The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 141
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biography of Pedro de Valdivia, by Mrs. Ida Stevenson Weldon
Vernon. The study is well documented, taken mostly from Me-
dina's Colecci6n de documents ineditos para la historia de
Chile, and histories by Lovera and Marmolejo, contemporaries
of Valdivia, while citations are given from other Chilean and
Spanish sources. Mrs. Vernon's purpose was to supplement other
biographies of Valdivia which are inadequate. Her scholarly study
will also make the conqueror of Chile known to the American
student who is unable to read the accounts given in Spanish.
Valdivia's story is told delightfully, as a detailed chronological
account, portraying well the long struggle between Valdivia and
Pedro Sancho de Hoz over the governor's title and the dissensions
among the colonists and their endurance of hunger and thirst
while crossing the Atacama desert and fighting hostile Indians,
typical of the difficulties under which Spanish conquistadores
founded a vast empire in the Americas. The role of the Catholic
priests is not emphasized, but the work of Ines de Suarez, Val-
divia's Spanish mistress who is called co-conqueror of Chile, adds
to the drama of the story and to the record of women's achieve-
ments in history.
The biography reveals that Spaniards came to America not
only to search for golden kingdoms and to Christianize the In-
dians but also to colonize, as the English did in North America
a century later. Valdivia gave up a rich mine and a large estate in
southern Peru in order to establish an empire in a country with
poor repute. Some gold was found but mining activities were
restricted while farms were planted to insure permanent settle-
ment in the seven towns which Valdivia envisioned as centers of
a united state of Chile extending to the Straits of Magellan.
Traits and characteristics of Valdivia as described by the biog-
rapher are evidenced in the story. Valdivia, with more learning,
military training, and character than the usual conquistador had,
becomes known to the reader as a military genius, daring, cou-
rageous, and resourceful-an able leader and organizer, respected
by his fellow officers. His personal relations with Inds de Suarez
reveal his public lack of morality. Like the biographer, one may
excuse Valdivia's unscrupulous methods with his colonists, as the
seizure of their gold, on the ground that Valdivia was dealing
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/149/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.