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By jrefugioghermosillo - Posted on 12 January 2019

Several of us descend from Alonso de Estrada, royal treasurer and colonial governor of Nueva España, during the time of Cortés. Legend has him as the bastard son of Rey Fernando II el Catolico and a Luisa de Estrada, daughter of an ambassador. This is refuted by the 1585 limpieza de sangre of his great-grandson, Gobernador Jorge de Alvarado y Villafañe, which names Alonso de Estrada’s parents as Juan Fernandez Hidalgo, of Ciudad Real, and his first wife - whose name none of the witnesses could remember, only that his 2nd wife was surnamed Oliver. It did name his paternal grandparents as Diego Fernandez Hidalgo and Maria Gonzalez de Estrada. That document can be found at the PARES website, and it is digitized in its entirety, if you want to read it, though it is long and a hard read. It is the only historical document that I know of that names the father of Alonso de Estrada. Until now…and believe me, this one is a MUCH easier read!

I was grazing through the Mexican Inquisition archives, and I randomly came upon this. It’s the limpieza and proof of nobility of Licenciado Alvaro Gomez de Abaunza y Castro, oidor de la Audiencia de Guatemala, and later alcalde de crimen de la Audiencia de Mexico, and of his wife, Doña Isabel Costilla de Saavedra. It appears to be dated 11 Dec 1608. While glancing through their lines, I noticed that she was great-great granddaughter of Alonso de Estrada and Doña Marina Flores de la Caballeria, and to my amazement, it names their parents! I jumped out of my chair!

According to her prueba de nobleza, Alonso de Estrada’s father was Juan Fernandez de Estrada, corresponding with the 1585 Jorge Alvarado limpieza, but it names his mother as Luisa de Oliver. She might be the N. de Oliver mentioned in the 1585 limpieza, making her Fernandez’s second wife, and therefore step-mother of Alonso de Estrada - unless his father married sisters, which is totally possible.

Either way, while the identity of his mother might still be in doubt, we now have a second document confirming that Alonso de Estrada was son of Juan Fernandez de Estrada, aka Juan Fernandez Hidalgo, who, according to the entry for Marina de Estrada (img249L), was:

“hijo segundo de la Casa de Estrada que bino de asturias a ciudad real, donde fue casado con doña luisa de oliver vezina de la dicha ciudad y fundo el mayorazgo de la Villa de Picon y de otras haciendas suyas…”

“the second son of the House of Estrada, who came from Asturias to Ciudad Real, where he married doña Luisa de Oliver, native of said city, and who founded the mayorazgo of the Villa de Picon, and of other haciendas in his possession…”

So, it’s looking more and more like there was no royal bastard birth for our infamous ancestor, Alonso de Estrada, and that it was just a legend, that probably grew from a popular joke, regarding his rapid ascent to power. I loved the idea of descending from a bastard son of the Catholic King - I love the irony, and I was thrilled when I first read about it, but these pieces of the puzzle keep popping up and bursting that bubble!

All the same, Alonso de Estrada’s life story is just as compelling, and even more impressive, if he did it without being of royal blood. It shows how a man can go from being a low-head-on-the-totem-pole holder of a señorio in Ciudad Real, to being governor of and one of the most powerful figures in one of the Crown’s newest acquisitions.

This prueba also gives a genealogy of his wife, Doña Marina Flores de la Caballeria, naming her parents and paternal grandparents, though it mistakenly names her grandfather as Alonso Gutierrez de la Caballeria, when it was his brother, Comendador Gonzalo Gutierrez: her grandmother, Doña Catalina de Luna, married brothers, sons of Men Gutierrez de la Caballeria cc Catalina de la Cabra. It does mention that Doña Catalina de Luna was niece of Alvaro de Luna, Condestable de Castilla, which is super cool, and shows how connected these Sefardi families were to the centers of power. By the way, there is no mention of Doña Marina being descended from Conversos, which is discussed in depth in the 1585 limpieza. I guess too many generations had passed.

I recommend reading this limpieza y prueba. The script is highly legible, and it’s laid out in columns, by relationships and by generations, with biographies of each ancestor. It’s like an encyclopedia: Alvaro Gomez de Abaunza and Isabel Costilla had some illustrious ancestors, back in Spain, and in Colonial Mexico and Guatemala - primeros conquistadores y pobladores, some really good stuff, and I’m sure some of you will make some connections.
Manny Diez Hermosillo

The biggest scandal in the Estrada family was not Alonso Estrada and Catalina Gutierrez Cavalleria ‘s descendants’ inquisition trials, nor was it Luisa having a child out of wedlock with King Ferdinand of Aragon. The biggest Estrada family scandal happened in the late. 1500’s and early 1600’s. The misdeeds were committed by a great grandson of Juan Fernandez Estrada’s brother. This Estrada family member wrote about his scandalous behavior, letting the world know about his misdeeds. He wrote he killed his bethrowed and a friend in a jealous tantrum when he found them together in a room. His fiancé was also the daughter of his cousin. He then escaped justice when a nun fell in love with him and helped him escape from his cell. He then traveled the old world, as a soldier for hire. He eventually settled down, became a monk and wrote his memoirs.

His books are supposed to be autobiographies, and most of what he has written is true but there is a little exaggeration because some of what he claims he did was done by his father. He has merged his and his father’s lives. His father helped him write the autobiographies. He was never an orphan. His father and mother were uncle and niece

Rick A. Ricci
Source Mygenes2000

Juan Fernandez Estrada, Alonso Estrada’s maternal grandfather and his brother were both ambassadors for King Ferdinand of Aragon. Many historians and genealogists have confused the two, or merged them into one person. But they are definitely two people. Juan Fernandez Estrada was the ambassador to the Vatican. Juan was sent to the Vatican immediately after the expulsion of the moors from Granada.

Both of the brothers had a lot of power as they both had King Ferdinand’s ear. Juan’s brother exercised a lot power in his assignments, and his descendants continued working for the future kings of Spain exercising much influence.

Rick A. Ricci
Source Mygenes2000


Awesome! I am looking forward to see how you connected the dots, since nobody else has bothered to do so! I’ll be buying a copy of MyGenes, so I can wait.

The book you’re looking to move, is that the Revista de Indias you’re talking about, with the Castro y Tosi article, based on the 1585 Jorge Alvarado limpieza?

Manny Diez Hermosillo


During Alonso Estrada’s lifetime, it was common knowledge that he was the illegitimate son of King Ferdinand and Luisa Estrada, the daughter of an ambassador and his first wife. Alonso Estrada would often boast of being his son. In early history books Alonso de Estrada was identified as an illegitimate son of Rey don Fernando II, El Católico, of Aragón. This is mentioned by the early historiagrapher of Nueva España, Bernal Díaz del Castillo. Alonso Estrada was accustomed to a life in the court of King Ferdinand so when he arrived in Nueva España he had his 12 household servants/slaves with him.

Alonso Estrada was raised in the kings court and enjoyed priveliges that a legitimate younger son would have received. It was only because he was illegitimate that he didn’t receive even more privileges. Alonso’s mother was also known during his lifetime. The issue has been that historians and genealogists have made mistakes in identifying her father as some identify her father’s brother as her father, while others have identified her paternal grandfather as her father. Some historians and genealogists have even made the mistake of merging her father and his brother into one person. The dispensa that you found is very important as Juan Fernandez Estrada is identified as ““hijo segundo de la Casa de Estrada que bino de asturias a ciudad real.” This is very important information as there were two brothers from the Casa De Estrada that went from Asturias to Ciudad Real that were ambassadors. Juan Fernandez Estrada is identified from this dispensa as the brother that Alfonso Estrada descends from, only that he wasn’t his father like the dispensa says, he was his maternal grandfather. Some other genealogists have made the mistake of stating that Luisa is Juan Fernandez Estrada’s sister, but those same genealogists have made the additional mistake of merging the two brothers into one person. Y

The first dispensa has many errors in it as it is based on testimony of an individual who can’t recall his mothers name and doesn’t even provide accurate information on the Estrada line. The second dispensa, that one you found and address here in thiis thread, is more important in the search for the truth because, despite its errors, leads us to which of the two ambassador brothers Alonso Estrada descends from. This second dispensa also accurately describes that he is the one of two Estrada brothers that comes from Asturias to Ciudad Real. This fact is important because it confirms my information that the brothers were not one person. I have the information on their parents and their wives which I will leave for the book as that information would add many pages to this post. Many pages because if I post it then I would have to go into how they are related to the Villaseñor, the Reynoso and other families

Alonso Estrada named one of his daughters after his mother. During those times, if you named your daughter after your mother, she would also use her surname. In this case it was the same surname as his since Alonso Estrada also had his mom’s surname.

Alonso and Alfonso were interchangeable names. These names were common in the royal families in Castilla, Leon and Aragon. King Ferdinand also sired an another illegitimate son with the same first name of Alfonso. This Alfonso was known as Alfonso De Aragon and he became an archbishop of Zaragoza. This Alfonso De Aragon was also raised in the royal court and received privileges, just as Alonso Estrada did. I believe that Alfonso d’ Aragon was born first, but I have not confirmed this. What is known is that both of these illegitimate sons were born in Ferdinand’s youth when he was still a teenager. Both of these sons of Ferdinand received privileges from Ferdinand’s immediate family, cousins and uncles, so they moved up quickly in politics and assumed powerful positions at an early age.

Rick A. Ricci
Source: mygenes2000

Rags to riches stories involve skill, talent, work, or luck. Usually it will involve all of them. Alonso Estrada was a violent, aggressive man. He became treasurer because his nephew, Charles V, appointed him. Charles V took care to set up both of his illegitimate uncles, Alonso Estrada and Alfonso d’Aragon.

Alonso Estrada was born to privilege and acted like it. I don’t know of any non royal family member arriving with 12 of their own household slaves during this age. He was not a capable administrator and did not make it to the level that he did on his own merits. If he had been a son of Juan Fernandez Estrada then he would had to work a little harder on his personal and diplomatic skills. His maternal grandfather, Juan Fernandez Estrada, was a very talented man, with top diplomatic skills. His maternal grandfather’s brother also had excellent diplomatic skills as he too was an ambassador. The brothers were negotiators, deal makers.

If Alonso was not King Ferdinand’s son than why would they pay him almost twice what they paid Cortez when Alonso was just a treasurer.

Alonso Estrada was not very good at managing money even though he was a treasurer and eventually lost most of his money.

When my mother told me that we were related to Santo Toribio she said that he was my grandfather’s second cousin. My research shows him to be a third cousin. My mother often claims someone is more closely related than they are. When my mother claimed that both of my grandfather’s were closely related through through their Franco lines because both of them had mothers from the same Franco family, she was mistaken. Yes, they both had mothers that had the surname Franco, but the Francos were two branches that were not closely related. My dad and maternal grandmother were third cousins, but my mother had not known of that relationship. My mom mistakenly claimed that my first cousin Yvonne married her second cousin. It was not true, but they are third cousins. It is only through solid research that I have been able to find the exact relationships. When they did the genealogical investigation of Alonso Estrada for the first dispensation they asked someone like my mother who claimed a closer relationship than she actually had with Alonso Estrada. The person that she stated was Alonso Estrada’s father is not a close biological relative of Alonso Estrada. The person mentioned as Alonso’s father in the second dispensation has different parents than the parents mentioned in the first dispensation. There is no way that the paternal ancestry discussed in the two dispensations line up. The second dispensation does identify the correct Estrada family, but I repeat what I wrote earlier in this blog, Juan Fernandez Estrada is his maternal grandfather, and his first wife is well known and came from a family that was closely related to King Ferdinand II “el Catolico” and to the Villaseñor family that immigrates to Nueva Galicia. We know that the second dispensation does identify the correct Estrada line because it identifies juan Fernandez Estrada as the second son of the two brothers that moved from Asturias to Ciudad Real. The two brothers were both diplomats who became ambassadors for King Ferdinand II. Some genealogists have mistakenly claimed that juan’s brother, or their father is Alonso Estrada’s father. Or they mistakenly merge the brothers into one person. They also have mistakes as to the origin of this line of Estradas.

Rick A. Ricci
Source: mygenes2000

I completely agree with you from the research that I have found Estrada threatens Cortez with "I am the son of the king" you will obey. Cortez backed down according to the text, Cortez backed down to no one. In fact Cortez got away with murdering his aristocrat wife with Royal connections and witnesses. A man of lower nobility placed ABOVE Cortez to oversee him would have soon met his end. Cortez hated the aristocracy that came from Spain to oversee him as it was harder to remove them by force.

This did not happen in the case of Estrada, despite Cortez's distinct hatred of the man and Estrada's constant threats to Cortez. Also there is a document in Spanish records papers which refer to Estrada as being the "Kings little sin" which was mentioned in a Tomo. I wonder if you have had a chance to review that one?

I am in the process of seeing if I can get my hands on it.

These inquest records supported by some researchers are in constant dispute.

Ricci has shared great examples of why. This is what we know from the inquest records we have someone trying to prove their purity of blood of neither Moor nor Jew.

In doing this he would have to prove he wasn't from Jewish descent decades upon decades later. There is no one alive from this time who really knew his relatives. Tall order. Here is something else he would have to prove; he had to prove he had a credible witness which even the inquest was not satisfied he had done.

The witness according to the entries was cited repeatedly by the inquisition that she was very old, blind, and could not remember but thought her relatives told her that the mother was was a so and so, perhaps Oliver. The witness upon inquiry continues to repeat she really didn't know she couldn't remember.

When asked if there was Jewish blood she again resorts to I don't know, I don't remember , I couldn't say. We have to remember this witness is working on behalf of a person trying to prove his purity of blood however LYING to the inquest would have been disastrous for her. Hiding Jews could be punishable.

This inquest record is weak at best, to prove his true line of descent. However from the records we can gather that even the witness could not even remember the names. There could also been some deception involved on the petitioners part in getting her to speak on his behalf. Surely he discussed it with her? Surely he knew she was blind and had memory loss. Surely she told him she did not remember and could not recall the names before he decided to request her as a witness? ;)

Perhaps the vague underpinnings of her testimony as unreliable as they were was better for him as his Jewish heritage could be neither confirmed or disputed. Instead his admittance would have to rely on his community standing and those who knew the petitioner well as being a pious Christian.

If so, getting her to testify was a stroke of genius.

My opinion is to disregard the inquest as proof. I would go over ALL stories and personal accounts of Don Alonso de Estrada that you can find. Go over all documents written about him and his relatives (Some are not scanned yet). Develop a personality profile of the man compare it to his rivals. This will help you build a larger picture of the society in which he lived, his motivations and how people interacted with Alonso.

I too do not believe in the "rags to riches" mythos. It would be near impossible that lower nobility could have risen to his ranks given the economic caste system even within the aristocracy. It would be equally shocking that Cortez would not have tried to kill him.

Cortez did not have a problem killing lesser nobles he killed his own wife! It rocked the New World. His wife was a high standing aristocrat with high ranking noble parents. There were even witnesses that immediately came that attested that he was in the room with her when she was screaming and her necklace was ripped from her neck when they found her dead. Cortez thought nothing of doing this to a high ranking lesser noble and got away with it in court.

The fact Alonso was appointed to oversee Cortez says a tremendous amount about how the court/ King viewed Cortez. They needed to keep him in line and Alonso was the way to make sure he did stay in line. In turn Cortez loathed and despised Alonso. In fact Cortez got so out of line Alonso threatened him and said "I am the son of the King!" you will obey. Cortez known for going after rivals noble or not, backed down.

Let that sink in. :D

This is why it is important to read as much as you can and create a profile of each individual taking full account of mores of the day. This in turn I believe creates a bigger picture and a better understanding of what is really going on in the records.

I hope this helps

Dear Ana,

I appreciate your comments and support. Though I am already convinced that Alonso Estrada is the son of King Ferdinand and Luisa Estrada, it is important to continue adding information as the more puzzle pieces we add, the clearer the picture.

I am very interested in obtaining the document in Spanish records papers which refers to Alonso Estrada as being the "Kings little sin" and any other information on this subject.

I don’t descend from Alonso Estrada, but I do descend from the Gutierrez De Cavalleria.

Thank you,
Rick A. Ricci

Hi Ana

I too am interested in seeing the source for "the king's little sin" and also for the quote "I am the son of the king". I think you make an intersting argument in your post - the broader perpective of Estrada's relationship with Cortez.

For anyone else who might be interested, Hugh Thomas - in his book Conquest - has a lot of information on the murder of Cortez's first wife, some in text and some in footnotes. There is info on Alonso de Estrada in it as well, and also in one of Thomas' other books "The Golden Empire". (Ana, maybe your quote come from Thomas? My books are at home and I am out of town, so I can't check.)


About six months ago I worked on the genealogy of my oldest sister’s mother-in-law. I had previously worked on my sister’s father-in-law’s family tree many many years ago, but had not worked on her mother-n-law’s family. I was surprised to discover many interesting stories on her mother-in law’s relatives as they were also deeply involved in Mexican Politics. It turns out that this research now connects to my research on Alonso Estrada. Today I discovered that an illegitimate son of King Ferdinand II of Aragon is an ancestor of Enrique, who is a second cousin of my brother-in-law. The two families merged together into the same picture.

I immediately thought that if we were to compare the dna from Enrique to Manny Hermosillo, who is a descendant of Alonso Estrada, then we could finally prove with dna that Alonso Estrada was king Ferdinand II’s illegitimate son. I even sent an email to Enrique asking him to provide his dna so that we could compare it to a descendant of Alonso Estrada. The problem is that after sending the email, it hit me that the dna comparison is going to be complicated because Luisa Estrada’s mother, who is repeatedly related to King Ferdinand II, is also related to the wife of the other illegitimate son of King Ferdinand II as they all descend from King Alfonso XI De Castilla

If Enrique and Manny both provide the dna results, then it would still be interesting to compare dna samples as they would both be related through the wives of the two illegitimate sons of King Ferdinand II. But because of this connection, it would not prove descent from King Ferdinand II. I presently believe that in order to prove the relationship of Alonso Estrada to king Ferdinand, we need to also compare a line that descends from another descendant of King Ferdinand II that is not so closely related to Luisa Estrada’s mother.

Rick A. Ricci

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