A Discourse of Western Planting, by Richard Hakluyt

Chap. VIII.

That the lymites of the Kinge of Spaines domynions in the West Indies be nothinge so large as is generally ymagined and surmised, neither those partes which he holdeth be of any such forces as is falsly geven oute by the Popishe clergie and others his fautors, to terrifie the princes of the relligion and to abuse and blynde them.

As the Secretary of Don Antonio, Kinge of Portingale, called Custodio Etan, tolde me lately at Paris, that the Portingales never had in Guinea, Bresill, and all the Easte Indies above twelve thousande Portingale souldiers whensoever they had moste, which was confirmed by one of the Kinges capitaines borne in Goa, then presente; and that they governed rather by gevinge oute of greate rumors of power and by secrecie, then by any greate force which they had in deede; so the like is to be proved of the Kinge of Spaine in his West Indies; ffor he beinge in those partes exceedinge weake hath nothinge such nombers of people there as is geven oute, neither doe his domynions stretche so far as by the ignoraunte ys ymagined; which hereby easely may appere, seinge he hath no one towne or forte in actuall possession in all Nova Hispania to the northe of the Tropick of Cancer, which standeth in 23. degrees and an halfe, excepte the towne of St. Helen and one or twoo small fortes in Florida; ffor as it is in the mappe of Culiacan, sett oute twoo yeres paste with all diligence by Ortelius, Saincte Michael ys the furthest towne nothwarde on the backside of America; and Panuco and Villa Sancti Jacobi are the moste northerly colonies upon the Bay of Mexico that the Spaniardes inhabite; as the aforesaide Ortelius witnesseth in his mapp of those partes sett oute this presente yere, 1584; which three townes above named are under or within the Tropicke of Cancer. And so the Kinge of Spaine hath no footinge beyonde the said tropicke; which is contrary to the opinion of the vulgar sorte, which ymagine, and by some are borne in hande, that all is his from the equinoctiall as farr as the lande stretcheth towardes the pooles.

Againe, that parte from the equinoctiall to the southe ys not inhabited by the Spaniarde any further then unto the Tropicke of Capricorne, as ys to be seene by the mappe of Peru this presente yere, 1584. published by Ortelius; neither is it peopled by the Spaniardes to any purpose savinge onely alonge the sea coaste. And howe weake they are there, and what simple shippinge they have, and howe dayly they be afflicted by the inhabitauntes, Sir Fraunces Drake can tell, and the letters by him intercepted doe declare. One Peter Benzo de Millano, which was fourtene yeres in those partes, writeth, that they holde greate townes, some with tenne, some with sixe, some with foure, and some with twoo souldiers, and that they commaunded that all the Italians, whome they called Levantines in contempte, shoulde departe those contries, fearinge they shoulde reveale their nakednes to the worlde, and encourage others to sett in footinge there.

Seinge then they suffer no people of Europe to inhabite there savinge onely Spaniardes, any reasonable man that knoweth the barenes, desolation, and wante of men in Spaine, together with these eightene yeres civill warres that hath wasted so many thousandes of them in the Lowe Contries, must nedes confesse that they have very simple forces there. The provinces which he holdeth are indeede many, yet more denuded than ever was any empire since the creation of the worlde. Some of his contries are dispeopled, some barren, some so far asonder, also held by tyrannie, that in deed upon the due consideration of the matter, his mighte and greatenes is not suche as prima facie yt may seme to be. And weare yt not that he doth possesse suche at masse of treasure oute of the Indies, the Frenche kinge, of one onely kingdome, with his onely people of Fraunce, were able to drive him oute of all his domynions that he hath in the worlde.

The example of Antigonus. It is written that Antigonus, beinge to fighte againste certaine of his enemyes, they appered a farr of to be so huge and mightie, that his souldiers were halfe afraied to encounter them; but, beinge incouraged by his valour, they easely overthrewe them in a conflicte; whereof he stripped one or twoo, which, beinge turned oute of their bombasted and large apparell, were in deede but very weakelinges and shrimpes; which, when he had shewed unto his souldiers, they were ashamed of themselves that ever they had bene afraied of suche wretches. So when wee shall have looked and narrowly pried into the Spanishe forces in America, wee shalbe doubtles ashamed of ourselves, that wee have all this while bene afraied of those dissemblinge and feble scarr crowes.

This which I say concerninge the weakenes of the Spaniardes in America may more easelie appere by this note followinge, gathered by an excellent Frenche capitaine moste experte and privie to the state and force of the islandes, havens, townes, and fortes of all that parte of America which lieth upon our ocean; which excedinge large coaste beinge so rarely and simply manned and fortified, wee may well assure ourselves that the inlande is mocha more weake and unmanned.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:00