Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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LEON, Juan Yelazquez de, Spanish soldier, born in Cuellar, Spain, in the latter part of the 15th century; died in Mexico, 1 July, 1520. He was a nephew of Diego Velazquez, the conqueror and governor of Cuba. When this chief came with Ovando to Santo Domingo in 1502, Leon, then a boy, accompanied him, and took an active part in the conquest of the province of Salvatierra in that island and in that of Cuba in 1511. In the massacre by the Spaniards under Narvaez in the Indian town of Counao he was the first to listen to the voice of Las Casas, and tried to prevent the total destruction of the Indians. He afterward settled in Trinidad, and was cultivating his plantation, when the expedition of Cortes, which left Santiago de Cuba in November, 1518, touched at that port. Leon then enlisted under Cortes and acted as one of his adjutants, and was greatly esteemed by him. When Diego Velazquez tried to take the command from Cortes, Leon declared in favor of the latter, and when Panfilo de Narvaez landed in Mexico in 1520, to depose Cortes, Leon was sent to arrange the matter, but the latter refused to enter into any settlement. Leon rendered valuable service in the assault on the position of Narvaez, 26 May, 1520, and after the victory of Cortes did all in his power to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded and the prisoners, inducing nearly all of the latter to join Cortes. On their return to Mexico they found that the Indians had revolted and besieged the Spanish quarter. Leon took part in the fighting from 26 June till 1 July, anti when Cortes at last resolved to evacuate the city, during the night, Leon commanded the last division of the rear-guard, which was cut off before accomplishing the retreat, and fell overpowered by superior numbers.
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