Valdivia, Pedro de

Valdivia, Pedro de

(pā`dhrō dā väldē`vyä), c.1500–1554, Spanish conquistador, conqueror of Chile. One of Francisco Pizarro's best officers in the conquest of Peru, educated, energetic, somewhat less cruel and avaricious than his fellow conquerors, Valdivia obtained permission from Pizarro to subdue Chile. In Jan., 1540, he began his march south through the Atacama Desert, following the route used by his unfortunate predecessor, Diego de AlmagroAlmagro, Diego de
, c.1475–1538, Spanish conquistador, a leader in the conquest of Peru. A partner of Francisco Pizarro, he took part in the first (1524) and second (1526–28) expeditions and in the bloody subjugation of the Incas after 1532.
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. Although Santiago was founded in 1541 and other settlements in the next few years, the colony was not prosperous; gold was scarce and the AraucaniansAraucanians
, South American people, occupying most of S central Chile at the time of the Spanish conquest (1540). The Araucanians were an agricultural people living in small settlements.
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 warlike. To secure additional aid and confirm his claims to the conquered territory, Valdivia returned in 1547 to Peru, where he supported the viceroy, Pedro de la GascaGasca, Pedro de la
, c.1485–1567?, Spanish colonial administrator. A priest as well as a lawyer, he was selected by Charles V to end the anarchy prevailing in Peru. He arrived in 1547 after the death of the viceroy Blasco Núñez Vela.
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, against the rebellion of Gonzalo Pizarro. He received the title of governor of Chile and returned to his domain in 1549, continuing his march S to the Biobío River, where he founded Concepción, and farther S to Valdivia (1552). Ostensibly the conquest was complete. Toward the end of 1553, however, the Araucanians under LautaroLautaro
, c.1533–57, leader of the Araucanians in their nearly successful attempt to reconquer S central Chile from the Spanish. He was captured by the Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, but escaped and returned to his people in 1553, when they began the struggle for
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 revolted. Valdivia, sallying forth with 40 men to stamp out the rebellion, was ambushed. As each successive wave of attackers was wiped out or beaten off, Lautaro sent another, until the entire company, including Valdivia, was massacred.


See biographies by R. B. C. Graham (1926, repr. 1973) and I. W. Vernon (1969); study by H. R. Pocock (1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Valdivia, Pedro de


Born circa 1500; died December 1553 or January 1554. Spanish conquistador and conqueror of Chile.

From 1535 to 1537, Valdivia participated in the conquest of Peru and Chile. In 1540 he directed a new campaign in Chile. He founded the cities of Santiago (1541), La Serena (1544), Concepción (1550), Imperial (1551), Valdivia (1552), and others. He waged a bitter struggle against the Araucanian Indians. In a battle near Tocopilla (December 1553) he was captured by the Indians and put to death. Valdivia’s letters to Emperor Charles V are valuable source materials on the history of Chile.


Vernon, S. W. Pedro de Valdivia, Conquistador of Chile. Austin, 1946.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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