Pedro de Valdivia


Pedro de Valdivia : biography

00 1500 – December 25, 1553

After arriving in Chile, Valdivia and his men went out of their way to restore the relationship between conquistador and Indian which had been greatly harmed by Almagro and his merciless ways. At first, Valdivia was successful in his efforts to deal benevolently with the native population, but this peaceful coexistence did not last long. One of the first orders that Valdivia gave was to have a ship constructed at the mouth of the Aconcagua River to send to Peru for further supplies and to serve as a courier service, but soon was obliged to return in haste to Santiago to subdue a mutiny. The Spaniards’ greed quickly surfaced and overshadowed previous intentions when rumors of gold at the Marga Marga mines, in the vicinity of Valparaiso arose, and the settlers began forcing the natives to work there.

Early years

Pedro de Valdivia is believed to have been born in Castuera (some say Villanueva de la Serena) in Extremadura, Spain around 1500 (some sources put his date of birth as early as 1497 or as late as 1505) to an impoverished hidalgo family. In 1520 he joined the Spanish army of Charles I and fought in Flanders in 1521 and Italy between 1522 and 1525, participating in the battle of Pavia as part of the troops of the Marquis of Pescara. He reached America in 1535, spent an uneventful year in Venezuela, and then moved on to Peru in 1537.

There he took part on the side of Hernando Pizarro in his struggle against Diego de Almagro and fought in the battle of Las Salinas in 1538, which saw Almagro defeated and captured. Afterwards he accompanied Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro to conquer both the province of Collao and las Charcas in High Peru (currently Bolivia). As compensation for his help in conquering these lands, he was awarded a silver mine and became a wealthy man.

Valdivia had married Marina Ortíz de Gaete in Spain, but in Peru he became attached to the widow Inés de Suárez, who was to accompany him to Chile as his mistress.

In literature

Valdivia was an educated man and wielded the pen as well as the sword. In 1552 Valdivia despatched Captain Jerónimo de Alderete with a narrative of his exploits directly to the king Charles I. His twelve letters, addressed to the king and mostly preserved in the archives of the Indies, are models of a vigorous and fluent style, and of great historical interest.

His career and death are part of the epic poem La Araucana by Alonso de Ercilla. He is also a major character in several historical novels, such as Inés y las raíces de la tierra, by María Correa Morande (1964), Ay Mamá Inés – Crónica Testimonial (1993) by Jorge Guzmán, and Inés of My Soul () by Isabel Allende (2006).


Category:1500s births Category:1553 deaths Category:People from the Province of Badajoz Category:Spanish conquistadors Category:Royal Governors of Chile Category:Chilean people Category:16th-century Spanish people Category:History of Chile Category:Explorers of Chile Category:Colonial Chile Category:People of the Arauco War Category:Extremaduran conquistadors Category:City founders Category:Spanish people executed abroad Category:Spanish explorers Category:16th-century executions

Birth of the Colony

Huelén Hill.]]

On learning of Francisco Pizarro’s murder in 1541, Valdivia had himself appointed governor of the territory by the council of the new city, and removed Chile from Peruvian control, acknowledging only the royal authority, an arrangement the Crown found acceptable. Secure now in his own domain, he pushed exploration southward and aided the development of the country by dividing the land among his ablest followers and parceling out the Indians in encomiendas. Chile possessed minerals, but Valdivia definitely subordinated mining to agriculture and stock raising. Still, the colony was not prosperous; gold was scarce and the Araucanians warlike.