Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
5th Governor of the Indies
In office
Preceded by Diego Columbus
Succeeded by Hernán Cortés
as the Governor of New Spain
1st Governor of Cuba
In office
Succeeded by Manuel de Rojas y Cordova
Personal details
Born 1465
Cuéllar, Segovia, Crown of Castile
Died 1524 (aged 5859)
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Nationality Spanish
Profession Political
Religion Roman Catholic
For the Spanish painter, see Diego Velázquez.

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar (1465 in Cuéllar, Spain ca. June 12, 1524 in Santiago de Cuba) was a Spanish conquistador. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain.

Early life

Diego Velázquez was born in Cuéllar 1465, in the Segovia region of Spain. He fought in Naples before moving to Seville, where he met Bartholomew Columbus. He first visited the New World with the crew of Christopher Columbus's second voyage in 1493. He settled in Hispaniola, which he helped pacify under the leadership of Nicolás de Ovando, the Governor of the Indies.

Conquest of Cuba

He then was active in leading the conquest of Cuba in 1511 under orders from Diego Columbus, recently restored as Viceroy of the Indies. He founded a number of new Spanish settlements and cities on the island, first Baracoa in 1511 and then most notably Santiago de Cuba in 1514 and Havana in 1515. Velázquez was appointed Governor of Cuba.[1]:16 The new settlers did not wish to be under the personal authority of Diego Columbus, so Velázquez convoked a general cabildo (a local government council) which was duly authorized to deal directly with Spain, and therefore removed Velázquez and the settlers from under the authority of Columbus, their nominal superior. It was a precedent that would come back to haunt him with the Mexican adventures.

Conquest of Mexico

Noting the weakness of the natives, Velázquez authorized the importation of black slaves in 1513. He authorized various expeditions to explore lands further west, including the 1517 Francisco Hernández de Córdoba expedition to Yucatán (see: Spanish Conquest of Yucatán), and Juan de Grijalva's 1518 expedition.[1]:16,27 He was made the 1st Adelantado of Cuba with jurisdiction over the former Governorship of the Indies.[1]:126 He initially backed Hernán Cortés's expedition to Mexico,[1]:44–47 but pulled back his support before the expedition was scheduled to launch. Cortés disobeyed Velázquez's orders to disband his expeditionary force and left for Mexico anyway.[1]:56

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Diaz, B., 1963, The Conquest of New Spain, London: Penguin Books, ISBN 0140441239
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