The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques, and discoveries of the English nation, by Richard Hakluyt



A discourse of the famous Cosmographer Iohn Baptista Ramusius, concerning the three voyages of Frier Marco de Niça, Francis Vasquez de Coronado, and Ferdinando Alorchon next following: taken out of his third volume of Nauigations and Voyages.

The right honourable Don Antonio de Mendoça being sent by Charles the Emperour to be viceroy of Mexico and Nueua Espanna, and hauing vnderstood that Don Ferdinando Cortez had sent many ships along the coast of Nueua Espanna to discouer countries, and to find out the Isles of the Malucos, began himselfe to desire to do the like, as viceroy of Nueua Espanna; and hereupon they fell out: for Cortez said that he was general and discouerer of the South sea, and that it belonged to him to set forth those voyages. On the other side, the lord Don Antonio alledged that it belonged to him to make that discouery, as being viceroy of Nueua Espanna. So that they fell at great variance, and Cortez returned into Spaine to complaine vnto the Emperour. Don Antonio in the meane season hauing obteined knowledge of the voiage, which Andrew Dorantez (who was one of the company of Pamphilo Naruaez that escaped, as you may reade in the relation of Aluaro Nunnez, called Cabeça de Vaca) made; sent Frier Marco de Niça with a Negro of the said Dorantez to discouer that country. Which Frier Marco de Niça being returned, and hauing informed his lordship of all his discouery, he sent captain Francis Vasquez de Coronado with many Spaniards on horsebacke, and Indians on foot: likewise he sent a fleete by sea, whereof Ferdinando Alorchon was captaine, as may be seene in the relations following.

An extract of a letter of captaine Francis Vasques de Coronado, written to a Secretary of the right noble Don Antonio de Mendoça, viceroy of Nueua Espanna. Dated in Culiacan, the 8. of March 1539.

He saith that Frier Marcus de Niça arriued in the Prouince of Topira, where he found all the Indians fled vnto the mountaines for feare of the Christians, and that for his sake they came all downe to see him, with great ioy and gladnesse. They are men of good making and whiter then others, and their women are more beautifull then others of the neighbouring prouinces. Store of golde, siluer, and precious stones in Topira. There are no great cities there, yet are the houses built of stone, and are very good, and in them they haue great store of gold, which is as it were lost, because they know not what vse to put it to. The people weare Emeralds and other precious iewels vpon their bodies: they are valiant, hauing very strong armour made of siluer, fashioned after diuers shapes of beasts. They worship for their gods such things as they haue in their houses, as namely hearbes, and birdes, and sing songs vnto them in their language, which differeth but litle from that of Culiacan. They told the Frier that they were willing to become Christians, and the Emperors subjects, for they were without a gouernour; with condition that no man should hurt them: and that they would change their golde for such things as they wanted. Commandement was giuen, that they should bee receiued without doing them any displeasure. Neere vnto this countrey there is another Prouince heretofore discouered by our men, where the people go naked without any thing before them: they are very hardly reduced to Christianitie, and they are valiant and stoute. Their houses are couered with straw. They seeke no other riches but to feede cattel. They goe at certaine seasons to their sacrifices into a valley situate in that Prouince, which is inhabited with people, esteemed by those of the countrey as saints and priests, whom they call Chichimecas, which dwell in the woods without houses: and they eate such things as they of the countrey giue them of almes. They goe naked, and are tanned in the smoke, and tye their priuie member with a string vnto their knee, and the women likewise goe starke naked. They haue certaine temples couered with strawe, with small round windowes full of skuls of dead men; before their temple is a great round ditch, the brim whereof is compassed with the figure of a serpent made of gold and siluer, and with another mixture of vnknowen metals: and this serpent holdeth his tayle in his mouth. They of this valley from time to time cast lots, whose lucke it shal be to be sacrificed, and they make him great cheere, on whom the lotte falleth, and with great ioy they crowne him with flowers vpon a bed prepared in the sayd ditch all full of flowres and sweete hearbes, on which they lay him along, and lay great store of dry wood on both sides of him, and set on fire on eyther part, and so he dyeth. Where he continueth so quietly without being bound, as though hee did something, wherein he tooke great pleasure. And they say that hee is a Saint, and doe worshippe him for that yeere, and sing prayses, and Hymnes vnto him and afterward set vp his head with the rest in order within those windowes. Also they sacrifice their prisoners, whom they burn in another deeper ditch, and not with the foresayde ceremonies. The Spanyards which are in Xalisco write, that hauing good assistance, they hope that those people will become Christians. The Countrey is very good and fruitfull, and hath great store of good and wholesome waters.

A Letter of Francis Vazquez de Coronado, Gouernour of Nueua Galicia, to the lord Don Antonio de Mendoça, Viceroy of Nueua Espanna. Dated in Saint Michael of Culiacan, the 8. of March, 1539.

Of the hard passage from Saint Michael of Culiacan to Topira. The description of that Prouince, and of another neere vnto the same, very rich in gold and precious stones. The number, of the people which Vazquez caried with him in his iourney thither; and how greatly Frier Marcus of Niça is honoured by the Indians of Petatlan.

By the help of God I meane to set forward from this City of S. Michael of Culiacan toward Topira the 10. of April: neither can I any sooner set forward, because the powder and match which your Lordship sendeth mee, cannot be brought thither, before that time, and I thinke it be now in Compostella. Besides this, I am to passe many leagues ouer mightie high mountaines which reach vp to the skyes, and ouer a Riuer, which at this present is so bigge and swollen, that it can in no place be waded ouer. And if I depart at the time aforesayde, they say wee may wade ouer it. They tolde mee that from hence to Topira was not aboue 50 leagues; and I haue learned since that it is aboue foure score leagues. I doe not remember that I haue written to your Lordshippe the information which I haue of Topira: and though I had written thereof vnto you, yet because that since that time I haue learned something more, I thinke it meete to signifie them vnto your Lordshippe in these my letters. It may please your honour therefore to vnderstand, that they tell mee, that Topira is a very populous Prouince, lying betweene two riuers, and that there are aboue 50. inhabited townes therein. And that beyond the same there is another Countrey greater then it, the name whereof the Indians could not tell mee, wherein there is great store of victuals of Maiz, French peason, Axi or Pepper, Melons, and Gourds, and great store of Hennes of the countrey. These may seeme to be the Pintados mentioned by Frier Marco de Niza in his 2. Chap. The people weare on their bodies golde, Emeralds, and other precious stones, and are serued commonly in golde and siluer, wherewith they couer their houses: and the chiefe men weare great chaines of golde well wrought, about their necks and are apparelled with paynted garments, and haue store of wilde kine; and they say they enter not into their countrey, because themselues haue no great store of people: those Indians being many in number, and very valiant. That which here I say, I learned by two other relations of Indians dwelling neere vnto them. I meane to set forward at the time before mentioned, and I carrie with me 150 horsemen, and twelue spare horsemen, and 200. footmen, crossebowmen, and gunners. I take also with me liue hogs, sheepe and all such things as I can get for money: assure your Lordship that I meane not to returne to Mexico vntil I be able to informe your honour more perfectly, what the state of this place is: and if I find ought that we may doe good in, I will stay there, vntill I haue aduertised your Lordship, that you may command what you will haue done: and if it fall out so vnluckily, that there is nothing of importance, I will seeke to discouer 100. leagues farther, wherein (I hope in God) there will be something found in which your Lordship may imploy all these gentlemen and those which shall come hither hereafter. I thinke I cannot chuse but stay there: and the waters, the seasons, the disposition of the countrey, and other accidents wil direct mee what is best to be done. Frier Marco de Niça entred a good way into the countrey, accompanied with Stephan Dorantez, the 7. of February last past: when I departed from them, I left them with aboue 100. Indians of Petatlan, and from the time of their comming thither they greatly honoured the father, shewing him all the courtesies they could possibly. I cannot send you, nor describe vnto you his entrance among them better then I have done in all my relations which I wrote in my letters from Compostella, and I signified vnto you all things to the full from the citie of Michael: and though there is but the tenth part of those things it is a great matter. Herewithall I haue sent your Lordship a Letter, which I receiued from him: and I beleeue he may trauel many leagues farther in that sort. He saith, that if he finde any good countrey, he will write to mee thereof: I will not goe thither without informing your Lordship of my iourney. I hope in God that by one way or other wee shall discouer some good thing.

A Letter written by the most honourable Lord Don Antonio de Mendoça, Vice-roy of Nueua Espanna, to the Emperours Maiestie.

Of certaine Noblemen which sought to discouer the end of the firme land of Nueua Espanna toward the North. The arriuall of Vazquez de Coronado with Frier Marco at S. Michael of Culiacan, with commission to the Gouernours of those parts to pacifie the Indians, and not to make them slaues any more.

In the ships that went last from hence (whereof Michael de Vsnago was Admirall) I wrote vnto your Maiestie, how I sent two Franciscan Friers to discouer the ende of this firme land, which stretcheth to the North. And because their iourney fell out to greater purpose then was looked for, I will declare the whole matter from the beginning. It may please your Maiestie to call to minde how often I wrote vnto your Highnesse, that I desired to know the ende of this Prouince of Nueua Espanna, becavse it is so great a countrey, and that we haue yet no knowledge thereof. Neither had I onely this desire: for Nunno de Guzman departed out of this city of Mexico with 400 horsemen, and 14000. Indians footemen borne in these Indias, being the best men, and the best furnished, which haue beene seene in these parts: and he did so litle with them, that the most part of them were consumed in the enterprize, and could not enter nor discouer any more then already was discouered. After this the saide Nunno Guzman beeing Gouernour of Nueua Galacia, sent Captaines and Horsemen foorth diuers times, which sped no better then he had done. Likewise the Marques de valle Hernando Cortez sent a captaine with 2. ships to discouer the coast, which 2. ships and the captaine perished. After that he sent againe 2. other ships, one of which was diuided from her consort and the Master and certaine mariners slue the captaine, and vsurped ouer the ship. This was the Port of Santa Cruz in the Isle of California. After this they came to an Island, where the Master with certaine mariners going on land, the Indians of the countrey slew them and tooke their boat: and the ship with those that were in it, returned to the coast of Nueua Galacia, where it ran on ground. By the men which came home in this ship, the Marques had knowledge of the countrey which they had discouered: and then, either for the discontentment which hee had with the bishop of Saint Domingo, and with the Iudges of this royal audience in Mexico, or rather because of his so prosperous successe in all things here in Nueua Espanna, without seeking any farther intelligence of the state of that Island, he set forward on that voyage with 3. Ships, and with certaine footemen and horsemen, not throughly furnished with things necessary; which fell out so contrary to his expectation, that the most part of the people which he carryed with him, dyed of hunger. And although he had ships, and a Countrey very neere him abounding with victuals, yet could hee neuer finde meanes to conquer it, but rather it seemed, that God miraculously did hide it from him: and so he returned home without atchieuing ought else of moment. After this, hauing heere in my company Andrew Dorantez, which is one of those who were in the voyage of Pamphilo Naruaez I often was in hand with him, supposing that he was able to doe your Maiestie great seruice, to imploy him with fortie or fiftie horses, to search out the secret of those parts: and hauing prouided all things necessary for his iourney, and spent much money in that behalfe, the matter was broken off, I wot not how, and that enterprise was giuen ouer. Yet of the things which were prouided for that purpose, I had left mee a Negro, which returned from the foresayde voyage of Naruaez, with Dorantez, and certaine slaues which I had bought, and certaine Indians which I had gathered together, who were borne in those North partes, whome I sent with Frier Marco de Niça, and his companion a Franciscan Frier, because they had bene long trauelled, and exercised in those partes, and had great experience in the affaires of the Indies, and were men of good life and conscience, for whom I obtained leaue of their superiours: and so they went with Frances Vazquez de Coronado, gouernour of Nueua Galicia vnto the Citie of Saint Michael of Culiacan, which is the last Prouince subdued by the Spaniards towarde that quarter, being two hundred leagues distant from this Citie of Mexico. Assoone as the Gouernour, and the Friers were come vnto that Citie, hee sent certaine of those Indians which I had giuen him, home into their Countrey, to signifie, and declare to the people of the same, That they were to vnderstand, that your Maiestie had commaunded they should not hereafter bee made slaues, and that they should not be afrayd any more, but might returne vnto their houses, and liue peaceably in them, (for before that time they had bin greatly troubled by the euill dealings which were vsed toward them) and that your Maiestie would cause them to be chastened, which were the causes of their vexation. With these Indians about twentie dayes after returned about 400 men; which comming before the gouernour said vnto him, that they came on the behalfe of al their Countrey-men, to tell him, that they desired to see and know those men which did them so great a pleasure as to suffer them to returne to their houses, and to sow Maiz for their sustenance: for by the space of many yeres they were driuen to flee into the mountaines, hiding themselues like wild beasts, for feare lest they should be made slaues, and that they and all the rest of their people were ready to doe whatsoeuer should bee commaunded them. Whom the gouernour comforted with good wordes, and gaue them victuals, and stayed them with him three or foure dayes, wherein the Friers taught them to make the signe of the Crosse, and to learne the name of our Lorde Iesus Christ, and they with great diligence sought to learne the same. After these dayes hee sent them home againe, willing them not to be afraid, but to be quiet, giuing them apparel, beades, kniues, and other such like things, which I had giuen him for such purposes. The sayde Indians departed very well pleased, and said, that whensoeuer hee would send for them, they and many others would come to doe whatsoeuer he would command them. The entrance being thus prepared, Frier Marco and his companion, with the Negro and other slaues, and Indians which I had giuen him, went forward on their voyage 10. or 12. dayes after. And because I had likewise aduertisement of a certaine Prouince called Topira situate in the mountaines, and had appointed the gouernour Vasquez de Coronado, that he should vse meanes to learne the state thereof: he supposing this to be a matter of great moment, determined himselfe to goe and search it, hauing agreed with the said Frier, that he should returne by that part of the mountaine, to meete with him in a certaine valley called Valle de los Coraçones, beeing 120. leagues distant from Culiacan. The gouernour trauelling into this prouince (as I haue written in my former letters) found great scarcity of victuals there, and the mountaines so craggy, that he could finde no way to passe forward, and was inforced to returne home to Saint Michael: so that aswell in chusing of the entrance, as in not being able to finde the way, it seemeth unto all men, that God would shut vp the gate to all those, which by strength of humane force haue gone about to attempt this enterprise, and hath reuieled it to a poore and bare-footed Frier. And so the Frier beganne to enter into the Land, who because he found his entrance so well prepared, was very well receiued; and because he wrote the whole successe of his voyage, according to the instruction which I had giuen him to vndertake the same, I wil not write any more at large, but send your Maiestie this copy of all such things as he obserued in the same.

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 19:52