not delay in deciding to retreat. As soon as night fell, they left the camp fires lit to make the Indians believe that they were still there, and they returned to Santiago in haste but stealthily along the coast, a different route to the one taken on the way, to mislead the enemy even more. The Arauco War was inaugurated with the Spanish soldiers and the fierce Araucanians.

However, it was not the Spanish retreat that was the most relevant circumstance of that first day in Araucanian land, but an apparently inconsequential event. Among the captured Araucanians, a young boy of about twelve years of age caught Valdivia's attention. Fascinated by his intelligence and vivacity, he decided to make him his page and stable boy. The little boy's name was Leftrarú, and he was of noble lineage, son of the cacique Curiñancu. Years later, the boy who became a Yanacona would enter history as a paradigm of his still untamed race, the greatest toqui: Lautaro.

The mind of the conqueror of Chile stayed in the south. With its copious indigenous population, the formidable Bio-Bio and the stupendous Penco Bay, "the best port in the Indies", he said. He would return as soon as Monroy's reinforcement arrived, which was essential to subdue the hardened owner of that land. Not only to found a city and distribute encomiendas, but to establish himself there, to push the conquest to the Strait of Magellan, his eternal obsession.

But nothing was known about Monroy and Pastene. They had left La Serena at the end of 1545, and the sea voyage to Callao could take a little more than a month, so they should have sent yanaconas long ago giving an account of their progress, according to the chief's instructions. Fearing misfortune, in August 1546, after almost a year without news, he decided to send a new delegate. He asked for another gold loan from the colonists, "voluntary" of course, gathering seventy thousand pesos, and with duplicates of the correspondence to the King he sent Juan de Avalos. Another year went by during which, although devoured by impatience, he remained optimistic: he increased the sowings to receive the reinforcements that he was confident would arrive at any moment.

He waited in vain. Finally, on December 1, 1547, twenty-six months after his departure, Pastene arrived. But he came with nothing. Without Monroy, without soldiers, without merchandise, and without a peso of gold, in a ship that he had to borrow.

In the laundries of Quillota he located the Governor to explain the reasons for such a complete failure. The loyal Alonso de Monroy had died of an infectious disease shortly after arriving in Callao. Antonio de Ulloa had betrayed him. He opened the letters he was to take to the King and read them "in front of many other soldiers and, scoffing at them, tore them up". And he joined the cause of the rebellion, whose representatives had confiscated the gold and the brig San Pedro. Gonzalo Pizarro, who had defeated and killed Viceroy Núñez de Vela in the battle of Añaquito, led a general uprising of the conquerors of Peru against the Crown. The main cause: under the influence of the priest Bartolomé de las Casas in Spain, new ordinances had been dictated that corrected the encomienda regime in favor of the Indians, and that in practice almost suppressed it. Appalled by what they considered an unacceptable dispossession, the encomenderos of that country hailed Pizarro as their leader and declared themselves in rebellion. The Crown, in response, had sent the clergyman Pedro de la Gasca to pacify the region with the broadest powers, who at the time was already in Panama, from where he sent conciliatory messages and asked for help from all the colonies.

Surely Valdivia was burning with rage and frustration at the swarm of difficulties: The death of the most loyal of his collaborators, the betrayal of Ulloa, and the loss of the letters to the King. The gold was seized, the conquest paralyzed for lack of soldiers, and his government endangered by political uncertainty. However, almost together with Pastene, Diego de Maldonado arrived by land, informing that Gonzalo Pizarro, determined and ambitious, was preparing his army in Cuzco to face the King's envoy. It was for Valdivia, undoubtedly, the great opportunity to revert the unfortunate state of his project: To go to Peru and to help the plenipotentiary representative of the King to recover that country. If he collaborated with La Gasca, who as an ecclesiastic had no military experience, the latter would have to compensate him. Perhaps by appointing him Governor at last. He would bring enough gold to provide himself with horses and equipment for the combats, to acquire ships and, by the way, he himself would enlist the troops he needed for the conquest of southern Chile. He kept his determination a secret.

Because there was a drawback. With the sending of so many delegates, the gold in the kingdom's treasury and Valdivia's own was almost exhausted. By requesting a third "voluntary" loan from the colonists, on the other hand, he risked a mutiny. So he hatched a stratagem in collusion with Francisco de Villagra and Geronimo de Alderete. He announced that now these two captains would go for reinforcement to Peru, but that for the first and only time he authorized anyone to leave the country taking with them the gold collected, to demonstrate there that this land was not so miserable. At least fifteen Spaniards decided to accept the generous offer, eager to leave the poor and dangerous colony or else go to stock up on goods to return and sell them.

By mid-December everything was ready for the voyage from Valparaíso. The fortunate emigrants' belongings and baggage were duly inventoried on board the ship brought by Pastene. But before leaving, Valdivia offered a party on land to bid farewell to his comrades, who had faced so many hardships with him. While the party was in full swing, the Governor of Chile, like the most dastardly of rascals, managed to stealthily board a boat that his accomplices had prepared. He quickly boarded the ship and sailed north. Immense was the surprise and then the fury at the outrage of the esteemed chief, who was fleeing with all his goods. The worst insults of the time came and went from the beach as the ship sailed away on the horizon.

Pedro de Urdemalas, as he was nicknamed by the victims of the trap, believed that his excuse was admissible. At least for the official instances, since he himself had been taken the gold, but for a cause against the monarch. He declared on the ship before the notary Juan de Cardenas, "that he had entered the ship because it suited the service of His Majesty, and that if he had not made it known until then, it was so as not to be hindered. He also ordered Francisco de Villagra, already named interim governor, to take the part that belonged to him of the proceeds of the laundries and to pay the confiscated amounts.

Naturally, none of this reassured the dispossessed. Headed by Juan Romero, they conceived to transfer the government to the one who corresponded by royal decree, Pero Sanchez de la Hoz. He was at the time in the jail of Talagante, and although for the first time since his association with Valdivia he was not plotting anything at all, he received Juan Romero and accepted the offer of those harmed by the Governor, although, fearful, he wanted someone else to represent him. Romero urged him to write a letter declaring that his titles were sufficient to take over the government in the name of the King, and that he would do so as long as he was given sufficient support. He immediately delivered the letter to Hernan Rodriguez de Monroy, who besides being a bitter enemy of Valdivia, was reputed to be of resolute spirit. And he was in fact, or rather reckless, because he left to meet with Villagra, and exhibiting the declaration of Sanchez de la Hoz requested his endorsement.

Francisco de Villagra, who was also determined, drastically and unceremoniously cut off the sedition. He had de La Hoz arrested, who upon recognizing the authorship of the letter of representation that Monroy had, was decapitated without even confessing, while Juan Romero was hanged. With this brief process and his sentence, quite irregular for the rest, the conspiracies on the authority of Valdivia were diluted. But it was already too much. The disgruntled believed they had enough wealth to be sanctioned by a higher instance, and they managed to send their serious accusations to Peru.

Valdivia sailed against time in the company of Geronimo de Alderete and a few others. Aware that his future was at stake, he tried to join La Gasca's forces before the crucial confrontation with Pizarro's host. After making a short stopover in La Serena and in the bay of Iquique, he found out in the port of Ilo that the King's envoy, having already passed through Lima, was with his army in Jauja, and was on his way to Cuzco for the great battle with the rebels. When disembarking in Callao and moving to Lima he writes to the royalist chief begging him to delay a day in each detention, that he was marching in all haste to catch up with him. In the capital he acquired horses and war equipment, and as he had good money, he supplied many other Peruvian soldiers who were close to the King, who had not been able to accompany La Gasca for lack of arms and horses. He continued in frantic pursuit of the Viceroy, now with his detachment. "He walked with such haste, says Vivar, that he did in one day what the President did in three". Finally on February 24, 1548 he reached him in Andahuaylas, about 50 km from Cuzco.

The reception of Pedro de la Gasca was cordial. The soldiers of Peru had informed the clergyman of the strategist skills of the Extremaduran, who had been a legend since the Battle of Las Salinas. To the disappointment of the man who intended to be Governor of Chile, however, La Gasca called him only Captain Valdivia. But he was not discouraged, on the contrary. Appointed field master together with the also prestigious marshal Alonso de Alvarado, he immediately deployed his best efforts and all his tactical intelligence preparing the King's militia to surprise and overwhelm Gonzalo Pizarro's troops.

It was not easy. The revolutionaries had won a great victory in the bloody Battle of Huarina, weeks before, and their field commander was Marshal Francisco de Carvajal, the mythical Demon of the Andes, of indisputable military talent and as courageous as he was violent and merciless. But the arrival of the equally famous Pedro de Valdivia inflamed the morale of the royalists and the Viceroy priest had done his part, sending messages full of kindness and offering pardon and amnesty to the rebel troops and their main captains. More decisively, and by virtue of his broad powers, La Gasca proposed to negotiate the application of the new ordinances on the encomiendas de indios, thus cracking the livelihood of the revolution.

In the light of the facts it seems that, to minimize the spilling of Spanish blood, those of the King aimed at the center of the morale of the adversary with the following strategy: While on the one hand the sagacious priest showed with his messages all the understanding and mercy of His Majesty, on the other hand Valdivia and Alvarado had to show the insurmountable power of the Empire. After a notable logistical effort and forced march, the two colonels managed to cross with the royal army the abrupt drawer of the Apurimac River, and after some minor skirmishes, to settle it at night behind the steep hills that surrounded Pizarro's camp, in the valley of Xaquixahuana, four leagues from Cuzco.

Settled on the top of a hill, says Vivar, as soon as dawn broke on April 9, 1548, the Chilean ordered the best artillerymen to fire four cannon shots at the tent that seemed to be the main one, Pizarro's. The projectiles hit, shattering a lieutenant of the rebel leader and wounding another pair. The projectiles hit, tearing apart one of the rebel leader's lieutenants and wounding a couple of others. But casualties were the least important thing. Valdivia was looking for the psychological blow. Overwhelm the insurgents' spirits when they saw themselves at dawn surrounded by the King's army to which they had once sworn loyalty, which also occupied in perfect order and distribution the strategic positions of the valley. It worked out for him. Francisco de Carvajal, the commander of Pizarro's forces, who had fought with Valdivia in Italy but was unaware that he was in Peru, recognized the hand:

-Valdivia is in the ground and rules the royal camp... Or the devil! Or the devil!" he was heard to curse. All was done. Most of the rebel soldiers, impressed by the arrangement of the squadrons of the royal front, and lacking the mettle to fight the powerful imperial forces of their beloved Spain, opted to change sides after a short scuffle, and accept the amnesty offered to them.

-Ah... Lord Governor, His Majesty owes you much!" said Pedro de la Gasca, full of satisfaction, when Valdivia showed up, taking the terrible Carvajal prisoner. He had succeeded. He was Governor of Chile for the King.

"It fell to give the governorship to him before to another, said La Gasca, because of what he served H.M. in this journey, and for the news that he has of Chile, and for what he has worked in the discovery of that land". Valdivia then resumed with vigor the work for the conquest of Chile. He was able to enlist in Cuzco eighty soldiers, he sent them with a captain to gather provisions for the crossing of the Despoblado at the entrance of Atacama, and to wait there for the rest of the columns. He sent captains to make people to the east, in the Province of Charcas, and to the south, in Arequipa. He left immediately to Los Reyes where he bought ships, horses, provisions and supplies, setting sail after a month with three ships to the south. He disembarked near Arequipa to join the expedition and set it on its way to Atacama.

But such was his eagerness to add all possible recruits to subdue the south of the country, that he did not measure consequences. He contravened express instructions of La Gasca in order not to enlist some notorious slate men condemned to galleys for treason to the King, nor to take Peruvian Indians for the support of the desert crossing and for the service in Chile. These were valuable to La Gasca, not so concerned with abuses, but with his obligation to reward with encomiendas the impatient Spaniards who had fought for the King's side against Pizarro. In Callao, Valdivia prevented the royal officers from boarding their ships, who intended to bring down the embarked Indians. And to complete the picture of transgressions, the Governor recruited for Chile some ill-bred soldiers who "came stealing the land and the natives and even made very bad treatment of the neighbors of Arequipa".

It did not take long for this information to reach Viceroy La Gasca, who was perhaps able to let it pass, because of the credit obtained by Valdivia in Xaquixahuana, and "because it was convenient to unload these kingdoms of people". But also at that time the President learned of the execution in Chile of Pedro Sancho de la Hoz. He was told that Valdivia had ordered it and that the dead man was the bearer of a royal provision for the government of Chile. It was too much. If it were true, La Gasca was in a very uncomfortable position; he himself tells clearly the predicament he could be in: "If it were true that he had killed Pedro Sancho having this provision of His Majesty for the government of that province, instead of punishing him for having killed the governor of that province, I have given him the same governorship". Alarmed, the President sent General Pedro de Hinojosa, a man of his entire confidence, to catch up with Valdivia and to find out with the greatest caution about his responsibilities in those events, among the soldiers of the camp that had already been in Chile. The delegate was to be informed, "with all the secrecy that he could, of the things of Chile that I had been told, and if it were true, he would try to make the people return, so that some of those that were left over in this land would be emptied".

Valdivia was with his men near Tacna in August 1548 when Hinojosa showed up. The Viceroy's envoy disguised his intentions in order to have time to inquire, telling him that he was there only because of the matter of the Indians and the misdeeds of his recruits, which were insufficient to take action against Valdivia beyond a reprimand. After a couple of days of inquiries in the camp however, La Gasca's delegate was at least able to confirm that De la Hoz had been executed in Santiago. He immediately filled out a provision that he carried signed in blank by the Viceroy, and burst one morning into Valdivia's tent with twelve arquebusiers aiming at the Governor with the fuses of their guns lit. He ordered the Chilean to accompany him to Lima to give an account of his actions before the President. Certainly the agitation spread among the hundred or so turbulent men of war that accompanied Valdivia and, once the surprise was over, they were ready to act at the first gesture of their chief. Hinojosa on his part had only those twelve arquebusiers. But he had the Viceroy's signature. Valdivia held back, realizing that he had to return obediently "so as not to lose what had been served"; his project depended on it.

Seeing him back in Lima was a relief for Pedro de la Gasca, "who knew and appreciated his services and whose intelligence could not be hidden from him". He told him that "he was an example so that all of His Majesty's subjects would know how to obey in that situation and time so glazed and a land of bustles. Moreover, he expressed his confidence that "what had been said about him were falsehoods and invidiousness". He treated him with special deference, allowing him to roam free in the capital of the Viceroyalty while he carried out the investigation.

But it was not just envy. Like any ruler, some hated him. They felt mistreated, miserably deprived by Pedro de Urdemalas, whom they considered a tyrant. The following incident gives a clear account of this: While La Gasca was inquiring about what had happened in Chile, in October 1548 a frigate arrived in Callao with some soldiers from Chile who came to complain about Valdivia personally to the Viceroy, "and so that he would not provide him as governor because they would not receive him in the land". One of them, undoubtedly one of those defrauded with the gold, could not contain his fury when he saw Valdivia talking to La Gasca in the street: "Your lordship must not know who this man is with whom you are talking? Well, you should know that he is a great thief and evildoer, who used with us the greatest cruelty that a Christian has ever used in the world!", and continued, out of his mind, insulting Valdivia. Valdivia again kept his cool, although, as is to be expected, it cost him.

La Gasca seemed inclined to allow his departure to Chile, so Valdivia's enemies, determined to prevent him, hastily drafted a messy dossier containing 57 accusations, and sent it to him. The litany of denunciations was well summarized by Barros Arana: 1) Disobedience to the authority of the King's delegates; 2) Tyranny and cruelty to his subordinates; 3) Insatiable greed; 4) Irreligiousness and relaxed customs with public scandal.

The indictment, however, had a serious defect: it was presented without a signature. A man of law, La Gasca easily realized the ruse: "It seemed to me," wrote the Viceroy, "that they were given to me in such disguise that one could suspect that those who had been in giving them wanted to be witnesses, and for this reason I took information from those who had been informers in them". That is to say, he was concerned to establish well who had written the document, and as all the opponents of Valdivia who came on the frigate had participated in it, none could testify as a witness. On the other hand, in that ship also came Pedro de Villagra together with other neighbors related to Valdivia, with letters from the Cabildo of Santiago that advocated in his favor and requested the Viceroy to appoint him Governor. In this way, the latter, but those loyal to the governor who had accompanied him on his trip to Peru, were almost the only ones who knew the facts of Chile and were qualified to testify.

For his part, summoned by La Gasca on October 30, 1548, Valdivia prepared a long written defense. According to Barros Arana, the accused defended himself "with the confidence and integrity of one who believes he can completely justify his conduct". Finally the President was able to establish, regarding his main concern, that the royal provision of Sancho de la Hoz empowered him only to conquer and govern the territories south of the Strait of Magellan (at that time it was believed that after the Strait a continent continued southward). Regarding the other accusations, he was able to verify that "they were false, or fell on minor faults".

In the sentence of November 19, 1548, Valdivia was absolved and authorized to return to Chile as Governor, but with some conditions. Among others, that he would not retaliate against his adversaries; that within six months of his arrival in Chile, he would marry or send his mistress Inés Suárez to Peru or Spain, and that he would readjudicate the Indian encomiendas assigned to her; and that he would return the funds taken from private individuals; "and that what he has taken and borrowed from the treasury and hacienda of S.M. would be returned to her, and that from now on in no way would he take from the aforementioned treasury". Relieved, Valdivia willingly accepted all that was imposed on him, declaring that "he would comply with it and had planned to comply with it, even if he was not ordered to do so".

The intensity of those days also demanded a price. When he was returning through Arequipa, near Christmas of that year, "I got sick, he himself said, from the fatigue and past labors, which put me at the end of my life". As soon as he could stand on his feet, however, the conqueror of Chile went on: "Within eight days and after the holidays, not well convalesced, I left for the valley of Tacana, from where I had left, and passed eight leagues ahead to the port of Arica".

He returned to Chile with 200 soldiers in January 1549 and when he arrived at La Serena, the difficulties continued. He found the city destroyed and Juan Bohón dead with 30 other Spaniards at the hands of the Huasco Indians. He left instructions to his captains to rebuild it and punish the Indians, and then continued by sea to Valparaíso arriving in April 1549.

Once in Santiago, things improved. He was received with true joy by the colonists, "as a friend who has come after a long absence". He confirmed Francisco de Villagra as Lieutenant Governor because, he told him, "you have given me a good account and reason for what I left you in charge of on behalf of His Majesty, as is the custom and custom of gentlemen of your profession and quality".

As he had lost men in the slaughter of La Serena, soon after he gathered thirty thousand pesos of gold and sent Villagra in one of the new ships to Peru. He was to enlist as many soldiers as he could from among the many that there, Valdivia knew, did not feel well rewarded with commendations for their services to the King in the civil war. He ordered him to return by land through the eastern side of the Andes Mountains, so that before crossing to the west he would leave some of those recruited there, in a city that he was to found in that territory, included in the government given by La Gasca.

He also sent Francisco de Aguirre to pacify the region of La Serena and the valleys of Huasco and Copiapó. Implacable, Aguirre rounded up and executed the rebel caciques, who had taken refuge in the Límarí Valley. "The Spaniards locked the Indians alive, both men and women, in straw huts and then set them on fire, making them die in groups of a hundred". Thus, all danger for the definitive re-foundation of La Serena was eliminated.

Then Pedro de Valdivia's gaze once again turned southward. At last he believed he was in a position to launch himself into the invasion and conquest of the Mapuche land, and whatever lay beyond.

Battle of Andalién and founding of Concepción

In January 1550 he began a new campaign to the south following the route he had taken three years earlier. Valdivia was again ill, but he was transported by the Yanaconas during the journey, taking from time to time his horse in charge of his page, Lautaro. On January 24 he arrived in the area of Penco and reached the Bío-Bío and crossed it, while groups of locals watched him, at night a mass of two thousand of them attacked him being repulsed, after this on February 22 he arrived at the Andalién river, where he camped.

In the night a squadron of Araucanians of approximately 10,000 individuals appeared giving great chivateo and kicking the land and a furious pitched battle of three hours, being seriously compromised for the Spaniards, where a charge on foot and lancers relieved the situation leaving a dead Spaniard and several wounded Yanaconas.

Valdivía entrenched himself in the place, which would give foundation to the city of Concepción. Nine days later the Araucanians appeared again in squads armed with axes, arrows and spears, plus maces and clubs and attacked the fort. The battle was decided in a single cavalry charge, in which 900 Indians were killed or badly wounded. In this battle he died executed by Jerónimo de Alderete, his ally Michimalonco.

To the survivors, Valdivia ordered them to amputate their right hand and nose as a sign of chastisement and released them to spread panic, this way of waging war would turn against the Spaniards themselves. This action also fostered the irrevocable hatred of an Indian he had as a page named Lautaro.

Valdivia remained all that year of 1550 in the fort of Penco, formally founding Santa María De La Inmaculada Concepción, which would be the third important town after La Serena and Santiago. It was there that the Real Audiencia would be installed.

Along with this, Valdivia established a relationship with María Encio, who came with him from Peru and was brought from Santiago and was the daughter of one of his moneylenders.

The village was a fort and was surrounded by semi-panhandle areas, besides being an area of heavy rains and long winters. Valdivia, due to his convalescence from his illness, could not advance any further, partly because of the advancing winter. In the future Concepción would be the main stronghold in the Arauco War.

Campaign of 1551 and the founding of Valdivia

In February 1551, Valdivia, accompanied by Pedro de Villagra, set out on a campaign from Concepción with 170 soldiers, and as always, an unrecorded number of Yanaconas, and reached the banks of the Cautín River and founded a fort near the tributary of the Damas River, leaving Pedro de Villagra in charge of its completion.

Within this campaign, he arrives to the valley of Guada(ba)lafquén (current city of Valdivia), and when noticing that this one was on the banks of the Ainilebu (river of the Ainil) that they had denominated seven years before in honor to him with the name of Valdivia, he decides to found a city that took by name his last name, it is thus how he founds the city of Valdivia, on February 9, 1552, on the banks of the river Valdivia, continuation of the river Calle-Calle. A witness describes the event:

In April 1552, he returned to the brand new fort with more than a year of operations and founded the fourth Spanish city called La Imperial, because he found in the indigenous hostages some eagles with two heads carved in wood, similar to the emblem of Charles V.

At some point during these events, his page Lautaro, escaped with his horse, a bridle and the bugle of Godínez's orders.

The foundation attracted many settlers due to the quality of the land, the abundance of timber and the privileged environment.

Further into the mountains and along the shores of a large lake, the town of Villarica was founded as a mining settlement due to the abundance of silver mines.

Making a deep advance to the south, he reaches the Reloncaví Sound and sees the island of Chiloé in the distance. This is the maximum point of Valdivia's advance towards the Strait of Magellan. This period was characterized by a strange calm in the Arauco war, in fact there were only local skirmishes. Valdivia believed for a moment that the region had been pacified due to the scolding given to the Indians in the battle of Andalíen.

In reality, the strange Mapuche apathy had other causes.

Valdivia instructed Geronimo de Alderete to travel to Spain, confirming his appointment as Governor by royal decree, deliver the Quinto Real and bring his wife Marina Ortiz de Gaete to Chile.

Campaign of 1553

In the summer of 1553, Valdivía founded the forts of Tucapel, Arauco and Purén and laid the foundations of the fifth and last city founded by the conquistador, Los Confines de Angol, near the aforementioned forts.

In 1553 some auxiliaries escaped from the Villarica mines and killed a Spaniard. The captains of the forts noticed the unmistakable symptoms of an indigenous uprising and gave the alarm to Concepción.

Valdivia sent Gabriel de Villagra to La Imperial and Diego de Maldonado with four men to Tucapel. On the way, Indians ambushed them, Maldonado survived and a fourth man was seriously wounded and was able to reach the fort of Arauco.

At the same time, Indians - under the command of Caupolicán - introduced covert weapons in the fort of Purén and, if it had not been for the warning of an Indian informer, plus some reinforcements arrived in charge of Gómez de Almagro from La Imperial, the Spaniards would have suffered a slaughter since hordes of Indians had gathered at the hour of the siesta to attack the fort. The Spaniards observed that the Indians attacked in a very different way from previous battles and organized as a copy of the Spanish tactics. Such was their effectiveness that they closed themselves in the fort, sending a warning to Valdivia about the extreme seriousness of the situation.

The Indians intercepted the emissary on his way out of the fort, under instructions from Lautaro, let him proceed and on his way back he had Valdivia's instructions to meet him in Tucapel, where he was captured by Lautaro's army.

Lautaro brought out his cunning by holding Gómez de Almagro in the fort of Purén, he had a well-trained Indian captured and as soon as the Spaniards questioned him he said that as soon as the Spaniards left the fort they would be heavily attacked.

Battle of Tucapel and death of Valdivia

Valdivia personally in command left with 50 more auxiliary horsemen from Concepción on December 23, 1553 in demand of the fort of Tucapel, where he believed the forces of Gómez de Alvarado were already gathered. He stayed overnight in Labolebo, on the banks of the Lebu River and early in the morning he sent an advance patrol with five soldiers under the command of Luis de Bobadilla.

Being already half a day's journey from the fort of Tucapel, it was very strange not to have any news of Captain Bobadilla. On Christmas Day 1553, he set out at dawn and upon arriving in the vicinity of the hill of Tucapel, he was surprised by the absolute silence that reigned. The fort was totally destroyed and without a Spaniard in the vicinity.

As they made camp in the smoldering ruins, in the forest they heard shouting and pounding on the ground. Then a large group of Indians rushed towards the Spaniards. Valdivia was barely able to assemble his defensive lines and withstand the first shock. The cavalry charged on the enemy's rear, but the Mapuche had foreseen this maneuver, and they arranged lancers that energetically contained the charge. The Spaniards managed to break the first charge of the Indians, who retreated with heavy casualties from the hill to the woods.

However, they had barely lowered their swords when a new indigenous squadron burst in; they reassembled lines and charged again with their cavalry. The Mapuche, in addition to the lancers, had men armed with maces, boleadoras and lassoes, with which they managed to dismount the Spanish horsemen, and to deliver blows of mace on their skulls when they tried to rise from the ground.

The picture was repeated once again: after the blowing of a horn, the second squadron withdrew with some casualties, and a third contingent appeared for the battle. Behind this strategy of the refreshment battalions was Lautaro.

The situation of the Castilians became desperate. Valdivia, faced with fatigue and casualties, gathered the available soldiers and launched into a fierce fight. Half of the Spaniards were already lying in the field and the auxiliary Indians were dwindling.

At one point in the combat, seeing that their lives were running out, Valdivia turned to those still around him and said:

Soon the result of the battle was defined and finally the chief ordered the retreat, but Lautaro himself fell on the flank producing the disbanding. It was just what Valdivia did not want and the Indians fell one by one on the isolated Spaniards. Only the governor and the clergyman Pozo, who rode very good horses, managed to take the escape route. But when crossing some swamps, the horses got bogged down and were captured by the Indians.

According to some historians, in an act of retaliation for the mutilations and massacre of the Indians that he ordered after the battle of Andalién, Valdivia was taken to the Mapuche camp where he was killed after three days of torture, which included similar cuttings to those carried out by the conquistador to teach the Indians a lesson in that battle. According to Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo, the martyrdom continued with the amputation of his muscles while alive, using sharp clam shells, and eating them lightly roasted in front of his eyes. Finally they extracted his heart in the flesh to devour it among the victorious toquis, while drinking chicha in his skull, which was preserved as a trophy. The cacique Pelantarú returned it 55 years later, in 1608, together with that of the governor Martín Óñez de Loyola, killed in combat in 1598.

According to the chronicler Carmen de Pradales, Valdivia's death occurred as follows:

This account of Valdivia's death was one of the most widely spread orally in the first moments among those who were in the vicinity of Tucapel.

The end of Valdivia according to Jerónimo de Vivar in his Crónica y relación copiosa y verdadera de los Reynos de Chile (1558), chapter CXV:

Pedro de Valdivia was one of the few conquistadors who was a military man by profession (in fact, he served the King of Spain not only in America but also in Europe).

The city of Valdivia, in southern Chile, was named by him in honor of his surname. In the following centuries, different places and streets in Chile have been named "Pedro de Valdivia", among them the Pedro de Valdivia saltpeter office in the north of the country and Pedro de Valdivia Avenue in Santiago. The same with Pedro de Valdivia Avenue in Concepción. Most Chilean cities have a street, avenue, park or neighborhood named in honor of Don Pedro, the founder of Chile. Between 1977 and 2000, 500 Chilean peso banknotes were printed with his face on the obverse and in 1975 two Chilean astronomers discovered an asteroid that they named (2741) Valdivia in his honor.


  1. Pedro de Valdivia
  2. Pedro de Valdivia
  3. Roa y Ursúa, Luis de (1945). El Reyno de Chile 1535-1810: Estudio histórico, genealógico y biográfico. Valladolid: Talleres Tipográficas Cuesta.
  4. El lugar de nacimiento de Valdivia sigue todavía en discusión. En la comarca de La Serena, tanto Villanueva, Castuera, Campanario (de donde es natural originalmente la familia Valdivia) y Zalamea, disputan ser la cuna del conquistador.
  5. Según José Toribio Medina en Diccionario Biográfico Colonial de Chile, «Carlos V acababa de conceder la gobernación de Paria (Venezuela) y otras provincias a Jerónimo de Ortal, quien después de embarcarse con rumbo a aquellos países, había dejado en España encargado de que le reclutase alguna gente a Jerónimo de Alderete, que había sido también soldado en Italia, era su camarada, y más tarde figuró como hombre de confianza de Valdivia. Alderete llegó en efecto a Cubagua en diciembre de 1534 con un galeón, en el cual iban "ciento y tantos hombres, todos de guerra y de hecho". Es así muy probable que Valdivia fuese entre ellos.[...] Allí (en Venezuela) tuvo ocasión de tratar a Juan Fernández de Alderete, otro de los que militó después a su lado en la conquista de Chile».
  6. Это предположительные данные, основанные на том, что Херонимо де Орталя, назначенного императором Карлом V, губернатором полуострова Пария (современная Венесуэла) сопровождали ветераны итальянских войн во главе с Херонимо де Алдерете, соратником Вальдивии по Итальянской кампании, а затем его близким другом и доверенным лицом. По свидетельству Хосе Торибио Медины, упомянутом в его Биографическом словаре колониального Чили, де Алдерете сошёл на берег острова Кубагуа в декабре 1534 года с галеона в сопровождении 100 итальянских ветеранов. Таким образом, очень вероятно, что Вальдивия был среди них. К тому же участие Вальдивии в исследовании и завоевании территории современной Венесуэлы в отряде Херонимо де Алдерете является историческим фактом.
  7. Эта армейская должность была введена в 1534 году императором Карлом V. Маэстро-де-кампо — одно из высших офицерских званий, уступающее в ранге только генерал-капитану. Обязанности его соответствовали обязанностям начальника штаба при главнокомандующем. Он представлял монарха в Государственном совете, командовал его войсками, имел право осуществлять военное правосудие, а также отвечал за продовольственное снабжение армии. Его личная охрана состояла из восьми немецких алебардщиков, сопровождавших его повсюду как символ его высокого положения. В заморских колониях Испанской империи должность губернатора приравнивалась к званию генерал-капитана, а командующий его войсками имел чин маэстро-де-кампо.
  8. Родриго Ордоньес был исключительным для своего времени человеком, крещённый еврей, отец которого был нищим сапожником в Толедо, а мать сожжена по обвинению в колдовстве, сумел приобрести дворянское звание, отличиться во множестве сражений Итальянских войн и, наконец, стать правой рукой губернатора Нового Толедо Диего де Альмагро.
  9. Luis de Roa y Ursúa. 1945, S. 85
  10. Luis de Roa y Ursúa. 1935, S. 13
  11. a b Luis de Roa y Ursúa. 1935, S. 79
  12. Luis de Roa y Ursúa. 1935, S. 118f
  13. ^ Dates sometimes given as 1510 – 1569, i.e. Robert Chambers "Book of Days" (1868)
  14. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Concepción" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 824.

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