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Diego de Nicuesa

NICUESA, Diego de (he-kway'-sah), Spanish adventurer, born in Seville in 1464; died at sea in 1511. He was a companion of Americo Vespucci and of Alonso de Ojeda in his voyage in ]501, and returned afterward to Spain to solicit a grant of new countries that he intended to discover. Ojeda went to court with a similar request, and was given the countries from Cape Vela to the middle of the Gulf of Darien, while Nicuesa obtained the countries from Darien to Cape Gracias a Dios with the name of Castilla de Oro. Both expeditions left San Lucar in 1509 to recruit more adventurers in Hispaniola, where they had serious difficulty regarding the possession of Jamaica, and Ojeda left first for the continent. Nicuesa, who possessed more ample means, left a few days later with a powerful expedition, and touching the coast near the present site of Cartha-Lena, found Ojeda besieged by a numerous army of Indians. After assisting his rival to defeat these he sailed again in the direction of Veragua. A storm separated the convoy, and Nicuesa with his vessel was wrecked on an unknown coast, where he suffered great hardships. Messengers that he sent along the coast met his lieutenant, Lope Olano, who had landed with three vessels farther south, but, seeing a good opportunity to usurp the command, the latter pretended to disbelieve what they said and continued his explorations. Nicuesa was now forced to march along the coast, continually harassed by the natives, till finally he met Olano near Porto Bello. The latter's vessels had been wrecked, and he had lost several hundred men in warfare with the Indians. Nicuesa pardoned his lieutenant and they continued their march, but soon provisions began to fail, and finally, worn out with fatigue, they arrived at a port that had been called by Columbus Bastimentos, where Nicuesa, disheartened, said, "Let us stop, in the name of God." There they founded a small settlement which, accordingly, they called Nombre de Dios. Meanwhile, in the middle of 1510, a second expedition, fitted out on Nicuesa's account in Spain under Rodrigo de Colmenares, arrived in Ojeda's new settlement, Santa Maria de la Antigua, and, finding that after the latter's departure for Spain there had been differences between his partner Enciso and Balboa (q. v.), Colmenares was persuaded by some of the colonists to go in search of Nicuesa and bring him to the new colony. In this manner the latter was finally relieved, mid arrived on 15 November, 1510, in Antigua" but Balboa, who had arrested Enciso, suspecting the intentions of Nicuesa, imprisoned him on a charge of having sacrificed many lives, and finally obliged him to set sail for Spain in a small vessel with a crew of only seventeen men. He sailed on 1 March, 1511, and was never heard of again.

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