Diego Hernández de Serpa

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Diego Hernández de Serpa (c. 1510 – May 10, 1570) was a Spanish conquistador who, under the patronage of Philip II of Spain, helped conquer and colonize the Spanish colony of New Andalusia.

Biography[edit]

Diego Hernández de Serpa was born in Palos de la Frontera, Spain, around the year 1510. Since his youth, he had visited the Americas. He and his brother, Ginés, went in 1524 to the small island of Cubagua, off the coast of present-day Venezuela. The island was thriving as it had an abundance of wealth in the pearl industry. The two brothers prospered on the island. Diego accompanied Diego de Ordás in an expedition on the Orinoco River.

Until 1537, during his return to Cubagua, Diego was responsible for defending against pirates and for seven years he traveled the Caribbean in pursuit of corsairs. In 1537, the crisis intensified in New Cadiz, and there was a discovery of oyster beds in the Cabo de La Vela, where the majority of colonists in Cubagua were sent. Diego's adventures took him to Santa Marta, Colombia. Around 1539, he left to Quito, where he lived some eight years with his family. He then went to Cartagena in 1564 and then to Panama. Afterward, he went back to Spain for two years, eventually returning to the New World. In Spain, in 1550, he married a woman named Constanza Alonzo; they had a son, Garcí, who was born around 1545 in Palos de la Frontera, and a daughter, Leonor, born in 1551. During his constant travels, Diego established a solid friendship with Juan Caballero, son and heir of don Diego Caballero, one of the wealthiest men in the Antilles and of the new colony of Paria[disambiguation needed]; this relationship gave Diego great political and economic influence. Diego had spent forty-eight years in the Americas and demanded as a prize for his services that he be appointed governor of Paria and Cumaná.

In Santo Domingo Diego negotiated with the Audiencia over a new enterprise: the conquering of Guayana. Negotiations began in 1544, and it was eventually authorized in 1549, and Diego was granted troops and named captain of the Conquest of Guayana. There was a quick suspension on the search for the end of the Orinoco River, due to lack of royal authorization and opposition of the governor of Margarita Island. But, in the end Diego was able to pass Margarita and named Mayor and Captain of the war of Maracapana (Tierra Firme). He then took up the expedition towards El Tocuyo. After a long march of six months he arrived at his destination in the middle of 1552. He participated in the founding of Nueva Segovia (now Barquisimeto) in 1552.