Pedro de Alvarado

Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpeðɾo ðe alβaˈɾaðo]; Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain, ca. 1485 – Guadalajara, New Spain, 4 July 1541) was a Spanish conquistador and governor of Guatemala.[1] He participated in the conquest of Cuba, in Juan de Grijalva's exploration of the coasts of the Yucatán Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the conquest of Mexico led by Hernán Cortés. He is considered the conquistador of much of Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Although renowned for his skill as a soldier, Alvarado is known also for the cruelty of his treatment of native populations, and mass murders committed in the subjugation of the native peoples of Mexico.[2]

Historiography portrays that indigenous people, both Nahuatl-speakers and speakers of other languages, called him Tonatiuh, meaning "sun" in the Nahuatl language. Yet he was also called "Red Sun" in Nahuatl, which allows a variety of interpretations. Whether this epithet refers to Alvarado's red hair, some esoteric quality attributed to him, or both, is disputed.

Pedro de Alvarado
Pedro de Alvarado in a contemporaneous rendition.
Bornca. 1485
DiedJuly 4, 1541 (aged c. 55–56)

Character and appearance

Pedro de Alvarado was flamboyant and charismatic,[3] and was both a brilliant military commander[4] and a cruel, hardened man.[5] His hair and beard were red, which earned him the name of Tonatiuh from the Aztecs, the name of one of their sun gods.[6] He was handsome,[7] and presented an affable appearance, but was volatile and quick to anger.[6] He was ruthless in his dealings with the indigenous peoples he set out to conquer. Historians judge that his greed drove him to excessive cruelty,[5] and his Spanish contemporaries denounced his extreme brutality during his lifetime. He was a poor governor of territories he had conquered, and restlessly sought out new adventures.[8]

His tactical brutality, such as the massacre in the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, often undermined strategic considerations.[9] He was also accused of cruelty against fellow Spaniards.[10] Alvarado was little suited to govern; when he held governing positions, he did little to establish stable foundations for colonial rule. His letters show no interest in civil matters, and he only discussed exploration and war.[11] Alvarado stubbornly resisted attempts by the Spanish Crown to establish ordered taxation in Guatemala, and refused to acknowledge such attempts. As governor of Guatemala, Alvarado has been described by W. George Lovell et al. as "an insatiable despot who recognized no authority but his own and who regarded Guatemala as little more than his personal estate."[1]

American historian William H. Prescott described Alvarado's character in the following terms:

Alvarado was a cavalier of high family, gallant and chivalrous, and [Cortes'] warm personal friend. He had talents for action, was possessed of firmness and intrepidity, while his frank and dazzling manners made the Tonatiuh an especial favourite with the Mexicans. But, underneath this showy exterior, the future conqueror of Guatemala concealed a heart rash, rapacious, and cruel. He was altogether destitute of that moderation, which, in the delicate position he occupied, was a quality of more worth than all the rest.

— William H. Prescott 1922, History of the Conquest of Mexico: Book 4, Chapter 8, p. 54.

Spanish chronicler Antonio de Remesal commented that "Alvarado desired more to be feared than loved by his subjects, whether they were Indians or Spaniards."[12] In his easy recourse to violence, Alvarado was a product of his time, and Alvarado was not the only conquistador to have resorted to such actions. Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro carried out deeds of similar cruelty, but have not attracted as much criticism as Alvarado.[11]

Early life and family

Pedro de Alvarado was born in 1485 in the town of Badajoz, Extremadura.[13] His father was Gómez de Alvarado,[14] and his mother was Leonor de Contreras, Gómez's second wife.[13] Pedro de Alvarado had a twin sister, Sarra, and four full-blood brothers, Jorge, Gonzalo, Gómez, and Juan.[15] Pedro had an illegitimate half brother, also named Juan, referred to in contemporary sources as Juan el Bastardo.[16]

Very little is known of Pedro de Alvarado's early life before his arrival in the Americas. During the conquest of the Americas, tales of his youthful exploits in Spain became popular legends, but their veracity is doubtful.[17] An example is the tale then current that when he was a youth awaiting passage to the Americas, he climbed the church tower in Seville with some friends. A banner pole extended some 3.0 to 3.7 metres (10 to 12 ft) from an upper window. One of his companions walked out to the end of the pole after removing his cloak and sword, and returned to the tower backwards. Alvarado, afraid of being mocked, walked out onto the pole with both sword and cloak, and turned around at the end to return to the tower facing it.[18]

Alvarado's paternal grandfather was Juan Alvarado "el Viejo" ("the elder"), who was comendador of Hornachos, and his paternal grandmother was Catalina Messía.[13] Pedro de Alvarado's uncle on his father's side was Diego de Alvarado y Messía,[14] who was the comendador of Lobón, Puebla, and Montijo, alcalde of Montánchez, and lord of Castellanos and of Cubillana. Diego was a veteran of the campaigns against the Moors.[13]

First campaigns in the Americas

Alvarado and his brothers crossed the Atlantic Ocean before 1511, possibly in 1510.[19] By 1511 a system of licenses had been established in Spain to control the flow of colonists to the New World. The only one of the Alvarado brothers that appears in the registers is Juan de Alvarado, in 1511, leading to the assumption that the rest were already in the Americas by the time the licensing system was established.[20] The Alvarado brothers stopped off at Hispaniola, but there are few mentions of their stay there in historical documents.[21]

Soon after arriving in Santo Domingo, on Hispaniola, Pedro de Alvarado established a friendship with Hernán Cortés, who at the time was serving as public scribe. Alvarado joined Cortés to participate in the conquest of Cuba,[22] under the command of Diego de Velázquez. The conquest of Cuba was launched in 1511, and Pedro de Alvarado was accompanied by his brothers.[23] Soon after the invasion, Alvarado was managing a prosperous hacienda in the new colony.[22] It is around this time that Pedro de Alvarado emerges into the historical record as a prosperous and influential hacienda-owner, already well connected with Velázquez, who was now governor of Cuba.[23]

Grijalva expedition, 1518

Cozumel beach from lighthouse
The coast of Cozumel was Alvarado's first sight of Yucatán.

Diego Velázquez, the governor of Cuba, was enthused by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba's report of gold in the newly discovered Yucatán Peninsula.[24] He organised an expedition consisting of four ships and 260 men.[25] He placed his nephew Juan de Grijalva in overall command;[26] Pedro de Alvarado captained one of the ships.[27] The small fleet was stocked with crossbows, muskets, barter goods, salted pork and cassava bread.[28]

The fleet left Cuba in April 1518,[29] and made its first landfall upon the island of Cozumel,[30] off the east coast of Yucatán.[29] The Maya inhabitants of Cozumel fled the Spanish; the fleet then sailed south from Cozumel, along the east coast of the peninsula.[31] The Spanish spotted three large Maya cities along the coast. On Ascension Thursday the fleet discovered a large bay, which the Spanish named Bahía de la Ascensión.[29]

Grijalva did not land at any of these cities and turned back north to loop around the north of the Yucatán Peninsula and sail down the west coast.[31] At Campeche the Spanish opened fire against the city with small cannon; the inhabitants fled, allowing the Spanish to take the abandoned city. The Maya remained hidden in the forest, so the Spanish boarded their ships and continued along the coast.[30]

At Champotón, the fleet was approached by a small number of large war canoes, but the ships' cannon soon put them to flight.[30] At the mouth of the Tabasco River the Spanish sighted massed warriors and canoes but the natives did not approach.[32] By means of interpreters, Grijalva indicated that he wished to trade and bartered wine and beads in exchange for food and other supplies. From the natives they received a few gold trinkets and news of the riches of the Aztec Empire to the west. The expedition continued far enough to confirm the reality of the gold-rich empire,[33] sailing as far north as Pánuco River.[29]

At the Papaloapan River, Alvarado ordered his ship upriver, leaving the rest of the small fleet behind to wait for him at the river mouth. This action greatly angered Grijalva, who feared that a lone ship could be lost. After this, the Spanish referred to the river as the Río de Alvarado ("Alvarado's River").[34] A little further along the coast, the fleet encountered settlements under Aztec dominion, and was met by Aztec emissaries with gifts of gold and jewels sent by the Emperor Moctezuma II.[35]

As punishment for entering the Papaloapan River without orders, Grijalva sent Alvarado with the ship San Sebastián to relay news of the discoveries back to Cuba. Alvarado made a triumphal entry to Santiago de Cuba, with a great display of the wealth that had been gained from the expedition. His early arrival in Cuba allowed him to ingratiate himself with the Governor Velázquez before Grijalva's return.[36] The rest of the fleet put into the port of Havana five months after it had left.[29] Grijalva was coldly received by the governor, who Alvarado had turned against him, claiming much of the glory of the expedition for himself.[37]

Expedition to Mexico, 1519

Hernán Cortés, Museo de América
Hernán Cortés led the expedition against the Aztecs.

Grijalva's return aroused great interest in Cuba. A new expedition was organised, with a fleet of eleven ships carrying 500 men and some horses. Hernán Cortés was placed in command;[29] Pedro de Alvarado and his brothers Jorge, Gómez and Juan "El Bastardo" joined the expedition. Cortés charged Pedro de Alvarado with gathering recruits from the inland estates of Cuba.[37] The crew included officers that would become famous conquistadors, including Cristóbal de Olid, Gonzalo de Sandoval and Diego de Ordaz. Also aboard were Francisco de Montejo and Bernal Díaz del Castillo, veterans of the Grijalva expedition.[29]

Alvarado once again commanded the San Sabastián, with 60 men under his orders.[38] The fleet made its first landfall at Cozumel, and remained there for several days. Maya temples were cast down and a Christian cross was put up on one of them.[29] From Cozumel, the fleet looped around the north of the Yucatán Peninsula and followed the coast to the Tabasco River.[39] In Tabasco, the fleet anchored at Potonchán,[40] a Chontal Maya town.[41] The Maya prepared for battle but the Spanish horses and firearms quickly decided the outcome.[40] From Potonchan, the fleet continued to San Juan de Ulua.[42] The crew stayed only a short time before relocating to a promontory near Quiahuiztlan[43] and Cempoala in Veracruz, a subject city of the Aztec Empire,[40] and from there went on to conquer the Aztecs.[44]

The remains of the "Castillo de Alvarado", Chamela, Jalisco.

Alvarado commanded one of the eleven vessels in the fleet and also acted as Cortés' second in command during the expedition's first stay in the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlán. Relations between the Spaniards and their hosts were uneasy, especially given Cortés' repeated insistence that the Aztecs desist from idol worship and human sacrifice; in order to ensure their own safety, the Spaniards took the Aztec king Moctezuma hostage. When Cortés returned to the Gulf coast to deal with the newly arrived hostile expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez, Alvarado remained in Tenochtitlan as commander of the Spanish enclave, with strict orders to make sure that Moctezuma not be permitted to escape.[45]

During Cortés' absence, relations between the Spaniards and their hosts went from bad to worse, and Alvarado ordered a preemptive slaughter of Aztec nobles and priests observing a religious festival.[46]:283–286 When Cortés returned to Tenochtitlan, he found the Spanish force under siege. After Moctezuma was killed in the attempt to negotiate with his own people, the Spaniards determined to escape by fighting their way across one of the causeways that led from the city across the lake and to the mainland.[46]:286,294,296 In a bloody nocturnal action of 10 July 1520, known as La Noche Triste, Alvarado led the rear-guard and was badly wounded.[46]:296–300 According to satirical verses by Gonzalo Ocampo, in reference to Alvarado crossing a causeway gap during the escape, Alvarado's escape became known as Salto de Alvarado ("Alvarado's Leap").[46]:296–300

Pedro then participated in the Siege of Tenochtitlan, commanding one of four forces under Cortes.[46]:315,319,333,351,355–356,358,360,363,369–370,372 Alvarado was wounded when Guatemoc attacked all three Spanish camps on the feast day of St. John.[46]:377–378,381,384–385,388–389 Alvarado's company was the first to make it to the Tlateloco marketplace, setting fire to the Aztec shrines. Cortes' and Sandoval's companies joined him there after four more days of fighting.[46]:396-308

Conquest of Soconusco and Guatemala

Cortés despatched Pedro de Alvarado to invade Guatemala with 180 cavalry, 300 infantry, crossbows, muskets, 4 cannons, large amounts of ammunition and gunpowder, and thousands of allied Mexican warriors.[48] Pedro de Alvarado passed through Soconusco with a sizeable force in 1523, en route to conquer Guatemala.[49] Alvarado's army included hardened veterans of the conquest of the Aztecs, and included cavalry and artillery;[50] there were also a great many indigenous allies from Cholula, Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, Tlaxcala, and Xochimilco.[51]

Alvarado was received in peace in Soconusco, and the inhabitants swore allegiance to the Spanish Crown. They reported that neighbouring groups in Guatemala were attacking them because of their friendly outlook towards the Spanish. Alvarado's letter to Hernán Cortés describing his passage through Soconusco is lost, and knowledge of events there come from the account of Bernal Díaz del Castillo, who was not present, but related the report of Gonzalo de Alvarado.[52] By 1524, Soconusco had been completely pacified by Alvarado and his forces.[53]

Lienzo de Tlaxcala Quetzaltenango
A page from the Lienzo de Tlaxcala showing the conquest of Quetzaltenango.

Pedro de Alvarado and his army advanced along the Pacific coast unopposed until they reached the Samalá River in western Guatemala. This region formed a part of the K'iche' kingdom, and a K'iche' army tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Spanish from crossing the river. Once across, the conquistadors ransacked nearby settlements in an effort to terrorise the K'iche'.[54] On 8 February 1524 Alvarado's army fought a battle at Xetulul, called Zapotitlán by his Mexican allies (modern San Francisco Zapotitlán). Although suffering many injuries inflicted by defending K'iche' archers, the Spanish and their allies stormed the town and set up camp in the marketplace.[55]

Alvarado then turned to head upriver into the Sierra Madre mountains towards the K'iche' heartlands, crossing the pass into the fertile valley of Quetzaltenango. On 12 February 1524 Alvarado's Mexican allies were ambushed in the pass and driven back by K'iche' warriors but the Spanish cavalry charge that followed was a shock for the K'iche', who had never before seen horses. The cavalry scattered the K'iche' and the army crossed to the city of Xelaju (modern Quetzaltenango) only to find it deserted.[56]

Almost a week later, on 18 February 1524,[57] a K'iche' army confronted the Spanish army in the Quetzaltenango valley and were comprehensively defeated; many K'iche' nobles were among the dead.[58] This battle exhausted the K'iche' militarily and they asked for peace and offered tribute, inviting Pedro de Alvarado into their capital Q'umarkaj, which was known as Tecpan Utatlan to the Nahuatl-speaking allies of the Spanish. Alvarado was deeply suspicious of the K'iche' intentions but accepted the offer and marched to Q'umarkaj with his army.[59]

Q'umarkaj was the capital of the K'iche' kingdom until it was burnt by Alvarado's forces.

In March 1524 Pedro de Alvarado entered Q'umarkaj at the invitation of the remaining lords of the K'iche' after their catastrophic defeat,[60] fearing that he was entering a trap.[58] He encamped on the plain outside the city rather than accepting lodgings inside.[61] Fearing the great number of K'iche' warriors gathered outside the city and that his cavalry would not be able to manoeuvre in the narrow streets of Q'umarkaj, he invited the leading lords of the city, Oxib-Keh (the king) and Beleheb-Tzy (the king elect) to visit him in his camp.[62]

As soon as they did so, he seized them and kept them as prisoners in his camp. The K'iche' warriors, seeing their lords taken prisoner, attacked the Spaniards' indigenous allies and managed to kill one of the Spanish soldiers.[63] At this point Alvarado decided to have the captured K'iche' lords burnt to death, and then proceeded to burn the entire city.[64] After the destruction of Q'umarkaj and the execution of its rulers, Pedro de Alvarado sent messages to Iximche, capital of the Kaqchikel, proposing an alliance against the remaining K'iche' resistance.[59]

Kaqchikel alliance and conquest of the Tz'utujil

On 14 April 1524, soon after the defeat of the K'iche', the Spanish were invited into Iximche and were well received by the lords Belehe Qat and Cahi Imox.[65][nb 1] The Kaqchikel kings provided native soldiers to assist the conquistadors against continuing K'iche' resistance and to help with the defeat of the neighbouring Tz'utuhil kingdom.[66] The Spanish only stayed briefly in Iximche before continuing through Atitlán, Escuintla and Cuscatlán. The Spanish returned to the Kaqchikel capital on 23 July 1524 and on 27 July, Pedro de Alvarado declared Iximche as the first capital of Guatemala, Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala ("St. James of the Knights of Guatemala").[67]

Lago de Atitlán 2009
The Tz'utujil kingdom had its capital on the shore of Lake Atitlán.

The Kaqchikel appear to have entered into an alliance with the Spanish to defeat their enemies, the Tz'utujil, whose capital was Tecpan Atitlan.[59] Pedro de Alvarado sent two Kaqchikel messengers to Tecpan Atitlan at the request of the Kaqchikel lords, both of whom were killed by the Tz'utujil.[68] When news of the killing of the messengers reached the Spanish at Iximche, the conquistadors marched against the Tz'utujil with their Kaqchikel allies.[59]

Pedro de Alvarado left Iximche just 5 days after he had arrived there, with 60 cavalry, 150 Spanish infantry and an unspecified number of Kaqchikel warriors. The Spanish and their allies arrived at the lakeshore after a day's hard march, without encountering any opposition. Seeing the lack of resistance, Alvarado rode ahead with 30 cavalry along the lake shore. Opposite a populated island the Spanish at last encountered hostile Tz'utujil warriors and charged among them, scattering and pursuing them to a narrow causeway across which the surviving Tz'utujil fled.[69] The rest of Alvarado's army soon reinforced his party and they successfully stormed the island. This battle took place on 18 April.[70]

The following day the Spanish entered Tecpan Atitlan but found it deserted. Pedro de Alvarado camped in the centre of the city and sent out scouts to find the enemy. They managed to catch some locals and used them to send messages to the Tz'utujil lords, ordering them to submit to the king of Spain. The Tz'utujil leaders responded by surrendering to Pedro de Alvarado and swearing loyalty to Spain, at which point Alvarado considered them pacified and returned to Iximche.[70] Three days after Pedro de Alvarado returned to Iximche, the lords of the Tz'utujil arrived there to pledge their loyalty and offer tribute to the conquistadors.[71] A short time afterwards a number of lords arrived from the Pacific lowlands to swear allegiance to the king of Spain.[72]

Kaqchikel rebellion

Pedro de Alvarado rapidly began to demand gold in tribute from the Kaqchikels, souring the friendship between the two peoples.[73] He demanded that their kings deliver 1000 gold leaves, each worth 15 pesos.[74][nb 2] The Kaqchikel people abandoned their city and fled to the forests and hills on 28 August 1524. Ten days later the Spanish declared war on the Kaqchikel.[73]

Two years later, on 9 February 1526, a group of sixteen Spanish deserters burnt the palace of the Ahpo Xahil, sacked the temples and kidnapped a priest, acts that the Kaqchikel blamed on Pedro de Alvarado.[75][nb 3] The Kaqchikel kept up resistance against the Spanish for a number of years. On 9 May 1530, exhausted by the warfare that had seen the deaths of their best warriors and the enforced abandonment of their crops,[76] the two kings of the most important clans returned from the wilds.[73] A day later they were joined by many nobles and their families and many more people; they then surrendered at the new Spanish capital at Ciudad Vieja.[73]

Pacific lowlands of Guatemala

Lienzo de Tlaxcala Escuintla
A page from the Lienzo de Tlaxcala depicting the conquest of Izcuintepeque.

On 8 May 1524, Pedro de Alvarado continued southwards to the Pacific coastal plain with an army numbering approximately 6000,[nb 4] where he defeated the Pipil of Panacal or Panacaltepeque near Izcuintepeque on 9 May.[77] Alvarado described the terrain approaching the town as very difficult, covered with dense vegetation and swampland that made the use of cavalry impossible; instead he sent men with crossbows ahead. The Pipil withdrew their scouts because of the heavy rain, believing that the Spanish and their allies would not be able to reach the town that day.[78]

Pedro de Alvarado pressed ahead and when the Spanish entered the town the defenders were completely unprepared, with the Pipil warriors indoors sheltering from the torrential rain. In the battle that ensued, the Spanish and their indigenous allies suffered minor losses but the Pipil were able to flee into the forest, sheltered from Spanish pursuit by the weather and the vegetation. Pedro de Alvarado ordered the town to be burnt and sent messengers to the Pipil lords demanding their surrender, otherwise he would lay waste to their lands.[78]

According to Alvarado's letter to Cortés, the Pipil came back to the town and submitted to him, accepting the king of Spain as their overlord.[79] The Spanish force camped in the captured town for eight days.[78] A few years later, in 1529, Pedro de Alvarado was accused of using excessive brutality in his conquest of Izcuintepeque, amongst other atrocities.[80]

The Pacific slope of Jutiapa was the scene of a number of battles with the Xinca.

In Guazacapán, Pedro de Alvarado described his encounter with people who were neither Maya nor Pipil, speaking a different language altogether; these people were probably Xinca.[81] At this point Alvarado's force consisted of 250 Spanish infantry accompanied by 6,000 indigenous allies, mostly Kaqchikel and Cholutec.[82] Alvarado and his army defeated and occupied the most important Xinca city, named as Atiquipaque. The defending warriors were described by Alvarado as engaging in fierce hand-to-hand combat using spears, stakes and poisoned arrows. The battle took place on 26 May 1524 and resulted in a significant reduction of the Xinca population.[81]

Alvarado's army continued eastwards from Atiquipaque, seizing several more Xinca cities. Because Alvarado and his allies could not understand the Xinca language, Alvarado took extra precautions on the march eastward by strengthening his vanguard and rearguard with ten cavalry apiece. In spite of these precautions the baggage train was ambushed by a Xinca army soon after leaving Taxisco. Many indigenous allies were killed and most of the baggage was lost, including all the crossbows and ironwork for the horses.[83]

This was a serious setback and Alvarado camped his army in Nancintla for eight days, during which time he sent two expeditions against the attacking army.[84] Alvarado sent out Xinca messengers to make contact with the enemy but they failed to return. Messengers from the city of Pazaco, in the modern department of Jutiapa,[85] offered peace to the conquistadors but when Alvarado arrived there the next day the inhabitants were preparing for war. Alvarado's troops encountered a sizeable quantity of gathered warriors and quickly routed them through the city's streets. From Pazaco, Alvarado crossed the Río Paz and entered what is now El Salvador.[86]

Cuzcatlan (El Salvador)

Alvarado led the first effort by Spanish forces to extend their dominion to the nation of Cuzcatlan (in modern El Salvador), in June 1524. These efforts established many towns such as San José Acatempa in 1525 and Esquipulas in 1560. Spanish efforts were firmly resisted by the indigenous people known as the Pipil and their Mayan speaking neighbors. Despite Alvarado's initial success in the Battle of Acajutla, the indigenous people of Cuzcatlán, who according to tradition were led by a warlord called Atlacatl, defeated the Spaniards and their auxiliaries, and forced them to withdraw to Guatemala.

Alvarado was wounded on his left thigh, remaining handicapped for the rest of his life. He abandoned the war and appointed his brother, Gonzalo de Alvarado, to continue the task. Two subsequent expeditions were required (the first in 1525, followed by a smaller group in 1528) to bring the Pipil under Spanish control. In 1528 the conquest of Cuzcatlán was completed and the city of San Salvador was established.

Titles and first marriage

On 18 December 1527, the king of Spain named Alvarado as governor of Guatemala; two days later he granted him the coveted military title of Adelantado. Alvarado's close friendship with Cortés was broken in the same year; Alvarado had promised Cortés that he would marry Cecilia Vázquez, Cortes' cousin. Alvarado broke his promise and instead married Francisca de la Cueva.[87]

Francisca de la Cueva was well connected at the royal court, being the niece of Francisco de los Cobos, the king's secretary, and a member of the powerful noble house of Albuquerque. This marriage gave Alvarado extra leverage at court and was far more useful to his long term interests; Alvarado thereafter maintained a friendship with Francisco de los Cobos that allowed him access to the king's favour. In 1528, by coincidence both Alvarado and Cortés were in Seville at the same time, but Cortés ignored him.[87]

Francisca de la Cueva died shortly after their arrival in America. Alvarado remained governor of Guatemala until his death. He was made Knight of Santiago in 1527.


By 1532, Alvarado's friendship with Hernán Cortés had soured, and he no longer trusted him. At this time Alvarado requested permission from the king for an expedition south along the Pacific coast, to conquer any lands there that had not already been claimed for the Crown, and specifically rejected that Cortés should accompany him.[88] In 1534, Alvarado heard tales of the riches of Peru, headed south to the Andes and attempted to bring the province of Quito under his rule. When he arrived, he found the land already held by Francisco Pizarro's lieutenant Sebastián de Belalcázar. The two forces of Conquistadors almost came to battle; however, Alvarado bartered to Pizarro's group most of his ships, horses, and ammunition, plus most of his men, for a comparatively modest sum of money, and returned to Guatemala.[45]

Governor of Honduras

In 1532, Alvarado received a Royal Cedula naming him Governor of the Province of Honduras. At that time, Honduras consisted of a single settlement of Spaniards in Trujillo, but he declined to act on it. In 1533 or 1534 he began to send his own work gangs of enslaved Africans and Native Americans into the parts of Honduras adjacent to Guatemala to work the placer gold deposits.

In 1536, ostensibly in response to a letter asking for aid from Andrés de Cereceda, then acting Governor of the Province of Honduras, Alvarado and his army of Indian allies arrived in Honduras, just as the Spanish colonists were preparing to abandon the country and go look for gold in Peru. In June, 1536, Alvarado engaged the indigenous resistance led by Cicumba in the lower Ulua river valley, and won. He divided up the Indian labor in repartimiento grants to his soldiers and some of the colonists, and returned to Guatemala.

During a visit to Spain, in 1537, Alvarado had the governorship of Honduras reconfirmed in addition to that of Guatemala for the next seven years. His governorship of Honduras was not uncontested. Francisco de Montejo had a rival claim, and was installed by the Spanish king as Governor of Honduras in 1540. Ten years after being widowed, Alvarado married one of his first wife's sisters, Beatriz de la Cueva, who outlived him.

After the death of Alvarado, de la Cueva maneuvered her own election and succeeded him as governor of Guatemala, becoming the only woman to govern a major political division of the Americas in Spanish colonial times. She drowned a few weeks after taking office in the destruction of the capital city Ciudad Vieja by a sudden flow from the Volcán de Agua in 1541.

Death in the Mixtón War, 1541

Pedro de alvarado telleriano remensis
Alvarado's death, depicted in the indigenous Codex Telleriano-Remensis. The glyph to the right of his head represents his Nahuatl name, Tonatiuh ("Sun").
Antigua Guatemala, ruinas de la catedral 07
Modern memorial stone in the ruins of Antigua cathedral, marking Pedro de Alvarado's tomb

Alvarado developed a plan to outfit an armada that would sail from the western coast of Mexico to China and the Spice Islands. At great cost, he assembled and equipped 13 ships and approximately 550 soldiers for the expedition. The fleet was about to set sail in 1541 when Alvarado received a letter from Cristóbal de Oñate, pleading for help against hostile Indians who were besieging him at Nochistlán.[46]:Ch.203

The siege was part of a major revolt by the Mixtón natives of the Nueva Galicia region of Mexico. Alvarado gathered his troops and went to help Oñate. In a freak accident, he was crushed by a horse that was spooked and ran amok.[46]:Ch.203 He died a few days later, on July 4, 1541, and was buried in the church at Tiripetío, a village between Pátzcuaro and Morelia (in present-day Michoacán).

Four decades after Alvarado's death, his mestiza daughter Leonor de Alvarado Xicoténcatl paid to transport his remains to Guatemala for reburial in the cathedral of the city of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, now Antigua Guatemala.


After the death of her husband, Beatriz de la Cueva maneuvered her own election and succeeded him as governor of Guatemala, becoming the only woman to govern a major political division of the Americas in Spanish colonial times.[89]

Alvarado had no children from either of his legal marriages. His life companion was his concubine Luisa de Tlaxcala (also called Xicoténcatl or Tecubalsi, her original names after Catholic baptism). She was a Nahua noblewoman, daughter of the Tlaxcallan Chief Xicotencatl the Elder. Luisa was given by her father in 1519 to Hernán Cortés as a proof of respect and friendship. In turn Cortés gave her in guard to Pedro de Alvarado,[46]:178 who quickly and unremarkably became her lover. Luisa followed Alvarado in his pursuit of conquests beyond central Mexico. Despite never being his legitimate wife, Luisa de Tlaxcala had numerous possessions and was respected as a Doña, both for her relationship with Alvarado and for her noble origin. She died in 1535 and was buried at the Guatemala Cathedral.

With Luisa de Tlaxcala Pedro de Alvarado had three children:

  • Leonor de Alvarado y Xicotenga Tecubalsi, born in the newly founded Spanish city of Santiago de los Caballeros, who married Pedro de Portocarrero, a conqueror trusted by his father-in-law, whom he accompanied during the conquests of Mexico and Guatemala. Portocarrero participated in numerous battles against the Indians.
Leonor married a second time,[90] to Francisco de la Cueva y Guzman.[46]:178–179 The Alvarado fortune remained with their descendants for generations to come, in the family of Villacreces de la Cueva y Guzmán, governors of this part of Guatemala.
  • Pedro de Alvarado, named for his father,[46]:178 who disappeared at sea when traveling to Spain
  • Diego de Alvarardo, El Mestizo, who died in 1554 in the civil wars of Peru.

By other women, in more casual relationships, he had two other children:

  • Gómez de Alvarado, without further notice
  • Ana (Anita) de Alvarado

References in modern culture

  • He is portrayed in Lew Wallace's novel The Fair God. One of Montezuma's daughters falls in love with him in a dream before she had ever seen him, when they do meet he returns her love and gives her an iron cross necklace so she can convert to Christianity. She is killed during the battle of La Noche Triste.[91]
  • C. S. Forester's 1937 novel The Happy Return, set in Central America in 1808, features a character El Supremo who claims to be a descendant of Alvarado by a (fictional) marriage to a daughter of Moctezuma.
  • Pedro de Alvarado is a character in the opera La Conquista (2005) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero, which depicts the major episodes of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521 and the subsequent destruction of the Aztec civilization.
  • Pedro de Alvarado is identified as the torturer of Tzinacán, the narrator in Jorge Luis Borges's story "The God's Script" ("La Escritura del Dios"), first published in 1949.

See also


  1. ^ Recinos places all these dates two days earlier (e.g. the Spanish arrival at Iximche on 12 April rather than 14 April) based on vague dating in Spanish primary records. Schele and Fahsen calculated all dates on the more securely dated Kaqchikel annals, where equivalent dates are often given in both the Kaqchikel and Spanish calendars. The Schele and Fahsen dates are used in this section. Schele & Mathews 1999, p. 386. n. 15.
  2. ^ A peso was a Spanish coin. One peso was worth eight reales (the source of the term "pieces of eight") or two tostones. During the conquest, a peso contained 4.6 grams (0.16 oz) of gold. Lovell 2005, p. 223. Recinos 1952, 1986, p. 52. n. 25.
  3. ^ Recinos 1998, p. 19. gives sixty deserters.
  4. ^ Most of these were native allies.


  1. ^ a b Lovell, Lutz and Swezey 1984, p. 461.
  2. ^ León Portilla 2006, pp. 131–132.
  3. ^ Myers 2004, pp. 19, 182.
  4. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 205, 207.
  5. ^ a b Recinos 1986, p. 205.
  6. ^ a b Burland 1973, p. 216.
  7. ^ León Portilla 2006, p. 132.
  8. ^ Recinos 1998, p. 17.
  9. ^ Recinos 1998, p. 18.
  10. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 206.
  11. ^ a b Recinos 1986, p. 209.
  12. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 208.
  13. ^ a b c d Recinos 1986, p. 9.
  14. ^ a b Recinos 1986, pp. 9-10.
  15. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 10.
  16. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 10, 21.
  17. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 10-11.
  18. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 11-12.
  19. ^ Gall 1967, p. 38.
  20. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 14.
  21. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 14-15.
  22. ^ a b Recinos 1986, p. 16.
  23. ^ a b Recinos 1986, p. 17.
  24. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 759.
  25. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 759. Clendinnen 2003, p. 14.
  26. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 759. Recinos 1986, p. 18.
  27. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 18.
  28. ^ Clendinnen 2003, pp. 14–15.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 760.
  30. ^ a b c Clendinnen 2003, p. 15.
  31. ^ a b Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 760.
    Clendinnen 2003, p. 15.
  32. ^ Clendinnen 2003, pp. 15–16.
  33. ^ Clendinnen 2003, p. 16.
  34. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 19.
  35. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 19-20.
  36. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 20.
  37. ^ a b Recinos 1986, p. 21.
  38. ^ García Añoveros 1987, p. 245.
  39. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 761.
  40. ^ a b c Townsend 1995, p. 16.
  41. ^ Hernández et al 2010, p. 26.
  42. ^ Levy, Buddy. "Conquistador." Bantam Books, 2008, p. 29.
  43. ^ Levy, Buddy. "Conquistador." Bantam Books, 2008, p. 42.
  44. ^ Townsend 1995, pp. 16ff.
  45. ^ a b "Conquered Conquistadors", Florine G.L. Asselbergs, First Edition, published 2004
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Diaz, B., 1963, The Conquest of New Spain, London: Penguin Books, ISBN 0140441239
  47. ^ Alvarado 1524, 2007, p. 30.
  48. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 763. Lovell 2005, p. 58. Matthew 2012, pp. 78-79.
  49. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 763.
  50. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 62.
  51. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 64.
  52. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 63.
  53. ^ Gasco 1997, pp. 55–56.
  54. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 764.
  55. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 65. Gall 1967, pp. 40–41.
  56. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 764. Gall 1967, p. 41.
  57. ^ Gall 1967, p. 41.
  58. ^ a b Sharer and Traxler 2006, pp. 764–765.
  59. ^ a b c d Sharer & Traxler 2006, p. 765.
  60. ^ Sharer & Traxler 2006, pp. 764–765. Recinos 1986, pp. 68, 74.
  61. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 74.
  62. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 75. Sharer & Traxler 2006, pp. 764–765.
  63. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 75.
  64. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 74–5. Sharer & Traxler 2006, pp. 764–765.
  65. ^ Schele & Mathews 1999, p. 297. Guillemín 1965, p. 9.
  66. ^ Schele and Mathews 1999, p. 297.
  67. ^ Schele & Mathews 1999, p. 297. Recinos 1998, p. 101. Guillemín 1965, p. 10.
  68. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, p. 765. Recinos 1986, p. 82.
  69. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 82.
  70. ^ a b Recinos 1986, p. 83.
  71. ^ Sharer and Traxler 2006, pp. 765–766. Recinos 1986, p. 84.
  72. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 84.
  73. ^ a b c d Schele & Mathews 1999, p. 298.
  74. ^ Guillemin 1967 p. 25.
  75. ^ Schele & Mathews 1999, pp. 298, 310, 386n19.
  76. ^ Polo Sifontes 1986, p. 92.
  77. ^ Fowler 1985, p. 41. Recinos 1998, p. 29. Matthew 2012, p. 81.
  78. ^ a b c Polo Sifontes 1981, p. 117.
  79. ^ Batres 2009, p. 65.
  80. ^ Batres 2009, p. 66.
  81. ^ a b Letona Zuleta et al., p. 5.
  82. ^ Letona Zuleta et al., p. 6.
  83. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 87.
  84. ^ Recinos 1986, pp. 87–88.
  85. ^ Mendoza Asencio 2011, pp. 34-35.
  86. ^ Recinos 1986, p. 88.
  87. ^ a b García Añoveros 1987, p. 247.
  88. ^ García Añoveros 1987, p. 248.
  89. ^ Fabio Joseph Flouty. "Conquistador and Colonial Elites of Central America (list)". University of California Irvine. Archived from the original on June 16, 2010.
  90. ^ According to the illustrious 17th-century historian father Domingo Juarros in his Compendio de la historia de la cuidad de guatemala, pagina 347.
  91. ^ Wallace, Lew (1873). The Fair God or the Last of the 'Tzins. New York: Grosset and Dunlap.


Alvarado, Pedro de (2007) [1524]. "Pedro de Alvarado's letters to Hernando Cortés, 1524". In Matthew Restall and Florine Asselbergs (ed.). Invading Guatemala: Spanish, Nahua, and Maya Accounts of the Conquest Wars. University Park, Pennsylvania, US: Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 23–47. ISBN 978-0-271-02758-6. OCLC 165478850.
Asselbergs, Florine G.L. (2004). Conquered Conquistadors: The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, a Nahua vision of the conquest of Guatemala. CNWS publications series. Leiden, Netherlands: Research School CNWS. ISBN 978-90-5789-097-0. OCLC 491630572.
Bandelier, Adolph Francis (1907). "Pedro de Alvarado". In Charles G. Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, Condé B. Pallen, Thomas J. Shahan and John J. Wynne (eds.) (eds.). The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church. vol. I (New Advent online reproduction ed.). New York: Robert Appleton Company. OCLC 1017058.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
Batres, Carlos A. (2009). "Tracing the "Enigmatic" Late Postclassic Nahua-Pipil (A.D. 1200–1500): Archaeological Study of Guatemalan South Pacific Coast". Theses. Carbondale, Illinois, US: Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
Burland, C. A. (1973). Montezuma: Lord of the Aztecs. London, UK: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-76566-0. OCLC 791188.
Clendinnen, Inga (2003) [1988]. Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517–1570 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-52731-6. OCLC 50868309.
Díaz del Castillo, Bernal (1963) [1632]. The Conquest of New Spain. Penguin classics. translated by J. M. Cohen (6th printing [1973] ed.). Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-044123-9. OCLC 162351797.
Fowler, William R. Jr. (Winter 1985). "Ethnohistoric Sources on the Pipil-Nicarao of Central America: A Critical Analysis". Ethnohistory. Duke University Press. 32 (1): 37–62. doi:10.2307/482092. ISSN 0014-1801. JSTOR 482092. OCLC 478130795.
Gall, Francis (July–December 1967). "Los Gonzalo de Alvarado, Conquistadores de Guatemala". Anales de la Sociedad de Geografía e Historia (in Spanish). Guatemala City, Guatemala: Sociedad de Geografía e Historia de Guatemala. XL. OCLC 72773975.
García Añoveros, Jesús María (June 1987). "Don Pedro de Alvarado: las fuentes históricas, documentación, crónicas y biblografía existente" (PDF). Mesoamérica (in Spanish). Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala: El Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica (CIRMA) in conjunction with Plumsock Mesoamerican Studies, South Woodstock, Vermont, US. 13: 243–282. ISSN 0252-9963. OCLC 7141215. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
Gasco, Janine (1997). "Consolidation of the Colonial Regime: Native Society in Western Central America". Historical Archaeology. Society for Historical Archaeology. 31 (1, Diversity and Social Identity in Colonial Spanish America: Native American, African, and Hispanic Communities during the Middle Period): 55–63. doi:10.1007/BF03377255. ISSN 0440-9213. JSTOR 25616517. OCLC 197892468. (subscription required)
Guillemín, Jorge F. (1965). Iximché: Capital del Antiguo Reino Cakchiquel (in Spanish). Guatemala: Tipografía Nacional de Guatemala. OCLC 1498320.
Hernández, Christine; Anthony P. Andrews; Gabrielle Vail (2010). "Introduction". In Gabrielle Vail and Christine L. Hernández (ed.). Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests: Intellectual Interchange Between the Northern Maya Lowlands and Highland Mexico in the Late Postclassic Period. Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian symposia and colloquia. Washington, D.C, US: Harvard University Press. pp. 17–36. ISBN 9780884023463. OCLC 845573515.
Juarros, Domingo (1808–18). Compendio de la historia de la ciudad de Guatemala (in Spanish). 2 vols. Guatemala: Ignacio Beteta. OCLC 2187421.
Juarros, Domingo (1823). A statistical and commercial history of the kingdom of Guatemala, in Spanish America: containing important particulars relative to its productions, manufactures, customs, &c. &c. &c. With an account of its conquest by the Spaniards, and a narrative of the principal events down to the present time: from original records in the archives; actual observation; and other authentic sources (online reproduction at Internet Archive). translated by John Baily (translation of Compendio de la historia de la ciudad de Guatemala, 1st English ed.). London: John Hearne. OCLC 367922521.
León Portilla, Miguel (2006). The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Beacon Press. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-0-8070-5500-7.
Letona Zuleta, José Vinicio; Carlos Camacho Nassar; Juan Antonio Fernández Gamarro (2003-01-01). "Las tierras comunales xincas de Guatemala". In Carlos Camacho Nassar (ed.). Tierra, identidad y conflicto en Guatemala (in Spanish). Guatemala: Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO); Misión de Verificación de las Naciones Unidas en Guatemala (MINUGUA); Dependencia Presidencial de Asistencia Legal y Resolución de Conflictos sobre la Tierra (CONTIERRA). ISBN 978-99922-66-84-7. OCLC 54679387.
Lovell, W. George; Christopher H. Lutz; William R. Swezey (April 1984). "The Indian Population of Southern Guatemala, 1549-1551: An Analysis of López de Cerrato's Tasaciones de Tributos". The Americas. Academy of American Franciscan History. 40 (4): 459–477. JSTOR 980856. (subscription required)
Lovell, W. George (2005). Conquest and Survival in Colonial Guatemala: A Historical Geography of the Cuchumatán Highlands, 1500–1821 (3rd ed.). Montreal, Canada: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-2741-6. OCLC 58051691.
Matthew, Laura E. (2012). Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala (hardback). First Peoples. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-3537-1. OCLC 752286995.
Mendoza Asencio, Hilda Johanna (2011). "Módulo pedagógico para desarrollo turístico dirigido a docentes y estudiantes del Instituto Mixto de Educación Básica por Cooperativa de Enseñanza, Pasaco, Jutiapa" (PDF) (in Spanish). Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Facultad de Humanidades. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
Myers, Paul A. (2004). North to California: The Spanish Voyages of Discovery, 1533-1603. Coral Springs, Florida, US: Llumina Press. ISBN 978-1-59526-252-3. OCLC 54929617.
Polo Sifontes, Francis (1981). Francis Polo Sifontes and Celso A. Lara Figueroa (ed.). "Título de Alotenango, 1565: Clave para ubicar geograficamente la antigua Itzcuintepec pipil". Antropología e Historia de Guatemala (in Spanish). Guatemala City, Guatemala: Dirección General de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala, Ministerio de Educación. 3, II Epoca: 109–129. OCLC 605015816.
Polo Sifontes, Francis (1986). Los Cakchiqueles en la Conquista de Guatemala (in Spanish). Guatemala: CENALTEX. OCLC 82712257.
Prescott, William H. (1922). History of the Conquest of Mexico. 2. London, UK: Chatto & Windus.
Recinos, Adrián (1986). Pedro de Alvarado: Conquistador de México y Guatemala (in Spanish) (2nd ed.). Guatemala: CENALTEX Centro Nacional de Libros de Texto y Material Didáctico "José de Pineda Ibarra". OCLC 243309954.
Recinos, Adrian (1998). Memorial de Solalá, Anales de los Kaqchikeles; Título de los Señores de Totonicapán (in Spanish). Guatemala: Piedra Santa. ISBN 978-84-8377-006-1. OCLC 25476196.
Schele, Linda; Peter Mathews (1999). The Code of Kings: The language of seven Maya temples and tombs. New York, US: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-85209-6. OCLC 41423034.
Sharer, Robert J.; Loa P. Traxler (2006). The Ancient Maya (6th ed.). Stanford, California, US: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4817-9. OCLC 57577446.
Stone, Samuel Z. (1975). La dinastía de los conquistadores: La crisis del poder en la Costa Rica contemporánea (in Spanish). Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio, Costa Rica: Editorial Universitaria Centroamericana. OCLC 1933264.
Stone, Samuel Z. (1990). The heritage of the conquistadors: Ruling classes in Central America from the Conquest to the Sandinistas (6th edition, fully revised and expanded ed.). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-4207-4. OCLC 20393173.
Townsend, Richard F. (1995) [1992]. The Aztecs. London, UK: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-27720-1. OCLC 27825022.

Further reading

Adorno, Rolena (April 1992). "The Discursive Encounter of Spain and America: The Authority of Eyewitness Testimony in the Writing of History". The William and Mary Quarterly. Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. 49 (2): 210–228. doi:10.2307/2947270. JSTOR 2947270. (subscription required)
Byrd Simpson, Lesley (November 1931). "The Death of Pedro de Alvarado: A Study in Legend-Making". The Hispanic American Historical Review. Duke University Press. 11 (4): 529–538. JSTOR 2506267. (subscription required)
Gutiérrez Escudero, Antonio (1991) [1988]. Pedro de Alvarado: El conquistador del país de los quetzales (in Spanish). Mexico City, Mexico: Red Editorial Iberoamericana. ISBN 978-968-456-269-1.
Sherman, William L. (October 1969). "A Conqueror's Wealth: Notes on the Estate of Don Pedro de Alvarado". The Americas. Academy of American Franciscan History. 26 (2): 199–213. doi:10.2307/980299. JSTOR 980299. (subscription required)
Vega, Alejandra (November 2011). "Experiencias de cordillera, ecos de frío: Relatos cruzados entre Chile y Quito en el siglo XVI". Revista Chilena de Literatura (in Spanish). Santiago de Chile, Chile: Universidad de Chile (80): 223–242. doi:10.4067/s0718-22952011000300012. JSTOR 41350265. (subscription required)
Wagner, Henry R. (December 1946). "The Last Will of Pedro de Alvarado". California Historical Society Quarterly. 25 (4): 309–310. JSTOR 25155995. (subscription required)

External links

Alvarado, Veracruz

Alvarado (officially: Ilustre, Heroica y Generosa Ciudad y Puerto de Alvarado) is a city in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city also serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. It is located 64 km (40 mi) from the city of Veracruz, Veracruz, on Federal Highways 180 and 125. Alvarado is bordered by Boca del Río, Tlalixcoyan, Medellín, Ignacio de la Llave, Ciudad Lerdo de Tejada, Tlacotalpan and Acula. It is 10 m (33 ft) above sea level. It lies in the so-called "Region Papaloapan" bordered on the south by the municipalities of Acula, Tlacotalpan and Lerdo de Tejada, on the east by the Gulf of Mexico and on the west by Ignacio de la Llave.The geographic size of Alvarado is 840 square kilometres (320 sq mi).

The INEGI said that the population by 2000 was 22,608 people.

Alvarado was founded in the 16th century. In 1518, Pedro de Alvarado arrived to Atlizintla and name the town and river after himself. Then in 1563, Juan de Sahagún built the port of Alvarado. It was used to transport food to other countries.

Major products of Alvarado are coffee, fruits, and sugar. The economy of this region is based on fishing and farming. Sugar cane and coffee are common products of this region.

Alvarado family

Alvarado was the Spanish family of conquistadors.

Diego Gómez de Alvarado y Mexía de Sandoval. the Commander of Lobón, Puebla, Montijo and Cubillana, Alcalde of Montánchez, Trece of the Order of Santiago, Lord of Castellanos, a Maestresala official instructor of Henry IV of Castile and General of the Frontier of Portugal. 1st wife: Teresa Suárez de Moscoso y Figueroa; 2nd wife Leonor de Contreras y Gutiérrez de Trejo. His sons:

Pedro de Alvarado, famous conquistador. 1st wife Fransisca de Cueva, 2nd - her cousin Beatriz de la Cueva. Both childless. But more so than his wives his vital companion was Luisa de Tlaxcala (also called Xicoténcalt or Tecubalsi, her original names after Catholic baptism), an Indian noblewoman, daughter of the Tlaxcaltec Chief Xicotenga. With Luisa de Tlaxcala he had three children, and two more from other women (Leonor de Alvarado y Xicotenga Tecubalsi, Pedro de Alvarado, Diego de Alvarardo El Mestizo, Gómez de Alvarado, Ana (Anita) de Alvarado)

Gonzalo de Alvarado y Contreras. His descendants were represented by the family Vides de Alvarado after the famous 17th-century historians Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmán and also the father Domingo Juarros y Montufar.

Jorge de Alvarado. Jorge married a daughter of Xicotencatl I, the ruler of Tizatlan in Tlaxcala. She was baptized with the Spanish name doña Lucía. They had a daughter who married the conquistador Francisco Xiron Manuel and had issue. Also he married twice, firstly to Francisca Girón and secondly in 1526 to Luisa de Estrada, certainly related to Francisco Vázquez de Coronado's wife, by whom he had a son Jorge de Alvarado y Estrada, born in México, who married Catalina de Villafañe y Carvajal, Mexican, daughter of Ángel de Villafañe, conqueror of Mexico, and wife Inés de Carvajal. Their son was Jorge de Alvarado y Villafañe, also born in Mexico, Governor and Captain-General of Honduras and Knight of Santiago since 1587, also married twice, firstly to Brianda de Quiñones and secondly to Juana de Benavides, vecina of Guatemala, and had issue.

and Gómez, Hernando and Juan.Diego de Alvarado y Mexía de Sandoval, uncle of Pedro de Alvarado.

Gonzalo de Alvarado y Chávez, cousin of Pedro de Alvarado. He married Isabel, a daughter of Jorge de Alvarado, his cousin.

Alonso de Alvarado - ?

Battle of Acajutla

The Battle of Acajutla was a battle on June 8, 1524, between the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and the standing army of Cuscatlan Pipils, an indigenous state, in the neighborhood of present-day Acajutla, near the coast of western El Salvador.


Coanacochtzin (died 1525) was the seventh tlatoani (ruler) of Texcoco.

One of Nezahualpilli's sons, he succeeded to throne after the death of his half-brother Cacama in 1520.In 1524 Hernán Cortés took Coanacochtzin and many other indigenous rulers with him on his expedition to Honduras. In 1525, at Campeche, Coanacochtzin was executed along with Cuauhtemoc, the tlatoani of Tenochtitlan.

After his death Ixtlilxochitl II, another of Coanacochtzin's half-brothers, was made tlatoani of Texcoco by the Spanish.

Francisco de Montejo

Francisco de Montejo y Álvarez (Spanish: [fɾanˈθisko ðe mõnˈtexo]; c. 1479 in Salamanca – c. 1553 in Spain) was a Spanish conquistador in Mexico and Central America.

Francisco de Montejo was born in 1479 in Salamanca, Spain, to Juan de Montejo and Catalina Álvarez de Tejeda. He left Spain in 1514, and arrived in Cuba in time to join Juan de Grijalva's expedition along the coast of Yucatán and the Gulf of Mexico. There he had the rank of Captain, and command of 4 ships. On his return to Cuba, he joined the Hernán Cortés expedition, and helped found the city of Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz with Alonso Hernandez Puertocarrero. Cortés sent Francisco and Alonso as proctors to King Charles of Spain in 1519 to report on the expedition. While in Spain Montejo married Beatriz de Herrera.

In December 1526 the Spanish King, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, issued a royal decree naming Montejo Adelantado and Capitan General of Yucatán. He returned to Yucatán in 1528, and attempted to conquer it along the east coast (Tulum, Chetumal) but was driven back by the ferocity of the resistance of the Maya living along this coast. In 1530 he decided to try conquering Yucatán from the west, and began by pacifying what is today the modern Mexican state of Tabasco. From 1531–1535 he tried unsuccessfully to conquer western Yucatán, with some successes but in 1535 his forces were driven from Yucatán. In 1533, Montejo received a royal decree giving him permission to conquer Puerto Caballos and Naco in Honduras. This put him in conflict with Pedro de Alvarado, who had received a similar decree in 1532. This only became an issue after Alvarado declared he had conquered and pacified the province of Honduras in 1536. Alvarado continued as Governor of Honduras until 1540, although he was recalled to Spain in 1537.

In 1540, the Spanish King awarded the Governorship of Honduras to Montejo, and he traveled to Gracias a Dios to install an administration loyal to him.

It would fall to Montejo's son, Francisco de Montejo ("el Mozo") (born 1502, died 1565), to conquer Yucatán. He founded the city of San Francisco de Campeche in 1540, and Mérida in 1542. In 1546, the elder Montejo assumed the title of Governor and Captain General of Yucatán. However, by 1550 complaints about him caused him to be recalled to Spain where he died in 1553.

Montejo was survived by his eponymous son, and a daughter, Catalina Montejo y Herrera.

Gonzalo de Alvarado

Gonzalo de Alvarado was the name of two Spanish conquistadors, both related to Pedro de Alvarado and participating in the conquest of Mexico and Central America. Gonzalo de Alvarado y Contreras was his brother, while Gonzalo de Alvarado y Chávez was his cousin.

Jorge de Alvarado

Jorge de Alvarado y Contreras (born 1460 Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain – died 1540 or 1541 or Madrid, 1553) was a Spanish conquistador, brother of the more famous Pedro de Alvarado.

Kaqchikel people

The Kaqchikel (also called Kachiquel) are one of the indigenous Maya peoples of the midwestern highlands in Guatemala. The name was formerly spelled in various other ways, including Cakchiquel, Cakchiquel, Kakchiquel, Caqchikel, and Cachiquel.

In Postclassic Maya times the capital of the main branch of the Kaqchikel was Iximché. Like the neighboring K'iche' (Quiché), they were governed by four lords: Tzotzil, Xahil, Tucuché and Acajal, who were responsible for the administrative, military and religious affairs. The Kakchikel recorded their history in the book Annals of the Cakchiquels, also known as Memorial de Sololá.

The Chajoma were another Kaqchikel-speaking people; the ruins of Mixco Viejo have been identified as their capital.

Iximché was conquered by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado in 1524. At that time, the Kaqchikel were the enemies of the neighbouring K'iche' Kingdom, and helped the Spaniards to conquer it. The first colonial capital of Guatemala, Tecpán Guatemala, was founded near Iximché on July 25, 1524. On November 22, 1527, after several Kaqchikel uprisings, the capital was moved to Ciudad Vieja, near Antigua Guatemala.

The Kaqchikel language, one of the Mayan languages, is spoken today by 400,000 people. They subsist agriculturally, and their culture reflects a fusion of Maya and Spanish influences.

In November 1920, Cameron Townsend attended a gathering of politicians and diplomats from various Central American countries, after which he desired to begin the difficult process of writing down the Kapchikel language and thereby to translate the Bible into their native language. Cameron completed this massive undertaking on October 15, 1928, and sent the New Testament off to print. This was the genesis of the Wycliffe Bible Translators.

These early missionaries helped improve the lives of this and countless other tribes, so much that in the fall of 1936, President Lazaro Cardenas of Mexico recognized this work. He invited as many translators into Mexico as possible to help all of the other tribes in the country.

La Noche Triste

La Noche Triste ("The Night of Sorrows", literally "The Sad Night") also known as La Noche Victoriosa ("The Night of Victory" or "The Victorious Night") by Toltecayotl traditional groups (in the line of thought of The Broken Spears), was an important event during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, wherein Hernán Cortés, his invading army of Spanish conquistadors, and their native allies were driven out of the Aztec capital at Tenochtitlan.

Luis de Moscoso Alvarado

Luis de Moscoso Alvarado (1505 – 1551) was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. Luis de Moscoso Alvarado assumed command of Hernando De Soto's expedition upon the latter's death.


Olintepeque (Spanish pronunciation: [olinteˈpeke]) is a municipality in the Quetzaltenango department of Guatemala, not far from the city of Quetzaltenango. It is located on the Xekik'el (or Xekikel) River.

Olintepeque is known for being the place where the legendary K'iche' king Tecún Umán died in single combat with the Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Alvarado on February 20, 1524. The river Xekik'el ("where the blood spread") takes its name from the famous battle.

The inhabitants of Olintepeque speak primarily Spanish and K'iche'. A chapel is dedicated to St John the Baptist and the folk saint San Pascualito.

Pedro de Portocarrero (conquistador)

Pedro de Portocarrero (c. 1504 – c. 1539) was a Spanish conquistador who was active in the early 16th century in Guatemala, and Chiapas in southern Mexico. He was one of the few Spanish noblemen that took part in the early stages of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and was distantly related to prominent conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, who appointed him as an official in early colonial Guatemala.


The Salvadorans (Spanish: Salvadoreños) are people who identify with El Salvador in Central America. Salvadorans are mainly Mestizos (mixed European and Native American heritage) who make up the bulk of the population in El Salvador. Most Salvadorans live in El Salvador, although there is also a significant Salvadoran diaspora, particularly in the United States, with smaller communities in other countries around the world.

El Salvador's population was 6,218,000 in 2010, compared to 2,200,000 in 1950. In 2010, the percentage of the population below the age of 15 was 32.1%, 61% were between 15 and 65 years of age, while 6.9% were 65 years or older.

San Luis Acatlán

San Luis Acatlán is a town in San Luis Acatlán Municipality located in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. It is located in the Costa Chica region of the state, about 158 km from Acapulco. Most often called simply "Acatlán", the name comes from the locality of Acatlán located in the modern state of Puebla. The name itself derives from Náhuatl, meaning "among the reeds". Indigenous shepherds from Puebla arrived to this place between two rivers in Guerrero around 1750. San Luis derives from the name it was given in 1522 when soldiers of Pedro de Alvarado arrived here on this saint's day (August 25).

Spanish conquest of Chiapas

The Spanish conquest of Chiapas was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Mesoamerican polities in the territory that is now incorporated into the modern Mexican state of Chiapas. The region is physically diverse, featuring a number of highland areas, including the Sierra Madre de Chiapas and the Montañas Centrales (Central Highlands), a southern littoral plain known as Soconusco and a central depression formed by the drainage of the Grijalva River.

Before the Spanish conquest, Chiapas was inhabited by a variety of indigenous peoples, including the Zoques, various Maya peoples, such as the Lakandon Chʼol and the Tzotzil, and an unidentified group referred to as the Chiapanecas. Soconusco had been incorporated into the Aztec Empire, centred in Valley of Mexico, and paid the Aztecs tribute. News of strangers first arrived in the region as the Spanish penetrated and overthrew the Aztec Empire. In the early 1520s, several Spanish expeditions crossed Chiapas by land, and Spanish ships scouted the Pacific coast. The first highland colonial town in Chiapas, San Cristóbal de los Llanos, was established by Pedro de Portocarrero in 1527. Within a year, Spanish dominion extended over the upper drainage basin of the Grijalva River, Comitán, and the Ocosingo valley. Encomienda rights were established, although in the earlier stages of conquest these amounted to little more than slave-raiding rights.

The colonial province of Chiapa was established by Diego Mazariegos in 1528, with the reorganisation of existing encomiendas and colonial jurisdictions, and the renaming of San Cristóbal as Villa Real, and its relocation to Jovel. Excessive Spanish demands for tribute and labour caused a rebellion by the indigenous inhabitants, who attempted to starve out the Spanish. The conquistadores launched punitive raids, but the natives abandoned their towns and fled to inaccessible regions. Internal divisions among the Spanish led to a general instability in the province; eventually the Mazariegos faction gained concessions from the Spanish Crown that allowed for the elevation of Villa Real to the status of city, as Ciudad Real, and the establishment of new laws that promoted stability in the newly conquered region.

Spanish conquest of El Salvador

The Spanish conquest of El Salvador was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Mesoamerican polities in the territory that is now incorporated into the modern Central American nation of El Salvador. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, and is dominated by two mountain ranges running east-west. Its climate is tropical, and the year is divided into wet and dry seasons. Before the conquest the country formed a part of the Mesoamerican cultural region, and was inhabited by a number of indigenous peoples, including the Pipil, the Lenca, the Xinca, and Maya. Native weaponry consisted of spears, bows and arrows, and wooden swords with inset stone blades; they wore padded cotton armour.

The Spanish conquistadores were largely volunteers, receiving the spoils of victory instead of a salary; many were experienced soldiers who had already campaigned in Europe. The Spanish expeditions to Central America were launched from three different Spanish jurisdictions, resulting in rival conquests by mutually hostile Spanish captains. Spanish weaponry included swords, firearms, crossbows and light artillery. Metal armour was impractical in the hot, humid climate of Central America and the Spanish were quick to adopt the quilted cotton armour of the natives. The conquistadors were supported by a large number of Indian auxiliaries drawn from previously encountered Mesoamerican groups.

The first campaign against the native inhabitants was undertaken in 1524 by Pedro de Alvarado. Alvarado launched his expedition against the Pipil province of Cuscatlan from the Guatemalan Highlands, but by July 1524 he had retreated back to Guatemala. Gonzalo de Alvarado founded San Salvador the following year, but it was eradicated by a native attack in 1526, during a general uprising that spread across the region. Pedro de Alvarado returned to campaign in El Salvador in 1526 and 1528, and in the latter year, Diego de Alvarado reestablished San Salvador and issued encomiendas to his supporters. In 1528, the uprising finally ended when the Spanish stormed the native stronghold at the Peñol de Cinacantan.

In 1529, El Salvador became embroiled in a jurisdictional dispute with neighbouring Nicaragua. Pedrarias Dávila sent Martín de Estete at the head of an expedition to annex the territory to Nicaragua. Estete captured the leader of a rival Spanish expedition in eastern El Salvador, and marched on San Salvador, before being repulsed by a relief force sent from Guatemala. In 1530, Pedro de Alvarado ordered the establishment of a new settlement at San Miguel, in the east of the country, to protect against further incursions from Nicaragua, and to assist in the conquest of the surrounding area. Indigenous uprisings against the invaders continued, spreading from neighbouring Honduras. The general uprising across the two provinces was put down by the end of 1538, and by 1539 the province was considered pacified. The conquistadores discovered that there was little gold or silver to be found in El Salvador, and it became a colonial backwater with a small Spanish population, within the jurisdiction of the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

Spanish conquest of Guatemala

The Spanish conquest of Guatemala was a protracted conflict during the Spanish colonization of the Americas, in which Spanish colonisers gradually incorporated the territory that became the modern country of Guatemala into the colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain. Before the conquest, this territory contained a number of competing Mesoamerican kingdoms, the majority of which were Maya. Many conquistadors viewed the Maya as "infidels" who needed to be forcefully converted and pacified, disregarding the achievements of their civilization. The first contact between the Maya and European explorers came in the early 16th century when a Spanish ship sailing from Panama to Santo Domingo was wrecked on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in 1511. Several Spanish expeditions followed in 1517 and 1519, making landfall on various parts of the Yucatán coast. The Spanish conquest of the Maya was a prolonged affair; the Maya kingdoms resisted integration into the Spanish Empire with such tenacity that their defeat took almost two centuries.Pedro de Alvarado arrived in Guatemala from the newly conquered Mexico in early 1524, commanding a mixed force of Spanish conquistadors and native allies, mostly from Tlaxcala and Cholula. Geographic features across Guatemala now bear Nahuatl placenames owing to the influence of these Mexican allies, who translated for the Spanish. The Kaqchikel Maya initially allied themselves with the Spanish, but soon rebelled against excessive demands for tribute and did not finally surrender until 1530. In the meantime the other major highland Maya kingdoms had each been defeated in turn by the Spanish and allied warriors from Mexico and already subjugated Maya kingdoms in Guatemala. The Itza Maya and other lowland groups in the Petén Basin were first contacted by Hernán Cortés in 1525, but remained independent and hostile to the encroaching Spanish until 1697, when a concerted Spanish assault led by Martín de Ursúa y Arizmendi finally defeated the last independent Maya kingdom.

Spanish and native tactics and technology differed greatly. The Spanish viewed the taking of prisoners as a hindrance to outright victory, whereas the Maya prioritised the capture of live prisoners and of booty. The indigenous peoples of Guatemala lacked key elements of Old World technology such as a functional wheel, horses, iron, steel, and gunpowder; they were also extremely susceptible to Old World diseases, against which they had no resistance. The Maya preferred raiding and ambush to large-scale warfare, using spears, arrows and wooden swords with inset obsidian blades; the Xinca of the southern coastal plain used poison on their arrows. In response to the use of Spanish cavalry, the highland Maya took to digging pits and lining them with wooden stakes.

Spanish immigration to Guatemala

The arrival of the Spaniards in Guatemala began in 1524 with the conquest of the Guatemalan Highlands and neighbouring Pacific plain under the command of Pedro de Alvarado. After the conquest and the colonial era, more people came to the country not as conquerors, but to do business or daily activities.

Tecun Uman

This page is about the ruler; for the city, see Ciudad Tecún Umán.

Tecun Uman (1500? – February 20, 1524) was one of the last rulers of the K'iche' Maya people, in the Highlands of what is now Guatemala. According to the Kaqchikel annals, he was slain by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado while waging battle against the Spanish and their allies on the approach to Quetzaltenango on 12 February 1524. Tecun Uman was declared Guatemala's official national hero on March 22, 1960 and is commemorated on February 20, the popular anniversary of his death. Tecun Uman has inspired a wide variety of activities ranging from the production of statues and poetry to the retelling of the legend in the form of folkloric dances to prayers. Despite this, Tecun Uman's existence is not well documented, and it has proven to be difficult to separate the man from the legend.

Ancestors of Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras
16. Fernando Sánchez or Sánz del Varado
8. Garci Sánchez de Varado or de Alvarado
17. María González de Aguilar
4. Juan de Alvarado
18. Alvaro Dávila
9. Leonor de Bracamonte
2. Gómez de Alvarado y Messía de Sandoval
5. Catalina Mexía y Sandoval
1. Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras
12. Fernán Núñez de Contreras or Fernando Martínez de Contreras, el Viejo
6. Gonzalo de Contreras y Carvajal
26. Alvar García de Bejarano or de Orellana, Señor de Orellana la Nueva
13. Sarra or Sara de Carvajal
27. Mencía González de Carvajal
3. Leonor de Contreras y Gutiérrez de Trejo
28. Gutierre González de Trejo, 7. Señor de Grimaldo, Almofraque y Carchuelas
29. Violante Gutiérrez de la Cerda
7. Isabel Gutiérrez de Trejo y Ulloa

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