Diego de Almagro Biography

Diego de Almagro (Almagro, 1475 – Cuzco, 8 July, 1538).


Spanish Explorer and Conqueror, who took part, together with Francisco Pizarro, of the conquest of Peru. He is also officially considered the first Spaniard to arrive in Chile, despite the conquistadors Gonzalo Calvo de Barrientos and Antón Cerrada, who had been in that territory for some time, in order to flee from Pizarro’s forces.

It also has as the first European to set foot in present-day Bolivia. He founded Ecuador’s first Spanish city, San Pedro de Riobamba, as well as the city of Trujillo, Peru. In the same way, he helped Captain Francisco Pacheco to found and populate the city of Puerto Viejo.


Early Life

Diego de Almagro was born in 1475 in the Manchega village of Almagro, located in Ciudad Real, the illegitimate son of Juan de Montenegro and Elvira Gutiérrez. In order to care for their mother’s honor, the family decided to have the child grow up elsewhere. At the age of fifteen, Diego decided to escape and venture into the world.

After missing for some time, he arrived in Seville, where he was employed as a servant of one of the mayors of the city, Don Luis de Polanco. However, a dispute with another of the servants ended in a fight in which Almagro seriously injured the other, thus starting a trial against him. Fleeing Justice, Almagro decided to head to Andalusia. After a while, he decided to venture to America.

Beginnings in the New World

In this way, Diego de Almagro set sail on an expedition, bound for the New World, commanded by Pedro Arias de Avila, under the orders of King Ferdinand the Catholic. On June 30, 1514, Almagro arrived in Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien. Very little is known about this early stage of Almagro in America.

Apparently, most of the time he spent it in Darien, where he came to have an entruste. It is also known that a house was built, while also dedicated to agriculture. The following year, on November 30, 1515, he departed with 260 men, which led to the founding of the village of Acla. However, he had to return, due to deteriorating health.

Already recovered, he participated in a new expedition, commanded by Gaspar Espinoza. In it he had the opportunity to meet Francisco Pizarro, recently promoted to Captain, as well as Father Harnando de Luque, with whom he would form a future society. During this expedition, Almagro was part of the incursions and conquests achieved in the Gulf of Panama, fulfilling the role of witness in lists, in reference to indigenous affairs.

On his return, he remained in Darien for four years, in which he devoted himself to managing his assets, as well as those of Captain Pizarro, who assigned him this mission. It is also known that during this time he conceived, with the Indian Ana Martínez, his son Diego de Almagro el Mozo.

Top Conquests

Towards the early 1520s, Almagro heard about the indigenous kingdom Birú, which was identified as the center of the Inca Empire. Pizarro then undertook two expeditions, which took place in 1524 and 1526, in which they could see the great wealth of the Inca.

Upon achieving the Capitulation of Toledo, in 1529, the kings of Spain gave their authorization to Pizarro to conquer Peru. In 1532, Almagro started with Pizarro the company to conquer this kingdom, which departed from Cajamarca. He participated in the execution of Atahualpa and in the group that continued towards The Cuzco. In 1533, he conquered the Peruvian coast and founded Trujillo.

Enthusiastic about the possibility of more wealth, Almagro organized an expedition of five hundred Spanish, 100 Africans and at least 10 thousand indigenous people, in order to enter the new territories. According to historians, Almagro’s belief in full lands of gold and riches, further south, probably stems from a deception made by the Incas with the intention of driving the conquerors away from their kingdom.

On July 3, 1535, he left Cuzco. Along the way he made high in Molina, Paria and Aullagas, where he was adding men to his company, while waiting for the snows of the Andes mountain range to melt.

When the time came, they began the crossing of the mountain range, which was full of hardships and jobs, resulting in one of the most difficult trips that Almagro had to face. After the journey, which cost the lives of more than a hundred Indians, at least ten Spaniards and fifty horses, arrived in Copayapu, present-day Copiapó Valley.

From there it would continue its march towards the Aconcagua region, where the conquerors Gonzalo Calvo de Barrientos and Antón Cerrada, deserters of Pizarro, had advanced negotiations with the chieftains of the region.

After executing the indigenous Felipillo for advising their people against the conquerors, Almagro and his men continued to enter Mapuche territory, eliminating a significant number of indigenous people.

Final years

Disappointed not to find Gold, Almagro decided to return to Peru, in order to try to win his Governorate. His return made him through the Atacama Desert, a journey that was no more noble than that made through the Cordillera.

Diego de Almagro Biography
Source: Education  
August 14, 2019


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