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Don Lope de Aguirre

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I am the great traitor. There must be no other. Anyone who even thinks of deserting this mission will be cut up into 198 pieces. Those pieces will be stamped on until what is left can be used only to paint walls. Whoever takes one grain of corn or one drop of water...more than his ration, will be locked up for 155 years. If I, Aguirre, want the birds to drop dead from the trees...then the birds will drop dead from the trees. I am the Wrath of God. The earth I pass will see me and tremble. But whoever follows me and the river will win untold riches. But whoever deserts...
~ Aguirre, outlining his leadership agenda

Don Lope de Aguirre is the main antagonist of Aguirre: The Wrath of God. A Spanish conquistador who is part of an expedition to find the mythical golden city of El Dorado, Aguirre leads a mutiny and slowly begins to descend into madness.

Aguirre first appears as a member of a Spanish expedition lead by Gonzalo Pizarro, trekking into the jungles of Peru. The expedition begins to get bogged down, so Pizarro sends Don Pedro de Ursua to lead an advance party to scout ahead for El Dorado, with Aguirre as second in command. Aguirre first begins to show his ruthless nature when, while rafting down a river, one of the advance party's rafts is caught in a whirlpool and trapped up against a cliff-face. Ursua leads a rescue team to assist the trapped men, but when they get there, all the men have been killed, presumably by hostile natives. Rather than let Ursua waste time in giving the men a proper burial, Aguirre orders a cannon to be fired on the raft, sinking it.

After a flash flood sweeps the remaining rafts away in the middle of the night, Ursua considers turning back. However, Aguirre betrays him and leads a mutiny in which Ursua and one of his supporters are shot. Ursua survives, but Aguirre has already cemented control of the expedition, installing the lazy nobleman Don Fernando de Guzman as his puppet leader, proclaiming him emperor of El Dorado. A mock trial is held for Ursua, and he is sentenced to death. However, Guzman commutes his sentence, much to Aguirre's shock.

Building a larger raft and continuing down the river, lack of supplies and native attacks begin to wear down morale. Guzman begins to hoard rations for himself, and throws the expedition's only horse overboard because it annoys him with its constant panicking. Not long after, Guzman is strangled to death. With Guzman out of the way, Aguirre takes command and has Ursua hung.

As men begin to talk about leaving, Aguirre has them killed, beginning to call himself the "Wrath of God" and believing that he has unlimited power. As the remainder of Aguirre's men begin to hallucinate from starvation and disease, a final native attack kills everyone but Aguirre, including his own daughter. Now alone except for a swarm of monkeys which has infested the raft, Aguirre begins to rant madly to them about his power and dreams for his "empire". He is never seen again.

Note

Don Lope de Aguirre did really exist, and really mutinied against an expedition to find El Dorado in 1560. Unlike the film version, the real Aguirre and his men survived long enough to attempt to invade and conquer Spanish colonies in Venezuela. The authorities offered the men a pardon in exchange for surrender, which they agreed to, except for Aguirre. After murdering his daughter, he was arrested and executed.

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