Ángel de Villafañe

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Spanish colonization of the Americas
History of the conquest

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Vasco Núñez de Balboa
F. Vásquez de Coronado
Hernán Cortés
Juan Ponce de León
Francisco de Montejo
Francisco Pizarro
Diego de Almagro
Hernando de Soto
Sebastián de Belalcázar
Pedro de Valdivia
Juan de Oñate

Ángel de Villafañe (b. c. 1504) was a Spanish conquistador of Florida, Mexico, and Guatemala, [1] and was an explorer, expedition leader, and ship captain (with Hernán Cortés), who worked with many 16th-century settlements and shipwrecks along the Gulf of Mexico.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

<i>Conquistador</i> soldiers, explorers, and adventurers primarly at the service of the Spanish Empire, and also to the Portuguese Empire

Conquistador is a term widely used to refer to the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire, although it is sometimes used also for the Portuguese Empire in a general sense. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Spain and Portugal in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Florida State of the United States of America

Florida is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.

Life and work

Ángel de Villafañe was born about 1504, as the son of Juan de Villafañe and Catalina de Valdés, both natives of León, Castile (Spain), who had served Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1513, at age nine, young Angel accompanied his father in the fleet of Pedrarias Dávila to Darién.

Crown of Castile Former country in the Iberian Peninsula

The Crown of Castile was a medieval state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then Castilian king, Ferdinand III, to the vacant Leonese throne. It continued to exist as a separate entity after the personal union in 1469 of the crowns of Castile and Aragon with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs up to the promulgation of the Nueva Planta decrees by Philip V in 1715.

Hernan Cortes Retrato de Hernan Cortes.jpg
Hernán Cortés
Michoacan (Mexico) Mapamichoacan.PNG
Michoacán (Mexico)

In 1523, Villafañe went to Pánuco in the company of Francisco de Garay. With Garay thwarted in his plans to establish a colony by Hernán Cortés, Villafañe instead joined the Cortés faction and sailed to Mexico City.

Francisco de Garay was a Spanish Basque conquistador. He was a companion to Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World and arrived in Hispaniola in 1493. Here he attracted attention when he encountered a large gold nugget worth four thousand pesos. In 1496, Miguel Diaz and Francisco de Garay found gold nuggets along the Haina River.

Hernán Cortés Spanish conquistador

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of what is now mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Mexico City Capital in Mexico

Mexico City, or the City of Mexico, is the capital of Mexico and the most populous city in North America. Mexico City is one of the most important cultural and financial centres in the Americas. It is located in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus in the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 ft). The city has 16 boroughs.

In Mexico City, Angel de Villafañe married Doña Ynés de Caravajal, a relative of Pedro de Alvarado, the famous conquistador (second in command to Hernán Cortés and governor of Guatemala). Angel de Villafañe became known as "one of the principal caballeros" of that city, and both he and his wife were recognized as "gentle people, hidalgos, and of great fortune."

Pedro de Alvarado Spanish conquistador, explorer and condottiero

Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras was a Spanish conquistador and governor of Guatemala. He participated in the conquest of Cuba, in Juan de Grijalva's exploration of the coasts of the Yucatán Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the conquest of Mexico led by Hernán Cortés. He is considered the conquistador of much of Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Although renowned for his skill as a soldier, Alvarado is known also for the cruelty of his treatment of native populations, and mass murders committed in the subjugation of the native peoples of Mexico.

Guatemala republic in Central America

Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. With an estimated population of around 16.6 million, it is the most populated country in Central America. Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.

Villafañe participated in the conquest of Michoacán and Colima, and he also helped subdue the Chontal Mayas, the Zapotecs, and the Mixes. For his actions, he was awarded an encomienda at Xaltepec. He then participated in the pacification of Jaliscos and, as a ship captain, in Cortés's exploration of the Pacific coast.

Michoacán State of Mexico

Michoacán, formally Michoacán de Ocampo, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Michoacán de Ocampo, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The State is divided into 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia. The city was named after José María Morelos, one of the main heroes of the Mexican War of Independence.

Colima State of Mexico

Colima, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Colima, is one of the 32 states that make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It shares its name with its capital and main city, Colima.

Zapotec peoples ethnic group

The Zapotecs are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities also exist in neighboring states. The present-day population is estimated at approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 persons, many of whom are monolingual in one of the native Zapotec languages and dialects. In pre-Columbian times, the Zapotec civilization was one of the highly developed cultures of Mesoamerica, which, among other things, included a system of writing. Many people of Zapotec ancestry have emigrated to the United States over several decades, and they maintain their own social organizations in the Los Angeles and Central Valley areas of California.

In 1553, Villafañe became entangled in a political struggle, after acting on the viceroy's orders to arrest the king's inspector, Diego Ramírez. Caught between the viceroy and the royal audiencia, he sought to extricate himself by sending a letter to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles I of Spain.

The Holy Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire during the medieval and early modern periods. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.

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Padre Island dunes

His letter was transported in April 1554 on the ship San Andrés, the only ship of the four sailing at that time to make port. The other three ships were wrecked by a hurricane along the coast of Padre Island, in future Texas. [2] In early June, when word of the disaster reached Mexico City, the viceroy requested a rescue fleet and immediately sent Villafañe marching overland to find the treasure-laden vessels.

Villafañe traveled to Pánuco and hired a ship to transport him to the site, which had already been visited from that community. He arrived in time to greet García de Escalante Alvarado (a nephew of Pedro de Alvarado), commander of the salvage operation, when Alvarado arrived by sea on July 22, 1554. The team labored until September 12 to salvage the Padre Island treasure.

Don Pedro de Alvarado Alvarado.jpeg
Don Pedro de Alvarado

This loss, in combination with other ship disasters around the Gulf of Mexico, gave rise to a plan for establishing a settlement on the northern Gulf Coast to protect shipping and more quickly rescue castaways. As a result, the expedition of Tristán de Luna y Arellano was sent and landed at Pensacola Bay on August 15, 1559.

Angel de Villafañe was involved in the Luna expedition from the start. Before it sailed, he took charge of the encampment at Jalapa, while Luna himself traveled to Veracruz to complete arrangements for the voyage. Afterward, commanding the San Juan de Ulúa garrison stationed at Veracruz, Villafañe was able to monitor the operation and report back to the viceroy, Luis de Velasco.

Over a year later, when Luna proved incapable of managing the settlements at Florida and Santa Elena, Viceroy Velasco then sent Villafañe to replace him. Tristán de Luna y Arellano had suffered disease, in trying to relocate the Ochuse settlement decimated by the hurricane of September 19, 1559, and most native food (corn, beans, pumpkins) was also depleted. Villafañe reached the Ochuse (Pensacola) settlement in early March 1561, and on April 9, he assumed authority as governor of both "provinces of La Florida and Punta de Santa Elena" in replacing Luna.

Leaving 50 men at Ochuse, Villafañe sailed the rest of the colony (about 230 persons) to Santa Elena (Georgia near South Carolina). After several landings along the Carolina coast, while seeking a suitable port, the fleet was struck by another hurricane, but some ships survived.

Villafañe sailed his storm-battered fleet to Hispaniola, and then to Havana, Cuba, where many of his soldiers scattered. After three months in Cuba, Villafañe returned to Ochuse (Pensacola Bay) to remove the remaining 50 men of the colony, sailing back to Mexico.

Along with other participants in the Florida / Santa Elena attempt, Villafañe was summoned by Viceroy Velasco to offer advice on future settlements. The conferees concluded a negative assessment of settlements on both the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic coast. Future efforts on the Atlantic seaboard were to be made from Spain, and no new colonial enterprise was undertaken on the northern Gulf shore until after the landing of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in Texas, more than a century later.

A record of Villafañe's death has not been found.

See also


  1. Fabio Joseph Flouty. "Conquistador and Colonial Elites of Central America (list)". University of California, Irvine . Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  2. "The Deadliest Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, 1492-1996 (list)". National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center. 2005-02-07. Retrieved 2010-12-25. three ships from the New Spain (Mexico) fleet, the Santa Maria de Yciar, the Espiritu Santo, and the San Esteban , were lost in a storm off what would later become Padre Island, Texas. A few survivors managed to escape in a small boat.

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