Pascual de Andagoya

(1495 - 1548)

Pascual de Andagoya was born in the province of Alava, Spain. In 1514, at the age of 19, went to the new world, with the expedition of Pedro Arias de Avila. As a faithful servant of Pedrarias, we was promoted to the post of Regidor or Alderman of Panama (Inspector General of the Indies). on the isthmus in 1522.

In the post of Inspector General of the Indies, and being a very religious man, he became an active witch-finder in Castilla del Oro. During his exploration, he claimed to have discovered many witches and sorcerers among the native population. These were the tribal medicine men, but in the eyes of Andagoya, these evil-doers caused great harm to the elderly and to animals "at the Devil's command." They also used ointments given to them by the Devil. Andagoya wrote; that "when questions were asked about the form in which the Devil appeared to them, it was discovered that he took the shape of a beautiful child in order not to frighten these simple-minded people but to win their confidence. Whenever the witches caused harm to others, the Devil went with them and entered the houses of those they wished to hurt in their company. It was also revealed that a witch, who was in a certain town one night with many other women, was seen the very same hour in a room a league-and-a-half distant from that place, where other servants of her Master were gathered"

In 1522, Andagoya, on hearing many times of the existence of a place, further south, called Biru (Peru), set out to find it. He set out to explore the country east of the Gulf of San Miguel. He had success in confirming the existence of the rich empire to the south. He was able to collect a large quantity of gold  and pearls from the natives. He went as far as the San Juan River, in the Chocó region of present day Ecuador, claiming all of the land he found for Spain (and himself). When the cayuca he was in, overturned, getting him wet, and losing supplies and gold, he became very ill, and the expedition was called off, and they returned to Antigua. Pedrarias then appointed Juan Basuto to continue the voyage of exploration, but he died suddenly, and all explorations to the south ceased until Pizarro.

When Pizarro, and company, wanted to continue the search of the rich kingdoms in the south, he had to purchase the right of way, from Andagoya, who already claimed the land for himself. 

In 1529, Andagoya  was banished by the governor, Pedro de los Rios, to Santo Domingo in Española. He  returned to Panama, a few years as a lieutenant, under the command of Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo, the new governor of Castilla del Oro in 1534. While in Panama, he served as an agent to Pizarro and company until 1536, when he was sent back to Spain. In 1540 he was appointed governor of the country around the San Juan River, which he had discovered,  and founded the town of Buenaventura. Because of a dispute with a neighboring governor, he returned to Spain, seeking an audience with the King, to address his grievances. He was in Spain for five years, returning to Peru where he died on June 18, 1548, in Cuzco.

Balboa has often been credited with having been first to hear of Peru. This is incorrect. In his few attempts at exploring the coast of southern Panama he heard only of Indian tribes of northern or northwestern Colombia. Andagoya was the first to hear of Biru, and the rich cities in the mountains, south of the San Juan River, in Ecuador.

Panama History Home Other Conquistadores

September 29, 2001
Bruce C. Ruiz