Villagra, Francisco de (c. 1512–1563)

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Villagra, Francisco de (c. 1512–1563)

Francisco de Villagra (Villagrán; b. 1512?; d. 22 June 1563), Spanish conquistador. A soldier with experience in North Africa, Villagra went to America in 1537, and accompanied Pedro de Valdivia (1500–1553) on his expedition to Chile in 1540. During Valdivia's absence from the new colony in 1547–1548, he acted as interim governor, and in that capacity ordered the execution of Pedro Sancho De Hoz, who had plotted to seize control. In 1549 Valdivia sent him to fetch reinforcements from Peru, a mission he eventually completed after many adventures. Early in 1552, again on Valdivia's instructions, he attempted an overland expedition to the Strait of Magellan by way of the eastern side of the Andes, only to turn back at the Río Negro.

After Valdivia's death (December 1553), Villagra unsuccessfully claimed the governorship of Chile: his forcible seizure of the government was firmly resisted by the cabildo (municipal council) of Santiago. He remained an active leader in the warfare against the Araucanians, bringing about the defeat of the toqui (chief) Lautaro in 1557. It was not until the departure of governor García Hurtado De Mendoza (1535–1609) that Villagra finally secured the governorship (1561–1563). On his death it passed to his cousin Pedro de Villagra (1563–1565), a brilliant tactician, who was eventually dismissed by the viceroy of Peru.

See alsoConquistadores; Valdivia, Pedro de.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Reyno Gutiérrez, Manuel. Francisco de Villagra. Santiago, Chile: La Nación, 1984.

                                          Simon Collier

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Villagra, Francisco de (c. 1512–1563)

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