Francisco De Orellana The Spanish Adventurer

Francisco De Orellana was born in Trujillo (Spain) in 1511 and died in 1546. Francisco De Orellana was a cousin of Francisco Pizarro and Gonzalo Pizarro, both of them conquerors and adventurers.

When Francisco was only seventeen, he traveled to Central America. He joined his cousin's (Francisco Pizarro) expedition as a soldier and took part in the conquer of the Inca empire. He lost an eye in battle, and before he was 30, Francisco De Orellana had been an important part in the colonization of Peru. He founded the city of Guayaquil, and became a very wealthy man. Between the advantages that Francisco De Orellana had compared to other adventurers there is his deep knowledge of the American lands, and that he knew several Amerindian languages.

When the war between Francisco Pizarro and Diego De Almagro started (both of them were powerful Spanish conquerors), Orellana joined his cousin and created a small army that fought in the battle of Salinas, in which Diego De Almagro was defeated.

Tired of so many adventures, he retired to Ecuador, and became the governor of Santiago De Guayaquil. For some time, he had a peaceful life, but one day he received some news: Gonzalo Pizarro was looking for men to go to the "Country of the Cinnamon", and Orellana joined the expedition.

Cinnamon was a very valued spice. In that time, it had a value very similar to gold's. In addition, they were also trying to find El Dorado, a mythical place that was supposed to have big quantities of gold, and a city with streets of gold. The search for El Dorado was an obsession for many adventurers.

But when Orellana was going to meet his cousin, he was already gone. But he had left him a message telling Orellana to follow him and meet on the way.

So Orellana and his men crossed the Ecuadorian Andes. It was a very dangerous area, hard to go through, with hard environmental conditions. Orellana lost many men before he arrived to the camp of his cousin Gonzalo Pizarro.

But far from finding forests full of trees of cinnamon, they found dangerous swamps that were impossible to inhabit.

The expedition was very tired, they had very little supplies left, and many men had died. They had no strength to cross the jungle.
They found a river and decided to build a ship. It was very hard as they had to cut trees, create furnaces, and the needed forges to build the vessel.

As they were still many men, Gonzalo Pizarro ordered Orellana to take 60 of their men and go down the river to find supplies. As Orellana knew many native languages, he could manage to communicate with the Indians, and ask for help. But Orellana and his men didn't find any village while they were navigating by the rivers Coca and Napo.
They suffered so much hunger that they even ate their own shoes. Orellana feared a mutiny, but he refused any special privileges, he suffered the same hunger as his men.
They arrived to a village and the people there received them with generosity giving them food.

Orellana couldn't accomplish the mission that Gonzalo Pizarro gave him, as his men didn't want to go back. They awaited Pizarro in that place. One month passed, and there were no news about Pizarro, so they went on board and went down the river.

In Napo River they saw there were more turbulences as they advanced, until they reached the Amazon River. The name of Amazon was given because in their travel they found some terrible warrior women that reminded them of the legendary Amazon, so they gave the river this name.

They built a new ship, called Victoria, and Orellana and his men survived to many risks before they arrived to the sea. Between the biggest menaces there were those warrior women that were very skilled with the bow and arrows. Their Queen was called Conori, and had great treasures.

In the Amazon River they discovered the most exuberant vegetation that anyone could imagine. They arrived to the Caribbean Sea, to the island of Cubagua.
They had not discovered El Dorado nor the Country Of Cinnamon, but they discovered the Amazon River.

Orellana was accused of betrayal for abandoning Gonzalo Pizarro, but his men testified and he was found innocent.

The following year, Orellana married. They ordered him a new expedition to the Amazon River. This time, the path will be the other way round, from the sea to the river.
But that journey was much harder than the previous, and most of the crew died, and Orellana himself with his wife.

-Emma Alvarez-

© 2008 by Emma Alvarez. Link to this post without copying the text.

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Mirage Chopper said...

I really like coming here. I always learn so much from you!

Emma Alvarez said...

Thank you very much :)

Sincerae said...

Excellent post, Emma! I always find your work inspiring:)

Emma Alvarez said...

Thank you Sincerae I love your blog:

mangar24 said...

tht guys my ancestor

Emma Alvarez said...


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