A Discourse of Western Planting, by Richard Hakluyt

Chap. XI.

That the Spaniardes have exercised moste outragious and more then Turkishe cruelties in all the West Indies, whereby they are every where there become moste odious unto them, whoe woulde joyne with us or any other moste willinglye to shake of their moste intolerable yoke, and have begonne to doe yt already in divers places where they were lordes heretofore.

So many and so monstrous have bene the Spanishe cruelties, suche straunge slaughters and murders of those peaceable, lowly, milde, and gentle people, together with the spoiles of townes, provinces, and kingdomes, which have bene moste ungodly perpetrated in the West Indies, as also divers others no lesse terrible matters, that to describe the leaste parte of them woulde require more than one chapiter, especiall where there are whole bookes extant, in printe, not onely of straungers, but also even of their owne contreymen (as of Bartholmewe de las Casas, a bisshoppe in Nova Spania); yea such and so passinge straunge and excedinge all humanitie and moderation have they bene, that the very rehersall of them drave divers of the cruel Spanishe, which had not bene in the West Indies, into a kinde of extasye and maze, so that the sayenge of the poet mighte therein well be verified:—

      Quis talia fando,

Myrmidonum Dolopumue aut duri miles Vlissis, Temperet a lachrimis?

Nevertheless I will repeate oute of that mightie masse and huge heape of massacres some fewe, that of them you may make an estymate of the rest, and consider what small remainder of those moste afflicted Indians have to revolte from the obedience of the Spaniardes, and to shake of from their shoulders the moste intollerable and insupportable yoke of Spaine, which in many places they have already begonne to do of themselves, withoute the helpe of any Christian prynce.

Nowe because these moste outeragious and infinite massacres are put downe by Don Bartholmewe de las Casas, the bisshoppe above mentioned, and dedicated to Kinge Phillippe that nowe ys, which author testifieth that to his inspeakable grefe he was an eye witnesse of many of them, therefore it seemeth best unto me to bringe him in, which in his firste chapiter describeth the same in manner followinge:—

Upon these lambes (meaninge the Indians), so meke, so qualified and endewed of their Maker and Creator, as hath bene said, entred the Spanishe, incontinent as they knew them, as wolves, as lyons, and as tigres moste cruell, of longe tyme famished; and have not don in those quarters these forty yeres be paste, neither yet doe at this presente, oughte els then teare them in peces, kill them, martir them, afflicte them, tormente them, and destroye them by straunge sortes of cruelties, never either seene or reade or hearde of the like (of the which some shalbe sett downe hereafter); so farr forthe as of above three millions of soules that were in the Ile of Hispaniola, and that wee have seene there, there are not nowe twoo hundreth natives of the contrie. The Ile of Cuba, which is as farr in lengthe as from Valladolid untill Rome, ys at this day, as it were, all waste. St John’s Ile, and that of Jammaica, bothe of them very greate, very fertile, and very faire, are desolate. Likewise the Iles of Lucayos nere to the Ile of Hispaniola, and of the north side unto that of Cuba, in nomber beinge above three score ilandes, together with those which they call the Iles of Geant, one with another greate and little, whereof the very worste is fertiler then the kinges garden at Civill, and the contrie the helthsomest in the worlde. There were in some of these isles more then five hundred thousande soules, and at this day there is not one only creature; for they have bene all of them slaine, after that they had drawen them oute to labor in their myneralls in the Ile of Hispaniola, where there were no more lefte of the inborne natives of that iland. A shippe ridinge for the space of three yeres betwixte these ilandes, to the ende that after the wyninge of this kinde of vintage to gleane and cull the remainder of these folke (for there was a goodd Christian moved with pitie and compassion to converte and wynne unto Christe suche as mighte be founde), there were not founde but eleven persons, which I sawe. Other iles, more than thirtie, nere to the Ile of St. John, have likewise bene dispeopled and massacred. All those iles conteyne above twoo thousande leagues of lande, and are all dispeopled and laid waste.

As touchinge the mayne firme lande, wee are certaine that our Spaniardes, by their cruelties and cursed doinges, have dispeopled and made desolate more then tenne realmes greater then all Spaine, comprisinge therein also Arragon and Portingale; and twise as moche or more lande than there is from Civill to Jerusalem, which are above a thousand leagues; which realmes yet, up to this presente day, remain in a wildernes and utter desolation, havinge bene before time as well peopled as was possible.

We are able to yelde a goodd and perfecte accompte, that here is, within the space of forty yeres, by these said tyranies and devilishe doinges of the Spaniardes, don to deathe unjustly and tyranously more then twelve million soules, men, women, and children. And I verely doe believe, and thinke I doe not mistake therein, there are deade more then fiftene millions of soules.

Thus havinge hearde of the multitudes of soules slayne, you shall heare the manner of their slaughter.

In the chapiter of Hispaniola it thus followeth:

Nowe after sondry other forces, violences, and tormentes which they wroughte againste them, the Indians perceaved that those were no men descended from heaven. Some of them, therefore, hidd their victualls, others hidd their wives and their children. Some other fledd into the mountaines to seperate themselves afarr of from a nation of so harde natured and ghastly conversation. The Spaniardes buffeted them with their fistes and bastianadoes, pressinge also to lay their handes on the lordes of the townes. And these cases ended in so greate an hazarde and desperatnes, that a Spanishe capitaine durste adventure to ravishe forcibly the wife of the greatest kinge and lorde of this ile. Since which time the Indians began to searche meanes to caste the Spaniardes oute of their landes, and sett themselves in arms. But what kinde of armes! Very weake and feble to withstande or resiste, and of lesse defence. Wherefore all their warres are no more warres, then the playenge of children when as they playe at jogo de cane or reedes. The Spaniardes with their horses, speares, and launces, began to comitt murders and straunge cruelties. They entred into townes, burroughes, and villages, sparinge neither children nor olde men, neyther women with childe, neither them that laye in; but they ripped their bellies and cutt them in peces, as if they had bene openinge of lambes shutt upp in their folde. They laied wagers with suche as with one thruste of a sworde, woulde paunche or bowell a man in the middest, or with one blowe of a sworde most readily and moste deliverly cut of his heade, or that woulde best perce his entralls at one stroke. They tooke the little soules by the heeles, rampinge them from their mothers brestes, and crusshed their heades against the cliftes. Others they caste into the rivers, laughinge and mockinge; and when they tombled into the water, they saied: Nowe shifte for thy selfe suche a one’s corps. They put others, together with their mothers, and all that they mett, to the edge of the sworde. They made certaine gibbetts longe and loughe, in such sorte that the feete of the hanged one touched in a manner the grounde; every one enoughe for thirtene, in the honour and worshippe of our Saviour and his twelve apostles (as they used to speake), and setting to fire, burned them all quicke that were fastened. Unto all others, whome they used to take and reserve alive, cuttinge of their twoo handes as nere as mighte be, and so lettinge them hange, they saied: Go you with those letters to cary tydinges to those which are fled by the mountaines. They murdred commonly the lordes and nobilitie on this fashion: they made certen grates of perches laid on pitchforkes, and made a little fire underneathe, to the intente that by little and little, yellinge and despairinge in these tormentes, they mighte give up the ghoste. One time I sawe foure or five of the principall lordes roasted and broyled upon these gredyrons; also I thinke that there were twoo or three of the said gredyrons garnished with the like furniture. And for that they cried oute piteously, whiche thinge troubled the capitaine that he coulde not then slepe, he comaunded to strangle them. The serjeant, which was worse then the hangman, that burned them, (I knowe his name and frendes in Civill,) woulde not have them strangled, but hymselfe puttinge bulletts in their mouthes, to the ende they shoulde not crye, put to the fire, until they were softly roasted after his desire. I have seene all the aforesaide thinges and others infinite. And forasmuche as all the people that coulde flee, hidd themselves in the mountaines and, mounted on the toppes of them, fledd from the men, so, withoute all manhodde, emptie of all pietie, behavinge themselves as savage beastes, the slaughterers and murderers of mankinde, they taughte their houndes, fierce doggs, to tear them in peces at the first viewe; and, in the space that one might say a credo, assailed and devoured an Indian as if it had bene a swine. These doggs wroughte greate destructions and slaughters. And forasmoche as somtymes (thougbe seldome) the Indian put to death some Spaniardes upon goodd righte and lawe of due justice, they made a lawe betwene them, that for one Spaniarde they had to slaye an hundred Indians.

Bishop Bartholomewe de las Casas an eye wytnes of these cruelties. And thus farr oute of the large volume of Don Bartholomewe de las Casas, bisshoppe of the citie of Chiape in the West Indies, where he lyved many yeres.1

Johannes Metellus Sequanus. Will you nowe heare one testymonie of Johannes Metellus Sequanus, whoe was a Papiste and favoured the Spanishe superstition; yet he writes as followeth in the preface of the Historie of Osorius de rebus gestis Emanuelis, fol. 16: At vero vt semel intelligatur quid Indos toties ad res nouas contra Hispanos moliendas, et seditiones tanta pertinacia fouendas impulerit, et quid causæ fuerit cur duo illa Christianæ Reipublicæ summa capita Indicæ nationis libertatem, frementibus quibusdam et inuitis dubio procul militibus Hispanis, sanctissimo suo calculo comprobarint, paucis nouorum dominorum in miseros immanitatem, deinde quorundam inexplebilem auaritiam, et ex his grauiores quosque tumultus, vnde noui orbis pene totius nunquam satis deploranda vastitas est sequuta, perstringam.

Principio quidem illud apud plerosque milites Hispanos, pessimo sane exemplo, in more positum fuit, vti ab oculatis et fide dignis testibus perscriptum est, vt seruos suos grauissime punirent, si mercedem diurnam aut non attulissent, aut pensum in auro argentoue effodiendo non absoluissent, aut si quid leuioris denique delicti perpetrassent. Etenim vesperi reduces, coenæ loco, primùm vestimentis exuebant, manibus dein pedibusque in transuerso palo reuinciebant: mox chorda bubaloue neruo dirissime verberabant. Sic tractatos, pice oleoue feruenti guttatim perfundebant; salita post aqua corpus abluebant, et in mensa tamdiu relinquebant, quamdiu dolorem ferre posse putarentur. Qui mos animaduertendi ipsis etiam in Christianos seruos domi familiaris esse dicitur. Post carnificinam huiusmodo, si durior dominus illis contigerat, viuos in totam noctem collo tenus defodiebant, presentissimum illud ad plagas remedium esse ludibrio dictitantes. Si quis ex illis præ dolore moreretur, id quod non raro accidit, dominus singula seruorum capita regi in occisorum locum sufficiens, ab homicidij poena liberabatur.

Hanc crudelitatem lege Baionæ, quam dicunt, quidem excusant; sed omnibus impia merito videtur, tanquam omnis pietatis expers. Quamobrem diabolicæ nomen inter Indos iure quidem obtinuit. Ad hanc autem immanitatem in miseros Indos excercendam nonnullos ingenita quædam naturæ sæuities, multis iam bellis exasperata, plerosque habendi sitis, impulit. Hinc Hispanus miles, quasi ad aucupium aut venationem, sic ad prædas hominum agendas, iam inde ab inuento nouo orbe ferri coepit. Aut igitur bello captos in seruitutem abripiebat, aut ex eorum mancipio magnam sibi pecuniæ vim conflabat, aut eos ad diurnas operas mittebat, quarum mercedem ab ijs quotidie perquam importunus exigebat. Fuere qui seruos fodinis manciparint, in quibus insolito labore fractæ, multæ seruorum myriades periere. Alij mercibus illos permutare soliti sunt, alioue modo distrabere. Idque tam inclementer et auare nonnulli fecerunt, vt Christianæ omnis humanitatis prorsus obliti, e continente abreptos vtriusque sexus hominis, nulla nec ætatis nec valetudinis habita ratione, nauibus in vicinas insulas transportarent. Eorum non pauci qui mari non assueuerant, et in sentinam abdebantur, et fame, foetore, et squallore crudeliter absorpti sunt. Quid? quod fæminæ complures ex Hispanis grauidæ, vna cum innoxio foetu pro ancillis sunt venditæ: Atque his quidem modis, militum aliqui ad summas opes peruenerunt. Alij magnas dignitates domi forisque sunt consequuti. Alij rem pecuniariam plurimorum damnis sic auxerunt, vt inuenti sint, qui octo pecudum millia possiderent. Hanc tam insignem nostrum hominum iniustitiam atque tyrannidem fieri non potuit, quin magni statim motus et bella, tam ab ipsis inter se, quam ab incolis in illos excitata sequerentur. After a longe beade roll of moste monstrous cruelties of the Spanishe nation in every place of the West Indies moste heynously committed, he concludeth yt thus: Tanta ergo fuit Hispani militis in India tyrannis, vt ea non solum Indos, verum etiam seruorum Maurorum animos ad rebellionem impulerit. Dicuntur enim in exigua quadam insula ad septem millia defecisse. Quos Hispani initio securos et incautos facilime trucidassent, nisi suo malo vigilantiores factos precibus et pacifica legatione expugnare potius quam armis frustra tentassent. Multa denique fugitiui Mauri in Nominis Dei provinciæ siluis habitant; qui inita cum incolis amicitia, ferro, flammaque Hispanos vbicunque persequuntur, et inuentos frustatim dilacerant.

This, therefore, I gather of the premisses, that those contries whereof the Spaniarde ys lorde are partely ruinated, dispeopled, and laid waste by their incredible, and more then barbarous, and savage, endeles cruelties, and partely grevously infested by the Indians, Symerons, Moores, Chichimici revolted; and consequently he is easie to be driven thence, and turned out of all with moche lesser force then is commonly ymagined: for, Nullum violentum est diuturnum; et malus diuturnitatis custos est metus.

The Spanishe monarchy is like unto the monarchy of Alexander the Greate. And surely the more I thinke of the Spanishe monarchie, the more me thinketh it is like the empire of Alexander the Greate, which grewe upp sooddenly, and sooddenly vpon his deathe was rente and dissolved for faulte of lawfull yssue. In like manner the the Kinge of Spaine, nowe 59. yeres of age, as beinge borne in the yere of our Lorde 1526. in the moneth of May, and beinge subjecte to the fallinge sicknes, in common reason can be of no longe life; and leavinge no fitt yssue to wealde so greate a governemente, and a question risinge, whether his younge weake sonne, by his sister’s daughter, be lawfull heire, they are like upon his deathe to fall together by the eares amongest themselves; and then, as men moste odious, not onely to the people of the West Indies, but also to all Christendome, and all the worlde beside, ys it not likely that euery province wil seke their libertie? And, to say the truthe, what nation, I pray you, of all Christendome loveth the Spaniarde, the scourge of the worlde, but from the teethe forwarde, and for advauntage? The Italians, which sometime were lordes of the earthe, in greate parte nowe broughte under his vile yoke, doe many wayes shewe the utter mislike of their satanicall arrogancie and insollencies, and in all their playes and comedies bringe in the Spanishe souldier as a ravisher of virgins and wives, and as the boastinge Thraso and miles gloriosus; notinge to the worlde their insupportable luxuriousnes, excessive pride, and shamefull vaine glorie. The citie of Rome, beinge sackt by Charles the Emperour, the Pope and Cardinalls taken and ymprisoned, cannot brooke their doinges in their hartes. The Venecians stande daily in feare of them, almoste as moche as of the Turke, and doubte that, if they be not with spede restrained, they will inclose them and use them at their pleasure, beinge on bothe sides become almoste lordes of the mouthe of the Straites of Giberaulter. The Frenche, remembringe the takinge of their kinge prisoner, their crueltie in Florida, the late overthrowe of Strozzi and their fleete, their takinge of Tercera, and other disgraces, hate them for the moste parte worse then scorpions. The Princes of Germanie, the Duke of Saxonie, the Lantsgrave of Hassia, the Duke of Cleve, the Duke Cassimere, have susteyned wronges sufficient to make them his mortall enemies. His innumerable outrages in the Netherlandes have inforced the Flemynges to those termes which nowe they stande at. Their manifolde practises to supplant us of England give us moste occasion to bethincke ourselves, howe wee may abate and pull downe their highe myndes. The poore oppressed prince and people of Portingale doe watche nighte and day when to finde a conuenient occasion of defection. In fine, there is almoste no nation of Europe that may not say againste the Spaniarde with the poet: Distuleratque graues in idonea tempora poenas; and so, Eum multos metuere necesse est quem multi metuunt; and, Multorum odijs nulla respublica stare diu potest.

1 This quotation is from the English translation, “The Spanish Colonie,” London, 1583.


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