Cueva de Alvarado, Beatriz de la (?–1541)

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Cueva de Alvarado, Beatriz de la (?–1541)

Beatriz de la Cueva de Alvarado (d. 10 September 1541), second wife of Pedro de Alvarado y Mesía and the only female governor during the Spanish-American colonial period. Niece of the duke of Albuquerque, she married Pedro de Alvarado, her deceased sister's husband, in Spain in 1538, after receiving a papal dispensation, and accompanied him to Guatemala when he returned there as governor the following year.

When news of Alvarado's death arrived in Guatemala in June 1541, she demanded the governorship. Her cousin, the acting governor, Francisco de la Cueva, gave it to her. The conquistador elite, already shocked by what it considered to be her excessive and sacrilegious mourning for her husband, resented her assumption of the governorship. She was killed on 10 September 1541 by the flood and mudslide that destroyed the city following rainstorms and earthquakes. Years later she was buried beside Alvarado in the cathedral of Antigua, Guatemala.

See alsoAlvarado y Mesía, Pedro de; Cueva, Francisco de la.


Adams, Jerome R. Notable Latin American Women: Twenty-Nine Leaders, Rebels, Poets, Battlers, and Spies, 1500–1900. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1995.

Dillon, Susana. Mujeres que hicieron América: Biografías transgresoras. Buenos Aires: Editorial Catari, 1992.

                                    Murdo J. MacLeod