Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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first Spanish governor of South America Pedrariasdayila
PEDRARIASDAYILA (pay-drah'-re-as-dah'-vee-lah), first Spanish governor of South America, born in Segovia about 1460: died in Spain about 1530. His real name was Pedro Arias de Avila, but the contracted form is commonly used. He served with distinction during the Moorish war, and, on account of his ability in tournaments, was named "the jouster." When Enciso (q. v.) appeared in Spain in 1512 to complain that Balboa (q. v.) had taken from him the government of Castilla de Oro, King Ferdinand appointed Pedrarias governor of the colony. Many noblemen and adventurers joined his expedition, which consisted of nearly 2,000 men. and sailed in twenty-two vessels from Seville, arriving in May, 1514, in Santa Maria la Antigua. After the discovery of the Pacific ocean by Balboa, Pedrarias, for the purpose of transferring the seat of government nearer to the isthmus, founded and fortified in 1516 the town of Acla, near the site called, by Nieuesa, Nombre de Dios. When the despatches that appointed Balboa adelantado and governor of the South sea arrived, Pedrarias, envious of his glory, imprisoned the latter on a charge of treason, and executed him in Acla in 1517. This outrage caused great indiana-tion at court, and the young king Charles sent in 1518 Lope de Sosa to relieve Pedrarias, and Judge Alarcon to try him. But Sosa died on the passage, and Alarcon was prevailed upon to postpone the trial, so that Pedrarias remained as governor. In 1518 he founded Panama, and in the next year he transferred the seat of government to that city. He despatched in 1519 an expedition under Gaspar de Espinosa (q. v.) from Panama to the northward, which discovered the Gulf of Nicoya, and in 1522 another, under Pascual de Andagoya (q. v.), to the southward, which discovered the river San Juan and brought the first news about Peru. After the discovery of Nicaragua by Gil Gonzalez Davila in 1522, and while the latter had gone to Hispaniola to seek resources for founding colonies, Pedrarias, wishing to anticipate him, sent, toward the end of 1523, an expedition under Francisco Hernandez de Cordova, who founded the cities of Granada and Leon, and, exploring Lake Nicaragua., discovered San Juan river, which he explored to its mouth in the Atlantic in 1524. Under his government also the first expedition to Peru set out in 1525 under Francisco Pizarro (q. v.); but, always envious of the glory of others, Pedrarias did everything in his power to hamper Pizarro's operations. Meanwhile, Cordova, trying to withdraw from the authority of Pedrarias, had opened negotiations with Hernan Cortes, who at that time (1525) was at. Honduras, offering to submit to his authority; but the latter refused the offer, although he ordered Pedro de Alvarado (q. v.) to aid Cordova in case of need. When Pedrarias heard of these negotiations he hastened with a small force to Nicaragua in 1526, captured Cordova in Leon, and, after a short trial, executed him in the latter city. During his absence he had been superseded ]n the government of Panama by Pedro de los Rios and remained in Nicaragua, but had repeated difficulties with Alvarado, who resented the execution of Cordova, and when Pedrarias heard in 1527 that Alvarado had obtained in Spain the title of adelantado and captain-general of Guatemala, fearing for his possessions, for which he held no legal title, he went to Spain in the next year to legalize his conquest, and he must have died soon afterward, as he is not mentioned again.
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