While the events recorded in the preceding chapter were passing, the Marshal Almagro was engaged in his memorable expedition to Chili. He had set out, as we have seen, with only part of his forces, leaving his lieutenant to follow him with the remainder. During the first part of the way, he profited by the great military road of the Incas, which stretched across the table-land far towards the south. But as he drew near to Chili, the Spanish commander became entangled in the defiles of the mountains, where no vestige of a road was to be discerned. Here his progress was impeded by all the obstacles which belong to the wild scenery of the Cordilleras; deep and ragged ravines, round whose sides a slender sheep-path wound up to a dizzy height over the precipices below; rivers rushing in fury down the slopes of the mountains, and throwing themselves in stupendous cataracts into the yawning abyss; dark forests of pine that seemed to have no end, and then again long reaches of desolate table-land, without so much as a bush or shrub to shelter the shivering traveller from the blast that swept down from the frozen summits of the sierra.
The cold was so intense, that many lost the nails of their fingers, their fingers themselves. and sometimes their limbs. Others were blinded by the dazzling waste of snow, reflecting the rays of a sun made intolerably brilliant in the thin atmosphere of these elevated regions. Hunger came, as usual, in the train of woes; for in these dismal solitudes no vegetation that would suffice for the food of man was visible, and no living thing, except only the great bird of the Andes, hovering over their heads in expectation of his banquet. This was too frequently afforded by the number of wretched Indians, who, unable, from the scantiness of their clothing, to encounter the severity of the climate, perished by the way. Such was the pressure of hunger, that the miserable survivors fed on the dead bodies of their countrymen, and the Spaniards forced a similar sustenance from the carcasses of their horses, literally frozen to death in the mountain passes. 1 — Such were the terrible penalties which Nature imposed on those who rashly intruded on these her solitary and most savage haunts.
1 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 10, cap. 1 — 3. — Oviedo Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 9, cap. 4. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
Yet their own sufferings do not seem to have touched the hearts of the Spaniards with any feeling of compassion for the weaker natives. Their path was everywhere marked by burnt and desolated hamlets, the inhabitants of which were compelled to do them service as beasts of burden. They were chained together in gangs of ten or twelve, and no infirmity or feebleness of body excused the unfortunate captive from his full share of the common toil, till he sometimes dropped dead, in his very chains, from mere exhaustion! 2 Alvarado’s company are accused of having been more cruel than Pizarro’s; and many of Almagro’s men, it may be remembered, were recruited from that source. The commander looked with displeasure, it is said, on these enormities, and did what he could to repress them. Yet he did not set a good example in his own conduct, if it be true that he caused no less than thirty Indian chiefs to be burnt alive, for the massacre of three of his followers! 3 The heart sickens at the recital of such atrocities perpetrated on an unoffending people, or, at least, guilty of no other crime than that of defending their own soil too well.
2 Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.
The writer must have made one on this expedition, as he speaks from personal observation. The poor natives had at least one friend in the Christian camp. “I si en el Real havia algun Espanol que era buen rancheador i cruel i matava muchos Indios tenianle por buen hombre i en grand reputacion i el que era inclinado a hacer bien i a hacer buenos tratamientos a los naturales i los favorecia no era tenido en tan buena estima, he apuntado esto que vi con mis ejos i en que por mis pecados anduve porque entiendan los que esto leyeren que de la manera que aqui digo i con mayores crueldades harto se hizo esta jornada i descubrimiento de Chile”]
3 “I para castigarlos por la muerte destos tres Espanoles juntolos en un aposento donde estava aposentado i mando cavalgar la jente de cavallo i la de apie que guardasen las puertas i todos estuviesen apercividos i los prendio i en conclusion hizo quemar mas de 30 senores vivos atados cada uno a su palo” (Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.) Oviedo, who always shows the hard feeling of the colonist, excuses this on the old plea of necessity, — fue necesario este castigo, — and adds, that after this a Spaniard might send a messenger from one end of the country to the other, without fear of injury Hist. de las Indias, Ms, Parte 3 lib. 9, cap. 4.]
There is something in the possession of superior strength most dangerous, in a moral view, to its possessor. Brought in contact with semi-civilized man, the European, with his endowments and effective force so immeasurably superior, holds him as little higher than the brute, and as born equally for his service. He feels that he has a natural right, as it were, to his obedience, and that this obedience is to be measured, not by the powers of the barbarian, but by the will of his conqueror. Resistance becomes a crime to be washed out only in the blood of the victim. The tale of such atrocities is not confined to the Spaniard. Wherever the civilized man and the savage have come in contact, in the East or in the West, the story has been too often written in blood.
From the wild chaos of mountain scenery the Spaniards emerged on the green vale of Coquimbo, about the thirtieth degree of south latitude. Here they halted to refresh themselves in its abundant plains, after their unexampled sufferings and fatigues. Meanwhile Almagro despatched an officer with a strong party in advance, to ascertain the character of the country towards the south. Not long after, he was cheered by the arrival of the remainder of his forces under his lieutenant Rodrigo de Orgonez. This was a remarkable person, and intimately connected with the subsequent fortunes of Almagro.
He was a native of Oropesa, had been trained in the Italian wars, and held the rank of ensign in the army of the Constable of Bourbon at the famous sack of Rome. It was a good school in which to learn his iron trade, and to steel the heart against any too ready sensibility to human suffering. Orgonez was an excellent soldier; true to his commander, prompt, fearless, and unflinching in the execution of his orders. His services attracted the notice of the Crown, and, shortly after this period, he was raised to the rank of Marshal of New Toledo. Yet it may be doubted whether his character did not qualify him for an executive and subordinate station rather than for one of higher responsibility.
Almagro received also the royal warrant, conferring on him his new powers and territorial jurisdiction. The instrument had been detained by the Pizarros to the very last moment. His troops, long since disgusted with their toilsome and unprofitable march, were now clamorous to return. Cuzco, they said, undoubtedly fell within the limits of his government, and it was better to take possession of its comfortable quarters than to wander like outcasts in this dreary wilderness. They reminded their commander that thus only could he provide for the interests of his son Diego. This was an illegitimate son of Almagro, on whom his father doated with extravagant fondness, justified more than usual by the promising character of the youth.
After an absence of about two months, the officer sent on the exploring expedition returned, bringing unpromising accounts of the southern regions of Chili. The only land of promise for the Castilian was one that teemed with gold. 4 He had penetrated to the distance of a hundred leagues, to the limits, probably, of the conquests of the Incas on the river Maule. 5 The Spaniards had fortunately stopped short of the land of Arauco, where the blood of their countrymen was soon after to be poured out like water, and which still maintains a proud independence amidst the general humiliation of the Indian races around it.
4 It is the language of a Spaniard; “i como no le parecio bien la tierra por no ser quajada de oro.” Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]
5 According to Oviedo, a hundred and fifty leagues, and very near, as they told him, to the end of the world; cerca del fin del mundo. (Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 9, cap. 5.) One must not expect to meet with very accurate notions of geography in the rude soldiers of America]
Almagro now yielded, with little reluctance, to the renewed importunities of the soldiers, and turned his face towards the North. It is unnecessary to follow his march in detail. Disheartened by the difficulty of the mountain passage, he took the road along the coast, which led him across the great desert of Atacama. In crossing this dreary waste, which stretches for nearly a hundred leagues to the northern borders of Chili, with hardly a green spot in its expanse to relieve the fainting traveller, Almagro and his men experienced as great sufferings, though not of the same kind, as those which they had encountered in the passes of the Cordilleras. Indeed, the captain would not easily be found at this day, who would venture to lead his army across this dreary region. But the Spaniard of the sixteenth century had a strength of limb and a buoyancy of spirit which raised him to a contempt of obstacles, almost justifying the boast of the historian, that “he contended indifferently, at the same time, with man, with the elements, and with famine!” 6
6 “Peleando en un tiempo con los Enemigos, con los Elementos, i con la Hambre.” Herrera, Hist General, dec. 5, lib. 10, cap. 2
After traversing the terrible desert, Almagro reached the ancient town of Arequipa, about sixty leagues from Cuzco. Here he learned with astonishment the insurrection of the Peruvians, and further, that the young Inca Manco still lay with a formidable force at no great distance from the capital. He had once been on friendly terms with the Peruvian prince, and he now resolved, before proceeding farther, to send an embassy to his camp, and arrange an interview with him in the neighbourhood of Cuzco.
Almagro’s emissaries were well received by the Inca, who alleged his grounds of complaint against the Pizarros, and named the vale of Yucay as the place where he would confer with the marshal. The Spanish commander accordingly resumed his march, and, taking one half of his force, whose whole number fell somewhat short of five hundred men, he repaired in person to the place of rendezvous; while the remainder of his army established their quarters at Urcos, about six leagues from the capital. 7
7 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 9, cap. 6
The Spaniards in Cuzco, startled by the appearance of this fresh body of troops in their neighbourhood, doubted, when they learned the quarter whence they came, whether it betided them good or evil. Hernando Pizarro marched out of the city with a small force, and, drawing near to Urcos, heard with no little uneasiness of Almagro’s purpose to insist on his pretensions to Cuzco. Though much inferior in strength to his rival, he determined to resist him.
Meanwhile, the Peruvians, who had witnessed the conference between the soldiers of the opposite camps, suspected some secret understanding between the parties, which would compromise the safety of the Inca. They communicated their distrust to Manco, and the latter, adopting the same sentiments, or perhaps, from the first, meditating a surprise of the Spaniards, suddenly fell upon the latter in the valley of Yucay with a body of fifteen thousand men. But the veterans of Chili were too familiar with Indian tactics to be taken by surprise. And though a sharp engagement ensued, which lasted more than an hour, in which Orgonez had a horse killed under him, the natives were finally driven back with great slaughter, and the Inca was so far crippled by the blow, that he was not likely for the present to give further molestation. 8
8 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 4. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 21.]
Almagro, now joining the division left at Urcos, saw no further impediment to his operations on Cuzco. He sent, at once, an embassy to the municipality of the place, requiring the recognition of him as its lawful governor, and presenting at the same time a copy of his credentials from the Crown. But the question of jurisdiction was not one easy to be settled, depending, as it did, on a knowledge of the true parallels of latitude, not very likely to be possessed by the rude followers of Pizarro. The royal grant had placed under his jurisdiction all the country extending two hundred and seventy leagues south of the river of Santiago, situated one degree and twenty minutes north of the equator. Two hundred and seventy leagues on the meridian, by our measurement, would fall more than a degree short of Cuzco, and, indeed, would barely include the city of Lima itself. But the Spanish leagues, of only seventeen and a half to a degree, 9 would remove the southern boundary to nearly half a degree beyond the capital of the Incas, which would thus fall within the jurisdiction of Pizarro. 10 Yet the division-line ran so close to the disputed ground, that the true result might reasonably be doubted, where no careful scientific observations had been made to obtain it; and each party was prompt to assert, as they always are in such cases, that its own claim was clear and unquestionable. 11
9 “Contando diez i siete leg as i media por grado.” Herrera Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 3, cap. 5.]
10 The government had endeavoured early to provide against any dispute in regard to the limits of the respective jurisdictions. The language of the original grants gave room to some misunderstanding; and, as early as 1536, Fray Jomas de Berlanga, Bishop of Tierra Firme, had been sent to Lima with full powers to determine the question of boundary, by fixing the latitude of the river of Santiago, and measuring two hundred and seventy leagues south on the meridian. But Pizarro, having engaged Almagro in his Chili expedition, did not care to revive the question, and the Bishop returned, re infecta, to his diocese, with strong feelings of disgust towards the governor. Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 3, cap. 1.]
11 “All say,” says Oviedo, in a letter to the emperor, “that Cuzco falls within the territory of Almagro.” Oviedo was, probably, the best-informed man in the colonies. Yet this was an error. Carta desde Sto. Domingo, Ms., 25 de Oct. 1539.]
Thus summoned by Almagro, the authorities of Cuzco, unwilling to give umbrage to either of the contending chiefs, decided that they must wait until they could take counsel — which they promised to do at once — with certain pilots better instructed than themselves in the position of the Santiago. Meanwhile, a truce was arranged between the parties, each solemnly engaging to abstain from hostile measures, and to remain quiet in their present quarters.
The weather now set in cold and rainy. Almagro’s soldiers, greatly discontented with their position, flooded as it was by the waters, were quick to discover that Hernando Pizarro was busily employed in strengthening himself in the city, contrary to agreement. They also learned with dismay, that a large body of men, sent by the governor from Lima, under command of Alonso de Alvarado, was on the march to relieve Cuzco. They exclaimed that they were betrayed, and that the truce had been only an artifice to secure their inactivity until the arrival of the expected succours. In this state of excitement, it was not very difficult to persuade their commander — too ready to surrender his own judgment to the rash advisers around him — to violate the treaty, and take possession of the capital. 12
12 According to Zarate, Almagro, on entering the capital, found no appearance of the designs imputed to Hernando, and exclaimed that “he had been deceived.” (Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 4.) He was probably easy of faith in the matter.]
Under cover of a dark and stormy night (April 8th, 1537), he entered the place without opposition, made himself master of the principal church, established strong parties of cavalry at the head of the great avenues to prevent surprise, and detached Orgonez with a body of infantry to force the dwelling of Hernando Pizarro. That captain was lodged with his brother Gonzalo in one of the large halls built by the Incas for public diversions, with immense doors of entrance that opened on the plaza. It was garrisoned by about twenty soldiers, who, as the gates were burst open, stood stoutly to the defence of their leader. A smart struggle ensued, in which some lives were lost, till at length Orgonez, provoked by the obstinate resistance, set fire to the combustible roof of the building. It was speedily in flames, and the burning rafters falling on the heads of the inmates, they forced their reluctant leader to an unconditional surrender. Scarcely had the Spaniards left the building, when the whole roof fell in with a tremendous crash. 13
13 Carta de Espinall, Tesorero de N. Toledo, 15 de Junio, 1539. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 21.
Almagro was now master of Cuzco. He ordered the Pizarros, with fifteen or twenty of the principal cavaliers, to be secured and placed in confinement. Except so far as required for securing his authority, he does not seem to have been guilty of acts of violence to the inhabitants, 14 and he installed one of Pizarro’s most able officers, Gabriel de Rojas, in the government of the city. The municipality, whose eyes were now open to the validity of Almagro’s pretensions, made no further scruple to recognize his title to Cuzco.
14 So it would appear from the general testimony; yet Pedro Pizarro, one of the opposite faction, and among those imprisoned by Almagro, complains that that chief plundered them of their horses and other property. Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
The marshal’s first step was to send a message to Alonso de Alvarado’s camp, advising that officer of his occupation of the city, and requiring his obedience to him, as its legitimate master. Alvarado was lying, with a body of five hundred men, horse and foot, at Xauxa, about thirteen leagues from the capital. He had been detached several months previously for the relief of Cuzco; but had, most unaccountably, and, as it proved, most unfortunately for the Peruvian capital, remained at Xauxa with the alleged motive of protecting that settlement and the surrounding country against the insurgents. 15 He now showed himself loyal to his commander; and, when Almagro’s ambassadors reached his camp, he put them in irons, and sent advice of what had been done to the governor at Lima.
15 Pizarro’s secretary Picado had an encomienda in that neighbourhood, and Alvarado, who was under personal obligations to him, remained there, it is said, at his instigation. (Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 8, cap. 7.) Alvarado was a good officer, and largely trusted, both before and after, by the Pizarros; and we may presume there was some explanation of his conduct, of which we are not possessed.
Almagro, offended by the detention of his emissaries, prepared at once to march against Alonso de Alvarado, and take more effectual means to bring him to submission. His lieutenant, Orgonez, strongly urged him before his departure to strike off the heads of the Pizarros, alleging, “that, while they lived, his commander’s life would never be safe”; and concluding with the Spanish proverb, “Dead men never bite.” 16 But the marshal, though he detested Hernando in his heart, shrunk from so violent a measure; and, independently of other considerations, he had still an attachment for his old associate, Francis Pizarro, and was unwilling to sever the ties between them for ever. Contenting himself, therefore, with placing his prisoners under strong guard in one of the stone buildings belonging to the House of the Sun, he put himself at the head of his forces, and left the capital in quest of Alvarado.
16 “El muerto no mordia.” Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 2, cap. 8.
That officer had now taken up a position on the farther side of the Rio de Abancay, where he lay, with the strength of his little army, in front of a bridge, by which its rapid waters are traversed, while a strong detachment occupied a spot commanding a ford lower down the river. But in this detachment was a cavalier of much consideration in the army, Pedro de Lerma, who, from some pique against his commander, had entered into treasonable correspondence with the opposite party. By his advice, Almagro, on reaching the border of the river, established himself against the bridge in face of Alvarado, as if prepared to force a passage, thus concentrating his adversary’s attention on that point. But, when darkness had set in, he detached a large body under Orgonez to pass the ford, and operate in concert with Lerma. Orgonez executed this commission with his usual promptness. The ford was crossed, though the current ran so swiftly, that several of his men were swept away by it, and perished in the waters. Their leader received a severe wound himself in the mouth, as he was gaining the opposite bank, but, nothing daunted, he cheered on his men, and fell with fury on the enemy. He was speedily joined by Lerma, and such of the soldiers as he had gained over, and, unable to distinguish friend from foe, the enemy’s confusion was complete.
Meanwhile, Alvarado, roused by the noise of the attack on this quarter, hastened to the support of his officer, when Almagro, seizing the occasion, pushed across the bridge, dispersed the small body left to defend it, and, falling on Alvarado’s rear, that general saw himself hemmed in on all sides. The struggle did not last long; and the unfortunate chief, uncertain on whom he could rely, surrendered with all his force, — those only excepted who had already deserted to the enemy. Such was the battle of Abancay, as it was called, from the river on whose banks it was fought, on the twelfth of July, 1537. Never was a victory more complete, or achieved with less cost of life; and Almagro marched back, with an array of prisoners scarcely inferior to his own army in number, in triumph to Cuzco. 17
17 Carta de Francisco Pizarro al Obispo de Tierra Firme, Ms., 28 de Agosto, 1539. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Indias, Ms., ubi supra. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Carta de Espinall, Ms.]
While the events related in the preceding pages were passing, Francisco Pizarro had remained at Lima, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the reinforcements which he had requested, to enable him to march to the relief of the beleaguered capital of the Incas. His appeal had not been unanswered. Among the rest was a corps of two hundred and fifty men, led by the Licentiate Gaspar de Espinosa, one of the three original associates, it may be remembered, who engaged in the conquest of Peru. He had now left his own residence at Panama, and came in person, for the first time, it would seem, to revive the drooping fortunes of his confederates. Pizarro received also a vessel laden with provisions, military stores, and other necessary supplies, besides a rich wardrobe for himself, from Cortes, the Conqueror of Mexico, who generously stretched forth his hand to aid his kinsman in the hour of need. 18
18 “Fernando Cortes embio con Rodrigo de Grijalva en vn proprio Navio suio, desde la Nueva Espana, muchas Armas, Tiros, Jaeces, Aderecos, Vestidos de Seda, i vna Ropa de Martas.” Gomara, Hist de las Ind., cap. 136.]
With a force amounting to four hundred and fifty men, half of them cavalry, the governor quitted Lima, and began his march on the Inca capital. He had not advanced far, when he received tidings of the return of Almagro, the seizure of Cuzco, and the imprisonment of his brothers; and, before he had time to recover from this astounding intelligence, he learned the total defeat and capture of Alvarado. Filled with consternation at these rapid successes of his rival, he now returned in all haste to Lima, which he put in the best posture of defence, to secure it against the hostile movements, not unlikely, as he thought, to be directed against that capital itself. Meanwhile, far from indulging in impotent sallies of resentment, or in complaints of his ancient comrade, he only lamented that Almagro should have resorted to these violent measures for the settlement of their dispute, and this less — if we may take his word for it — from personal considerations than from the prejudice it might do to the interests of the Crown. 19
19 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 2, cap. 7
But, while busily occupied with warlike preparations, he did not omit to try the effect of negotiation. He sent an embassy to Cuzco, consisting of several persons in whose discretion he placed the greatest confidence, with Espinosa at their head, as the party most interested in an amicable arrangement.
The licentiate, on his arrival, did not find Almagro in as favorable a mood for an accommodation as he could have wished. Elated by his recent successes, he now aspired not only to the possession of Cuzco, but of Lima itself, as falling within the limits of his jurisdiction. It was in vain that Espinosa urged the propriety, by every argument which prudence could suggest, of moderating his demands. His claims upon Cuzco, at least, were not to be shaken, and he declared himself ready to peril his life in maintaining them. The licentiate coolly replied by quoting the pithy Castilian proverb, El vencido vencido, y el vencidor perdido; “The vanquished vanquished, and the victor undone.”
What influence the temperate arguments of the licentiate might eventually have had on the heated imagination of the soldier is doubtful; but unfortunately for the negotiation, it was abruptly terminated by the death of Espinosa himself, which took place most unexpectedly, though, strange to say, in those times, without the imputation of poison. 20 He was a great loss to the parties in the existing fermentation of their minds; for he had the weight of character which belongs to wise and moderate counsels, and a deeper interest than any other man in recommending them.
20 Carta de Pizarro al Obispo de Tierra Firme, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 2, cap. 13. — Carta de Espinall, Ms.
The name of Espinosa is memorable in history from his early connection with the expedition to Peru, which, but for the seasonable, though secret, application of his funds, could not then have been compassed. He had long been a resident in the Spanish colonies of Tierra Firme and Panama, where he had served in various capacities, sometimes as a legal functionary presiding in the courts of justice, 21 and not unfrequently as an efficient leader in the early expeditions of conquest and discovery. In these manifold vocations he acquired high reputation for probity, intelligence, and courage, and his death at the present crisis was undoubtedly the most unfortunate event that could befall the country.
21 He incurred some odium as presiding officer in the trial and condemnation of the unfortunate Vasco Nunez de Balboa. But it must be allowed, that he made great efforts to resist the tyrannical proceedings of Pedrarias, and he earnestly recommended the prisoner to mercy. See Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 2, cap. 21, 22.]
All attempt at negotiation was now abandoned; and Almagro announced his purpose to descend to the sea-coast, where he could plant a colony and establish a port for himself. This would secure him the means, so essential, of communication with the mother-country, and here he would resume negotiations for the settlement of his dispute with Pizarro. Before quitting Cuzco, he sent Orgonez with a strong force against the Inca, not caring to leave the capital exposed in his absence to further annoyance from that quarter.
But the Inca, discouraged by his late discomfiture, and unable, perhaps, to rally in sufficient strength for resistance, abandoned his strong-hold at Tambo, and retreated across the mountains. He was hotly pursued by Orgonez over hill and valley, till, deserted by his followers, and with only one of his wives to bear him company, the royal fugitive took shelter in the remote fastnesses of the Andes. 22
22 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Conq. i Pob. de Piru Ms.]
Before leaving the capital, Orgonez again urged his commander to strike off the heads of the Pizarros, and then march at once upon Lima. By this decisive step he would bring the war to an issue, and for ever secure himself from the insidious machinations of his enemies. But, in the mean time, a new friend had risen up to the captive brothers. This was Diego de Alvarado, brother of that Pedro, who, as mentioned in a preceding chapter, had conducted the unfortunate expedition to Quito. After his brother’s departure, Diego had attached himself to the fortunes of Almagro, had accompanied him to Chili, and, as he was a cavalier of birth, and possessed of some truly noble qualities, he had gained deserved ascendency over his commander. Alvarado had frequently visited Hernando Pizarro in his confinement, where, to beguile the tediousness of captivity, he amused himself with gaming, — the passion of the Spaniard. They played deep, and Alvarado lost the enormous sum of eighty thousand gold castellanos. He was prompt in paying the debt, but Hernando Pizarro peremptorily declined to receive the money. By this politic generosity, he secured an important advocate in the council of Almagro. It stood him now in good stead. Alvarado represented to the marshal, that such a measure as that urged by Orgonez would not only outrage the feelings of his followers, but would ruin his fortunes by the indignation it must excite at court. When Almagro acquiesced in these views, as in truth most grateful to his own nature, Orgonez, chagrined at his determination, declared that the day would come when he would repent this mistaken lenity. “A Pizarro,” he said, “was never known to forget an injury; and that which they had already received from Almagro was too deep for them to forgive.” Prophetic words!
On leaving Cuzco, the marshal gave orders that Gonzalo Pizarro and the other prisoners should be detained in strict custody. Hernando he took with him, closely guarded, on his march. Descending rapidly towards the coast, he reached the pleasant vale of Chincha in the latter part of August. Here he occupied himself with laying the foundations of a town bearing his own name, which might serve as a counterpart to the City of the Kings, — thus bidding defiance, as it were, to his rival on his own borders. While occupied in this manner, he received the unwelcome tidings, that Gonzalo Pizarro, Alonso de Alvarado, and the other prisoners, having tampered with their guards, had effected their escape from Cuzco, and he soon after heard of their safe arrival in the camp of Pizarro.
Chafed by this intelligence, the marshal was not soothed by the insinuations of Orgonez, that it was owing to his ill-advised lenity; and it might have gone hard with Hernando, but that Almagro’s attention was diverted by the negotiation which Francisco Pizarro now proposed to resume.
After some correspondence between the parties, it was agreed to submit the arbitration of the dispute to a single individual, Fray Francisco de Bovadilla, a Brother of the Order of Mercy. Though living in Lima, and, as might be supposed, under the influence of Pizarro, he had a reputation for integrity that disposed Almagro to confide the settlement of the question exclusively to him. In this implicit confidence in the friar’s impartiality, Orgonez, of a less sanguine temper than his chief, did not participate. 23
23 Carta de Gutierrez al Emperador, Ms., 10 de Feb. 1539. — Carta de Espinall, Ms. — Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., Ms., ubi supra. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6 lib. 2, cap. 8–14. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y. Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 8. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
An interview was arranged between the rival chiefs. It took place at Mala, November 13th, 1537; but very different was the deportment of the two commanders towards each other from that which they had exhibited at their former meetings. Almagro, indeed, doffing his bonnet, advanced in his usual open manner to salute his ancient comrade; but Pizarro, hardly condescending to return the salute, haughtily demanded why the marshal had seized upon his city of Cuzco, and imprisoned his brothers. This led to a recrimination on the part of his associate. The discussion assumed the tone of an angry altercation, till Almagro, taking a hint — or what he conceived to be such — from an attendant, that some treachery was intended, abruptly quitted the apartment, mounted his horse, and galloped back to his quarters at Chincha. 24 The conference closed, as might have been anticipated from the heated temper of their minds when they began it, by widening the breach it was intended to heal. The friar, now left wholly to himself, after some deliberation, gave his award. He decided that a vessel, with a skilful pilot on board, should be sent to determine the exact latitude of the river of Santiago, the northern boundary of Pizarro’s territory, by which all the measurements were to be regulated. In the mean time, Cuzco was to be delivered up by Almagro, and Hernando Pizarro to be set at liberty, on condition of his leaving the country in six weeks for Spain. Both parties were to retire within their undisputed territories, and to abandon all further hostilities. 25
24 It was said that Gonzalo Pizarro lay in ambush with a strong force in the neighbourhood to intercept the marshal, and that the latter was warned of his danger by an honorable cavalier of the opposite party, who repeated a distich of an old ballad,
“Tiempo es el Caballero
Tiempo es de andar de aqui.”
(Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 3, cap. 4.) Pedro Pizarro admits the truth of the design imputed to Gonzalo, which he was prevented from putting into execution by the commands of the governor, who, the chronicler, with edifying simplicity, or assurance, informs us, was a man that scrupulously kept his word. “Porque el marquez don Francisco Picarro hera hombre que guardava mucho su palabra.” Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
25 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Espinall, Ms.
This award, as may be supposed, highly satisfactory to Pizarro, was received by Almagro’s men with indignation and scorn. They had been sold, they cried, by their general, broken, as he was, by age and infirmities. Their enemies were to occupy Cuzco and its pleasant places, while they were to be turned over to the barren wilderness of Charcas. Little did they dream that under this poor exterior were hidden the rich treasures of Potosi. They denounced the umpire as a hireling of the governor, and murmurs were heard among the troops, stimulated by Orgonez, demanding the head of Hernando. Never was that cavalier in greater danger. But his good genius in the form of Alvarado again interposed to protect him. His life in captivity was a succession of reprieves. 26
26 Espinall, Almagro’s treasurer, denounces the friar “as proving himself a very devil” by this award. (Carta al Emperador, Ms.) And Oviedo, a more dispassionate judge, quotes, without condemning, a cavalier who told the father, that “a sentence so unjust had not been pronounced since the time of Pontius Pilate”! Hist. de las Indias, Ms., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. 21.
Yet his brother, the governor, was not disposed to abandon him to his fate. On the contrary, he was now prepared to make every concession to secure his freedom. Concessions, that politic chief well knew, cost little to those who are not concerned to abide by them. After some preliminary negotiation, another award, more equitable, or, at all events, more to the satisfaction of the discontented party, was given. The principal articles of it were, that, until the arrival of some definitive instructions on the point from Castile, the city of Cuzco, with its territory, should remain in the hands of Almagro; and that Hernando Pizarro should be set at liberty, on the condition, above stipulated, of leaving the country in six weeks. — When the terms of this agreement were communicated to Orgonez, that officer intimated his opinion of them, by passing his finger across his throat, and exclaiming, “What has my fidelity to my commander cost me!” 27
27 “I tomando la barba con la mano izquierda, con la derecha hico senal de cortarse la cabeca, diciendo: Orgonez, Orgonez, por el amistad de Don Diego de Almagro te han de cortar esta.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 3, cap. 9.]
Almagro, in order to do greater honor to his prisoner, visited him in person, and announced to him that he was from that moment free. He expressed a hope, at the same time, that “all past differences would be buried in oblivion, and that henceforth they should live only in the recollection of then ancient friendship.” Hernando replied, with apparent cordiality, that “he desired nothing better for himself.” He then swore in the most solemn manner, and pledged his knightly honor, — the latter, perhaps, a pledge of quite as much weight in his own mind as the former, — that he would faithfully comply with the terms stipulated in the treaty. He was next conducted by the marshal to his quarters, where he partook of a collation in company with the principal officers; several of whom, together with Diego Almagro, the general’s son, afterward escorted the cavalier to his brother’s camp, which had been transferred to the neighbouring town of Mala. Here the party received a most cordial greeting from the governor, who entertained them with a courtly hospitality, and lavished many attentions, in particular, on the son of his ancient associate. In short, such, on their return, was the account of their reception, that it left no doubt in the mind of Almagro that all was at length amicably settled. 28 — He did not know Pizarro.
28 Ibid., loc. cit. — Carta de Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate Gutierrez, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 9.]
Scarcely had Almagro’s officers left the governor’s quarters, when the latter, calling his little army together, briefly recapitulated the many wrongs which had been done him by his rival, the seizure of his capital, the imprisonment of his brothers, the assault and defeat of his troops; and he concluded with the declaration, — heartily echoed back by his military audience, — that the time had now come for revenge. All the while that the negotiations were pending, Pizarro had been busily occupied with military preparations. He had mustered a force considerably larger than that of his rival, drawn from various quarters, but most of them familiar with service. He now declared, that, as he was too old to take charge of the campaign himself, he should devolve that duty on his brothers; and he released Hernando from all his engagements to Almagro, as a measure justified by necessity. That cavalier, with graceful pertinacity, intimated his design to abide by the pledges he had given, but, at length yielded a reluctant assent to the commands of his brother, as to a measure imperatively demanded by his duty to the Crown. 1
1 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 3, cap. 10.
The governor’s next step was to advise Almagro that the treaty was at an end. At the same time, he warned him to relinquish his pretensions to Cuzco, and withdraw into his own territory, or the responsibility of the consequences would lie on his own head.
Reposing in his false security, Almagro was now fully awakened to the consciousness of the error he had committed; and the warning voice of his lieutenant may have risen to his recollection. The first part of the prediction was fulfilled. And what should prevent the latter from being so? To add to his distress, he was laboring at this time under a grievous malady, the result of early excesses, which shattered his constitution, and made him incapable alike of mental and bodily exertion. 2
2 “Cayo enfermo i estuvo malo a punto de muerte de bubas i dolores” (Carta de Espinall, Ms.) It was a hard penalty, occurring at this crisis, for the sins, perhaps, of earlier days; but
“The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to scourge us.”
In this forlorn condition, he confided the management of his affairs to Orgonez, on whose loyalty and courage he knew he might implicitly rely. The first step was to secure the passes of the Guaitara, a chain of hills that hemmed in the valley of Zangalla, where Almagro was at present established. But, by some miscalculation, the passes were not secured in season; and the active enemy, threading the dangerous defiles, effected a passage across the sierra, where a much inferior force to his own might have taken him at advantage. The fortunes of Almagro were on the wane.
His thoughts were now turned towards Cuzco, and he was anxious to get possession of this capital before the arrival of the enemy. Too feeble to sit on horseback, he was obliged to be carried in a litter; and, when he reached the ancient town of Bilcas, not far from Guamanga, his indisposition was so severe that he was compelled to halt and remain there three weeks before resuming his march.
The governor and his brothers, in the mean time, after traversing the pass of Guaitara, descended into the valley of Ica, where Pizarro remained a considerable while, to get his troops into order and complete his preparations for the campaign. Then, taking leave of the army, he returned to Lima, committing the prosecution of the war, as he had before announced, to his younger and more active brothers. Hernando, soon after quitting Ica, kept along the coast as far as Nasca, proposing to penetrate the country by a circuitous route in order to elude the enemy, who might have greatly embarrassed him in some of the passes of the Cordilleras. But unhappily for him, this plan of operations, which would have given him such manifest advantage, was not adopted by Almagro; and his adversary, without any other impediment than that arising from the natural difficulties of the march, arrived, in the latter part of April, 1538, in the neighbourhood of Cuzco.
But Almagro was already in possession of that capital, which he had reached ten days before. A council of war was held by him respecting the course to be pursued. Some were for making good the defence of the city. Almagro would have tried what could be done by negotiation. But Orgonez bluntly replied, — “It is too late; you have liberated Hernando Pizarro, and nothing remains but to fight him.” The opinion of Orgonez finally prevailed, to march out and give the enemy battle on the plains. The marshal, still disabled by illness from taking the command, devolved it on his trusty lieutenant, who, mustering his forces, left the city, and took up a position at Las Salinas, less than a league distant from Cuzco. The place received its name from certain pits or vats in the ground, used for the preparation of salt, that was obtained from a natural spring in the neighbourhood. It was an injudicious choice of ground, since its broken character was most unfavorable to the free action of cavalry, in which the strength of Almagro’s force consisted. But, although repeatedly urged by the officers to advance into the open country, Orgonez persisted in his position, as the most favorable for defence, since the front was protected by a marsh, and by a little stream that flowed over the plain. His forces amounted in all to about five hundred, more than half of them horse. His infantry was deficient in fire-arms, the place of which was supplied by the long pike. He had also six small cannon, or falconets, as they were called, which, with his cavalry, formed into two equal divisions, he disposed on the flanks of his infantry. Thus prepared, he calmly awaited the approach of the enemy.
It was not long before the bright arms and banners of the Spaniards under Hernando Pizarro were seen emerging from the mountain passes. The troops came forward in good order, and like men whose steady step showed that they had been spared in the march, and were now fresh for action. They advanced slowly across the plain, and halted on the opposite border of the little stream which covered the front of Orgonez. Here Hernando, as the sun had set, took up his quarters for the night, proposing to defer the engagement till daylight. 3
3 Carta de Gutierrez, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 4, cap. 1 — 5. — Carta de Espinall, Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 10, 11. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2 lib. 2, cap. 36, 37.]
The rumors of the approaching battle had spread far and wide over the country; and the mountains and rocky heights around were thronged with multitudes of natives, eager to feast their eyes on a spectacle, where, whichever side were victorious, the defeat would fall on their enemies. 4 The Castilian women and children, too, with still deeper anxiety, had thronged out from Cuzco to witness the deadly strife in which brethren and kindred were to contend for mastery. 5 The whole number of the combatants was insignificant; though not as compared with those usually engaged in these American wars It is not, however, the number of the players, but the magnitude of the stake, that gives importance and interest to the game; and in this bloody game, they were to play for the possession of an empire.
4 Herrera, Hist. General, dec 6, lib. 4, cap. 5, 6.]
5 Ibid., ubi supra.]
The night passed away in silence, unbroken by the vast assembly which covered the surrounding hill-tops. Nor did the soldiers of the hostile camps, although keeping watch within hearing of one another, and with the same blood flowing in their veins, attempt any communication. So deadly was the hate in their bosoms! 6
6 “I fue cosa de notar, que se estuvieron toda la Noche, sin que nadie de la vna i otra parte pensase en mover tratos de Paz: tanta era la ira i aborrecimiento de ambas partes.” Ibid., cap. 6.]
The sun rose bright, as usual in this beautiful climate, on Saturday, the twenty-sixth day of April, 1538. 7 But long before his beams were on the plain, the trumpet of Hernando Pizarro had called his men to arms. His forces amounted in all to about seven hundred. They were drawn from various quarters, the veterans of Pizarro, the followers of Alonso de Alvarado, — many of whom, since their defeat, had found their way back to Lima, — and the late reinforcement from the isles, most of them seasoned by many a toilsome march in the Indian campaigns, and many a hard-fought field. His mounted troops were inferior to those of Almagro; but this was more than compensated by the strength of his infantry, comprehending a well-trained corps of arquebusiers, sent from St. Domingo, whose weapons were of the improved construction recently introduced from Flanders. They were of a large calibre, and threw double-headed shot, consisting of bullets linked together by an iron chain. It was doubtless a clumsy weapon compared with modern fire-arms, but, in hands accustomed to wield it, proved a destructive instrument. 8
7 A church dedicated to Saint Lazarus was afterwards erected on the battle-ground, and the bodies of those slain in the action were interred within its walls. This circumstance leads Garcilasso to suppose that the battle took place on Saturday, the sixth, — the day after the Feast of Saint Lazarus, — and not on the twenty-sixth of April, as commonly reported. Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap 38. See also Montesinos, (Annales, Ms., ano 1538,) — an indifferent authority for any thing]
8 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 8. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 36.]
Hernando Pizarro drew up his men in the same order of battle as that presented by the enemy, — throwing his infantry into the centre, and disposing his horse on the flanks; one corps of which he placed under command of Alonso de Alvarado, and took charge of the other himself. The infantry was headed by his brother Gonzalo, supported by Pedro de Valdivia, the future hero of Arauco, whose disastrous story forms the burden of romance as well as of chronicle. 9
9 The Araucana of Ercilla may claim the merit, indeed, — if it be a merit, — of combining both romance and history in one. Surely never did the Muse venture on such a specification of details, not merely poetical, but political, geographical, and statistical, as in this celebrated Castilian epic. It is a military journal done into rhyme.]
Mass was said, as if the Spaniards were about to fight what they deemed the good fight of the faith, instead of imbruing their hands in the blood of their countrymen. Hernando Pizarro then made a brief address to his soldiers. He touched on the personal injuries he and his family had received from Almagro; reminded his brother’s veterans that Cuzco had been wrested from their possession; called up the glow of shame on the brows of Alvarado’s men as he talked of the rout of Abancay, and, pointing out the Inca metropolis that sparkled in the morning sunshine, he told them that there was the prize of the victor. They answered his appeal with acclamations; and the signal being given, Gonzalo Pizarro, heading his battalion of infantry, led it straight across the river. The water was neither broad nor deep, and the soldiers found no difficulty in gaining a landing, as the enemy’s horse was prevented by the marshy ground from approaching the borders. But, as they worked their way across the morass, the heavy guns of Orgonez played with effect on the leading files, and threw them into disorder. Gonzalo and Valdivia threw themselves into the midst of their followers, menacing some, encouraging others, and at length led them gallantly forward to the firm ground. Here the arquebusiers, detaching themselves from the rest of the infantry, gained a small eminence, whence, in their turn, they opened a galling fire on Orgonez, scattering his array of spearmen, and sorely annoying the cavalry on the flanks.
Meanwhile, Hernando, forming his two squadrons of horse into one column, crossed under cover of this well-sustained fire, and, reaching the firm ground, rode at once against the enemy. Orgonez, whose infantry was already much crippled, advancing his horse, formed the two squadrons into one body, like his antagonist, and spurred at full gallop against the assailants. The shock was terrible; and it was hailed by the swarms of Indian spectators on the surrounding heights with a fiendisn yell of triumph, that rose far above the din of battle, till it was lost in distant echoes among the mountains. 10
10 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 4, cap. 6. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Espinall, Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 11.
Every thing relating to this battle, — the disposition of the forces, the character of the ground, the mode of attack, are told as variously and confusedly, as if it had been a contest between two great armies, instead of a handful of men on either side. It would seem that truth is nowhere so difficult to come at, as on the battle-field.]
The struggle was desperate. For it was not that of the white man against the defenceless Indian, but of Spaniard against Spaniard; both parties cheering on their comrades with their battle-cries of “El Rey y Almagro,” or “El Rey y Pizarro,” — while they fought with a hate, to which national antipathy was as nothing; a hate strong in proportion to the strength of the ties that had been rent asunder.
In this bloody field well did Orgonez do his duty, fighting like one to whom battle was the natural element. Singling out a cavalier, whom, from the color of the sobre-vest on his armour, he erroneously supposed to be Hernando Pizarro, he charged him in full career, and overthrew him with his lance. Another he ran through in like manner, and a third he struck down with his sword, as he was prematurely shouting “Victory!” But while thus doing the deeds of a paladin of romance, he was hit by a chain-shot from an arquebuse, which, penetrating the bars of his visor, grazed his forehead, and deprived him for a moment of reason. Before he had fully recovered, his horse was killed under him, and though the fallen cavalier succeeded in extricating himself from the stirrups, he was surrounded, and soon overpowered by numbers. Still refusing to deliver up his sword, he asked “if there was no knight to whom he could surrender.” One Fuentes, a menial of Pizarro, presenting himself as such, Orgonez gave his sword into his hands, — and the dastard, drawing his dagger, stabbed his defenceless prisoner to the heart! His head, then struck off, was stuck on a pike, and displayed, a bloody trophy, in the great square of Cuzco, as the head of a traitor. 11 Thus perished as loyal a cavalier, as decided in council, and as bold in action, as ever crossed to the shores of America.
11 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera Hist. General, ubi supra. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, ubi supra.
The fight had now lasted more than an hour, and the fortune of the day was turning against the followers of Almagro. Orgonez being down, their confusion increased. The infantry, unable to endure the fire of the arquebusiers, scattered and took refuge behind the stone-walls, that here and there straggled across the country. Pedro de Lerma, vainly striving to rally the cavalry, spurred his horse against Hernando Pizarro, with whom he had a personal feud. Pizarro did not shrink from the encounter. The lances of both the knights took effect. That of Hernando penetrated the thigh of his opponent, while Lerma’s weapon, glancing by his adversary’s saddle-bow, struck him with such force above the groin, that it pierced the joints of his mail, slightly wounding the cavalier, and forcing his horse back on his haunches. But the press of the fight soon parted the combatants, and, in the turmoil that ensued, Lerma was unhorsed, and left on the field covered with wounds. 12
12 Herrera, Hist. General, ubi supra. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 36.
Hernando Pizarro wore a surcoat of orange-colored velvet over his armour, according to Garcilasso, and before the battle sent notice of it to Orgonez, that the latter might distinguish him in the melee. But a knight in Hernando’s suite also wore the same colors, it appears, which led Orgonez into error.]
There was no longer order, and scarcely resistance, among the followers of Almagro. They fled, making the best of their way to Cuzco, and happy was the man who obtained quarter when he asked it. Almagro himself, too feeble to sit so long on his horse, reclined on a litter, and from a neighbouring eminence surveyed the battle, watching its fluctuations with all the interest of one who felt that honor, fortune, life itself, hung on the issue. With agony not to be described, he had seen his faithful followers, after their hard struggle, borne down by their opponents, till, convinced that all was lost, he succeeded in mounting a mule, and rode off for a temporary refuge to the fortress of Cuzco. Thither he was speedily followed, taken, and brought in triumph to the capital, where, ill as he was, he was thrown into irons, and confined in the same in the same apartment of the stone building in which he had imprisoned the Pizarros.
The action lasted not quite two hours. The number of killed, variously stated, was probably not less than a hundred and fifty, — one of the combatants calls it two hundred, 13 — a great number, considering the shortness of the time, and the small amount of forces engaged. No account is given of the wounded. Wounds were the portion of the cavalier. Pedro de Lerma is said to have received seventeen, and yet was taken alive from the field! The loss fell chiefly on the followers of Almagro But the slaughter was not confined to the heat of the action. Such was the deadly animosity of the parties, that several were murdered in cold blood, like Orgonez, after they had surrendered. Pedro de Lerma himself, while lying on his sick couch in the quarters of a friend in Cuzco, was visited by a soldier, named Samaniego, whom he had once struck for an act of disobedience. This person entered the solitary chamber of the wounded man, took his place by his bed-side, and then, upbraiding him for the insult, told him that he had come to wash it away in his blood! Lerma in vain assured him, that, when restored to health, he would give him the satisfaction he desired. The miscreant, exclaiming “Now is the hour!” plunged his sword into his bosom. He lived several years to vaunt this atrocious exploit, which he proclaimed as a reparation to his honor. It is some satisfaction to know that the insolence of this vaunt cost him his life. 14 — Such anecdotes, revolting as they are, illustrate not merely the spirit of the times, but that peculiarly ferocious spirit which is engendered by civil wars, — the most unforgiving in their character of any, but wars of religion.
13 “Murieron en esta Batalla de las Salinas casi dozientos hombres de vna parte y de otra.” (Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.) Most authorities rate the loss at less. The treasurer Espinall, a partisan of Almagro, says they massacred a hundred and fifty after the fight, in cold blood. “Siguiecon el alcanze la mas cruelmente que en el mundo se ha visto, porque matavan a los hombres rendidos e desarmados, e por les quitar las armas los mataban si presto no se las quitaban, e trayendo a las ancas de un caballo a un Ruy Diaz viniendo rendido e desarmado le mataron, i desta manera mataron mas de ciento e cinquenta hombres” Carta, Ms.]
14 Carta de Espinall, Ms. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 38.
He was hanged for this very crime by the governor of Puerto Viejo, about five years after this time, having outraged the feelings of that officer and the community by the insolent and open manner in which he boasted of his atrocious exploit.]
In the hurry of the flight of one party, and the pursuit by the other, all pouring towards Cuzco, the field of battle had been deserted. But it soon swarmed with plunderers, as the Indians, descending like vultures from the mountains, took possession of the bloody ground, and, despoiling the dead, even to the minutest article of dress, left their corpses naked on the plain. 15 It has been thought strange that the natives should not have availed themselves of their superior numbers to fall on the victors after they had been exhausted by the battle. But the scattered bodies of the Peruvians were without a leader; they were broken in spirits, moreover, by recent reverses, and the Castilians, although weakened for the moment by the struggle, were in far greater strength in Cuzco than they had ever been before.
15 “Los Indios viendo la Batalla fenescida, ellos tambien se dejaron de la suia, iendo los vnos i los otros a desnudar los Espanoles muertos, i aun algunos vivos, que por sus heridas no se podian defender, porque como paso el tropel de la Gente, siguiendo la Victoria, no huvo quien se lo impidiese; de manera que dexaron en cueros a todos los caidos.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 11]
Indeed, the number of troops now assembled within its walls, amounting to full thirteen hundred, composed, as they were, of the most discordant materials, gave great uneasiness to Hernando Pizarro. For there were enemies glaring on each other and on him with deadly though smothered rancor, and friends, if not so dangerous, not the less troublesome from their craving and unreasonable demands. He had given the capital up to pillage, and his followers found good booty in the quarters of Almagro’s officers. But this did not suffice the more ambitious cavaliers; and they clamorously urged their services, and demanded to be placed in charge of some expedition, nothing doubting that it must prove a golden one. All were in quest of an El Dorado. Hernando Pizarro acquiesced as far as possible in these desires, most willing to relieve himself of such importunate creditors. The expeditions, it is true, usually ended in disaster; but the country was explored by them. It was the lottery of adventure; the prizes were few, but they were splendid; and in the excitement of the game, few Spaniards paused to calculate the chances of success.
Among those who left the capital was Diego, the son of Almagro. Hernando was mindful to send him, with a careful escort, to his brother the governor, desirous to remove him at this crisis from the neighbourhood of his father. Meanwhile the marshal himself was pining away in prison under the combined influence of bodily illness and distress of mind. Before the battle of Salinas, it had been told to Hernando Pizarro that Almagro was like to die. “Heaven forbid,” he exclaimed, “that this should come to pass before he falls into my hands!” 16 Yet the gods seemed now disposed to grant but half of this pious prayer, since his captive seemed about to escape him just as he had come into his power. To console the unfortunate chief, Hernando paid him a visit in his prison, and cheered him with the assurance that he only waited for the governor’s arrival to set him at liberty; adding, ‘that, if Pizarro did not come soon to the capital, he himself would assume the responsibility of releasing him, and would furnish him with a conveyance to his brother’s quarters.” At the same time, with considerate attention to his comfort, he inquired of the marshal “what mode of conveyance would be best suited to his state of health.” After this he continued to send him delicacies from his own table to revive his faded appetite. Almagro, cheered by these kind attentions, and by the speedy prospect of freedom, gradually mended in health and spirits. 17
16 “Respondia Hernando Pizarro, que no le haria Dios tan gran mal, que le dexase morir, sin que le huviese a las manos.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6 lib. 4, cap. 5.]
17 Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 4, cap. 9.]
He little dreamed that all this while a process was industriously preparing against him. It had been instituted immediately on his capture, and every one, however humble, who had any cause of complaint against the unfortunate prisoner, was invited to present it. The summons was readily answered; and many an enemy now appeared in the hour of his fallen fortunes, like the base reptiles crawling into light amidst the ruins of some noble edifice; and more than one, who had received benefits from his hands, were willing to court the favor of his enemy by turning on their benefactor. From these loath some sources a mass of accusations was collected which spread over four thousand folio pages! Yet Almagro was the idol of his soldiers! 18
18 “De tal manera que los Escrivanos no se davan manos, i ia tenian oscritas mas de dos mil hojas.” Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 4, cap. 7.
Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms. — Carta de Gutierrez, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Espinall, Ms.
Having completed the process, (July 8th, 1538,) it was not difficult to obtain a verdict against the prisoner. The principal charges on which he was pronounced guilty were those of levying war against the Crown, and thereby occasioning the death of many of his Majesty’s subjects; of entering into conspiracy with the Inca; and finally, of dispossessing the royal governor of the city of Cuzco. On these charges he was condemned to suffer death as a traitor, by being publicly beheaded in the great square of the city. Who were the judges, or what was the tribunal that condemned him, we are not informed. Indeed, the whole trial was a mockery; if that can be called a trial, where the accused himself is not even aware of the accusation.
The sentence was communicated by a friar deputed for the purpose to Almagro. The unhappy man, who all the while had been unconsciously slumbering on the brink of a precipice, could not at first comprehend the nature of his situation. Recovering from the first shock, “It was impossible,” he said, “that such wrong could be done him, — he would not believe it.” He then besought Hernando Pizarro to grant him an interview. That cavalier, not unwilling, it would seem, to witness the agony of his captive, consented; and Almagro was so humbled by his misfortunes, that he condescended to beg for his life with the most piteous supplications. He reminded Hernando of his ancient relations with his brother, and the good offices he had rendered him and his family in the earlier part of their career. He touched on his acknowledged services to his country, and besought his enemy “to spare his gray hairs, and not to deprive him of the shore remnant of an existence from which he had now nothing more to fear.” — To this the other coldly replied, that “he was surprised to see Almagro demean himself in a manner so unbecoming a brave cavalier; that his fate was no worse than had befallen many a soldier before him; and that, since God had given him the grace to be a Christian, he should employ his remaining moments in making up his account with Heaven!” 19
19 “I que pues tuvo tanta gracia de Dios, que le hico Christiano, ordenase su Alma, i temiese a Dios.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 5, cap. 1.]
But Almagro was not to be silenced. He urged the service he had rendered Hernando himself. “This was a hard requital,” he said, “for having spared his life so recently under similar circumstances, and that, too, when he had been urged again and again by those around him to take it away.” And he concluded by menacing his enemy with the vengeance of the emperor, who would never suffer this outrage on one who had rendered such signal services to the Crown to go unrequited. It was all in vain; and Hernando abruptly closed the conference by repeating, that “his doom was inevitable, and he must prepare to meet it.” 20
20 Ibid., ubi supra.
The marshal appealed from the sentence of his judges to the Crown, supplicating his conqueror, (says the treasurer Espinall, in his letter to the emperor,) in terms that would have touched the heart of an infidel. “De la qual el dicho Adelantado apelo para ante V. M. i le rogo que por amor de Dios hincado de rodillas le otorgase el apelacion, diciendole que mirase sus canas e vejez e quanto havia servido a V. M. i qe el havia sido el primer escalon para que el 1 sus hermanos subiesen en el estado en que estavan, i diciendole otras muchas palabras de dolor e compasion que despues de muerto supe que dixo, que a qualquier hombre, aunque fuera infiel, moviera a piedad.” Carta, Ms.]
Almagro, finding that no impression was to be made on his iron-hearted conqueror, now seriously addressed himself to the settlement of his affairs. By the terms of the royal grant he was empowered to name his successor. He accordingly devolved his office on his son, appointing Diego de Alvarado, on whose integrity he had great reliance, administrator of the province during his minority. All his property and possessions in Peru, of whatever kind, he devised to his master the emperor, assuring him that a large balance was still due to him in his unsettled accounts with Pizarro. By this politic bequest, he hoped to secure the monarch’s protection for his son, as well as a strict scrutiny into the affairs of his enemy.
The knowledge of Almagro’s sentence produced a deep sensation in the community of Cuzco. All were amazed at the presumption with which one, armed with a little brief authority, ventured to sit in judgment on a person of Almagro’s station. There were few who did not call to mind some generous or good-natured act of the unfortunate veteran. Even those who had furnished materials for the accusation, now startled by the tragic result to which it was to lead, were heard to denounce Hernando’s conduct as that of a tyrant. Some of the principal cavaliers, and among them Diego de Alvarado, to whose intercession, as we have seen Hernando Pizarro, when a captive, had owed his own life, waited on that commander, and endeavoured to dissuade him from so high-handed and atrocious a proceeding. It was in vain. But it had the effect of changing the mode of execution, which, instead of the public square, was now to take place in prison. 21
21 Carta de Espinall, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1538.
Bishop Valverde, as he assures the emperor, remonstrated with Francisco Pizarro in Lima, against allowing violence towards the marshal; urging it on him, as an imperative duty, to go himself at once to Cuzco, and set him at liberty. “It was too grave a matter,” he rightly added, “to trust to a third party.” (Carta al Emperador, Ms.) The treasurer Espinall, then in Cuzco, made a similar ineffectual attempt to turn Hernando from his purpose.]
On the day appointed, a strong corps of arquebusiers was drawn up in the plaza. The guards were doubled over the houses were dwelt the principal partisans of Almagro. The executioner, attended by a priest, stealthily entered his prison; and the unhappy man, after confessing and receiving the sacrament, submitted without resistance to the garrote. Thus obscurely, in the gloomy silence of a dungeon, perished the hero of a hundred battles! His corpse was removed to the great square of the city, where, in obedience to the sentence, the head was severed from the body. A herald proclaimed aloud the nature of the crimes for which he had suffered; and his remains, rolled in their bloody shroud, were borne to the house of his friend Hernan Ponce de Leon, and the next day laid with all due solemnity in the church of Our Lady of Mercy. The Pizarros appeared among the principal mourners. It was remarked, that their brother had paid similar honors to the memory of Atahuallpa. 22
22 Carta de Espinall, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, loc. cit. — Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms. — Carta de Gutierrez, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1538.
The date of Almagro’s execution is not given; a strange omission; but of little moment, as that event must have followed soon on the condemnation.]
Almagro, at the time of his death, was probably not far from seventy years of age. But this is somewhat uncertain; for Almagro was a foundling, and his early history is lost in obscurity. 23 He had many excellent qualities by nature; and his defects, which were not few, may reasonably be palliated by the circumstances of his situation. For what extenuation is not authorized by the position of a foundling, — without parents, or early friends, or teacher to direct him, — his little bark set adrift on the ocean of life, to take its chance among the rude billows and breakers, without one friendly hand stretched forth to steer or to save it! The name of “foundling” comprehends an apology for much, very much, that is wrong in after life. 24
23 Ante, vol. I. p. 207.]
24 Montesinos, for want of a better pedigree, says, — “He was the son of his own great deeds, and such has been the parentage of many a famous hero!” (Annales, Ms., ano 1538.) It would go hard with a Castilian, if he could not make out something like a genealogy, — however shadowy.
He was a man of strong passions, and not too well used to control them. 25 But he was neither vindictive nor habitually cruel. I have mentioned one atrocious outrage which he committed on the natives. But insensibility to the rights of the Indian he shared with many a better-instructed Spaniard. Yet the Indians, after his conviction, bore testimony to his general humanity, by declaring that they had no such friend among the white men. 26 Indeed, far from being vindictive, he was placable, and easily yielded to others. The facility with which he yielded, the result of good-natured credulity, made him too often the dupe of the crafty; and it showed, certainly, a want of that self-reliance which belongs to great strength of character. Yet his facility of temper, and the generosity of his nature, made him popular with his followers. No commander was ever more beloved by his soldiers. His generosity was often carried to prodigality. When he entered on the campaign of Chili, he lent a hundred thousand gold ducats to the poorer cavaliers to equip themselves, and afterwards gave them up the debt. 27 He was profuse to ostentation. But his extravagance did him no harm among the roving spirits of the camp, with whom prodigality is apt to gain more favor than a strict and well-regulated economy.
25 “Hera vn hombre muy profano, de muy mala lengua, que en enojandose tratava muy mal a todos los que con el andavan aunque fuesen cavalleros. “(Descub. y Conq., Ms.) It is the portrait drawn by an enemy.]
26 “Los Indios lloraban amargamente, diciendo, que de el nunca recibieron mal tratamiento.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 5, cap. 1.]
27 If we may credit Herrera, he distributed a hundred and eighty roads of silver and twenty of gold among his followers! “Mando sacar de su Posada mas de ciento i ochenta cargas de Plata i veinte de Oro, i las repartio.” (Dec. 5, lib. 7, cap. 9.) A load was what a man could easily carry. Such a statement taxes our credulity, but it is difficult to set the proper limits to one’s credulity, in what relates to this land of gold.
He was a good soldier, careful and judicious in his plans, patient and intrepid in their execution. His body was covered with the scars of his battles, till the natural plainness of his person was converted almost into deformity. He must not be judged by his closing campaign, when, depressed by disease, he yielded to the superior genius of his rival; but by his numerous expeditions by land and by water for the conquest of Peru and the remote Chili. Yet it may be doubted whether he possessed those uncommon qualities, either as a warrior or as a man, that, in ordinary circumstances, would have raised him to distinction. He was one of the three, or, to speak more strictly, of the two associates, who had the good fortune and the glory to make one of the most splendid discoveries in the Western World. He shares largely in the credit of this with Pizarro; for, when he did not accompany that leader in his perilous expeditions, he contributed no less to their success by his exertions in the colonies.
Yet his connection with that chief can hardly be considered a fortunate circumstance in his career. A partnership between individuals for discovery and conquest is not likely to be very scrupulously observed, especially by men more accustomed to govern others than to govern themselves. If causes for discord do not arise before, they will be sure to spring up on division of the spoil. But this association was particularly ill-assorted. For the free, sanguine, and confiding temper of Almagro was no match for the cool and crafty policy of Pizarro; and he was invariably circumvented by his companion, whenever their respective interests came in collision.
Still the final ruin of Almagro may be fairly imputed to himself. He made two capital blunders. The first was his appeal to arms by the seizure of Cuzco. The determination of a boundary-line was not to be settled by arms. It was a subject for arbitration; and, if arbitrators could not be trusted, it should have been referred to the decision of the Crown. But, having once appealed to arms, he should not then have resorted to negotiation, — above all, to negotiation with Pizarro. This was his second and greatest error. He had seen enough of Pizarro to know that he was not to be trusted. Almagro did trust him, and he paid for it with his life.
On the departure of his brother in pursuit of Almagro, the Marquess Francisco Pizarro, as we have seen, returned to Lima. There he anxiously awaited the result of the campaign; and on receiving the welcome tidings of the victory of Las Salinas, he instantly made preparations for his march to Cuzco. At Xauxa, however, he was long detained by the distracted state of the country, and still longer, as it would seem, by a reluctance to enter the Peruvian capital while the trial of Almagro was pending.
He was met at Xauxa by the marshal’s son Diego, who had been sent to the coast by Hernando Pizarro. The young man was filled with the most gloomy apprehensions respecting his father’s fate, and he besought the governor not to allow his brother to do him any violence. Pizarro, who received Diego with much apparent kindness, bade him take heart, as no harm should come to his father; 1 adding, that he trusted their ancient friendship would soon be renewed. The youth, comforted by these assurances, took his way to Lima, where, by Pizarro’s orders, he was received into his house, and treated as a son.
1 “I dixo, que no tuviese ninguna pena, porque no consentiria, que su Padre fuese muerto.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 3.
The same assurances respecting the marshal’s safety were given by the governor to Bishop Valverde, and some of the principal cavaliers who interested themselves in behalf of the prisoner. 2 Still Pizarro delayed his march to the capital; and when he resumed it, he had advanced no farther than the Rio de Abancay when he received tidings of the death of his rival. He appeared greatly shocked by the intelligence, his whole frame was agitated, and he remained for some time with his eyes bent on the ground, showing signs of strong emotion. 3
2 “Que lo haria asi como lo decia, i que su de seo no era otro, sino ver el Reino en paz; i que en lo que tocaba al Adelantado, perdiese cuidado, que bolveria a tener el antigua amistad con el.” Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 4, cap. 9.]
3 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
He even shed many tears, derramo muchas lagrimas, according to Herrera, who evidently gives him small credit for them. Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 7. — Conf. lib 5 cap. 1.]
Such is the account given by his friends. A more probable version of the matter represents him to have been perfectly aware of the state of things at Cuzco. When the trial was concluded, it is said he received a message from Hernando, inquiring what was to be done with the prisoner. He answered in a few words:— “Deal with him so that he shall give us no more trouble.” 4 It is also stated that Hernando, afterwards, when laboring under the obloquy caused by Almagro’s death, shielded himself under instructions affirmed to have been received from the governor. 5 It is quite certain, that, during his long residence at Xauxa, the latter was in constant communication with Cuzco; and that had he, as Valverde repeatedly urged him, 6 quickened his march to that capital, he might easily have prevented the consummation of the tragedy. As commander-inchief, Almagro’s fate was in his hands; and, whatever his own partisans may affirm of his innocence, the impartial judgment of history must hold him equally accountable with Hernando for the death of his associate.
4 “Respondio, que hiciese de manera, que el Adelantado no los pusiese en mas alborotos.” (Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 7.) “De todo esto,” says Espinall, “fue sabidor el dicho Governador Pizarro a lo que mi juicio i el de otros que en ello quisieron mirar alcanzo.” Carta de Espinall, Ms.]
5 Ibid., dec. 6, lib. 5, cap. 1.
Herrera’s testimony is little short of that of a contemporary, since it was derived, he tells us, from the correspondence of the Conquerors, and the accounts given him by their own sons. Lib. 6, cap. 7.]
6 Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms.]
Neither did his subsequent conduct show any remorse for these proceedings. He entered Cuzco, says one who was present there to witness it, amidst the flourish of clarions and trumpets, at the head of his martial cavalcade, and dressed in the rich suit presented him by Cortes, with the proud bearing and joyous mien of a conqueror. 7 When Diego de Alvarado applied to him for the government of the southern provinces, in the name of the young Almagro, whom his father, as we have seen, had consigned to his protection, Pizarro answered, that “the marshal, by his rebellion, had forfeited all claims to the government.” And, when he was still further urged by the cavalier, he bluntly broke off the conversation by declaring that “his own territory covered all on this side of Flanders”! 8 — intimating, no doubt, by this magnificent vaunt, that he would endure no rival on this side of the water.
7 “En este medio tiempo vino a la dicha cibdad del Cuzco el Gobernador D. Franco Pizarro, el qual entro con tronpetas i chirimias vestido con ropa de martas que fue e luto con que entro.” Carta de Espinall, Ms.]
8 Carta de Espinall, Ms.
“Mui asperamente le respondio el Governador, diciendo, que su Governacion no tenia Termino, i que llegaba hasta Flandes.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 7.]
In the same spirit, he had recently sent to supersede Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, who, he was informed, aspired to an independent government. Pizarro’s emissary had orders to send the offending captain to Lima; but Benalcazar, after pushing his victorious career far into the north, had returned to Castile to solicit his guerdon from the emperor.
To the complaints of the injured natives, who invoked his protection, he showed himself strangely insensible, while the followers of Almagro he treated with undisguised contempt. The estates of the leaders were confiscated, and transferred without ceremony to his own partisans. Hernando had made attempts to conciliate some of the opposite faction by acts of liberality, but they had refused to accept any thing from the man whose hands were stained with the blood of their commander. 9 The governor held to them no such encouragement; and many were reduced to such abject poverty, that, too proud to expose their wretchedness to the eyes of their conquerors, they withdrew from the city, and sought a retreat among the neighbouring mountains. 10
9 “Avia querido hazer amigos de los principales de Chile, y ofrecidoles daria rrepartimientos y no lo avian aceptado ni querido.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
10 “Viendolas oy en dia, muertos de ambre, fechos pedazos e adeudados, andando por los montes desesperados por no parecer ante gentes, porque no tienen otra cosa que se vestir sino ropa de los Indios, ni dineros con que lo comprar” Carta de Espinall, Ms.]
For his own brothers he provided by such ample repartimientos, as excited the murmurs of his adherents. He appointed Gonzalo to the command of a strong force destined to act against the natives of Charcas, a hardy people occupying the territory assigned by the Crown to Almagro. Gonzalo met with a sturdy resistance, but, after some severe fighting, succeeded in reducing the province to obedience. He was recompensed, together with Hernando, who aided him in the conquest, by a large grant in the neighbourhood of Porco, the productive mines of which had been partially wrought under the Incas. The territory, thus situated, embraced part of those silver hills of Potosi which have since supplied Europe with such stores of the precious metals. Hernando comprehended the capabilities of the ground, and he began working the mines on a more extensive scale than that hitherto adopted, though it does not appear that any attempt was then made to penetrate the rich crust of Potosi. 11 A few years more were to elapse before the Spaniards were to bring to light the silver quarries that lay hidden in the bosom of its mountains. 12
11 “Con la quietud,” writes Hernando Pizarro to the emperor, “questa tierra agora tiene han descubierto i descubren cada dia los vecinos muchas minas ricas de oro i plata, de que los quintos i rentas reales de V. M. cada dia se le ofrecen i hacer casa a todo el Mundo.” Carta al Emperador, Ms., de Puerto Viejo, 6 de Julii, 1539.]
12 Carta de Carbajal al Emperador, Ms., del Cuzco, 3 de Nov. 1539. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1539.
The story is well known of the manner in which the mines of Potosi were discovered by an Indian, who pulled a bush out of the ground to the fibres of which a quantity of silver globules was attached. The mine was not registered till 1545. The account is given by Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 6.
It was now the great business of Hernando to collect a sufficient quantity of treasure to take with him to Castile. Nearly a year had elapsed since Almagro’s death; and it was full time that he should return and present himself at court, where Diego de Alvarado and other friends of the marshal, who had long since left Peru, were industriously maintaining the claims of the younger Almagro, as well as demanding redress for the wrongs done to his father. But Hernando looked confidently to his gold to dispel the accusations against him.
Before his departure, he counselled his brother to beware of the “men of Chili,” as Almagro’s followers were called; desperate men, who would stick at nothing, he said, for revenge. He besought the governor not to allow them to consort together in any number within fifty miles of his person; if he did, it would be fatal to him. And he concluded by recommending a strong body-guard; “for I,” he added, “shall not be here to watch over you.” But the governor laughed at the idle fears, as he termed them, of his brother, bidding the latter take no thought of him, “as every hair in the heads of Almagro’s followers was a guaranty for his safety.” 13 He did not know the character of his enemies so well as Hernando.
13 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 10. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 3, cap. 12. — Gomara, Hist de las Ind., cap. 142.
“No consienta vuestra senoria que se junten diez juntos en cinquenta leguas alrrededor de adonde vuestra senoria estuviere, porque si los dexa juntar le an de matar. Si a Vuestra Senoria matan, yo negociare mal y de vuestra senoria no quedara memoria. Estas palabras dixo Hernando Picarro altas que todos le oymos. Y abracando al marquez se partio y se fue.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
The latter soon after embarked at Lima in the summer of 1539. He did not take the route of Panama, for he had heard that it was the intention of the authorities there to detain him. He made a circuitous passage, therefore, by way of Mexico, landed in the Bay of Tecoantepec, and was making his way across the narrow strip that divides the great oceans, when he was arrested and taken to the capital. But the Viceroy Mendoza did not consider that he had a right to detain him, and he was suffered to embark at Vera Cruz, and to proceed on his voyage. Still he did not deem it safe to trust himself in Spain without further advices. He accordingly put in at one of the Azores, where he remained until he could communicate with home. He had some powerful friends at court, and by them he was encouraged to present himself before the emperor. He took their advice, and, shortly after, reached the Spanish coast in safety. 14
14 Carta de Hernando Pizarro al Emperador, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 6, cap. 10. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1539.
The Court was at Valladolid; but Hernando, who made his entrance into that city, with great pomp and a display of his Indian riches, met with a reception colder than he had anticipated. 15 For this he was mainly indebted to Diego de Alvarado, who was then residing there, and who, as a cavalier of honorable standing, and of high connections, had considerable influence. He had formerly, as we have seen, by his timely interposition, more than once saved the life of Hernando; and he had consented to receive a pecuniary obligation from him to a large amount. But all were now forgotten in the recollection of the wrong done to his commander; and, true to the trust reposed in him by that chief in his dying hour, he had come to Spain to vindicate the claims of the young Almagro.
15 Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.]
But although coldly received at first, Hernando’s presence, and his own version of the dispute with Almagro, aided by the golden arguments which he dealt with no stinted hand, checked the current of indignation, and the opinion of his judges seemed for a time suspended. Alvarado, a cavalier more accustomed to the prompt and decisive action of a camp than to the tortuous intrigues of a court, chafed at the delay, and challenged Hernando to settle their quarrel by single combat. But his prudent adversary had no desire to leave the issue to such an ordeal; and the affair was speedily terminated by the death of Alvarado himself, which happened five days after the challenge. An event so opportune naturally suggested the suspicion of poison. 16
16 “Pero todo lo atajo la repentina muerte de Diego de Alvarado, que sucedio luego en cinco dias, no sin sospecha de veneno.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 9.]
But his accusations had not wholly fallen to the ground; and Hernando Pizarro had carried measures with too high a hand, and too grossly outraged public sentiment, to be permitted to escape. He received no formal sentence, but he was imprisoned in the strong fortress of Medina del Campo, where he was allowed to remain for twenty years, when in 1560, after a generation had nearly passed away, and time had, in some measure, thrown its softening veil over the past, he was suffered to regain his liberty. 17 But he came forth an aged man, bent down with infirmities and broken in spirit, — an object of pity, rather than indignation. Rarely has retributive justice been meted out in fuller measure to offenders so high in authority, — most rarely in Castile. 18
17 This date is established by Quintana, from a legal process instituted by Hernando’s grandson, in vindication of the title of Marquess, in the year 1625.]
18 Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilustres p 341. — Montesinos, Annales, M., ano 1539. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 142.]
Yet Hernando bore this long imprisonment with an equanimity which, had it been founded on principle, might command our respect. He saw brothers and kindred, all on whom he leaned for support cut off one after another; his fortune, in part, confiscated, while he was involved in expensive litigation for the remainder; 19 his fame blighted, his career closed in an untimely hour, himself an exile in the heart of his own country; — yet he bore it all with the constancy of a courageous spirit. Though very old when released, he still survived several years, and continued to the extraordinary age of a hundred. 20 He lived long enough to see friends, rivals, and foes all called away to their account before him.
19 Caro de Torres gives a royal cedula in reference to the working of the silver mines of Porco, still owned by Hernando Pizarro, in 1555; and another document of nearly the same date, noticing his receipt of ten thousand ducats by the fleet from Peru. (Historia de las Ordenes Militares Madrid, 1629, p. 144.) Hernando’s grandson was created by Philip IV. Marquess of the Conquest, Marques de la Conquista, with a liberal pension from government. Pizarro y Orellana, Varones Ilustres, p. 342, and Discurso, p. 72.]
20 “Multos da, Jupiter, annos”, the greatest boon, in Pizarro y Orellana’s opinion, that Heaven can confer! “Diole Dios, por todo, el premio mayor desta vida, pues fue tan larga, que excedio de cien anos.” (Varones Ilustres, p. 342) According to the same somewhat partial authority, Hernando died, as he had lived, in the odor of sanctity! “Viviendo aprender a morir, y saber morir, quando llego la muerte.
Hernando Pizarro was in many respects a remarkable character. He was the eldest of the brothers, to whom he was related only by the father’s side, for he was born in wedlock, of honorable parentage on both sides of his house. In his early years, he received a good education, — good for the time. He was taken by his father while quite young, to Italy, and there learned the art of war under the Great Captain. Little is known of his history after his return to Spain; but, when his brother had struck out for himself his brilliant career of discovery in Peru, Hernando consented to take part in his adventures.
He was much deferred to by Francisco, not only as his elder brother, but from his superior education and his knowledge of affairs. He was ready in his perceptions, fruitful in resources, and possessed of great vigor in action. Though courageous, he was cautious; and his counsels, when not warped by passion, were wise and wary. But he had other qualities, which more than counterbalanced the good resulting from excellent parts and attainments. His ambition and avarice were insatiable. He was supercilious even to his equals; and he had a vindictive temper, which nothing could appease. Thus, instead of aiding his brother in the Conquest, he was the evil genius that blighted his path. He conceived from the first an unwarrantable contempt for Almagro, whom he regarded as his brother’s rival, instead of what he then was, the faithful partner of his fortunes. He treated him with personal indignity, and, by his intrigues at court, had the means of doing him sensible injury. He fell into Almagro’s hands, and had nearly paid for these wrongs with his life. This was not to be forgiven by Hernando, and he coolly waited for the hour of revenge. Yet the execution of Almagro was a most impolitic act; for an evil passion can rarely be gratified with impunity. Hernando thought to buy off justice with the gold of Peru. He had studied human nature on its weak and wicked side, and he expected to profit by it. Fortunately, he was deceived. He had, indeed, his revenge; but the hour of his revenge was that of his ruin.
The disorderly state of Peru was such as to demand the immediate interposition of government. In the general license that prevailed there, the rights of the Indian and of the Spaniard were equally trampled under foot. Yet the subject was one of great difficulty; for Pizarro’s authority was now firmly established over the country, which itself was too remote from Castile to be readily controlled at home. Pizarro, moreover, was a man not easy to be approached, confident in his own strength, jealous of interference, and possessed of a fiery temper, which would kindle into a flame at the least distrust of the government. It would not answer to send out a commission to suspend him from the exercise of his authority until his conduct could be investigated, as was done with Cortes, and other great colonial officers, on whose rooted loyalty the Crown could confidently rely. Pizarro’s loyalty sat, it was feared, too lightly on him to be a powerful restraint on his movements; and there were not wanting those among his reckless followers, who, in case of extremity, would be prompt to urge him to throw off his allegiance altogether, and set up an independent government for himself.
Some one was to be sent out, therefore, who should possess, in some sort, a controlling, or, at least, concurrent power with the dangerous chief, while ostensibly he should act only in subordination to him. The person selected for this delicate mission, was the Licentiate Vaca de Castro, a member of the Royal Audience of Valladolid. He was a learned judge, a man of integrity and wisdom, and, though not bred to arms, had so much address, and such knowledge of character, as would enable him readily to turn the resources of others to his own account.
His commission was guarded in a way which showed the embarrassment of the government. He was to appear before Pizarro in the capacity of a royal judge; to consult with him on the redress of grievances, especially with reference to the unfortunate natives; to concert measures for the prevention of future evils; and above all, to possess himself faithfully of the condition of the country in all its details, and to transmit intelligence of it to the Court of Castile. But, in case of Pizarro’s death, he was to produce his warrant as royal governor, and as such to claim the obedience of the authorities throughout the land. — Events showed the wisdom of providing for this latter contingency. 21
21 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 146. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap 9. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms. ano 1540.
This latter writer sees nothing short of a “divine mystery” in this forecast of government, so singularly sustained by events. “Prevencion del gran espiritu del Rey, no sin misterio.” Ubi supra.]
The licentiate, thus commissioned, quitted his quiet residence at Valladolid, embarked at Seville, in the autumn of 1540, and, after a tedious voyage across the Atlantic, he traversed the Isthmus, and, encountering a succession of tempests on the Pacific, that had nearly sent his frail bark to the bottom, put in with her, a mere wreck, at the northerly port of Buenaventura. 22 The affairs of the country were in a state to require his presence.
22 Or, as the port should rather be called, Mala Ventura, as Pedro Pizarro punningly remarks. “Tuvo tan mal viaje en la mar que vbo de desembarcar en la Buena Ventura, aunque yo la llamo Mala. Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
The civil war which had lately distracted the land had left it in so unsettled a state, that the agitation continued long after the immediate cause had ceased. This was especially the case among the natives. In the violent transfer of repartimientos, the poor Indian hardly knew to whom he was to look as his master. The fierce struggles between the rival chieftains left him equally in doubt whom he was to regard as the rulers of the land. As to the authority of a common sovereign, across the waters, paramount over all, he held that in still greater distrust; for what was the authority which could not command the obedience even of its own vassals? 23 The Inca Manco was not slow in taking advantage of this state of feeling. He left his obscure fastnesses in the depths of the Andes, and established himself with a strong body of followers in the mountain country lying between Cuzco and the coast. From this retreat, he made descents on the neighbouring plantations, destroying the houses, sweeping off the cattle, and massacring the people. He fell on travellers, as they were journeying singly or in caravans from the coast, and put them to death — it is told by his enemies — with cruel tortures. Single detachments were sent against him, from time to time, but without effect. Some he eluded, others he defeated; and, on one occasion, cut off a party of thirty troopers, to a man. 24
23 “Piensan que les mienten los que aca les dizen que ai un gran Senor en Castilla, viendo que aca pelean unos capitanes contra otros; y piensan que no ai otro Rei sino aquel que venze al otro, porque aca entrellos no se acostumbra que un capitan pelee contra otro, estando entrambos debaxo de un Senor” Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms.]
24 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib 6, cap. 7. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Espinall, Ms. — Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms.]
At length, Pizarro found it necessary to send a considerable force under his brother Gonzalo against the Inca. The hardy Indian encountered his enemy several times in the rough passes of the Cordilleras. He was usually beaten, and sometimes with heavy loss, which he repaired with astonishing facility; for he always contrived to make his escape, and so true were his followers, that, in defiance of pursuit and ambuscade, he found a safe shelter in the secret haunts of the sierra.
Thus baffled, Pizarro determined to try the effect of pacific overtures. He sent to the Inca, both in his own name, and in that of the Bishop of Cuzco, whom the Peruvian prince held in reverence, to invite him to enter into negotiation. 25 Manco acquiesced, and indicated, as he had formerly done with Almagro, the valley of Yucay, as the scene of it. The governor repaired thither, at the appointed time, well guarded, and, to propitiate the barbarian monarch, sent him a rich present by the hands of an African slave. The slave was met on the route by a party of the Inca’s men, who, whether with or without their master’s orders, cruelly murdered him, and bore off the spoil to their quarters. Pizarro resented this outrage by another yet more atrocious.
25 The Inca declined the interview with the bishop, on the ground that he had seen him pay obeisance by taking off his cap to Pizarro. It proved his inferiority to the latter, he said, and that he could never protect him against the governor. The passage in which it is related is curious. “Preguntando a indios del inca que anda alzado que si sabe el inca que yo soi venido a la tierra en nombre de S. M. para defendellos, dixo que mui bien lo sabia; y preguntado que porque no se benia a mi de paz, dixo el indio que dezia el inca que porque yo quando vine hize la mocha al gobernador, que quiere dezir que le quite el Bonete; que no queria venir a mi de paz, que el que no havia de venir de paz sino a uno que viniese de castilla que no hiziese la mocha al gobernador, porque le paresze a el que este lo podra defender por lo que ha hecho y no otro.” Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms]
Among the Indian prisoners was one of the Inca’s wives, a young and beautiful woman, to whom he was said to be fondly attached. The governor ordered her to be stripped naked, bound to a tree, and, in presence of the camp, to be scourged with rods, and then shot to death with arrows. The wretched victim bore the execution of the sentence with surprising fortitude. She did not beg for mercy, where none was to be found. Not a complaint, scarcely a groan, escaped her under the infliction of these terrible torments. The iron Conquerors were amazed at this power of endurance in a delicate woman, and they expressed their admiration, while they condemned the cruelty of their commander, — in their hearts. 26 Yet constancy under the most excruciating tortures that human cruelty can inflict is almost the universal characteristic of the American Indian.
26 At least, we may presume they did so, since they openly condemn him in their accounts of the transaction. I quote Pedro Pizarro, not disposed to criticise the conduct of his general too severely. “Se tomo una muger de mango ynga que le queria mucho y se guardo, creyendo que por ella saldria de paz. Esta muger mando matar al marquez despues en Yncay, haziendola varear con varas y flechar con flechas por una burla que mango ynga le hizo que aqui contare, y entiendo yo que por esta crueldad y otra hermana del ynga que mando matar en Lima quando los yndios pusieron cerco sobrella que se llamava Acarpay. me paresce a mi que nuestro senor le castigo en el fin que tuvo.” Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
Pizarro now prepared, as the most effectual means of checking these disorders among the natives, to establish settlements in the heart of the disaffected country. These settlements, which received the dignified name of cities, might be regarded in the light of military colonies. The houses were usually built of stone, to which were added the various public offices, and sometimes a fortress. A municipal corporation was organized. Settlers were invited by the distribution of large tracts of land in the neighbourhood, with a stipulated number of Indian vassals to each. The soldiers then gathered there, sometimes accompanied by their wives and families; for the women of Castile seem to have disdained the impediments of sex, in the ardor of conjugal attachment, or, it may be, of romantic adventure. A populous settlement rapidly grew up in the wilderness, affording protection to the surrounding territory, and furnishing a commercial depot for the country, and an armed force ready at all times to maintain public order.
Such a settlement was that now made at Guamanga, midway between Cuzco and Lima, which effectually answered its purpose by guarding the communications with the coast. 27 Another town was founded in the mining district of Charcas, under the appropriate name of the Villa de la Plata, the “City of Silver.” And Pizarro, who journeyed by a circuitous route along the shores of the southern sea towards Lima, established the city of Arequipa, since arisen to such commercial celebrity.
27 Cieza de Leon notices the uncommon beauty and solidity of the buildings at Guamanga. “La qual han edificado las mayores y mejores casas que ay en todo el Peru, todas de piedra, ladrillo, y teja, con grandes torres: de manera que no falta aposentos. La placa esta llana y bien grande’ Cronica, cap. 87.]
Once more in his favorite capital of Lima, the governor found abundant occupation in attending to its municipal concerns, and in providing for the expansive growth of its population. Nor was he unmindful of the other rising settlements on the Pacific. He encouraged commerce with the remoter colonies north of Peru, and took measures for facilitating internal intercourse. He stimulated industry in all its branches, paying great attention to husbandry, and importing seeds of the different European grains, which he had the satisfaction, in a short time, to see thriving luxuriantly in a country where the variety of soil and climate afforded a home for almost every product. 28 Above all, he promoted the working of the mines, which already began to make such returns, that the most common articles of life rose to exorbitant prices, while the precious metals themselves seemed the only things of little value. But they soon changed hands, and found their way to the mother-country, where they rose to their true level as they mingled with the general currency of Europe. The Spaniards found that they had at length reached the land of which they had been so long in search, — the land of gold and silver. Emigrants came in greater numbers to the country, and, spreading over its surface, formed in the increasing population the most effectual barrier against the rightful owners of the soil. 29
28 “I con que ia comencaba a haver en aquellas Tierras cosecha de Trigo, Cevada, i otras muchas cosas de Castilla.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 2.]
29 Carta de Carvajal al Emperador, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., anos 1539 et 1541. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6 lib. 7, cap. 1. — Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 76 et alibi.
Pizarro, strengthened by the arrival of fresh adventurers, now turned his attention to the remoter quarters of the country. Pedro de Valdivia was sent on his memorable expedition to Chili; and to his own brother Gonzalo the governor assigned the territory of Quito, with instructions to explore the unknown country towards the east, where, as report said, grew the cinnamon. As this chief, who had hitherto acted but a subordinate part in the Conquest, is henceforth to take the most conspicuous, it may be well to give some account of him.
Little is known of his early life, for he sprang from the same obscure origin with Francisco, and seems to have been as little indebted as his elder brother to the fostering care of his parents. He entered early on the career of a soldier; a career to which every man in that iron age, whether cavalier or vagabond, seems, if left to himself, to have most readily inclined. Here he soon distinguished himself by his skill in martial exercises, was an excellent horseman, and, when he came to the New World, was esteemed the best lance in Peru. 30
30 The cavalier Pizarro y Orellana has given biographical notices of each of the brothers. It requires no witchcraft to detect that the blood of the Pizarros flowed in the veins of the writer to his fingers’ ends. Yet his facts are less suspicious than his inferences.
In talent and in expansion of views, he was inferior to his brothers. Neither did he discover the same cool and crafty policy; but he was equally courageous, and in the execution of his measures quite as unscrupulous. He had a handsome person, with open, engaging features, a free, soldier-like address, and a confiding temper, which endeared him to his followers. His spirit was high and adventurous, and, what was equally important, he could inspire others with the same spirit, and thus do much to insure the success of his enterprises. He was an excellent captain in guerilla warfare, an admirable leader in doubtful and difficult expeditions; but he had not the enlarged capacity for a great military chief, still less for a civil ruler. It was his misfortune to be called to fill both situations.
Gonzalo Pizarro received the news of his appointment to the government of Quito with undisguised pleasure; not so much for the possession that it gave him of this ancient Indian province, as for the field that it opened for discovery towards the east, — the fabled land of Oriental spices, which had long captivated the imagination of the Conquerors. He repaired to his government without delay, and found no difficulty in awakening a kindred enthusiasm to his own in the bosoms of his followers. In a short time, he mustered three hundred and fifty Spaniards, and four thousand Indians. One hundred and fifty of his company were mounted, and all were equipped in the most thorough manner for the undertaking. He provided, moreover, against famine by a large stock of provisions, and an immense drove of swine which followed in the rear 1
1 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. lib. 8, cap. 6, 7. — Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 2. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 1, 2. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143. — Montesinos, Annales, ano 1539.
Historians differ as to the number of Gonzalo’s forces, — of his men, his horses, and his hogs. The last, according to Herrera, amounted to no less than 5000; a goodly supply of bacon for so small a troop, since the Indians, doubtless, lived on parched corn, coca, which usually formed their only support on the longest journeys.]
It was the beginning of 1540, when he set out on this celebrated expedition. The first part of the journey was attended with comparatively little difficulty, while the Spaniards were yet in the land of the Incas; for the distractions of Peru had not been felt in this distant province, where the simple people still lived as under the primitive sway of the Children of the Sun. But the scene changed as they entered the territory of Quixos, where the character of the inhabitants, as well as of the climate, seemed to be of another description. The country was traversed by lofty ranges of the Andes, and the adventurers were soon entangled in their deep and intricate passes. As they rose into the more elevated regions, the icy winds that swept down the sides of the Cordilleras benumbed their limbs, and many of the natives found a wintry grave in the wilderness. While crossing this formidable barrier, they experienced one of those tremendous earthquakes which, in these volcanic regions, so often shake the mountains to their base. In one place, the earth was rent asunder by the terrible throes of Nature, while streams of sulphurous vapor issued from the cavity, and a village with some hundreds of houses was precipitated into the frightful abyss! 2
2 Zarate states the number with precision at five hundred houses. “Sobrevino vn tan gran Terremoto, con temblor, i tempestad de Agua, i Relampagos, i Raios, i grandes Truenos, que abriendose la Tierra por muchas partes, se hundieron quinientas Casas.” (Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 2.) There is nothing so satisfactory to the mind of the reader as precise numbers; and nothing so little deserving of his confidence.
On descending the eastern slopes, the climate changed; and, as they came on the lower level, the fierce cold was succeeded by a suffocating heat, while tempests of thunder and lightning, rushing from out the gorges of the sierra, poured on their heads with scarcely any intermission day or night, as if the offended deities of the place were willing to take vengeance on the invaders of their mountain solitudes. For more than six weeks the deluge continued unabated, and the forlorn wanderers, wet, and weary with incessant toil, were scarcely able to drag their limbs along the soil broken up and saturated with the moisture. After some months of toilsome travel, in which they had to cross many a morass and mountain stream, they at length reached Canelas, the Land of Cinnamon. 3 They saw the trees bearing the precious bark, spreading out into broad forests; yet, however valuable an article for commerce it might have proved in accessible situations, in these remote regions it was of little worth to them. But, from the wandering tribes of savages whom they had occasionally met in their path, they learned that at ten days’ distance was a rich and fruitful land abounding with gold, and inhabited by populous nations. Gonzalo Pizarro had already reached the limits originally proposed for the expedition. But this intelligence renewed his hopes, and he resolved to push the adventure farther. It would have been well for him and his followers, had they been content to return on their footsteps.
3 Canela is the Spanish for cinnamon.]
Continuing their march, the country now spread out into broad savannas terminated by forests, which, as they drew near, seemed to stretch on every side to the very verge of the horizon. Here they beheld trees of that stupendous growth seen only in the equinoctial regions. Some were so large, that sixteen men could hardly encompass them with extended arms! 4 The wood was thickly matted with creepers and parasitical vines, which hung in gaudy-colored festoons from tree to tree, clothing them in a drapery beautiful to the eye, but forming an impenetrable network. At every step of their way, they were obliged to hew open a passage with their axes, while their garments, rotting from the effects of the drenching rains to which they had been exposed, caught in every bush and bramble, and hung about them in shreds. 5 Their provisions, spoiled by the weather, had long since failed, and the live stock which they had taken with them had either been consumed or made their escape in the woods and mountain passes. They had set out with nearly a thousand dogs, many of them of the ferocious breed used in hunting down the unfortunate natives. These they now gladly killed, but their miserable carcasses furnished a lean banquet for the famishing travellers; and, when these were gone, they had only such herbs and dangerous roots as they could gather in the forest. 6
4 This, allowing six feet for the spread of a man’s arms, would be about ninety-six feet in circumference, or thirty-two feet in diameter; larger, probably, than the largest tree known in Europe. Yet it falls short of that famous giant of the forests mentioned by M. de Humboldt as still flourishing in the intendancy of Oaxaca, which, by the exact measurement of a traveller in 1839, was found to be a hundred and twelve feet in circumference at the height of four feet from the ground. This height may correspond with that of the measurement taken by the Spaniards. See a curious and learned article on Forest-trees in No. 124 of the North American Review.]
5 The dramatist Molina, in his play of “Las Amazonas en las Indias,” has devoted some dozen columns of redondillas to an account of the sufferings of his countrymen in the expedition to the Amazon. The poet reckoned confidently on the patience of his audience. The following verses describe the miserable condition to which the Spaniards were reduced by the incessant rains.
“Sin que el Sol en este tiempo
Su cara ver nos permita,
Ni las nubes taberneras
Cessen de echamos encima
Que hasta el alma nos bautizan.
Cayeron los mas enfermos,
Porque las ropas podridas
Con el eterno agua va,
Nos dexo en las carnes vivas.”
6 Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 2. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 6, 7. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 2.
The last writer obtained his information, as he tells us, from several who were present in the expedition. The reader may be assured that it has lost nothing is coming through his hands.]
At length the way-worn company came on a broad expanse of water formed by the Napo, one of the great tributaries of the Amazon, and which, though only a third or fourth rate river in America, would pass for one of the first magnitude in the Old World. The sight gladdened their hearts, as, by winding along its banks, they hoped to find a safer and more practicable route. After traversing its borders for a considerable distance, closely beset with thickets which it taxed their strength to the utmost to overcome, Gonzalo and his party came within hearing of a rushing noise that sounded like subterranean thunder. The river, lashed into fury, tumbled along over rapids with frightful velocity, and conducted them to the brink of a magnificent cataract, which, to their wondering fancies, rushed down in one vast volume of foam to the depth of twelve hundred feet! 7 The appalling sounds which they had heard for the distance of six leagues were rendered yet more oppressive to the spirits by the gloomy stillness of the surrounding forests. The rude warriors were filled with sentiments of awe. Not a bark dimpled the waters. No living thing was to be seen but the wild tenants of the wilderness, the unwieldy boa, and the loathsome alligator basking on the borders of the stream. The trees towering in wide-spread magnificence towards the heavens, the river rolling on in its rocky bed as it had rolled for ages, the solitude and silence of the scene, broken only by the hoarse fall of waters, or the faint rustling of the woods, — all seemed to spread out around them in the same wild and primitive state as when they came from the hands of the Creator.
7 “Al cabo de este largo camino hallaron que el rio hazia vn salto de una pena de mas de dozientas bracas de alto: que hazia tan gran ruydo, que lo oyeron mas de seys leguas antes que llegassen a el.” (Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, nb. 3, cap. 3.) I find nothing to confirm or to confute the account of this stupendous cataract in later travellers, not very numerous in these wild regions. The alleged height of the falls, twice that of the great cataract of the Tequendama in the Bogota, as measured by Humboldt, usually esteemed the highest in America, is not so great as that of some of the cascades thrown over the precipices in Switzerland. Yet the estimates of the Spaniards, who, in the gloomy state of their feelings, were doubtless keenly alive to impressions of the sublime and the terrible, cannot safely be relied on.]
For some distance above and below the falls, the bed of the river contracted so that its width did not exceed twenty feet. Sorely pressed by hunger, the adventurers determined, at all hazards, to cross to the opposite side, in hopes of finding a country that might afford them sustenance. A frail bridge was constructed by throwing the huge trunks of trees across the chasm, where the cliffs, as if split asunder by some convulsion of nature, descended sheer down a perpendicular depth of several hundred feet. Over this airy causeway the men and horses succeeded in effecting their passage with the loss of a single Spaniard, who, made giddy by heedlessly looking down, lost his footing and fell into the boiling surges below.
Yet they gained little by the exchange. The country wore the same unpromising aspect, and the river-banks were studded with gigantic trees, or fringed with impenetrable thickets. The tribes of Indians, whom they occasionally met in the pathless wilderness, were fierce and unfriendly, and they were engaged in perpetual skirmishes with them. From these they learned that a fruitful country was to be found down the river at the distance of only a few days’ journey, and the Spaniards held on their weary way, still hoping and still deceived, as the promised land flitted before them, like the rain bow, receding as they advanced.
At length, spent with toil and suffering, Gonzalo resolved to construct a bark large enough to transport the weaker part of his company and his baggage. The forests furnished him with timber; the shoes of the horses which had died on the road or been slaughtered for food, were converted into nails; gum distilled from the trees took the place of pitch, and the tattered garments of the soldiers supplied a substitute for oakum. It was a work of difficulty; but Gonzalo cheered his men in the task, and set an example by taking part in their labors. At the end of two months a brigantine was completed, rudely put together, but strong and of sufficient burden to carry half the company, — the first European vessel that ever floated on these inland waters.
Gonzalo gave the command to Francisco de Orellana, a cavalier from Truxillo, on whose courage and devotion to himself he thought he could rely. The troops now moved forward, still following the descending course of the river, while the brigantine kept alongside; and when a bold promontory or more impracticable country intervened, it furnished timely aid by the transportation of the feebler soldiers. In this way they journeyed, for many a wearisome week, through the dreary wilderness on the borders of the Napo. Every scrap of provisions had been long since consumed. The last of their horses had been devoured. To appease the gnawings of hunger, they were fain to eat the leather of their saddles and belts. The woods supplied them with scanty sustenance, and they greedily fed upon toads, serpents, and such other reptiles as they occasionally found. 8
8 “Yeruas y rayzes, y fruta siluestre, sapos, y culebras, y otras malas sauandijas, si las auia por aquellas montanas que todo les hazia buen estomago a los Espanoles; que peor les yua con la falta de cosas tan viles.” Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 4 — Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 7. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 3, 4. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.]
They were now told of a rich district, inhabited by a populous nation, where the Napo emptied into a still greater river that flowed towards the east. It was, as usual, at the distance of several days’ journey; and Gonzalo Pizarro resolved to halt where he was and send Orellana down in his brigantine to the confluence of the waters to procure a stock of provisions, with which he might return and put them in condition to resume their march. That cavalier, accordingly, taking with him fifty of the adventurers, pushed off into the middle of the river, where the stream ran swiftly, and his bark, taken by the current, shot forward with the speed of an arrow, and was soon out of sight. Days and weeks passed away, yet the vessel did not return; and no speck was to be seen on the waters, as the Spaniards strained their eyes to the farthest point, where the line of light faded away in the dark shadows of the foliage on the borders. Detachments were sent out, and, though absent several days, came back without intelligence of their comrades. Unable longer to endure this suspense, or, indeed, to maintain themselves in their present quarters, Gonzalo and his famishing followers now determined to proceed towards the junction of the rivers. Two months elapsed before they accomplished this terrible journey, — those of them who did not perish on the way, — although the distance probably did not exceed two hundred leagues; and they at length reached the spot so long desired, where the Napo pours its tide into the Amazon, that mighty stream, which, fed by its thousand tributaries, rolls on towards the ocean, for many hundred miles, through the heart of the great continent, — the most majestic of American rivers.
But the Spaniards gathered no tidings of Orellana, while the country, though more populous than the region they had left, was as little inviting in its aspect, and was tenanted by a race yet more ferocious. They now abandoned the hope of recovering their comrades, who they supposed must have miserably perished by famine or by the hands of the natives. But their doubts were at length dispelled by the appearance of a white man wandering half-naked in the woods, in whose famine-stricken countenance they recognized the features of one of their countrymen. It was Sanchez de Vargas, a cavalier of good descent, and much esteemed in the army. He had a dismal tale to tell.
Orellana, borne swiftly down the current of the Napo, had reached the point of its confluence with the Amazon in less than three days; accomplishing in this brief space of time what had cost Pizarro and his company two months. He had found the country altogether different from what had been represented; and, so far from supplies for his country men, he could barely obtain sustenance for himself. Nor was it possible for him to return as he had come, and make head against the current of the river; while the attempt to journey by land was an alternative scarcely less formidable. In this dilemma, an idea flashed across his mind. It was to launch his bark at once on the bosom of the Amazon, and descend its waters to its mouth. He would then visit the rich and populous nations that, as report said, lined its borders, sail out on the great ocean, cross to the neighbouring isles, and return to Spain to claim the glory and the guerdon of discovery. The suggestion was eagerly taken up by his reckless companions, welcoming any course that would rescue them from the wretchedness of their present existence, and fired with the prospect of new and stirring adventure, — for the love of adventure was the last feeling to become extinct in the bosom of the Castilian cavalier. They heeded little their unfortunate comrades, whom they were to abandon in the wilderness! 9
9 This statement of De Vargas was confirmed by Orellana, as appears from the language of the royal grant made to that cavalier on his return to Castile. The document is preserved entire in the Munoz collection of Mss.
“Haviendo vos ido con ciertos companeros un rio abajo a buscar comida, con la corriente fuistes metidos por el dicho rio mas de 200 leguas donde no pudistes dar la buelta e por esta necesidad e por la mucha noticia que tuvistes de la grandeza e riqueza de la tierra, posponiendo vuestro peligro, sin interes ninguno por servir a S. M. os aventurastes a saber lo que havia en aquellas provincias, e ansi descubristes e hallastes grandes poblaciones.” Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms.]
This is not the place to record the circumstances of Orellana’s extraordinary expediton. expedition. He succeeded in his enterprise. But it is marvellous that he should have escaped shipwreck in the perilous and unknown navigation of that river. Many times his vessel was nearly dashed to pieces on its rocks and in its furious rapids; 10 and he was in still greater peril from the warlike tribes on its borders, who fell on his little troop whenever he attempted to land, and followed in his wake for miles in their canoes. He at length emerged from the great river; and, once upon the sea, Orellana made for the isle of Cubagua; thence passing over to Spain, he repaired to court, and told the circumstances of his voyage, — of the nations of Amazons whom he had found on the banks of the river, the El Dorado which report assured him existed in the neighbourhood, and other marvels, — the exaggeration rather than the coinage of a credulous fancy. His audience listened with willing ears to the tales of the traveller; and in an age of wonders, when the mysteries of the East and the West were hourly coming to light, they might be excused for not discerning the true line between romance and reality. 11
10 Condamine, who, in 1743, went down the Amazon, has often occasion to notice the perils and perplexities in which he was involved in the navigation of this river, too difficult, as he says, to be undertaken without the guidance of a skilful pilot. See his Relation Abregee d’un Voyage fait dans l’Interieur de l’Amerique Meridionale. (Maestricht, 1778.)]
11 It has not been easy to discern the exact line in later times, with all the lights of modern discovery. Condamine, after a careful investigation, considers that there is good ground for believing in the existence of a community of armed women, once living somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Amazon, though they have now disappeared. It would be hard to disprove the fact, but still harder, considering the embarrassments in perpetuating such a community, to believe it. Voyage dans l’Amerique Meridionale, p. 99, et seq.]
He found no difficulty in obtaining a commission to conquer and colonize the realms he had discovered. He soon saw himself at the head of five hundred followers, prepared to share the perils and the profits of his expedition. But neither he, nor his country, was destined to realize these profits. He died on his outward passage, and the lands washed by the Amazon fell within the territories of Portugal. The unfortunate navigator did not even enjoy the undivided honor of giving his name to the waters he had discovered. He enjoyed only the barren glory of the discovery, surely not balanced by the iniquitous circumstances which attended it. 12
12 “His crime is, in some measure, balanced by the glory of having ventured upon a navigation of near two thousand leagues, through unknown nations, in a vessel hastily constructed, with green timber, and by very unskilful hands, without provisions, without a compass, or a pilot.” (Robertson, America, (ed. London, 1796,) vol. III. p. 84.) The historian of America does not hold the moral balance with as unerring a hand as usual, in his judgment of Orellana’s splendid enterprise. No success, however splendid, in the language of one, not too severe a moralist,
“Can blazon evil deeds or consecrate a crime.”
One of Orellana’s party maintained a stout opposition to his proceedings, as repugnant both to humanity and honor. This was Sanchez de Vargas and the cruel commander was revenged on him by abandoning him to his fate in the desolate region where he was now found by his countrymen. 13
13 An expedition more remarkable than that of Orellana was performed by a delicate female, Madame Godin, who, in 1769, attempted to descend the Amazon in an open boat to its mouth. She was attended by seven persons, two of them her brothers, and two her female domestics. The boat was wrecked, and Madame Godin, narrowly escaping with her life, endeavoured with her party to accomplish the remainder of her journey on foot. She saw them perish, one after another, of hunger and disease, till she was left alone in the howling wilderness. Still, like Milton’s lady in Comus, she was permitted to come safely out of all these perils, and, after unparalleled sufferings, falling in with some friendly Indians, she was conducted by them to a French settlement. Though a young woman, it will not be surprising that the hardships and terrors she endured turned her hair perfectly white. The details of the extraordinary story are given in a letter to M. de la Condamine by her husband, who tells them in an earnest, unaffected way that engages our confidence. Voyage dans l’Amerique Meridionale, p. 329, et seq.
The Spaniards listened with horror to the recital of Vargas, and their blood almost froze in their veins as they saw themselves thus deserted in the heart of this remote wilderness, and deprived of their only means of escape from it. They made an effort to prosecute their journey along the banks, but, after some toilsome days, strength and spirits failed, and they gave up in despair!
Then it was that the qualities of Gonzalo Pizarro, as a fit leader in the hour of despondency and danger, shone out conspicuous. To advance farther was hopeless. To stay where they were, without food or raiment, without defence from the fierce animals of the forest and the fiercer natives, was impossible. One only course remained; it was to return to Quito. But this brought with it the recollection of the past, of sufferings which they could too well estimate, — hardly to be endured even in imagination. They were now at least four hundred leagues from Quito, and more than a year had elapsed since they had set out on their painful pilgrimage. How could they encounter these perils again! 14
14 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 5. — Herrera, Hist. General dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 8. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.
One must not expect from these wanderers in the wilderness any exact computation of time or distance, destitute, as they were, of the means of making a correct observation of either.]
Yet there was no alternative. Gonzalo endeavoured to reassure his followers by dwelling on the invincible constancy they had hitherto displayed; adjuring them to show themselves still worthy of the name of Castilians. He reminded them of the glory they would for ever acquire by their heroic achievement, when they should reach their own country. He would lead them back, he said, by another route, and it could not be but that they should meet somewhere with those abundant regions of which they had os so often heard. It was something, at least, that every step would take them nearer home; and as, at all events, it was clearly the only course now left, they should prepare to meet it like men. The spirit would sustain the body; and difficulties encountered in the right spirit were half vanquished already!
The soldiers listened eagerly to his words of promise and encouragement. The confidence of their leader gave life to the desponding. They felt the force of his reasoning, and, as they lent a willing ear to his assurances, the pride of the old Castilian honor revived in their bosoms, and every one caught somewhat of the generous enthusiasm of their commander. He was, in truth, entitled to their devotion. From the first hour of the expedition, he had freely borne his part in its privations. Far from claiming the advantage of his position, he had taken his lot with the poorest soldier; ministering to the wants of the sick, cheering up the spirits of the desponding, sharing his stinted allowance with his famished followers, bearing his full part in the toil and burden of the march, ever showing himself their faithful comrade, no less than their captain. He found the benefit of this conduct in a trying hour like the present.
I will spare the reader the recapitulation of the sufferings endured by the Spaniards on their retrograde march to Quito. They took a more northerly route than that by which they had approached the Amazon; and, if it was attended with fewer difficulties, they experienced yet greater distresses from their greater inability to overcome them. Their only nourishment was such scanty fare as they could pick up in the forest, or happily meet with in some forsaken Indian settlement, or wring by violence from the natives. Some sickened and sank down by the way, for there was none to help them. Intense misery had made them selfish; and many a poor wretch was abandoned to his fate, to die alone in the wilderness, or, more probably, to be devoured, while living, by the wild animals which roamed over it.
At length, in June, 1542, after somewhat more than a year consumed in their homeward march, the way-worn company came on the elevated plains in the neighbourhood of Quito. But how different their aspect from that which they had exhibited on issuing from the gates of the same capital, two years and a half before, with high romantic hope and in all the pride of military array! Their horses gone, their arms broken and rusted, the skins of wild animals instead of clothes hanging loosely about their limbs, their long and matted locks streaming wildly down their shoulders, their faces burned and blackened by the tropical sun, their bodies wasted by famine and sorely disfigured by scars, — it seemed as if the charnel-house had given up its dead, as, with uncertain step, they glided slowly onwards like a troop of dismal spectres! More than half of the four thousand Indians who had accompanied the expedition had perished, and of the Spaniards only eighty, and many of these irretrievably broken in constitution, returned to Quito. 15
15 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 15. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 3, cap. 14.
The last historian, in dismissing his account of the expedition, passes a panegyric on the courage and constancy of his countrymen, which we must admit to be well deserved.
“Finalmente, Goncalo Picarro entro en el Quito, triunfando del valor, i sufrimiento, i de la constancia, recto, e immutable vigor del animo, pues Hombres Humanos no se hallan haver tanto sufrido ni padecido tantas desventuras.’ Ibid., ubi supra.]
The few Christian inhabitants of the place, with their wives and children, came out to welcome their countrymen. They ministered to them all the relief and refreshment in their power; and, as they listened to the sad recital of their sufferings, they mingled their tears with those of the wanderers. The whole company then entered the capital, where their first act — to their credit be it mentioned — was to go in a body to the church, and offer up thanksgivings to the Almighty for their miraculous preservation through their long and perilous pilgrimage. 16 Such was the end of the expedition to the Amazon; an expedition which, for its dangers and hardships, the length of their duration, and the constancy with which they were endured, stands, perhaps, unmatched in the annals of American discovery.
16 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5.]
When Gonzalo Pizarro reached Quito, he received tidings of an event which showed that his expedition to the Amazon had been even more fatal to his interests than he had imagined. A revolution had taken place during his absence, which had changed the whole condition of things in Peru.
In a preceding chapter we have seen, that, when Hernando Pizarro returned to Spain, his brother the marquess repaired to Lima, where he continued to occupy himself with building up his infant capital, and watching over the general interests of the country. While thus employed, he gave little heed to a danger that hourly beset his path, and this, too, in despite of repeated warnings from more circumspect friends.
After the execution of Almagro, his followers, to the number of several hundred, remained scattered through the country; but, however scattered, still united by a common sentiment of indignation against the Pizarros, the murderers, as they regarded them, of their leader. The governor was less the object of these feelings than his brother Hernando, as having been less instrumental in the perpetration of the deed. Under these circumstances, it was clearly Pizarro’s policy to do one of two things; to treat the opposite faction either as friends, or as open enemies. He might conciliate the most factious by acts of kindness, efface the remembrance of past injury, if he could, by present benefits; in short, prove to them that his quarrel had been with their leader, not with themselves, and that it was plainly for their interest to come again under his banner. This would have been the most politic, as well as the most magnanimous course; and, by augmenting the number of his adherents, would have greatly strengthened his power in the land. But, unhappily, he had not the magnanimity to pursue it. It was not in the nature of a Pizarro to forgive an injury, or the man whom he had injured. As he would not, therefore, try to conciliate Almagro’s adherents, it was clearly the governor’s policy to regard them as enemies, — not the less so for being in disguise, — and to take such measures as should disqualify them for doing mischief. He should have followed the counsel of his more prudent brother Hernando, and distributed them in different quarters, taking care that no great number should assemble at any one point, or, above all, in the neighbourhood of his own residence.
But the governor despised the broken followers of Almagro too heartily to stoop to precautionary measures. He suffered the son of his rival to remain in Lima, where his quarters soon became the resort of the disaffected cavaliers. The young man was well known to most of Almagro’s soldiers, having been trained along with them in the camp under his father’s eye, and, now that his parent was removed, they naturally transferred their allegiance to the son who survived him.
That the young Almagro, however, might be less able to maintain this retinue of unprofitable followers, he was deprived by Pizarro of a great part of his Indians and lands, while he was excluded from the government of New Toledo, which had been settled on him by his father’s testament. 1 Stripped of all means of support, without office or employment of any kind, the men of Chili, for so Almagro’s adherents continued to be called, were reduced to the utmost distress. So poor were they, as is the story of the time, that twelve cavaliers, who lodged in the same house, could muster only one cloak among them all; and, with the usual feeling of pride that belongs to the poor hidalgo, unwilling to expose their poverty, they wore this cloak by turns, those who had no right to it remaining at home. 2 Whether true or not, the anecdote well illustrates the extremity to which Almagro’s faction was reduced. And this distress was rendered yet more galling by the effrontery of their enemies, who, enriched by their forfeitures, displayed before their eyes all the insolent bravery of equipage and apparel that could annoy their feelings.
1 Carta de Almagro, Ms.]
2 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 6.
Men thus goaded by insult and injury were too dangerous to be lightly regarded. But, although Pizarro received various intimations intended to put him on his guard, he gave no heed to them. “Poor devils!” he would exclaim, speaking with contemptuous pity of the men of Chili; “they have had bad luck enough. We will not trouble them further.” 3 And so little did he consider them, that he went freely about, as usual, riding without attendants to all parts of the town and to its immediate environs. 4
3 Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144.]
4 Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 6.
News now reached the colony of the appointment of a judge by the Crown to take cognizance of the affairs of Peru. Pizarro, although alarmed by the intelligence, sent orders to have him well entertained on his landing, and suitable accommodations prepared for him on the route. The spirits of Almagro’s followers were greatly raised by the tidings. They confidently looked to this high functionary for the redress of their wrongs; and two of their body, clad in suits of mourning, were chosen to go to the north, where the judge was expected to land, and to lay their grievances before him.
But months elapsed, and no tidings came of his arrival, till, at length, a vessel, coming into port, announced that most of the squadron had foundered in the heavy storms on the coast, and that the commissioner had probably perished with them. This was disheartening intelligence to the men of Chili, whose “miseries,” to use the words of their young leader, “had become too grievous to be borne.” 5 Symptoms of disaffection had already begun openly to manifest themselves. The haughty cavaliers did not always doff their bonnets, on meeting the governor in the street; and on one occasion, three ropes were found suspended from the public gallows, with labels attached to them, bearing the names of Pizarro, Velasquez the judge, and Picado the governor’s secretary. 6 This last functionary was peculiarly odious to Almagro and his followers. As his master knew neither how to read nor write, all his communications passed through Picado’s hands; and, as the latter was of a hard and arrogant nature, greatly elated by the consequence which his position gave him, he exercised a mischievous influence on the governor’s measures. Almagro’s poverty-stricken followers were the objects of his open ridicule, and he revenged the insult now offered him by riding before their young leader’s residence, displaying a tawdry magnificence in his dress, sparkling with gold and silver, and with the inscription, “For the Men of Chili,” set in his bonnet. It was a foolish taunt; but the poor cavaliers who were the object of it, made morbidly sensitive by their sufferings, had not the philosophy to despise it. 7
5 “My sufferings,” says Almagro, in his letter to the Royal Audience of Panama, “were enough to unsettle my reason.” See his Letter in the original, Appendix, No. 12.]
6 “Hizo Picado el secreptario del Marquez mucho dano a muchos, porque el marquez don Francisco Picarro como no savia ler ni escrivir fiavase del y no hacia mas de lo que el le aconsejava y ansi hizo este mucho mal en estos rreinos, porque el que no andava a su voluntad sirviendole aunque tuviese meritos le destruya y este Picado fue causa de que los de Chile tomasen mas odio al marquez por donde le mataron. Porque queria este que todos lo reverenciasen, y los de chile no hazian caso del, y por esta causa los perseguia este mucho, y ansi vinieron a hazer lo que hizieron los de Chile.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Also Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 6.]
7 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 6. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 2.]
At length, disheartened by the long protracted coming of Vaca de Castro, and still more by the recent reports of his loss, Almagro’s faction, despairing of redress from a legitimate authority, determined to take it into their own hands. They came to the desperate resolution of assassinating Pizarro. The day named for this was Sunday, the twenty-sixth of June, 1541. The conspirators, eighteen or twenty in number, were to assemble in Almagro’s house, which stood in the great square next to the cathedral, and, when the governor was returning from mass, they were to issue forth and fall on him in the street. A white flag, unfurled at the same time from an upper window in the house, was to be the signal for the rest of their comrades to move to the support of those immediately engaged in the execution of the deed. 8
8 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1541. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 6.]
These arrangements could hardly have been concealed from Almagro, since his own quarters were to be the place of rendezvous. Yet there is no good evidence of his having taken part in the conspiracy. 9 He was, indeed, too young to make it probable that he took a leading part in it. He is represented by contemporary writers to have given promise of many good qualities, though, unhappily, he was not placed in a situation favorable for their development. He was the son of an Indian woman of Panama; but from early years had followed the troubled fortunes of his father, to whom he bore much resemblance in his free and generous nature, as well as in the violence of his passions. His youth and inexperience disqualified him from taking the lead in the perplexing circumstances in which he was placed, and made him little more than a puppet in the hands of others. 10
9 Yet this would seem to be contradicted by Almagro’s own letter to the audience of Panama, in which he states, that, galled by intolerable injuries, he and his followers had resolved to take the remedy into their own hands, by entering the governor’s house and seizing his person. (See the original in Appendix, No. 12.) It is certain, however, that in the full accounts we have of the affair by writers who had the best means of information, we do not find Almagro’s name mentioned as one who took an active part in the tragic drama. His own letter merely expresses that it was his purpose to have taken part in it with the further declaration, that it was simply to seize, not to slay, Pizarro; — a declaration that no one who reads the history of the transaction will be very ready to credit.]
10 “Mancebo virtuoso, i de grande Animo, i bien ensenado: i especialmente se havia exercitado mucho en cavalgar a Caballo, de ambas sillas, lo qual hacia con mucha gracia, i destreca, i tambien en escrevir, i leer, lo qual hacia mas liberalmente, i mejor de lo que requeria su Profesion. De este tenia cargo, como Aio, Juan de Herrada.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 6.]
The most conspicuous of his advisers was Juan de Herrada, or Rada, as his name is more usually spelt, — a cavalier of respectable family, but who, having early enlisted as a common soldier, had gradually risen to the highest posts in the army by his military talents. At this time he was well advanced in years; but the fires of youth were not quenched in his bosom, and he burned with desire to avenge the wrongs done to his ancient commander. The attachment which he had ever felt for the elder Almagro he seems to have transferred in full measure to his son; and it was apparently with reference to him, even more than to himself, that he devised this audacious plot, and prepared to take the lead in the execution of it.
There was one, however, in the band of conspirators who felt some compunctions of conscience at the part he was acting, and who relieved his bosom by revealing the whole plot to his confessor. The latter lost no time in reporting it to Picado, by whom in turn it was communicated to Pizarro. But, strange to say, it made little more impression on the governor’s mind than the vague warnings he had so frequently received. “It is a device of the priest,” said he; “he wants a mitre.” 11 Yet he repeated the story to the judge Velasquez, who, instead of ordering the conspirators to be seized, and the proper steps taken for learning the truth of the accusation, seemed to be possessed with the same infatuation as Pizarro; and he bade the governor be under no apprehension, “for no harm should come to him, while the rod of justice,” not a metaphorical badge of authority in Castile, “was in his hands.” 12 Still, to obviate every possibility of danger, it was deemed prudent for Pizarro to abstain from going to mass on Sunday, and to remain at home on pretence of illness.
11 “Pues un dia antes un sacerdote clerigo llamado Benao fue de noche y avisso a Picado el secreptario y dixole manana Domingo quando el marquez saliere a misa tienen concertado los de Chile de matar al marquez y a vos y a sus amigos. Esto me a dicho vno en confision para que os venga a avisar. Pues savido esto Picado se fue luego y lo conto al marquez y el le rrespondio. Ese clerigo obispado quiere.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
12 “El Juan Velazquez le dixo. No tema vuestra senoria que mientras yo tuviere esta vara en la mano nadie se atrevera.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub, y Conq., Ms.]
On the day appointed, Rada and his companions met in Almagro’s house, and waited with anxiety for the hour when the governor should issue from the church. But great was their consternation, when they learned that he was not there, but was detained at home, as currently reported, by illness. Little doubting that their design was discovered, they felt their own ruin to be the inevitable consequence, and that, too, without enjoying the melancholy consolation of having struck the blow for which they had incurred it. Greatly perplexed, some were for disbanding, in the hope that Pizarro might, after all, be ignorant of their design. But most were for carrying it into execution at once, by assaulting him in his own house. The question was summarily decided by one of the party, who felt that in this latter course lay their only chance of safety. Throwing open the doors, he rushed out, calling on his comrades “to follow him, or he would proclaim the purpose for which they had met.” There was no longer hesitation, and the cavaliers issued forth, with Rada at their head, shouting, as they went, “Long live the king! Death to the tyrant!” 13
13 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. — Naharro, Rel. Sumaria, Ms. — Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms., 15 de Julio, 1541.]
It was the hour of dinner, which, in this primitive age of the Spanish colonies, was at noon. Yet numbers, roused by the cries of the assailants, came out into the square to inquire the cause. “They are going to kill the marquess,” some said very coolly; others replied, “It is Picado.” No one stirred in their defence. The power of Pizarro was not seated in the hearts of his people.
As the conspirators traversed the plaza, one of the party made a circuit to avoid a little pool of water that lay in their path. “What!” exclaimed Rada, “afraid of wetting your feet, when you are to wade up to your knees in blood!” And he ordered the man to give up the enterprise and go home to his quarters. The anecdote is characteristic. 14
14 “Gomez Perez por haver alli agua derramada de una acequia, rodeo algun tanto por no mojarse; reparo en ello Juan de Rada, y entrandose atrevido por e agua le dijo: i Bamos a banarnos en sangre humana, y rehusais mojaros los pies en agua? Ea volveos. hizolo volver y no asistio al hecho.’ Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1541.
The governor’s palace stood on the opposite side of the square. It was approached by two courtyards. The entrance to the outer one was protected by a massive gate, capable of being made good against a hundred men or more. But it was left open, and the assailants, hurrying through to the inner court, still shouting their fearful battle-cry, were met by two domestics loitering in the yard. One of these they struck down. The other, flying in all haste towards the house, called out, “Help, help! the men of Chili are all coming to murder the marquess!”
Pizarro at this time was at dinner, or, more probably, had just dined. He was surrounded by a party of friends, who had dropped in, it seems, after mass, to inquire after the state of his health, some of whom had remained to partake of his repast. Among these was Don Martinez de Alcantara, Pizarro’s half-brother by the mother’s side, the judge Velasquez, the bishop elect of Quito, and several of the principal cavaliers in the place, to the number of fifteen or twenty. Some of them, alarmed by the uproar in the court-yard, left the saloon, and, running down to the first landing on the stairway, inquired into the cause of the disturbance. No sooner were they informed of it by the cries of the servant, than they retreated with precipitation into the house; and, as they had no mind to abide the storm unarmed, or at best imperfectly armed, as most of them were, they made their way to the a corridor that overlooked the gardens, into which they easily let themselves down without injury. Velasquez, the judge, the better to have the use of his hands in the descent, held his rod of office in his mouth, thus taking care, says a caustic old chronicler, not to falsify his assurance, that “no harm should come to Pizarro while the rod of justice was in his hands”! 15
15 “En lo qual no paresce haver quebrantado su palabra, porque despues huiendo (como adelante se dira) al tiempo, que quisieron matar al Marques, se hecho de vna Ventana abajo, a la Huerta, llevando la Vara en la boca.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 7.
Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. — Carta de Fray Vicente de Valverde a la Audiencia de Panama, Ms., desde Tumbez, 15 Nov. 1541. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 145.]
Meanwhile, the marquess, learning the nature of the tumult, called out to Francisco de Chaves, an officer high in his confidence, and who was in the outer apartment opening on the staircase, to secure the door, while he and his brother Alcantara buckled on their armour. Had this order, coolly given, been as coolly obeyed, it would have saved them all, since the entrance could easily have been maintained against a much larger force, till the report of the cavaliers who had fled had brought support to Pizarro. But unfortunately, Chaves, disobeying his commander, half opened the door, and attempted to enter into a parley with the conspirators. The latter had now reached the head of the stairs, and cut short the debate by running Chaves through the body, and tumbling his corpse down into the area below. For a moment they were kept at bay by the attendants of the slaughtered cavalier, but these too, were quickly despatched; and Rada and his companions, entering the apartment, hurried across it, shouting out, “Where is the marquess? Death to the tyrant!” Martinez de Alcantara, who in the adjoining room was assisting his brother to buckle on his mail, no sooner saw that the entrance to the antechamber had been gained, than he sprang to the doorway of the apartment, and, assisted by two young men, pages of Pizarro, and by one or two cavaliers in attendance, endeavoured to resist the approach of the assailants. A desperate struggle now ensued. Blows were given on both sides, some of which proved fatal, and two of the conspirators were slain, while Alcantara and his brave companions were repeatedly wounded.
At length, Pizarro, unable, in the hurry of the moment, to adjust the fastenings of his cuirass threw it away, and enveloping one arm in his cloak, with the other seized his sword, and sprang to his brother’s assistance. It was too late; for Alcantara was already staggering under the loss of blood, and soon fell to the ground. Pizarro threw himself on his invaders, like a lion roused in his lair, and dealt his blows with as much rapidity and force, as if age had no power to stiffen his limbs. “What ho!” he cried, “traitors! have you come to kill me in my own house?” The conspirators drew back for a moment, as two of their body fell under Pizarro’s sword; but they quickly rallied, and, from their superior numbers, fought at great advantage by relieving one another in the assault. Still the passage was narrow, and the struggle lasted for some minutes, till both of Pizarro’s pages were stretched by his side, when Rada, impatient of the delay, called out, “Why are we so long about it? Down with the tyrant!” and taking one of his companions, Narvaez, in his arms, he thrust him against the marquess. Pizarro, instantly grappling with his opponent, ran him through with his sword. But at that moment he received a wound in the throat, and reeling, he sank on the floor, while the swords of Rada and several of the conspirators were plunged into his body. “Jesu!” exclaimed the dying man and, tracing a cross with his finger on the bloody floor, he bent down his head to kiss it, when a stroke, more friendly than the rest, put an end to his existence. 16 [See Assassination Of Pizarro: He traced a cross with his finger on the bloody floor and bent his head down to kiss it, when a stroke, more friendly than the rest, put an end to his existence.]
16 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6. — Carta de la Justicia y Regimiento de la Ciudad de los Reyes, Ms., 15 de Julio, 1541. — Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. — Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., ubi supra. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1541.
Pizarro y Orellana seems to have no doubt that his slaughtered kinsman died in the odor of sanctity. — “Alli le acabaron los traidores enemigos, dandole cruelissimas heridas, con que acabo el Julio Cesar Espanol, estando tan en si que pidiendo confession con gran acto de contricion, haziendo la senal de la Cruz con su misma sangre, y besandola murio.” Varones Ilustres, p. 186.
According to one authority, the mortal blow was given by a soldier named Borregan, who, when Pizarro was down, struck him on the back of the head with a water-jar, which he had snatched from the table. (Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6.) Considering the hurry and confusion of the scene, the different narratives of the catastrophe, though necessarily differing in minute details have a remarkable agreement with one another.]
The conspirators, having accomplished their bloody deed, rushed into the street, and, brandishing their dripping weapons, shouted out, “The tyrant is dead! The laws are restored! Long live our master the emperor, and his governor, Almagro!” The men of Chili, roused by the cheering cry, now flocked in from every side to join the banner of Rada, who soon found himself at the head of nearly three hundred followers, all armed and prepared to support his authority. A guard was placed over the houses of the principal partisans of the late governor, and their persons were taken into custody. Pizarro’s house, and that of his secretary Picado, were delivered up to pillage, and a large booty in gold and silver was found in the former. Picado himself took refuge in the dwelling of Riquelme, the treasurer; but his hiding-place was detected, — betrayed, according to some accounts, by the looks, though not the words, of the treasurer himself, — and he was dragged forth and committed to a secure prison. 17 The whole city was thrown into consternation, as armed bodies hurried to and fro on their several errands, and all who were not in the faction of Almagro trembled lest they should be involved in the proscription of their enemies. So great was the disorder, that the Brothers of Mercy, turning out in a body, paraded the streets in solemn procession, with the host elevated in the air, in hopes by the presence of the sacred symbol to calm the passions of the multitude.
17 “No se olvidaron de buscar a Antonio Picado, i iendo en casa del Tesorero Alonso Riquelme, el mismo iba diciendo: No se adonde esta el Senor Picado, i con los ojos le mostraba, i le hallaron debaxo de la cama.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 7.
We find Riquelme’s name, soon after this, enrolled among the municipality of Lima, showing that he found it convenient to give in his temporary adhesion, at least, to Almagro. Carta de la Justicia y Regimiento de la Ciudad de los Reyes, Ms.]
But no other violence was offered by Rada and his followers than to apprehend a few suspected persons, and to seize upon horses and arms wherever they were to be found. The municipality was then summoned to recognize the authority of Almagro; the refractory were ejected without ceremony from their offices, and others of the Chili faction were substituted. The claims of the new aspirant were fully recognized; and young Almagro, parading the streets on horseback, and escorted by a well-armed body of cavaliers, was proclaimed by sound of trumpet governor and captain-general of Peru.
Meanwhile, the mangled bodies of Pizarro and his faithful adherents were left weltering in their blood. Some were for dragging forth the governor’s corpse to the market-place, and fixing his head upon a gibbet. But Almagro was secretly prevailed on to grant the entreaties of Pizarro’s friends, and allow his interment. This was stealthily and hastily performed, in the fear of momentary interruption. A faithful attendant and his wife, with a few black domestics, wrapped the body in a cotton cloth and removed it to the cathedral. A grave was hastily dug in an obscure corner, the services were hurried through, and, in secrecy, and in darkness dispelled only by the feeble glimmering of a few tapers furnished by these humble menials, the remains of Pizarro, rolled in their bloody shroud, were consigned to their kindred dust. Such was the miserable end of the Conqueror of Peru, — of the man who but a few hours before had lorded it over the land with as absolute a sway as was possessed by its hereditary Incas. Cut off in the broad light of day, in the heart of his own capital, in the very midst of those who had been his companions in arms and shared with him his triumphs and his spoils, he perished like a wretched outcast. “There was none even,” in the expressive language of the chronicler “to say, God forgive him!” 18
18 “Murio pidiendo confesion, i haciendo la Cruz, sin que nadie lijese, Dios te perdone.” Gomara, Hist de las Ind., cap. 144.
Ms. de Caravantes. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. — Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. — Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]
A few years later, when tranquillity was restored to the country, Pizarro’s remains were placed in a sumptuous coffin and deposited under a monument in a conspicuous part of the cathedral. And in 1607, when time had thrown its friendly mantle over the past, and the memory of his errors and his crimes was merged in the consideration of the great services he had rendered to the Crown by the extension of her colonial empire, his bones were removed to the new cathedral, and allowed to repose side by side with those of Mendoza, the wise and good viceroy of Peru. 19
19 “Sus huesos encerrados en una caxa guarnecida de terciopelo morado con passamanos de oro que yo he visto.” Ms. de Caravantes.
Pizarro was, probably, not far from sixty-five years of age at the time of his death; though this, it must be added, is but loose conjecture, since there exists no authentic record of the date of his birth. 20 He was never married; but by an Indian princess of the Inca blood, daughter of Atahuallpa and granddaughter of the great Huayna Capac, he had two children, a son and a daughter. Both survived him; but the son did not live to manhood. Their mother, after Pizarro’s death, wedded a Spanish cavalier, named Ampuero, and removed with him to Spain. Her daughter Francisca accompanied her, and was there subsequently married to her uncle Hernando Pizarro, then a prisoner in the Mota del Medina. Neither the title nor estates of the Marquess Francisco descended to his illegitimate offspring. But in the third generation, in the reign of Philip the Fourth, the title was revived in favor of Don Juan Hernando Pizarro, who, out of gratitude for the services of his ancestor, was created Marquess of the Conquest, Marques de la Conquista, with a liberal pension from government. His descendants, bearing the same title of nobility, are still to be found, it is said, at Truxillo, in the ancient province of Estremadura, the original birthplace of the Pizarros. 21
20 Ante, Book 2, chap. 2, note 1.]
21 Ms. de Caravantes. — Quintana, Espanoles Celebres, tom. II., p. 417.
See also the Discurso, Legal y Politico, annexed by Pizarro y Orellana to his bulky tome, in which that cavalier urges the claims of Pizarro. It is in the nature of a memorial to Philip IV in behalf of Pizarro’s descendants, in which the writer, after setting forth the manifold services of the Conqueror, shows how little his posterity had profited by the magnificent grants conferred on him by the Crown. The argument of the Royal Counsellor was not without its effect.
Pizarro’s person has been already described. He was tall in stature, well-proportioned, and with a countenance not unpleasing. Bred in camps, with nothing of the polish of a court, he had a soldier-like bearing, and the air of one accustomed to command. But though not polished, there was no embarrassment or rusticity in his address, which, where it served his purpose, could be plausible and even insinuating. The proof of it is the favorable impression made by him, on presenting himself, after his second expedition — stranger as he was to all its forms and usages — at the punctilious court of Castile.
Unlike many of his countrymen, he had no passion for ostentatious dress, which he regarded as an incumbrance. The costume which he most affected on public occasions was a black cloak, with a white hat, and shoes of the same color; the last, it is said, being in imitation of the Great Captain, whose character he had early learned to admire in Italy, but to which his own, certainly, bore very faint resemblance. 22
22 Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru. lib. 4, cap. 9.
The portrait of Pizarro, in the viceregal palace at Lima, represents him in a citizen’s dress, with a sable cloak, — the capa y espada of a Spanish gentleman. Each panel in the spacious sala de los Vireyes was reserved for the portrait of a viceroy. The long file is complete, from Pizarro to Pezuela; and it is a curious fact, noticed by Stevenson, that the last panel was exactly filled when the reign of the viceroys was abruptly terminated by the Revolution. (Residence in South America, vol. I. p. 228.) It is a singular coincidence that the same thing should have occurred at Venice, where, if my memory serves me, the last niche reserved for the effigies of its doges was just filled, when the ancient aristocracy was overturned.
He was temperate in eating, drank sparingly, and usually rose an hour before dawn. He was punctual in attendance to business, and shrunk from no toil. He had, indeed, great powers of patient endurance. Like most of his nation, he was fond of play, and cared little for the quality of those with whom he played; though, when his antagonist could not afford to lose, he would allow himself, it is said, to be the loser; a mode of conferring an obligation much commended by a Castilian writer, for its delicacy. 23
23 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 9.
Though avaricious, it was in order to spend and not to hoard. His ample treasures, more ample than those, probably, that ever before fell to the lot of an adventurer, 24 were mostly dissipated in his enterprises, his architectural works, and schemes of public improvement, which, in a country where gold and silver might be said to have lost their value from their abundance, absorbed an incredible amount of money. While he regarded the whole country, in a manner, as his own, and distributed it freely among his captains, it is certain that the princely grant of a territory with twenty thousand vassals, made to him by the Crown, was never carried into effect; nor did his heirs ever reap the benefit of it. 25
24 “Hallo, i tuvo mas Oro, i Plata, que otro ningun Espanol de quantos han pasado a Indias, ni que ninguno de quantos Capitanes han sido por el Mundo.” Gomara Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144.]
25 Ms. de Caravantes. — Pizarro y Orellana, Discurso Leg. y Pol., ap. Varones Ilust. Gonzalo Pizarro, when taken prisoner by President Gasca, challenged him to point out any quarter of the country in which the royal grant had been carried into effect by a specific assignment of land to his brother. See Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 5, cap. 36.
To a man possessed of the active energies of Pizarro, sloth was the greatest evil. The excitement of play was in a manner necessary to a spirit accustomed to the habitual stimulants of war and adventure. His uneducated mind had no relish for more refined, intellectual recreation. The deserted foundling had neither been taught to read nor write. This has been disputed by some, but it is attested by unexceptionable authorities. 26 Montesinos says, indeed, that Pizarro, on his first voyage, tried to learn to read; but the impatience of his temper prevented it, and he contented himself with learning to sign his name. 27 But Montesinos was not a contemporary historian. Pedro Pizarro, his companion in arms, expressly tells us he could neither read nor write; 28 and Zarate, another contemporary, well acquainted with the Conquerors, confirms this statement, and adds, that Pizarro could not so much as sign his name. 29 This was done by his secretary — Picado, in his latter years — while the governor merely made the customary rubrica or flourish at the sides of his name. This is the case with the instruments I have examined, in which his signature, written probably by his secretary, or his title of Marques, in later life substituted for his name, is garnished with a flourish at the ends, executed in as bungling a manner as if done by the hand of a ploughman. Yet we must not estimate this deficiency as we should in this period of general illumination, — general, at least, in our own fortunate country. Reading and writing, so universal now, in the beginning of the sixteenth century might be regarded in the light of accomplishments; and all who have occasion to consult the autograph memorials of that time will find the execution of them, even by persons of the highest rank, too often such as would do little credit to a schoolboy of the present day.
26 Even so experienced a person as Munoz seems to have fallen into this error. On one of Pizarro’s letters I find the following copy of an autograph memorandum by this eminent scholar:— Carta de Francisco Pizarro, su letra i buena letra.]
27 “En este viage trato Pizarro de aprender a leer; no le dio su viveza lugar a ello; contentose solo con saber firmar, de lo que se veia Almagro, y decia, que firmar sin saber leer era lo mismo que recibir herida, sin poder darla. En adelante firmo siempre Pizarro por si, y por Almagro su Secretario.” Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1525.]
28 “Porque el marquez don Francisco Picarro como no savia ler ni escrivir.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms]
29 “Siendo personas,” says the author, speaking both of Pizarro and Almagro, “no solamente, no leidas, pero que de todo punto no sabian leer, ni aun firmar, que en ellos fue cosa de gran defecto. . . . . . Fue el Marques tan confiado de sus Criados, i Amigos, que todos los Despachos, que hacia, asi de Governacion, como de Repartimientos de Indios, libraba ha ciendo el dos senales, en medio de las quales Antonio Picado, su Secretario, firmaba el nombre de Francisco Picarro.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 9.]
Though bold in action and not easily turned from his purpose, Pizarro was slow in arriving at a decision. This gave him an appearance of irresolution foreign to his character. 30 Perhaps the consciousness of this led him to adopt the custom of saying “No,” at first, to applicants for favor; and afterwards, at leisure, to revise his judgment, and grant what seemed to him expedient. He took the opposite course from his comrade Almagro, who, it was observed, generally said “Yes,” but too often failed to keep his promise. This was characteristic of the careless and easy nature of the latter, governed by impulse rather than principle. 31
30 This tardiness of resolve has even led Herrera to doubt his resolution altogether; a judgment certainly contradicted by the whole tenor of his history. “Porque aunque era astuto, i recatado, por la maior parte fue de animo suspenso, i no mui resoluto.” Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 7, cap. 13.]
31 “Tenia por costumbre de quando algo le pedian dezir siempre de no. esto dezia el que hazia por no faltar su palabra, y no obstante que dezia no, correspondia con hazer lo que le pedian no aviendo inconvenimente. . . . . . Don Diego de Almagro hera a la contra que a todos dezia si, y con pocos lo cumplia.” Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
It is hardly necessary to speak of the courage of a man pledged to such a career as that of Pizarro. Courage, indeed, was a cheap quality among the Spanish adventurers, for danger was their element. But he possessed something higher than mere animal courage, in that constancy of purpose which was rooted too deeply in his nature to be shaken by the wildest storms of fortune. It was this inflexible constancy which formed the key to his character, and constituted the secret of his success. A remarkable evidence of it was given in his first expedition, among the mangroves and dreary marshes of Choco. He saw his followers pining around him under the blighting malaria, wasting before an invisible enemy, and unable to strike a stroke in their own defence. Yet his spirit did not yield, nor did he falter in his enterprise.
There is something oppressive to the imagination in this war against nature. In the struggle of man against man, the spirits are raised by a contest conducted on equal terms; but in a war with the elements, we feel, that, however bravely we may contend, we can have no power to control. Nor are we cheered on by the prospect of glory in such a contest; for, in the capricious estimate of human glory, the silent endurance of privations, however painful, is little, in comparison with the ostentatious trophies of victory. The laurel of the hero — alas for humanity that it should be so! — grows best on the battle-field. This inflexible spirit of Pizarro was shown still more strongly, when, in the little island of Gallo, he drew the line on the sand, which was to separate him and his handful of followers from their country and from civilized man. He trusted that his own constancy would give strength to the feeble, and rally brave hearts around him for the prosecution of his enterprise. He looked with confidence to the future, and he did not miscalculate. This was heroic, and wanted only a nobler motive for its object to constitute the true moral sublime.
Yet the same feature in his character was displayed in a manner scarcely less remarkable, when, landing on the coast and ascertaining the real strength and civilization of the Incas, he persisted in marching into the interior at the head of a force of less than two hundred men. In this he undoubtedly proposed to himself the example of Cortes, so contagious to the adventurous spirits of that day, and especially to Pizarro, engaged, as he was, in a similar enterprise. Yet the hazard assumed by Pizarro was far greater than that of the Conqueror of Mexico, whose force was nearly three times as large, while the terrors of the Inca name — however justified by the result — were as widely spread as those of the Aztecs.
It was doubtless in imitation of the same captivating model, that Pizarro planned the seizure of Atahuallpa. But the situations of the two Spanish captains were as dissimilar as the manner in which their acts of violence were conducted. The wanton massacre of the Peruvians resembled that perpetrated by Alvarado in Mexico, and might have been attended with consequences as disastrous, if the Peruvian character had been as fierce as that of the Aztecs. 32 But the blow which roused the latter to madness broke the tamer spirits of the Peruvians. It was a bold stroke, which left so much to chance, that it scarcely merits the name of policy.
32 See Conquest of Mexico, Book 4, chap 8.]
When Pizarro landed in the country, he found it distracted by a contest for the crown. It would seem to have been for his interest to play off one party against the other, throwing his own weight into the scale that suited him. Instead of this, he resorted to an act of audacious violence which crushed them both at a blow. His subsequent career afforded no scope for the profound policy displayed by Cortes, when he gathered conflicting nations under his banner, and directed them against a common foe. Still less did he have the opportunity of displaying the tactics and admirable strategy of his rival. Cortes conducted his military operations on the scientific principles of a great captain at the head of a powerful host. Pizarro appears only as an adventurer, a fortunate knight-errant. By one bold stroke, he broke the spell which had so long held the land under the dominion of the Incas. The spell was broken, and the airy fabric of their empire, built on the superstition of ages, vanished at a touch. This was good fortune, rather than the result of policy.
Pizarro was eminently perfidious. Yet nothing is more opposed to sound policy. One act of perfidy fully established becomes the ruin of its author. The man who relinquishes confidence in his good faith gives up the best basis for future operations. Who will knowingly build on a quicksand? By his perfidious treatment of Almagro, Pizarro alienated the minds of the Spaniards. By his perfidious treatment of Atahuallpa, and subsequently of the Inca Manco, he disgusted the Peruvians. The name of Pizarro became a by-word for perfidy. Almagro took his revenge in a civil war; Manco in an insurrection which nearly cost Pizarro his dominion. The civil war terminated in a conspiracy which cost him his life. Such were the fruits of his policy. Pizarro may be regarded as a cunning man; but not, as he has been often eulogized by his countrymen, as a politic one.
When Pizarro obtained possession of Cuzco, he found a country well advanced in the arts of civilization; institutions under which the people lived in tranquillity and personal safety; the mountains and the uplands whitened with flocks; the valleys teeming with the fruits of a scientific husbandry; the granaries and warehouses filled to overflowing; the whole land rejoicing in its abundance; and the character of the nation, softened under the influence of the mildest and most innocent form of superstition, well prepared for the reception of a higher and a Christian civilization. But, far from introducing this, Pizarro delivered up the conquered races to his brutal soldiery; the sacred cloisters were abandoned to their lust; the towns and villages were given up to pillage; the wretched natives were parcelled out like slaves, to toil for their conquerors in the mines; the flocks were scattered, and wantonly destroyed; the granaries were dissipated; the beautiful contrivances for the more perfect culture of the soil were suffered to fall into decay; the paradise was converted into a desert. Instead of profiting by the ancient forms of civilization, Pizarro preferred to efface every vestige of them from the land, and on their ruin to erect the institutions of his own country. Yet these institutions did little for the poor Indian, held in iron bondage. It was little to him that the shores of the Pacific were studded with rising communities and cities, the marts of a flourishing commerce. He had no share in the goodly heritage. He was an alien in the land of his fathers.
The religion of the Peruvian, which directed him to the worship of that glorious luminary which is the best representative of the might and beneficence of the Creator, is perhaps the purest form of superstition that has existed among men. Yet it was much, that, under the new order of things, and through the benevolent zeal of the missionaries, some glimmerings of a nobler faith were permitted to dawn on his darkened soul. Pizarro, himself, cannot be charged with manifesting any overweening solicitude for the propagation of the Faith. He was no bigot, like Cortes. Bigotry is the perversion of the religious principle; but the principle itself was wanting in Pizarro. The conversion of the heathen was a predominant motive with Cortes in his expedition. It was not a vain boast. He would have sacrificed his life for it at any time; and more than once, by his indiscreet zeal, he actually did place his life and the success of his enterprise in jeopardy. It was his great purpose to purify the land from the brutish abominations of the Aztecs, by substituting the religion of Jesus. This gave to his expedition the character of a crusade. It furnished the best apology for the Conquest, and does more than all other considerations towards enlisting our sympathies on the side of the conquerors.
But Pizarro’s ruling motives, so far as they can be scanned by human judgment, were avarice and ambition. The good missionaries, indeed, followed in his train to scatter the seeds of spiritual truth, and the Spanish government, as usual, directed its beneficent legislation to the conversion of the natives. But the moving power with Pizarro and his followers was the lust of gold. This was the real stimulus to their toil, the price of perfidy, the true guerdon of their victories. This gave a base and mercenary character to their enterprise; and when we contrast the ferocious cupidity of the conquerors with the mild and inoffensive manners of the conquered, our sympathies, the sympathies even of the Spaniard, are necessarily thrown into the scale of the Indian. 33
33 The following vigorous lines of Southey condense, in a small compass, the most remarkable traits of Pizarro. The poet’s epitaph may certainly be acquitted of the imputation, generally well deserved, of flattery towards the subject of it.
“For A Column At Truxillo.
“Pizarro here was born; a greater name
The list of Glory boasts not. Toil and Pain,
Famine, and hostile Elements, and Hosts
Embattled, failed to check him in his course,
Not to be wearied, not to be deterred,
Not to be overcome. A mighty realm
He overran, and with relentless arm
Slew or enslaved its unoffending sons,
And wealth and power and fame were his rewards.
There is another world, beyond the grave,
According to their deeds where men are judged.
O Reader! if thy daily bread be earned
By daily labor, — yea, however low,
However wretched, be thy lot assigned,
Thank thou, with deepest gratitude, the God
Who made thee, that thou art not such as he.”
But as no picture is without its lights, we must not, in justice to Pizarro, dwell exclusively on the darker features of his portrait. There was no one of her sons to whom Spain was under larger obligations for extent of empire; for his hand won for her the richest of the Indian jewels that once sparkled in her imperial diadem. When we contemplate the perils he braved, the sufferings he patiently endured, the incredible obstacles he overcame, the magnificent results he effected with his single arm, as it were, unaided by the government, — though neither a good, nor a great man in the highest sense of that term, it is impossible not to regard him as a very extraordinary one.
Nor can we fairly omit to notice, in extenuation of his errors, the circumstances of his early life; for, like Almagro, he was the son of sin and sorrow, early cast upon the world to seek his fortunes as he might. In his young and tender age he was to take the impression of those into whose society he was thrown. And when was it the lot of the needy outcast to fall into that of the wise and the virtuous? His lot was cast among the licentious inmates of a camp, the school of rapine, whose only law was the sword, and who looked on the wretched Indian and his heritage as their rightful spoil.
Who does not shudder at the thought of what his own fate might have been, trained in such a school? The amount of crime does not necessarily show the criminality of the agent. History, indeed, is concerned with the former, that it may be recorded as a warning to mankind; but it is He alone who knoweth the heart, the strength of the temptation, and the means of resisting it, that can determine the measure of the guilt
The first step of the conspirators, after securing possession of the capital, was to send to the different cities, proclaiming the revolution which had taken place, and demanding the recognition of the young Almagro as governor of Peru. Where the summons was accompanied by a military force, as at Truxillo and Arequipa, it was obeyed without much cavil. But in other cities a colder assent was given, and in some the requisition was treated with contempt. In Cuzco, the place of most importance next to Lima, a considerable number of the Almagro faction secured the ascendency of their party; and such of the magistracy as resisted were ejected from their offices to make room for others of a more accommodating temper. But the loyal inhabitants of the city, dissatisfied with this proceeding, privately sent to one of Pizarro’s captains, named Alvarez de Holguin, who lay with a considerable force in the neighbourhood; and that officer, entering the place, soon dispossessed the new dignitaries of their honors, and restored the ancient capital to its allegiance.
The conspirators experienced a still more determined opposition from Alonso de Alvarado. one of the principal captains of Pizarro, — defeated, as the reader will remember, by the elder Almagro at the bridge of Abancay, — and now lying in the north with a corps of about two hundred men, as good troops as any in the land. That officer, on receiving tidings of his general’s assassination, instantly wrote to the Licentiate Vaca de Castro, advising him of the state of affairs in Peru, and urging him to quicken his march towards the south. 1
1 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 13. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 7. — Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. — Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. — Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]
This functionary had been sent out by the Spanish Crown, as noticed in a preceding chapter, to cooperate with Pizarro in restoring tranquillity to the country, with authority to assume the government himself, in case of that commander’s death. After a long and tempestuous voyage, he had landed, in the spring of 1541, at the port of Buena Ventura, and, disgusted with the dangers of the sea, preferred to continue his wearisome journey by land. But so enfeebled was he by the hardships he had undergone, that it was full three months before he reached Popayan, where he received the astounding tidings of the death of Pizarro. This was the contingency which had been provided for, with such judicious forecast, in his instructions. Yet he was sorely perplexed by the difficulties of his situation. He was a stranger in the land, with a very imperfect knowledge of the country, without an armed force to support him, without even the military science which might be supposed necessary to avail himself of it. He knew nothing of the degree of Almagro’s influence, or of the extent to which the insurrection had spread, — nothing, in short, of the dispositions of the people among whom he was cast.
In such an emergency, a feebler spirit might have listened to the counsels of those who advised to return to Panama, and stay there until he had mustered a sufficient force to enable him to take the field against the insurgents with advantage. But the courageous heart of Vaca de Castro shrunk from a step which would proclaim his incompetency to the task assigned him. He had confidence in his own resources, and in the virtue of the commission under which he acted. He relied, too, on the habitual loyalty of the Spaniards; and, after mature deliberation, he determined to go forward, and trust to events for accomplishing the objects of his mission.
He was confirmed in this purpose by the advices he now received from Alvarado; and without longer delay, he continued his march towards Quito. Here he was well received by Gonzalo Pizarro’s lieutenant, who had charge of the place during his commander’s absence on his expedition to the Amazon. The licentiate was also joined by Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, who brought a small reinforcement, and offered personally to assist him in the prosecution of his enterprise. He now displayed the royal commission, empowering him, on Pizarro’s death, to assume the government. That contingency had arrived, and Vaca de Castro declared his purpose to exercise the authority conferred on him. At the same time, he sent emissaries to the principal cities, requiring their obedience to him as the lawful representative of the Crown, — taking care to employ discreet persons on the mission, whose character would have weight with the citizens. He then continued his march slowly towards the south. 2
2 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 4. — Carta de Benalcazar al Emperador, desde Cali, Ms., 20 Septiembre, 1542.
Benalcazar urged Vaca de Castro to assume only the title of Judge, and not that of Governor, which would conflict with the pretensions of Almagro to that part of the country known as New Toledo and bequeathed to him by his father “Porque yo le avise muchas veces no entrase en la tierra como Governador, sino como Juez de V. M que venia a desagraviar a los agraviados, porque todos lo rescibirian de buena gana.” Ubi supra.
He was willing by his deliberate movements to give time for his summons to take effect, and for the fermentation caused by the late extraordinary events to subside. He reckoned confidently on the loyalty which made the Spaniard unwilling, unless in cases of the last extremity, to come into collision with the royal authority; and, however much this popular sentiment might be disturbed by temporary gusts of passion, he trusted to the habitual current of their feelings for giving the people a right direction. In this he did not miscalculate; for so deep-rooted was the principle of loyalty in the ancient Spaniard, that ages of oppression and misrule could alone have induced him to shake off his allegiance. Sad it is, but not strange, that the length of time passed under a bad government has not qualified him for devising a good one.
While these events were passing in the north, Almagro’s faction at Lima was daily receiving new accessions of strength. For, in addition to those who, from the first, had been avowedly of his father’s party, there were many others who, from some cause or other, had conceived a disgust for Pizarro, and who now willingly enlisted under the banner of the chief that had overthrown him.
The first step of the young general, or rather of Rada, who directed his movements, was to secure the necessary supplies for the troops, most of whom, having long been in indigent circumstances, were wholly unprepared for service. Funds to a considerable amount were raised, by seizing on the moneys of the Crown in the hands of the treasurer. Pizarro’s secretary, Picado, was also drawn from his prison, and interrogated as to the place where his master’s treasures were deposited. But, although put to the torture, he would not — or, as is probable, could not — give information on the subject; and the conspirators, who had a long arrear of injuries to settle with him, closed their proceedings by publicly beheading him in the great square of Lima. 3
3 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Barrio Nuevo, Ms. — Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]
Valverde, Bishop of Cuzco, as he himself assures us, vainly interposed in his behalf. It is singular, that, the last time this fanatical prelate appears on the stage, it should be in the benevolent character of a supplicant for mercy. 4 Soon afterwards, he was permitted, with the judge, Velasquez, and some other adherents of Pizarro, to embark from the port of Lima. We have a letter from him, dated at Tumbez, in November, 1541; almost immediately after which he fell into the hands of the Indians, and with his companions was massacred at Puna. A violent death not unfrequently closed the stormy career of the American adventurer. Valverde was a Dominican friar, and, like Father Olmedo in the suite of Cortes, had been by his commander’s side throughout the whole of his expedition. But he did not always, like the good Olmedo, use his influence to stay the uplifted hand of the warrior. At least, this was not the mild aspect in which he presented himself at the terrible massacre of Caxamalca. Yet some contemporary accounts represent him, after he had been installed in his episcopal office, as unwearied in his labors to convert the natives, and to ameliorate their condition; and his own correspondence with the government, after that period, shows great solicitude for these praiseworthy objects. Trained in the severest school of monastic discipline, which too often closes the heart against the common charities of life, he could not, like the benevolent Las Casas, rise so far above its fanatical tenets as to regard the heathen as his brother, while in the state of infidelity; and, in the true spirit of that school, he doubtless conceived that the sanctity of the end justified the means, however revolting in themselves. Yet the same man, who thus freely shed the blood of the poor native to secure the triumph of his faith, would doubtless have as freely poured out his own in its defence. The character was no uncommon one in the sixteenth century. 5
4 “Siendo informado que andavan ordenando la muerte a Antonio Picado secretario del Marques que tenian preso, fui a Don Diego e a eu Capitan General Joan de Herrada e a todos sus capitanes, i les puse delante el servicio de Dios i de S. M. i que bastase en lo fecho por respeto de Dios, humillandome a sus pies porque no lo matasen: i no basto que luego dende a pocos dias lo sacaron a la plaza desta cibdad donde le cortaron la cabeza.” Carta de Fray Vicente de Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms]
5 “Quel Senor obispo Fray Vicente de Balverde como persona que jamas ha tenido fin ni zelo al servicio de Dios ni de S. M. ni menos en la conversion de los naturales en los poner e dotrinar en las cosas de nuestra santa fee catholica, ni menos en entender en la paz e sosiego destos reynos, sino a sus intereses propios dando mal ejemplo a todos.” (Carta de Almagro a la Audiencia de Panama, Ms., 8 de Nov. 1541.) The writer, it must be remembered was his personal enemy.]
Almagro’s followers, having supplied themselves with funds, made as little scruple to appropriate to their own use such horses and arms, of every description, as they could find in the city. And this they did with the less reluctance, as the inhabitants for the most part testified no good-will to their cause. While thus employed, Almagro received intelligence that Holguin had left Cuzco with a force of near three hundred men, with which he was preparing to effect a junction with Alvarado in the north. It was important to Almagro’s success that he should defeat this junction. If to procrastinate was the policy of Vaca de Castro, it was clearly that of Almagro to quicken operations, and to bring matters to as speedy an issue as possible; to march at once against Holguin, whom he might expect easily to overcome with his superior numbers; then to follow up the stroke by the still easier defeat of Alvarado, when the new governor would be, in a manner, at his mercy. It would be easy to beat these several bodies in detail, which, once united, would present formidable odds. Almagro and his party had already arrayed themselves against the government by a proceeding too atrocious, and which struck too directly at the royal authority, for its perpetrators to flatter themselves with the hopes of pardon. Their only chance was boldly to follow up the blow, and, by success, to place themselves in so formidable an attitude as to excite the apprehensions of government. The dread of its too potent vassal might extort terms that would never be conceded to his prayers.
But Almagro and his followers shrunk from this open collision with the Crown. They had taken up rebellion because it lay in their path, not because they had wished it. They had meant only to avenge their personal wrongs on Pizarro, and not to defy the royal authority. When, therefore, some on the more resolute, who followed things fearlessly to their consequences, proposed to march at once against Vaca de Castro, and, by striking at the head, settle the contest by a blow, it was almost universally rejected; and it was not till after long debate that it was finally determined to move against Holguin, and cut off his communication with Alonso de Alvarado.
Scarcely had Almagro commenced his march on Xauxa, where he proposed to give battle to his enemy, than he met with a severe misfortune in the death of Juan de Rada. He was a man somewhat advanced in years; and the late exciting scenes, in which he had taken the principal part, had been too much for a frame greatly shattered by a life of extraordinary hardship. He was thrown into a fever, of which he soon after died. By his death, Almagro sustained an inestimable loss; for, besides his devoted attachment to his young leader, he was, by his large experience, and his cautious though courageous character, better qualified than any other cavalier in the army to conduct him safely through the stormy sea on which he had led him to embark.
Among the cavaliers of highest consideration after Rada’s death, the two most aspiring were Christoval de Sotelo, and Garcia de Alvarado; both possessed of considerable military talent, but the latter marked by a bold, presumptuous manner, which might remind one of his illustrious namesake, who achieved much higher renown under the banner of Cortes. Unhappily, a jealousy grew up between these two officers; that jealousy, so common among the Spaniards, that it may seem a national characteristic; an impatience of equality, founded on a false principle of honor, which has ever been the fruitful source of faction among them, whether under a monarchy or a republic.
This was peculiarly unfortunate for Almagro, whose inexperience led him to lean for support on others, and who, in the present distracted state of his council, knew scarcely where to turn for it. In the delay occasioned by these dissensions, his little army did not reach the valley of Xauxa till after the enemy had passed it. Almagro followed close, leaving behind his baggage and artillery that he might move the lighter. But the golden opportunity was lost. The rivers, swollen by autumnal rains, impeded his pursuit; and, though his light troops came up with a few stragglers of the rear-guard, Holguin succeeded in conducting his forces through the dangerous passes of the mountains, and in effecting a junction with Alonso de Alvarado, near the northern seaport of Huaura.
Disappointed in his object, Almagro prepared to march on Cuzco, — the capital, as he regarded it, of his own jurisdiction, — to get possession of that city, and there make preparations to meet his adversary in the field. Sotelo was sent forward with a small corps in advance. He experienced no opposition from the now defenceless citizens; the government of the place was again restored to the hands of the men of Chili, and their young leader soon appeared at the head of his battalions, and established his winter-quarters in the Inca capital.
Here, the jealousy of the rival captains broke out into an open feud. It was ended by the death of Sotelo, treacherously assassinated in his own apartment by Garcia de Alvarado. Almagro, greatly outraged by this atrocity, was the more indignant, as he felt himself too weak to punish the offender. He smothered his resentment for the present, affecting to treat the dangerous officer with more distinguished favor. But Alvarado was not the dupe of this specious behaviour. He felt that he had forfeited the confidence of his commander. In revenge, he laid a plot to betray him; and Almagro, driven to the necessity of self-defence, imitated the example of his officer, by entering his house with a party of armed men, who, laying violent hands on the insurgent, slew him on the spot. 6
6 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 10 — 14. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 147.
Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. — Carta de Barrio Nuevo, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6 lib. 10, cap. 13; dec. 7 lib. 3 cap. 1, 5.
This irregular proceeding was followed by the best consequences. The seditious schemes of Alvarado perished with him. The seeds of insubordination were eradicated, and from that moment Almagro experienced only implicit obedience and the most loyal support from his followers. From that hour, too, his own character seemed to be changed; he relied far less on others than on himself, and developed resources not to have been anticipated in one of his years; for he had hardly reached the age of twenty-two. 7 From this time he displayed an energy and forecast, which proved him, in despite of his youth, not unequal to the trying emergencies of the situation in which it was his unhappy lot to be placed.
7 “Hico mas que su edad requeria, porque seria de edad de veinte i dos anos.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 20.
He instantly set about providing for the wants of his men, and strained every nerve to get them in good fighting order for the approaching campaign. He replenished his treasury with a large amount of silver which he drew from the mines of La Plata Saltpetre, obtained in abundance in the neighbourhood of Cuzco, furnished the material for gunpowder. He caused cannon, some of large dimensions, to be cast under the superintendence of Pedro de Candia, the Greek, who, it may be remembered, had first come into the country with Pizarro, and who, with a number of his countrymen, — Levantines, as they were called, — was well acquainted with this manufacture. Under their care, fire-arms were made, together with cuirasses and helmets, in which silver was mingled with copper, 8 and of so excellent a quality, that they might vie, says an old soldier of the time, with those from the workshops of Milan. 9 Almagro received a seasonable supply, moreover, from a source scarcely to have been expected. This was from Manco, the wandering Inca, who, detesting the memory of Pizarro, transferred to the young Almagro the same friendly feelings which he had formerly borne to his father; heightened, it may be, by the consideration that Indian blood flowed in the veins of the young commander. From this quarter Almagro obtained a liberal supply of swords, spears, shields, and arms and armour of every description, chiefly taken by the Inca at the memorable siege of Cuzco. He also received the gratifying assurance, that the latter would support him with a detachment of native troops when he opened the campaign.
8 “Y demas de esto hico armas para la Gente de su Real, que no las tenia, de pasta de Plata, i Cobre, mezclado, de que salen mui buenos Coseletes: haviendo corregido, demas de esto, todas las armas de la Tierra; de manera, que el que menos Armas tenia entre su Gente, era Cota, i Coracinas, o Coselete, i Celadas de la mesma Pasta, que los Indios hacen diestramente, por muestras de las Milan.” Zarate, Conq. de Peru, lib. 4, cap. 14.]
9 “Hombres de armas con tan buenas celadas borgonesas como se hacen en Milan.” Carta de Ventura Beltran al Emperador, Ms desde Vilcas, 8 Octubre, 1542.]
Before making a final appeal to arms, however, Almagro resolved to try the effect of negotiation with the new governor. In the spring, or early in the summer, of 1542, he sent an embassy to the latter, then at Lima, in which he deprecated the necessity of taking arms against an officer of the Crown. His only desire, he said, was to vindicate his own rights; to secure the possession of New Toledo, the province bequeathed to him by his father, and from which he had been most unjustly excluded by Pizarro. He did not dispute the governor’s authority over New Castile, as the country was designated which had been assigned to the marquess; and he concluded by proposing that each party should remain within his respective territory until the determination of the Court of Castile could be made known to them. To this application, couched in respectful terms, Almagro received no answer.
Frustrated in his hopes of a peaceful accommodation, the young captain now saw that nothing was left but the arbitrament of arms. Assembling his troops, preparatory to his departure from the capital, he made them a brief address. He protested that the step which he and his brave companions were about to take was not an act of rebellion against the Crown. It was forced on them by the conduct of the governor himself. The commission of that officer gave him no authority over the territory of New Toledo, settled on Almagro’s father, and by his father bequeathed to him. If Vaca de Castro, by exceeding the limits of his authority, drove him to hostilities, the blood spilt in the quarrel would lie on the head of that commander, not on his. “In the assassination of Pizarro,” he continued, “we took that justice into our own hands which elsewhere was denied us. It is the same now, in our contest with the royal governor. We are as true-hearted and loyal subjects of the Crown as he is.” And he concluded by invoking his soldiers to stand by him heart and hand in the approaching contest, in which they were all equally interested with himself.
The appeal was not made to an insensible audience. There were few among them who did not feel that their fortunes were indissolubly connected with those of their commander; and while they had little to expect from the austere character of the governor, they were warmly attached to the person of their young chief, who, with all the popular qualities of his father, excited additional sympathy from the circumstances of his age and his forlorn condition. Laying their hands on the cross, placed on an altar raised for the purpose, the officers and soldiers severally swore to brave every peril with Almagro, and remain true to him to the last.
In point of numbers, his forces had not greatly strengthened since his departure from Lima. He mustered but little more than five hundred in all; but among them were his father’s veterans, well seasoned by many an Indian campaign. He had about two hundred horse, many of them clad in complete mail, a circumstance not too common in these wars, where a stuffed doublet of cotton was often the only panoply of the warrior. His infantry, formed of pikemen and arquebusiers, was excellently armed. But his strength lay in his heavy ordnance, consisting of sixteen pieces, eight large and eight smaller guns, or falconets, as they were called, forming, says one who saw it, a beautiful park of artillery, that would have made a brave show on the citadel of Burgos. 10 The little army, in short, though not imposing from its numbers, was under as good discipline, and as well appointed, as any that ever fought on the fields of Peru; much better than any which Almagro’s own father or Pizarro ever led into the field and won their conquests with. Putting himself at the head of his gallant company, the chieftain sallied forth from the walls of Cuzco about midsummer, in 1542, and directed his march towards the coast in expectation of meeting the enemy. 11
10 “El artilleria hera suficiente para hazer bateria en el castillo de Burgos.” Dicho del Capitan Francisco de Carvajal sobre la pregunta 38 de la informacion hecha en el Cuzco en 1543, a favor de Vaca de Castro, Ms.]
11 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. — Garcilasso, Com. Real, Real., Parte 2, lib. 2, cap. 13. — Carta del Cabildo de Arequipa al Emperador, San Joan de la Frontera, Ms., 24 de Sep. 1542 — Herrera, Hist. General, dez lib. 3, cap. 1, 2.
While the events detailed in the preceding pages were passing, Vaca de Castro, whom we left at Quito in the preceding year, was advancing slowly towards the south. His first act, after leaving that city, showed his resolution to enter into no compromise with the assassins of Pizarro. Benalcazar, the distinguished officer whom I have mentioned as having early given in his adherence to him, had protected one of the principal conspirators, his personal friend, who had come into his power, and had facilitated his escape. The governor, indignant at the proceeding, would listen to no explanation, but ordered the offending officer to return to his own district of Popayan. It was a bold step, in the precarious state of his own fortunes.
As the governor pursued his march, he was well received by the people on the way; and when he entered the city of San Miguel, he was welcomed with loyal enthusiasm by the inhabitants, who readily acknowledged his authority though they showed little alacrity to take their chance with him in the coming struggle.
After lingering a long time in each of these places, he resumed his march and reached the camp of Alonso de Alvarado at Huaura, early in 1542. Holguin had established his quarters at some little distance from his rival; for a jealousy had sprung up, as usual, between these two captains, who both aspired to the supreme command of Captain–General of the army. The office of governor, conferred on Vaca de Castro, might seem to include that of commander-inchief of the forces. But De Castro was a scholar, bred to the law; and, whatever authority he might arrogate to himself in civil matters, the two captains imagined that the military department he would resign into the hands of others. They little knew the character of the man.
Though possessed of no more military science than belonged to every cavalier in that martial age, the governor knew that to avow his ignorance, and to resign the management of affairs into the hands of others, would greatly impair his authority, if not bring him into contempt with the turbulent spirits among whom he was now thrown. He had both sagacity and spirit, and trusted to be able to supply his own deficiencies by the experience of others. His position placed the services of the ablest men in the country at his disposal, and with the aid of their counsels he felt quite competent to decide on his plan of operations, and to enforce the execution of it. He knew, moreover, that the only way to allay the jealousy of the two parties in the present crisis was to assume himself the office which was the cause of their dissension.
Still he approached his ambitious officers with great caution; and the representations, which he made through some judicious persons who had the most intimate access to them, were so successful, that both were in a short time prevailed on to relinquish their pretensions in his favor. Holguin, the more unreasonable of the two, then waited on him in his rival’s quarters, where the governor had the further satisfaction to reconcile him to Alonso de Alvarado. It required some address, as their jealousy of each other had proceeded to such lengths that a challenge had passed between them.
Harmony being thus restored, the licentiate passed over to Holguin’s camp, where he was greeted with salvoes of artillery, and loud acclamations of “Viva el Rey” from the loyal soldiery. Ascending a platform covered with velvet, he made an animated harangue to the troops; his commission was read aloud by the secretary; and the little army tendered their obedience to him as the representative of the Crown.
Vaca de Castro’s next step was to send off the greater part of his force, in the direction of Xauxa, while, at the head of a small corps, he directed his march towards Lima. Here he was received with lively demonstrations of joy by the citizens, who were generally attached to the cause of Pizarro, the founder and constant patron of their capital. Indeed, the citizens had lost no time after Almagro’s departure in expelling his creatures from the municipality, and reasserting their allegiance. With these favorable dispositions towards himself, the governor found no difficulty in obtaining a considerable loan of money from the wealthier inhabitants. But he was less successful, at first, in his application for horses and arms, since the harvest had been too faithfully gleaned, already, by the men of Chili. As, however, he prolonged his stay some time in the capital, he obtained important supplies, before he left it, both of arms and ammunition, while he added to his force by a considerable body of recruits. 12
12 Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 1, cap. 1. — Carta de Barrio Nuevo, Ms. — Carta de Benalcazar al Emperador, Ms.
As he was thus employed, he received tidings that the enemy had left Cuzco, and was on his march towards the coast. Quitting Los Reyes, therefore, with his trusty followers, Vaca de Castro marched at once to Xauxa, the appointed place of rendezvous. Here he mustered his forces, and found that they amounted to about seven hundred men. The cavalry, in which lay his strength, was superior in numbers to that of his antagonist, but neither so well mounted or armed. It included many cavaliers of birth, and well-tried soldiers, besides a number who, having great interests at stake, as possessed of large estates in the country, had left them at the call of government, to enlist under its banners. 13 His infantry, besides pikes, was indifferently well supplied with fire-arms; but he had nothing to show in the way of artillery except three or four ill-mounted falconets. Yet, notwithstanding these deficiencies, the royal army, if so insignificant a force can deserve that name, was so far superior in numbers to that of his rival, that the one might be thought, on the whole, to be no unequal match for the other. 14
13 The Municipality of Arequipa, most of whose members were present in the army, stoutly urge their claims to a compensation for thus promptly leaving their estates, and taking up arms at the call of government. Without such reward, they say, their patriotic example will not often be followed. The document, which is important for its historical details, may be found in the Castilian, in Appendix, No. 13.]
14 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 15. — Carta de Barrio Nuevo, Ms Chapter VI
Carbajal notices the politic manner in which his commander bribed recruits into his service, — paying them with promises and fair words when ready money failed him. “Dando a unos dineros, e a otros armas i caballos, i a otros palabras, i a otros promesas, i a otros graziosas respuestas de lo que con el negoziaban para tenerlos a todos muy conttentos i presttos en el servicio de S. M. quando fuese menestter.” Dicho del Capitan Francisco de Carbajal sobre la informacion hecha en el Cuzco en 1543, favor de Vaca de Castro, Ms.]
The reader, familiar with the large masses employed in European warfare, may smile at the paltry forces of the Spaniards. But in the New World, where a countless host of natives went for little, five hundred well-trained Europeans were regarded as a formidable body. No army, up to the period before us, had ever risen to a thousand. Yet it is not numbers, as I have already been led to remark, that give importance to a conflict; but the consequences that depend on it, — the magnitude of the stake, and the skill and courage of the players. The more limited the means, even, the greater may be the science shown in the use of them; until, forgetting the poverty of the materials, we fix our attention on the conduct of the actors, and the greatness of the results. While at Xauxa, Vaca de Castro received an embassy from Gonzalo Pizarro, returned from his expedition from the “Land of Cinnamon,” in which that chief made an offer of his services in the approaching contest. The governor’s answer showed that he was not wholly averse to an accommodation with Almagro, provided it could be effected without compromising the royal authority. He was willing, perhaps, to avoid the final trial by battle, when he considered, that, from the equality of the contending forces, the issue must be extremely doubtful. He knew that the presence of Pizarro in the camp, the detested enemy of the Almagrians, would excite distrust in their bosoms that would probably baffle every effort at accommodation. Nor is it likely that the governor cared to have so restless a spirit introduced into his own councils. He accordingly sent to Gonzalo, thanking him for the promptness of his support, but courteously declined it, while he advised him to remain in his province, and repose after the fatigues of his wearisome expedition. At the same time, he assured him that he would not fail to call for his services when occasion required it. — The haughty cavalier was greatly disgusted by the repulse. 15
15 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 15.]
The governor now received such an account of Almagro’s movements as led him to suppose that he was preparing to occupy Guamanga, a fortified place of considerable strength, about thirty leagues from Xauxa. 16 Anxious to secure this post, he broke up his encampment, and by forced marches, conducted in so irregular a manner as must have placed him in great danger if his enemy had been near to profit by it, he succeeded in anticipating Almagro, and threw himself into the place while his antagonist was at Bilcas, some ten leagues distant.
16 Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 85.]
At Guamanga, Vaca de Castro received another embassy from Almagro, of similar import with the former. The young chief again deprecated the existence of hostilities between brethren of the same family, and proposed an accommodation of the quarrel on the same basis as before. To these proposals the governor now condescended to reply. It might be thought, from his answer, that he felt some compassion for the youth and inexperience of Almagro, and that he was willing to distinguish between him and the principal conspirators, provided he could detach him from their interests. But it is more probable that he intended only to amuse his enemy by a show of negotiation, while he gained time for tampering with the fidelity of his troops.
He insisted that Almagro should deliver up to him all those immediately implicated in the death of Pizarro, and should then disband his forces. On these conditions the government would pass over his treasonable practices, and he should be reinstated in the royal favor. Together with this mission, Vaca de Castro, it is reported, sent a Spaniard, disguised as an Indian, who was instructed to communicate with certain officers in Almagro’s camp, and prevail on them, if possible, to abandon his cause and return to their allegiance. Unfortunately, the disguise of the emissary was detected. He was seized, put to the torture, and, having confessed the whole of the transaction, was hanged as a spy.
Almagro laid the proceeding before his captains. The terms proffered by the governor were such as no man with a particle of honor in his nature could entertain for a moment; and Almagro’s indignation, as well as that of his companions, was heightened by the duplicity of their enemy, who could practise such insidious arts, while ostensibly engaged in a fair and open negotiation. Fearful, perhaps, lest the tempting offers of their antagonist might yet prevail over the constancy of some of the weaker spirits among them, they demanded that all negotiation should be broken off, and that they should be led at once against the enemy. 17
17 Dicho del Capitan Francisco de Carbajal sobre la informacion hecha en el Cuzco en 1543, a favor de Vaca de Castro, Ms. — Zarate, Conq del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 16. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 3, cap. 8. — Carta de Ventura Beltran, Ms. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 149
The governor, meanwhile, finding the broken country around Guamanga unfavorable for his cavalry, on which he mainly relied, drew off his forces to the neighbouring lowlands, known as the Plains of Chupas. It was the tempestuous season of the year, and for several days the storm raged wildly among the hills, and, sweeping along their sides into the valley, poured down rain, sleet, and snow on the miserable bivouacs of the soldiers, till they were drenched to the skin and nearly stiffened by the cold. 18 At length, on the sixteenth of September, 1542, the scouts brought in tidings that Almagro’s troops were advancing, with the intention, apparently, of occupying the highlands around Chupas. The war of the elements had at last subsided, and was succeeded by one of those brilliant days which are found only in the tropics. The royal camp was early in motion, as Vaca de Castro, desirous to secure the heights that commanded the valley, detached a body of arquebusiers on that service, supported by a corps of cavalry, which he soon followed with the rest of the forces. On reaching the eminence, news was brought that the enemy had come to a halt, and established himself in a strong position at less than a league’s distance.
18 “Tuvieron tan gran tempestad de agua, Truenos, i Nieve, que pensaron perecer; i amaneciendo con dia claro, i sereno” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 3, cap. 8.]
It was now late in the afternoon, and the sun was not more than two hours above the horizon. The governor hesitated to begin the action when they must so soon be overtaken by night. But Alonso de Alvarado assured him that “now was the time, for the spirits of his men were hot for fight, and it was better to take the benefit of it than to damp their ardor by delay.” The governor acquiesced, exclaiming at the same time, — “O for the might of Joshua, to stay the sun in his course!” 19 He then drew up his little army in order of battle, and made his dispositions for the attack.
19 “Yasi Vaca de Castro signio su parescer, temiendo toda via la falta del Dia, i dijo, que quisiera tener el poder de Josue, para detener el Sol.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 18.
In the centre he placed his infantry, consisting of arquebusiers and pikemen, constituting the battle, as it was called. On the flanks, he established his cavalry, placing the right wing, together with the royal standard, under charge of Alonso de Alvarado, and the left under Holguin, supported by a gallant body of cavaliers. His artillery, too insignificant to be of much account, was also in the centre. He proposed himself to lead the van, and to break the first lance with the enemy; but from this chivalrous display he was dissuaded by his officers, who reminded him that too much depended on his life to have it thus wantonly exposed. The governor contented himself, therefore, with heading a body of reserve, consisting of forty horse, to act on any quarter as occasion might require. This corps, comprising the flower of his chivalry, was chiefly drawn from Alvarado’s troop, greatly to the discontent of that captain. The governor himself rode a coal-black charger, and wore a rich surcoat of brocade over his mail, through which the habit and emblems of the knightly order of St. James, conferred on him just before his departure from Castile, were conspicuous. 20 It was a point of honor with the chivalry of the period to court danger by displaying their rank in the splendor of their military attire and the caparisons of their horses.
20 “I visto esto por el dicho senor Governador, mando dar al arma a mui gran priesa, i mando a este testigo que sacase toda la gente al campo, i el se entro en su tienda a se armar, i dende a poco salio della encima de un cavallo morcillo rabicano armado en blanco i con una ropa de brocado encima de las armas con el abito de Santiago en los pechos.” Dicho del Capitan Francisco de Carbajal sobre la informacion hecha en e Cuzco en 1543, a favor de Vaca de Castro, Ms.]
Before commencing the assault, Vaca de Castro addressed a few remarks to his soldiers, in order to remove any hesitation that some might yet feel, who recollected the displeasure shown by the emperor to the victors as well as the vanquished after the battle of Salinas. He told them that their enemies were rebels. They were in arms against him, the representative of the Crown, and it was his duty to quell this rebellion and punish the authors of it. He then caused the law to be read aloud, proclaiming the doom of traitors. By this law, Almagro and his followers had forfeited their lives and property, and the governor promised to distribute the latter among such of his men as showed the best claim to it by their conduct in the battle. This last politic promise vanquished the scruples of the most fastidious; and, having completed his dispositions in the most judicious and soldier-like manner, Vaca de Castro gave the order to advance. 21
21 The governor’s words, says Carbajal, who witnessed their effect, stirred the heart of the troops, so that they went to the battle as to a ball. “En pocas palabras comprehendio tan grandes cosas que la gente de S. M. covro tan grande animo con ellas, que tan determinadamente se partieron de alli para ir a los enemigos como si fueron a fiestas donde estuvieran convidados.” Dicho del Capitan Francisco de Carbajal, sobre la informacion hecha en el Cuzco en 1543, a favor de Vaca de Castro, Ms.
As the forces turned a spur of the hills which had hitherto screened them from their enemies, they came in sight of the latter, formed along the crest of a gentle eminence, with their snow-white banners, the distinguishing color of the Almagrians, floating above their heads, and their bright arms flinging back the broad rays of the evening sun. Almagro’s disposition of his troops was not unlike that of his adversary. In the centre was his excellent artillery, covered by his arquebusiers and spearmen; while his cavalry rode on the flanks. The troops on the left he proposed to lead in person. He had chosen his position with judgment, as the character of the ground gave full play to his guns, which opened an effective fire on the assailants as they drew near. Shaken by the storm of shot, Vaca de Castro saw the difficulty of advancing in open view of the hostile battery. He took the counsel, therefore, of Francisco de Carbajal, who undertook to lead the forces by a circuitous, but safer, route. This is the first occasion on which the name of this veteran appears in these American wars, where it was afterwards to acquire a melancholy notoriety. He had come to the country after the campaigns of forty years in Europe, where he had studied the art of war under the Great Captain, Gonsalvo de Cordova. Though now far advanced in age, he possessed all the courage and indomitable energy of youth, and well exemplified the lessons he had studied under his great commander. Taking advantage of a winding route that sloped round the declivity of the hills, he conducted the troops in such a manner, that, until they approached quite near the enemy, they were protected by the intervening ground. While thus advancing, they were assailed on the left flank by the Indian battalions under Paullo, the Inca Manco’s brother; but a corps of musketeers, directing a scattering fire among them, soon rid the Spaniards of this annoyance. When, at length, the royal troops, rising above the hill, again came into view of Almagro’s lines, the artillery opened on them with fatal effect. It was but for a moment, however, as, from some unaccountable cause, the guns were pointed at such an angle, that, although presenting an obvious mark, by far the greater part of the shot passed over their heads. Whether this was the result of treachery, or merely of awkwardness, is uncertain. The artillery was under charge of the engineer, Pedro de Candia. This man, who, it may be remembered, was one of the thirteen that so gallantly stood by Pizarro in the island of Gallo, had fought side by side with his leader through the whole of the Conquest. He had lately, however, conceived some disgust with him, and had taken part with the faction of Almagro. The death of his old commander, he may perhaps have thought, had settled all their differences, and he was now willing to return to his former allegiance. At least, it is said, that, at this very time, he was in correspondence with Vaca de Castro. Almagro himself seems to have had no doubt of his treachery. For, after remonstrating in vain with him on his present conduct, he ran him through the body, and the unfortunate cavalier fell lifeless on the field. Then, throwing himself on one of the guns, Almagro gave it a new direction, and that so successfully, that, when it was discharged, it struck down several of the cavalry. 22
22 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 17–19. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 3, cap. 11. — Dicho del Capitan Francisco de Carbajal sobre la informacion hecha en el Cuzco en 1543, a favor de Vaca de Castro, Ms. — Carta del Cabildo de Arequipa al Emperador, Ms. — Carta de Ventura Beltran, Ms. — Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 149.
According to Garcilasso, whose guns usually do more execution than those of any other authority, seventeen men were killed by this wonderful shot. See Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 16.
The firing now took better effect, and by one volley a whole file of the royal infantry was swept off, and though others quickly stepped in to fill up the ranks, the men, impatient of their sufferings, loudly called on the troopers, who had halted for a moment, to quicken their advance. 23 This delay had been caused by Carbajal’s desire to bring his own guns to bear on the opposite columns. But the design was quickly abandoned; the clumsy ordnance was left on the field, and orders were given to the cavalry to charge; the trumpets sounded, and, crying their war-cries, the bold cavaliers struck their spurs into their steeds, and rode at full speed against the enemy.
23 The officers drove the men according to Zarate, at the point of their swords, to take the places of their fallen comrades. “Porque vn tiro llevo toda vna hilera, e hico abrir el Escuadron, i los Capitanes pusieron gran diligencia en hacerlo cerrar, amenacando de muerte a los Soldados, con las Espadas desenvainadas, i se cerro.” Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 1.]
Well had it been for Almagro, if he had remained firm on the post which gave him such advantage. But from a false point of honor, he thought it derogatory to a brave knight passively to await the assault, and, ordering his own men to charge, the hostile squadrons, rapidly advancing against each other, met midway on the plain. The shock was terrible. Horse and rider reeled under the force of it. The spears flew into shivers; 24 and the cavaliers, drawing their swords, or wielding their maces and battle-axes, — though some of the royal troopers were armed only with a common axe, — dealt their blows with all the fury of civil hate. It was a fearful struggle, not merely of man against man, but, to use the words of an eyewitness, of brother against brother, and friend against friend. 25 No quarter was asked; for the wrench that had been strong enough to tear asunder the dearest ties of kindred left no hold for humanity. The excellent arms of the Almagrians counterbalanced the odds of numbers; but the royal partisans gained some advantage by striking at the horses instead of the mailed bodies of their antagonists.
24 “Se encontraron de suerte, que casi todas las lancas quebraron, quedando muchos muertos, i caidos de ambas partes.” (Ibid., ubi supra.) Zarate writes on this occasion with the spirit and strength of Thucydides. He was not present, but came into the country the following year, when he gleaned the particulars of the battle from the best informed persons there, to whom his position gave him ready access.]
25 It is the language of the Conquerors themselves, who, in their letter to the Emperor, compare the action to the great battle of Ravenna. “Fue tan renida i porfiada, que despues de la de Rebena, no se ha visto entre tan poca gente mas cruel batalla, donde hermanos a hermanos, ni deudos a deudos, ni amigos a amigos no se davan vida uno a otro.” Carta de Cabildo de Arequipa al Emperador. Ms.]
The infantry, meanwhile, on both sides, kept up a sharp cross-fire from their arquebuses, which did execution on the ranks of the cavaliers, as well as on one another. But Almagro’s battery of heavy guns, now well directed, mowed down the advancing columns of foot. The latter, staggering, began to fall back from the terrible fire, when Francisco de Carbajal, throwing himself before them, cried out, “Shame on you, my men! Do you give way now? I am twice as good a mark for the enemy as any of you!” He was a very large man; and, throwing off his steel helmet and cuirass, that he might have no advantage over his followers, he remained lightly attired in his cotton doublet, when, swinging his partisan over his head, he sprang boldly forward through blinding volumes of smoke and a tempest of musket-balls, and, supported by the bravest of his troops, overpowered the gunners, and made himself master of their pieces.
The shades of night had now, for some time, been coming thicker and thicker over the field. But still the deadly struggle went on in the darkness, as the red and white badges intimated the respective parties, and their war-cries rose above the din, — “Vaca de Castro y el Rey,” — “Almagro y el Rey,” — while both invoked the aid of their military apostle St. James. Holguin, who commanded the royalists on the left, pierced through by two musket-balls, had been slain early in the action. He had made himself conspicuous by a rich sobrevest of white velvet over his armour. Still a gallant band of cavaliers maintained the fight so valiantly on that quarter, that the Almagrians found it difficult to keep their ground. 26
26 The battle was so equally contested, says Beltran, one of Vaca de Castro’s captains, that it was long doubtful on which side victory was to incline. “I la batalla estuvo mui gran rato en peso sin conoscerse vitoria de la una parte a la otra.” Carta de Ventura Beltran, Ms.
It fared differently on the right, where Alonso de Alvarado commanded. He was there encountered by Almagro in person, who fought worthy of his name. By repeated charges on his opponent, he endeavoured to bear down his squadrons, so much worse mounted and worse armed than his own. Alvarado resisted with undiminished courage; but his numbers had been thinned, as we have seen, before the battle, to supply the governor’s reserve, and, fairly overpowered by the superior strength of his adversary, who had already won two of the royal banners, he was slowly giving ground. “Take, but kill not!” shouted the generous young chief, who felt himself sure of victory. 27
27 “Gritaba, Victoria; i decia, Prender i no matar.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 3, cap. 11.]
But at this crisis, Vaca de Castro, who, with his reserve, had occupied a rising ground that commanded the field of action, was fully aware that the time had now come for him to take part in the struggle. He had long strained his eyes through the gloom to watch the movements of the combatants, and received constant tidings how the fight was going. He no longer hesitated, but, calling on his men to follow, led off boldly into the thickest of the melee to the support of his stouthearted officer. The arrival of a new corps on the field, all fresh for action, gave another turn to the tide. 28 Alvarado’s men took heart and rallied. Almagro’s, though driven back by the fury of the assault, quickly returned against their assailants. Thirteen of Vaca de Castro’s cavaliers fell dead from their saddles. But it was the last effort of the Almagrians. Their strength, though not their spirit, failed them. They gave way in all directions, and, mingling together in the darkness, horse, foot, and artillery, they trampled one another down, as they made the best of their way from the press of their pursuers. Almagro used every effort to stay them. He performed miracles of valor, says one who witnessed them; but he was borne along by the tide, and, though he seemed to court death, by the freedom with which he exposed his person to danger yet he escaped without a wound.
28 The letter of the municipality of Arequipa gives the governor credit for deciding the fate of the day by this movement, and the writers express their “admiration of the gallantry and courage he displayed, so little to have been expected from his age and profession.” See the original in Appendix, No. 13.]
Others there were of his company, and among them a young cavalier named Geronimo de Alvarado, who obstinately refused to quit the field; and shouting out, — “We slew Pizarro! we killed the tyrant!” they threw themselves on the lances of their conquerors, preferring death on the battle-field to the ignominious doom of the gibbet. 29
29 “Se arrojaron en los Enemigos, como desesperados, hiriendo a todas partes, diciendo cada vno por su nombre: Yo soi Fulano, que mate al Marques; i asi anduvieron hasta, que los hicieron pedacos.’ Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 19.]
It was nine o’clock when the battle ceased, though the firing was heard at intervals over the field at a much later hour, as some straggling party of fugitives were overtaken by their pursuers. Yet many succeeded in escaping in the obscurity of night, while some, it is said, contrived to elude pursuit in a more singular way; tearing off the badges from the corpses of their enemies, they assumed them for themselves, and, mingling in the ranks as followers of Vaca de Castro, joined in the pursuit. That commander, at length, fearing some untoward accident, and that the fugitives, should they rally again under cover of the darkness, might inflict some loss on their pursuers, caused his trumpets to sound, and recalled his scattered forces under their banners. All night they remained under arms on the field, which, so lately the scene of noisy strife, was now hushed in silence, broken only by the groans of the wounded and the dying. The natives, who had hung, during the fight, like a dark cloud, round the skirts of the mountains, contemplating with gloomy satisfaction the destruction of their enemies, now availed themselves of the obscurity to descend, like a pack of famished wolves, upon the plains, where they stripped the bodies of the slain, and even of the living, but disabled wretches, who had in vain dragged themselves into the bushes for concealment. The following morning, Vaca de Castro gave orders that the wounded — those who had not perished in the cold damps of the night — should be committed to the care of the surgeons, while the priests were occupied with administering confession and absolution to the dying. Four large graves or pits were dug, in which the bodies of the slain — the conquerors and the conquered — were heaped indiscriminately together. But the remains of Alvarez de Holguin and several other cavaliers of distinction were transported to Guamanga, where they were buried with the solemnities suited to their rank; and the tattered banners won from their vanquished countrymen waved over their monuments, the melancholy trophies of their victory.
The number of killed is variously reported, — from three hundred to five hundred on both sides. 30 The mortality was greatest among the conquerors, who suffered more from the cannon of the enemy before the action, than the latter suffered in the rout that followed it. The number of wounded was still greater; and full half of the survivors of Almagro’s party were made prisoners. Many, indeed, escaped from the field to the neighbouring town of Guamanga, where they took refuge in the churches and monasteries. But their asylum was not respected, and they were dragged forth and thrown into prison. Their brave young commander fled with a few followers only to Cuzco, where he was instantly arrested by the magistrates whom he had himself placed over the city. 31
30 Zarate estimates the number at three hundred. Uscategui, who belonged to the Almagrian party, and Garcilasso, both rate it as high as five hundred.]
31 The particulars of the action are gathered from Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Ventura Beltran, Ms. — Zarate, Zarate Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 17–20. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Dicho del Capitan Francisco de Carbajal sobre la informacion hecha en el Cuzco en 1543 a favor de Vaca de Castro, Ms. — Carta del Cabildo de Arequipa al Emperador, Ms. — Carta de Barrio Nuevo, Ms. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 149. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 15–18. — Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms.
Many of these authorities were personally present on the field; and it is rare that the details of a battle are drawn from more authentic testimony. The student of history will not be surprised that in these details there should be the greatest discrepancy.]
At Guamanga, Vaca de Castro appointed a commission, with the Licentiate de la Gama at its head, for the trial of the prisoners; and justice was not satisfied, till forty had been condemned to death, and thirty others — some of them with the loss of one or more of their members — sent into banishment. 32 Such severe reprisals have been too common with the Spaniards in their civil feuds. Strange that they should so blindly plunge into these, with this dreadful doom for the vanquished!
32 Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. — Carta de Ventura Beltran, Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 21.
The loyal burghers of Arequipa seem to have been well contented with these executions. “If night had not overtaken us,” they say, alluding to the action, in their letter to the emperor, “your Majesty would have had no reason to complain; but what was omitted then is made up now, since the governor goes on quartering every day some one or other of the traitors who escaped from the field.” See the original in Appendix, No. 13.
From the scene of this bloody tragedy, the governor proceeded to Cuzco, which he entered at the head of his victorious battalions, with all the pomp and military display of a conqueror. He maintained a corresponding state in his way of living, at the expense of a sneer from some, who sarcastically contrasted this ostentatious profusion with the economical reforms he subsequently introduced into the finances. 33 But Vaca de Castro was sensible of the effect of this outward show on the people generally, and disdained no means of giving authority to his office. His first act was to determine the fate of his prisoner, Almagro. A council of war was held. Some were for sparing the unfortunate chief, in consideration of his youth, and the strong cause of provocation he had received. But the majority were of opinion that such mercy could not be extended to the leader of the rebels, and that his death was indispensable to the permanent tranquillity of the country.
33 Herrera, Hist. General, dec 7, lib. 4, cap. 1.
When led to execution in the great square of Cuzco, — the same spot where his father had suffered but a few years before, — Almagro exhibited the most perfect composure, though, as the herald proclaimed aloud the doom of the traitor, he indignantly denied that he was one. He made no appeal for mercy to his judges, but simply requested that his bones might be laid by the side of his father’s. He objected to having his eyes bandaged, as was customary on such occasions, and, after confession, he devoutly embraced the cross, and submitted his neck to the stroke of the executioner. His remains, agreeably to his request, were transported to the monastery of La Merced, where they were deposited side by side with those of his unfortunate parent. 34
34 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 21. — Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 6, cap. 1.]
There have been few names, indeed, in the page of history, more unfortunate than that of Almagro. Yet the fate of the son excites a deeper sympathy than that of the father; and this, not merely on account of his youth, and the peculiar circumstances of his situation. He possessed many of the good qualities of the elder Almagro, with a frank and manly nature, in which the bearing of the soldier was somewhat softened by the refinement of a better education than is to be found in the license of a camp. His career, though short, gave promise of considerable talent, which required only a fair field for its development. But he was the child of misfortune, and his morning of life was overcast by clouds and tempests. If his character, naturally benignant, sometimes showed the fiery sparkles of the vindictive Indian temper, some apology may be found, not merely in his blood, but in the circumstances of his situation. He was more sinned against than sinning; and, if conspiracy could ever find a justification, it must be in a case like his, where, borne down by injuries heaped on his parent and himself, he could obtain no redress from the only quarter whence he had a right to look for it. With him, the name of Almagro became extinct, and the faction of Chili, so long the terror of the land, passed away for ever.
While these events were occurring in Cuzco, the governor learned that Gonzalo Pizarro had arrived at Lima, where he showed himself greatly discontented with the state of things in Peru. He loudly complained that the government of the country, after his brother’s death, had not been placed in his hands; and, as reported by some, he was now meditating schemes for getting possession of it. Vaca de Castro well knew that there would be no lack of evil counsellors to urge Gonzalo to this desperate step; and, anxious to extinguish the spark of insurrection before it had been fanned by these turbulent spirits into a flame, he detached a strong body to Lima to secure that capital. At the same time he commanded the presence of Gonzalo Pizarro in Cuzco.
That chief did not think it prudent to disregard the summons; and shortly after entered the Inca capital, at the head of a well-armed body of cavaliers. He was at once admitted into the governor’s presence, when the latter dismissed his guard, remarking that he had nothing to fear from a brave and loyal knight like Pizarro. He then questioned him as to his late adventures in Canelas, and showed great sympathy for his extraordinary sufferings. He took care not to alarm his jealousy by any allusion to his ambitious schemes, and concluded by recommending him, now that the tranquillity of the country was reestablished, to retire and seek the repose he so much needed, on his valuable estates at Charcas. Gonzalo Pizarro, finding no ground opened for a quarrel with the cool and politic governor, and probably feeling that he was, at least not now, in sufficient strength to warrant it, thought it prudent to take the advice, and withdrew to La Plata, where he busied himself in working those rich mines of silver that soon put him in condition for a more momentous enterprise than any he had yet attempted. 35
35 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 4, cap. 1; lib. 6, cap 3. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru lib. 1, cap. 22.]
Thus rid of his formidable competitor, Vaca de Castro occupied himself with measures for the settlement of the country. He began with his army, a part of which he had disbanded. But many cavaliers still remained, pressing their demands for a suitable recompense for their services. These they were not disposed to undervalue, and the governor was happy to rid himself of their importunities by employing them on distant expeditions, among which was the exploration of the country watered by the great Rio de la Plata. The boiling spirits of the high-mettled cavaliers, without some such vent, would soon have thrown the whole country again into a state of fermentation.
His next concern was to provide laws for the better government of the colony. He gave especial care to the state of the Indian population; and established schools for teaching them Christianity. By various provisions, he endeavoured to secure them from the exactions of their conquerors, and he encouraged the poor natives to transfer their own residence to the communities of the white men. He commanded the caciques to provide supplies for the tambos, or houses for the accommodation of travellers, which lay in their neighbourhood, by which regulation he took away from the Spaniards a plausible apology for rapine, and greatly promoted facility of intercourse. He was watchful over the finances, much dilapidated in the late troubles, and in several instances retrenched what he deemed excessive repartimientos among the Conquerors. This last act exposed him to much odium from the objects of it. But his measures were so just and impartial, that he was supported by public opinion. 36
36 Ibid., ubi supra. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 6, cap. 2.]
Indeed, Vaca de Castro’s conduct, from the hour of his arrival in the country, had been such as to command respect, and prove him competent to the difficult post for which he had been selected. Without funds, without troops, he had found the country, on his landing, in a state of anarchy; yet, by courage and address, he had gradually acquired sufficient strength to quell the insurrection. Though no soldier, he had shown undaunted spirit and presence of mind in the hour of action, and made his military preparations with a forecast and discretion that excited the admiration of the most experienced veterans.
If he may be thought to have abused the advantages of victory by cruelty towards the conquered, it must be allowed that he was not influenced by any motives of a personal nature. He was a lawyer, bred in high notions of royal prerogative. Rebellion he looked upon as an unpardonable crime; and, if his austere nature was unrelenting in the exaction of justice, he lived in an iron age, when justice was rarely tempered by mercy.
In his subsequent regulations for the settlement of the country, he showed equal impartiality and wisdom. The colonists were deeply sensible of the benefits of his administration, and afforded the best commentary on his services by petitioning the Court of Castile to continue him in the government of Peru. 37 Unfortunately, such was not the policy of the Crown.
37 “I asi lo escrivieron al Rei la Ciudad del Cuzco, la Villa de la Plata, i otras Comunidades, suplicandole, que los dexase por Governador a Vaca de Castro, como Persona, que procedia con rectitud, i que ia entendia el Govierno de aquellos Reinos.” Herrera, Ibid., loc. cit.]
Before continuing the narrative of events in Peru, we must turn to the mother-country, where important changes were in progress in respect to the administration of the colonies.
Since his accession to the Crown, Charles the Fifth had been chiefly engrossed by the politics of Europe, where a theatre was opened more stimulating to his ambition than could be found in a struggle with the barbarian princes of the New World. In this quarter, therefore, an empire almost unheeded, as it were, had been suffered to grow up, until it had expanded into dimensions greater than those of his European dominions, and destined soon to become far more opulent. A scheme of government had, it is true, been devised, and laws enacted from time to time for the regulation of the colonies. But these laws were often accommodated less to the interests of the colonies themselves, than to those of the parent country; and, when contrived in a better spirit, they were but imperfectly executed; for the voice of authority, however loudly proclaimed at home, too often died away in feeble echoes before it had crossed the waters. This state of things, and, indeed, the manner in which the Spanish territories in the New World had been originally acquired, were most unfortunate both for the conquered races and their masters. Had the provinces gained by the Spaniards been the fruit of peaceful acquisition, — of barter and negotiation, — or had their conquest been achieved under the immediate direction of government, the interests of the natives would have been more carefully protected. From the superior civilization of the Indians in the Spanish American colonies, they still continued after the Conquest to remain on the ground, and to mingle in the same communities, with the white men; in this forming an obvious contrast to the condition of our own aborigines, who, shrinking from the contact of civilization, have withdrawn, as the latter has advanced, deeper and deeper into the heart of the wilderness. But the South American Indian was qualified by his previous institutions for a more refined legislation than could be adapted to the wild hunters of the forest; and, had the sovereign been there in person to superintend his conquests, he could never have suffered so large a portion of his vassals to be wantonly sacrificed to the cupidity and cruelty of the handful of adventurers who subdued them.
But, as it was, the affair of reducing the country was committed to the hands of irresponsible individuals, soldiers of fortune, desperate adventurers, who entered on conquest as a game, which they were to play in the most unscrupulous manner, with little care but to win it. Receiving small encouragement from the government, they were indebted to their own valor for success; and the right of conquest, they conceived, extinguished every existing right in the unfortunate natives. The lands, the persons, of the conquered races were parcelled out and appropriated by the victors as the legitimate spoils of victory; and outrages were perpetrated every day, at the contemplation of which humanity shudders.
These outrages, though nowhere perpetrated on so terrific a scale as in the islands, where, in a few years, they had nearly annihilated the native population, were yet of sufficient magnitude in Peru to call down the vengeance of Heaven on the heads of their authors; and the Indian might feel that this vengeance was not long delayed, when he beheld his oppressors, wrangling over their miserable spoil, and turning their swords against each other. Peru, as already mentioned, was subdued by adventurers, for the most part, of a lower and more ferocious stamp than those who followed the banner of Cortes. The character of the followers partook, in some measure, of that of the leaders in their respective enterprises. It was a sad fatality for the Incas; for the reckless soldiers of Pizarro were better suited to contend with the fierce Aztec than with the more refined and effeminate Peruvian. Intoxicated by the unaccustomed possession of power, and without the least notion of the responsibilities which attached to their situation as masters of the land, they too often abandoned themselves to the indulgence of every whim which cruelty or caprice could dictate. Not unfrequently, says an unsuspicious witness, I have seen the Spaniards, long after the Conquest, amuse themselves by hunting down the natives with bloodhounds for mere sport, or in order to train their dogs to the game! 1 The most unbounded scope was given to licentiousness. The young maiden was torn without remorse from the arms of her family to gratify the passion of her brutal conqueror. 2 The sacred houses of the Virgins of the Sun were broken open and violated, and the cavalier swelled his harem with a troop of Indian girls, making it seem that the Crescent would have been a much more fitting symbol for his banner than the immaculate Cross. 3
1 “Espanoles hai que crian perros carniceros i los avezan a matar Indios, lo qual procuran a las veces por pasatiempo, i ver si lo hacen bien los perros.” Relacion que dio el Provisor Morales sobre las cosas que convenian provarse en el Peru, Ms.]
2 “Que los Justicias dan cedulas de Anaconas que por otros terminos los hacen esclavos e vivir contra su voluntad, diciendo: Por la presente damos licencia a vos Fulano, para que os podais servir de tal Indio o de tal India e lo podais tomar e sacar donde quiera que lo hallaredes.” Rel. del Provisor Morales, Ms.]
3 “Es general el vicio del amancebamiento con Indias, i algunos tienen cantidad dellas como en serrallo.” Ibid., Ms.]
But the dominant passion of the Spaniard was the lust of gold. For this he shrunk from no toil himself, and was merciless in his exactions of labor from his Indian slave. Unfortunately, Peru abounded in mines which too well repaid this labor; and human life was the item of least account in the estimate of the Conquerors. Under his Incas, the Peruvian was never suffered to be idle; but the task imposed on him was always proportioned to his strength. He had his seasons of rest and refreshment, and was well protected against the inclemency of the weather. Every care was shown for his personal safety. But the Spaniards, while they taxed the strength of the native to the utmost, deprived him of the means of repairing it, when exhausted. They suffered the provident arrangements of the Incas to fall into decay. The granaries were emptied; the flocks were wasted in riotous living. They were slaughtered to gratify a mere epicurean whim, and many a llama was destroyed solely for the sake of the brains, — a dainty morsel, much coveted by the Spaniards. 4 So reckless was the spirit of destruction after the Conquest, says Ondegardo, the wise governor of Cuzco, that in four years more of these animals perished than in four hundred, in the times of the Incas. 5 The flocks, once so numerous over the broad table-lands, were now thinned to a scanty number, that sought shelter in the fastnesses of the Andes. The poor Indian, without food, without the warm fleece which furnished him a defence against the cold, now wandered half-starved and naked over the plateau. Even those who had aided the Spaniards in the conquest fared no better; and many an Inca noble roamed a mendicant over the lands where he once held rule, and if driven, perchance, by his necessities, to purloin something from the superfluity of his conquerors, he expiated it by a miserable death. 6
4 “Muchos Espanoles han muerto i matan increible cantidad de ovejas por comer solo los sesos, hacer pasteles del tuetano i candelas de la grasa. De ai hambre general.” Ibid., Ms.]
5 “Se puede afirmar que hicieron mas dano los Espanoles en solos quatro anos que el Inga en quatrocientos.” Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]
6 “Ahora no tienen que comer ni donde sembrar, i asi van a hurtallo como solian, delito por que han aorcado a muchos.” Rel. del Provisor Morales, Ms.
This, and some of the preceding citations, as the reader will see, have been taken from the Ms. of the Bachelor Luis de Morales, who lived eighteen or twenty years in Cuzco; and, in 1541, about the time of Vaca de Castro’s coming to Peru, prepared a Memorial for the government, embracing a hundred and nine chapters. It treats of the condition of the country, and the remedies which suggested themselves to the benevolent mind of its author. The emperor’s notes on the margin show that it received attention at court. There is no reason, as far as I am aware, to distrust the testimony of the writer, and Munoz has made some sensible extracts from it for his inestimable collection.]
It is true, there were good men, missionaries, faithful to their calling, who wrought hard in the spiritual conversion of the native, and who, touched by his misfortunes, would gladly have interposed their arm to shield him from his oppressors. 7 But too often the ecclesiastic became infected by the general spirit of licentiousness; and the religious fraternities, who led a life of easy indulgence on the lands cultivated by their Indian slaves, were apt to think less of the salvation of their souls than of profiting by the labor of their bodies. 8
7 Father Naharro notices twelve missionaries, some of his own order, whose zealous labors and miracles for the conversion of the Indians he deems worthy of comparison with those of the twelve Apostles of Christianity. It is a pity that history, while it has commemorated the names of so many persecutors of the poor heathen, should have omitted those of their benefactors.
“Tomo su divina Magestad por instrumento 12 solos religiosos pobres, descalzos i desconocidos, 5 del orden de la Merced, 4 de Predicadores, i 3 de San Francisco, obraron lo mismo que los 12 apostolos en la conversion de todo el universo mundo.” Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms.]
8 “Todos los conventos de Dominicos i Mercenarios tienen repartimientos. Ninguno dellos ha dotrinado ni convertido un Indio. Procuran sacar dellos quanto pueden, trabajarles en grangerias; con esto i con otras limosnas enriquecen. Mal egemplo. Ademas convendra no pasen frailes sino precediendo diligente examen de vida i dotrina.” (Relacion de las cosas que S. M. deve proveer para los reynos del Peru, embiada desde los Reyes a la Corte por el Licenciado Martel Santoyo, de quien va firmada en principios de 1542, Ms.) This statement of the licentiate shows a different side of the picture from that above quoted from Father Naharro. Yet they are not irreconcilable. Human nature has both its lights and its shadows.]
Yet still there were not wanting good and wise men in the colonies, who, from time to time, raised the voice of remonstrance against these abuses, and who carried their complaints to the foot of the throne. To the credit of the government, it must also be confessed, that it was solicitous to obtain such information as it could, both from its own officers, and from commissioners deputed expressly for the purpose, whose voluminous communications throw a flood of light on the internal condition of the country, and furnish the best materials for the historian. 9 But it was found much easier to get this information than to profit by it.
9 I have several of these Memorials or Relaciones, as they are called, in my possession, drawn up by residents in answer to queries propounded by government. These queries, while their great object is to ascertain the nature of existing abuses, and to invite the suggestion of remedies, are often directed to the laws and usages of the ancient Incas. The responses, therefore, are of great value to the historical inquirer. The most important of these documents in my possession is that by Ondegardo, governor of Cuzco, covering near four hundred folio pages, once forming part of Lord Kingsborough’s valuable collection. It is impossible to peruse those elaborate and conscientious reports without a deep conviction of the pains taken by the Crown to ascertain the nature of the abuses in the domestic government of the colonies, and their honest purpose to amend them. Unfortunately, in this laudable purpose they were not often seconded by the colonist themselves.]
In 1541, Charles the Fifth, who had been much occupied by the affairs of Germany, revisited his ancestral dominions, where his attention was imperatively called to the state of the colonies. Several memorials in relation to it were laid before him; but no one pressed the matter so strongly on the royal conscience as Las Casas, afterwards Bishop of Chiapa. This good ecclesiastic, whose long life had been devoted to those benevolent labors which gained him the honorable title of Protector of the Indians, had just completed his celebrated treatise on the Destruction of the Indies, the most remarkable record, probably, to be found, of human wickedness, but which, unfortunately, loses much of its effect from the credulity of the writer, and his obvious tendency to exaggerate.
In 1542, Las Casas placed his manuscript in the hands of his royal master. That same year, a council was called at Valladolid, composed chiefly of jurists and theologians, to devise a system of laws for the regulation of the American colonies.
Las Casas appeared before this body, and made an elaborate argument, of which a part only has been given to the public. He there assumes, as a fundamental proposition, that the Indians were by the law of nature free; that, as vassals of the Crown, they had a right to its protection, and should be declared free from that time, without exception and for ever. 10 He sustains this proposition by a great variety of arguments, comprehending the substance of most that has been since urged in the same cause by the friends of humanity. He touches on the ground of expediency, showing, that, without the interference of government, the Indian race must be gradually exterminated by the systematic oppression of the Spaniards. In conclusion, he maintains, that, if the Indians, as it was pretended, would not labor unless compelled, the white man would still find it for his interest to cultivate the soil; and that if he should not be able to do so, that circumstance would give him no right over the Indian, since God does not allow evil that good may come of it. 11 — This lofty morality, it will be remembered, was from the lips of a Dominican, in the sixteenth century, one of the order that founded the Inquisition, and in the very country where the fiery tribunal was then in most active operation! 12
10 The perpetual emancipation of the Indians is urged in the most emphatic manner by another bishop, also a Dominican, but bearing certainly very little resemblance to Las Casas. Fray Valverde makes this one of the prominent topics in a communication, already cited, to the government, the general scope of which must be admitted to do more credit to his humanity than some of the passages recorded of him in history. — “A V. M. representaran alla los conquistadores muchos servicios, dandolos por causa para que los dexen servir de los indios como de esclavos: V. M. se los tiene mui bien pagados en los provechos que han avido desta tierra, y no los ha de pagar con hazer a sus vasallos esclavos.” Carta de Valverde al Emperador, Ms.]
11 “La loi de Dieu detend de faire le mal pour qu’il en resulte du bien.” Oeuvres de Las Casas, eveque de Chiapa, trad. par Llorente, (Paris, 1822,) tom. l. p. 251.]
12 It is a curious coincidence, that this argument of Las Casas should have been first published — in a translated form, indeed — by a secretary of the Inquisition, Llorente. The original still remains in Ms. It is singular that these volumes, containing the views of this great philanthropist on topics of such interest to humanity, should not have been more freely consulted, or at least cited, by those who have since trod in his footsteps. They are an arsenal from which many a serviceable weapon for the good cause might be borrowed.]
The arguments of Las Casas encountered all the opposition naturally to be expected from indifference, selfishness, and bigotry. They were also resisted by some persons of just and benevolent views in his audience, who, while they admitted the general correctness of his reasoning, and felt deep sympathy for the wrongs of the natives, yet doubted whether his scheme of reform was not fraught with greater evils than those it was intended to correct. For Las Casas was the uncompromising friend of freedom. He intrenched himself strongly on the ground of natural right; and, like some of the reformers of our own day, disdained to calculate the consequences of carrying out the principle to its full and unqualified extent. His earnest eloquence, instinct with the generous love of humanity, and fortified by a host of facts, which it was not easy to assail, prevailed over his auditors. The result of their deliberations was a code of ordinances, which, however, far from being limited to the wants of the natives, had particular reference to the European population, and the distractions of the country. It was of general application to all the American colonies. It will be necessary here only to point out some of the provisions having immediate reference to Peru.
The Indians were declared true and loyal vassals of the Crown, and their freedom as such was fully recognized. Yet, to maintain inviolate the guaranty of the government to the Conquerors, it was decided, that those lawfully possessed of slaves might still retain them; but, at the death of the present proprietors, they were to revert to the Crown.
It was provided, however, that slaves, in any event, should be forfeited by all those who had shown themselves unworthy to hold them by neglect or ill-usage; by all public functionaries, or such as had held offices under the government; by ecclesiastics and religious corporations; and lastly, — a sweeping clause, — by all who had taken a criminal part in the feuds of Almagro and Pizarro.
It was further ordered, that the Indians should be moderately taxed; that they should not be compelled to labor where they did not choose, and that where, from particular circumstances, this was made necessary, they should receive a fair compensation. It was also decreed, that, as the repartimientos of land were often excessive, they should in such cases be reduced; and that, where proprietors had been guilty of a notorious abuse of their slaves, their estates should be forfeited altogether.
As Peru had always shown a spirit of insubordination, which required a more vigorous interposition of authority than was necessary in the other colonies, it was resolved to send a viceroy to that country, who should display a state, and be armed with powers, that might make him a more fitting representative of the sovereign. He was to be accompanied by a Royal Audience, consisting of four judges, with extensive powers of jurisdiction, both criminal and civil, who, besides a court of justice, should constitute a sort of council to advise with and aid the viceroy. The Audience of Panama was to be dissolved, and the new tribunal, with the vice-king’s court, was to be established at Los Reyes, or Lima, as it now began to be called, — henceforth the metropolis of the Spanish empire on the Pacific. 13
13 The provisions of this celebrated code are to be found, with more or less — generally less — accuracy, in the various contemporary writers. Herrera gives them in extenso. Hist. General, dec 7 lib. 6, cap. 5.]
Such were some of the principal features of this remarkable code, which, touching on the most delicate relations of society, broke up the very foundations of property, and, by a stroke of the pen, as it were, converted a nation of slaves into freemen. It would have required, we may suppose, but little forecast to divine, that in the remote regions of America, and especially in Peru, where the colonists had been hitherto accustomed to unbounded license, a reform, so salutary in essential points, could be enforced thus summarily only at the price of a revolution. — Yet the ordinances received the sanction of the emperor that same year, and in November, 1543, were published at Madrid. 14
14 Las Casas pressed the matter home on the royal conscience, by representing that the Papal See conceded the right of conquest to the Spanish sovereigns on the exclusive condition of converting the heathen, and that the Almighty would hold him accountable for the execution of this trust. Oeuvres de Las Casas, ubi supra.]
No sooner was their import known than it was conveyed by numerous letters to the colonists, from their friends in Spain. The tidings flew like wild-fire over the land, from Mexico to Chili. Men were astounded at the prospect of the ruin that awaited them. In Peru, particularly, there was scarcely one that could hope to escape the operation of the law. Few there were who had not taken part, at some time or other, in the civil feuds of Almagro and Pizarro; and still fewer of those that remained that would not be entangled in some one or other of the insidious clauses that seemed spread out, like a web, to ensnare them.
The whole country was thrown into commotion. Men assembled tumultuously in the squares and public places, and, as the regulations were made known, they were received with universal groans and hisses. “Is this the fruit,” they cried, “of all our toil? Is it for this that we have poured out our blood like water? Now that we are broken down by hardships and sufferings, to be left at the end of our campaigns as poor as at the beginning! Is this the way government rewards our services in winning for it an empire? The government has done little to aid us in making the conquest, and for what we have we may thank our own good swords; and with these same swords,” they continued, warming into menace, “we know how to defend it.” Then, stripping up his sleeve, the war-worn veteran bared his arm, or, exposing his naked bosom, pointed to his scars, as the best title to his estates. 15
15 Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Pedro de Valdivia, Ms., desde Los Reyes, 31 de Oct., 1538. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 1. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 6, cap. 10, 11.
Benalcazar, in a letter to Charles the Fifth, indulges in a strain of invective against the ordinances, which, by stripping the planters of their Indian slaves, must inevitably reduce the country to beggary Benalcazar was a conqueror, and one of the most respectable of his caste. His argument is a good specimen of the reasoning of his party on this subject, and presents a decided counterblast to that of Las Casas. Carta de Benalcazar al Emperador, Ms., desde Cali. 20 de Diciembre, 1544.
The governor, Vaca de Castro, watched the storm thus gathering from all quarters, with the deepest concern. He was himself in the very heart of disaffection; for Cuzco, tenanted by a mixed and lawless population, was so far removed into the depths of the mountains, that it had much less intercourse with the parent country, and was consequently much less under her influence, than the great towns on the coast. The people now invoked the governor to protect them against the tyranny of the Court; but he endeavoured to calm the agitation by representing, that by these violent measures they would only defeat their own object. He counselled them to name deputies to lay their petition before the Crown, stating the impracticability of the present scheme of reform, and praying for the repeal of it; and he conjured them to wait patiently for the arrival of the viceroy, who might be prevailed on to suspend the ordinances till further advices could be received from Castile.
But it was not easy to still the tempest; and the people now eagerly looked for some one whose interests and sympathies might lie with theirs, and whose position in the community might afford them protection. The person to whom they naturally turned in this crisis was Gonzalo Pizarro, the last in the land of that family who had led the armies of the Conquest, — a cavalier whose gallantry and popular manners had made him always a favorite with the people. He was now beset with applications to interpose in their behalf with the government, and shield them from the oppressive ordinances.
But Gonzalo Pizarro was at Charcas, busily occupied in exploring the rich veins of Potosi, whose silver fountains, just brought into light, were soon to pour such streams of wealth over Europe. Though gratified with this appeal to his protection, the cautious cavalier was more intent on providing for the means of enterprise than on plunging prematurely into it; and, while he secretly encouraged the malecontents, he did not commit himself by taking part in any revolutionary movement. At the same period, he received letters from Vaca de Castro, — whose vigilant eye watched all the aspects of the time, — cautioning Gonzalo and his friends not to be seduced, by any wild schemes of reform, from their allegiance. And, to check still further these disorderly movements, he ordered his alcaldes to arrest every man guilty of seditious language, and bring him at once to punishment. By this firm yet temperate conduct the minds of the populace were overawed, and there was a temporary lull in the troubled waters, while all looked anxiously for the coming of the viceroy. 16
16 Ibid., ubi supra. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, ubi supra. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales Ms., ano 1543.]
The person selected for this critical post was a knight of Avila, named Blasco Nunez Vela. He was a cavalier of ancient family, handsome in person, though now somewhat advanced in years, and reputed brave and devout. He had filled some offices of responsibility to the satisfaction of Charles the Fifth, by whom he was now appointed to this post in Peru. The selection did no credit to the monarch’s discernment.
It may seem strange that this important place should not have been bestowed on Vaca de Castro, already on the spot, and who had shown himself so well qualified to fill it. But ever since that officer’s mission to Peru, there had been a series of assassinations, insurrections, and civil wars, that menaced the wretched colony with ruin; and though his wise administration had now brought things into order, the communication with the Indies was so tardy, that the results of his policy were not yet fully disclosed. As it was designed, moreover, to make important innovations in the government, it was thought better to send some one who would have no personal prejudices to encounter, from the part he had already taken, and who, coming directly from the Court, and clothed with extraordinary powers, might present himself with greater authority than could one who had become familiar to the people in an inferior capacity. The monarch, however, wrote a letter with his own hand to Vaca de Castro, in which he thanked that officer for his past services, and directed him, after aiding the new viceroy with the fruits of his large experience, to return to Castile, and take his seat in the Royal Council. Letters of a similar complimentary kind were sent to the loyal colonists who had stood by the governor in the late troubles of the country. Freighted with these testimonials, and with the ill-starred ordinances, Blasco Nunez embarked at San Lucar, on the 3d of November, 1543. He was attended by the four judges of the Audience, and by a numerous retinue, that he might appear in the state befitting his distinguished rank. 17
17 Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 6, cap. 9. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 6. — Zarate, Ms.]
About the middle of the following January, 1544, the viceroy, after a favorable passage, landed at Nombre de Dios. He found there a vessel laden with silver from the Peruvian mines, ready to sail for Spain. His first act was to lay an embargo on it for the government, as containing the proceeds of slave labor. After this extraordinary measure, taken in opposition to the advice of the Audience, he crossed the Isthmus to Panama. Here he gave sure token of his future policy, by causing more than three hundred Indians, who had been brought by their owners from Peru, to be liberated and sent back to their own country. This high-handed measure created the greatest sensation in the city, and was strongly resisted by the judges of the Audience. They besought him not to begin thus precipitately to execute his commission, but to wait till his arrival in the colony, when he should have taken time to acquaint himself somewhat with the country, and with the temper of the people. But Blasco Nunez coldly replied, that “he had come, not to tamper with the laws, nor to discuss their merits, but to execute them, — and execute them he would, to the letter, whatever might be the consequence.” 18 This answer, and the peremptory tone in which it was delivered, promptly adjourned the debate; for the judges saw that debate was useless with one who seemed to consider all remonstrance as an attempt to turn him from his duty, and whose ideas of duty precluded all discretionary exercise of authority, even where the public good demanded it.
18 “Estas y otras cosas le dixo el Licenciado Carate: que no fueron al gusto del Virey: antes se enojo mucho por ello, y respondio con alguna aspereza: jurando, que auia de executar las ordenancas come en ellas se contenia: sin esperar para ello terminos algunos, ni dilaciones.” Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1. cap. 6.]
Leaving the Audience, as one of its body was ill at Panama, the viceroy proceeded on his way, and, coasting down the shores of the Pacific, on the fourth of March he disembarked at Tumbez. He was well received by the loyal inhabitants; his authority was publicly proclaimed, and the people were overawed by the display of a magnificence and state such as had not till then been seen in Peru. He took an early occasion to intimate his future line of policy by liberating a number of Indian slaves on the application of their caciques. He then proceeded by land towards the south, and showed his determination to conform in his own person to the strict letter of the ordinances, by causing his baggage to be carried by mules, where it was practicable; and where absolutely necessary to make use of Indians, he paid them fairly for their services. 19
19 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 2. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, ubi supra. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1544.]
The whole country was thrown into consternation by reports of the proceedings of the viceroy, and of his conversations, most unguarded, which were eagerly circulated, and, no doubt, often exaggerated. Meetings were again called in the cities. Discussions were held on the expediency of resisting his further progress, and a deputation of citizens from Cuzco, who were then in Lima, strongly urged the people to close the gates of that capital against him. But Vaca de Castro had also left Cuzco for the latter city, on the earliest intimation of the viceroy’s approach, and, with some difficulty, he prevailed on the inhabitants not to swerve from their loyalty, but to receive their new ruler with suitable honors, and trust to his calmer judgment for postponing the execution of the law till the case could be laid before the throne.
But the great body of the Spaniards, after what they had heard, had slender confidence in the relief to be obtained from this quarter. They now turned with more eagerness than ever towards Gonzalo Pizarro; and letters and addresses poured in upon him from all parts of the country, inviting him to take on himself the office of their protector. These applications found a more favorable response than on the former occasion.
There were, indeed, many motives at work to call Gonzalo into action. It was to his family, mainly, that Spain was indebted for this extension of her colonial empire; and he had felt deeply aggrieved that the government of the colony should be trusted to other hands than his. He had felt this on the arrival of Vaca de Castro, and much more so when the appointment of a viceroy proved it to be the settled policy of the Crown to exclude his family from the management of affairs. His brother Hernando still languished in prison, and he himself was now to be sacrificed as the principal victim of the fatal ordinances. For who had taken so prominent a part in the civil war with the elder Almagro? And the viceroy was currently reported — it may have been scandal — to have intimated that Pizarro would be dealt with accordingly. 20 Yet there was no one in the country who had so great a stake, who had so much to lose by the revolution. Abandoned thus by the government, he conceived that it was now time to take care of himself.
20 “It was not fair,” the viceroy said, “that the country should remain longer in the hands of muleteers and swineherds, (alluding to the origin of the Pizarros,) and he would take measures to restore it to the Crown.”
“Que asi me la havia de cortar a mi i a todos los que havian seido notablemente, como el decia, culpados en la batalla de las Salinas i en las diferencias de Almagro, i que una tierra como esta no era justo que estuviese en poder de gente tan vaxa que llamava el a los desta tierra porqueros i arrieros, sino que estuviese toda en la Corona real.” Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdi via, Ms.]
Assembling together some eighteen or twenty cavaliers in whom he most trusted, and taking a large amount of silver, drawn from the mines, he accepted the invitation to repair to Cuzco. As he approached this capital, he was met by a numerous body of the citizens, who came out to welcome him, making the air ring with their shouts, as they saluted him with the title of Procurator–General of Peru. The title was speedily confirmed by the municipality of the city, who invited him to head a deputation to Lima, in order to state their grievances to the viceroy, and solicit the present suspension of the ordinances.
But the spark of ambition was kindled in the bosom of Pizarro. He felt strong in the affections of the people; and, from the more elevated position in which he now stood, his desires took a loftier and more unbounded range. Yet, if he harboured a criminal ambition in his breast, he skilfully veiled it from others, — perhaps from himself. The only object he professed to have in view was the good of the people; 21 a suspicious phrase, usually meaning the good of the individual. He now demanded permission to raise and organize an armed force, with the further title of Captain–General. His views were entirely pacific; but it was not safe, unless strongly protected, to urge them on a person of the viceroy’s impatient and arbitrary temper. It was further contended by Pizarro’s friends, that such a force was demanded, to rid the country of their old enemy, the Inca Manco, who hovered in the neighbouring mountains with a body of warriors, ready, at the first opportunity, to descend on the Spaniards. The municipality of Cuzco hesitated, as well it might, to confer powers so far beyond its legitimate authority. But Pizarro avowed his purpose, in case of refusal, to decline the office of Procurator; and the efforts of his partisans, backed by those of the people, at length silenced the scruples of the magistrates, who bestowed on the ambitious chief the military command to which he aspired. Pizarro accepted it with the modest assurance, that he did so “purely from regard to the interests of the king, of the Indies, and, above all, of Peru”! 22
21 “Diciendo que no queria nada para si, sino para el beneficio universal, i que por todos havia de poner todas sus fuercas.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 7, cap. 20.]
22 “Acepte lo por ver que en ello hacia servicio a Dios i a S. M. l gran bien a esta tierra i generalmente a todas las Indias.” Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms.
Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, ib. 7, cap. 19, 20. — Zarate, Conq del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 4, 8. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 8. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Montesinoe Annales, Ms., ano 1544.]
While the events recorded in the preceding pages were in progress, Blasco Nunez had been journeying towards Lima. But the alienation which his conduct had already caused in the minds of the colonists was shown in the cold reception which he occasionally experienced on the route, and in the scanty accommodations provided for him and his retinue. In one place where he took up his quarters, he found an ominous inscription over the door:— “He that takes my property must expect to pay for it with his life.” 1 Neither daunted, nor diverted from his purpose, the inflexible viceroy held on his way towards the capital, where the inhabitants, preceded by Vaca de Castro and the municipal authorities, came out to receive him. He entered in great state, under a canopy of crimson cloth, embroidered with the arms of Spain, and supported by stout poles or staves of solid silver, which were borne by the members of the municipality. A cavalier, holding a mace, the emblem of authority, rode before him; and after the oaths of office were administered in the council-chamber, the procession moved towards the cathedral, where Te Deum was sung, and Blasco Nunez was installed in his new dignity of viceroy of Peru. 2
1 “A quien me viniere a quitar mi hacienda, quitarle he la vida.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 7, cap. 18.]
2 “Entro en la cibdad de Lima a 17 de Mayo de 1544: saliole a recibir todo el pueblo a pie y a caballo dos tiros de ballesta del pueblo, y a la entrada de la cibdad estaba un arco triunfal de verde con las Armas de Espana, y las de la misma cibdad; estaban le esperando el Regimiento y Justicia, y oficiales del Rey con ropas largas, hasta en pies de carmesi, y un palio del mesmo carmesi aforrado en lo mesmo, con ocho baras guarnecidas de plata y tomaronle debajo todos a pie, cada Regidor y justicia con una bara del palio, y el Virrey en su caballo con las mazas delante tomaronle juramento en un libro misal, y juro de las guardar y cumplir todas sus libertades y provisiones de S. M.; y luego fueron desta manera hasta la iglesia, salieron los clerigos con la cruz a la puerta y le metieron dentro cantando Te deum laudamus, y despues que obo dicho su oracion, fue con el cabildo y toda la ciudad a su palacio donde fue recebido y hizo un parlamento breve en que contento a toda la gente.” Relacion de los sucesos del Peru desde que entro el virrey Blasco Nunez acaecidos en mar y tierra, Ms.]
His first act was to proclaim his determination in respect to the ordinances. He had no warrant to suspend their execution. He should fulfil his commission; but he offered to join the colonists in a memorial to the emperor, soliciting the repeal of a code which he now believed would be for the interests neither of the country nor of the Crown. 3 With this avowed view of the subject, it may seem strange that Blasco Nunez should not have taken the responsibility of suspending the law until his sovereign could be assured of the inevitable consequences of enforcing it. The pacha of a Turkish despot, who had allowed himself this latitude for the interests of his master, might, indeed, have reckoned on the bowstring. But the example of Mendoza, the prudent viceroy of Mexico, who adopted this course in a similar crisis, and precisely at the same period, showed its propriety under existing circumstances. The ordinances were suspended by him till the Crown could be warned of the consequences of enforcing them, — and Mexico was saved from revolution. 4 But Blasco Nunez had not the wisdom of Mendoza.
3 “Porque llanamente el confesaba, que asi para su Magestad como para aquellos Reinos, eran perjudiciales.” Zarate, Conq. de Peru lib. 5, cap. 5.]
4 Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 2–5.
The public apprehension was now far from being allayed. Secret cabals were formed in Lima, and communications held with the different towns. No distrust, however, was raised in the breast of the viceroy, and, when informed of the preparations of Gonzalo Pizarro, he took no other step than to send a message to his camp, announcing the extraordinary powers with which he was himself invested, and requiring that chief to disband his forces. He seemed to think that a mere word from him would be sufficient to dissipate rebellion. But it required more than a breath to scatter the iron soldiery of Peru.
Gonzalo Pizarro, meanwhile, was busily occupied in mustering his army. His first step was to order from Guamanga sixteen pieces of artillery sent there by Vaca de Castro, who, in the present state of excitement, was unwilling to trust the volatile people of Cuzco with these implements of destruction. Gonzalo, who had no scruples as to Indian labor, appropriated six thousand of the natives to the service of transporting this train of ordnance across the mountains. 5
5 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 8.]
By his exertions and those of his friends, the active chief soon mustered a force of nearly four hundred men, which, if not very imposing in the outset, he conceived would be swelled, in his descent to the coast, by tributary levies from the towns and villages on the way. All his own funds were expended in equipping his men and providing for the march; and, to supply deficiencies, he made no scruple — since, to use his words, it was for the public interest — to appropriate the moneys in the royal treasury. With this seasonable aid, his troops, well mounted and thoroughly equipped, were put in excellent fighting order; and, after making them a brief harangue, in which he was careful to insist on the pacific character of his enterprise, somewhat at variance with its military preparations, Gonzalo Pizarro sallied forth from the gates of the capital.
Before leaving it, he received an important accession of strength in the person of Francisco de Carbajal, the veteran who performed so conspicuous a part in the battle of Chupas. He was at Charcas when the news of the ordinances reached Peru and he instantly resolved to quit the country and return to Spain, convinced that the New World would be no longer the land for him, — no longer the golden Indies. Turning his effects into money, he prepared to embark them on board the first ship that offered. But no opportunity occurred, and he could have little expectation now of escaping the vigilant eye of the viceroy. Yet, though solicited by Pizarro to take command under him in the present expedition, the veteran declined, saying, he was eighty years old, and had no wish but to return home, and spend his few remaining days in quiet. 6 Well had it been for him, had he persisted in his refusal. But he yielded to the importunities of his friend; and the short space that yet remained to him of life proved long enough to brand his memory with perpetual infamy.
6 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 7, cap. 22.
Soon after quitting Cuzco, Pizarro learned the death of the Inca Manco. He was massacred by a party of Spaniards, of the faction of Almagro, who, on the defeat of their young leader, had taken refuge in the Indian camp. They, in turn, were all slain by the Peruvians. It is impossible to determine on whom the blame of the quarrel should rest, since no one present at the time has recorded it. 7
7 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Garcilasso Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 7]
The death of Manco Inca, as he was commonly called, is an event not to be silently passed over in Peruvian history; for he was the last of his race that may be said to have been animated by the heroic spirit of the ancient Incas. Though placed on the throne by Pizarro, far from remaining a mere puppet in his hands, Manco soon showed that his lot was not to be cast with that of his conquerors. With the ancient institutions of his country lying a wreck around him, he yet struggled bravely, like Guatemozin, the last of the Aztecs, to uphold her tottering fortunes, or to bury his oppressors under her ruins. By the assault on his own capital of Cuzco, in which so large a portion of it was demolished, he gave a check to the arms of Pizarro, and, for a season, the fate of the Conquerors trembled in the balance. Though foiled, in the end, by the superior science of his adversary, the young barbarian still showed the same unconquerable spirit as before. He withdrew into the fastnesses of his native mountains, whence sallying forth as occasion offered, he fell on the caravan of the traveller, or on some scattered party of the military; and, in the event of a civil war, was sure to throw his own weight into the weaker scale, thus prolonging the contest of his enemies, and feeding his revenge by the sight of their calamities. Moving lightly from spot to spot, he eluded pursuit amidst the wilds of the Cordilleras; and, hovering in the neighbourhood of the towns, or lying in ambush on the great thoroughfares of the country, the Inca Manco made his name a terror to the Spaniards. Often did they hold out to him terms of accommodation; and every succeeding ruler down to Blasco Nunez, bore instructions from the Crown to employ every art to conciliate the formidable warrior. But Manco did not trust the promises of the white man; and he chose rather to maintain his savage independence in the mountains with the few brave spirits around him, than to live a slave in the land which had once owned the sway of his ancestors.
The death of the Inca removed one of the great pretexts for Gonzalo Pizarro’s military preparations, but it had little influence on him, as may be readily imagined. He was much more sensible to the desertion of some of his followers, which took place early on the march. Several of the cavaliers of Cuzco, startled by his unceremonious appropriation of the public moneys, and by the belligerent aspect of affairs, now for the first time seemed to realize that they were in the path of rebellion. A number of these, including some principal men of the city, secretly withdrew from the army, and, hastening to Lima, offered their services to the viceroy. The troops were disheartened by this desertion, and even Pizarro for a moment faltered in his purpose, and thought of retiring with some fifty followers to Charcas, and there making his composition with government. But a little reflection, aided by the remonstrances of the courageous Carbajal, who never turned his back on an enterprise which he had once assumed, convinced him that he had gone too far to recede, — that his only safety was to advance.
He was reassured by more decided manifestations, which he soon after received, of the public opinion. An officer named Puelles, who commanded at Guanuco, joined him, with a body of horse with which he had been intrusted by the viceroy. This defection was followed by that of others, and Gonzalo, as he descended the sides of the table-land, found his numbers gradually swelled to nearly double the amount with which he had left the Indian capital.
As he traversed with a freer step the bloody field of Chupas, Carbajal pointed out the various localities of the battle-ground, and Pizarro might have found food for anxious reflection, as he meditated on the fortunes of a rebel. At Guamanga he was received with open arms by the inhabitants, many of whom eagerly enlisted under his banner; for they trembled for their property, as they heard from all quarters of the inflexible temper of the viceroy. 8
8 Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 14, 16. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 9, 10. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 8, cap. 5–9. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms]
That functionary began now to be convinced that he was in a critical position. Before Puelles’s treachery, above noticed, had been consummated, the viceroy had received some vague intimation of his purpose. Though scarcely crediting it, he detached one of his company, named Diaz, with a force to intercept him. But, although that cavalier undertook the mission with alacrity, he was soon after prevailed on to follow the example of his comrade, and, with the greater part of the men under his command, went over to the enemy. In the civil feuds of this unhappy land, parties changed sides so lightly, that treachery to a commander had almost ceased to be a stain on the honor of a cavalier. Yet all, on whichever side they cast their fortunes, loudly proclaimed their loyalty to the Crown.
Thus betrayed by his own men, by those apparently most devoted to his service, Blasco Nunez became suspicious fell on some who were most deserving of his confidence. Among these was his predecessor, Vaca de Castro. That officer had conducted himself, in the delicate situation in which he had been placed, with his usual discretion, and with perfect integrity and honor. He had frankly communicated with the viceroy, and well had it been for Blasco Nunez, if he had known how to profit by it. But he was too much puffed up by the arrogance of office, and by the conceit of his own superior wisdom, to defer much to the counsels of his experienced predecessor. The latter was now suspected by the viceroy of maintaining a secret correspondence with his enemies at Cuzco, — a suspicion which seems to have had no better foundation than the personal friendship which Vaca de Castro was known to entertain for these individuals. But, with Blasco Nunez, to suspect was to be convinced; and he ordered De Castro to be placed under arrest, and confined on board of a vessel lying in the harbour. This high-handed measure was followed by the arrest and imprisonment of several other cavaliers, probably on grounds equally frivolous. 9
9 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 3. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 10.]
He now turned his attention towards the enemy. Notwithstanding his former failure, he still did not altogether despair of effecting something by negotiation, and he sent another embassy, having the bishop of Lima at its head, to Gonzalo Pizarro’s camp, with promises of a general amnesty, and some proposals of a more tempting character to the commander. But this step, while it proclaimed his own weakness, had no better success than the preceding. 10
10 Loaysa, the bishop, was robbed of his despatches, and not even allowed to enter the camp, lest his presence should shake the constancy of the soldiers. (See Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms.) The account occupies more space than it deserves in most of the authorities.]
The viceroy now vigorously prepared for war. His first care was to put the capital in a posture of defence, by strengthening its fortifications, and throwing barricades across the streets. He ordered a general enrolment of the citizens, and called in levies from the neighbouring towns, — a call not very promptly answered. A squadron of eight or ten vessels was got ready in the port to act in concert with the land forces. The bells were taken from the churches, and used in the manufacture of muskets; 11 and funds were procured from the fifths which had accumulated in the royal treasury. The most extravagant bounty was offered to the soldiers, and prices were paid for mules and horses, which showed that gold, or rather silver, was the commodity of least value in Peru. 12 By these efforts, the active commander soon assembled a force considerably larger than that of his adversary. But how could he confide in it?
11 “Hico hacer gran Copia de Arcabuces, asi de Hierro, como de Fundicion, de ciertas Campanas de la Iglesia Maior, que para ello quito.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 6.]
12 Blasco Nunez paid, according to Zarate, who had the means of knowing, twelve thousand ducats for thirty-five mules. — “El Visorrei les mando comprar, de la Hacienda Real, treinta i cinco Machos, en que hiciesen la Jornada, que costaron mas de doce mil ducados.” (Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 10.) The South–American of our day might well be surprised at such prices for animals since so abundant in his country.
While these preparations were going forward, the judges of the Audience arrived at Lima. They had shown, throughout their progress, no great respect either for the ordinances, or the will of the viceroy; for they had taxed the poor natives as freely and unscrupulously as any of the Conquerors. We have seen the entire want of cordiality subsisting between them and their principal in Panama. It became more apparent, on their landing at Lima. They disapproved of his proceedings in every particular; of his refusal to suspend the ordinances, — although, in fact, he had found no opportunity, of late, to enforce them; of his preparations for defence, declaring that he ought rather trust to the effect of negotiation; and, finally, of his imprisonment of so many loyal cavaliers, which they pronounced an arbitrary act, altogether beyond the bounds of his authority; and they did not scruple to visit the prison in person, and discharge the captives from their confinement. 13
13 Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 10. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 8, cap. 2, 10. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms.]
This bold proceeding, while it conciliated the good-will of the people, severed, at once, all relations with the viceroy. There was in the Audience a lawyer, named Cepeda, a cunning, ambitious man, with considerable knowledge in the way of his profession, and with still greater talent for intrigue. He did not disdain the low arts of a demagogue to gain the favor of the populace, and trusted to find his own account in fomenting a misunderstanding with Blasco Nunez. The latter, it must be confessed, did all in his power to aid his counsellor in this laudable design.
A certain cavalier in the place, named Suarez de Carbajal, who had long held an office under government, fell under the viceroy’s displeasure, on suspicion of conniving at the secession of some of his kinsmen, who had lately taken part with the malecontents. The viceroy summoned Carbajal to attend him at his palace, late at night; and when conducted to his presence, he bluntly charged him with treason. The latter stoutly denied the accusation, in tones as haughty as those of his accuser. The altercation grew warm, until, in the heat of passion, Blasco Nunez struck him with his poniard. In an instant, the attendants, taking this as a signal, plunged their swords into the body of the unfortunate man, who fell lifeless on the floor. 14
14 “He struck him in the bosom with his dagger, as some say, but the viceroy denies it.” — So says Zarate, in the printed copy of his history. (Lib. 5, cap. 11.) In the original manuscript of this work, still extant at Simancas, he states the fact without any qualification at all. “Luego el dicho Virrei echo mano a una daga, i arremetio con el, i le dio una punalada, i a grandes voces mando que le matasen.” (Zarate, Ms.) This was doubtless his honest conviction, when on the pot soon after the event occurred. The politic historian thought it prudent to qualify his remark before publication. — “They say,” says another contemporary, familiar with these events and friendly to the viceroy, “that he gave him several wounds with his dagger.” And he makes no attempt to refute the charge. (Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms.) Indeed, this version of the story seems to have been generally received at the time by those who had the best means of knowing the truth.]
Greatly alarmed for the consequences of his rash act, — for Carbajal was much beloved in Lima, — Blasco Nunez ordered the corpse of the murdered man to be removed by a private stairway from the house, and carried to the cathedral, where, rolled in his bloody cloak, it was laid in a grave hastily dug to receive it. So tragic a proceeding, known to so many witnesses, could not long be kept secret. Vague rumors of the fact explained the mysterious disappearance of Carbajal. The grave was opened, and the mangled remains of the slaughtered cavalier established the guilt of the viceroy. 15
15 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, ubi supra.]
From this hour Blasco Nunez was held in universal abhorrence; and his crime, in this instance, assumed the deeper dye of ingratitude, since the deceased was known to have had the greatest influence in reconciling the citizens early to his government. No one knew where the blow would fall next, or how soon he might himself become the victim of the ungovernable passions of the viceroy. In this state of things, some looked to the Audience, and yet more to Gonzalo Pizarro, to protect them. That chief was slowly advancing towards Lima, from which, indeed, he was removed but a few days’ march. Greatly perplexed, Blasco Nunez now felt the loneliness of his condition. Standing aloof, as it were, from his own followers, thwarted by the Audience, betrayed by his soldiers, he might well feel the consequences of his misconduct. Yet there seemed no other course for him, but either to march out and meet the enemy, or to remain in Lima and defend it. He had placed the town in a posture of defence, which argued this last to have been his original purpose. But he felt he could no longer rely on his troops, and he decided on a third course, most unexpected.
This was to abandon the capital, and withdraw to Truxillo, about eighty leagues distant. The women would embark on board the squadron, and, with the effects of the citizens, be transported by water. The troops, with the rest of the inhabitants, would march by land, laying waste the country as they proceeded. Gonzalo Pizarro, when he arrived at Lima, would find it without supplies for his army, and thus straitened, he would not care to take a long march across a desert in search of his enemy. 16
16 Ibid., lib. 5, cap. 12. — Fernandez, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 18.]
What the viceroy proposed to effect by this movement is not clear, unless it were to gain time; and yet the more time he had gained, thus far, the worse it had proved for him. But he was destined to encounter a decided opposition from the judges. They contended that he had no warrant for such an act, and that the Audience could not lawfully hold its sessions out of the capital. Blasco Nunez persisted in his determination, menacing that body with force, if necessary. The judges appealed to the citizens to support them in resisting such an arbitrary measure. They mustered a force for their own protection, and that same day passed a decree that the viceroy should be arrested.
Late at night, Blasco Nunez was informed of the hostile preparations of the judges. He instantly summoned his followers, to the number of more than two hundred, put on his armour, and prepared to march out at the head of his troops against the Audience. This was the true course; for in a crisis like that in which he was placed, requiring promptness and decision, the presence of the leader is essential to insure success. But, unluckily, he yielded to the remonstrances of his brother and other friends, who dissuaded him from rashly exposing his life in such a venture.
What Blasco Nunez neglected to do was done by the judges. They sallied forth at the head of their followers, whose number, though small at first, they felt confident would be swelled by volunteers as they advanced. Rushing forward, they cried out, — “Liberty! Liberty! Long live the king and the Audience!” It was early dawn, and the inhabitants, startled from their slumbers, ran to the windows and balconies, and, learning the object of the movement, some snatched up their arms and joined in it, while the women, waving their scarfs and kerchiefs, cheered on the assault.
When the mob arrived before the viceroy’s palace, they halted for a moment, uncertain what to do Orders were given to fire on them from the windows, and a volley passed over their heads. No one was injured; and the greater part of the viceroy’s men, with most of the officers, — including some of those who had been so anxious for his personal safety, — now openly joined the populace. The palace was then entered, and abandoned to pillage. Blasco Nunez, deserted by all but a few faithful adherents, made no resistance. He surrendered to the assailants, was led before the judges, and by them was placed in strict confinement. The citizens, delighted with the result, provided a collation for the soldiers; and the affair ended without the loss of a single life. Never was there so bloodless a revolution. 17
17 Relacion de los Sucesos del Ms. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Peru, Ms. — Relacion Anonima, Conq., Ms. — Fernandez, Hist del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 19. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 11. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valvidia, Ms.
Gonzalo Pizarro devoutly draws a conclusion from this, that the revolution was clearly brought about by the hand of God for the good of the land. “E hizose sin que muriese un hombre, ni fuese herido, somo obra que Dios la guiava para el bien desta tierra.” Carta, Ms., ubi supra.
The first business of the judges was to dispose of the prisoner. He was sent, under a strong guard, to a neighbouring island, till some measures could be taken respecting him. He was declared to be deposed from his office; a provisional government was established, consisting of their own body, with Cepeda at its head, as president; and its first act was to pronounce the detested ordinances suspended, till instructions could be received from Court. It was also decided to send Blasco Nunez back to Spain with one of their own body, who should explain to the emperor the nature of the late disturbances, and vindicate the measures of the Audience. This was soon put in execution. The Licentiate Alvarez was the person selected to bear the viceroy company; and the unfortunate commander, after passing several days on the desolate island, with scarcely any food, and exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather, took his departure for Panama. 18
18 Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms.
The story of the seizure of the viceroy is well told by the writer of the last Ms., who seems here, at least, not unduly biased in favor of Blasco Nunez, though a partisan.]
A more formidable adversary yet remained in Gonzalo Pizarro, who had now advanced to Xauxa, about ninety miles from Lima. Here he halted, while numbers of the citizens prepared to join his banner, choosing rather to take service under him than to remain under the self-constituted authority of the Audience. The judges, meanwhile, who had tasted the sweets of office too short a time to be content to resign them, after considerable delay, sent an embassy to the Procurator. They announced to him the revolution that had taken place, and the suspension of the ordinances. The great object of his mission had been thus accomplished; and, as a new government was now organized, they called on him to show his obedience to it, by disbanding his forces, and withdrawing to the unmolested enjoyment of his estates. It was a bold demand, — though couched in the most courteous and complimentary phrase, — to make of one in Pizarro’s position. It was attempting to scare away the eagle just ready to stoop on his prey. If the chief had faltered, however, he would have been reassured by his lion-hearted lieutenant. “Never show faint heart,” exclaimed the latter, “when you are so near the goal. Success has followed every step of your path. You have now only to stretch forth your hand, and seize the government. Every thing else will follow.” — The envoy who brought the message from the judges was sent back with the answer, that “the people had called Gonzalo Pizarro to the government of the country, and, if the Audience did not at once invest him with it, the city should be delivered up to pillage.” 19
19 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 13.
It required some courage to carry the message of the Audience to Gonzalo and his desperate followers. The historian Zarate, the royal comptroller, was the envoy; not much, as it appears, to his own satisfaction. He escaped, however, unharmed, and has made a full report of the affair in his chronicle.]
The bewildered magistrates were thrown into dismay by this decisive answer. Yet loth to resign, they took counsel in their perplexity of Vaca de Castro, still detained on board of one of the vessels. But that commander had received too little favor at the hands of his successors to think it necessary to peril his life on their account by thwarting the plans of Pizarro. He maintained a discreet silence, therefore, and left the matter to the wisdom of the Audience.
Meanwhile, Carbajal was sent into the city to quicken their deliberations. He came at night, attended only by a small party of soldiers, intimating his contempt of the power of the judges. His first act was to seize a number of cavaliers, whom he dragged from their beds, and placed under arrest. They were men of Cuzco, the same already noticed as having left Pizarro’s ranks soon after his departure from that capital. While the Audience still hesitated as to the course they should pursue, Carbajal caused three of his prisoners, persons of consideration and property, to be placed on the backs of mules, and escorted out of town to the suburbs, where, with brief space allowed for confession, he hung them all on the branches of a tree. He superintended the execution himself, and tauntingly complimented one of his victims, by telling him, that, “in consideration of his higher rank, he should have the privilege of selecting the bough on which to be hanged!” 20 The ferocious officer would have proceeded still further in his executions, it is said, had it not been for orders received from his leader. But enough was done to quicken the perceptions of the Audience as to their course, for they felt their own lives suspended by a thread in such unscrupulous hands. Without further delay, therefore, they sent to invite Gonzalo Pizarro to enter the city, declaring that the security of the country and the general good required the government to be placed in his hands. 21
20 “Le queria dar su muerte con una preeminencia senalada, que escogiese en qual de las Ramas de aquel Arbol queria que le colgasen.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 13. — See also Relacion Anonima, Ms. — Fernandez, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 25.]
21 According to Gonzalo Pizarro, the Audience gave this invitation in obedience to the demands of the representatives of the cities. — “Y a esta sazon llegue yo a Lima, i todos los procuradores de las cibdades destos reynos suplicaron al Audiencia me hiciesen Governador para resistir los robos e fuerzas que Blasco Nunez andava faciendo, i para tener la tierra en justicia hasta que S. M. proveyese lo que mas a su real servicio convenia. Los Oydores visto que asi convenia al servicio de Dios i al de S. M. i al bien destos reynos,” &c. (Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms.) But Gonzalo’s account of himself must be received with more than the usual grain of allowance. His letter, which is addressed to Valdivia, the celebrated conqueror of Chili, contains a full account of the rise and progress of his rebellion. It is the best vindication, therefore, to be found of himself, and, as a counterpoise to the narratives of his enemies, is of inestimable value to the historian.
That chief had now advanced within half a league of the capital, which soon after, on the twenty-eighth of October, 1544, he entered in battle-array. His whole force was little short of twelve hundred Spaniards, besides several thousand Indians, who dragged his heavy guns in the advance. 22 Then came the files of spearmen and arquebusiers, making a formidable corps of infantry for a colonial army; and lastly, the cavalry, at the head of which rode Pizarro himself, on a powerful charger, gayly caparisoned. The rider was in complete mail, over which floated a richly embroidered surcoat, and his head was protected by a crimson cap, highly ornamented, — his showy livery setting off his handsome, soldierlike person to advantage. 23 Before him was borne the royal standard of Castile; for every one, royalist or rebel, was careful to fight under that sign. This emblem of loyalty was supported on the right by a banner, emblazoned with the arms of Cuzco, and by another on the left, displaying the armorial bearings granted by the Crown to the Pizarros. As the martial pageant swept through the streets of Lima, the air was rent with acclamations from the populace, and from the spectators in the balconies. The cannon sounded at intervals, and the bells of the city — those that the viceroy had spared — rang out a joyous peal, as if in honor of a victory!
22 He employed twelve thousand Indians on this service, says the writer of the Relacion Anonima, Ms. But this author, although living in the colonies at the time, talks too much at random to gain our implicit confidence.]
23 “Y el armado y con una capa de grana cubierta con muchas guarniciones de oro e con sayo de brocado sobre las armas.” Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms. — Also Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 13.
The oaths of office were duly administered by the judges of the Royal Audience, and Gonzalo Pizarro was proclaimed Governor and Captain–General of Peru, till his Majesty’s pleasure could be known in respect to the government. The new ruler then took up his quarters in the palace of his brother, — where the stains of that brother’s blood were not yet effaced. Fetes, bull-fights, and tournaments graced the ceremony of inauguration, and were prolonged for several days, while the giddy populace of the capital abandoned themselves to jubilee, as if a new and more auspicious order of things had commenced for Peru! 24
24 For the preceding pages relating to Gonzalo Pizarro, see Relacion Anonima, Ms. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 25. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub y Conq., Ms. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Zarate, loc. cit. — Herrera, Hist General, dec. 7, lib. 8, cap. 16–19. — Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1544.]
The first act of Gonzalo Pizarro was to cause those persons to be apprehended who had taken the most active part against him in the late troubles. Several he condemned to death; but afterwards commuted the sentence, and contented himself with driving them into banishment and confiscating their estates. 1 His next concern was to establish his authority on a firm basis. He filled the municipal government of Lima with his own partisans. He sent his lieutenants to take charge of the principal cities. He caused galleys to be built at Arequipa to secure the command of the seas; and brought his forces into the best possible condition, to prepare for future emergencies.
1 Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.
The honest soldier, who tells us this, was more true to his king than to his kindred. At least, he did not attach himself to Gonzalo’s party, and was among those who barely escaped hanging on this occasion. He seems to have had little respect for his namesake.]
The Royal Audience existed only in name; for its powers were speedily absorbed by the new ruler, who desired to place the government on the same footing as under the marquess, his brother Indeed, the Audience necessarily fell to pieces, from the position of its several members. Alvarez had been sent with the viceroy to Castile. Cepeda, the most aspiring of the court, now that he had failed in his own schemes of ambition, was content to become a tool in the hands of the military chief who had displaced him. Zarate, a third judge, who had, from the first, protested against the violent measures of his colleagues, was confined to his house by a mortal illness; 2 and Tepeda, the remaining magistrate, Gonzalo now proposed to send back to Castile with such an account of the late transactions as should vindicate his own conduct in the eyes of the emperor. This step was opposed by Carbajal, who bluntly told his commander that “he had gone too far to expect favor from the Crown; and that he had better rely for his vindication on his pikes and muskets.’” 3
2 Zarate, the judge, must not be confounded with Zarate, the historian, who went out to Peru with the Court of Audience, as contador real, royal comptroller, — having before filled the office of secretary of the royal council in Spain.]
3 Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 172. — Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 21.]
But the ship which was to transport Tepeda was found to have suddenly disappeared from the port. It was the same in which Vaca de Castro was confined; and that officer, not caring to trust to the forbearance of one whose advances, on a former occasion, he had so unceremoniously repulsed, and convinced, moreover, that his own presence could profit nothing in a land where he held no legitimate authority, had prevailed on the captain to sail with him to Panama. He then crossed the Isthmus, and embarked for Spain. The rumors of his coming had already preceded him, and charges were not wanting against him from some of those whom he had offended by his administration. He was accused of having carried measures with a high hand, regardless of the rights, both of the colonist and of the native; and, above all, of having embezzled the public moneys, and of returning with his coffers richly freighted to Castile. This last was an unpardonable crime.
No sooner had the governor set foot in his own country than he was arrested, and hurried to the fortress of Arevalo; and, though he was afterwards removed to better quarters, where he was treated with the indulgence due to his rank, he was still kept a prisoner of state for twelve years, when the tardy tribunals of Castile pronounced a judgment in his favor. He was acquitted of every charge that had been brought against him, and, so far from peculation, was proved to have returned home no richer than he went. He was released from confinement, reinstated in his honors and dignities, took his seat anew in the royal council, and Vaca de Castro enjoyed, during the remainder of his days, the consideration to which he was entitled by his deserts. 4 The best eulogium on the wisdom of his administration was afforded by the troubles brought on the colonies by that of his successor. The nation became gradually sensible of the value of his services; though the manner in which they were requited by the government must be allowed to form a cold commentary on the gratitude of princes.
4 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 15. — Relacion Anonima, Ms. — Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales Ms., ano 1545. — Fernandez, Hist del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 28
Gonzalo Pizarro was doomed to experience a still greater disappointment than that caused by the escape of Vaca de Castro, in the return of Blasco Nunez. The vessel which bore him from the country had hardly left the shore, when Alvarez, the judge, whether from remorse at the part which he had taken, or apprehensive of the consequences of carrying back the viceroy to Spain, presented himself before that dignitary, and announced that he was no longer a prisoner. At the same time he excused himself for the part he had taken, by his desire to save the life of Blasco Nunez, and extricate him from his perilous situation. He now placed the vessel at his disposal, and assured him it should take him wherever he chose.
The viceroy, whatever faith he may have placed in the judge’s explanation, eagerly availed himself of his offer. His proud spirit revolted at the idea of returning home in disgrace, foiled, as he had been, in every object of his mission. He determined to try his fortune again in the land, and his only doubt was, on what point to attempt to rally his partisans around him. At Panama he might remain in safety, while he invoked assistance from Nicaragua, and other colonies at the north. But this would be to abandon his government at once; and such a confession of weakness would have a bad effect on his followers in Peru. He determined, therefore, to direct his steps towards Quito, which, while it was within his jurisdiction, was still removed far enough from the theatre of the late troubles to give him time to rally, and make head against his enemies.
In pursuance of this purpose, the viceroy and his suite disembarked at Tumbez, about the middle of October, 1544. On landing, he issued a manifesto setting forth the violent proceedings of Gonzalo Pizarro and his followers, whom he denounced as traitors to their prince, and he called on all true subjects in the colony to support him in maintaining the royal authority. The call was not unheeded; and volunteers came in, though tardily, from San Miguel, Puerto Viejo, and other places on the coast, cheering the heart of the viceroy with the conviction that the sentiment of loyalty was not yet extinct in the bosoms of the Spaniards.
But, while thus occupied, he received tidings of the arrival of one of Pizarro’s captains on the coast, with a force superior to his own. Their number was exaggerated; but Blasco Nunez, without waiting to ascertain the truth, abandoned his position at Tumbez, and, with as much expedition as he could make across a wild and mountainous country half-buried in snow, he marched to Quito. But this capital, situated at the northern extremity of his province, was not a favorable point for the rendezvous of his followers; and, after prolonging his stay till he had received assurance from Benalcazar, the loyal commander at Popayan, that he would support him with all his strength in the coming conflict, he made a rapid countermarch to the coast, and took up his position at the town of San Miguel. This was a spot well suited to his purposes, as lying on the great high road along the shores of the Pacific, besides being the chief mart for commercial intercourse with Panama and the north. Here the viceroy erected his standard, and in a few weeks found himself at the head of a force amounting to nearly five hundred in all, horse and foot, ill provided with arms and ammunition, but apparently zealous in the cause. Finding himself in sufficient strength to commence active operations, he now sallied forth against several of Pizarro’s captains in the neighbourhood, over whom he obtained some decided advantages, which renewed his confidence, and flattered him with the hopes of reestablishing his ascendency in the country. 5
5 Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 14, 15. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 8, cap. 19, 20. — Relacion Anonima, Ms. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 23. — Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms.
The author of the document last cited notices the strong feeling for the Crown existing in several of the cities; and mentions also the rumor of a meditated assault on Cuzco by the Indians. — The writer belonged to the discomfited party of Blasco Nunez; and the facility with which exiles credit reports in their own favor is proverbial.]
During this time, Gonzalo Pizarro was not idle. He had watched with anxiety the viceroy’s movements; and was now convinced that it was time to act, and that, if he would not be unseated himself, he must dislodge his formidable rival. He accordingly placed a strong garrison under a faithful officer in Lima, and, after sending forward a force of some six hundred men by land to Truxillo, he embarked for the same port himself, on the 4th of March, 1545, the very day on which the viceroy had marched from Quito.
At Truxillo, Pizarro put himself at the head of his little army, and moved without loss of time against San Miguel. His rival, eager to bring their quarrel to an issue, would fain have marched out to give him battle; but his soldiers, mostly young and inexperienced levies, hastily brought together, were intimidated by the name of Pizarro. They loudly insisted on being led into the upper country, where they would be reinforced by Benalcazar; and their unfortunate commander, like the rider of some unmanageable steed, to whose humors he is obliged to submit, was hurried away in a direction contrary to his wishes. It was the fate of Blasco Nunez to have his purposes baffled alike by his friends and his enemies.
On arriving before San Miguel, Gonzalo Pizarro found, to his great mortification, that his antagonist had left it. Without entering the town, he quickened his pace, and, after traversing a valley of some extent, reached the skirts of a mountain chain, into which Blasco Nunez had entered but a few hours before. It was late in the evening; but Pizarro, knowing the importance of despatch, sent forward Carbajal with a party of light troops to overtake the fugitives. That captain succeeded in coming up with their lonely bivouac among the mountains at midnight, when the weary troops were buried in slumber. Startled from their repose by the blast of the trumpet, which, strange to say, their enemy had incautiously sounded, 6 the viceroy and his men sprang to their feet, mounted their horses, grasped their arquebuses, and poured such a volley into the ranks of their assailants, that Carbajal, disconcerted by his reception, found it prudent, with his inferior force, to retreat. The viceroy followed, till, fearing an ambuscade in the darkness of the night, he withdrew, and allowed his adversary to rejoin the main body of the army under Pizarro.
6 “Mas Francisco Caruajal q los vua siguiendo, llego quatro horas de la noche a dode estauan: y con vna Trompeta que lleuaua les toco arma: y sentido por el Virey se leuanto luego el primero.” Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1 lib. 1, cap. 40.]
This conduct of Carbajal, by which he allowed the game to slip through his hands, from mere carelessness, is inexplicable. It forms a singular exception to the habitual caution and vigilance displayed in his military career. Had it been the act of any other captain, it would have cost him his head. But Pizarro, although greatly incensed, set too high a value on the services and well-tried attachment of his lieutenant, to quarrel with him. Still it was considered of the last importance to overtake the enemy, before he had advanced much farther to the north, where the difficulties of the ground would greatly embarrass the pursuit. Carbajal, anxious to retrieve his error, was accordingly again placed at the head of a corps of light troops, with instructions to harass the enemy’s march, cut off his stores, and keep him in check, if possible, till the arrival of Pizarro. 7
7 Ibid., ubi supra. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 9, cap. 22. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., lib. 9, cap. 26.]
But the viceroy had profited by the recent delay to gain considerably on his pursuers. His road led across the valley of Caxas, a broad, uncultivated district, affording little sustenance for man or beast. Day after day, his troops held on their march through this dreary region, intersected with barrancas and rocky ravines that added incredibly to their toil. Their principal food was the parched corn, which usually formed the nourishment of the travelling Indians, though held of much less account by the Spaniards; and this meagre fare was reinforced by such herbs as they found on the way-side, which, for want of better utensils, the soldiers were fain to boil in their helmets. 8 Carbajal, mean while, pressed on them so close, that their baggage, ammunition, and sometimes their mules, fell into his hands. The indefatigable warrior was always on their track, by day and by night, allowing them scarcely any repose. They spread no tent, and lay down in their arms, with their steeds standing saddled beside them; and hardly had the weary soldier closed his eyes, when he was startled by the cry that the enemy was upon him. 9
8 “Caminando, pues, comiendo algunas Jervas, que cocian en las Celadas, quando paraban a dar aliento a los Caballos.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 9, cap 24.]
9 “I sin que en todo el camino los vnos, ni los otros, quitasen las Sillas a los Caballos, aunque en este caso estaba mas alerta la Gente del Visorei, porque si algun pequeno rato de la Noche reposaban, era vestidos, i teniendo siempre los Caballos del Cabestro, sin esperar a poner Toldos, ni a aderecar las otras formas, que se suelen tener para atar los Caballos de Noche.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 29.
At length, the harassed followers of Blasco Nunez reached the depoblado, or desert of Paltos, which stretches towards the north for many a dreary league. The ground, intersected by numerous streams, has the character of a great quagmire, and men and horses floundered about in the stagnant waters, or with difficulty worked their way over the marsh, or opened a passage through the tangled underwood that shot up in rank luxuriance from the surface. The wayworn horses, without food, except such as they could pick up in the wilderness, were often spent with travel, and, becoming unserviceable, were left to die on the road, with their hamstrings cut, that they might be of no use to the enemy; though more frequently they were despatched to afford a miserable banquet to their masters. 10 Many of the men now fainted by the way from mere exhaustion, or loitered in the woods, unable to keep up with the march. And woe to the straggler who fell into the hands of Carbajal, at least if he had once belonged to the party of Pizarro. The mere suspicion of treason sealed his doom with the unrelenting soldier. 11
10 “I en cansandose el Caballo, le desjarretaba, i le dexaba, porque sus contrarios no se aprovechasen de el.” Ibid., loc. cit.]
11 “Had it not been for Gonzalo Pizarro’s interference,” says Fernandez, “many more would have been hung up by his lieutenant, who pleasantly quoted the old Spanish proverb, — ‘The fewer of our enemies the better.’” De los enemigos, los menos. Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 40.]
The sufferings of Pizarro and his troop were scarcely less than those of the viceroy; though they were somewhat mitigated by the natives of the country, who, with ready instinct, discerned which party was the strongest, and, of course, the most to be feared. But, with every alleviation, the chieftain’s sufferings were terrible. It was repeating the dismal scenes of the expedition to the Amazon. The soldiers of the Conquest must be admitted to have purchased their triumphs dearly.
Yet the viceroy had one source of disquietude, greater, perhaps, than any arising from physical suffering. This was the distrust of his own followers. There were several of the principal cavaliers in his suite whom he suspected of being in correspondence with the enemy, and even of designing to betray him into their hands. He was so well convinced of this, that he caused two of these officers to be put to death on the march; and their dead bodies, as they lay by the roadside, meeting the eye of the soldier, told him that there were others to be feared in these frightful solitudes besides the enemy in his rear. 12
12 “Los afligidos Soldados, que por el cansancio de los Caballos iban a pie con terrible angustia, por la persecucion de los Enemigos, que iban cerca, i por la fatiga de la hambre, quando vieron los Cuerpos de los dos Capitanes muertos en aquel camino quedaron atonitos.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 9, cap. 25.]
Another cavalier, who held the chief command under the viceroy, was executed, after a more formal investigation of his case, at the first place where the army halted. At this distance of time, it is impossible to determine how far the suspicions of Blasco Nunez were founded on truth. The judgments of contemporaries are at variance. 13 In times of political ferment, the opinion of the writer is generally determined by the complexion of his party. To judge from the character of Blasco Nunez, jealous and irritable, we might suppose him to have acted without sufficient cause. But this consideration is counterbalanced by that of the facility with which his followers swerved from their allegiance to their commander, who seems to have had so light a hold on their affections, that they were shaken off by the least reverse of fortune. Whether his suspicions were well or ill founded, the effect was the same on the mind of the viceroy. With an enemy in his rear whom he dared not fight, and followers whom he dared not trust, the cup of his calamities was nearly full.
13 Fernandez, who held a loyal pen, and one sufficiently friendly to the viceroy, after stating that the officers, whom the latter put to death, had served him to that time with their lives and fortunes, dismisses the affair with the temperate reflection, that men formed different judgments on it. “Sobre estas muertes uuo en el Peru varios y contrarios juyzios y opiniones, de culpa y de su descargo.” (Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 41.) Gomara says, more unequivocally, “All condemned it.” (Hist. de las Ind., cap. 167.) The weight of opinion seems to have been against the viceroy.]
At length, he issued forth on firm ground, and, passing through Tomebamba, Blasco Nunez reentered his northern capital of Quito. But his reception was not so cordial as that which he had before experienced. He now came as a fugitive, with a formidable enemy in pursuit; and he was soon made to feel that the surest way to receive support is not to need it.
Shaking from his feet the dust of the disloyal city, whose superstitious people were alive to many an omen that boded his approaching ruin, 14 the unfortunate commander held on his way towards Pastos, in the jurisdiction of Benalcazar. Pizarro and his forces entered Quito not long after, disappointed, that, with all his diligence, the enemy still eluded his pursuit. He halted only to breathe his men, and, declaring that “he would follow up the viceroy to the North Sea but he would overtake him,” 15 he resumed his march. At Pastos, he nearly accomplished his object. His advance-guard came up with Blasco Nunez as the latter was halting on the opposite bank of a rivulet. Pizarro’s men, fainting from toil and heat, staggered feebly to the water-side, to slake their burning thirst, and it would have been easy for the viceroy’s troops, refreshed by repose, and superior in number to their foes, to have routed them. But Blasco Nunez could not bring his soldiers to the charge. They had fled so long before their enemy, that the mere sight of him filled their hearts with panic, and they would have no more thought of turning against him than the hare would turn against the hound that pursues her. Their safety, they felt, was to fly, not to fight, and they profited by the exhaustion of their pursuers only to quicken their retreat.
14 Some of these omens recorded by the historian — as the howling of dogs — were certainly no miracles. “En esta lamentable, i angustiosa partida, muchos afirmaron, haver visto por el Aire muchos Cometas, i que quadrillas de Perros andaban por las Calles, dando grandes i temerosos ahullidos, i los Hombres andaban asombrados, i fuera de si.” Herrera Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 10, cap. 4.]
15 Ibid., ubi supra.]
Gonzalo Pizarro continued the chase some leagues beyond Pastos; when, finding himself carried farther than he desired into the territories of Benalcazar, and not caring to encounter this formidable captain at disadvantage, he came to a halt, and, notwithstanding his magnificent vaunt about the North Sea, ordered a retreat, and made a rapid countermarch on Quito. Here he found occupation in repairing the wasted spirits of his troops, and in strengthening himself with fresh reinforcements, which much increased his numbers; though these were again diminished by a body that he detached under Carbajal to suppress an insurrection, which he now learned had broken out in the south. It was headed by Diego Centeno, one of his own officers, whom he had established in La Plata, the inhabitants of which place had joined in the revolt and raised the standard for the Crown. With the rest of his forces, Pizarro resolved to remain at Quito, waiting the hour when the viceroy would reenter his dominions; as the tiger crouches by some spring in the wilderness, patiently waiting the return of his victims.
Meanwhile Blasco Nunez had pushed forward his retreat to Popayan, the capital of Benalcazar’s province. Here he was kindly received by the people; and his soldiers, reduced by desertion and disease to one fifth of their original number, rested from the unparalleled fatigues of a march which had continued for more than two hundred leagues. 16 It was not long before he was joined by Cabrera, Benalcazar’s lieutenant, with a stout reinforcement, and, soon after, by that chieftain himself. His whole force now amounted to near four hundred men, most of them in good condition, and well trained in the school of American warfare. His own men were sorely deficient both in arms and ammunition; and he set about repairing the want by building furnaces for manufacturing arquebuses and pikes. 17 — One familiar with the history of these times is surprised to see the readiness with which the Spanish adventurers turned their hands to various trades and handicrafts usually requiring a long apprenticeship. They displayed the dexterity so necessary to settlers in a new country, where every man must become in some degree his own artisan. But this state of things, however favorable to the ingenuity of the artist, is not very propitious to the advancement of the art; and there can be little doubt that the weapons thus made by the soldiers of Blasco Nunez were of the most rude and imperfect construction.
16 This retreat of Blasco Nunez may undoubtedly compare, if not in duration, at least in sharpness of suffering, with any expedition in the New World, — save, indeed, that of Gonzalo Pizarro himself to the Amazon. The particulars of it may be found, with more or less amplification, in Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 19, 29. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 9, cap. 20–26. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 40, et seq. — Relacion de los Sucesos del Peru, Ms — Relacion Anonima, Ms. — Montesions, Annales, Ms., ano 1545.]
17 “Proveio, que se tragese alli todo el hierro que se pudo haver en la Provincia, i busco Maestros, hico aderecar Fraguas, i en breve tiempo se forjaron en ellas docien tos Arcabuces, con todos sus aparejos.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap 34.]
As week after week rolled away, Gonzalo Pizarro, though fortified with the patience of a Spanish soldier, felt uneasy at the protracted stay of Blasco Nunez in the north, and he resorted to stratagem to decoy him from his retreat. He marched out of Quito with the greater part of his forces, pretending that he was going to support his lieutenant in the south, while he left a garrison in the city under the command of Puelles, the same officer who had formerly deserted from the viceroy. These tidings he took care should be conveyed to the enemy’s camp. The artifice succeeded as he wished. Blasco Nunez and his followers, confident in their superiority over Puelles, did not hesitate for a moment to profit by the supposed absence of Pizarro. Abandoning Popayan, the viceroy, early in January, 1546, moved by rapid marches towards the south. But before he reached the place of his destination, he became apprised of the snare into which he had been drawn. He communicated the fact to his officers; but he had already suffered so much from suspense, that his only desire now was, to bring his quarrel with Pizarro to the final arbitrament of arms.
That chief, meanwhile, had been well informed, through his spies,of the viceroy’s movements. On learning the departure of the latter from Popayan, he had reentered Quito, joined his forces with those of Puelles, and, issuing from the capital, had taken up a strong position about three leagues to the north, on a high ground that commanded a stream, across which the enemy must pass. It was not long before the latter came in sight, and Blasco Nunez, as night began to fall, established himself on the opposite bank of the rivulet. It was so near to the enemy’s quarters, that the voices of the sentinels could be distinctly heard in the opposite camps, and they did not fail to salute one another with the epithet of “traitors.” In these civil wars, as we have seen, each party claimed for itself the exclusive merit of loyalty. 18
18 “Que se llegaron a hablar los Corredores de ambas partes, Ilamandose Traidores los vnos a los otros, fundando, que cada vno sustentaba la voz del Rei, i asi estuvieron toda aquella noche aguardando.” Ibid., ubi supra.]
But Benalcazar soon saw that Pizarro’s position was too strong to be assailed with any chance of success. He proposed, therefore, to the viceroy, to draw off his forces secretly in the night; and, making a detour round the hills, to fall on the enemy’s rear, where he would be at least prepared to receive them. The counsel was approved; and, no sooner were the two hosts shrouded from each other’s eyes by the darkness, than, leaving his camp-fires burning to deceive the enemy, Blasco Nunez broke up his quarters, and began his circuitous march in the direction of Quito. But either he had been misinformed, or his guides misled him; for the roads proved so impracticable, that he was compelled to make a circuit of such extent, that dawn broke before he drew near the point of attack. Finding that he must now abandon the advantage of a surprise, he pressed forward to Quito, where he arrived with men and horses sorely fatigued by a night-march of eight leagues, from a point which, by the direct route, would not have exceeded three. It was a fatal error on the eve of an engagement. 19
19 For the preceding pages, see Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 34, 35. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 167. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1546. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 50–52.
Herrera, in his account of these transactions, has fallen into a strange confusion of dates, fixing the time of the viceroy’s entry into Quito on the 10th of January, and that of his battle with Pizarro nine days later (Hist. General, dec. 8, lib. 1, cap 1.) This last event, which, by the testimony of Fernandez, was on the eighteenth of the month, was by the agreement of such contemporary authorities as I have consulted, — as stated in the text, — on the evening of the same day in which the viceroy entered Quito. Herrera, though his work is arranged on the chronological system of annals, is by no means immaculate as to his dates. Quintana has exposed several glaring anachronisms of the historian in the earlier period of the Peruvian conquest. See his Espanoles Celebres, tom. II. Appendix, No. 7.]
He found the capital nearly deserted by the men. They had all joined the standard of Pizarro; for they had now caught the general spirit of disaffection, and looked upon that chief as their protector from the oppressive ordinances. Pizarro was the representative of the people. Greatly moved at this desertion, the unhappy viceroy, lifting his hands to heaven, exclaimed, — “Is it thus, Lord, that thou abandonest thy servants?” The women and children came out, and in vain offered him food, of which he stood obviously in need, asking him, at the same time, “Why he had come there to die?” His followers, with more indifference than their commander, entered the houses of the inhabitants, and unceremoniously appropriated whatever they could find to appease the cravings of appetite.
Benalcazar, who saw the temerity of giving battle, in their present condition, recommended the viceroy to try the effect of negotiation, and offered himself to go to the enemy’s camp, and arrange, if possible, terms of accommodation with Pizarro. But Blasco Nunez, if he had desponded for a moment, had now recovered his wonted constancy, and he proudly replied, — “There is no faith to be kept with traitors. We have come to fight, not to parley; and we must do our duty like good and loyal cavaliers. I will do mine,” he continued, “and be assured I will be the first man to break a lance with the enemy.” 20
20 “Yo os prometo, que la primera laca que se rompa en los enemigos, sea la mia (y assi lo cumplio). Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 53.]
He then called his troops together, and addressed to them a few words preparatory to marching “You are all brave men,” he said, “and loyal to your sovereign. For my own part, I hold life as little in comparison with my duty to my prince. Yet let us not distrust our success; the Spaniard, in a good cause, has often overcome greater odds than these. And we are fighting for the right; it is the cause of God, — the cause of God,” 21 he concluded, and the soldiers, kindled by his generous ardor, answered him with huzzas that went to the heart of the unfortunate commander, little accustomed of late to this display of enthusiasm.
21 “Que de Dios es la causa, de Dios es la causa, de Dios es la causa.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 35.]
It was the eighteenth of January, 1546, when Blasco Nunez marched out at the head of his array, from the ancient city of Quito. He had proceeded but a mile, 22 when he came in view of the enemy formed along the crest of some high lands, which by a gentle swell, rose gradually from the plains of Anaquito. Gonzalo Pizarro, greatly chagrined on ascertaining the departure of the viceroy, early in the morning, had broken up his camp, and directed his march on the capital, fully resolved that his enemy should not escape him.
22 “Un quarto de legua de la ciudad.” Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms.]
The viceroy’s troops, now coming to a halt, were formed in order of battle. A small body of arquebusiers was stationed in the advance to begin the fight. The remainder of that corps was distributed among the spearmen, who occupied the centre, protected on the flanks by the horse drawn up in two nearly equal squadrons. The cavalry amounted to about one hundred and forty, being little inferior to that on the other side, though the whole number of the viceroy’s forces, being less than four hundred, did not much exceed the half of his rival’s. On the right, and in front of the royal banner, Blasco Nunez, supported by thirteen chosen cavaliers, took his station, prepared to head the attack.
Pizarro had formed his troops in a corresponding manner with that of his adversary. They mustered about seven hundred in all, well appointed, in good condition, and officered by the best knights in Peru. 23 As, notwithstanding his superiority of numbers, Pizarro did not seem inclined to abandon his advantageous position, Blasco Nunez gave orders to advance. The action commenced with the arquebusiers, and in a few moments the dense clouds of smoke, rolling over the field, obscured every object; for it was late in the day when the action began, and the light was rapidly fading.
23 The amount of the numbers on both sides is variously given, as usual, making, however, more than the usual difference in the relative proportions, since the sum total is so small. I have conformed to the statements of the best-instructed writers. Pizarro estimates his adversary’s force at four hundred and fifty men, and his own at only six hundred; an estimate, it may be remarked, that does not make the given in the text any less credible.]
The infantry, now levelling their pikes, advanced under cover of the smoke, and were soon hotly engaged with the opposite files of spearmen. Then came the charge of the cavalry, which — notwithstanding they were thrown into some disorder by the fire of Pizarro’s arquebusiers, far superior in number to their own — was conducted with such spirit that the enemy’s horse were compelled to reel and fall back before it. But it was only to recoil with greater violence, as, like an overwhelming wave, Pizarro’s troopers rushed on their foes, driving them along the slope, and bearing down man and horse in indiscriminate ruin. Yet these, in turn, at length rallied, cheered on by the cries and desperate efforts of their officers. The lances were shivered, and they fought hand to hand with swords and battle-axes mingled together in wild confusion. But the struggle was of no long duration; for, though the numbers were nearly equal, the viceroy’s cavalry, jaded by the severe march of the previous night, 24 were no match for their antagonists. The ground was strewn with the wreck of their bodies; and horses and riders, the dead and the dying, lay heaped on one another. Cabrera, the brave lieutenant of Benalcazar, was slain, and that commander was thrown under his horse’s feet, covered with wounds, and left for dead on the field. Alvarez, the judge, was mortally wounded. Both he and his colleague Cepeda were in the action, though ranged on opposite sides, fighting as if they had been bred to arms, not to the peaceful profession of the law.
24 Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 35.]
Yet Blasco Nunez and his companions maintained a brave struggle on the right of the field. The viceroy had kept his word by being the first to break his lance against the enemy, and by a well-directed blow had borne a cavalier, named Alonso de Montalvo, clean out of his saddle. But he was at length overwhelmed by numbers, and, as his companions, one after another, fell by his side, he was left nearly unprotected. He was already wounded, when a blow on the head from the battle-axe of a soldier struck him from his horse, and he fell stunned on the ground. Had his person been known, he might have been taken alive, but he wore a sobre-vest of Indian cotton over his armour, which concealed the military order of St. James, and the other badges of his rank. 25
25 He wore this dress, says Garcilasso de la Vega, that he might fare no better than a common soldier, but take his chance with the rest. (Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 34.) Pizarro gives him credit for no such magnanimous intent. According to him, the viceroy assumed this disguise, that, his rank being unknown, he might have the better chance for escape. — It must be confessed that this is the general motive for a disguise. “I Blasco Nunez puso mucha diligencia por poder huirse si pudiera, porque venia vestido con una camiseta de Yndios por no ser conocido, i no quiso Dios porque pagase quantos males por su causa se havian hecho.” Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia. Ms.]
His person, however, was soon recognized by one of Pizarro’s followers, who, not improbably, had once followed the viceroy’s banner. The soldier immediately pointed him out to the Licentiate Carbajal. This person was the brother of the cavalier whom, as the reader may remember, Blasco Nunez had so rashly put to death in his palace at Lima. The licentiate had afterwards taken service under Pizarro, and, with several of his kindred, was pledged to take vengeance on the viceroy. Instantly riding up, he taunted the fallen commander with the murder of his brother, and was in the act of dismounting to despatch him with his own hand, when Puelles remonstrating on this, as an act of degradation, commanded one of his attendants, a black slave, to cut off the viceroy’s head. This the fellow executed with a single stroke of his sabre, while the wretched man, perhaps then dying of his wounds, uttered no word, but with eyes imploringly turned up towards heaven, received the fatal blow. 26 The head was then borne aloft on a pike, and some were brutal enough to pluck out the grey hairs from the beard and set them in their caps, as grisly trophies of their victory. 27 The fate of the day was now decided. Yet still the infantry made a brave stand, keeping Pizarro’s horse at bay with their bristling array of pikes. But their numbers were thinned by the arquebusiers; and, thrown into disorder, they could no longer resist the onset of the horse, who broke into their column, and soon scattered and drove them off the ground. The pursuit was neither long nor bloody; for darkness came on, and Pizarro bade his trumpets sound, to call his men together under their banners.
26 Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 54. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 35.
“Mando a un Negro que traia, que le cortase la Cabeca, i en todo esto no se conocio flaqueca en el Visorrei, ni hablo palabra, ni hico mas movimiento, que alcar los ojos al Cielo, dando muestras de mucha Christiandad, i constancia.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 8, lib. 1, cap. 3.]
27 “Aviendo algunos capitanes y personas arrancado y pelado algunas de sus blancas y leales baruas, para traer por empresa, y Jua de la Torre las traxo despues publicamente en la gorra por la ciudad de los Reyes.” Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 54.
Though the action lasted but a short time, nearly one third of the viceroy’s troops had perished. The loss of their opponents was inconsiderable. 28 Several of the vanquished cavaliers took refuge in the churches of Quito. But they were dragged from the sanctuary, and some — probably those who had once espoused the cause of Pizarro — were led to execution, and others banished to Chili. The greater part were pardoned by the conqueror. Benalcazar, who recovered from his wounds, was permitted to return to his government, on condition of no more bearing arms against Pizarro. His troops were invited to take service under the banner of the victor, who, however, never treated them with the confidence shown to his ancient partisans. He was greatly displeased at the indignities offered to the viceroy; whose mangled remains he caused to be buried with the honors due to his rank in the cathedral of Quito. Gonzalo Pizarro, attired in black, walked as chief mourner in the procession. — It was usual with the Pizarros, as we have seen, to pay these obituary honors to their victims. 29
28 The estimates of killed and wounded in this action are as discordant as usual. Some carry the viceroy’s loss to two hundred, while Gonzalo Pizarro rates his own at only seven killed and but a few wounded. But how rarely is that a faithful bulletin is issued by the parties engaged in the action!]
29 For the accounts of the battle of Anaquito, rather summarily despatched by most writers, see Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 170. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 8, lib. 1, cap. 1 — 3. — Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 5, cap. 35. — Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1546. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 33–35. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 53, 54.
Gonzalo Pizarro seems to regard the battle as a sort of judicial trial by combat, in which Heaven, by the result, plainly indicated the right. His remarks are edifying. “Por donde parecera claramente que Nuestro Senor fue servido este se viniese a meter en las manos para quitarnos de tantos cuidados, i que pagase quantos males havia fecho en la tierra, la qual quedo tan asosegada i tan en paz i servicio de S. M. como lo estuvo en tiempo del Marques mi hermano.” Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms.]
Such was the sad end of Blasco Nunez Vela, first viceroy of Peru. It was less than two years since he had set foot in the country, a period of unmitigated disaster and disgrace. His misfortunes may be imputed partly to circumstances, and partly to his own character. The minister of an odious and oppressive law, he was intrusted with no discretionary power in the execution of it. 30 Yet every man may, to a certain extent, claim the right to such a power; since, to execute a commission, which circumstances show must certainly defeat the object for which it was designed, would be absurd. But it requires sagacity to determine the existence of such a contingency, and moral courage to assume the responsibility of acting on it. Such a crisis is the severest test of character. To dare to disobey from a paramount sense of duty, is a paradox that a little soul can hardly comprehend. Unfortunately, Blasco Nunez was a pedantic martinet, a man of narrow views, who could not feel himself authorized under any circumstances to swerve from the letter of the law. Puffed up by his brief authority, moreover, he considered opposition to the ordinances as treason to himself; and thus, identifying himself with his commission, he was prompted by personal feelings, quite as much as by those of a public and patriotic nature.
30 Garcilasso’s reflections on this point are commendably tolerant. “Assi acabo este buen cauallero, por querer porfiar tanto en la execucion de lo que ni a su Rey ni a aquel Reyno conuenia: donde se causaron tantas muertes y danos de Espanoles, y de Yndios: aunque no tuuo tanta culpa como se la atribuye, porque lleuo preciso mandato de lo que hizo.” Com. Rean Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 34.]
Neither was the viceroy’s character of a kind that tended to mitigate the odium of his measures, and reconcile the people to their execution. It afforded a strong contrast to that of his rival, Pizarro, whose frank, chivalrous bearing, and generous confidence in his followers, made him universally popular, blinding their judgments, and giving to the worse the semblance of the better cause. Blasco Nunez, on the contrary, irritable and suspicious, placed himself in a false position with all whom he approached; for a suspicious temper creates an atmosphere of distrust around it that kills every kindly affection. His first step was to alienate the members of the Audience who were sent to act in concert with him. But this was their fault as well as his, since they were as much too lax, as he was too severe, in the interpretation of the law. 31 He next alienated and outraged the people whom he was appointed to govern. And, lastly, he disgusted his own friends, and too often turned them into enemies; so that, in his final struggle for power and for existence, he was obliged to rely on the arm of the stranger. Yet in the catalogue of his qualities we must not pass in silence over his virtues. There are two to the credit of which he is undeniably entitled, — a loyalty, which shone the brighter amidst the general defection around him, and a constancy under misfortune, which might challenge the respect even of his enemies. But with the most liberal allowance for his merits, it can scarcely be doubted that a person more incompetent to the task assigned him could not have been found in Castile. 32
31 Blasco Nunez characterized the four judges of the Audience in a manner more concise than complimentary, — a boy, a madman, a booby, and a dunce! “Decia muchas veces Blasco Nunez, que le havian dado el Emperador, i su Consejo de Indias vn Moco, un Loco, un Necio, vn Tonto por Oidores, que asi lo havian hecho como ellos eran. Moco era Cepeda, i llamaba Loco a Juan Alvarez, i Necio a Tejada, que no sabia Latin.” Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 171.]
32 The account of Blasco Nunez Vela rests chiefly on the authority of loyal writers, some of whom wrote after their return to Castile. They would, therefore, more naturally lean to the side of the true representative of the Crown, than to that of the rebel. Indeed, the only voice raised decidedly in favor of Pizarro is his own, — a very suspicious authority. Yet, with all the prestiges in his favor, the administration of Blasco Nunez, from universal testimony, was a total failure. And there is little to interest us in the story of the man, except his unparalleled misfortunes and the firmness with which he bore them.]
The victory of Anaquito was received with general joy in the neighbouring capital; all the cities of Peru looked on it as sealing the downfall of the detested ordinances, and the name of Gonzalo Pizarro was sounded from one end of the country to the other as that of its deliverer. That chief continued to prolong his stay in Quito during the wet season, dividing his time between the licentious pleasures of the reckless adventurer and the cares of business that now pressed on him as ruler of the state. His administration was stained with fewer acts of violence than might have been expected from the circumstances of his situation. So long as Carbajal, the counsellor in whom he unfortunately placed greatest reliance, was absent, Gonzalo sanctioned no execution, it was observed, but according to the forms of law. 33 He rewarded his followers by new grants of land, and detached several on expeditions, to no greater distance, however, than would leave it in his power readily to recall them. He made various provisions for the welfare of the natives, and some, in particular, for instructing them in the Christian faith. He paid attention to the faithful collection of the royal dues, urging on the colonists that they should deport themselves so as to conciliate the good-will of the Crown, and induce a revocation of the ordinances. His administration in short, was so conducted, that even the austere Gasca, his successor, allowed “it was a good government, — for a tyrant.” 34
33 “Nunca Picarro, en ausencia de Francisco de Carvajal, su Maestre de Campo, mato, ni consintio matar Espanol, sin que todos, los mas de su Consejo, lo aprobasen: i entonces con Proceso en forma de Derecho, i confesados primero.” Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 172.]
34 Ibid., ubi supra. — Fernandez gives a less favorable picture of Gonzalo’s administration. (Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 54; lib. 2, cap. 13.) Fernandez wrote at the instance of the Court; Gomara, though present at court, wrote to please himself. The praise of Gomara is less suspicious than the censure of Fernandez.]
At length, in July, 1546, the new governor bade adieu to Quito, and, leaving there a sufficient garrison under his officer Puelles, began his journey to the south. It was a triumphal progress, and everywhere he was received on the road with enthusiasm by the people. At Truxillo, the citizens came out in a body to welcome him, and the clergy chanted anthems in his honor, extolling him as the “victorious prince,” and imploring the Almighty “to lengthen his days, and give him honor.” 35 At Lima, it was proposed to clear away some of the buildings, and open a new street for his entrance, which might ever after bear the name of the victor. But the politic chieftain declined this flattering tribute, and modestly preferred to enter the city by the usual way. A procession was formed of the citizens, the soldiers, and the clergy, and Pizarro made his entry into the capital with two of his principal captains on foot, holding the reins of his charger, while the archbishop of Lima, and the bishops of Cuzco, Quito, and Bogota, the last of whom had lately come to the city to be consecrated, rode by his side. The streets were strewn with boughs, the walls of the houses hung with showy tapestries, and triumphal arches were thrown over the way in honor of the victor. Every balcony, veranda, and house-top was crowded with spectators, who sent up huzzas, loud and long, saluting the victorious soldier with the titles of “Liberator, and Protector of the people.” The bells rang out their joyous peal, as on his former entrance into the capital; and amidst strains of enlivening music, and the blithe sounds of jubilee, Gonzalo held on his way to the palace of his brother. Peru was once more placed under the dynasty of the Pizarros. 36
35 “Victorioso Principe, hagate Dios dichoso, l bienaventurado, el te mantenga, i te conserve.” Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 8, lib. 2, cap. 9.]
36 For an account of this pageant, see Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. — Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 8, lib. 2, cap. 9. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 6, cap. 5. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms.]
Deputies came from different parts of the country, tendering the congratulations of their respective cities; and every one eagerly urged his own claims to consideration for the services he had rendered in the revolution. Pizarro, at the same time, received the welcome intelligence of the success of his arms in the south. Diego Centeno, as before stated, had there raised the standard of rebellion, or rather, of loyalty to his sovereign. He had made himself master of La Plata, and the spirit of insurrection had spread over the broad province of Charcas. Carbajal, who had been sent against him from Quito, after repairing to Lima, had passed at once to Cuzco, and there, strengthening his forces, had descended by rapid marches on the refractory district. Centeno did not trust himself in the field against this formidable champion. He retreated with his troops into the fastnesses of the sierra. Carbajal pursued, following on his track with the pertinacity of a bloodhound; over mountain and moor, through forests and dangerous ravines, allowing him no respite, by day or by night. Eating, drinking, sleeping in his saddle, the veteran, eighty years of age, saw his own followers tire one after another, while he urged on the chase, like the wild huntsman of Burger, as if endowed with an unearthly frame, incapable of fatigue! During this terrible pursuit, which continued for more than two hundred leagues over a savage country, Centeno found himself abandoned by most of his followers. Such of them as fell into Carbajal’s hands were sent to speedy execution; for that inexorable chief had no mercy on those who had been false to their party. 37 At length, Centeno, with a handful of men, arrived on the borders of the Pacific, and there, separating from one another, they provided, each in the best way he could, for their own safety. Their leader found an asylum in a cave in the mountains, where he was secretly fed by an Indian curaca, till the time again came for him to unfurl the standard of revolt. 38
37 Poblando los arboles con sus cuerpos, “peopling the trees with heir bodies,” says Fernandez, strongly; alluding to the manner in which the ferocious officer hung up his captives on the branches.]
38 For the expedition of Carbajal, see Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 8, lib. 1, cap. 9, et seq. — Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 6, cap. 1. — Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 28, 29, 36, 39. — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 1, et seq. — Carta de Gonzalo Pizarro a Valdivia, Ms.
It is impossible to give, in a page or two, any adequate idea of the hairbreadth escapes and perilous risks of Carbajal, not only from the enemy, but from his own men, whose strength he overtasked in the chase. They rival those of the renowned Scanderbeg, or our own Kentucky hero, Colonel Boone. They were, indeed, far more wonderful than theirs, since the Spanish captain had reached an age when the failing energies usually crave repose. But the veteran’s body seems to have been as insensible as his soul.]
Carbajal, after some further decisive movements, which fully established the ascendency of Pizarro over the south, returned in triumph to La Plata. There he occupied himself with working the silver mines of Potosi, in which a vein, recently opened, promised to make richer returns than any yet discovered in Mexico or Peru; 39 and he was soon enabled to send large remittances to Lima, deducting no stinted commission for himself, — for the cupidity of the lieutenant was equal to his cruelty.
39 The vein now discovered at Potosi was so rich, that the other mines were comparatively deserted in order to work this. (Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 6, cap 4) The effect of the sudden influx of wealth was such, according to Garcilasso, that in ten years from this period an iron horseshoe, in that quarter, came to be worth nearly its weight in silver. Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 24.]
Gonzalo Pizarro was now undisputed master of Peru. From Quito to the northern confines of Chili, the whole country acknowledged his authority. His fleet rode triumphant on the Pacific, and gave him the command of every city and hamlet on its borders. His admiral, Hinojosa, a discreet and gallant officer, had secured him Panama, and, marching across the Isthmus, had since obtained for him the possession of Nombre de Dios, — the principal key of communication with Europe. His forces were on an excellent footing, including the flower of the warriors who had fought under his brother, and who now eagerly rallied under the name of Pizarro; while the tide of wealth that flowed in from the mines of Potosi supplied him with the resources of an European monarch.
The new governor now began to assume a state correspondent with his full-blown fortunes. He was attended by a body-guard of eighty soldiers. He dined always in public, and usually with not less than a hundred guests at table. He even affected, it was said, the more decided etiquette of royalty, giving his hand to be kissed, and allowing no one, of whatever rank, to be seated in his presence. 40 But this is denied by others. It would not be strange that a vain man like Pizarro, with a superficial, undisciplined mind, when he saw himself thus raised from an humble condition to the highest post in the land, should be somewhat intoxicated by the possession of power, and treat with superciliousness those whom he had once approached with deference. But one who had often seen him in his prosperity assures us, that it was not so, and that the governor continued to show the same frank and soldierlike bearing as before his elevation, mingling on familiar terms with his comrades, and displaying the same qualities which had hitherto endeared him to the people. 41
40 “Traia Guarda de ochenta Alabarderos, i otros muchos de Caballo, que le acompanaban, i ia en su presencia ninguno se sentaba, i a mui pocos quitaba la Gorra.” Zarate, Conq. del Peru lib 6 cap. 5.]
41 Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 42. Garcilasso had opportunities of personal acquaintance with Gonzalo’s manner of living; for, when a boy, he was sometimes admitted, as he tells us, to a place at his table. This courtesy, so rare from the Conquerors to any of the Indian race, was not lost on the historian of the Incas, who has depicted Gonzalo Pizarro in more favorable colors than most of his own countrymen.]
However this may be, it is certain there were not wanting those who urged him to throw off his allegiance to the Crown, and set up an independent government for himself. Among these was his lieutenant, Carbajal, whose daring spirit never shrunk from following things to their consequences. He plainly counselled Pizarro to renounce his allegiance at once. “In fact, you have already done so,” he said. “You have been in arms against a viceroy, have driven him from the country, beaten and slain him in battle. What favor, or even mercy, can you expect from the Crown? You have gone too far either to halt, or to recede. You must go boldly on, proclaim yourself king; the troops, the people, will support you.” And he concluded, it is said, by advising him to marry the Coya, the female representative of the Incas, that the two races might henceforth repose in quiet under a common sceptre! 42
42 Ibid., Parte 2, lib. 4, cap. 40. — Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 172 — Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 1. lib. 2, cap. 13.
The poet Molina has worked up this scene between Carbajal and his commander with good effect, in his Amazonas en las Indias, where he uses something of a poet’s license in the homage he pays to the modest merits of Gonzalo. Julius Caesar himself was not more magnanimous.
“Sepa mi Rey, sepa Espana,
Que muero por no ofenderla,
Tan facil de conservarla,
Que pierdo por no agraviarla,
Quanto infame en poseerla,
Una Corona ofrecida.”
Among the biographical notices of the writers on Spanish colonial affairs, the name of Herrera, who has done more for this vast subject than any other author, should certainly not be omitted. His account of Peru takes its proper place in his great work, the Historia General de las Indias, according to the chronological plan on which that history is arranged. But as it suggests reflections not different in character from those suggested by other portions of the work, I shall take the liberty to refer the reader to the Postscript to Book Third of the Conquest of Mexico, for a full account of these volumes and their learned author. Another chronicler, to whom I have been frequently indebted in the progress of the narrative, is Francisco Lopez de Gomara. The reader will also find a notice of this author in the Conquest of Mexico, Vol. III., Book 5, Postscript. But as the remarks on his writings are there confined to his Cronica de Nueva Espana, it may be well to add here some reflections on his greater work, Historia de las Indias, in which the Peruvian story bears a conspicuous part.
The “History of the Indies” is intended to give a brief view of the whole range of Spanish conquest in the islands and on the American continent, as far as had been achieved by the middle of the sixteenth century. For this account, Gomara, though it does not appear that he ever visited the New World, was in a situation that opened to him the best means of information. He was well acquainted with the principal men of the time, and gathered the details of their history from their own lips; while, from his residence at court, he was in possession of the state of opinion there, and of the impression made by passing events on those most competent to judge of them. He was thus enabled to introduce into his work many interesting particulars, not to be found in other records of the period. His range of inquiry extended beyond the mere doings of the Conquerors, and led him to a survey of the general resources of the countries he describes, and especially of their physical aspect and productions. The conduct of his work, no less than its diction, shows the cultivated scholar, practised in the art of composition. Instead of the naivete, engaging, but childlike, of the old military chroniclers, Gomara handles his various topics with the shrewd and piquant criticism of a man of the world; while his descriptions are managed with a comprehensive brevity that forms the opposite to the longwinded and rambling paragraphs of the monkish annalist. These literary merits, combined with the knowledge of the writer’s opportunities for information, secured his productions from the oblivion which too often awaits the unpublished manuscript; and he had the satisfaction to see them pass into more than one edition in his own day. Yet they do not bear the highest stamp of authenticity. The author too readily admits accounts into his pages which are not supported by contemporary testimony. This he does, not from credulity, for his mind rather leans in an opposite direction, but from a want, apparently, of the true spirit of historic conscientiousness. The imputation of carelessness in his statements — to use a temperate phrase — was brought against Gomara in his own day; and Garcilasso tells us, that, when called to account by some of the Peruvian cavaliers for misstatements which bore hard on themselves, the historian made but an awkward explanation. This is a great blemish on his productions, and renders them of far less value to the modern compiler, who seeks for the well of truth undefiled, than many an humbler but less unscrupulous chronicle.
There is still another authority used in this work, Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, of whom I have given an account elsewhere; and the reader curious in the matter will permit me to refer him for a critical notice of his life and writings to the Conquest of Mexico, Book 4, Postscript. — His account of Peru is incorporated into his great work, Natural e General Historia de las Indias, Ms., where it forms the forty-sixth and forty-seventh books. It extends from Pizarro’s landing at Tumbez to Almagro’s return from Chili, and thus covers the entire portion of what may be called the conquest of the country. The style of its execution, corresponding with that of the residue of the work to which it belongs, affords no ground for criticism different from that already passed on the general character of Oviedo’s writings.
This eminent person was at once a scholar and a man of the world. Living much at court, and familiar with persons of the highest distinction in Castile, he yet passed much of his time in the colonies, and thus added the fruits of personal experience to what he had gained from the reports of others. His curiosity was indefatigable, extending to every department of natural science, as well as to the civil and personal history of the colonists. He was, at once, their Pliny and their Tacitus. His works abound in portraitures of character, sketched with freedom and animation. His reflections are piquant, and often rise to a philosophic tone, which discards the usual trammels of the age; and the progress of the story is varied by a multiplicity of personal anecdotes, that give a rapid insight into the characters of the parties.
With his eminent qualifications, and with a social position that commanded respect, it is strange that so much of his writings — the whole of his great Historia de las Indias, and his curious Quincuagenas — should be so long suffered to remain in manuscript. This is partly chargeable to the caprice of fortune; for the History was more than once on the eve of publication, and is even now understood to be prepared for the press. Yet it has serious defects, which may have contributed to keep it in its present form. In its desultory and episodical style of composition, it resembles rather notes for a great history, than history itself. It may be regarded in the light of commentaries, or as illustrations of the times. In that view his pages are of high worth, and have been frequently resorted to by writers who have not too scrupulously appropriated the statements of the old chronicler, with slight acknowledgments to their author.
It is a pity that Oviedo should have shown more solicitude to tell what was new, than to ascertain how much of it was strictly true. Among his merits will scarcely be found that of historical accuracy. And yet we may find an apology for this, to some extent, in the fact, that his writings, as already intimated, are not so much in the nature of finished compositions, as of loose memoranda, where every thing, rumor as well as fact, — even the most contradictory rumors, — are all set down at random, forming a miscellaneous heap of materials, of which the discreet historian may avail himself to rear a symmetrical fabric on foundations of greater strength and solidity.
Another author worthy of particular note is Pedro Cieza de Leon. His Cronica del Peru should more properly be styled an Itinerary, or rather Geography, of Peru. It gives a minute topographical view of the country at the time of the Conquest; of its provinces and towns, both Indian and Spanish; its flourishing sea-coast; its forests, valleys, and interminable ranges of mountains in the interior; with many interesting particulars of the existing population, — their dress, manners, architectural remains, and public works, while, scattered here and there, may be found notices of their early history and social polity. It is, in short, a lively picture of the country in its physical and moral relations, as it met the eye at the time of the Conquest, and in that transition period when it was first subjected to European influences. The conception of a work, at so early a period, on this philosophical plan, reminding us of that of Malte–Brun in our own time, — parva componere magnis, — was, of itself, indicative of great comprehensiveness of mind in its author. It was a task of no little difficulty, where there was yet no pathway opened by the labors of the antiquarian; no hints from the sketch-book of the traveller, or the measurements of the scientific explorer. Yet the distances from place to place are all carefully jotted down by the industrious compiler, and the bearings of the different places and their peculiar features are exhibited with sufficient precision, considering the nature of the obstacles he had to encounter. The literary execution of the work, moreover, is highly respectable, sometimes even rich and picturesque; and the author describes the grand and beautiful scenery of the Cordilleras with a sensibility to its charms, not often found in the tasteless topographer, still less often in the rude Conqueror.
Cieza de Leon came to the New World, as he informs us, at the early age of thirteen. But it is not till Gasca’s time that we find his name enrolled among the actors in the busy scenes of civil strife, when he accompanied the president in his campaign against Gonzalo Pizarro. His Chronicle, or, at least, the notes for it, was compiled in such leisure as he could snatch from his more stirring avocations; and after ten years from the time he undertook it, the First Part — all we have — was completed in 1550, when the author had reached only the age of thirty-two. It appeared at Seville in 1553, and the following year at Antwerp; while an Italian translation, printed at Rome, in 1555, attested the rapid celebrity of the work. The edition of Antwerp — the one used by me in this compilation — is in the duodecimo form, exceedingly well printed, and garnished with wood-cuts, in which Satan, — for the author had a full measure of the ancient credulity, — with his usual bugbear accompaniments, frequently appears in bodily presence. In the Preface, Cieza announces his purpose to continue the work in three other parts, illustrating respectively the ancient history of the country under the Incas, its conquest by the Spaniards, and the civil wars which ensued. He even gives, with curious minuteness, the contents of the several books of the projected history. But the First Part, as already noticed, was alone completed; and the author, having returned to Spain, died there in 1560, at the premature age of forty-two, without having covered any portion of the magnificent ground-plan which he had thus confidently laid out. The deficiency is much to be regretted, considering the talent of the writer, and his opportunities for personal observation. But he has done enough to render us grateful for his labors. By the vivid delineation of scenes and scenery, as they were presented fresh to his own eyes, he has furnished us with a background to the historic picture, — the landscape, as it were, in which the personages of the time might be more fitly portrayed. It would have been impossible to exhibit the ancient topography of the land so faithfully at a subsequent period, when old things had passed away, and the Conqueror, breaking down the landmarks of ancient civilization, had effaced many of the features even of the physical aspect of the country, as it existed under the elaborate culture of the Incas.]
The advice of the bold counsellor was, perhaps, the most politic that could have been given to Pizarro under existing circumstances. For he was like one who had heedlessly climbed far up a dizzy precipice, — too far to descend safely, while he had no sure hold where he was. His only chance was to climb still higher, till he had gained the summit. But Gonzalo Pizarro shrunk from the attitude, in which this placed him, of avowed rebellion. Notwithstanding the criminal course into which he had been, of late, seduced, the sentiment of loyalty was too deeply implanted in his bosom to be wholly eradicated. Though in arms against the measures and ministers of his sovereign, he was not prepared to raise the sword against that sovereign himself. He, doubtless, had conflicting emotions in his bosom; like Macbeth, and many a less noble nature,
“Would not play false,
And yet would wrongly win.”
And however grateful to his vanity might be the picture of the air-drawn sceptre thus painted to his imagination, he had not the audacity — we may, perhaps, say, the criminal ambition — to attempt to grasp it.
Even at this very moment, when urged to this desperate extremity, he was preparing a mission to Spain, in order to vindicate the course he had taken, and to solicit an amnesty for the past, with a full confirmation of his authority, as successor to his brother in the government of Peru. — Pizarro did not read the future with the calm, prophetic eye of Carbajal.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53