Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar (Spanish: [ˈdjeɣo βeˈlaθkeθ ðe ˈkweʝaɾ]; 1465 in Cuéllar, Spain – c. June 12, 1524 in Santiago de Cuba) was a Spanish conquistador. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain and moved Havana from the south coast of western Cuba to the north coast, placing it well as a port for Spanish trade.[1]

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
5th Governor of the Indies
In office
Preceded byDiego Columbus
Succeeded byHernán Cortés
(as the Governor of New Spain)
1st Governor of Cuba
In office
Succeeded byManuel de Rojas y Córdova
Personal details
Cuéllar, Segovia, Crown of Castile
Diedc. June 12, 1524 (aged 58–59)
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, New Spain

Early life

Little is known about the early life of Diego Velázquez.[2] He was born in Cuéllar c. 1465, in the Segovia region of Spain. Velázquez was known for his hate of manual labor from a young age. This reason helped push Velázquez toward wanting to become a conquistador. Diego Velázquez was a part of the Spanish military, serving in Naples, and then returning to Spain to serve in Seville. Velázquez was met with all the excitement from Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the new world, so Diego made sure he was on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus.

Velázquez settled on the island of Espanola, where he befriended the Governor of the indies Bartolome Colon. Colon took a liking to Diego and when Colon had to leave the island for any period of time would make Diego acting governor of the Indies. Velázquez squashed an Indian revolt in 1503 by sending a captain to a part of the island while he went and captured the king of the revolting Indians which ended the revolt. The Governor of the Indies at this time was Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, and after the revolt decided that five new towns should be built. Velázquez helped form three of these towns, the names of the towns were Salvatierra de la Zabana, Yáquimo, and San Juan de la Maguana. According to historian Troy S. Floyd, "Velázquez himself, reportedly wealthy in island terms by 1511, held encomiendas at Verapaz, Salvatierra de la Zabana, and Santiago de Caballeros, where he was in partnership with an unidentified encomendero in mining enterprises."[3]

He married the daughter of Cristóbal de Cuéllar, who died soon afterwards. He never remarried.[3]:139

Conquest of Cuba

He was named to lead the expedition of conquest of Cuba in 1511, with 300 men, a three-year undertaking noted for its brutality.[4] He acted under orders from Diego Columbus, recently restored as Viceroy of the Indies. He founded a number of new Spanish settlements and cities on the island, first Baracoa in 1511 and then most notably Santiago de Cuba in 1514 and Havana in 1515. Velázquez was appointed Governor of Cuba.[5]:16 The new settlers did not wish to be under the personal authority of Diego Columbus, so Velázquez convoked a general cabildo (a local government council) which was duly authorized to deal directly with Spain, and therefore removed Velázquez and the settlers from under the authority of Columbus, their nominal superior. It was a precedent that would come back to haunt him with the Mexican adventures.

Conquest of Mexico

Noting the weakness of the natives, Velázquez authorized the importation of black slaves in 1513. He authorized various expeditions to explore lands further west, including the 1517 Francisco Hernández de Córdoba expedition to Yucatán (see: Spanish Conquest of Yucatán), and Juan de Grijalva's 1518 expedition.[5]:16,27 He was made the first Adelantado of Cuba with jurisdiction over the former Governorship of the Indies.[5]:126 He initially backed Hernán Cortés's expedition to Mexico,[5]:44–47 but pulled back his support before the expedition was scheduled to launch. Cortés disobeyed Velázquez's orders to disband his expeditionary force and left for Mexico anyway.[5]:56

Later life

Velázquez lost his governorship of Cuba in 1521, for his misuse of indigenous labor, but he was restored to office in 1523. At the time of his unexpected death in 1524 at age 59, he was "the richest Spaniard in the Americas," despite financial losses on the expedition of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and of Hernán Cortés. He completed the successful conquest of Cuba, founded towns that remain important, made Cuba economically prosperous, and turned it into the staging point for expeditions of conquest elsewhere.[6]

See also

Further reading

  • Wright, Irene. The Early History of Cuba, 1492-1586. (1916, rep. 1970)


  1. ^ Allan J. Kuethe, "Havana" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 3, p. 173. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  2. ^ Jacquelyn Briggs Kent, "Diego de Velásquez" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol. 5. p. 375. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  3. ^ a b Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 63, 81.
  4. ^ Kent, "Diego de Velásquez", p. 375.
  5. ^ a b c d e Diaz, B., 1963, The Conquest of New Spain, London: Penguin Books, ISBN 0140441239
  6. ^ Kent, "Diego de Velásquez" p. 375.

Further reading

Florstedt, R. (1942). Diego Velazquez First Governor of Cuba. 1-28. Retrieved October 18, 2017.

External links


Adelantado (Spanish pronunciation: [aðelanˈtaðo]) (meaning "advanced") was a title held by Spanish nobles in service of their respective kings during the Middle Ages. It was later used as a military title held by some Spanish conquistadores of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

Adelantados were granted directly by the monarch the right to become governors and justices of a specific region, which they were charged with conquering, in exchange for funding and organizing the initial explorations, settlements and pacification of the target area on behalf of the Crown of Castile. These areas were usually outside the jurisdiction of an existing audiencia or viceroy, and adelantados were authorized to communicate directly with the Council of the Indies.


Baracoa is a municipality and city in Guantánamo Province near the eastern tip of Cuba. It was visited by Admiral Christopher Columbus on November 27, 1492, and then founded by the first governor of Cuba, the Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar on August 15, 1511. It is the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba and was its first capital (the basis for its nickname Ciudad Primada, "First City").


Bayamo is the capital city of the Granma Province of Cuba and one of the largest cities in the Oriente region.

Christianity in Cuba

Christianity has played an important role in Cuba's history. Cuba was discovered by Christopher Columbus a few days after he arrived to the New World in 1492. In 1511, colonization began when the Conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar established the Catholic Church in Cuba with the early priest Fray Bartolomé de las Casas known commonly as "the Protector of the Indians". Along with Catholicism, Protestantism came during the same time.

Catholicism was established early while Protestantism came later. "Protestantism did not permanently take hold in Cuba until the nineteenth century, though since the sixteenth century the country had been constantly visited by pirates, corsairs and filibusters, many of whom were Protestants". In Cuba, the roots of Protestantism occurred around the same time as Christianity. The denominations of Catholicism and Protestantism have a significant influence in Cuban history.


The Ciboney, or Siboney, were a Taíno people of Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic). A Western Taíno group living in central Cuba during the 15th and 16th centuries, they had a dialect and culture distinct from the Classic Taíno in the eastern part of the island, though much of the Ciboney territory was under the control of the eastern chiefs. Confusion in the historical sources led 20th-century scholars to apply the name "Ciboney" to the non-Taíno Guanahatabey of western Cuba and various archaic cultures around the Caribbean, but this is deprecated.

Cristóbal de Olid

Cristóbal de Olid (Spanish: [kɾisˈtoβal de oˈlið]; 1487–1524) was a Spanish adventurer, conquistador and rebel who played a part in the conquest of Mexico and Honduras.

Born in Zaragoza, Olid grew up in the household of the governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar. In 1518 Velázquez sent Olid to relieve Juan de Grijalva, but en route a hurricane caused the loss of Olid's anchors, and he returned to Cuba. On January 10, 1519, Olid sailed with Hernán Cortés's fleet, as his quartermaster, and took an active part in the conquest of Mexico. He fought at the Battle of Otumba on 14 July 1520, and also took part in the campaign against the Purépechas.

During the Siege of Tenochtitlan, Cristóbal was one of Cortés' key captains, playing a critical role in the capture of Xochimilco. Cristobal was the Texcoco camp commander during the trial of Antonio de Villafana, for his plot to assassinate Cortes. Cristobal commanded one of four forces under Cortes, and acted as quartermaster. Olid helped save Cortes at one point, when he was seized by the Mexicans in one of the causeway battles.Cortés sent Olid to Michoacan, after he had married a Portuguese lady.In 1522, Olid led Spanish soldiers with Tlaxcalan allies in the conquests of Jalisco and

Colima in West Mexico .In 1523, Cortés made Olid the leader of an expedition to conquer Honduras, but while resupplying in Havana, Olid (at a suggestion by Velázquez) declared his independence from New Spain and set out to conquer Honduras for himself. Landing east of Puerto Caballos, he founded the settlement of Triunfo de la Cruz. Many of Olid's supporters moved to Naco, where there was good agricultural land and gold. When Cortés learnt of Olid's rebellion, he sent Francisco de Las Casas against Olid with two warships. Despite the fact that both these ships were destroyed in a storm and many of his soldiers defected to Olid, Las Casas defeated Olid in battle and captured him.

Accounts of how Olid died vary; Bernal Díaz del Castillo asserts in his Verdadera Historia de la Conquista de Nueva España that Las Casas had him beheaded at Naco, while Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas wrote that Olid's own soldiers rose up against and then murdered him.

Diego Columbus

Diego Columbus (Portuguese: Diogo Colombo; Spanish: Diego Colón; also, in Italian: Diego Colombo) (1479/1480-1526) was a Portuguese navigator and explorer under the Kings of Castile and Aragón. He served as the 2nd Admiral of the Indies, 2nd Viceroy of the Indies and 4th Governor of the Indies as a vassal to the Kings of Castile and Aragón. He was the elder son of Christopher Columbus and his wife Filipa Moniz Perestrelo.He was born in Portugal, either in Porto Santo in 1479/1480, or in Lisbon in 1474. He spent most of his adult life trying to regain the titles and privileges granted to his father for his explorations and then denied him in 1500. He was greatly aided in this goal by his marriage to María de Toledo y Rojas, niece of the 2nd Duke of Alba, who was the cousin of King Ferdinand.

Diego Velázquez (disambiguation)

Diego Velázquez (1599–1660) was a Spanish painter.

Diego Velázquez or Diego Velásquez may also refer to:

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar (1465–1524), Spanish conquistador

Diego Velazquez (actor) (born 2001), American TV and film child actor

Diego Velázquez, actor in Argentine films The Fish Child and The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis

Diego Velásquez (golfer) (born 1987), Colombian professional golfer

Governorate of Cuba

Since the 16th century the island of Cuba had been under the control of the governor-captain general of Santo Domingo. The conquest of Cuba was organized in 1510 by the recently restored Viceroy of the Indies, Diego Colón, under the command of Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, who became Cuba's first governor until his death in 1524.

Velázquez founded the city of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa in 1511 and convoked a general cabildo (a local government council) to govern Cuba, which was authorized by the king of Spain.

Hernán Cortés's Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was undertaken from Cuba. Cuba was incorporated in New Spain after the conquest of Mexico.

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.


The Guanahatabey (also spelled Guanajatabey) were an indigenous people of western Cuba at the time of European contact. Archaeological and historical studies suggest the Guanahatabey were archaic hunter-gatherers with a distinct language and culture from their neighbors, the Taíno. They might have been a relict of an earlier culture that spread widely through the Caribbean before the ascendance of the agriculturalist Taíno.

Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca (; Spanish: [eɾˈnaŋ koɾˈtes ðe monˈroj i piˈθaro]; 1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of what is now mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Born in Medellín, Spain, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés chose to pursue adventure and riches in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda (the right to the labor of certain subjects). For a short time, he served as alcalde (magistrate) of the second Spanish town founded on the island. In 1519, he was elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, which he partly funded. His enmity with the Governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, resulted in the recall of the expedition at the last moment, an order which Cortés ignored.

Arriving on the continent, Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous people against others. He also used a native woman, Doña Marina, as an interpreter. She later bore his first son. When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés, he fought them and won, using the extra troops as reinforcements. Cortés wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of being punished for mutiny. After he overthrew the Aztec Empire, Cortés was awarded the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, while the more prestigious title of Viceroy was given to a high-ranking nobleman, Antonio de Mendoza. In 1541 Cortés returned to Spain, where he died six years later of natural causes but embittered.

Because of the controversial undertakings of Cortés and the scarcity of reliable sources of information about him, it is difficult to describe his personality or motivations. Early lionizing of the conquistadores did not encourage deep examination of Cortés. Modern reconsideration has done little to enlarge understanding regarding him. As a result of these historical trends, descriptions of Cortés tend to be simplistic, and either damning or idealizing.

Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España

Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España (The True History of the Conquest of New Spain) is the first-person narrative written in 1576 by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492–1581), the military adventurer, conquistador, and colonist settler who served in three Mexican expeditions; those of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (1517) to the Yucatán peninsula; the expedition of Juan de Grijalva (1518), and the expedition of Hernán Cortés (1519) in the Valley of Mexico; the history relates his participation in the fall of Emperor Moctezuma II, and the subsequent defeat of the Aztec Empire.

In the colonial history of Latin America, it is a vivid, military account that establishes Bernal Díaz del Castillo “among chroniclers what Daniel Defoe is among novelists”. Late in life, when Díaz del Castillo was 84 years old and living in his encomienda estates in Guatemala, he wrote The True History of the Conquest of New Spain to defend the story of the common-soldier conquistador within the histories about the Spanish conquest of Mexico. He presents his narrative as an alternative to the critical writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas, whose Indian-native histories emphasized the cruelty of the conquest, as well as the histories of the hagiographic biographers of Hernán Cortés (specifically that of Francisco López de Gómara, who Díaz del Castillo believed minimized the role of the 700 enlisted soldiers instrumental to conquering the Aztec Empire). That said, Díaz del Castillo strongly defended the actions of the conquistadors, whilst emphasising their humanity and honesty in his eyewitness narrative, which he summarised as this: "We went there to serve God, and also to get rich."

The history is occasionally uncharitable about Cortés; like other professional soldiers who participated in the Conquest of New Spain, Díaz del Castillo found himself among the ruins of Tenochtitlán only slightly wealthier than when he arrived to Mexico. That was common to many soldiers, who accused Cortés of taking more loot than his agreed fifth of the Aztec treasury. Certainly, the land and gold compensation paid to many of the conquistadores proved a poor return for their investment of months of soldiering and fighting across Mexico and the Anahuac Valley. Another interpretation of the book is that the author was one of several family relatives of Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, the governor of Cuba and a mortal enemy of Cortés; many of whom later plotted against the conquistador Captain. Although the narrative minimizes the Cortés–Díaz del Castillo relationship, the author's complex relationship with Cortés and the lower captains suggests that although he represented the faction of Governor Velázquez de Cuéllar in the expedition, Díaz del Castillo fully honoured Cortés's personal and military loyalty.

History of Havana

Havana was founded in the sixteenth century displacing Santiago de Cuba as the island's most important city when it became a major port for Atlantic shipping, particularly the Spanish treasure fleet.

List of conquistadors

The following is a list of conquistadors.

List of people with given name Diego

This is a list of people with given name Diego.

Diego (footballer), a variety of association football players with the given name Diego (see article);

Diego de Oviedo, 10th-century Asturian prelate;

Diego de León, 12th-century Leonese prelate;

Diego de Ourense, 12th-century Galician prelate;

Diego de Asturias, 16th-century Spanish Royal heir who died at age 7;

Diego Abatantuono, Italian actor and screenwriter;

Diego de Almagro, Spanish conquistador;

Diego Aventín, Argentine race car driver;

Diego Buñuel, French journalist;

Diego Camacho (tennis), Bolivian tennis player;

Diego Colón, 4th viceroy of New Spain;

Diego Corrales, American boxer;

Diego D'Ambrosio, Italian-American businessman;

Diego Deza, Spanish theologian and inquisitor;

Diego Domínguez (disambiguation)

Diego Durán, Spanish Dominican friar;

Diego Gelmírez, first archbishop of Compostela;

Diego Gonzalez, Mexican singer, musician and actor – often known simply as Diego; also is known as Diego Boneta in the U.S.)

Diego Hartfield, Argentine tennis player;

Diego Hypólito, Brazilian gymnast;

Diego de Landa, 16th-century bishop of Yucatán;

Diego Klattenhoff, Canadian actor;

Diego Luna, Mexican actor;

Diego Maradona, Argentinian football player.

Diego Masson, French music conductor and composer;

Diego Morales (disambiguation)

Diego Nargiso, Italian tennis player;

Diego Pérez, Uruguayan tennis player;

Diego Portales, Chilean politician;

Diego P. Alves, Airline pilot;

Diego Rivera, Mexican painter;

Diego Sanchez, American mixed martial artist;

Diego Schwartzman, Argentine tennis player

Diego Seguí, Cuban baseball pitcher;

Diego Silang, Philippine revolutionary leader;

Diego Siloe, Spanish Renaissance architect and sculptor;

Diego Torres, Argentine singer and composer;

Diego Vargas, Venezuelan singer and composer;

Diego de Vargas, governor of New Spain;

Diego Villanueva, Brazilian singer-songwriter;

Diego Velázquez, 17th-century Spanish painter;

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, Spanish conquistador.

Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic

Pueblo Viejo is a municipality (municipio) of the Azua province in the Dominican Republic.

Pánfilo de Narváez

Pánfilo de Narváez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpaɱfilo ðe naɾˈβae̯θ]; 147?–1528) was a Spanish conquistador and soldier in the Americas.

Born in Spain, he first embarked to Jamaica in 1510 as a soldier. He came to participate in the conquest of Cuba and led an expedition to Camagüey escorting Bartolomé de las Casas. Las Casas described him as exceedingly cruel towards the natives.

He is most remembered as the leader of two failed expeditions: In 1520 he was sent to Mexico by the Governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, with the objective of stopping the invasion by Hernán Cortés which had not been authorized by the Governor. Even though his 900 men outmanned those of Cortés 3 to 1, Narváez was outmaneuvered, lost an eye and was taken prisoner. After a couple of years in captivity in Mexico he returned to Spain where King Carlos V named him adelantado, with the mission of exploring and colonizing Florida. In 1527 Narváez embarked for Florida with five ships and 600 men, among them Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca who later described the expedition in his Naufragios. A storm south of Cuba wrecked several of the ships. The rest of the expedition continued on to Florida, where the men were eventually stranded among hostile natives. The survivors worked their way along the US gulf coast trying to get to the province of Pánuco. During a storm Narváez and a small group of men were carried out to sea on a raft and were not seen again. Only four men survived the Narváez expedition.

Spanish immigration to Cuba

Spanish immigration to Cuba began in 1492, when Christopher Columbus first landed on the island, and continues to the present day. The first sighting of a Spanish boat approaching the island was on 27 or 28 October 1492, probably at Bariay on the eastern point of the island. Columbus, on his first voyage to the Americas, sailed south from what is now The Bahamas to explore the northeast coast of Cuba and the northern coast of Hispaniola. Columbus discovered the island believing it to be a peninsula of the Asian mainland.

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