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Inés Suarez Biography

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Modified: 07-06-2023
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Retrato de Inés Suárez
Portrait of Inés Suárez

Inés Suárez was a Spanish conquistador born in Plasencia (Extremadura) in 1507. She participated very actively in the conquest of Chile together with Pedro de Valdivia and in the defense of the cities founded by the Spaniards when they were attacked by the Mapuches.


She was born into a simple family in Plasencia, her mother was a seamstress and taught her daughter Ines the trade. When she was 19 years old she met an Andalusian merchant named Juan de Malaga whom she married, but she left for Panama in 1527 with the promise to return soon. But the years passed and until 1537 she heard little from her, maybe some notes from Venezuela. Then she decided to go in search of him. She crossed the ocean and arrived in the Indies. Once in these lands she began to look for information about the whereabouts of her husband and she got an answer: they confirmed his death in Peru, in the battle of Las Salinas between the Pizarristas and the Almagristas. As the widow of a Spanish soldier who had fallen in combat, she was assigned a plot of land and some Indians to serve in Cuzco, where she settled.

In Peru she met Pedro de Valdivia, a man trusted by Francisco Pizarro, and they became lovers.


In 1539 Valdivia was organizing his expedition to Chile, a place that Almagro had already visited with not very flattering news, and he asked Pizarro that Inés join the expedition not as his partner, but as his servant.

They left in January 1540 and after 11 months of a very hard journey they reached the valley of the Mapocho River and founded Santiago del Nuevo Extremo, which would be the capital of the governorship of Nueva Extremadura, granted to Valdivia. The valley was rich, fertile and with abundant water, an ideal place to establish an agricultural and livestock colony. Everything seemed very nice but a small detail turned the expedition into a hell: the bellicosity and violence of the natives of the place who did not cease in their determination to drive the foreigners out of their lands.

There were numerous attacks and sieges by the natives on the cities founded by the Spaniards. Inés was known for her attitude of collaboration and support to the soldiers. On one occasion, Valdivia left the city with numerous men to pursue native forces that were near the place. This was used to lay siege to the city. During the battle the defeat seemed imminent and Inés took a step forward and to avoid the catastrophe she proposed to take the 7 indigenous chiefs that they had prisoners and execute them to terrorize the attackers and provoke their flight. Some hesitated, thinking that it would be worse, that it would inflame the spirits even more, if this was already possible, and they would finish them off without mercy. But Agnes paid no attention to these doubts and went to the cell where the prisoners were kept and, taking the sword of one of the guards, decapitated them all, removed their heads and showed them to the attackers who, as she thought, fled in terror. Some historians doubt this version and think that the caciques were killed in the usual way by soldiers.

Inés continued her life in Chile with Valdivia. This one left to Cuzco in 1548 for some political and legal matters but he found that his enemies were waiting for him and when he met with Pedro de la Gasca, president of the Real Audiencia of Lima, he notified him that he was going to be tried for his residence as the royal official that he was. The process began and numerous charges were brought against him, but in a document without signatures, which made him less credible. Of all the charges Valdivia came out unscathed except for the one of illegitimate union with Inés Suárez since Valdivia was already married to Marina Ortíz de Gaete, resident in Spain. Valdivia had no choice but to obey the order and prepared everything for the arrival of his wife and married Inés to one of his most trusted men: Rodrigo de Quiroga.

With Rodrigo she maintained a quiet and very religious life until her death in 1580 at the age of 73.


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Retrato de Inés Suárez
Inés Suárez portrait
Inés Suárez ejecutando caciques
Inés Suárez killing caciques
Inés Suárez
Inés Suárez
Inés Suárez and the 7 caciques
Inés Suárez and the 7 caciques


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