Alonso de Ojeda

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Alonso de Ojeda

Alonso de Ojeda or Alonso de Hojeda (pronounced ocheda; * around 1466 in Cuenca , New Castile , Spain ; † 1515 or 1516 in Santo Domingo ) was a Spanish navigator and explorer .


Ojeda was the offspring of an impoverished noble family. He entered the service of the Duke of Medinaceli , Don Luis de Cerda , one of the earliest patrons of Christopher Columbus , as a page . Through the protection of the Bishop of Burgos and the later Patriarch of the West Indies Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, he got the chance to accompany Christopher Columbus on his second expedition to America . Ojeda made a (dubious) name for himself during uprisings by the local Arawak , and returned to Spain in 1496 . He became known for the capture of the caciken Caonabo .

Travels of Alonso de Ojeda

After Columbus discovered the pearl- rich coast of Venezuela for the Spanish crown on his third voyage , Ojeda went there in 1499 together with two cartographers , the Basque Juan de la Cosa and the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci . This time he commanded three ships on his own account. The Gulf of Maracaibo and the Goajira peninsula were discovered . They returned to Spain via the Bahamas with 232 stolen Indians . Two years later, Hojeda settled as governor in Maracaibo and founded a branch under the protection of four ships. The persistent resistance of the indigenous population and the lack of food drove the crew to mutiny . Hojeda was arrested and taken to Haiti to be tried. Deported from there to Spain, however, he was acquitted in 1503.

In the course of this expedition Ojeda discovered the coast of Guyana in 1499 , he landed in the Orinoco estuary and in Trinidad and named a navigable bay “ Venezuela ” (Little Venice) because it reminded him of the bay of Venice . After Ojeda's return to Hispaniola , there was friction with Christopher Columbus, as the latter felt that his exploratory privileges had been violated.

In 1502 Ojeda equipped another expedition with which he landed on the American continent. He founded the Santa Cruz colony , but it did not last long. The main reason for the failure was the ineptitude of its helpers and extreme cruelty towards the locals. In the end, Ojeda fell out with his companions, who accused him of embezzling wealth intended for the king. Ojeda returned to Spain as a prisoner, where he was tried. Although he was ultimately acquitted of all charges, the process ruined Ojeda financially and his reputation suffered.

Ojeda managed to return to Hispaniola one more time. Together with his former partner Juan de La Cosa, he tried to spread the idea of ​​colonies on the American mainland between Cabo de Vela and the Gulf of Urabá . Ultimately, he managed to win the support of the Spanish government and began to equip his final expedition.

1505 he started a new attempt and settled with the entire northern coast of South America (under the name of New Andalusia) nor 1508 belehnen , but his foundation had no success. Even the landing on the American mainland turned out to be a fiasco: hostile locals rubbed off the Spaniards, who had to flee by sea. Ojeda was not discouraged and founded the colony of San Sebastián de Urabá in January 1510 in another suitable place . While trying to get supplies for the small settlement, Ojeda was shipwrecked and spent his old age in abject poverty in Santo Domingo. He died lonely.