Pizarro and his officer, having crossed the Isthmus, embarked at Nombre de Dios for the old country, and, after a good passage, reached Seville early in the summer of 1528. There happened to be at that time in port a person well known in the history of Spanish adventure as the Bachelor Enciso. He had taken an active part in the colonization of Tierra Firme, and had a pecuniary claim against the early colonists of Darien, of whom Pizarro was one. Immediately on the landing of the latter, he was seized by Enciso’s orders, and held in custody for the debt. Pizarro, who had fled from his native land as a forlorn and houseless adventurer, after an absence of more than twenty years, passed, most of them, in unprecedented toil and suffering, now found himself on his return the inmate of a prison. Such was the commencement of those brilliant fortunes which, as he had trusted, awaited him at home. The circumstance excited general indignation; and no sooner was the Court advised of his arrival in the country, and the great purpose of his mission, than orders were sent for his release, with permission to proceed at once on his journey.
Pizarro found the emperor at Toledo, which he was soon to quit, in order to embark for Italy. Spain was not the favorite residence of Charles the Fifth, in the earlier part of his reign. He was now at that period of it when he was enjoying the full flush of his triumphs over his gallant rival of France, whom he had defeated and taken prisoner at the great battle of Pavia; and the victor was at this moment preparing to pass into Italy to receive the imperial crown from the hands of the Roman Pontiff. Elated by his successes and his elevation to the German throne, Charles made little account of his hereditary kingdom, as his ambition found so splendid a career thrown open to it on the wide field of European politics. He had hitherto received too inconsiderable returns from his transatlantic possessions to give them the attention they deserved. But, as the recent acquisition of Mexico and the brilliant anticipations in respect to the southern continent were pressed upon his notice, he felt their importance as likely to afford him the means of prosecuting his ambitious and most expensive enterprises.
Pizarro, therefore, who had now come to satisfy the royal eyes, by visible proofs, of the truth of the golden rumors which, from time to time, had reached Castile, was graciously received by the emperor. Charles examined the various objects which his officer exhibited to him with great attention. He was particularly interested by the appearance of the llama, so remarkable as the only beast of burden yet known on the new continent; and the fine fabrics of woollen cloth, which were made from its shaggy sides, gave it a much higher value, in the eyes of the sagacious monarch, than what it possessed as an animal for domestic labor. But the specimens of gold and silver manufacture, and the wonderful tale which Pizarro had to tell of the abundance of the precious metals, must have satisfied even the cravings of royal cupidity.
[See Pizarro And Charles V: Pizarro describes to Charles V of Spain the tempting riches of Peru]
Pizarro, far from being embarrassed by the novelty of his situation, maintained his usual self-possession, and showed that decorum and even dignity in his address which belong to the Castilian. He spoke in a simple and respectful style, but with the earnestness and natural eloquence of one who had been an actor in the scenes he described, and who was conscious that the impression he made on his audience was to decide his future destiny. All listened with eagerness to the account of his strange adventures by sea and land, his wanderings in the forests, or in the dismal and pestilent swamps on the sea-coast, without food, almost without raiment, with feet torn and bleeding at every step, with his few companions becoming still fewer by disease and death, and yet pressing on with unconquerable spirit to extend the empire of Castile, and the name and power of her sovereign; but when he painted his lonely condition on the desolate island, abandoned by the government at home, deserted by all but a handful of devoted followers, his royal auditor, though not easily moved, was affected to tears. On his departure from Toledo, Charles commended the affairs of his vassal in the most favorable terms to the consideration of the Council of the Indies. 1
1 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Conq. i. Pob. del Piru, Ms.
“Hablaba tan bien en la materia, que se llevo los aplausos y atencion en Toledo donde el Emperador estaba diole audiencia con mucho gusto, tratolo amoroso, y oyole tierno, especialmente cuando le hizo relacion de su consistencia y de los trece compaeros en la Isla en medio de tantos trabajos.” Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ao 1528.]
There was at this time another man at court, who had come there on a similar errand from the New World, but whose splendid achievements had already won for him a name that threw the rising reputation of Pizarro comparatively into the shade. This man was Hernando Cortes, the Conqueror of Mexico. He had come home to lay an empire at the feet of his sovereign, and to demand in return the redress of his wrongs, and the recompense of his great services. He was at the close of his career, as Pizarro was at the commencement of his; the Conqueror of the North and of the South; the two men appointed by Providence to overturn the most potent of the Indian dynasties, and to open the golden gates by which the treasures of the New World were to pass into the coffers of Spain.
Notwithstanding the emperor’s recommendation, the business of Pizarro went forward at the tardy pace with which affairs are usually conducted in the court of Castile. He found his limited means gradually sinking under the expenses incurred by his present situation, and he represented, that, unless some measures were speedily taken in reference to his suit, however favorable they might be in the end, he should be in no condition to profit by them. The queen, accordingly, who had charge of the business, on her husband’s departure, expedited the affair, and on the twenty-sixth of July, 1529, she executed the memorable Capitulation, which defined the powers and privileges of Pizarro.
The instrument secured to that chief the right of discovery and conquest in the province of Peru, or New Castile, — as the country was then called in the same manner as Mexico had received the name of New Spain, — for the distance of two hundred leagues south of Santiago. He was to receive the titles and rank of Governor and Captain–General of the province, together with those of Adelantado, and Alguacil Mayor, for life; and he was to have a salary of seven hundred and twenty-five thousand maravedis, with the obligation of maintaining certain officers and military retainers, corresponding with the dignity of his station. He was to have the right to erect certain fortresses, with the absolute government of them; to assign encomiendas of Indians, under the limitations prescribed by law; and, in fine, to exercise nearly all the prerogatives incident to the authority of a viceroy.
His associate, Almagro, was declared commander of the fortress of Tumbez, with an annual rent of three hundred thousand maravedis, and with the further rank and privileges of an hidalgo. The reverend Father Luque received the reward of his services in the Bishopric of Tumbez, and he was also declared Protector of the Indians of Peru. He was to enjoy the yearly stipend of a thousand ducats, — to be derived, like the other salaries and gratuities in this instrument, from the revenues of the conquered territory.
Nor were the subordinate actors in the expedition forgotten. Ruiz received the title of Grand Pilot of the Southern Ocean, with a liberal provision; Candia was placed at the head of the artillery; and the remaining eleven companions on the desolate island were created hidalgos and cavalleros, and raised to certain municipal dignities, — in prospect.
Several provisions of a liberal tenor were also made, to encourage emigration to the country. The new settlers were to be exempted from some of the most onerous, but customary taxes, as the alcabala, or to be subject to them only in a mitigated form. The tax on the precious metals drawn from mines was to be reduced, at first, to one tenth, instead of the fifth imposed on the same metals when obtained by barter or by rapine.
It was expressly enjoined on Pizarro to observe the existing regulations for the good government and protection of the natives; and he was required to carry out with him a specified number of ecclesiastics, with whom he was to take counsel in the conquest of the country, and whose efforts were to be dedicated to the service and conversion of the Indians; while lawyers and attorneys, on the other hand, whose presence was considered as boding ill to the harmony of the new settlements, were strictly prohibited from setting foot in them.
Pizarro, on his part, was bound, in six months from the date of the instrument, to raise a force, well equipped for the service, of two hundred and fifty men, of whom one hundred might be drawn from the colonies; and the government engaged to furnish some trifling assistance in the purchase of artillery and military stores. Finally, he was to be prepared, in six months after his return to Panama, to leave that port and embark on his expedition. 2
2 This remarkable document, formerly in the archives of Simancas, and now transferred to the Archivo General de las Indias in Seville, was transcribed for the rich collection of the late Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete, to whose kindness I am indebted for a copy of it. — It will be found printed entire, in the original, in Appendix, No. 7.]
Such are some of the principal provisions of this Capitulation, by which the Castilian government, with the sagacious policy which it usually pursued on the like occasions, stimulated the ambitious hopes of the adventurer by high-sounding titles, and liberal promises of reward contingent on his success, but took care to stake nothing itself on the issue of the enterprise. It was careful to reap the fruits of his toil, but not to pay the cost of them.
A circumstance, that could not fail to be remarked in these provisions, was the manner in which the high and lucrative posts were accumulated on Pizarro, to the exclusion of Almagro, who, if he had not taken as conspicuous a part in personal toil and exposure, had, at least, divided with him the original burden of the enterprise, and, by his labors in another direction, had contributed quite as essentially to its success. Almagro had willingly conceded the post of honor to his confederate; but it had been stipulated, on Pizarro’s departure for Spain, that, while he solicited the office of Governor and Captain–General for himself, he should secure that of Adelantado for his companion. In like manner, he had engaged to apply for the see of Tumbez for the vicar of Panama, and the office of Alguacil Mayor for the pilot Ruiz. The bishopric took the direction that was concerted, for the soldier could scarcely claim the mitre of the prelate; but the other offices, instead of their appropriate distribution, were all concentred in himself. Yet it was in reference to his application for his friends, that Pizarro had promised on his departure to deal fairly and honorably by them all. 3
3 “Al fin se capitulo, que Francisco Picarro negociase la Governacion para si: i para Diego de Almagro, el Adelantamiento: i para Hernando de Luque, el Obispado: i para Bartolome Ruiz, el Alguacilazgo Maior: i Mercedes para los que quedaban vivos, de los trece Comapaeros, afirmando siempre Francisco Picarro, que todo lo queria para ellos, i prometiendo, que negociaria lealmente, i sin ninguna cautela.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 4, lib. 3, cap. 1.]
It is stated by the military chronicler, Pedro Pizarro, that his kinsman did, in fact, urge the suit strongly in behalf of Almagro; but that he was refused by the government, on the ground that offices of such paramount importance could not be committed to different individuals. The ill effects of such an arrangement had been long since felt in more than one of the Indian colonies, where it had led to rivalry and fatal collision. 4 Pizarro, therefore, finding his remonstrances unheeded, had no alternative but to combine the offices in his own person, or to see the expedition fall to the ground. This explanation of the affair has not received the sanction of other contemporary historians. The apprehensions expressed by Luque, at the time of Pizarro’s assuming the mission, of some such result as actually occurred, founded, doubtless, on a knowledge of his associate’s character, may warrant us in distrusting the alleged vindication of his conduct, and our distrust will not be diminished by familiarity with his subsequent career. Pizarro’s virtue was not of a kind to withstand temptation, — though of a much weaker sort than that now thrown in his path.
4 “Y don Francisco Picarro pidio conforme a lo que llevava capitulado y hordenado con sus compaeros ya dicho, y en el consejo se le rrespondio que no avia lugar de dar governacion a dos compaeros, a caussa de que en santa marta se avia dado ansi a dos compaeros y el uno avia muerto al otro . . . . . . Pues pedido, como digo, muchas vezes por don Francisco Picarro se les hiziese la merced a ambos compaeros, se le rrespondio la pidiesse parassi sino que se daria a otro, y visto que no avia lugar lo que pedia y queria pedio se le hiziese la merced a el, y ansi se le hizo.” Descub. y Conq. Ms.]
The fortunate cavalier was also honored with the habit of St. Jago; 5 and he was authorized to make an important innovation in his family escutcheon, — for by the father’s side he might claim his armorial bearings. The black eagle and the two pillars emblazoned on the royal arms were incorporated with those of the Pizarros; and an Indian city, with a vessel in the distance on the waters, and the llama of Peru, revealed the theatre and the character of his exploits; while the legend announced, that “under the auspices of Charles, and by the industry, the genius, and the resources of Pizarro, the country had been discovered and reduced to tranquillity,” — thus modestly intimating both the past and prospective services of the Conqueror. 6
5 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 182. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 1. — Caro de Torres, Historia de las Ordenes Militares, (ed. Madrid, 1629,) p. 113.]
6 “Caroli Caesaris auspicio, et labore, ingenio, ac impensa Ducis Picarro inventa, et pacata.’ Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 4 lib. 6, cap. 5.]
These arrangements having been thus completed to Pizarro’s satisfaction, he left Toledo for Truxillo, his native place, in Estremadura, where he thought he should be most likely to meet with adherents for his new enterprise, and where it doubtless gratified his vanity to display himself in the palmy, or at least promising, state of his present circumstances. If vanity be ever pardonable, it is certainly in a man who, born in an obscure station in life, without family, interest, or friends to back him, has carved out his own fortunes in the world, and, by his own resources, triumphed over all the obstacles which nature and accident had thrown in his way. Such was the condition of Pizarro, as he now revisited the place of his nativity, where he had hitherto been known only as a poor outcast, without a home to shelter, a father to own him, or a friend to lean upon. But he now found both friends and followers, and some who were eager to claim kindred with him, and take part in his future fortunes. Among these were four brothers. Three of them, like himself, were illegitimate; one of whom, named Francisco Martin de Alcantara, was related to him by the mother’s side; the other two, named Gonzalo and Juan Pizarro, were descended from the father. “They were all poor, and proud as they were poor,” says Oviedo, who had seen them; “and their eagerness for gain was in proportion to their poverty.” 7
7 “Trujo tres o cuatro hermanos suyos tan soberbios como pobres, e tan sin hacienda como deseosos de alcanzarla.” Hist. de las Indias Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap 1.]
The remaining and eldest brother, named Hernando, was a legitimate son, — “legitimate,” continues the same caustic authority, “by his pride, as well as by his birth.” His features were plain, even disagreeably so; but his figure was good. He was large of stature, and, like his brother Francis, had on the whole an imposing presence. 8 In his character, he combined some of the worst defects incident to the Castilian. He was jealous in the extreme; impatient not merely of affront, but of the least slight, and implacable in his resentment. He was decisive in his measures, and unscrupulous in their execution. No touch of pity had power to arrest his arm. His arrogance was such, that he was constantly wounding the self-love of those with whom he acted; thus begetting an ill-will which unnecessarily multiplied obstacles in his path. In this he differed from his brother Francis, whose plausible manners smoothed away difficulties, and conciliated confidence and cooperation in his enterprises. Unfortunately, the evil counsels of Hernando exercised an influence over his brother which more than compensated the advantages derived from his singular capacity for business.
8 Oviedo’s portrait of him is by no means flattering. He writes like one too familiar with the original. “E de todos ellos el Hernando Pizarro solo era legitimo, e mas legitimado en la soberbia, hombre de alta estatura e grueso, la lengua e labios gordos, e la punta de la nariz con sobrada carne e encendida, y este fue el desavenidor y estorbador del sosiego de todos y en especial de los dos viejos companeros Francisco Pizarro e Diego de Almagro.” Hist de las Indias, Ms., ubi supra.]
Notwithstanding the general interest which Pizarro’s adventures excited in his country, that chief did not find it easy to comply with the provisions of the Capitulation in respect to the amount of his levies. Those who were most astonished by his narrative were not always most inclined to take part in his fortunes. They shrunk from the unparalleled hardships which lay in the path of the adventurer in that direction; and they listened with visible distrust to the gorgeous pictures of the golden temples and gardens of Tumbez, which they looked upon as indebted in some degree, at least, to the coloring of his fancy, with the obvious purpose of attracting followers to his banner. It is even said that Pizarro would have found it difficult to raise the necessary funds, but for the seasonable aid of Cortes, a native of Estremadura like himself, his companion in arms in early days, and, according to report, his kinsman. 9 No one was in a better condition to hold out a helping hand to a brother adventurer, and, probably, no one felt greater sympathy in Pizarro’s fortunes, or greater confidence in his eventual success, than the man who had so lately trod the same career with renown.
9 Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilustres, p. 143.
The six months allowed by the Capitulation had elapsed, and Pizarro had assembled somewhat less than his stipulated complement of men, with which he was preparing to embark in a little squadron of three vessels at Seville; but, before they were wholly ready, he received intelligence that the officers of the Council of the Indies proposed to inquire into the condition of the vessels, and ascertain how far the requisitions had been complied with.
Without loss of time, therefore, Pizarro, afraid, if the facts were known, that his enterprise might be nipped in the bud, slipped his cables, and crossing the bar of San Lucar, in January, 1530, stood for the isle of Gomera, — one of the Canaries, — where he ordered his brother Hernando, who had charge of the remaining vessels, to meet him.
Scarcely had he gone, before the officers arrived to institute the search. But when they objected the deficiency of men, they were easily — perhaps willingly — deceived by the pretext that the remainder had gone forward in the vessel with Pizarro. At all events, no further obstacles were thrown in Hernando’s way, and he was permitted, with the rest of the squadron, to join his brother, according to agreement, at Gomera.
After a prosperous voyage, the adventurers reached the northern coast of the great southern continent, and anchored off the port of Santa Marta. Here they received such discouraging reports of the countries to which they were bound, of forests teeming with insects and venomous serpents, of huge alligators that swarmed on the banks of the streams, and of hardships and perils such as their own fears had never painted, that several of Pizarro’s men deserted; and their leader, thinking it no longer safe to abide in such treacherous quarters, set sail at once for Nombre de Dios.
Soon after his arrival there, he was met by his two associates, Luque and Almagro, who had crossed the mountains for the purpose of hearing from his own lips the precise import of the capitulation with the Crown. Great, as might have been expected, was Almagro’s discontent at learning the result of what he regarded as the perfidious machinations of his associate. “Is it thus,” he exclaimed, “that you have dealt with the friend who shared equally with you in the trials, the dangers, and the cost of the enterprise; and this, notwithstanding your solemn engagements on your departure to provide for his interests as faithfully as your own? How could you allow me to be thus dishonored in the eyes of the world by so paltry a compensation, which seems to estimate my services as nothing in comparison with your own?” 10
10 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 4, lib. 7, cap. 9. — Pedro Pizarro Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
Pizarro, in reply, assured his companion that he had faithfully urged his suit, but that the government refused to confide powers which intrenched so closely on one another to different hands. He had no alternative, but to accept all himself or to decline all; and he endeavoured to mitigate Almagro’s displeasure by representing that the country was large enough for the ambition of both, and that the powers conferred on himself were, in fact, conferred on Almagro, since all that he had would ever be at his friend’s disposal, as if it were his own. But these honeyed words did not satisfy the injured party; and the two captains soon after returned to Panama with feelings of estrangement, if not hostility, towards one another, which did not augur well for their enterprise.
Still, Almagro was of a generous temper, and might have been appeased by the politic concessions of his rival, but for the interference of Hernando Pizarro, who, from the first hour of their meeting, showed little respect for the veteran, which, indeed, the diminutive person of the latter was not calculated to inspire, and who now regarded him with particular aversion as an impediment to the career of his brother.
Almagro’s friends — and his frank and liberal manners had secured him many — were no less disgusted than himself with the overbearing conduct of this new ally. They loudly complained that it was quite enough to suffer from the perfidy of Pizarro, without being exposed to the insults of his family, who had now come over with him to fatten on the spoils of conquest which belonged to their leader. The rupture soon proceeded to such a length, that Almagro avowed his intention to prosecute the expedition without further cooperation with his partner, and actually entered into negotiations for the purchase of vessels for that object. But Luque, and the Licentiate Espinosa, who had fortunately come over at that time from St. Domingo, now interposed to repair a breach which must end in the ruin of the enterprise, and the probable destruction of those most interested in its success. By their mediation, a show of reconciliation was at length effected between the parties, on Pizarro’s assurance that he would relinquish the dignity of Adelantado in favor of his rival, and petition the emperor to confirm him in the possession of it; — an assurance, it may be remarked, not easy to reconcile with his former assertion in respect to the avowed policy of the Crown in bestowing this office. He was, moreover, to apply for a distinct government for his associate, so soon as he had become master of the country assigned to himself; and was to solicit no office for either of his own brothers, until Almagro had been first provided for. Lastly, the former contract in regard to the division of the spoil into three equal shares between the three original associates was confirmed in the most explicit manner. The reconciliation thus effected among the parties answered the temporary purpose of enabling them to go forward in concert in the expedition. But it was only a thin scar that had healed over the wound, which, deep and rankling within, waited only fresh cause of irritation to break out with a virulence more fatal than ever. 11
11 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1529. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 3. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 1.
There seems to have been little good-will, at bottom, between any of the confederates; for Father Luque wrote to Oviedo that both of his partners had repaid his services with ingratitude. — “Padre Luque, companero de estos Capitanes, con cuya hacienda hicieron ellos sus hechos, puesto que el uno e el otro se lo pagaron con ingratitud segun a mi me lo escribio el mismo electo de su mano.” Ibid., loc. cit.]
No time was now lost in preparing for the voyage. It found little encouragement, however, among the colonists of Panama, who were too familiar with the sufferings on the former expeditions to care to undertake another, even with the rich bribe that was held out to allure them. A few of the old company were content to follow out the adventure to its close; and some additional stragglers were collected from the province of Nicaragua, — a shoot, it may be remarked, from the colony of Panama. But Pizarro made slender additions to the force brought over with him from Spain, though this body was in better condition, and, in respect to arms, ammunition, and equipment generally, was on a much better footing than his former levies. The whole number did not exceed one hundred and eighty men, with twenty-seven horses for the cavalry. He had provided himself with three vessels, two of them of a good size, to take the place of those which he had been compelled to leave on the opposite side of the Isthmus at Nombre de Dios; an armament small for the conquest of an empire, and far short of that prescribed by the capitulation with the Crown. With this the intrepid chief proposed to commence operations, trusting to his own successes, and the exertions of Almagro, who was to remain behind, for the present, to muster reinforcements. 12
12 The numerical estimates differ, as usual. I conform to the statement of Pizarro’s secretary, Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 182.]
On St. John the Evangelist’s day, the banners of the company and the royal standard were consecrated in the cathedral church of Panama; a sermon was preached before the little army by Fray Juan de Vargas, one of the Dominicans selected by the government for the Peruvian mission; and mass was performed, and the sacrament administered to every soldier previous to his engaging in the crusade against the infidel. 13 Having thus solemnly invoked the blessing of Heaven on the enterprise, Pizarro and his followers went on board their vessels, which rode at anchor in the Bay of Panama, and early in January, 1531, sallied forth on his third and last expedition for the conquest of Peru.
13 “El qual haviendo hecho bendecir en la Iglesia mayor las banderas i estandarte real dia de San Juan Evangelista de dicho ano de 1530, i que todos los soldados confesasen i comulgasen en el convento de Nuestra Senora de la Merced, dia de los Inocentes en la misa cantada que se celebro con toda solemnidad i sermon que predico el P. Presentdo Fr. Juan de Vargas, uno de los 5 religiosos que en cumplimiento de la obediencia de sus prelados i orden del Emperador pasaban a la conquista.” Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
It was his intention to steer direct for Tumbez, which held out so magnificent a show of treasure on his former voyage. But head winds and currents, as usual, baffled his purpose, and after a run of thirteen days, much shorter than the period formerly required for the same distance, his little squadron came to anchor in the Bay of St. Matthew, about one degree north; and Pizarro, after consulting with his officers, resolved to disembark his forces and advance along the coast, while the vessels held their course at a convenient distance from the shore.
The march of the troops was severe and painful in the extreme; for the road was constantly intersected by streams, which, swollen by the winter rains, widened at their mouths into spacious estuaries. Pizarro, who had some previous knowledge of the country, acted as guide as well as commander of the expedition. He was ever ready to give aid where it was needed, encouraging his followers to ford or swim the torrents as they best could, and cheering the desponding by his own buoyant and courageous spirit.
At length they reached a thick-settled hamlet, or rather town, in the province of Coaque. The Spaniards rushed on the place, and the inhabitants, without offering resistance, fled in terror to the neighbouring forests, leaving their effects — of much greater value than had been anticipated — in the hands of the invaders. “We fell on them, sword in hand,” says one of the Conquerors, with some naivete; “for, if we had advised the Indians of our approach, we should never have found there such store of gold and precious stones.” 14 The natives, however, according to another authority, stayed voluntarily; “for, as they had done no harm to the white men, they flattered themselves none would be offered to them, but that there would be only an interchange of good offices with the strangers,” 15 — an expectation founded, it may be, on the good character which the Spaniards had established for themselves on their preceding visit, but in which the simple people now found themselves most unpleasantly deceived.
14 “Pues llegados a este pueblo de Coaque dieron de supito sin savello la gente del porque si estuvieran avisados. No se tomara la cantidad de oro y esmeraldas que en el se tomaron.” Pedro Pizarre, Descub. y Conq., Ms]
15 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 4, lib. 7, cap. 9.
Rushing into the deserted dwellings, the invaders found there, besides stuffs of various kinds, and food most welcome in their famished condition, a large quantity of gold and silver wrought into clumsy ornaments, together with many precious stones; for this was the region of the esmeraldas, or emeralds, where that valuable gem was most abundant. One of these jewels that fell into the hands of Pizarro, in this neighbourhood, was as large as a pigeon’s egg. Unluckily, his rude followers did not know the value of their prize; and they broke many of them in pieces by pounding them with hammers. 16 They were led to this extraordinary proceeding, it is said, by one of the Dominican missionaries, Fray Reginaldo de Pedraza, who assured them that this was the way to prove the true emerald, which could not be broken. It was observed that the good father did not subject his own jewels to this wise experiment; but, as the stones, in consequence of it, fell in value, being regarded merely as colored glass, he carried back a consider able store of them to Panama. 17
16 Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 4.
“A lo que se ha entendido en las esmeraldas ovo gran hierro y torpedad en algunas Personas por no conoscellas. Aunque quieren decir que algunos que las conoscieron las guardaron. Pero ffinalmente muchos vbieron esmeraldas de mucho valor; vnos las provavan en yunques, dandolas con martillos, diziendo que si hera esmeralda no se quebraria; otros las despreciaban, diziendo que era vidrio.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
17 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 4, lib. 7, cap. 9.]
The gold and silver ornaments rifled from the dwellings were brought together and deposited in a common heap; when a fifth was deducted for the Crown, and Pizarro distributed the remainder in due proportions among the officers and privates of his company. This was the usage invariably observed on the like occasions throughout the Conquest. The invaders had embarked in a common adventure. Their interest was common, and to have allowed every one to plunder on his own account would only have led to insubordination and perpetual broils. All were required, therefore, on pain of death, to contribute whatever they obtained, whether by bargain or by rapine, to the general stock; and all were too much interested in the execution of the penalty to allow the unhappy culprit, who violated the law, any chance of escape. 18
18 “Los Espanoles las rrecoxeron y juntaron el oro y la plata, porque asi estava mandado y hordenado sopena de la vida el que otra cossa hiziese, porque todos lo avian de traet a monton para que de alli el governador lo rrepartiese, dando a cada uno confforme a su persona y meritos de servicios; y esta horden se guardo en toda esta tierra en la conquista della, y al que se le hallara oro o plata escondido muriera por ello, y deste medio nadie oso escondello.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub y Conq., Ms.
Pizarro, with his usual policy, sent back to Panama a large quantity of the gold, no less than twenty thousand castellanos in value, in the belief that the sight of so much treasure, thus speedily acquired, would settle the doubts of the wavering, and decide them on joining his banner. 19 He judged right. As one of the Conquerors piously expresses it, “It pleased the Lord that we should fall in with the town of Coaque, that the riches of the land might find credit with the people, and that they should flock to it.” 20
19 The booty was great, indeed, if, as Pedro Pizarro, one of the Conquerors present, says, it amounted in value to 200,000 gold castellanos. “Aqui se hallo mucha chaquira de oro y de plata, muchas coronas hechas de oro a manera de imperiales, y otras muchas piezas en que se avaleo montar mas de dozientos mill castellanos.” (Descub. y Conq., Ms.) Naharro, Montesinos, and Herrera content themselves with stating that he sent back 20,000 castellanos in the vessels to Panama.]
20 “Fueron a dar en vn pueblo que se dezia Coaque que fue nuestro Senor servido tapasen con el, porque con lo que en el se hallo se acredito la tierra y vino gente a ella.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub y Conq., Ms.]
Pizarro, having refreshed his men, continued his march along the coast, but no longer accompanied by the vessels, which had returned for recruits to Panama. The road, as he advanced, was checkered with strips of sandy waste, which, drifted about by the winds, blinded the soldiers, and afforded only treacherous footing for man and beast. The glare was intense; and the rays of a vertical sun beat fiercely on the iron mail and the thick quilted doublets of cotton, till the fainting troops were almost suffocated with the heat. To add to their distresses, a strange epidemic broke out in the little army. It took the form of ulcers, or rather hideous warts of great size, which covered the body, and when lanced, as was the case with some, discharged such a quantity of blood as proved fatal to the sufferer. Several died of this frightful disorder, which was so sudden in its attack, and attended with such prostration of strength, that those who lay down well at night were unable to lift their hands to their heads in the morning. 21 The epidemic, which made its first appearance during this invasion, and which did not long survive it, spread over the country, sparing neither native nor white man. 22 It was one of those plagues from the vial of wrath, which the destroying angel, who follows in the path of the conqueror, pours out on the devoted nations.
21 Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1530.]
22 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 1, cap. 15.
The Spaniards rarely experienced on their march either resistance or annoyance from the inhabitants, who, instructed by the example of Coaque, fled with their effects into the woods and neighbouring mountains. No one came out to welcome the strangers and offer the rites of hospitality, as on their last visit to the land. For the white men were no longer regarded as good beings that had come from heaven, but as ruthless destroyers, who, invulnerable to the assaults of the Indians, were borne along on the backs of fierce animals, swifter than the wind, with weapons in their hands, that scattered fire and desolation as they went. Such were the stories now circulated of the invaders, which, preceding them everywhere on their march, closed the hearts, if not the doors, of the natives against them. Exhausted by the fatigue of travel and by disease, and grievously disappointed at the poverty of the land, which now offered no compensation for their toils, the soldiers of Pizarro cursed the hour in which they had enlisted under his standard, and the men of Nicaragua, in particular, says the old chronicler, calling to mind their pleasant quarters in their luxurious land, sighed only to return to their Mahometan paradise. 23
23 Aunque ellos no ninguno por aver venido, porque como avian dexado el paraiso de mahoma que hera Nicaragua y hallaron la isla alzada y falta de comidas y la mayor parte de la gente enfferma y no oro ni plata como atras avian hallado, algunos y todos se holgaran de volver de adonde avian venido.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
At this juncture the army was gladdened by the sight of a vessel from Panama, which brought some supplies, together with the royal treasurer, the veedor or inspector, the comptroller, and other high officers appointed by the Crown to attend the expedition. They had been left in Spain by Pizarro, in consequence of his abrupt departure from the country; and the Council of the Indies, on learning the circumstance, had sent instructions to Panama to prevent the sailing of his squadron from that port. But the Spanish government, with more wisdom, countermanded the order, only requiring the functionaries to quicken their own departure, and take their place without loss of time in the expedition.
The Spaniards in their march along the coast had now advanced as far as Puerto Viejo. Here they were soon after joined by another small reinforcement of about thirty men, under an officer named Belalcazar, who subsequently rose to high distinction in this service. Many of the followers of Pizarro would now have halted at this spot and established a colony there. But that chief thought more of conquering than of colonizing, at least for the present; and he proposed, as his first step, to get possession of Tumbez, which he regarded as the gate of the Peruvian empire. Continuing his march, therefore, to the shores of what is now called the Gulf of Guayaquil, he arrived off the little island of Puna, lying at no great distance from the Bay of Tumbez. This island, he thought, would afford him a convenient place to encamp until he was prepared to make his descent on the Indian city.
The dispositions of the islanders seemed to favor his purpose. He had not been long in their neighbourhood, before a deputation of the natives, with their cacique at their head, crossed over in their balsas to the main land to welcome the Spaniards to their residence. But the Indian interpreters of Tumbez, who had returned with Pizarro from Spain, and continued with the camp, put their master on his guard against the meditated treachery of the islanders, whom they accused of designing to destroy the Spaniards by cutting the ropes that held together the floats, and leaving those upon them to perish in the waters. Yet the cacique, when charged by Pizarro with this perfidious scheme, denied it with such an air of conscious innocence, that the Spanish commander trusted himself and his followers, without further hesitation, to his conveyance, and was transported in safety to the shores of Puna.
Here he was received in a hospitable manner, and his troops were provided with comfortable quarters. Well satisfied with his present position, Pizarro resolved to occupy it until the violence of the rainy season was passed, when the arrival of the reinforcements he expected would put him in better condition for marching into the country of the Inca.
The island, which lies in the mouth of the river of Guayaquil, and is about eight leagues in length by four in breadth, at the widest part, was at that time partially covered with a noble growth of timber. But a large portion of it was subjected to cultivation, and bloomed with plantations of cacao, of the sweet potato, and the different products of a tropical clime, evincing agricultural knowledge as well as industry in the population. They were a warlike race; but had received from their Peruvian foes the appellation of “perfidious.” It was the brand fastened by the Roman historians on their Carthaginian enemies, — with perhaps no better reason. The bold and independent islanders opposed a stubborn resistance to the arms of the Incas; and, though they had finally yielded, they had been ever since at feud, and often in deadly hostility, with their neighbours of Tumbez.
The latter no sooner heard of Pizarro’s arrival on the island, than, trusting, probably, to their former friendly relations with him, they came over in some number to the Spanish quarters. The presence of their detested rivals was by no means grateful to the jealous inhabitants of Puna, and the prolonged residence of the white men on their island could not be otherwise than burdensome. In their outward demeanour they still maintained the same show of amity; but Pizarro’s interpreters again put him on his guard against the proverbial perfidy of their hosts. With his suspicions thus roused, the Spanish commander was informed that a number of the chiefs had met together to deliberate on a plan of insurrection. Not caring to wait for the springing of the mine, he surrounded the place of meeting with his soldiers and made prisoners of the suspected chieftains. According to one authority, they confessed their guilt. 24 This is by no means certain. Nor is it certain that they meditated an insurrection. Yet the fact is not improbable in itself; though it derives little additional probability from the assertion of the hostile interpreters. It is certain, however, that Pizarro was satisfied of the existence of a conspiracy; and, without further hesitation, he abandoned his wretched prisoners, ten or twelve in number, to the tender mercies of their rivals of Tumbez, who instantly massacred them before his eyes. 25
24 Xeres, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 183.]
25 “Y el marques don Francisco Picarro, por tenellos por amigos y estuviesen de paz quando alla passasen, les dio algunos principales los quales ellos matavan en presencia de los espanoles, cortandoles las cavezas por el cogote.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
Maddened by this outrage, the people of Puna sprang to arms, and threw themselves at once, with fearful yells and the wildest menaces of despair, on the Spanish camp. The odds of numbers were greatly in their favor, for they mustered several thousand warriors. But the more decisive odds of arms and discipline were on the side of their antagonists; and, as the Indians rushed forward in a confused mass to the assault, the Castilians coolly received them on their long pikes, or swept them down by the volleys of their musketry. Their ill-protected bodies were easily cut to pieces by the sharp sword of the Spaniard; and Hernando Pizarro, putting himself at the head of the cavalry, charged boldly into the midst, and scattered them far and wide over the field, until, panic-struck by the terrible array of steel-clad horsemen, and the stunning reports and the flash of fire-arms, the fugitives sought shelter in the depths of their forests. Yet the victory was owing, in some degree, at least, — if we may credit the Conquerors, — to the interposition of Heaven; for St. Michael and his legions were seen high in the air above the combatants, contending with the arch-enemy of man, and cheering on the Christians by their example! 26
26 The city of San Miguel was so named by Pizarro to commemorate the event, — and the existence of such a city may be considered by some as establishing the truth of the miracle. — “En la batalla de Puna vieron muchos, ya de los Indios, ya de los nuestros, que habia en el aire otros dos campos, uno acaudillado por el Arcangel Sn Miguel con espada y rodela, y otro por Luzbel y sus secuaces; mas apenas cantaron los Castellanos la victoria huyeron los diablos, y formando un gran torvellino de viento se oyeron en el aire unas terribles voces que decian, Vencistenos! Miguel vencistenos! De aqui torno Dn Francisco Pizarro tanta devocion al sto Arcangel, que prometio llamar la primera ciudad que fundase de su nombre; cumpliolo asi como veremos adelante.” Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1530.]
Not more than three or four Spaniards fell in the fight; but many were wounded, and among them Hernando Pizarro, who received a severe injury in the leg from a javelin. Nor did the war end here; for the implacable islanders, taking advantage of the cover of night, or of any remissness on the part of the invaders, were ever ready to steal out of their fastnesses and spring on their enemy’s camp, while, by cutting off his straggling parties, and destroying his provisions, they kept him in perpetual alarm. In this uncomfortable situation, the Spanish commander was gladdened by the appearance of two vessels off the island. They brought a reinforcement consisting of a hundred volunteers besides horses for the cavalry. It was commanded by Hernando de Soto, a captain afterwards famous as the discoverer of the Mississippi, which still rolls its majestic current over the place of his burial, — a fitting monument for his remains, as it is of his renown. 27 [See Fernando de Soto: A Captain famous as the discoverer of Mississippi.]
27 The transactions in Puna are given at more or less length by Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Peru, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ubi supra. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. pp. 182, 183.]
This reinforcement was most welcome to Pizarro, who had been long discontented with his position on an island, where he found nothing to compensate the life of unintermitting hostility which he was compelled to lead. With these recruits, he felt himself in sufficient strength to cross over to the continent, and resume military operations on the proper theatre for discovery and conquest. From the Indians of Tumbez he learned that the country had been for some time distracted by a civil war between two sons of the late monarch, competitors for the throne. This intelligence he regarded as of the utmost importance, for he remembered the use which Cortes had made of similar dissensions among the tribes of Anahuac. Indeed, Pizarro seems to have had the example of his great predecessor before his eyes on more occasions than this. But he fell far short of his model; for, notwithstanding the restraint he sometimes put upon himself, his coarser nature and more ferocious temper often betrayed him into acts most repugnant to sound policy, which would never have been countenanced by the Conqueror of Mexico.
Before accompanying the march of Pizarro and his followers into the country of the Incas, it is necessary to make the reader acquainted with the critical situation of the kingdom at that time. For the Spaniards arrived just at the consummation of an important revolution, — at a crisis most favorable to their views of conquest, and but for which, indeed, the conquest, with such a handful of soldiers, could never have been achieved. In the latter part of the fifteenth century died Tupac Inca Yupanqui, one of the most renowned of the “Children of the Sun,” who, carrying the Peruvian arms across the burning sands of Atacama, penetrated to the remote borders of Chili, while in the opposite direction he enlarged the limits of the empire by the acquisition of the southern provinces of Quito. The war in this quarter was conducted by his son Huayna Capac, who succeeded his father on the throne, and fully equalled him in military daring and in capacity for government.
Under this prince, the whole of the powerful state of Quito, which rivalled that of Peru itself in wealth and refinement, was brought under the sceptre of the Incas; whose empire received, by this conquest, the most important accession yet made to it since the foundation of the dynasty of Manco Capac. The remaining days of the victorious monarch were passed in reducing the independent tribes on the remote limits of his territory, and, still more, in cementing his conquests by the introduction of the Peruvian polity. He was actively engaged in completing the great works of his father, especially the high-roads which led from Quito to the capital. He perfected the establishment of posts, took great pains to introduce the Quichua dialect throughout the empire, promoted a better system of agriculture, and in fine, encouraged the different branches of domestic industry and the various enlightened plans of his predecessors for the improvement of his people. Under his sway, the Peruvian monarchy reached its most palmy state; and under both him and his illustrious father it was advancing with such rapid strides in the march of civilization as would soon have carried it to a level with the more refined despotisms of Asia, furnishing the world, perhaps, with higher evidence of the capabilities of the American Indian than is elsewhere to be found on the great western continent. — But other and gloomier destinies were in reserve for the Indian races.
The first arrival of the white men on the South American shores of the Pacific was about ten years before the death of Huayna Capac, when Balboa crossed the Gulf of St. Michael, and obtained the first clear report of the empire of the Incas. Whether tidings of these adventurers reached the Indian monarch’s ears is doubtful. There is no doubt, however, that he obtained the news of the first expedition under Pizarro and Almagro, when the latter commander penetrated as far as the Rio de San Juan, about the fourth degree north. The accounts which he received made a strong impression on the mind of Huayna Capac. He discerned in the formidable prowess and weapons of the invaders proofs of a civilization far superior to that of his own people. He intimated his apprehension that they would return, and that at some day, not far distant, perhaps, the throne of the Incas might be shaken by these strangers, endowed with such incomprehensible powers. 1 To the vulgar eye, it was a little speck on the verge of the horizon; but that of the sagacious monarch seemed to descry in it the dark thunder-cloud, that was to spread wider and wider till it burst in fury on his nation!
1 Sarmiento, an honest authority, tells us he had this from some of the Inca lords who heard it, Relacion, Ms., cap. 65.]
There is some ground for believing thus much. But other accounts, which have obtained a popular currency, not content with this, connect the first tidings of the white men with predictions long extant in the country, and with supernatural appearances, which filled the hearts of the whole nation with dismay. Comets were seen flaming athwart the heavens. Earthquakes shook the land; the moon was girdled with rings of fire of many colors; a thunderbolt fell on one of the royal palaces and consumed it to ashes; and an eagle, chased by several hawks, was seen, screaming in the air, to hover above the great square of Cuzco, when, pierced by the talons of his tormentors, the king of birds fell lifeless in the presence of many of the Inca nobles, who read in this an augury of their own destruction! Huayna Capac himself, calling his great officers around him, as he found he was drawing near his end, announced the subversion of his empire by the race of white and bearded strangers, as the consummation predicted by the oracles after the reign of the twelfth Inca, and he enjoined it on his vassals not to resist the decrees of Heaven, but to yield obedience to its messengers. 2
2 A minute relation of these supernatural occurrences is given by the Inca Garcilasso de la Vega, (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 9, cap. 14,) whose situation opened to him the very best sources of information, which is more than counterbalanced by the defects in his own character as an historian, — his childish credulity, and his desire to magnify and mystify every thing relating to his own order, and, indeed, his nation. His work is the source of most of the facts — and the falsehoods — that have obtained circulation in respect to the ancient Peruvians. Unfortunately, at this distance of time, it is not always easy to distinguish the one from the other.
Such is the report of the impressions made by the appearance of the Spaniards in the country, reminding one of the similar feelings of superstitious terror occasioned by their appearance in Mexico. But the traditions of the latter land rest on much higher authority than those of the Peruvians, which, unsupported by contemporary testimony, rest almost wholly on the naked assertion of one of their own nation, who thought to find, doubtless, in the inevitable decrees of Heaven, the best apology for the supineness of his countrymen.
It is not improbable that rumors of the advent of a strange and mysterious race should have spread gradually among the Indian tribes along the great table-land of the Cordilleras, and should have shaken the hearts of the stoutest warriors with feelings of undefined dread, as of some impending calamity. In this state of mind, it was natural that physical convulsions, to which that volcanic country is peculiarly subject, should have made an unwonted impression on their minds; and that the phenomena, which might have been regarded only as extraordinary, in the usual seasons of political security, should now be interpreted by the superstitious soothsayer as the handwriting on the heavens, by which the God of the Incas proclaimed the approaching downfall of their empire.
Huayna Capac had, as usual with the Peruvian princes, a multitude of concubines, by whom he left a numerous posterity. The heir to the crown, the son of his lawful wife and sister, was named Huascar. 3 At the period of the history at which we are now arrived, he was about thirty years of age. Next to the heir-apparent, by another wife, a cousin of the monarch’s, came Manco Capac, a young prince who will occupy an important place in our subsequent story. But the best-beloved of the Inca’s children was Atahuallpa. His mother was the daughter of the last Scyri of Quito, who had died of grief, it was said, not long after the subversion of his kingdom by Huayna Capac. The princess was beautiful, and the Inca, whether to gratify his passion, or, as the Peruvians say, willing to make amends for the ruin of her parents, received her among his concubines. The historians of Quito assert that she was his lawful wife; but this dignity, according to the usages of the empire, was reserved for maidens of the Inca blood.
3 Huascar, in the Quichua dialect, signifies “a cable.” The reason of its being given to the heir apparent is remarkable. Huayna Capac celebrated the birth of the prince by a festival, in which he introduced a massive gold chain for the nobles to hold in their hands as they performed their national dances. The chain was seven hundred feet in length, and the links nearly as big round as a man’s wrist! (See Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 14. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 9, cap. 1.) The latter writer had the particulars, he tells us, from his old Inca uncle, — who seems to have dealt largely in the marvellous; not too largely for his audience, however, as the story has been greedily circulated by most of the Castilian writers, both of that and of the succeeding age.
The latter years of Huayna Capac were passed in his new kingdom of Quito. Atahuallpa was accordingly brought up under his own eye, accompanied him, while in his tender years, in his campaigns, slept in the same tent with his royal father, and ate from the same plate. 4 The vivacity of the boy, his courage and generous nature, won the affections of the old monarch to such a degree, that he resolved to depart from the established usages of the realm, and divide his empire between him and his elder brother Huascar. On his death-bed, he called the great officers of the crown around him, and declared it to be his will that the ancient kingdom of Quito should pass to Atahuallpa, who might be considered as having a natural claim on it, as the dominion of his ancestors. The rest of the empire he settled on Huascar; and he enjoined it on the two brothers to acquiesce in this arrangement, and to live in amity with each other. This was the last act of the heroic monarch; doubtless, the most impolitic of his whole life. With his dying breath he subverted the fundamental laws of the empire; and, while he recommended harmony between the successors to his authority, he left in this very division of it the seeds of inevitable discord. 5
4 “Atabalipa era bien quisto de los Capitanes viejos de su Padre y de los Soldados, porque andubo en la guerra en su ninez y porque andubo en la guerra en su niez porque el en vida le mostro tanto amor que no le dejaba comer otra cosa que lo que el le daba de su plato.” Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 66.]
5 Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 9. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 12. — Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 65. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 201.]
His death took place, as seems probable, at the close of 1525, not quite seven years before Pizarro’s arrival at Puna. 6 The tidings of his decease spread sorrow and consternation throughout the land; for, though stern and even inexorable to the rebel and the long-resisting foe, he was a brave and magnanimous monarch, and legislated with the enlarged views of a prince who regarded every part of his dominions as equally his concern. The people of Quito, flattered by the proofs which he had given of preference for them by his permanent residence in that country, and his embellishment of their capital, manifested unfeigned sorrow at his loss; and his subjects at Cuzco, proud of the glory which his arms and his abilities had secured for his native land, held him in no less admiration; 7 while the more thoughtful and the more timid, in both countries, looked with apprehension to the future, when the sceptre of the vast empire, instead of being swayed by an old and experienced hand, was to be consigned to rival princes, naturally jealous of one another, and, from their age, necessarily exposed to the unwholesome influence of crafty and ambitious counsellors. The people testified their regret by the unwonted honors paid to the memory of the deceased Inca. His heart was retained in Quinto, and his body, embalmed after the fashion of the country, was transported to Cuzco, to take its place in the great temple of the Sun, by the side of the remains of his royal ancestors. His obsequies were celebrated with sanguinary splendor in both the capitals of his far-extended empire; and several thousand of the imperial concubines, with numerous pages and officers of the palace, are said to have proved their sorrow, or their superstition, by offering up their own lives, that they might accompany their departed lord to the bright mansions of the Sun. 8.
6 The precise date of this event, though so near the time of the Conquest, is matter of doubt. Balboa, a contemporary with the Conquerors, and who wrote at Quito, where the Inca died, fixes it at 1525. (Hist. du Perou, chap. 14.) Velasco, another inhabitant of the same place, after an investigation of the different accounts, comes to the like conclusion. (Hist. de Quito, tom. I. p. 232.) Dr. Robertson, after telling us that Huayna Capac died in 1529, speaks again of this event as having happened in 1527. (Conf. America, vol. III. pp. 25, 381.) Any one, who has been bewildered by the chronological snarl of the ancient chronicles, will not be surprised at meeting occasionally with such inconsistencies in a writer who is obliged to take them as his guides.]
7 One cannot doubt this monarch’s popularity with the female part of his subjects, at least, if, as the historian of the Incas tells us, “he was never known to refuse a woman, of whatever age or degree she might be, any favor that she asked of him”! Com. Real. Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 7.]
8 Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 65. — Herrera, Hist. General dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 17.]
For nearly five years after the death of Huayna Capac, the royal brothers reigned, each over his allotted portion of the empire, without distrust of one another, or, at least, without collision. It seemed as if the wish of their father was to be completely realized, and that the two states were to maintain their respective integrity and independence as much as if they had never been united into one. But, with the manifold causes for jealousy and discontent, and the swarms of courtly sycophants, who would find their account in fomenting these feelings, it was easy to see that this tranquil state of things could not long endure. Nor would it have endured so long, bur for the more gentle temper of Huascar, the only party who had ground for complaint. He was four or five years older than his brother, and was possessed of courage not to be doubted; but he was a prince of a generous and easy nature, and perhaps, if left to himself, might have acquiesced in an arrangement which, however unpalatable, was the will of his deified father. But Atahuallpa was of a different temper. Warlike, ambitious, and daring, he was constantly engaged in enterprises for the enlargement of his own territory, though his crafty policy was scrupulous not to aim at extending his acquisitions in the direction of his royal brother. His restless spirit, however, excited some alarm at the court of Cuzco, and Huascar, at length, sent an envoy to Atahuallpa, to remonstrate with him on his ambitious enterprises, and to require him to render him homage for his kingdom of Quito.
This is one statement. Other accounts pretend that the immediate cause of rupture was a claim instituted by Huascar for the territory of Tumebamba, held by his brother as part of his patrimonial inheritance. It matters little what was the ostensible ground of collision between persons placed by circumstances in so false a position in regard to one another, that collision must, at some time or other, inevitably occur.
The commencement, and, indeed, the whole course, of hostilities which soon broke out between the rival brothers are stated with irreconcilable, and, considering the period was so near to that of the Spanish invasion, with unaccountable discrepancy. By some it is said, that, in Atahuallpa’s first encounter with the troops of Cuzco, he was defeated and made prisoner near Tumebamba, a favorite residence of his father in the ancient territory of Quito, and in the district of Canaris. From this disaster he recovered by a fortunate escape from confinement, when, regaining his capital, he soon found himself at the head of a numerous army, led by the most able and experienced captains in the empire. The liberal manners of the young Atahuallpa had endeared him to the soldiers, with whom, as we have seen, he served more than one campaign in his father’s lifetime. These troops were the flower of the great army of the Inca, and some of them had grown gray in his long military career, which had left them at the north, where they readily transferred their allegiance to the young sovereign of Quito. They were commanded by two officers of great consideration, both possessed of large experience in military affairs, and high in the confidence of the late Inca. One of them was named Quizquiz; the other, who was the maternal uncle of Atahuallpa, was called Chalicuchima.
With these practised warriors to guide him, the young monarch put himself at the head of his martial array, and directed his march towards the south. He had not advanced farther than Ambato, about sixty miles distant from his capital, when he fell in with a numerous host, which had been sent against him by his brother, under the command of a distinguished chieftain, of the Inca family. A bloody battle followed, which lasted the greater part of the day; and the theatre of combat was the skirts of the mighty Chimborazo. 9
9 Garcilasso denies that anything but insignificant skirmishes took place before the decisive action fought on the plains of Cusco, But the Licentiate Sarmiento, who gathered his accounts of these events, as he tells us, from the actors in them, walked over the field of battle at Ambato, when the ground was still covered with the bones of the slain. “Yo he pasado por este Pueblo y he visto el Lugar donde dicen que esta Batalla se dio y cierto segun hay la osamenta devienon aun de morir mas gente de la que cuentan.” Relacion, Ms., cap. 69.]
The battle ended favorably for Atahuallpa, and the Peruvians were routed with great slaughter, and the loss of their commander. The prince of Quito availed himself of his advantage to push forward his march until he arrived before the gates of Tumebamba, which city, as well as the whole district of Canaris, though an ancient dependency of Quito, had sided with his rival in the contest. Entering the captive city like a conqueror, he put the inhabitants to the sword, and razed it with all its stately edifices, some of which had been reared by his own father, to the ground. He carried on the same war of extermination, as he marched through the offending district of Canaris. In some places, it is said, the women and children came out, with green branches in their hands, in melancholy procession, to deprecate his wrath; but the vindictive conqueror, deaf to their entreaties, laid the country waste with fire and sword, sparing no man capable of bearing arms who fell into his hands. 10
10 “Cuentan muchos Indios a quien yo lo oi, que por amansar su ira, mandaron a un escuadron grande de ninos y a otro de hombres de toda edad, que saliesen hasta las ricas andas donde venia con gran pompa, llevando en las manos ramos verdes y ojas de palma, y que le pidiesen la gracia y amistad suya para el pueblo, sin mirar la injuria pasada, y que en tantos clamores se lo suplicaron, y con tanta humildad, que bastara quebrantar corazones de piedra, mas poca impresion hicieron en el cruel de Atabalipa, porque dicen que mando a sus capitanes y gentes que matasen a todos aquellos que habian venido, lo cual fue hecho, no perdonando sino a algunos ninos y a las mugeres sagradas del Templo.” Sarmiento, Relacion Ms. cap. 70.
The fate of Canaris struck terror into the hearts of his enemies, and one place after another opened its gates to the victor, who held on his triumphant march towards the Peruvian capital. His arms experienced a temporary check before the island of Puna, whose bold warriors maintained the cause of his brother. After some days lost before this place, Atahuallpa left the contest to their old enemies, the people of Tumbez, who had early given in their adhesion to him, while he resumed his march and advanced as far as Caxamalca, about seven degrees south. Here he halted with a detachment of the army, sending forward the main body under the command of his two generals, with orders to move straight upon Cuzco. He preferred not to trust himself farther in the enemy’s country, where a defeat might be fatal. By establishing his quarters at Caxamalca, he would be able to support his generals, in case of a reverse, or, at worst, to secure his retreat on Quito, until he was again in condition to renew hostilities. The two commanders, advancing by rapid marches, at length crossed the Apurimac river, and arrived within a short distance of the Peruvian capital. — Meanwhile, Huascar had not been idle. On receiving tidings of the discomfiture of his army at Ambato, he made every exertion to raise levies throughout the country. By the advice, it is said, of his priests — the most incompetent advisers in times of danger — he chose to await the approach of the enemy in his own capital; and it was not till the latter had arrived within a few leagues of Cuzco, that the Inca, taking counsel of the same ghostly monitors, sallied forth to give him battle.
The two armies met on the plains of Quipaypan, in the neighbourhood of the Indian metropolis. Their numbers are stated with the usual discrepancy; but Atahuallpa’s troops had considerably the advantage in discipline and experience, for many of Huascar’s levies had been drawn hastily together from the surrounding country. Both fought, however, with the desperation of men who felt that everything was at stake. It was no longer a contest for a province, but for the possession of an empire. Atahuallpa’s troops, flushed with recent success, fought with the confidence of those who relied on their superior prowess; while the loyal vassals of the Inca displayed all the self-devotion of men who held their own lives cheap in the service of their master.
The fight raged with the greatest obstinacy from sunrise to sunset; and the ground was covered with heaps of the dying and the dead, whose bones lay bleaching on the battle-field long after the conquest by the Spaniards. At length, fortune declared in favor of Atahuallpa; or rather, the usual result of superior discipline and military practice followed. The ranks of the Inca were thrown into irretrievable disorder, and gave way in all directions. The conquerors followed close on the heels of the flying. Huascar himself, among the latter, endeavoured to make his escape with about a thousand men who remained round his person. But the royal fugitive was discovered before he had left the field; his little party was enveloped by clouds of the enemy, and nearly every one of the devoted band perished in defence of their Inca. Huascar was made prisoner, and the victorious chiefs marched at once on his capital, which they occupied in the name of their sovereign. 11
11 Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 77. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 9. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 202. — Zarate. Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 12. — Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 70. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
These events occurred in the spring of 1532, a few months before the landing of the Spaniards. The tidings of the success of his arms and the capture of his unfortunate brother reached Atahuallpa at Caxamalca. He instantly gave orders that Huascar should be treated with the respect due to his rank, but that he should be removed to the strong fortress of Xauxa, and held there in strict confinement. His orders did not stop here, — if we are to receive the accounts of Garcilasso de la Vega, himself of the Inca race, and by his mother’s side nephew of the great Huayna Capac.
According to this authority, Atahuallpa invited the Inca nobles throughout the country to assemble at Cuzco, in order to deliberate on the best means of partitioning the empire between him and his brother. When they had met in the capital, they were surrounded by the soldiery of Quito, and butchered without mercy. The motive for this perfidious act was to exterminate the whole of the royal family, who might each one of them show a better title to the crown than the illegitimate Atahuallpa. But the massacre did not end here. The illegitimate offspring, like himself, half-brothers of the monster, ali, in short, who had any of the Inca blood in their veins, were involved in it; and with an appetite for carnage unparalleled in the annals of the Roman Empire or of the French Republic, Atahuallpa ordered all the females of the blood royal, his aunts, nieces, and cousins, to be put to death, and that, too, with the most refined and lingering tortures. To give greater zest to his revenge, many of the executions took place in the presence of Huascar himself, who was thus compelled to witness the butchery of his own wives and sisters, while, in the extremity of anguish, they in vain called on him to protect them! 12
12 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 9, cap. 35 — 39.
“A las Mugeres, Hermanas, Tias, Sobrinas, Primas Hermanas, y Madrastras de Atahuallpa, colgavan de los Arboles, y de muchas Horcas mui altas que hicieron: a unas colgaron de los cabellos, a otras por debajo de los bracos, y a otras de otras maneras feas, que por la honestidad se callan: davanles sus hijuelos, que los tuviesen en bracos, tenianlos hasta que se les caian, y se aporreavan” (Ibid., cap. 37.) The variety of torture shows some invention in the writer, or, more probably, in the writer’s uncle, the ancient Inca, the raconteur of these Blue beard butcheries.]
Such is the tale told by the historian of the Incas, and received by him, as he assures us, from his mother and uncle, who, being children at the time, were so fortunate as to be among the few that escaped the massacre of their house. 13 And such is the account repeated by many a Castilian writer since, without any symptom of distrust. But a tissue of unprovoked atrocities like these is too repugnant to the principles of human nature, — and, indeed, to common sense, to warrant our belief in them on ordinary testimony.
13 “Las crueldades, que Atahuallpa en los de la Sangre Real hico, dire de Relacion de mi Madre, y de un Hermano suio, que se llamo Don Fernando Huallpa Tupac Inca Yupanqui, que entonces eran Ninos de menos de diez Anos.” Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 9, cap. 14.]
The annals of semi-civilized nations unhappily show that there have been instances of similar attempts to extinguish the whole of a noxious race, which had become the object of a tyrant’s jealousy; though such an attempt is about as chimerical as it would be to extirpate any particular species of plant, the seeds of which had been borne on every wind over the country. But, if the attempt to exterminate the Inca race was actually made by Atahuallpa, how comes it that so many of the pure descendants of the blood royal — nearly six hundred in number — are admitted by the historian to have been in existence seventy years after the imputed massacre? 14 Why was the massacre, instead of being limited to the legitimate members of the royal stock, who could show a better title to the crown than the usurper, extended to all, however remotely, or in whatever way, connected with the race? Why were aged women and young maidens involved in the proscription, and why were they subjected to such refined and superfluous tortures, when it is obvious that beings so impotent could have done nothing to provoke the jealousy of the tyrant? Why, when so many were sacrificed from some vague apprehension of distant danger, was his rival Huascar, together with his younger brother Manco Capac, the two men from whom the conqueror had most to fear, suffered to live? Why, in short, is the wonderful tale not recorded by others before the time of Garcilasso, and nearer by half a century to the events themselves? 15
14 This appears from a petition for certain immunities, forwarded to Spain in 1603, and signed by five hundred and sixty-seven Indians of the royal Inca race. (Ibid., Parte 3, lib. 9, cap. 40.) Oviedo says that Huayna Capac left a hundred sons and daughters, and that most of them were alive at the time of his writing. “Tubo cien hijos y hijas, y la mayor parte de ellos son vivos.” Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 9.]
15 I have looked in vain for some confirmation of this story in Oviedo, Sarmiento, Xerez, Cieza de Leon, Zarate, Pedro Pizarro, Gomara, — all living at the time, and having access to the best sources of information; and all, it may be added, disposed to do stern justice to the evil qualities of the Indian monarch.]
That Atahuallpa may have been guilty of excesses, and abused the rights of conquest by some gratuitous acts of cruelty, may be readily believed; for no one, who calls to mind his treatment of the Canaris, — which his own apologists do not affect to deny, 16 — will doubt that he had a full measure of the vindictive temper which belongs to
“Those souls of fire, and Children of the Sun,
With whom revenge was virtue.”
But there is a wide difference between this and the monstrous and most unprovoked atrocities imputed to him; implying a diabolical nature not to be admitted on the evidence of an Indian partisan, the sworn foe of his house, and repeated by Castilian chroniclers, who may naturally seek, by blazoning the enormities of Atahuallpa, to find some apology for the cruelty of their countrymen towards him.
16 No one of the apologists of Atahuallpa goes quite so far as Father Velasco, who, in the over-flowings of his loyalty for a Quito monarch, regards his massacre of the Canares as a very fair retribution for their offences. “Si les auteurs dont je viens de parler sietaient trouves dans les memes circonstances qu’Atahuallpa et avaient eprouve autant d’offenses graves et de trahisons, je ne croirai jamais qu’ils eussent agi autrement”! Hist. de Quito, tom. I p. 253.]
The news of the great victory was borne on the wings of the wind to Caxamalca; and loud and long was the rejoicing, not only in the camp of Atahuallpa, but in the town and surrounding country; for all now came in, eager to offer their congratulations to the victor, and do him homage. The prince of Quito no longer hesitated to assume the scarlet borla, the diadem of the Incas. His triumph was complete. He had beaten his enemies on their own ground; had taken their capital; had set his foot on the neck of his rival, and won for himself the ancient sceptre of the Children of the Sun. But the hour of triumph was destined to be that of his deepest humiliation. Atahuallpa was not one of those to whom, in the language of the Grecian bard, “the Gods are willing to reveal themselves.” 17 He had not read the handwriting on the heavens. The small speck, which the clear-sighted eye of his father had discerned on the distant verge of the horizon, though little noticed by Atahuallpa, intent on the deadly strife with his brother, had now risen high towards the zenith, spreading wider and wider, till it wrapped the skies in darkness, and was ready to burst in thunders on the devoted nation.
17 v. 161.]
We left the Spaniards at the island of Puna, preparing to make their descent on the neighbouring continent at Tumbez. This port was but a few leagues distant, and Pizarro, with the greater part of his followers, passed over in the ships, while a few others were to transport the commander’s baggage and the military stores on some of the Indian balsas. One of the latter vessels which first touched the shore was surrounded, and three persons who were on the raft were carried off by the natives to the adjacent woods and there massacred. The Indians then got possession of another of the balsas, containing Pizarro’s wardrobe; but, as the men who defended it raised loud cries for help, they reached the ears of Hernando Pizarro, who, with a small body of horse, had effected a landing some way farther down the shore. A broad tract of miry ground, overflowed at high water, lay between him and the party thus rudely assailed by the natives. The tide was out, and the bottom was soft and dangerous. With little regard to the danger, however, the bold cavalier spurred his horse into the slimy depths, and followed by his men, with the mud up to their saddle-girths, they plunged forward until they came into the midst of the marauders, who, terrified by the strange apparition of the horsemen, fled precipitately, without show of fight, to the neighbouring forests.
This conduct of the natives of Tumbez is not easy to be explained; considering the friendly relations maintained with the Spaniards on their preceding visit, and lately renewed in the island of Puna. But Pizarro was still more astonished, on entering their town, to find it not only deserted, but, with the exception of a few buildings, entirely demolished. Four or five of the most substantial private dwellings, the great temple, and the fortress — and these greatly damaged, and wholly despoiled of their interior decorations — alone survived to mark the site of the city, and attest its former splendor. 1 The scene of desolation filled the conquerors with dismay; for even the raw recruits, who had never visited the coast before, had heard the marvelous stories of the golden treasures of Tumbez, and they had confidently looked forward to them as an easy spoil after all their fatigues. But the gold of Peru seemed only like a deceitful phantom, which, after beckoning them on through toil and danger, vanished the moment they attempted to grasp it.
1 Xerez, Conq del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 185. “Aunque lo del templo del Sol en quien ellos adoran era cosa de ver, porque tenian grandes edificios, y todo el por de dentro y de fuera pintado de grandes pinturas y ricos matizes de colores, porque los hay en aquella tierra.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
Pizarro despatched a small body of troops in pursuit of the fugitives; and, after some slight skirmishing, they got possession of several of the natives, and among them, as it chanced, the curaca of the place. When brought before the Spanish commander, he exonerated himself from any share in the violence offered to the white men, saying that it was done by a lawless party of his people, without his knowledge at the time; and he expressed his willingness to deliver them up to punishment, if they could be detected. He explained the dilapidated condition of the town by the long wars carried on with the fierce tribes of Puna, who had at length succeeded in getting possession of the place, and driving the inhabitants into the neighbouring woods and mountains. The Inca, to whose cause they were attached, was too much occupied with his own feuds to protect them against their enemies.
Whether Pizarro gave any credit to the cacique’s exculpation of himself may be doubted. He dissembled his suspicions, however, and, as the Indian lord promised obedience in his own name, and that of his vassals, the Spanish general consented to take no further notice of the affair. He seems now to have felt for the first time, in its full force, that it was his policy to gain the good-will of the people among whom he had thrown himself in the face of such tremendous odds. It was, perhaps, the excesses of which his men had been guilty in the earlier stages of the expedition that had shaken the confidence of the people of Tumbez, and incited them to this treacherous retaliation.
Pizarro inquired of the natives who now, under promise of impunity, came into the camp, what had become of his two followers that remained with them in the former expedition. The answers they gave were obscure and contradictory. Some said, they had died of an epidemic; others, that they had died of an epidemic; others, that they had perished in the war with Puna; and others intimated, that they had lost their lives in consequence of some outrage attempted on the Indian women. It was impossible to arrive at the truth. The last account was not the least probable. But, whatever might be the cause, there was no doubt they had both perished.
This intelligence spread an additional gloom over the Spaniards; which was not dispelled by the flaming pictures now given by the natives of the riches of the land, and of the state and magnificence of the monarch in his distant capital among the mountains. Nor did they credit the authenticity of a scroll of paper, which Pizarro had obtained from an Indian, to whom it had been delivered by one of the white men left in the country. “Know, whoever you may be,” said the writing, “that may chance to set foot in this country, that it contains more gold and silver than there is iron in Biscay.” This paper, when shown to the soldiers, excited only their ridicule, as a device of their captain to keep alive their chimerical hopes. 2
2 For the account of the transactions in Tumbez, see Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 1. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 4, lib. 9 cap. 1, 2. — Xerez, Conq. de Peru, ap Barcia tom. III. p. 185.]
Pizarro now saw that it was not politic to protract his stay in his present quarters, where a spirit of disaffection would soon creep into the ranks of his followers, unless their spirits were stimulated by novelty or a life of incessant action. Yet he felt deeply anxious to obtain more particulars than he had hitherto gathered of the actual condition of the Peruvian empire, of its strength and resources, of the monarch who ruled over it, and of his present situation. He was also desirous, before taking any decisive step for penetrating the country, to seek out some commodious place for a settlement, which might afford him the means of a regular communication with the colonies, and a place of strength, on which he himself might retreat in case of disaster.
[See Peruvian Settlement: pizarro was desirous of seeking out some commodius place for a settlement.]
He decided, therefore, to leave part of his company at Tumbez, including those who, from the state of their health, were least able to take the field, and with the remainder to make an excursion into the interior, and reconnoitre the land, before deciding on any plan of operations. He set out early in May, 1532; and, keeping along the more level regions himself, sent a small detachment under the command of Hernando de Soto to explore the skirts of the vast sierra.
He maintained a rigid discipline on the march, commanding his soldiers to abstain from all acts of violence, and punishing disobedience in the most prompt and resolute manner. 3 The natives rarely offered resistance. When they did so, they were soon reduced, and Pizarro, far from vindictive measures, was open to the first demonstrations of submission. By this lenient and liberal policy, he soon acquired a name among the inhabitants which effaced the unfavorable impressions made of him in the earlier part of the campaign. The natives, as he marched through the thick-settled hamlets which sprinkled the level region of between the Cordilleras and the ocean, welcomed him with rustic hospitality, providing good quarters for his troops, and abundant supplies, which cost but little in the prolific soil of the tierra caliente. Everywhere Pizarro made proclamation that he came in the name of the Holy Vicar of God and of the sovereign of Spain, requiring the obedience of the inhabitants as true children of the Church, and vassals of his lord and master. And as the simple people made no opposition to a formula, of which they could not comprehend a syllable, they were admitted as good subjects of the Crown of Castile, and their act of homage — or what was readily interpreted as such — was duly recorded and attested by the notary. 4
3 “Mando el Gobernador por eregon e so graves penas que no le fuese hecha fuerza ni descortesia e que se les hiciese muv buen tratamiento por los Espanoles e sus criados.” Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 2.]
4 “E mandabales notificar o dar a entender con las lenguas el requerimiento que su Magestad manda que se les haga a los Indios para traellos en conocimiento de nuestra Santa fe catolica, y requiriendoles con la paz, e que obedezcan a la Iglesia e Apostolica de Roma, e en lo temporal den la obediencia a su Magestad e a los Reyes sus succesores en los regnos de Castilla i de Leon; respondieron que asi lo querian e harian, guardarian e cumplirian enteramente; e el Gobernador los recibio por tales vasallos de sus Magestades por auto publico de notarios.’ Ibid., Ms., ubi supra.
At the expiration of some three or four weeks spent in reconnoitring the country, Pizarro came to the conclusion that the most eligible site for his new settlement was in the rich valley of Tangarala, thirty leagues south of Tumbez, traversed by more than one stream that opens a communication with the ocean. To this spot, accordingly, he ordered the men left at Tumbez to repair at once in their vessels; and no sooner had they arrived, than busy preparations were made for building up the town in a manner suited to the wants of the colony. Timber was procured from the neighbouring woods. Stones were dragged from their quarries, and edifices gradually rose, some of which made pretensions to strength, if not to elegance. Among them were a church, a magazine for public stores, a hall of justice, and a fortress. A municipal government was organized, consisting of regidores, alcaldes, and the usual civic functionaries. The adjacent territory was parcelled out among the residents, and each colonist had a certain number of the natives allotted to assist him in his labors; for, as Pizarro’s secretary remarks, “it being evident that the colonists could not support themselves without the services of the Indians, the ecclesiastics and the leaders of the expedition all agreed that a repartimiento of the natives would serve the cause of religion, and tend greatly to their spiritual welfare, since they would thus have the opportunity of being initiated in the true faith.” 5
5 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y. Conq., Ms. — Conq. i. Pob. del Peru, Ms. — Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 55. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.
“Porque los Vecinos, sin aiuda i servicios de los Naturales no se podian sostener, ni poblarse el Pueblo . . . . . . A esta causa, con acuerdo de el Religioso, i de los Oficiales que les parecio convenir asi al servicio de Dios, i bien de los Naturales, el Governador deposito los Caciques, i Indios en los Vecinos de este Pueblo, porque los aiudasen a sostener, i los Christianos los doctrinasen en nuestra Santa Fe, conforme a los Mandamientos de su Magestad.” Xerez Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 187.
Having made these arrangements with such conscientious regard to the welfare of the benighted heathen, Pizarro gave his infant city the name of San Miguel, in acknowledgment of the service rendered him by that saint in his battles with the Indians of Puna. The site originally occupied by the settlement was afterward found to be so unhealthy, that it was abandoned for another on the banks of the beautiful Piura. The town is still of some note for its manufactures, though dwindled from its ancient importance; but the name of San Miguel de Piura, which it bears, still commemorates the foundation of the first European colony in the empire of the Incas.
Before quitting the new settlement, Pizarro caused the gold and silver ornaments which he had obtained in different parts of the country to be melted down into one mass, and a fifth to be deducted for the Crown. The remainder, which belonged to the troops, he persuaded them to relinquish for the present; under the assurance of being repaid from the first spoils that fell into their hands. 6 With these funds, and other articles collected in the course of the campaign, he sent back the vessels to Panama. The gold was applied to paying off the ship-owners, and those who had furnished the stores for the expedition. That he should so easily have persuaded his men to resign present possession for a future contingency is proof that the spirit of enterprise was renewed in their bosoms in all its former vigor, and that they looked forward with the same buoyant confidence to the results.
6 “E sacado el quinto para su Magestad, lo restante que pertenecio al Egercito de la Conquista, el Gobernador le tomo prestado de los companeros para se lo pagal del primer oro que se obiese.” Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms. Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 2.]
In his late tour of observation, the Spanish commander had gathered much important intelligence in regard to the state of the kingdom. He had ascertained the result of the struggle between the Inca brothers, and that the victor now lay with his army encamped at the distance of only ten or twelve days’ journey from San Miguel. The accounts he heard of the opulence and power of that monarch, and of his great southern capital, perfectly corresponded with the general rumors before received; and contained, therefore, something to stagger the confidence, as well as to stimulate the cupidity, of the invaders.
Pizarro would gladly have seen his little army strengthened by reinforcements, however small the amount; and on that account postponed his departure for several weeks. But no reinforcement arrived; and, as he received no further tidings from his associates, he judged that longer delay would, probably, be attended with evils greater than those to be encountered on the march; that discontents would inevitably spring up in a life of inaction, and the strength and spirits of the soldier sink under the enervating influence of a tropical climate. Yet the force at his command, amounting to less than two hundred soldiers in all, after reserving fifty for the protection of the new settlement, seemed but a small one for the conquest of an empire. He might, indeed, instead of marching against the Inca, take a southerly direction towards the rich capital of Cuzco. But this would only be to postpone the hour of reckoning. For in what quarter of the empire could he hope to set his foot, where the arm of its master would not reach him? By such a course, moreover, he would show his own distrust of himself. He would shake that opinion of his invincible prowess, which he had hitherto endeavoured to impress on the natives, and which constituted a great secret of his strength; which, in short, held sterner sway over the mind than the display of numbers and mere physical force. Worse than all, such a course would impair the confidence of his troops in themselves and their reliance on himself. This would be to palsy the arm of enterprise at once. It was not to be thought of.
But while Pizarro decided to march into the interior, it is doubtful whether he had formed any more definite plan of action. We have no means of knowing his intentions, at this distance of time, otherwise than as they are shown by his actions. Unfortunately, he could not write, and he has left no record, like the inestimable Commentaries of Cortes, to enlighten us as to his motives. His secretary, and some of his companions in arms, have recited his actions in detail; but the motives which led to them they were not always so competent to disclose.
It is possible that the Spanish general, even so early as the period of his residence at San Miguel, may have meditated some daring stroke, some effective coup-demain, which, like that of Cortes, when he carried off the Aztec monarch to his quarters, might strike terror into the hearts of the people, and at once decide the fortunes of the day. It is more probable, however, that he now only proposed to present himself before the Inca, as the peaceful representative of a brother monarch, and, by these friendly demonstrations, disarm any feeling of hostility, or even of suspicion. When once in communication with the Indian prince, he could regulate his future course by circumstances.
On the 24th of September, 1532, five months after landing at Tumbez, Pizarro marched out at the head of his little body of adventurers from the gates of San Miguel, having enjoined it on the colonists to treat their Indian vassals with humanity, and to conduct themselves in such a manner as would secure the good-will of the surrounding tribes. Their own existence, and with it the safety of the army and the success of the undertaking, depended on this course. In the place were to remain the royal treasurer, the veedor, or inspector of metals, and other officers of the crown; and the command of the garrison was intrusted to the contador, Antonio Navarro. 7 Then putting himself at the head of his troops, the chief struck boldly into the heart of the country in the direction where, as he was informed, lay the camp of the Inca. It was a daring enterprise, thus to venture with a handful of followers into the heart of a powerful empire, to present himself, face to face, before the Indian monarch in his own camp, encompassed by the flower of his victorious army! Pizarro had already experienced more than once the difficulty of maintaining his ground against the rude tribes of the north, so much inferior in strength and numbers to the warlike legions of Peru. But the hazard of the game, as I have already more than once had occasion to remark, constituted its great charm with the Spaniard. The brilliant achievements of his countrymen, on the like occasions, with means so inadequate, inspired him with confidence in his own good star, and this confidence was one source of his success. Had he faltered for a moment, had he stopped to calculate chances, he must inevitably have failed; for the odds were too great to be combated by sober reason. They were only to be met triumphantly by the spirit of the knight-errant.
7 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Barcia, tom. III. p. 187. — Pedro Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 10. Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — ]
After crossing the smooth waters of the Piura, the little army continued to advance over a level district intersected by streams that descended from the neighbouring Cordilleras. The face of the country was shagged over with forests of gigantic growth, and occasionally traversed by ridges of barren land, that seemed like shoots of the adjacent Andes, breaking up the surface of the region into little sequestered valleys of singular loveliness. The soil, though rarely watered by the rains of heaven, was naturally rich, and wherever it was refreshed with moisture, as on the margins of the streams, it was enamelled with the brightest verdure. The industry of the inhabitants, moreover, had turned these streams to the best account, and canals and aqueducts were seen crossing the low lands in all directions, and spreading over the country, like a vast network, diffusing fertility and beauty around them. The air was scented with the sweet odors of flowers, and everywhere the eye was refreshed by the sight of orchards laden with unknown fruits, and of fields waving with yellow grain and rich in luscious vegetables of every description that teem in the sunny clime of the equator. The Spaniards were among a people who had carried the refinements of husbandry to a greater extent than any yet found on the American continent; and, as they journeyed through this paradise of plenty, their condition formed a pleasing contrast to what they had before endured in the dreary wilderness of the mangroves.
Everywhere, too, they were received with confiding hospitality by the simple people; for which they were no doubt indebted, in a great measure, to their own inoffensive deportment. Every Spaniard seemed to be aware, that his only chance of success lay in conciliating the good opinion of the inhabitants, among whom he had so recklessly cast his fortunes. In most of the hamlets, and in every place of considerable size, some fortress was to be found, or royal caravansary, destined for the Inca on his progresses, the ample halls of which furnished abundant accommodations for the Spaniards; who were thus provided with quarters along their route at the charge of the very government which they were preparing to overturn. 8
8 Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 4. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
On the fifth day after leaving San Miguel, Pizarro halted in one of these delicious valleys, to give his troops repose, and to make a more complete inspection of them. Their number amounted in all to one hundred and seventy-seven, of which sixty-seven were cavalry. He mustered only three arquebusiers in his whole company, and a few crossbow-men, altogether not exceeding twenty. 9 The troops were tolerably well equipped, and in good condition. But the watchful eye of their commander noticed with uneasiness, that, notwithstanding the general heartiness in the cause manifested by his followers, there were some among them whose countenances lowered with discontent, and who, although they did not give vent to it in open murmurs, were far from moving with their wonted alacrity. He was aware, that, if this spirit became contagious, it would be the ruin of the enterprise; and he thought it best to exterminate the gangrene at once, and at whatever cost, than to wait until it had infected the whole system. He came to an extraordinary resolution.
9 There is less discrepancy in the estimate of the Spanish force here than usual. The paucity of numbers gave less room for it. No account carries them as high as two hundred. I have adopted that of the Secretary Xerez, (Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 187,) who has been followed by Oviedo, (Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 1, cap 3,) and by the judicious Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 1, cap 2.]
Calling his men together, he told them that “a crisis had now arrived in their affairs, which it demanded all their courage to meet. No man should think of going forward in the expedition, who could not do so with his whole heart, or who had the least misgiving as to its success. If any repented of his share in it, it was not too late to turn back. San Miguel was but poorly garrisoned, and he should be glad to see it in greater strength. Those who chose might return to this place, and they should be entitled to the same proportion of lands and Indian vassals as the present residents. With the rest, were they few or many, who chose to take their chance with him, he should pursue the adventure to the end.” 10
10 “Que todos los que quiriesen bolverse a la ciudad de San Miguel y avecindarse alli demas de los vecinos que alli quedaban el los depositaria repartimientos de Indios con que se sortubiesen como lo habia hecho con los otros vecinos; e que con los Espanoles quedasen, pocos o muchos, iria a conquistar e pacificar la tierra en demanda y persecucion del camino que llevaba.” Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias. Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 3.]
It was certainly a remarkable proposal for a commander, who was ignorant of the amount of disaffection in his ranks, and who could not safely spare a single man from his force, already far too feeble for the undertaking. Yet, by insisting on the wants of the little colony of San Miguel, he afforded a decent pretext for the secession of the malecontents, and swept away the barrier of shame which might have still held them in the camp. Notwithstanding the fair opening thus afforded, there were but few, nine in all, who availed themselves of the general’s permission. Four of these belonged to the infantry, and five to the horse. The rest loudly declared their resolve to go forward with their brave leader; and, if there were some whose voices were faint amidst the general acclamation, they, at least, relinquished the right of complaining hereafter, since they had voluntarily rejected the permission to return. 11 This stroke of policy in their sagacious captain was attended with the best effects. He had winnowed out the few grains of discontent, which, if left to themselves, might have fermented in secret till the whole mass had swelled into mutiny. Cortes had compelled his men to go forward heartily in his enterprise, by burning their vessels, and thus cutting off the only means of retreat. Pizarro, on the other hand, threw open the gates to the disaffected and facilitated their departure. Both judged right, under their peculiar circumstances, and both were perfectly successful.
11 Ibid., Ms., loc. cit. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 1. cap. 2. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 187.]
Feeling himself strengthened, instead of weakened, by his loss, Pizarro now resumed his march, and, on the second day, arrived before a place called Zaran, situated in a fruitful valley among the mountains. Some of the inhabitants had been drawn off to swell the levies of Atahuallpa. The Spaniards had repeated experience on their march of the oppressive exactions of the Inca, who had almost depopulated some of the valleys to obtain reinforcements for his army. The curaca of the Indian town, where Pizarro now arrived, received him with kindness and hospitality, and the troops were quartered as usual in one of the royal tambos or caravansaries, which were found in all the principal places. 12
12 Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
Yet the Spaniards saw no signs of their approach to the royal encampment, though more time had already elapsed than was originally allowed for reaching it. Shortly before entering Zaran, Pizarro had heard that a Peruvian garrison was established in a place called Caxas, lying among the hills, at no great distance from his present quarters. He immediately despatched a small party under Hernando de Soto in that direction, to reconnoitre the ground, and bring him intelligence of the actual state of things, at Zaran, where he would halt until his officer’s return.
Day after day passed on, and a week had elapsed before tidings were received of his companions, and Pizarro was becoming seriously alarmed for their fate, when on the eighth morning Soto appeared, bringing with him an envoy from the Inca himself. He was a person of rank, and was attended by several followers of inferior condition. He had met the Spaniards at Caxas, and now accompanied them on their return, to deliver his sovereign’s message, with a present to the Spanish commander. The present consisted of two fountains, made of stone, in the form of fortresses; some fine stuffs of woollen embroidered with gold and silver; and a quantity of goose-flesh, dried and seasoned in a peculiar manner, and much used as a perfume, in a pulverized state, by the Peruvian nobles. 13 The Indian ambassador came charged also with his master’s greeting to the strangers, whom Atahu allpa welcomed to his country, and invited to visit him in his camp among the mountains. 14
13 “Dos Fortalecas a manera de Fuente, figuradas en Piedra, con que beba, i dos cargas de Patos secos, desollados, para que hechos polvos, se sahume con ellos, porque asi se usa entre los Senores de su Tierra: i que le embiaba a decir, que el tiene voluntad de ser su Amigo, i esperalle de Paz en Caxamalca.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 189.]
14 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 3. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 189.
Garcilasso de la Vega tells us that Atahuallpa’s envoy addressed the Spanish commander in the most humble and deprecatory manner, as Son of the Sun and of the great God Viracocha. He adds, that he was loaded with a prodigious present of all kinds of game, living and dead, gold and silver vases, emeralds, turquoises, &c., &c, enough to furnish out the finest chapter of the Arabian Nights. (Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 1, cap. 19.) It is extraordinary that none of the Conquerors who had a quick eye for these dainties, should allude to them. One cannot but suspect that the “old uncle” was amusing himself at his young nephew’s expense; and, as it has proved, at the expense of most of his readers, who receive the Inca’s fairy tales as historic facts.]
Pizarro well understood that the Inca’s object in this diplomatic visit was less to do him courtesy, than to inform himself of the strength and condition of the invaders. But he was well pleased with the embassy, and dissembled his consciousness of its real purpose. He caused the Peruvian to be entertained in the best manner the camp could afford, and paid him the respect, says one of the Conquerors, due to the ambassador of so great a monarch. 15 Pizarro urged him to prolong his visit for some days, which the Indian envoy declined, but made the most of his time while there, by gleaning all the information he could in respect to the uses of every strange article which he saw, as well as the object of the white men’s visit to the land, and the quarter whence they came.
15 “I mando, que le diesen de comer a el, i a los que con el venian, i todo lo que huviesen menester, i fuesen bien aposentados, como Embajadores de tan Gran Senor.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 189.]
The Spanish captain satisfied his curiosity in all these particulars. The intercourse with the natives, it may be here remarked, was maintained by means of two of the youths who had accompanied the Conquerors on their return home from their preceding voyage. They had been taken by Pizarro to Spain, and, as much pains had been bestowed on teaching them the Castilian, they now filled the office of interpreters, and opened an easy communication with their countrymen. It was of inestimable service; and well did the Spanish commander reap the fruits of his forecast. 16
16 “Los Indios de la tierra se entendian muy bien con los Espanoles, porque aquellos mochachos Indios que en el decubrimiento de la tierra Pizarro truxo a Espana, entendian muy bien nuestra lengua, y los tenia alli, con los cuales se entendia muy bien con todos los naturales de la tierra. (Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.) Yet it is a proof of the ludicrous blunders into which the Conquerors were perpetually falling, that Pizarro’s secretary constantly confounds the Inca’s name with that of his capital. Huayna Capac, he always styles “old Cuzco,” and his son Huasca. “young Cuzco.”]
On the departure of the Peruvian messenger, Pizarro presented him with a cap of crimson cloth, some cheap but showy ornaments of glass, and other toys, which he had brought for the purpose from Castile. He charged the envoy to tell his master, that the Spaniards came from a powerful prince, who dwelt far beyond the waters; that they had heard much of the fame of Atahuallpa’s victories, and were come to pay their respects to him, and to offer their services by aiding him with their arms against his enemies; and he might be assured, they would not halt on the road, longer than was necessary, before presenting themselves before him.
Pizarro now received from Soto a full account of his late expedition. That chief, on entering Caxas, found the inhabitants mustered in hostile array, as if to dispute his passage. But the cavalier soon convinced them of his pacific intentions, and, laying aside their menacing attitude, they received the Spaniards with the same courtesy which had been shown them in most places on their march.
Here Soto found one of the royal officers, employed in collecting the tribute for the government. From this functionary he learned that the Inca was quartered with a large army at Caxamalca, a place of considerable size on the other side of the Cordillera, where he was enjoying the luxury of the warm baths, supplied by natural springs, for which it was then famous, as it is at the present day. The cavalier gathered, also, much important information in regard to the resources and the general policy of government, the state maintained by the Inca, and the stern severity with which obedience to the law was everywhere enforced. He had some opportunity of observing this for himself, as, on entering the village, he saw several Indians hanging dead by their heels, having been executed for some violence offered to the Virgins of the Sun, of whom there was a convent in the neighbourhood. 17
17 “A la entrada del Pueblo havia ciertos Indios ahorcados de los pies: i supo de este Principal, que Atabalipa los mando matar, porque uno de ellos entro en la Casa de las Mugeres a dormir con una: al qual, i a todos los Porteros que consintieron, ahorco.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, ton. III. p. 188.]
From Caxas, De Soto had passed to the adjacent town of Guancabamba, much larger, more populous, and better built than the preceding. The houses, instead of being made of clay baked in the sun, were many of them constructed of solid stone, so nicely put together, that it was impossible to detect the line of junction. A river, which passed through the town, was traversed by a bridge, and the high road of the Incas, which crossed this district, was far superior to that which the Spaniards had seen on the sea-board. It was raised in many places, like a causeway, paved with heavy stone flags, and bordered by trees that afforded a grateful shade to the passenger, while streams of water were conducted through aqueducts along the sides to slake his thirst. At certain distances, also, they noticed small houses, which, they were told, were for the accommodation of the traveller, who might thus pass, without inconvenience, from one end of the kingdom to the other. 18 In another quarter they beheld one of those magazines destined for the army, filled with grain, and with articles of clothing; and at the entrance of the town was a stone building, occupied by a public officer, whose business it was to collect the tolls or duties on various commodities brought into the place, or carried out of it. 19 — These accounts of De Soto not only confirmed all that the Spaniards had heard of the Indian empire, but greatly raised their ideas of its resources and domestic policy. They might well have shaken the confidence of hearts less courageous.
18 “Van por este camino canos de agua de donde los caminantes beben, traidos de sus nacimientos de otras partes, y a cada jornada una Casa a manera de Venta donde se aposentan los que van e vienen.’ Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms. Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 3.]
19 “A la entrada de este Camino en el Pueblo de Cajas esta una casa al principio de una puente donde reside una guarda que recibe el Portazgo de todos los que van e vienen, e paganlo en la misma cosa que llevan, y ninguno puede sacar carga del Pueblo sino la mete, y esta costumbre es alli antigua.” Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms, ubi supra.]
Pizarro, before leaving his present quarters, despatched a messenger to San Miguel with particulars of his movements, sending, at the same time, the articles received from the Inca, as well as those obtained at different places on the route. The skill shown in the execution of some of these fabrics excited great admiration, when sent to Castile. The fine woollen cloths, especially, with their rich embroidery, were pronounced equal to silk, from which it was not easy to distinguish them. It was probably the delicate wool of the vicuna, none of which had then been seen in Europe. 20
20 “Piezas de lana de la tierra, que era cosa mucho de ver segun su primer e gentileza, e no se sabian determinar si era seda o lana segun su fineza con muchas labores i figuras de oro de martillo de tal manera asentado en la ropa que era cosa de marabillar.” Oviendo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3 lib. 8, cap. 4.]
Pizarro, having now acquainted himself with the most direct route to Caxamalca, — the Caxamalca of the present day, — resumed his march, taking a direction nearly south. The first place of any size at which he halted was Motupe, pleasantly situated in a fruitful valley, among hills of no great elevation, which cluster round the base of the Cordilleras. The place was deserted by its curaca, who, with three hundred of its warriors, had gone to join the standard of their Inca. Here the general, notwithstanding his avowed purpose to push forward without delay, halted four days. The tardiness of his movements can be explained only by the hope, which he may have still entertained, of being joined by further reinforcements before crossing the Cordilleras. None such appeared, however; and advancing across a country in which tracts of sandy plain were occasionally relieved by a broad expanse of verdant meadow, watered by natural streams and still more abundantly by those brought through artificial channels, the troops at length arrived at the borders of a river. It was broad and deep, and the rapidity of the current opposed more than ordinary difficulty to the passage. Pizarro, apprehensive lest this might be disputed by the natives on the opposite bank, ordered his brother Hernando to cross over with a small detachment under cover of night, and secure a safe landing for the rest of the troops. At break of day Pizarro made preparations for his own passage, by hewing timber in the neighboring woods, and constructing a sort of floating bridge, on which before nightfall the whole company passed in safety, the horses swimming, being led by the bridle. It was a day of severe labor, and Pizarro took his own share in it freely, like a common soldier, having ever a word of encouragement to say to his followers.
On reaching the opposite side, they learned from their comrades that the people of the country, instead of offering resistance, had fled in dismay. One of them, having been taken and brought before Hernando Pizarro, refused to answer the questions put to him respecting the Inca and his army; till, being put to the torture, he stated that Atahuallpa was encamped, with his whole force, in three separate divisions, occupying the high grounds and plains of Caxamalca. He further stated, that the Inca was aware of the approach of the white men and of their small number, and that he was purposely decoying them into his own quarters, that he might have them more completely in his power.
This account, when reported by Hernando to his brother, caused the latter much anxiety. As the timidity of the peasantry, however, gradually wore off, some of them mingled with the troops, and among them the curaca or principal person of the village. He had himself visited the royal camp, and he informed the general that Atahuallpa lay at the strong town of Guamachucho, twenty leagues or more south of Caxamalca, with an army of at least fifty thousand men.
These contradictory statements greatly perplexed the chieftain; and he proposed to one of the Indians who had borne him company during a great part of the march, to go as a spy into the Inca’s quarters, and bring him intelligence of his actual position, and, as far as he could learn them, of his intentions towards the Spaniards. But the man positively declined this dangerous service, though he professed his willingness to go as an authorized messenger of the Spanish commander.
Pizarro acquiesced in this proposal, and instructed his envoy to assure the Inca that he was advancing with all convenient speed to meet him. He was to acquaint the monarch with the uniformly considerate monarch with the uniformly considerate conduct of the Spaniards towards his subjects, in their progress through the land, and to assure him that they were now coming in full confidence of finding in him the same amicable feelings towards themselves. The emissary was particularly instructed to observe if the strong passes on the road were defended, or if any preparations of a hostile character were to be discerned. This last intelligence he was to communicate to the general by means of two or three nimble-footed attendants, who were to accompany him on his mission. 21
21 Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms. Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 4. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Relacion del Primer, Descub., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap Barcia, tom. III. p. 190]
Having taken this precaution, the wary commander again resumed his march, and at the end of three days reached the base of the mountain rampart, behind which lay the ancient town of Caxamalca. Before him rose the stupendous Andes, rock piled upon rock, their skirts below dark with evergreen forests, varied here and there by terraced patches of cultivated garden, with the peasant’s cottage clinging to their shaggy sides, and their crests of snow glittering high in the heavens, — presenting altogether such a wild chaos of magnificence and beauty as no other mountain scenery in the world can show. Across this tremendous rampart, through a labyrinth of passes, easily capable of defence by a handful of men against an army, the troops were now to march. To the right ran a broad and level road, with its border of friendly shades, and wide enough for two carriages to pass abreast. It was one of the great routes leading to Cuzco, and seemed by its pleasant and easy access to invite the wayworn soldier to choose it in preference to the dangerous mountain defiles. Many were accordingly of opinion that the army should take this course, and abandon the original destination of Caxamalca. But such was not the decision of Pizarro.
The Spaniards had everywhere proclaimed their purpose, he said, to visit the Inca in his camp. This purpose had been communicated to the Inca himself. To take an opposite direction now would only be to draw on them the imputation of cowardice, and to incur Atahuallpa’s contempt. No alternative remained but to march straight across the sierra to his quarters. “Let every one of you,” said the bold cavalier, “take heart and go forward like a good soldier, nothing daunted by the smallness of your numbers. For in the greatest extremity God ever fights for his own; and doubt not he will humble the pride of the heathen, and bring him to the knowledge of the true faith, the great end and object of the Conquest.” 22
22 “Que todos se animasen y esforzasen a hacer como de ellos esperaba y como buenos espanoles lo suelen hacer, e que no les pusiese temor la multitud que se decia que habia de gente ni el poco numero de los cristianos, que aunque menos fuesen e mayor el egercito contrario, la ayuda de Dios es mucho mayor, y en las mayores necesidades socorre y faborece a los suyos para desbaratar y abajar la soberbia de los infieles e traerlos en conocimiento de nuestra Sta fe catolica.” Ovieda, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 4.]
Pizarro, like Cortes, possessed a good share of that frank and manly eloquence which touches the heart of the soldier more than the parade of rhetoric or the finest flow of elocution. He was a soldier himself, and partook in all the feelings of the soldier, his joys, his hopes, and his disappointments. He was not raised by rank and education above sympathy with the humblest of his followers. Every chord in their bosoms vibrated with the same pulsations as his own, and the conviction of this gave him a mastery over them. “Lead on,” they shouted, as he finished his brief but animating address, “lead on wherever you think best. We will follow with good-will, and you shall see that we can do our duty in the cause of God and the King!” 23 There was no longer hesitation. All thoughts were now bent on the instant passage of the Cordilleras.
23 ‘Todos digeron que fuese por el Camino que quisiese i viese que mas convenia, que todos le seguirian con buena voluntad e obra al tiempo del efecto, y veria lo que cada uno de ellos haria en servicio de Dios e de su Magestad.” Ibid., Ms, loc. cit.]
That night Pizarro held a council of his principal officers, and it was determined that he should lead the advance, consisting of forty horse and sixty foot, and reconnoitre the ground; while the rest of the company, under his brother Hernando, should occupy their present position till they received further orders.
At early dawn the Spanish general and his detachment were under arms, and prepared to breast the difficulties of the sierra. These proved even greater than had been foreseen. The path had been conducted in the most judicious manner round the rugged and precipitous sides of the mountains, so as best to avoid the natural impediments presented by the ground. But it was necessarily so steep, in many places, that the cavalry were obliged to dismount, and, scrambling up as they could, to lead their horses by the bridle. In many places too, where some huge crag or eminence overhung the road, this was driven to the very verge of the precipice; and the traveller was compelled to wind along the narrow ledge of rock, scarcely wide enough for his single steed, where a misstep would precipitate him hundreds, nay, thousands, of feet into the dreadful abyss! The wild passes of the sierra, practicable for the half-naked Indian, and even for the sure and circumspect mule, — an animal that seems to have been created for the roads of the Cordilleras, — were formidable to the man-at-arms encumbered with his panoply of mail. The tremendous fissures or quebradas, so frightful in this mountain chain, yawned open, as if the Andes had been split asunder by some terrible convulsion, showing a broad expanse of the primitive rock on their sides, partially mantled over with the spontaneous vegetation of ages; while their obscure depths furnished a channel for the torrents, that, rising in the heart of the sierra, worked their way gradually into light, and spread over the savannas and green valleys of the tierra caliente on their way to the great ocean.
Many of these passes afforded obvious points of defence; and the Spaniards, as they entered the rocky defiles, looked with apprehension lest they might rouse some foe from his ambush. This apprehension was heightened, as, at the summit of a steep and narrow gorge, in which they were engaged, they beheld a strong work, rising like a fortress, and frowning, as it were, in gloomy defiance on the invaders. As they drew near this building which was of solid stone, commanding an angle of the road, they almost expected to see the dusky forms of the warriors rise over the battlements, and to receive their tempest of missiles on their bucklers; for it was in so strong a position, that a few resolute men might easily have held there an army at bay. But they had the satisfaction to find the place untenanted, and their spirits were greatly raised by the conviction that the Indian monarch did not intend to dispute their passage, when it would have been easy to do so with success.
Pizarro now sent orders to his brother to follow without delay; and, after refreshing his men, continued his toilsome ascent, and before nightfall reached an eminence crowned by another fortress, of even greater strength than the preceding. It was built of solid masonry, the lower part excavated from the living rock, and the whole work executed with skill not inferior to that of the European architect. 1
1 “Tan ancha la Cerca como qualquier Fortaleca de Espana, con sus Puertas: que si en esta Tierra oviese los Maestros, i Herramientas de Espana, no pudiera ser mejor labrada la Cerca.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 192.]
Here Pizarro took up his quarters for the night. Without waiting for the arrival of the rear, on the following morning he resumed his march, leading still deeper into the intricate gorges of the sierra. The climate had gradually changed, and the men and horses, especially the latter, suffered severely from the cold, so long accustomed as they had been to the sultry climate of the tropics. 2 The vegetation also had changed its character; and the magnificent timber which covered the lower level of the country had gradually given way to the funereal forest of pine, and, as they rose still higher, to the stunted growth of numberless Alpine plants, whose hardy natures found a congenial temperature in the icy atmosphere of the more elevated regions. These dreary solitudes seemed to be nearly abandoned by the brute creation as well as by man. The light-footed vicuna, roaming in its native state, might be sometimes seen looking down from some airy cliff, where the foot of the hunter dared not venture. But instead of the feathered tribes whose gay plumage sparkled in the deep glooms of the tropical forests, the adventurers now beheld only the great bird of the Andes, the loathsome condor, who, sailing high above the clouds, followed with doleful cries in the track of the army, as if guided by instinct in the path of blood and carnage.
2 “Es tanto el frio que hace en esta Sierra, que como los Caballos venian hechos al calor, que en los Valles hacia, algunos de ellos se resfriaron.” Ibid., p. 191.]
At length they reached the crest of the Cordillera, where it spreads out into a bold and bleak expanse, with scarce the vestige of vegetation, except what is afforded by the pajonal, a dried yellow grass, which, as it is seen from below, encircling the base of the snow-covered peaks, looks, with its brilliant straw-color lighted up in the rays of an ardent sun, like a setting of gold round pinnacles of burnished silver. The land was sterile, as usual in mining districts, and they were drawing near the once famous gold quarries on the way to Caxamalca;
“Rocks rich in gems, and mountains big with mines,
That on the high equator ridgy rise.”
Here Pizarro halted for the coming up of the rear. The air was sharp and frosty; and the soldiers, spreading their tents, lighted fires, and, huddling round them, endeavoured to find some repose after their laborious march. 3
3 “E aposentaronse los Espanoles en sus toldos o pabellones de algodon de la tierra que llevaban, e haciendo fuegos para defenderse del mucho frio que en aquella Sierra hacen, porque sin ellos no se pudieron valer sin padecer mucho trabajo; y segun a los cristianos les parecio, y aun como era lo cierto, no podia haber mas frio en parte de Espana en invierno. Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 4.]
They had not been long in these quarters, when a messenger arrived, one of those who had accompanied the Indian envoy sent by Pizarro to Atahuallpa. He informed the general that the road was free from enemies, and that an embassy from the Inca was on its way to the Castilian camp. Pizarro now sent back to quicken the march of the rear, as he was unwilling that the Peruvian envoy should find him with his present diminished numbers. The rest of the army were not far distant, and not long after reached the encampment.
In a short time the Indian embassy also arrived, which consisted of one of the Inca nobles and several attendants, bringing a welcome present of llamas to the Spanish commander. The Peruvian bore, also, the greetings of his master, who wished to know when the Spaniards would arrive at Caxamalca, that he might provide suitable refreshments for them. Pizarro learned that the Inca had left Guamachucho, and was now lying with a small force in the neighbourhood of Caxamalca, at a place celebrated for its natural springs of warm water. The Peruvian was an intelligent person, and the Spanish commander gathered from him many particulars respecting the late contests which had distracted the empire.
As the envoy vaunted in lofty terms the military prowess and resources of his sovereign, Pizarro thought it politic to show that it had no power to overawe him. He expressed his satisfaction at the triumphs of Atahuallpa, who, he acknowledged, had raised himself high in the rank of Indian warriors. But he was as inferior, he added with more policy than politeness, to the monarch who ruled over the white men, as the petty curacas of the country were inferior to him. This was evident from the ease with which a few Spaniards had overrun this great continent, subduing one nation after another, that had offered resistance to their arms. He had been led by the fame of Atahuallpa to visit his dominions, and to offer him his services in his wars; and, if he were received by the Inca in the same friendly spirit with which he came, he was willing, for the aid he could render him, to postpone awhile his passage across the country to the opposite seas. The Indian, according to the Castilian accounts, listened with awe to this strain of glorification from the Spanish commander. Yet it is possible that the envoy was a better diplomatist than they imagined; and that he understood it was only the game of brag at which he was playing with his more civilized antagonist. 4
4 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 193. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 5.]
On the succeeding morning, at an early hour, the troops were again on their march, and for two days were occupied in threading the airy defiles of the Cordilleras. Soon after beginning their descent on the eastern side, another emissary arrived from the Inca, bearing a message of similar import to the preceding, and a present, in like manner, of Peruvian sheep. This was the same noble that had visited Pizarro in the valley. He now came in more state, quaffing chicha — the fermented juice of the maize — from golden goblets borne by his attendants, which sparkled in the eyes of the rapacious adventurers. 5
5 “Este Embajardor traia servicio de Senor, i cinco, o seis Vasos de Oro fino, con que bebia, i con ellos daba a beber a los Espanoles de la Chicha que traia.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom III. p 193. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., ubi supra.
The latter author, in this part of his work, has done little more than make a transcript of that of Xerez. His indorsement of Pizarro’s secretary, however, is of value, from the fact that, with less temptation to misstate or overstate, he enjoyed excellent opportunities for information.
While he was in the camp, the Indian messenger, originally sent by Pizarro to the Inca, returned, and no sooner did he behold the Peruvian, and the honorable reception which he met with from the Spaniards, than he was filled with wrath, which would have vented itself in personal violence, but for the interposition of the by-standers. It was hard, he said, that this Peruvian dog should be thus courteously treated, when he himself had nearly lost his life on a similar mission among his countrymen. On reaching the Inca’s camp, he had been refused admission to his presence, on the ground that he was keeping a fast and could not be seen. They had paid no respect to his assertion that he came as an envoy from the white men, and would, probably, not have suffered him to escape with life, if he had not assured them that any violence offered to him would be retaliated in full measure on the persons of the Peruvian envoys, now in the Spanish quarters. There was no doubt, he continued, of the hostile intentions of Atahuallpa; for he was surrounded with a powerful army, strongly encamped about a league from Caxamalca, while that city was entirely evacuated by its inhabitants.
To all this the Inca’s envoy coolly replied, that Pizarro’s messenger might have reckoned on such a reception as he had found, since he seemed to have taken with him no credentials of his mission. As to the Inca’s fast, that was true; and, although he would doubtless have seen the messenger, had he known there was one from the strangers, yet it was not safe to disturb him at these solemn seasons, when engaged in his religious duties. The troops by whom he was surrounded were not numerous, considering that the Inca was at that time carrying on an important war; and as to Caxamalca, it was abandoned by the inhabitants in order to make room for the white men, who were so soon to occupy it. 6
6 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 194. — Oviedo Hist. de las Indias, Ms., ubi supra.]
This explanation, however plausible, did not altogether satisfy the general; for he had too deep a conviction of the cunning of Atahuallpa, whose intentions towards the Spaniards he had long greatly distrusted. As he proposed, however, to keep on friendly relations with the monarch for the present, it was obviously not his cue to manifest suspicion. Affecting, therefore, to give full credit to the explanation of the envoy, he dismissed him with reiterated assurances of speedily presenting himself before the Inca.
The descent of the sierra, though the Andes are less precipitous on their eastern side than towards the west, was attended with difficulties almost equal to those of the upward march; and the Spaniards felt no little satisfaction, when, on the seventh day, they arrived in view of the valley of Caxamalca, which, enamelled with all the beauties of cultivation, lay unrolled like a rich and variegated carpet of verdure, in strong contrast with the dark forms of the Andes, that rose up everywhere around it. The valley is of an oval shape, extending about five leagues in length by three in breadth. It was inhabited by a population of a superior character to any which the Spaniards had met on the other side of the mountains, as was argued by the superior style of their attire, and the greater cleanliness and comfort visible both in their persons and dwellings. 7 As far as the eye could reach, the level tract exhibited the show of a diligent and thrifty husbandry. A broad river rolled through the meadows, supplying facilities for copious irrigation by means of the usual canals and subterraneous aqueducts. The land, intersected by verdant hedge-rows, was checkered with patches of various cultivation; for the soil was rich, and the climate, if less stimulating than that of the sultry regions of the coast, was more favorable to the hardy products of the temperate latitudes. Below the adventurers, with its white houses glittering in the sun, lay the little city of Caxamalca, like a sparkling gem on the dark skirts of the sierra. At the distance of about a league farther, across the valley, might be seen columns of vapor rising up towards the heavens, indicating the place of the famous hot baths, much frequented by the Peruvian princes. And here, too, was a spectacle less grateful to the eyes of the Spaniards; for along the slope of the hills a white cloud of pavilions was seen covering the ground, as thick as snow-flakes, for the space, apparently, of several miles. “It filled us all with amazement,” exclaims one of the Conquerors, “to behold the Indians occupying so proud a position! So many tents, so well appointed, as were never seen in the Indies till now The spectacle caused something like confusion and even fear in the stoutest bosom. But it was too late to turn back, or to betray the least sign of weakness, since the natives in our own company would, in such case, have been the first to rise upon us. So, with as bold a countenance as we could, after coolly surveying the ground, we prepared for our entrance into Caxamalca.” 8
7 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 195.]
8 “Y eran tantas las tiendas que parecian, que cierto nos puso harto espanto, porque no pensabamos que Indios pudiesen tener tan soberbia estancia, ni tantas tiendas, ni tan a punto, lo cual hasta alli en las Indias nunca se vio, que nos causo a todos los Espanoles harta confusion y temor; aunque no convenia mostrarse, ni menos volver atras, porque si alguna flaqueza en nosotros sintieran, los mismos Indios que llevabamos nos mataran, y ansi con animoso semblante, despues de haber muy bien atalayado el pueblo y tiendas que he dicho, abajamos por el valle abajo, y entramos en el pueblo de Cajamalca.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
What were the feelings of the Peruvian monarch we are not informed, when he gazed on the martial cavalcade of the Christians, as, with banners streaming, and bright panoplies glistening in the rays of the evening sun, it emerged from the dark depths of the sierra, and advanced in hostile array over the fair domain, which, to this period, had never been trodden by other foot than that of the red man. It might be, as several of the reports had stated, that the Inca had purposely decoyed the adventurers into the heart of his populous empire, that he might envelope them with his legions, and the more easily become master of their property and persons. 9 Or was it from a natural feeling of curiosity, and relying on their professions of friendship, that he had thus allowed them, without any attempt at resistance, to come into his presence? At all events, he could hardly have felt such confidence in himself, as not to look with apprehension, mingled with awe, on the mysterious strangers, who, coming from an unknown world, and possessed of such wonderful gifts, had made their way across mountain and valley, in spite of every obstacle which man and nature had opposed to them.
9 This was evidently the opinion of the old Conqueror, whose imperfect manuscript forms one of the best authorities for this portion of our narrative. “Teniendonos en muy poco, y no haciendo cuenta que 190 hombres le habian de ofender. dio lugar y consintio que pasasemos por aquel paso y por otros muchos tan malos como el, porque realmente, a lo que despues se supo y averiguo, su intencion era vernos y preguntarnos, de donde veniamos? y quien nos habia hechado alli? y que queriamos? Porque era muy sabio y discreto, y aunque sin luz ni escriptura, amigo de saber y de sotil entendimiento; y despues de holgadose con nosotros, tomarnos los caballos y las cosas que a el mas le aplacian, y sacrificar a los demas.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
Pizarro, meanwhile, forming his little corps into three divisions, now moved forward, at a more measured pace, and in order of battle, down the slopes that led towards the Indian city. As he drew near, no one came out to welcome him; and he rode through the streets without meeting with a living thing, or hearing a sound, except the echoes, sent back from the deserted dwellings, of the tramp of the soldiery.
It was a place of considerable size, containing about ten thousand inhabitants, somewhat more, probably, than the population assembled at this day within the walls of the modern city of Caxamalca. 10 The houses, for the most part, were built of clay, hardened in the sun; the roofs thatched, or of timber. Some of the more ambitious dwellings were of hewn stone; and there was a convent in the place, occupied by the Virgins of the Sun, and a temple dedicated to the same tutelar deity, which last was hidden in the deep embowering shades of a grove on the skirts of the city. On the quarter towards the Indian camp was a square — if square it might be called, which was almost triangular in form — of an immense size, surrounded by low buildings. These consisted of capacious halls, with wide doors or opening communicating with the square. They were probably intended as a sort of barracks for the Inca’s soldiers. 11 At the end of the plaza, looking towards the country, was a fortress of stone, with a stairway leading from the city, and a private entrance from the adjoining suburbs. There was still another fortress on the rising ground which commanded the town, built of hewn stone, and encompassed by three circular walls, — or rather one and the same wall, which wound up spirally around it. It was a place of great strength, and the workmanship showed a better knowledge of masonry, and gave a higher impression of the architectural science of the people, than any thing the Spaniards had yet seen. 12
10 According to Stevenson, this population, which is of a very mixed character, amounts, or did amount some thirty years ago, to about seven thousand. That sagacious traveller gives an animated description of the city, in which he resided some time, and which he seems to have regarded with peculiar predilection. Yet it does not hold probably the relative rank at the present day, that it did in that of the Incas. Residence in South America, vol. II. p. 131.]
11 Carta de Hern. Pizarro, ap. Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms. Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 15. — Xerez Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom III. p. 195.]
12 “Fuercas son, que entre Indios no se han visto tales.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 195. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
It was late in the afternoon of the fifteenth of November, 1532, when the Conquerors entered the city of Caxamalca. The weather, which had been fair during the day, now threatened a storm, and some rain mingled with hail — for it was unusually cold — began to fall. 13 Pizarro, however, was so anxious to ascertain the dispositions of the Inca, that he determined to send an embassy, at once, to his quarters. He selected for this, Hernando de Soto with fifteen horse, and, after his departure, conceiving that the number was too small, in case of any unfriendly demonstrations by the Indians, he ordered his brother Hernando to follow with twenty additional troopers. This captain and one other of his party have left us an account of the excursion. 14
13 “Desde a poco rato comenco a llover, i caer granico.” (Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 195.) Caxamalca, in the Indian tongue, signifies “place of frost”; for the temperature, though usually bland and genial, is sometimes affected by frosty winds from the east, very pernicious to vegetation. Stervenson, Residence in South America, vol. II. p. 129.]
14 Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms. The Letter of Hernando Pizarro, addressed to the Royal Audience of St. Domingo, gives a full account of the extraordinary events recorded in this and the ensuing chapter, in which that cavalier took a prominent part. Allowing for the partialities incident to a chief actor in the scenes he describes, no authority can rank higher. The indefatigable Oviedo, who resided in St. Domingo, saw its importance, and fortunately incorporated the document in his great work, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 15. — The anonymous author of the Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms., was also detached on this service.
Between the city and the imperial camp was a causeway, built in a substantial manner across the meadow land that intervened. Over this the cavalry galloped at a rapid pace, and, before they had gone a league, they came in front of the Peruvian encampment, where it spread along the gentle slope of the mountains. The lances of the warriors were fixed in the ground before their tents, and the Indian soldiers were loitering without, gazing with silent astonishment at the Christians cavalcade, as with clangor of arms and shrill blast of trumpet it swept by, like some fearful apparition, on the wings of the wind.
The party soon came to a broad but shallow stream, which, winding through the meadow, formed a defence for the Inca’s position. Across it was a wooden bridge; but the cavaliers, distrusting its strength, preferred to dash through the waters, and without difficulty gained the opposite bank. A battalion of Indian warriors was drawn up under arms on the farther side of the bridge, but they offered no molestation to the Spaniards; and these latter had strict orders from Pizarro — scarcely necessary in their present circumstances — to treat the natives with courtesy. One of the Indians pointed out the quarter occupied by the Inca. 15
15 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Hern Pizarro, Ms.]
It was an open court-yard, with a light building or pleasure-house in the centre, having galleries running around it, and opening in the rear on a garden. The walls were covered with a shining plaster, both white and colored, and in the area before the edifice was seen a spacious tank or reservoir of stone, fed by aqueducts that supplied it with both warm and cold water. 16 A basin of hewn stone — it may be of a more recent construction — still bears, on the spot, the name of the “Inca’s bath.” 17 The court was filled with Indian nobles, dressed in gayly ornamented attire, in attendance on the monarch, and with women of the royal household. Amidst this assembly it was not difficult to distinguish the person of Atahuallpa, though his dress was simpler than that of his attendants. But he wore on his head the crimson borla or fringe, which, surrounding the forehead, hung down as low as the eyebrow. This was the well-known badge of Peruvian sovereignty, and had been assumed by the monarch only since the defeat of his brother Huascar. He was seated on a low stool or cushion, somewhat after the Morisco or Turkish fashion, and his nobles and principal officers stood around him, with great ceremony, holding the stations suited to their rank. 18
16 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia. tom. III. p. 202.
“Y al estanque venian dos canos de agua, uno caliente y otro frio, y alli se templava la una con la otra, para quando el Senor se queria banar o sus mugeres que otra persona no osava entrar en el so pena de la vida.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y. Conq., Ms.]
17 Stevenson, Residence in South America, vol. II. p. 164.]
18 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 196. — Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms.
The appearance of the Peruvian monarch is described in simple but animated style by the Conqueror so often quoted, one of the party. “Llegados al patio de la dicha casa que tenia delante della, vimos estar en medio de gran muchedumbre de Indios asentado aquel gran Senor Atabalica (de quien tanta noticia, y tantas cosas nos habian dicho) con una corona en la cabeza, y una borla que le salia della, y le cubria toda la frente, la cual era la insinia real, sentado en una sillecita muy baja del suelo, como los turcos y moros acostumbran sentarse, el cual estaba con tanta magestad y aparato cual nunca se ha visto jamas, porque estaba cercado de mas de seiscientos Senores de su tierra.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
The Spaniards gazed with much interest on the prince, of whose cruelty and cunning they had heard so much, and whose valor had secured to him the possession of the empire. But his countenance exhibited neither the fierce passions nor the sagacity which had been ascribed to him; and, though in his bearing he showed a gravity and a calm consciousness of authority well becoming a king, he seemed to discharge all expression from his features, and to discover only the apathy so characteristic of the American races. On the present occasion, this must have been in part, at least, assumed. For it is impossible that the Indian prince should not have contemplated with curious interest a spectacle so strange, and, in some respects, appalling, as that of these mysterious strangers, for which no previous description could have prepared him.
Hernando Pizarro and Soto, with two or three only of their followers, slowly rode up in front of the Inca; and the former, making a respectful obeisance, but without dismounting, informed Atahuallpa that he came as an ambassador from his brother, the commander of the white men, to acquaint the monarch with their arrival in his city of Caxamalca. They were the subjects of a mighty prince across the waters, and had come, he said, drawn thither by the report of his great victories, to offer their services, and to impart to him the doctrines of the true faith which they professed; and he brought an invitation from the general to Atahuallpa that the latter would be pleased to visit the Spaniards in their present quarters. quarter. To all this the Inca answered not a word; nor did he make even a sign of acknowledgment that he comprehended it; though it was translated for him by Felipillo, one of the interpreters already noticed. He remained silent, with his eyes fastened on the ground; but one of his nobles, standing by his side, answered, “It is well.” 19 This was an embarrassing situation for the Spaniards, who seemed to be as wide from ascertaining the real disposition of the Peruvian monarch towards themselves, as when the mountains were between them.
19 “Las cuales por el oidas, con ser su inclinacion pereguntarnos y saber de donde veniamos, y que queriamos, y ver nuestras personas y caballos, tubo tanta serenidad en el rostro, y tanta gravedad en su persona, que no quiso responder palabra a lo que se le decia, salvo que un Senor de aquellos que estaban par de el respondia: bien esta.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
In a courteous and respectful manner, Hernando Pizarro again broke the silence by requesting the Inca to speak to them himself, and to inform them what was his pleasure. 20 To this Atahuallpa condescended to reply, while a faint smile passed over his features, — “Tell your captain that I am keeping a fast, which will end tomorrow morning. I will then visit him, with my chieftains. In the mean time, let him occupy the public buildings on the square, and no other, till I come, when I will order what shall be done.” 21
20 “Visto por el dicho Hernando Pizarro que el no hablaba y que aquella tercera persona respondia de suyo, torno le a suplicar, que el hablase por su boca, y le respondiese lo que quisiese.” Ibid., Ms., ubi supra.]
21 “El cual a esto volvio la cabeza a mirarle sonriendose y le dijo: Decid a ese Capitan que os embia aca; que yo estoy en ayuno, y le acabo manana por la manana, que en bebiendo una vez, yo ire con algunos destos principales mios a verme con el, que en tanto el se aposente en esas casas que estan en la plaza que son comunes a todos, y que no entren en otra ninguna hasta que Yo vaya, que Yo mandare lo que se ha de hacer.” Ibid., Ms., ubi supra.
In this singular interview I have followed the account of the cavalier who accompanied Hernando Pizarro, in preference to the latter, who represents himself as talking in a lordly key, that savours too much of the vaunt of the hidalgo.]
Soto, one of the party present at this interview, as before noticed, was the best mounted and perhaps the best rider in Pizarro’s troop. Observing that Atahuallpa looked with some interest on the fiery steed that stood before him, champing the bit and pawing the ground with the natural impatience of a war-horse, the Spaniard gave him the rein, and, striking his iron heel into his side, dashed furiously over the plain; then, wheeling him round and round, displayed all the beautiful movements of his charger, and his own excellent horsemanship. Suddenly checking him in full career, he brought the animal almost on his haunches, so near the person of the Inca, that some of the foam that flecked his horse’s sides was thrown on the royal garments. But Atahuallpa maintained the same marble composure as before, though several of his soldiers, whom De Soto passed in the course, were so much disconcerted by it, that they drew back in manifest terror, an act of timidity for which they paid dearly, if, as the Spaniards assert, Atahuallpa caused them to be put to death that same evening for betraying such unworthy weakness to the strangers. 22
22 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.
“I algunos Indios, con miedo, se desviaron de la Carrera, por lo qual Atabalipa los hico luego matar.” (Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 4.) — Xerez states that Atahuallpa confessed this himself, in conversation with the Spaniards after he was taken prisoner. — Soto’s charger might well have made the Indians start, if, as Balboa says, he took twenty feet at a leap, and this with a knight in armour on his back! Hist. du Perou, chap. 22.
Refreshments were now offered by the royal attendants to the Spaniards, which they declined, being unwilling to dismount. They did not refuse, however, to quaff the sparkling chicha from golden vases of extraordinary size, presented to them by the dark-eyed beauties of the harem. 23 Taking then a respectful leave of the Inca, the cavaliers rode back to Caxamalca, with many moody speculations on what they had seen; on the state and opulence of the Indian monarch; on the strength of his military array, their excellent appointments, and the apparent discipline in their ranks, — all arguing a much higher degree of civilization, and consequently of power, than any thing they had witnessed in the lower regions of the country. As they contrasted all this with their own diminutive force, too far advanced, as they now were, for succour to reach them, they felt they had done rashly in throwing themselves into the midst of so formidable an empire, and were filled with gloomy forebodings of the result. 24 Their comrades in the camp soon caught the infectious spirit of despondency, which was not lessened as night came on, and they beheld the watch-fires of the Peruvians lighting up the sides of the mountains, and glittering in the darkness, “as thick,” says one who saw them, “as the stars of heaven.” 25
23 Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 196.]
24 “Hecho esto y visto y atalayado la grandeza del ejercito, y las tiendas que era bien de ver, nos bolvimos a donde el dicho capitan nos estaba esperando, harto espantados de lo que habiamos visto, habiendo y tomando entre nosotros muchos acuerdos y opiniones de lo que se debia hacer, estando todos con mucho temor por ser tan pocos, y estar tan metidos en la tierra donde no podiamos ser socorridos.” (Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.) Pedro Pizarro is honest enough to confirm this account of the consternation of the Spaniards. (Descub. y Conq., Ms.) Fear was a strange sensation for the Castilian cavalier. But if he did not feel some touch of it on that occasion, he must have been akin to that doughty knight who, as Charles V. pronounced, “never could have snuffed a candle with his fingers.”]
25 “Hecimos la guardia en la plaza, de donde se vian los fuegos del ejercito de los Indios, lo cual era cosa espantable, que como estaban en una ladera la mayor parte, y tan juntos unos de otros, no pa recia sino un cielo muy estrellado.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms]
Yet there was one bosom in that little host which was not touched with the feeling either of fear or dejection. That was Pizarro’s, who secretly rejoiced that he had now brought matters to the issue for which he had so long panted. He saw the necessity of kindling a similar feeling in his followers, or all would be lost. Without unfolding his plans, he went round among his men, beseeching them not to show faint hearts at this crisis, when they stood face to face with the foe whom they had been so long seeking. “They were to rely on themselves, and on that Providence which had carried them safe through so many fearful trials. It would not now desert them; and if numbers, however great, were on the side of their enemy, it mattered little when the arm of Heaven was on theirs.” 26 The Spanish cavalier acted under the combined influence of chivalrous adventure and religious zeal. The latter was the most effective in the hour of peril; and Pizarro, who understood well the characters he had to deal with, by presenting the enterprise as a crusade, kindled the dying embers of enthusiasm in the bosoms of his followers, and restored their faltering courage.
26 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 197. — Nanarro Relacion Sumaria, Ms]
He then summoned a council of his officers, to consider the plan of operations, or rather to propose to them the extraordinary plan on which he had himself decided. This was to lay an ambuscade for the Inca, and take him prisoner in the face of his whole army! It was a project full of peril, — bordering, as it might well seem, on desperation. But the circumstances of the Spaniards were desperate. Whichever way they turned, they were menaced by the most appalling dangers; and better was it bravely to confront the danger, than weakly to shrink from it, when there was no avenue for escape.
To fly was now too late. Whither could they fly? At the first signal of retreat, the whole army of the Inca would be upon them. Their movements would be anticipated by a foe far better acquainted with the intricacies of the sierra than themselves; the passes would be occupied, and they would be hemmed in on all sides; while the mere fact of this retrograde movement would diminish the confidence and with it the effective strength of his own men, while it doubled that of his enemy.
Yet to remain long inactive in his present position seemed almost equally perilous. Even supposing that Atahuallpa should entertain friendly feelings towards the Christians, they could not confide in the continuance of such feelings. Familiarity with the white men would soon destroy the idea of any thing supernatural, or even superior, in their natures. He would feel contempt for their diminutive numbers. Their horses, their arms and showy appointments, would be an attractive bait in the eye of the barbaric monarch, and when conscious that he had the power to crush their possessors, he would not be slow in finding a pretext for it. A sufficient one had already occurred in the high-handed measures of the Conquerors, on their march through his dominions.
But what reason had they to flatter themselves that the Inca cherished such a disposition towards them? He was a crafty and unscrupulous prince, and, if the accounts they had repeatedly received on their march were true, had ever regarded the coming of the Spaniards with an evil eye. It was scarcely possible he should do otherwise. His soft messages had only been intended to decoy them across the mountains, where, with the aid of his warriors, he might readily overpower them. They were entangled in the toils which the cunning monarch had spread for them.
Their only remedy, then, was to turn the Inca’s arts against himself; to take him, if possible, in his own snare. There was no time to be lost; for any day might bring back the victorious legions who had recently won his battles at the south, and thus make the odds against the Spaniards far greater than now.
Yet to encounter Atahuallpa in the open field would be attended with great hazard; and even if victorious, there would be little probability that the person of the Inca, of so much importance, would fall into the hands of the victors. The invitation he had so unsuspiciously accepted to visit them in their quarters afforded the best means for securing this desirable prize. Nor was the enterprise so desperate, considering the great advantages afforded by the character and weapons of the invaders, and the unexpectedness of the assault. The mere circumstance of acting on a concerted plan would alone make a small number more than a match for a much larger one. But it was not necessary to admit the whole of the Indian force into the city before the attack; and the person of the Inca once secured, his followers, astounded by so strange an event, were they few or many, would have no heart for further resistance; — and with the Inca once in his power, Pizarro might dictate laws to the empire.
In this daring project of the Spanish chief, it was easy to see that he had the brilliant exploit of Cortes in his mind, when he carried off the Aztec monarch in his capital. But that was not by violence, at least not by open violence, — and it received the sanction, compulsory though it were, of the monarch himself. It was also true that the results in that case did not altogether justify a repetition of the experiment; since the people rose in a body to sacrifice both the prince and his kidnappers. Yet this was owing, in part, at least, to the indiscretion of the latter. The experiment in the outset was perfectly successful; and, could Pizarro once become master of the person of Atahuallpa, he trusted to his own discretion for the rest. It would, at least, extricate him from his present critical position, by placing in his power an inestimable guaranty for his safety; and if he could not make his own terms with the Inca at once, the arrival of reinforcements from home would, in all probability, soon enable him to do so.
Pizarro having concerted his plans for the following day, the council broke up, and the chief occupied himself with providing for the security of the camp during the night. The approaches to the town were defended; sentinels were posted at different points, especially on the summit of the fortress, where they were to observe the position of the enemy, and to report any movement that menaced the tranquillity of the night. After these precautions, the Spanish commander and his followers withdrew to their appointed quarters, — but not to sleep. At least, sleep must have come late to those who were aware of the decisive plan for the morrow; that morrow which was to be the crisis of their fate, — to crown their ambitious schemes with full success, or consign them to irretrievable ruin!
The clouds of the evening had passed away, and the sun rose bright on the following morning, the most memorable epoch in the annals of Peru. It was Saturday, the sixteenth of November, 1532. The loud cry of the trumpet called the Spaniards to arms with the first streak of dawn; and Pizarro, briefly acquainting them with the plan of the assault, made the necessary dispositions.
The plaza, as mentioned in the preceding chapter, was defended on its three sides by low ranges of buildings, consisting of spacious halls with wide doors or vomitories opening into the square. In these halls he stationed his cavalry in two divisions, one under his brother Hernando, the other under De Soto. The infantry he placed in another of the buildings, reserving twenty chosen men to act with himself as occasion might require Pedro de Candia, with a few soldiers and the artillery, — comprehending under this imposing name two small pieces of ordnance, called falconets, — he established in the fortress. All received orders to wait at their posts till the arrival of the Inca. After his entrance into the great square, they were still to remain under cover, withdrawn from observation, till the signal was given by the discharge of a gun, when they were to cry their war-cries, to rush out in a body from their covert, and, putting the Peruvians to the sword, bear off the person of the Inca. The arrangement of the immense halls, opening on a level with the plaza, seemed to be contrived on purpose for a coup de theatre. Pizarro particularly inculcated order and implicit obedience, that in the hurry of the moment there should be no confusion. Every thing depended on their acting with concert, coolness, and celerity. 1
1 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia tom. III. p. 197. — Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap 7]
The chief next saw that their arms were in good order; and that the breastplates of their horses were garnished with bells, to add by their noise to the consternation of the Indians. Refreshments were, also, liberally provided, that the troops should be in condition for the conflict. These arrangements being completed, mass was performed with great solemnity by the ecclesiastics who attended the expedition; the God of battles was invoked to spread his shield over the soldiers who were fighting to extend the empire of the Cross; and all joined with enthusiasm in the chant, “Exsurge, Domine,” “Rise, O Lord! and judge thine own cause.” 2 One might have supposed them a company of martyrs, about to lay down their lives in defence of their faith, instead of a licentious band of adventurers, meditating one of the most atrocious acts of perfidy on the record of history! Yet, whatever were the vices of the Castilian cavalier, hypocrisy was not among the number. He felt that he was battling for the Cross, and under this conviction, exalted as it was at such a moment as this into the predominant impulse, he was blind to the baser motives which mingled with the enterprise. With feelings thus kindled to a flame of religious ardor, the soldiers of Pizarro looked forward with renovated spirits to the coming conflict; and the chieftain saw with satisfaction, that in the hour of trial his men would be true to their leader and themselves.
2 “Los Eclesiasticos i Religiosos se ocuparon toda aquella noche en oracion, pidiendo a Dios el mas conveniente suceso a su sagrado servicio, exaltacion de la fe e salvacion de tanto numero de almas, derramando muchas lagrimas i sangre en las disciplinas que tomaron. Francisco Pizarro animo a los soldados con una mui cristiana platica que les hizo: con que, i asegurarles los Eclesiasticos de parte de Dios i de su Madre Santisima la vitoria, amanecieron todos mui deseosos de dar la batalla, diciendo a voces, Exsurge Domine et judica causam tuam.” Naharro Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
It was in the day before any movement was visible in the Peruvian camp, where much preparation was making to approach the Christian quarters with due state and ceremony. A message was received from Atahuallpa, informing the Spanish commander that he should come with his warriors fully armed, in the same manner as the Spaniards had come to his quarters the night preceding. This was not an agreeable intimation to Pizarro, though he had no reason, probably, to expect the contrary. But to object might imply distrust, or, perhaps, disclose, in some measure, his own designs. He expressed his satisfaction, therefore, at the intelligence, assuring the Inca, that, come as he would, he would be received by him as a friend and brother. 3
3 “El governador respondio: Di a tu Senor, que venga en hora buena como quisiere, que de la manera que viniere lo recebire como Amigo, i Hermano.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 197. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 7. — Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms.]
It was noon before the Indian procession was on its march, when it was seen occupying the great causeway for a long extent. In front came a large body of attendants, whose office seemed to be to sweep away every particle of rubbish from the road. High above the crowd appeared the Inca, borne on the shoulders of his principal nobles, while others of the same rank marched by the sides of his litter, displaying such a dazzling show of ornaments on their persons, that, in the language of one of the Conquerors, “they blazed like the sun.” 4 But the greater part of the Inca’s forces mustered along the fields that lined the road, and were spread over the broad meadows as far as the eye could reach. 5
4 “Hera tanta la pateneria que traian d’oro y plata que hera cossa estrana lo que Reluzia con el Sol.’ Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
5 To the eye of the old Conqueror so often quoted, the number of Peruvian warriors appeared not less than 50,000; “mas de cin cuenta mil que tenia de guerra’ (Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.) To Pizarro’s secretary, as they lay encamped along the hills, they seemed about 30,000. (Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 196.) However gratifying to the imagination to repose on some precise number, it is very rare that one can do so with safety, in estimating the irregular and tumultuous levies of a barbarian host.]
When the royal procession had arrived within half a mile of the city, it came to a halt; and Pizarro saw with surprise that Atahuallpa was preparing to pitch his tents, as if to encamp there. A messenger soon after arrived, informing the Spaniards that the Inca would occupy his present station the ensuing night, and enter the city on the following morning.
This intelligence greatly disturbed Pizarro, who had shared in the general impatience of his men at the tardy movements of the Peruvians. The troops had been under arms since daylight, the cavalry mounted, and the infantry at their post, waiting in silence the coming of the Inca. A profound stillness reigned throughout the town, broken only at intervals by the cry of the sentinel from the summit of the fortress, as he proclaimed the movements of the Indian army. Nothing, Pizarro well knew, was so trying to the soldier as prolonged suspense, in a critical situation like the present; and he feared lest his ardor might evaporate, and be succeeded by that nervous feeling natural to the bravest soul at such a crisis, and which, if not fear, is near akin to it. 6 He returned an answer, therefore, to Atahuallpa, deprecating his change of purpose; and adding that he had provided every thing for his entertainment, and expected him that night to sup with him. 7
6 Pedro Pizarro says that an Indian spy reported to Atahuallpa, that the white men were all huddled together in the great halls on the square, in much consternation, llenos de miedo, which was not far from the truth, adds the cavalier. (Descub. y Conq., Ms.)]
7 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
“Asentados sus toldos envio a decir al gobernador que ya era tarde, que el queria dormir alli, que por la manana vernia: el gobernador le envio a decir que le rogaba que viniese luego, porque le esperaba a cenar, e que no habia de cenar, hasta que fuese.” Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms.
This message turned the Inca from his purpose; and, striking his tents again, he resumed his march, first advising the general that he should leave the greater part of his warriors behind, and enter the place with only a few of them, and without arms, 8 as he preferred to pass the night at Caxamalca. At the same time he ordered accommodations to be provided for himself and his retinue in one of the large stone buildings, called, from a serpent sculptured on the walls, “the House of the Serpent.” 9 — No tidings could have been more grateful to the Spaniards. It seemed as if the Indian monarch was eager to rush into the snare that had been spread for him! The fanatical cavalier could not fail to discern in it the immediate finger of Providence.
8 “El queria vernir luego, e que venia sin armas. E luego Atabaliva se movio para venir, e dejo alli la gente con las armas, e llevo consigo hasta cinco o seis mil indios sin armas, salvo que debajo de las camisetas traian unas porras pequenas, e hondas, e bolsas con piedras.” Carta de Hern. Pizarro Ms.]
9 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap Barcia, tom. III. p. 197.
It is difficult to account for this wavering conduct of Atahuallpa, so different from the bold and decided character which history ascribes to him. There is no doubt that he made his visit to the white men in perfect good faith; though Pizarro was probably right in conjecturing that this amiable disposition stood on a very precarious footing. There is as little reason to suppose that he distrusted the sincerity of the strangers; or he would not thus unnecessarily have proposed to visit them unarmed. His original purpose of coming with all his force was doubtless to display his royal state, and perhaps, also, to show greater respect for the Spaniards; but when he consented to accept their hospitality, and pass the night in their quarters, he was willing to dispense with a great part of his armed soldiery, and visit them in a manner that implied entire confidence in their good faith. He was too absolute in his own empire easily to suspect; and he probably could not comprehend the audacity with which a few men, like those now assembled in Caxamalca, meditated an assault on a powerful monarch in the midst of his victorious army. He did not know the character of the Spaniard. It was not long before sunset, when the van of the royal procession entered the gates of the city. First came some hundreds of the menials, employed to clear the path from every obstacle, and singing songs of triumph as they came, “which, in our ears,” says one of the Conquerors, “sounded like the songs of hell”! 10 Then followed other bodies of different ranks, and dressed in different liveries. Some wore a showy stuff, checkered white and red, like the squares of a chess-board. 11 Others were clad in pure white, bearing hammers or maces of silver or copper; 12 and the guards, together with those in immediate attendance on the prince, were distinguished by a rich azure livery, and a profusion of gay ornaments, while the large pendants attached to the ears indicated the Peruvian noble.
10 Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
11 “Blanca y colorada como las casas de un ajedrez.” Ibid., Ms.]
12 “Con martillos en las manos de cobre y plata.” Ibid., Ms.]
Elevated high above his vassals came the Inca Atahuallpa, borne on a sedan or open litter, on which was a sort of throne made of massive gold of inestimable value. 13 The palanquin was lined with the richly colored plumes of tropical birds, and studded with shining plates of gold and silver. 14 The monarch’s attire was much richer than on the preceding evening. Round his neck was suspended a collar of emeralds of uncommon size and brilliancy. 15 His short hair was decorated with golden ornaments, and the imperial borla encircled his temples. The bearing of the Inca was sedate and dignified; and from his lofty station he looked down on the multitudes below with an air of composure, like one accustomed to command.
13 “El asiento que traia sobre las andas era un tablon de oro que peso un quintal de oro segun dicen los historiadores 25,000 pesos o ducados.” Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
14 “Luego venia mucha Gente con Armaduras, Patenas, i Coronas do oro i Plata: entre estos venia Atabaliba, en una Litera, aforrada de Pluma de Papagaios, de muchas colores, guarnecida de chapas de Oro, i Plata.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 198.]
15 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
“Venia la persona de Atabalica, la cual traian ochenta Senores en hombros todos bestidos de una librea azul muy rica, y el bestido su persona muy ricamente con su corona en la cabeza, y al cuello un collar de emeraldas grandes.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
As the leading files of the procession entered the great square, larger, says an old chronicler, than any square in Spain, they opened to the right and left for the royal retinue to pass. Every thing was conducted with admirable order. The monarch was permitted to traverse the plaza in silence, and not a Spaniard was to be seen. When some five or six thousand of his people had entered the place, Atahuallpa halted, and, turning round with an inquiring look, demanded, “Where are the strangers?”
At this moment Fray Vicente de Valverde, a Dominican friar, Pizarro’s chaplain, and afterward Bishop of Cuzco, came forward with his breviary, or, as other accounts say, a Bible, in one hand, and a crucifix in the other, and, approaching the Inca, told him, that he came by order of his commander to expound to him the doctrines of the true faith, for which purpose the Spaniards had come from a great distance to his country. The friar then explained, as clearly as he could, the mysterious doctrine of the Trinity, and, ascending high in his account, began with the creation of man, thence passed to his fall, to his subsequent redemption by Jesus Christ, to the crucifixion, and the ascension, when the Saviour left the Apostle Peter as his Vicegerent upon earth. This power had been transmitted to the successors of the Apostle, good and wise men, who, under the title of Popes, held authority over all powers and potentates on earth. One of the last of these Popes had commissioned the Spanish emperor, the most mighty monarch in the world, to conquer and convert the natives in this western hemisphere; and his general, Francisco Pizarro, had now come to execute this important mission. The friar concluded with beseeching the Peruvian monarch to receive him kindly; to abjure the errors of his own faith, and embrace that of the Christians now proffered to him, the only one by which he could hope for salvation; and, furthermore, to acknowledge himself a tributary of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, who, in that even, would aid and protect him as his loyal vassal. 16
16 Montesinos says that Valverde read to the Inca the regular formula used by the Spaniards in their Conquests. (Annales, Ms., ano 1533.) But that address, though absurd enough, did not comprehend the whole range of theology ascribed to the chaplain on this occasion. Yet it is not impossible. But I have followed the report of Fray Naharro, who collected his information from the actors in the tragedy, and whose minuter statement is corroborated by the more general testimony of both the Pizarros and the secretary Xerez.]
Whether Atahuallpa possessed himself of every link in the curious chain of argument by which the monk connected Pizarro with St. Peter, may be doubted. It is certain, however, that he must have had very incorrect notions of the Trinity, if, as Garcilasso states, the interpreter Felipillo explained it by saying, that “the Christians believed in three Gods and one God, and that made four.” 17 But there is no doubt he perfectly comprehended that the drift of the discourse was to persuade him to resign his sceptre and acknowledge the supremacy of another.
17 “Por dezir Dios trino y uno dixo Dios tres y uno son quatre sumando los numeros por darse a entender.” Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 1, cap. 23.]
The eyes of the Indian monarch flashed fire, and his dark brow grew darker as he replied, — “I will be no man’s tributary. I am greater than any prince upon earth. Your emperor may be a great prince; I do not doubt it, when I see that he has sent his subjects so far across the waters; and I am willing to hold him as a brother. As for the Pope of whom you speak, he must be crazy to talk of giving away countries which do not belong to him. For my faith,” he continued, “I will not change it Your own God, as you say, was put to death by the very men whom he created. But mine,” he concluded, pointing to his Deity, — then, alas! sinking in glory behind the mountains, — “my God still lives in the heavens, and looks down on his children.” 18
18 See Appendix, No. 8, where the reader will find extracts in the original from several contemporary Mss., relating to the capture of Atahuallpa.]
He then demanded of Valverde by what authority he had said these things. The friar pointed to the book which he held, as his authority. Atahuallpa, taking it, turned over the pages a moment, then, as the insult he had received probably flashed across his mind, he threw it down with vehemence, and exclaimed, — “Tell your comrades that they shall give me an account of their doings in my land. I will not go from here, till they have made me full satisfaction for all the wrongs they have committed.” 19
19 Some accounts describe him as taxing the Spaniards in much more unqualified terms. (See Appendix, No. 8.) but language is not likely to be accurately reported in such seasons of excitement. — According to some authorities, Atahuallpa let the volume drop by accident. (Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1533. — Balboa, Hist. du Perou, chap. 22.) But the testimony, as far as we have it, of those present, concurs in representing it as stated in the text. And, if he spoke with the heat imputed to him, this act would only be in keeping.]
The friar, greatly scandalized by the indignity offered to the sacred volume, stayed only to pick it up, and, hastening to Pizarro, informed him of what had been done, exclaiming, at the same time, — “Do you not see, that, while we stand here wasting our breath in talking with this dog, full of pride as he is, the fields are filling with Indians? Set on, at once; I absolve you.” 20 Pizarro saw that the hour had come. He waved a white scarf in the air, the appointed signal. The fatal gun was fired from the fortress. Then, springing into the square, the Spanish captain and his followers shouted the old war-cry of “St. Jago and at them.” It was answered by the battle-cry of every Spaniard in the city, as, rushing from the avenues of the great halls in which they were concealed, they poured into the plaza, horse and foot, each in his own dark column, and threw themselves into the midst of the Indian crowd. The latter, taken by surprise, stunned by the report of artillery and muskets, the echoes of which reverberated like thunder from the surrounding buildings, and blinded by the smoke which rolled in sulphurous volumes along the square, were seized with a panic. They knew not whither to fly for refuge from the coming ruin Nobles and commoners, — all were trampled down under the fierce charge of the cavalry, who dealt their blows, right and left, without sparing; while their swords, flashing through the thick gloom, carried dismay into the hearts of the wretched natives, who now, for the first time, saw the horse and his rider in all their terrors. They made no resistance, — as, indeed, they had no weapons with which to make it. Every avenue to escape was closed, for the entrance to the square was choked up with the dead bodies of men who had perished in vain efforts to fly; and, such was the agony of the survivors under the terrible pressure of their assailants, that a large body of Indians, by their convulsive struggles, burst through the wall of stone and dried clay which formed part of the boundary of the plaza! It fell, leaving an opening of more than a hundred paces, through which multitudes now found their way into the country, still hotly pursued by the cavalry, who, leaping the fallen rubbish, hung on the rear of the fugitives, striking them down in all directions. 21
20 “Visto esto por el Frayle y lo poco que aprovechaban sus palabras, tomo su libro, y abajo su cabeza, y fuese para donde estaba el dicho Pizarro, casi corriendo, y dijole: No veis lo que pasa: para que estais en comedimientos y requerimientos con este perro lleno de soberbia que vienen los campos llenos de Indios? Salid a el, — que yo os absuelvo.” (Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.) The historian should be slow in ascribing conduct so diabolical to Father Valverde, without evidence. Two of the Conquerors present, Pedro Pizarro and Xerez, simply state that the monk reported to his commander the indignity offered to the sacred volume. but Hernando Pizarro and the author of the Relacion del Primer. Descub., both eyewitnesses, and Naharro, Zarate, Gomara, Balboa, Herrera, the Inca Titucussi Yupanqui, all of whom obtained their information from persons who were eyewitnesses, state the circumstances, with little variation, as in the text. Yet Oviedo indorses the account of Xerez, and Garcilasso de la Vega insists on Valverde’s innocence of any attempt to rouse the passion of his comrades.]
21 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 198. — Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3. lib. 8, cap. 7. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 5. — Instruccion del Inga Titucussi Yupanqui, Ms.]
Meanwhile the fight, or rather massacre, continued hot around the Inca, whose person was the great object of the assault. His faithful nobles, rallying about him, threw themselves in the way of the assailants, and strove, by tearing them from their saddles, or, at least, by offering their own bosoms as a mark for their vengeance, to shield their beloved master. It is said by some authorities, that they carried weapons concealed under their clothes. If so, it availed them little, as it is not pretended that they used them. But the most timid animal will defend itself when at bay. That they did not so in the present instance is proof that they had no weapons to use. 22 Yet they still continued to force back the cavaliers, clinging to their horses with dying grasp, and, as one was cut down, another taking the place of his fallen comrade with a loyalty truly affecting.
22 The author of the Relacion del Primero Descubrimiento speaks of a few as having bows and arrows, and of others as armed with silver and copper mallets or maces, which may, however, have been more for ornament than for service in fight. — Pedro Pizarro and some later writers say that the Indians brought thongs with them to bind the captive white men. — Both Hernando Pizarro and the secretary Xerez agree that their only arms were secreted under their clothes; but as they do not pretend that these were used, and as it was announced by the Inca that he came without arms, the assertion may well be doubted, — or rather discredited. All authorities without exception, agree that no attempt was made at resistance.
The Indian monarch, stunned and bewildered, saw his faithful subjects falling round him without fully comprehending his situation. The litter on which he rode heaved to and fro, as the mighty press swayed backwards and forwards; and he gazed on the overwhelming ruin, like some forlorn mariner, who, tossed about in his bark by the furious elements, sees the lightning’s flash and hears the thunder bursting around him with the consciousness that he can do nothing to avert his fate. At length, weary with the work of destruction, the Spaniards, as the shades of evening grew deeper, felt afraid that the royal prize might, after all, elude them; and some of the cavaliers made a desperate attempt to end the affray at once by taking Atahuallpa’s life. But Pizarro, who was nearest his person, called out with Stentorian voice, “Let no one, who values his life, strike at the Inca”; 23 and, stretching out his arm to shield him, received a wound on the hand from one of his own men, — the only wound received by a Spaniards in the action. 24
23 “El marquez dio bozes diciendo. Nadie hiera al indio so pena de la vida.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
24 Whatever discrepancy exists among the Castilian accounts in other respects, all concur in this remarkable fact, — that no Spaniard, except their general, received a wound on that occasion. Pizarro saw in this a satisfactory argument for regarding the Spaniards, this day, as under the especial protection of Providence. See Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 199.]
The struggle now became fiercer than ever round the royal litter. It reeled more and more, and at length, several of the nobles who supported it having been slain, it was overturned, and the Indian prince would have come with violence to the ground, had not his fall been broken by the efforts of Pizarro and some other of the cavaliers, who caught him in their arms. The imperial borla was instantly snatched from his temples by a soldier named Estete, 25 and the unhappy monarch, strongly secured, was removed to a neighbouring building, where he was carefully guarded.
25 Miguel Estete, who long retained the silken diadem as a trophy of the exploit, according to Garcilasso de la Vega, (Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 1, cap. 27,) an indifferent authority for any thing in this part of his history. This popular writer, whose work, from his superior knowledge of the institutions of the country, has obtained greater credit, eve in what relates to the Conquest, than the reports of the Conquerors themselves, has indulged in the romantic vein to an unpardonable extent, in his account of the capture of Atahuallpa. According to him, the Peruvian monarch treated the invaders from the first with supreme deference, as descendants of Viracocha, predicted by his oracles as to come and rule over the land. But if this flattering homage had been paid by the Inca, it would never have escaped the notice of the Conquerors. Garcilasso had read the Commentaries of Cortes, as he somewhere tells us; and it is probable that that general’s account, well founded, it appears, of a similar superstition among the Aztecs suggested to the historian the idea of a corresponding sentiment in the Peruvians, which, while it flattered the vanity of the Spaniards, in some degree vindicated his own countrymen from the charge of cowardice, incurred by their too ready submission; for, however they might be called on to resist men, it would have been madness to resist the decrees of Heaven. Yet Garcilasso’s romantic version has something in it so pleasing to the imagination, that it has even found favor with the majority of readers. The English student might have met with a sufficient corrective in the criticism of the sagacious and skeptical Robertson.]
All attempt at resistance now ceased. The fate of the Inca soon spread over town and country. The charm which might have held the Peruvians together was dissolved. Every man thought only of his own safety. Even the soldiery encamped on the adjacent fields took the alarm, and, learning the fatal tidings, were seen flying in every direction before their pursuers, who in the heat of triumph showed no touch of mercy. At length night, more pitiful than man, threw her friendly mantle over the fugitives, and the scattered troops of Pizarro rallied once more at the sound of the trumpet in the bloody square of Caxamalca.
The number of slain is reported, as usual, with great discrepancy. Pizarro’s secretary says two thousand natives fell. 26 A descendant of the Incas — a safer authority than Garcilasso — swells the number to ten thousand. 27 Truth is generally found somewhere between the extremes. The slaughter was incessant, for there was nothing to check it. That there should have been no resistance will not appear strange, when we consider the fact, that the wretched victims were without arms, and that their senses must have been completely overwhelmed by the strange and appalling spectacle which burst on them so unexpectedly. “What wonder was it,” said an ancient Inca to a Spaniard, who repeats it, “what wonder that our countrymen lost their wits, seeing blood run like water, and the Inca, whose person we all of us adore, seized and carried off by a handful of men?” 28 Yet though the massacre was incessant, it was short in duration. The whole time consumed by it, the brief twilight of the tropics, did not much exceed half an hour; a short period, indeed, — yet long enough to decide the fate of Peru, and to subvert the dynasty of the Incas.
26 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 199.]
27 “Los mataron a todos con los Cavallos con espadas con arcabuzes como quien mata ovejas — sin hacerles nadie resistencia que no se escaparon de mas de diez mil, doscientos,” Instruc. del Inga Titucussi, Ms.
This document, consisting of two hundred folio pages, is signed by a Peruvian Inca, grandson of the great Huayna Capac, and nephew, consequently, of Atahuallpa. It was written in 1570, and designed to set forth to his Majesty Philip II. the claims of Titucussi and the members of his family to the royal bounty. In the course of the Memorial, the writer takes occasion to recapitulate some of the principal events in the latter years of the empire; and though sufficiently prolix to tax even the patience of Philip II., it is of much value as an historical document, coming from one of the royal race of Peru.]
28 Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1532.
According to Naharro, the Indians were less astounded by the wild uproar caused by the sudden assault of the Spaniards, though “this was such that it seemed as if the very heavens were falling,” than by a terrible apparition which appeared in the air during the onslaught. It consisted of a woman and a child, and, at their side, a horseman all clothed in white on a milk-white charger, — doubtless the valiant St. James, — who, with his sword glancing lightning, smote down the infidel host, and rendered them incapable of resistance. This miracle the good father reports on the testimony of three of his Order, who were present in the action, and who received it from numberless of the natives. Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
That night Pizarro kept his engagement with the Inca, since he had Atahuallpa to sup with him. The banquet was served in one of the halls facing the great square, which a few hours before had been the scene of slaughter, and the pavement of which was still encumbered with the dead bodies of the Inca’s subjects. The captive monarch was placed next his conqueror. He seemed like one who did not yet fully comprehend the extent of his calamity. If he did, he showed an amazing fortitude. “It is the fortune of war,” he said; 29 and, if we may credit the Spaniards, he expressed his admiration of the adroitness with which they had contrived to entrap him in the midst of his own troops. 30 He added, that he had been made acquainted with the progress of the white men from the hour of their landing; but that he had been led to undervalue their strength from the insignificance of their numbers. He had no doubt he should be easily able to overpower them, on their arrival at Caxamalca, by his superior strength; and, as he wished to see for himself what manner of men they were, he had suffered them to cross the mountains, meaning to select such as he chose for his own service, and, getting possession of their wonderful arms and horses, put the rest to death. 31
29 “Diciendo que era uso de Guerra vencer, i ser vencido.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 2, cap. 12.]
30 “Haciendo admiracion de la traza que tenia hecha.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
31 “And in my opinion,” adds the Conqueror who reports the speech, “he had good grounds for believing he could do this, since nothing but the miraculous interposition of Heaven could have saved us.” Ibid., Ms.]
That such may have been Atahuallpa’s purpose is not improbable. It explains his conduct in not occupying the mountain passes, which afforded such strong points of defence against invasion. But that a prince so astute, as by the general testimony of the Conquerors he is represented to have been, should have made so impolitic a disclosure of his hidden motives is not so probable. The intercourse with the Inca was carried on chiefly by means of the interpreter Felipillo, or little Philip, as he was called, from his assumed Christian name, — a malicious youth, as it appears, who bore no good-will to Atahuallpa, and whose interpretations were readily admitted by the Conquerors, eager to find some pretext for their bloody reprisals.
Atahuallpa, as elsewhere notice, was, at this time, about thirty years of age. He was well made, and more robust than usual with his countrymen. His head was large, and his countenance might have been called handsome, but that his eyes, which were bloodshot, gave a fierce expression to his features. He was deliberate in speech, grave in manner, and towards his own people stern even to severity; though with the Spaniards he showed himself affable, sometimes even indulging in sallies of mirth. 32
32 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 203.]
Pizarro paid every attention to his royal captive, and endeavoured to lighten, if he could not dispel, the gloom which, in spite of his assumed equanimity, hung over the monarch’s brow. He besought him not to be case down by his reverses, for his lot had only been that of every prince who had resisted the white men. They had come into the country to proclaim the gospel, the religion of Jesus Christ; and it was no wonder they had prevailed, when his shield was over them. Heaven had permitted that Atahuallpa’s pride should be humbled, because of his hostile intentions towards the Spaniards, and the insults he had offered to the sacred volume. But he bade the Inca take courage and confide in him, for the Spaniards were a generous race, warring only against those who made war on them, and showing grace to all who submitted! 33 — Atahuallpa may have thought the massacre of that day an indifferent commentary on this vaunted lenity.
33 “Nosotros vsamos de piedad con nuestros Enemigos vencidos, i no hacemos Guerra, sino a los que nos la hacen, i pudiendolos destruir no lo hacemos, antes los perdona mos.” Ibid., tom. III. p. 199.]
Before retiring for the night, Pizarro briefly addressed his troops on their present situation. When he had ascertained that not a man was wounded, he bade them offer up thanksgivings to Providence for so great a miracle; without its care, they could never have prevailed so easily over the host of their enemies; and he trusted their lives had been reserved for still greater things. But if they would succeed, they had much to do for themselves. They were in the heart of a powerful kingdom, encompassed by foes deeply attached to their own sovereign. They must be ever on their guard, therefore, and be prepared at any hour to be roused from their slumbers by the call of the trumpet. 34 — Having then posted his sentinels, placed a strong guard over the apartment of Atahuallpa, and taken all the precautions of a careful commander, Pizarro withdrew to repose; and, if he could really feel, that, in the bloody scenes of the past day, he had been fighting only the good fight of the Cross, he doubtless slept sounder than on the night preceding the seizure of the Inca.
34 Ibid., ubi supra. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. i. Conq., Ms.]
On the following morning, the first commands of the Spanish chief were to have the city cleansed of its impurities; and the prisoners, of whom there were many in the camp, were employed to remove the dead, and give them decent burial. His next care was to despatch a body of about thirty horse to the quarters lately occupied by Atahuallpa at the baths, to take possession of the spoil, and disperse the remnant of the Peruvian forces which still hung about the place.
Before noon, the party which he had detached on this service returned with a large troop of Indians, men and women, among the latter of whom were many of the wives and attendants of the Inca. The Spaniards had met with no resistance; since the Peruvian warriors, though so superior in number, excellent in appointments, and consisting mostly of able-bodied young men, — for the greater part of the veteran forces were with the Inca’s generals at the south, — lost all heart from the moment of their sovereign’s captivity. There was no leader to take his place; for they recognized no authority but that of the Child of the Sun, and they seemed to be held by a sort of invisible charm near the place of his confinement; while they gazed with superstitious awe on the white men, who could achieve so audacious an enterprise. 35
35 From this time, says Ondegardo, the Spaniards, who hitherto had been designated as the “men with beards,” barbudos, were called by the natives, from their fair-complexioned deity, Viracochas. The people of Cuzco, who bore no goodwill to the captive Inca, “looked upon the strangers,” says the author, “as sent by Viracocha himself.” (Rel. Prim., Ms.) It reminds us of a superstition, or rather an amiable fancy, among the ancient Greeks, that “the stranger came from Jupiter.”]
The number of Indian prisoners was so great, that some of the Conquerors were for putting them all to death, or, at least, cutting off their hands, to disable them from acts of violence, and to strike terror into their countrymen. 36 The proposition, doubtless, came from the lowest and most ferocious of the soldiery. But that it should have been made at all shows what materials entered into the composition of Pizarro’s company. The chief rejected it at once, as no less impolitic than inhuman, and dismissed the Indians to their several homes, with the assurance that none should be harmed who did not offer resistance to the white men. A sufficient number, however, were retained to wait on the Conquerors, who were so well provided, in this respect, that the most common soldier was attended by a retinue of menials that would have better suited the establishment of a noble. 37
36 “Algunos fueron de opinion, que matasen a todos los Hombres de Guerra, o les cortasen las manos.” Xerez, Hist. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 200.]
37 “Cada Espanol de los que alli ivan tomaron para si mui gran cantidad tanto que como andava todo a rienda suelta havia Espanol que tenia docientas piezas de Indios Indias de servicio.” Conq. i. Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
The Spaniards had found immense droves of llamas under the care of their shepherds in the neighbourhood of the baths, destined for the consumption of the Court. Many of them were now suffered to roam abroad among their native mountains; though Pizarro caused a considerable number to be reserved for the use of the army. And this was no small quantity, if, as one of the Conquerors says, a hundred and fifty of the Peruvian sheep were frequently slaughtered in a day. 38 Indeed, the Spaniards were so improvident in their destruction of these animals, that, in a few years, the superb flocks, nurtured with so much care by the Peruvian government, had almost disappeared from the land. 39
38 “Se matan cada Dia, ciento i cinquenta.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 202.]
39 Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 80. — Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.
“Hasta que los destruian todos sin haver Espanol ni Justicia que lo defendiese ni amparase.” Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
The party sent to pillage the Inca’s pleasure house brought back a rich booty in gold and silver, consisting chiefly of plate for the royal table, which greatly astonished the Spaniards by their size and weight. These, as well as some large emeralds obtained there, together with the precious spoils found on the bodies of the Indian nobles who had perished in the massacre, were placed in safe custody, to be hereafter divided. In the city of Caxamalca, the troops also found magazines stored with goods, both cotton and woollen, far superior to any they had seen, for fineness of texture, and the skill with which the various colors were blended. They were piled from the floors to the very roofs of the buildings, and in such quantity, that, after every soldier had provided himself with what he desired, it made no sensible diminution of the whole amount. 40
40 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 200.
There was enough, says the anonymous Conqueror, for several ship-loads. “Todas estas cosas de tiendas y ropas de lana y algodon eran en tan gran cantidad, que a mi parecer fueran menester muchos navios en que supieran.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
Pizarro would now gladly have directed his march on the Peruvian capital. But the distance was great, and his force was small. This must have been still further crippled by the guard required for the Inca, and the chief feared to involve himself deeper in a hostile empire so populous and powerful, with a prize so precious in his keeping. With much anxiety, therefore, he looked for reinforcements from the colonies; and he despatched a courier to San Miguel, to inform the Spaniards there of his recent successes, and to ascertain if there had been any arrival from Panama. Meanwhile he employed his men in making Caxamalca a more suitable residence for a Christian host, by erecting a church, or, perhaps, appropriating some Indian edifice to this use, in which mass was regularly performed by the Dominican fathers, with great solemnity. The dilapidated walls of the city were also restored in a more substantial manner than before, and every vestige was soon effaced of the hurricane that had so recently swept over it.
It was not long before Atahuallpa discovered, amidst all the show of religious zeal in his Conquerors, a lurking appetite more potent in most of their bosoms than either religion or ambition. This was the love of gold. He determined to avail himself of it to procure his own freedom. The critical posture of his affairs made it important that this should not be long delayed. His brother Huascar, ever since his defeat, had been detained as a prisoner, subject to the victor’s orders. He was now at Andamarca, at no great distance from Caxamalca; and Atahuallpa feared, with good reason, that, when his own imprisonment was known, Huascar would find it easy to corrupt his guards, make his escape, and put himself at the head of the contested empire, without a rival to dispute it.
In the hope, therefore, to effect his purpose by appealing to the avarice of his keepers, he one day told Pizarro, that, if he would set him free, he would engage to cover the floor of the apartment on which they stood with gold. Those present listened with an incredulous smile; and, as the Inca received no answer, he said, with some emphasis, that “he would not merely cover the floor, but would fill the room with gold as high as he could reach”; and, standing on tiptoe, he stretched out his hand against the wall. All stared with amazement; while they regarded it as the insane boast of a man too eager to procure his liberty to weigh the meaning of his words. Yet Pizarro was sorely perplexed. As he had advanced into the country, much that he had seen, and all that he had heard, had confirmed the dazzling reports first received of the riches of Peru. Atahuallpa himself had given him the most glowing picture of the wealth of the capital, where the roofs of the temples were plated with gold, while the walls were hung with tapestry and the floors inlaid with tiles of the same precious metal. There must be some foundation for all this. At all events, it was safe to accede to the Inca’s proposition; since, by so doing, he could collect, at once, all the gold at his disposal, and thus prevent its being purloined or secreted by the natives. He therefore acquiesced in Atahuallpa’s offer, and, drawing a red line along the wall at the height which the Inca had indicated, he caused the terms of the proposal to be duly recorded by the notary. The apartment was about seventeen feet broad, by twenty-two feet long, and the line round the walls was nine feet from the floor. 41 This space was to be filled with gold; but it was understood that the gold was not to be melted down into ingots, but to retain the original form of the articles into which it was manufactured, that the Inca might have the benefit of the space which they occupied. He further agreed to fill an adjoining room of smaller dimensions twice full with silver, in like manner; and he demanded two months to accomplish all this. 42
41 I have adopted the dimensions given by the secretary Xerez, (Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 202.) According to Hernando Pizarro, the apartment was nine feet high, but thirty-five feet long by seventeen or eighteen feet wide. (Carta, Ms.) The most moderate estimate is large enough. Stevenson says that they still show “a large room, part of the old palace, and now the residence of the Cacique Astopilca, where the ill-fated Inca was kept a prisoner”; and he adds that the line traced on the wall is still visible. (Residence in South America, vol. II. p. 163.) Peru abounds in remains as ancient as the Conquest; and it would not be surprising that the memory of a place so remarkable as this should be preserved, — though any thing but a memorial to be cherished by the Spaniards.]
42 The facts in the preceding paragraph are told with remarkable uniformity by the ancient chroniclers. (Conf. Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, ubi supra. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 6. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 114. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 2, cap. 1.)
Both Naharro and Herrera state expressly that Pizarro promised the Inca his liberation on fulfilling the compact. This is not confirmed by the other chroniclers, who, however, do not intimate that the Spanish general declined the terms. And as Pizarro, by all accounts, encouraged his prisoner to perform his part of the contract, it must have been with the understanding implied, if not expressed, that he would abide by the other. It is most improbable that the Inca would have stripped himself of his treasures, if he had not so understood it.]
No sooner was this arrangement made, than the Inca despatched couriers to Cuzco and the other principal places in the kingdom, with orders that the gold ornaments and utensils should be removed from the royal palaces, and from the temples and other public buildings, and transported without loss of time to Caxamalca. Meanwhile he continued to live in the Spanish quarters, treated with the respect due to his rank, and enjoying all the freedom that was compatible with the security of his person. Though not permitted to go abroad, his limbs were unshackled, and he had the range of his own apartments under the jealous surveillance of a guard, who knew too well the value of the royal captive to be remiss. He was allowed the society of his favorite wives, and Pizarro took care that his domestic privacy should not be violated. His subjects had free access to their sovereign, and every day he received visits from the Indian nobles, who came to bring presents, and offer condolence to their unfortunate master. On such occasions, the most potent of these great vassals never ventured into his presence, without first stripping off their sandals, and bearing a load on their backs in token of reverence. The Spaniards gazed with curious eyes on these acts of homage, or rather of slavish submission, on the one side, and on the air of perfect indifference with which they were received, as a matter of course, on the other; and they conceived high ideas of the character of a prince who, even in his present helpless condition, could inspire such feelings of awe in his subjects. The royal levee was so well attended, and such devotion was shown by his vassals to the captive monarch, as did not fail, in the end, to excite some feelings of distrust in his keepers. 43
43 Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru lib. 2, cap. 6.]
Pizarro did not neglect the opportunity afforded him of communicating the truths of revelation to his prisoner, and both he and his chaplain, Father Valverde, labored in the same good work. Atahuallpa listened with composure and apparent attention. But nothing seemed to move him so much as the argument with which the military polemic closed his discourse, — that it could not be the true God whom Atahuallpa worshipped, since he had suffered him to fall into the hands of his enemies. The unhappy monarch assented to the force of this, acknowledging that his Deity had indeed deserted him in his utmost need. 44
44 “I mas dijo Atabalipa, que estaba espantado de lo que el Governador le havia dicho: que bien conocia que aquel que hablaba en su Idolo, no es Dios verdadero pues tan poco le aiudo.” Xerez Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 203.]
Yet his conduct towards his brother Huascar, at this time, too clearly proves, that, whatever respect he may have shown for the teachers, the doctrines of Christianity had made little impression on his heart. No sooner had Huascar been informed of the capture of his rival, and of the large ransom he had offered for his deliverance, than, as the latter had foreseen, he made every effort to regain his liberty, and sent, or attempted to send, a message to the Spanish commander, that he would pay a much larger ransom than that promised by Atahuallpa, who, never having dwelt in Cuzco, was ignorant of the quantity of treasure there, and where it was deposited.
Intelligence of all this was secretly communicated to Atahuallpa by the persons who had his brother in charge; and his jealousy, thus roused, was further heightened by Pizarro’s declaration, that he intended to have Huascar brought to Caxamalca, where he would himself examine into the controversy, and determine which of the two had best title to the sceptre of the Incas. Pizarro perceived, from the first, the advantages of a competition which would enable him, by throwing his sword into the scale he preferred, to give it a preponderance. The party who held the sceptre by his nomination would henceforth be a tool in his hands, with which to work his pleasure more effectually than he could well do in his own name. It was the game, as every reader knows, played by Edward the First in the affairs of Scotland, and by many a monarch, both before and since, — and though their examples may not have been familiar to the unlettered soldier, Pizarro was too quick in his perceptions to require, in this matter, at least, the teachings of history.
Atahuallpa was much alarmed by the Spanish commander’s determination to have the suit between the rival candidates brought before him; for he feared, that, independently of the merits of the case, the decision would be likely to go in favor of Huascar, whose mild and ductile temper would make him a convenient instrument in the hands of his conquerors. Without further hesitation, he determined to remove this cause of jealousy for ever, by the death of his brother.
His orders were immediately executed, and the unhappy prince was drowned, as was commonly reported, in the river of Andamarca, declaring with his dying breath that the white men would avenge his murder, and that his rival would not long survive him. 45 — Thus perished the unfortunate Huascar, the legitimate heir of the throne of the Incas, in the very morning of life, and the commencement of his reign; a reign, however, which had been long enough to call forth the display of many excellent and amiable qualities, though his nature was too gentle to cope with the bold and fiercer temper of his brother. Such is the portrait we have of him from the Indian and Castilian chroniclers, though the former, it should be added, were the kinsmen of Huascar, and the latter certainly bore no goodwill to Atahuallpa. 46
45 Both the place and the manner of Huascar’s death are reported with much discrepancy by the historians. All agree in the one important fact, that he died a violent death at the instigation of his brother. Conf. Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 2. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 204. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 6. — Instruc. del Inga Titucussi, Ms.]
46 Both Garcillaso de la Vega and Titucussi Yupanqui were descendants from Huayna Capac, of the pure Peruvian stock, the natural enemies, therefore, of their kinsman of Quito, whom they regarded as a usurper. Circumstances brought the Castilians into direct collision with Atahuallpa, and it was natural they should seek to darken his reputation by contrast with the fair character of his rival.]
That prince received the tidings of Huascar’s death with every mark of surprise and indignation. He immediately sent for Pizarro, and communicated the event to him with expressions of the deepest sorrow. The Spanish commander refused, at first, to credit the unwelcome news, and bluntly told the Inca, that his brother could not be dead, and that he should be answerable for his life. 47 To this Atahuallpa replied by renewed assurances of the fact, adding that the deed had been perpetrated, without his privity, by Huascar’s keepers, fearful that he might take advantage of the troubles of the country to make his escape. Pizarro, on making further inquiries, found that the report of his death was but too true. That it should have been brought about by Atahuallpa’s officers, without his express command, would only show, that, by so doing, they had probably anticipated their master’s wishes. The crime, which assumes in our eyes a deeper dye from the relation of the parties, had not the same estimation among the Incas, in whose multitudinous families the bonds of brotherhood must have sat loosely, — much too loosely to restrain the arm of the despot from sweeping away any obstacle that lay in his path.
47 “Sabido esto por el Gobernador, mostro, que el pesaba mucho: i dijo que era mentira, que no le havian muerto, que lo trujesen luego vivo: i sino, que el mandaria matar a Atabalipa.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 204.]
Several weeks had now passed since Atahuallpa’s emissaries had been despatched for the gold and silver that were to furnish his ransom to the Spaniards. But the distances were great, and the returns came in slowly. They consisted, for the most part, of massive pieces of plate, some of which weighed two or three arrobas, — a Spanish weight of twenty-five pounds. On some days, articles of the value of thirty or forty thousand pesos de oro were brought in, and, occasionally, of the value of fifty or even sixty thousand pesos. The greedy eyes of the Conquerors gloated on the shining heaps of treasure, which were transported on the shoulders of the Indian porters, and, after being carefully registered, were placed in safe deposit under a strong guard. They now began to believe that the magnificent promises of the Inca would be fulfilled. But, as their avarice was sharpened by the ravishing display of wealth, such as they had hardly dared to imagine, they became more craving and impatient. They made no allowance for the distance and the difficulties of the way, and loudly inveighed against the tardiness with which the royal commands were executed. They even suspected Atahuallpa of devising this scheme only to gain a pretext for communicating with his subjects in distant places, and of proceeding as dilatorily as possible, in order to secure time for the execution of his plans. Rumors of a rising among the Peruvians were circulated, and the Spaniards were in apprehension of some general and sudden assault on their quarters. Their new acquisitions gave them additional cause for solicitude; like a miser, they trembled in the midst of their treasures. 1
1 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, sap. 6. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 204.]
Pizarro reported to his captive the rumors that were in circulation among the soldiers, naming, as one of the places pointed out for the rendezvous of the Indians, the neighbouring city of Guamachucho. Atahuallpa listened with undisguised astonishment, and indignantly repelled the charge, as false from beginning to end. “No one of my subjects,” said he, “would dare to appear in arms, or to raise his finger, without my orders. You have me,” he continued, “in your power. Is not my life at your disposal? And what better security can you have for my fidelity?” He then represented to the Spanish commander, that the distances of many of the places were very great; that to Cuzco, the capital, although a message might be sent by post, through a succession of couriers, in five days from Caxamalca, it would require weeks for a porter to travel over the same ground, with a heavy load on his back. “But that you may be satisfied I am proceeding in good faith,” he added, “I desire you will send some of your own people to Cuzco. I will give them a safe-conduct, and, when there, they can superintend the execution of the commission, and see with their own eyes that no hostile movements are intended.” It was a fair offer, and Pizarro, anxious to get more precise and authentic information of the state of the country, gladly availed himself of it. 2
2 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. pp. 203, 204. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
Before the departure of these emissaries, the general had despatched his brother Hernando with about twenty horse and a small body of infantry to the neighbouring town of Guamachucho, in order to reconnoitre the country, and ascertain if there was any truth in the report of an armed force having assembled there. Hernando found every thing quiet, and met with a kind reception from the natives. But before leaving the place, he received further orders from his brother to continue his march to Pachacamac, a town situated on the coast, at least a hundred leagues distant from Caxamalca. It was consecrated as the seat of the great temple of the deity of that name, whom the Peruvians worshipped as the Creator of the world. It is said that they found there altars raised to this god, on their first occupation of the country; and, such was the veneration in which he was held by the natives, that the Incas, instead of attempting to abolish his worship, deemed it more prudent to sanction it conjointly with that of their own deity, the Sun. Side by side, the two temples rose on the heights that overlooked the city of Pachacamac, and prospered in the offerings of their respective votaries. “It was a cunning arrangement,” says an ancient writer, “by which the great enemy of man secured to himself a double harvest of souls.” 3
3 “El demonio Pachacama alegre con este concierto, afirman que mostraua en sus respuestas gran contento: pues con lo vno y lo otro era el seruido, y quedauan las animas de los simples malauenturados presas en su poder.” Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 72.]
But the temple of Pachacamac continued to maintain its ascendency; and the oracles delivered from its dark and mysterious shrine, were held in no less repute among the natives of Tavantinsuyu, (or “the four quarters of the world,” as Peru under the Incas was called,) than the oracles of Delphi obtained among the Greeks. Pilgrimages were made to the hallowed spot from the most distant regions, and the city of Pachacamac became among the Peruvians what Mecca was among the Mahometans, or Cholula with the people of Anahuac. The shrine of the deity, enriched by the tributes of the pilgrims, gradually became one of the most opulent in the land, and Atahuallpa, anxious to collect his ransom as speedily as possible, urged Pizarro to send a detachment in that direction, to secure the treasures before they could be secreted by the priests of the temple.
It was a journey of considerable difficulty. Two thirds of the route lay along the table-land of the Cordilleras, intersected occasionally by crests of the mountain range, that imposed no slight impediment to their progress. Fortunately, much of the way, they had the benefit of the great road to Cuzco, and “nothing in Christendom,” exclaims Hernando Pizarro, “equals the magnificence of this road across the sierra.” 4 In some places, the rocky ridges were so precipitous, that steps were cut in them for the travellers; and though the sides were protected by heavy stone balustrades or parapets, it was with the greatest difficulty that the horses were enabled to scale them. The road was frequently crossed by streams, over which bridges of wood and sometimes of stone were thrown; though occasionally, along the declivities of the mountains, the waters swept down in such furious torrents, that the only method of passing them was by the swinging bridges of osier, of which, till now, the Spaniards had had little experience. They were secured on either bank to heavy buttresses of stone. But as they were originally designed for nothing heavier than the foot-passenger and the llama, and, as they had something exceedingly fragile in their appearance, the Spaniards hesitated to venture on them with their horses. Experience, however, soon showed they were capable of bearing a much greater weight; and though the traveller, made giddy by the vibration of the long avenue, looked with a reeling brain into the torrent that was tumbling at the depth of a hundred feet or more below him, the whole of the cavalry effected their passage without an accident. At these bridges, it may be remarked, they found persons stationed whose business it was to collect toll for the government from all travellers. 5
4 “El camino de las sierras es cosa de ver, porque en verdad en tierra tan fragosa en la cristiandad no se han visto tan hermosos caminos, toda la mayor parte de calzada.” Carta, Ms.]
5 “Todos los arroyos tienen puentes de piedra o de madera: en un rio grande, que era muy caudaloso e muy grande, que pasamos dos veces, hallamos puentes de red, que es cosa maravillosa de ver; pasamos por ellas los caballos; tienen en cada pasaje dos puentes, la una por donde pasa la gente comun, la otra por donde pasa el senor de la tierra o sus capitanes: esta tienen siempre cerrada e indios que la guardan; estos indios cobran portazgo de los que pasan.” Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms. — Also Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
The Spaniards were amazed by the number as well as magnitude of the flocks of llamas which they saw browsing on the stunted herbage that grows in the elevated regions of the Andes. Some times they were gathered in inclosures, but more usually were roaming at large under the conduct of their Indian shepherds; and the Conquerors now learned, for the first time, that these animals were tended with as much care, and their migrations as nicely regulated, as those of the vast flocks of merinos in their own country. 6
6 A comical blunder has been made by the printer, in M. Ter naux-Compans’s excellent translation of Xerez, in the account of this expedition. “On trouve sur toute la route beaucoup de porcs, de lamas.” (Relation de la Conquete du Perou, p. 157.) The substitution of porcs for parcs might well lead the reader into the error of supposing that swine existed in Peru before the Conquest.]
The table-land and its declivities were thickly sprinkled with hamlets and towns, some of them of considerable size; and the country in every direction bore the marks of a thrifty husbandry. Fields of Indian corn were to be seen in all its different stages, from the green and tender ear to the yellow ripeness of harvest time. As they descended into the valleys and deep ravines that divided the crests of the Cordilleras, they were surrounded by the vegetation of a warmer climate, which delighted the eye with the gay livery of a thousand bright colors, and intoxicated the senses with its perfumes. Everywhere the natural capacities of the soil were stimulated by a minute system of irrigation, which drew the fertilizing moisture from every stream and rivulet that rolled down the declivities of the Andes; while the terraced sides of the mountains were clothed with gardens and orchards that teemed with fruits of various latitudes. The Spaniards could not sufficiently admire the industry with which the natives had availed themselves of the bounty of Nature, or had supplied the deficiency where she had dealt with a more parsimonious hand.
Whether from the commands of the Inca, or from the awe which their achievements had spread throughout the land, the Conquerors were received, in every place through which they passed, with hospitable kindness. Lodgings were provided for them, with ample refreshments from the well-stored magazines, distributed at intervals along the route. In many of the towns the inhabitants came out to welcome them with singing and dancing; and, when they resumed their march, a number of able-bodied porters were furnished to carry forward their baggage. 7
7 Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms. — Estete, ap. Barcia, tom. III. pp. 206, 207. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.
Both the last-cited author and Miguel Estete, the royal veedor or inspector, accompanied Hernando Pizarro on this expedition, and, of course, were eyewitnesses, like himself, of what they relate. Estete’s narrative is incorporated by the secretary Xerez in his own.]
At length, after some weeks of travel, severe even with all these appliances, Hernando Pizarro arrived before the city of Pachacamac. It was a place of considerable population, and the edifices were, many of them, substantially built. The temple of the tutelar deity consisted of a vast stone building, or rather pile of buildings, which, clustering around a conical hill, had the air of a fortress rather than a religious establishment. But, though the walls were of stone, the roof was composed of a light thatch, as usual in countries where rain seldom or never falls, and where defence, consequently, is wanted chiefly against the rays of the sun.
Presenting himself at the lower entrance of the temple, Hernando Pizarro was refused admittance by the guardians of the portal. But, exclaiming that “he had come too far to be stayed by the arm of an Indian priest,” he forced his way into the passage, and, followed by his men, wound up the gallery which led to an area on the summit of the mount, at one end of which stood a sort of chapel. This was the sanctuary of the dread deity. The door was garnished with ornaments of crystal, and with turquoises and bits of coral. 8 Here again the Indians would have dissuaded Pizarro from violating the consecrated precincts, when, at that moment, the shock of an earthquake, that made the ancient walls tremble to their foundation, so alarmed the natives, both those of Pizarro’s own company and the people of the place, that they fled in dismay, nothing doubting that their incensed deity would bury the invaders under the ruins, or consume them with his lightnings. But no such terror found its way into the breast of the Conquerors, who felt that here, at least, they were fighting the good fight of the Faith.
8 “Esta puerta era muy tejida de diversas cosas de corales y turquesas y cristales y otras cosas.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms]
Tearing open the door, Pizarro and his party entered. But instead of a hall blazing, as they had fondly imagined, with gold and precious stones, offerings of the worshippers of Pachacamac, they found themselves in a small and obscure apartment, or rather den, from the floor and sides of which steamed up the most offensive odors, — like those of a slaughter-house. It was the place of sacrifice. A few pieces of gold and some emeralds were discovered on the ground, and, as their eyes became accommodated to the darkness, they discerned in the most retired corner of the room the figure of the deity. It was an uncouth monster, made of wood, with the head resembling that of a man. This was the god, through whose lips Satan had breathed forth the far-famed oracles which had deluded his Indian votaries! 9
9 “Aquel era Pachacama, el cual les sanaba de sus enfermedades, y a lo que alli se entendio, el Demonio aparecia en aquella cueba a aquellos sacerdotes y hablaba con ellos, y estos entraban con las peticiones y ofrendas de los que venian en romeria, que es cierto que del todo el Senorio de Atabalica iban alli, como los Moros y Turcos van a la casa de Meca.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Also Estete, ap. Barcia, tom III. p. 209.]
Tearing the idol from its recess, the indignant Spaniards dragged it into the open air, and there broke it into a hundred fragments. The place was then purified, and a large cross, made of stone and plaster, was erected on the spot. In a few years the walls of the temple were pulled down by the Spanish settlers, who found there a convenient quarry for their own edifices. But the cross still remained spreading its broad arms over the ruins. It stood where it was planted in the very heart of the stronghold of Heathendom; and, while all was in ruins around it, it proclaimed the permanent triumphs of the Faith.
The simple natives, finding that Heaven had no bolts in store for the Conquerors, and that their god had no power to prevent the profanation of his shrine, came in gradually and tendered their homage to the strangers, whom they now regarded with feelings of superstitious awe. Pizarro profited by this temper to wean them, if possible, from their idolatry; and though no preacher himself, as he tells us, he delivered a discourse as edifying, doubtless, as could be expected from the mouth of a soldier; 10 and, in conclusion, he taught them the sign of the cross, as an inestimable talisman to secure them against the future machinations of the Devil. 11
10 “E a falta de predicador les nice mi sermon, diciendo el engano en que vivian.” Carta de Hern. Pizarro, Ms.]
11 Ibid., Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Estete, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 209.]
But the Spanish commander was not so absorbed in his spiritual labors as not to have an eye to those temporal concerns for which he came into this quarter. He now found, to his chagrin, that he had come somewhat too late; and that the priests of Pachacamac, being advised of his mission, had secured much the greater part of the gold, and decamped with it before his arrival. A quantity was afterwards discovered buried in the grounds adjoining. 12 Still the amount obtained was considerable, falling little short of eighty thousand castellanos, a sum which once would have been deemed a compensation for greater fatigues than they had encountered. But the Spaniards had become familiar with gold; and their imaginations, kindled by the romantic adventures in which they had of late been engaged, indulged in visions which all the gold of Peru would scarcely have realized.
12 “Y andando los tiepos el capitan Rodrigo Orgonez, y Francisco de Godoy, y otros sacaron gra summa de oro y plata de los enterramientos. Y aun se presume y tiene por cierto, que ay mucho mas: pero como no se sabe donde esta enterrado, se pierde.” Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 72.]
One prize, however, Hernando obtained by his expedition, which went far to console him for the loss of his treasure. While at Pachacamac, he learned that the Indian commander Challcuchima lay with a large force in the neighbourhood of Xauxa, a town of some strength at a considerable distance among the mountains. This man, who was nearly related to Atahuallpa, was his most experienced general, and together with Quizquiz, now at Cuzco, had achieved those victories at the south which placed the Inca on the throne. From his birth, his talents, and his large experience, he was accounted second to no subject in the kingdom. Pizarro was aware of the importance of securing his person. Finding that the Indian noble declined to meet him on his return, he determined to march at once on Xauxa and take the chief in his own quarters. Such a scheme, considering the enormous disparity of numbers, might seem desperate even for Spaniards. But success had given them such confidence, that they hardly condescended to calculate chances.
The road across the mountains presented greater difficulties than those on the former march. To add to the troubles of the cavalry, the shoes of their horses were worn out, and their hoofs suffered severely on the rough and stony ground. There was no iron at hand, nothing but gold and silver. In the present emergency they turned even these to account; and Pizarro caused the horses of the whole troop to be shod with silver. The work was done by the Indian smiths, and it answered so well, that in this precious material they found a substitute for iron during the remainder of the march. 13
13 “Hicieron hacer herrage de herraduras e clavos para sus Caballos de Plata, los cuales hicieron los cien Indios fundidores muy buenos e cuantos quisieron de ellos, con el cual herrage andubieron dos meses.” (Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 16.) The author of the Relacion del Primero Descubrimento, Ms., says they shod the horses with silver and copper. And another of the Peruvian Conquerors assures us they used gold and silver. (Relatione d’un Capitano Spagnuolo, ap Ramusio, Navigationi et Viaggi, Venetia, 1565, tom. III. fol. 376.) All agree in the silver.]
Xauxa was a large and populous place; though we shall hardly credit the assertion of the Conquerors, that a hundred thousand persons assembled habitually in the great square of the city. 14 The Peruvian commander was encamped, it was said, with an army of five-and-thirty thousand men at only a few miles’ distance from the town With some difficulty he was persuaded to an interview with Pizarro. The latter addressed him courteously, and urged his return with him to the Castilian quarters in Caxamalca, representing it as the command of the Inca. Ever since the capture of his master, Challcuchima had remained uncertain what course to take. The capture of the Inca in this sudden and mysterious manner by a race of beings who seemed to have dropped from the clouds, and that too in the very hour of his triumph, had entirely bewildered the Peruvian chief. He had concerted no plan for the rescue of Atahuallpa, nor, indeed, did he know whether any such movement would be acceptable to him. He now acquiesced in his commands, and was willing, at all events, to have a personal interview with his sovereign. Pizarro gained his end without being obliged to strike a single blow to effect it. The barbarian, when brought into contact with the white man, would seem to have been rebuked by his superior genius, in the same manner as the wild animal of the forest is said to quail before the steady glance of the hunter.
14 “Era mucha la Gente de aquel Pueblo, i de sus Comarcas, que al parecer de los Espanoles, se juntaban cada Dia en la Placa Principal cien mil Personas.” Estete, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 230.]
Challcuchima came attended by a numerous retinue. He was borne in his sedan on the shoulders of his vassals; and, as he accompanied the Spaniards on their return through the country, received everywhere from the inhabitants the homage paid only to the favorite of a monarch. Yet all this pomp vanished on his entering the presence of the Inca, whom he approached with his feet bare, while a light burden, which he had taken from one of the attendants, was laid on his back. As he drew near, the old warrior, raising his hands to heaven, exclaimed, — “Would that I had been here! — this would not then have happened”; then, kneeling down, he kissed the hands and feet of his royal master, and bathed them with his tears. Atahuallpa, on his part, betrayed not the least emotion, and showed no other sign of satisfaction at the presence of his favorite counsellor, than by simply bidding him welcome. The cold demeanour of the monarch contrasted strangely with the loyal sensibility of the subject. 15
15 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
“The like of it,” exclaims Estete. “was never before seen since the Indies were discovered.” Ibid., p. 231.]
The rank of the Inca placed him at an immeasurable distance above the proudest of his vassals; and the Spaniards had repeated occasion to admire the ascendency which, even in his present fallen fortunes, he maintained over his people, and the awe with which they approached him. Pedro Pizarro records an interview, at which he was present, between Atahuallpa and one of his great nobles, who had obtained leave to visit some remote part of the country on condition of returning by a certain day. He was detained somewhat beyond the appointed time, and, on entering the presence with a small propitiatory gift for his sovereign, his knees shook so violently, that it seemed, says the chronicler, as if he would have fallen to the ground. His master, however, received him kindly, and dismissed him without a word of rebuke. 16
16 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. Conq., Ms.]
Atahuallpa in his confinement continued to receive the same respectful treatment from the Spaniards as hitherto. They taught him to play with dice, and the more intricate game of chess, in which the royal captive became expert, and loved to be guile with it the tedious hours of his imprisonment. Towards his own people he maintained as far as possible his wonted state and ceremonial. He was attended by his wives and the girls of his harem, who, as was customary, waited on him at table and discharged the other menial offices about his person. A body of Indian nobles were stationed in the antechamber, but never entered the presence unbidden; and when they did enter it, they submitted to the same humiliating ceremonies imposed on the greatest of his subjects. The service of his table was gold and silver plate. His dress, which he often changed, was composed of the wool of the vicuna wrought into mantles, so fine that it had the appearance of silk. He sometimes exchanged these for a robe made of the skins of bats, as soft and sleek as velvet. Round his head he wore the llautu, a woollen turban or shawl of the most delicate texture, wreathed in folds of various bright colors; and he still continued to encircle his temples with the borla, the crimson threads of which, mingled with gold, descended so as partly to conceal his eyes The image of royalty had charms for him, when its substance had departed. No garment or utensil that had once belonged to the Peruvian sovereign could ever be used by another. When he laid it aside, it was carefully deposited in a chest, kept for the purpose, and afterwards burned. It would have been sacrilege to apply to vulgar uses that which had been consecrated by the touch of the Inca. 17
17 This account of the personal habits of Atahuallpa is taken from Pedro Pizarro, who saw him often in his confinement. As his curious narrative is little known, I have extracted the original in Appendix, No. 9.]
Not long after the arrival of the party from Pachacamac, in the latter part of May, the three emissaries returned from Cuzco. They had been very successful in their mission. Owing to the Inca’s order, and the awe which the white men now inspired throughout the country, the Spaniards had everywhere met with a kind reception. They had been carried on the shoulders of the natives in the hamacas, or sedans, of the country; and, as they had travelled all the way to the capital on the great imperial road, along which relays of Indian carriers were established at stated intervals, they performed this journey of more than six hundred miles, not only without inconvenience, but with the most luxurious ease. They passed through many populous towns, and always found the simple natives disposed to venerate them as beings of a superior nature. In Cuzco they were received with public festivities, were sumptuously lodged, and had every want anticipated by the obsequious devotion of the inhabitants.
Their accounts of the capital confirmed all that Pizarro had before heard of the wealth and population of the city. Though they had remained more than a week in this place, the emissaries had not seen the whole of it. The great temple of the Sun they found literally covered with plates of gold. They had entered the interior and beheld the royal mummies, seated each in his gold-embossed chair, and in robes profusely covered with ornaments. The Spaniards had the grace to respect these, as they had been previously enjoined by the Inca; but they required that the plates which garnished the walls should be all removed. The Peruvians most reluctantly acquiesced in the commands of their sovereign to desecrate the national temple, which every inhabitant of the city regarded with peculiar pride and veneration. With less reluctance they assisted the Conquerors in stripping the ornaments from some of the other edifices, where the gold, however, being mixed with a large proportion of alloy, was of much less value. 18
18 Rel. d’un Capitano Spagn., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 375. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 2, cap. 12, 13.]
The number of plates they tore from the temple of the Sun was seven hundred; and though of no great thickness, probably, they are compared in size to the lid of a chest, ten or twelve inches wide. 19 A cornice of pure gold encircled the edifice, but so strongly set in the stone, that it fortunately defied the efforts of the spoilers. The Spaniards complained of the want of alacrity shown by the Indians in the work of destruction, and said that there were other parts of the city containing buildings rich in gold and silver which they had not been allowed to see. In truth, their mission, which, at best, was a most ungrateful one, had been rendered doubly annoying by the manner in which they had executed it. The emissaries were men of a very low stamp, and, puffed up by the honors conceded to them by the natives, they looked on themselves as entitled to these, and contemned the poor Indians as a race immeasurably beneath the European. They not only showed the most disgusting rapacity, but treated the highest nobles with wanton insolence. They even went so far, it is said, as to violate the privacy of the convents, and to outrage the religious sentiments of the Peruvians by their scandalous amours with the Virgins of the Sun. The people of Cuzco were so exasperated, that they would have laid violent hands on them, but for their habitual reverence for the Inca, in whose name the Spaniards had come there. As it was, the Indians collected as much gold as was necessary to satisfy their unworthy visitors, and got rid of them as speedily as possible. 20 It was a great mistake in Pizarro to send such men. There were persons, even in his company, who, as other occasions showed, had some sense of self-respect, if not respect for the natives.
19 “I de las Chapas de oro, que esta Casa tenia, quitaron setecientas Planchas . . . . . a manera de Tablas de Caxas de a tres, i a quatro palmos de largo.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 232.]
20 Herrera, Hist. General, ubi supra.]
The messengers brought with them, besides silver, full two hundred cargas or loads of gold. 21 This was an important accession to the contributions of Atahuallpa; and, although the treasure was still considerably below the mark prescribed, the monarch saw with satisfaction the time drawing nearer for the completion of his ransom.
21 So says Pizarro’s secretary. “I vinieron docientas cargas de Oro, i veinte i cinco de Plata.” (Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, ubi supra.) A load, he says, was brought by four Indians “Cargas de Paligueres, que las traen quatro Indios.” The meaning of paligueres — not a Spanish word — is doubtful. Ternaux–Compans supposes, ingeniously enough, that it may have something of the same meaning with palanquin, to which it bears some resemblance]
Not long before this, an event had occurred which changed the condition of the Spaniards, and had an unfavorable influence on the fortunes of the Inca. This was the arrival of Almagro at Caxamalca, with a strong reinforcement. That chief had succeeded, after great efforts, in equipping three vessels, and assembling a body of one hundred and fifty men, with which he sailed from Panama, the latter part of the preceding year. On his voyage, he was joined by a small additional force from Nicaragua, so that his whole strength amounted to one hundred and fifty foot and fifty horse, well provided with the munitions of war. His vessels were steered by the old pilot Ruiz; but after making the Bay of St. Matthew, he crept slowly along the coast, baffled as usual by winds and currents, and experiencing all the hardships incident to that protracted navigation. From some cause or other, he was not so fortunate as to obtain tidings of Pizarro; and so disheartened were his followers, most of whom were raw adventurers, that, when arrived at Puerto Viejo, they proposed to abandon the expedition, and return at once to Panama. Fortunately, one of the little squadron which Almagro had sent forward to Tumbez brought intelligence of Pizarro and of the colony he had planted at San Miguel. Cheered by the tidings, the cavalier resumed his voyage, and succeeded, at length, towards the close of December, 1532, in bringing his whole party safe to the Spanish settlement.
He there received the account of Pizarro’s march across the mountains, his seizure of the Inca, and, soon afterwards, of the enormous ransom offered for his liberation. Almagro and his companions listened with undisguised amazement to this account of his associate, and of a change in his fortunes so rapid and wonderful that it seemed little less than magic. At the same time, he received a caution from some of the colonists not to trust himself in the power of Pizarro, who was known to bear him no goodwill.
Not long after Almagro’s arrival at San Miguel, advices were sent of it to Caxamalca, and a private note from his secretary Perez informed Pizarro that his associate had come with no purpose of cooperating with him, but with the intention to establish an independent government. Both of the Spanish captains seem to have been surrounded by mean and turbulent spirits, who sought to embroil them with each other, trusting, doubtless, to find their own account in the rupture. For once, however, their malicious machinations failed.
Pizarro was overjoyed at the arrival of so considerable a reinforcement, which would enable him to push his fortunes as he had desired, and go forward with the conquest of the country. He laid little stress on the secretary’s communication, since, whatever might have been Almagro’s original purpose, Pizarro knew that the richness of the vein he had now opened in the land would be certain to secure his cooperation in working it. He had the magnanimity, therefore, — for there is something magnanimous in being able to stifle the suggestions of a petty rivalry in obedience to sound policy, — to send at once to his ancient comrade, and invite him, with many assurances of friendship, to Caxamalca. Almagro, who was of a frank and careless nature, received the communication in the spirit in which it was made, and, after some necessary delay, directed his march into the interior. But before leaving San Miguel, having become acquainted with the treacherous conduct of his secretary, he recompensed his treason by hanging him on the spot. 22
22 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. pp. 204, 205. — Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms — Relacion del Primer. Descub. Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 1.]
Almagro reached Caxamalca about the middle of February, 1533. The soldiers of Pizarro came out to welcome their countrymen, and the two captains embraced each other with every mark of cordial satisfaction. All past differences were buried in oblivion, and they seemed only prepared to aid one another in following up the brilliant career now opened to them in the conquest of an empire.
There was one person in Caxamalca on whom this arrival of the Spaniards produced a very different impression from that made on their own countrymen. This was the Inca Atahuallpa. He saw in the new-comers only a new swarm of locusts to devour his unhappy country; and he felt, that, with his enemies thus multiplying around him, the chances were diminished of recovering his freedom, or of maintaining it, if recovered. A little circumstance, insignificant in itself, but magnified by superstition into something formidable, occurred at this time to cast an additional gloom over his situation.
A remarkable appearance, somewhat of the nature of a meteor, or it may have been a comet, was seen in the heavens by some soldiers and pointed out to Atahuallpa. He gazed on it with fixed attention for some minutes, and then exclaimed, with a dejected air, that “a similar sign had been seen in the skies a short time before the death of his father Huayna Capac.” 23 From this day a sadness seemed to take possession of him, as he looked with doubt and undefined dread to the future. — Thus it is, that, in seasons of danger, the mind, like the senses, becomes morbidly acute in its perceptions; and the least departure from the regular course of nature, that would have passed unheeded in ordinary times, to the superstitious eye seems pregnant with meaning, as in some way or other connected with the destiny of the individual.
23 Rel. d’un Capitano Spagn., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 377 — Ciez de Leon, Cronica, cap. 65.]
The arrival of Almagro produced a considerable change in Pizarro’s prospects, since it enabled him to resume active operations, and push forward his conquests in the interior. The only obstacle in his way was the Inca’s ransom, and the Spaniards had patiently waited, till the return of the emissaries from Cuzco swelled the treasure to a large amount, though still below the stipulated limit. But now their avarice got the better of their forbearance, and they called loudly for the immediate division of the gold. To wait longer would only be to invite the assault of their enemies, allured by a bait so attractive. While the treasure remained uncounted, no man knew its value, nor what was to be his own portion. It was better to distribute it at once, and let every one possess and defend his own. Several, moreover, were now disposed to return home, and take their share of the gold with them, where they could place it in safety But these were few, while much the larger part were only anxious to leave their present quarters, and march at once to Cuzco. More gold, they thought, awaited them in that capital, than they could get here by prolonging their stay; while every hour was precious, to prevent the inhabitants from secreting their treasures, of which design they had already given indication.
Pizarro was especially moved by the last consideration; and he felt, that, without the capital, he could not hope to become master of the empire. Without further delay, the division of the treasure was agreed upon.
Yet, before making this, it was necessary to reduce the whole to ingots of a uniform standard, for the spoil was composed of an infinite variety of articles, in which the gold was of very different degrees of purity. These articles consisted of goblets, ewers, salvers, vases of every shape and size, ornaments and utensils for the temples and the royal palaces, tiles and plates for the decoration of the public edifices, curious imitations of different plants and animals. Among the plants, the most beautiful was the Indian corn, in which the golden ear was sheathed in its broad leaves of silver, from which hung a rich tassel of threads of the same precious metal. A fountain was also much admired, which sent up a sparkling jet of gold, while birds and animals of the same material played in the waters at its base. The delicacy of the workmanship of some of these, and the beauty and ingenuity of the design, attracted the admiration of better judges than the rude Conquerors of Peru. 1
1 Relatione de Pedro Sancho, ap. Ramusio, Viaggi, tom. III. fol. 399. — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 233. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 7.
Oviedo saw at St. Domingo the articles which Ferdinand Pizarro was bearing to Castile; and he expatiates on several beautifully wrought vases, richly chased, of very fine gold, and measuring twelve inches in height and thirty round. Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 16.]
Before breaking up these specimens of Indian art, it was determined to send a quantity, which should be deducted from the royal fifth, to the Emperor. It would serve as a sample of the ingenuity of the natives, and would show him the value of his conquests. A number of the most beautiful articles was selected, to the amount of a hundred thousand ducats, and Hernando Pizarro was appointed to be the bearer of them to Spain. He was to obtain an audience of Charles, and, at the same time that he laid the treasures before him, he was to give an account of the proceedings of the Conquerors, and to seek a further augmentation of their powers and dignities.
No man in the army was better qualified for this mission, by his address and knowledge of affairs, than Hernando Pizarro; no one would be so likely to urge his suit with effect at the haughty Castilian court. But other reasons influenced the selection of him at the present juncture.
His former jealousy of Almagro still rankled in his bosom, and he had beheld that chief’s arrival at the camp with feelings of disgust, which he did not care to conceal. He looked on him as coming to share the spoils of victory, and defraud his brother of his legitimate honors. Instead of exchanging the cordial greeting proffered by Almagro at their first interview, the arrogant cavalier held back in sullen silence. His brother Francis was greatly displeased at a conduct which threatened to renew their ancient feud, and he induced Hernando to accompany him to Almagro’s quarters, and make some acknowledgment for his uncourteous behaviour. 2 But, notwithstanding this show of reconciliation, the general thought the present a favorable opportunity to remove his brother from the scene of operations, where his factious spirit more than counterbalanced his eminent services. 3
2 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 2, cap. 3.]
3 According to Oviedo it was agreed that Hernando should have a share, much larger than he was entitled to, of the Inca’s ransom, in the hope that he would feel so rich as never to desire to return again to Peru. “Trabajaron de le embiar rico por quitarle de entre ellos, y porque yendo muy rico como fue no tubiese voluntad de tornar a aquellas partes.” Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8 cap. 16.]
The business of melting down the plate was intrusted to the Indian goldsmiths, who were thus required to undo the work of their own hands. They toiled day and night, but such was the quantity to be recast, that it consumed a full month. When the whole was reduced to bars of a uniform standard, they were nicely weighed, under the superintendence of the royal inspectors. The total amount of the gold was found to be one million, three hundred and twenty-six thousand, five hundred and thirty-nine pesos de oro, which, allowing for the greater value of money in the sixteenth century, would be equivalent, probably, at the present time, to near three millions and a half of pounds sterling, or somewhat less than fifteen millions and a half of dollars. 4 The quantity of silver was estimated at fifty-one thousand six hundred and ten marks. History affords no parallel of such a booty — and that, too, in the most convertible form, in ready money, as it were — having fallen to the lot of a little band of military adventurers, like the Conquerors of Peru. The great object of the Spanish expeditions in the New World was gold. It is remarkable that their success should have been so complete. Had they taken the track of the English, the French, or the Dutch, on the shores of the northern continent, how different would have been the result! It is equally worthy of remark, that the wealth thus suddenly acquired, by diverting them from the slow but surer and more permanent sources of national prosperity, has in the end glided from their grasp, and left them among the poorest of the nations of Christendom.
4 Acta de Reparticion del Rescate de Atahuallpa, Ms — Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 232.
In reducing the sums mentioned in this work, I have availed myself — as I before did, in the History of the Conquest of Mexico — of the labors of Senor Clemencin, formerly Secretary of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid. This eminent scholar, in the sixth volume of the Memoirs of the Academy, prepared wholly by himself, has introduced an elaborate essay on the value of the currency in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. Although this period — the close of the fifteenth century — was somewhat earlier than that of the Conquest of Peru, yet his calculations are sufficiently near the truth for our purpose, since the Spanish currency had not as yet been much affected by that disturbing cause, — the influx of the precious metals from the New World.
In inquiries into the currency of a remote age, we may consider, in the first place, the specific value of the coin, — that is, the value which it derives from the weight, purity, &c., of the metal, circumstances easily determined. In the second place, we may inquire into the commercial or comparative worth of the money, — that is, the value founded on a comparison of the differences between the amount of commodities which the same sum would purchase formerly, and at the present time. The last inquiry is attended with great embarrassment, from the difficulty of finding any one article which may be taken as the true standard of value. Wheat, from its general cultivation and use, has usually been selected by political economists as this standard; and Clemencin has adopted it in his calculations. Assuming wheat as the standard, he has endeavoured to ascertain the value of the principal coins in circulation, at the time of the “Catholic Kings.” He makes no mention in his treatise of the peso de oro, by which denomination the sums in the early part of the sixteenth century were more frequently expressed than by any other. But he ascertains both the specific and the commercial value of the castellano, which several of the old writers, as Oviedo, Herrera, and Xerez, concur in stating as precisely equivalent to the peso de oro. From the results of his calculations, it appears that the specific value of the castellano, as stated by him in reals, is equal to three dollars and seven cents of our own currency, while the commercial value is nearly four times as great, or eleven dollars sixty-seven cents, equal to two pounds twelve shillings and sixpence sterling. By adopting this as the approximate value of the peso de oro, in the early part of the sixteenth century, the reader may easily compute for himself the value, at that period, of the sums mentioned in these pages; most of which are expressed in that denomination.
I have been the more particular in this statement, since, in my former work, I confined myself to the commercial value of the money, which, being much greater than the specific value, founded on the quality and weight of the metal, was thought by an ingenious correspondent to give the reader an exaggerated estimate of the sums mentioned in the history. But it seems to me that it is only this comparative or commercial value with which the reader has any concern, indicating what amount of commodities any given sum represents, that he may thus know the real worth of that sum; — thus adopting the principle, though conversely stated, of the old Hudibrastic maxim, —
“What is worth in anything,
But so much money as ‘t will bring.”
A new difficulty now arose in respect to the division of the treasure. Almagro’s followers claimed to be admitted to a share of it; which, as they equalled, and, indeed, somewhat exceeded in number Pizarro’s company, would reduce the gains of these last very materially. “We were not here, it is true,” said Almagro’s soldiers to their comrades, “at the seizure of the Inca, but we have taken our turn in mounting guard over him since his capture, have helped you to defend your treasures, and now give you the means of going forward and securing your conquests. It is a common cause,” they urged, “in which all are equally embarked, and the gains should be shared equally between us.”
But this way of viewing the matter was not at all palatable to Pizarro’s company, who alleged that Atahuallpa’s contract had been made exclusively with them; that they had seized the Inca, had secured the ransom, had incurred, in short, all the risk of the enterprise, and were not now disposed to share the fruits of it with every one who came after them. — There was much force, it could not be denied, in this reasoning, and it was finally settled between the leaders, that Almagro’s followers should resign their pretensions for a stipulated sum of no great amount, and look to the career now opened to them for carving out their fortunes for themselves.
This delicate affair being this harmoniously adjusted, Pizarro prepared, with all solemnity, for a division of the imperial spoil. The troops were called together in the great square, and the Spanish commander, “with the fear of God before his eyes,” says the record, “invoked the assistance of Heaven to do the work before him conscientiously and justly.” 5 The appeal may seem somewhat out of place at the distribution of spoil so unrighteously acquired; yet, in truth, considering the magnitude of the treasure, and the power assumed by Pizarro to distribute it according to the respective deserts of the individuals, there were few acts of his life involving a heavier responsibility. On his present decision might be said to hang the future fortunes of each one of his followers, — poverty or independence during the remainder of his days.
5 “Segun Dios Nuestro Senor a diere a entender teniendo su conciencia y para lo mejor hazer pedia el ayuda de Dios Nuestro Senor, e imboco el auxilio divino.” Acta de Reparticion del Rescate, Ms.]
The royal fifth was first deducted, including the remittance already sent to Spain. The share appropriated by Pizarro amounted to fifty-seven thousand two hundred and twenty-two pesos of gold, and two thousand three hundred and fifty marks of silver. He had besides this the great chair or throne of the Inca, of solid gold, and valued at twenty-five thousand pesos de oro. To his brother Hernando were paid thirty-one thousand and eighty pesos of gold, and two thousand three hundred and fifty marks of silver. De Soto received seventeen thousand seven hundred and forty pesos of gold, and seven hundred and twenty-four marks of silver Most of the remaining cavalry, sixty in number, received each eight thousand eight hundred and eighty pesos of gold, and three hundred and sixty-two marks of silver, though some had more, and a few considerably less. The infantry mustered in all one hundred and five men. Almost one fifth of them were allowed, each, four thousand four hundred and forty pesos of gold, and one hundred and eighty marks of silver, half of the compensation of the troopers. The remainder received one fourth part less; though here again there were exceptions, and some were obliged to content themselves with a much smaller share of the spoil. 6
6 The particulars of the distribution are given in the Acta de Reparticion del Rescate, an instrument drawn up and signed by the royal notary. The document, which as therefore of unquestionable authority, is among the Mss. selected for me from the collection of Munoz.]
The new church of San Francisco, the first Christian temple in Peru, was endowed with two thousand two hundred and twenty pesos of gold. The amount assigned to Almagro’s company was not excessive, if it was not more than twenty thousand pesos; 7 and that reserved for the colonists of San Miguel, which amounted only to fifteen thousand pesos, was unaccountably small. 8 There were among them certain soldiers, who at an early period of the expedition, as the reader may remember abandoned the march, and returned to San Miguel. These, certainly, had little claim to be remembered in the division of booty. But the greater part of the colony consisted of invalids, men whose health had been broken by their previous hardships, but who still, with a stout and willing heart, did good service in their military post on the sea-coast. On what grounds they had forfeited their claims to a more ample remuneration, it is not easy to explain.
7 “Se diese a la gente que vino con el Capital Diego de Almagro para ayuda a pagar sus deudas y fletes y suplir algunas necesidades que traian veinte mil pesos.” (Acta de Reparticion del Rescate, Ms.) Herrera says that 100,000 pesos were paid to Almagro’s men. (Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 2, cap. 3.) But it is not so set down in the instrument.]
8 “En treinta personas que quedaron en la ciudad de san Miguel de Piura dolientes y otros que no vinieron ni se hallaron en la prision de Atagualpa y toma del oro porque algunos son pobres y otros tienen necesidad senalaba 15,000 ps de oro para los repartir S. Senoria entre las dichas personas.” Ibid., Ms.]
Nothing is said, in the partition, of Almagro himself, who, by the terms of the original contract, might claim an equal share of the spoil with his associate. As little notice is taken of Luque, the remaining partner. Luque himself, was, indeed, no longer to be benefited by worldly treasure. He had died a short time before Almagro’s departure from Panama; 9 too soon to learn the full success of the enterprise, which, but for his exertions, must have failed; too soon to become acquainted with the achievements and the crimes of Pizarro. But the Licentiate Espinosa, whom he represented, and who, it appears, had advanced the funds for the expedition, was still living at St. Domingo, and Luque’s pretensions were explicitly transferred to him. Yet it is unsafe to pronounce, at this distance of time, on the authority of mere negative testimony; and it must be admitted to form a strong presumption in favor of Pizarro’s general equity in the distribution, that no complaint of it has reached us from any of the parties present, nor from contemporary chroniclers. 10
9 Montesinos, Annales, Ms. ano 1533.]
10 The “Spanish Captain,” several times cited, who tells us he was one of the men appointed to guard the treasure, does indeed complain that a large quantity of gold vases and other articles remained undivided, a palpable injustice, he thinks, to the honest Conquerors, who had earned all by their hardships. (Rel. d’un Capitano Spagn., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 378, 379.) The writer, throughout his Relation, shows a full measure of the coarse and covetous spirit which marked the adventurers of Peru.]
The division of the ransom being completed by the Spaniards, there seemed to be no further obstacle to their resuming active operations, and commencing the march to Cuzco. But what was to be done with Atahuallpa? In the determination of this question, whatever was expedient was just. 11 To liberate him would be to set at large the very man who might prove their most dangerous enemy; one whose birth and royal station would rally round him the whole nation, place all the machinery of government at his control, and all its resources, — one, in short, whose bare word might concentrate all the energies of his people against the Spaniards, and thus delay for a long period, if not wholly defeat, the conquest of the country. Yet to hold him in captivity was attended with scarcely less difficulty; since to guard so important a prize would require such a division of their force as must greatly cripple its strength, and how could they expect, by any vigilance, to secure their prisoner against rescue in the perilous passes of the mountains?
11 ‘Y esto tenia por justo, pues era provechoso.” It is the sentiment imputed to Pizarro by Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib 3, cap. 4.]
The Inca himself now loudly demanded his freedom. The proposed amount of the ransom had, indeed, not been fully paid. It may be doubted whether it ever would have been, considering the embarrassments thrown in the way by the guardians of the temples, who seemed disposed to secrete the treasures, rather than despoil these sacred depositories to satisfy the cupidity of the strangers. It was unlucky, too, for the Indian monarch, that much of the gold, and that of the best quality, consisted of flat plates or tiles, which, however valuable, lay in a compact form that did little towards swelling the heap. But an immense amount had been already realized, and it would have been a still greater one, the Inca might allege, but for the impatience of the Spaniards. At all events, it was a magnificent ransom, such as was never paid by prince or potentate before.
These considerations Atahuallpa urged on several of the cavaliers, and especially on Hernando de Soto, who was on terms of more familiarity with him than Pizarro. De Soto reported Atahuallpa’s demands to his leader; but the latter evaded a direct reply. He did not disclose the dark purposes over which his mind was brooding. 12 Not long afterward he caused the notary to prepare an instrument, in which he fully acquitted the Inca of further obligation in respect to the ransom. This he commanded to be publicly proclaimed in the camp, while at the same time he openly declared that the safety of the Spaniards required, that the Inca should be detained in confinement until they were strengthened by additional reinforcements. 13
12 “I como no ahondaban los designios que tenia le replicaban; pero el respondia, que iba mirando en ello.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 4.]
13 “Fatta quella fusione, il Governatore fece vn atto innanzi al notaro nel quale liberaua il Cacique Atabalipa et l’absolueua della promessa et parola che haueua oata a gli Spagnuoli che lo presero della casa d’oro c’haueua lor cocessa, il quale fece publicar publicamete a suon di trombe nella piazza di quella citta di Caxamalca.” (Pedro Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 399.) The authority is unimpeachable, — for any fact, at least, that makes against the Conquerors, — since the Relatione was by one of Pizarro’s own secretaries, and was authorized under the hands of the general and his great officers.]
Meanwhile the old rumors of a meditated attack by the natives began to be current among the soldiers. They were repeated from one to another, gaining something by every repetition. An immense army, it was reported, was mustering at Quito, the land of Atahuallpa’s birth, and thirty thousand Caribs were on their way to support it. 14 The Caribs were distributed by the early Spaniards rather indiscriminately over the different parts of America, being invested with peculiar horrors as a race of cannibals.
14 “De la Gente Natural de Quito vienen docientos mil Hombres de Guerra, i treinta mil Caribes, que comen Carne Humana.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 233. — See also Pedro Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, ubi supra.]
It was not easy to trace the origin of these rumors. There was in the camp a considerable number of Indians, who belonged to the party of Huascar, and who were, of course, hostile to Atahuallpa. But his worst enemy was Felipillo, the interpreter from Tumbez, already mentioned in these pages. This youth had conceived a passion, or, as some say, had been detected in an intrigue with, one of the royal concubines. 15 The circumstance had reached the ears of Atahuallpa, who felt himself deeply outraged by it. “That such an insult should have been offered by so base a person was an indignity,” he said, “more difficult to bear than his imprisonment”; 16 and he told Pizarro, “that, by the Peruvian law, it could be expiated, not by the criminal’s own death alone, but by that of his whole family and kindred.” 17 But Felipillo was too important to the Spaniards to be dealt with so summarily; nor did they probably attach such consequence to an offence which, if report be true, they had countenanced by their own example. 18 Felipillo, however, soon learned the state of the Inca’s feelings towards himself, and from that moment he regarded him with deadly hatred. Unfortunately, his malignant temper found ready means for its indulgence.
15 “Pues estando asi atravesose in demonio de una lengua que se dezia ffelipillo uno de los muchachos que el marquez avia llevado a Espana que al presente hera lengua y andava enamorado de una muger de Atabalipa.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
The amour and the malice of Felipillo, which, Quintana seems to think, rest chiefly on Garcilasso’s authority, (see Espanoles Celebres, tom. II. p. 210, nota,) are stated very explicitly by Zarate, Naharro, Gomara, Balboa, all contemporaneous, though not, like Pedro Pizarro, personally present in the army.]
16 “Diciendo que sentia mas aquel desacato, que su prision.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 7.]
17 Ibid., loc. cit.]
18 “E le habian tomado sus mugeres e repartidolas en su presencia e usaban de ellas de sus adulterios.” Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 22.]
The rumors of a rising among the natives pointed to Atahuallpa as the author of it. Challcuchima was examined on the subject, but avowed his entire ignorance of any such design, which he pronounced a malicious slander. Pizarro next laid the matter before the Inca himself, repeating to him the stories in circulation, with the air of one who believed them. “What treason is this,” said the general, “that you have meditated against me, — me, who have ever treated you with honor, confiding in your words, as in those of a brother?” “You jest,” replied the Inca, who, perhaps, did not feel the weight of this confidence; “you are always jesting with me. How could I or my people think of conspiring against men so valiant as the Spaniards? Do not jest with me thus, I beseech you.” 19 “This,” continues Pizarro’s secretary, “he said in the most composed and natural manner, smiling all the while to dissemble his falsehood, so that we were all amazed to find such cunning in a barbarian.” 20
19 “Burlaste conmigo? siempre me hablas cosas de burlas? Que parte somos Yo, i toda mi Gente, para enojar a tan valientes Hombres como vosotros? No me digas esas burlas.” Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 234.]
20 “De que los Espanoles que se las han oido, estan espantados de ver en vn Hombre Barbaro tanta prudencia.” Ibid., loc. cit.]
But it was not with cunning, but with the consciousness of innocence, as the event afterwards proved, that Atahuallpa thus spoke to Pizarro. He readily discerned, however, the causes, perhaps the consequences, of the accusation. He saw a dark gulf opening beneath his feet; and he was surrounded by strangers, on none of whom he could lean for counsel or protection. The life of the captive monarch is usually short; and Atahuallpa might have learned the truth of this, when he thought of Huascar Bitterly did he now lament the absence of Hernando Pizarro, for, strange as it may seem, the haughty spirit of this cavalier had been touched by the condition of the royal prisoner, and he had treated him with a deference which won for him the peculiar regard and confidence of the Indian. Yet the latter lost no time in endeavouring to efface the general’s suspicions, and to establish his own innocence. “Am I not,” said he to Pizarro, “a poor captive in your hands? How could I harbour the designs you impute to me, when I should be the first victim of the outbreak? And you little know my people, if you think that such a movement would be made without my orders; when the very birds in my dominions,” said he, with somewhat of an hyper bole, “would scarcely venture to fly contrary to my will.” 21
21 “Pues si Yo no lo quiero, ni las Aves bolaran en mi Tierra.’ Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2 cap. 7.]
But these protestations of innocence had little effect on the troops; among whom the story of a general rising of the natives continued to gain credit every hour. A large force, it was said, was already gathered at Guamachucho, not a hundred miles from the camp, and their assault might be hourly expected. The treasure which the Spaniards had acquired afforded a tempting prize, and their own alarm was increased by the apprehension of losing it. The patroles were doubled. The horses were kept saddled and bridled. The soldiers slept on their arms; Pizarro went the rounds regularly to see that every sentinel was on his post. The little army, in short, was in a state of preparation for instant attack.
Men suffering from fear are not likely to be too scrupulous as to the means of removing the cause of it. Murmurs, mingled with gloomy menaces, were now heard against the Inca, the author of these machinations. Many began to demand his life as necessary to the safety of the army. Among these, the most vehement were Almagro and his followers. They had not witnessed the seizure of Atahuallpa. They had no sympathy with him in his fallen state. They regarded him only as an incumbrance, and their desire now was to push their fortunes in the country, since they had got so little of the gold of Caxamalca. They were supported by Riquelme, the treasurer, and by the rest of the royal officers. These men had been left at San Miguel by Pizarro, who did not care to have such officia spies on his movements. But they had come to the camp with Almagro, and they loudly demanded the Inca’s death, as indispensable to the tranquillity of the country, and the interests of the Crown. 22
22 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 100.
These cavaliers were all present in the camp.]
To these dark suggestions Pizarro turned — or seemed to turn — an unwilling ear, showing visible reluctance to proceed to extreme measures with his prisoner. 23 There were some few, and among others Hernando de Soto, who supported him in these views, and who regarded such measures as not at all justified by the evidence of Atahuallpa’s guilt. In this state of things, the Spanish commander determined to send a small detachment to Guamachucho, to reconnoitre the country and ascertain what ground there was for the rumors of an insurrection. De Soto was placed at the head of the expedition, which, as the distance was not great, would occupy but a few days.
23 “Aunque contra voluntad del dicho Gobernador, que nunca estubo bien en ello.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — So also Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap Ramusio, ubi supra.]
After that cavalier’s departure, the agitation among the soldiers, instead of diminishing, increased to such a degree, that Pizarro, unable to resist their importunities, consented to bring Atahuallpa to instant trial. It was but decent, and certainly safer, to have the forms of a trial. A court was organized, over which the two captains, Pizarro and Almagro, were to preside as judges. An attorney-general was named to prosecute for the Crown, and counsel was assigned to the prisoner.
The charges preferred against the Inca, drawn up in the form of interrogatories, were twelve in number. The most important were, that he had usurped the crown and assassinated his brother Huascar; that he had squandered the public revenues since the conquest of the country by the Spaniards, and lavished them on his kindred and his minions, that he was guilty of idolatry, and of adulterous practices, indulging openly in a plurality of wives; finally, that he had attempted to excite an insurrection against the Spaniards. 24
24 The specification of the charges against the Inca is given by Garcilasso de la Vega. (Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 1, cap. 37.) One could have wished to find them specified by some of the actors in the tragedy. But Garcilasso had access to the best sources of information, and where there was no motive for falsehood, as in the present instance, his word may probably be taken. — The fact of a process being formally instituted against the Indian monarch is explicitly recognized by several contemporary writers, by Gomara, Oviedo, and Pedro Sancho. Oviedo characterizes it as “a badly contrived and worse written document, devised by a factious and unprincipled priest, a clumsy notary without conscience, and others of the like stamp, who were all concerned in this villany.” (Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 22.) Most authorities agree in the two principal charges, — the assassination of Huascar, and the conspiracy against the Spaniards.
These charges, most of which had reference to national usages, or to the personal relations of the Inca, over which the Spanish conquerors had clearly no jurisdiction, are so absurd, that they might well provoke a smile, did they not excite a deeper feeling. The last of the charges was the only one of moment in such a trial; and the weakness of this may be inferred from the care taken to bolster it up with the others. The mere specification of the articles must have been sufficient to show that the doom of the Inca was already sealed.
A number of Indian witnesses were examined, and their testimony, filtrated through the interpretation of Felipillo, received, it is said, when necessary, a very different coloring from that of the original. The examination was soon ended, and “a warm discussion,” as we are assured by one of Pizarro’s own secretaries, “took place in respect to the probable good or evil that would result from the death of Atahuallpa.” 25 It was a question of expediency He was found guilty, — whether of all the crime alleged we are not informed, — and he was sentenced to be burnt alive in the great square of Caxamalca. The sentence was to be carried into execution that very night. They were not even to wait for the return of De Soto, when the information he would bring would go far to establish the truth or the falsehood of the reports respecting the insurrection of the natives. It was desirable to obtain the countenance of Father Valverde to these proceedings, and a copy of the judgment was submitted to the friar for his signature, which he gave without hesitation, declaring, that, “in his opinion, the Inca, at all events, deserved death.” 26
25 “Doppo l’essersi molto disputato, et ragionato del danno et vtile che saria potuto auuenire per il viuere o morire di Atabalipa, fu risoluto che si facesse giustitia di lui.” (Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 400.) It is the language of a writer who may be taken as the mouthpiece of Pizarro himself. According to him, the conclave, which agitated this “question of expediency,” consisted of the “officers of the Crown and those of the army, a certain doctor learned in the law, that chanced to be with them, and the reverend Father Vicente de Valverde.”]
26 “Respondio, que firmaria, que era bastante, para que el Inga fuese condenado a muerte, porque aun en lo exterior quisieron justificar su intento.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 4]
Yet there were some few in that martial conclave who resisted these high-handed measures. They considered them as a poor requital of all the favors bestowed on them by the Inca, who hitherto had received at their hands nothing but wrong. They objected to the evidence as wholly insufficient; and they denied the authority of such a tribunal to sit in judgment on a sovereign prince in the heart of his own dominions. If he were to be tried, he should be sent to Spain, and his cause brought before the Emperor, who alone had power to determine it.
But the great majority — and they were ten to one — overruled these objections, by declaring there was no doubt of Atahuallpa’s guilt, and they were willing to assume the responsibility of his punishment. A full account of the proceedings would be sent to Castile, and the Emperor should be informed who were the loyal servants of the Crown, and who were its enemies. The dispute ran so high, that for a time it menaced an open and violent rupture; till, at length, convinced that resistance was fruivless, the weaker party, silenced, but not satisfied, contented themselves with entering a written protest against these proceedings, which would leave an indelible stain on the names of all concerned in them. 27
27 Garcilasso has preserved the names of some of those who so courageously, though ineffectually, resisted the popular cry for the Inca s blood. (Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 1, cap. 37.) They were doubtless correct in denying the right of such a tribunal to sit in judgment on an independent prince, like the Inca of Peru; but not so correct in supposing that their master, the Emperor, had a better right. Vattel (Book II. ch. 4.) especially animadverts on this pretended trial of Atahuallpa, as a manifest outrage on the law of nations.]
When the sentence was communicated to the Inca, he was greatly overcome by it. He had, indeed, for some time, looked to such an issue as probable, and had been heard to intimate as much to those about him. But the probability of such an event is very different from its certainty, — and that, too, so sudden and speedy. For a moment, the overwhelming conviction of it unmanned him, and he exclaimed, with tears in his eyes, — “What ave I done, or my children, that I should meet such fate? And from your hands, too,” said he, addressing Pizarro; “you, who have met with friendship and kindness from my people, with whom I have shared my treasures, who have received nothing but benefits from my hands!” In the most piteous tones, he then implored that his life might be spared, promising any guaranty that might be required for the safety of every Spaniard in the army, — promising double the ransom he had already paid, if time were only given him to obtain it. 28
28 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 3, cap. 4. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 7.]
An eyewitness assures us that Pizarro was visibly affected, as he turned away from the Inca, to whose appeal he had no power to listen, in opposition to the voice of the army, and to his own sense of what was due to the security of the country. 29 Atahuallpa, finding he had no power to turn his Conqueror from his purpose, recovered his habitual self-possession, and from that moment submitted himself to his fate with the courage of an Indian warrior.
29 “I myself,” says Pedro Pizarro, “saw the general weep.” “Yo vide llorar al marques de pesar por no podelle dar la vida porque cierto temio los requirimientos y e rriezgo que avia en la tierra si se soltava.” Descub. y Conq., Ms]
The doom of the Inca was proclaimed by sound of trumqet in the great square of Caxamalca; and, two hours after sunset, the Spanish soldiery assembled by torch-light in the plaza to witness the execution of the sentence. It was on the twenty-ninth of August, 1533. Atahuallpa was led out chained hand and foot, — for he had been kept in irons ever since the great excitement had prevailed in the army respecting an assault. Father Vicente de Valverde was at his side, striving to administer consolation, and, if possible, to persuade him at this last hour to abjure his superstition and embrace the religion of his Conquerors. He was willing to save the soul of his victim from the terrible expiation in the next world, to which he had so cheerfully consigned his mortal part in this.
During Atahuallpa’s confinement, the friar had repeatedly expounded to him the Christian doctrines, and the Indian monarch discovered much acuteness in apprehending the discourse of his teacher. But it had not carried conviction to his mind, and though he listened with patience, he had shown no disposition to renounce the faith of his fathers. The Dominican made a last appeal to him in this solemn hour; and, when Atahuallpa was bound to the stake, with the fagots that were to kindle his funeral pile lying around him, Valverde, holding up the cross, besought him to embrace it and be baptized, promising that, by so doing, the painful death to which he had been sentenced should be commuted for the milder form of the garrote, — a mode of punishment by strangulation, used for criminals in Spain. 30
30 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 234. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 400.
The garrote is a mode of execution by means of a noose drawn round the criminal’s neck, to the back part of which a stick is attached. By twisting this stick, the noose is tightened and suffocation is produced. This was the mode, probably, of Atahuallpa execution. In Spain, instead of the cord, an iron collar is substituted, which, by means of a screw is compressed round the throat of the sufferer.]
The unhappy monarch asked if this were really so, and, on its being confirmed by Pizarro, he consented to abjure his own religion, and receive baptism. The ceremony was performed by Father Valverde, and the new convert received the name of Juan de Atahuallpa, — the name of Juan being conferred in honor of John the Baptist, on whose day the event took place. 31
31 Velasco, Hist. de Quito, tom. I. p. 372.]
Atahuallpa expressed a desire that his remains might be transported to Quito, the place of his birth, to be preserved with those of his maternal ancestors. Then turning to Pizarro, as a last request, he implored him to take compassion on his young children, and receive them under his protection. Was there no other one in that dark company who stood grimly around him, to whom he could look for the protection of his offspring? Perhaps he thought there was no other so competent to afford it, and that the wishes so solemnly expressed in that hour might meet with respect even from his Conqueror. Then, recovering his stoical bearing, which for a moment had been shaken, he submitted himself calmly to his fate, — while the Spaniards, gathering around, muttered their credos for the salvation of his soul! 32 Thus by the death of a vile malefactor perished the last of the Incas!
32 “Ma quando se lo vidde appressare per douer esser morto, disse che raccomandaua al Gouernatore i suoi piccioli figliuoli che volesse tenersegli appresso, & con queste valme parole, & dicendo per l’anima sua li Soagnuoli che erano all intorno il Credo, fu subito affogato.” Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 399. Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 234. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 7.]
The death of Atahuallpa has many points of resemblance with that of Caupolican, the great Araucanian chief, as described in the historical epic of Ercilla. Both embraced the religion of their conquerors at the stake, though Caupolican was so far less fortunate than the Peruvian monarch, that his conversion did not save him from the tortures of a most agonizing death. He was impaled and shot with arrows. The spirited verses reflect so faithfully the character of these early adventurers, in which the fanaticism of the Crusader was mingled with the cruelty of the conqueror, and they are so germane to the present subject, that I would willingly quote the passage were it not too long. See La Araucana, Parte 2, canto 24.
I have already spoken of the person and the qualities of Atahuallpa. He had a handsome countenance, though with an expression somewhat too fierce to be pleasing. His frame was muscular and well-proportioned; his air commanding; and his deportment in the Spanish quarters had a degree of refinement, the more interesting that it was touched with melancholy. He is accused of having been cruel in his wars, and bloody in his revenge. 33 It may be true, but the pencil of an enemy would be likely to overcharge the shadows of the portrait. He is allowed to have been bold, high-minded, and liberal. 34 All agree that he showed singular penetration and quickness of perception. His exploits as a warrior had placed his valor beyond dispute. The best homage to it is the reluctance shown by the Spaniards to restore him to freedom. They dreaded him as an enemy, and they had done him too many wrongs to think that he could be their friend. Yet his conduct towards them from the first had been most friendly; and they repaid it with imprisonment, robbery, and death.
33 “Thus he paid the penalty of his errors and cruelties,” says Xerez, “for he was the greatest butcher, as all agree, that the world ever saw; making nothing of razing a whole town to the ground for the most trifling offence, and massacring a thousand persons for the fault of one!” (Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 234.) Xerez was the private secretary of Pizarro. Sancho, who, on the departure of Xerez for Spain, succeeded him in the same office, pays a more decent tribute to the memory of the Inca, who, he trusts, “is received into glory, since he died penitent for his sins, and in the true faith of a Christian.” Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 399.]
34 “El hera muy regalado, y muy Senor,” says Pedro Pizarro. (Descub. y Conq., Ms.) “Mui dispuesto, sabio, animoso, franco,” says Gomara. (Hist. de las Ind., cap. 118.)]
The body of the Inca remained on the place of execution through the night. The following morning it was removed to the church of San Francisco, where his funeral obsequies were performed with great solemnity. Pizarro and the principal cavaliers went into mourning, and the troops listened with devout attention to the service of the dead from the lips of Father Valverde. 35 The ceremony was interrupted by the sound of loud cries and wailing, as of many voices at the doors of the church. These were suddenly thrown open, and a number of Indian women, the wives and sisters of the deceased, rushing up the great aisle, surrounded the corpse. This was not the way, they cried, to celebrate the funeral rites of an Inca; and they declared their intention to sacrifice themselves on his tomb, and bear him company to the land of spirits. The audience, outraged by this frantic behaviour, told the intruders that Atahuallpa had died in the faith of a Christian, and that the God of the Christians abhorred such sacrifices. They then caused the women to be excluded from the church, and several, retiring to their own quarters, laid violent hands on themselves, in the vain hope of accompanying their beloved lord to the bright mansions of the Sun. 36
35 The secretary Sancho seems to think that the Peruvians must have regarded these funeral honors as an ample compensation to Atahuallpa for any wrongs he may have sustained, since they at once raised him to a level with the Spaniards! Ibid., loc. cit.]
36 Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.
See Appendix, No. 10, where I have cited in the original several of the contemporary notices of Atahuallpa’s execution, which being in manuscript are not very accessible, even to Spaniards.]
Atahuallpa’s remains, notwithstanding his request, were laid in the cemetery of San Francisco. 37 But from thence, as is reported, after the Spaniards left Caxamalca, they were secretly removed, and carried, as he had desired, to Quito. The colonists of a later time supposed that some treasures might have been buried with the body. But, on excavating the ground, neither treasure nor remains were to be discovered. 38
37 “Oi dicen los indios que esta su sepulcro junto a una Cruz de Piedra Blanca que esta en el Cementerio del Convento de Sn Francisco.” Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1533.]
38 Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 22.
According to Stevenson, “In the chapel belonging to the common gaol, which was formerly part of the palace, the altar stands on the stone on which Atahuallpa was placed by the Spaniards and strangled, and under which he was buried.” (Residence in South America, vol. II. p. 163.) Montesinos, who wrote more than a century after the Conquest, tells us that “spots of blood were still visible on a broad flagstone, in the prison of Caxamalca, on which Atahuallpa was beheaded.” (Annales, Ms., ano 1533.) — Ignorance and credulity could scarcely go farther.]
A day or two after these tragic events, Hernando de Soto returned from his excursion. Great was his astonishment and indignation at learning what had been done in his absence. He sought out Pizarro at once, and found him, says the chronicler, “with a great felt hat, by way of mourning, slouched over his eyes,” and in his dress and demeanour exhibiting all the show of sorrow. 39 “You have acted rashly,” said De Soto to him bluntly; “Atahuallpa has been basely slandered. There was no enemy as Guamachucho; no rising among the natives. I have met with nothing on the road but demonstrations of good-will, and all is quiet. If it was necessary to bring the Inca to trial, he should have been taken to Castile and judged by the Emperor. I would have pledged myself to see him safe on board the vessel.” 40 Pizarro confessed that he had been precipitate, and said that he had been deceived by Riquelme, Valverde, and the others. These charges soon reached the ears of the treasurer and the Dominican, who, in their turn, exculpated themselves, and upbraided Pizarro to his face, as the only one responsible for the deed. The dispute ran high; and the parties were heard by the by-standers to give one another the lie! 41 This vulgar squabble among the leaders, so soon after the event, is the best commentary on the iniquity of their own proceedings and the innocence of the Inca.
39 “Hallaronle monstrando mucho centimiento con un gran sombrero de fieltro puesto en la cabeza por luto e muy calado sobre los ojos.” Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 22.]
40 Ibid., Ms., ubi supra. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — See Appendix, no. 10.]
41 This remarkable account is given by Oviedo, not in the body of his narrative, but in one of those supplementary chapters, which he makes the vehicle of the most miscellaneous, yet oftentimes important gossip, respecting the great transactions of his history. As he knew familiarly the leaders in these transactions, the testimony which he collected, somewhat at random, is of high authority. The reader will find Oviedo’s account of the Inca’s death extracted, in the original, among the other notices of this catastrophe in Appendix, No. 10]
The treatment of Atahuallpa, from first to last, forms undoubtedly one of the darkest chapters in Spanish colonial history. There may have been massacres perpetrated on a more extended scale, and executions accompanied with a greater refinement of cruelty. But the blood-stained annals of the Conquest afford no such example of cold-hearted and systematic persecution, not of an enemy, but of one whose whole deportment had been that of a friend and a benefactor.
From the hour that Pizarro and his followers had entered within the sphere of Atahuallpa’s influence, the hand of friendship had been extended to them by the natives. Their first act, on crossing the mountains, was to kidnap the monarch and massacre his people. The seizure of his person might be vindicated, by those who considered the end as justifying the means, on the ground that it was indispensable to secure the triumphs of the Cross. But no such apology can be urged for the massacre of the unarmed and helpless population, — as wanton as it was wicked.
The long confinement of the Inca had been used by the Conquerors to wring from him his treasures with the hard gripe of avarice. During the whole of this dismal period, he had conducted himself with singular generosity and good faith. He had opened a free passage to the Spaniards through every part of his empire; and had furnished every facility for the execution of their plans. When these were accomplished, and he remained an encumbrance on their hands, notwithstanding their engagement, expressed or implied, to release him, — and Pizarro, as we have seen, by a formal act acquitted his captive of any further obligation on the score of the ransom, — he was arraigned before a mock tribunal, and, under pretences equally false and frivolous, was condemned to an excruciating death. From first to last, the policy of the Spanish conquerors towards their unhappy victim is stamped with barbarity and fraud.
It is not easy to acquit Pizarro of being in a great degree responsible for this policy. His partisans have labored to show, that it was forced on him by the necessity of the case, and that in the death of the Inca, especially, he yielded reluctantly to the importunities of others. 42 But weak as is this apology, the historian who has the means of comparing the various testimony of the period will come to a different conclusion. To him it will appear, that Pizarro had probably long felt the removal of Atahuallpa as essential to the success of his enterprise. He foresaw the odium that would be incurred by the death of his royal captive without sufficient grounds; while he labored to establish these, he still shrunk from the responsibility of the deed, and preferred to perpetrate it in obedience to the suggestions of others, rather than his own. Like many an unprincipled politician, he wished to reap the benefit of a bad act, and let others take the blame of it.
42 “Contra su voluntad sentencio a muerte a Atabalipa.” (Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.) “Contra voluntad del dicho Gobernador.” (Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.) “Ancora che molto li dispiacesse di venir a questo atto.” (Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 399.) Even Oviedo seems willing to admit it possible that Pizarro may have been somewhat deceived by others. “Que tambien se puede creer que era enganado.” Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 22.]
Almagro and his followers are reported by Pizarro’s secretaries to have first insisted on the Inca’s death. They were loudly supported by the treasurer and the royal officers, who considered it as indispensable to the interests of the Crown; and, finally, the rumors of a conspiracy raised the same cry among the soldiers, and Pizarro, with all his tenderness for his prisoner, could not refuse to bring him to trial. — The form of a trial was necessary to give an appearance of fairness to the proceedings. That it was only form is evident from the indecent haste with which it was conducted, — the examination of evidence, the sentence, and the execution, being all on the same day. The multiplication of the charges, designed to place the guilt of the accused on the strongest ground, had, from their very number, the opposite effect, proving only the determination to convict him. If Pizarro had felt the reluctance to his conviction which he pretended, why did he send De Soto, Atahuallpa’s best friend, away, when the inquiry was to be instituted? Why was the sentence so summarily executed, as not to afford opportunity, by that cavalier’s return, of disproving the truth of the principal charge, — the only one, in fact, with which the Spaniards had any concern? The solemn farce of mourning and deep sorrow affected by Pizarro, who by these honors to the dead would intimate the sincere regard he had entertained for the living, was too thin a veil to impose on the most credulous.
It is not intended by these reflections to exculpate the rest of the army, and especially its officers, from their share in the infamy of the transaction. But Pizarro, as commander of the army, was mainly responsible for its measures. For he was not a man to allow his own authority to be wrested from his grasp, or to yield timidly to the impulses of others. He did not even yield to his own. His whole career shows him, whether for good or for evil, to have acted with a cool and calculating policy. A story has been often repeated, which refers the motives of Pizarro’s conduct, in some degree at least, to personal resentment. The Inca had requested one of the Spanish soldiers to write the name of God on his nail. This the monarch showed to several of his guards successively, and, as they read it, and each pronounced the same word, the sagacious mind of the barbarian was delighted with what seemed to him little short of a miracle, — to which the science of his own nation afforded no analogy. On showing the writing to Pizarro, that chief remained silent; and the Inca, finding he could not read, conceived a contempt for the commander who was even less informed than his soldiers. This he did not wholly conceal, and Pizarro, aware of the cause of it, neither forgot nor forgave it. 43 The anecdote is reported not on the highest authority. It may be true; but it is unnecessary to look for the motives of Pizarro’s conduct in personal pique, when so many proofs are to be discerned of a dark and deliberate policy.
43 The story is to be found in Garcilasso de la Vega, (Com. Real., Parte 2, cap. 38,) and in no other writer of the period, so far as I am aware.]
Yet the arts of the Spanish chieftain failed to reconcile his countrymen to the atrocity of his proceedings. It is singular to observe the difference between the tone assumed by the first chroniclers of the transaction, while it was yet fresh, and that of those who wrote when the lapse of a few years had shown the tendency of public opinion. The first boldly avow the deed as demanded by expediency, if not necessity; while they deal in no measured terms of reproach with the character of their unfortunate victim. 44 The latter, on the other hand, while they extenuate the errors of the Inca, and do justice to his good faith, are unreserved in their condemnation of the Conquerors, on whose conduct, they say, Heaven set the seal of its own reprobation, by bringing them all to an untimely and miserable end. 45 The sentence of contemporaries has been fully ratified by that of posterity; 46 and the persecution of Atahuallpa is regarded with justice as having left a stain, never to be effaced, on the Spanish arms in the New World.
44 I have already noticed the lavish epithets heaped by Xerez on the Inca’s cruelty. This account was printed in Spain, in 1534, the year after the execution. “The proud tyrant,” says the other secretary, Sancho, “would have repaid the kindness and good treatment he had received from the governor and every one of us with the same coin with which he usually paid his own followers, without any fault on their part, — by putting them to death.” (Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 399.) “He deserved to die,” says the old Spanish Conqueror before quoted, “and all the country was rejoiced that he was put out of the way.” Rel. d’un Capitano Spagn., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 377.]
45 “Las demostraciones que despues se vieron bien manifiestan lo mui injusta que fue, . . . . puesto que todos quantos entendieron en ella tuvieron despues mui desastradas muertes.” (Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms.) Gomara uses nearly the same language. “No ai que reprehender a los que le mataron, pues el tiempo, i sus pecados los castigaron despues; ca todos ellos acabaron mal.” (Hist. de las Ind., cap. 118.) According to the former writer, Felipillo paid the forfeit of his crimes sometime afterwards, — being hanged by Almagro on the expedition to Chili, — when, as “some say, he confessed having perverted testimony given in favor of Atahuallpa’s innocence, directly against that monarch.” Oviedo, usually ready enough to excuse the excesses of his countrymen, is unqualified in his condemnation of this whole proceeding, (see Appendix, No. 10,) which, says another contemporary, “fills every one with pity who has a spark of humanity in his bosom.” Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
46 The most eminent example of this is given by Quintana in his memoir of Pizarro, (Espanoles Celebres, tom. II.,) throughout which the writer, rising above the mists of national prejudice, which too often blind the eyes of his countrymen, holds the scale of historic criticism with an impartial hand, and deals a full measure of reprobation to the actors in these dismal scenes.]
The Inca of Peru was its sovereign in a peculiar sense. He received an obedience from his vassals more implicit than that of any despot; for his authority reached to the most secret conduct, — to the thoughts of the individual. He was reverenced as more than human. 1 He was not merely the head of the state, but the point to which all its institutions converged, as to a common centre, — the keystone of the political fabric, which must fall to pieces by its own weight when that was withdrawn. So it fared on the death of Atahuallpa. 2 His death not only left the throne vacant, without any certain successor, but the manner of it announced to the Peruvian people that a hand stronger than that of their Incas had now seized the sceptre, and that the dynasty of the Children of the Sun had passed away for ever.
1 “Such was the awe in which the Inca was held,” says Pizarro, “that it was only necessary for him to intimate his commands to that effect, and a Peruvian would at once jump down a precipice, hang himself, or put an end to his life in any way that was prescribed.” Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
2 Oviedo tells us, that the Inca’s right name was Atabaliva, and that the Spaniards usually misspelt it, because they thought much more of getting treasure for themselves, than they did of the name of the person who owned it. (Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 16.) Nevertheless, I have preferred the authority of Garcilasso, who, a Peruvian himself, and a near kinsman of the Inca, must be supposed to have been well informed. His countrymen, he says, pretended that the cocks imported into Peru by the Spaniards, when they crowed, uttered the name of Atahuallpa; “and I and the other Indian boys,” adds the historian, “when we were at school, used to mimic them.” Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 9, cap. 23.
The natural consequences of such a conviction followed. The beautiful order of the ancient institutions was broken up, as the authority which controlled it was withdrawn. The Indians broke out into greater excesses from the uncommon restraint to which they had been before subjected. Villages were burnt, temples and palaces were plundered, and the gold they contained was scattered or secreted. Gold and silver acquired an importance in the eyes of the Peruvian, when he saw the importance attached to them by his conquerors. The precious metals, which before served only for purposes of state or religious decoration, were now hoarded up and buried in caves and forests. The gold and silver concealed by the natives were affirmed greatly to exceed in quantity that which fell into the hands of the Spaniards. 3 The remote provinces now shook off their allegiance to the Incas. Their great captains, at the head of distant armies, set up for themselves. Ruminavi, a commander on the borders of Quito, sought to detach that kingdom from the Peruvian empire, and to reassert its ancient independence. The country, in short, was in that state, in which old things are passing away, and the new order of things has not yet been established. It was in a state of revolution.
3 “That which the Inca gave the Spaniards, said some of the Indian nobles to Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, was but as a kernel of corn, compared with the heap before him.” (Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8 cap. 22.) See also Pedro Pizarro Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
The authors of the revolution, Pizarro and his followers, remained meanwhile at Caxamalca. But the first step of the Spanish commander was to name a successor to Atahuallpa. It would be easier to govern under the venerated authority to which the homage of the Indians had been so long paid; and it was not difficult to find a successor. The true heir to the crown was a second son of Huayna Capac, named Manco, a legitimate brother of the unfortunate Huascar. But Pizarro had too little knowledge of the dispositions of this prince; and he made no scruple to prefer a brother of Atahuallpa, and to present him to the Indian nobles as their future Inca. We know nothing of the character of the young Toparca, who probably resigned himself without reluctance to a destiny which, however humiliating in some points of view, was more exalted than he could have hoped to obtain in the regular course of events. The ceremonies attending a Peruvian coronation were observed, as well as time would allow; the brows of the young Inca were encircled with the imperial borla by the hands of his conqueror, and he received the homage of his Indian vassals. They were the less reluctant to pay it, as most of those in the camp belonged to the faction of Quito. All thoughts were now eagerly turned towards Cuzco, of which the most glowing accounts were circulated among the soldiers, and whose temples and royal palaces were represented as blazing with gold and silver. With imaginations thus excited, Pizarro and his entire company, amounting to almost five hundred men, of whom nearly a third, probably, were cavalry, took their departure early in September from Caxamalca, — a place ever memorable as the theatre of some of the most strange and sanguinary scenes recorded in history. All set forward in high spirits, — the soldiers of Pizarro from the expectation of doubling their present riches, and Almagro’s followers from the prospect of sharing equally in the spoil with “the first conquerors.” 4 The young Inca and the old chief Challcuchima accompanied the march in their litters, attended by a numerous retinue of vassals, and moving in as much state and ceremony as if in the possession of real power. 5
4 The “first conquerors,” according to Garcilasso, were held in especial honor by those who came after them, though they were, on the whole, men of less consideration and fortune than the later adventurers. Com. Real., Parte 1 lib. 7, cap. 9.]
5 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Ped. Sancho Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 400.]
Their course lay along the great road of the Incas, which stretched across the elevated regions of the Cordilleras, all the way to Cuzco. It was of nearly a uniform breadth, though constructed with different degrees of care, according to the ground. 6 Sometimes it crossed smooth and level valleys, which offered of themselves little impediment to the traveller; at other times, it followed the course of a mountain stream that flowed round the base of some beetling cliff, leaving small space for the foothold; at others, again, where the sierra was so precipitous that it seemed to preclude all further progress, the road, accommodated to the natural sinuosities of the ground, wound round the heights which it would have been impossible to scale directly. 7
6 “Va todo el camino de una traza y anchura hecho a mano.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
7 “En muchas partes viendo lo que esta adelante, parece cosa impossible poderlo pasar.” Ibid., Ms.]
But although managed with great address, it was a formidable passage for the cavalry. The mountain was hewn into steps, but the rocky ledges cut up the hoofs of the horses; and, though the troopers dismounted and led them by the bridle, they suffered severely in their efforts to keep their footing. 8 The road was constructed for man and the light-footed llama; and the only heavy beast of burden at all suited to it was the sagacious and sure-footed mule, with which the Spanish adventurers were not then provided. It was a singular chance that Spain was the land of the mule; and thus the country was speedily supplied with the very animal which seems to have been created for the difficult passes of the Cordilleras.
8 Ped. Sancho, Rel. ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 404.
Another obstacle, often occurring, was the deep torrents that rushed down in fury from the Andes. They were traversed by the hanging bridges of osier, whose frail materials were after a time broken up by the heavy tread of the cavalry, and the holes made in them added materially to the dangers of the passage. On such occasions, the Spaniards contrived to work their way across the rivers on rafts, swimming their horses by the bridle. 9
9 Ibid., ubi supra. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
All along the route they found post-houses for the accommodation of the royal couriers, established at regular intervals; and magazines of grain and other commodities, provided in the principal towns for the Indian armies. The Spaniards profited by the prudent forecast of the Peruvian government. Passing through several hamlets and towns of some note, the principal of which were Guamachucho and Guanuco, Pizarro, after a tedious march, came in sight of the rich valley of Xauxa. The march, though tedious, had been attended with little suffering, except in crossing the bristling crests of the Cordilleras, which occasionally obstructed their path, — a rough setting to the beautiful valleys, that lay scattered like gems along this elevated region. In the mountain passes they found some inconvenience from the cold; since, to move more quickly, they had disencumbered themselves of all superfluous baggage, and were even unprovided with tents. 10 The bleak winds of the mountains penetrated the thick harness of the soldiers; but the poor Indians, more scantily clothed and accustomed to a tropical climate, suffered most severely. The Spaniard seemed to have a hardihood of body, as of soul, that rendered him almost indifferent to climate.
10 “La notte dormirono tutti in quella campagna senza coperto alcuno, sopra la neue, ne pur hebber souuenimento di legne ne da man giare.” Ped. Sancho, Rel. ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 401.]
On the march they had not been molested by enemies. But more than once they had seen vestiges of them in smoking hamlets and ruined bridges. Reports, from time to time, had reached Pizarro of warriors on his track; and small bodies of Indians were occasionally seen like dusky clouds on the verge of the horizon, which vanished as the Spaniards approached. On reaching Xauxa, however, these clouds gathered into one dark mass of warriors, which formed on the opposite bank of the river that flowed through the valley.
The Spaniards advanced to the stream, which, swollen by the melting of the snows, was now of considerable width, though not deep. The bridge had been destroyed; but the Conquerors, without hesitation, dashing boldly in, advanced, swimming and wading, as they best could, to the opposite bank. The Indians, disconcerted by this decided movement, as they had relied on their watery defences, took to flight, after letting off an impotent volley of missiles. Fear gave wings to the fugitives; but the horse and his rider were swifter, and the victorious pursuers took bloody vengeance on their enemy for having dared even to meditate resistance.
Xauxa was a considerable town. It was the place already noticed as having been visited by Hernando Pizarro. It was seated in the midst of a verdant valley, fertilized by a thousand little rills, which the thrifty Indian husbandman drew from the parent river that rolled sluggishly through the meadows. There were several capacious buildings of rough stone in the town, and a temple of some note in the times of the Incas. But the strong arm of Father Valverde and his countrymen soon tumbled the heathen deities from their pride of place, and established, in their stead, the sacred effigies of the Virgin and Child.
Here Pizarro proposed to halt for some days, and to found a Spanish colony. It was a favorable position, he thought, for holding the Indian mountaineers in check, while, at the same time, it afforded an easy communication with the sea-coast. Meanwhile he determined to send forward De Soto, with a detachment of sixty horse, to reconnoitre the country in advance, and to restore the bridges where demolished by the enemy. 11
11 Carta de la Justicia y Regi miento de la Ciudad de Xauja, Ms — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq. Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5 lib. 4, cap. 10. — Relacion de Primer. Descub., Ms.]
That active cavalier set forward at once, but found considerable impediments to his progress. The traces of an enemy became more frequent as he advanced. The villages were burnt, the bridges destroyed, and heavy rocks and trees strewed in the path to impede the march of the cavalry. As he drew near to Bilcas, once an important place, though now effaced from the map, he had a sharp encounter with the natives, in a mountain defile, which cost him the lives of two or three troopers. The loss was light; but any loss was felt by the Spaniards, so little accustomed, as they had been of late, to resistance.
Still pressing forward, the Spanish captain crossed the river Abancay, and the broad waters of the Apurimac; and, as he drew near the sierra of Vilcaconga, he learned that a considerable body of Indians lay in wait for him in the dangerous passes of the mountains. The sierra was several leagues from Cuzco; and the cavalier, desirous to reach the further side of it before nightfall, incautiously pushed on his wearied horses. When he was fairly entangled in its rocky defiles, a multitude of armed warriors, springing, as it seemed, from every cavern and thicket of the sierra, filled the air with their war-cries, and rushed down, like one of their own mountain torrents, on the invaders, as they were painfully tolling up the steeps. Men and horses were overturned in the fury of the assault, and the foremost files, rolling back on those below, spread ruin and consternation in their ranks. De Soto in vain endeavoured to restore order, and, if possible, to charge the assailants. The horses were blinded and maddened by the missiles, while the desperate natives, clinging to their legs, strove to prevent their ascent up the rocky pathway. De Soto saw, that, unless he gained a level ground which opened at some distance before him, all must be lost. Cheering on his men with the old battle-cry, that always went to the heart of a Spaniard, he struck his spurs deep into the sides of his wearied charger, and, gallantly supported by his troop, broke through the dark array of warriors, and, shaking them off to the right and left, at length succeeded in placing himself on the broad level.
Here both parties paused, as if by mutual consent, for a few moments. A little stream ran through the plain, at which the Spaniards watered their horses; 12 and the animals, having recovered wind, De Soto and his men made a desperate charge on their assailants. The undaunted Indians sustained the shock with firmness; and the result of the combat was still doubtful, when the shades of evening, falling thicker around them, separated the combatants.
12 Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 405.]
Both parties then withdrew from the field, taking up their respective stations within bow-shot of each other, so that the voices of the warriors on either side could be distinctly heard in the stillness of the night. But very different were the reflections of the two hosts. The Indians, exulting in their temporary triumph, looked with confidence to the morrow to complete it. The Spaniards, on the other hand, were proportionably discouraged. They were not prepared for this spirit of resistance in an enemy hitherto so tame. Several cavaliers had fallen; one of them by a blow from a Peruvian battle-axe, which clove his head to the chin, attesting the power of the weapon, and of the arm that used it. 13 Several horses, too, had been killed; and the loss of these was almost as severely felt as that of their riders, considering the great cost and difficulty of transporting them to these distant regions. Few either of the men or horses escaped without wounds, and the Indian allies suffered still more severely.
13 Ibid., loc cit.]
It seemed probable, from the pertinacity and a certain order maintained in the assault, that it was directed by some leader of military experience; perhaps the Indian commander Quizquiz, who was said to be hanging round the environs of Cuzco with a considerable force.
Notwithstanding the reasonable cause of apprehension for the morrow, De Soto, like a stout-hearted cavalier, as he was, strove to keep up the spirits of his followers. If they had beaten off the enemy when their horses were jaded, and their own strength nearly exhausted, how much easier it would be to come off victorious when both were restored by a night’s rest; and he told them to “trust in the Almighty, who would never desert his faithful followers in their extremity.” The event justified De Soto’s confidence in this seasonable succour.
From time to time, on his march, he had sent advices to Pizarro of the menacing state of the country, till his commander, becoming seriously alarmed, was apprehensive that the cavalier might be over powered by the superior numbers of the enemy. He accordingly detached Almagro, with nearly all the remaining horse, to his support, — unencumbered by infantry, that he might move the lighter. That efficient leader advanced by forced marches, stimulated by the tidings which met him on the road; and was so fortunate as to reach the foot of the sierra of Vilcaconga the very night of the engagement.
There hearing of the encounter, he pushed forward without halting, though his horses were spent with travel. The night was exceedingly dark, and Almagro, afraid of stumbling on the enemy’s bivouac, and desirous to give De Soto information of his approach, commanded his trumpets to sound, till the notes, winding through the defiles of the mountains, broke the slumbers of his countrymen, sounding like blithest music in their ears. They quickly replied with their own bugles, and soon had the satisfaction to embrace their deliverers. 14
14 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, sec. 3, lib. 5, cap. 3.]
Great was the dismay of the Peruvian host, when the morning light discovered the fresh reinforcement of the ranks of the Spaniards. There was no use in contending with an enemy who gathered strength from the conflict, and who seemed to multiply his numbers at will. Without further attempt to renew the fight, they availed themselves of a thick fog, which hung over the lower slopes of the hills, to effect their retreat, and left the passes open to the invaders. The two cavaliers then continued their march until they extricated their forces from the sierra, when, taking up a secure position, they proposed to await there the arrival of Pizarro. 15
15 The account of De Soto’s affair with the natives is given in more or less detail, by Ped. Sancho Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 405, — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms., — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms., — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms, — parties al present in the army.]
The commander-inchief, meanwhile, lay at Xauxa, where he was greatly disturbed by the rumors which reached him of the state of the country. His enterprise, thus far, had gone forward so smoothly, that he was no better prepared than his lieutenant to meet with resistance from the natives. He did not seem to comprehend that the mildest nature might at last be roused by oppression; and that the massacre of their Inca, whom they regarded with such awful veneration, would be likely, if any thing could do it, to wake them from their apathy.
The tidings which he now received of the retreat of the Peruvians were most welcome; and he caused mass to be said, and thanksgivings to be offered up to Heaven, “which had shown itself thus favorable to the Christians throughout this mighty enterprise.” The Spaniard was ever a Crusader. He was, in the sixteenth century, what Coeur de Lion and his brave knights were in the twelfth, with this difference; the cavalier of that day fought for the Cross and for glory, while gold and the Cross were the watchwords of the Spaniard. The spirit of chivalry had waned somewhat before the spirit of trade; but the fire of religious enthusiasm still burned as bright under the quilted mail of the American Conqueror, as it did of yore under the iron panoply of the soldier of Palestine.
It seemed probable that some man of authority had organized, or at least countenanced, this resistance of the natives, and suspicion fell on the captive chief Challcuchima, who was accused of maintaining a secret correspondence with his confederate, Quizquiz. Pizarro waited on the Indian noble, and, charging him with the conspiracy, reproached him, as he had formerly done his royal master, with ingratitude towards the Spaniards, who had dealt with him so liberally. He concluded by the assurance, that, if he did not cause the Peruvians to lay down their arms, and tender their submission at once, he should be burnt alive, so soon as they reached Almagro’s quarters. 16
16 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 406.]
The Indian chief listened to the terrible menace with the utmost composure. He denied having had any communication with his countrymen, and said, that, in his present state of confinement, at least, he could have no power to bring them to submission. He then remained doggedly silent, and Pizarro did not press the matter further. 17 But he placed a strong guard over his prisoner, and caused him to be put in irons. It was an ominous proceeding, and had been the precursor of the death of Atahuallpa.
17 Ibid., ubi supra.]
Before quitting Xauxa, a misfortune befell the Spaniards in the death of their creature, the young Inca Toparca. Suspicion, of course, fell on Challcuchima, now selected as the scape-goat for all the offences of his nation. 18 It was a disappointment to Pizarro, who hoped to find a convenient shelter for his future proceedings under this shadow of royalty. 19
18 It seems, from the language of the letter addressed to the Emperor by the municipality of Xauxa, that the troops themselves were far from being convinced of Challcuchima’s guilt. “Publico fue, aunque dello no ubo averiguacion in certenidad, que el capitan Chaliconiman le abia dado ierbas o a beber con que murio.” Carta de la Just. v Reg. de Xauja, Ms.]
19 According to Velasco, Toparsa, whom, however, he calls by another name, tore off the diadem bestowed on him by Pizarro, with disdain, and died in a few weeks of chagrin. (Hist. de Quito, tom. I. p. 377.) This writer, a Jesuit of Quito, seems to feel himself bound to make out as good a case for Atahuallpa and his family, as if he had been expressly retained in their behalf. His vouchers — when he condescends to give any — too rarely bear him out in his statements to inspire us with much confidence in his correctness.]
The general considered it most prudent not to hazard the loss of his treasures by taking them on the march, and he accordingly left them at Xauxa, under a guard of forty soldiers, who remained there in garrison. No event of importance occurred on the road, and Pizarro, having effected a junction with Almagro, their united forces soon entered the vale of Xaquixaguana, about five leagues from Cuzco. This was one of those bright spots, so often found embosomed amidst the Andes, the more beautiful from contrast with the savage character of the scenery around it. A river flowed through the valley, affording the means of irrigating the soil, and clothing it in perpetual verdure; and the rich and flowering vegetation spread out like a cultivated garden. The beauty of the place and its delicious coolness commended it as a residence for the Peruvian nobles, and the sides of the hills were dotted with their villas, which afforded them a grateful retreat in the heats of summer. 20 Yet the centre of the valley was disfigured by a quagmire of some extent, occasioned by the frequent overflowing of the waters; but the industry of the Indian architects had constructed a solid causeway, faced with heavy stone, and connected with the great road, which traversed the whole breadth of the morass. 21
20 “Auia en este valle muy sumptuosos aposentos y ricos adonde los senores del Cuzco salian a tomar sus plazeres y solazes.’ Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 91.]
21 Ibid., ubi supra.]
In this valley Pizarro halted for several days, while he refreshed his troops from the well-stored magazines of the Incas. His first act was to bring Challcuchima to trial; if trial that could be called, where sentence may be said to have gone hand in hand with accusation. We are not informed of the nature of the evidence. It was sufficient to satisfy the Spanish captains of the chieftain’s guilt. Nor is it at all incredible that Challcuchima should have secretly encouraged a movement among the people, designed to secure his country’s freedom and his own. He was condemned to be burnt alive on the spot. “Some thought it a hard measure,” says Herrera; “but those who are governed by reasons of state policy are apt to shut their eyes against every thing else.” 22 Why this cruel mode of execution was so often adopted by the Spanish Conquerors is not obvious; unless it was that the Indian was an infidel, and fire, from ancient date, seems to have been considered the fitting doom of the infidel, as the type of that inextinguishable flame which awaited him in the regions of the damned.
22 Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 6 cap. 3.]
Father Valverde accompanied the Peruvian chieftain to the stake. He seems always to have been present at this dreary moment, anxious to profit by it, if possible, to work the conversion of the victim. He painted in gloomy colors the dreadful doom of the unbeliever, to whom the waters of baptism could alone secure the ineffable glories of paradise. 23 It does not appear that he promised any commutation of punishment in this world. But his arguments fell on a stony heart, and the chief coldly replied, he “did not understand the religion of the white men.” 24 He might be pardoned for not comprehending the beauty of a faith which, as it would seem, had borne so bitter fruits to him. In the midst of his tortures, he showed the characteristic courage of the American Indian, whose power of endurance triumphs over the power of persecution in his enemies, and he died with his last breath invoking the name of Pachacamac. His own followers brought the fagots to feed the flames that consumed him. 25
23 Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 406.]
24 Ibid., loc. cit.]
25 Ibid. loc. cit. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
The Ms. of the old Conqueror is so much damaged in this part of it that much of his account is entirely effaced.]
Soon after this tragic event, Pizarro was surprised by a visit from a Peruvian noble, who came in great state, attended by a numerous and showy retinue. It was the young prince Manco, brother of the unfortunate Huascar, and the rightful successor to the crown. Being brought before the Spanish commander, he announced his pretensions to the throne, and claimed the protection of the strangers. It is said he had meditated resisting them by arms, and had encouraged the assaults made on them on their march; but, finding resistance ineffectual, he had taken this politic course, greatly to the displeasure of his more resolute nobles. However this may be, Pizarro listened to his application with singular contentment, for he saw in this new scion of the true royal stock, a more effectual instrument for his purposes than he could have found in the family of Quito, with whom the Peruvians had but little sympathy. He received the young man, therefore, with great cordiality, and did not hesitate to assure him that he had been sent into the country by his master, the Castilian sovereign, in order to vindicate the claims of Huascar to the crown, and to punish the usurpation of his rival. 26
26 Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 406. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
Taking with him the Indian prince, Pizarro now resumed his march. It was interrupted for a few hours by a party of the natives, who lay in wait for him in the neighbouring sierra. A sharp skirmish ensued, in which the Indians behaved with great spirit, and inflicted some little injury on the Spaniards; but the latter, at length, shaking them off, made good their passage through the defile, and the enemy did not care to follow them into the open country.
It was late in the afternoon when the Conquerors came in sight of Cuzco. 27 The descending sun was streaming his broad rays full on the imperial city, where many an altar was dedicated to his worship. The low ranges of buildings, showing in his beams like so many lines of silvery light, filled up the bosom of the valley and the lower slopes of the mountains, whose shadowy forms hung darkly over the fair city, as if to shield it from the menaced profanation. It was so late, that Pizarro resolved to defer his entrance till the following morning.
27 “Y dos horas antes que el Sol se pusiese, llegaron a vista de la ciudad del Cuzco. “Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms]
That night vigilant guard was kept in the camp, and the soldiers slept on their arms. But it passed away without annoyance from the enemy, and early on the following day, November 15, 1533, Pizarro prepared for his entrance into the Peruvian capital. 28
28 The chronicles differ as to the precise date. There can be no better authorities than Pedro Sancho’s narrative and the Letter of the Magistrates of Xauxa, which have followed in the text]
The little army was formed into three divisions, of which the centre, or “battle,” as it was called, was led by the general. The suburbs were thronged with a countless multitude of the natives, who had flocked from the city and the surrounding country to witness the showy, and, to them, startling pageant. All looked with eager curiosity on the strangers, the fame of whose terrible exploits had spread to the remotest parts of the empire. They gazed with astonishment on their dazzling arms and fair complexions, which seemed to proclaim them the true Children of the Sun; and they listened with feelings of mysterious dread, as the trumpet sent forth its prolonged notes through the streets of the capital, and the solid ground shook under the heavy tramp of the cavalry.
The Spanish commander rode directly up the great square. It was surrounded by low piles of buildings, among which were several palaces of the Incas. One of these, erected by Huayna Capac, was surmounted by a tower, while the ground-floor was occupied by one or more immense halls, like those described in Caxamalca, where the Peruvian nobles held their fetes in stormy weather. These buildings afforded convenient barracks for the troops, though, during the first few weeks, they remained under their tents in the open plaza, with their horses picketed by their side, ready to repulse any insurrection of the inhabitants. 29
29 Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 407. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 7, cap. 10. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
The capital of the Incas, though falling short of the El Dorado which had engaged their credulous fancies, astonished the Spaniards by the beauty of its edifices, the length and regularity of its streets, and the good order and appearance of comfort, even luxury, visible in its numerous population. It far surpassed all they had yet seen in the New World. The population of the city is computed by one of the Conquerors at two hundred thousand inhabitants, and that of the suburbs at as many more. 30 This account is not confirmed, as far as I have seen, by any other writer. But however it may be exaggerated, it is certain that Cuzco was the metropolis of a great empire, the residence of the Court and the chief nobility; frequented by the most skilful mechanics and artisans of every description, who found a demand for their ingenuity in the royal precincts; while the place was garrisoned by a numerous soldiery, and was the resort, finally, of emigrants from the most distant provinces. The quarters whence this motley population came were indicated by their peculiar dress, and especially their head-gear, so rarely found at all on the American Indian, which, with its variegated colors, gave a picturesque effect to the groups and masses in the streets. The habitual order and decorum maintained in this multifarious assembly showed the excellent police of the capital, where the only sounds that disturbed the repose of the Spaniards were the noises of feasting and dancing, which the natives, with happy insensibility, constantly prolonged to a late hour of the night. 31
30 “Esta ciudad era muy grande i mui populosa de grandes edificios i comarcas, quando los Eespanoles entraron la primera vex en ella havia gran cantidad de gente, seria pueblo de mas de 40 mill. vecinos solamente lo que tomaba la ciudad, que arravalles i comarca en deredor del Cuzco a 10 o 12 leguas creo yo que havia docientos mill. Indios porque esto era lo mas poblado de todos estos reinos.” (Conq. i Pob. del Peru, Ms.) The vecino or “householder” is computed, usually, as representing five individuals. — Yet Father Valverde, in a letter written a few years after tis, speaks of the city as having only three or four thousand houses at the time of its occupation, and the suburbs as having nineteen or twenty thousand. (Cart al Emperador, Ms., 20 de Marzo, 1539.) It is possible that he took into the account only the better kind of houses, not considering the mud huts, or rather hovels, which made so large a part of a Peruvian town, as deserving notice.]
31 “Heran tantos los atambores que de noche se oian por todas cartes bailando y cantando y belendo que toda la mayor parte de la noche se les pasava en esto cotidianamente.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
The edifices of the better sort — and they were very numerous — were of stone, or faced with stone. 32 Among the principal were the royal residences; as each sovereign built a new palace for himself, covering, though low, a large extent of ground. The walls were sometimes stained of painted with gaudy tints, and the gates, we are assured, were sometimes of colored marble. 33 In the delicacy of the stone-work,” says another of the Conquerors, “the natives far excelled the Spaniards, though the roofs of their dwellings, instead of tiles, were only of thatch, but put together with the nicest art.” 34 The sunny climate of Cuzco did not require a very substantial material for defence against the weather.
32 “La maggior parte di queste case sono di pietra, et l’altre hano la meta della facciata di pietra.” Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 413.]
33 The buildings were usually of freestone. There may have been porphyry from the neighbouring mountains mixed with this, which the Spaniards mistook for marble.]
34 “Todo labrado de piedra muy prima, que cierto toda la canteria desta cibdad hace gran ventaja a la de Espana, aunque carecen de teja que todas las casas sino es la fortaleza, que era hecha de azoteas son cubiertas de paja, aunque tan primamente puesta, que parece bien.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
The most important building was the fortress, planted on a solid rock, that rose boldly above the city. It was built of hewn stone, so finely wrought that it was impossible to detect the line of junction between the blocks; and the approaches to it were defended by three semicircular parapets, composed of such heavy masses of rock, that it bore resemblance to the kind of work known to architects as the Cyclopean. The fortress was raised to a height rare in Peruvian architecture; and from the summit of the tower the eye of the spectator ranged over a magnificent prospect, in which the wild features of the mountain scenery, rocks, woods, and waterfalls, were mingled with the rich verdure of the valley, and the shining city filling up the foreground, — all blended in sweet harmony under the deep azure of a tropical sky.
The streets were long and narrow. They were arranged with perfect regularity, crossing one another at right angles; and from the great square diverged four principal streets connecting with the high roads of the empire. The square itself, and many parts of the city, were paved with a fine pebble. 35 Through the heart of the capital ran a river of pure water, if it might not be rather termed a canal, the banks or sides of which, for the distance of twenty leagues, were faced with stone 36 Across this stream, bridges, constructed of similar broad flags, were thrown, at intervals, so as to afford an easy communication between the different quarters of the capital. 37
35 Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III., ubi supra.
A passage in the Letter of the Municipality of Xauxa is worth quoting, as confirming on the best authority some of the interesting particulars mentioned in the text. ‘Esta cibdad es la mejor e maior que en la tierra se ha visto, i aun en Yndias; e decimos a V. M. ques tan hermosa i de tan buenos edeficios que en Espana seria muy de ver; tiene las calles por mucho concierto en pedradas i por medio dellas un cano enlosado. la plaza es hecha en cuadra i empedrada de quijas pequenas todas, todas las mas de las casas son de Senores Principales hechas de canteria. esta en una ladera de un zerro en el cual sobre el pueblo esta una fortaleza mui bien obrada de canteria, tan de ver que por Espanoles que han andado Reinos estranos, dicen no haver visto otro edeficio igual al della.” Carta de la Just. y Reg. de Xauja, Ms.]
36 “Un rio, el cual baja por medio de la cibdad y desde que nace, mas de veinte leguas por aquel valle abajo donde hay muchas poblaciones, va enlosado todo por el suelo, y las varrancas de una parte y de otra hechas de canteria labrada, cosa nunca vista, ni oida.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
37 The reader will find a few repetitions in this chapter of what I have already said, in the Introduction, of Cuzco under the Incas. But the facts here stated are for the most part drawn from other sources, and some repetition was unavoidable in order to give a distinct image of the capital.
The most sumptuous edifice in Cuzco, in the times of the Incas, was undoubtedly the great temple dedicated to the Sun, which, studded with gold plates, as already noticed, was surrounded by convents and dormitories for the priests, with their gardens and broad parterres sparkling with gold. The exterior ornaments had been already removed by the Conquerors, — all but the frieze of gold, which, imbedded in the stones, still encircled the principal building. It is probable that the tales of wealth, so greedily circulated among the Spaniards, greatly exceeded the truth. If they did not, the natives must have been very successful in concealing their treasures from the invaders. Yet much still remained, not only in the great House of the Sun, but in the inferior temples which swarmed in the capital.
Pizarro, on entering Cuzco, had issued an order forbidding any soldier to offer violence to the dwellings of the inhabitants. 38 But the palaces were numerous, and the troops lost no time in plundering them of their contents, as well as in despoiling the religious edifices. The interior decorations supplied them with considerable booty. They stripped off the jewels and rich ornaments that garnished the royal mummies in the temple of Coricancha. Indignant at the concealment of their treasures, they put the inhabitants, in some instances, to the torture, and endeavoured to extort from them a confession of their hiding-places. 39 They invaded the repose of the sepulchres, in which the Peruvians often deposited their valuable effects, and compelled the grave to give up its dead. No place was left unexplored by the rapacious Conquerors, and they occasionally stumbled on a mine of wealth that rewarded their labors.
38 “Pues mando el marquez dar vn pregon que ningun espanol fuese a entrar en las casas de los naturales o tomalles nada.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
39 Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap 123.]
In a cavern near the city they found a number of vases of pure gold, richly embossed with the figures of serpents, locusts, and other animals. Among the spoil were four golden llamas and ten or twelve statues of women, some of gold, others of silver, “which merely to see,” says one of the Conquerors, with some naivete, “was truly a great satisfaction.” The gold was probably thin, for the figures were all as large as life; and several of them, being reserved for the royal fifth, were not recast, but sent in their original form to Spain. 40 The magazines were stored with curious commodities; richly tinted robes of cotton and feather-work, gold sandals, and slippers of the same material, for the women, and dresses composed entirely of beads of gold. 41 The grain and other articles of food, with which the magazines were filled, were held in contempt by the Conquerors, intent only on gratifying their lust for gold. 42 The time came when the grain would have been of far more value.
40 “Et fra l’altre cose singolari, era veder quattro castrati di fin oro molto grandi, et 10 o 12 statue di done, della grandezza delle done di quel paese tutte d’oro fino, cosi belle et ben fatte come se fossero viue. . . . . . Queste furono date nel quinto che toccaua a S. M.” (Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III fol.409.) “Muchas estatuas y figuras de oro y plata enteras, hecha la forma toda de una muger, y del tamano della, muy bien labradas.” Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
41 “Avia ansi mismo miscmo otras muchas plumas de diferentes colores para este efecto de hacer rropas que vestian los senores y senoras y no otto otro en los tiempos de sus fiestas; avia tambien mantas hechas de chaquira, de oro, y de plata, que heran vnas quentecitas muy delicadas, que parecia cosa de espanto ver su hechura.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
42 Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.]
Yet the amount of treasure in the capital did not equal the sanguine expectations that had been formed by the Spaniards. But the deficiency was supplied by the plunder which they had collected at various places on their march. In one place, for example, they met with ten planks or bars of solid silver, each piece being twenty feet in length, one foot in breadth, and two or three inches thick. They were intended to decorate the dwelling of an Inca noble. 43
43 “Pues andando yo buscando mahiz o otras cosas para comer, acaso entre en vn buhio donde halle estos tablones de plata que tengo dicho que heran hasta diez y de largo tenian veinte pies y de anchor de vno y de gordor de tres dedos, di noticia dello al marquez y el y todos los demas que con e. estavan entraron a vello.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
The whole mass of treasure was brought into a common heap, as in Caxamalca; and after some of the finer specimens had been deducted for the Crown, the remainder was delivered to the Indian goldsmiths to be melted down into ingots of a uniform standard. The division of the spoil was made on the same principle as before. There were four hundred and eighty soldiers, including the garrison of Xauxa, who were each to receive a share, that of the cavalry being double that of the infantry. The amount of booty is stated variously by those present at the division of it. According to some, it considerably exceeded the ransom of Atahuallpa. Others state it as less. Pedro Pizarro says that each horseman got six thousand pesos de oro, and each one of the infantry half that sum; 44 though the same discrimination was made by Pizarro as before, in respect to the rank of the parties, and their relative services. But Sancho, the royal notary, and secretary of the commander, estimates the whole amount as far less, — not exceeding five hundred and eighty thousand and two hundred pesos de oro, and two hundred and fifteen thousand marks of silver. 45 In the absence of the official returns, it is impossible to determine which is correct. But Sancho’s narrative is countersigned, it may be remembered, by Pizarro and the royal treasurer Riquelme, and doubtless, therefore, shows the actual amount for which the Conquerors accounted to the Crown.
44 Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
45 Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 409.]
Whichever statement we receive, the sum, combined with that obtained at Caxamalca, might well have satisfied the cravings of the most avaricious. The sudden influx of so much wealth, and that, too, in so transferable a form, among a party of reckless adventures little accustomed to the possession of money, had its natural effect. It supplied them with the means of gaming, so strong and common a passion with the Spaniards, that it may be considered a national vice. Fortunes were lost and won in a single day, sufficient to render the proprietors independent for life; and many a desperate gamester, by an unlucky throw of the dice or turn of the cards, saw himself stripped in a few hours of the fruits of years of toil, and obliged to begin over again the business of rapine. Among these, one in the cavalry service is mentioned, named Leguizano, who had received as his share of the booty the image of the Sun, which, raised on a plate of burnished gold, spread over the walls in a recess of the great temple, and which, for some reason or other, — perhaps because of its superior fineness, — was not recast like the other ornaments. This rich prize the spendthrift lost in a single night; whence it came to be a proverb in Spain, Juega el Sol antes que amanezca, “Play away the Sun before sunrise.” 46
46 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1 lib. 3, cap. 20
The effect of such a surfeit of the precious metals was instantly felt on prices. The most ordinary articles were only to be had for exorbitant sums. A quire of paper sold for ten pesos de oro; a bottle of wine, for sixty; a sword, for forty or fifty; a cloak, for a hundred, — sometimes more; a pair of shoes cost thirty or forty pesos de oro, and a good horse could not be had for less than twenty-five hundred. 47 Some brought a still higher price. Every article rose in value, as gold and silver, the representatives of all, declined. Gold and silver, in short, seemed to be the only things in Cuzco that were not wealth. Yet there were some few wise enough to return contented with their present gains to their native country. Here their riches brought them consideration and competence, and, while they excited the envy of their countrymen, stimulated them to seek their own fortunes in the like path of adventure.
47 Xerez, Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 233.]
The first care of the Spanish general, after the division of the booty, was to place Manco on the throne, and to obtain for him the recognition of his countrymen. He, accordingly, presented the young prince to them as their future sovereign, the legitimate son of Huayna Capac, and the true heir of the Peruvian sceptre. The annunciation was received with enthusiasm by the people, attached to the memory of his illustrious father, and pleased that they were still to have a monarch rule over them of the ancient line of Cuzco.
Every thing was done to maintain the illusion with the Indian population. The ceremonies of a coronation were studiously observed. The young prince kept the prescribed fasts and vigils; and on the appointed day, the nobles and the people, with the whole Spanish soldiery, assembled in the great square of Cuzco to witness the concluding ceremony. Mass was publicly performed by Father Valverde, and the Inca Manco received the fringed diadem of Peru, not from the hand of the high-priest of his nation, but from his Conqueror, Pizarro. The Indian lords then tendered their obeisance in the customary form; after which the royal notary read aloud the instrument asserting the supremacy of the Castilian Crown, and requiring the homage of all present to its authority. This address was explained by an interpreter, and the ceremony of homage was performed by each one of the parties waving the royal banner of Castile twice or thrice with his hands. Manco then pledged the Spanish commander in a golden goblet of the sparkling chicha; and, the latter having cordially embraced the new monarch, the trumpets announced the conclusion of the ceremony. 1 But it was not the note of triumph, but of humiliation; for it proclaimed that the armed foot of the stranger was in the halls of the Peruvian Incas; that the ceremony of coronation was a miserable pageant; that their prince himself was but a puppet in the hands of his Conqueror; and that the glory of the Children of the Sun had departed for ever!
1 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 407.]
Yet the people readily gave in to the illusion, and seemed willing to accept this image of their ancient independence. The accession of the young monarch was greeted by all the usual fetes and rejoicings. The mummies of his royal ancestors, with such ornaments as were still left to them, were paraded in the great square. They were attended each by his own numerous retinue, who performed all the menial offices, as if the object of them were alive and could feel their import. Each ghostly form took its seat at the banquet-table — now, alas! stripped of the magnificent service with which it was wont to blaze at these high festivals — and the guests drank deep to the illustrious dead. Dancing succeeded the carousal, and the festivities, prolonged to a late hour, were continued night after night by the giddy population, as if their conquerors had not been intrenched in the capital! 2 — What a contrast to the Aztecs in the conquest of Mexico!
2 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms
“Luego por la manana iba al enterramiento donde estaban cada uno por orden embalsamados como es dicho, y asentados en sus sillas, y con mucha veneracion y respeto, todos por orden los sacaban de alli y los trahian a la ciudad, teniendo cada uno su litera, y hombres con su librea, que le trujesen, y ansi desta manera todo el servicio y aderezos como si estubiera vivo.” Relacion del Primer. Descub, Ms.]
Pizarro’s next concern was to organize a municipal government for Cuzco, like those in the cities of the parent country. Two alcaldes were appointed, and eight regidores, among which last functionaries were his brothers Gonzalo and Juan. The oaths of office were administered with great solemnity, on the twenty-fourth of March, 1534, in presence both of Spaniards and Peruvians, in the public square; as if the general were willing by this ceremony to intimate to the latter, that, while they retained the semblance of their ancient institutions, the real power was henceforth vested in their conquerors. 3 He invited Spaniards to settle in the place by liberal grants of land and houses, for which means were afforded by the numerous palaces and public buildings of the Incas; and many a cavalier, who had been too poor in his own country to find a place to rest in, now saw himself the proprietor of a spacious mansion that might have entertained the retinue of a prince. 4 From this time, says an old chronicler, Pizarro, who had hitherto been distinguished by his military title of “Captain–General,” was addressed by that of “Governor.” 5 Both had been bestowed on him by the royal grant.
3 Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 409. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1534. — Actto de la fundacion del Cuzco, Ms.
This instrument, which belongs to the collection of Munoz, records not only the names of the magistrates, but of the vecinos who formed the first population of the Christian capital.]
4 Actto de la fundacion del Cuzco, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 7, cap. 9, et seq.
When a building was of immense size, as happened with some of the temples and palaces, it was assigned to two or even three of the Conquerors, who each took his share of it. Garcilasso, who describes the city as it was soon after the Conquest, commemorates with sufficient prolixity the names of the cavaliers among whom the buildings were distributed.]
5 Montesinos, Annales, ano 1534.]
Nor did the chief neglect the interests of religion. Father Valverde, whose nomination as Bishop of Cuzco not long afterwards received the Papal sanction, prepared to enter on the duties of his office. A place was selected for the cathedral of his diocese, facing the plaza. A spacious monastery subsequently rose on the ruins of the gorgeous House of the Sun; its walls were constructed of the ancient stones; the altar was raised on the spot where shone the bright image of the Peruvian deity, and the cloisters of the Indian temple were trodden by the friars of St. Dominic. 6 To make the metamorphosis more complete, the House of the Virgins of the Sun was replaced by a Roman Catholic nunnery. 7 Christian churches and monasteries gradually supplanted the ancient edifices, and such of the latter as were suffered to remain, despoiled of their heathen insignia, were placed under the protection of the Cross.
6 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 20; lib. 6, cap. 21. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
7 Ulloa, Voyage to S. America, book 7, ch. 12.
“The Indian nuns,” says the author of the Relacion del Primer. Descub., “lived chastely and in a holy manner.” — “Their chastity was all a feint,” says Pedro Pizarro, “for they had constant amours with the attendants on the temple.” (Descub. y Conq., Ms.) — What is truth? — In statements so contradictory, we may accept the most favorable to the Peruvian. The prejudices of the Conqueror certainly did not lie on that side.
The Fathers of St. Dominic, the Brethren of the Order of Mercy, and other missionaries, now busied themselves in the good work of conversion. We have seen that Pizarro was required by the Crown to bring out a certain number of these holy men in his own vessels; and every succeeding vessel brought an additional reinforcement of ecclesiastics. They were not all like the Bishop of Cuzco, with hearts so seared by fanaticism as to be closed against sympathy with the unfortunate natives. 8 They were, many of them, men of singular humility, who followed in the track of the conqueror to scatter the seeds of spiritual truth, and, with disinterested zeal, devoted themselves to the propagation of the Gospel. Thus did their pious labors prove them the true soldiers of the Cross, and showed that the object so ostentatiously avowed of carrying its banner among the heathen nations was not an empty vaunt.
8 Such, however, it is but fair to Valverde to state, is not the language applied to him by the rude soldiers of the Conquest. The municipality of Xauxa, in a communication to the Court, extol the Dominican as an exemplary and learned divine, who had afforded much serviceable consolation to his countrymen. “Es persona de mucho exemplo i Doctrina i con quien todos los Espanoles an tenido mucho consuelo.” (Carta de la Just. y Reg. de Xauxa, Ms.) And yet this is not incompatible with a high degree of insensibility to the natural rights of the natives.]
The effort to Christianize the heathen is an honorable characteristic of the Spanish conquests. The Puritan, with equal religious zeal, did comparatively little for the conversion of the Indian, content, as it would seem, with having secured to himself the inestimable privilege of worshipping God in his own way. Other adventurers who have occupied the New World have often had too little regard for religion themselves, to be very solicitous about spreading it among the savages. But the Spanish missionary, from first to last, has shown a keen interest in the spiritual welfare of the natives. Under his auspices, churches on a magnificent scale have been erected, schools for elementary instruction founded, and every rational means taken to spread the knowledge of religious truth, while he has carried his solitary mission into remote and almost inaccessible regions, or gathered his Indian disciples into communities, like the good Las Casas in Cumana, or the Jesuits in California and Paraguay. At all times, the courageous ecclesiastic has been ready to lift his voice against the cruelty of the conqueror, and the no less wasting cupidity of the colonist; and when his remonstrances, as was too often the case, have proved unavailing, he has still followed to bind up the broken-hearted, to teach the poor Indian resignation under his lot, and light up his dark intellect with the revelation of a holier and happier existence. — In reviewing the blood-stained records of Spanish colonial history, it is but fair, and at the same time cheering, to reflect, that the same nation which sent forth the hard-hearted conqueror from its bosom sent forth the missionary to do the work of beneficence, and spread the light of Christian civilization over the farthest regions of the New World.
While the governor, as we are henceforth to style him, lay at Cuzco, he received repeated accounts of a considerable force in the neighbourhood, under the command of Atahuallpa’s officer, Quizquiz. He accordingly detached Almagro, with a small body of horse and a large Indian force under the Inca Manco to disperse the enemy, and, if possible, to capture their leader. Manco was the more ready to take part in the expedition, as the enemy were soldiers of Quito, who, with their commander, bore no good-will to himself.
Almagro, moving with his characteristic rapidity, was not long in coming up with the Indian chieftain. Several sharp encounters followed, as the army of Quito fell back on Xauxa, near which a general engagement decided the fate of the war by the total discomfiture of the natives. Quizquiz fled to the elevated plains of Quito, where he still held out with undaunted spirit against a Spanish force in that quarter, till at length his own soldiers, wearied by these long and ineffectual hostilities, massacred their commander in cold blood. 9 Thus fell the last of the two great officers of Atahuallpa, who, if their nation had been animated by a spirit equal to their own, might long have successfully maintained their soil against the invader.
9 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 20. — Ped. Sancho, Rel., ap Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 408. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms.]
Some time before this occurrence, the Spanish governor, while in Cuzco, received tidings of an event much more alarming to him than any Indian hostilities. This was the arrival on the coast of a strong Spanish force, under command of Don Pedro de Alvarado, the gallant officer who had served under Cortes with such renown in the war of Mexico. That cavalier, after forming a brilliant alliance in Spain, to which he was entitled by his birth and military rank, had returned to his government of Guatemala, where his avarice had been roused by the magnificent reports he daily received of Pizarro’s conquests. These conquests, he learned, had been confined to Peru; while the northern kingdom of Quito, the ancient residence of Atahuallpa, and, no doubt, the principal depository of his treasures, yet remained untouched. Affecting to consider this country as falling without the governor’s jurisdiction, he immediately turned a large fleet, which he had intended for the Spice Islands, in the direction of South America; and in March, 1534, he landed in the bay of Caraques, with five hundred followers, of whom half were mounted, and all admirably provided with arms and ammunition. It was the best equipped and most formidable array that had yet appeared in the southern seas. 10
10 The number is variously reported by historians. But from a egal investigation made in Guatemala, it appears that the whole force amounted to 500, of which 230 were cavalry. — Informacion echa en Santiago, Set. 15, 1536 Ms.]
Although manifestly an invasion of the territory conceded to Pizarro by the Crown, the reckless cavalier determined to march at once on Quito. With the assistance of an Indian guide, he proposed to take the direct route across the mountains, a passage of exceeding difficulty, even at the most favorable season.
After crossing the Rio Dable, Alvarado’s guide deserted him, so that he was soon entangled in the intricate mazes of the sierra; and, as he rose higher and higher into the regions of winter, he became surrounded with ice and snow, for which his men taken from the warm countries of Guatemala, were but ill prepared. As the cold grew more intense, many of them were so benumbed, that it was with difficulty they could proceed. The infantry, compelled to make exertions, fared best. Many of the troopers were frozen stiff in their saddles. The Indians, still more sensible to the cold, perished by hundreds. As the Spaniards huddled round their wretched bivouacs, with such scanty fuel as they could glean, and almost without food, they waited in gloomy silence the approach of morning. Yet the morning light, which gleamed coldly on the cheerless waste, brought no joy to them. It only revealed more clearly the extent of their wretchedness. Still struggling on through the winding Puertos Nevados, or Snowy Passes, their track was dismally marked by fragments of dress, broken harness, golden ornaments, and other valuables plundered on their march, — by the dead bodies of men, or by those less fortunate, who were left to die alone in the wilderness. As for the horses, their carcasses were not suffered long to cumber the ground, as they were quickly seized and devoured half raw by the starving soldiers, who, like the famished condors, now hovering in troops above their heads, greedily banqueted on the most offensive offal to satisfy the gnawings of hunger.
Alvarado, anxious to secure the booty which had fallen into his hands at an earlier part of his march, encouraged every man to take what gold he wanted from the common heap, reserving only the royal fifth. But they only answered, with a ghastly smile of derision, “that food was the only gold for them.” Yet in this extremity, which might seem to have dissolved the very ties of nature, there are some affecting instances recorded of self-devotion; of comrades who lost their lives in assisting others, and of parents and husbands (for some of the cavaliers were accompanied by their wives) who, instead of seeking their own safety, chose to remain and perish in the snows with the objects of their love.
To add to their distress, the air was filled for several days with thick clouds of earthy particles and cinders, which blinded the men, and made respiration exceedingly difficult. 11 This phenomenon, it seems probable, was caused by an eruption of the distant Cotopaxi, which, about twelve leagues southeast of Quito, rears up its colossal and perfectly symmetrical cone far above the limits of eternal snow, — the most beautiful and the most terrible of the American volcanoes. 12 At the time of Alvarado’s expedition, it was in a state of eruption, the earliest instance of the kind on record, though doubtless not the earliest. 13 Since that period, it has been in frequent commotion, sending up its sheets of flame to the height of half a mile, spouting forth cataracts of lava that have overwhelmed towns and villages in their career, and shaking the earth with subterraneous thunders, that, at the distance of more than a hundred leagues, sounded like the reports of artillery! 14 Alvarado’s followers, unacquainted with the cause of the phenomenon, as they wandered over tracts buried in snow, — the sight of which was strange to them, — in an atmosphere laden with ashes, became bewildered by this confusion of the elements, which Nature seemed to have contrived purposely for their destruction. Some of these men were the soldiers of Cortes, steeled by many a painful march, and many a sharp encounter with the Aztecs. But this war of the elements, they now confessed, was mightier than all.
11 “It began to rain earthy particles from the heavens,” says Oviedo, “that blinded the men and horses, so that the trees and bushes were full of dirt.” Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 20.]
12 Garcilasso says the shower of ashes came from the “volcano of Quito.” (Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 2.) Cieza de Leon only says from one of the volcanoes in that region. (Cronica, cap. 41.) Neither of them specify the name. Humboldt accepts the common opinion, that Cotopaxi was intended. Researches, I. 123.]
13 A popular tradition among the natives states, that a large fragment of porphyry near the base of the cone was thrown out in an eruption, which occurred at the moment of Atahuallpa’s death. — But such tradition will hardly pass for history.]
14 A minute account of this formidable mountain is given by M. de Humboldt, (Researches, I. 118, et seq.,) and more circumstantially by Condamine. (Voyage a l’Equateur, pp. 48 — 56 156 — 160.) The latter philosopher would have attempted to scale the almost perpendicular walls of the volcano, but no one was hardy enough to second him.]
At length, Alvarado, after sufferings, which even the most hardy, probably, could have endured but a few days longer, emerged from the Snowy Pass, and came on the elevated table-land, which spreads out, at the height of more than nine thousand feet above the ocean, in the neighbourhood of Riobamba. But one fourth of his gallant army had been left to feed the condor in the wilderness, besides the greater part, at least two thousand, of his Indian auxiliaries. A great number of his horses, too, had perished; and the men and horses that escaped were all of them more or less injured by the cold and the extremity of suffering. — Such was the terrible passage of the Puertos Nevados, which I have only briefly noticed as an episode to the Peruvian conquest, but the account of which, in all its details, though it occupied but a few weeks in duration, would give one a better idea of the difficulties encountered by the Spanish cavaliers, than volumes of ordinary narrative. 15
15 By far the most spirited and thorough record of Alvarado’s march is given by Herrera, who has borrowed the pen of Livy describing the Alpine march of Hannibal. (Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 6, cap. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9.) See also Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms., — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 20, — and Carta de Pedro de Alvarado al Emperador, San Miguel, 15 de Enero, 1535, Ms.
Alvarado, in the letter above cited, which is preserved in the Munoz collection, explains to the Emperor the grounds of his expedition, with no little effrontery. In this document he touches very briefly on the march, being chiefly occupied by the negotiations with Almagro, and accompanying his remarks with many dark suggestions as to the policy pursued by the Conquerors]
As Alvarado, after halting some time to restore his exhausted troops, began his march across the broad plateau, he was astonished by seeing the prints of horses’ hoofs on the soil. Spaniards, then, had been there before him, and, after all his toil and suffering, others had forestalled him in the enterprise against Quito! It is necessary to say a few words in explanation of this.
When Pizarro quitted Caxamalca, being sensible of the growing importance of San Miguel, the only port of entry then in the country, he despatched a person in whom he had great confidence to take charge of it. This person was Sebastian Benalcazar, a cavalier who afterwards placed his name in the first rank of the South American conquerors, for courage, capacity, — and cruelty. But this cavalier had hardly reached his government, when, like Alvarado, he received such accounts of the riches of Quito, that he determined, with the force at his command, though without orders, to undertake its reduction.
At the head of about a hundred and forty soldiers, horse and foot, and a stout body of Indian auxiliaries, he marched up the broad range of the Andes, to where it spreads out into the table-land of Quito, by a road safer and more expeditious than that taken by Alvarado. On the plains of Riobamba, he encountered the Indian general Ruminavi. Several engagements followed, with doubtful success, when, in the end, science prevailed where courage was well matched, and the victorious Benalcazar planted the standard of Castile on the ancient towers of Atahuallpa. The city, in honor of his general, Francis Pizarro, he named San Francisco del Quito. But great was his mortification on finding that either the stories of its riches had been fabricated, or that these riches were secreted by the natives. The city was all that he gained by his victories, — the shell without the pearl of price which gave it its value. While devouring his chagrin, as he best could, the Spanish captain received tidings of the approach of his superior, Almagro. 16
16 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 11, 18; lib. 6, cap. 5, 6. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 19. — Carta de Benalcazar, Ms.]
No sooner had the news of Alvarado’s expedition reached Cuzco, than Almagro left the place with a small force for San Miguel, proposing to strengthen himself by a reinforcement from that quarter, and to march at once against the invaders. Greatly was he astonished, on his arrival in that city, to learn the departure of its commander. Doubting the loyalty of his motives, Almagro, with the buoyancy of spirit which belongs to youth, though in truth somewhat enfeebled by the infirmities of age, did not hesitate to follow Benalcazar at once across the mountains. With his wonted energy, the intrepid veteran, overcoming all the difficulties of his march, in a few weeks placed himself and his little company on the lofty plains which spread around the Indian city of Riobamba; though in his progress he had more than one hot encounter with the natives, whose courage and perseverance formed a contrast sufficiently striking to the apathy of the Peruvians. But the fire only slumbered in the bosom of the Peruvian. His hour had not yet come.
At Riobamba, Almagro was soon joined by the commander of San Miguel, who disclaimed, perhaps sincerely, any disloyal intent in his unauthorized expedition. Thus reinforced, the Spanish captain coolly awaited the coming of Alvarado. The forces of the latter, though in a less serviceable condition, were much superior in number and appointments to those of his rival. As they confronted each other on the broad plains of Riobamba, it seemed probable that a fierce struggle must immediately follow, and the natives of the country have the satisfaction to see their wrongs avenged by the very hands that inflicted them. But it was Almagro’s policy to avoid such an issue.
Negotiations were set on foot, in which each party stated his claims to the country. Meanwhile Alvarado’s men mingled freely with their countrymen in the opposite army, and heard there such magnificent reports of the wealth and wonders of Cuzco, that many of them were inclined to change their present service for that of Pizarro. Their own leader, too, satisfied that Quito held out no recompense worth the sacrifices he had made, and was like to make, by insisting on his claim, became now more sensible of the rashness of a course which must doubtless incur the censure of his sovereign. In this temper, it was not difficult for them to effect an adjustment of difficulties; and it was agreed, as the basis of it, that the governor should pay one hundred thousand pesos de oro to Alvarado, in consideration of which the latter was to resign to him his fleet, his forces, and all his stores and munitions. His vessels, great and small, amounted to twelve in number, and the sum he received, though large, did not cover his expenses. This treaty being settled, Alvarado proposed, before leaving the country, to have an interview with Pizarro. 17
17 Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 6, cap. 8 — 10. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap 20. — Carta de Benalcazar, Ms.
The amount of the bonus paid to Alvarado is stated very differently by writers. But both that cavalier and Almagro, in their letters to the Emperor, which have hitherto been unknown to historians, agree in the sum given in the text. Alvarado complains that he had no choice but to take it, although it was greatly to his own loss, and, by defeating his expedition, as he modestly intimates, to the loss of the Crown. (Carta de Alvarado al Emperador, Ms.) — Almagro, however, states that the sum paid was three times as much as the armament was worth; “a sacrifice,” he adds, “which he made to preserve peace, never dear at any price.” — Strange sentiment for a Castilian conqueror! Carta de Diego de Almagro al Emperador, Ms., Oct. 15, 1534.]
The governor, meanwhile, had quitted the Peruvian capital for the sea-coast, from his desire to repel any invasion that might be attempted in that direction by Alvarado, with whose real movements he was still unacquainted. He left Cuzco in charge of his brother Juan, a cavalier whose manners were such as, he thought, would be likely to gain the good-will of the native population. Pizarro also left ninety of his troops, as the garrison of the capital, and the nucleus of his future colony. Then, taking the Inca Manco with him, he proceeded as far as Xauxa. At this place he was entertained by the Indian prince with the exhibition of a great national hunt, — such as has been already described in these pages, — in which immense numbers of wild animals were slaughtered, and the vicunas, and other races of Peruvian sheep, which roam over the mountains, driven into inclosures and relieved of their delicate fleeces. 18
18 Carta de la Just. y Reg. de Xauja, Ms. — Relacion del Primer. Descub., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 6, cap. 16. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1534.
At this place, the author of the Relacion del Primer Descubrimiento del Peru, the Ms. so often quoted in these pages, abruptly terminates his labors. He is a writer of sense and observation; and, though he has his share of the national tendency to exaggerate and overcolor, he writes like one who means to be honest, and who has seen what he describes.
At Xauxa, also, the notary Pedro Sancho ends his Relacion, which embraces a much shorter period than the preceding narrative, but which is equally authentic. Coming from the secretary of Pizarro, and countersigned by that general himself, this Relation, indeed, may be regarded as of the very highest authority. And yet large deductions must obviously be made for the source whence it springs; for it may be taken as Pizarro’s own account of his doings, some of which stood much in need of apology. It must be added, in justice both to the general and to his secretary, that the Relation does not differ substantially from other contemporary accounts, and that the attempt to varnish over the exceptionable passages in the conduct of the Conquerors is not obtrusive.
For the publication of this journal, we are indebted to Ramusio, whose enlightened labors have preserved to us more than one contemporary production of value, though in the form of translation]
The Spanish governor then proceeded to Pachacamac, where he received the grateful intelligence of the accommodation with Alvarado; and not long afterward he was visited by that cavalier himself, previously to his embarkation.
The meeting was conducted with courtesy and a show, at least, of good-will, on both sides, as there was no longer real cause for jealousy between the parties; and each, as may be imagined, looked on the other with no little interest, as having achieved such distinction in the bold path of adventure. In the comparison, Alvarado had somewhat the advantage; for Pizarro, though of commanding presence, had not the brilliant exterior, the free and joyous manner, which, no less than his fresh complexion and sunny locks, had won for the conqueror of Guatemala, in his campaigns against the Aztecs, the sobriquet of Tonatiuh, or “Child of the Sun.”
Blithe were the revels that now rang through the ancient city of Pachacamac; where, instead of songs, and of the sacrifices so often seen there in honor of the Indian deity, the walls echoed to the noise of tourneys and Moorish tilts of reeds, with which the martial adventurers loved to recall the sports of their native land. When these were concluded, Alvarado reembarked for his government of Guatemala, where his restless spirit soon involved him in other enterprises that cut short his adventurous career. His expedition to Peru was eminently characteristic of the man. It was founded in injustice, conducted with rashness, and ended in disaster. 19
19 Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta Francisco Pizarro al Senor de Molina, Ms.
Alvarado died in 1541, of an injury received from a horse which rolled down on him as he was attempting to scale a precipitous hill in New Galicia. In the same year, by a singular coincidence, perished his beautiful wife, at her own residence in Guatemala, which was overwhelmed by a torrent from the adjacent mountains.]
The reduction of Peru might now be considered as, in a manner, accomplished. Some barbarous tribes in the interior, it is true, still held out, and Alonso de Alvarado, a prudent and able officer, was employed to bring them into subjection. Benalcazar was still at Quito, of which he was subsequently appointed governor by the Crown. There he was laying deeper the foundation of the Spanish power, while he advanced the line of conquest still higher towards the north. But Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Indian monarchy, had submitted. The armies of Atahuallpa had been beaten and scattered. The empire of the Incas was dissolved; and the prince who now wore the Peruvian diadem was but the shadow of a king, who held his commission from his conqueror.
The first act of the governor was to determine on the site of the future capital of this vast colonial empire. Cuzco, withdrawn among the mountains, was altogether too far removed from the sea-coast for a commercial people. The little settlement of San Miguel lay too far to the north. It was desirable to select some more central position, which could be easily found in one of the fruitful valleys that bordered the Pacific. Such was that of Pachacamac, which Pizarro now occupied. But, on further examination, he preferred the neighbouring valley of Rimac, which lay to the north, and which took its name, signifying in the Quichua tongue “one who speaks,” from a celebrated idol, whose shrine was much frequented by the Indians for the oracles it delivered. Through the valley flowed a broad stream, which, like a great artery, was made, as usual by the natives, to supply a thousand finer veins that meandered through the beautiful meadows.
On this river Pizarro fixed the site of his new capital, at somewhat less than two leagues’ distance from its mouth, which expanded into a commodious haven for the commerce that the prophetic eye of the founder saw would one day — and no very distant one — float on its waters. The central situation of the spot recommended it as a suitable residence for the Peruvian viceroy, whence he might hold easy communication with the different parts of the country, and keep vigilant watch over his Indian vassals. The climate was delightful, and, though only twelve degrees south of the line, was so far tempered by the cool breezes that generally blow from the Pacific, or from the opposite quarter down the frozen sides of the Cordilleras, that the heat was less than in corresponding latitudes on the continent. It never rained on the coast; but this dryness was corrected by a vaporous cloud, which, through the summer months, hung like a curtain over the valley, sheltering it from the rays of a tropical sun, and imperceptibly distilling a refreshing moisture, that clothed the fields in the brightest verdure.
The name bestowed on the infant capital was Ciudad de los Reyes, or City of the Kings, in honor of the day, being the sixth of January, 1535, — the festival of Epiphany, — when it was said to have been founded, or more probably when its site was determined, as its actual foundation seems to have been twelve days later. 20 But the Castilian name ceased to be used even within the first generation, and was supplanted by that of Lima, into which the original Indian name of Rimac was corrupted by the Spaniards. 21
20 So says Quintana, who follows in this what he pronounces a sure authority, Father Bernabe Cobo, in his book entitled Fundacion de Lima. Espanoles Celebres, tom. II. p. 250, nota.]
21 The Mss. of the old Conquerors show how, from the very first, the name of Lima superseded the original Indian title. “Y el marquez se passo a Lima y fundo la ciudad de los rreyes que agora es.” (Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.) “Asimismo ordenaron que se pasasen el pueblo que tenian en Xauxa poblado a este Valle de Lima donde agora es esta ciudad de los i aqui se poblo.” Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
The city was laid out on a very regular plan. The streets were to be much wider than usual in Spanish towns, and perfectly straight, crossing one another at right angles, and so far asunder as to afford ample space for gardens to the dwellings, and for public squares. It was arranged in a triangular form, having the river for its base, the waters of which were to be carried, by means of stone conduits, through all the principal streets, affording facilities for irrigating the grounds around the houses.
No sooner had the governor decided on the site and on the plan of the city, than he commenced operations with his characteristic energy. The Indians were collected from the distance of more than a hundred miles to aid in the work. The Spaniards applied themselves with vigor to the task, under the eye of their chief. The sword was exchanged for the tool of the artisan. The camp was converted into a hive of diligent laborers; and the sounds of war were succeeded by the peaceful hum of a busy population. The plaza, which was extensive, was to be surrounded by the cathedral, the palace of the viceroy, that of the municipality, and other public buildings; and their foundations were laid on a scale, and with a solidity, which defied the assaults of time, and, in some instances, even the more formidable shock of earthquakes, that, at different periods, have laid portions of the fair capital in ruins. 22
22 Montesinos, Annales, Ms. ano 1535. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.
The remains of Pizarro’s palace may still be discerned in the Callejon de Petateros, says Stevenson, who gives the best account of Lima to be found in any modern book of travels which I have consulted. Residence in South America, vol II. chap. 8.]
While these events were going on, Almagro, the Marshal, as he is usually termed by chroniclers of the time, had gone to Cuzco, whither he was sent by Pizarro to take command of that capital. He received also instructions to undertake, either by himself or by his captains, the conquest of the countries towards the south, forming part of Chili. Almagro, since his arrival at Caxamalca, had seemed willing to smother his ancient feelings of resentment towards his associate, or, at least, to conceal the expression of them, and had consented to take command under him in obedience to the royal mandate. He had even, in his despatches, the magnanimity to make honorable mention of Pizarro, as one anxious to promote the interests of government. Yet he did not so far trust his companion, as to neglect the precaution of sending a confidential agent to represent his own services, when Hernando Pizarro undertook his mission to the mother-country.
That cavalier, after touching at St. Domingo, had arrived without accident at Seville, in January, 1534. Besides the royal fifth, he took with him gold, to the value of half a million of pesos, together with a large quantity of silver, the property of private adventurers, some of whom, satisfied with their gains, had returned to Spain in the same vessel with himself. The custom-house was filled with solid ingots, and with vases of different forms, imitations of animals, flowers, fountains, and other objects, executed with more or less skill, and all of pure gold, to the astonishment of the spectators, who flocked from the neighbouring country to gaze on these marvellous productions of Indian art. 23 Most of the manufactured articles were the property of the Crown; and Hernando Pizarro, after a short stay at Seville, selected some of the most gorgeous specimens, and crossed the country to Calatayud, where the emperor was holding the cortes of Aragon.
23 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, ib. 6, cap. 13. — Lista de todo lo que Hernando Pizarro trajo del Peru, ap. Mss. de Munoz.]
Hernando was instantly admitted to the royal presence, and obtained a gracious audience. He was more conversant with courts than either of his brothers, and his manners, when in situations that imposed a restraint on the natural arrogance of his temper, were graceful and even attractive. In a respectful tone, he now recited the stirring adventures of his brother and his little troop of followers, the fatigues they had endured, the difficulties they had overcome, their capture of the Peruvian Inca, and his magnificent ransom. He had not to tell of the massacre of the unfortunate prince, for the tragic event, which had occurred since his departure from the country, was still unknown to him. The cavalier expatiated on the productiveness of the soil, and on the civilization of the people, evinced by their proficiency in various mechanic arts; in proof of which he displayed the manufactures of wool and cotton, and the rich ornaments of gold and silver. The monarch’s eyes sparkled with delight as he gazed on these last. He was too sagacious not to appreciate the advantages of a conquest which secured to him a country so rich in agricultural resources. But the returns from these must necessarily be gradual and long deferred; and he may be excused for listening with still greater satisfaction to Pizarro’s tales of its mineral stores; for his ambitious projects had drained the imperial treasury, and he saw in the golden tide thus unexpectedly poured in upon him the immediate means of replenishing it.
Charles made no difficulty, therefore, in granting the petitions of the fortunate adventurer. All the previous grants to Francis Pizarro and his associates were confirmed in the fullest manner; and the boundaries of the governor’s jurisdiction were extended seventy leagues further towards the south. Nor did Almagro’s services, this time, go unrequited. He was empowered to discover and occupy the country for the distance of two hundred leagues, beginning at the southern limit of Pizarro’s territory. 24 Charles, in proof, still further, of his satisfaction, was graciously pleased to address a letter to the two commanders, in which he complimented them on their prowess, and thanked them for their services. This act of justice to Almagro would have been highly honorable to Hernando Pizarro, considering the unfriendly relations in which they stood to each other, had it not been made necessary by the presence of the marshal’s own agents at court, who, as already noticed, stood ready to supply any deficiency in the statements of the emissary.
24 The country to be occupied received the name of New Toledo, in the royal grant, as the conquests of Pizarro had been designated by that of New Castile. But the present attempt to change the Indian name was as ineffectual as the former, and the ancient title of Chili still designates that narrow strip of fruitful land between the Andes and the ocean, which stretches to the south of the great continent.]
In this display of the royal bounty, the envoy, as will readily be believed, did not go without his reward. He was lodged as an attendant of the Court; was made a knight of Santiago, the most prized of the chivalric orders in Spain; was empowered to equip an armament, and to take command of it; and the royal officers at Seville were required to aid him in his views and facilitate his embarkation for the Indies. 25
25 Ibid., loc. cit.]
The arrival of Hernando Pizarro in the country, and the reports spread by him and his followers, created a sensation among the Spaniards such as had not been felt since the first voyage of Columbus. The discovery of the New World had filled the minds of men with indefinite expectations of wealth, of which almost every succeeding expedition had proved the fallacy. The conquest of Mexico, though calling forth general admiration as a brilliant and wonderful exploit, had as yet failed to produce those golden results which had been so fondly anticipated. The splendid promises held out by Francis Pizarro on his recent visit to the country had not revived the confidence of his countrymen, made incredulous by repeated disappointment. All that they were assured of was the difficulties of the enterprise; and their distrust of its results was sufficiently shown by the small number of followers, and those only of the most desperate stamp, who were willing to take their chance in the adventure.
But now these promises were realized. It was no longer the golden reports that they were to trust; but the gold itself, which was displayed in such profusion before them. All eyes were now turned towards the West. The broken spendthrift saw in it the quarter where he was to repair his fortunes as speedily as he had ruined them. The merchant, instead of seeking the precious commodities of the East, looked in the opposite direction, and counted on far higher gains, where the most common articles of life commanded so exorbitant prices. The cavalier, eager to win both gold and glory at the point of his lance, thought to find a fair field for his prowess on the mountain plains of the Andes. Ferdinand Pizarro found that his brother had judged rightly in allowing as many of his company as chose to return home, confident that the display of their wealth would draw ten to his banner for every one that quitted it.
In a short time that cavalier saw himself at the head of one of the most numerous and well-appointed armaments, probably, that had left the shores of Spain since the great fleet of Ovando, in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was scarcely more fortunate than this. Hardly had Ferdinand put to sea, when a violent tempest fell on the squadron, and compelled him to return to port and refit. At length he crossed the ocean, and reached the little harbour of Nombre de Dios in safety. But no preparations had been made for his coming, and, as he was detained here some time before he could pass the mountains, his company suffered greatly from scarcity of food. In their extremity, the most unwholesome articles were greedily devoured, and many a cavalier spent his little savings to procure himself a miserable subsistence. Disease, as usual, trod closely in the track of famine, and numbers of the unfortunate adventurers, sinking under the unaccustomed heats of the climate, perished on the very threshold of discovery.
It was the tale often repeated in the history of Spanish enterprise. A few, more lucky than the rest, stumble on some unexpected prize, and hundreds, attracted by their success, press forward in the same path. But the rich spoil which lay on the surface has been already swept away by the first comers, and those who follow are to win their treasure by long-protracted and painful exertion. — Broken in spirit and in fortune, many returned in disgust to their native shores, while others remained where they were, to die in despair. They thought to dig for gold; but they dug only their graves.
Yet it fared not thus with all Pizarro’s company. Many of them, crossing the Isthmus with him to Panama, came in time to Peru, where, in the desperate chances of its revolutionary struggles, some few arrived at posts of profit and distinction. Among those who first reached the Peruvian shore was an emissary sent by Almagro’s agents to inform him of the important grant made to him by the Crown. The tidings reached him just as he was making his entry into Cuzco, where he was received with all respect by Juan and Gonzalo Pizarro, who, in obedience to their brother’s commands, instantly resigned the government of the capital into the marshal’s hands. But Almagro was greatly elated on finding himself now placed by his sovereign in a command that made him independent of the man who had so deeply wronged him; and he intimated that in the exercise of his present authority he acknowledged no superior. In this lordly humor he was confirmed by several of his followers, who insisted that Cuzco fell to the south of the territory ceded to Pizarro, and consequently came within that now granted to the marshal. Among these followers were several of Alvarado’s men, who, though of better condition than the soldiers of Pizarro, were under much worse discipline, and had acquired, indeed, a spirit of unbridled license under that unscrupulous chief. 26 They now evinced little concern for the native population of Cuzco; and, not content with the public edifices, seized on the dwellings of individuals, where it suited their convenience, appropriating their contents without ceremony, — showing as little respect, in short, for person or property, as if the place had been taken by storm. 27
26 In point of discipline, they presented a remarkable contrast to the Conquerors of Peru, if we may take the word of Pedro Pizarro, who assures us that his comrades would not have plucked so much as an ear of corn without leave from their commander. “Que los que pasamos con el Marquez a la conquista no ovo hombre que osase tomar vna mazorca de mahiz sin licencia.” Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
27 “Se entraron de paz en la ciudad del Cuzco i los salieron todos los naturales a rescibir i les tomaron la Ciudad con todo quanto havia de dentro llenas las casas de mucha ropa i algunas oro i plata i otras muchas cosas, i las que no estaban bien llenas las enchian de lo que tomaban de las demas casas de la dicha ciudad, sin pensar que en ello hacian ofensa alguna Divina ni humana, i porquesta es una cosa larga i casi incomprehensible, la dexase al juicio de quien mas entiende aunque en el dano rescebido por parte de los naturales cerca deste articulo yo se harto por mis pecados que no quisiera saber ni haver visto.” Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.
While these events were passing in the ancient Peruvian capital, the governor was still at Lima, where he was greatly disturbed by the accounts he received of the new honors conferred on his associate. He did not know that his own jurisdiction had been extended seventy leagues further to the south, and he entertained the same suspicion with Almagro, that the capital of the Incas did not rightly come within his present limits. He saw all the mischief likely to result from this opulent city falling into the hands of his rival, who would thus have an almost indefinite means of gratifying his own cupidity, and that of his followers. He felt, that, under the present circumstances, it was not safe to allow Almagro to anticipate the possession of power, to which, as yet, he had no legitimate right; for the despatches containing the warrant for it still remained with Hernando Pizarro, at Panama, and all that had reached Peru was a copy of a garbled extract.
Without loss of time, therefore, he sent instructions to Cuzco for his brothers to resume the government, while he defended the measure to Almagro on the ground, that, when he should hereafter receive his credentials, it would be unbecoming to be found already in possession of the post. He concluded by urging him to go forward without delay in his expedition to the south.
But neither the marshal nor his friends were pleased with the idea of so soon relinquishing the authority which they now considered as his right. The Pizarros, on the other hand, were pertinacious in reclaiming it. The dispute grew warmer and warmer. Each party had its supporters; the city was split into factions; and the municipality, the soldiers, and even the Indian population, took sides in the struggle for power. Matters were proceeding to extremity, menacing the capital with violence and bloodshed, when Pizarro himself appeared among them. 28
28 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 7, cap. 6 — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
On receiving tidings of the fatal consequences of his mandates, he had posted in all haste to Cuzco, where he was greeted with undisguised joy by the natives, as well as by the more temperate Spaniards, anxious to avert the impending storm. The governor’s first interview was with Almagro, whom he embraced with a seeming cordiality in his manner; and, without any show of resentment, inquired into the cause of the present disturbances. To this the marshal replied, by throwing the blame on Pizarro’s brothers; but, although the governor reprimanded them with some asperity for their violence, it was soon evident that his sympathies were on their side, and the dangers of a feud between the two associates seemed greater than ever. Happily, it was postponed by the intervention of some common friends, who showed more discretion than their leaders. With their aid a reconciliation was at length affected, on the grounds substantially of their ancient compact.
It was agreed that their friendship should be maintained inviolate; and, by a stipulation that reflects no great credit on the parties, it was provided that neither should malign nor disparage the other, especially in their despatches to the emperor; and that neither should hold communication with the government without the knowledge of his confederate; lastly, that both the expenditures and the profits of future discovery should be shared equally by the associates. The wrath of Heaven was invoked by the most solemn imprecations on the head of whichever should violate this compact, and the Almighty was implored to visit the offender with loss of property and of life in this world, and with eternal perdition in that to come! 29 The parties further bound themselves to the observance of this contract by a solemn oath taken on the sacrament, as it was held in the hands of Father Bartolome de Segovia, who concluded the ceremony by performing mass. The whole proceeding, and the articles of agreement, were carefully recorded by the notary in an instrument bearing date June 12, 1535, and attested by a long list of witnesses. 30
29 “E suplicamos a su infinita bondad que a qualquier de nos que fuere en contrario de lo asi convenido, con todo rigor de justicia permita la perdicion de su anima, tin y mal acavamiento de su vida, destruicion y perdimientos de su familia, honrras y hacienda.” Capitulacion entre Pizarro y Almagro 12 de Junio, 1535, Ms.]
30 This remarkable document, the original of which is preserves in the archives of Simancas, may be found entire in the Castilian, 10 Appendix, No. 11.]
Thus did these two ancient comrades, after trampling on the ties of friendship and honor, hope to knit themselves to each other by the holy bands of religion. That it should have been necessary to resort to so extraordinary a measure might have furnished them with the best proof of its inefficacy.
Not long after this accommodation of their differences, the marshal raised his standard for Chili; and numbers, won by his popular manners, and by his liberal largesses, — liberal to prodigality, — eagerly joined in the enterprise, which they fondly trusted would lead even to greater riches than they had found in Peru. Two Indians, Paullo Topa, a brother of the Inca Manco, and Villac Umu, the high-priest of the nation, were sent in advance, with three Spaniards, to prepare the way for the little army. A detachment of a hundred and fifty men, under an officer named Saavedra, next followed. Almagro remained behind to collect further recruits; but before his levies were completed, he began his march, feeling himself insecure, with his diminished strength, in the neighbourhood of Pizarro! 31 The remainder of his forces, when mustered, were to follow him.
31 “El Adelantado Almagro despues que se vido en el Cuzco descarnado de su jente temio al Marquez no le prendiese por las alteraciones pasadas que havia tenido con sus hermanos como ya hemos dicho, i dicen que por ser avisado dello tomo la posta i se fue al pueblo de Paria donde estava su Capitan Saavedra.” Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
Thus relieved of the presence of his rival, the governor returned without further delay to the coast, to resume his labors in the settlement of the country. Besides the principal city of “The Kings,’ he established others along the Pacific, destined to become hereafter the flourishing marts of commerce. The most important of these, in honor of his birthplace, he named Truxillo, planting it on a site already indicated by Almagro. 32 He made also numerous repartimientos both of lands and Indians among his followers, in the usual manner of the Spanish Conquerors; 33 — though here the ignorance of the real resources of the country led to very different results from what he had intended, as the territory smallest in extent, not unfrequently, from the hidden treasures in its bosom, turned out greatest in value. 34
32 Carta de F. Pizarro a Molina, Ms.]
33 I have before me two copies of grants of encomiendas by Pizarro, the one dated at Xauxa, 1534, the other at Cuzco, 1539. — They emphatically enjoin on the colonist the religious instruction of the natives under his care, as well as kind and considerate usage. How ineffectual were the recommendations may be inferred from the lament of the anonymous contemporary often cited, that “from this time forth, the pest of personal servitude was established among the Indians, equally disastrous to body and soul of both the master and the slave.” (Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.) This honest burst of indignation, not to have been expected in the rude Conqueror, came probably from an ecclesiastic.]
34 “El Marques hizo encomiendas en los Espanoles, las quales fueron por noticias que ni el sabia lo que dava ni nadie lo que rescebia sino a tiento ya poco mas o menos, y asi muchos que pensaron que se les dava pocos se hallaron con mucho y al contrario” Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.]
But nothing claimed so much of Pizarro’s care as the rising metropolis of Lima; and, so eagerly did he press forward the work, and so well was he seconded by the multitude of laborers at his command, that he had the satisfaction to see his young capital, with its stately edifices and its pomp of gardens, rapidly advancing towards completion. It is pleasing to contemplate the softer features in the character of the rude soldier, as he was thus occupied with healing up the ravages of war, and laying broad the foundations of an empire more civilized than that which he had overthrown. This peaceful occupation formed a contrast to the life of incessant turmoil in which he had been hitherto engaged. It seemed, too, better suited to his own advancing age, which naturally invited to repose. And, if we may trust his chroniclers, there was no part of his career in which he took greater satisfaction. It is certain there is no part which has been viewed with greater satisfaction by posterity; and, amidst the woe and desolation which Pizarro and his followers brought on the devoted land of the Incas, Lima, the beautiful City of the Kings, still survives as the most glorious work of his creation, the fairest gem on the shores of the Pacific.
While the absence of his rival Almagro relieved Pizarro from all immediate disquietude from that quarter, his authority was menaced in another, where he had least expected it. This was from the native population of the country. Hitherto the Peruvians had shown only a tame and submissive temper, that inspired their conquerors with too much contempt to leave room for apprehension. They had passively acquiesced in the usurpation of the invaders; had seen one monarch butchered, another placed on the vacant throne, their temples despoiled of their treasures, their capital and country appropriated and parcelled out among the Spaniards, but, with the exception of an occasional skirmish in the mountain passes, not a blow had been struck in defence of their rights. Yet this was the warlike nation which had spread its conquests over so large a part of the continent!
In his career, Pizarro, though he scrupled at nothing to effect his object, had not usually countenanced such superfluous acts of cruelty as had too often stained the arms of his countrymen in other parts of the continent, and which, in the course of a few years, had exterminated nearly a whole population in Hispaniola. He had struck one astounding blow, by the seizure of Atahuallpa; and he seemed willing to rely on this to strike terror into the natives. He even affected some respect for the institutions of the country, and had replaced the monarch he had murdered by another of the legitimate line. Yet this was but a pretext. The kingdom had experienced a revolution of the most decisive kind. Its ancient institutions were subverted. Its heaven-descended aristocracy was levelled almost to the condition of the peasant. The people became the serfs of the Conquerors. Their dwellings in the capital — at least, after the arrival of Alvarado’s officers — were seized and appropriated. The temples were turned into stables; the royal residences into barracks for the troops. The sanctity of the religious houses was violated. Thousands of matrons and maidens, who, however erroneous their faith, lived in chaste seclusion in the conventual establishments, were now turned abroad, and became the prey of a licentious soldiery. 1 A favorite wife of the young Inca was debauched by the Castilian officers. The Inca, himself treated with contemptuous indifference, found that he was a poor dependant, if not a tool, in the hands of his conquerors. 2
1 So says the author of the Conquista i Poblacion del Piru, a contemporary writer, who describes what he saw himself as well as what he gathered from others. Several circumstances, especially the honest indignation he expresses at the excesses of the Conquerors, lead one to suppose he may have been an ecclesiastic, one of the good men who attended the cruel expedition on an errand of love and mercy. It is to be hoped that his credulity leads him to exaggerate the misdeeds of his countrymen.
According to him, there were full six thousand women of rank, living in the convents of Cuzco, served each by fifteen or twenty female attendants, most of whom, that did not perish in the war, suffered a more melancholy fate, as the victims of prostitution. — The passage is so remarkable, and the Ms. so rare, that I will cite it in the original.
“De estas senoras del Cuzco es cierto de tener grande sentimiento el que tuviese alguna humanidad en el pecho, que en tiempo de la prosperidad del Cuzco quando los Espanoles entraron en el havia grand cantidad de senoras que tenian sus casas i sus asientos mui quietas i sosegadas i vivian mui politicamente i como mui buenas mugeres, cada senora acompanada con quince o veinte mugeres que tenia de servicio en su casa bien traidas i aderezadas, i no salian menos desto i con grand onestidad i gravedad i atavio a su usanza, i es a la cantidad destas senoras principales creo yo que en el . . . . . que avia mas de seis mil sin las de servicio que creo yo que eran mas de veinte mil mugeres sin las de servicio i mamaconas que eran las que andavan como beatas i dende a dos anos casi no se allava en el Cuzco i su tierra sino cada qual i qual porque muchas murieron en la guerra que huvo i las otras vinieron las mas a ser malas mugeres. Senor perdone a quien fue la causa desto i aquien no lo remedia pudiendo.” Conq. i Pob del Piru, Ms.]
2 Ibid., ubi supra.]
Yet the Inca Manco was a man of a lofty spirit and a courageous heart; such a one as might have challenged comparison with the bravest of his ancestors in the prouder days of the empire. Stung to the quick by the humiliations to which he was exposed, he repeatedly urged Pizarro to restore him to the real exercise of power, as well as to the show of it. But Pizarro evaded a request so incompatible with his own ambitious schemes, or, indeed, with the policy of Spain, and the young Inca and his nobles were left to brood over their injuries in secret, and await patiently the hour of vengeance.
The dissensions among the Spaniards themselves seemed to afford a favorable opportunity for this. The Peruvian chiefs held many conferences together on the subject, and the high-priest Villac Umu urged the necessity of a rising so soon as Almagro had withdrawn his forces from the city. It would then be comparatively easy, by assaulting the invaders on their several posts, scattered as they were over the country, to overpower them by superior numbers, and shake off their detested yoke before the arrival of fresh reinforcements should rivet it for ever on the necks of his countrymen. A plan for a general rising was formed, and it was in conformity to it that the priest was selected by the Inca to bear Almagro company on the march, that he might secure the cooperation of the natives in the country, and then secretly return — as in fact he did — to take a part in the insurrection.
To carry their plans into effect, it became necessary that the Inca Manco should leave the city and present himself among his people. He found no difficulty in withdrawing from Cuzco, where his presence was scarcely heeded by the Spaniards, as his nominal power was held in little deference by the haughty and confident Conquerors. But in the capital there was a body of Indian allies more jealous of his movements. These were from the tribe of the Canares, a warlike race of the north, too recently reduced by the Incas to have much sympathy with them or their institutions. There were about a thousand of this people in the place, and, as they had conceived some suspicion of the Inca’s purposes, they kept an eye on his movements, and speedily reported his absence to Juan Pizarro.
That cavalier, at the head of a small body of horse, instantly marched in pursuit of the fugitive, whom he was so fortunate as to discover in a thicket of reeds, in which he sought to conceal himself, at no great distance from the city. Manco was arrested, brought back a prisoner to Cuzco, and placed under a strong guard in the fortress. The conspiracy seemed now at an end; and nothing was left to the unfortunate Peruvians but to bewail their ruined hopes, and to give utterance to their disappointment in doleful ballads, which rehearsed the captivity of their Inca, and the downfall of his royal house. 3
3 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap. 1, 2. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 2, cap. 3.]
While these things were in progress, Hernando Pizarro returned to Ciudad de los Reyes, bearing with him the royal commission for the extension of his brother’s powers, as well as of those conceded to Almagro. The envoy also brought the royal patent conferring on Francisco Pizarro the title of Marques de los Atavillos, — a province in Peru. Thus was the fortunate adventurer placed in the ranks of the proud aristocracy of Castile, few of whose members could boast — if they had the courage to boast — their elevation from so humble an origin, as still fewer could justify it by a show of greater services to the Crown.
The new marquess resolved not to forward the commission, at present, to the marshal, whom he designed to engage still deeper in the conquest of Chili, that his attention might be diverted from Cuzco, which, however, his brother assured him, now fell, without doubt, within the newly extended limits of his own territory. To make more sure of this important prize, he despatched Hernando to take the government of the capital into his own hands, as the one of his brothers on whose talents and practical experience he placed greatest reliance.
Hernando, notwithstanding his arrogant bearing towards his countrymen, had ever manifested a more than ordinary sympathy with the Indians. He had been the friend of Atahuallpa; to such a degree, indeed, that it was said, if he had been in the camp at the time, the fate of that unhappy monarch would probably have been averted. He now showed a similar friendly disposition towards his successor, Manco. He caused the Peruvian prince to be liberated from confinement, and gradually admitted him into some intimacy with himself. The crafty Indian availed himself of his freedom to mature his plans for the rising, but with so much caution, that no suspicion of them crossed the mind of Hernando. Secrecy and silence are characteristic of the American, almost as invariably as the peculiar color of his skin. Manco disclosed to his conqueror the existence of several heaps of treasure, and the places where they had been secreted; and, when he had thus won his confidence, he stimulated his cupidity still further by an account of a statue of pure gold of his father Huayna Capac, which the wily Peruvian requested leave to bring from a secret cave in which it was deposited, among the neighbouring Andes. Hernando, blinded by his avarice, consented to the Inca’s departure.
He sent with him two Spanish soldiers, less as a guard than to aid him in the object of his expedition. A week elapsed, and yet he did not return, nor were there any tidings to be gathered of him. Hernando now saw his error, especially as his own suspicions were confirmed by the unfavorable reports of his Indian allies. Without further delay, he despatched his brother Juan, at the head of sixty horse, in quest of the Peruvian prince, with orders to bring him back once more a prisoner to his capital.
That cavalier, with his well-armed troops, soon traversed the environs of Cuzco without discovering any vestige of the fugitive. The country was remarkably silent and deserted, until, as he approached the mountain range that hems in the valley of Yucay, about six leagues from the city, he was met by the two Spaniards who had accompanied Manco. They informed Pizarro that it was only at the point of the sword he could recover the Inca, for the country was all in arms, and the Peruvian chief at its head was preparing to march on the capital. Yet he had offered no violence to their persons, but had allowed them to return in safety.
The Spanish captain found this story fully confirmed when he arrived at the river Yucay, on the opposite bank of which were drawn up the Indian battalions to the number of many thousand men, who, with their young monarch at their head, prepared to dispute his passage. It seemed that they could not feel their position sufficiently strong, without placing a river, as usual, between them and their enemy. The Spaniards were not checked by this obstacle. The stream, though deep, was narrow; and plunging in, they swam their horses boldly across, amidst a tempest of stones and arrows that rattled thick as hail on their harness, finding occasionally some crevice or vulnerable point, — although the wounds thus received only goaded them to more desperate efforts. The barbarians fell back as the cavaliers made good their landing; but, without allowing the latter time to form, they returned with a spirit which they had hitherto seldom displayed, and enveloped them on all sides with their greatly superior numbers. The fight now raged fiercely. Many of the Indians were armed with lances headed with copper tempered almost to the hardness of steel, and with huge maces and battle-axes of the same metal. Their defensive armour, also, was in many respects excellent, consisting of stout doublets of quilted cotton, shields covered with skins, and casques richly ornamented with gold and jewels, or sometimes made like those of the Mexicans, in the fantastic shape of the heads of wild animals, garnished with rows of teeth that grinned horribly above the visage of the warrior. 4 The whole army wore an aspect of martial ferocity, under the control of much higher military discipline than the Spaniards had before seen in the country.
4 “Es gente,” says Oviedo, “muy belicosa e muy diestra; sus armas son picas, e ondas, porras e Alabardas de Plata e oro e cobre.” (Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 17.) Xerez has made a good enumeration of the native Peruvian arms. (Conq. del Peru, ap. Barcia, tom. III. p. 200.) Father Velasco has added considerably to this catalogue. According to him they used copper swords, poniards, and other European weapons. (Hist. de Quito, tom. I. pp 178–180.) He does not insist on their knowledge of fire-arms before the Conquest!]
The little band of cavaliers, shaken by the fury of the Indian assault, were thrown at first into some disorder, but at length, cheering on one another with the old war-cry of “St. Jago,” they formed in solid column, and charged boldly into the thick of the enemy. The latter, incapable of withstanding the shock, gave way, or were trampled down under the feet of the horses, or pierced by the lances of the riders. Yet their flight was conducted with some order; and they turned at intervals, to let off a volley of arrows, or to deal furious blows with their pole-axes and war-clubs. They fought as if conscious that they were under the eye of their Inca.
It was evening before they had entirely quitted the level ground, and withdrawn into the fastnesses of the lof y range of hills which belt round the beautiful valley of Yucay. Juan Pizarro and his little troop encamped on the level at the base of the mountains. He had gained a victory, as usual, over immense odds; but he had never seen a field so well disputed, and his victory had cost him the lives of several men and horses, while many more had been wounded, and were nearly disabled by the fatigues of the day. But he trusted the severe lesson he had inflicted on the enemy, whose slaughter was great, would crush the spirit of resistance. He was deceived.
The following morning, great was his dismay to see the passes of the mountains filled up with dark lines of warriors, stretching as far as the eye could penetrate into the depths of the sierra, while dense masses of the enemy were gathered like thunderclouds along the slopes and summits, as if ready to pour down in fury on the assailants. The ground, altogether unfavorable to the manoeuvres of cavalry, gave every advantage to the Peruvians, who rolled down huge rocks from their elevated position, and sent off incessant showers of missiles on the heads of the Spaniards. Juan Pizarro did not care to entangle himself further in the perilous defile; and, though he repeatedly charged the enemy, and drove them back with considerable loss, the second night found him with men and horses wearied and wounded, and as little advanced in the object of his expedition as on the preceding evening. From this embarrassing position, after a day or two more spent in unprofitable hostilities, he was surprised by a summons from his brother to return with all expedition to Cuzco, which was now besieged by the enemy!
Without delay, he began his retreat, recrossed the valley, the recent scene of slaughter, swam the river Yucay, and, by a rapid countermarch, closely followed by the victorious enemy, who celebrated their success with songs or rather yells of triumph, he arrived before nightfall in sight of the capital.
But very different was the sight which there met his eye from what he had beheld on leaving it a few days before. The extensive environs, as far as the eye could reach, were occupied by a mighty host, which an indefinite computation swelled to the number of two hundred thousand warriors. 5 The dusky lines of the Indian battalions stretched out to the very verge of the mountains; while, all around, the eye saw only the crests and waving banners of chieftains, mingled with rich panoplies of featherwork, which reminded some few who had served under Cortes of the military costume of the Aztecs. Above all rose a forest of long lances and battle-axes edged with copper, which, tossed to and fro in wild confusion, glittered in the rays of the setting sun, like light playing on the surface of a dark and troubled ocean. It was the first time that the Spaniards had beheld an Indian army in all its terrors; such an army as the Incas led to battle, when the banner of the Sun was borne triumphant over the land.
5 “Pues junta toda la gente quel ynga avia embiado a juntar que a lo que se entendio y los indios dixeron fueron dozientos mil indios de guerra los que vinieron a poner este cerco.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
Yet the bold hearts of the cavaliers, if for a moment dismayed by the sight, soon gathered courage as they closed up their files, and prepared to open a way for themselves through the beleaguering host. But the enemy seemed to shun the encounter; and, falling back at their approach, left a free entrance into the capital. The Peruvians were, probably, not unwilling to draw as many victims as they could into the toils, conscious that, the greater the number, the sooner they would become sensible to the approaches of famine. 6
6 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap. 4. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 133.]
Hernando Pizarro greeted his brother with no little satisfaction; for he brought an important addition to his force, which now, when all were united, did not exceed two hundred, horse and foot, 7 besides a thousand Indian auxiliaries; an insignificant number, in comparison with the countless multitudes that were swarming at the gates. That night was passed by the Spaniards with feelings of the deepest anxiety, as they looked forward with natural apprehension to the morrow. It was early in February 1536. when the siege of Cuzco commenced; a siege memorable as calling out the most heroic displays of Indian and European valor, and bringing the two races in deadlier conflict with each other than had yet occurred in the conquest of Peru.
7 “Y los pocos Espanoles que heramos aun no dozientos todos.’ Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
The numbers of the enemy seemed no less formidable during the night than by the light of day: far and wide their watch-fires were to be seen gleaming over valley and hill-top, as thickly scattered, says an eyewitness, as “the stars of heaven in a cloudless summer night.” 8 Before these fires had become pale in the light of the morning, the Spaniards were roused by the hideous clamor of conch, trumpet, and atabal, mingled with the fierce war-cries of the barbarians, as they let off volleys of missiles of every description, most of which fell harmless within the city. But others did more serious execution. These were burning arrows, and red-hot stones wrapped in cotton that had been steeped in some bituminous substance, which, scattering long trains of light through the air, fell on the roofs of the buildings, and speedily set them on fire. 9 These roofs even of the better sort of edifices, were uniformly of thatch, and were ignited as easily as tinder. In a moment the flames burst forth from the most opposite quarters of the city. They quickly communicated to the wood-work in the interior of the buildings, and broad sheets of flame mingled with smoke rose up towards the heavens, throwing a fearful glare over every object. The rarefied atmosphere heightened the previous impetuosity of the wind, which, fanning the rising flames, they rapidly spread from dwelling to dwelling, till the whole fiery mass, swayed to and for by the tempest, surged and roared with the fury of a volcano. The heat became intense, and clouds of smoke, gathering like a dark pall over the city, produced a sense of suffocation and almost blindness in those quarters where it was driven by the winds. 10
8 “Pues de noche heran tantos ros fuegos que no parecia sino vn cielo muy sereno lleno de estrellas.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
9 Ibid. Ms.]
10 “I era tanto el humo que casi los oviera de aogar i pasaron grand travajo por esta causa i sino fuera porque de la una parte de la plaza no havia casas i estava desconorado no pudieran escapar porque is por todas partes les diera el humo i el calor siendo tan grande pasaron travajo, pero la divina providencia lo estorvo.” Conq. i. Pob. ded Piru, Ms.
The Spaniards were encamped in the great square, partly under awnings, and partly in the hall of the Inca Viracocha, on the ground since covered by the cathedral. Three times in the course of that dreadful day, the roof of the building was on fire; but, although no efforts were made to extinguish it, the flames went out without doing much injury. This miracle was ascribed to the Blessed Virgin, who was distinctly seen by several of the Christian combatants, hovering over the spot on which was to be raised the temple dedicated to her worship. 11
11 The temple was dedicated to Our Blessed Lady of the Assumption. The apparition of the Virgin was manifest not only to Christian but to Indian warriors, many of whom reported it to Garcilasso de la Vega, in whose hands the marvellous rarely loses any of its gloss. (Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 25.) It is further attested by Father Acosta, who came into the country forty years after the event. (lib. 7, cap. 27.) Both writers testify to the seasonable aid rendered by St. James, who with his buckler, displaying the device of his Military Order, and armed with his flaming sword, rode his white charger into the thick of the enemy. The patron Saint of Spain might always be relied on when his presence was needed dignus vindice nodus.
Fortunately, the open space around Hernando’s little company separated them from the immediate scene of conflagration. It afforded a means of preservation similar to that employed by the American hunter, who endeavours to surround himself with a belt of wasted land, when overtaken by a conflagration in the prairies. All day the fire continued to rage, and at night the effect was even more appalling; for by the lurid flames the unfortunate Spaniards could read the consternation depicted in each others’ ghastly countenances, while in the suburbs, along the slopes of the surrounding hills, might be seen the throng of besiegers, gazing with fiendish exultation on the work of destruction. High above the town to the north, rose the gray fortress, which now showed ruddy in the glare, looking grimly down on the ruins of the fair city which it was no longer able to protect; and in the distance were to be discerned the shadowy forms of the An des, soaring up in solitary grandeur into the regions of eternal silence, far beyond the wild tumult that raged so fearfully at their base.
Such was the extent of the city, that it was several days before the fury of the fire was spent. Tower and temple, hut, palace, and hall, went down before it. Fortunately, among the buildings that escaped were the magnificent House of the Sun and the neighbouring Convent of the Virgins. Their insulated position afforded the means, of which the Indians from motives of piety were willing to avail themselves, for their preservation. 12 Full one half of the capital, so long the chosen seat of Western civilization, the pride of the Incas, and the bright abode of their tutelar deity, was laid in ashes by the hands of his own children. It was some consolation for them to reflect, that it burned over the heads of its conquerors, — their trophy and their tomb!
12 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 24. Father Valverde, Bishop of Cuzco, who took so signal a part in the seizure of Atahuallpa, was absent from the country at this period, but returned the following year. In a letter to the emperor, he contrasts the flourishing condition of the capital when he left it, and that in which he now found it, despoiled, as well as its beautiful suburbs, of its ancient glories. “If I had not known the site of the city,” he says, “I should not have recognized it as the same.” The passage is too remarkable to be omitted. The original letter exists in the archives of Simancas. — “Certifico a V. M. que si no me acordara del sitio desta Ciudad yo no la conosciera, a lo menos por los edificios y Pueblos della; porque quando el Gobernador D. Franzisco Pizarro entro aqui y entre yo con el estava este valle tan hermoso en edificios y poblazion que en torno tenia que era cosa de admiracion vello, porque aunque la Ciudad en si no ternia mas de 3 o 4000 casas, ternia en torno quasi a vista 19 o 20,000; la fortaleza que estava sobre la Ciudad parescia desde a parte una mui gran fortaleza de las de Espana: agora la mayor parte de la Ciudad esta toda derivada y quemada; la fortaleza no tiene quasi nada enhiesso; todos los pueblos de alderredor no tiene sino las paredes que por maravilla ai casa cubierta! La cosa que mas contentamiento me dio en esta Ciudad fue la Iglesia, que para en Indias es harto buena cosa, aunque segun la riqueza a havido en esta tierra pudiera ser mas semejante al Templo de Salomon.” Carta del Obispo F. Vicente de Valverde al Emperador, Ms., 20 de Marzo, 1539.]
During the long period of the conflagration, the Spaniards made no attempt to extinguish the flames. Such an attempt would have availed nothing. Yet they did not tamely submit to the assaults of the enemy, and they sallied forth from time to time to repel them. But the fallen timbers and scattered rubbish of the houses presented serious impediments to the movements of horse; and, when these were partially cleared away by the efforts of the infantry and the Indian allies, the Peruvians planted stakes and threw barricades across the path, which proved equally embarrassing. 13 To remove them was a work of time and no little danger, as the pioneers were exposed to the whole brunt of the enemy’s archery, and the aim of the Peruvian was sure. When at length the obstacles were cleared away, and a free course was opened to the cavalry, they rushed with irresistible impetuosity on their foes, who, falling back in confusion, were cut to pieces by the riders, or pierced through with their lances. The slaughter on these occasions was great, but the Indians, nothing disheartened, usually returned with renewed courage to the attack and, while fresh reinforcements met the Spaniards in front, others, lying in ambush among the ruins, threw the troops into disorder by assailing them on the flanks. The Peruvians were expert both with bow and sling; and these encounters, notwithstanding the superiority of their arms, cost the Spaniards more lives than in their crippled condition they could afford to spare, — a loss poorly compensated by that of tenfold the number of the enemy. One weapon, peculiar to South American warfare, was used with some effect by the Peruvians. This was the lasso, — a long rope with a noose at the end, which they adroitly threw over the rider, or entangled with it the legs of his horse, so as to bring them both to the ground. More than one Spaniard fell into the hands of the enemy by this expedient. 14
13 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
“Los Indios ganaron el Cuzco casi todo desta manera que enganando la calle hivan haciendo una pared para que los cavallos ni los Espanoles no los pudiesen rom per.” Conq. i. Pob. del Piru, Ms]
14 Ibid., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap. 4.
Thus harassed, sleeping on their arms, with their horses picketed by their side, ready for action at any and every hour, the Spaniards had no rest by night or by day. To add to their troubles, the fortress which overlooked the city, and completely commanded the great square in which they were quartered, had been so feebly garrisoned in their false sense of security, that, on the approach of the Peruvians, it had been abandoned without a blow in its defence. It was now occupied by a strong body of the enemy, who, from his elevated position, sent down showers of missiles, from time to time which added greatly to the annoyance of the besieged. Bitterly did their captain now repent the improvident security which had led him to neglect a post so important.
Their distresses were still further aggravated by the rumors, which continually reached their ears, of the state of the country. The rising, it was said, was general throughout the land; the Spaniards living on their insulated plantations had all been massacred; Lima and Truxillo and the principal cities were besieged, and must soon fall into the enemy’s hands; the Peruvians were in possession of the passes, and all communications were cut off, so that no relief was to be expected from their countrymen on the coast. Such were the dismal stories, (which, however exaggerated, had too much foundation in fact,) that now found their way into the city from the camp of the besiegers. And to give greater credit to the rumors, eight or ten human heads were rolled into the plaza, in whose blood-stained visages the Spaniards recognized with horror the lineaments of their companions, who they knew had been dwelling in solitude on their estates! 15
15 Ibid., ubi supra. — Conq i Pob. del Piru, Ms.
Overcome by these horrors, many were for abandoning the place at once, as no longer tenable, and for opening a passage for themselves to the coast with their own good swords. There was a daring in the enterprise which had a charm for the adventurous spirit of the Castilian. Better, they said, to perish in a manly struggle for life, than to die thus ignominiously, pent up like foxes in their holes, to be suffocated by the hunter!
But the Pizarros, De Rojas, and some other of the principal cavaliers, refused to acquiesce in a measure which, they said, must cover them with dishonor. 16 Cuzco had been the great prize for which they had contended; it was the ancient seat of empire, and, though now in ashes, would again rise from its ruins as glorious as before. All eyes would be turned on them, as its defenders, and their failure, by giving confidence to the enemy, might decide the fate of their countrymen throughout the land. They were placed in that post as the post of honor, and better would it be to die there than to desert it.
16 “Pues Hernando Picarro nunca estuvo en ello y les respondia que todos aviamos de morir y no desamparar el cuzco. Juntavanse a estas consultas Hernando Picarro y sus hermanos, Graviel de Rojas, Hernan Ponce de Leon, el Thesorero Riquelme.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq, Ms.]
There seemed, indeed, no alternative; for every avenue to escape was cut off by an enemy who had perfect knowledge of the country, and possession of all its passes. But this state of things could not last long. The Indian could not, in the long run, contend with the white man. The spirit of insurrection would die out of itself. Their great army would melt away, unaccustomed as the natives were to the privations incident to a protracted campaign. Reinforcements would be daily coming in from the colonies; and, if the Castilians would be but true to themselves for a season, they would be relieved by their own countrymen, who would never suffer them to die like outcasts among the mountains.
The cheering words and courageous bearing of the cavaliers went to the hearts of their followers for the soul of the Spaniard readily responded to the call of honor, if not of humanity. All now agreed to stand by their leader to the last. But, if they would remain longer in their present position, it was absolutely necessary to dislodge the enemy from the fortress; and, before venturing on this dangerous service, Hernando Pizarro resolved to strike such a blow as should intimidate the besiegers from further attempt to molest his present quarters.
He communicated his plan of attack to his officers; and, forming his little troop into three divisions, he placed them under command of his brother Gonzalo, of Gabriel de Rojas, an officer in whom he reposed great confidence, and Hernan Ponce de Leon. The Indian pioneers were sent forward to clear away the rubbish, and the several divisions moved simultaneously up the principal avenues towards the camp of the besiegers. Such stragglers as they met in their way were easily cut to pieces, and the three bodies, bursting impetuously on the disordered lines of the Peruvians, took them completely by surprise. For some moments there was little resistance, and the slaughter was terrible. But the Indians gradually rallied, and, coming into something like order, returned to the fight with the courage of men who had long been familiar with danger. They fought hand to hand with their copper-headed war-clubs and pole-axes, while a storm of darts, stones, and arrows rained on the well-defended bodies of the Christians.
The barbarians showed more discipline than was to have been expected; for which, it is said, they were indebted to some Spanish prisoners, from several of whom, the Inca, having generously spared their lives, took occasional lessons in the art of war. The Peruvians had, also, learned to manage with some degree of skill the weapons of their conquerors; and they were seen armed with bucklers, helmets, and swords of European workmanship, and even, in a few instances, mounted on the horses which they had taken from the white men. 17 The young Inca, in particular, accoutred in the European fashion, rode a war-horse which he managed with considerable address, and, with a long lance in his hand, led on his followers to the attack. — This readiness to adopt the superior arms and tactics of the Conquerors intimates a higher civilization than that which belonged to the Aztec, who, in his long collision with the Spaniards, was never so far divested of his terrors for the horse as to venture to mount him.
17 Herrera assures us, that the Peruvians even turned the fire-arms of their Conquerors against them, compelling their prisoners to put the muskets in order, and manufacture powder for them. Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap. 5, 6]
But a few days or weeks of training were not enough to give familiarity with weapons, still less with tactics, so unlike those to which the Peruvians had been hitherto accustomed. The fight, on the present occasion, though hotly contested, was not of long duration. After a gallant struggle, in which the natives threw themselves fearlessly on the horsemen, endeavouring to tear them from their saddles, they were obliged to give way before the repeated shock of their charges. Many were trampled under foot, others cut down by the Spanish broadswords, while the arquebusiers, supporting the cavalry, kept up a running fire that did terrible execution on the flanks and rear of the fugitives. At length, sated with slaughter, and trusting that the chastisement he had inflicted on the enemy would secure him from further annoyance for the present, the Castilian general drew back his forces to their quarters in the capital. 18
18 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8 cap. 4, 5.]
His next step was the recovery of the citadel. It was an enterprise of danger. The fortress, which overlooked the northern section of the city, stood high on a rocky eminence, so steep as to be inaccessible on this quarter, where it was defended only by a single wall. Towards the open country, it was more easy of approach; but there it was protected by two semicircular walls, each about twelve hundred feet in length, and of great thickness. They were built of massive stones, or rather rocks, put together without cement, so as to form a kind of rustic-work. The level of the ground between these lines of defence was raised up so as to enable the garrison to discharge its arrows at the assailants, while their own persons were protected by the parapet. Within the interior wall was the fortress, consisting of three strong towers, one of great height, which, with a smaller one, was now held by the enemy, under the command of an Inca noble, a warrior of well-tried valor, prepared to defend it to the last extremity.
The perilous enterprise was intrusted by Hernando Pizarro to his brother Juan, a cavalier in whose bosom burned the adventurous spirit of a knighterrant of romance. As the fortress was to be approached through the mountain passes, it became necessary to divert the enemy’s attention to another quarter. A little while before sunset Juan Pizarro left the city with a picked corps of horsemen, and took a direction opposite to that of the fortress, that the besieging army might suppose the object was a foraging expedition. But secretly countermarching in the night, he fortunately found the passes unprotected, and arrived before the outer wall of the fortress, without giving the alarm to the garrison. 19
19 Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
The entrance was through a narrow opening in the centre of the rampart; but this was now closed up with heavy stones, that seemed to form one solid work with the rest of the masonry. It was an affair of time to dislodge these huge masses, in such a manner as not to rouse the garrison. The Indian nations, who rarely attacked in the night, were not sufficiently acquainted with the art of war even to provide against surprise by posting sentinels. When the task was accomplished, Juan Pizarro and his gallant troop rode through the gateway, and advanced towards the second parapet.
But their movements had not been conducted so secretly as to escape notice, and they now found the interior court swarming with warriors, who, as the Spaniards drew near, let off clouds of missiles that compelled them to come to a halt. Juan Pizarro, aware that no time was to be lost, ordered one half of his corps to dismount, and, putting himself at their head, prepared to make a breach as before in the fortifications. He had been wounded some days previously in the jaw, so that, finding his helmet caused him pain, he rashly dispensed with it, and trusted for protection to his buckler. 20 Leading on his men, he encouraged them in the work of demolition, in the face of such a storm of stones, javelins, and arrows, as might have made the stoutest heart shrink from encountering it. The good mail of the Spaniards did not always protect them; but others took the place of such as fell, until a breach was made, and the cavalry, pouring in, rode down all who opposed them.
20 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms]
The parapet was now abandoned, and the enemy, hurrying with disorderly flight across the inclosure took refuge on a kind of platform or terrace, commanded by the principal tower. Here rallying, they shot off fresh volleys of missiles against the Spaniards, while the garrison in the fortress hurled down fragments of rock and timber on their heads. Juan Pizarro, still among the foremost, sprang forward on the terrace, cheering on his men by his voice and example, but at this moment he was struck by a large stone on the head, not then protected by his buckler, and was stretched on the ground. The dauntless chief still continued to animate his followers by his voice, till the terrace was carried, and its miserable defenders were put to the sword. His sufferings were then too much for him, and he was removed to the town below, where, notwithstanding every exertion to save him, he survived the injury but a fortnight, and died in great agony. 21 — To say that he was a Pizarro is enough to attest his claim to valor. But it is his praise, that his valor was tempered by courtesy. His own nature appeared mild by contrast with the haughty temper of his brothers, and his manners made him a favorite of the army. He had served in the conquest of Peru from the first, and no name on the roll of its conquerors is less tarnished by the reproach of cruelty, or stands higher in all the attributes of a true and valiant knight. 22
21 “Y estando batallando con ellos para echallos de alli Joan Picarro se descuido descubrirse la cabeca con la adarga y con las muchas pedradas que tiravan le acertaron vna en la caveca que le quebraron los cascos y dende a quince dias murio desta herida y ansi herido estuvo forcejando con los yndios y espanoles hasta que se gano este terrado y ganado le abaxaron al Cuzco.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
22 “Hera valiente,” says Pedro Pizarro, “y muy animoso, gentil hombre, magnanimo y afable.” (Descub. y Conq., Ms.) Zarate dismisses him with this brief panegyric:— “Fue gran perdida en la Tierra, porque era Juan Picarro mui valiente, i experimentado en las Guerras de los Indios, i bien quisto, i amado de todos.” Conq del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 3.
Though deeply sensible to his brother’s disaster, Hernando Pizarro saw that no time was to be lost in profiting by the advantages already gained. Committing the charge of the town to Gonzalo, he put himself at the head of the assailants, and laid vigorous siege to the fortresses. One surrendered after a short resistance. The other and more formidable of the two still held out under the brave Inca noble who commanded it. He was a man of an athletic frame, and might be seen striding along the battlements, armed with a Spanish buckler and cuirass, and in his hand wielding a formidable mace, garnished with points or knobs of copper. With this terrible weapon he struck down all who attempted to force a passage into the fortress. Some of his own followers who proposed a surrender he is said to have slain with his own hand. Hernando prepared to carry the place by escalade. Ladders were planted against the walls, but no sooner did a Spaniard gain the topmost round, than he was hurled to the ground by the strong arm of the Indian warrior. His activity was equal to his strength; and he seemed to be at every point the moment that his presence was needed.
The Spanish commander was filled with admiration at this display of valor; for he could admire valor even in an enemy. He gave orders that the chief should not be injured, but be taken alive, if possible. 23 This was not easy. At length, numerous ladders having been planted against the tower, the Spaniards scaled it on several quarters at the same time, and, leaping into the place, overpowered the few combatants who still made a show of resistance. But the Inca chieftain was not to be taken; and, finding further resistance ineffectual, he sprang to the edge of the battlements, and, casting away his war-club, wrapped his mantle around him and threw himself headlong from the summit. 24 He died like an ancient Roman. He had struck his last stroke for the freedom of his country, and he scorned to survive her dishonor. — The Castilian commander left a small force in garrison to secure his conquest, and returned in triumph to his quarters.
23 ‘Y mando hernando picarro a los Espanoles que subian que no matasen a este yndio sino que se lo tomasen a vida, jurando de no matalle si lo avia bivo.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq. Ms.]
24 “Visto este orejon que se lo vian ganado y le avian ganado y le avian tomado por dos o tres partes el fuerte, arrojando las armas se tapo la caveca y el rrostro con la manta y se arrojo del cubo abajo mas de cien estados, y ansi se hizo pedazos. A hernando Picarro le peso mucho por no tomalle a vida.” Ibid., Ms.]
Week after week rolled away, and no relief came to the beleaguered Spaniards. They had long since begun to feel the approaches of famine. Fortunately, they were provided with water from the streams which flowed through the city. But, though they had well husbanded their resources, their provision were exhausted, and they had for some time depended on such scanty supplies of grain as they could gather from the ruined magazines and dwellings, mostly consumed by the fire, or from the produce of some successful foray. 25 This latter resource was attended with no little difficulty; for every expedition led to a fierce encounter with the enemy, which usually cost the lives of several Spaniards, and inflicted a much heavier injury on the Indian allies. Yet it was at least one good result of such loss, that it left fewer to provide for. But the whole number of the besieged was so small, that any loss greatly increased the difficulties of defence by the remainder.
25 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 24
As months passed away without bringing any tidings of their countrymen, their minds were haunted with still gloomier apprehensions as to their fate. They well knew that the governor would make every effort to rescue them from their desperate condition. That he had not succeeded in this made it probable, that his own situation was no better than theirs, or, perhaps, he and his followers had already fallen victims to the fury of the insurgents. It was a dismal thought, that they alone were left in the land, far from all human succour, to perish miserably by the hands of the barbarians among the mountains.
Yet the actual state of things, though gloomy in the extreme, was not quite so desperate as their imaginations had painted it. The insurrection, it is rue, had been general throughout the country, a east that portion of it occupied by the Spaniards It had been so well concerted, that it broke out almost simultaneously, and the Conquerors, who were living in careless security on their estates, had been massacred to the number of several hundreds An Indian force had sat down before Xauxa, and a considerable army had occupied the valley of Rimac and laid siege to Lima. But the country around that capital was of an open, level character, very favorable to the action of cavalry. Pizarro no sooner saw himself menaced by the hostile array, than he sent such a force against the Peruvians as speedily put them to flight; and, following up his advantage, he inflicted on them such a severe chastisement, that, although they still continued to hover in the distance and cut off his communications with the interior, they did not care to trust themselves on the other side of the Rimac.
The accounts that the Spanish commander now eceived of the state of the country filled him with the most serious alarm. He was particularly solicitous for the fate of the garrison at Cuzco, and he made repeated efforts to relieve that capital. Four several detachments, amounting to more than four hundred men in all, half of them cavalry, were sent by him at different times, under some of his bravest officers. But none of them reached their place of destination. The wily natives permitted them to march into the interior of the country, until they were fairly entangled in the passes of the Cordilleras. They then enveloped them with greatly superior numbers, and, occupying the heights, showered down their fatal missiles on the heads of the Spaniards, or crushed them under the weight of fragments of rock which they rolled on them from the mountains. In some instances, the whole detachment was cut off to a man. In others, a few stragglers only survived to return and tell the bloody tale to their countrymen at Lima. 26
26 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 5. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap 5. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 28.
According to the historian of the Incas, there fell in these expeditions four hundred and seventy Spaniards. Cieza de Leon computes the whole number of Christians who perished in this insurrection at seven hundred, many of them, he adds, under circumstances of great cruelty. (Cronica, cap. 82.) The estimate, considering the spread and spirit of the insurrection, does not seem extravagant]
Pizzaro was now filled with consternation. He had the most dismal forebodings of the fate of the Spaniards dispersed throughout the country, and even doubted the possibility of maintaining his own foothold in it without assistance from abroad. He despatched a vessel to the neighbouring colony at Truxillo, urging them to abandon the place, with all their effects, and to repair to him at Lima. The measure was, fortunately, not adopted. Many of his men were for availing themselves of the vessels which rode at anchor in the port to make their escape from the country at once, and take refuge in Panama. Pizarro would not hearken to so dastardly a counsel, which involved the desertion of the brave men in the interior who still looked to him for protection. He cut off the hopes of these timid spirits by despatching all the vessels then in port on a very different mission. He sent letters by them to the governors of Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico, representing the gloomy state of his affairs, and invoking their aid. His epistle to Alvarado, then established at Guatemala, is preserved. He conjures him by every sentiment of honor and patriotism to come to his assistance, and this before it was too late. Without assistance, the Spaniards could no longer maintain their footing in Peru, and that great empire would be lost to the Castilian Crown. He finally engages to share with him such conquests as they may make with their united arms. 27 — Such concessions, to the very man whose absence from the country, but a few months before, Pizarro would have been willing to secure at almost any price, are sufficient evidence of the extremity of his distress. The succours thus earnestly solicited arrived in time, not to quell the Indian insurrection, but to aid him in a struggle quite as formidable with his own countrymen.
27 “E crea V. S *a sino somos socorridos se perdera el Cusco, ques la cosa mas senalada e de mas importancia que se puede descubrir, e luego nos perderemos todos: porque somos pocos e tenemos pocas armas, e los Indios estan atrevidos.” Carta de Francisco Pizarro a D. Pedro de Alvarado, desde la Ciudad le los Reyes. 29 de julio, 1536, Ms.
It was now August. More than five months had elapsed since the commencement of the siege of Cuzco, yet the Peruvian legions still lay encamped around the city. Peruvian legions still lay encamped around the city. The siege had been protracted much beyond what was usual in Indian warfare, and showed the resolution of the natives to exterminate the white men. But the Peruvians themselves had for some time been straitened by the want of provisions. It was no easy matter to feed so numerous a host; and the obvious resource of the magazines of grain, so providently prepared by the Incas, did them but little service, since their contents had been most prodigally used, and even dissipated, by the Spaniards, on their first occupation of the country. 28 The season for planting had now arrived, and the Inca well knew, that, if his followers were to neglect it, they would be visited by a scourge even more formidable than their invaders. Disbanding the greater part of his forces, therefore, he ordered them to withdraw to their homes, and, after the labors of the field were over, to return and resume the blockade of the capital. The Inca reserved a considerable force to attend on his own person, with which he retired to Tambo, a strongly fortified place south of the valley of Yucay, the favorite residence of his ancestors. He also posted a large body as a corps of observation in the environs of Cuzco, to watch the movements of the enemy, and to intercept supplies.
28 Ondegardo, Rel. Prim. y Seg., Ms.]
The Spaniards beheld with joy the mighty host which had so long encompassed the city, now melting away. They were not slow in profiting by the circumstance, and Hernando Pizarro took advantage of the temporary absence to send out foraging parties to scour the country, and bring back supplies to his famishing soldiers. In this he was so successful that on one occasion no less than two thousand head of cattle — the Peruvian sheep — were swept away from the Indian plantations and brought safely to Cuzco. 29 This placed the army above all apprehensions on the score of want for the present.
29 “Recoximos hasta dos mil cavezas de ganado.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
Yet these forays were made at the point of the lance, and many a desperate contest ensued, in which the best blood of the Spanish chivalry was shed. The contests, indeed, were not confined to large bodies of troops, but skirmishes took place between smaller parties, which sometimes took the form of personal combats. Nor were the parties so unequally matched as might have been supposed in these single rencontres; and the Peruvian warrior, with his sling, his bow, and his lasso, proved no contemptible antagonist for the mailed horseman, whom he sometimes even ventured to encounter, hand to hand, with his formidable battle-axe. The ground around Cuzco became a battle-field, like the vega of Granada, in which Christian and Pagan displayed the characteristics of their peculiar warfare; and many a deed of heroism was performed, which wanted only the song of the minstrel to shed around it a glory like that which rested on the last days of the Moslem of Spain. 30
30 Pedro Pizarro recounts several of these deeds of arms, in some of which his own prowess is made quite apparent. One piece of cruelty recorded by him is little to the credit of his commander, Hernando Pizarro, who, he says, after a desperate rencontre, caused the right hands of his prisoners to be struck off, and sent them in this mutilated condition back to their countrymen! (Descub. Conq., Ms.) Such atrocities are not often noticed by the chroniclers; and we may hope they were exceptions to the general policy of the Conquerors in this invasion.
But Hernando Pizarro was not content to act wholly on the defensive; and he meditated a bold stroke, by which at once to put an end to the war. This was the capture of the Inca Manco, whom he hoped to surprise in his quarters at Tambo.
For this service he selected about eighty of his best-mounted cavalry, with a small body of foot, and, making a large detour through the less frequented mountain defiles, he arrived before Tambo without alarm to the enemy. He found the place more strongly fortified than he had imagined. The palace, or rather fortress, of the Incas stood on a lofty eminence, the steep sides of which, on the quarter where the Spaniards approached, were cut into terraces, defended by strong walls of stone and sunburnt brick. 31 The place was impregnable on this side. On the opposite, it looked towards the Yucay, and the ground descended by a gradual declivity towards the plain through which rolled its deep but narrow current. 32 This was the quarter on which to make the assault.
31 “Tambo tan fortalescido que hera cosa de grima, porquel assiento donde Tambo esta es muy fuerte, de andenes muy altos y de muy gran canterias fortalescidos” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
32 “El rio de yucay ques grande por aquella parte va muy angosto y hondo.” Ibid., Ms.]
Crossing the stream without much difficulty, the Spanish commander advanced up the smooth glacis with as little noise as possible. The morning light had hardly broken on the mountains; and Pizarro, as he drew near the outer defences, which, as in the fortress of Cuzco, consisted of a stone parapet of great strength drawn round the inclosure, moved quickly forward, confident that the garrison were still buried in sleep. But thousands of eyes were upon him; and as the Spaniards came within bow-shot, a multitude of dark forms suddenly rose above the rampart, while the Inca, with his lance in hand, was seen on horseback in the inclosure, directing the operations of his troops. 33 At the same moment the air was darkened with innumerable missiles, stones, javelins, and arrows, which fell like a hurricane on the troops, and the mountains rang to the wild war-whoop of the enemy. The Spaniards, taken by surprise, and many of them sorely wounded, were staggered; and, though they quickly rallied, and made two attempts to renew the assault, they were at length obliged to fall back, unable to endure the violence of the storm. To add to their confusion, the lower level in their rear was flooded by the waters, which the natives, by opening the sluices, had diverted from the bed of the river, so that their position was no longer tenable. 34 A council of war was then held, and it was decided to abandon the attack as desperate, and to retreat in as good order as possible.
33 “Parecia el Inga a caballo entre su gente, con su lanca en la mano.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap. 7.]
34 “Pues hechos dos o tres acometimientos a tomar este pueblo tantas vezes nos hizieron bolver dando de manos. Ansi estuvimos todo este dia hasta puesta de sol; os indios sin entendello nos hechavan el rrio en el llano donde estavamos, y aguardar mas perescieramos aqui todos.” Pedro Pizarro Descub. y Conq. Ms.]
The day had been consumed in these ineffectual operations; and Hernando, under cover of the friendly darkness, sent forward his infantry and baggage, taking command of the centre himself, and trusting the rear to his brother Gonzalo. The river was happily recrossed without accident, although the enemy, now confident in their strength, rushed out of their defences, and followed up the retreating Spaniards, whom they annoyed with repeated discharges of arrows. More than once they pressed so closely on the fugitives, that Gonzalo and his chivalry were compelled to turn and make one of those desperate charges that effectually punished their audacity, and stayed the tide of pursuit. Yet the victorious foe still hung on the rear of the discomfited cavaliers, till they had emerged from the mountain passes, and come within sight of the blackened walls of the capital. It was the last triumph of the Inca. 35
35 Ibid., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap. 7.]
Among the manuscripts for which I am indebted to the liberality of that illustrious Spanish scholar, the lamented Navarrete, the most remarkable, in connection with this history, is the work of Pedro Pizarro; Relaciones del Descubrimiento y Conquista de los Reynos del Peru. But a single copy of this important document appears to have been preserved, the existence of which was but little known till it came into the hands of Senor de Navarrete; though it did not escape the indefatigable researches of Herrera, as is evident from the mention of several incidents, some of them having personal relation to Pedro Pizarro himself, which the historian of the Indies could have derived through no other channel. The manuscript has lately been given to the public as part of the inestimable collection of historical documents now in process of publication at Madrid, under auspices which, we may trust, will insure its success. As the printed work did not reach me till my present labors were far advanced, I have preferred to rely on the manuscript copy for the brief remainder of my narrative, as I had been compelled to do for the previous portion of it.
Nothing, that I am aware of, is known respecting the author, but what is to be gleaned from incidental notices of himself in his own history. He was born at Toledo in Estremadura, the fruitful province of adventurers to the New World, whence the family of Francis Pizarro, to which Pedro was allied, also emigrated. When that chief came over to undertake the conquest of Peru, after receiving his commission from the emperor in 1529, Pedro Pizarro, then only fifteen years of age, accompanied him in quality of page. For three years he remained attached to the household of his commander, and afterwards continued to follow his banner as a soldier of fortune. He was present at most of the memorable events of the Conquest, and seems to have possessed in a great degree the confidence of his leader, who employed him on some difficult missions, in which he displayed coolness and gallantry. It is true, we must take the author’s own word for all this. But he tells his exploits with an air of honesty, and without any extraordinary effort to set them off in undue relief. He speaks of himself in the third person, and, as his manuscript was not intended solely for posterity, he would hardly have ventured on great misrepresentation, where fraud could so easily have been exposed.
After the Conquest, our author still remained attached to the fortunes of his commander, and stood by him through all the troubles which ensued; and on the assassination of that chief, he withdrew to Arequipa, to enjoy in quiet the repartimiento of lands and Indians, which had been bestowed on him as the recompense of his services. He was there on the breaking out of the great rebellion under Gonzalo Pizarro. But he was true to his allegiance, and chose rather, as he tells us, to be false to his name and his lineage than to his loyalty. Gonzalo, in retaliation, seized his estates, and would have proceeded to still further extremities against him, when Pedro Pizarro had fallen into his hands at Lima, but for the interposition of his lieutenant, the famous Francisco de Carbajal, to whom the chronicler had once the good fortune to render an important service. This, Carbajal requited by sparing his life on two occasions, — but on the second coolly remarked, “No man has a right to a brace of lives; and if you fall into my hands a third time, God only can grant you another.” Happily, Pizarro did not find occasion to put this menace to the test. After the pacification of the country, he again retired to Arequipa; but, from the querulous tone of his remarks, it would seem he was not fully reinstated in the possessions he had sacrificed by his loyal devotion to government. The last we hear of him is in 1571, the date which he assigns as that of the completion of his history.
Pedro Pizarro’s narrative covers the whole ground of the Conquest, from the date of the first expedition that sallied out from Panama, to the troubles that ensued on the departure of President Gasca. The first part of the work was gathered from the testimony of others, and, of course, cannot claim the distinction of rising to the highest class of evidence. But all that follows the return of Francis Pizarro from Castile, all, in short, which constitutes the conquest of the country, may be said to be reported on his own observation, as an eyewitness and an actor. This gives to his narrative a value to which it could have no pretensions on the score of its literary execution. Pizarro was a soldier, with as little education, probably, as usually falls to those who have been trained from youth in this rough school, — the most unpropitious in the world to both mental and moral progress. He had the good sense, more over, not to aspire to an excellence which he could not reach. There is no ambition of fine writing in his chronicle; there are none of those affectations of ornament which only make more glaring the beggarly condition of him who assumes them. His object was simply to tell the story of the Conquest, as he had seen it. He was to deal with facts, not with words, which he wisely left to those who came into the field after the laborers had quitted it, to garner up what they could at second hand.
Pizarro’s situation may be thought to have necessarily exposed him to party influences, and thus given an undue bias to his narrative. It is not difficult, indeed, to determine under whose banner he had enlisted. He writes like a partisan, and yet like an honest one, who is no further warped from a correct judgment of passing affairs than must necessarily come from preconceived opinions. There is no management to work a conviction in his reader on this side or the other, still less any obvious perversion of fact. He evidently believes what he says, and this is the great point to be desired. We can make allowance for the natural influences of his position. Were he more impartial than this, the critic of the present day, by making allowance for a greater amount of prejudice and partiality, might only be led into error.
Pizarro is not only independent, but occasionally caustic in his condemnation of those under whom he acted. This is particularly the case where their measures bear too unfavorably on his own interests, or those of the army. As to the unfortunate natives, he no more regards their sufferings than the Jews of old did those of the Philistines, whom they considered as delivered up to their swords, and whose lands they regarded as their lawful heritage. There is no mercy shown by the hard Conqueror in his treatment of the infidel.
Pizarro was the representative of the age in which he lived. Yet it is too much to cast such obloquy on the age. He represented more truly the spirit of the fierce warriors who overturned the dynasty of the Incas. He was not merely a crusader, fighting to extend the empire of the Cross over the darkened heathen. Gold was his great object; the estimate by which he judged of the value of the Conquest; the recompense that he asked for a life of toil and danger. It was with these golden visions, far more than with visions of glory, above all, of celestial glory, that the Peruvian adventurer fed his gross and worldly imagination. Pizarro did not rise above his caste. Neither did he rise above it in a mental view, any more than in a moral. His history displays no great penetration, or vigor and comprehension of though. It is the work of a soldier, telling simply his tale of blood. Its value is, that it is told by him who acted it. And this, to the modern compiler, renders it of higher worth than far abler productions at second hand. It is the rude ore, which, submitted to the regular process of purification and refinement, may receive the current stamp that fits it for general circulation.
Another authority, to whom I have occasionally referred, and whose writings still slumber in manuscript, is the Licentiate Fernando Montesinos. He is, in every respect, the opposite of the military chronicler who has just come under our notice. He flourished about a century after the Conquest. Of course, the value of his writings as an authority for historical facts must depend on his superior opportunities for consulting original documents. For this his advantages were great. He was twice sent in an official capacity to Peru, which required him to visit the different parts of the country. These two missions occupied fifteen years; so that, while his position gave him access to the colonial archives and literary repositories, he was enabled to verify his researches, to some extent, by actual observation of the country.
The result was his two historical works, Memorias Antiguas Historiales del Peru, and his Annales, sometimes cited in these pages. The former is taken up with the early history of the country, — very early, it must be admitted, since it goes back to the deluge. The first part of this treatise is chiefly occupied with an argument to show the identity of Peru with the golden Ophir of Solomon’s time! This hypothesis, by no means original with the author, may give no unfair notion of the character of his mind. In the progress of his work he follows down the line of Inca princes, whose exploits, and names even, by no means coincide with Garcilasso’s catalogue; a circumstance, however, far from establishing their inaccuracy. But one will have little doubt of the writer’s title to this reproach, that reads the absurd legends told in the grave tone of reliance by Montesinos, who shared largely in the credulity and the love of the marvellous which belong to an earlier and less enlightened age.
These same traits are visible in his Annals, which are devoted exclusively to the Conquest. Here, indeed, the author, after his cloudy flight, has descended on firm ground, where gross violations of truth, or, at least, of probability, are not to be expected. But any one who has occasion to compare his narrative with that of contemporary writers will find frequent cause to distrust it. Yet Montesinos has one merit. In his extensive researches, he became acquainted with original instruments, which he has occasionally transferred to his own pages, and which it would be now difficult to meet elsewhere.
His writings have been commended by some of his learned countrymen, as showing diligent research and information. My own experience would not assign them a high rank as historical vouchers. They seem to me entitled to little praise, either for the accuracy of their statements, or the sagacity of their reflections. The spirit of cold indifference which they manifest to the sufferings of the natives is an odious feature, for which there is less apology in a writer of the seventeenth century than in one of the primitive Conquerors, whose passions had been inflamed by long-protracted hostility. M. Ternaux–Compans has translated the Memorias Antiguas with his usual elegance and precision, for his collection of original documents relating to the New World. He speaks in the Preface of doing the same kind office to the Annales, at a future time. I am not aware that he has done this; and I cannot but think that the excellent translator may find a better subject for his labors in some of the rich collection of the Munoz manuscripts in his possession.
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