Pedro de Valdivia

Pedro de Valdivia (c. 1500 - January 1, 1554) was a conquistador and first royal governor of Chile. He was the founder of various cities within the territory, including Santiago, Concepción, and Valdivia.he discoverd chilez|Badajoz, Spain] in 1500 (some sources put his date of birth as early as 1497) from a family of hidalgos. In 1520 he enlisted with the army of Charles V and fought in Flanders in 1521 and in Italy between 1522 and 1525. He married Marina Ortiz de Gaete. In 1535 he left her to embark for a voyage to Venezuela.

The expedition

After the failure of the expedition of Diego de Almagro, Valdivia asked the governor of Peru for permission to complete the conquest of the lands south of Peru (known as "Nuevo Toledo", New Toledo) He got the permission and was named "lieutenant of the Governor", and not Governor as he wanted. He was an original Spanish conquistador.

The expedition was fraught with problems from the beginning. Valdivia had to sell the lands that were assigned to him to finance the expedition. A shortage of soldiers and adventurers was also problematic since they were not interested in conquering what they were sure were extremely poor lands. The expedition left Cuzco, Peru in January of 1540 with almost a thousand native Indians and only a few Spanish. En route more Spanish joined the expedition. These conquistadors had formed part of the failed campaigns to the highlands of Bolivia. All in all around 150 Spanish joined the expedition of Valdivia.

He followed the desert route of "Atacama", the same route that Almagro had followed back to Peru. When they arrived at the valley of Copiapo, Chile, Valdivia took possession of the land in the name of the king. Soon thereafter they continued south and in December of the same year they arrived in the valley of the "Mapocho" River, where they finally decided to establish a permanent settlement.

Conquest of Chile

During the long and harrowing trip to the south, the natives, having already experienced the incursions of the Spaniards, burned their crops and drove off their livestock, leaving nothing for Valdivia’s band and the animals which accompanied them.

In December 1540, eleven months after they left Cuzco, Valdivia and his band reached the valley of the Mapocho river, where Valdivia was to establish the capital of the territory. The valley was extensive and well populated with natives. Its soil was fertile and there was abundant fresh water. Two high hills provided defensive positions. Soon after their arrival, Valdivia tried to convince the natives of his good intentions, sending out delegations bearing gifts for the caciques.

Founding of Santiago

The natives kept the gifts but, united under the leadership of Michimalonco, attacked the Spaniards and were on the point of overwhelming them. Suddenly the natives threw down their weapons and fled. Captured Indians declared that they had seen a man, mounted on a white horse and carrying a naked sword, descend from the clouds and attack them. The Spaniards decided it was a miraculous appearance of "Santo Iago" (Saint James) and, in thanksgiving, named the new city Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura.

On February 12, 1541 Pedro de Valdivia officially dedicated the city. The ceremony was held at the "Huelén" hill (now known as "Cerro Santa Lucía", Santa Lucía Hill). One of the first orders Valdivia gave was to search for gold in the "Marga Marga" mines and to develop a courier service to Peru. He had learned about these gold mines from the captured chief Michimalonco.

First Destruction of Santiago

After a peaceful period of coexistence, local Indians led by Michimalonco attacked the new village of Santiago, on September 11, 1541. Valdivia was not in the village at the time, and the defense of the city was led by Inés de Suárez.

This event meant a substantial setback for the conquest of the Chilean territory, since rebuilding could start only in 1543, with the arrival of new supplies.

Arauco War

In September 1543 new arms, clothes and other equipment arrived from Peru on the ship "Santiaguillo". Valdivia then sent an expedition north, led by Juan Bohon. This expedition, founded La Serena halfway between Santiago and the northern Atacama Desert, in the valley of "Coquimbo".

In February 1546 Valdivia, accompanied by 70 men, traveled south. He got to the Bío-Bío River where he planned to found another town. However, the hostility of the indigenous people forced him to return to Santiago in March of 1547.

In 1547 and 1548 Valdivia was in Peru to gather more resources and men. While he was there he fought in the Battle of Xaquixahuana. As recognition for his services the then Viceroy of Peru gave Valdivia the title of "Governor".

Between 1549 and 1553, Valdivia again undertook the conquest of southern Chile, but faced heavy resistance from the indigenous Indians. In spite of the resistance, in 1550 he got to the "Bío-Bío" zone, where after winning a battle against the local natives, he founded Concepción, Chile. He later founded the more southern villages of La Imperial, Valdivia and Villarrica, among others.

The uprising of 1553

After a brief stay in Santiago, Valdivia returned to the south again in December 1552. To keep the connection open between Concepción and the southern settlements, Valdivia had a number of forts built in the coastal mountain range. One of the first signs that a big rebellion was building was in the attack on the fort of Tucapel. Valdivia decided to personally inspect the fort, but the indigenous forces attacked when the party was near the fort and Valdivia was captured. The Battle of Tucapel would be Valdivia's last: the dreaded conquistador was captured along with a preist by the Mapuche and then executed.

According contemporary author Jerónimo de Vivar, the toqui Caupolicán personally ordered the execution of Valdivia, who was killed with a lance and his head with those of the two other bravest Spaniards were put on display [ Vivar, Crónica y relación copiosa y verdadera de los reinos de Chile, Capítulo CXV. Vivar says this is according to indians that had been in the battle, no Spaniard had survived.] . Another contemporary, Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo writes Valdivia offered as a ransom for his life that he would evacuate the Spanish settlements in their lands and give them large herds of animals, but this was rejected and the Mapuche cut off his forearms, roasted and ate them in front of him before killing him and the priest [ Marmolejo, Historia de Todas las Cosas que han Acaecido en el Reino de Chile y de los que lo han gobernado (1536-1575), Capítulo XIV.] . Another contemporary, Pedro Mariño de Lobera also wrote that Valdivia offered to evacuate the lands of the Mapuche but says he was shortly after killed with a large club by an vengeful warrior named Pilmaiquen, saying Valdivia could not be trusted to keep his word once freed [Lobera, Crónica del Reino de Chile, Capítulo XLIII.] . Lobera also says that a common story in Chile at the time was that that Valdivia was killed by giving him the gold that the Spaniards so desired; however, the gold was molten and was poured down Valdivia's throat [Lobera, Capítulo XLIII.] . According to a later legend, Lautaro took Valdivia to the Mapuche camp and put him to death after three days of torture, extracting his beating heart and eating it with the Mapuche leaders.

His career and death are part of the epic poem La Araucana by Alonso de Ercilla. He is also a major character in the historical novel "Inés of My Soul" ("Inés del alma mía") by Isabel Allende (HarperCollins, 2006).

ee also

*Arauco War
*Lautaro
*List of unusual deaths

References

ources

* [http://www.vi-e.cl/internas/edu_dia/personaj/pedro_valdivia.htm Biography]
* Pedro de Valdivia, [http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/FichaObra.html?Ref=1101 Cartas de Pedro de Valdivia (Letters of Pedro Valdivia)] , Edición digital a partir de Crónicas del Reino de Chile Madrid, Atlas, 1960, pp. 1-74 (on line in Spanish)
* Jerónimo de Vivar, [http://www.artehistoria.jcyl.es/cronicas/contextos/11498.htm Crónica y relación copiosa y verdadera de los reinos de Chile (Chronicle and abundant and true relation of the kingdoms of Chile)] ARTEHISTORIA REVISTA DIGITAL; Crónicas de América (on line in Spanish)(History of Chile 1535-1558)
* Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo, [http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/FichaObra.html?Ref=1102&portal=157 Historia de Todas las Cosas que han Acaecido en el Reino de Chile y de los que lo han gobernado (1536-1575) (History of All the Things that Have happened in the Kingdom of Chile and of they that have governed it (1536-1575)] , Edición digital a partir de Crónicas del Reino de Chile, Madrid, Atlas, 1960, pp.75-224, (on line in Spanish) (History of Chile 1536-1575)
* Pedro Mariño de Lobera, [http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/servlet/SirveObras/13582842323460728544424/index.htm Crónica del Reino de Chile , escrita por el capitán Pedro Mariño de Lobera....reducido a nuevo método y estilo por el Padre Bartolomé de Escobar. Edición digital a partir de Crónicas del Reino de Chile Madrid, Atlas, 1960, pp. 227-562, (Biblioteca de Autores Españoles ; 569-575).] Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes (on line in Spanish) (History of Chile 1535-1595)


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