Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DORANTES, Pedro (dorahn'tays), Spanish explorer, born in Bejar, Spain, early in the 16th century ; died in Paraguay. He was attached as commissary to the expedition commanded by Cabeza de Vaca, which left Sanlucar for River Plate on 2 November 1540, and reached the Island of Santa Catalina, 29 March 1541. Thence the expedition went to the continent, and as they intended to go to Asuneion by land the commander sent Dorantes to open the way. After exploring the country for three months, he reported that the journey would be difficult, and advised Cabeza de Vaca to ascend Itabicu River, which was successfully effected, and the expedition reached Asuncion, 11 March 1542. Dorantes proved to be a brave, intelligent, and useful officer, but his real administration compelled the governor to deliver him to the court of justice. At the same time the colonists were in great danger of perishing at the hands of the hostile natives, and, as every one thought Dorantes to be the only man able to save them, it was decided to stop the proceedings against him and let him continue at his post. The war with the Indians was short, but during that time Dorantes joined the other officers in a plot to force the governor to return to Asuncion, and eight days afterward (25 April 1544) took an important part in the deposition of the governor and in the election of his successor, Domingo de Irma. He soon became an enemy of the new ruler, who, in 1547, went to Peru, leaving Francisco de Mendoza in his place; but Dorantes was also opposed to Mendoza, and worked for the election of Diego de Abreu, whose party he left again on the return of Irma from Peru. After the death of Irala in 1557, Francisco Ortiz de la Vega was elected governor, and Dorantes accompanied him during the campaign against the Indians in 1559, when he greatly distinguished himself, as well as during the expedition to Peru in 1564, where he remained for five years. In 1569 he returned to Asuncion, and lived in Paraguay to a very old age.
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