Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada

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Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada y Rivera
Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada.jpg
Oil portrait of Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada (unknown artist, Museo Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá)
Born1496 [1] (or 1506 or 1509) [2]
Died16 February 1579 (aged ~70–85)
Nationality Castilian
Other namesGonzalo Jiménez de Quezada
Gonzalo Ximénez de Quesada
Occupation Conquistador, Explorer
Years active1536–1572
Employer Spanish Crown
Known for Spanish conquest of the Muisca
Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations
Founder of Bogotá
First mayor of Bogotá
Quest for El Dorado
Notable work
Memoria de los descubridores, que entraron conmigo a descubrir y conquistar el Reino de Granada (1576)
  • Luis Ximenez de Quesada (father)
  • Isabel de Rivera Quesada (mother)
Relatives Hernán Pérez de Quesada (brother)
Francisco Jiménez de Quesada (brother)
Melchor de Quesada (brother)
Catalina Magdalena de Quesada (sister)
Andrea Ximénez de Quesada (sister)
Isabel de Quesada (half-sister)
Mayor of Bogotá
In office
Preceded byposition established; zipa Sagipa)
Succeeded by Jerónimo de Lainza
Routes of Spanish conquest
Green is De Quesada's approximate trajectory
Note: route around the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta incorrectly drawn Conquest of Colombia.png
Routes of Spanish conquest
Green is De Quesada's approximate trajectory
Note: route around the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta incorrectly drawn
Suesca, Cundinamarca, place of death of De Quesada Rocas de Suesca 1.JPG
Suesca, Cundinamarca, place of death of De Quesada

Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada y Rivera, also spelled as De Quezada and Ximénez, (Spanish:  [gonˈθalo xiˈmeneθ ðe keˈsaða] ; 1496 [1] – other sources state 1506 or 1509 [2] [3]   Suesca, 16 February 1579 was a Spanish explorer and conquistador in northern South America, territories currently known as Colombia. He explored the northern part of South America. As a well-educated lawyer he was one of the intellectuals of the Spanish conquest. He was an effective organizer and leader, designed the first legislation for the government of the area, and was its historian. After 1569 he undertook explorations toward the east, searching for the elusive El Dorado , but returned to New Granada in 1573. He has been suggested as a possible model for Cervantes' Don Quixote . [4]

Suesca Municipality and town in Cundinamarca, Colombia

Suesca is a town and municipality in the Almeidas Province, part of the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia. It is located on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense at 59 kilometres (37 mi) north from the capital Bogotá. Suesca forms the northern edge of the Bogotá savanna and is a scenic countryside town which is well known because its landscape attracts devotees of rock climbing, trekking, and rafting. It is surrounded by dairy farms and flower plantations. The municipality borders Cucunubá and Lenguazaque in the north, Sesquilé in the south, Chocontá in the east and Nemocón and Gachancipá in the west.

<i>Conquistador</i> soldiers, explorers, and adventurers primarily 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 and the Portuguese Empire. 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.

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the north of South America, with land, and territories in North America. Colombia is bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the west by the Pacific. It comprises thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogotá.



His father, Luis Jiménez de Quesada, [5] was a hidalgo relative of Gonzalo Francisco de Cordoba, and he had two well-known distant cousins, the conquistadores of Mexico and Peru respectively: Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro. He had three younger brothers; Hernán and Francisco, who also were conquistadors, and Melchor, and a sister, Andrea. [6]

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometers (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fourth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 129 million people, Mexico is the tenth most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states plus Mexico City (CDMX), which is the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the country include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana, and León.

Peru Republic in South America

Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.

Hernán Cortés Spanish conquistador

DonHernán 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.

Conquest of the Muisca Confederation

De Quesada was an Andalusian lawyer, trained in Granada. [7] He was appointed chief magistrate in 1535 and second in command for an expedition to present-day Colombia, because in that period he was not in good standing with the people at home because he had just lost an important court case in which his mother's family was economically involved. [8] The commander of the expedition, Pedro Fernández de Lugo (governor of the Canary Islands), had bought the governorship of Colombia and had equipped a fleet and assembled over a thousand men. And so they set sail to Colombia, thinking they would find a very rich land, full of gold and pearls. But when, after two month of navigation, they reached the small coastal settlement of Santa Marta, all they found was a conglomeration of hovels and filthy, disease-ridden colonists who went about dressed in skins or roughly woven and padded cotton clothes made by the Indians. Soon food became scarce and tropical fevers began to smite down the strongest.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Pedro Fernández de Lugo (1475–1536) was the second adelantado of the Canary Islands and governor of Tenerife and La Palma, a title confirmed again by Charles I of Spain, in Barcelona, on August 17, 1519. It was an inherited title. The current Rightful Successor of the title "Adelantado of the Canaries Islands Tenerife and La Palma" is Felix Alberto Lugo 3rd Pedro Fernández de Lugo was the son of Alonso Fernández de Lugo. Born in Seville, Pedro arrived at Gran Canaria as a young child and later accompanied his father to expeditions to Barbary. In 1509, his father gave him some of the rights and powers over the coast of Africa that he had acquired in 1499. Pedro commanded the tower of Santa Cruz de Mar Pequeña and participated in expeditions against the Berbers alongside the Portuguese.

In 1536, De Quesada was chosen by De Lugo to command an expedition without any military experience to explore into the interior of New Granada, hoping to discover the dreamed El Dorado. A land party under De Quesada, with Hernán Pérez de Quesada (his brother), Juan San Martín, Juan del Junco (as second in command) Lázaro Fonte and Sergio Bustillo, struck south from Santa Marta, crossed the Cesar River, and arrived at Tamalameque on the Magdalena River. A support fleet of 6 (or 5) ships had also sailed from Santa Marta with 900 men to navigate the Magdalena. [7] Only two of the vessels actually arrived at Tamalameque, and subsequently returned to Santa Marta with many of De Quesada's men. Continuing up the Magdalena as far as La Tora (Barrancabermeja), De Quesada and his men ascended the Opon River into the cordillera, reaching the Opon hills, Chipata (near Vélez) (March 1537) and the valley of the Suárez River. Passing Lake Fúquene and Lake Suesca, they reached Nemocón and Zipaquirá and finally entered the Muisca Confederation (ruled from Bacatá, present day Bogotá and Hunza, today known as Tunja).

Cesar River river in Colombia

The Cesar River is a river in northern Colombia which is a part of the Magdalena Basin. It flows through the Cesar-Ranchería Basin and separates the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta from the mountain ranges of the Serranía del Perijá, an extension of the Cordillera Oriental. It flows north to south, down from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the Guajira Department onto the Cesar Department and flowing into the Zapatosa Marsh where it turns to the southwest and discharges into the Magdalena River. Valledupar is the only major city on its route.

Tamalameque town in Caribbean, Colombia

Tamalameque is a town and municipality in the Colombian Department of Cesar. It was originally the site of a Chimila settlement, Thamara. Tamalameque is located on the right bank of the Magdalena River and borders Chimichagua and Pailitas in the north, Pelaya in the east, La Gloria in the south and in the west the departments of Bolívar and Magdalena.

Magdalena River river in Colombia

The Magdalena River is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about 1,528 kilometres (949 mi) through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as far as Honda, at the downstream base of its rapids. It flows through the Magdalena River Valley.

Only 166 men out of 900 survived, suffering terribly in the jungle: they were forced to eat snakes, lizards, frogs, and even the leather torn from their harnesses and the scabbards of their swords. In Bogotá, Quesada resigned and called for an election; he was elected captain-general, and threw off the last link that held him to the governor. The Muisca had two rulers. The zipa Tisquesusa, ruled in Bogotá; the other, the zaque Quemuenchatocha, ruled in Tunja. Taking advantage of a war between the two chiefdoms, Quesada's force subdued Bogotá and then successfully attacked Tunja. At this point it was time to establish a colony so that the earth itself might properly belong to De Quesada and his men. They chose a spot next to the towering peaks of the east, where the land was high and the rains would quickly run off, where the mountains would protect them from attackers and the jungles below. Quesada placed his right foot on the bare earth and said simply, "I take possession of this land in the name of the most sovereign emperor, Charles V." The settlement was at first called New City of Granada, but later they changed it to Santa Fé de Bogotá, now known simply as Bogotá, from the Chibcha word Bacatá, the name of one of the two main cacicazgos of the Muisca Confederation.

Tisquesusa Tribal ruler in pre-Spanish Colombia

Tisquesusa, also spelled Thisquesuza, Thysquesuca or Thisquesusha was the fourth and last independent ruler (zipa) of Bacatá, main settlement of the southern Muisca between 1514 and his death in 1537. The name brought about the Colombian capital Bogotá. Tisquesusa was the ruler of the southern Muisca Confederation at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Muisca, when the troops led by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and his brother entered the central Colombian highlands. His zaque counterpart in the northern area of the Muisca was Quemuenchatocha.

Quemuenchatocha Tribal ruler

Quemuenchatocha or Quimuinchateca was the second-last zaque of Hunza, currently known as Tunja, as of 1490. He was the ruler of the northern Muisca when the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Colombian highlands. His contemporary enemy zipas of the southern Muisca were successively Nemequene and Tisquesusa.

Tunja Municipality of Colombia in Boyacá

Tunja is a city on the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes, in the region known as the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, 130 km northeast of Bogotá. In 2012 it had an estimated population of 181,407 inhabitants. It is the capital of Boyacá department and the Central Boyacá Province. Tunja is an important educational centre of well-known universities. In the time before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca, Tunja was called Hunza and was conquered by the Spanish conquistadors on August 20, 1537 upon zaque Quemuenchatocha and founded by the Spanish on August 6, 1539, exactly one year after the former southern capital Bacatá. The city hosts the most remaining Muisca architecture: Hunzahúa Well, Goranchacha Temple and Cojines del Zaque.

Quesada remained in the region until the arrival of two expeditions at the end of 1538: Sebastián de Belalcázar from Quito, Ecuador, one of the captains of Pizarro who had mutinied against his leader; and Nikolaus Federmann, a German from Venezuela who had rebelled against another German named Hohermuth. The three captains met on the savanna of New Granada. All three wanted to claim New Granada for themselves. In order to resolve their dispute, De Quesada persuaded them to go back to Spain with him and to submit their rival territorial claims to the arbitration of the crown. In July 1539, they sailed for Spain from Cartagena. However, none of them obtained the governorship. De Quesada, after nearly a dozen years of wandering disconsolately through the gaming halls of Europe, returned to New Granada in 1550. Here, he settled down to live for nearly twenty years. He was a respected colonist, becoming the most influential man in the colony. He protected his fellow colonists from the severity of the officials and restrained the encomenderos (large landholders) greed. But his own desire for wealth and gold continued to live inside him.

Sebastián de Belalcázar Spanish conquistador

Sebastián de Belalcázar was a Spanish conquistador. De Belalcázar, also written as de Benalcázar, is known as the founder of important early colonial cities in the northwestern part of South America; Quito in 1534 and Cali, Pasto and Popayán in 1537. De Belalcázar led expeditions in present-day Ecuador and Colombia and died of natural causes after being sentenced to death in Cartagena, at the Caribbean coast in 1551.

Ecuador Republic in South America

Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador, is a country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland. The capital city is Quito, which is also the largest city.

Nikolaus Federmann German conquistador

Nikolaus Federmann was a German adventurer and conquistador in the colonies of Venezuela and Colombia. He is a significant figure in the history of Klein-Venedig (1528–1546), the concession of Venezuela Province that Charles I of Spain granted to the Welser banking family.

Later expeditions

In 1569, at the age of 63, De Quesada received a commission to conquer the Llanos to the east of the Colombian cordillera. From Bogotá in April 1569 with 500 mounted soldiers, 1500 natives, 1100 horses and pack animals, 600 head of cattle, 800 pigs, a large number of negro slaves and 8 priests, he first descended to Mesetas on the upper Guejar River. There most of the livestock was destroyed by a grass fire. De Quesada's expedition then moved to nearby San Juan de los Llanos, where a course was set for east-southeast (by the guide Pedro Soleto), and maintained for the following two years. After a year or so some men returned with Juan Maldonado, reaching San Juan after six months with few survivors. De Quesada eventually reached (San Fernando de) Atabapo at the confluence of the Guaviare and the Orinoco (in December 1571), any further movement requiring the construction of ships. He therefore dejectedly returned to Bogotá, arriving in December 1572 with only 25 Spaniards, 4 natives, 18 horses and 2 priests. The expedition had been one of the most expensive disasters on record. After a brief period of service in a frontier command (during which he suppressed an indigenous uprising) De Quesada, afflicted with leprosy, overcome with despair at his debts, owing more than 60 thousand ducats, was forced to seek a milder climate and died quietly, aged 70 to 85, in Suesca, an important market town in the New Kingdom of Granada.

Death and legacy

After his death in, Mariquita where he was buried in the Santa Lucía Abbey. His remains were there until 1597 when they were exhumed and transferred to Bogotá, the city founded by him.

Named after Jiménez de Quesada

See also

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The Muisca Confederation was a loose confederation of different Muisca rulers in the central Andean highlands of present-day Colombia before the Spanish conquest of northern South America. The area, presently called Altiplano Cundiboyacense, comprised the current departments of Boyacá, Cundinamarca and minor parts of Santander with a total surface area of approximately 25,000 square kilometres (9,700 sq mi).

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Juan de Albarracín

Juan de Albarracín was a Spanish conquistador who participated in the Spanish conquest of the Muisca and Panche people. He was captain of the brigs which sailed up the Magdalena River from the Caribbean coast in 1536 and later discovered the high quality salt that lead the Spanish conquistadors along the Camino de la Sal up the slopes of the eastern ranges of the Colombian Andes towards the Muisca Confederation.


  1. 1 2 (in Spanish) Antijovio
  2. 1 2 Graham (1922) p. 2
  3. There is considerable disagreement about Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada's birth year and place.[ citation needed ]
  4. E. C. Riley (March 1966), "Who's Who in Don Quixote? Or an Approach to the Problem of Identity" MLN 81(2) (Spanish Issue), 113–30
  5. (in Spanish) Fundaciones antecedentes a la conquista de la aldea Chicamocha
  6. (in Spanish) Biography Gonzalo Jiménez de QuesadaBanco de la República
  7. 1 2 "Jiménez de Quesada, Gonzalo." (2008). Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. 20 Oct. 2008.
  8. John A. Crow, The Epic of Latin America, 116–26


Works by Jiménez de Quesada

Further reading

In Spanish

In English