Nicolás de Ovando

Frey Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres (Brozas, Extremadura, Spain 1460 – Madrid, Spain 29 May 1511) was a Spanish soldier from a noble family and a Knight of the Order of Alcántara, a military order of Spain. He was Governor of the Indies (Hispaniola) from 1502 until 1509, sent by the Spanish crown to investigate the administration of Francisco de Bobadilla and re-establish order. His administration subdued rebellious Spaniards, and completed the brutal "pacification" of the native Taíno population of Hispaniola.[1]

Nicolás de Ovando

Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres
Governor of the Indies
In office
September 3, 1501 – 1509
Appointed byIsabella I of Castile
Preceded byFrancisco de Bobadilla
Succeeded byDiego Columbus
Personal details
Brozas, Extremadura, Spain
Died29 May 1511 (aged 50-51)
Madrid, Spain
Resting placeChurch of San Benito de Alcántara

Early life

Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres was born in Brozas in 1460. Born into a noble and pious family, second son of Diego Fernández de Cáceres y Ovando, 1st Lord of the Manor House del Alcázar Viejo, and his first wife Isabel Flores de las Varillas (a distant relative of Hernán Cortés), Ovando entered the military Order of Alcántara, where he became a Master (Mestre or Maitre) or a Commander-Major (Comendador-Mayor). This Spanish military order, founded in 1156, resembled the Order of Templars, with whom it fought the Moors during the Reconquista. His elder brother was Diego de Cáceres y Ovando.

Selection as governor

As Commander of Lares de Guahaba Ovando became a favorite of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs, particularly of the pious Queen Isabella I. Thus, in response to complaints from Christopher Columbus and others about Francisco de Bobadilla the Spanish monarch on September 3, 1501, appointed Ovando to replace Bobadilla. Ovando became the third Governor of the Indies, the Islands, and the Province of Tierra Firme (Mainland province).

Expedition to the Americas

Thus, on 13 February 1502, he sailed from Spain with a fleet of thirty ships.[2] It was the largest fleet that had ever sailed to the New World.

The thirty ships carried around 2,500 colonists.[3] Unlike Columbus's earlier voyages, this group of colonists was deliberately selected to represent an organized cross-section of Spanish society. The Spanish Crown intended to develop the West Indies economically and thereby expand Spanish political, religious, and administrative influence in the region. Along with him also came Francisco Pizarro, who would later explore western South America and conquer the Inca Empire. Another ship carried Bartolomé de las Casas, who became known as the 'Protector of the Indians' for exposing atrocities committed by Ovando and his subordinates. Hernán Cortés, a family acquaintance and distant relative, was supposed to sail to the Americas in this expedition, but was prevented from making the journey by an injury he sustained while hurriedly escaping from the bedroom of a married woman of Medellín.[4]

The expedition reached Santo Domingo in April 1502, and included Diego de Nicuesa and Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon. Also on board were 13 Franciscans, led by Friar Alonso de Espinar, bringing the total on the island to 25.[5]


When Ovando arrived in Hispaniola in 1502, he found the once-peaceful natives in revolt. Ovando and his subordinates ruthlessly suppressed this rebellion through a series of bloody campaigns, including the Jaragua Massacre and Higüey Massacre. Ovando's administration in Hispaniola became notorious for its cruelty toward the native Taíno. Estimates of the Taino population at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards in 1492 vary, with Anderson Córdova giving a maximum of 500,000 people inhabiting the island.[6] By the 1507 census, according to Bartolomé de las Casas battlefield slaughter, enslavement and disease had reduced the native population to 60,000 people, and the decline continued. In 1501, Ovando ordered the first importation of Spanish-speaking black slaves into the Americas. Many Spanish aristocrats ordered slaves to work as servants in their homes. However, most slaves were sent to work in the sugar cane fields, which produced the valuable cash crop.

After the conquests made by his lieutenants including Juan Ponce de León and Juan de Esquivel, Ovando founded several cities on Hispaniola. He also developed the mining industry, introduced the cultivation of sugar cane with plants imported from the Canary Islands, and commissioned expeditions of discovery and conquest throughout the Caribbean. Ovando allowed Spanish settlers to use the natives in forced labor, to provide food for the colonists as well as ships returning to Spain. Ovando also allowed the Taíno to be exploited for their labor, and hundreds of thousands died while forced to extract gold from the nearby mines.

Pursuant to a deathbed promise he made to his wife Queen Isabella I, King Ferdinand II of Aragon recalled Ovando to Spain in 1509 to answer for his treatment of the native people. Diego Columbus was appointed his successor as governor, but the Spanish Crown permitted Ovando to retain possession of the property he brought back from the Americas.

Ovando died in Spain on 29 May 1511. He was buried in the church of the former monastery of San Benito de Alcántara, which belonged to his military order and which sustained significant damage in later centuries.

See also


  1. ^ Noble David Cook, "Nicolás de Ovando" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, vol.4, p. 254. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  2. ^ D. H. Figueredo,"Latino Chronology: Chronologies of the American Mosaic", pg 14, 2007
  3. ^ "Latino Chronology: Chronologies of the American Mosaic"
  4. ^ Ovando made Hernán Cortés a notary and awarded him a land grant nonetheless. This started Cortés' career as a conquistador.
  5. ^ Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 53–54.
  6. ^ Karen Anderson Córdova (1990). Hispaniola and Puerto Rico: Indian Acculturation and Heterogeneity, 1492–1550 (PhD dissertation). Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International.

Further reading

  • Castro Pereira Mouzinho de Albuquerque e Cunha, Fernando de (1995), Instrumentário Genealógico - Linhagens Milenárias (in Portuguese), p. 311
  • Lamb, Ursula. Frey Nicolás de Ovando (1956)
  • Sauer, Carl O.. The Early Spanish Main (1967)

External links

Alonso Vélez de Mendoza

Commander Alonso Vélez de Mendoza of the Order of Santiago was born in Moguer, Spain in the late 15th century. On June 6, 1499, he obtained a license from the Catholic Monarchs to sail to the Indies, which authorized him to take four caravels, although ultimately he only chartered two. They were supposed to head north to start the exploration of the coast of North America, or perhaps to enter into the competition of the Brazilian exploration.

By October 1500, they successfully passed south of Cape St. Augustine, which was the first time that a Spanish ship succeeded. He continued descending until he reached a river called Cervutos. Later it was realized his discoveries had a double consequence.

On one hand, he demonstrated that the end of St. Augustine was not an island but actually belonged to a continent and that, on having extended on the south, it was entering the Portuguese jurisdiction.

However, having sailed towards the south, and to verify that the coast was going towards the south-west, it was discovered that the grounds were again inside the Spanish demarcation (district) opening a wide horizon of opportunities for exploration.In May 1501, they finally returned to Seville, Spain with Brazilian slaves, although without finding the southern tip of the continent which they had expected to be at the same latitude as the Cape of Good Hope

On February 15, 1502, Alonso Vélez de Mendoza earned a capitulation which allowed him to settle in Hispaniola with fifty settlers and their families, in order to create a new population. There was a fleet of thirty other ships carrying 2,500 colonists that arrived in Hispaniola the same year. This included the arrival of Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, the new Spanish Governor of Hispaniola, along with the conquistador Francisco Pizzaro. It is believed that Alonso died at the end of 1511.

Black ladino

Black Ladinos (Spanish: negros ladinos) were Hispanicized black Ladinos, exiled to Spanish America after having spent time in Spain.

They were referred to as negros ladinos ("cultivated" or "latinized Blacks"), as opposed to negros bozales ("bosal Blacks", i.e. those captured in Africa and tied down like a domesticated beast of burden to prevent them from escaping). The Ladinos' skills granted them a higher price than those of bozales.Black Ladinos born in the Americas were negros criollos ("Creole Blacks", cf. Creoles of color).

Captaincy General of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo, officially Captaincy General of Santo Domingo (Spanish: Capitanía General de Santo Domingo [kapitaˈni.a xeneˈɾal ðe ˈsanto ðoˈmĩnɣo]) or alternatively Kingdom of Santo Domingo (Spanish: Reino de Santo Domingo) was the first colony established in the New World under Spain. The island was named "La Española" (Hispaniola) by Christopher Columbus. In 1511, the courts of the colony were placed under the jurisdiction of the Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo. French buccaneers took over part of the west coast in 1625 and French settlers arrived soon thereafter. After decades of conflicts Spain finally ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France in the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, thus establishing the basis for the later national divisions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The Captaincy General of Santo Domingo had an important role in the establishment of Spanish colonies in the New World. It was the headquarters for Spanish conquistadors on their way to the conquest of the Americas.

Ciudad Colonial (Santo Domingo)

Ciudad Colonial (Spanish for "Colonial City") is the historic central neighborhood of Santo Domingo and the oldest permanent European settlement of the Americas. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is also known as Zona Colonial (Colonial Zone) or more colloquially as "La Zona" (The Zone) . The Ciudad Colonial is located on the west bank of the Ozama River, which bisects the city. It covers 1.06 km2 (0.41 sq mi) bounded by a walled perimeter.

It is an important section of the city due to the high number of landmarks, including Alcázar de Colón, Fortaleza Ozama, Catedral de Santa María la Menor, and others.

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 Fernández de Cáceres y Ovando

Diego Fernández de Cáceres y Ovando (– Monleón, aft. February 2, 1487) was a Spanish military and nobleman.

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.

Diego de Nicuesa

Diego de Nicuesa (Spanish: [ˈdjeɣo ðe niˈkwesa]; died 1511) was a Spanish conquistador and explorer.

Diego arrived Santo Domingo in April 1502, with Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres' flotilla.In 1506, Nicuesa was given the job of governing Costa Rica, but ran aground off the coast of Panama. He made his way north overland, against resistance from the native population. The combination of guerrilla warfare and tropical disease killed half his expedition before he gave up.

In 1508, Diego de Nicuesa received a land grant at Veragua from Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Spanish monarch. He became founder and governor of Castilla de Oro, in what is now Panama, one of the first two Spanish settlements on the American mainland.

In 1510 he founded the colony of Nombre de Dios. The colony suffered from hunger, hostile natives, and illness, and was ultimately saved by the arrival of Colmenares, a companion who was coming after with supplies. The party abandoned the colony to sail to the more prosperous colony of Santa María la Antigua del Darién, which had been established by the conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa without the knowledge of Nicuesa. Informed by Colmenares of the new colony established within the borders of his territory, he headed to the colony to punish the colonists and take possession of it. But the colonists of Santa Maria were warned of the governor's intent and denied him entry. While most of Nicuesa's men were granted the right to stay in Balboa's colony, Nicuesa and 17 loyal followers were put out to sea. Nicuesa headed for the Santo Domingo but the ship disappeared and he was never seen again.


Encomienda (Spanish pronunciation: [eŋkoˈmjenda]) was a Spanish labor system. It rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of subject people. It was first established in Spain following the Christian conquest of Muslim territories. It was applied on a much larger scale during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the Philippines. Conquered peoples were considered vassals of the Spanish monarch. The Crown awarded an encomienda as a grant to a particular individual. In the conquest era of the sixteenth century, the grants were considered to be a monopoly on the labor of particular groups of Indians (indigenous peoples), held in perpetuity by the grant holder, called the encomendero, and his descendants.Encomiendas devolved from their original Iberian form into a form of "communal" slavery. In the encomienda, the Spanish Crown granted a person a specified number of natives from a specific community, but did not dictate which individuals in the community would have to provide their labor. Indigenous leaders were charged with mobilizing the assessed tribute and labor. In turn, encomenderos were to ensure that the encomienda natives were given instruction in the Christian faith and Spanish language, and protect them from warring tribes or pirates; they had to suppress rebellion against Spaniards, and maintain infrastructure. In return, the natives would provide tributes in the form of metals, maize, wheat, pork, or other agricultural products.

With the ouster of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish crown sent a royal governor, Fray Nicolás de Ovando, who established the formal encomienda system. In many cases natives were forced to do hard labor and subjected to extreme punishment and death if they resisted. However, Queen Isabella I of Castile forbade Indian slavery and deemed the indigenous to be "free vassals of the crown". Various versions of the Leyes de Indias or Laws of the Indies from 1512 onwards attempted to regulate the interactions between the settlers and natives. Both natives and Spaniards appealed to the Real Audiencias for relief under the encomienda system.

Encomiendas had often been characterized by the geographical displacement of the enslaved and breakup of communities and family units, but in Mexico, the encomienda ruled the free vassals of the crown through existing community hierarchies, and the natives were allowed to keep in touch with their families and homes.The abolition of the Encomienda in 1542 marks the first major movement towards the abolition of slavery in the Western world.


Enriquillo was a Taíno cacique who rebelled against the Spaniards from 1519 to 1533. Known as "Enrique" by the Spaniards, his rebellion is the best known rebellion during the early Caribbean period. He is considered a hero of indigenous resistance for those in the modern Dominican Republic and Haiti. Dominican friar Bartolome de Las Casas, who documented and railed against Spanish abuse of the indigenous, wrote sympathetically of Enriquillo.His father, along with eighty other regional chieftains and his aunt Anacaona, was killed by Nicolás de Ovando while attending supposed “peace talks” with the Spanish in Jaragua. During the talks, Spanish soldiers ambushed the chieftains, also known as caciques, set the meeting house on fire, and proceeded to kill anyone who fled the flames (causing his father's death). Enriquillo was then raised in a monastery in Santo Domingo. One of his mentors was Bartolomé de Las Casas. De Las Casas was a Spanish Roman Catholic Priest focused on the rights of Native Americans.

Francisco de Bobadilla

Francisco Fernández de Bobadilla (around 1450 - 11 July 1502) was a Spanish conquistador and colonial administrator.

Hospital San Nicolás de Bari

Today a preserved ruin, the oldest hospital built in the Americas, the Hospital San Nicolás de Bari was constructed in different stages between 1503 and 1552 at the behest of governor (and namesake of the hospital)Nicolás de Ovando. This grand project was in keeping with the desire to emulate European princely courts, and looked to Renaissance Italy for inspiration. At the time of its completion, the wards could accommodate up to 70 patients, comparable to the most advanced churches of Rome. It is likely that the model for the Hospital de San Nicolás was the large Hospital of Sancto Spiritu in Rome. The complex forms part of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo World Heritage Site.

The complex occupied most of the block and was built on two stories in a cross shaped plan. Each of the corners contained a courtyard that provided light, ventilation, and open space to the various hospital facilities. The structure, in keeping with contemporary European hospitals, was composed of three naves: a central one for worship flanked by two lateral naves which housed the sick. In this way, patients were literally steps away from the sanctuary and the chapel located in its core. There was also a separate private chapel, now incorporated into the adjacent 20th Century Church of La Altagracia. This despite the hospital having been undertaken by an association of benefactors rather than by a monastic order.

Already a ruin in 1908 when part of its façade collapsed, the hospital exhibited a combination of Gothic and Renaissance elements, with some considerable Mudéjar influence, as was typical of 16th Century Santo Domingo buildings. For example, the interior arches—which supported Gothic rib vaults—were pointed on the second story yet barreled on the ground floor. The vanguardist plan of the San Nicolás de Bari hospital served as a model for other hospitals throughout Spanish America, namely the Hospital de la Concepción undertaken in Mexico by Hernando Cortés in 1524.

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 Ponce de León

Juan Ponce de León (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxwam ˈponθe ðe leˈon]; 1474 – July 1521), commonly known as Ponce de León, was a Spanish explorer and conquistador known for leading the first official European expedition to Florida and the first governor of Puerto Rico. He was born in Santervás de Campos, Valladolid, Spain in 1474. Though little is known about his family, he was of noble birth and served in the Spanish military from a young age. He first came to the Americas as a "gentleman volunteer" with Christopher Columbus's second expedition in 1493.

By the early 1500s, Ponce de León was a top military official in the colonial government of Hispaniola, where he helped crush a rebellion of the native Taíno people. He was authorized to explore the neighboring island of Puerto Rico in 1508 and for serving as the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown in 1509. While Ponce de León grew quite wealthy from his plantations and mines, he faced an ongoing legal conflict with Diego Columbus, the late Christopher Columbus's son, over the right to govern Puerto Rico. After a long court battle, Columbus replaced Ponce de León as governor in 1511. Ponce de León decided to follow the advice of the sympathetic King Ferdinand and explore more of the Caribbean Sea.

In 1513, Ponce de León led the first known European expedition to La Florida, which he named during his first voyage to the area. He landed somewhere along Florida's east coast, then charted the Atlantic coast down to the Florida Keys and north along the Gulf coast, perhaps as far as Charlotte Harbor. Though in popular culture he was supposedly searching for the Fountain of Youth, there is no contemporary evidence to support the story, which all modern historians call a myth.Ponce de León returned to Spain in 1514 and was knighted by King Ferdinand, who also re-instated him as the governor of Puerto Rico and authorized him to settle Florida. He returned to the Caribbean in 1515, but plans to organize an expedition to Florida were delayed by the death of King Ferdinand in 1516, after which Ponce de León again traveled to Spain to defend his grants and titles. He would not return to Puerto Rico for two years.

In 1521, Ponce de León finally returned to southwest Florida with the first large-scale attempt to establish a Spanish colony in what is now the continental United States. However, the native Calusa people fiercely resisted the incursion, and he was seriously wounded in a skirmish. The colonization attempt was abandoned, and its leader died from his wounds soon after returning to Cuba. Ponce de León was interred in Puerto Rico, and his tomb is located inside of the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista in San Juan.

According to John J. Browne Ayes, 30% of the modern population of Puerto Rico descend from Juan Ponce de León and his wife.

List of Taínos

This is a list of known Taínos, some of which were caciques (male and female tribal chiefs). Their names are in ascending alphabetical order and the table may be re-sorted by clicking on the arrows in the column header cells.

The Taínos were the indigenous inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and some of the Lesser Antilles – especially in Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique. The Taínos ("Taíno" means "relatives"), unlike the Caribs (who practiced regular raids on other groups), were peaceful seafaring people and distant relatives of the Arawak people of South America.Taíno society was divided into two classes: Nitainos (nobles) and the Naborias (commoners). Both were governed by chiefs known as caciques, who were the maximum authority in a Yucayeque (village). The chiefs were advised by priest-healers known as Bohiques and the Nitaynos, which is how the elders and warriors were known.This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. Anyone can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.


Ovando is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alfredo Ovando Candía (1918–1982), Bolivian general, president and dictator

Clementina Díaz y de Ovando (1916–2012), Mexican writer and researcher

Diego de Cáceres y Ovando, Spanish nobleman

Diego Fernández de Ovando, Spanish military and nobleman

Diego Fernández de Cáceres y Ovando (died after 1487), Spanish military and nobleman

Eduardo Ovando Martínez (born 1955), Mexican politician

Fernando Alfón de Ovando, Spanish military and nobleman

Fernando Fernández de Ovando, Spanish diplomat and nobleman

Francisco José de Ovando, 1st Marquis of Brindisi (c. 1693–1755), Spanish soldier and governor of Chile

Hernán Pérez de Ovando, Spanish military man and nobleman

Janette Ovando (born 1977), Mexican politician

Javier Ovando (born c. 1977), Honduran immigrant framed by the LAPD

José Luis Ovando Patrón (born 1970), Mexican politician

Marcos Ramírez de Prado y Ovando (1592–1667), Spanish Roman Catholic prelate

Neriman Ovando (born 1991), Dominican footballer

Nicolás de Ovando (1460–1511), Spanish soldier and governor of the Indies

Sancho Fernández de Ovando, Spanish nobleman

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsanto ðoˈmiŋɡo] meaning "Saint Dominic"), officially Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic and the largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean by population. In 2010, its population was counted as 965,040, rising to 2,908,607 when its surrounding metropolitan area was included. The city is coterminous with the boundaries of the Distrito Nacional ("D.N.", "National District"), itself bordered on three sides by Santo Domingo Province.

Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, on the east bank of the Ozama River and then moved by Nicolás de Ovando in 1502 to the west bank of the river, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World. Santo Domingo is the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress in the New World. The city's Colonial Zone was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Santo Domingo was called Ciudad Trujillo (Spanish pronunciation: [sjuˈðað tɾuˈxiʝo]), from 1936 to 1961, after the Dominican Republic's dictator, Rafael Trujillo, named the capital after himself. Following his assassination, the city resumed its original designation.

Santo Domingo is the cultural, financial, political, commercial and industrial center of the Dominican Republic, with the country's most important industries being located within the city. Santo Domingo also serves as the chief seaport of the country. The city's harbor at the mouth of the Ozama River accommodates the largest vessels, and the port handles both heavy passenger and freight traffic. Temperatures are high year round, with cooler breezes in the winter time.

Ursula Lamb

Ursula Schaefer Lamb (born, Essen Germany 15 January 1914, died, Tucson AZ 8 August 1996) was a distinguished Latin American historian, who published works on the age of exploration and the history of science. She was a pioneering woman academic in Latin American history, whose interdisciplinary works on history of science and globalization antedate the boom in such studies.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.