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Vincent de Valverde

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Born at Oropesa, Spain towards the close of the fifteenth century; d. at the Island of Puná, near Guayaquil, 31 Oct., 1541. He was the son of Francisco de Valverde and Ana Alvarez de Vallegada, and was related to many noble families, in particular, to that of Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, and that of Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico. Valverde became a professed member of the Dominicans at the convent of San Esteban, Salamanca, April, 1524. In 1529 he accompanied Pizarro as a missionary, on his intended voyage of conquest to Peru. Before the battle of Caxamarca, 16 Nov., 1532, Valverde endeavoured to obtain Atahuallpa's peaceful submission; later he instructed and baptized the unfortunate Inca monarch. When Charles V learned of Pizarro's victories, he named Valverde first Bishop of Cuzco, the royal city of the Peruvian kings; Paul III ratified his choice in a consistory held in January, 1537. The new bishop found his spiritual duties arduous, for he had already been charged with the office of Protector of the Natives. This forced him to cross the rude soldiery constantly, as the adverturers who made up the Spanish armies had no thought of justice or mercy to the Indians. He strove to settle the feud between Almagro and Pizarro and after the assassination of the latter was forced to flee from Peru. Making his way to Panama, he halted for a brief stay at the Island of Puná, where he was put to death by the Indians. The fame of Bishop Valverde depends on his conduct at Caxamarca. If the tradition be true that the Spanish monk addressed Atahuallpa with haughtiness and disdain, and when his words were not heeded called his compatriots to attack the unoffending Peruvians, then Valverde merits general condemnation. The great religious historians, however, such as Valera, Melendez, Remesal, deny the charge as false. Xerez, an eye-witness, in his account (Seville, 1534) states that when the Inca refused to yield, Valverde returned and informed Pizarro, who then ordered his men to advance; he makes no mention of anything unworthy in the friar's conduct, nor does Pedro Pizarro, one of the earliest writers (his "Relacion" being dated 1571). Particularly bitter to Valverde are Alonzo Enrique and Oviedo, who gives the account of Diego de Molilna, a solider of the expedition, but both of these were partisans of Almagro. Later writers take differing views. The case is not proven either way. In consideration of the extraordinary completeness of the details of Valverde's actions, one must conclude that they are not authentic but the result of political or personal bias.

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