Important Historical Figure Pedro Vicente Maldonado

Pedro Vicente Maldonado was born in the city of Riobamba on 24 November 1704, and was the son of parents who were both in high social standing, as well as being quite affluent. Don Pedro Antonio Maldonado Sotomayor and Dona Maria Flores Palomino were able to give their son a very good education, which led to Maldonado becoming a respected and legendary mathematician, astronomer, topographer and physicist. In his life he contributed greatly to the world around him and is still remembered in Ecuador as one of the leading minds of his time.

Maldonado’s primary education was completed in his birth city of Riobamba, but he was sent to Quito in 1718 to continue his education at the Colegio San Luis. Here the Jesuits taught Pedro Vicente Maldonado a variety of subjects that assisted him in later life, including music, Latin, arithmetic, astronomy and geometry. The year 1721 was a year of achievement for Maldonado, as he was awarded his degree to teach by the Gregorian University, after which he returned to Riobamba to take up a teaching position at a Jesuit School.

His curiosity about nature and its landscapes drove him to undertake numerous journeys between the years 1722 and 1724. It gave him the opportunity to study and do research on various areas of Ecuador and in 1725, Maldonado drew his very first map. After his expeditions he again returned home, and then made the decision to move to Quito. Here he married the Governor of Popayan’s daughter in 1730, enabling him to be a part of a family that carried great influence and power. He later became the Mayor of Cabildo and earned the title of Lieutenant of the Magistrate. Even though he filled many administrative positions, Maldonado was still passionate about his natural studies and in 1736 he was given an opportunity to collaborate with the Spanish-French Geodesic Mission that was researching the equinoctial line proximately, which led to many close friendships being formed. In 1742 he assumed the position of Governor of Esmeraldas Province. Soon after, Maldonado found himself a widower and returned to Quito, where he got married in 1743 to Dona Maria Ventura Marinez de Arredondo.

Maldonado began to travel through Europe in 1744. While in Spain in 1746 he was bestowed the title of being Gentleman of the Royal Camera by Philip V. The French Academy of Sciences welcomed him when he traveled to Paris, and here he was able to print his map, as some of the geologists who had worked with Maldonado in Quito made this possible. His map became essential for trade routes and transportation projects. He then traveled to the Netherlands and moved on to London in 1748 where he was included in meetings by the Royal Society. He tragically passed away here in the same year, and was interred at the St James Church. Even though he had passed on, his legacy still lives on, and he remains an icon in the scientific world.