Both images courtesy of original photographs from Sir Lyonel Tollemache.
Francisco Lorenzo de Orellana was a Spanish adventurer, born in about 1500 at Trujillo. He was a close friend - and possibly a relative - of the Pizarro family. He arrived in the West Indies in about 1527, saw military service in Nicaragua and then continued to Peru with Francisco Pizzaro in 1535.
Of this explorer, one Internet source quotes: "During the civil war he sided with the Pizarros and was Ensign General of a force sent by Francisco Pizarro from Lima in support of Hernando Pizzaro. He was granted land at Puerto Viejo, on the coast of Ecuador, and had founded Guayaquil, of which he was Governor.
In 1540, Gonzalo Pizzaro arrived in Quito as Governor and was charged by Francisco Pizarro with an expedition to locate the "Land of Cinnamon", thought to be somewhere to the east. In Quito, Gonzalo Pizarro collected a force of 220 Spaniards and 4000 natives, while Orellana, as second in command, was sent back to Guayaquil to raise a troop of horse. Pizarro left Quito (in February 1541) just before Orellana arrived with his 23 men and horses. Orellana hurried after the main expedition, eventually making contact with them in March. However, by the time the expedition had left the mountains, 3000 natives and 140 Spanish had either died or deserted.
On reaching the River Coca (a tributary of the Napo), a brigantine, the San Pedro, was constructed to ferry the sick and supplies. At the confluence with the Napo, Orellana (with the Dominican, Gaspar de Carvajal, who chronicled the expedition) and 50 men set off down stream to find food and arrived at a village on the Napo. Unable to return against the current, Orellana waited for Pizarro, finally sending back three men with a message, and started construction of a second brigantine, the Victoria. Pizarro had in the meantime returned to Quito by a more northerly route, by then with only 80 men left alive.
After leaving the village on the Napo, Orellana continued downstream to the Amazon. In a longitude of about 69°W Orellana and his men were involved in a skirmish with Machiparo's natives and were chased downstream. Continuing downstream they consecutively passed the Rio de la Trinidad (= Rio Jurua?), the Pueblo Vicioso, the Rio Negro (named by Orellana), the Pueblo del Corpus, the Pueblo de los Quemados and the Pueblo de la Calle in about 57°W. There they entered the territory of the Amazons. A skirmish with these warrior women allegedly occurred on 24 June 1542 while Orellana was approaching the Trombetus River, in the neighbourhood of the Ilha Tupinambarama at the junction with the River Madeira.
In about 54°W they stopped for 18 days ro repair the boats, and finally reached the open sea on 26 August 1542, and the boats were checked for seaworthiness. While coasting towards Guiana the brigs were separated until reunited at Nueva Cadiz on Cubagua. The Victoria, carrying Orellana and Carvajal, passed south around Trinidad and was trapped in the Gulf of Paria for seven days, finally reaching Cubagua on 11 September 1542. The San Pedro sailed north of Trinidad and reached Cubagua on 9 September.
From Cubagua Orellana decided to return to Spain. However, after a difficult crossing he arrived first in Portugal, where the king eagerly offered hospitality and a wealthy official promised considerable assistance with a return voyage to the Amazon. The Treaty of Tordesillas had effectively placed the entire length of the Amazon in the Spanish zone, while the Portuguese regarded the Brazilian coast as their own. However, Orellana continued to Valladolid (May 1543) in the hope of encouraging Spanish claims to the entire Amazon watershed.
After captivating the Spanish court with tales and exaggerations of his voyage down the Amazon, Orellana, after nine months deliberation, obtained a commission to conquer the regions he had discovered. It permitted him to explore and settle Nueva Andalucia, with no fewer than 200 infantrymen, 100 horsemen and the material to construct two river-going ships. On his arrival at the Amazon he was to build two towns, one just inside the mouth of the river. The commission was accepted on 18 Feburary 1544, but preparations for the voyage were frustrated by unpaid debts, Portuguese spies and internal wranglings. Sufficient funds were raised through the efforts of Cosmo de Chaves, Orellana's stepfather, but the problems were compounded by Orellana's decision to marry a very young and poor girl, Ana de Ayala, whom he intended to take with him (along with her sisters). It was only on the arrival of a Portuguese spy fleet at Seville that Orellana's creditors relented and allowed him to sail. On reaching Sanlucar he was detained again, the authorities having discovered a shortfall in his complement of men and horses, and the fact that large numbers of his crew were not Spanish. On 11 May 1545 Orellana (in hiding on one of his vessels) surreptitiously sailed out of Sanlucar with four ships and disappeared from view.
He sailed first for the Canary Islands, where he wasted three months trying to re-supply his ships. He then wasted another two months at the Cape Verde Islands, by which time one ship had been lost, 98 men had died of sickness and 50 had deserted. A further ship was lost in mid-Atlantic, carrying with it 77 crew, 11 horses and a boat to be used on the Amazon. Orellana arrived off the Brazilian coast shortly before Christmas 1545 and proceeded 100 leagues into the Amazon delta.
A river-going vessel was constructed but 57 men died from hunger and the remaining sea-going vessel was driven ashore. The marooned men found refuge among friendly Indians on an island in the delta, while Orellana and a boat party set off to find food and locate the principal arm of the Amazon. On returning to the shipwreck camp they found it deserted, the men having constructed a second boat in which they had set out to find Orellana. The second boat eventually gave up the search and made its way along the coast to the island of Margarita. Orellana and his boat crew, who had set out again to locate the principal channel, were subsequently attacked by Indians. 17 were killed by poisoned arrows, while Orellana himself died of illness and grief, sometime in November 1546.
The second boat crew, on arriving at Margarita, found 25 of their companions, including Ana de Ayala, who had arrived there on a ship of the original fleet. The total of 44 survivors (of an estimated 300) were eventually rescued by a Spanish ship. Many of them settled in Central America, Peru and Chile, while Ana de Ayala befriended another survivor, Juan de Penalosa, with whom she lived for the rest of her days in Panama. She is last heard of in 1572."
Arms of Orellana - Extremaño,
de Trujillo en Caceres.
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