Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DIENTE, Juan (deeayn'tay), Spanish soldier, born in Penaranda, Spain, about 1497 ; died in Guamanga, Peru, 30 November 1542. He served in the wars of Italy and Planders, and distinguished himself by his daring exploits in the enemy's camp. Owing to his extraordinary swiftness as a runner, in which he outstripped a horse, he was called "' the shadow." While still an ensign, Diente went to Darien, Colombia, with Pedrarias, and, commanding a company, took part in the conquest of Nueva Granada. Soon afterward he joined Diego de Almagro, and arrived in Peru in February 1533, commanding a company. In October of that year, near Bileas, he had engagements with the Indians, killing a chief in one of them. The agility that he displayed, and his peculiar way of fighting the Indians, gave rise among them to the belief that Diente was a supernatural being. Diente won his greatest distinction at the memorable siege of Cuzco, in February 1534. During the terrible night of the 20th of that month, in which the Indians surprised and set fire to the City, Diente was seen jumping from roof to roof, in pursuit of the incendiaries, across the Streets. In this same night, assaulting one of the Indian forts, he was the first to enter it. In this assault Juan Pizarro died. In April 1535, Diente joined Diego de Aimagro in the conquest of "Chili, and served during the whole campaign, commanding the infantry.
In 1536 he distinguished .himself in the battle of Yueay, and from that date he served under Ahnagro, taking part in several engagements with the Indians, and also in the civil war of 1537 between Almagro and Pizarro. ,On 26 April 1538, he participated in the battle of Salinas. Some time afterward he went to Lima and, finding himself in reduced circumstances, took part in the conspiracy against Pizarro, receiving from Rada, who conducted the assassins in the assault on the palace, 26 June 1541, the command of the reserve. Pizarro having been killed, Juan Diente was chosen by Diego de Ahnagro to carry communications of this event to Guamanga y Cuzco. Diente traveled 900 miles over a mountainous courttry, arrived at Cuzco, and with eighty of Ahnagro's followers proclaimed Ahnagro's son as the legitimate governor, exacted from the City corporation the acknowledgment of the new government, and compelled the dependent towns to accept it. He served during the whole campaign against the royal troops, commanded by C. Vaea de Castro, and filled important commissions from Almagro's son. On 16 November 1542, at the battle of Chupas, lost by Almagro's party, Diente was at the head of a column, and, falling a prisoner, was summarily tried by Judge Gama, and hanged at Guamanga as an accomplice in the murder of Pizarro.
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