Mencía Calderón

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Mencía Calderón Ocampo
Adelantada of the New World
Calderon (escudo de armas).png
Coat of Arms belonging to his paternal surname
Extremadura, Spain
Asuncion, Paraguay
Spouse(s)Juan de Sanabria y Alonso de Hinojosa
ReligionRoman Catholic

Mencía Calderón (1514-1564?) was a Spanish noble lady, first expeditionary woman in the Río de la Plata.[1]


Mencia was born in Villa de Medellín, Badajoz (Spain) daughter of Alonso Calderón and Ana Ocampo, belonging to a noble family of Extremadura. She was married to Juan de Sanabria, a noble Spanish expeditionary who died shortly before leaving for New Spain.[2] Through his mother, Mencía Calderón, was related to Francisco Pizarro and Hernán Cortés, belonging to noble Castilian families.[3]

In April 10, 1550, Mencía Calderón embarked for Americas. In the expedition traveled 300 passengers, among which there were captains Salazar and Saavedra, Calderon´s daughters, 50 eligible maidens, the wives of various conquerors, 80 sailors, and adventurerHans Staden, who would write the chronicle of the expedition. The fleet survived storms and attacks by French corsairs before managing to reach the isle of Santa Catalina. From there, they made their way to the coast of Brazil, where they settled for a year while repairing their ships and building new, more fit ones with what was left of the others. After this period of rest they left to Asunción.[4]

The arguments between Salazar y Saavedra became constant, and it was Mencía who managed to organize the expedition and keep the group together. Mencía took the rank of Adelantada upon herself and guided an expedition of men and women across 1.600 Km of rainforest, following the same path that years before had followed Alejo García and Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. They reached Asunción in 1555, where some problems erupted when the women who had come to meet their husbands found them already re-married to indigenous women, and with mestizo children, some of which were already in their teens.[5].


  1. ^ Conquistadoras: Mujeres Heroicas de la Conquista de America. By Carlos B. Vega.
  2. ^ Las damas del Río de la Plata. By Titina Cubero Macri, Silvia Bayá Carranza.
  3. ^ Archivo Ibero-Americano. J. Costa, 1999.
  4. ^ María de Sanabria: De Sevilla a América del sur, 1545. Pasión e intriga en. By Diego Bracco.
  5. ^ Benítez, Luis G.; en "Historia del Paraguay. Época colonial" (p. 52, Ed. Comuneros, 263 págs., año 1985)

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