"A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies," by Bartolome de Las Casas
Table of Contents
Of the Island of Cuba
Of the Province of Nicaragua
Of New Spain [Mexico]
Of the Kingdom and Province of Guatemala
Of the Kingdom of Yucatan
Of the Province of Santa Marta [Colombia]
Of the Province of Cartagena [Colombia]
Of the Kingdom of Venezuela
Of the Provinces of the Country of Florida
Of the River of Plate, or the Silver River [Rio de la Plata, Argentina/Uruguay]
Of the great Kingdoms, and large Provinces of Peru
Of the New Kingdom of Granada [Colombia]
[Biographical note: Born in Seville, Spain, in 1484, Bartolome de Las Casas
became a loud voice for human rights of America's indigenous population.
He father, a merchant, sailed with Columbus on his second voyage to the
"New World." He first visited the "Indies" at age 18 in 1502, on an expedition
with Nicolas Ovando, governor designate of Hispañola(the island now occupied
by Haiti and the Dominican Republic). In Santo Domingo, Las Casas took
part in military repression of the native uprisings and received an encomienda
(grant of Indian labor and land) as a reward. He worked his charges hard
and became very prosperous. However, in 1506 he gave up his encomienda
and went to Rome where he was ordained a deacon before returning to the
Americas. He returned to the Indies where, in 1512, he became the first
priest ordained in the New World.
He shocked his parishioners on Pentecost Sunday 1514 by sharply criticizing Spanish treatment of the native population. He urged peaceful, not forced military conversion of the Indians to the "true faith." He entered the Dominican order in 1522 and also began lobbying the Spanish King for the reform of colonial policy. He influenced policy changes called the "New Laws" of 1542 by reading the first version of his "Devastation of the Indies" to the royal court. In April 1550 he debated the Spanish apologist Juan Ginés de Sepulveda. Las Casas won the debate but the timid judges refused to make their decision public. He published the "Devastation" in 1552, without seeking required permission from the Inquisition. He worked on behalf of human rights in the New World until his death in July 1566. He is buried in Madrid, Spain.For more on his life, see Bill Donovan's introduction
to a printed version of "Devastation," published by Johns Hopkins University
Las Casas was not the only clerical voice that criticized Spanish imperialists. Note the following excerpt from the Sermon of Friar Antonio de Montesinos, 1511, to the encomenderos of Hispañola .
"In order to make your sins against the Indians known to you I have come up on this pulpit, I who am a voice of Christ crying in the wilderness of this island, and therefore it behooves you to listen, not with careless attention, but with all your heart and senses, so that you may hear it; for this is going to be the strangest voice that ever you heard, the harshest and hardest and most awful and most dangerous that ever you expected to hear.
This voice says that you are in mortal sin, that you live and die in it, for the cruelty and tyranny you use in dealing with these innocent people. Tell me, by what right or justice do you keep this Indians in such a cruel and horrible servitude? On what authority have you waged a detestable war against these people, who dwelt quietly and peacefully on their own land?
Why do you keep them so oppressed and weary, not giving them enough to eat nor taking care of them in their illness? For with the excessive work you demand of them they fall ill and die, or rather you kill them with your desire to extract and acquire gold every day. And what care do you take that they should be instructed in religion? Are these not men? Have they not rational souls? Are you not bound to love them as you love yourselves? Be certain that, in such a state as this, you can no more be saved than the Moors or Turks."
[Beginning of "The Devastation of the Indies, by Las Casas work Oil painting
done in 1876 by Constantino Brumidi. It depicts Las Casas working at his
desk, as an Indian companion watches. They look out a window at the native
peoples whose enslavement he denounced.] ]: "In the year 1492, the West
Indies were discovered, in the following year they were inhabited by the
Spaniards: a great company of the Spaniards going about 49, years ago.
The first place they came to, was Hispaniola, being a most fertile Island,
and for the bigness of it very famous, it being no less then six hundred
miles in compass. Round about it lie an innumerable company of Islands,
To throng'd with Inhabitants, that there is not to be found a greater
multitude of people in any part of the world. The Continent is distant
from this about Two hundred miles, stretching it self out in length upon
the sea fade for above Ten thousand miles in length. This is already found
out, and more is daily discovered. These Countries are inhabited by such
a number of people, as if God had assembled and called together to this
place, the greatest part of Mankind.
This infinite multitude of people was so created by God, as that they were without fraud, without subtlety or malice, to their natural Governors most faithful and obedient. Toward the Spaniards whom they serve, patient, meek and peaceful, and who laying all contentious and tumultuous thoughts aside, live without any hatred or desire of revenge; the people are most delicate and tender, enjoying such a feeble constitution of body as does not permit them to endure labor, so that the Children of Princes and great persons here, are not more nice and delicate then the Children of the meanest Country-man in that place. The Nation is very poor and indigent, possessing little, and by reason that they gape not after temporal goods, neither proud nor ambitious. Their diet is such that the most holy Hermite cannot feed more sparingly in the wilderness. They go naked, only hiding the indecencies of nature, and a poor shag mantle about an ell or two long is their greatest and their warmest covering. They lie upon mats, only those who have larger fortunes, lye upon a kind of net which is tied at the four corners, and so fasten'd to the roof, which the Indians in their natural language call Hamecks. They are of a very apprehensive and docible wit, and capable of all good learning, and very apt to receive our Religion, which when they have but once tasted, they are carried on with a very ardent and zealous desire to make a further progress in it; so that I have heard divers Spaniards confess that they had nothing else to hinder them from enjoying heaven, but their ignorance of the true God.
To these quiet Lambs, endued with such blessed qualities, came the Spaniards like most cruel Tigres, Wolves, and Lions, enrag'd with a sharp and ferocious hunger; for these forty years past, minding nothing else but the slaughter of these unfortunate wretches, whom with divers kinds of torments neither seen nor heard of before, they have so cruelly and inhumanely butchered, that of three millions of people which Hispaniola it self did contain, there are left remaining alive scarce three hundred persons. And for the Island of Cuba, which contains as much ground in length, as from Valladolid to Rome; it lies wholly desert, untill'd and ruin'd. The Islands of St. John and Jamaica lie waste and desolate. The Lucayan Islands neighboring toward the North upon Cuba and Hispaniola, being above Sixty or thereabouts with those Islands that are vulgarly called the Islands of the Giants, of which that which is least fertile is more fruitful then the King of Spain’s Garden at Seville, being situated in a pure land temperate air, are now totally unpeopled and destroyed; the inhabitants thereof amounting to above 500000. souls, partly killed, and partly forced away to work in other places: so that there going a ship to visit those parts and to glean the remainder of those distressed wretches, there could be found no more then eleven men. Other Islands there were near the Island of St. John more then thirty in number, which were totally made desert. All which Islands, though they amount to such a number containing in length of ground the space of above Two thousand miles, lie now altogether solitary without any people or Inhabitant.
Now to come to the Continent, we are confident, and dare affirm upon our own knowledge, that there were ten Kingdoms of as large an extent as the Kingdom of Spain, joining to it both Aragon, and Portugal, containing above a thousand miles every one of then in compass, which the inhumane and abominable villanies of the Spaniards have made a wilderness of, being now as it were stript of all their people, and made bare of all their inhabitants, though it were a place formerly possessed by vast and infinite numbers of men; And we dare confidently aver, that for those Forty years, wherein the Spaniards exercised their abominable cruelties, and detestable tyrannies in those parts, that there have innocently perish'd above Twelve millions of souls, women and children being numbered in this sad and fatal list; moreover I do verily believe that I should speak within compass, should I say that above Fifty millions were consumed in this Massacre.
As for those that came out of Spain, boasting themselves to be Christians, they took two several ways to extirpate this National from the face of the Earth, the first whereof was a bloody, unjust, and cruel war which they made upon them: a second by cutting of all that so much as sought to recover their liberty, as some of the stouter sort did intend. And as for the Women and Children that were left alive, they laid so heavy and grievous a yoke of servitude upon them that the condition of beasts was much more tolerable. Unto these two heads all the other several torments and inhumanities which they used to the ruin of these poor Nations may be reduced.
That which led the Spaniards to these unsanctified impieties was the desire of Gold, to make themselves suddenly rich, for the obtaining of dignities and honors which were no way fit for them. In a word, their covetousness, their ambition, which could not be more in any people under heaven, the riches of the Country, and the patience of the people gave occasion to this their devilish barbarism. For the Spaniards so condemned them (I now speak what I have seen without the least untruth) that they used them not like beasts, for that would have been tolerable, but looked upon them as if they had been but the dung and filth of the earth, and so little they regarded the health of their souls, that they suffered this great multitude to die without the least light of Religion; neither is this less true then what I have said before and that which those tyrants and hangmen themselves dare not deny, without speaking a notorious falsehood, that the Indians never gave them the least cause to offer them violence, but received them as Angels sent from heaven, till their excessive cruelties, the torments and slaughters of their Countrymen mov'd them to take Arms against the Spaniards.
1. Of Hispaniola
the Island of Hispaniola, to which the Spaniards came first, these slaughters
and ruins of mankind took their beginning. They took away their women
and children to serve them, though the reward which they gave them was
a sad and fatal one. Their food got with great pain and dropping sweat,
the Spaniards still consumed, not content with what the poor Indians gave
them gratis out of their own want; One Spaniard consuming in one day as
much as would suffice three families, every one containing ten persons.
Being thus broken with so many evils, afflicted with so many torments,
and handled so ignominiously, they began at length to believe that the
Spaniards were not sent from Heaven. And therefore some of them hid their
Children, others their Wives, others their Victuals in obscure and secret
places; Others not being able to endure a Nation that conversed among
them with such a boisterous impiety sought for shelter in the most abrupt
and inaccessible mountains. For the Spaniards while they were among them
did not only entertain them with cruel beating them with their fists,
and with their slaves, but presumed also to lay violent hands upon the
Rulers and Magistrates of their Cities: and they arriv'd at that height
of impudence and unheard of boldness, that a certain private Captain scrupled
not to force the Wife of the most potent King among them. From which time
forward they began to think what way they might take to expel the Spaniards
out of their Country. But good God! what fort of Arms had they? such as
were as available to offend or defend as bulrushes might be.
Which when the Spaniards saw, they came with their Horsemen well armed with Sword and Lance, making most cruel havocs and slaughters among them. Overrunning Cities and Villages, where they spared no sex nor age; neither would their cruelty pity Women with child, whose bellies they would rip up, taking out the Infant to hew it in pieces. They would often lay wagers who should with most dexterity either cleave or cut a man in the middle, or who could at one blow cut off his head. The children they would take by the feet and dash their innocent heads against the rocks, and when they were fallen into the water, with a strange and cruel derision they would call upon them to swim. Sometimes they would run both Mother and Infant, being in her belly quite through at one thrust. They erected certain Gallowses, that were broad but so low, that the tormented creatures might touch the ground with their feet, upon every one of which they would hang thirteen persons, blasphemously affirming that they did it in honor of our Redeemer and his Apostles, and then putting fire under them, they burnt the poor wretches alive. Those whom their pity did think fit to spare, they would send away with their hands half cut off, and so hanging by the skin. Thus upbraiding their flight, Go carry letters to those who lye bid in the mountains and are fled from us.
This Death they found out also for the Lords and Nobles of the Land; they stuck up forked sticks in the ground, and then laid certain perches upon them, and so laying them upon those perches, they put a gentle fire under, causing the fire to melt them away by degrees, to their unspeakable torment.
One time above the rest I saw four of the Nobles laid upon these perches, and two or three other of these kind of hurdles furnished after the same manner; the clamors and cries of which persons being troublesome to the Captain, he gave order that they should be hang'd, but the Executioner whose name I know, and whose parents are not obscure, hindered their Calamity from so quick a conclusion, stopping their mouths, that they should not disturb the Captain, and still laying on more wood, till being roasted according to his pleasure, they yielded up the ghost. Of these and other things innumerable I have been an eye-witness; Now because there were some that shun'd like so many rocks the cruelty of a Nation so inhumane, so void of piety and love to mankind, and therefore fled from them to the mountains; therefore they hunted them with their Hounds, whom they bred up and taught to pull down and tear the Indians like beasts: by these Dogs much human blood was shed; and because the Indians did now and then kill a Spaniard, taking him at an advantage, as justly they might; therefore the Spaniards made a Law among themselves, that for one Spaniard so slain, they should kill a hundred Indians.
Of the Kingdoms which the Island of Hispaniola did contain
The Island of Hispaniola had in it five very great Kingdoms, and five very potent Kings, to whom the other Lords, of which there was a very great number were for the most part subject; for there were some few Lords of peculiar Countries that did not acknowledge the jurisdiction of these Kings; one of these Kingdoms is called Maqua, which signifies a plain. This Plain is there be any thing in the world worth taking notice, claims a very nice observation. For from the South to the North it is stretched forward fourscore miles in length; in breadth it takes up sometimes eight, sometimes five, and sometimes ten miles, on all sides it is shut up with very high mountains; it is watered by thirty thousand Rivers and Rivolets, whereof twelve are not less then either Duerus, Ebrus, or Guadalquiver: and all the Rivers which run from the Mountains on the West side, whose number is twenty thousand, do all of them abound with gold. With which Mountain the Province of Cibao is bounded, where are the Mines of Cibao, that afford the most exquisite and pure Gold which is so much valued among us. This Kingdom was govern'd by Guarionex, who had under his jurisdiction as his vassals, Lords and Governors so potent, that every one of them was able to bring into the field for the service of Guarionex, above Sixteen thousand men apiece. Some of which Lords I very well knew; this King was not meanly virtuous, by nature peaceful, and much devoted to the King of Castile. This King commanded his subjects that they should present to the Spaniards a bell full of Gold, which when they were not able to do by reason that the people had but little skill how to dig out the Gold, he thereupon commanded them to present the Spaniards with as much as they could fill.
Here a Cacicus or Governor offer'd himself to the service of the King of Castile, upon condition, that he would take care that all the Country from Isabella to St. Domingue, being five hundred miles in length, might be till'd; which promises I am very confident he would cheerfully have performed; and then might the King of Castile have had a revenue of above Three millions of Castilian Crowns, and there had been still remaining in the Island above fifty Cities as large all of them as Seville.
But what was the recompense which they afforded to this mild and bountiful Prince? they suffered one of the Spanish Captains unworthy of the name of a Christian to vitiate his Wife. He might have raised an army and endeavored a revenge, but he rather chose to leave his Kingdom and his dignity, and to live a banished person in the Province of Coquaios, where a potent vassal and subject of his inhabited. But the Spaniards hearing of his sight, resolved not to let him lurk any where; but immediately making war upon him that had received them so liberally, they never rested till they had wasted all the Kingdom to find him out, at length he fell into their hands; and no sooner had they taken him, but they fettered him immediately, putting him into a ship that was bound for Spain; but the ship was wrackt by the way, many Spaniards perishing, and a great treasure of Gold being lost; God so taking revenge upon their enormities.
Another Kingdom was called Marien, where there is a port at one end of the plain that looks toward the North, being larger and more fertile then the Kingdom of Portugal, and which very well deserves to be better peopled; for it abounds with Mountains wherein are great store of Gold Mines. The name of the King that there ruled was Guacanagari, under whom there were many other potent Lords, some of whom I knew: To this place came the old sea Captain that first discovered America, who was received with so much courtesy and friendship by Guacanagari, who gave him and his associates all the help and assistance that might be (for his ship was there sunk) that upon his return into Spain he would often affirm, that his own parents in his own Country were never so friendly to him. This King flying from the cruelty and enormous murders of the Spaniards, being depriv'd of his Kingdom, died poorly in the mountains. The rest of his Nobles ended their lives in that servitude and slavery which shall be hereafter related.
The third Kingdom was Maquana, a Country very temperate and fertile, where the best Sugar in that Island is made. In this Country at that time Canabao did reign, who for power, dignity, gravity, and the ceremonies which were used towards him, far exceeded the rest. This King suspecting nothing less, was by the craft and subtlety of the Spaniards taken in his own house; whom when they had taken they put a shipboard to send him to Castile; but there being six ships in the Port ready to set sail, the sea began to swell so high, and to be so unruly, that all the six ships with the Spaniards in them, together with King Canabao, who was laden with chains, all perished in the waves. The great God showing the Judgments of his wrath upon these unjust and wicked wretches as he had done upon the others. This King had three or four brothers stout and valiant men, who being offended at the Captivity of their Lord and King, hearing of the devastations and rapines daily committed by the Spaniards in these Countries, and understanding that their brother was dead, resolved to take arms for the relief of their Country; but the Spaniards meeting them with a certain number of horse, which are a very great terror to the Indians made such a slaughter among them, that they depopulated the greatest part of this Country.
The Fourth Kingdom was called Xaraqua, being in the centre and middle of the whole Island, for eloquence of language, as also for good government and gentile customs, it excels all the rest, there was in it a great company of Lords and noble men, and for the people themselves they were the most comely in the whole Island. The King of this Country was called Bebechio, who had a sister who was called Anacaona. Both the Brother and the Sister were very bountiful to the Spaniards, for they had freed them from the dangers of imminent death, showing great kindnesses to the Kings of Castile. Bebechio being dead, the Kingdom was solely govern'd by his Sister. Now it happened one day, that the Governor of the Island with sixty Horse, and three hundred Foot (though the Horsemen were sufficient not only to waste the Island, but also the whole Continent) called to him about three hundred of the Peers and Lords of the Nation, the greatest part whereof who were the more powerful, having by craft got them together in a straw Cottage, he cause to the burnt alive together with the house, the rest with an infinite fight of people he caused to be put to death by the Soldiers, who murdered the poor people like dogs with their Swords and Lances. As for Anacaona the Queen, that he might seem to be more courteous to her, he caused her to hang her self. And if it happened that any who were either moved with compassion, or covetousness, thinking to make lackies or servants of the Children, had set them behind their horses, another would come behind them, and either run them through, or cut off their legs if they hung down upon the horse sides. And when certain of the Indians, who escaped this furious massacre fled into an Island distant from them about some eight miles, they were by the Governor condemned to perpetual servitude.
The fifth Kingdom was called Hiquey, where an ancient Queen, by name Hiquanama, governed, who was afterward crucified by the Spaniards: and there was an infinite number of those whom I here saw partly burnt alive, partly torn to pieces, partly put to other tortures, or redeemed from death, to a worse misery and captivity. Now there is so much to be said concerning the slaughters and devastations made by the Spaniards, so many stories to be reckoned up, as would be hardly contained in writing, it being impossible to set down one thing of a hundred: for a conclusion of what I have said before, I will only add one thing more, affirming upon my conscience, that for all the fore rehearsed enormities and villanies committed by the Spaniards, yet the Indians gave them no more occasion to perpetrate so many detestable cruelties upon them, then the most religious persons living in the most reformed Monasteries give to the Nations where they dwell, to extirpate them; and they had as little reason to condemn to a perpetual slavery that poor remnant that escaped alive. And this I shall further add, that I do verily believe, that at that time when the Spaniards began this horrid persecution, they had not committed the least crime against the Spaniards that could merit any revenge. And this I also dare affirm, that the Indians had always just reason to raise war against the Spaniards, and that the Spaniards on the contrary, had never any legal cause of quarrel against them, but only always an intention to exercise a fury on them greater than the most consuming and prodigal rage, that ever made the worst of tyrants infamous.
The wars begin now at an end, and the inhabitants all killed up, the women and children being only reserved, they divided them among themselves, giving to one thirty, to another forty, to one a hundred, to another two hundred, and those that had most, received them on this condition, that they should instruct them in the Catholic Faith, though commonly their Masters were a company of stupid, ignorant, and covetous fellows, and defiled with all manner of vices. But the main care was to send the men to work in the Gold Mines, which is an intolerable labor, and to send the women to manure and till the ground; an exercise fit only for the stoutest men. These they fed with nothing but roots and herbs, so that the milk of women with child being dried up, by that reason the poor little infants died. And the men being separated from the women, there was no more issue to be expected from them. The men perished in the Gold Mines with hunger and labor, the women perished in the fields, being tired out with the same calamities: and thus was a vast number of the inhabitants of this Island wholly extirpated. Besides all this they caused them to carry great burdens of a hundred and fourscore pound, and to travel with it a hundred or two hundred miles. They were also forc'd to carry the Spaniards up and down in their Hamechs, using them in manner of beasts to carry their burdens and the necessaries of their journeys. And as for the blows which they gave them with whips, cudgels and their fists, wherewith they continually tormented them in their labor, I could be hardly able to find either time or paper to make a narration large enough of those things.
Now it is here to be noted that the desolation of these Islands and Provinces happened after the death of Queen Isabel, who deceased in the year 1504, for before that time few of the Provinces were entrenched upon by any unjust war, or over-flowed with this deluge of devastation; or if any thing was before that time done, it was conceal'd from the knowledge of the Queen, for she was always zealous and solicitous for the safety and prosperity of this poor people.
And this may be also a general rule, that the Spaniards to what ever part of the Indies they did come to, after that time ceased not to exercise their abominable slaughters, tyrannies, and execrable oppressions upon the poor people, and being delighted with new kinds of torments, daily increased their cruelty and rage.
Of the Islands St. John and Jamaica
In the year 1509, the Islands of St. John and Jamaica that look'd like fruitful gardens, were possessed by the Spaniards, with the same bloody intentions, as the other were; for there they also exercised their accustomed cruelties, killing, burning, roasting men, and throwing them to the dogs, as also by oppressing them with sundry and various torments in the Gold Mines, as if they had come to rid the earth of these innocent and harmless creatures, of whom above six hundred thousand were murdered in these two Islands, so lavish were the Spanish swords of the blood of these poor souls, scarce two hundred more remaining; the rest perished without the least knowledge of God.
2. Of the Island of Cuba
In the year, 1511, they went over into the Island of Cuba, which extends as far in length as it is from Valladolid to Rome, in which there were many fair Provinces, inhabited with an infinite number of people, where the humanity and clemency of the Spaniards was not only as little as it had been in other places, but their cruelty and rage much greater. In this Island many things were done worthy observation. A certain Lord of great power among them by name Hathvey, who had fled over to Cuba, that he might avoid either death or perpetual captivity, hearing by some of the Indians that the Spaniards were also come into this Island, having assembled the Indians together, he began as followeth:
“Countrymen and Friends, you are not ignorant of the rumor by which we understand that the Spaniards are come among us, neither am I now to tell you how they have used the inhabitants of Hapti (so the call Hispaniola, in the Indian language) you know it by a sad experience: nor can we hope to find them more merciful then they did.” Then quoth he, “Countrymen do you know the Errand which brings them higher?” To whom they replied, that was unknown to them, yet they further replied, that that they were well assured of the cruel nature of the Spaniard. Then quoth he, He tell ye the cause of their coming. They do worship some covetous and unsatisfied Deity, and to content the greedy worship of that Celestial Power, they require many things from us, using all their endeavor to murder and enslave us. Which having said, taking up a little Chest filled with Gold, he proceeded in these words: Behold here the God of the Spaniards and therefore if you think sitting, let us dance and sing before this their God, Perhaps we may thereby appease his rage, and he well then command the Spaniards to let us alone: Who with an unanimous shout cried out all, Well said, well said; and so they went to dancing round this box, not ceasing till they had sufficiently wearied themselves. Then the Lord Hathvey going on with his speech, quoth he, If we do keep this God till he be taken from us, we shall be surely slain, and therefore I think it expedient for us to cast it into the River; so his counsel being followed, the Chest was cast into the River.
When the Spaniards had landed in this Island, this noble man that had sufficient trial of their manner, avoided them as much as he could, still flying from them and defending himself by force of arms upon all occasions. But at length being taken, for no other reason, but because he fled from those that sought his life, and defended himself that he might not be tormented to death, he was by the Spaniards burnt alive. While he was tied to the stake, there came to him a Monk of the Order of St. Francis, who began to talk to him of God and of the Articles of our Faith, telling him, that the small respire which the Executioner gave him was sufficient for him to make sure his salvation if he believed. Upon which words after Hathvey had a little while paus'd, he asked the Monk if the door of heaven was open to the Spaniards, who answering, Yes, to the good Spaniards. Then replied the other, Let me go to Hell that I may not come where they are.
It happened once that the Citizens of a very fair City distant about twelve miles from the place where we were, came forth of the City to do us honor, and to submit themselves to the King of Castile, but they being returned home, the Governor of the Spaniards about the middle of the night as they were sleeping in their bed, and least suspecting any such thing, sent a company who came suddenly upon them, and set fire upon their houses, burning up both men, women and children, here some they murdered, others whom they spared, they tormented to make them tell where they had hid their Gold, after which they made them their slaves, having first marked them in the body: and immediately as soon as the fire was spent, they ran to find out the Gold. At that time the Spaniards got above ten hundred thousand Crowns of Gold, out of which the King scarce had three hundred thousand sent him; there were slain in this place eight hundred thousand people; and those other Tyrants that came afterwards, emptied the Island of those that remained.
Among all the notorious enormities committed by the foresaid Governor, there is one not to be omitted: a certain noble Indian presenting him, perhaps more for fear then love, a present of above nine thousand Crowns, the Spaniards not content with this, tied him to a stake, and stretching out his Legs, put fire to them, requiring a greater sum of Gold, who not able to endure the torment sent home for three thousand more; notwithstanding the Spaniards with a fresh rage began to torment him again, but seeing that he was able to give them no more, they kept him so long over the fire till his marrow dropt from the soles of his feet, whereof he died. These were the torments wherewith they murdered not only the common People, but the Peers and Lords of those Nations.
Sometimes it would happen, that a Band of Spaniards ranging abroad would light upon a mountain where the Indians were fled for protection from their cruelty, where they immediately fell upon the Indians, killing the Men, and taking the Women and Virgins captive; & when a great company of the Indians pursued them with weapons for the recovery of their Wives and Children, they resolving not to let go their prey, when the Indians came near them, immediately with the points of their swords ran the poor Women and Children through the bodies. Upon which the wretched Indians beating their breasts for grief would now and then burst forth in these words, O perverse men, O cruel Spaniards, What will ye kill helpless women?
There was the house of a Noble man distant from Panama above 15 miles; he was by name called Paris, and he was very wealthy in Gold; to him the Spaniards came, and by him they were entertained like Brothers, he giving to the Captain, as a Present, fifteen thousand Crowns; who by that perceiving that he must of necessity have a very great treasure, feigned a departure, but about the middle of the night returning again entered the City, set it on fire, sacrificing the poor people to the flames. Hence they took away about fifty or sixty thousand Crowns. The Noble man escaping, gathered together what force he could and made after the Spaniards, who were gone away with no less then a hundred and forty thousand Crowns of his own Treasure; when he had overtaken them, he fell upon them, and having slain above fifty of the Spaniards, he recovered his Gold again. The rest saved themselves by flight. But not long after the Spaniards returned with greater force upon the Noble man and having routed him, made slaves of all his people.
3. Of the Province of Nicaragua
In the year 1522. the foresaid Governor went to subdue the Province of Nicaragua. There is no man that can sufficiently express the fertility of this Island, the temperateness of the air, or the multitude of the people that did inhabit it. There was a vast number of people in this Province, for it contained divers cities above four mile in length: and for plenty of fruits (which was the cause that it was so extremely well habited) without compare. This people because their Country was all plain and level, had not the shelter of the Mountains, neither could they be easily persuaded to leave it, so pleasant was their habitation. And therefore they endured far the greater misery, and persecution, and underwent a more insufferable slavery, being the less able to bear it, by how much they were of a mild and gentle nature. This Tyrant vex'd and tormented these poor creatures with so many continual injuries, slaughters, captivities and cruelties, that no tongue is able to express them. Into this territory he sent above fifty horse, who totally extirpated the people of this Province by the Sword, sparing no age nor sex, not for any wrong they did them, but sometimes it came not so speedily when they called as they expected, or if they brought not such quantities of corn as they imposed, or if they did not bring a sufficient quantity of Indians to their service: for the Country being in a plain there was no avoiding the fury of the Horsemen.
He commanded these Spaniards to go pillage and depopulate other Countries, permitting to these Robbers, and Hangmen, to bring away and enslave what number of these poor people they pleased: whom they laded with chains that weighed above sixty or fifty pound, that they might not have the opportunity of escaping, so that it seldom happened that above four in four thousand returned home; and if either through the weight of their chains, or for hunger or thirst they did chance to faint by the way, because they would not hinder their journey, they cut off their heads immediately, throwing the head in one place and the body in another. And the poor captive Indians when they saw the Spaniards preparing for such journeys, at their departure would weep and fall into these kind of sad expressions, These are the journeys that we have often gone, to serve the Christians, and then we could return home again to visit our Wives and Children, but now all hope is cut off from us, and we must never see them more.
It happened also, by reason that it came into the Governors mind to change the Indians from one Master to another, pretending to take away force from some that he saw began to envy him, that there was no seed time nor harvest for a whole year; now rather then the Spaniards would want, they took it from the Indians, by which means there perished no less then thirty thousand people; which caused one woman for hunger to eat her own childe.
And because these Cities and other places were such pleasant abodes, therefore the Spaniards took up their habitations in these places, dividing the possessions among themselves; and as for the Indians, both old and young they lived in the houses of the Spaniards, drudging day & night in a perpetual captivity, who spared not the smallest children, but impos'd on them burdens as much as they were able to bear, and sometimes more; & by this means allowing them neither houses nor any thing else proper to themselves, they destroyed them daily, and do daily destroy them: so that they exceeded the cruelties which they had committed to Hispaniola.
They hastened also the death of many of these poor people, by forcing them to carry timber and planks for shipping to the port that was distant about thirty miles from this place; compelling them also to fetch honey and wax from the Mountains, where they were many times devoured by the tigers. Neither were they ashamed to lade and burthen Women with childe, as if they had been only beasts for carriage.
But there was no greater plague that depopulated this Country, then a liberty granted by the Governor to the Spaniards, for the requiring of slaves and captives from the Nobles and potent men of the Kingdome; who as often as the Spaniards obtained leave to demand them, which was every four or five months, and sometimes sooner, gave them constantly fifty servants, whom the Spaniards still threatened, that if they would not be obedient, they would either burn them alive, or throw them to the dogs. Now because the Indians have but few servants, for it is a very great matter to see above three servants in that place waiting upon a Noble man; therefore the Nobility were fain to come to their subjects, from whom first they took all the Orphans, then coming to those that had many children, from them that had two they took one, and from those who had three they demanded two; and thus they were fain to make up the Number which the threatening Tyrant required, while the poor people wept and deplor'd the sad misfortune of their Children, over whom they are very tender. Which being done for a daily continuance, in ten or twelve years they made a clean riddance of the inhabitants out of this place. For every foot there came five or six ships which returned full of Indians into the Regions of Panama and Peru, where they were sold, and ended their days in captivity. For experience hath taught us this, that when ever the Indians are removed from their accustomed habitations into other climates, they quickly die; the Spaniards neither affording them sufficient food, nor in times of sickness diminishing their labor, for which end they were only bought. And thus the number of people hurried from the enjoyment of their freedom into a fad and laborious captivity, amounted to five hundred thousand souls, of which above fifty or sixty thousand are already perished, and more daily perish. All these Massacres were committed within the space of fourteen years. There may be now remaining in the Province of Nicardona perhaps some four or five thousand men, though they daily diminish through the immoderate oppressions of the Spaniards. Notwithstanding in former time for number of people, it was the most flourishing place in the whole world.
4. Of New Spain [Mexico]
In the year 1517 New Spain was discovered; after the discovery of which they did nothing first or second, but immediately sell to their old practices of cruelty and slaughter: for in the following year the Spaniards (who call themselves Christians) went thither to rob and kill; though they gave out that they went to people the Country. From that year unto this present year 1542. the violence, injustice and tyrannies of the Spaniards came to their full height; and now quite forgetting their humane natures, they laid aside all fear of God or of their King. For the slaughters, massacres, cruelties, devastations of Countries, destructions of Cities, violences, tyrannies, and rapines of the Spaniards, which they did commit in these so many several and so large Kingdoms, are so numberless, and strike the mind with such a horror, that those which we have before related, are nothing in respect of these which we are to relate, being all perpetrated in the year 1518. and continued to this very month in a most sad and dreadful manner; so that what we said before holds very true, that the Spaniards still went on from bad to worse, themselves striving to exceed themselves in wickedness.
And thus from the first entry of the Spaniards into New Spain, which happened upon the tenth day of the month of April, continuing from the eighteenth year until the thirtieth, in which space of time are contained twelve years compleat, there hath been no end of the bloody massacres and cruel slaughters of the Spaniards, perpetrated in the continent of Mexico and the parts adjoyning, which contained four or five large Kingdoms, that neither for compass nor fertility gave place to Spain. All this region was more populous then either Toledo, Seville, Valladolid, Augusta Cesarea, or Faventia; nay I may affirm that there is not at this present, neither was there when those places were at the highest of their flourishing estate, so many people as in those parts, which take up the space of above a thousand and eight hundred miles. In these ten or twelve years, what with Men, Women, Youths, and Children, above four millions were by the Spaniards consumed part by fire, part by the sword in these destructive wars; wars more unjust and more condemn'd both by the Law of God and men, then any invasion of the Turk against the Roman Catholic Religion. Neither do we now wreck on those that died under the intolerable yoke and burdens of their captivity.
There is no language, no art or humane science, that can avail to recite the abominable crimes and bloody actions committed by these enemies not only of Commonwealths, but of all humane societies; neither can any diligence, or time of writing sufficiently aggravate the circumstances of these detestable deeds. Notwithstanding something I shall say of every one of them; though I do seriously protest, that I cannot rehearse one thing of a thousand in respect of all that were done.
Of New Spain in particular
Among other grand murders of theirs, they committed one more notorious in the City Cholula, which did contain above thirty thousand families. All the potent men of that Region, with the Priests who brought along with them their chief Priest also, came to meet the Spaniards; and that their reception and entertainment might be the more honorable, they agreed to entertain the Spaniards in the houses of the greatest Noble men; but here the Spaniards consulted how to begin their massacres, or as they call'd them, chastisements of the people, that they might keep in awe every corner of the Country with the terror of their cruelties. For this was their common custom, that they no sooner had set footing in any place, but they committed immediately some notorious violence upon the people, that the rest might stand in the greater fear of them. They sent therefore to the supreme Lord of the City, as also to all the other Lords and Governors, that they should give them a meeting, but they were no sooner come to parley, but they were all immediately laid hold on, leaving none to carry back these bad tidings to the rest; first they demanded of them six thousand Indians, to carry the Luggage which they had with them, which when they were brought together they shut up in their houses. It was a sad spectacle to behold this poor people preparing themselves to carry those burdens. They came naked, covering only their secret parts, and at their shoulders hung a little Net wherein they kept their food; and thus while they stooped under their burdens, they lay open to all the cuts and blows of the Spanish weapons. Now being in this manner gathered together in a great and wide place, part of the Spaniards all in arm, stood at the door to keep the rest out, while others with Swords and Lances kill'd the innocent Lambs, so that not one escaped. After three or four days were expired, some that had hid themselves among the dead bodies all over besmeared with blood, came with all submission imploring mercy and compassion from them; but they not at all regarding their tears, nor moved with their lamentations, immediately hew'd them to pieces. All the Lords and Noble men, were kept a while in chains, and afterward at the Commandment of the Spanish Captain, tied to stakes and burnt to death. But the King of the whole Country escaped, with about thirty or forty men, betaking himself to a Temple which was like a Castle, there defending himself a good part of the day; but the Spaniards out of whose hand few of them, especially the soldiery escap'd, setting the Temple on fire, burnt them all that were within alive, who as they were dying, brake forth into these lamentations: O wicked men, how have we injured you, that you should thus torment us? Away, away to Mexico, where our chief Lord Montezuma will revenge our quarrel.
This is also reported that while the Spaniards were busily acting this bloody Tragedy, killing and destroying above six thousand innocent creatures, their chief Captain in sport sung these verses:
One flame the Roman City now destroys,
And shrieks of people made a dismal noise,
While Nero sung, and moved with delight,
From Tarpey Hill beheld the woeful sight.
Another butchery was by them committed in the City of Tepeaca, which was a much larger City then the former. Here they put to the sword an infinite number of people, with many additions of cruelty.
Departing from Cholula they came to Mexico, the King whereof Montezuma sent the Peers and Nobles of this Realm with innumerable presents to meet them, who all the way testified by several sports and solemnities, the joy which they had for their arrival; When they approached near the wall of the City, the Kings Brother came forth with many Noble men to meet him, who brought many gifts of Gold and Silver, to present them with. Coming to the entry of the City, there stood the King himself with all his attendants, who being carried in a golden Litter accompanied them to the Palace which was prepared for them. But that very day, as was told me by some that were there, they seized upon the King, little suspecting any such matter, setting a guard upon his person of above eighty Soldiers: after that they put him in chains. But here passing by many things which might be said; I will relate one thing worthy observation. The Governor being call'd away to quell one of his Captains that had taken arms against him, and having left Montezuma with a guard of above a hundred, it came into the minds of the Spaniards to do something which might render them dreadful and terrible to the Indians; which was a policy, as I said before, they did often use. In the mean while all the Nobility and commonalty of the City minded nothing else but to exhilarate the mind of their captive King with several varieties of sports and recreations. Among which there was none that they used more then dancing and reveling, which they performed all night long in the streets. These exercises they in their language call'd Mercies, but he Islanders Areytos. To these recreations they bring together all their wealth and richest garments, and what ever they do esteem precious; using them as the greatest testimonies of gladness.
The Nobles also and Princes of the Royal blood every one according to their degree, were busy in these sports in those places which were nearest the houses where the King was detained captive. Not far from the Palace there were above two thousand youths, being all the children of the Nobility, and indeed the flower of the Nobility which were in Montexuma's Kingdome. To these came the Captain of the Spaniards with a small party of Soldiers, sending other Troops to other parts of the City, as if they only came to be spectators. But the Captain had given command that at a certain hour they should fall upon them; and he himself being about to lead the way, cry'd out, St. Jago, let us rush in upon them. The word being thus given, the Soldiers all fell on, and with their swords began to hack and hew those delicate bodies, spilling that generous and noble blood with such an unheard of malice, that they left not one alive. And doing thus to others in other places, there fell a dismal fear and amazement upon the whole Country. Nor will these poor creatures doubtless ever forget as long as the world stands, to lament and bewail in their solemnities the sad calamity and ruin of the whole seminary of their Nobility, of which they were wont of much to boast.
The Indians beholding this unheard of cruelty and injustice committed upon such a number of innocent souls, having with long patience endured the captivity of their King, who had charg'd them to be quiet, now ran all to their arms, and falling upon the Spaniards, wounded many, the rest narrowly escaping: at length the Spaniards putting a Dagger to the breast of the King Montezuma threatened to kill him unless he would look through the window and command his subjects to lay down their arms. But the Indians at that time contemning the commands of their King, chose them a Captain whom they made chief Commander of all their Forces. By this time the aforementioned Governor was returned from subduing his enemy, bringing with him a greater number of Spaniards then he carried away with him. Whereupon the Indians desisted from doing any thing more until he had entered into the City. But then gathering together very great Forces, they sought so vigorously, that the Spaniards despairing of victory resolved to retreat in a tempestuous night and to leave the City. Which being known to the Indians, they cut off abundance of them upon the bridges of the Lakes: neither can any man deny but that they did it justly, for the reasons above rehearsed. Afterwards the Spaniards having recollected more forces, there followed that great contention in the City, wherein they committed so many several butcheries upon the Indians, by killing and burning both the Commonalty and the Nobility in a most barbarous manner.
Having committed so many detestable slaughters upon the Indians in Mexico, and other places distant ten, fifteen and twenty miles from thence, this tyrannical plague proceeded to infest and depopulate the City of Panuco. There was a wonderful frequency of people in that Country, neither were the slaughters that were there committed, less remarkable. In the like manner they laid waste the Provinces of Tatepeca, Ipilcingonium, and Columa, every one of which is of as large a compass as the Kingdoms of Legiona and Castile. It is a very hard thing, if not altogether impossible, to react all the murders and cruelties there committed; besides that, it would cloy the reader.
Here we must observe, that they entered into these Kingdoms and territories, (which for the abundance of people ought to have been the joy of all true Christians) upon no pretence, but as they said to reduce them to slavery. For at their first entrance they commanded them to swear fealty and obedience to the King of Spain, & those that would not come in and submit themselves to the will of such unjust and cruel men, they proclaimed rebels, and accus'd them of that crime to the King. The blindness of the chief Governors of the Indies not permitting them to discern, that no man can be called a Rebel who is not before a Subject.
This cruel Tyrant leaning upon this pretence, sent two other Captains excelling himself in fury, and impiety to Guatemala the most fertile and most flourishing Kingdom both for men and fruit of any that were situated southward. They had also received commands to visit the Kingdoms of Naco, Honduras, and Guaimara looking toward the north, and being distant from Mexico above three hundred miles; the one was sent by land, the other by sea, being both of them well furnished with men and ammunition for Horse and Foot.
And this I dare affirm, that the enormities committed by there two Captains, and by him especially that was sent to Guatemala (for the other dyed an evil death in good time) are enough to fill a particular volume, so many were the slaughters, violences, injuries, butcheries, and beastly desolations which they perpetrated, as do not only amaze the present, but must of necessity strike a horror into future ages: for in this place their abominations and devastations were more fatal then in any place before.
As for him that went by sea, he vex'd all the shore with his incursions and cruelties, to whom there came certain out of the Kingdom of Yucatan, which lies in the way to the Kingdoms of Naco, and Naymura, whither he was then marching, and brought him many presents, yet he was no sooner come into the Country, but he sent the soldiers to depopulate and waste the same, who ceased not to commit many abominable outrages. Among the rest, a certain seditious rebel entering into a region bordering upon Guatemala, burnt up their City, killing the Inhabitants, and laying waste all the Country, which he did on purpose, that if he should be pursued by his enemies, they might be liable to the revenge of the Indians as they passed along; which happened accordingly, for there the chief Commander from whose power the foresaid Captain had rebell'd, was slain; but he was succeeded by many other fell tyrants, who with their wonted cruelties and captivity destroyed the people, selling them to those that brought garments and other provision, and by that kind of servitude, which they practiced from the year 1524. to the year 1535. they depopulated and made desert the provinces of Naco and Honduras, which seemed to be the Elysium and Paradise of the world in every respect. And I have lately seen them so destroyed, that it would move the most stony heart to compassion. In these eleven years there perished in this Country above two millions, scarce two thousand now remaining, who daily diminish through the hardness of their servitude.
But as for that abominable tyrant that exceeded all that were before in tyranny, and is equal to all that remains behind, let us now find him out in Guatemala.
He going through the Provinces adjoining to Mexico toward Guatemala, which are above four hundred miles in length, minded nothing else all the way he went, but slaughters, rapines, burnings, depopulations, compelling all upon the foresaid pretence to submit themselves to their cruelties, in the name of the King of Spain, whom they had never seen nor heard of, and whom they could not but think more unjust and cruel then his Ministers and Officers, yet giving them no time to deliberate, they wasted all before them with fire and sword.
5. Of the Kingdom and Province of Guatemala
At their first entrance into this Kingdom they committed a very great outrage. But for all that their chief Lord and Governor carried in a Litter came forth to meet him with Drums and Trumpets, and great joy; attended by many of the Nobles of the City of Utlacan the greatest Mart Town of that Kingdome, where they gave him provisions in abundance, with all that he could desire. That night the Spaniards lodg'd without the City, not thinking themselves safe in a Town so well fortified as that was. The next day he called to him the chief Lord with a great number of the Nobles, demanding of them a very great quantity of Gold. They returning him answer, that they could not satisfy his request by reason that their Country afforded not Gold, were immediately by his command, without any cause or form of proceeding, all burnt alive. The rest of the Nobles of these Provinces, seeing that all the chiefest of them, who had the power and government of the Kingdome in their hands, were for no cause put to death, but because they were not able to give them gold, fled to the mountains for safety, charging their subjects to submit themselves to the Spaniards, but not to tell them where their sculking places were, nor to give them notice of their flight. Whereupon an infinite number of the Indians came to the Spaniards requesting that they might be their subjects, and that they might serve them. The Captain made answer, that he would not receive them, and that moreover he would kill them all unless they would declare whither their Lords were fled: the Indians replied, That they knew nothing of it, but their Wives and Children they said were ready to serve them, adding, that they were at home in their houses, whither they might go, and either kill them or use them as they pleas'd; which offers they made to them again and again. But strange to tell, the Spaniards demanded their Cities and Towns, killing these poor creatures, who as they thought were secure at their work. They came to a very large Town, which being confident of their own innocence, thought themselves safer then the rest; but in two hours space they brought such a desolation upon it, killing all ages and sexes, that there was not a person left alive, but what saved themselves by flight.
The Indians perceiving that with all their humility, their patience, and their presents, that they were not able to assuage the fury of these inhumane creatures, and that they were daily killed up like dogs, began to think of taking arms; for they thought it better, since an evil death could not be avoided, rather to die fighting and taking revenge upon their enemies, then to be killed like beasts by them. But when they saw their want of arms, their feebleness, their nakedness, and that they were utterly unskillful in the management of horses, that they might have some way of prevailing upon their enemies, it came in their minds to dig certain ditches in the ways, that so the horses as they went along might fall into them: at the bottom of these pits they had driven in stakes sharpened at the top, and they had covered them over with clods of earth that they might not be discovered; twice or thrice the Spaniards fell into these ditches, but afterwards by their care they easily avoided them. And therefore they made a Law among themselves, that all the Indians which they took, of what ever sex or degree, should be thrown into those pits which they had made: Into these pits they threw women big with childe, and all the aged persons that they could light upon, till the pit was full. He was a sad sight to behold women with child gor'd through the body with these stakes; while others that lay uppermost were killed with swords and lances; those that would not in were cast to their dogs. They burnt a very potent Peer of the Nation in a great fire, saying that he was much honored with that kind of death.
Among other abominations committed by this Captain and his followers, who were not at all more gentle then their leader, this was one more memorable then the rest. Into the Province of Cuzcatan, where the City of our Savior is situated, being a Country, which together with the neighboring sea coast is extended about forty or fifty miles in length; and also into the City of Cuzcatan it self, which is the Metropolis of the whole Country, he was received with very great joy, the Indians expecting his coming, laden with a present of above thirty thousand Turkies and other things necessary for their refreshment. But he having received their gift, commanded the Spaniards every one of them to take all many Indians as they pleased, and to keep them for service as long as they should stay there. Whereupon every one took a hundred less or more, according as his occasions required. And as for the poor Captives they served them with so much zeal and affection, that they could require nothing more then adoration it self. After this the Captain required of the people a great quantity of Gold, who returned him answer, that they would give him all the Gold they had. Whereupon the Indians brought together a great company of spears which were guilt with Orichalcum, so that they seemed to be gold; but the Captain causing them to be touched, and not finding them to be gold, spake thus to the people, All curses light upon such a Region as this, wherein there is no Gold; and then commanded all those that had taken servants, to keep them in chains, and to mark them with the mark of servitude, which was immediately done, the Kings mark being burnt into their flesh; which I saw also done to the son of the chiefest man in all the City. Those Indians that escaped with the rest of the inhabitants of the Country, gathered themselves together, resolving to hazard a war with the Spaniards, but alas with small prosperity, there being an infinite number of them slain. After this they returned to Guatemala, where they built a City, which God in his justice destroy'd, overwhelming it, first with earth, then with stones of a vast bigness, and lastly, letting in upon it a great deluge of waters.
Now after that they had slain all that were able to make resistance against them, they carried away the rest into captivity, or forced them to give away their children as tribute due to the Spaniards, for they use the service of no other creatures. And thus part being sold into the Countries of Peru, and part destroyed by the sword, they made a wilderness of one of the most happy and populous Countries of those parts, stretching out in length and breadth above a hundred miles. This the tyrant himself confessed, writing that this County was more populous then the County of Mexico, as indeed it was. This man in the space of fifteen years, which was from the year 525, to 540. together with his associates, massacred no less then five millions of men, and do daily destroy those that are yet remaining. It was the custom of this Tyrant, when he made war upon any Town or Country, to carry along with him as many as he could of the subdued Indians, compelling them to make war upon their Countrymen, and when he had ten or twenty thousand men in his service, because he could not give them provision, he permitted them to eat the flesh of those Indians that they had taken in war: for which cause he had a kind of shambles in his Army for the ordering and dressing of mans flesh, suffering Children to be killed and boiled in his presence. The men they killed only for their hands and feet, for those they accounted dainties. Which being understood by the neighbors, they were all struck with astonishment.
Moreover he destroyed not a few by compelling them to carry ships from one shore to another, causing them to bear great vessels, together with their Anchors of an extraordinary weight from the North sea to the South, being distant one from the other a hundred and thirty miles. And thus, also they carried their Artillery from one place to another, putting them upon their naked shoulders, whereby being oppressed with the monstrous weight of those burdens, they funk down often of them in the way, of which I was many times an eyewitness. He divided and separated families, taking women from their husbands, daughters from their parents, which he gave to the Seamen and Soldiers. All his ships he filled with Indians, where they died for hunger and for thirst. And truly if I should make a book only to scare and affright men. He had two great Navies, wherein like lightning from heaven he consumed these poor wretches. On how many children did he deprive of their parents, how many men of their wives, how many wives did he make widows, how many widows did they vitiate, how many married women adulterate, how many virgins did they ravish, how many did they enslave, how many did he cause to languish in calamity, how many tears, how many sighs did he provoke, upon how many did he bring desolation in his worldly pilgrimage, and endanger their damnation in the world to come? and this not only to the Indians that suffered, but to the Spaniards who he encouraged in wickedness, and who assisted him in the committing so many heinous and abominable murders. I do beseech God that he would be merciful to him, and let his wrath be satisfied with that judgment which he hath already inflicted on him.
Of New Spain: As also of Panucon, and Jalisco
These horrid murders and massacres being committed, besides others that I have omitted, in the Provinces of New Spain, there came another cruel and serious Tyrant into the Provinces of Panucon, who having perpetrated many heinous iniquities, and sent great numbers of the Natives to be sold in the Countries of Spain, laid waste all this Kingdom: and once it happened that they used eight hundred of the Indians in stead of a team to draw their carriages, as if they had been mere beasts and irrational creatures. He was afterwards made President of the City of Mexico, and with him many other his fellow tyrants advanced to the office of Auditors; which Offices they contaminated with so many impieties and abominations, that it is hardly to be imagined. And as for this Country it self, they so far destroyed it, that is some of the Franciscan Friars had not strenuously opposed him, and that the Kings Council had not provided a sudden remedy for it, in two years space they had wholly depopulated New Spain, as they had done in Hispaniola. One of the Associates of the President that he might enclose his Garden with a wall, used the service of eight thousand Indians, and because he afforded them neither food, nor wages, they all perished after a most sad and lamentable manner.
After the first Captain, of whom we spake before, had put an end to the destruction of Panucon; and that there came news to him that the Kings Council was coming into these parts, he went further into the Country, that he might exercise his cruelties with more liberty, and caused fifteen or twenty thousand of the Indians to follow and carry the burdens of the Spaniards, of whom scarce two hundred returned alive, the rest being all destroyed; at length they came to the Province of Machuaca which is distant above forty miles from Mexico, and is nothing at all inferior to the other either for plenty of provision, or number of people; the king coming to meet him with all show of respect and honor, they put in prison because he was reported to be very rich: which that they might get from him, they thus tormented him; having put his feet in a kind of stocks, and stretching out his body, they tied his hands to a stake, and then putting fire to his feet, while a boy was set to baste them with oil, that they might roast the better; there stood another also with dogs behind him, threatening to set them upon him; which is he had done, they would have soon put an end to his life: and with these torments they vexed him, to make him bring his treasures to light. At length there came a Franciscan Friar who freed him from his torments, but not from death, which immediately ensued. With this kind of torture they put to death many other of the Princes and Noble men of the Country.
About this time a certain man who came to visit their purses rather then their souls, knowing the Indians to be adorers of Idols, for the Spaniards had not taught them better, kept them captive till they had delivered all their Images, for they thought that they had been all of Gold, but when they found themselves deceived, he inflicted upon them punishments as if they had committed some great offence, and because he would not utterly lose their hopes, caused them to redeem their Idols with Gold, to adore them; and thus did the Spaniards procure the worship of God among the Indians.
This Tyrant out of the Province of Panucon, went to Methuaca Xalisco, which were Countries fruitful both in men and money, and no small glory of the Indian Nation, having Cities that were in length above seven miles. When he came into these Countries, the Indians, as they were wont, met him with accustomed signs of joy and gladness; but he immediately brake forth into his wonted cruelties, to attain his usual scope, which was the heaping up of Gold, the only God which they adore. The Cities they burnt to the ground; Their Princes, having first tormented them, they carried away captive, binding them in chains. Women with childe, without any consideration of their weakness, they oppressed with tedious labors and hunger, that they dy'd by the way. And as for their Children, because they could not carry them, they were forc'd to throw them away, by which a number of Infants were destroyed.
There being a certain Christian who went about to defile a virgin, her mother interposed her self, and would have taken the daughter from him; the Spaniard drawing forth his dagger, cut off her hand, and afterwards slew the virgin, because she would not give consent to his lustful desire.
Among other things also this was most unjust, that they caused to be marked with the mark of slavery above four thousand five hundred of the Indians that were all as free born as themselves; among which they also caused to be thus marked children of two, three or four years old, though they were all such as came forth to meet him with great acclamations of joy; other things without number I pass by in silence.
All these above mentioned abominations being done, they reduced the rest to a tyrannical subjection, for which cause they thought that they were only sent thither. In which regions the said Governor gave liberty to all the Spaniards, especially to his Stewards and Officers, to exercise what tortures they pleased upon the Indians to draw out of them the knowledge where their treasure lay. His Steward in times of peace kill'd many Indians, burning some, and casting other to his dogs, cutting off others hands, legs, and heads, that thereby their minds being totally subjected they should never deny where their Gold or treasure lay hid. All these things were done, the Tyrant himself beholding and consenting; and not only so, but they oppressed them and continually abused them with stripes and blows of their canes and fists, leaving no cruelty unexercised toward them. In this Kingdom of Jalisco they consumed by fire six thousand villages, upon which the Indians growing desperate, seeing the remainder of those that escaped daily destroyed; they made an insurrection against the Spaniards, and killing some of them, as they well deserved, they betook themselves again to the Mountains. But the cruelties and injuries of the Tyrants that went from these parts to depopulate (which they called discover) other Regions overtaking them; many Indians were by them slain, while they sought to defend themselves in the rocks: and to this present there are a thousand Butcheries committed upon them; whereby there are hardly left any people in the whole Country. And thus the Spaniards being blinded and forsaken by God, and given over to a reprobate sense, considered not how unagreeable both to the Law of God and nature were their proceedings against the Indians, how unjustly they went about to destroy them by force of arms, and not only to cast them out of their Country, but to torture them and cut them in pieces: nor do they see how impious their violences and tyrannies are over these poor people; they do believe and do affirm both in deed and word, that those victories which they have obtained and used to the destruction of the Indians, as if their unjust wars were of right, and are so impudent as to give God thanks for them: like those thieves of whom Zachary speaks in the eleventh Chapter, the third and fourth Verses. Feed the stock of the slaughter, whose possessors slay them and hold themselves not guilty, and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich.
6. Of the Kingdom of Yucatan
In the year 1526, a vile and impious man through his fawning and lying, was made Governor of the Kingdom of Yucatan; which was the manner that other tyrants used for the obtaining of their presentments and offices; for by their authority they had greater opportunities to do mischief. This Kingdome did abound with people both because of the temper of the air, and for the plenty of provision, in which it excelled the Country of Mexico. But those things for which it is chiefly famous are Honey and Wax, which it afforded to all the Countries of India, which have been hitherto discovered. It is three hundred miles in compass. This Nation either as to policy and good government, or as to their way of living and conversation, excelled all the rest; and well deserved to have had more knowledge of the true God. There might have been erected by the Spaniards many brave and large Cities where they might have liv'd as in a Paradise, had they not rendered themselves totally unworthy of any such benefits through their own enormities and impieties. This Tyrant with three hundred men made war upon these innocent Indians living peaceably in their houses, and offering injury to none, destroying many people. And because the Country hath no Gold, for if it had they had soon ended the lives of the inhabitants, by digging in the Mines, making a gain of those bodies and souls for which Christ died, therefore those that they left alive, they made slaves of, sending whole ships away freighted with people, bartering them for Wine, Oyle, Vinegar, Pork, Horses, and other things which they stood in need of. Out of fifty or a hundred Virgins which he had chosen out, he exchanged the best of them for the smallest vessel of Wine, Oyle, Vinegar or Pork: and once it chanced that a youth who was the Son of a Prince, was exchanged for a Cheese, and a hundred persons for a horse. This was his employment, from the year 26. to 33. till news was brought of the Regions of Peru, whither the Spaniards going put an end to their villanies here for a small time. But after some days were past over, they returned again to their former rapines and dishonoring of God by their wicked courses; neither have they yet made an end, so that now three hundred miles of Land lie untill'd and void of inhabitants. The particulars of their cruelty are not to be remembered, only two or three that come into my mind I will relate.
While the Spaniards were hunting after the Indians with their dogs, they met with an Indian Women, who being sick and seeing that she was not able to escape them, taking a rope hang'd her self, hanging also her childe of a year old about her waste by the feet; but the dogs immediately fell upon the childe, only he was baptized by a religious person before he died.
When the Spaniards departed out of the Kingdome invited the son of a certain Noble man, Governor either of a City or great Province, that he would go along with him, who answering that he was unwilling to leave his native Country, they threatened to cut off his ears unless he would go along with him; notwithstanding all which, he persevered in his resolution; whereupon they cut off his nose and the upper part of his lip, with as little remorse as if they had been paring their nails.
This Furcifur carried himself obscenely toward a deserving religious person, boasting to him, that he had got as many Indians as he could with childe, that they might yield the more profit in the sale of them. In this Kingdome, or else in some province of new Spain, it happened that a Spaniard being a hunting, his dogs seemed to him to be a hungry, whereupon he took a little Infant out of the mothers arms, and cutting off the thighs and arms of the Childe, cast it to his dogs, and when they had devoured those, he cast the whole body to them. Thus we see how they were delivered over to a reprobate sense; and what a value they put upon these creatures formed after the Image of God. But now worse things follow.
Many cruelties, and indeed innumerable which were never before heard of, I doe omit, only I shall add this one. These ambitious, blind and execrable tyrants going out of this Region to seek more riches, there went with them four Monks of the Order of St. Francis together with Father James, to keep the Country in peace, and to bring the remainder of those that were left by 'heir preaching to the knowledge of Christ. I do believe that these were they that in the year thirty four were solicited by the Indians to come into their Country, and to preach to them the knowledge of the true God. To which purpose they gathered assemblies and congregations together, that they might know what fort of people these were that call'd themselves Fathers, and Fryers, who differed so much from the rest of the Spaniards, that vex'd them with so much affliction and torment. At length they receiv'd them, but on condition that they would come alone and not let any other of the Spaniards enter in among them, which those religious persons promis'd, for they had not only a liberty, but a command from the Governor of New Spain, that they should so promise them, and that the Spaniards should do them no harm or injury. Upon which they began to preach the Gospel among them, and to declare to them the holy intention of the King of Spain, of which things they had not yet received any knowledge, nor that they had any other King then him who oppressed them with so much tyranny. The religious persons had not been there above forty days, when they began to bring in all their Idols, and to commit them to the fire; and afterwards they brought their children, whom they loved as dearly as the apples of their eyes, to the religious persons to be instructed. And thus being persuaded by these religious persons they did more then ever had been done in the Indies before (for what ever the Tyrants that had oppressed them were wont to tell them they only spoke in contempt and derision on the Indians) for above twelve or fifteen Kings of large Provinces, together with their subjects by their Council and consent, all of them acknowledged the King of Castile to be their superior Lord of their own accord, and received him for their Emperor, as he was King of Spain.
Thus not without the great joy of those devout persons, an entry was made, for the bringing of those inhabitants that were remaining in these Countries to the knowledge of Christ; but in the mean while by another way there entered in among them about eighteen Spanish Horsemen and twelve footmen, bringing with them great loads of Idols, which they had brought out of other Countries. The Captain of the foresaid Spaniards called to him one of the Noble men of this Country, and commanded him to take these Idols and to distribute them among his people, and bring in exchange an Indian man or woman for every Idol, otherwise threatening to make war upon him; the foresaid Lord out of fear took those Idols, giving every one of them to his subjects, commanding them to worship them, and also to send back in recompense to the Spaniards some of their people to serve them. The Indians terrif'd delivered their children after a certain proportion, those that had two giving one, and those that had three delivering two; and thus they ended this sacrilegious merchandize, and so the Cacique gave satisfaction to the Spaniards; I dare not call them Christians. One of these sacrilegious Robbers, John Garcia by name, being very sick and like to die had under his bed two burdens of these Idols, who when the Indian woman that looked to him was with him, commanded her that she should not deliver those Idols at a small rate, because they were of the best fort, and therefore that she should not fell them, but for an Indian man or woman in exchange, and as he was making this kind of will he expired. And who can now question but that his soul is now tormented in the flames of Hell!
Consider by this what was the progress of Religion; and what examples of Christianity the Spaniards did shew, when they came into America, how they honor'd God themselves, or how much they car'd that the Indians should know the right worship of him; Judge which is the greater crime, that of Jeroboam who made Israel to sin, causing two golden Calves to bet set up, and to be worshipt by the people, or of the Spaniards, who caused the Indians to buy their Idols, and made merchandize of them. These are the deeds of the Spaniards, who most often, out of a desire of heaping up gold, did fell and do yet fell, did deny and do yet deny Christ their Redeemer. The Indians seeing that the Promises of the religious persons, that the Spaniards should not enter into their Country, were not performed, and that the Spaniards brought Idols out of other places to sell them into their Country, whereas the religious persons had made them to burn all theirs, that there might be but one worship of one God, came and spoke to them in this manner. Why have you told us so many untruths, promising so faithfully to us that the Spaniards should not come into our Country? Why have you burnt our gods, when as they do bring and fell others among us? are the gods of other Countries better then our own? The Friars, although they had little to say, yet they made a shift to pacific their mind, and immediately went to the Spaniards declaring to them the evil which they had done, humbly beseeching them to depart. Which the Spaniards not only utterly denied, but also, which was more wicked and abominable: they persuaded the Indians that they were called by the Friars: which being believ'd, they took council to kill the religious persons, who being admonished by certain other Indians, avoided that danger and fled. But after their departure, knowing the falsehood and treachery of the Spaniards, they sent messengers fifty miles after them, craving pardon in the name of the Indians, and entreating them to return.
The religious persons, as upright servants of God and zealous for the souls of those poor people, gave credit to the messengers and returned, and were entertained as if they had been Angels sent from heaven, and remained with the Indians for five months, receiving a thousand courtesies from them. But when the Spaniards would not depart from thence, although the Viceroy used all his endeavors to recall them; he declared them Traitors and guilty of high Treason; and moreover, when the persevered in their tyranny and oppression, the religious persons seeing, that though revenge came late, that yet they would not go unpunished, and fearing left that revenge might fall upon their own heads, and besides not being able to preach the Gospel in quiet, by reason of the incursions of the Spaniards, resolv'd to leave the Kingdome, which now remains destitute of all knowledge, the souls of these poor Indians remaining in their past miseries of ignorance and Heathenism, all the streams of divine knowledge being taken from them, by these cursed Spaniards, as when water is taken from the young plants; for at the time when they went away, the Indians were very covetous after the knowledge of our Religion.
7. Of the Province of Santa Marta [Colombia]
The Province of St. Martha by reason of the Golden Mines and the fertility of the place was a brave Island; wherefore from the year 1528. to 1542. many tyrants went thither by sea, with their incursions wasting and spoiling all the Island, after a strange manner destroying the inhabitants, and robbing them of all their Gold. And so the whole Country was wasted by them, especially all the coast and the places adjoining, until the year 1523. And because it was a fruitful Country, there went thither at several times several Captains, succeeding one another in cruelty, so that every one striv'd to outvie his predecessor in the inventions of exquisite torments to afflict the poor people. And thus also in this place they confirm'd our foresaid Axiom. In the year 1529. there went thither a very great tyrant accompanied with many Troops, with an intention to exceed all the rest of his predecessors in cruelty, who took away abundance of treasure from the people in the space of seven years; in which exile he dying without repentance, into his place other tyrants succeeded, where with their bloody hands and impious points of their swords they destroy'd all the rest that their predecessors had spared. And such a desolation they brought upon many provinces by their accustomed ways of cruelty, and inflicted so many torments upon the Princes and people to force them to declare where their treasure lay, that from the year 1529. to this day they depopulated above four hundred mile of land, the number of people in there parts slain being not inferior to those who had been slain in other places.
If I had decreed to reckon up the impieties, slaughters, cruelties, violences, rapines, murders, and iniquities, and other crimes committed by the Spaniards against God, the King, and these innocent Nations, I should make two large a volume: yet I shall do my endeavor, if God grant me life. For the present I will rehearse a part of those things which the Bishops of these Provinces wrote to the King our Sovereign Lord. These were letters dated the 25. of May, in the year, 1541. In which these words are written. ''I tell your sacred ''Majesty, that there is no remedy to ease ''this afflicted Nation, but to deliver it out ''of the power of these step-fathers, and to ''give it into the power of a loving husband, which may use it with more gentleness as befits it, and that as soon as ''may be; for it there be any delay, it must ''of necessity perish. And a little after he proceeds thus. ''But which it shall be ap-''parent to your Majesty, how deservedly ''the Governors of these Provinces ought ''to be deprived of their dignity, that the ''Provinces may be eased; which is it be not ''suddenly done, these provinces will never be eased. This also your Majesty ''may further take notice of, that they are ''not men that live here but Devils, that ''there are no servants of God or the King ''to be found, but traitors both to the ''Law and King. Now certainly there is nothing more destructive to the peace of the Nation, and that hinders more the conversion of those that live there in peace, then the cruel and hard usage which the Spaniards afflict those innocent people withal, which bred in them such a loathing of the Spanish name, that nothing is more odious and detestable. For the Indians call them Yaes, which in their language signifies Devils. And truly not without reason, for the actions of these people have been more like the actions of Devils, whereby it happens that the Indians seeing such crimes committed by the Spaniards both of high and inferior conditions, so void of pity and compassion, cannot choose but think amiss both of God, the King, and of the Christians; and to labor to change them to the contrary, is a vain and fruitless labor, and whereby a greater advantage is given them to laugh at Christ and his Law. And as for the Indians that take arms to defend themselves they think it better to die once, then to fall into the hands of their enemies, and to be afflicted with many deaths.
These things, most invincible Cesar, I have learnt by experience. He adds further, Your Majesty hath in these Countries more friends and servants then you are aware of; for there is no soldier of all those that serve in these parts, who does not publicly and openly profess, whether he rob, steal, kill or burn the subjects of your Majesty, for the obtaining of gold, but that he does it to do your Majesty service. Wherefore most invincible Cesar it would be requisite, that you should signify by the severe correction of some, how displeased you were with such services, whereby they shew themselves so disobedient and refractory to God himself. Which words are taken from the writings of the said Bishop of St. Martha, out of which it is manifest, what strange things have been committed, and are daily committed by them. They call the Indians Warlike, that continually fly to the Mountains to avoid the cruelty of the Spaniards, and they call those the Indians and Inhabitants of the Country, whom they have subjected to the hardship of a perpetual slavery by the terror of their massacres: by which they have been depopulated and wasted, as appears out of the letters of the foresaid Bishop, who recites but a very few of those things that were committed. The Indians of these Regions us'd to break forth into these expressions, when they are forc'd naked through the craggy passages of the mountains, if at any time they chanced to saint with weariness (for then they are constantly beaten with canes, sometimes their teeth knocked out with the hilts of their swords, to make them rise and proceed on in their journeys without any rest) then were they wont I say to break forth into these expressions, Oh how envious art thou! I faint, kill me, and put an end to my days: this they sigh forth, scarcely able to draw out their words, the certain signs of an inward anguish and deep distress; but who can comprehend in words the hundredth part of these calamities and afflictions wherewith the Spaniards do torment the poor Indians; God of his mercy bring them to the knowledge of those who are able to remedy and prevent them for the future.
8. Of the Province of Cartagena [Colombia]
This Province is distant from the Island of St. Martha toward the West 50 miles, and is situated upon the confines of the Kingdome of Cerusia, being stretched upon the sea coast to the Bay of Uraba a hundred miles in length, Southward it is also stretched to a very great length. These Provinces from the year 1498. to this present year were handled after a most cruel manner, and depopulated with several kinds of slaughters, as it happened in the Islands of St. Martha: but that I may come to a quick conclusion I shall cease to speak of every particular, that I may make hast to the rehearsal of those detestable crimes which they committed in other Countries.
From the shore of Paria, to the Bay of Venezuela, which takes up above two hundred miles in length, the Spaniards committed most wonderful depopulations; for they gave themselves wholly to their wonted Robberies, enslaving also infinite numbers of men, on purpose to sell them for money, against all the faith and pledges which they had given them for their security (for those were things which they never observed) though they were entertained by these innocent creatures with all civility, and fostered in their houses like their parents, or children, serving them in all things to the utmost of their power, and making them masters of all that was in their possession. It can hardly be said or expressed, with how many injuries and unjust actions they used to afflict the poor Indians in these Countries from 1510. until this present year. Two or three of their most heinous crimes I will rehearse, whereby the reader may judge of the wickedness of those which remain untold.
Into the Island of the Trinity being larger and more fertile then Sicily, and stored with Inhabitants, according to their quality, more ingenuous & virtuous than any other Nation of the Indians, a certain Robber went in the year 1510. accompanied with fifty or sixty other fellow thieves, who presently proclaim'd an edict that all the Indians should come into the Island to live with him. The Indians received them as their natural Countrymen, both Princes and subjects yielding obedience to them with much cheerfulness, bringing provision to them every day as much as would have sufficed to have served a far greater number; for this is the custom of the Inhabitants of this new world, to afford all necessaries to the Spaniards in great abundance. A little while after the Spaniards built a great house for the Indians to dwell in, for they would not that all of them should have more then one house, where they might all dwell together, that they might with more convenience execute that which they had in their resolutions; which they did accordingly: for when they had thatched it over, and raised it to the height of two men, they shut up abundance of them in the said house upon pretence to hasten the work; but in truth, that those within might not be seen by those without; then a part of them compass'd the house with their weapons that none might enter in or go forth; after that others of them went in, and unsheathing their swords, they threatened death to the naked Indians if they stir'd, and then bound them. And if any of them went about to fly, they were in the place immediately cut in pieces; some few that escaped, part wounded, and part whole, joining themselves with those who stood without, being about two hundred in number, with bows and arrows retreated to another house, who being all at one end stoutly defending the entry of the house, the Spaniards set fire to the other end, and so they all there perished by fire. Hence they departed with their prisoners, all they could lay hold on, being about a hundred ad eighty, to the Island of St. John where the sold half, and from thence also to the Island of Hispaniola, where they sold the rest. Now when I taxed the Captain for his wickedness, after he came to the Island of St. John? He gave me this answer, Pray sir be patient, for I was commanded by those that sent me, that those that I could not take by fair means, I should seize by force: yet the said Captain had related to me for certain, that in the Island of the Trinity he found them both fathers and mothers to him, which he spoke to his greater confusion and the aggravation of his crime. Infinite of other things they did, taking captive these poor people against all faith given. Let these actions be well considered, and whether the Indians so taken may be justly enslaved or no.
Once the Fryers of the Order of St. Dominick consulted about sending some of their Order to this Island, to spread the light of the Gospel among the Indians, for the salvation of their souls; Whereupon they sent a Licentiate, famous for his sanctity with a lay man, to accompany him, to visit the Country, converse with the Inhabitants, and to seek out fit places for the building of Monasteries. The religious persons being arriv'd were received as Angels from heaven, ear being giv'n to their words with all attention, alacrity and affection, that they were able at that time, for they were ignorant of our language; it happened afterwards when the religious persons were gone, that there came a band of Soldiers, who according to their customs of fraud and impiety, carried away captive the Prince of the Province, who (either because that name was given him by the Religious persons, or by the other Spaniards) was call'd Alfonsus; for they delight to be called by the names of the Christians, and therefore before they are informed of any thing else they desire to be baptized. By these soldiers was Alfonsus craftily seduced a shipboard under pretence that they would give him a Banquet; with their Prince there went seventeen other persons, for they had a confidence that the Fryers would keep the Spaniards from doing them any injury, for otherwise the said King would not have trusted them so far; but they were no sooner on shipboard, but the Spaniards hoisted up their sails for Hispaniola, where they sold all the Indians for slaves; Now all the Region being troubled for the loss of their King and Queen, stock to the Religious persons, and had like to have slain them; who perceiving the injustice of the Spaniards were very much troubled; and I do believe, that they had rather have lost their lives, then that the Indians should have suffered such an injury to the hinderance of their salvation; but the Indians were satisfied with the promises of the religious persons, who told them, that as soon as any ships came to the Island, they would take the first opportunity to go to Hispaniola and endeavor to get their King and Queen set at liberty.
Providence sent a ship thither to confirm the condemnation of those that govern'd, by which these religious persons sent to the religious persons of Hispaniola, but got no redress, for the Spaniards there were receivers of the prey. When the religious persons, who had promised to the Indians that their King should return within four months, saw that he did not come in eight months, they prepared themselves for death, and to give up their lives to Christ to whom they had offer'd them before their departure out of Hispaniola; and so the innocent Indians reveng'd themselves upon the innocent Friars. For the Indians, believed that the religious persons were guilty of the said treachery, partly because that their promises concerning the return of their King in four months had prov'd so vain, partly because the Indians make no distinction between the religious persons and the thieving Spaniards. It happened also that at another time, through the great tyranny and oppression of the evil Christians, that the Indians slew two religious persons of the order of St. Dominic, of which I was a very real witness, as even one of those who escaped the same fate by a great miracle, which I had resolved not to have mentioned, left the horror of the fact should deter others. Wherefore to avoid prolixity, I shall say no more concerning these things, leaving them to be revealed at the day of judgment, when God shall pour his vengeance down upon these robbers and destroyers of mankind. In these Provinces in the Bay of Coderat, there was a City, the Lord of which was called Higueroto, a name common either to the persons, or to the officers of the place. He was a person so milde and gentle, and all his subjects endued with such virtue using the Spaniards that arriv'd there with that civility, that they thought nothing too much for them, bestowing all things needfull either for sustenance or delight that their Country afforded. This Lord had saved many from death, who had escaped out of other Provinces, from the murthers and slaughters of the Spaniards, being a kind of a fanctuary for the fick and half famished persons that came into his Country, and when they were recovered sent them back again to the Island of pearls where the Spaniards liv'd, though he had an opportunity to have slain them, there being none to regard or miss them; in brief, the Spaniards had all the houses of the inhabitants in common, and all the subjects of Higueroto they called their own subjects; but a persidious Spaniard took councel how he might destroy this Region which seem'd it self so safe and secure; presently therefore he sayl'd thither, and invited a great number of men to come a shipboard, who giving credit to the Spaniards, came willingly to them; but they were no sooner entred the ship, but the Spaniards hoysed sayl for the Island of St. John where they sold them all. At the same time I arriv'd at this Island, where I saw this tyrant, and was told the relation of what he had done. He wholly destroyed the City it self, which the other Spaniards who were wont to harrace all the sea coast, were notwithstanding much troubled at, abominating acions so hainous committed against them who had been so courteous and liberal to them, and where they had been entertain'd as in their own houses.
I will not recite the infinite wickednesses which have been committed by them, and are daily committed among them.
These Spaniards departed from the sea coast to the Islands of Hispaniola and St. John, carrying with them above two millions of men to the said Islands, which they afterwards destroyed through hard labor and continual bad usage; those that before liv'd in this Island, being not reckoned into their number, who were an infinite and unspeakable number, and it is a most sad thing to consider, and that which would move the most cruel hearts, to see all this fertile shore lie desert and depopulated. This is also a known thing, that they never do transport Indians from these places, but in their voyage they do pay the third part of them as a tribute to the waves, besides those that are murdered in their own houses. The cause of all these things are their own wicked purposes; that is to say, by the sale of the Indians to heap up treasure, yet furnishing the ships not with half provisions for the sustenance of those that they transport, because they would not be at too much charges; and sometimes there are hardly provisions enough to suffice the Spaniards themselves, so that the Indians ready to die for hunger and thirst, are immediately thrown into the sea. And it was related to me for certain, that a ship going from Hispaniola to the Island of Lucayos, sailed thither without any compass, only by the carcasses that floated up and down the sea. Afterwards when they are landed, where they are carried to be sold, there is no man that would not be mov'd with compassion, to see both old and young, men and women, naked and hungry, drop and faint as they go along. Afterwards they divide them like sheep, separating sons from fathers, wives from their husbands; and then making up a company of ten or twenty, those that set out the ships, and fitted them with necessaries, presently cast lots for their shares. And when the lot fell upon a company that had an old or a sick man, he to whom the lot fell, was wont to break forth into these expressions, Cursed be this old fellow, why do you give him me? to bury him? why do you give me this sick man? to be his keeper? And thus let us consider, in what estimation the Indians are among the Spaniards, and how the precept of Charity on which the Law and the Prophets depends is observed among them.
There is nothing more detestable or more cruel, then the tyranny which the Spaniards use toward the Indians for the getting of pearl. Surely the infernal torments cannot much exceed the anguish that they endure, by reason of that way of cruelty; for they put them under water some four or five ells deep, where they are forced without any liberty of respiration, to gather up the shells wherein the Pearls are; sometimes they come up again with nets full of shells to take breath, but if they stay any while to rest themselves, immediately comes a hangman row'd in a little boat, who as soon as he hath well beaten them, drags them again to their labor. Their food is nothing but fish, and the very same that contains the Pearl, with a small portion of that bread which that Country affords; in the first whereof there is little nourishment; and as for the latter, it is made with great difficulty, besides that they have not enough of that neither for sustenance; they lye upon the ground in setters, left they should run away; and many times they are drown'd in this labor, and are never seen again till they swim upon the top of the waves: oftentimes they also are devoured by certain sea monsters, that are frequent in those seas. Consider whether this hard usage of the poor creatures be consistent which the precepts with God commands concerning charity to our neighbor, by those that cast them so undeservedly into the dangers of a cruel death, causing them to perish without any remorse or pity, or allowing them the benefit of the Sacraments, or the knowledge of Religion; it being impossible for them to live any time under the water; and this death is so much the more painful, by reason that by the coarctation of the breast, while the lungs strive to do their office, the vital parts are so afflicted that they dye vomiting the blood out of their mouths. Their hair also, which is by nature black, is hereby chang'd and made of the same color with that of the sea Wolves; their bodies are also so besprinkled with the froth of the sea, that they appear rather like monsters then men. By this intolerable labor, or rather diabolical exercise, they have consumed all the Lucayans, for their particular gain; out of every Indians labour gaining above fifty or a hundred Crowns. They sold them also against all justice; only because Lucayans were most skillful swimmers. There perished also many of the Inhabitants of other Provinces in this place.
Through this Province runs the River of Yuya Pari which rises in other Countries about two hundred miles distant. Into this River entered a perfidious Tyrant, wasting many miles of Land, committing many slaughters, consuming many by fire, and putting an infinite number of these poor Indians to the sword, that liv'd peaceably in their own houses without any suspicion of making disturbance. At length he dy'd an evil death, and all his forces came to ruin, though he were succeeded by many others, not inferior to him in impiety, who daily destroy the souls of the poor Indians, for whom the blood of Christ was spilt.
9. Of the Kingdom of Venezuela [Criticism of German/Dutch imperialists]
In the year 1526, our Sovereign Lord the King through the false persuasions of some evil Counselors made over to certain Dutch Merchants the Kingdom of Venezuela, being more large and long then Spain, giving to the Governor a full and plenary jurisdiction over the said People upon certain conditions. They entered this Region with about 30. men, where they found the people affable and courteous as they were in other Countries of India before they were killed up by the Spaniards. They by many degrees crueler then the rest of whom we have spoken shewed themselves more fierce and greedy then Tigers, Wolves or Lyons; for having a jurisdiction over the Land, and therefore possessing it more freely, they bestirred themselves with greater fury and covetousness in the heaping up of Gold and Silver, then any of their Predecessors had done before them; laying aside all fear of God, or of the King, and forgetting all humanity.
These incarnate devils laid waste and spoiled above 400. miles of most fertile land, containing very great Provinces, fruitful Vallies forty miles in length; and an infinite number of Villages abounding with Gold and Silver. So many, and so many several regions they so utterly depopulated, that they hardly left a Messenger of these sad tidings, but those which hiding themselves in the Caverns and Bowels of the Earth escaped the thirst of their enraged swords. With new and unusual forts of torments they destroyed above four or five millions of people; Neither do they yet put an end to their abominable crimes and enormities: Three or four of their mad actions I will rehearse, whereby the reader may judge of the rest.
The chief Lord of the Province they took captive, putting him to several torments to squeeze his Gold from him; but he escaping fled to the Mountains, and thereupon his Subjects that lay hid among the Woods and Bushes began to raise a tumult; The Spaniards followed destroying abundance of the people; and as for those who were taken alive, they were publicly sold for slaves. In many Provinces, and indeed in most Provinces where they came before the captivity of the chief Lord, they were still welcom'd by the Indians with Songs and Dances and great Presents of Gold; though the thanks which they gave them was always with the points of their swords, still recompensing them with Massacres. One day when they came forth to meet the Spaniards, the German Tyrant and Captain caus'd an infinite number of them to be shut up in a house made up with straw, where he commanded that they should be all cut in pieces. Now by reason that there were beams in the house whither the Indians got up to avoid the fury of the German swords; therefore (O cruel beasts) the Governor sent certain men to set fire upon the house, and so burnt them alive: So that now the whole Region lay waste and desolate, the inhabitants being all fled to the Mountains for safety.
They came afterwards to another large Province near to that of St. Martha, where they found the Indians in their houses and Cities very peaceably employed about their occasions, where they liv'd a good while at the charges of the inhabitants, the Indians serving them like men in whose power their lives and safeties were, enduring beyond imagination their continual importunities and daily oppressions, which were almost intolerable. This being added, which I said before, that one Spaniard consumes in one day as much as would suffice to serve an Indian family consisting commonly of ten persons for a whole month. At that time the Indians presented them with several great sums of Gold, doing many other kindnesses for them. At length when they were about to go away, as a recompense for all their courteous entertainment, they resolv'd to leave them after this manner. The German Tyrant gave command that all the Indians with their wives and children if possible, should be gathered together and shut up in one large place; which done, they were also commanded to signify to them, that whoever desired to be at liberty, must redeem themselves with their wives and children at a certain Ransom, impos'd upon them at the discretion of the Governor; and to hasten them the more and bring them to a greater necessity, he commanded that no sustenance should be given them, till they had paid the sum required. Hereupon many sent home for the price of their Redemption, that they might be at liberty to seek for Victuals: But they had not been long at home ere they were brought back again by the Robbers, and shut up in the same place, that being oppressed with hunger and thirst they might be forc'd to redeem themselves once more; and thus were many of them three or four times fain to ransom themselves. And in this manner a Country abounding with Gold and people was totally destroy'd; in which there was a Valley forty miles long, where they burnt a Village that contained above a thousand houses. This Governor went further, having a great desire to see the lower parts of Peru; for which journey he provided an infinite number of Indians, lading them with chains and heavy burdens; and if any of them fainted by the way, because they would not stand to loosen the chains, they cut off their hands and heads, casting the head one way, and the body another, and their burdens were divided and impos'd upon others. And now should I reckon the Provinces which he laid desert, the Cities which he burnt, for all their houses are of straw, besides the particular slaughters which they made, though I am confident of the truth thereof, yet should I scarcely be believed, by reason that so much cruelty could not be suppos'd in man.
This course took other Tyrants that departed from Venezuela and the Province of St. Martha, with a resolution to make a further discovery of the Divine Gold of Peru: But they found that glorious Country so desert, so depopulated, so wasted and destroyed, that they themselves though a crew of blood thirsty Tyrants, were amaz'd and wondered to behold such ruins and depopulations.
These and many other things were prov'd before the fiscal of the Indies Council, and the several proofs are kept by the said Council; though it is most certain that they never put to death any of those cursed Tyrants, as if all the devastations and murders by them committed had not been at all to be regarded. For hitherto the Ministers of Justice in India through their extraordinary and damned blindness, have never been very solicitous to inquire after the crimes and slaughters which those Tyrants have committed, or daily do commit. Only they tell you slightly, that because such and such a one did ill and handled the Indians so cruelly, that therefore the Treasury of the King was much diminished; and this is all they do toward the suppression of so many heinous actions. Neither are those, which are prov'd, verifi'd to any purpose, neither is there that credit given to them as indeed there should be; for if they would but do their duty both to God and the King, they would soon made the King to have been cheated by the German Tyrants of above three millions of Gold; for the Region of Venezuela being about 400. miles in length, for the happiness of the soil and the abundance of Gold is not inferior to any of the rest: and thus in the space of seventeen years wherein these enemies of God and the King, have done nothing else but destroy'd and wasted these Countries, they have, as I said before, defrauded the King not of less then three millions of Gold. Neither is it to be hop'd that these losses can be repaired as long as the World stands, unless God by some miracle should raise from the dead so many people as have been slain; besides the blasphemies and curses wherewith they have been bold to provoke even God himself. But what recompense can be made for the destroying of so many souls, which through the cruelty and tyranny of so many blood-sucking Tyrants are now tormented in hell? This also may be added by way of conclusion to the rest of their Crimes, that from the time that they first entered this Region, which is now seventeen years ago, they never ceas'd to send whole Ships laden with Indian Captives to the Islands of St. Martha, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and St. John, having sold at the least a million of men; neither they yet forebear in this year 1542. that abominable practice; the Royal Council of the King taking no notice thereof: and that, which they cannot choose but see, they not only dissemble, but suffer and up hold them that do it. And as for the rest of their Crimes and infinite devastations, which they spread all along this part of the Continent, for a matter of 400. miles in length, together with Venezuela which is under their jurisdiction, they shut their eyes, when they might have remedied them. The reason why they did captivate the Indians was only this; out of a perverse, obstinate and blind desire of heaping up Gold and riches, which is common to all that have gone into America. For these quiet lambs, they drew them by violence out of their houses, carrying them, together with their wives and children into Captivity, afflicting them in those horrid manners as abovesaid, and burning them with the mark of Slaves.
10. Of the Provinces of the Country of Florida
Into these Countries there went two several Tyrants at several times, from the year 1510. or eleven, that they might perpetrate the same abominable actions as the rest had done; that by the blood and destruction of the people, they might obtain Offices and dignities which they were taken away by an evil death, the houses also which they had built them (this I witness of all the three) at the cost of humane blood perish'd with them, the memory of them vanishing from the face of the Earth, as if they had never been. They left these Countries very much troubled and confused, having incurred no small infamy by reason of the Crimes which they committed, though they were not many: for God cut them off at the beginning, leaving the revenge of those evils, which I know, and have seen done in the Indies, to be poured forth upon this place. Of the fourth Tyrant that came well instructed lately in the year 1538. we have had no news these three years. This we are sure of, that at the beginning he carried himself very cruelly; and if he be alive, most assuredly he hath destroy'd an infinite number of people; for he among all those who have done most mischief in ruining both Provinces and Kingdoms, is famous for his Savage fury; wherefore I am apt to believe that God hath put the same end to his life, as to the others.
Three or four years after these things happened which I have related, the other Tyrant that went along with him who there ended his days, departed out of that Country; whose cruelties and rapines while the chief Captain liv'd, and after his death were so many, as we since understood, that what we said before, may still stand for an Axiom, that the further they went, the more exorbitant was their fury and iniquity. But because it is so irksome to me to rehearse these Bloody acts not of men but of beasts, I will no longer dwell upon them, but go to those things which followed after.
They found a numerous people, wise and well moraliz'd, over whom they exercis'd their wonted tyrannies, seeking to strike an awe and dread into them, with the anguish and the burdens wherewith they oppressed them. And if they fainted by the way, they would not take the pains to open the setters, but came to the fainting person, and cut off his head or his hands, and so left them. Once entering into a certain Village, they were with great joy and exultation received by the Spaniards, who gave them provision till they were satisfied, allowing them also six hundred Indians to carry their burdens, and to look to their horses. But the Spaniards being departed, a certain Captain, of Kin to the chief Tyrant, returned to spoil them that mistrusted nothing; who there flew the King of the Province with his Lance, and committed many other cruelties. In another Village, whose Inhabitants seem'd to be more vigilant, by reason of the horrid iniquities which, as they heard, the Spaniards were wont to commit, they put all to the sword, young and old, little and great, Lord and subject, sparing none that came in their way.
The chief Tyrant, with a nose and lips down to his beard, having call'd together a great number of Indians, reported to have been about two hundred, caused them all to have their members lopt off, leaving them in this sad and painful condition, the blood streaming forth, to be witnesses of the mercy of these persons baptiz'd in the Catholic Faith.
Now let us judge of the love which such kind of men bear toward Christianity, or after what manner they believe in God, whom they boast to be good and just, and whose Law is without blemish. Most pernicious have been the evils committed by these wicked men, the sons of perdition. At length this wretched Captain dyed without any repentance neither can we doubt but that he now lies shelter'd in the shades of Hell, unless God of his infinite mercy and goodness, not according to his deserts, have taken compassion on him.
11. Of the River of Plate, or the Silver River [Rio de la Plata, Argentina/Uruguay]
About the years one thousand five hundred and two or three, some four or five Captains undertook a journey to the River of Plate, which contains many Provinces and Countries, which flourish with people very rational, and of handsome dispositions. In general we can say that they did there commit many horrid mischiefs and execrable murders. But being at a very great distance from those Indians, of whom we have talked more at large, we can relate nothing singular or particular; only we doe not question, but they do employ themselves in the same works of darkness as hath been hitherto practiced in divers other places; for they are Spaniards still, and many of them the very same who were present at the other Massacres, and having the same intention to become rich and potent, which they cannot obtain but by the same courses as they formerly took, following the bloody footsteps of those who have already destroyed and slain so many Indians.
After I had written what I have above mentioned, it hath been related to me for certain, that they have depopulated and laid waste many Provinces and Kingdoms in those Regions, rendering themselves so much the more exquisite and devilish in their oppressions, slaughters, and massacres of those people, by how much they are at a farther and more convenient distance from Spain; and laying aside all thoughts of Justice, which indeed was never practis'd in those Regions of America, as doth sufficiently appear by what we have above written. Among all the Enormities which shall follow after, this one was read in the Council. A certain Governor had given in charge to his soldiers, that into whatever Village they came that should deny them provision, that they should there put all the Inhabitants to the sword. Upon which Warrant the soldiers went, and because the Indians would not submit to them as to enemies, fearing rather to come into their fight, then that their Liberality or Store would be defective, they immediately put to the sword above 5000. of them. A certain number of men also living in peace, offer'd their service to them; they afterwards were by chance summon'd by the Governor, and because they came not so suddenly as his fury expected, he thereupon commanded that they should be delivered to those Indians that were their enemies. With tears and outcries they beseeched him that he would rather permit them to die by their hands, then deliver them up to the mercy of their foes; and when they would not come out of the houses where they were, they were all torn, crying out, and saying, “We come in peace to serve you, and you now kill us, may our blood sprinkled upon these walls be a testimony of our unjust death, and of your cruelty.” Certainly this was a deed not only to be bemoaned, but also to be bewailed and pity'd.
12. Of the great Kingdoms, and large Provinces of Peru
In the year 1531, a great Hellus and devourer of men went into the Kingdoms of Peru, upon the same pretences, and with the same intention as the rest; and being one of those who had been present at the murders and slaughters committed in other places, in the year 1510. therefore he proceeded with a greater hardness of heart in his outrages and robberies; and being a man of no faith or truth, he laid waste Cities and Villages, slaying all the Inhabitants; and was the cause of all those mischiefs that followed afterward in those Kingdoms; to undertake the Narration of which, and to represent them all to the Reader, is a thing impossible, until they shall perfectly and clearly appear at the day of judgment before all men. And for my self, I doe confess, should I go about to describe the deformity, the quality and circumstances of their actions, it would be a task too difficult for me. At his first entrance he wasted certain Villages, and plundred the Country of a great quantity of Gold: And one time coming into an Island adjoining to these Regions, which was known by the name of Pagna, being a fertile Island and full of people: he was receiv'd by the Prince and the inhabitants thereof as if he had been an Angel sent from heaven. But after that six months were past, in which time the Spaniards had consum'd all their provision, they then brought forth the corn which they had reserv'd against times of barrenness for themselves their wives and children, in places under the ground, offering it to them with tears in their eyes, desiring them to do what pleas'd them with it. But they ill rewarded them in the end, killing a very great number of them with their swords and lances, and those whom they took alive they carri'd away into Captivity, emptying and destroying the Country, with many other cruelties.
From thence they went to the Island of Tumbala, which is situated in the Continent, where he kill'd all that fell into his power; and because the people being astonished at their barbarism fled away from them, they accus'd them of Rebellion against the King of Spain. This Tyrant us'd also this kind of subtlty toward the Indians. He commanded those whom he took, and others which brought him presents, still to bring him more, till he saw that they were quite destitute; telling them that he recev'd them now as Vassals and Subjects of the king of Spain; flattering them also and telling them that he would neither take them, nor do them any other injury. As though it had been a thing lawful for him to rob & spoil them, and to terrify them with such kind of strange news before he had receiv'd them into the protection of the King of Spain; or as if after he had so receiv'd them to protection, he had never done any injury or laid any oppression upon them. After this the King and Supreme Emperor of all these Regions, Acaliba by name, brought against the Spainards a great power of pitiful naked Creatures, and arm'd with most ridiculous weapons, not knowing the sharpness of the Spanish Swords and Lances, nor the strength of their Horses; to the place where they lay approach'd the Spaniards, who certainly would rob the devils of Gold if they had it; This King resolv'd to call the Spaniards to an account, for the slaughters of his people, the destruction of his Country, & the robberies which they committed upon his Treasures. But the Spaniards met him, kill'd an infinite number of his people, and seiz'd upon his person, which was carried in a kind of Litter. Now they come to Capitulations about his redemption; He promises ten millions of Crowns, and numbers down fifteen; they promis'd to release him, but never stood to their words, falsifying all the protestations which they made to the King; telling him how that his Subjects were gathered together again by his command. To whom the King made answer, that there cold not be a leaf of a tree moved without his will and authority; but if they were now assembled any where together, it was not by his power; who was now their captive, for they might take away his life if they pleas'd. Notwithstanding all which they consulted whether they should burn him alive or no, which sentence they afterwards passed; but by the entreaty of some, that sentence was mitigated and he was commanded to be strangled. The King understanding that he was to dye, spake to them in these words; Why do you kill me? Did you not promise to set me at liberty, so I would give you Gold? I gave it you, and more then you requir'd; yet if it be your will that I must dye, send to your King of Spain: But ere he could utter more, the flames prevented him. Consider here the equity of this war, the Captivity of this Prince, the sentence of his condemnation, and the execution of that sentence, the conscience of the Spaniards, which nothing deterr'd them from consuming and taking away by violence the great Treasures of this great King and of his Nobles, how they all concur to aggravate their devilish iniquity. Concerning the soul and enormous cruelties wherewith they wholly extirpated the people of these Regions, I will here relate a few, seen by a Friar of the Order of St. Francis, and confirm'd and committed to writing under his own hand and seal, and dispersed not only in these Provinces, but in the Kingdome of Castile. A copy of which I can produce signed with his own hand, wherein these things following are contain'd.
I Brother Mark of Cilicia, of the Order of St. Francis, chief Governor of all the Brotherhood of that Order, in the Provinces of Peru, being one of the first religious persons that went into those parts, speak this for a certain truth, testifying those things which I have seen, and which properly concern the inhabitants of these Countries. First I am an eyewitness, and do affirm upon my knowledge that the inhabitants of Peru were a Nation very courteous, affable, and loving to the Spaniards; and I have seen Presents of Gold, Silver, and precious Stones, given by those people to the Spaniards in great abundance, besides many other offices of service which they daily did for them. Neither did the Indians ever move war till they were forc'd to it by the contumelies and injuries of the Spaniards: But on the contrary, the Spaniards being received by them with all the shews of respect and friendship, were continually furnished both with men and women for their service.
I am also a witness, that upon no occasion given them by the Indians the Spaniards did enter their Country, and burnt to death their great Emperor call'd Ataliba, after they had receiv'd from him as a ransom from his captivity above two millions of Gold; His whole Kingdome having submitted themselves to him without any resistance: With the same cruelty was Cochilimacha his Captain General put to death, who came with other Noble men of the Country to the Spaniards in peace. The same Fate also follow'd another potent Lord of the Province of Quitonia, whom they also burnt without any occasion given, or injury done them: As unjustly did they burn also Schapera, Prince of the Canaries: They also burnt the feet of Aloides the most potent Lord in all the Provinces of Quitonia, afflicting him with many other torments to make him confess where the Gold of Ataliba lay, though as afterwards it appear'd, he knew nothing of it. They also kill'd Quitonius Cocopagauga, Governor of all the Provinces of Quitonia, who at the importunities of Sebastian Barnaclacanus Captain to the Governor came in peace to the Spaniards, because he could not give them the sum which they demanded; thus they put to death divers other of the Noblemen of the Country; and as I understand, it is the intention of the Spaniards not to leave one of the Lords and Noblemen of that place alive.
I do also affirm that I have seen the Spaniards for no other cause, but to satisfy their own wills, dismember the Indians both men and women, cutting off their ears, notes, and hands, and that in so many places and regions, that it would be a tedious thing to relate them. I have also seen the Spaniards set their dogs upon the Indians to devour them; and such a number of houses and villages burnt by them, that it would be over long to rehearse them: This is also a truth, that they would snatch young Infants out of their mothers bellies, and cast them as far as they could throw them; besides many other cruelties which they committed, which did not a little amaze me, though they are too many to be numbered.
I do also affirm that the Spaniards got together as many of the Indians as possibly they could crowd into three houses, and there, upon no occasion given, burnt them to death. At that time it chanc'd that a certain Presbyter, by name Ocena snatch'd an Infant out of the fire, which one of the Spaniards beholding, immediately took the child out of his hands, and threw it into the fire; which Spaniard, the same day that he did this vile act, as he returned to his Quarters, fell down dead by the way, whom I persuaded the rest to leave unburied.
I have also seen them send to the Noblemen and chief Rulers of the Indians to come to them, engaging to secure them, and to let them return in peace; but when they came, they caused them to be immediately burnt. Two they burnt while I was present, one being the Lord of Andonia, the other of Tumbala; neither could I by any persuasions prevail with them to take them out of the fire; and this I speak in the presence of God, and according to my own conscience, that I never knew of any commotion or rebellion raised by the Indians of Peru against them, though it was apparent to all how they did torment and massacre them. Which had they done, considering how the Spaniards broke their faith and promises to them, how against all Law and Right they practic'd nothing else but their desolation and destruction, certainly they had done well, choosing rather noble a death, then to endure such tedious miseries.
I do also affirm out of the mouths of the Indians themselves, that greater quantities of Gold lie hid then are yet discovered, which because of the cruelties and injustice of the Spaniards, they are loath to reveal, nor will reveal, till the tyrannical hand of the Spaniards shall be taken off them, rather choosing to dye, as others have done. Whereby God is offended, and the Affaires of the King many times impeded: For he hath been defrauded of more then would serve to maintain Castile, the recovery of which cannot be performed without much difficulty and large expenses.
And thus far I have related the very words of this religious person, confirm'd by the Bishop of Mexico, before whom he justified all that is here written.
Here we must consider these things to be such as this Religious person was an eyewitness of, having traveled long in those parts for the space of above nine or ten years, and had compassed above fifty or a hundred miles of that Country, when there were but few Spaniards that liv'd in those parts; though afterwards to the noise of the Gold there flocked thither above five thousand, who scattered themselves through those large Provinces, that contain'd in length above five or 600. miles, which they totally laid waste, committing rather more and greater cruelties then they had done in any other Countries; and to say truth, from that time until this present year, they destroy'd a thousand times more persons then he makes mention of, and with less fear, either of God, or of the King, and with less pity they massacred the greatest part of mankind of those that inhabited those Regions, killing above four millions of people.
A few days after, with darts made of reeds, they shot at the most potent Queen, who was the Wife of Elinguus, in whose hands the whole Administration of the Government of these Kingdoms remain'd, which occasioned him to rebel against them, and to this day he holds out against them: At length they took his Queen, and contrary to all right and equity, they put her to death, though it was reported that she was great with child, for no other cause but that they might afflict her husband. But if I should go to particularize the murders and slaughters committed in that Region, the Reader would find them so horrid and so numerous, that in both respects they would far exceed what hath been said touching the other parts of India.
13. Of the New Kingdom of Granada [Colombia]
In the year 1539, many of these Tyrants departing from Venecuela, Santa Marta and Cartagena, met together to make a Conquest of Peru. And many others coming out of the same Regions, having a desire to make a further Progress, they found many pleasant Countries, about some 300. miles from Cartagena, & divers gallant Provinces, well stored with courteous and passable Inhabitants like to other places in India, abounding also in Gold and Precious Stones, which are called Emeralds; which Provinces by a new name they called New Granada, because that the Tyrant that first came into these parts was borne in the Kingdom of Granada. And because those that robb'd and spoil'd these Countries, were cruel men, and perverse Stewards, famous butchers and spillers of humane blood, therefore are their diabolical actions so great and so many, that they far surpassed those which were done before them in other Countries, of which, some of the most select ones I will rehearse.
A certain Governor, because he that destroy'd those parts would not admit him to share with him in his gettings, made certain Inquisitions and proofs, which he got prov'd by many witnesses, by which are apparent the murders and homicides which the other committed; in the committing whereof he perseveres unto this day: There were read in the Council, and stand these recorded.
In the said Examinations the witnesses depose, that when all these Kingdoms were peaceful, the Indians serv'd the Spaniards, getting their living by painful labors in the tillage of the Earth, bringing them what quantity of Gold or Gems they had or could get, having also divided their houses and their habitations among them, of which they are not a little covetous, as being a means for them to obtain their Gold the more easily.
But when all the Indians were laboring under their accustomed tyranny, the Chief Captain and Tyrant of the Spaniards took the King and Lord of the Country, and kept him a prisoner for the space of six or seven months, for no other reason then to squeeze from him what Gold and precious Stones he could. The said King, whose name was Bogota, through fear promised him that he would give him a golden house, hoping by that means to be set at liberty; and so he sent his Indians, who brought back great sums of Gold and Precious Stones. But because the King gave them not a golden house, therefore they told him that he must be put to death, because he did not stand to his word. Whereupon the Tyrant commanded that he should be brought before him; and thus they presum'd to call to judgment one of the greatest Kings of the Land. Whereupon sentence was given that he should be tormented, because he had not given the gold'n house. Whereupon they tortur'd him, dropping hot soup upon his belly; then they fettered his two feet to two posts or stakes, and bound his neck to another; then two men holding his hands, they set fire to his feet, the Tyrant coming now and then to him, and threatening death to him, unless that he would tell them where his treasure lay; But that could not be done, for which torments they soon ended his life. Which things, while they were doing, the displeasure of Heaven fell upon the City for their sakes, whereby it was immediately consum'd with fire. The other Captains of the Spaniards, resolving to walk in their Leaders footsteps, because they knew no Art but that of dismembering the poor people, were not less guilty of the same crimes, with divers and most horrible torments afflicting both the Nobles and the Commoners which submitted themselves unto them, though they would fain have bought their peace with great presents both of Gold and Precious Stones. They tormented them only that they might obtain from them the greater Sums of Gold and Silver; and thus all the Noble Blood of that Country was spilt in a most barbarous and shameful manner.
One time it happened that a certain number of the Indians, full of innocence and simplicity, came to proffer their service to the Spanish Captain; But while they thought themselves safe under the protection of their own humility, a Captain at that instant came to the City where they serv'd their Masters, who, after he had supped, commanded all the Indians, who were sleeping and resting from the hardness of their labors, to be all put to the sword. Which slaughter he made with intention to make himself the more dreadful to all the Country. Once the Captain commanded all the Spaniards that they should bring forth as many of the Indian Lords or common people, as they had in their houses, into a public place, and there kill them; and thus they slew above four or five hundred men. This the witnesses affirm of a certain particular Tyrant, that he exercis'd very great cruelties, by cutting off the hands, notes, and feet both of men and women.
Another time it happened that the chief Captain sent an Officer into the Province of Bogota, to enquire who had succeeded the Prince that was so cruelly murdered; who riding many miles into the Country, took the Indians captive, cutting off the hands and ears of many of them, only because they would not tell who was their Kings Successor; others they threw to their dogs to be torn to pieces; and thus they kill'd and destroy'd great numbers of the Indians in these parts.
Upon a certain day, about the fourth watch of the night, they fell upon many Princes, Peers, and other men who thought themselves in safety; for the Spaniards had made promise to them that they should not receive any injury; upon which promise they came out of their lurking holes in the mountains, returning without any fear or suspicion to their houses; all these this Tyrant took, and causing them to lay their hands upon the ground, with his own sword cut them off, telling them that he would chastise them for not declaring where their King was.
Another time, because the Indians did not bring a chest of Gold to the Captain which he required, he therefore sent forces to make war upon them, in which war so many were slain, so many dismembered, that the number was hardly to be reckoned; besides others that they cast to their dogs, bred up and fed with humane flesh, who were immediately devoured by them.
Another time the Inhabitants of another Province, seeing that they had murdered about four or five of their chief Princes and Rulers, fled in fear to a certain mountain for shelter against their inhumane enemies, where there were got together above four or five thousand Indians, as hath been proved by witnesses: But the Captain, or Governor of the Spaniards, sent a notorious Tyrant with a company of Soldiers to reduce, as he said, those rebellious Indians, that had fled from their slaughters and cruelties; and to chastise them for it, as if they had done an unlawful action; or as if punishment had been due to the Indians, and not rather more deserved by themselves, to have bin us'd without all pity, who had shewd themselves so merciless to others. The Spaniards scale this Mountain by force, for the Indians were weak and unarmed, telling them that they desired peace if they would lay down their Arms; whereupon they all immediately threw away their weapons, which when the chief Tyrant beheld, he sent to certain of the Spaniards to possess themselves of the chief places of strength in the Mountain; and then commanded them to fall upon the Indians. Whereupon they fall upon them as Wolves or Lyons fall upon a stock of sheep, till they were wearied with murdering; but they had no sooner taken breath, but he commanded them again to renew their fury, and caus'd them to precipitate the rest which were remaining from the top of the Rock which was very high and steep. And the witnesses affirm that they have seen a cloud of Indians falling down from the Mountain, which were all bruis'd to pieces.
And to finish his cruel enterprise, he caus'd the Indians that had hid themselves among the thickets to be searched out and put to the sword, and then thrown down from the tops of the high mountains. And not satiated with these cruelties, that their horrible abominations might be the more notorious, he gave command that all the Indians that were reserv'd alive should be kept by his particular soldiers as their slaves, a custom which they constantly observed; as for the women, those excepted whom they thought most fit for their service, they were all thrust together into a house made of straw and there burnt to death, to the number of above four or five hundred.
The same Tyrant came to the City of Cota where he took an infinite sight of people, and cast fifteen or sixteen of the Nobles and Lords of the Kingdom to his dogs, cutting of the hands of many of the Indians both men and women, which he hung upon a perch for the Indians to behold; in this manner were seen hung together above seventy pair of hands. This is also to be added that they cut off the notes both of Infants and their Mothers.
No man can rehearse the cruelties committed by this man, the enemy of God; They are innumerable, neither heard of nor seen before, especially those committed in Guatemala, which were their chief masterpieces in this art of destruction which they have been so long practicing.
The witnesses do moreover add this, that the cruelties and slaughters committed in the said new Kingdom of Granada by the said Captain and his accomplices the destroyers and Abaddons of mankind, who are with him, and to whom he gives the power to exercise these strange abominations, are so many and so great, that if his Majesty do not stop the deluge of evils which they bring along with them (for the slaughters of the Indians are made only through the desire of their Gold, though it be all in their own hands already) in a very short time the Kingdom will be ruin'd & laid desolate, and the land when all the Inhabitants are destroy'd must of necessity lie untill'd.
In this place we must no pass by a most pernicious cruelty of these Tyrants which was so violent, that in the space of two or three years (for no longer time there was between the desolation and the discovery of this Kingdom which was the most populous Country in the whole World) they totally ruin'd and depopulated the whole Country, shewing themselves so void of compassion, so empty of grace, so regardless of the Kings honor, that they had not left a person living, had not his Majesty a little stopt the current of their cruelty: which I the more easily believe, because I have seen my self in a few days several great Kingdoms and Countries destroy'd and desolate. There are some large Provinces adjoining to the Kingdom of new Granada which are call'd Popagan and Cali, and three or four others which stretch themselves in length above 500. miles, which they destroy'd in the same manner as they did the other, and by their foresaid Massacres brought down to the lowest degree of desolation, and this some who return'd out of these Countries & came to us relate; But if there were ever any thing to be bewailed by man, they were the stories which they told of large Cities ruin'd and buried in their own ashes; scarce fifty houses remaining where before there were above a thousand, or two thousand; and the sad narrations which they brought, of large Countries and Regions that lay desolate and spoil'd of their inhabitants.
At length there went out of the Kingdoms of Pern through the Country of Quitonia into the Regions of Granata and Popaganum, many very cruel Tyrants, who march'd through the Cartagenians, and Urabia, to reach Calisium, while others stay'd to assail Quitonium itself. But these at length joyn'd together, depopulating above six hundred miles in length, with an infinite waste of men, to the remainder whereof they are at present no less cruel.
And thus what I set down as a rule, still holds good, that the violence and cruelty of the Spaniards, by continuance still waxed more and more furious and bloody. But among all these Crimes, which are only worthy of fire and sword, that have been perpetrated in these Countries, this which follows is worthy the taking notice of.
When the heat of Massacring and killing is over, they carry captive away sometimes two hundred, sometimes three hundred men apiece and when their master pleases, he commands a hundred at a time to be brought before him, to whom when they come like meek and patient lambs, he commands thirty or forty of them to be put to death; telling the rest that thus they shall all be us'd unless they prove diligent in his service.
Consider I beseech you, all that read, or shall read these few papers, whether an act so horrible, so detestable, so inhumane, do not exceed all the iniquities and cruelties that the imagination of man can comprehend; and whether such Spaniards may not be deservedly called Devils; or whether it be not a thing almost indifferent whether the Indians should be in the hands of Spaniards, or of the Internal spirits. Neither will I forget to relate one barbarcu's action, which as I think doth exceed the cruelty of beasts. The Spaniards which are among the Indians do breed up a fort of fierce dogs, which they teach and instruct to fall upon the Indians and devour them. Now let all men, judge whether Christians or Turks, in this it much imports not, whether so much cruelty ever pierc'd their ears before. These dogs they take along with them in all their expeditions, carrying also divers Indians in chains for the sustenance of those dogs. And it was a common thing for them to say one to another; Give me a quarter of your Indian for my dogs, and too morrow when I bill one I will pay it you again; As if they were no more to be accounted of then the offal of a hog or sheep. Others were wont to go a hunting in the morning, and being ask'd how they had sped: Oh very well reply'd the other, my dogs have kill'd fifteen or sixteen Indians this morning; These have been all proved in the impeachments made by one Tyrant against another. Could there be any thing more horrible or more cruel?
But I will here stay, until there shall come news of greater impieties (if greater there can be) or till we shall return to behold there things which for the space of above forty years we have already seen. And now I do protest according to my conscience and in the sight of God, that the losses of the Indians were so great, and so many their subverted Cities, the cruelties and massacres so horrible, the violences and iniquities so in human, that though I have done my utmost to relate what I could, and to paint them in their own lively colors, yet have I not been able to rehearse one thing done among a thousand, either as to the quantity or the quality of the Crimes.
And now that all true Christians may be mov'd with the greater compassion towards the poor creatures, that their losses may appear the more deplorable, that they may with a greater indignation detest the ambition, cruelty, and covetousness, of the Spaniards, to those which I have above said, I will also add this for a truth, that, from the time America was first discovered unto this present, the Indians never were the men that ever shewed the least disaffection, or offer'd the least injury to the Spaniards, but rather ador'd them as Angels of immortality come to visit them from Heaven, till their own actions betrayed them to a far worse censure.
This I will also add, that from the beginning to this day, the Spaniards were never any more mindful to spread the Gospel among them, then as if they had been dogs; but on the contrary forbid religious persons to exercise their duty, deterring them by many afflictions and persecutions from preaching and teaching among them, for that they thought would have hindered them in getting their Gold, and kept the people from their labors. Neither had they any more knowledge of the God of Heaven, as to say whether he were of wood, brass, or iron, then they had above a hundred years before. New Spain being only excepted, whither the Religious persons had most liberty to go: So that they all dy'd without Faith or Sacraments, to the willing destruction of their souls.
I Friar Bartholmew Casaus, of the Order of St. Dominic, who went to these parts through the mercy of God, desiring the salvation of the Indians, that so many precious souls redeemed with the blood of Christ might not perish, but wishing with my whole heart, that they might through the knowledge of their Creator live eternally: Because of the care also and compassion which I bear to my Country, which is Castile, fearing left God should destroy it in his anger for the sins which it hath committed against his divine Majesty, the faith and the honor of divers great persons in the Court of Spain, zealously religious, and who abominate these bloody and detestable actions, after many hindrances of business, did at length put an end to this brief Tractate at Valencia the eighth day of December 1542. when the Spaniards (though they were in some places more cruel, in some places less, after the end of all their torments, violences, tyrannies, desolations and oppressions, were at length come to Mexico, which enjoys a gentler usage then other parts; for there is an outside of Justice, which doth something restrain their cruelty, though not at all the immoderate tributes which they lay upon them. And now I have a real hope, that Charles the Fifth our Sovereign Lord and Prince, Emperor & King of Spain, (to whose ears the wickednesses and impieties of these tyrants do daily come, which are committed against the will of God in these Countries, for they have hitherto conceal'd these things from him) not less subtly then maliciously, will extirpate the causes of so many evils, and apply fitting remedies to the calamities of this New World delivered by God to him as to a Lover of Justice and Mercy. Which God we doe beseech to grant him happiness in his life and in his Imperial dignity, and to bless his Royal soul with eternal happiness. Amen.