Alonso de Ojeda

Alonso de Ojeda (Torrejoncillo del Rey, Cuenca 1468 (some sources state 1466) – Santo Domingo 1515) was a Spanish navigator, governor and conquistador. He travelled through Guyana, Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago, Curaçao, Aruba and Colombia. He is famous for having named Venezuela, which he explored during his first two expeditions, for having been the first European to visit Guyana, Colombia, and Lake Maracaibo, and later for founding Santa Cruz (La Guairita).

Alonso de Ojeda
Alonso de Ojeda. This image may not be of Alonso de Ojeda as some authors claim it is of Diego de Almagro
Bornc. 1468
Diedc. 1515
Known forNaming Venezuela, first European to visit Lake Maracaibo, founder of Santa Cruz (La Guairita)

Early life

He was born in Torrejoncillo del Rey (Cuenca) around 1468 (some authors claim 1466) to an impoverished noble family. He grew up in Ojeda, near Cristian Garrido Oña, in the merindad of Bureba in the present day province of Burgos in northern Spain. In his youth he served the Duke of Medinaceli, don Luis de la Cerda, as a page.

Alonso de Ojeda was a close relative of a member of the Court of the Inquisition, who had the same name. This relative presented him to the famous Archbishop of Burgos Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca who would later become president of the Council of the Indies.

He distinguished himself in the conquest of Grenada, with his military abilities, his skill as a swordsman and his bravery. The young Ojeda quickly won the patronage of the Archbishop, who offered his protection at the first opportunity. Alonso was slight of stature, surprisingly agile and extremely accomplished with all types of weapons. In addition he was quick witted and insightful, he was brave to the point of recklessness, vindictive to the point of cruelty, softhearted with the weak and courteous with women, quarrelsome and a duellist, but he was deeply religious and rigorously observed his religious duties. The Archbishop thought the youth had a well-tempered soul and a generous heart, but he also noticed that his character had a depth of ambition that would help him to emulate Christopher Columbus.

Arrival in Hispaniola

In September 1493, thanks to Rodríguez de Fonseca, he accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Americas, arriving on the island of Hispaniola. In January 1494, Columbus gave him the task of finding the members of a number of crews that were lost in the hinterland of the island. Ojeda only had fifteen men at his command in his search of the Cibao region of the island, which was controlled by the warlike Taíno cacique called Caonabo. Ciboa was an area that contained many gold mines and Ojeda returned to La Isabela to report his findings to the Admiral who he found was suffering from a fever.[1]

In March 1494 Columbus founded Fort Santo Tomás, with Pedro Margarit in command, later relieved by Ojeda.[1]:126,129[2]

Caonabo and his warriors attacked the fort and Ojeda and his men defeated them.[2]:28–29 Legend has it that Ojeda personally took Caonabo prisoner using golden shackles by making the Cacique believe that they were items of royal clothing.

Alonso de Ojeda also took part in the battle of Vega Real (also called the battle of Jáquimo), in which, under his command, the Spanish were victorious. An account of the battle written by Father Bartolomé de las Casas states that the native army comprised ten thousand warriors, while there were only some four hundred Spanish soldiers. Of course it is possible that these figures have been exaggerated. Ojeda returned to Spain in 1496.

First voyage to Venezuela

Viajes de Alonso de Ojeda
Voyages undertaken by Alonso de Ojeda.

On returning to Spain, Ojeda was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs, without the permission of Columbus, to sail for America again, which he did on 18 May 1499 with three caravels. He travelled with the pilot and cartographer Juan de la Cosa and the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci. This was the first of a series of what have become known as the "minor journeys" or "Andalusian journeys" that were made to the New World.

On leaving Spain the flotilla sailed along the west coast of Africa to Cape Verde before taking the same route that Columbus had used a year before on his third voyage. After making landfall Vespucio decided to separate from the flotilla and he sailed south towards Brazil. The main flotilla arrived at the mouths of the rivers Essequibo and Orinoco in the Gulf of Paria. It also visited the peninsulas of Paria and Araya, the islands of Trinidad and Margarita and travelled along the continental coast, always in search of a passage towards India. The flotilla then sailed along the Paraguaná Peninsula and sighted the island of Curacao, which was named Giants Island as the indigenous people that were seen were thought to be giants. During the same journey, he constructed a ship and visited the islands of Aruba and the Las Aves archipelago.

During the voyage along the Paraguaná Peninsula the flotilla entered into a gulf (Gulf of Venezuela) where there were villages of the Wayuu people with palafito houses built over the water and supported on stilts made from tree trunks. These villages are said to have reminded Amerigo Vespucci of the city of Venice, (Italian: Venezia), and so the area was given the name Venezuela[3] meaning Little Venice. (However, according to Martín Fernández de Enciso, who supported Ojeda's 1509 expedition, they found a local population calling themselves the Veneciuela, so "Venezuela" may derive from the local term.) The flotilla arrived at the entrance to Lake Maracaibo on 24 August 1499. The lake was originally named after Saint Bartholomew as this was his saints day. Ojeda also reached Cabo de la Vela, on the Guajira Peninsula, which he named Coquivacoa.

A few days later the expedition left Cabo de la Vela for Hispaniola with some pearls obtained in Paria, a little gold and a number of slaves. The scarcity of goods and slaves resulted in a poor economic return for investors in the expedition. However, the importance of the voyage comes from the fact that it was the first detailed reconnaissance of the coast of Venezuela and that Spanish explorers carried it out. Following Colombus' third voyage Ojeda is credited with leading the second European expedition to have visited Venezuela, and the first to have visited Colombia. The expedition also gave Juan de la Cosa the chance to draw the first known map of the area now known as Venezuela, as well as being possibly the first journey that Vespucio made to the New World.

However, when the expedition arrived in Hispaniola on 5 September the followers of Christopher Columbus were angry because they considered that Ojeda was infringing upon Columbus’ exploring privileges. This resulted in brawls and fights between both groups, which left a number of dead and wounded. Ojeda took many captives back to Spain whom he sold as slaves. Even so, the voyage was not financially successful, netting some fifteen thousand maravedis in profit to be divided among the fifty-five crewmembers surviving from the original three hundred. Note, that since forty maravedis per day was an average wage for skilled labour at this time, they could have made more money staying at home. Returning on the heels of Pedro Alonso Nino's smaller but far more lucrative voyage magnified this disappointment.[4] The date of return is disputed: it is usually stated that Ojeda returned in June 1500 but the historian Demetrio Ramos has suggested the earlier date of November 1499.[5]

Second voyage to Venezuela

Ojeda decided to make another journey and he received a new commission from the Catholic Monarchs on 8 June 1501. He was appointed Governor of Coquivacoa behind the back of Christopher Columbus. This appointment gave him the right to found a colony in this area, although he was advised not to visit Paria. On this occasion he formed a partnership with the Andalusian merchants Juan de Vergara and García de Campos, who were able to charter four caravels: the Santa María de la Antigua, the Santa María de la Grenada, the Magdalena, and the Santa Ana.[6]

Ojeda set sail from Spain in January 1502 and he followed the same route as his first voyage. On this occasion he kept his distance from the Gulf of Paria and made landfall on Margarita Island where, according to some sources, he tried to obtain gold and pearls from the indigenous people using a number of different methods. He sailed along the coast of Venezuela from Curiana to the Paraguaná Peninsula. On 3 May 1502 he founded a colony on the Guajira Peninsula, at Bahia Honda. The colony was called Santa Cruz and it was the first Spanish settlement on Colombian territory and therefore the first on the American mainland.

However, the colony did not last for more than three months, as the new arrivals started attacking the indigenous villages in the area, causing constant conflict with them. In addition to this there were personal difficulties between Ojeda and his men. At this point Vergara and Campos took Ojeda prisoner and abandoned the settlement with the small amount of plunder that had been captured. Ojeda was put in prison in Hispaniola in May 1502, where he was held until 1504. He was released following an appeal made by Archbishop Rodríguez de Fonseca, although he had to pay a costly indemnity, which left him with little money.

The second voyage was therefore a failure as he had not discovered any new areas and he had not received much of a share of the plunder obtained by Vergara and Camps. In addition the Santa Cruz colony was abandoned and the Governorship of Coquivacoa was abolished.

Third voyage to New Andalusia

On regaining his freedom Ojeda remained in Hispaniola for four years with little to do. (Some authors think that, on his release from prison, Ojeda returned to Spain.[7]) Then in 1508 he learnt that King Ferdinand the Catholic was interviewing people interested in colonizing and governing the section of mainland between the capes of Cabo Gracias a Dios (on the border between present day Honduras and Nicaragua) and Cabo de la Vela in present-day Colombia. Juan de la Cosa went to Spain in order to represent Ojeda at court. One of Ojeda’s rivals was Diego de Nicuesa.

Both candidates had good reputations and sympathizers at court, so the King decided to divide the region into two governorates: Veragua to the west and New Andalusia to the east as far as the Gulf of Urabá. The former was awarded to Nicuesa and the latter to Ojeda in a commission signed in 1508.[2]:95,134–135

The new governors repaired to Santo Domingo in order to prepare the expeditionary flotillas. There was a great disparity between the two flotillas. As Nicuesa was wealthier and had better credit with the colonial authorities he was able to attract 800 men, many horses, five caravels and two brigs. While Ojeda’s flotilla only consisted of a little more than 300 men, two brigs and two smaller ships. Among those who embarked on these four vessels was Francisco Pizarro, the future conqueror of Peru. Hernán Cortés, who was later to dominate Mexico, would have been among the soldiers of fortune engaged in this adventure, had a sudden illness not prevented him from sailing. Due to the disputes regarding the extent of each of the two governorates, Juan de la Cosa decided that the River Atrato would form the boundary between the two regions.

Ojeda promised to make the wealthy lawyer Martín Fernández de Enciso mayor of the new colony that Ojeda planned to establish in New Andalusia. Encisco was ordered to follow on after the main flotilla with a chartered boat and more provisions. The main flotilla finally set sail from Santo Domingo on 10 November 1509, a few days ahead of Nicuesa. In an attempt to avoid problems with the indigenous peoples Ojeda took the unusual step of asking the writer Juan López de Palacios Rubios to draft a proclamation. This invited the local people to submit peacefully to rule by Imperial Spain or be forced to do so. The proclamation had the approval of the Spanish authorities.

The flotilla arrived at Bahia de Calamar in present-day Cartagena (Colombia). This was against the wishes of De la Cosa who did not want to land in the area. After disembarking with about 70 men Ojeda encountered a number of indigenous tribes. He then sent out missionaries and interpreters to read out the proclamation that had been drafted by Palacios Rubios. The indigenous people were upset by this proclamation and so Ojeda tried to placate them by offering them trinkets. At this time the Spanish were also raiding villages to capture Indians for slaves. Ojeda was no exception to the cruelty of the Spanish against the native people. An eyewitness account recorded by historian Bartolomé de las Casas notes, "The Spaniards worked an incredible slaughter on that village, they spared no one, women, children, babies or not. Then they robbed."[8] These actions so provoked the indigenous people that they started to fight against the Spanish settlers. Ojeda defeated the natives in the coastal area and on pursuing some of the survivors who had escaped into the jungle he came upon the village of Turbaco. The Spanish were then taken by surprise by a counterattack. Nearly the entire party were wiped out in the battle and Juan de la Cosa sacrificed his life so that Ojeda could escape. Only one other Spanish soldier survived the battle and he and Ojeda fled back to the coast where they were rescued by the ships anchored in the bay.

Nicuesa arrived with his flotilla soon after and, worried by Ojeda’s losses, he gave him arms and men. The two men then forgot their differences and joined forces to seek revenge on the people of Turbaco, who were massacred to a man.

Governor of Nueva Andalucía and Urabá

Nicuesa then left for Veragua while Ojeda continued travelling along the coast of Nueva Andalucía toward the southwest. On 20 January 1510 he founded the settlement of San Sebastián de Urabá, which in reality was little more than a fort.

However, the fort soon grew short of food, which exacerbated the problems caused by the unhealthy climate and the constant threat of attack by the local tribes who attacked the Spaniards with poisoned arrows. Ojeda was wounded on the leg by one such attack.

Eight months after the flotilla left Santo Domingo the assistance promised by Fernández de Enciso still had not arrived. Francisco Pizarro was placed in charge of the fort and ordered to stay there for the fifty days that it would take for Ojeda to travel to and return from Santo Domingo. However, Ojeda never returned to San Sebastian and after the fifty days Pizarro decided to leave the colony in the two brigs along with the 70 colonists. A little later Fernández de Enciso, along with Vasco Núñez de Balboa, arrived to provide assistance to the survivors. The indigenous people who lived in the area later burnt down the fort.

Ojeda eventually returned to Santo Domingo in the brig of a Spanish pirate called Bernardino de Talavera who was fleeing from Hispaniola and passed by the port.

Shipwrecked in Cuba

When Ojeda returned to Santo Domingo he was accompanied by seventy men and he was seeking help. However, the pirate took Ojeda prisoner and would not set him free. At this point a powerful hurricane struck the boat and Talavera had to seek help from Ojeda. Despite their efforts the ship was shipwrecked at Jagua, Sancti Spíritus, in the south of Cuba. Ojeda decided to travel along the coast on foot with Talavera and his men in order to reach Maisí Point from where they would be able to get to Hispaniola.

However, the party faced a number of difficulties en route and half of the men died of hunger, illness or other hardships that they met along the way. The sole possession remaining to Ojeda was an image of the Virgin Mary, which he had carried with him since he left Spain. He made a promise on this image that he would build a church dedicated to her in the first village that he reached where he was given hospitality.

A little later, and with only a dozen men and the pirate Talavera still surviving, he arrived in the district of Cueybá where the chief Cacicaná provided food and shelter. Ojeda was true to his word and he built a small hermitage to the Virgin in the village, which was venerated by the local people. The party was rescued by Pánfilo de Narváez and taken to Jamaica, where Talavera was imprisoned for piracy. From Jamaica Ojeda returned to Hispaniola where he learned that Fernández de Enciso had been able to relieve the colonists who had stayed in San Sebastián.

Later life and death

After the failure of his journey to Nueva Andalucía, Ojeda did not mount any further expeditions and he renounced his position as governor. He lived out the last five years of his life in Santo Domingo. He later withdrew to the Monasterio de San Francisco where he died in 1515. Las Casas records of his death, that "He died sick and poor, he didn't have a cent to bury him, I think, for all the pearls, the gold he had … stolen from the Indians, for all the slaves he had made of them the times he hit the mainland. He willed himself to be buried (beneath) the door of the … monastery of St. Francis..."[9] This was so that all the visitors to the monastery would walk over his grave as a penance for all the errors that he had committed during his life.

His remains were moved to the former Convento Dominico. The excavations also found the remains of Bartholomew Columbus.


Ciudad Ojeda, a city on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo, is named in his honour.

The Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez tells the story of the life of the conquistador in his novel El Caballero de la Virgen (1929).

In addition the Spanish writer Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa tells the story of Ojeda's life in his novel Centauros (2007).


  1. ^ a b Columbus, Ferdinand (1959). The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand. New Brunswick: Rutgers, The State University. p. 122.
  2. ^ a b c Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 25–26.
  3. ^ Dydynski, K; Beech, C (2004). Venezuela. Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74104-197-2. Retrieved 10 March 2007.. p. 177.
  4. ^ Dugard, Martin. The Last Voyage of Columbus. Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2005. p85.
  5. ^ RAMOS, Demetrio (1980). "El regreso de Alonso de Ojeda de su viaje de descubrimiento". In Antonio DOMÍNGUEZ ORTIZ. Homenaje a Antonio Domínguez Ortiz. Madrid: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia. ISBN 84-369-0833-3., cited in RAMOS, Demetrio (1982). "El retorno a España de Alonso de Ojeda, en calidad de preso, después de su Segundo Viaje" (PDF). Quinto Centenario. pp. 209–220.
  6. ^ Irving, Washington. The Companions of Columbus. Carey and Lea, 1831.
  7. ^ Dugard, Martin. The Last Voyage of Columbus. Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2005. p165.
  8. ^ Bartolomé de Las Casa: Indian Freedom; The Cause of Bartolomé de las Casas, Trans by Francis Patrick Sullivan (Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995),118-119.
  9. ^ Bartolomé de Las Casa: Indian Freedom; The Cause of Bartolomé de las Casas, Trans by Francis Patrick Sullivan (Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995), p. 119.


External links

1515 in science

The year 1515 in science and technology included many events, some of which are listed here.


Caquetio, Caiquetio, or Caiquetia are natives of northwestern Venezuela, living along the shores of Lake Maracaibo at the time of the Spanish conquest. They moved inland to avoid enslavement by the Spaniards, while their numbers were drastically affected by colonial warfare, as were their neighbours, the Quiriquire and the Jirajara. The Caquetíos were also present in Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire when these islands were first discovered by Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. The occupants of this region were known as Caquetíos by the Spaniards and their language (Caquetío) belongs to the Arawakan family of languages. The Caquetío and the Jirajara spoke the same language, and their cultures were quite similar. The Arawakan or Caquetío language is termed a "ghost" language because virtually no trace of it survives. Only the name remains, saved in 17th-century texts.

Ciudad Ojeda

Ciudad Ojeda is a city located in the northeastern shore of Lake Maracaibo in Zulia State in northwestern Venezuela. Its population as of the 2005 census was listed as 128,941.

Colonial Venezuela

Spanish expeditions led by Columbus and Alonso de Ojeda reached the coast of present-day Venezuela in 1498 and 1499. The first colonial exploitation was of the pearl oysters of the "Pearl Islands". Spain established its first permanent South American settlement in the present-day city of Cumaná in 1522, and in 1577 Caracas became the capital of the Province of Venezuela. There was also for a few years a German colony at Klein-Venedig.

The 16th- and 17th-century colonial economy was centered on gold mining and livestock farming. The relatively small number of colonists employed indigenous farmers on their haciendas, and enslaved other indigenous people and, later, Africans to work in the mines. The Venezuelan territories were governed at different times from the distant capitals of the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru.

In the 18th century, cocoa plantations grew up along the coast, worked by further importations of African slaves. Cacao beans became Venezuela's principal export, monopolized by the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Most of the surviving indigenous people had by then migrated to the south, where Spanish friars were active. Intellectual activity increased among the white Creole elite, centered on the university at Caracas. The Province of Venezuela was included in the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717, and became the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777.

The independence struggle began in 1810 while Spain was engaged in the Peninsular War. The Venezuelan War of Independence ensued. The Republic of Gran Colombia became independent from Spain in 1821 under the leadership of Simón Bolívar, and Venezuela separated from that Republic in 1830.


Coquivacoa or Coquibacoa is an indigenous name for an area in north-west Venezuela - either the Gulf of Venezuela (as used by Colombian President Alfonso López Michelsen in 1974) or Lake Maracaibo (as others argue) or possibly the wider region. It may also be the name of an indigenous people itself, in particular the people fought by Ambrosius Ehinger before his 1529 establishment of Maracaibo; the name "Maracaibo" may derive from a Coquivacoa chieftain killed by Ehinger. This people may be related to (or even identical to) the Wayuu or the Caquetio people.

The Spanish conquistador Alonso de Ojeda had been appointed Governor of Coquibacoa in 1502, a position that only lasted a few months. He had applied the term Coquibacoa to the Guajira Peninsula, which Ojeda erroneously thought was an island.

Decades of the New World

Decades of the New World (De orbe novo decades) by Peter Martyr's is a series of letters and reports of the early explorations of Central and South America that was published beginning 1511 and later anthologized. Being among the earliest such reports, Decades are of great value in the history of geography and discovery and describe the early contacts of Europeans and Native Americans derived from the narrative of the voyages of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean and the reports from Hernán Cortés's Mexican expedition.

The Decades consisted of eight reports, two of which Martyr had previously sent as letters describing the voyages of Columbus, to Cardinal Ascanius Sforza in 1493 and 1494. In 1501 Martyr, as requested by the Cardinal of Aragon, added eight chapters on the voyage of Columbus and the exploits of Martin Alonzo Pinzón. In 1511 he added a supplement giving an account of events from 1501 to 1511. By 1516 he had finished two other Decades:

The first was devoted to the exploits of Alonso de Ojeda, Diego de Nicuesa, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa. It was first published against his consent in a Venetian-Italian summary in Venice in 1504, reprinted in 1507, and published in a Latin translation in 1508. The original Latin text was published in 1511.

The second gave an account of Balboa's discovery of the Pacific Ocean, Columbus' fourth voyage, and the expeditions of Pedrarias Dávila.

The first three appeared together at Alcalá de Henares in 1516 under the title: De orbe novo decades cum Legatione Babylonica.

The Enchiridion de nuper sub D. Carolo repertis insulis (Basle, 1521) was printed as the fourth Decade, describing the voyages of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, Juan de Grijalva, and Hernán Cortés.

The fifth Decade (1523) dealt with the conquest of Mexico and the circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan.

The sixth Decade (1524) gave an account of Dávila's discoveries on the west coast of America.

The seventh Decade (1525) had collected descriptions of the customs of the natives in present-day South Carolina, including the "Testimony of Francisco de Chicora", a Native American taken captive there; as well as those of natives in Florida, Haiti, Cuba, and Darién.

The eighth Decade (1525) told the story of the march of Cortés against Olit.In 1530 the eight Decades were published together for the first time at Alcalá. Later editions of single or of all the Decades appeared at Basel (1533), Cologne (1574), Paris (1587), and Madrid (1892). A German translation was published in Basle in 1582; a French one by Gaffarel in Recueil de voyages et de documents pour servir à l'histoire de la Geographie (Paris, 1907).

The first three decades were translated into English by Richard Eden and published in 1555 (found in Arber's The first three English books on America Birmingham, 1885), thus beginning the genre of English discovery travel writing, which stimulated English exploration of the New World. Eden's translations were reprinted with supplementary materials in 1577 by Richard Willes under the new title, The historie of travayle into the West and east Indies. Richard Hakluyt had the remaining five decades translated into English by Michael Lok and published in London in 1612.

Governorate of New Andalusia (1501–13)

The Governorate of New Andalusia (Spanish: Gobernación de Nueva Andalucía, pronounced [ɡoβeɾnaˈθjon de ˈnweβa andaluˈθi.a]) was a Spanish colonial entity in present-day Venezuela, from 1501 to 1513.

Governorates of the Spanish Empire

After the territorial division of South America between Spain and Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) the colonial administration of the continent was divided into Governorates.

Islas Los Frailes

The Islas Los Frailes are an archipelago of rock islets with sparse scrub vegetation belonging to the Federal dependencies of Venezuela, part of Venezuela.The flotilla of Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda sighted in 1499 the archipelago composed of ten islands:



Puerto Real






La Balandra

La PecheThe largest island is called Fraile Grande or Puerto Real and is 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) long and occupies 0.75 km2 (0.29 sq mi). The southern islet has an elevation of 91 m (299 ft). About eight kilometres (5.0 mi) north of Los Failes is Roca del Norte (North Rock), which is 3 m (10 ft) high.

Jaragua massacre

The Jaragua massacre of July 1503, was the killing of indigenous natives from the town of Xaragua on the island of Hispañola. It was ordered by the Spanish governor of Santo Domingo, Nicolás de Ovando, and carried out by Alonso de Ojeda during a native celebration that was held in the village of "Guava" near present-day Léogâne in the territory of Jaragua of the Cacique Anacaona.

Juan de la Cosa

Juan de la Cosa (c. 1450 – 28 February 1510) was a Spanish navigator and cartographer, known for designing the earliest European world map that incorporated the territories of the Americas that were discovered in the 15th century.

De la Cosa played an important role in the first and second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the West Indies, since he was the owner and captain of the Santa María.

In 1499, he served as the chief pilot in the expedition of Alonso de Ojeda to the coasts of South America. Upon his return to Andalusia, he drew his famous mappa mundi ("world map") and soon returned to the Indies, this time with Rodrigo de Bastidas. In the following years, De la Cosa alternated trips to America under its own command with special duties from the Crown, including an assignment as a spy in Lisbon and participation in the board of pilots held in Burgos in 1508. In 1509, he began what would be his last expedition, again with Ojeda, to take possession of the coasts of modern Colombia.

De la Cosa died in an armed confrontation with indigenous people before he could get possession of Urabá.

List of conquistadors

The following is a list of conquistadors.

List of conquistadors in Colombia

This is a list of conquistadors who were active in the conquest of terrains that presently belong to Colombia. The nationalities listed refer to the state the conquistador was born into; Granada and Castile are currently part of Spain, but were separate states at the time of birth of the early conquistadors. Important conquistadors and explorers were Alonso de Ojeda, who landed first at Colombian soil and founded the first settlement Santa Cruz, Rodrigo de Bastidas, who founded the oldest still remaining city Santa Marta, Pedro de Heredia, who founded the important city of Cartagena in 1533, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, who was the leader of the first and main expedition into the Andes (1536–1538), with his brother second in command and many other conquistadors, 80% of whom who didn't survive, and Nikolaus Federmann and Sebastián de Belalcázar who entered the Colombian interior from the northwest and south respectively.

Martín Fernández de Enciso

Martín Fernández de Enciso (c. 1470 – 1528) was a navigator and geographer from Seville, Spain. He was instrumental in colonising the Isthmus of Darien. Fernandez de Enciso founded a village near the Cabo de la Vela with the name Nuestra Señora Santa María de los Remedios del Cabo de la Vela, the first settlement in the Guajira Peninsula. Due to constant attacks from the indigenous and pirates the village was moved to present-day Riohacha in 1544. His Suma de Geografia que trata de todas las partidas e provincias del mundo, published in 1519 in Seville, was the first account in the Spanish language of the discoveries of the New World.Fernández' 1509 expedition from Santo Domingo to aid Alonso de Ojeda saw Vasco Núñez de Balboa stow away on his ship.

In his work, “Suma de Geografía,” Fernández states that they found an indigenous population who called themselves the “'Veneciuela.’” This suggests that the name "Venezuela" may have evolved from the native word. (The conventional etymology of Venezuela, however, cites Amerigo Vespucci, who, seeing the indigenous palafitos, was reminded of the city of Venice, and therefore named this New World location, "Little Venice".)

Province of Tierra Firme

During Spain's New World Empire, its mainland coastal possessions surrounding the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico were referred to collectively as the Spanish Main. The southern portion of these coastal possessions were known as the Province of Tierra Firme, or the "Mainland province" (as contrasted with Spain's nearby insular colonies). The Province of Tierra Firme, or simply Tierra Firme, was also called Costa Firme.In 1509, authority was granted to Alonso de Ojeda and Diego de Nicuesa to colonize the territories between the west side of the Gulf of Urabá and Cabo de la Vela, and Urabá westward to Cabo Gracias a Dios in present-day Honduras. The westernmost portion was given the name Tierra Firme. Other provinces of this region during this era were Nueva Andalucia and Veragua or Castilla del Oro; the main city in Tierra Firme was Santa Maria La Antigua del Darién, now Darién, Panama, near at mouth of the Tarena river.

The idea was to create a unitary administrative organization similar to Nueva España (now Mexico), near the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

Tierra Firme later received control over other territories: the Isla de Santiago (now Jamaica) the Cayman Islands; Roncador, Quitasueño, and Providencia and other islands now under Colombian control; and the territories of present-day Costa Rica and Nicaragua as far as Cabo Gracias a Dios. The eastern frontier of Tierra Firme also included the east side of the Gulf of Darién or Urabá, the east side of the Atrato and Truando rivers, ending in Cabo Marzo on the Pacific side. Between these limits lie Santa Maria La Antigua Del Darien on the Gulf of Urabá and Jurado on the Pacific side.

When the Central American states gained independence, the precise frontiers were unclear. For example, some ancient maps and historical references suggest that the entire Caribbean coast as far as Cabo Gracias a Dios was part Tierra Firme or Castilla Del Oro. On the other hand, this would embrace populated regions of the Mosquito Coast that were never under the effective rule of Tierra Firme. Disputes over both of Panama's frontiers were finally solved by agreements with Costa Rica and Colombia, respectively.

Royal fifth

The royal fifth (quinto real or quinto del rey in Spanish and Portuguese) is an old royal tax that reserves to the monarch 20% of all precious metals and other commodities (including slaves) acquired by his subjects as war loot, found as treasure or extracted by mining. The 'royal fifth' was instituted in Medieval Muslim states, Christian Iberian kingdoms and their overseas colonial empires during the age of exploration.

The 'royal fifth' has a dual origin. In Christian kingdoms, it partly comes from the Medieval legal conception of seigneural or regalian rights over the natural patrimony, which assigned to the monarch or feudal overlord original property rights over all unclaimed, undiscovered and undeveloped natural resources (e.g. precious metals in the subsoil, salt in the rock, virgin forests, fish in the sea, etc.) within his jurisdiction. Consequently, private individuals who extracted these natural resources owed compensation to their original 'owner' (the monarch).

The specification of the 20% tax rate on war booty, stems from the practice in Islamic states. It was institutionalized from the start of the Islamic conquest, with the rate set down in the Qur'an, in Sura VIII (Al-Anfal), verse 41:

In practice, the share of the fifth reserved to the Prophet's family lapsed after Muhammad's death. The early Rashidun Caliphs, notably Caliph Omar, set down regulatory guidelines for what could and could not be regarded as war spoils, and assigned the fifth for welfare distribution. The 'fifth' eventually became an important source of financing for the Caliphal administration and army. Schools of Islamic law were divided on whether the fifth extended to treasure troves and mining. Some schools (notably, the Hanafite), regarded treasure and mines as 'spoils' and thus subject to the fifth, while others (notably the Shafi'ite and Hanbalite) regarded them as subject only to the conventional rates, e.g. zakat.The Medieval Taifa kingdoms of al-Andalus embraced the Hanafi argument and institutionalized the fifth on war spoils, treasure troves and mining. The 'royal fifth' (quinto real) was adopted by the Christian states of the Iberian peninsula (Castile, Portugal, etc.) during the reconquista and extended to their overseas colonies in the Americas, Africa and Asia. They became an important part of crown finance.

During the age of exploration, Spanish and Portuguese captains and conquistadores were careful to always set aside the royal fifth from any spoils they captured, and accusations of embezzling the 'royal fifth' ended the careers of a few of them (e.g. Alonso de Ojeda, Pedro Alonso Niño). Nonetheless, to encourage exploration and colonization, Iberian monarchs often allowed explorers and colonial developers to retain part or all of the royal fifth, for at least some period of time. The conditions were usually spelled out in captaincy contracts or royal grants, e.g. in 1402, Jean de Béthencourt was allowed to keep the royal fifth as a condition for the conquest of the Canary Island for Castile; in 1443, the Portuguese Prince Henry the Navigator was granted the royal fifth on all enterprise in the Madeira islands and sub-saharan Africa; in 1492, Christopher Columbus was allowed to retain 10% of the royal fifth of the West Indies (although he famously argued he was promised more); the 1532 contracts of the captains-donatary of colonial Brazil allowed them to retain 5% of the royal fifth.

In Spain, the quinto real on mining of all precious metals and minerals (in theory; in practice, it was collected only on gold, silver, mercury, gemstones and pearls) was codified by the edict of February 1504, and (with occasional exceptional grants) remained in force through all the Spanish empire until the 18th century. In 1723, it was reduced to a diezmo (10%) and in 1777 it was reduced further to 3%, with an additional duty of 2% if shipped to Spain.

San Sebastián de Urabá

San Sebastián de Urabá was the first settlement established by Spaniards in the area of the Darién Gap in Colombia .

This fortified settlement was founded on 20 January 1510 by Alonso de Ojeda on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Urabá, in what is today part of the territory of the department of Antioquia, Colombia.

Towards the end of 1509, Alonso de Ojeda arrived in the Darién Gap as governor of the province of New Andalusia which included the Darién Gap. He was commanding an expedition that left Hispaniola, made up of 300 men, with which he founded the settlement of San Sebastián de Urabá , near the present locality of Necoclí, Antioquia. The native inhabitants were hostile to the Spaniards. They refused to trade food with them and frequently attacked them. Eight months after Ojeda left Hispaniola and founded San Sebastián, the situation in the fort was no longer tenable. Of the 300 men who had initially arrived with Ojeda only 42 survivors remained in the settlement..

Spanish immigration to Colombia

A Spanish Colombian is a Colombian of Spanish descent. Spain conquered the land now known as Colombia in the 16th century. Thus, its immigration is the most important to Colombia, whose official language is Spanish and its culture derived in great part from that of Spain.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa

Vasco Núñez de Balboa (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbasko ˈnuɲeθ ðe βalˈβo.a]; c. 1475 – around January 12–21, 1519) was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.

He traveled to the New World in 1500 and, after some exploration, settled on the island of Hispaniola. He founded the settlement of Santa María la Antigua del Darién in present-day Panama in 1510, which was the first permanent European settlement on the mainland of the Americas (a settlement by Alonso de Ojeda the previous year at San Sebastián de Urabá had already been abandoned).

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