Irala, Domingo Martínez de (1509–1556)

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Irala, Domingo Martínez de (1509–1556)

Domingo Martínez de Irala (Captain Vergara; b. 1509; d. 3 October 1556), Spanish explorer and conquistador. The youngest of six children, Irala was born in Vergara, Guipúzcoa, Spain, to a family of hidalgos. His father, Martín Pérez de Irala, was a royal office holder.

In 1534, Irala went on an expedition to the Río de la Plata, with the adelantado Pedro de Mendoza. In 1535 he participated in the founding of Buenos Aires. The following year, he went on an expedition to the Paraná River with his friend Juan de Ayolas. On 2 February 1537, Ayolas founded the port of Candelaria on the Paraguay River, and then continued north, leaving Irala in command.

In 1537 the veedor (colonial inspector) of the Río de la Plata, Alonso Cabrera, appointed Irala lieutenant governor. Soon after this appointment, Irala went to Asunción and founded several new settlements.

Irala participated in many other expeditions, such as an exploration of the Paraguay River and a region near Peru. In 1543 he participated in an Indian campaign under the second adelantado of the Río de la Plata, Alvar Núñez Cabeza De Vaca. He was also the main force behind the arrest of Cabeza de Vaca on 26 April 1544. When Irala sent him back to Spain one year later, he became the undisputed master of Paraguay.

In late 1547 and early 1548, Irala faced a rebellion in Asunción by some of Cabeza de Vaca's followers. He quelled the rebellion, and in order to ensure peace in the region, he gave his four daughters in marriage to four of the leaders. In 1555, the crown appointed him governor. He died the following year.

See alsoConquistadores; Río de la Plata.


Ricardo De La Fuente Machain, El gobernador Domingo Martínez de Irala (1939).

Enrique De Gándia, Historia de la conquista del Río de la Plata y del Paraguay; los gobiernos de don Pedro de Mendoza, Alvar Núñez y Domingo de Irala, 1535–1556 (1931).

Jorge Roberto Payro, El capitán Vergara (Domingo Martínez de Irala) (1932).

Additional Bibliography

Levillier, Roberto. El Paititi, El Dorado y las Amazonas. Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 1976.

                                    Juan Manuel PÉrez