Alonso de Cáceres

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Alonso de Cáceres y Retes
Born Alcántara, Cáceres

Alonso de Cáceres y Retes (Alcántara, Cáceres, late fifteenth century - ?) was a Spanish conquistador and governor-captain of Santa Marta,[1] who travelled extensively throughout the Americas from Mexico, through Central America, and Peru. He was one of the most active soldiers who served in the 16th-century Spanish conquest.[2]


Alonso de Cáceres was born in the village of Alcántara in Cáceres, Spain, in the late 15th century. He was the son of Gregorio and Maria Cáceres Retes; he received military training and took part in military campaigns in the Old World, but his first actions in the conquest of the Americas took place after 1530, as a captain under the command of Governor Pedro de Heredia in southern Panama and northern Colombia. He participated in the foundation of the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias and subsequently campaigned on the Isthmus of Panama and on the Colombian frontier.

Colombia and Panama

During the conquering expedition of Pedro de Heredia from Cartagena to the interior of the Cenú territories,[n 1] it was agreed that Alonso de Cáceres would be sent in search of food once there was a shortage of food in Cartagena. As the soldiers of Alonso de Cáceres, not finding anything to eat, they filled themselves with the fruits of "guaguma" causing them to become constipated. This type of food search too place regularly as the area of Cartagena de Indias had very few plantation areas causing many soldiers to die of hunger.

On 21 October 1534, Pedro de Heredia forces under Captain Alonso de Cáceres command, seized Acla and took prisoners for Julián Gutiérre and his wife, the native Isabel, who knew Spanish and whom Heredia needed to reach agreement with the Urabá people.

Central America

In 1536, Alonso de Cáceres left the Colombian-Panamanian region and moved to Central America under the command of Governor Francisco de Montejo who was responsible for the conquest of Yucatan. In this exploratory mission, Alonso de Cáceres had been sent to the Honduran city of Gracias a Dios, which would serve as headquarters for his explorations. Some people of that settlement welcomed him with suspicion, but the captain was not discouraged and continued his mission. On 8 December 1537 he founded the city of Comayagua, which became the first capital of the territory of what is now Honduras.

The Indians, led by cacique Lempira, attacked and burned the settlement, evading after to the Coyocutena mountain. Lempira brought together with him about 30,000 natives of all the tribes of the region, and prepared a large-scale revolt against the Spaniards. Cáceres sent two of his men, supposedly to begin peace negotiations, but Lempira was treacherously murdered, which prompted the dissolvement of the alliance among the various indigenous tribes. The rebellion was not successful, and so the Honduran territory was assured for the Spanish crown.


Captain Alonso de Cáceres reached Jauja in Peru in 1539. At that time, his name appears attached to that of Captain Alonso Mercadillo in the discovery of the land of the Chupachos. This expedition was not taken into effect once it was considered too risky. After this adventure, Cáceres continued to work on assignments in 1544, conquering the city of Cuzco. As he came to know that Gonzalo Pizarro was about to arrive, he fled the city and began living in Arequipa.

There he joined Jerónimo de la Serna and both moved to Quilca, they planned to take hold of the two ships that Pizarro had purchased to for transportation of artillery and use them to support their operations. Cáceres and Serna bribed sailors, weighed anchor and brought the ships to the port of Callao, making them available for the viceroy Blasco Núñez Vela. When the viceroy was imprisoned by the Court, Gonzalo Pizarro occupied Lima and he was recognized as Governor and Captain-General of Peru. He ordered Cáceres to be killed along with other prisoners who had taken his field-marshal Francisco de Carvajal as prisoner. Having some of them lost their lives in the hands of Gonzalo Pizarro, Cáceres was granted pardon by Pizarro by mediation of some respectable persons.

When Pedro de la Gasca arrived in Peru, many of the Spanish soldiers who sided Gonzalo chose to support La Gasca, including Hernan Bravo de Laguna, who would subsequently be arrested; Gonzalo sent him to Carvajal to be hanged, but had to pardon him once his sister Inés Bravo, wife of Nicolás de Rivera, asked for his life. For this reason, Alonso de Cáceres, who took much interest in the life of Bravo, kissed Gonzalo on the cheek saying loudly: "O prince of the world! Damn all those who deny thee, even until death." But once both departed from Gonzalo, they then rejoined the royal forces.

Official activities

As a man of remarkable ability, whatever t had been in addition to his military occupations, he was required for the administration or the government of the cities where he lived temporarily. In Santa Marta (Colombia), he served as alderman, in Yucatan he served as lieutenant for Francisco de Montejo and replaced him in the office of head chief whenever Montejo was called away, in Arequipa (Peru) he was appointed mayor and presumably ended his days in Arequipa enjoying deserved parcels awarded to him.


He married in Lima with native creole María de Solier y Valenzuela, from whose union he had a son named Diego de Cáceres and Solier, who married María Mauricia de Ulloa y Angulo in 1581,[3] from whose union he became grandfather to José de Cáceres y Ulloa.[4] Petronila de Cáceres and Solier, who first married contrajo matrimonio con Sebastián de Casalla in 1568 and to Rodrigo de Esquivel y Zúñiga, whose offspring brought him the marquisate of San Lorenzo del Valleumbroso.

Additional information


  1. ^ The Pancenú and Fincenú where indigenous tribes who had the habit of burying their dead with large quantities of gold.


  2. ^ Jaques, Tony (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A Guide to 8,500 Battles from Antiquity Through the Twenty-First Century, Volume 1. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 217. ISBN 0313335370. 
  3. ^ (in Spanish) Sosa, Miró Quesada Sosa (1987). Libro de homenaje a Aurelio Miró Quesada Sosa, Volume 2. Lima: Talleres Gráficos P. L. Villanueva S. A. Editores. p. 798. OCLC 18715570. 
  4. ^ Arencivia, Eduardo Torres (2006). Corte de virreyes: el entorno del poder en el Perú en el siglo XVII. Fondo Editorial PUCP. p. 87. ISBN 9972427471. 
  • This article is based on the translation of the corresponding article of the Spanish Wikipedia. A list of contributors can be found there at the History section.


  • Aguado, Friar Pedro de: Historia de la Provincia de Santa Marta y Nuevo Reino de Granada.
  • Navarro de Castillo, Vicente: La epopeya de la raza extremeña en Indias, Mérida (1978), ISBN 84-400-5359-2.
  • Lopez de Gómara, Francisco: Historia General de las Indias. Madrid, Orbis (1985).
  • Mira Caballos, Esteban: Y la justicia actuó: el procesamiento del conquistador Alonso de Cáceres, XXXIV Coloquios Históricos de Extremadura. Trujillo (2007), pp. 425–440.
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