Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Hutten, Philip von
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Hutten, Philip von
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HUTTEN, Philip von, adventurer, b. in Franconia, Germany, near the close of the 15th century; d. in Venezuela in 1546. He joined the first expedition that was sent out by the Welsers of Augsburg to form a colony in South America. Charles V. made a grant of the province of Venezuela to these bankers as a hereditary fief in return for the enormous sums that he owed them. The conduct of the German adventurers was even more ferocious than that of the Spaniards, but Oviedo says that, while Hutten was fully as brave and ambitious as his companions, he was much less cruel. He landed at Coro in 1531, and his life afterward was full of privations, dangers, and misfortunes. In one of his expeditions to Lake Maracaibo he heard of a country called Eldorado. An Indian of high rank gave him the most positive details regarding this imaginary region, and, after acquainting him with the route to it, offered to act as his guide. After a painful march, of eight days, in severe weather, the Indian escaped. Several of the party soon died of hunger and fatigue. They were frequently attacked by the Indians, and, always deceived by false intelligence, wandered for four years from one point to another. At last, when their number had been reduced from 130 to 39, they arrived near a large and fine city, where they were attacked by several thousand Indians. Hutten, although he had been severely wounded, charged at the head of his band and completely routed the enemy. He then set out on his return to Coro, but never reached his destination. The province of Venezuela had been taken possession of by Carvajal during the absence of Hutten. The latter, to whom the government of the province belonged by right, was assassinated on the road to Coro, by order of Carvajal. Hutten wrote a narrative of his campaigns. The manuscript was brought to Germany, and lay so long lost in a library that it became almost illegible. It was finally published in the first volume of the collection entitled “Literary and Historical Magazine,” by Meusel (Bayreuth and Leipsic, 1785). It bears the title “News from the Indies,” and contains valuable information on the events in which the author took part from 1535 to 1546, while giving graphic descriptions of the countries through which he passed.