Pedro de Alvarado

Alvarado, Pedro de (pāˈħrō dā älväräˈħō) [key], 1486–1541, Spanish conquistador. He went to Hispaniola (1510), sailed in the expedition (1518) of Juan de Grijalva, and was the chief lieutenant of Hernán Cortés in the conquest of Mexico. He commanded at Tenochtitlán in the absence of Cortés, and his brutality provoked a brief native rebellion. Sent out by Cortés in 1523, he conquered Guatemala and Salvador. He was governor of Guatemala until his death. He met with much opposition from the audiencia in Mexico, but strengthening his power on two voyages to Spain (1527–28, 1536–39), he exercised absolute control. He founded many cities and developed the colony. An expedition to Ecuador (1534–35), made in an attempt to share in the booty Francisco Pizarro was taking from the Incan empire, ended in defeat. In 1540, Alvarado, sailing for the Moluccas, stopped in Mexico. While there he was influenced by the viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and by the tales of Marcos de Niza to begin a search for the fabled Cibola. When the indigenous people of Nueva Galicia unexpectedly revolted in 1541, Alvarado took part against them in the Mixtón War. He led a foolhardy attack and was accidentally killed in the subsequent retreat. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo took command of the maritime expedition. Alvarado's wife, Doña Beatriz de la Cueva, succeeded him as governor of Guatemala. His letters concerning the conquest of Guatemala have been published.

See J. E. Kelly, Pedro de Alvarado (1932).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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