Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Schmidel, Ulrich

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SCHMIDEL, Ulrich (shmee'-del), German historian, b. in Straubingen, Bavaria, about 1511; d. there about 1570. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, and received a good education, but entered the military service, and enlisted in the expedition of Pedro de Mendoza as an arquebusier. He also accompanied Juan de Ayolas on his first trip in quest of provisions, and afterward went with Ayolas in his expedition up Paraguay river, and was one of the soldiers that were left with Domingo Irala (q. v.) in charge of the vessels in the port of Candelaria. When Cabeza de Vaca was deposed in April, 1544, Schmidel sustained Irala, who was the new governor, and in 1546 accompanied him in his expedition to Peru as far as the foot of the Andes, where he was despatched with Nuño de Chaves to President La Gasca. He accompanied Irala on his last unfortunate expedition of 1550, and, hearing in 1552 of the death of his elder brother, to whose estate he was to succeed, he obtained his discharge. In Seville he presented to the council of the Indies letters from Irala with the report of his discoveries, and arrived toward the close of 1554 in Straubingen, where he afterward resided. He had kept a diary during his wanderings, and wrote an interesting narrative of his adventures under the title of “Wahre Geschichte einer merkwürdigen Reise, gemacht durch Ulrich Schmidel von Straubingen, in America oder der Neuen Welt, von 1534 bis 1554, wo man findet alle seine Leiden in 19 Jahren, und die Beschreibung der Länder und merkwürdigen Völker die er gesehen, von ihm selbst geschrieben” (Frankfort, 1557), of which a Latin version appeared in Nuremberg in 1599 as “Vera historia,” etc. Henry Ternaux-Compans has also published a translation of the work in his “Voyages, relations et mémoires,” and Barcia in his “Historiadores primitivos de Indias.” Schmidel is certainly the first historian of the Argentine, and his narrative is valuable, as it gives the names and tells of the habits and manner of living of many Indian nations that were extinct a century later.