Alberto del Canto

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Alberto del Canto (c. 1547 – 1611) was a Portuguese fidalgo and a conquistador of northern New Spain. He was born Alberto do Canto, on Terceira Island, Azores. During the colonization of America, Canto explored the northeastern part of Mexico, and founded several cities, such as Saltillo, of which he was the first mayor (1575). He changed his name to the Castilian form, del Canto, while serving in what was then New Spain.

He was one of the main enemies of the native Chichimeca peoples. He took numerous prisoners to work as slaves in the mines of Santa Lucia, Monterrey, and San Gregorio, Cerralvo, Nuevo León. This resulted in his arrest by the Inquisition for slavery. He escaped and was able to hide out, among the same Chichimecas that he was charged with enslaving, until the charges were dropped.

Del Canto had been a lover of the wife of Diego de Montemayor, founder of Monterrey. Upon learning of the affair, Montemayor killed his wife with his sword, and vowed to kill del Canto as well. In 1585, del Canto married Estefania, the daughter of his arch rival, Diego de Montemayor, and had three children, Diego, Miguel, and Elvira. In 1596, Estefania and Del Canto separated. Estefania moved back to Monterrey with her father, and her children took the last name of Montemayor. Del Canto died at his Hacienda de Buena Vista, Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico.

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