Vicente de Valverde
ca 1490 - 31 October 1545


A brief biography.

Vicente de Valverde was born at Segovia, Spain, ca 1490,  as the son of Francisco de Valverde and Ana Alvarez de Vallegada, and was related to many noble families, in particular, to that of Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador of Peru, and that of Hernan Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico.

De Valverde became a professed member of the Dominicans at the convent of San Esteban at Salamanca in April, 1524, and was during his studies in Valladolid a pupil of Francisco de Vitoria, O.P. (ca.1486-12.08.1546).
In 1529 he accompanied Pizarro as a missionary, on his intended voyage of conquest to Peru.

On January 1531 Pizarro sailed with 37 horses, some cannons, and 177 men and three clergy-men, among them his nephew Vicente de Valverde, O.P. (ca 1490-1541/42) to the coast of Ecuador.

--It is not certain whether he accompanied Francisco Pizarro from Spain or arrived at San Miguel de Piura in 1531 with re-enforcements from Panama --.

They settled over the island Puna in the bay of Guayquil. Hernando de Soto came with new Spanish troops from Nicaragua. In 1532 Pizarro built abase at the coast, named San Miguel de Tangarara (later named San Miguel de Piura) and marched in the inland in September 1532.

The Inca Emperor Huásca, half-brother of Atahualpa, asked a meeting with Pizarro, but these would meet the Inca Emperor Atahuallpa (ca. 1502-29 August 1533). After an expedition through  the mountain ranges of the Andes with many difficulties t Pizarro  reached Cajamarca on 15 November 1532.


Pizarro at Cajamarca.

The Inca Emperor Atahualpa (ca 1502-27 August 1533) was in awe of these men dressed in full clothing, with long beards and riding horses (an animal he had never seen). Invited by the Spaniards to attend a feast in his honour, the Inca chief accepted on 15 November 1532. 

Vicente de Valverde, O.P. spoke with Atahuallpa, but the Emperor couldn't accept the Christian faith and the sovereignty of Charles V of Spain. Atahuallpa threw  Valverde's Bible (or Missal) to the ground. Then de Valverde declared: 'Death to the enemies: they don't have neither our friendship, nor our faith'.

The Spaniards captured the Emperor on 17 November 1532. Many Inca's brought gold and silver to Pizarro to purchase Atahualpa's freedom, but in vain. When the Emperor was condemned to death by a court that had been instituted for the purpose by Pizarro, Valverde, to whom the sentence was submitted for consultation, approved it, but, by his offer to substitute strangulation for burning at the stake, obtained from the unhappy prince his nominal conversion and baptism a few hours before his death, 29 August, 1533.Atahualpa was buried in Cajamarca.


Activities of Valverde till his death on 31 October 1545.

Vicente de Valverde accompanied the expedition of Pizarro through Peru and was present at he foundation of Jaujo (25.04.1534). He  consecrated the new church, which was later to be his cathedral, in Cusco, on 23 March 1534. He was at the foundation of Lima on 6 January 1535.   

Pizarro gave him also a large Indian 'encomienda', commandery, where he showed great cruelty toward the natives. About the close of 1534 he went to Spain to assist Pizarro's brother, Hernando, in his negotiations at court, and while there he was named by the Empress-regent in 1535 first, bishop of Cuzco and Peru, as the original appointee, Fernando de Luque, had died.

In 1536 Valverde was also named protector of the Indians and inquisitor, and, being confirmed by the Pope, he repaired to Peru in the beginning of 1538, taking possession of his see after the execution of Diego de Almagro, which he had vainly tried to prevent. But, instead of preaching the gospel, he oppressed the Indians, whom he forced to work for the church.

When Emperor Charles V learned of Pizarro's victories, he named Valverde first Bishop of Cuzco, the royal city of the Peruvian kings; Pope Paul III ratified his choice in a consistory held in January, 1537. The new bishop found his spiritual duties arduous, for he had already been charged with the office of Protector of the Natives. This forced him to cross the rude soldiery constantly, as the adventurers who made up the Spanish armies had no thought of justice or mercy to the Indians.

While in Spain he presented to the Emperor, by order of Pizarro, a memorial about the conquest under the title of "Relacion de la Conquista de los Reynos de Peru," in which he claimed that the Indians could scarcely be considered as human beings, as they had no souls.

He strove to settle the feud between Almagro and Pizarro and after the assassination of the latter was forced to flee from Peru. Making his way to Panama, he halted for a brief stay at the Island of Puná, near Guayaquil in Ecuador, where he was put to death by the Indians on 31 October 1545.  According to some sources, the oppressed Indians revolted, captured Valverde, and poured molten gold down his throat as a punishment to greed.


Negative side.

By far Vicente de Valverde's negative and contradictory side was his mistreatment of the natives of Peru which, instead of preaching the gospel, he oppressed, enslaved, and forced to work for the church.
This was the complete opposite to what the Spanish Dominican Bartolomé de Las Casas (August 1494-17 July 1566) did years later by defending the native's rights in works he published and in visits to Spain to inform King Philip II of the abuses committed against the local natives by the Conquistadors.

Sources: Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM, and wikipedia.





The funeral of Atahuallpa on 29.August 1533.
Vicente de Valverde near the bier.

Peru 1918, Mi 180, Sc 218.  On order.
Peru 1935, Mi 302, Sc c6.



Francisco Pizarro founded  the village of Jauja on 25 April 1534. Wenceslao Hinostroza (1897-1975) painted this event in 1945.
Vicente de Valverde with the Cross.           

Peru 2004, Mi Bl 22; Sc 1403.  


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