Problems of a Credit Colony: the Welser in Sixteenth Century Venezuela

On the 27th March 1528 Heinrich Ehinger and Hieronymus Sailer, two agents of the wealthy Welser merchant company of Augsburg, signed a capitulation with Emperor Charles V to colonise and explore Venezuela. Charles had been heavily reliant on the Welser for funding his depleted treasury, which enabled him to carry out his own imperial ambitions at the beginning of the century. The undertaking of a colonial enterprise by a merchant group was still a rarity at this time; yet the Welser soon organised 300 men to accompany Ambrose Alfinger, first governor of the province, to the main Venezuelan settlement of Coro in 1529.

The following 28 years were characterised by energetic and bloody searches for a supposed “Golden Kingdom” in the interior, carried out by the German governors and their Spanish subordinates. Despite the likes of Alfinger, his deputy Nikolaus Federmann, and his successors Georg Hohermuth and Philipp von Hutten covering thousands of miles of unexplored land, the rich province they sought eluded the Welser generals, leaving their colonists impoverished, whilst their Spanish neighbours revelled in the riches of Peru and New Granada. Unsurprisingly then, the Welser colony is very rarely remembered by historians for anything more than these frantic searches for “El Dorado”. This is the focus of the great Spanish chroniclers Oviedo, Castellanos, Aguado and Herrera, and the subsequent historians who have considered the colony generally maintain this line of investigation.

The Welsers left a small but indelible mark on the history of New World colonization
The Welsers left a small but indelible mark on the history of New World colonization

However, the Welser administration in Venezuela lasted officially for 28 years (1528-1556), during which time a number of other economic opportunities arose that could have increased the viability and development of the colony. The fact the Venezuelan authorities ignored these opportunities in favour of speculative exploratory missions has helped preserve the reputation of the Welser colonists as mere “gold-seekers”. Nevertheless, the reality is that the colonists were unable to engage in other economic activities, and therefore attempt to alleviate the province from poverty, because of the unique financing of the colony that the Welser Company implemented. The Welser operated a strict credit system, whereby all provisions necessary for the colony and individual settlers were purchased directly from them on credit, with the expectation of a quick repayment. Such a system soon indebted the majority of men in Venezuela and heightened the need to seek riches in the interior, as a means of relieving their impoverishment. The system consequently led to a neglect of the colony’s settlements and other more sustainable economic pursuits, which did not provide the same prospect of instant wealth as an entrada (mission of exploration and conquest).

This piece seeks to investigate the nature of the Welser credit system in their Venezuelan colony and its impact on the province and its settlers. It will argue that the impoverished nature of the colony that was brought about by the credit system forced the men of the province to focus solely on “gold-seeking” at the expense of other economic activities. The potential profitability of these activities, as emphasised by neighbouring colonies, shall be discussed. The article shall conclude by arguing that the failure of the Welser entradas ensured the Venezuelan colony remained neither economically viable nor sustainable and therefore resulted in the revocation of the Welser contract in 1556.

The Welser Credit System

The majority of the first settlers arriving with Governor Ambrose Alfinger at Coro in 1529 were very poor, and, like other emigrants to the New World, trying to escape the poverty and hardship they suffered in Europe. The Welser, meanwhile, soon established a virtual trade monopoly over Venezuela, whereby the only goods sold in the province were from their factors, as few other merchants had access to the colony.[i] Spanish royal officials warned the Welser as early as 1531 not to restrict free trade between the people of Venezuela and merchants from other provinces.[ii] However, the “embargoes” and “hindrances” facing non-Welser entities in the province persisted despite the Council of the Indies’ intervention. This ensured the Welser retained the uninhibited monopoly necessary to implement their credit system.

Since the new settlers were without provisions and equipment in an alien environment they were forced to buy goods directly from the Welser, who had their own trading station in Santo Domingo on Hispaniola.[iii] Unsurprisingly, these goods could not be paid for monetarily because of the colonists’ lack of wealth and consequently the Welser sold them on credit. As the men required a vast array of basic provisions on their arrival, including food, horses and arms, they quickly became indebted to the Welser, making their financial situation more precarious than before their crossing from the Old World.[iv] Simultaneously, the Welser credit system quickly became stretched through loaning on such a large scale, which in turn accentuated the need for the colony to make economic profit so that debts could be repaid. Indeed, by 1542, officials in the colony estimated that the Welser had provided over 60,000 pesos of credit to men from both Venezuela and the neighbouring province of Santa Marta.[v] Welser representatives themselves claimed the figure was closer to 92,000 pesos during the litigation over the jurisdiction of New Granada in 1540.[vi] Such figures give an impression of the debt levels created by the credit system in Venezuela from the beginning of the colony’s existence.

Undoubtedly, all newcomers to the New World required a degree of funding for their equipment and food before they could become economically sustainable. Therefore, the Welser credit supply could be interpreted as an act of investment that was necessary in any new colony. However, in the case of the Spanish Crown, funding was provided to their settlers in the form of a grant, which they hoped to recoup from the future economic profitability of the colony in question. In this case, the colonists were not forced to repay their benefactors for the goods provided to them. On the other hand, the Welser funding was in the form of a loan through their credit system. Whilst the Company also hoped they would reap the rewards of future economic success in Venezuela, their monetary interests were protected. Regardless of the profitability of the colony, the Welser expected repayment on their loans, heightening the pressure on the impoverished settlers. This policy shows the stark contrast between a merchant-backed venture, such as the Welser in Venezuela, and a typical colony of the Spanish Crown.

What made the credit system particularly burdensome for the colonists in Venezuela were the high prices placed on European goods in the New World. Basics such as shirts could cost up to 4 pesos, whilst horses, essential for the entradas that would characterise the colony, sold for over 300 pesos. Furthermore, the Welser were accused of adding a transportation duty of fifty per cent on to all goods sold, further increasing costs.[vii] These exorbitant prices rose after 1534 when, owing to systematic abuse at the hands of Deputy Governor Bartolomé de Santillana, the Caquetio Indians of Coro fled into the interior. As the Caquetio were the essential labour force for food cultivation in the colony such a loss led to a decline in production levels and a subsequent rise in prices, putting further impetus on credit provision.[viii]

The Welser Company had experience of providing credit for overseas economic ventures. They had funded Portuguese trade in the Far East, slave-trading in Africa and the Canary Islands, and some of Charles V’s colonial endeavours.[ix] These ventures had all been largely successful, giving the Welser a strong return on their investment, with few debts unpaid. This gave the Company the confidence to provide credit on a greater scale than they had before in Venezuela, despite having little clue as to the potential of the colony.

Indebted Populace

The result of the Welser’s large credit lending scheme in Venezuela was the mass indebtedness of the colony’s populace within months of arrival in the New World. Men were soon burdened with the need to repay their mercantile overlords, and this created severe impoverishment in the colony throughout the existence of the Welser administration. Indeed, the documents relating to the colony highlight the plight of the settlers when encountered for the first time by newcomers to Venezuela. In August 1534 the Procuradores (town clerks) of Coro outlined several points of concern regarding the Welser colony to the Council of the Indies in Madrid. One anxiety was the need to find a solution to the “oppressive indebtedness” amongst the soldiers and settlers in the province.[x] The failure of the Welser to implement a colonial policy similar to the Spaniards was a concern that troubled the Crown during the Welser tenure, in what was their jurisdictional territory, and would frequently lead to censure from the Council. This is further evidenced by the findings of the residencia (Spanish colonial assessment) of Dr. Navarro in Venezuela in 1538. Ten years into the colony’s existence, Navarro highlighted the need for “long-term debt relief” to restore the population of the province to a level of equality with the Welser, whose objectives they were in theory pursuing.[xi]

Not only was it the Spanish overseers who recognised the debt-ridden nature of the colony. Individuals who held prominent positions within the province derived similar conclusions, as highlighted by Philipp von Hutten, a lieutenant-general and future governor-elect for the Welser in Venezuela. Writing to a friend in Europe in 1535, Von Hutten emphasised the “poor soldiers”, whose time in the province had resulted in an uncontrollable debt to the Welser of up to “four/five hundred pesos” each.[xii] Furthermore, Rodrigo de Bastidas, Bishop of Coro and three times interim governor of the colony, professed shock at the “extreme poverty”, resulting from their indebtedness, of the few remaining settlers at Coro in 1536.[xiii] Despite the concerns of such high-ranking officials, they were powerless to alter the Welser credit system. The Welser had the power to remove people from their colonial posts and their virtual monopoly over the sale of goods to Venezuela forced the settlers to continue buying from them in order to survive.

Juan Friede has made a distinction between the “common debt”, whereby settlers combined their credit to purchase goods on behalf of the community, and “personal debt”, in which individuals bought on credit for themselves.[xiv] He has suggested that the “common debt” ensured “additional security [and] easier credit”, enabling the Venezuelan colonists to acquire goods of over 35,000 pesos by 1533 to help establish the new settlement of Maracaibo and adequately provision the colony.[xv] However, as many of the settlers also assumed levels of “personal debt” – some had to use credit just to get transportation to the New World – the “common debt” would not have provided the security Friede suggests. Rather, the settlers would have the double burden of looking after their own repayments, as well as having to contribute to community debt-relief. Such pressures were not sustainable and suggest why so few debts appear to have been repaid to the Welser.

Although accurate statistics are unfortunately absent, there are signs that the majority of the colonists failed to repay their debts. One indication is the frequent problem of fleeing encountered by the Welser factors in the province. Even by 1531, debtors were leaving Venezuelan territory in an attempt to escape repayment.[xvi] The unknown terrain and unclear territorial demarcations that characterised South America during this period ensured movement between provinces was fairly fluid, hampering the Welser cause (See Map 1). The Council of the Indies issued a cedula (royal decree) in support of the Welser in July 1534, which forbade the residents of a province from entering another territorial jurisdiction.[xvii] Nevertheless, the poor monitoring of the province by the Welser – another characteristic of their rule – meant fleeing remained an ideal way of escaping indebtedness for the colonists. The confirmation of wealth in Peru and New Granada by the end of the 1530s only heightened the desire to leave the unprofitable Welser colony in Venezuela. By 1547, Welser factor Heinrich Rembold was inexplicably advising a debtor of 500 pesos to flee the province “with good opportunity”, showing how futile the efforts to retrieve repayment became.[xviii] Additionally, the high mortality rate in Venezuela (around 49%) further obstructed debt-recovery, as many men died before repayment.[xix] Although the Council of the Indies attempted to counter this problem by making the asset-holders of the deceased accountable for debts owed, such decrees were difficult to execute.[xx] Despite their losses, the Welser officials never implemented forcible repayment of debts or inflicted imprisonment on debtors.[xxi] Their credit system had impoverished the men of their colony, leading to a decrease in manpower and a decline in their own wealth. Therefore, all available men, debtors or not, were required for the speculative entradas that the Welser colony was soon reliant on in an attempt to recover economic sustainability.  

The First Entradas

The need for instant wealth amongst the destitute Venezuelan settlers led them to organise discovery missions into the interior in the hope of finding a “golden kingdom”. Such a desire was common-place amongst the men of the New World, ever since Columbus found signs of gold on Hispaniola.[xxii] However, in the case of the Welser colonists, this gold “fever” took on greater precedence because of the need for debt repayment. From the moment of the colony’s inception a pattern of desperate treasure-hunting took hold of the Welser governors, who, in Oviedo y Valdes’ words, “followed their own interests more than that suited the good of the province”.[xxiii] Whilst the actions of the governors suggest that the pursuit of personal wealth was their priority, their agenda suited other parties as well. For the settlers it was a chance to rid themselves of the burden of debt. For the Welser, the entradas became their only hope of a return on their credit loans.

The first significant search for riches was conducted by Governor Alfinger from 1531 to the west of Maracaibo, into the territory of the Pacabueyes. This mission was characterised by the plunder of the native settlements and Alfinger’s brutal treatment of both the Indians and his own Spanish soldiers. According to Oviedo y Banos: “They laid waste delightful provinces, destroying the benefits that might have made them secure the possession of fertile lands”, showing the soldiers’ lack of concern for any long-term development of the colony.[xxiv] In January 1532, Alfinger ordered a lieutenant, Inigo de Vascuna, to return to Coro with the 20,000 pesos looted by the entrada so far and bring back new supplies for a further advance. However, Vascuna and his twenty-four compatriots got lost on their return to Coro, forcing them to bury the booty under a tree. All the men, excepting one Francisco Martin, died of starvation, and the gold was never recovered.[xxv] The mission became even more costly, as Alfinger was killed by a native attack in the Chinacota Mountains in early 1533.[xxvi] The remnants of the entrada finally arrived back in Coro in November, having lost over 100 men, numerous horses and other provisions. Surprisingly, this was the most profitable Welser entrada in terms of gold obtained, albeit only 31,000 pesos.[xxvii] Nevertheless, once the royal fifthhad been removed and some debts paid off, the colonists would not have been enriched by their share of the booty.[xxviii]  Furthermore, the deaths of so many men in the interior ensured the Welser were forced to write off large amounts of debt owed to them, making the entrada of little overall benefit to the economy of the colony.

Running simultaneously to Alfinger’s entrada was one led by his new deputy, Nikolaus Federmann, who had arrived in Venezuela in March 1530 with a few hundred new men. By September, 114 of the new colonists were following Federmann into the interior in search of a “Southern Sea”, something Alfinger had also been seeking in the hope of finding a passage to Asia.[xxix] Despite traversing a large area of territory and encountering numerous native tribes, Federmann’s first entrada failed to find the South Sea and only recovered a paltry 3,000 pesos worth of gold from a pueblo near Barquisimeto.[xxx] Within a few years of Welser arrival the policy of gold-seeking had been set, as the indebted settlers followed their ambitious governors hundreds of miles into the interior in the hope of striking gold. For the Welser Company, these entradas were a necessity given their economic policy for the province. However, the disappointments of the early missions were to become a recurring theme, jeopardising the already impoverished colony and the Welser’s own financial stability.

It was necessary for Alfinger’s successor as governor, Georg Hohermuth von Speyer, to re-supply the colony from Europe as he crossed to the New World in late 1534. Before his departure, the Council of the Indies had issued a decree urging their factors to assist the Welser governor with “ships and horses and maintenance and other things necessary for good provision of the province”.[xxxi] This was the first instance of the Spanish authorities attempting to provide a degree of relief to the colony, highlighting their concerns over the indebted and indigent nature of their countrymen in the province. Nevertheless, the likelihood remains that the Hohermuth voyage to the New World was funded largely by Welser credit, through their factors in Seville, which ensured the entrada policy would continue.

map 2

Hohermuth, Federmann and Von Hutten

Unsurprisingly, Governor Hohermuth remained in Coro for only three months after his arrival in the colony before, in May 1535, he began his own entrada. Heading south-west from Barquisimeto with 490 men, the expedition crossed the Portuguesa and Apure rivers, via Pamplona, before crossing the Casanare River near Sogamoso and reaching the banks of the Meta in March 1536 (See Map 2). The “riches of the Meta” had been a persistent rumour throughout Spanish South America for several years and had encouraged Hohermuth to take the direction he had.[xxxii] Philipp von Hutten, who accompanied the entrada, related in his account how the Guaipies Indians encouraged the Welser advance with persistent rumours of riches around the Meta, which were always to be found on “the other side of the mountain”.[xxxiii] This typical Indian response was often a ploy to rid their province of European intruders, although in this case, given the close proximity of Bogota, their tales may have had some foundation.[xxxiv] The desperation of the Hohermuth mission to find a source of wealth drove them on, despite wretched conditions, and they advanced past the Guaviare and Yari Rivers before finally being halted by the fierce Choque nation near the River Caqueta around July 1537.[xxxv] When they finally returned to Coro in May 1538, three years after their departure, the Hohermuth expedition had accrued a pitiful 5,518 pesos.[xxxvi] Such a haul, when compared to other riches gained in the New World (see Table 1), would not have come close to relieving the debt of the majority of settlers. Indeed, von Hutten described life in Coro “as difficult as on the entrada” in a letter on his return.[xxxvii] The capital of the colony lost both provisions and men (around 340) to the Hohermuth entrada with no compensating riches, as the discovery missions continued to increase the impoverishment of the province, rather than alleviate it.

table 1

This scenario continued with Nikolaus Federmann’s second entrada, which after two years of traversing inhospitable terrain, reached Bogota in late 1538, at the same time Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada and his men from Santa Marta were completing their conquest of the Chibcha people.[xxxviii] Federmann and Quesada were soon joined by Sebastian de Benalcazar, arriving from Quito, and questions over the territorial jurisdiction of this province of Cundinamarca arose. The three conquistadores decided to settle the matter in front of the Council of the Indies in Madrid, and departed the New World from Cartagena in late 1539.[xxxix] Before leaving, however, Federmann and Quesada made an agreement to share jurisdiction for this “New Kingdom of Granada” between their own conquerors, who had followed them from Venezuela and Santa Marta respectively.[xl] This enabled debtors to the Welser to legitimately escape Venezuela and settle in New Granada, where they were no longer accountable for their dues. Furthermore, when the Council decided in favour of Santa Marta for New Granada’s administration, the Welser colony had missed out on the “Goldreich” that its principals had staked their imperial fortunes on.

The disappointment of the Welser entradas severely undermined the sustainability of the Venezuela colony. The Welser had failed to recover their losses that resulted from their credit system and individual settlers had either died or fled the province without repayment, whilst the few others remained in poverty. Furthermore, each new entrada required further credit for the purchase of horses, arms and equipment, ironically increasing rather than relieving the debt of the colony. After 1535, when it became evident that the loan system was failing miserably, the Welser significantly curtailed their credit giving.[xli] The final instance of granting credit was with Philipp von Hutten’s entrada of 1541, coinciding with the arrival of Bartholomaus Welser Jr., the final German representative to arrive in the province from Europe.[xlii] Von Hutten hoped to find the gold that had seemingly eluded the Hohermuth mission and, in the process, stake his claim for the vacant governorship of the province, available after Hohermuth’s death in 1540. However, in preparing for the expedition, von Hutten encapsulated in a letter the huge pressure riding on the Welser entradas. He suggested that were his latest mission to fail, it would not only damage his prestige but make him “loaded with debt”, further undermining his already precarious position.[xliii] As it transpired, the last great Welser entrada was a disaster. Von Hutten followed the same route as the Hohermuth mission from a few years before, continuing the search for El Dorado and the legendary Amazons of Greek mythology, an all-female tribe who were rumoured to protect great riches.[xliv] However, after eventually succeeding in crossing the River Caqueta, von Hutten and his men were forced back by the Omaguas tribe in late 1544.[xlv] On their return, von Hutten and Welser Jr. were arrested by Juan de Carvajal, a rogue Spanish officer who had usurped power in the colony and moved the capital to El Tocuyo. After a mock trial, in which Carvajal denounced the Welser administration of the province, the two men were brutally murdered, bringing to a bloody end the Welser searches for El Dorado.[xlvi]

Hohermuth (r) and von Hutten (c) depicted on their fateful entrada
Hohermuth (r) and von Hutten (c) depicted on their fateful entrada

The failure of the entrada policy, brought on by the Welser credit system, is further illuminated by the findings of an audit of the colony, initiated in 1538 by the Navarro residencia. The income of the province, including that gained from the first entradas, had not even been enough to cover the salaries of the royal officials during the ten year period since the Welser arrived.[xlvii] Given that the audit did not take into account the full extent of the Welser credit-provision or the expenditure required for the subsequent discovery missions, it paints a bleak picture of the economy of the province (See Table 2). Furthermore, aside from the entradas, the only income had been derived from customs tax and civil fines, between them acquiring only 3,063 pesos.[xlviii] Not only had the Welser failed in their search for gold; they had also neglected the other economic opportunities offered by Venezuela.

table 2

Missed Opportunities

Focusing solely on the entradas, the Welser governors and officials overlooked more sustainable and long-term economic options, which would have provided a more reliable source of revenue. Götz Simmer has identified the concept of “mobility” as the reason for the Welser’s neglect of these opportunities. He argues that everything in the Venezuelan colony was geared towards a mobile society, whereby settlers were constantly prepared to engage in one of the entradas, which had become a necessity, and consequently had little tying them to the main settlements of Coro and Maracaibo.[xlix] They were unaccustomed, and unwilling to adapt, to a sedentary lifestyle that would have better suited commercial enterprise. As other administrators, both during and after Welser rule, would prove, the province of Venezuela had strong economic potential, without resorting to speculative treasure-hunting.


Perhaps the most significant economic venture ignored by the Welser was the exploitation of the pearls found at Cabo de la Vela, which was officially within the province of Venezuela, acting as its westernmost border (See Map 1). The Spaniards had already successfully harvested pearls from the oyster beds of Margarita and Cubagua, to the east of Venezuela, and after these were depleted, attention was turned towards Cabo de la Vela as new discoveries were made in 1535.[l] As the Welser had been given a license by the Spanish Crown to sell any pearls found in their territory, they had a unique opportunity to benefit from this rare and luxurious product, which was in high demand in Europe.[li] However, with the credit system already stretched by the failure of debt repayment, the high start-up costs and stable nature of the pearl fisheries went against the Welser need for mobility and instant returns on their credit. The Spanish authorities gave the Welser ample opportunity to make use of Cabo de la Vela, actively encouraging them to build a fort near the pearl deposits in 1539, in order to best protect their “very rich and important” asset.[lii] After another request from the Council of the Indies to construct a fort in 1540, the Welser were given a final warning in February 1541, although the Council suggested the German administrators “did not have the money to be able to do so”.[liii] With their preoccupation with the entradas the Welser had missed the chance to profit from the pearls of the Cape and was now in no financial position to do so, leaving neighbouring provinces to benefit. In 1538, settlers from the provinces of Margarita and Santa Marta had established the settlement of Santa Maria de los Remedios del Rio de la Hacha (Riohacha) at the Cape, giving them a base from which to maintain their indigenous labour force for the pearl fisheries. This legal action, coupled with the Welser procrastination, enabled the Santa Martans to obtain a permit from the Spanish Crown for trading the pearls.[liv] By the time Sebastian Rodriguez, a Welser factor for Venezuela, complained to the Council of the Indies in 1543 that the new settlement and pearl fisheries were within Venezuelan jurisdiction, the royal officials were uninterested.[lv] The Welser could have taken advantage of the Germanic influence in the European pearl market had they used their royal license for pearl-trading effectively.[lvi] However, such an action was at odds with their colonial economic policy and by the time Cabo de la Vela was returned to Venezuela in the late 1540s, the Welser had effectively withdrawn their commercial interest from the province.


In addition to their license to export pearls, the Welser were excused from paying the royal fifth on gold mined in their colony for the first five years of their administration.[lvii] Nevertheless, this active encouragement from the Spanish Crown for the Welser to engage in mining enterprises in Venezuela was ignored by the officials of the province. Certainly, there is no evidence to suggest that any mining operations took place in the Welser colony, despite the Company’s expertise in this area. The Germans had been pioneers of new mining practices in the Old World, improving the smelting process for both silver and gold extraction and investing in new technology. Although the Welser were not as experienced in mining as their fellow Augsburg merchants the Fuggers[lviii], they held shares in several mining and smelting projects in Europe, giving them the necessary experience and contacts to transplant such operations to the New World.[lix] Since the extraction of precious metals was one of the primary concerns of the Spanish Court in the New World, they sought to harness the Welser’s know-how. In the original capitulation for the province, they requested the Welser to bring fifty miners to work in the Indies.[lx] Furthermore, before his own departure to the New World, the new governor of Santa Marta, Garcia de Lerma, concluded an agreement that gave the Welser exclusive mining and smelting rights in the province, as well as in Venezuela.[lxi]

Despite the Welser interest before departure for Venezuela and the patronage granted by the Spaniards for mining activities, such projects failed to comply with the credit system and its immediate consequences in the colony. As with pearl-fishing, mining in the sixteenth century required substantial investment, a stable and willing labour force, and patience, which the Welser officials could not provide. It may be true that there was little potential for mining in Venezuela, given its lack of mineral deposits compared to other colonial centres in the New World.[lxii] However, some placer gold could have been extracted and there were substantial deposits of iron ore, a mineral of great value in Europe at the time given its use in the manufacture of armaments.[lxiii] Most significantly, the failure to make use of the mining contract with Santa Marta shows the Welser had no inclination for long-term economic enterprises. After the New Kingdom of Granada had been awarded to Santa Marta in 1540, substantial gold deposits, the most durable in Spanish America, were found in the area.[lxiv] Additionally, there were significant emerald fields in New Granada, focused particularly around Tinjaca, where Nikolaus Federmann had claimed his encomienda during his preliminary agreement with Jimenez de Quesada in 1539.[lxv] Yet, instead of enforcing their contract to exploit the new mining opportunities, the Welser simply bemoaned the fact that the province had not been placed in Venezuelan jurisdiction. Mining in the New World “generated sufficient purchasing power to stimulate… trans-Atlantic and Pacific commerce”, which provided economic stability and European goods to regions such as Peru and Mexico.[lxvi] However, the mobility and indebtedness that came to characterise the Welser province, ensured Venezuela did not share these same benefits.


A further luxury to be found in Venezuela was Tolu balsam, deriving from the resin of a rare tree that was native to the province. Such balsam could be used in the production of perfumes, incense and soaps, which were increasing in popularity in Europe because of recent imports from the Far East.[lxvii] Once again, however, the Welser appear to have neglected this potential revenue source. Having given the Welser licence to extract and process balsam for sale, the Council of the Indies enacted a further decree in 1538, which ordered men from outside Venezuela to refrain from encroaching on the Welser monopoly.[lxviii] Despite such concessions and protection from the Crown, the Welser failed to engage in the balsam trade, allowing neighbouring provinces and individual colonists to benefit from the natural resources.[lxix] Indeed, it was Spaniards from Colombia and Venezuela later in the sixteenth century who first tapped the commercial potential of the profitable Tolu balsam, by exporting it to Europe.[lxx] The need for processing plants and heavy manual labour to fell the trees necessary for extraction undoubtedly failed to appeal to the Welser governors, whose quest for quick profit to alleviate their credit crisis meant the balsam industry was overlooked.

Encomienda System

The aversion to stable settlement amongst the Welser colonists severely limited the chances of producing primary products for export. Undoubtedly, very few New World immigrants were intent on engaging in intensive agricultural work on their arrival from Europe, since this was the life many were trying to escape. Nevertheless, there was an alternative option to maximise the potential of the land: Indian labour. Whilst often forced against their will, the natives encountered by the Spaniards in the New World were “recruited” to work their ancestral lands for the benefits of the European colonists. During the first half of the sixteenth century, this policy was achieved largely through the encomienda:

The privilege granted to a conquistador to collect tribute from the Indians who were entrusted to him, for his lifetime and that of his first heir; in exchange for this he promised under oath to be responsible for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his encomendados and the defence of the district where they lived.[lxxi]

This “tribute” could take the form of payment, or more commonly, labour, and became the “single most important institution for transforming conquest into colonization”.[lxxii] However, despite its ability to push production beyond the subsistence level, the encomienda was not employed in Welser Venezuela.

Why the Welser authorities failed to adopt the encomienda system is difficult to establish. It is possible they were unaware of its benefits, given that it originated in Spain. Spanish colonial sources have suggested that it was a deliberate omission to prevent the enrichment of the settlers and to keep them reliant on the entradas the Welser put so much emphasis on.[lxxiii] Meanwhile, Juan Friede has given a more moralistic argument, maintaining that the German governors refrained from granting encomiendas to protect the welfare of the Indians, who were often abused by the system.[lxxiv] Given the persistent slave-raiding and mistreatment of the natives during the Welser administration, such a suggestion seems highly improbable. Once more, we must look at the concept of mobility in the colony, which was contrary to sedentary settlement.

The Welser certainly became aware of the encomienda, even if they had not been before their Venezuelan venture. In December 1534, the Venezuelan officials were commanded by the Council of the Indies to distribute the Indians amongst the colonists, to prevent them fleeing and to provide labour to the struggling province.[lxxv] Furthermore, in the build-up to Dr. Navarro’s residencia in 1538, the encomienda was encouraged both in order to protect the well-being of the natives and the agricultural interests of the Europeans.[lxxvi] Yet, as with other economic opportunities, the Welser declined the advice of their Spanish overlords. It did not comply with their economic policy for the province, based as it was on the plunder and discovery of the entradas. In the case of the encomienda it proved a three-fold error. Firstly, the tribute provided by the Indian encomendados could have contributed to debt relief in the province, to the benefit of both the settlers and the Welser; possibly even allowing investment in other commercial projects.

Secondly, the encomienda system would have led to increased crop yields, by ensuring a regular labour supply on agricultural lands. The region south of Coro, known as the llanos, was extremely fertile and ideal for intensive agriculture. In the following centuries it would be home to large cattle-ranches, whilst the coastal areas became the finest cacao production centres in the Americas.[lxxvii] However, these areas were never exploited under the Welser, as they alienated rather than integrated the native Caquetio Indians that traditionally inhabited the region.[lxxviii] This ensured that the already indebted and impoverished colony failed to produce enough food to sustain the small number of colonists in the settlements, let alone produce a surplus for sale. Furthermore, it put further pressure on the Welser credit system, which was necessary to purchase food from their trading station in Santo Domingo, to make up for this domestic shortfall. Ironically, the Welser imported several hundred head of cattle in the early years of the colony. However, inevitably, they were predominantly slaughtered in order to provide food for the entradas, rather than used for a sustainable economic enterprise or as relief for Coro and Maracaibo.[lxxix]

The third mistake of not employing the encomienda was the resentment it created amongst the (principally) Spanish colonists. Since the Welser arrival in 1529, the new settlers arriving in Venezuela were predominantly Spanish, having either been recruited in Seville or the Caribbean island of Hispaniola by Welser agents. These men were no doubt hoping to benefit from the underdeveloped nature of the province by gaining large grants of land with the aid of the as yet undisturbed natives. However, as such opportunities did not arise, the colonists became increasingly disillusioned. Not only did it limit their chances of relieving themselves from debt, but the lack of personal land, provided by the encomiendas, deprived the settlers of the social status they craved. As early as 1532, during Ambrose Alfinger’s second entrada, there was disaffection amongst his fellow conquistadores that they had not been allocated repartimientos, which were similar to the encomienda, in that they provided forced Indian labour to the Europeans.[lxxx] Similarly, in 1535, Philipp von Hutten yearned after his own repartimiento, which allowed “the first conquistadores…to live like princes”.[lxxxi] It is therefore unsurprising that when the colonists that accompanied Nikolaus Federmann to New Granada were given the choice of remaining in the new territory with encomiendas or returning to the destitution of Venezuela, they favoured the former.[lxxxii] At least 64 of the remaining 106 men of Federmann’s group received an encomienda in New Granada, severing their ties with the Welser colony, and leaving unpaid the debts many of them owed.[lxxxiii] The dissatisfaction amongst the remaining colonists in Venezuela came to a head in 1545, when Juan de Carvajal seized control of the province, transplanting the population from Coro to the new, fertile interior settlement of El Tocuyo, where land distribution could occur.[lxxxiv] The resulting murder of Philipp von Hutten and Bartholomaus Welser Jr. the following year showed the degree of animosity felt towards the German rulers by the Spanish settlers and precipitated the beginning of the end for the Welser colony. Had the Welser used the encomienda system that had been so effective throughout Spanish America, they would have retained greater respect for their rule, recovered some of the debts owed to them, and potentially created the basis for producing goods for sale.


Another reason why the Welser authorities may have refrained from adopting the encomienda system was the lack of Indian labour available to them. The Caquetio that were native to the area around Coro were predominantly semi-sedentary and frequently moved to find more fertile land.[lxxxv] Additionally, however, native numbers in the province were severely depleted by the constant slave-taking and trading conducted by the Welser colonists. Indeed, aside from the entradas, slaving was the only economic enterprise pursued in the province. Ambrose Alfinger, in particular, was notorious for his brutal policy of plundering native settlements and taking the inhabitants as slaves. The captives would regularly be sold via Coro to Santo Domingo, still the capital of Spanish America at this time, where they would compensate for the massive population loss of the Taino there.[lxxxvi] This policy of slave-trading was intensified under Alfinger’s deputy in Coro, Bartolomé de Santillana, who abused the trust of the local Caquetio in order to satiate the needs of a small number of his inner circle.[lxxxvii] Santillana’s ruthless actions led the majority of the remaining Caquetio population to flee to the interior, where they were able to avoid capture and the prospect of forced labour.[lxxxviii] Such was the level of native enslavement that by 1539 the Council of the Indies were aware of only three to four thousand surviving Caquetio in the Coro region.[lxxxix] Such numbers were inadequate to provide subsistent food resources for a large settlement or contribute meaningfully to any commercial enterprise, had the Welser been inclined towards these.

Whilst the slave-raiding of the province must be denounced as deplorable, it should also be noted that the Welser hierarchy were unlikely to have sanctioned such a policy themselves. It was illegal to enslave peaceful Indians under Spanish colonial law and frequent warnings emanated from Spain with regards to native treatment.[xc] It is likely that a handful of individual colonists, in some cases supported by the German governor of the province, pursued the “commodity” of people, as a means of relieving their own debt, or simply to increase their personal profit. Whether the Welser thus benefited indirectly from slave-trading with repaid debts is unclear. However, the fact this phenomenon occurred in their colony suggests a degree of tacit approval and, significantly, how the need for quick revenue permeated the society which they created.

Lack of Development

The economic opportunities overlooked by the Welser because of the impact of their credit system and the subsequent need for “mobility” in the colony, ultimately meant the settlements of the province did not develop. The few contemporary records of the colony frequently make reference to the poverty and uncivil nature of Coro. On his arrival in Venezuela in 1535, Philipp von Hutten wrote of the rudimentary character of the colony’s capital, with its straw huts, unhealthy air and “lack of wine”.[xci] Meanwhile, after his return from the Hohermuth entrada in 1538, he compared life in Coro to the hardships of his exploratory mission and waited anxiously “on a ship…to come with food and clothing from Santo Domingo”.[xcii] Similarly, Bishop Bastidas decried the “poor affair” that was Coro in 1536, and was shocked that only fifty temporary huts had been added to the settlement by the time of his next visit two years later.[xciii] Even the Council of the Indies were aware of the lack of improvements made to life in Venezuela. In 1538 they expressed concern that as few as thirty men were living in Coro, with no idea as to the whereabouts of the governor or the other supposed Welser colonists.[xciv] By 1545 there had seemingly been little progress, as the Council were informed by Licenciate Tolosa that “in the said province of Venezuela there are very few people”.[xcv] Such reports hardly give rise to the image of a thriving colony.

However, the plight of Coro was made to look satisfactory in comparison to the misery that engulfed the only other settlement the Welser founded during their tenure: Maracaibo. Established on the orders of Governor Alfinger in 1529 by the lake of the same name, Maracaibo was supposed to be the first of two large settlements the Welser were ordered to construct in their capitulation from the Spanish Crown. Each settlement was to be populated with 300 colonists within two years of the Welser arrival.[xcvi] Yet by 1536, Maracaibo’s thirty inhabitants were evacuated to Coro by Nikolaus Federmann and the settlement was abandoned.[xcvii] As with Coro, no attempt had been made to turn Maracaibo into a prosperous settlement. Rather, both villages remained little more than temporary base camps from which the Welser governors launched their ambitious entradas.[xcviii] The debt burden created from the colony’s inception by the Welser credit policy ensured that development was sacrificed in favour of treasure-hunting. Creating sustainable settlements in the colony was therefore dependent on successful entradas, rather than sound funding and commercial enterprise. This created an endemic vulnerability in the Welser colony, not evident in the majority of Spanish provinces in the New World, where stable settlements were quickly erected.

The lack of development of Venezuela was clearly evident to the Spanish royal officials, as proved by their frequent warnings and letters of concern to the Welser authorities regarding the state of the province. Since the colony was within the Spanish territory provided by the Treaty of Tordesillas, such concerns are unsurprising, particularly given that the impoverished populace of the province were predominantly Spanish nationals. Furthermore, the failure of the entradas carried out by the Welser governors, and their disregard for commercial enterprise, ensured the colony remained economically unviable, with the Spanish Crown receiving a mere 13,054 pesos from Venezuela up to 1538, with little more to follow.[xcix] Whilst von Hutten’s murder in 1546 effectively ended Welser rule in Venezuela, it was another ten years before Charles V finally revoked their contract and transferred the administration of the desolate province into Spanish hands.[c] Within a few years of practical Spanish rule, after 1546, two new settlements were founded at Borburata (1548) and Barquisimeto (1552), with Caracas (1567) and a new Maracaibo (1574) originating not long after. Simultaneously, intensive agricultural was pursued, coupled with the creation of new road networks, which allowed trade both within and outside the province.[ci] The Spanish very quickly showed the Welser what had been possible in their colony.


The Welser’s attempt to finance their colony through a rudimentary loan system involving the granting of credit to individual settlers proved the underlying cause for its failure. The mass indebtedness of the population, created by the poorly-managed credit system, ensured individuals needed instant profit to remove themselves from dependency on the German merchants. Therefore, the earliest colonists willingly sought enrichment from the rumoured wealth of the interior, and they were abetted in this desire by their ambitious governors. However, the failure of the lengthy entradas only increased the debt owed by the settlers, as supplies and equipment had to be bought on credit. Furthermore, unclear territorial boundaries and geographical knowledge of the province allowed numerous debtors to flee, whilst others died without repaying. All these factors put further stress on the Welser authorities, whose credit provision declined substantially after 1535. As a result, any switch to commercial activities such as pearl-fishing, mining or balsam production became a virtual impossibility. The “mobile” nature of the colony and its inhabitants, enshrined by the credit system, led excellent economic opportunities to be overlooked, despite strong patronage from the Spanish Crown. The failure of the Welser authorities to mobilise the native population to their advantage, within an encomienda system, further reduced the economic potential of the colony, making mere survival a challenge. With the widespread disaffection this created amongst the Spanish colonists, it is little surprise that a usurpation of power was undertaken by Carvajal and his followers in 1545. Whilst the Welser entradas could have proved more fortunate in their findings, there was simply too much pressure on them to succeed, both for the individual and the colony as a whole. The failure of the Welser to provide a sustainable economic base that would allow the development of settlements as well as speculative entradas, made the colony vulnerable from inception. As soon as it was clear that the debts would not be repaid the colony had no base support, sealing the fate of this unusual mercantile enterprise of the sixteenth century.


[i] Juan Friede, Los Welser en la Conquista de la Venezuela (Caracas; Madrid, 1961) pp. 498-9

[ii] ‘Que el gobernador no estorbe el libre comercio de los pobladores de Venezuela’ [17/2/1531] in Robert Moll & Enrique Otte (eds.), Cedularios de la monarquía española relativos a la provincia de Venezuela, 1529-1552, 2 vols  (Caracas, 1959), vol. 1, pp. 71-2

[iii] Mark Häberlein, ‘Conquista’ in T. Adam (ed.), Germany and the Americas: culture, politics and history (Santa Barbara, 2005) pp. 254-5

[iv] Guillermo Moron, A History of Venezuela (London, 1964)  pp. 37-8

[v] Götz Simmer, Gold und Sklaven: die provinz Venezuela wahrend der Welser-Verwaltung (1528-1556) (Berlin, 2000)  p. 708

[vi] Jörg Denzer, Die Konquista der Augsburger Welser-Gesellschaft in Sudamerika (1528-1556): historische Rekonstruktion, Historiografie und lokale Erinnerungskultur in Kolumbien und Venezuela (Munich, 2005) p. 160

[vii] Friede, Los Welser en la Conquista, pp. 499-501

[viii] Konrad Haebler, Die überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser und ihrer Gesellschafter (Leipzig, 1903)  pp. 212-3

[ix] See: Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 1-52

[x] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 242

[xi] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 413

[xii] ‘Philipp Von Hutten an den Kaiserlichen Rat Matthias Zimmermann: Brief aus Coro vom 23 Februar 1535‘ in Philipp Von Hutten, Eberhard Schmitt & Friedrich Karl Von Hutten, Das Gold der Neuen Welt: die papiere des Welser-Konquistadors und Generalkapitans von Venezuela, Philipp von Hutten 1534-1541 (Hildburghausen, 1996) p. 94

[xiii] In Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 191

[xiv] Friede, Los Welser en la Conquista, pp. 501-3

[xv] Friede, Los Welser en la Conquista, p. 502

[xvi] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  p. 197

[xvii] ‘Que Salgan todos los intrusos de Venezuela’ [19/7/1534] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 1, pp. 141-2

[xviii] In Denzer, Die Konquista der Augsburger Welser-Gesellschaft, p.183

[xix] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 710

[xx] ‘Que las deudas de los difuntos a los Welser se paguen de sus bienes’ in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 2, p. 106

[xxi] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 711

[xxii] Indeed, Columbus’ own comments that “gold is generated in sterile lands and whenever the sun is strong” provided a great incentive for conquistadores to pursue wealth in the interior. Nicholas Wey Gomez, The Tropics of Empire: why Columbus sailed south to the Indies (Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2008) p. 40

[xxiii] Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, Historia General y Natural de las Indias, 1535-1541, 3 vols (Madrid, 1959), vol. 3, p. 56

[xxiv] José de Oviedo y Baños, The Conquest and Settlement of Venezuela, trans. J.J. Varner (Berkeley; Los Angeles; London, 1987) p. 18

[xxv] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 202-5

[xxvi] Oviedo y Valdés, Historia, vol. 3, p. 20

[xxvii] Konrad Haebler estimates the figure at 30,996 pesos, although accurate data is wanting. Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  p. 210

[xxviii] All colonies within the jurisdiction of the Spanish Crown were ordered to pay a fifth of all wealth obtained to the royal treasury

[xxix] Juan Friede, ‘Geographical Ideas and the Conquest of Venezuela’, The Americas, Volume 16(2) (1959) pp. 148-9

[xxx] Nikolaus Federmann, Indianische Historia (Munich, 1965) p. 43

[xxxi] ‘Recomendación de Jorge Hohermuth a la audiencia real de Santo Domingo’ [13/11/1534] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 1, pp. 171-2

[xxxii] John Hemming, The Search for El Dorado (London, 1978) p. 55

[xxxiii] ‘Newe Zeytung’ in Von Hutten, Schmitt & Von Hutten, Das Gold der Neuen Welt, pp. 67-9

[xxxiv] Bogota was one of the power centres of the Chibcha nation, who hoarded substantial amounts of gold.

[xxxv] Oviedo y Valdés, Historia, vol. 3, pp. 37-45

[xxxvi] Adolph Francis Alphonse Bandelier, The Gilded Man (El Dorado) and other pictures of the Spanish occupancy of America (New York, 1893) p. 53

[xxxvii] ‘Philipp von Hutten an seinen Vater Bernhard von Hutten zu Birkenfeld: Brief aus Coro vom 20 Oktober 1538’ in Von Hutten, Schmitt & Von Hutten, Das Gold der Neuen Welt, p. 121

[xxxviii] David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia: a nation in spite of itself (Berkeley; London, 1993) p. 10

[xxxix] Bushnell, Making of Modern Colombia, pp. 10-11

[xl] ‘Concierto hecho entre el licenciado Jiménez de Quesada y Nicolás Federman’ [17/3/1539] in Juan Friede (ed.), Documentos Inéditos para la Historia de Colombia (1509-1550) 10 vols (Bogotá, 1955-1960), vol. 5, pp. 121-3

[xli] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 708

[xlii] Denzer, Die Konquista der Augsburger Welser-Gesellschaft, p. 181

[xliii] ‘Philipp von Hutten an seinen Bruder Moritz von Hutten: Brief aus Coro vom 6 Dezember 1540’ in Von Hutten, Schmitt & Von Hutten Das Gold der Neuen Welt, p. 137

[xliv] Denzer, Die Konquista der Augsburger Welser-Gesellschaft, pp. 169-71

[xlv] Hemming, El Dorado, p. 148

[xlvi] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 332-8

[xlvii] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, pp. 730-1

[xlviii] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 286-7

[xlix] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, pp. 702-3

[l] Aldemaro Romero et al. ‘Cubagua’s Pearl-Oyster Beds: The First Depletion of a Natural Resource Caused by Europeans in the American Continent’, Journal of Political Ecology, Volume 6 (1999) p. 64

[li] ‘Licencia a los Welser para tratar con metales, yerbas y toda clase de droguería’ [04/04/1531] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 1, pp. 74-6

[lii] ‘Fragmento de una consulta del Consejo al Rey’ in Friede (ed.), Documentos Inéditos, vol. 5, p. 261

[liii] ‘Real cedula al gobernador o su teniente de la provincia de Venezuela sobre la edificación de dos fortalezas’ in Friede (ed.), Documentos Inéditos, vol. 6, pp. 54-5

[liv] Denzer, Die Konquista der Augsburger Welser-Gesellschaft, p. 182

[lv] ‘Fragmentos del pleito por la jurisdicción del Cabo de la Vela’ [16/3/1543] in Friede (ed.), Documentos Inéditos, vol. 6, pp. 323-4

[lvi] A number of German merchants are known to have engaged in the European pearl market, acting as middle-men for wholesalers from the Spanish Indies. Indeed, the Welser’s fellow Augsburg bankers, the Fuggers, were to exploit this opportunity throughout the 1540s and ‘50s. Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 719

[lvii] ‘Merced a los Welser del diezmo por el oro de minas por 5 anos’ [10/5/1531] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 1, pp. 90-1

[lviii] Helmut Waszkis, Mining in the Americas: Stories and History (Cambridge, 1993) p. 56

[lix] Christine R. Johnson, The German Discovery of the World: renaissance encounters with the strange and marvelous (Charlottesville, 2008)  p. 93

[lx] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  p. 162

[lxi] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 697

[lxii] ‘The Society’ in Richard A. Haggerty (ed.), Venezuela, a Country Study (Washington, 1990) (Online: Accessed 11/04/2011)

[lxiii] The historic mining potential of both Venezuela and Colombia is well examined by Waszkis, Mining in the Americas, pp. 53-71

[lxiv] James Lockhart & Stuart B. Schwartz, Early Latin America: a history of colonial Spanish America and Brazil (Cambridge, 1983) p. 178

[lxv] Denzer, Die Konquista der Augsburger Welser-Gesellschaft, pp. 145-6

[lxvi] D.A. Brading & Harry E. Cross, ‘Colonial Silver Mining: Mexico and Peru’, The Hispanic American Historical Review, Volume 52(4) (1972) p. 546

[lxvii] Nigel Groom, The New Perfume Handbook Second Edition (Bury St. Edmunds, 1997) p. 28

[lxviii] ‘Que la real audiencia de Santo Domingo y los demás justicias de Indias no procedan contra los Welser por hacer bálsamo’ [8/6/1538] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 2, pp. 77-8

[lxix] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, pp. 707-8

[lxx] Ethel Kullmann Allen, The Leguminosae: a source book of characteristics, uses, and nodulation (Madison; London, 1981) p. 453

[lxxi] Luis Weckmann, The Medieval Heritage of Mexico (Volume 1) (New York, 1992) p. 353

[lxxii] Lyle N. McAlister, Spain and Portugal in the New World, 1492-1700 (Minneapolis, 1984) p. 157

[lxxiii] Friede, Los Welser en la Conquista, p. 528

[lxxiv] Friede, Los Welser en la Conquista, p. 528

[lxxv] ‘Que el gobernador de Venezuela reparta los indios de la provincia’ [11/12/1534] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 1, pp. 194-5

[lxxvi] ‘Que el doctor Navarro deshaga todo lo que haya dispuesto en Venezuela’ [26/2/1538] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 2, pp. 63-4

[lxxvii] J.S. Otto & N.E. Anderson, ‘Cattle Ranching in the Venezuelan Llanos and the Florida Flatwoods: a Problem in Comparative History’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Volume 28(4) (1986) p. 672.  Edwin Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America (London, 2009) p. 124

[lxxviii] See Below

[lxxix] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 713

[lxxx] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 203-4

[lxxxi] “Newe Zeytung” in P. Von Hutten, E. Schmitt & F.K. Von Hutten, op. cit., pp. 78-9

[lxxxii] See: ‘Concierto hecho entre el licenciado Jiménez de Quesada y Nicolás Federman’ [17/3/1539] in Friede (ed.), Documentos Inéditos, vol. 5, pp. 122-3

[lxxxiii] Denzer, Die Konquista der Augsburger Welser-Gesellschaft, pp. 145-6

[lxxxiv] Oviedo y Baños, The Conquest, pp. 69-83

[lxxxv] James Mahoney, Colonialism and Postcolonial Development: Spanish America in comparative perspective (New York, 2010) p. 89

[lxxxvi] Oviedo y Baños, The Conquest,  pp. 16-19

[lxxxvii] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 198

[lxxxviii] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 212-3

[lxxxix] ‘Respuesta a una carta de Rodrigo de Bastidas’ [8/11/1539] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 2, pp. 114-5

[xc] Friede, Los Welser en la Conquista, p. 545

[xci] ‘Philipp Von Hutten an den Matthias Zimmermann‘ in Von Hutten, Schmitt & Von Hutten, Das Gold der Neuen Welt, pp. 95-7

[xcii] ‘Philipp von Hutten an Bernhard von Hutten’ in Von Hutten, Schmitt & Von Hutten, Das Gold der Neuen Welt, p. 121

[xciii] In Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, p. 198

[xciv] ‘Que el doctor Navarro deshaga todo lo que haya dispuesto en Venezuela’ [26/2/1538] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 2, pp. 63-4

[xcv] ‘Respuesta a una carta de Juan Pérez de Tolosa’ [27/11/1545] in Moll & Otte (eds.), Cedularios, vol. 2,  p. 159

[xcvi] Johnson, German Discovery of the World, p. 99

[xcvii] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 252-3

[xcviii] Moron, History of Venezuela, p. 39

[xcix] Simmer, Gold und Sklaven, pp. 730-1

[c] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 389-90

[ci] Haebler, überseeischen Unternehmungen der Welser,  pp. 349-66

Author: Stefan Lang

An interested observer of current affairs, researcher and writer

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