Alonso de Estrada
Alonso de Estrada, Duke of Aragon (b. ca. 1470, Ciudad Real, Spain, d. 1533-37, Mexico City) was a colonial official in New Spain during the period of Hernán Cortés's government, and before the appointment of the first viceroy. He was a member of the triumvirates that governed the colony for several short periods between 1524 and 1528, in the absence of Cortés.
Origins and early career
Don Alonso de Estrada, Duke of Aragon, was an illegitimate son of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Dona Luisa Estrada, daughter to Don Fernan Estrada, the Spanish Royal Ambassador to England...thereby making him a step-son to Isabella I of Castile. He was raised at court. He fought in the wars in Flanders, and afterwards, as an admiral, in the campaigns in Málaga and Sicily. Returning to Madrid, he fought in the Castilian War of the Communities, opposing the rebels against Emperor Charles V. For this, Charles rewarded him with the position of corregidor of Cáceres, and later named him treasurer of New Spain.
Royal treasurer of New Spain
Boasted that he was of royal blood, he came to New Spain in 1523, appointed treasurer of the colony by the Council of the Indies, on the authority of Charles V. His mission was to participate in the government of Cortés and to protect the interests of the Crown. Marcos de Aguilar and Luis Ponce de León (governor of New Spain) (colonial official) were also sent by the Crown to act as judges in the juicio de residencia of Cortés, but Ponce de León died of indigestion contracted at his welcoming banquet. Rumored to have been poisoned by Hernan Cortes.
Estrada was forceful and violent. Rumors of his royal parentage accompanied him to New Spain.
First period in government
In 1524 Governor and Captain General Cortés left Mexico City for Honduras. He left the government in charge of Estrada, Rodrigo de Albornoz and Lic. Alonso de Zuazo. Zuazo (or Suazo) held the additional office of Justicia Mayor. The transfer of power occurred October 12, 1524. This triumvirate shared power with the ayuntamiento (city government). The ayuntamiento was composed of partisans of Cortés; Estrada and Albornoz were (or soon would be) his enemies. At one point Estrada issued orders to prevent the reentry of Cortés into Mexico City.
The three men governed for about two and one half months, until December 29, 1524. On that date, with the agreement of the ayuntamiento, two of them were replaced by Gonzalo de Salazar and Pedro Almíndez Chirino. Alonso de Zuazo remained. This was on Cortés's instructions, brought back from Coatzacoalcos by Salazar and Almíndez, in order to end disagreements between Albornoz and Estrada. The change was thought to have been brought about by the intrigues of Salazar.
Second period in government
Estrada returned to the government from February 17, 1525 to April 20, 1525. It now contained five members — Salazar, Almíndez, Estrada, Albornoz and Zuazo. On the latter date, Salazar and Almíndez proclaimed that no one was to recognize the authority of Estrada and Albornoz, on pain of 100 lashes and confiscation of property. This proclamation was signed by Zuazo, Cervantes, de la Torre, Sotomayor, Rodrigo de Paz (a member of the ayuntamiento), and the clerk Pérez. Estrada and Albornoz left Mexico City for Medellín, but before they had traveled eight leagues, Almíndez sent armed men after them and took them prisoner.
Third period in government
In early 1526 a messenger (Martín de Orantes or Dorantes) from Cortés arrived in Mexico City. His instructions were to replace Gonzalo de Salazar and Pedro Almíndez Chirino in the governing triumvirate with Francisco de las Casas and Pedro de Alvarado. In the absence or incapacity of Las Casas and Alvarado, Estrada and Albornoz were named as replacements. Orantes entered the city in secret and made contact with members of the opposition.
At daybreak on January 28, 1526 Orantes and other opponents of Salazar and Almíndez left the convent where they were staying, marched along the streets shouting "Viva Cortés", arrested Salazar, and succeeded in getting the ayuntamiento to execute the orders of Cortés. Estrada and Albornoz rejoined the government, because Las Casas and Alvarado were absent. Almíndez was arrested later in Tlaxcala, and brought back to Mexico City. Estrada and Albornoz governed from January 29, 1526 to June 24, 1526, or just short of six months. Cortés returned and took up the government again (very briefly) on June 25, 1526.
Fourth period in government
Estrada governed a fourth time from March 2, 1527 to December 8, 1528, with Gonzalo de Sandoval and Luis de la Torre, for about 21 months. (Sandoval was part of the government only until August 22, 1527). On August 22, a royal decree was received in Mexico City, ratifying the transfer of powers granted by Luis Ponce de León to Marcos de Aguilar, but Aguilar had died on March 1. Aguilar had named Estrada governor, and this decree solidified his position. Since Cortés was suspected of poisoning Ponce de León and Aguilar, he was not in a position to challenge Estrada.
Estrada died in Mexico City in the period 1533 to 1537. An act of the Mexico City government dated September 22, 1533 refers to him as alive, and a letter from the viceroy to the king dated December 10, 1537 mentions him as deceased.
- The Encomenderos of New Spain 1521-1555. Robert Himmerich y Valencia. Page 154
- Alonso de Estrada: El ciudarealeño que llego a ser Gobernador de Nueva España pag. 103. Alonso died in 1530 or 1531.
- (Spanish) García Puron, Manuel, México y sus Gobernantes. Mexico City: Joaquín Porrua, 1984.
- (Spanish) Linares, Fernando Orozco, Gobernantes de México. Mexico City: Panorama Editorial, 1985, ISBN 968-38-0260-5.