Jiménez de Quesada, Gonzalo

Jiménez de Quesada, Gonzalo

(gōnthä`lō hēmā`nĕth dā kāsä`thä), c.1499–1579, Spanish conquistador in Colombia. Chief magistrate of Santa Marta, he was commissioned to explore the MagdalenaMagdalena
, river, c.1,000 mi (1,600 km) long, rising in the Cordillera Central, SW Colombia and flowing N to the Caribbean Sea near Barranquilla. It flows in a fault-block valley (c.
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 in search of El DoradoEl Dorado
[Span.,=the gilded man], legendary country of the Golden Man sought by adventurers in South America. The legend supposedly originated in a custom of the Chibcha people of Colombia who each year anointed a chieftain and rolled him in gold, which he then ceremonially
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. He set out in 1536, and after incredible hardships he defeated the ChibchaChibcha
, indigenous people of the eastern cordillera of the Andes of Colombia. Although trade with neighboring tribes was common, the Chibcha seem to have evolved their culture in comparative isolation.
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 and founded (1538) BogotáBogotá
, city (1993 pop. 4,931,796), central Colombia, capital and largest city of Colombia, and capital of Cundinamarca dept. A picturesque, spacious city, Bogotá is on a high, fertile plateau (c.8,560 ft/2,610 m) in the E Andes and has a cool, moist climate.
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 as capital of the New Kingdom of Granada (see New GranadaNew Granada
, former Spanish colony, N South America. It included at its greatest extent present Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. Between 1499 and 1510 a host of conquerors explored the Caribbean coast of Panama and South America.
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). A hard taskmaster but an able leader, Quesada wavered between humane and brutal treatment of the native population. He obtained fabulous amounts of emeralds and gold. Meeting FedermannFedermann, Nikolaus
, 1501–42, German adventurer in Venezuela and Colombia. In the service of the Welser brothers, Augsburg bankers to whom Charles V had granted rights in Venezuela, Federmann first landed at Santa Ana de Coro in 1530.
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 and BenalcázarBenalcázar or Belalcázar, Sebastián de
, c.1479–1551, Spanish conquistador. After accompanying Columbus on his third voyage (1498), Benalcázar served in Darién and Nicaragua
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, who claimed the same territory, Quesada persuaded them to return with him to Spain, where settlement could be made. There he was ignored until 1550, when he was appointed marshal of New Granada and councilor of Bogotá for life. In 1569, still seeking El Dorado, he led a lavishly equipped expedition to the confluence of the Guaviare and Orinoco; he and what remained of his company returned wasted and penniless after three years. Still later, suffering from a skin disease and carried on a litter, Quesada put down an indigenous revolt. Some think that he was the model for Cervantes's Don Quixote. His own account of his conquests has been lost, but excerpts copied by others from the original survive.

Bibliography

See studies by A. F. Bandelier (1893, repr. 1962), C. R. Markham (1912, repr. 1971), G. Arciniegas (tr. 1942, repr. 1968), and R. B. C. Graham (1922, repr. 1973).

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