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 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 founding 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 Cenú (hr) territories,[n 1] Cáceres was sent to forage after food shortages emerged in Cartagena. The soldiers of de Cáceres, hungry, filled themselves with the fruits of "guaguma", causing them to become constipated. This type of foraging took place regularly as the area of Cartagena had very few plantation areas and many soldiers died of hunger.

On 21 October 1534, de Heredia forces under Cáceres seized Acla and took prisoner Julian Gutiérre and his wife, the native Isabel, who spoke Spanish and whom Heredia needed to reach agreement with the Urabá people.

Central America

In 1536 Cáceres left the Colombian-Panamanian region and moved into Central America under the command of Governor Francisco de Montejo, responsible for the conquest of Yucatan. In this exploratory mission, Cáceres was sent to the Honduran city of Gracias a Dios, which then served as a base for his explorations. Some people of that settlement met 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 that is now Honduras.

Lencas led by Lempira attacked and burned the settlement, escaping afterwards to the Cerro Coyocutena (es) mountain. Lempira brought with him about 30,000 natives from all the tribes of the region, and prepared a large-scale revolt against the Spaniards. Cáceres sent two men to him, supposedly to begin peace negotiations. Lempira was treacherously murdered, which dissolved the alliance among the indigenous tribes. The rebellion was unsuccessful, and the Honduran territory was secured for the Spanish crown.


Cáceres reached Jauja, Peru in 1539. During this period, his name is linked to Captain Alonso Mercadillo in the discovery of the land of the Chupaco. This expedition was however considered too risky and was not undertaken. Cáceres continued on missions in 1544, conquering the city of Cuzco. Learning that Gonzalo Pizarro was about to arrive, he fled and began living in Arequipa.

There he joined Jerónimo de la Serna and both moved to Quilca. They planned to seize the two ships that Pizarro had purchased to transport 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 to viceroy Blasco Núñez Vela. The viceroy was imprisoned by the court. Pizarro occupied Lima and was recognized as Governor and Captain-General of Peru. He ordered Cáceres killed along with others who had taken his field-marshal Francisco de Carvajal prisoner. Some lost their lives at the hands of Pizarro, but Cáceres was granted a pardon by Pizarro through mediation of some respectable persons.

When Pedro de la Gasca arrived in Peru, many Spanish soldiers who had with sided Gonzalo chose to support La Gasca, including Hernan Bravo de Laguna, who was subsequently 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, 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 they left, they rejoined the royal forces.

Official activities

He was tapped for the administration or the government of cities where he lived. In Santa Marta in Colombia, he served as alderman. In the Yucatan he served as lieutenant for Francisco de Montejo and acted for him as office of head chief when he was called away. In Arequipa (Peru) he was appointed mayor and presumably ended his days there.


In Lima he married native creole María de Solier y Valenzuela, with whom he had a son. His son, Diego de Cáceres, married María Mauricia de Ulloa y Angulo in 1581.[3] They had a son, named José de Cáceres y Ulloa.[4] Petronila de Cáceres and Solier, who first married Sebastián de Casalla in 1568 and Rodrigo de Esquivel y Zúñiga, whose offspring brought him the marquisate of San Lorenzo del Valleumbroso.

Additional information


  1. ^ The Pancenú and Fincenú were indigenous tribes who buried 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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