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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Pedro de Valdivia

VALDIVIA, Pedro de, Spanish soldier, born in Serena, Estremadura, about 1490; died in Tucapel, Chili, 1 January, 1554. He served in the wars of Italy and Flanders, went with Georg yon Spire to Venezuela, and afterward served under Pizarro in Peru, taking an active part in the campaign against the elder Almagro in 1537, in which he was appointed mariscal. As such he participated in the battle of Salinas, 6 April, 1538, and was rewarded by Pizarro with permission to conquer Chili. While he was preparing an expedition, Pedro Sanchez de Hoz arrived from Spain with a royal grant of the same country. To avoid difficulties, Pizarro advised the two competitors to join their interests, and on 28 December, 1539, a contract of partnership was signed. Valdivia soon gathered a considerable number of adventurers, and purchased arms, beginning the march to the south in January, 1540. On the edge of the desert of Atacama he met, in August, Sanchez de Hoz, who had been able to gather only horses, without finding followers; so, despairing of his success, he sold the animals and his share in the enterprise to Valdivia. The latter resolved to avoid the road over the Andes, which had proved fatal to Almagro's army, and set out resolutely through the desert. After a march of five months, and suffering great privations, they arrived in a beautiful valley, called by the natives Mapocho, and there Valdivia founded, on 12 February, 1541, the city of Santiago. He had himself appointed governor of the territory by the council of the new city, when the news of the assassination of Pizarro arrived. At the mouth of the river Aconcagua he constructed a ship to send to Peru for further supplies, but he was obliged to return in haste to Santiago to subdue a mutiny. Afterward he marched against the Indians, who had begun to resist the invaders, and defeated them at Cachapoal, returning in time to relieve the capital, which was hard pressed by the cacique Michimalonco. The resistance of the Indians became daily stronger, and as the vessel that he had constructed in Aconcagua had been destroyed by the natives, Valdivia sent, in 1542, Alonso de Monroy, with five followers, overland to Peru for re-enforcements, but, on account of the disturbance in that country in consequence of the defeat of the younger Almagro by Vaca de Castro, Monroy could not obtain much aid, and returned in September, 1543, with only seventy horsemen, sending also a vessel with provisions and ammunition to the port of Aconcagua. During the following years Valdivia made good progress in the occupation of the country, founded in the valley of Coquimbo a town, which he called Serena, and subdued the country to the south of the river Maule. To obtain further resources, he sent to Peru, and in 1547 received some aid, with the alarming news of Gonzalo Pizarro's rebellion, and the viceroy Nunez de Vela's defeat and death. The envoy also brought a letter from Pizarro, to whose brother Valdivia owed his post, soliciting the latter's assistance; but, knowing that a royal commissioner, De la Gasca, had arrived in Peru, and judging that Pizarro's cause was lost, Valdivia resolved to offer his services to the royal army, and, leaving Francisco de Villagra in charge of the government, he sailed on 10 December, 1547, for Peru. He was well received by President la Gasca, and, given a place in the royal army, as by his long experience he alone was thought able to oppose the military talent of Carvajal. Owing to him, the battle of Saesahuana was easily won, 9 April, 1548, and, notwithstanding his obligations to the family of Pizarro, he voted in the council of war for Gonzalo's execution. He was rewarded for his services with the royal confirmation of his title as governor, and, with re-enforcements returned to Chili early in 1549. The colony was in a precarious state, the Araucanians having become very troublesome, and after despatching a force under Francisco de Aguirre across the Ande3 to make conquests, he marched against the Indians and defeated them, founding. 5 March, 1550, in the Bay of Talcahuano the city of Concepcion, and afterward, south of Biobio river, the towns of Imperial, Valdivia, Villarica. Angel, and others. Valdivia despatched in 1552 Captain Geronimo de Alderete with a narrative of his exploits to the emperor Charles V. By the advice of the cacique Colocolo, the Araucanians united their efforts, and, choosing as general-in-chief the famous warrior Caupolican, they fell on the Spanish forces in the south, destroying the fortress of Tucapel, 2 December, 1553. Valdivia was at Concepcion when he received notice of this success, and, believing that he could easily subdue the rising, he hurried southward with only fifty mounted men. Near the ruins of the fortress he gathered the remnant of the garrison, and was suddenly attacked by the Indians, 1 January, 1554, and, notwithstanding his valorous defence, was overwhelmed by the successive charges that the natives made, according to the advice of Lautaro. He was captured, and, although Lautaro, who formerly had been his page, tried to defend him, was tortured and finally killed. Valdivia was a man of education, and wielded the pen as well as the sword. His letters, written to the emperor and preserved in the archives of the Indies, are models of a vigorous and fluent style, an(] of great historical interest.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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