Bastidas, Rodrigo de (c. 1460–1526)

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Bastidas, Rodrigo de (c. 1460–1526)

Rodrigo de Bastidas (b. ca. 1460; d. 1526), early Spanish explorer. With a royal commission to explore and trade, Bastidas sailed from Cádiz in 1500 or 1501 with three ships carrying more than fifty people, including some women. He was neither a pilot, an adventurer, nor a man of arms; rather, he was a successful and respected notary in Triana (Seville). He was also unusual among leaders of early expeditions because of his relatively humane treatment of the Indians. Exploring regions not previously seen by Europeans, he discovered the Magdalena River, the Gulf of Urabá, and eastern Panama. By contrast with most later expeditions in the area, his was remarkable for its comparatively good relations with the local inhabitants, whose wealth of gold and pearls was willingly traded for Spanish trinkets. Though his ships were wrecked, Bastidas salvaged seventy-five pounds of gold and pearls, returning to Spain a rich man. He moved his family to Hispaniola, where he prospered as a cattleman. Made governor of Santa Marta in 1520, Bastidas was assassinated in Cuba by an ambitious lieutenant.

See alsoExplorers and Exploration: Spanish America .


Bastidas is discussed at some length in Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Central America, vol. 1 (1882). See also Kathleen Romoli, Balboa of Darien, Discoverer of the Pacific (1953), and Carl Ortwin Sauer, The Early Spanish Main (1966).

Additional Bibliography

Bermúdez Bermúdez. Arturo E. Don Rodrigo de Bastidas, adelantado de Santa Marta. Colombia: Fondo Mixto de Promoción de la Cultura y las Artes de Magdalena, 2000.

                                     William L. Sherman