Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés

Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés (* 1478 in Madrid, † 1557 in Valladolid) was a Spanish historian and statesman. He is considered the greatest chronicler of the conquest of South America by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.


As the son of wealthy parents, he grew up at the court of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile and was thirteen years old squire of the Spanish heir John, Prince of Asturias. As such, he was involved in the siege of Granada and Columbus met before it set off on his journey.

Following the death of Infante in October 1497 he went to Italy and became secretary of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba. 1514 he was appointed overseer of the gold melting of Santo Domingo, and after his return in 1523 he took over the post as royal reporter for the West Indies. His task was to elucidate the actual political and economic conditions in the colonies that were glossed over in the reports of the conquistadors often and put the authorities on notice. In this capacity, he undertook in the later years, five long trips to the New World. 1526 he took over the office of the Governor of Antigua, and from 1535 to 1545 he was commander of the fortifications of Santo Domingo. With 67 years he returned to Spain to complete his life's work, the Historia de las Indias.

The first part of this work was published in 1535 under the title Historia general y natural de las Indias. A second, revised edition was completed in 1548. Oviedo did not live to their publication but he died in Valladolid in 1557 at the age of 79 years.

The complete works of the Historia was published only from 1851 to 1855 from the Spanish Academy of History. Although it is written in an opaque style, it contains many remarkable first-hand information. The incomplete, published in Seville output reached a large readership in their English and French translations of Eden and Poleur ( 1555 and 1556 ). After Bartolomé de Las Casas she " just as many lies as pages " contains, and Oviedo commented on the approach of his countrymen undoubtedly benevolent; but in addition to the patriotic tendencies that are too obvious as they could lead to misunderstandings, his descriptions are trustworthy and interesting.

In his Quinquagenas he indulges in gossip about famous contemporaries; this collection of strange and moralizing anecdotes was only published in 1880 in Madrid by Vincente de la Fuente.


"Because they did not find anything to eat on their arrival, killing some of these Christians in their extreme hunger an Indian, whom they had captured, and roasted the entrails and ate them, and they cooked a part of the Indians in a large pot to something to eat with to take on the ship, ... " - Historia general y natural de las Indias, 1535


Charles Plumier named in his honor, a genus of the plant family Valdia the Iris Family ( Iridaceae ). Linnaeus later changed the name in oviedo.


  • Claribalte (Valencia, 1519)
  • La Historia de las cosas sucedidas en mi tiempo en America ( Toledo, 1526)
  • Historia general y natural de las Indias Occidentales islas y tierra firme del Mar Oceano ( Seville, 1535)
  • Tratado del palo palo guayacan y del Santo contra la como antidoto sifilis
  • Navegacion del Rio Maranón
  • Las Quinquagenas de la nobleza de España