Philipp von Hutten

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Philipp von Hutten. Portrait by an unknown artist (posthumously, c. 1600)

Philipp von Hutten (18 December 1505 – 17 May 1546) was a German adventurer, and an early European explorer of Venezuela. He is a significant figure in the history of Klein-Venedig (1528 - 1546), the concession of Venezuela Province to the Welser banking family by Charles I. of Spain.


Hutten was born in Königshofen, Lower Franconia.[1] He passed some of his early years at the court of the Roman emperor Charles V. Charles granted the province of Venezuela, or Venosala as Hutten calls it, to the Welser family of Augsburg, and Hutten joined a band of 600 adventurers, under Georg von Speyer, who sailed out to conquer and exploit the province in the family's interest. The party landed at Coro in February 1535 and Hutten accompanied von Speyer on his long and toilsome expedition into the interior in search of treasure (El Dorado).

In December 1540, after the death of von Speyer in June 1540, Hutten became governor (captain-general) of Venezuela. Hutten then continued the hunt in the interior. After several years of wandering, harassed by the natives and weakened by hunger and fever, he and his followers came on a large city, the capital of the Omaguas, in the country north of the Amazons, where they were routed by the Indians, and Hutten himself severely wounded. He led those of his followers who survived back to Coro, in 1546, to find that a Spaniard, Juan de Carvajal, had been appointed by the Audiencia of Santo Domingo to preserve order in Venezuela.

Inspection of the Welser army by Georg von Speyer (right) and von Hutten (center) at Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

As the years had gone by with no news of Hutten and his followers, Carvajal had begun to feel secure in his position, and the return of the adventurers was not welcome to him. When he saw how diminished they were in number, he thought to force from them an acknowledgment of his authority. In this, however, he was unsuccessful, and a subsequent attempt to seize them was high disastrous to himself, for he was wounded by a traveling companion of Hutten's, Bartholomeus VI. Welser (the younger).

Carvajal was forced to pledge the Germans safe passage to the coast. In their journey to the coast, the adventurers took no precautions against attack, and were easily captured by Carvajal in April 1546, who, after keeping Hutten and Welser in chains for a time, had them beheaded. Eight years after Hutten's death, the Welsers' grant was taken from them, and German rule in Venezuela ceased.


Hutten left some letters, and also a narrative of the earlier part (1535 to 1546) of his adventures. The manuscript was brought to Germany, and lay so long in a library that it became almost illegible. It was finally published in the first volume of a collection entitled Literary and Historical Magazine by Meusel (Bayreuth and Leipzig, 1785). It bears the title “News from the Indies from Junker Philipp Hutten” (German: Zeitung aus India Junkher Philipps von Hutten) and contains information on the events in which the author took part while giving graphic descriptions of the countries through which he passed.


He was a relative of Ulrich von Hutten.

Literary allusions[edit]

In 1983, Venezuelan author Francisco Herrera-Luque (1927–1991) published the novel La Luna de Fausto (Faust's Moon) narrating the adventures of von Hutten (called Felipe de Utre in old Spanish accounts) in a journey from Europe to wild American territories in the 16th century, until beheaded by Juan de Carvajal over a power dispute. According to the legend, his death was prophetized by Dr. Faust himself, who foretold he was going to die under a "red moon".