Colonial Perspectives: Works from the Louise Bulkeley Dillingham Collection

Varones Ilustres del Nuevo Mundo (1639)

Varones ilustres del Nuevo Mundo 1/12

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Fernando Pizarro y Orellana. Varones ilustres del Nuevo mundo: Descubridores, conquistadores, y pacificadores del opulento, dilatado, y poderoso imperio de las Indias occidentales: sus vidas, virtud, valor, hazañas, y claros blasones. Ilustrados en los sucessos destas vidas con singulares observaciones politicas, morales, juridicas, miscelaneas, y razon de estado; para mayor autoridad de la historia, y demonstracion della, y su utilissima leccion. Con un discurso legal de la obligacion que tienen los reyes a premiar los servicios de sus vassallos; ò en ellos, ò en sus descendientes. Dedicado al Augustíssimo Monarca Felipe IV, el Grande, Nuestro Señor Rey de las Españas, y entrambas Indias. En manos del Excelentísimo Señor Conde Duque de Sanlúcar, Gran canciller de las Indias. Madrid: Por D. Diaz de la Carrera, a costa de P. Coello, 1639. 

Fernando Pizarro y Orellana (d. 1652?) was born in Trujillo, and was a relative of the important Pizarro family, made famous by the brothers who conquered the Incan empire and dominated colonial politics in that region during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Very little is written about Orellana, although it is known that he studied law at the University of Salamanca, and was later a professor there. He also appears to have won favor in the Spanish court, as he was made a knight of the Order of Calatrava, a member of the Council of Military Orders, and was also elevated by King Philip IV to the Council of Castile.

The Varones Ilustres del Nuevo Mundo is what has brought Orellana the most recognition. It is dedicated to King Philip IV and recounts the lives of several of the most pivotal figures in the early discovery and conquest of the New World, including Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés, and Diego de Almagro.

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Orellana of course paid special attention to his relatives Francisco, Hernando, Juan, and Gonzalo Pizarro, praising them for their service to the Spanish crown. In the preference and at the end of his text, Orellana discusses the king’s obligation do reward his most loyal vassals, like the Pizarro brothers, and explains that these rewards should extend to their descendents and relatives. It is unclear if Orellana’s comments in the Varones were the cause of any of the honors he received during his lifetime.
 
Besides the Varones Ilustres, Orellana also wrote several less well known texts, including an Emblemas in the style of the Italian jurist Andrea Alciato, and discourses on military and civil law.

Sources:

  • Wauchope, Robert. Handbook of Middle American Indians. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964-76. vol. 12, p. 72.