Pedro Pt 2
Pedro de Alvarado – Part Two
Conquest of Guatemala: Pedro de Alvarado was sent out by Hernán Cortés with a hundred and twenty horsemen, three hundred foot soldiers and several hundred Cholula and Tlaxcala auxiliaries; he was engaged in the conquest of the highlands of Guatemala from 1523 to 1527. At first, Alvarado allied himself with the Cakchiquel nation in his conquest of their traditional rivals, the Quiché nation, but his cruelties alienated the Cakchiquel, and he needed several years to stamp out resistance in the region. Alvarado's inhumanity to native populations is depicted in various sources, including the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, wherein it is documented that he enslaved natives, and murdered them by means such as hanging, burning, and throwing them alive to dogs.
"So they will not submit...Let them taste the steel of our swords
and the points of our lances, we will give them no quarter
and show no mercy...Then you will see how they fear us!"
Cuzcatlan (El Salvador): Alvarado led the first effort by Spanish forces to extend their dominion to the nation of Cuzcatlan (El Salvador), in June 1524. These efforts established many towns such as San José Acatempa in 1525 and Esquipulas in 1560. Spanish efforts were firmly resisted by the indigenous people known as the Pipil and their Mayan speaking neighbors. Despite Alvarado's initial success in the Battle of Acajutla, the indigenous people of Cuzcatlan, who according to tradition were led by a warlord called Atlacatl, defeated the Spaniards and their auxiliaries, and forced them to withdraw to Guatemala. Alvarado was wounded on his left thigh, remaining handicapped for the rest of his life. He abandoned the war and appointed his brother, Gonzalo de Alvarado, to continue the task. Two subsequent expeditions were required (the first in 1525, followed by a smaller group in 1528) to bring the Pipil under Spanish control. In 1525 the conquest of Cuzcatlan was completed and the city of San Salvador was established. Alvarado was subsequently appointed governor of Guatemala by Charles I of Spain and remained governor of Guatemala until his death. He was made Adelantado de La Florida and Knight of Santiago in 1527, and also Governor of Guatemala. In that year he was married in Spain to Francisca de la Cueva, Dame of Úbeda and niece of the Duke of Alburquerque. She died shortly after their arrival in America.
Peru: In 1534, Alvarado heard tales of the riches of Peru, headed south to the Andes and attempted to bring the province of Quito under his rule. When he arrived, he found the land already held by Francisco Pizarro's lieutenant Sebastian de Belalcazar. The two forces of Conquistadors almost came to battle; however, Alvarado bartered to Pizarro's group most of his ships, horses and ammunition, plus most of his men, for a comparatively modest sum of money and returned to Guatemala.
Governor: In 1532, Alvarado received a Royal Cedula naming him Governor of the Province of Honduras, which at that time consisted of a single settlement of Spaniards in Trujillo, but he declined to act on it. In 1533, or 1534 he began to send his own work gangs of enslaved Africans and Native Americans into the parts of Honduras adjacent to Guatemala to work the placer gold deposits.
(Placer mining is the mining of alluvial deposits for minerals. This may be done by open-pit (also called open-cast mining) or by various surface excavating equipment or tunneling equipment. The name is sometimes said to derive from Spanish placer, meaning "to please," because it is easy mining as compared with others. However, the origin of the word is actually from Spanish, placer meaning shoal or alluvial/sand deposit, from Catalan placer, (shoal), from plassa, (place) from Medieval Latin placea (place) the origin word for place and plaza in English. The word in Spanish is thus ultimately derived from placea and refers directly to an alluvial or glacial deposit of sand or gravel).
In 1536, ostensibly in response to a letter asking for aid from Andrés de Cereceda, then acting Governor of the Province of Honduras, Alvarado and his army of Indian allies arrived in Honduras, just as the Spanish colonists were preparing to abandon the country and go look for gold in Peru. In June, 1536, Alvarado engaged the indigenous resistance led by Cicumba in the lower Ulua river valley, and won. He divided up the Indian labor in repartimiento grants to his soldiers and some of the colonists, and returned to Guatemala. During a visit to Spain, in 1537, Alvarado had the governorship of Honduras reconfirmed in addition to that of Guatemala for the next seven years. His governorship of Honduras was not uncontested, however. Francisco de Montejo had a rival claim, and was installed by the Spanish king as Governor of Honduras in 1540. Ten years after being widowed, Alvarado married one of his first wife's sisters, Beatriz de la Cueva, who outlived him.
Later life and death: Alvarado developed a plan to outfit an armada that would sail from the western coast of Mexico to China and the Spice Islands. At great cost, he assembled and equipped thirteen ships and approximately five hundred and fifty soldiers for the expedition. The fleet was about to set sail in 1541 when Alvarado received a letter from Cristóbal de Oñate, pleading for help against hostile Indians who were besieging him at Nochistlán. The siege was part of a major revolt by the Mixtón natives of the Nueva Galicia region of Mexico. Alvarado gathered his troops and went to help Oñate. In a freak accident, he was crushed by a horse that was spooked and ran amok. I’ve always said that horses were a primitive means of transport. He died a few days later, on the 4th of July 1541, and was buried in the church at Tiripetío, a village between Patzcuaro and Morelia (in present-day Michoacán).
Four decades after Alvarado's death, his daughter Leonor de Alvarado Xicoténcatl paid to transport his remains to Guatemala for reburial in the cathedral of the city of Santiago, now Antigua Guatemala.
Family: After the death of her husband, de la Cueva maneuvered her own election and succeeded him as governor of Guatemala, becoming the only woman to govern a major political division of the Americas in Spanish colonial times. She drowned a few weeks after taking office in the destruction of the capital city Ciudad Vieja by a sudden flow from the Volcan de Agua in September 1541.
Alvarado had no issue from either of his marriages. But more so than his wives his vital companion was Luisa de Tlaxcala (also called Xicoténcalt or Tecubalsi, her original names after Catholic baptism), an Indian noblewoman, daughter of the Tlaxcaltec Chief Xicotenga. Luisa was delivered by her father in 1519 to Hernán Cortés as a proof of respect and friendship, and in turn he gave her in guard to Pedro de Alvarado, who quickly became her lover. Luisa followed Pedro in his adventures and despite never being recognized as his legitimate wife, had numerous possessions and was respected as a Dame, both for her relationship with de Alvarado and for her noble origin. She died in 1535 and was buried in Guatemala Cathedral.
With Luisa de Tlaxcala he had three children:
By other women, in concealed and occasional love affairs, he had two other children:
Pedro de Alvarado was unique among conquistadors in that he played a role in the conquest of all three New World native Kingdoms: the Aztec, Inca and Maya. After dominating the Maya, he founded the city of Antigua. When he was killed in 1541, his remains were buried in Antigua's main cathedral. That part of the cathedral was destroyed, but his tomb remains. Still remembered and despised for his great cruelty, Alvarado's remains have never been moved to a place of greater honour than the graveyard of fallen masonry that surrounds him. Funny how on our school outing, no one mentioned him and no one even bothered to point out his tomb to us............. speaks volumes ??? Would either of us have named a school after him ???
ALL IN ALL A SOLDIER, A POOR POLITICIAN, A CRUEL MAN