Diego de Almagro

Spanish Sailor, Soldier, & Explorer

Born: 1475

Died: 1538

Almagro served in the Spanish navy and came to South America in 1514, settling in Peru five years later.

In 1524, he teamed up with his friend Francisco Pizarro to explore the Pacific coast south of Panama, mainly in search of gold. Their first two expeditions (1524-26) were difficult; they suffered from hunger and attacks from the natives, but during this time the two explorers learned of the wealth of the Incan Empire.

Charles V, the King of Spain and Holy Roman emperor, gave Pizarro the authority to conquer and rule the land and the peoples of Peru in 1529. By 1533, assisted by Almagro, the country was his, after the murder of the Incan ruler Atahualpa. They divided the region; Almagro ruled the region of Cuzco.

In 1534, Charles sent Almagro to help conquer present day Chile. The journey was unsuccessful and arduous, and Almagro slowly began to grow jealous of Pizarro’s great successes in Peru. While he was gone, the Incans of Peru rebelled and seized the fortress of Cuzco. Almagro was forced to stop his invasion and return to Cuzco in order to put down the insurrection. When the dust settled, Almagro imprisoned Pizarro and his brothers Hernando and Alonso, seizing power and claiming the city for himself. Pizarro first tried to negotiate a peace settlement, but was eventually forced to retaliate against Almagro’s army, eventually defeating them and regaining control over Peru from Almagro. In the battle, Almagro was captured, and put to death. Almagro’s son, also named Diego, avenged his father’s death by leading in insurrection that ultimately brought about the assassination of Pizarro in 1541.

The power struggle between Pizarro and Almagro for dominance over the rich Incan lands sparked the beginning of more than 17 years of civil wars between the two Spanish Explorers and their peoples.

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