Aguilar, Jerónimo de (c. 1490–1531)

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Aguilar, Jerónimo de (c. 1490–1531)

Jerónimo de Aguilar (b. ca. 1490; d. 1531), colonist and translator. Born in Écija, Spain, Aguilar was aboard a ship proceeding from Darién to Santo Domingo in 1511. When it struck shoals off Jamaica, he was among twenty men who escaped in a longboat that drifted to the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. The local cacique soon sacrificed thirteen of the men, but seven, including Aguilar, escaped into the territory of another ruler, who maintained them as servants. When Hernán Cortés's expedition arrived in 1519, Aguilar was one of only two Spaniards still surviving; the other chose to remain among the Mayas. Aguilar, fluent in Spanish and Maya, proved invaluable as a translator for Cortés. Unable to speak Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, he teamed up with Cortés's mistress Doña Marina (Malinche), who spoke Nahuatl and Maya, to translate from Nahuatl to Spanish once the expedition reached the Aztec Empire. Rewarded with an encomienda after the Conquest, Aguilar died without marrying.

See alsoCortés, Hernán .


Robert Himmerich y Valencia, The Encomenderos of New Spain, 1521–1555 (1991).

Hugh Thomas, The Conquest of Mexico (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Butterfield, Marvin Ellis. Jerónimo de Aguilar, Conquistador. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1969.

                                       John E. Kicza

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Aguilar, Jerónimo de (c. 1490–1531)

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