The New International Encyclopædia/Aguirre, Lope de
AGUIRRE, ȧ-gēr'rắ, Lope de (c. 1507-61). A Spanish explorer in Peru, known as the “traitor” and “tyrant.” He was born in Oñate in the province of Biscay, and came to America at an early age. He was in Peru during the period of the insurrections which followed the subjugation of the Incas, and took an active part in most of them. The turbulent spirits who survived these repeated uprisings were finally influenced to join an expedition to search for El Dorado under Pedro de Ursua. They crossed the Andes and started down the headwaters of the Amazon in the early summer of 1560. Aguirre brought about the death of Ursua, and gained great influence over Fernando de Guzman, Ursua's successor. He then forced his companions to renounce their allegiance to Spain and to recognize Guzman as King of Tierra Firme and Peru. He determined to abandon the search for El Dorado and return to Peru, conquer that country, and establish an independent kingdom there. Shortly afterward the newly made king opposed some of his plans, and Aguirre thereupon murdered him, together with his closest friends. Continuing down the Amazon, Aguirre made his way by one of that river's tributaries to the Orinoco, where he built large vessels, in which he sailed to the island of Margarita. He was forced, however, to abandon the plan of fighting his way across Panama and to Peru. Instead, he landed on the coast of Venezuela, marched inland, and was brought to bay and killed at Barquisimeto, early in November, 1561. His last act was to kill his own daughter with a poniard. In a letter addressed to King Philip II., he declared that he had killed twenty persons during the voyage down the Amazon, and the recorded list of those he ordered murdered is more than sixty, including women and priests.
Bibliography. Simon, The Cruise of the Traitor Aguirre, translated by Markham and Bollaert, Chapter XI., Hakluyt Society Publication No. 28 (London, 1861). This account of the expedition was derived from members of the party. Consult also Bandelier, The Gilded Man (New York, 1893).