Pedro de Valdivia

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Pedro Gutiérrez de Valdivia or Valdiva (ca. 1500 – December 25, 1553[1]) was a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. After serving with the Spanish army in Italy and Flanders, he was sent to South America in 1534, where he served as lieutenant under Francisco Pizarro in Peru, acting as his second in command. In 1540 he led an expedition of 150 Spaniards into Chile, where he defeated a large force of Indians and founded Santiago in 1541. He extended Spanish rule south to the Bío-Bío River in 1546, fought again in Peru (1546 – 48), and returned to Chile as governor in 1549. He began to conquer Chile south of the Bío-Bío and founded Concepción in 1550. He was captured and killed in a campaign against the Araucanian Indians. The city of Valdivia in Chile is named after him.

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Early years

Pedro de Valdivia is believed to have been born in the district of Castuera[2] (some say Villanueva de la Serena) in Extremadura[3], Spain around 1500 (some sources put his date of birth as early as 1497 or as late as 1505) to an impoverished hidalgo family. In 1520 he joined the Spanish army of Charles V and fought in Flanders in 1521 and Italy between 1522 and 1525, participating in the battle of Pavia as part of the troops of the Marquis of Pescara. He reached America in 1535, spent an uneventful year in Venezuela, and then moved on to Peru in 1537[4].

There he took part on the side of Hernando Pizarro in his struggle against Diego de Almagro and fought in the battle of Las Salinas in 1538, which saw Almagro defeated and captured. Afterwards he accompanied Hernando and Gonzalo Pizarro to conquer both the province of Collao and las Charcas in High Peru (currently Bolivia). As compensation for his help in conquering these lands, he was awarded a silver mine and became a wealthy man.

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