Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Nuñez-Vela, Blasco

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NUÑEZ-VELA, Blasco, first viceroy of Peru, b. in Castile in the latter part of the 15th century; d. in Añaquito, Peru, 18 Jan., 1546. He had been governor of Malaga and Cuenca, and as one of his brothers was gentleman of the bed-chamber of the Emperor Charles V., and another was archbishop of Burgos, he enjoyed high favor at court, and was appointed in 1539 commissioner to Nombre de Dios, to transport treasure from Peru to Spain. Meanwhile the repeated representations of Bishop de las Casas (q. v.) in favor of the Indians had confirmed the emperor in his resolution to abolish the servitude of the natives, notwithstanding the opposition of the council of the Indies and numerous clergymen and jurists. To execute this decree in Peru, he resolved to establish there an audience and a viceroyalty as in Mexico, but unfortunately he chose for this purpose Nuñez-Vela, who, although just and rigorous in the fulfilment of his duty, was impetuous and arbitrary. He was appointed in April, 1543, viceroy and president of the audiencia, and arrived in Nombre de Dios, 10 Jan., 1544, and in Tumbez on 4 March. In consequence of the measures that he took during his voyage for the protection of the Indians and the establishment of the new form of government, he was received with great animosity by the people and clergy. He arrived in Lima on 15 May, where the news of his arbitrary measures had already arrived, and in consequence he met with passive but determined resistance from the authorities. Numerous petitions for the suspension of the new ordinance poured in from all sides, but Nuñez continued to abuse his power, and finally, after he had imprisoned Vaca de Castro, his predecessor, and assassinated Guillen Suarez de Carvajal with his own hand, 13 Sept., 1544, he was arrested by order of the judges of the audiencia. He was taken to the island of San Lorenzo on 20 Sept., and afterward to Huacho, to be transported to Spain, but was liberated by Judge Alvarez. Meanwhile Gonzalo Pizarro had revolted against the royal authority, usurping the government of Peru, and, owing to the feeling against the viceroy, gained many adherents. Pizarro marched upon Lima, and, seeing that the popular opinion was in his favor, the bishops of Peru, at a meeting on 21 Oct., 1544, signed an agreement, delivering the government to Pizarro, on condition that he should surrender it when he should be ordered by the king, and on 24 Oct. he made his entry into Lima. Nuñez-Vela, who had gathered a small force at Tumbez, marched to Quito, where he organized an army, and, on 4 March, 1545, began his march upon Piura. The campaign that was thus begun ended in the battle of Añaquito, 18 Jan., 1546. Nuñez-Vela was defeated, and when he had been stunned by a blow from a battle-ax was recognized by Benito Suarez de Carvajal, brother of the man that he had murdered. Carvajal ordered one of his slaves to decapitate Nuñez and dragged his head with a rope to the pillory in the square of Quito.