Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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ESCALERA, Antonio de, Spanish soldier, born in Toledo, Spain, in 1506: died in Ciudad Real de Guayra, South America, 6 September 1575. He studied at the University of Salamanca, and in 1534 received holy orders at Seville. In 1541 he sailed for Rio de la Plata with Governor Alvar Nufiez Cabeza de Vaca, and, enlisting in the army, joined in the campaigns of the conquerors. When difficulties arose between Cabeza de Vaca and the Vizcayan, Irala, Escalera advised Cabeza to compromise, whereupon Irala was appointed second commander, and sent in 1543 against the Guaycuru and Cacove Indians. Meanwhile Escalera had undertaken the conquest of the Xaraye Indians, and for that putpose had built several fortresses in their territory. About that time a terrible famine oppressed the conquerors, but, as Escalera's army was well supplied with provisions, he was able to minister to the wants of Cabeza de Vaca and Irala. In 1544 Escalera was of great service in delivering the Spaniards who had been besieged by the Cacove Indians in a place near Asuncion.
On 25 April 1544, the army rebelled and deposed Cabeza de Vaca, and Escalera was imprisoned for some time by the mutineers. Soon after his release he founded the City of Ciudad Real de Guayra, and in 1569 deposed Alonzo de Riquelme, who was then governor, for preventing the colonists from gathering precious stones. After Diaz Melgarejo assumed command, Escalera continued in his work of conquest, engaged in a nine months' campaign against the Guarany Indians, founded several forts, and in 1570 returned to Ciudad Real. After that date Escalera retired to the exercise of his ecclesiastical duties, and wrote several memoirs relating to the conquest and the natural products of the country. Previously, in 1556, he had sent to Charles V. a report of Irala's behavior, and one to the prosecutor for the council of Indies. His writings have been published by the Madrid Academy of history.
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