Francisco, a Spanish adventurer, born in Trujillo, Estremadura, about 1471, assassinated in Lima, Peru, June 26, 1541. He was an illegitimate son of Gonzalo Pizarro, a colonel of infantry, and of Francisca Gonzales. He received little care from his parents, and in his early years was a swineherd; but he embarked with some adventurers at Seville for the new world. In 1510 he joined an expedition from Hispaniola to Uraba in Terra Firma, under Alonso de Ojeda, who on quitting the settlement in search of supplies left Pizarro in command. Afterward he was associated with Balboa in establishing the settlement at Da-rien, and after Balboa's death Governor Pedra-rias employed him in several military expeditions. In 1515 he was sent with a small company across the isthmus to traffic with the natives, and when Panama was made the capital he established himself near the city on a tract of land which he cultivated by the labor of Indian slaves. A few years afterward he formed an association with Hernando de Luque, a priest possessed of considerable money, and with Diego de Almagro, an adventurer and soldier, and they fitted out an expedition for exploration and conquest along the southern coast.
They purchased a vessel, and in November, 1524, Pizarro embarked with 100 adventurers from Panama and sailed southward, Almagro following in a smaller vessel with about 70 men. Neither voyage was successful, and after running for several hundred miles down the coast of New Granada, sustaining terrible hardships and losing several men in their attempts to penetrate the interior, both commanders returned to the isthmus with a small quantity of gold obtained from the natives. They brought intelligence of the existence of the rich empire of Peru, and after a long controversy with Pe-drarias received permission to make a second attempt. For this expedition only 160 men could be mustered. Their first exploit was to plunder a small village on the river San Juan, where they got some gold, with which Almagro returned to Panama for recruits, while Pizarro established himself on the coast. Almagro returned with 80 men, but the force was insufficient for the conquest, and he again went to Panama for reinforcements, while Pizarro continued to explore the coast.
Pedro de los Rios, who had succeeded Pedrarias as governor of Panama, refusing to grant any further assistance, Pizarro, after various adventures, returned to that city, and went thence to Spain to ask for aid from the crown, taking with him as vouchers several natives of Peru, a few llamas, and many gold and silver articles of Peruvian manufacture. He reached Seville early in the summer of 1528, and on landing was imprisoned for debt; but Charles V. ordered his release, and received him at court with distinguished favor. On July 26, 1529, a capitu-lacion or commission was granted to him conveying the right of discovery and conquest in Peru, with the title and rank of governor and captain general of the province, together with those of adelantado and alguacil mayor for life and a salary of 725,000 maravedis. On his part he agreed within six months to raise and equip a force of 250 men for the conquest of Peru. Accompanied by four of his brothers, Pizarro recrossed the Atlantic in January, 1530, and a year later sailed from Panama with three vessels, 180 men, and 27 horses, on his final and successful expedition against the empire of the incas. (See Peru.) A quarrel between Pizarro and Almagro, the latter complaining that Pizarro had appropriated to himself an undue share of the honors and emoluments, at length became a civil war, in which Almagro was captured and put to death (1538). The contest was continued by Diego Almagro, his son by an Indian woman.
This faction attacked Pizarro in his palace and killed him in a desperate affray, in which three of their number fell beneath his sword. He left two children by a daughter of the inca Atahuallpa. His descendants, bearing the title of marquis of the conquest, are still to be found at Trujillo in Spain. Pizarro was tall, well formed, with a pleasing countenance, a soldier-like bearing, and a commanding presence. Though grasping in the acquisition of money, he was liberal in its use, and not only gave largely to his followers, but expended most of the vast treasures of which he plundered the incas in public buildings and improvements. Lima and several other cities were founded by him. He never learned to read or write, but could sign his name. He was cruel, cunning, and perfidious, and his chief merits were courage and fortitude.
Gon-Zalo, youngest brother of the preceding by the same father but another mother, and also illegitimate, born in Trujillo about 1506, executed at Cuzco in 1548. He was an excellent marksman, horseman, draughtsman, fencer, and lancer, but was wholly uneducated except in the art of war. He was appointed governor of Quito in 1540, and led an expedition across the Andes, which resulted in the discovery of the head waters of the Amazon and the descent of that stream to the ocean by Orellana, one of his officers. After the assassination of his brother he raised an army and rebelled against the viceroy, Blasco Nuilez. He was supported by many of the colonists and royalist soldiers, drove the viceroy from Lima, and on Jan. 18, 1546, defeated him in a battle near Quito in which Nuilez was slain. This victory gave Pizarro for a while the undisputed mastery of Peru. But in 1547 he was attacked by the royal forces under Pedro de la Gasca, who was sent from Spain to suppress the rebellion. After various encounters Pizarro was deserted by some of his followers, was defeated, taken prisoner, and beheaded.
Hernando, elder brother of the two preceding, born about 1465, died about 1565. He was the legitimate son of Ool. Pizarro by a lady of good family, was well educated, and served in the wars in Italy under Gonsalvo de Cordova. He took an important part in the conquest of Peru, and in 1533 set out for Spain with the royal share of the booty, arriving in January, 1534. The king made him a knight of Santiago and empowered him to equip an armament at Seville. Hernando recrossed the ocean with a large and well appointed fleet, and after his arrival in Peru was appointed governor of Ouzco, which he defended for five months against a host of Indian warriors. Subsequently, in the hostilities with Almagro, he was taken prisoner, but was finally set at liberty. A few months later Almagro fell into the hands of Hernando and was put to death by his order. In 1539 Hernando went to Spain, carrying with him a great quantity of gold. He was coldly received, and, though no formal sentence was pronounced against him, was imprisoned for 20 years in the fortress of Medina del Oampo, from which he was dismissed in 1560 when nearly 100 years old.