Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar

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Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar

Birthplace: Segovia, Segovia, Castile and León, Spain
Death: circa June 12, 1524 (54-63)
Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Immediate Family:

Son of Francisco Velázquez de Cuéllar; Bernabé Velázquez de Cuellar; Mencia Velazquez and Mencia Velázquez
Husband of María de Cuellar
Brother of Daughter of Francisco Velázquez de Cuéllar and Alonso Velázquez
Half brother of Isabel Velázquez

Occupation: see "About" section
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar


Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar (1465, Cuéllar, Spain – ca. June 12, 1524, 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 Bartolomeo 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 Governor Nicolás de Ovando.

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. 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 Indians, 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). In 1518 he was made the 1st Adelantado of Cuba with jurisdiction over the former Governorship of the Indies. He initially backed Hernán Cortés's famous expedition to Mexico, but pulled back his support before the expedition was scheduled to launch because of his personal enmity for Cortés. Cortés disobeyed Velázquez's orders to disband his expeditionary force and left for Mexico anyway. When Cortés tried to seize and claim Mexico for himself, using the same cabildo technique, Velázquez charged Cortés with exceeding his authority and ordered Pánfilo de Narváez to arrest him. Cortés defeated Narvaez's troops in a surprise attack and persuaded the survivors to join him. Thus Velázquez saw none of the riches which came from Mexico. A further attempt to obtain redress in Spain resulted in a bitter loss to the Cortés faction. Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar died in Santiago de Cuba in 1524, a very bitter man. After the conquest of Mexico, Cuba experienced an exodus of settlers. A decade later, Cuba was subjected to a new Viceroyalty of New Spain, after a political reorganization of the Indies.

He was born (1465) into an aristocratic family in Cuellar, Segovia, Spain, who had served the King of Castille for generations. He entered the military and fought in Naples in the regimen of the ("Gran Capitan"), the Great Captain, Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba. Diego Velazquez de Cuellar went to Cuba in 1493, on Christopher Columbus' 2nd Voyage. He, archbishop Rodriguez de Fonseca and the Governor Nicolas de Ovando "pacified" the Island of Hispaniola. In 1509-1515, the Governor, Diego Colon, put him in charge os an expedition to conquer and populate the Island of Cuba. First as a Captain, then as a Lieutenant Governor and finally as Governor of the Island of Cuba (He was Governor of Cuba from 1511-1524). He disembarked near present day Baracoa, and on August 15, 1511 founded "Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion de Baracoa", the first settlement, "city" in Cuba. On November 11, 1511 or February 2, 1512 he burned the cacique Hatuey on the stake. After that he left his captains to deal with the insurrections and concentrated on colonizing and building cities in Cuba. On November 5m 1512 "San Salvador de Bayamo", in early 1514 "La santisima Trinidad", on February 2, 1514 "Santa Maria del Puerto Principe" (actually present day Camaguey), June 4, 1514 "Sancti-Spiritus" . On June 25, 1515 "San Juan de los Remedios de la Sabanadel Cayo" (present day Remedios), July 25, 1515 "Santiago de Cuba", on June 15, 1515 also founded "San Cristobal", and on November 16, 1519 "San Cristobal de La Habana" (the future capital of the country). He sponsored the expeditions of Hernandez de Cordoba to Yucatan (1517) and Juan de Grijalba and Pedro de Alvarado to the coast of Mexico (1518).. On October 23, 1518 he started a company, with Hernan Cortez, to organize an expedition to Culua and soon the two were in conflict. In November 16, 1518, Herna Cortes left Santiago de Cuba and went to Mexico against the wishes of Diego de Velazquez de Cuellar. Diego sent another expedition lead by Panfilo de Narvaez to intercept Hernan Cortes, but Hernan Cortes defeated Panfilo at Cempoala, and mnprisoned Panfilo, Diego de Velazquez de Cuellar died in Santiago de Cuba between the night of June 11 and June 12, 1524. He was married to Maria de Cuellar.

In the article there is a mention of a relative of Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, a Antonio Velazquez, who testified at atrial for Diego Velazquez de Cuellar (possibly after Diego's death) Information from https://www.ecured.cu/Manuel_de_Rojas_y_C%C3%B3rdova
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Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar's Timeline

Segovia, Segovia, Castile and León, Spain
June 12, 1524
Age 59
Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba