Lope de Aguirre was a Spanish Basque conquistador in
Wonderful news of the treasures of
Aguirre joined a team of 250 men selected by Rodrigo Buran, and they arrived in
The conquistadors did not like these laws, particularly because they barred them from taking advantage of the Indians. In 1551 the judge Francisco de Esquivel arrested Aguirre and charged him with violation of the laws for the protection of the Indians. The judge discounted Aguirre’s reasons and his claims of gentry and sentenced him to a public whipping.
Aguirre was so enraged with the punishment he publicly vowed to take revenge upon the judge. The judge fled after his mandate ended, changing his residence constantly. Aguirre pursued him on foot to
He took part in the civil wars among the Spanish conquistadors in
Their initial mission was to reach the Atlantic through the Amazon delta, yet Aguirre changed the mission to return as a rebellious group into
During the journey Aguirre relinquished allegiance to the king and sought to return to
Aguirre, the Wrath of God is an independent 1972 German film written and directed by Werner Herzog about Aguirre. The story follows Aguirre’s travels as he leads a group of conquistadors down the Amazon River in search of the legendary city of gold,
Noted film critic Roger Ebert describes the film as “one of the great haunting visions of the cinema.” The haunting, ecclesiastical music sets its tone. Herzog doesn’t rush the conquistadors’ voyage, or fill it with artificial episodes of suspense and action. Ebert compares the film to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Apocalypse Now, and describes Herzog as “the most visionary [of modern filmmakers] and the most obsessed with great themes.”
Lead Klaus Kinski was “made to play villains,” says Time Magazine. In this film, he depicts Aguirre’s madness as he tries to tame the wilds of
The film follows the same journey that Aguirre takes, quiet at first, and pleasantly mysterious. The jungle grows increasingly hostile as the film progresses. We learn from a local Indian that this wilderness goes on forever. He cautions Aguirre, “God, in his anger, never finished this place.” This comes long after the opening narration informs us that El Dorado is and always has been a ruse invented by the Indians to drive Europeans, who the Indians now know are clearly not gods, deeper and deeper into the wilderness.
In 1561, at the end of his failed mission along the Amazon, Aguirre wrote a letter to King Philip II, which rejected the discovery and invention of
The letter begins, “From Lope de Aguirre, your lesser vassal, old Christian, of middling parents but fortunately of noble blood, native of the Basque country of the kingdom of Spain, citizen of the town of Onate,” and continues, “I demand of you, King, that you do justice and right by the good vassals you have in this land, even though I and my companions (whose names I will give later), unable to suffer further the cruelties of your judges, viceroy, and governors, have resolved to obey you no longer.
“I am certain there are few kings in hell because there are few kings, but if there were many none would go to heaven. Even in hell you would be worse than Lucifer, because you all thirst after human blood. But I don't marvel nor make much of you. For certain, I and my 200 harquebus-bearing maranones, conquistadors and noble, swear solemnly to God that we will not leave a minister of yours alive, because I already know how far your clemency reaches.”
Aguirre seized Isla Margarita in 1561 and cruelly suppressed any resistance to his reign. His open mutiny against the Spanish crown came to an end when he crossed to the mainland in an attempt to take
Aguirre was eventually captured and shot, and his body was cut in quarters and sent to various cities across