Background and Life in Europe
Vasco de Quiroga was born into a noble family in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Castile. His family was of Galician origin. His brother Álvaro became the father of Gaspar de Quiroga y Vela, later Cardenal of Toledo. Traditionally his birth year has been given as 1470, because of a tradition that he was 95 at his year of death. Recent biographers prefer the later date around 1478, because of evidence from Quiroga's own hand that he was 60 in 1538.
De Quiroga studied law and later theology. He studied canon law, probably in Valladolid. He worked as a letrado - a royal jurist in southern Spain and as a judge in Oran in Algeria from ca. 1520 - 1526. In North Africa he oversaw cases of corruption and disputes between the locals and the Spanish conquistadors. Returning from Africa he stayed a while with the royal court, where documents have him in 1528. He certainly had powerful connections such as a friendship with Juan Bernal Díaz de Luco who was a member of the Council of the Indies, and with the Cardinal of Toledo Juan Tavera. This was probably the reason that he was offered a position as oídor (judge) in the second Audiencia of New Spain when the Council of Indies had to dismiss the first in 1530. The president of this second Audiencia was Bishop Sebastián Ramírez de Fuenleal, and the other members were Quiroga, Juan de Salmerón, Alonso de Maldonado and Francisco Ceinos. They began governing in Mexico City in 1531.
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