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Valdivia, Luis de (1561–1642)

Valdivia, Luis de (1561–1642)

Luis de Valdivia (b. 1561; d. 5 November 1642), Spanish Jesuit who spent much of his life in Chile defending and protecting the rights of Indians. In 1589, shortly after entering the Society of Jesus, Valdivia was assigned to the province of Peru, where he remained until 1593, when he was assigned to Chile. There he dedicated himself to Christianizing and protecting the Indians against the Spaniards, for which he gained many enemies.

Valdivia believed that waging war on the Indians to subjugate and Christianize them was not morally right. The Indians were free beings and had control over their lives; therefore, they should become Christians or crown subjects of their own free will. At the insistence of the viceroy of Peru, the count of Montesclaros, Valdivia went to Spain in 1609 to inform the crown about the conditions in the region and the efforts to pacify it. He was heard by the Council of the Indies, and after about a year and a half, on 8 December 1610, a royal cédula (decree) ordered a change from offensive to defensive methods in the war against the Indians of Chile. In 1611 he went back to Chile, where he gained many more enemies as a result of the new policy. His enemies tried to thwart his efforts by complaining to royal officials and even to the crown. But a cédula of 21 November 1615 reiterated the policy. In 1620 Valdivia returned to Spain permanently.

See alsoLas Casas, Bartolomé de; Missions: Jesuit Missions (Reducciones).


Beatrice Blum, "Luis de Valdivia, Defender of the Araucanians," in Mid-America: An Historical Review 24, no. 2 (1942): 109-137.

José Armando De Ramón Folch, El pensamiento político social del Padre Luis de Valdivia (1961).

Additional Bibliography

Ablard, Jonathan David. "Luis de Valdivia and Defensive War on the Chilean Frontier." M.A. thesis. University of Virginia, 1994.

Kosel, Ana Carina. "Los sermones de Valdivia: Distribución de lugares, didáctica y poleémica en un testimonio del choque de dos culturas." Anuario de Estudios Americanos 54:1 (January-June 1997): 229-244.

                                      Juan Manuel PÉrez

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