Valdivia sailed therefore with Pastene for Peru, taking with him a great quantity of gold, and left Francisco Villagran in charge of the government of Chili during his absence. Valdivia accordingly arrived in Peru, where he offered his services to the president De la Gasca, and acted with great reputation as quarter-master-general of his army in the war against Gonzalo Pizarro. The president was so much satisfied with the services which were rendered by Valdivia on this occasion, that, after the insurrection of Gonzalo was entirely subdued, he confirmed him in the office of governor of Chili, and sent him back to that kingdom with abundance of military stores, and with two ships filled with the soldiers who had served under Gonzalo in the late insurrection, glad of an opportunity of getting rid of so many seditious people for whom there was then no fit employment in Peru.
During the absence of Valdivia from Chili, Pedro de Hoz, who had been deprived of that share in the conquest and government which had been granted him by the court of Spain, and who had imprudently put himself under the power of his more successful rival, was accused of entering into secret practices for usurping the government. It is now unknown whether this accusation was well-founded, or if it were merely a pretence for getting rid of him; but, however this may have been, Villagran condemned him to be beheaded in 1548, either to please Valdivia by ridding him of a dangerous competitor, or perhaps in consequence of secret instructions for that purpose. About this time, the Copaipans killed forty Spaniards, who were proceeding in several separate detachments from Peru to Chili; and the Coquimbans, at the instigation of these northern neighbours, massacred all the inhabitants of the new city of Serena, and razed that place to the foundations. On this occasion Francisco Aguirre was sent into this part of Chili with a military force, to chastise the natives, and had several encounters with them with various success. In 1549, he rebuilt the city of Serena in a more commodious situation, and the inhabitants have ever since considered him as the founder of their city, many of the most distinguished inhabitants of which still boast of being his descendants.
After an incessant contest of nine years, attended by incredible fatigues, numerous dangers, and many reverses, Valdivia considered himself as solidly established in the dominion of that portion of Chili which had formerly been under the authority of the Incas. He accordingly distributed the territory among his followers in repartimientos, assigning a considerable portion of land with all its native inhabitants to each of his followers in proportion to their rank and services, under the denomination of commanderies, according to the baneful system of feudalism then prevalent in Europe. Having thus quieted the restless ambition and mutinous spirit of his soldiers, he advanced towards the south to extend his conquests, accompanied