Biography of Alonso de Ojeda (1470-1515)

Sailor and Spanish conquistador born in 1466 in basin and died 1515 or 1516 in Santo Domingo. It was one of the first conquerors of America, as well as the first great Spanish discoverer, after Columbus. He accompanied the Admiral on his second voyage and participated actively in the discovery of gold and the first actions to subdue the indigenous people of the island of Hispaniola. Later he was a discoverer of the Venezuelan and Colombian coast, founder of Santa Cruz, first Spanish site in South America and Governor of Uraba, one of the first governorates of mainland, of which the Foundation of Santa María la Antigua of Darien was broken down.

Although she was born in Cuenca, it was a native of Hojeda, near Ona, in the merindad de Bureba. He belonged to a noble family and was paje and servant of the Duke of Medinaceli don Luis of the sow, in whose house he met maybe Cristóbal Colón, when it came to Spain. He participated in the taking of Granada, where he left evidence of his military skills, his skill as a swordsman and his audacity. Fr. Las Casas, who knew him, made this description of himself: "was small of body but very well proportioned and very well prepared, beautiful gesture, beautiful face and very large eyes: more loose men in running and make turns in all the other things of forces". Protected by the Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca was put in charge of one of the ships of the second voyage of Columbus in 1493. To reach the island of Guadalupe, Colon entrusted search the Inspector Diego Márquez, who had lost to go with eight fellow. Once in Hispaniola, Columbus commanded exploring the Cibao region, inside (January 1494), where Ojeda won the first signs of gold of the Indies, sent by Columbus to the Catholic Kings together with a memorial where extolling the richness of the discovered Islands.

Shortly after he was given another important mission as it was the help the captain Margarit, who was besieged in the fortress of Saint Thomas (erected in Cibao) by the hosts of the cacique Caonabo. Ojeda rushed to the rescue of the captain but was besieged in turn, until they could save your new reinforcements come from la Isabela with Columbus and his brother Bartholomew. Later Caonabo troops laid siege to Isabela and Ojeda decided to capture the Chief. He went to the Maguana province, where he lived, and during the interview he maintained, Ojeda offered as a gift about fetters of brass. When the chieftain was immobilized, it went to his horse, kidnapped him and took him under the gaze of Colon. He then defeated another brother of Caonabo what is rewarded with six leagues of land in Maguana.

Ojeda was the Spanish until the end of 1498, when irrupted with Colon and returned to Spain. He went to the Court and met with Bishop Fonseca, who asked him to check it was discovered by Columbus on his third voyage. Be so authorized him to make the first journey of discovery after the Columbian. Patent of the Bishop departed from puerto de Santa María to May 18, 1499. He wore a single man-of-war and you they was accompanied by the cosmographer Juan of the Cosa and Amerigo Vespucci, who then made his first trip to the new world. He paid Africa (where seized a Caravel of Huelva), went to the Canary Islands and finally followed the third Columbian travel route to arrive at the South American coast by the Venezuelan Guayana. From here, he climbed to the island of Trinidad and the Paria peninsula, where it had been before the Admiral. From here he made his real discovery; the coast of Venezuela to Maracaibo where the Spanish found a Lake housing reminiscent of Vespucio Venice and therefore christened the place like Venice girl or Venezuela. Then by the peninsula of la Guajira (now Colombian territory), that the Indians called Chichibacoa or Coquibacoa, until about a place that seemed from Afar "sailing ship" continued. It was the Cape of the sail, that not arrived since before reaching it, they straightened out towards the island of Hispaniola and landed in puerto Yáquimo 5 September 1499. There they loaded Dyer stick and found Francisco Roldán, Mayor of Santo Domingo, reconciled with Columbus after his rebellion. The officer asked for permission to make discoveries and Ojeda showed it. It was signed by Fonseca, as we indicated. The rest of the trip lacks interest; they loaded slaves in the Lucaya and arrived in Cádiz in mid-June of the year 1500. The results of these discoveries (the Venezuelan coast and part of the Colombian Eastern Atlantic) appropriated on the famous map of Juan de la Cosa, drafted the year 1500.

Ojeda was appointed Governor of Coquibacoa 8 June 1501 and organized a colonizing expedition with two partners called Juan de Vergara y García de Ocampo. He left in January 1502 with four ships and repeated the previous path. Arriving at choir, called Valfermoso, it instructed Vergara by food to Jamaica and continued towards a port in Santa Cruz, possibly called Bahia Honda in the Colombian area of the Guajira peninsula. Here he built a Fort, which was the first Spanish settlement in South America. Discontent over the lack of food and by the adverse conditions channeled a great hostility toward the Governor. When he reached Vergara was concluded with Ocampo to dismiss Ojeda, who was arrested (may or June) and therefore despoblado place. This resulted in a lawsuit in the island of Hispaniola between Ojeda and his partners he was acquitted the first in 1503.

The famous Burgos Board which agreed to the colonization of mainland, divided into two governorates, the Veragua and Urabá, was held in 1508. The last of these corresponded to Ojeda and was the current Colombian coast between the Cabo de la Vela and the Gulf of Uraba. He met four ships and 220 men and departed from Santo Domingo of November 10, 1509 in the company of Juan de la Cosa and left on the island to its partner the cosmographer Martín Fernández de Enciso to be it recruiting more men. It landed in the vicinity of Cartagena, where he read the famous "requirement" to the Indians and was interned until the town of Turbaco. When the Spaniards were engaged in plunder empty dwellings of the natives appeared warriors, that caused a great slaughter. Among the victims was the cosmographer Juan de la Cosa, who was captured and asaeteado. Ojeda managed to escape and reached the beach, where it was Diego de Nicuesa, which was headed for the rulership of Veragua. He joined Ojeda in retaliation and then went on his way. Ojeda continued also along the coast of the rulership with direction towards the West in search of a place to found. He thought he found in the Gulf of Urabá, where erected San Sebastián de Urabá, a simple strong, indeed. The place was unhealthy and ill many men, but more serious was that the Indians used arrows poisoned with curare, producing near-instant death to those who were injured. The own Ojeda was injured in one leg although it could save her life after forcing the surgeon that apply on their wound two plates to red hot. To contain the bleeding, it was necessary to spend a pipe of vinegar.

Before the terrible situation, given that it did not the expectations reinforcement of Fernández de Enciso, Ojeda decided to take the appearance of a ship in Urabá to go to the Spanish in search of food and equipment. Let the people of San Sebastián under the command of a dark Lieutenant named Francisco Pizarro (future conqueror of the Peru) with orders of acting as it believed appropriate if he had not returned within a period of 50 days and embarked bound for the Spanish. The ship was full of bandits who, led by Bernardino de Talavera, decided to go to Cuba, instead of Santo Domingo, to avoid justice. There they were shipwrecked and crossed the island on foot to the East, where they were met by the Indians (possibly where is now Santiago). Aid to the Governor of Jamaica, Juan de Esquivel, who sent a ship with Pánfilo de Narváezwas requested from there. It ran to Talavera and his followers and Ojeda was to Santo Domingo. The misery that was prevented him from buying promptly enough to reinforce his men of San Sebastián. Ojeda lived in Santo Domingo until the year 1516 and ordered that they bury him at the entrance of the Church of San Francisco.

As the host of the San Sebastián departed under the command of Pizarro at the end of 50 days and found the reinforcement of Fernández de Enciso, where was Vasco Núñez de Balboa, which indicated the place to found in mainland near Cartagena: a spot next to a river (Tanela) where there was no Indian archers. The Gulf of Urabá was and there was erected the city of Santa María Antigua del Darién, basis of the discovery of the Pacific and colonization in Panama.

See expeditions of Ojeda and Nicuesa and journey of Alonso de Ojeda.


FERNÁNDEZ DE NAVARRETE, Martín. "The testament of Méndez' in works of... vol. I, p. 240-248 (Madrid; Atlas).

FERNÁNDEZ DE OVIEDO, Gonzalo. History General and native of India, vol I, (Madrid; Atlas, 1959).

LAS CASAS, Bartolomé. "History of the Indies" in complete works of..., vol. II (Madrid; Atlas, 1961).

MORALES PADRÓN, Francisco. Theory and laws of conquest (Madrid, 1979).

RAMOS PÉREZ, Demetrio. Boldness, business and politics in the "discovery and rescue" trips (Valladolid, 1981).

ROMOLI, Kathleen. Vasco Núñez de Balboa (Madrid, 1955).