Diego de Almagro

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Diego de Almagro.
( History picture from the 19th century)

Diego de Almagro (also d'Almagro ; * around 1479 in Almagro , Spain ; † July 8, 1538 in Cuzco , Peru ) was a Spanish adventurer and conquistador . He is often called with the addition of "el Viejo" ("the old man") to distinguish him from his son of the same name, Diego de Almagro "el Mozo" ("the boy").

Diego de Almagro was born around 1479 in Almagro, Spain, other sources consider the period from 1470 to 1475 to be likely. He was given away by his single mother and grew up as a child of farmers. He ran away from home at the age of 15, worked for the mayor of Seville in his youth and wandered around Spain after an incident. In 1514 he traveled to Central America with the Spanish conquistador and governor of Panama Pedrarias , where he worked as a soldier and became very wealthy through business. From 1524 to 1535 he conquered the Inca Empire in what is now Peru, together with Francisco Pizarro . In 1536 he undertook an unsuccessful conquest into what is now Chile, in which he systematically scouted the region and is therefore considered to be the discoverer of Chile. In 1538, following a power struggle with the Pizarro brothers, he was captured and executed by them in Cuzco. His grave is in the La Merced Church in Cuzco.


In Spain

The origins of Diego de Almagro have long remained in the dark. Older sources reported that it was a boulder named after the place where it is said to have been found in 1475. Recent sources report that he was the illegitimate son of Juan de Montenegro , cupbearer of the Grand Master of the Calatrava Order, and Elvira Gutiérrez , a maid who was born between 1478 and 1479 in Almagro, Spain. There was a promise of marriage between the parents, but it was never kept. In order to save her honor in the strictly Catholic community, the mother-to-be was hidden from her relatives, the son Diego was born in secret and soon given to a wet nurse. Elvira's parents tried to get married after all. But the dowry offered was too small for Juan de Montenegro and even a fight with Elvira's relatives did not help to change his mind.

Diego first lived with Sancha López de Peral in Bolaños, and later in Aldea del Rey. When he was four or five years old, Diego came to live with his uncle Hernán Gutiérrez, into a farming family with a long Christian tradition. His uncle treated him badly, and at the age of fifteen Diego ran away and first went to his mother, who turned him away. The details of his childhood were written down late when an emissary questioned his stepsister Leonor Celinos and his cousin Diego de Sevilla. The elderly Diego de Almagro had sent this to his homeland in 1536 to learn more about his family.

He then worked for Luis de Polanco, Mayor of Seville . Because he was a bit impetuous, he injured another youth in a scuffle and fled the judiciary. After a period of vagabonding, he decided to go to the Caribbean. According to contemporary chroniclers, it was the refuge for criminals, gamblers and the desperate at that time.

In Panama

Isthmus of Darién and Panama
(map from 1697)

In 1514 Almagro traveled in the entourage of the conquistador and governor Pedrarias Dávila to Darién in what is now Panama , where he arrived on June 30th. He hired himself there as a mercenary under various captains until he got some money and as a reward for his services was assigned land as a fief and some Indians for the cultivation of the same. It was during this period that Almagro met the soldier Francisco Pizarro, with whom he soon became a close friend, and the cleric Fernando de Luque. From then on, Almagro's biography was inextricably linked to the two.

In 1519 , on August 15, Pedrarias founded Panama City and divided it among 400 settlers from Darién, including Almagro, Pizarro and Luque. The three of them did business and they managed to build up a handsome fortune in the years that followed. They ended up owning several gold mines, farms, and herds of cattle, making them one of the three richest men in Panama.

In 1520 Ana Martínez, an Indian woman from Panama, gave birth to a son, named Diego , who was given the addition of El Mozo (translator: Junior). Nothing more was known about the mother. Later he had a daughter from another woman, about whom little was known.

In 1522 there were first vague reports of a province in the south called Biru , which was to belong to a great empire of the Yncas . It was the time when Hernán Cortés plundered the Aztec Empire in Mexico and built his own empire there. This successful conquest served as a model for the ambitious trio and they forged plans for the conquest of Biru . Luque wanted to finance the project and Pizarro and Almagro were to carry it out.

Conquista of Peru

In 1524 , on November 14th, Almagro and Pizarro, both almost 50 years old, plunged into a first adventure with two small, poorly equipped ships with far too few crews, as if with youthful inexperience - and failed miserably. Almagro had also lost an eye due to an arrow. After all, Almagro had reached 4 ° North on his journey south across the Pacific, as far as no one before him on this route. But due to the failure and the loss of a total of 97 soldiers, the three now had public opinion and the governor against them.

Pedrarias then entrusted Juan de Basurto with the conquest to the south. But he soon died and the trio took their chance again, because they were the only ones on site who were suitable as organizers for a company of this kind. Under these circumstances, and with the prospect of the governor's usual profit sharing, Pedrarias was probably easy to change his mind.

In 1526 , on March 10th, Almagro, Pizarro and Luque, by means of a notarial contract and in front of witnesses, founded a company with the aim of conquering new territories. The deposits were 20,000 gold pesos (1 gold peso corresponded to 4.7 g of fine gold) from Luque, the personal services of Almagro and Pizarro and a license for discoveries that they had received from Governor Pedrarias. The company profit, all metals, precious stones, Indians, lands and in general all advantages that they would obtain should each receive one third. In order to give the pact even more public emphasis, the whole ceremony was crowned with a solemn mass in which the three shared a host. She was made fun of in public for her plans and called mad.

In 1526 they tried again an expedition with 160 soldiers and better equipment. Against all conceivable adversity, they finally advanced across the Pacific to 9 ° south and discovered the Inca Empire , but also saw that the coasts were guarded by numerous soldiers who made it impossible to penetrate the interior and build a settlement.

In 1527 Almagro, Pizarro and Luque were practically bankrupt and because of the continuing failure, the loss of numerous soldiers and the complaints of members of the expedition, they had turned the new governor of Panama against them. Because they no longer received permission from the governor, the three decided that Francisco Pizarro should travel to Europe to get permission from the Spanish King Charles V to continue their project.

In 1530 the trio's apparently unconditional unity broke for the first time when it became known that Francisco Pizarro had passed over his business partners. When negotiating with the Spanish king about the conquest of Peru, as it was now called for the first time, Pizarro had secured all conceivable benefices and titles, without making equal efforts for all three partners as planned. Francisco Pizarro had been appointed Governor and Adelantado of Nueva Castilla by the King on July 26, 1529 by means of the Capitulación de Toledo , and Almagro was only left with the post of Commander of Tumbes . Almagro decided to leave the joint company and asked Pizarro to pay him his share. But Pizarro was not able to implement his plans of conquest without Almagro. Faced with empty coffers and the reasonable assumption that Almagro would continue the project even without Pizarro, he managed to persuade Almagro to stay in the company by promising him that he wanted to ensure that Almagro would also become governor.

Pizarro marches to Peru (frieze in the Capitol in Washington)

In 1531 , on December 28th, the third expedition to Peru to conquer Nueva Castilla , as it was now called, began under the leadership of Pizarro with 183 soldiers and 73 horses. As before, Almagro took on the task of organizing the supply from Panama.

Around this time, the idea of ​​building a governorate independent of Pizarro had matured in Almagro. He asked the Spanish king for permission to conquer and colonize the areas south of Chincha , about 200 km south of today's Lima, up to the Strait of Magellan , the strait that connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean in the south of the continent. But because the king did not want to endanger the expedition to Peru that had just begun, his permit was refused on July 11, 1532.

In 1533 , on April 15, Almagro arrived with another 200 soldiers in Cajamarca , where Francisco Pizarro held the Inca ruler Atahualpa prisoner. Atahualpa raised several tons of gold and silver as a ransom and was still executed by Pizarro. Almagro was not involved in the distribution of the ransom. Luque had died shortly before. Almagro and Pizarro conquered Cusco in November 1533 .

Further south

Division of South America by Charles V

In 1533 Almagro renewed his request to the Spanish king to be allowed to conquer the provinces south of Pizarro's Nueva Castilla and to get his own governorate.

In 1534 , on May 21, Almagro was authorized by King Charles V for his project and appointed governor, captain general and adelantado , the coveted titles of conquistador. The Real Cédula , the royal charter, was handed over in Spain to Hernando Pizarro, Francisco's brother, who was supposed to bring it to Peru. Almagro did not find out about it at first, and the scheming Hernando took advantage of this to withhold the document from him and now to establish himself as city commander in Cuzco.

In August of the same year Almagro stopped the governor of Guatemala Pedro de Alvarado , who was traveling with a troop to conquer the north of the Inca Empire for himself. Alvarado had already reached Quito when Almagro and his soldiers opposed him. At first there was a threat of a military conflict between the two armies, but after tough negotiations Almagro managed to defuse the conflict. For a payment of 100,000 gold pesos, Alvarado ceded his army with equipment, his ships and his supposed rights of conquest to Pizarro and Almagro.

In 1535 , from February, Almagro prepared for an expedition to what is now Chile. He systematically obtained information about the region, which was already known under the name of Chile at that time, and began to equip soldiers and three ships.

In April, a copy of the Real Cédula, which Hernando Pizarro had suppressed, reached Peru. Almagro learned that the Spanish king had granted him an area called Nueva Toledo , which bordered to the south of Pizarro's Nueva Castilla and was in what is now Bolivia and northern Chile. At that time it was not possible to determine with certainty to which of the two areas the city of Cuzco belonged. Diego de Almagro, who had not yet ruled his own areas, was convinced that Cuzco was his due, claimed this city for himself and wanted to take control of it.

Francisco Pizarro wanted to keep the city to himself and his brothers and again he succeeded in appeasing Almagro. With the intention of having him far from Cuzco, Pizarro persuaded him to conquer the promised land in the south after all. A country rumored to be as rich as Peru. In the event that Chile should not hold enough wealth, Almagro could come back to Peru and share in the wealth there. Almagro got involved in the trade and began an expedition that same year.

But Pizarro's intrigue was only a trigger. Rather, Almagro wanted to use his chance to finally get his own government and to finally break away from his business partner Pizarro. And he had to hurry, because other conquistadors were also heading south and Francisco Pizarro was becoming increasingly hostile to him.

In mid-June, Almagro sent a squad of 100 mounted soldiers, led by Juan de Saavedra , to the province of Paria to organize the supply of his expedition with food.

Expedition to Chile

In 1535 , on July 3rd, the time had come. Diego de Almagro set out with a group of 50 soldiers well prepared and well equipped in Cuzco, his destination was Chile. He moved past Lake Titicaca to the province of Paria, where he met with Saavedra, who had meanwhile recruited a large number of Yanaconas (serf Indians) and who had been joined by another 50 soldiers. Latecomers from Cuzco also joined them by January of the following year. Almagros expedition corps on land and sea finally consisted of a total of 531 mounted soldiers, three ships with crew as well as numerous servants, priests, monks, a translator (probably Felipillo ), a secretary, Pawllu Inka Tupaq and another Inca prince, a high priest of the Incas, several thousand Yanaconas, about 100 black slaves, llamas, fighting dogs etc. and represented the best-equipped troops that had been set up in America up to that point.

In 1536 , at the end of March, Almagro crossed a plateau of the Andes with disastrous consequences. At 4,000 meters above sea level, with no significant flora or fauna, constantly exposed to cold westerly winds and without firewood on nights when the few existing rivulets froze to ice, at least 800 of the thinly clad Yanaconas died, almost all black slaves and some Spaniards, and also perished the 50 horses and they lost all their luggage.

At the beginning of April Almagro and his entourage reached the valley of Copiapó in what is now Chile, completely exhausted and sick from the journey through the Andes . Although they had already crossed the southern border of Nueva Toledo , they continued the expedition further south in order to find the riches they had hoped for. Most of the remaining Yanaconas fled during this stage. Almagro continued the expedition through the Guascotal, where he had 30 Chilean Indians cremated in a punitive action for the death of some Spaniards, and then came to the region of today's Coquimbo .

At the end of May one of the ships with supplies reached him near Los Vilos and in June he reached the Aconcagua Valley. After crossing the Aconcagua Valley, part of the expedition reached the Bay of Valparaíso in September 1536 , which from then on received this name and was to be used as a port. Almagro himself reached the southernmost point of his journey, the river Maipo near today's Melipilla , from where he moved north in the direction of today's Santiago .

The expedition did not go as expected at all. Instead of encountering other prosperous high cultures that he could have subjugated and plundered, Almagro only found poor, agrarian societies in his eyes that lived in settlements with no more than ten huts or even in caves and often attacked him with considerable resistance. At least there were gold mines to be found. When reports finally surfaced that the areas not yet reached further south would border the end of the world, his men began to complain and wanted to go back to Peru, to the more pleasant Cuzco. Almagro finally gave up his vision of being able to find a second Peru. The facts were against him, and his advisors calculated that the expedition would have ruined him financially. The cost of the expedition that Almagro paid was estimated at 1,500,000 pesos in gold, while he later made it to Peru for just a little over 400,000 pesos of gold.

In August the time had come when Almagro decided to turn back and claim his supposed rights in Cuzco. On August 27, in view of his old age and the perilous return trip, he made his will in which he appointed his son Diego, called El Mozo, as his successor as governor of Nueva Toledo . After a speech in which he explained the change in his plans to his followers, he canceled each of them the debts they owed to him by solemnly tearing up the promissory notes he had carried with them. So he wrote off claims of 150,000 pesos in gold. Then he moved with his troops and many enslaved prisoners from Chile through the Atacama desert to the north, where he reached the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama in mid-October . By the beginning of the following year he came to Arequipa in Peru. Here his expedition to Chile ended. Almagro and his followers were given the nickname "los de Chile" (those of Chile), which differentiated them from "los pizarristas" (those of Pizarro).

Historians accuse Almagro of having given up on the conquest of Chile due to a lack of determination under the influence of bad advisers who, from the beginning, had the aim of being able to make themselves comfortable in Cuzco. As a result, Almagro would have provoked a civil war in Peru that lasted for years after his death and delayed and made the conquest of Chile more difficult. Another thesis, which is easier to understand, is that the Pizarro brothers' lust for power and greed for power was the mainspring for all important events and that Almagro had to return to ensure his political and economic survival, also because the result of the expedition to Chile was meager.

Battle for Cuzco

Almagro conquers Cuzco
Capture and execution of Diego de Almagros (copper engraving, around 1600)

In 1537 , barely arriving in Arequipa, Almagro learned that the Inca ruler Manco Cápac II had started an uprising, and reports say that the Spanish settlements had been destroyed and Francisco Pizarro killed. The enclosed Cuzco , which was defended by Hernando Pizarro with his soldiers, was all that was left of the colony.

In March Almagro marched with his troops from Arequipa towards Cuzco and also began a diplomatic offensive. He informed the Inca Manco that he was traveling with 1,000 Christians and 700 horses on the orders of the Spanish king to punish those who had offended the Inca and asked Manco to suspend the war so that he could fulfill his mandate . To this end, he sent Manco a warming cloak, which Charles V had expressly sent to give to the Inca.

Manco apparently got involved and complained bitterly to Almagro that he had been insulted by the Spaniards as a dog that they would burn. Hernando Pizarro was afraid of falling victim to an alliance between Almagro and Manco, intrigued against Almagro and denied him access to Cuzco. On April 8, 1537, Almagro took Cuzco and captured Hernando.

After a few days it became known that Francisco Pizarro was still alive and was traveling to Cuzco with 500 soldiers. Almagro asked Francisco Pizarro to recognize his rule over Cuzco. Francisco assured him that he could stay in town until the dispute was resolved by a higher authority, and in return received his brother's release. It should be empty words. No sooner was Hernando free than the Pizarros attacked. This was the prelude to a 17-year war among the Spanish conquistadors over the distribution of the booty of the Inca Empire.

In 1538 , on April 6th, Almagro was defeated in the battle of Las Salinas near Cuzco and put in prison. Hernando Pizarro immediately charged him, including usurpation , and appointed himself a judge. In a few days, the court record swelled to over 2,000 sheets, with statements from witnesses who wanted to put up well with the ruler Pizarro and simply slandered Almagro. On July 8, 1538, Hernando Pizarro sentenced Diego de Almagro to death, denied him an appeal and had him executed in prison by strangling him that same day. The body was then taken to the plaza, where it was displayed in public and its head was cut off. The circumstances of this execution and the vengeance of Almagro's followers later led to the violent death of Francisco Pizarro and to a 20-year imprisonment in Spain for Hernando Pizarro. Diego de Almagro was buried in the La Merced church in Cuzco.

See also


  • Amunátegui Aldunate, Miguel Luis (1828–1888): Diego de Almagro in Descubrimiento i conquista de Chile pp. 37–179 . Impr., Litogr. y Encuadernación Barcelona, ​​Santiago de Chile 1913 ( Memoria Chilena - Documents ).
  • Gongora Marmolejo, Alonso de (1524-1575): Historia de Chile desde su descubrimiento hasta el año de 1575 Tomo 2, p. VII – XIII, 1–315 Colección de historiadores de Chile y de documentos relativos a la historia nacional. Impr. Del Ferrocarril, Santiago de Chile 1861 ( Memoria Chilena - documents ).
  • Hemming, John (1935-): The Conquest of the Incas . Mariner, Boston 2012, ISBN 978-0-15-602826-4 .
  • Mellafe, Rolando (1929–): Diego de Almagro: descubrimiento del Perú . Imp. Universitaria, Santiago de Chile 1954 ( Memoria Chilena - documents ).
  • Pizarro y Orellana, Fernando (1594–1640): Vida del mariscal y adelantado Don Diego de Almagro el viejo y de su hijo Don Diego de Almagro pp. 211–244 in Varones ilustres del Nuevo Mundo, descubridores, conquistadores y pacificadores del opulento, dilatado y poderoso imperio de las Indias Occidentales: sus vidas, virtud, valor, hazañas y claros Blasones, Ilustrados en los sucesos destas vidas; With a Discurso legal de la obligacion que tienen los reyes… Diaz de la Carrera, a Costa de P. Coello, Madrid 1639 ( Memoria Chilena - Documents ).
  • Ramón, Armando de (1927-2004): Descubrimiento de Chile y compañeros de Almagro . Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile 1953 ( Memoria Chilena - Documents ).
  • Villalobos R., Sergio (1930-): Diego de Almagro: descubrimiento de Chile, pp. 103-156 . Universitaria, Santiago de Chile 1954 ( Memoria Chilena - Documents ).
  • Winsor, Justin (1831–1897): Narrative and critical history of America Vol. 2 . Houghton, Mifflin and Company; etc., etc, Boston, New York 1886 ( Internet Archive, Presidio of San Francisco ).

Web links

Commons : Diego de Almagro el Viejo  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Bach in Biographies on World History , VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1989, p. 41
  2. z. B. Winsor, Justin (1831-1897). 1886
  3. Ramón, Armando de, 1953, p. 115 and Mellafe, Rolando, 1954, p. 23 and Villalobos, Sergio, 1954. p. 118: quoting from José Toribio Medina Zavala (1852–1930), "Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de Chile, desde el viaje de Magallanes, hasta la batalla de Maipo ". 1888. Volume VI, p. 141
  4. ^ Villalobos, Sergio. 1954, p. 119
  5. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 43
  6. Winsor, Justin. 1886, p. 506
  7. Pizarro y Orellana, Fernando, 1639, p. 212
  8. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 38f
  9. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 55
  10. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 59
  11. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 77
  12. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 23
  13. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 77
  14. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 10
  15. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 24
  16. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 33
  17. ^ Hemming, John, p. 149
  18. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 35
  19. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 63
  20. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 95
  21. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 29
  22. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 42
  23. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 42
  24. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 47
  25. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 50
  26. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 103
  27. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 52
  28. Gongora, Alonso de. 1861, p. 3
  29. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 54
  30. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 56
  31. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, pp. 57f, 68
  32. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 58
  33. Amunátegui, Miguel. 1913, p. 140
  34. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 39
  35. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 99
  36. ^ Villalobos, Sergio. 1954, p. 144
  37. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 84
  38. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 85
  39. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, pp. 97-102
  40. Ramón, Armando de. 1953, p. 117