Biography of Francisco de Bobadilla (¿-1502)

Pesquisidor judge appointed by the Catholic Kings to find out problems in the Spanish island because of the misrule of Christopher Columbus and his brothers. It processed the Admiral and died in the wreck of the ship in which he returned to Spain.

Born in Aragon, the year and the place is not known. In 1480 he was appointed commander of the order of Calatrava in Auñón, where his tough performance originated the uprising of residents of this town, who wanted to kill him. He was also Commander in Berninches, Castellanos and the Hill. Despite his background, or perhaps because of them, he was appointed judge pesquisidor by the Catholic monarchs (May 21, 1499), to find out what was happening on the island of Hispaniola, where they came from continuing complaints about the performance of Cristóbal Colón and his brothers. After the rebellion of Francisco Roldán, Mayor of Santo Domingo, many neighbors and residents complained to the monarchs by venal performances, abuse the Indians and for the concealment of fifth real pearls and gold.

Coroner Bobadilla, in charge of finding out the truth, embarked to India a year after his appointment. It was accompanied by about 500 men (among them several priests) and 14 Indians who, after having been unjustly enslaved by Columbus, were returned to their lands. He came to Santo Domingo from August 23, 1500, where he met with Diego Colón, who administered the colony in the absence of his brother Christopher, who was in La Vega. Immediately the problems arose because Bobadilla ordered don Diego to abandon the fortress where he lived, and he refused to recognize the authority of the newcomer. Pending the return of the Admiral, Bobadilla started a series of inquiries against his poor performance, he faced him even more with Diego Colón. He decided then to apprehend him and order his transfer to Spain, also sent a request to Cristóbal Colón to make it appear in the Dominican capital, what the Admiral did in September 1500; then the coroner apprehended him at Fort along with his brother Bartholomew Columbus (who had returned from fighting Indians of Jaragua). Finally he sent to Spain at the beginning of next October, guarded by the captain Alonso de Vallejo, to deliver to Fonseca, the Bishop of Burgos, who headed then by Indian businesses and was mortal enemy of Columbus. It seems that the discoverer did not carry chains, against everything that has been said, but asked that they put to demonstrate the ingratitude of the Kings towards him, in spite of having discovered the Indies. The Catholic monarchs received Columbus cordially and ordered put on freedom, ignoring any of the charges, which were also denied.

Bobadilla took the Spanish Government until April 1502, when he arrived in Bliss Island Frey Nicolás de Ovando, sent by the Catholic monarchs as a new Governor. Bobadilla was ordered to return in the same fleet that had led to his successor and departed in June following, with such bad luck that sank the boat that was caused by a hurricane that had been foreseen by the own Cristóbal Colón. Padre Las Casas, defender of Colon, attributed the success to the designs of Providence. The performance of Bobadilla was very criticized by the romantic historians, who emphasized the many sufferings of Colon against an official of limited size, although the critics, with the exception of Las Casas, not interpreted it in the same way.


INCHÁUSTEGUI, J. Marino. Francisco de Bobadilla. Three homonyms and a Columbian enigma decryption (Madrid, 1964).

FERNÁNDEZ DE OVIEDO, GONZALO. History General and native of the Indies (Madrid; Atlas, 1959, 5 vols.).

LAS CASAS, BARTOLOMÉ. "History of the Indies", volumes I and II of the complete works of... (Madrid; Atlas, 1957).