Category Archives: People In History

Diego Colón

Diego Colón (Columbus) 1480 – 1526

Diego Colón

Diego Colón was the first born son of Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colón). He was thought to have been born in Lisbon or Porto Santo, Portugal. Felipa Perestrello e Moniz, Diego’s mother, died when he was 4 years old.

From a very young age Diego belonged to the Spanish court as page of the prince Don Juan and later he was a page to the queen.

Diego married Maria de Toledo in 1508. María de Toledo y Rojas o María Álvarez de Toledo was the Granddaughter of the First Duke of Alba, Niece of the Second Duke of Alba, Cousin of King Ferdinand II of Aragón El Católico, and Great-Niece of the Catholic Kings. Because she was of noble lineage and her family had much influence in the Spanish court, this allowed Diego to obtain official recognition and thus granted him many privileges.

Governor of the Indies

In 1509 Diego Columbus was named Governor of the Indies when he arrived in Hispaniola to replace Nicholas de Ovando. He was accompanied by his wife, uncles, their brother Fernando and a large following.

During the government of Diego Columbus in Hispaniola Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica were also conquered by the Spanish.

Alcazar de Colon – Home of Don Diego Colón

As soon as Diego settled in the colony and built his residence, The Columbus Palace/ Alcazar de Colon, he began to grant privileges to the people who arrived with him. All were given homes and property and many were granted seats in the government. This favoritism caused much discourse among many residents of the island. These residents complained before the court and demanded better treatment by the Governor. Fed up with the special treatment Miguel de Pasamonte, the Treasurer formed a group called The Servants of the King. They formed to oppose the governing group. To stop the fighting between the two groups the monarch created the Real Audience, a court that reduced the powers of the governor.

One of the many problems that confronted the Governor was how the Dominican priests defended the Indians. The defense of the Indians was initiated by Fray Antón de Montecinos. He gave a sermon that demanded better treatment for the natives. The governor and other authorities were all present when Montecinos made his famous speech in 1511. Montecinos was made Viceroy of the Indies in May 1511, remaining in charge until 1518.

Diego Returns to Spain

The many conflicts in Hispaniola forced the king to replace Diego Columbus and he returned to Spain. After being in Spain for a few years he again gained the favor of the king. Diego returned to his governorship in 1520.

Two years later the first rise of the black slaves took place. This new government was calmer than the previous one. Still King Carlos V finally suspended, for the second time, the son of Christopher Columbus from the government of Hispaniola.

Columbus returned to Spain in 1523. According to the capitulations of Santa Fe that were signed by Columbus and Catholic Kings, all the titles that were granted to Christopher would be inherited by Diego. Yet, when Diego died in 1526 he never got the promised recognition of the inherited rights that were promised to him by his father.

Casa de Juan Viloria

Casa de Juan Viloria

Don Juan Viloria build his beautiful home around 1520. The house was painstakingly restored in 1977. The striking Arab styled interior patio and gallery are very unique. The patio is surrounded by impressive stone arches.

Casa de Juan Viloria
Casa de Juan Viloria

Don Juan Viloria

was an important person in the original colony. He originally lived in La Vega where he was Marshall. Viloria was Governor executor of possessions for Diego Columbus. The family Colón trusted Juan completely.

Viloria was the only person permitted to serve the people of royalty. He was considered to be the Copero de los Reyes Católicos (Butler of the Catholic Monarchs).

Calle las Mercedes
Calle las Mercedes

Location: Calle Mercedes #4 between Calle las Damas and Isabel la Católica. It is next to the Casa de Gárgolas.

Nicolás Ovando

Frey Nicolás Ovando

(1451-1511)

Frey Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres was born into a rich family in Spain.
In 1502 he become the third Governor and Captain-General of the Indies. There were too many complaints about then Governor Francisco de Bobadilla. Ovando replaced Bobadilla and served as the Governor of Hispaniola between 1502 and 1509.

When Ovando arrived to take over his appointed post as governor of Santo Domingo he brought with him over 30,000 colonists to populate the island.

Frey Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres
Frey Nicolás Ovando y Cáceres

Ovando was a conquistador. In a very short time he exploited and enslaved the islands indigenous peoples. He exterminating entire towns (Slaughter of Jaragua and Higüey), conquering and enslaving the native people. He forced the natives to work in homes and to plant crops, including the introduction of sugar cane. He used them to mine for gold. They were used as slaves on the ships that returned to Spain.

Ovandos type of governing was the model of the great conquering of Spain in the new world. He commissioned expeditions of discovery and conquest throughout the Caribbean, all from his offices here in Hispaniola. He founded 17 villages and cities on the island. He instituted the first town halls.

Under Ovandos rule the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo became very rich. The wealth cost the lives of almost all of the original native inhabitants of the island.

Statue of Anacaona in Parque Colon
Statue of Anacaona in Parque Colon

Anacaona

One of first terrible acts Ovando committed when he became Governor was to order the arrest of Anacaona. Anacaona was a Taíno queen. Ovando had his army search for and find her. While searching for her the army massacred many of the indigenous peoples. Anacaona was executed by hanging. After her death many of the natives fled their island home.

A statue of Anacona can be seen in Parque Colón climbing up the side of the Columbus statue.

Frey Nicolas de Ovando statue in Plaza España
Frey Nicolas de Ovando statue in Plaza España

Return To Spain

King Ferdinand V made the brutal Ovando return to Spain in 1509. He was ordered to return because of his brutal treatment of the native people. Diego Columbus was then appointed as Ovandos successor as governor.

Ovando returned to Spain a rich man. He was permitted to keep all the property and riches he acquired while exploiting the island and its native people.

Home of Ovando
Home of Ovando

Remembering Ovando

The very large and elaborate home of Ovando is located on Calle las Damas and is now elaborate Hostal Nicolás de Ovando.

There is a huge bronze statue in the center of Plaza España honoring the 3rd Governor of Santo Domingo. In the stone pedestal on which the statue stands are the inscriptions “Comendador Mayor de la Orden de Alcántara” / “Supreme commander of the Order of Alcantara” and “Fundador de la Nueva Ciudad de Santo Domingo” / “Founder of the New City of Santo Domingo”.

The outline of the bronze statue of Fray Nicolás Ovando in Plaza Espana
The outline of the bronze statue of Fray Nicolás Ovando in Plaza Espana

Some of Ovandos accomplishments

*The appointment of Fray Nicolas de Ovando as governor of Santo Domingo was instrumental in the construction of the historical and tourist center today known as Colonial Zone. He gave it the charm and charisma it still has to this day.

*The governor built in the Ciudad Primada/ First City streets and buildings, such as the Convento de San Francisco/ Convent of San Francisco, Hospital de San Nicolás/ St. Nicholas Hospital, la Casa de La Moneda/ Casa de La Moneda, La Torre del Homenaje/ the Tower of Homage many beautiful private homes and also many streets including Calle del Rey/ King Street, later called Calle de las Damas.

*Villa Nueva Isabela, now called Villa Duarte, was the original settlement founded by Bartolomé Colón It is located on the other side of the Rio Ozama. The settlement was hit by a major hurricane in 1502 and almost destroyed. Fray Nicolás de Ovando was responsible for moving the settlement to the west bank of the Ozama River where Zona Colonial is now located.

*The Franciscan Monks arrived in 1502 under the command of Nicolas of Ovando. They started the construction of the the first monastery in the new world in 1508. El Monasterio de San Francisco now stands in ruins.