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Title: The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, Volume 7 - History of Central America, Volume 2, 1530-1800
Author: Bancroft, Hubert Howe
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

     Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
     been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

     In many cases, Bancroft uses both “u” and “v” to spell an
     author’s name. Examples include:

       Villagutierre and Villagvtierre
       Mondo Nuovo and Mondo Nvovo
       Villagutierre and Villagvtierre
       Aluarado and Alvarado
       Gvat. and Guat.
       Cogolludo and Cogollvdo
       Vetancurt and Vetancvrt.

     Other archaic letter substitutions include "b" for "v" and "i" for
     "y" and vice versa.  These have been left as printed.

     Possible printers errors include:

       Esquemelin and Exquemelin are both used, possibly for the same

       Castile and Castille are both used, possibly for the same

       Fray Zambano and Zambrano are both used, possibly for the
       same person.

       On page 16, Mama Ocollo should possibly be Mama Ocllo or Occlo.

       On page 237, "In 1519 he ordered the council of the Indies to
       draw" (date possibly incorrect).

       On page 424, mines of Chuluteca should possibly be mines of

       In footnote I-17, "vamrasen en tieren" is a possible printer's

       There is possibly text missing from the quote in footnote I-31.

       In footnote X-45, Ariat should possibly be Arias.

       In footnote X-45, Malapalte should possibly be Malaparte.

       In footnote XI-11, "Ia Gottierez" is a possible printer's error.

       In footnote XI-11, "ten zy binnen vier dagen" is a possible
       printer's error.

       The references in footnote XVII-12 and footnote XVII-20 to
       Volume ii. of this series should possibly refer to Volume i.

       In footnote XVII-35, "mirá que todo lo bueno que bacare" is a
       possible printer's error.

       The reference to "this volume" in footnote XVIII-31, is
       ambiguous.  A map of Guatemala can be found in the current

       In footnote XXVI-24, "en gaossir" should possibly be

       In footnote XXVII-6, Casttell should possibly be Castell.

       In footnote XXVII-15, Governor Mercedo should possibly be
       Governor Mercado.

       The sentence "no hicesters enterar la suma que el cinsutacto,
       y corneríco de Lima so obligo a suplir por imaginaria, á lo
       epetwo del registro que salió de aquella ciudad" in footnote
       XXVII-22 was corrected to "no hicesteis enterar la suma que
       el Consulado, y comercio de Lima se obligo a suplir por
       ynmaxinaria, a lo efectibo del rexistro que salio de aquella

       In footnote XXXVII-46, Moninbo should possibly be Monimbo (Nicaragua).

     Italics in the footnote citations were inconsistently applied
     by the typesetter.

     Accents and other diacritics are inconsistently used.

     Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

     This volume contains references to the previous six volumes
     of this work.

     They can be found at:



     VOL. II. 1530-1800.


     Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1883, by
     In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

     _All Rights Reserved._





     Origin and Character of the Conqueror—The Triumvirate
     Copartnership of Pizarro, Friar Luque, and
     Diego de Almagro for Continuing the Discovery of
     Andagoya—Departure—Attitude of Pedrarias—Slow Development
     of their Plans—Return and Reëmbarkation—Persistence of
     Pizarro—Sufferings on Gallo Island—Fate Defied—Discovery
     of Tumbez and the Coast Beyond—Return to Panamá—Pizarro
     Visits Spain—A New Expedition—Aboriginal History of
     Peru—The Rival Incas—Establishment of the Spaniards at
     San Miguel—Atahualpa at Caxamalca—The Spaniards Visit Him
     there—Seizure of the Inca—Pacification of Peru—Arrival
     of Almagro—Death of Father Luque—Judicial Murder of
     the Inca—A King's Ransom—Downfall of the Peruvian
     Monarchy—Disputes and Violent Deaths of the Almagros and
     Pizarros                                                        1



     Administration of Pedro de los Rios—He is Superseded
     by the Licentiate Antonio de la Gama—Barrionuevo's
     Reign—A Province in Nueva Andalucía Granted to Pedro
     de Heredia—He Sails for Cartagena—Conflicts with the
     Natives—Treasure Unearthed—The Devil's Bohío—Prosperity
     of the Settlement—Alonso Heredia Sent to Rebuild San
     Sebastian—Is Opposed by Julian Gutierrez—Capture
     of Gutierrez—The Golden Temple of Dabaiba Once
     More—Expeditions in Search of the Glittering Phantom,
     Francisco César and Others—Audiencia Established
     at Panamá—Maleadministration—Complaints of the
     Colonists—Destitution in the Province—Bishops of Castilla
     del Oro—Miraculous Image of the Virgin—Bibliographical         44



     The Dukes of Veragua—María de Toledo Claims the Territory
     for her Son Luis Colon—Felipe Gutierrez Appointed to
     the Command—Landing on the Coast of Veragua—Sickness
     and Famine—The Cacique Dururua Enslaved—He Promises to
     Unearth his Buried Treasures—Messengers Sent in Search
     of It—They Return Empty-handed—But Warn the Chief's
     Followers—He Guides the Spaniards to the Spot—They are
     Surrounded by Indians—Rescue of the Cacique—Cannibalism
     among the Christians—Sufferings of the Few Survivors—The
     Colony Abandoned                                               63



     Alvarado Sets forth to Honduras to Join Cortés—Mutiny
     among his Men—Gonzalo de Alvarado Appointed
     Lieutenant-governor—His Meeting with Marin and his
     Party—The Second Revolt of the Cakchiquels—Gonzalo
     the Cause of the Insurrection—Massacre of the
     Spaniards—Alvarado Returns to Guatemala—He Captures the
     Peñol of Xalpatlahua—He Marches on Patinamit—His Return
     to Mexico—His Meeting with Cortés                              74



     Puertocarrero in Charge of Affairs—Revolt at
     Zacatepec—Escape of the Spanish Garrison—The
     Place Recaptured—Execution of the High Priest
     Panaguali—Sinacam's Stronghold—Its Siege and
     Capture—Jorge de Alvarado Appointed Governor—The City of
     Santiago Founded in the Almolonga Valley—Prosperity of
     the new Settlement                                             87



     Alvarado Returns to Spain—He is Arraigned before
     the Council of the Indies—His Acquittal—His
     Marriage—He Returns to Mexico—His Trial before the
     Audiencia—Francisco de Orduña Arrives at Santiago—And
     Takes the Residencia of Jorge de Alvarado—The
     Confederated Nations in Revolt—Juan Perez Dardon's
     Expedition to the Valley of Xumay—The Spaniards Attack
     the Stronghold of Uspantan—Their Repulse and Retreat—The
     Place Afterward Captured by Francisco de Castellanos—The
     Circus of Copan Besieged by Hernando de Chaves—Gallant
     Conduct of a Cavalry Soldier—Alvarado's Return to
     Santiago—Demoralized Condition of the Province                100



     Ship-building in Guatemala—Alvarado Prepares an
     Expedition to the Spice Islands—But Turns his
     Attention toward Peru—Opposition of the Treasury
     Officials—The Pilot Fernandez Brings News of Atahualpa's
     Ransom—Strength of Alvarado's Armament—He Lands at
     Puerto Viejo—Failure of his Expedition—His Return to
     Guatemala—Native Revolts during his Absence—The Visitador
     Maldonado Arrives at Santiago—He Finds No Fault in
     the Adelantado—But is Afterwards Ordered to Take his
     Residencia—Alvarado in Honduras                               122



     Francisco Marroquin Arrives at Santiago—He is Appointed
     Bishop—Godlessness of the Colonists—The Prelate Invites
     Las Casas to Join Him—Marroquin's Consecration in
     Mexico—The Church at Santiago Elevated to Cathedral
     Rank—Difficulty in Collecting the Church Tithes—The
     Merced Order in Guatemala—Miraculous Image of Our Lady
     of Merced—Bibliographical                                     133



     Diego Mendez de Hinostrosa Appointed
     Lieutenant-governor—Salcedo Returns to Trujillo—His
     Office Usurped by Vasco de Herrera—Death of Salcedo—Three
     Rival Claimants for the Governorship—Expeditions to
     the Naco and Jutigalpa Valleys—Diego Mendez Conspires
     against Herrera—Assassination of the Latter—A Reign of
     Terror—Arrest and Execution of the Conspirator—Arrival of
     Governor Albitez at Trujillo—His Death—Andrés de Cereceda
     at the Head of Affairs—Distress of the Spaniards—Exodus
     of Settlers from Trujillo—They Establish a Colony in the
     Province of Zula—Cereceda Appeals for Aid to Pedro de
     Alvarado—He is Roughly Used by his own Followers—Alvarado
     Arrives in Honduras—He Founds New Settlements—His
     Departure for Spain                                           144



     Malefeasance of Castañeda—Diego Álvarez Osorio the First
     Bishop of Nicaragua—A Convent Founded at Leon—Las Casas
     Arrives—Castañeda's Flight—Arrival of Contreras—Proposed
     Expedition to El Desaguadero—Opposition of Las
     Casas—Departure with All the Dominicans—The Volcano
     of El Infierno de Masaya—Fray Blas Believes the Lava
     to be Molten Treasure—His Descent into the Burning
     Pit—Exploration of the Desaguadero—Doctor Robles
     Attempts to Seize the New Territory—Contreras Leaves
     for Spain—His Arrest, Trial, and Return—His Son-in-law
     Meanwhile Usurps the Government—Antonio de Valdivieso
     Appointed Bishop—Feud between the Ecclesiastics and the
     Governor—Alonso Lopez de Cerrato Takes the Residencia of
     Contreras—Missionary Labors in Nicaragua                      166



     Diego Gutierrez Appointed Governor—Desertion of
     his Soldiers—He Proceeds to Nicaragua—The Advice
     of Contreras—The Expedition Sails for the Rio San
     Juan—Friendly Reception by the Natives—His Men Desert a
     Second Time—Reënforcements from Nicaragua and Nombre de
     Dios—The Historian Benzoni Joins the Party—Gutierrez as
     an Evangelist—He Inveigles Camachire and Cocori into his
     Camp—He Demands Gold under Pain of Death—Noble Conduct
     of the Cacique Cocori—The Spaniards March into the
     Interior—Their Sufferings from Hunger—They are Attacked
     and Massacred—Benzoni and Five Other Survivors Rescued
     by Alonso de Pisa                                             187



     The Adelantado's Match-making Venture—Its
     Failure—Alvarado's Commission from the Crown—He Lands
     at Puerto de Caballos—And Thence Proceeds to Iztapa—His
     Armament—He Sails for Mexico—His Defeat at Nochistlan—His
     Penitence, Death, and Last Will—Character of the
     Conqueror—Comparison of Traits with Those of Cortés—While
     above Pizarro He was far beneath Sandoval—His Delight
     in Bloodshed for its own Sake—The Resting-place and
     Epitaph—Alvarado's Progeny                                    201



     Origin of the Chiapanecs—They Submit to the Spaniards
     after the Mexican Conquest—But Rise in Arms when
     Required to Pay Tribute—Captain Luis Marin Undertakes
     the Conquest of the Province—His Battles with the
     Natives—The Panic-stricken Artillerymen—Capture of the
     Stronghold of Chiapas—The Chamulans Rise in Revolt—Their
     Fortress Besieged—Repulse of the Spaniards—Bernal Diaz in
     Peril—Flight and Surrender of the Chamulans—Marin Returns
     to Espíritu Santo—Second Revolt of the Chiapanecs—Their
     Subjugation by Diego de Mazariegos—Third Rebellion—Their
     Self-destruction—Pedro Puertocarrero in the Field—His
     Discomfiture—Founding of Villa Real—Juan Enriquez
     de Guzman Takes the Residencia of Mazariegos—His
     Maleadministration                                            213



     Decrease of Indian Population at the Isthmus—And in
     Honduras—Treatment of Spanish Allies in Guatemala—Torture
     and Butchery of Hostile Natives—Terror Inspired by
     Alvarado—Early Legislation—Its Non-observance—The New
     Laws—The Audiencia of Panamá Abolished—The Audiencia of
     Los Reyes and Los Confines Established—Disgust Caused by
     the New Code—The First Viceroy of Peru Arrives at the
     Isthmus—He Takes Charge of Treasure Acquired by Slave
     Labor—And Liberates a Number of Indians                       232



     Administration of Doctor Robles—Interoceanic
     Communication—Proposed Change of the Site of
     Panamá—Nombre de Dios and its Trade—The Isthmus the
     Highway of Commerce between the Hemispheres—Vasco
     Nuñez Vela Lands in Peru—Gonzalo Pizarro at the Head
     of a Rebellion—Dissolution of the Audiencia of Los
     Reyes and Arrest of the Viceroy—His Release—His Defeat
     and Death at Añaquito—Gonzalo's Dreams of Conquest—He
     Despatches Bachicao to Panamá—Hinojosa's Expedition—His
     Bloodless Conquest of the Province—Melchor Verdugo's
     Invasion—Pedro de la Gasca—His Negotiations with the
     Revolutionists—Gasca Lands in Peru—Execution of Gonzalo
     Pizarro                                                       245



     Cause of the Revolt—Preparations of the
     Conspirators—Assassination of Bishop Valdivieso—The
     Rebels Defeat the Men of Granada—Their Plan of
     Operations—The Expedition Sails for Natá—Gasca Arrives
     at the Isthmus with the King's Treasure—Capture of
     Panamá—Blunders of the Rebel Leaders—Hernando de
     Contreras Marches to Capira—He is Followed by his
     Lieutenant Bermejo—Gasca's Arrival at Nombre de
     Dios—Uprising of the Inhabitants of Panamá—Bermejo's
     Attack on the City—His Repulse—His Forces
     Annihilated—Fate of Hernando and his Followers                274



     Francisco de Montejo Appointed Governor—Revolt
     of the Cacique Lempira—Dastardly Artifice of the
     Spaniards—Establishment of New Colonies—Condition of
     the Settlements—Mining in Honduras—Return of Pedro
     de Alvarado—Montejo Deposed from Office—Alonso de
     Maldonado the First President of the Audiencia of the
     Confines—Maltreatment of the Natives—Rival Prelates in
     Honduras—Their Disputes—Las Casas Presents a Memorial to
     the Audiencia—He is Insulted by the Oidores—His Departure
     for Chiapas—Maldonado's Greed—He is Superseded by Alonso
     Lopez de Cerrato—The Seat of the Audiencia Moved to
     Santiago de Guatemala                                         289



     Mourning for Alvarado—Grief of Doña Beatriz—An
     Anomalous Government—A Female Ruler—A Beautiful but
     Treacherous Mountain—A Night of Horrors—Death of Doña
     Beatriz—Destruction of Santiago—A Ruined City—Burial of
     the Dead—Gloom of Conscience-stricken Survivors—Joint
     Governors—Removal of the City Resolved upon—A New
     Site Discussed—Another Santiago Founded—Maldonado
     Appointed Governor—Action of the Audiencia Relative to
     Encomiendas—Controversies and Recriminations—Removal of
     the Audiencia to Santiago—President Cerrato Offends the
     Settlers—His Mode of Action                                   311



     A Convent Founded by the Merced Order—Ciudad Real
     Appointed a Cathedral City—Las Casas a Bishop—He
     Attempts to Enforce the New Laws—He Refuses Absolution
     during Holy Week—His Controversy with the Audiencia
     of the Confines—He Departs for Spain—His Dispute with
     Sepúlveda—His Appeal to the Conscience of Philip—The
     Audiencia Transferred from Panamá to Guatemala—Death of
     the Apostle of the Indies—His Character—The Dominicans
     in Chiapas                                                    328



     A New Cathedral Wanted—A Poor Prelate and Unwilling
     Tithe-payers—Two Contentious Bishops—Charitable
     Institutions Founded—Dominican Convent
     Organized—Franciscans Arrive—Their Labors—Motolinia
     Founds a Custodia—Disputes between Franciscans and
     Dominicans—La Tierra de Guerra—Las Casas' System—His
     First Efforts in Vera Paz—He Goes to Spain—Decrees
     Obtained by Him and an Indignant Cabildo—Las Casas
     Returns—Progress in Vera Paz—Peaceful Submission and
     Heavy Tributes—Cancer's Expedition to Florida—Ominous
     Opinions—An Indifferent Captain—A Dominican Martyr            341



     Quesada's Administration—The Oidor Zorita Gathers the
     Natives into Towns—Expedition against the Lacandones—Its
     Failure—Landecho Appointed Quesada's Successor—His
     Residencia Taken by the Licentiate Brizeño—Famine,
     Pestilence, and Earthquake in Guatemala—The Audiencia of
     the Confines Removed to Panamá—And Again Transferred to
     Guatemala—Gonzalez Appointed President—He is Succeeded
     by Villalobos—Changes in Church Affairs—Death of
     Bishop Marroquin—Quarrels between the Dominicans and
     Franciscans—Bishops Villalpando and Córdoba—Fracas
     between two Ecclesiastics—Administration of President
     Valverde, Rueda, Sandé, and Castilla—Industrial Condition
     of the Province                                               358



     Revolt of the Cimarrones—Pedro de Ursua Sent against
     Them—A Second Revolt—Bayano Caught and Sent to
     Spain—Regulations concerning Negroes—Commercial
     Decadence—Restrictions on Trade—Home Industries—Pearl
     Fisheries—Mining—Decay of Settlements—Proposed Change
     in the Port of Entry—Its Removal from Nombre de Dios to
     Portobello—Changes in the Seat of the Audiencia—Tierra
     Firme Made Subject to the Viceroy of Peru—Defalcations
     in the Royal Treasury—Preparations for Defence against
     Corsairs and Foreign Powers                                   386



     Drake's Attack on Nombre de Dios—Panic among the
     Inhabitants—Stores of Treasure—Retreat of the
     English—They Sail for Cartagena—And Thence for the Gulf
     of Urabá—Visit to the Isle of Pinos—The Ships Moved to
     the Cabezas Islands—Second Expedition to Cartagena—March
     to the Isthmus—Drake's First Glimpse of the South
     Sea—Ambuscade Posted near Cruces—The Bells of Approaching
     Treasure Trains—The Prize Missed through the Folly of a
     Drunken Soldier—Capture of Cruces—Thirty Tons of Gold and
     Silver Taken near Nombre de Dios—Voyage on a Raft—The
     Expedition Returns to England—Oxenham's Raid—Drake's
     Circumnavigation of the Globe—His Second Voyage to the
     West Indies—His Final Expedition—His Death and Burial
     off Portobello                                                404



     Revolt of Juan Gaitan—His Defeat by the Licentiate Juan
     de Caballon—Expedition of Caballon and Juan de Estrada
     Rábago to Costa Rica—Settlements Founded—Distress of
     the Spaniards—Juan Vazquez Coronado Comes to their
     Relief—Further Expeditions—Flight of the Natives—Capture
     of the Stronghold of Cotu—Administration of Diego de
     Artiega Cherino—The Franciscans in Costa Rica—Martyrdom
     of Juan Pizarro—The Ecclesiastics in Nicaragua—Fray Juan
     de Torres—Condition of the Settlements—Slow Growth of
     Trade                                                         424



     Leon Abandoned—Another Site Selected—Description
     of the New City—The Sacrilegious Mouse—The Trade of
     Granada—Freebooters in Nicaragua—Church Matters—The
     Jesuits Enter the Province—They are Recalled—The
     Diocese Subject to the Archbishop of Lima—Succession
     of Prelates—Eruption of El Infierno de Masaya—Massacre
     of Spaniards in Costa Rica—Maldonado's Expedition
     to Talamanca—Verdelete's Mission to Tologalpa—Its
     Failure—His Further Attempts to Christianize the
     Natives—Massacre of Soldiers and Ecclesiastics                439



     Buccaneers at Santo Domingo—Tortuga the Head-quarters
     of the Pirates—Their Modes of Life—François L'Olonnois
     the Filibuster—His Vessel Cast on the Shore of
     Campeche—He Escapes to Tortuga—And Reappears in the Bay
     of Honduras—He Captures San Pedro—He Plans a Raid on
     Guatemala—His Comrades Desert Him—His Vessel Wrecked off
     Cape Gracias á Dios—His Expedition to Desaguadero—And
     to Costa Rica—He is Hacked to Pieces—Mansvelt Captures
     the Island of Santa Catarina—And Attacks Cartago—Santa
     Catarina Retaken by the Spaniards                             451



     An Audiencia again Established in Panamá—Its
     Presidents—Captain Parker's Raid on Portobello—Growth
     of Portobello and Decadence of Panamá—Malefeasance
     of Officials—Interoceanic Communication—Contraband
     Trading—Church Matters in Panamá—Disputes between
     the Bishops and the Oidores—The Ecclesiastics
     in Evil Repute—Destructive Conflagration—Bazan's
     Administration—His Downfall and its Cause—The Annual Fair
     at Panamá                                                     464



     Morgan's Early Career—He Resolves to Attack
     Portobello—The Castle of Triana Blown into the
     Air—Capture of the City—Atrocities Committed by the
     Buccaneers—The President of Panamá Marches against
     Them—He is Driven Back—Morgan Sends Him a Specimen of
     his Weapons—Ransom of the City and Return to Jamaica—The
     Buccaneers Prepare Another Armament, and Resolve to
     Attack Panamá—Capture of Fort San Lorenzo—March across
     the Isthmus—Morgan Arrives in Sight of Panamá—Cowardice
     of the Governor—Battle with the Spaniards—Burning of
     the City—Torture of Prisoners—Bravery of a Captive
     Gentlewoman—The Buccaneers Recross the Isthmus—Division
     of the Booty                                                  482



     The New City of Panamá—Portobello Sacked by Pirates—A
     Buccaneer Fleet Assembles at Boca del Toro—The Corsairs
     Plan a Raid on Panamá—They Capture Santa María—And
     Thence Sail for Plantain Island—Massacre of their
     Captives—Desperate Conflict in Panamá Bay—Some of
     the Marauders Return across the Isthmus—The Remainder
     Proceed to the Island of Taboga—And there Capture Several
     Prizes—They are Asked to Show their Commissions—The
     Answer—They Sail for the Coast of Veragua—Their Repulse
     at Pueblo Nuevo—Their Operations on the Coast of South
     America—Some of Them Return to England—They are Tried
     and Acquitted                                                 517



     Dampier and his Comrades on the Santa María River—They
     Meet with Spanish War Vessels—Their March to the North
     Sea—They Fall in with a French Ship—And Sail round Cape
     Horn to the South Sea—They Attack Realejo—They Sail for
     the Island of La Plata—Here They are Reënforced—They
     Proceed to the Coast of South America—Where they
     Gain Intelligence of the Treasure-fleet—The Pirates
     Sail for the Pearl Islands—Their Defeat in the Bay of
     Panamá—Raids on Leon, Realejo, and Granada—Piety of the
     Filibusters—Further Operations of the Pirates                 543



     The Scots Colony—They Propose to Establish Settlements
     in Darien—Subscriptions for the Enterprise—Departure of
     the Expedition—Its Arrival at Acla—Sickness and Famine
     among the Colonists—They Abandon their Settlement—A
     Second Expedition Despatched—Its Failure—Cartagena
     Sacked by Privateers—Indian Outbreaks—Conflagrations in
     Panamá—Pearl Fisheries—Mining—Spanish Commerce Falling
     into the Hands of the British—Seizure of British Vessels
     and Maltreatment of their Crews—Jenkins' Ears—Declaration
     of War—Vernon's Operations on the Isthmus—Anson's Voyage
     round the World—Vernon's Second Expedition—Its Disastrous
     Result                                                        570



     The Sambos of Mosquitia—Their Territory—A Mosquito
     Chieftain Crowned King—Treaties between Spain and
     England—The British Occupy Mosquitia—Galvez Captures
     an English Settlement on the Black River—An Armament
     Despatched from Jamaica to Mosquitia—Surrender of the
     Spaniards—Colonists Ordered to Leave the Coast—The
     Governors of Nicaragua—The British Defeated at Fort San
     Cárlos—They Capture Fort San Juan—But are Compelled
     to Retreat—Church Matters—Missionary Expeditions to
     Talamanca—Affairs in Costa Rica                               595



     Buccaneer Settlements in Yucatan—The Pirates Engage
     in Wood-cutting—Governor Figueroa Ordered to Expel
     them—Raid of the Wood-cutters on Ascension Bay—They
     are Driven Back by the Governor—Their Settlement in
     Belize Destroyed by Figueroa—They Return in Stronger
     Force—Further Expeditions against Them—The Wood-cutters
     under British Protection—They are Attacked by Governor
     Rivas—The Boundaries of Belize Defined by the Treaty
     of Versailles—Stipulations of a Later Treaty—Further
     Encroachments of the English                                  623



     Piratical Raids on Trujillo and Puerto de
     Caballos—Condition of the Settlements—Church
     Matters—Missionary Expedition to Tegucigalpa—Martyrdom
     of the Missionaries—Labors of the Franciscans in
     Honduras—Interference of the Bishop—Trujillo Destroyed by
     the Dutch—Fort San Fernando de Omoa Erected—Its Capture
     by the English—And Recovery by President Galvez—Roatan
     Several Times Occupied by Buccaneers—Their Final
     Expulsion                                                     637



     President Castilla—Port Santo Tomás
     Founded—Factions—A Gambling President—Condition of
     the Colonists—Grievances—Patronage of the Crown,
     the Audiencia, and the Cabildo—Disputes—Defensive
     Measures—Rule of President Caldas—Reorganization of the
     Audiencia—President Barrios and Bishop Navas—Political
     Dissensions—A Troublesome Visitador—The Berropistas
     and Tequelies—A Line of Bishops—Wealth of the Regular
     Orders—A Prelate Bewitched—The Bethlehemites—Royal
     Order concerning Curacies—The New Cathedral and
     Festivities—Succession—The Progress of Chiapas                649



     Early Efforts at Pacification—Priests and Soldiers
     Sacrificed—Massacre of Mirones and his Party—El
     Prospero Expedition—Indifference of the Orders—Bishop
     Navas in the Field—A Tripartite Campaign Determined
     upon—Expedition of President Barrios—Meeting with
     Mazariegos—Velasco's Operations—The Expeditions
     Return—Further Expeditions—Fate of Velasco and
     his Command—Failure—Ursua's Enterprise—Progress of
     Paredes—Negotiations with the Canek—Opposition of
     Soberanis—Ursua Takes Command—Treacherous Allurements—The
     Itzas Conquered—Peten Garrisoned—Jealousy of
     Soberanis—Unsatisfactory Operations—Questionable
     Possession                                                    672



     The Tzendal Rebellion—A New Miracle—Atrocities—A
     Novel Hierarchy—The Tzendales Repulsed—Segovia's
     Operations—President Cosío Assumes Command—Fall of
     Cancuc—Spread of the Rebellion—Its Suppression—Decadence
     of Chiapas—Earthquakes—Riots—Venality
     of the Clergy—Establishment of the
     Archbishopric—Heresy—Boundaries of Provinces—Abolition
     of Corregimientos—Another Great Earthquake—Quarrels over
     Removal—Expulsion of the Jesuits                              696






In a society like that of Panamá, where politics were so unjust and
morality so diabolical, we could expect nothing else than that the
worst men should prove the most successful. Among those who came early
to Darien, and whom we have frequently encountered in the wars upon the
natives, was one who now enters the arena as the conqueror of Peru. His
origin was of the lowest. Born in bastardy, he was laid by his mother on
the church steps, whence he was taken by a swine-herd to be suckled by a
sow. Escaping this master he fled to Seville and lived no one knows how,
until he took ship to Santo Domingo, no one knows when. Thenceforward
to the day of his assassination, his merciless courage found congenial
occupation; neither his ignorance nor his beastly instincts nor his
infamous cruelty and treachery standing in the way of fame and fortune.

He was now not far from fifty-three, having been born at Trujillo,
in Estremadura, about 1471. After both had become famous a distant
kinship was traced between Pizarro and Hernan Cortés. The development
had been, in every respect, in keeping with the origin and environment.
Except Pedrarias there was not a man in all the Indies more detestable.
Innately he was the coarsest of all the conquerors. I have not seen
of his a single noble sentiment expressed or a single noble action
recorded. The Christianity which as a Spaniard he was obliged to
wear had in it not the slightest tincture of piety or pity, and the
civilization under which his genius grew developed in him only the
savage cunning which he afterward displayed when in pursuit of human
prey. Under this same influence Cortés and other captains of a generous,
lordly nature might wade through horrors to a determined goal, while
appalling tragedies and blood-reeking treacheries were not what their
souls delighted in. But incarnate vulgarity was Francisco Pizarro, and
a devouring sea of iniquity, beside whom beasts were heavenly beings;
for when man sinks to his lowest, we must enter the domain of hideous
fancy to find his prototype.

Up to this time Pizarro had displayed little of that signal ability,
that marvellous determination and readiness of resource which carried
through one of the most remarkable undertakings of any age. Soldier of
fortune and petty farmer were the only distinctions he could boast. No
talents of a higher order than those exhibited by the other captains
in Darien had as yet appeared, except perhaps a cooler cruelty in
his treatment of the natives, and a more selfish heartlessness in his
intercourse with his comrades. He was made of admirable stuff for an
executioner, brave, obedient, merciless, remorseless; and as he had not
manifested sufficient ambition to excite the jealousy even of Pedrarias
he had been a useful tool of the governor. Great deeds do not always
spring from greatness of soul. It may have been merely owing to the
decline of physical powers with advancing age that Pizarro's mind was
led to serious reflection on what at various times he had heard of
the region southward of the Isthmus, of what Panciaco had said, and
the Pearl Islanders, and Tumaco, and last of all of what Andagoya had
reported concerning Birú. It was known what Cortés had done in the
north; might not the same feat be accomplished in the south?

       *       *       *       *       *


Whencesoever sprang the purpose, on the return of Andagoya unsuccessful
from Birú, Pizarro determined if possible to undertake an expedition
in that direction. Notwithstanding a long career of successful robbery
he had little to venture, except that worthless article his life. Two
requirements were necessary, money and the consent of the governor, both
of which might be obtained through Fernando de Luque, acting vicar of
Panamá, and formerly school-master of the cathedral of Darien. Father
Luque, or Loco as he was later called for this folly, had influence
with Pedrarias, and the proceeds of his piety thus far amounted to
twenty thousand castellanos. He joined with himself a comrade, Diego de
Almagro, and winning over the priest and the governor by a promise of
one fourth each, the company was complete. Almagro was a few years older
than Pizarro, and with an origin perhaps as low, for he was likewise
a foundling. Ill-favored by nature, the loss of an eye but increased a
sinister expression that had played from infancy over his features. It
is but faint praise to say of him that his impulses were nobler than
those of Pizarro. Though fiery he was frank, and abhorred treachery; nor
could he nurse a wrong more easily than his colleague. Pizarro was to
command the expedition; Almagro to take charge of the ships; the vicar,
besides his money, was to contribute his prayers, while the governor
was to have an eye watchful for himself.

In a small caravel with about a hundred men and four horses,[I‑1]
Pizarro sailed from Panamá November 14, 1524, leaving Almagro to follow
as soon as he could equip another vessel. After touching at Toboga
and at the Pearl Islands, Pizarro coasted southward past Puerto de
Piñas where terminated the voyages of Vasco Nuñez and Andagoya, and
entered the river Birú in search of provisions, but finding none put to
sea, and after buffeting a storm for ten days again landed, and again
failed to procure food. The ground was soft, and the foragers suffered
severely. At a place subsequently called El Puerto del Hambre he waited
for six weeks with part of the men, all on the verge of starvation,
while the ship, in command of Gil de Montenegro, went back to the Pearl
Islands for supplies. When his forces were again united he put to sea
and landing at various points found food and gold abundant. Presently
the vessel required repairs, and fearful lest if he should return
the expedition would be broken up, Pizarro caused himself and all his
followers, save only those needed to manage the ship, to be put ashore,
while Nicolás de Ribera, the treasurer, went with the vessel and the
gold collected to Panamá.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three months after the departure of Pizarro from Panamá, Almagro
followed with seventy men, and after some search, and the loss of an eye
in fighting savages, he found his colleague, left with him his surplus
men, and returned with his vessel to the assistance of Ribera. By this
time Pedrarias, although he had invested nothing, was dissatisfied and
sullen over the result. The ships were wanted for Nicaragua, he said,
and half the men embarked in this mad southern venture were dead.
Almagro was finally glad to get rid of him by paying him a thousand
pesos. Pizarro was obliged to return, and the three associates bound
themselves by oath, solemnized by the sacrament, that the entire returns
and emoluments of the expedition should be equally divided; Father Luque
dividing the wafer into three parts and each partaking of one.


Nearly two years were thus occupied when the two captains, made equal by
the new contract, and each in command of a ship, embarked a second time
with Bartolomé Ruiz as pilot and one hundred and sixty men, and standing
well out sailed directly to the Rio San Juan, the farthest point yet
discovered. Meeting here with fair success, Almagro was sent to Panamá
with the plunder; Pizarro with most of the men remained on shore; while
Ruiz with the other vessel continued the discovery beyond the equator,
and returning reported a more opulent people with a higher culture than
any yet found in the Indies. Among other wonderful objects which he
had seen was a large trading _balsa_, or raft, made by lashing together
with vines porous timbers, which were overlaid with a floor of reeds,
and navigated by lateen cotton sails. The people of the raft displayed
spun and raw wool, and scales for weighing gold, while those upon the
shore ran to and fro leaping and shouting to the homeless wanderers,
the hairy exiles, children of the sea-foam, descendants of the sun, as
they called the glittering serpents that were so soon to envenom their

Soon afterward Almagro appeared. He too had been successful. Pedrarias
was deposed; and with Pedro de los Rios, the new governor, had come
fresh aspirants for adventure and a grave, eighty of whom were soon
launched with Father Luque's blessing in the Peruvian expedition.

During the absence of the vessels death had taken fourteen of Pizarro's
men, and the remainder now clamored loudly to be carried to Panamá.
But this was not to be considered. Refreshed by Almagro's stores and
cheered by Ruiz' tale hope revived, the phantom of despair took flight,
and joyous expectation thrilled the hearts of those who had so lately
dreamed of death.

How happy was Pizarro as he went to prove the golden report of good
Ruiz! A storm which drove him under the lee of Gallo Island, and
obliged him to repair at San Mateo Bay, only made the populous cities
and cultivated fields of maize and cacao the more beautiful to behold.
And the gems and precious metals that glistened everywhere, how they
made the black blood of the pirate to tingle! But little could be done
with such a force as his against ten thousand warriors that opposed his
landing; for with increase of wealth and intelligence was increased
power to defend possession. The soldiers were not pleased to have
the ships go back to Panamá without them, and the leaders came almost
to blows over the quarrel; but it was finally arranged that Pizarro
should remain with the men on Gallo Island, while Almagro with one of
the ships should seek a stronger force. Some sent letters denouncing
the commanders, and begging that the governor might be informed of
the miserable condition of the men; which letters, of course, were
not delivered, none save one which Juan de Sarabia inclosed in a ball
of cotton which was to be presented to the wife of the governor as a
specimen of native industry.[I‑2]


Fearful lest the men might seize the remaining ship, Pizarro despatched
it also to Panamá for recruits, leaving himself with only eighty-five
men. But the missile projected by the verse-maker struck home. The
governor was indignant that the king's subjects should be held in
continued jeopardy of their lives by their unprincipled leaders, ordered
the expedition stopped, and sent the licentiate Tafur with two ships
to bring the wanderers home. Father Luque, however, wrote to Pizarro
not to abandon the enterprise. The arrival of Tafur at the island
places Pizarro in a most trying position. And we can almost forget the
hideousness of the man's nature, which assumes yet darker deformity
as we proceed, when he rises under the inspiration of his energy in
defiance of destiny. The very impudence of his obstinacy commands
our admiration. What is the situation? Here stands a single Spaniard.
Yonder are the organized armies of Peru with their tens of thousands
of fighting men. The rupture between the ruling powers, preliminary to
yet more dire convulsions, has not yet occurred. Humanly regarded it as
insensate folly for Pizarro to dream of seizing this powerful realm, or
any part of it, with his handful of vagabonds as would be his attempt
to drink the ocean dry, or to pocket Parnassus. Yet what shall we say
in view of the result? And sure I am it is no upright deity that aids

When Tafur landed and told the men to get on board the ships, Pizarro
cried "Stop!" Drawing his sword he marked a line from west to east. Then
pointing toward the south he said: "Countrymen and comrades! Yonder lurk
hunger, hardships, and death; but for those who win, fame and wealth
untold. This way is Panamá, with ease, poverty, and disgrace. Let each
man choose for himself. As for me, sooner will I hang my body from some
sun-smitten cliff for vultures to feed on, than turn my back to the
glories God has here revealed to me!" Thus saying he stepped across the
line, and bade those who would to follow. The pilot Ruiz was the first;
then Pedro de Candia; and finally eleven others. All the rest went back
with Tafur to Panamá. Ruiz was ordered to accompany him and lend the
associates his assistance. Pizarro then crossed his army of twelve on a
raft to the small island of Gorgona, at a safer distance from the main
shore, and there awaited Almagro. Alone, anchored on a cloud-curtained
sea, near a fearfully fascinating shore, they waited five months.

       *       *       *       *       *

This rash act of the now thoroughly inspired Pizarro was viewed
differently by different persons at Panamá. The governor was angry
at what he deemed suicidal obstinacy. Father Luque was enthusiastic,
and Almagro was not idle. The general sentiment was that in any event
these Spaniards, so chivalrous in the service of their king, should not
be abandoned to certain destruction. To permit it would be infamous
on the part of the governor, and a disgrace to every man in Panamá.
Thus forcibly persuaded, Pedro de los Rios permitted Luque and Almagro
to despatch a vessel to their relief, but stipulated that unless it
returned within six months they should be subject to heavy penalties.

  [Illustration: PERU.]


We may well imagine that Pizarro was glad to see the faithful Ruiz,
although his force was not greatly increased thereby. And now he would
go forward; with an army of ten thousand or alone he would match his
destiny against that of Peru. Passing Gallo, Tacames, and the Cabo
Pasado, the limits of former discovery, twenty days after leaving
Gorgona they anchored off an island sacred to sacrificial purposes,
opposite the town of Tumbez. More brilliant than had been their wildest
hopes was the scene surrounding them. Stretching seaward were the bright
waters of Guayaquil, while from the grand cordillera of the Andes,
Chimborazo and Cotopaxi lifted their fiery front into the regions of
frozen white. Tame enough, however, were a new earth and a new heaven
to these souls of saffron hue, without the evidences of wealth that
here met their greedy gaze, of wealth weakly guarded by the unbaptized.
All along the shore by which they had sailed were verdant fields and
populous villages, while upon the persons and among the utensils of the
inhabitants, seen principally in the trading balsas that plied those
strange waters, were emeralds, gold, and silver in profusion.


Two natives captured in the former voyage and kindly treated for
obvious reasons, were put on shore to pave the way, and soon maize,
bananas, plantains, cocoa-nuts, pineapples, as well as fish, game,
and llamas were presented to the strangers by the people of Tumbez.
Shortly afterward a Peruvian nobleman, or _orejon_, as the Spaniards
called him, from the large golden pendants which ornamented his ears,
visited the ship with a retinue of attendants. Pizarro gave him a
hatchet and some trinkets, and invited him to dine. Next day Alonso de
Molina and a negro were sent on shore to the cacique with a present
of two swine and some poultry. A crowd of wonder-stricken spectators
surrounded them on landing. The women were shy at first, but presently
could not sufficiently admire the fair complexion and flowing beard
of the European, and the crisp hair of the ebony African, whose laugh
made them dance with delight. Never were pigs so scrutinized; and when
the cock crew they asked what it said. Molina was promised a beautiful
bride if he would remain, and he was half inclined to accept the offer.
The cacique of Tumbez was equally pleased and astonished. He lived in
some state, having vassals at his doors and gold and silver among his
utensils. Conspicuous among the buildings of Tumbez was the temple
built of rough stone. There was a fortress surrounded by a triple row
of walls. In the valley without the town was a palace belonging to
Huayna Capac, the reigning inca, near which was a temple with its sacred
virgins, glittering decorations, and beautiful gardens dedicated to the

More witnesses to such facts as these must be obtained before leaving
this place. So next day Pedro de Candia was permitted to go ashore
armed cap-à-pie. Candia was a Greek cavalier of extraordinary size
and strength; and when he presented himself in bright mail, with his
clattering steel weapons, and arquebuse vomiting fire and smoke, there
is little wonder these simple people should take him for one of their
children of the sun. Returning to the ship Candia testified to the truth
of all Molina had said, and more. He was received as a heavenly guest,
and conducted through the temple which he affirmed was laid with plates
of gold; whereat the Spaniards were wild with delight, says an ancient
chronicler. Pizarro thanked God that it had been permitted him to make
this great discovery, and he cursed the luckless fortune which prevented
his landing and taking immediate possession. But God did for Pizarro
better than Pizarro could do for himself. Had the five hundred he then
so desired been five thousand, the probability is all would have been
lost as soon as ventured.

Continuing southward some distance beyond the site of Trujillo, a city
subsequently founded by him, the evidences of wealth and intelligence
meanwhile diminishing, and the reports of an imperial city where dwelt
the ruler of all that region becoming fainter, Pizarro returned to
Panamá, carrying back with him two native youths, one of whom, called
by the Spaniards Felipillo, became notorious during the conquest. The
men had been ordered to treat gold with indifference, that the future
harvest might be greater.[I‑3]

       *       *       *       *       *

The pirate's paradise was found; it next remained to enter it. Pizarro
reached Panamá late in 1527, and instantly the town was wild with
excitement. Father Luque wept tears of joy. But although Pedro de los
Rios forgot his threats of punishment he did not regard with favor
another expedition, which would tend to depopulate his own government
and establish a rival colony. This selfish policy of the governor
hastened the defeat of its own aims. Unable to do more at Panamá, early
in 1528 Pizarro set out for Spain. Through the aid of Father Luque
fifteen hundred ducats had been raised to defray his expenses. It was
not without misgivings that Alamagro saw him go, and the ecclesiastic
himself was not without his suspicions that foul play might come of
it. "God grant, my sons," he said at parting, "that you do not defraud
yourselves of his blessing." Pedro de Candia accompanied Pizarro, and
they took with them specimens of the natives, llamas, cloth, and gold
and silver utensils of Peru.


Two notable characters were encountered by Pizarro immediately on his
arrival in Spain. One was Hernan Cortés, revelling in the renown of
an overthrown northern empire as Pizarro was about to revel in the
overthrow of a southern. Cortés told Pizarro how he had conquered Mexico
and gave him many valuable hints in empire-snatching.[I‑4] The other
was no less a personage than the Bachiller Enciso, who, still nursing
revenge, seized the now famous discoverer of Peru and imprisoned him
on the old charge of injuries at Antigua. Released by royal order,
Pizarro presented himself before the emperor at Toledo with all the
impudence of unlettered merit, and received the appointment of governor,
captain general, and alguazil mayor of all lands which he had discovered
or might discover for a distance of two hundred leagues south from
Santiago. His government was to be independent from that of Panamá,
with the right to erect fortresses, maintain forces, grant encomiendas,
and enjoy the rights and prerogatives of absolute authority. His salary
was to be 725,000 maravedís, to be drawn from the resources of his own
government and without cost to the crown. In return for these privileges
he was to enlist and equip for a Peruvian expedition two hundred and
fifty men, one hundred of whom he was at liberty to draw from the
colonies. For his associates he was satisfied with much less; though
it had been stipulated that for Almagro should be asked the office of
adelantado, thus dividing the honors. As it was, he obtained for Almagro
only the post of captain of the fortress of Tumbez, with an income of
300,000 maravedís, and for Father Luque the bishopric of Tumbez, with
a salary of one thousand castellanos. Bartolomé Ruiz was to be grand
pilot of the South Sea; Pedro de Candia, commander of artillery, and
the brave thirteen who so gallantly stood by their captain at the Isle
of Gorgona were elevated to the rank of knights and cavaliers.

Pizarro's commission was signed at Toledo July 26, 1528. Thence he
proceeded to Trujillo, his native place, where he was joined by four
brothers, Fernando, Juan, and Gonzalo Pizarro, and Francisco Martin
de Alcántara, all except the first like himself illegitimate, all
poor, ignorant, and avaricious. Fernando, however, possessed some
superiorities, and played a conspicuous part in the conquest. He was
a man of fine form, repulsive features, and infamous character. As
arrogant, jealous, and revengeful as he was capable, he soon acquired
unbounded influence over his brother, and was the scourge of the

Small as was the force required by his capitulation with the crown,
Pizarro was unable to raise it. With the assistance of Cortés he managed
to make ready for sea three small vessels, in one of which, by eluding
the authorities, he embarked, and awaited his brothers at the Canary
Islands. By liberal bribery and the solemn assurance of Fernando that
all requirements of the king had been complied with, and that the
specified number of men were with his brother who had gone before, the
other two ships were allowed to depart, and the three vessels arrived
at Nombre de Dios in January 1530. There Pizarro was met by Almagro
and Father Luque, who when they learned how the royal honors had been
distributed, and saw the insolent bearing of the vulgar brothers,
upbraided him for his perfidy; and it was with difficulty that Almagro
was prevented by fresh promises from withdrawing from the partnership
and engaging in conquest on his own account.

Crossing to Panamá, an expedition was organized with one hundred and
eighty men, thirty horses, and three ships, though all had been procured
with no small difficulty. On the day of St John the evangelist imposing
ceremonies were held in the cathedral; the royal banner and the standard
of the expedition were unfurled and consecrated; a sermon was preached,
and to every one of the pirates the holy sacrament was administered,
thus giving this marauding expedition the color of a religious crusade.
The Pizarros set sail early in January 1531, leaving Almagro, as in
the first instance, to follow with reënforcements. Tumbez was their
objective point; but turned from their purpose by adverse winds, and
eager for a trial of their steel, the Spaniards landed at a bay which
they called San Mateo, surprised a village in the province of Coaque,
and secured, besides provisions, gold, silver, and emeralds to the value
of twenty thousand pesos, which enabled them to send back the ships at
once, one to Nicaragua and the other to Panamá, for reënforcements.

The Spaniards then continued their course toward Tumbez by land; and
burdened as they were by weapons and armor, marching over hot sands
under an equatorial sun, the journey soon became painful in the extreme.
To add to their torments, an ulcerous epidemic broke out among them,
from which many died, with curses on their commander. But their hearts
were gladdened one day by the approach of a ship from Panamá having on
board the royal officers appointed to accompany the expedition, whom
Pizarro in his haste had left in Spain, and soon they were joined by
thirty men under Captain Benalcázar. Meeting with no resistance from
the natives, Pizarro continued his march until he arrived at the gulf
of Guayaquil, opposite the isle of Puma. Possession of this island was
deemed desirable preparatory to the attack on Tumbez. While meditating
on the best method of capturing the island, Pizarro was gratified by
a visit from its cacique, who invited the Spaniards to take up their
abode with him. It appears that there existed an hereditary feud
between the people of Puma and those of the mainland; and although
forced to submission by the powerful incas, the islanders never ceased
to inflict such injuries as lay in their power on the town of Tumbez.
The friendship of the strangers would give them great advantages; hence
the invitation. Pizarro gladly accepted the proffered hospitality,
and passing over to the island with his army he awaited the arrival of
reënforcements before attacking Tumbez.

By their arrogance and apparent intimacy with the people of Tumbez,
the strangers soon became intolerable to the islanders, who caught in
a conspiracy were attacked and driven to hiding-places by their guests.
Nevertheless, but for the opportune arrival of Fernando de Soto with one
hundred men and some horses it would have gone hard with the Spaniards.
Pizarro now resolved to cross at once to the mainland and set the ball
in motion.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: CIVIL WAR IN PERU.]

Not least among the speculations that stirred the breast of the Spanish
commander was the rumor that from time to time had reached his ear of
discord between the rival candidates for the throne of the monarch
lately deceased. Civil war would be a providence indeed at this
juncture, not less kind than that which gave Montezuma's throne to

Tradition refers the aborigines of Peru to a time when the entire land
was divided into petty chiefdoms, composed of wild men who like wild
beasts roamed primeval forests. After the lapse of ages, time marking
no improvement, there appeared one day on the bank of Lake Titicaca two
personages, male and female, Manco Capac and Mama Ocollo, of majestic
mien and clad in glistening whiteness. They declared themselves children
of the sun, sent by the parent of light to enlighten the human race.
From Lake Titicaca they went northward a few leagues and founded the
city of Cuzco, whither the chiefs throughout that region assembled
and acknowledged the sovereignty of the celestial visitants. Under
the instruction of Manco Capac the men became skilled in agriculture;
Mama Ocollo taught the women domestic arts, and the migratory clans
of the western slope of the cordillera thus became cemented under the
beneficent rule of the heavenly teachers. Originally the dominion of
Manco Capac extended no more than eight leagues from Cuzco, but in the
twelve succeeding reigns, which formed the epoch prior to the advent of
the Spaniards, the empire of the incas, or lords of Peru, was greatly


It naturally followed from their celestial origin and superior
intelligence that the incas were adored as divinities, as well as obeyed
as sovereigns. Not alone their person, but everything coming beneath
their touch was sacred. Their blood was never contaminated by mortal
intermixtures, and their dress it was unlawful for any to assume. The
empire under Huayna Capac, twelfth monarch from the foundation of the
dynasty, embraced more than five hundred leagues of western sea-coast,
and extended to the summit of the Andes. This politic and warlike
prince died about the beginning of the year 1526. His father, Tupac
Inca Yupanqui, during whose reign the imperial domain had been enlarged
by the addition of Quito on the one side and of Chile on the other,
exhibited martial and administrative talents of a high order. This
vast inheritance, together with the wisdom and virtues of the father,
descended to the son. In addition to a wife, who was also his sister,
Huayna Capac had many concubines. The lawful heir to the throne, son of
his sister-wife, was named Huascar, next to whom as heir apparent stood
Manco Capac, son of another wife who was his cousin. But his favorite
son was Atahualpa, whose mother was the beautiful daughter of the last
reigning monarch of Quito, and concubine of Huayna Capac. From boyhood
Atahualpa had been the constant companion of his father, who on his
death-bed, contrary to custom, divided the realm, or ordered rather
that Quito, the ancient kingdom of his vanquished ancestors, should be
given to Atahualpa, while all the rest should belong to Huascar. Four
years of tranquillity elapsed, and the impolitic measure of Huayna Capac
bid fair to prove successful. Huascar was satisfied, and his brother
appeared content. But now a martial spirit was manifest in Atahualpa.
Gradually drawing to his standard the flower of the Peruvian army, he
marched against Huascar, overthrew him near the base of Chimborazo, and
pressing forward again defeated the Peruvians before Cuzco, captured
his brother, and took possession of the imperial city of the incas.

It was in the midst of this struggle that the Spaniards gathered before
Tumbez bent on plunder. We see clearly now, that had they attempted
invasion before the opening of the war between the rival brothers,
their effort would have been what it appeared to be, chimerical and
absurd. But these few swift years had ripened this land for hellish
purposes, and the demons were already knocking at the door. Crossing
to the mainland, not without some slight opposition, Pizarro found
Tumbez deserted. Gone were the gold of the temple and the rich ornaments
of the merry wives. "And is this your boasted Tumbez?" exclaimed the
disappointed cavaliers. "Better far and richer are the elysian fields
of Nicaragua; better have remained at home than to come so far for so
barren a conquest." After some search the cacique was found. He charged
the destruction of the town to the islanders of Puma. As he professed
willingness to submit to the Spaniards, and as Pizarro deemed it prudent
to hold Tumbez peaceably, he gave the cacique his liberty. This was in
May 1532. Keeping a watchful eye on his disaffected soldiers, Pizarro
set about planting a colony. He selected for his operations the valley
of Tangarala, some thirty leagues south of Tumbez and near the sea, and
thither repairing with his men erected a fortress, church, and other
buildings, partitioned the adjacent lands, distributed repartimientos,
organized a municipality, and called the place San Miguel. So thoroughly
had the work of devastation been carried on by the islanders on one
side, and the soldiery of Atahualpa on the other, that the Spaniards
met with little opposition.

But these were not the men to waste time in establishing friendship
upon a devastated seaboard when there was a world of wealth somewhere
thereabout. One thing troubled Pizarro, however. By late arrivals he
had been informed that Almagro still thought seriously of establishing
for himself a colony. Pizarro needed Almagro's aid, and he wanted no
rival there. So drawing in his talons he wrote Almagro begging him for
the love of God and the king, if such were his plans to change them and
come to his assistance. This letter with the gold thus far collected he
despatched by ship to Panamá.

       *       *       *       *       *


Meanwhile the rumors of battle between the rival princes become more
defined. It is known that when the Spaniards landed at San Mateo the
war was raging. While Pizarro was marching southward toward Tumbez
with one hundred and eighty men, Atahualpa was also marching southward
toward Cuzco with 140,000 men to meet Huascar with a force of 130,000.
And Atahualpa the victor now rests in the vale of Caxamalca, beyond
the cordillera, but not more than twelve days' journey hence. Pizarro
resolves to visit him; peradventure there to throw the die which is to
determine many fates.[I‑5]

It is the 24th of September when Pizarro sets out from San Miguel with
one hundred and ten foot-soldiers, sixty-seven horsemen, and two Indian
interpreters. Atahualpa is well aware of the presence of the Spaniards,
of their works within Peruvian domain, and of their approach. And he
is curious to behold them. There is nothing to fear, unless indeed
they be gods, in which case it were useless to oppose them. Along the
way the natives cheerfully provide every requirement for the courteous

Arrived at the western base of the cordillera the sixth day, permission
is given to all who may choose to withdraw from the hazardous venture
beyond. Nine, four foot and five horsemen, avail themselves of the
opportunity and return to San Miguel. On the march next day Pizarro is
informed that the general in charge of Atahualpa's forces garrisoned at
Caxas, a village lying directly on the route to Caxamalca, is prepared
to question his progress should he attempt to pass that way. Hernando
de Soto, with a small detachment, is sent forward, while the main body
of the little army await results at Zaran. Proceeding wonderingly by
the great upper road or causeway of the incas, which extends along the
rugged Andes the entire length of the empire from Quito to Cuzco, and so
wide that six horsemen can ride there abreast, Soto finds the Peruvian
general, recites the stale story of the world's greatest monarch who
sends his master information of the maker of the universe and this
earth's saviour, and begs permission on behalf of the Spanish captain
to proceed on his heavenly and peaceable errand. At this juncture a
messenger arrives with an invitation from the inca for the Spaniards
to visit him. While on the way presents are exchanged by the heads of
the respective powers, and, as the Spaniards draw near the Peruvian
encampment, another messenger from the inca wishes to know on what day
the strangers will enter Caxamalca, that a suitable reception may be


At length from the terraced heights above Caxamalca, through the
openings of the foliage, the white tents of the Peruvian host are
seen stretching for miles along the fertile valley. It is a sight at
which the heart of the stoutest cavalier might beat despondingly, and
that without prejudice. But these audacious Spaniards halt only to don
their brightest armor, and unfurling their banner they march down the
mountain. Next day, the 15th of November, Pizarro divides his force
into three companies and enters the town about the hour of vespers. Some
two thousand houses surround a triangular plaza of extraordinary size,
walled in by solid masonry and low adobe barracks, and entered from the
streets through gates. From a large stone fortress broad steps descend
to the plaza on one side, while on the other a secret staircase leads to
the street. Without the now deserted town stands the temple of the sun,
and on an eminence near by is another and more formidable fortress of
hewn stone. A spiral wall, which thrice encloses the citadel, renders
the place impregnable to native soldiery, while ascent from the plain
is made by a winding staircase. Between the village and the Peruvian
encampment, a league distant, a causeway runs, forming a fine road over
the soft fertile lands intervening.

As with heavy tread the Spaniards march through the silent streets in
which no living thing is visible save a few knots of ancient, witch-like
crones who predict in low mournful regrets the destruction of the
strangers, the adventure at this point assumes ghostly shape, like the
confused manœuvrings of a dream and Caxamalca a phantom city. Quartering
his troops in the plaza, Pizarro sends Hernando de Soto with fifteen
horsemen,[I‑6] and the interpreter Felipillo, to ask the inca the
time and place of the approaching interview; and lest accident should
befall the embassy Hernando Pizarro is ordered to follow and assist as
occasion requires. Over the causeway toward the imperial camp rushes
first one cavalcade and then the other, past manly men and modest women
who gaze in mute astonishment as the apparitions emerge from the murky
twilight and sweep by and disappear midst clatter of hoofs and clang
of arms never before heard in this quarter of the earth. Presently is
encountered the Inca's army drawn up in distinct battalions, archers,
slingers, clubmen, and spearmen, standing expectantly.[I‑7] The royal
pavilion occupies an open space near the centre of the encampment.
Within a short distance are the bath-houses, and a rustic dwelling, with
plastered walls colored in various tints and surrounded by corridors. On
one side is a stone fountain, and a reservoir into which flows water,
both hot and cold, from rivulets and springs through aqueducts which
intersect the valley in every direction. On the other side are the royal
gardens and pleasure-grounds.


As the horsemen draw up before the royal quarters the inca is discovered
seated on an ottoman in front of his tent and surrounded by groups of
courtiers, while beautiful damsels in brilliant attire flit about the
grounds. Elegance, discipline, and the profound deference of the nobles
toward their chief are apparent at the first glance. The inca, although
arrayed less gaudily than his attendants, is easily distinguished by
the famous imperial head-dress, or borla, worn by Peruvian monarchs in
place of a crown, consisting of a crimson woollen fringe, which Oviedo
describes as a tassel of the width of the hand, and about one span in
length, gathered upon the crown in the form of a flat brush, the fringe
descending over the forehead down to the eyes, and partially covering
them, so that the wearer can scarcely see without raising the lower part
of it with his hand. The Christians who have heard many tales of his
craft and ferocity, look in vain for traces of extraordinary passion or
cunning. The borla, according to Jeres, throws a shade of melancholy
over the features of Atahualpa; aside from this, however, his face is
grave, passionless, and cold. With a single horseman on either side,
Hernando de Soto rides forward a few paces, and without dismounting
respectfully addresses the inca through Felipillo, the interpreter.
"I come, most mighty prince, from the commander of the Christians, who
through your courtesy now rests at Caxamalca, ardently longing to kiss
your royal hand, and deliver you a message from his puissant master,
the king of Spain." Immovable, silent, with eyes downcast, sits the
inca as if listening he hears not, as if unaware of any extraordinary
occurrence. After an embarrassing pause, a nobleman who stands nearest
the august monarch answers, "It is well."

At this juncture Hernando Pizarro rides up and joins in the parley. When
informed that a brother of the Spanish captain has arrived, Atahualpa
raises his eyes and speaks: "Say to your commander that to-day I fast,
but to-morrow I will visit him at Caxamalca." Hereupon the ambassadors
turn to depart; but the inca, slow to speak, is slower still to
cease speaking, and the Spaniards are motioned to pause. "My cacique
Mayzabilica informs me," continues Atahualpa, "that the Christians are
cowards, and not invincible as they would make us believe; for on the
banks of the Turicara he himself had killed three Spaniards and a horse
in revenge for outrages on his people." Checking his rising choler with
the thought of the stake for which he played, Hernando Pizarro explains:
"Your chieftain tells you false when he says that the Christians dare
not fight, or even that they can be overcome. Ten horsemen are enough to
put to flight ten thousand of the men of Mayzabilica. My brother comes
to offer terms of amity. If you have enemies to be subdued direct us to
them, and we will prove the truth of this I say." With an incredulous
smile Atahualpa drops the subject and offers refreshments to his
visitors. But at this moment the attention of all is directed to another

Hernando de Soto is an expert horseman and superbly mounted. He marks
the smile of incredulity with which the broad boast of his comrade had
been received by the Peruvians, and in order to inspire a more healthful
terror, he drives his iron heel into the flanks of his impatient
steed, and darting off at full speed, sweeps round in graceful curves,
prancing, leaping, running; then riding off a little distance he wheels
and dashes straight toward the royal pavilion. The nobles throw up
their hands to shield the sacred person of the inca; a moment after
they fly in terror. But when with one more bound the horse would be
upon the monarch, the rider reins back the animal to a dead stop. Not
the twitching of a muscle is discernible in the features of the inca;
though for their cowardice in the presence of strangers, we are told
that the nobles next day suffered death. The cavaliers decline food,
saying that they, too, are holding a fast; but _chicha_, or wine of
maize, being offered them in golden goblets by dark-eyed beauties, and
Atahualpa brooking no refusal, the Spaniards without dismounting drink
it off, and then slowly ride back to Caxamalca.


As the night wears away, while Atahualpa lies dreaming of the twilight
apparition, Francisco Pizarro matures his plans. Little as there was in
the brief survey of the inca's camp to inspire confidence in attempting
here the seizure trick, the Spaniards nevertheless determine to venture
it. The details of the proposed perfidy and butchery are arranged
with consummate audacity and executed with a cool indifference to
human rights and human suffering which would do honor to the chief of
anacondas. In issuing to his officers their instructions for the day,
which are nothing less than to seize the inca and murder his attendants,
Pizarro says: "The project is more feasible than at first glance one
might imagine. To administer to us the rites of hospitality, the Indians
will not come arrayed in hostile humor. No more can be admitted to
the plaza than may be easily vanquished; and with the inca, whom his
soldiers worship as a god, within our grasp, we may dictate terms to the
empire. Farther than this our case is desperate. Atahualpa has permitted
our insignificant force, which he could crush at pleasure, to advance
even to the border of his sacred presence; he will scarcely suffer us
to depart in peace, did we wish it. Of your hearts make a fortress; for
though we be few in number, God will never forsake those who fight his

Mass, attended by pious chants, follows the early clarion call the 16th
of November, and dread-dispelling action soon clears the atmosphere of
every gloomy foreboding. Arms and armor are put in order and burnished;
the horses are decorated with bells and jingling trappings, that they
may present a terrifying appearance. A sumptuous repast is spread in one
of the halls opening into the plaza in which the inca is to be received.
The cavalry is divided into three squadrons under Hernando de Soto,
Hernando Pizarro, and Sebastian de Benalcázar, and stationed within
the halls on the three sides of the plaza. The foot-soldiers, with the
exception of twenty men reserved by Pizarro as his body-guard, occupy
rooms adjoining the court, but few being visible. Two small field-pieces
are planted opposite the avenue by which the Peruvians approach. Near
the artillerymen are stationed the cross-bowmen, and in the tower of
the fortress a few musketeers are placed. Thus the Spaniards await their
victim till late in the afternoon, when from the tower they behold that
which causes trepidation not less than courage-cooling delay. Three
hundred warriors in gay uniforms clear the way of sticks or stones
or other obstruction for the royal procession, which is headed by
Atahualpa, seated on a throne of gold, in a plumed palanquin garnished
with precious stones, and borne on the shoulders of his vassals. On
either side and behind the royal litter walk the counsellors of the
realm, and behind it follows battalion after battalion of the forces
of the inca until thirty thousand soldiers in martial array occupy
the causeway from the Peruvian camp half way to Caxamalca. Surely the
projected seizure in the midst of such a host were madness, and without
a miracle it would seem that the Christians must abandon their pious
purpose. The miracle, however, is not wanting. Just before reaching the
entrance in the city, Atahualpa pitches his tents with the intention
of passing there the night and entering Caxamalca the next morning.
This, the death-blow to the high hopes of the day, Pizarro determines if
possible to prevent. Despatching a messenger to the inca, he beseeches
him to change his purpose, and to sup with him that night. The inca
assents, saying that in view of the lateness of the hour he will bring
only a few unarmed attendants. And to his subjects he remarks, "Arms are
unnecessary in our intercourse with those engaged in so holy a mission."
Hence the miracle.


Though few in comparison with his entire army, the attendants of
Atahualpa numbered several thousands, as just before sunset, slowly
and with measured tread, they march up the main avenue toward the plaza
keeping step to the sonorous music of the singers and with the dancers
who amble before the royal litter. Nearest the person of the monarch are
the _orejones_, as the Spaniards styled the Peruvian noblemen, richly
attired with armor and crowns of gold and silver, some walking, others
in litters, according to their several ranks. Around his neck over a
sleeveless waistcoat, the inca wears a band of large emeralds; under the
magic borla, the dull, cold, listless look of the preceding evening had
given place to an expression of enkindled majesty. Entering the plaza
the royal procession deploy to right and left, Atahualpa and his nobles
taking their station in the centre, and the Peruvian soldiery filling
the remaining space. Profound quiet fills the place, and so hidden
behind the forms of his own swarthy warriors are the few Spaniards
appearing that Atahualpa, without descending from the litter, casts
about him an inquiring glance and asks an attendant, "Have the strangers
fled?"[I‑8] At this moment a priest, Vicente de Valverde, accompanied
by the interpreter, emerges from one of the halls. In one hand he bears
a bible and in the other a crucifix.[I‑9] Approaching the royal litter,
the ecclesiastic harangues the inca, beginning with the doctrines of
the trinity, creation, redemption, and delegation of authority,[I‑10]
and ending with faith, hope, and charity, as manifest in the person of
the pirate Pizarro.

The contemptuous smile which mounts the features of the inca at the
opening of the address, changes to looks of dark resentment as he is
told to renounce his faith and to acknowledge the sovereignty of the
king of Spain. "Your sovereign may be great," he exclaims, fire flashing
from his eye, "but none is greater than the inca. I will be tributary
to no man.[I‑11] As for your faith, you say your god was slain and by
men whom he had made. Mine lives," pointing proudly to the setting sun,
"omnipotent in the heavens.[I‑12] Your pope must be a fool to talk of
giving away the property of others."[I‑13] Then after a moment's pause
he demands, "By what authority do you speak thus to me?" The priest
places in his hand the bible. "In this," he says, "is given all that
is requisite for man to know." The inca takes the book and turns the
leaves. "It tells me nothing," he exclaims. Then exasperated by what
he deems intentional insult he throws the book upon the ground,[I‑14]
saying, "You shall dearly pay for this indignity, and for all the
injuries you have done in my dominions." It is enough. God and the king
rejected, and the holy evangelists trampled under foot.[I‑15] "Why do
you delay?" cries the enraged monk to Pizarro as he picks up the sacred
volume. "In God's name at them! Kill the impious dogs!"[I‑16]


The zealous commander needs no second exhortation. Unfurling a white
banner, the signal for assault, he springs from his retreat; the
sentinel in the tower discharges his musket, and loud rings the war-cry
Santiago! as every Spaniard rushes to the charge. To their brutal
instinct was added a spiritual drunkenness which took them out of the
category of manhood and made them human fiends. We wonder how men could
so believe; but greater still is our wonder how men so believing could
so behave. The guns fill the place with reverberating noise and smoke;
with shrill blast of trumpets and jingling of bells the horsemen ride
upon the panic-stricken crowd; the infantry with clang of arms appear
and all unite in quick succession in sheathing their sharp swords in
the unprotected bodies of the natives. At first they turn to fly, but
at every point they are met by a blood-thirsty foe. Those nearest the
gates escape, but soon the passages are blocked by heaps of dead bodies.
The carnage is fearful. And above all the din of slaughter is heard
the shrill voice of the man of God crying to the soldiers, "Thrust!
thrust! thrust with the point of your swords, lest by striking you break
your weapons."[I‑17] When the first fierce charge is made, Pizarro,
who with twenty chosen men had assumed the task of capturing the inca,
rushes for the royal litter, but quick as are their movements the
devoted followers of Atahualpa are before him, and crowding round their
imperilled sovereign, struggle to shield his person. As one drops dead
another hastens to take his place. Each one of Pizarro's guard strives
for the honor of the capture; but for a time they are prevented by the
surges of the crowd which carry the monarch hither and thither and by
the desperate defence made by the Peruvians.

[Sidenote: AT THE BANQUET.]

Fearful lest in the darkness which is now coming on the victims should
escape, one of the Spaniards strikes with his sword at the inca. In
warding off the blow, Pizarro receives a slight wound in the hand;
then threatening death to any who offer violence to Atahualpa, he hews
his way through the fortress of faithful hearts which guard the royal
person, and thrusting his sword into the bearers of the litter brings
down the monarch, whom he catches in his arms. The borla is torn from
Atahualpa's forehead and he is led away to the fortress, where he is
manacled and placed under a strong guard.[I‑18] Meanwhile the butchery
continues in and beyond the plaza. And in the slaughter of about five
thousand men which occupied not more than half an hour it is said that
no Spanish blood was spilled save that drawn from the hand of Pizarro
by one of his own men.[I‑19] Following their instincts these fiends
incarnate spend the night in rioting and drunkenness.[I‑20] Thus during
the swift glimmer of a tropical twilight, the conquest of Peru is
accomplished; the sun of the inca sets lurid, blood-colored; true to
their engagement, Pizarro and Atahualpa sup together that night![I‑21]

       *       *       *       *       *

We have seen how the opulent empire of Peru was found; how its powerful
chieftain was treacherously taken captive by a crew of Spanish invaders;
now witness for a moment how peace was made by ambassadors of the Prince
of Peace.

So suddenly fell the blow that Atahualpa failed to realize his
situation. It was but an affray of the hour; the idea of his subjugation
had not yet even occurred to him. At the banquet he praised the skill
with which the bloody work was done, and to his lamenting followers
he said, "Such are the vicissitudes of war, to conquer and to be
conquered." By Pizarro and his comrades the august prisoner was treated
as a dish fit for the gods. His women and his nobles were permitted to
attend him, and for his life or prolonged imprisonment he was told to
have no fear. Meanwhile the Spaniards were exhorted to watchfulness;
they were reminded that they were but a handful of men surrounded by
millions of foes. "Our success," said Pizarro, "was miraculous, for
which God who gave it us should be devoutly praised." The Peruvians
made no effort to rescue their chief; and while the sacred person of
their inca was a prisoner they were powerless and purposeless. Thirty
horsemen were sufficient to scatter the imperial army and rifle the
encampment. And while Pizarro preached[I‑22] Christianity to his
chained captive, his soldiers were out gold-gathering, desecrating the
Peruvian temples, killing the men, and outraging the women.[I‑23] It
was quickly discovered that the wealth of the country far exceeded the
wildest dreams of the conquerors, and soon gold and silver ornaments and
utensils to the value of one hundred thousand castellanos were heaped
up in the plaza.[I‑24]

[Sidenote: A KING'S RANSOM.]

Atahualpa was not slow to perceive that neither loyalty nor their
vaunted piety was the ruling passion of his captors, but the love of
gold. And herein was a ray of hope; for as the days went by a dark
suspicion of their perfidy and evil intention concerning him had
filled his mind. Calling Pizarro to him he said: "The affairs of my
kingdom demand my attention. Already my brother Huascar, having heard
of my misfortune, is planning his escape. If gold will satisfy you,
I will cover this floor with vessels of solid gold, so you but grant
me my freedom." Pizarro made no reply. The Spaniards present threw an
incredulous glance around the apartment. The room was twenty-two feet
in length by sixteen in width. Inferring from their silence that the
ransom was too small and distressed at the prospect of long confinement,
he exclaimed: "Nay, I will fill the room as high as you can reach with
gold, if you will let me go." And to make the offer the more tempting
he stepped to the wall and on tiptoe stretching out his arm made a
mark nine feet from the floor. Still his tormentors were silent. At
last he burst out excitedly: "And if that is not enough," pointing to
a smaller apartment adjoining, I will fill that room twice full with
silver."[I‑25] The proposal was accepted. It was safe enough to do so,
although the infamous Pizarro never for a moment intended his royal
prisoner should leave his hands alive; for by this means might the
wealth of the empire be most speedily collected, and if successful a
pretext for breaking the promise of liberation might easily be found.
Two months were allowed the captive in which to gather this enormous
treasure. Hollow vessels and all utensils were to be contributed in
manufactured form, not melted down. Valuable jewels were to enrich the
collection, and the friendship of the inca was to crown the visionary

Immediately after the recording of this stipulation by the notary,
Atahualpa sent out in every direction messengers with instructions
to gather and bring to Caxamalca with the least possible delay, the
requisite articles for the ransom. The treasures of the inca were
chiefly lodged in the royal palaces of Cuzco and Quito and in the
temples of the sun throughout the empire. All governors and subalterns
were urged to use the utmost alacrity in the execution of this order.
Meanwhile the pirates were masters of the situation. Each beastly boor
of them was a lord waited on by male and female attendants. They drank
from vessels of gold and shod their horses with silver. Their captain
was king of kings; one king his prisoner, another his prisoner's
prisoner. One of the chroniclers states that shortly after his capture
Atahualpa received intelligence of an important battle won by his army
on the day of his fall. "Such are the mysteries of fate," exclaimed
the unhappy monarch, "at the same moment conquered and a conqueror."
Huascar who was at this time confined at Andamarca not far distant
from Caxamalca hearing of the capture of Atahualpa and of the immense
ransom offered for his release sent to Pizarro offering a much larger
amount for his own liberation. Pizarro saw at once the advantage to be
derived in acting the part of umpire between these rival claimants to
the throne, and consequently the overtures of Huascar were encouraged.
But Atahualpa although closely confined was kept fully informed of the
events transpiring throughout the empire, and his word was yet law.
Pizarro imprudently remarked to him one day, "I wait with impatience
the arrival of your brother in order that I may judge between you and
render justice where it may be due."[I‑26] Shortly afterward Huascar
was secretly put to death; and Pizarro had the mortification of finding
himself outwitted by a manacled barbarian.

While waiting the gathering of the gold, Hernando Pizarro with twenty
horsemen raided the country with rich results. Three soldiers, it is
said, were sent by Pizarro under the inca's protection to Cuzco, where
after desecrating the temples and violating the sacred virgins they
returned to Caxamalca with two hundred _cargas_ of gold and twenty-five
of silver, the transportation of which required no less than nine
hundred Indians.


Time passed wearily with the imprisoned monarch. The influx of gold at
first rapid, soon fell off, and unfortunately for Atahualpa much of it
was in flat plates which increased the bulk but slowly. Nevertheless
as the matter went Pizarro felt justified in granting the prisoner an
extension of time. In February 1533 Almagro arrived at Caxamalca with
two hundred men, fifty of whom were mounted, and demanded for himself
and company equitable participation in the spoil, according to compact.
This Pizarro refused, but agreed to divide what should be thereafter
taken. The dispute was finally settled by allowing Almagro for his
expenses one hundred thousand pesos, and for his men twenty thousand.

Yet more slowly came in the gold; the people were now hiding it; the
Spaniards desired the death of Atahualpa with the liberty to devastate
and pillage after the old manner. They determined the inca should
die;[I‑27] but first they would melt down and divide the gold; they
determined to kill the inca, but first he should have a fair trial.
It was no difficult matter to frame an indictment. Huascar's death,
pretended insurrections, delay in the ransom, refusal to accept baptism;
these charges, or any of them, were amply sufficient. Then Felipillo
desired one of Atahualpa's wives, and did what he could to hasten his

The native artisans to whom the task was allotted were occupied more
than a month in running into bars the immense mass of gold and silver
collected. It was in value 1,326,539 castellanos,[I‑29] equal in
purchasing power to over twenty millions of dollars at the present day.
"It is the most solemn responsibility of my life," exclaimed Pizarro,
as he seated himself in the golden chair of the inca, to act as umpire
in the partition, "and may God help me to deal justly by every man;"
after which prayer the pirate's dealings might well be watched. And
first he gave himself the golden chair in which he sat, valued at 20,000
castellanos, golden bars, 57,222 castellanos, and 2,350 marks of silver.
Next his brother Hernando received 31,080 castellanos of gold, and 2,350
marks of silver, nearly twice as much as was given to Hernando de Soto,
his equal in rank and talent. Horsemen received 8,880 castellanos in
gold and 362 marks of silver. Some of the infantry received half that
amount, others less. To the church of San Francisco was given 2,220
castellanos of gold.[I‑30] Father Luque had died shortly before the
departure of Almagro from Panamá; no mention is made of him or of his
legal representative, Gaspar de Espinosa, in the distribution.

Hernando Pizarro and Hernando de Soto were both opposed to harsh
measures with regard to the inca, treating with the contempt they
deserved the thickening rumors of revolt. But Pizarro and Almagro,
impatient to pursue their ambitious schemes, had long since determined
Atahualpa's fate. The accusations and the trial would both be laughable
were they not so diabolical. Pizarro and Almagro acted as judges. Among
the charges were attempted insurrection, usurpation and putting to
death the lawful sovereign, idolatry, waging unjust warfare, adultery,
polygamy, and the embezzlement of the public revenues since the
Spaniards had taken possession of the country! What more cutting irony
could words present of the Christian and civilized idea of humanity
and the rights of man then entertained than the catalogue of crimes
by which this barbarian must unjustly die, every one of which the
Spaniards themselves had committed in a tenfold degree since entering
these dominions. The opinion of the soldiers was taken.[I‑31] It is
unnecessary to say that the prisoner was found guilty. He was condemned
to be burned alive in the plaza.


At the appointed hour the royal captive, heavily chained, was led
forth. It was nightfall, and the torch-lights threw a dismal glare upon
the scene. By the inca's side walked the infamous Father Vicente, who
never ceased pouring into the unwilling ear of his victim his hateful
consolations. Upon the funeral pile, Atahualpa was informed that if he
would accept baptism he might be kindly strangled instead of burned. "A
cheap escape from much suffering," thought the monarch, and permitted it
to be done. The name of Juan de Atahualpa was given him. The iron collar
of the garrote was then tightened, the Christians recited their credos
over the new convert, and the spirit of the inca hied away to the sun.
Thus one more jewel was added to the immortal crown of Father Vicente
de Valverde![I‑32]

       *       *       *       *       *

With the death of Atahualpa the empire of the incas fell to pieces,
and the Spaniards were not slow to seize upon the distracted country.
It is said that the gold and silver obtained by the conquerors at
Cuzco equalled that furnished by the inca. Official statements place
the amount at 580,200 castellanos of gold, and 215,000 marks of
silver.[I‑33] After another distribution government was organized by
the Spaniards with Manco Capac crowned inca of Peru for a figure-head,
behind whom and in whose name the grim conquerors might unblushingly
pursue their work of destruction. Sebastian Benalcázar took possession
of Quito, where he was shortly afterward confronted by Pedro de
Alvarado, one of the conquerors of Mexico and governor of Guatemala.


It appears that Alvarado, having fitted out a fleet of twelve ships for
a voyage to the Spice Islands, was turned from his purpose as will be
hereafter related, by the reported marvellous successes of the Peruvian
adventures. Believing or affecting to believe that the province of
Quito was without the jurisdiction of Pizarro, he determined to conquer
that country for himself. His army on landing presented the strongest
front of any in Peru, but the march across the snowy sierra was one
of the most disastrous in Spanish colonial history.[I‑34] Although
the distance was short the entire way was strewn with the dead; more
than one hundred Spaniards and two thousand Indians perished. Enough
however survived to enable Alvarado to make equitable arrangements with
Almagro and Benalcázar. A portion of the vessels and the entire forces
of Alvarado were transferred to the associates for one hundred thousand
castellanos. Alvarado then visited Pizarro at Pachacamac, where the
latter was awaiting the development of events at Quito; after which
Alvarado took his departure. Benalcázar remained at Quito and eventually
became governor of that province.

       *       *       *       *       *

After this in the history of Peru comes the feud between the associate
conquerors; for here as elsewhere no sooner are the savages slain
than their destroyers fall to fighting among themselves. Almagro and
Pizarro are old men, old friends, copartners; yet instead of dividing
their immense acquisition and devoting the brief remainder of their
days to peaceful pursuits, so deadly becomes their hatred that each
seems unable to rest while the other lives. Hernando Pizarro reports
proceedings in Spain, and Almagro is placed in command of Cuzco, while
Pizarro founds his capital at Lima. The king confirms Pizarro in his
conquest and makes him Marqués de los Atavillos, and grants Almagro
two hundred leagues along the sea-shore commencing from the southern
limit of Pizarro's territory. Hernando Pizarro takes Almagro's place at
Cuzco. While Benalcázar is at Quito, Almagro in Chile, and the forces of
Pizarro divided between Cuzco and Lima, the inca, Manco Capac, revolts.
With two hundred thousand men he besieges Cuzco, Lima, and San Miguel
simultaneously, and massacres the settlers on plantations. The Spaniards
are reduced to the greatest extremity. Cuzco is laid in ashes, and
Pizarro, unable to coöperate with his brother Hernando, despatches ships
to Panamá and Nicaragua for aid.

The chief point of dispute between the associates is the partition
line dividing their respective governments. Each claims the ancient
capital of Cuzco as lying within his territory. Almagro, returning
from a disastrous expedition into Chile, makes overtures to gain the
friendship of Manco Capac; failing in this he defeats the inca in a
pitched battle, takes possession of Cuzco, makes Hernando Pizarro his
prisoner, and captures his army. Instead of striking off his head as
urged to do by Orgoñez, and marching at once on Lima, Almagro falters
and thereby falls.

Meanwhile Hernan Cortés sends his imperilled brother-conqueror a vessel
laden with provisions; a kingly gift. Gaspar de Espinosa, Father Luque's
successor, presents himself about this time in Peru, and is sent to
Almagro by Pizarro to effect a settlement of their difficulties, but
the latter remains firm, and the sudden death of Espinosa terminates
the present overtures. Finally by many solemnly sworn promises, which
are broken immediately, his point is gained, Francisco Pizarro obtains
the release of his brother; then with seven hundred men, on the plain
before Cuzco, he engages and defeats Almagro's force of five hundred
men under Orgoñez, captures Almagro, whom he places in chains, and after
a mock trial puts him to death. Hernando Pizarro is afterward arrested
in Spain for the murder of Almagro, kept confined a prisoner for twenty
years, is liberated, and dies at the age of one hundred years.


And now appears on the scene, as heir to the feud, Almagro's
illegitimate son Diego, who henceforth lives but to avenge his father's
death. There are those who will not serve the murderer of their master,
'men of Chile,' they are called, and so they see distress and carry thin
visages and tattered garments about the streets of Cuzco. These to the
number of twenty, with Juan de Rada their leader, meet at the house of
young Almagro, and bind themselves by oath to kill Francisco Pizarro on
the following Sunday the 26th of June 1541. Almagro's house adjoins the
church, while Pizarro's is on the other side of the plaza. They will
slay him as he leaves the church after mass. But the governor does not
attend church that day; so they cross the square and enter through an
open gate into the court-yard, from which stairs lead to an upper room,
where Pizarro is at dinner with several friends. Suddenly the diners
hear a shout from below, "Long live the king! Death to tyrants!"

Accustomed to danger Pizarro acts on the instant, directs his chief
officer Francisco de Chaves to make fast the door, and steps into an
adjoining room with his half-brother, Martinez de Alcántara, to arm
himself. Chaves springs forward and closes the door, but instead of
securing it he parleys with the assailants who are now at the top of
the stairs. A sword thrust into the officer's breast cuts short the
conference, and the body is flung below. Perceiving blood, most of the
guests fly, climbing over a corridor and dropping to the ground; two
or three who had come forward with Chaves are quickly despatched by
the conspirators. Although his armor is ill-adjusted Pizarro springs
forward sword in hand. "How now, villains! would you murder me?"
cries this veteran of a hundred fights. Then to Alcántara, "Let us
hold bravely against these traitors, for I swear to God we two are
enough to slay them all." The men of Chile fall back before him, but
only for a moment; again crowding forward one after another of the
conspirators is stretched on the ground. The conquest however is too
unequal to continue; yet after Alcántara, the two pages of the governor,
and every person present except the chief lie dead upon the floor,
Pizarro still fights on. At length Rada, exasperated, grasps one of
his comrades, named Narvaez, and hurls him against Pizarro's sword.
It is death to Narvaez, but it is victory for Almagro; for while the
sword of Pizarro is sheathed in the body of the luckless conspirator,
the weapon of another strikes him in the throat, and brings him to the
floor. "Kill him! kill him!" cry the assailants as they close round the
fallen chieftain, thrusting into his body their swords.[I‑35] True to
his religious instincts, the expiring hero raises himself on his arm,
traces with his own blood upon the floor the sacred emblem of his faith,
sighing "Jesu Cristo!" then while he bows his head to kiss the cross
which he had made, a blow more dastardly than all the rest terminates
his eventful life. Thus perish in sanguinary brawl, each by the hand of
the other, these renowned chieftains, whose persistent steadfastness
of purpose and manly courage under difficulties were equalled only by
their avarice, treachery, and infamous cruelty.

The bloody work accomplished, the conspirators rush forward and
cry, "Long live the king! The tyrant is dead! Long live our lawful
governor Almagro!" The Almagroists continue in power till the latter
part of 1542, when they are exterminated by Vaca de Castro, sent as
commissioner by the crown to quiet the country. Almagro is executed,
and the name becomes extinct. Juan Pizarro is killed by the Indians
while capturing the fortress of Cuzco, and after the defeat of Vasco
Nuñez Vela at Añaquito had been avenged by the execution of Gonzalo
Pizarro at Xaquixaguana, the affairs of Peru lapse into the hands of
the viceroys.[I‑36]





[Sidenote: PEDRO DE LOS RIOS.]

Mention has already been made of the appointment of Pedro de los Rios
as governor of Castilla del Oro in place of Pedrarias Dávila, of the
arrival of his fleet at Nombre de Dios in 1526, and of the death of
Pedrarias at Leon in 1530. The new governor was instructed that the
conversion of the natives rather than their conquest should be his main
purpose; they were to be treated indeed as vassals of the crown but not
as slaves; and his Majesty the emperor Charles V. was pleased to declare
that in the foundation of new colonies he had less regard for his own
aggrandizement than for the spread of the holy Catholic faith. Pedro
de los Rios was a man unfit to govern a community of wild and turbulent
adventurers in a strange and half-settled territory. Instead of pursuing
the right course at the right moment, he seemed to go out of his way to
commit blunders. As occurred at his meeting with Salcedo in Nicaragua,
when the mere threat of a fine made him beat a hasty retreat to Panamá,
he was often found wanting in the hour of trial. His lack of ambition
and ever-present regard for his own personal ease and safety, caused
his administration to prove tame and uneventful.

The _auri sacra fames_ was a vice so prevalent among the rulers of
Castilla del Oro that it is but a tiresome iteration again to allude
to it; but Rios' thirst for riches far surpassed the greed of all his
predecessors. His avarice was only exceeded by that of his wife, who,
as Oviedo tells us, held him under complete control and governed the
province through the governor. He appropriated all that he could lay
hands on, whether public or private property, and his malefeasance
in office soon became so notorious as to attract the attention of the
emperor. He was enjoined from crossing the boundaries of his province,
ordered to surrender to the royal treasurer the Pearl Islands, the
revenues of which, it will be remembered, were placed under his control
by the crown, and to give all needful aid to Francisco Pizarro and Diego
de Almagro in the prosecution of their exploring expeditions.

But it was no part of the policy of Rios to build up other territories
at the expense of his own, and his neglect of these instructions,
united with the malign influence of the crafty Pedrarias, whom the
slender-witted Rios never ceased to persecute, soon wrought his
downfall.[II‑1] Such, finally, were the complaints laid before the
council of the Indies, that some time before the expiration of his three
years' term of office, the licentiate Antonio de la Gama was sent to
take his residencia, and the governor, dissatisfied with the result,
proceeded to Spain and demanded justice. His cause came up before the
council of the Indies, Oviedo acting as attorney for the city of Panamá,
and Pedro de los Rios was fined, despoiled of office, ordered home, and
forbidden ever to return to the Indies.[II‑2] His wife, whom he had left
behind, refused to make the journey to Spain without the company of her
husband, and as he declined to return for her, she remained at Panamá
to the day of her death.

After the condemnation of Rios in 1529, the licentiate refused to
surrender his badge of office, retaining his post as governor for about
five years. Notwithstanding some complaints of his summary method of
dealing with judicial matters, a few even going so far as to say that if
Rios chose to return he might do so with impunity, the general verdict
of the colonists was in his favor, and during his administration many
public improvements were made. An inordinate craving for wealth was,
as usual, the cause of his removal,[II‑3] and in the spring of 1534
he was superseded by Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo, a soldier who
had gained some distinction at Cartagena. Barrionuevo had received his
commission nearly two years before, and set sail from Spain in command
of a force of two hundred men, furnished at the expense of the crown.
He was ordered to touch at Española, where the governor was instructed
to furnish all needed supplies; and the expedition arrived at Nombre de
Dios with ranks somewhat thinned by disease, and by casualties incurred
through rendering assistance in quelling an Indian revolt in Santo

       *       *       *       *       *


Amidst the throng of adventurers who, dazzled by marvellous reports
of the wealth of the incas and of the fabled treasures of Dabaiba,
petitioned the emperor for grants of territory south of Castilla del
Oro was Pedro de Heredia, who had already done good service at the
settlement of Santa Marta and elsewhere in the Indies. To him was
assigned in Nueva Andalucía a province whose limits extended from the
River Atrato to the Magdalena, and from the North Sea to the equator.
Sailing from Spain in 1532 with three vessels and about one hundred
men, he landed at a port then called Calamari, but to which he gave
the name of Cartagena.[II‑4] It was hereabout that Ojeda's command was
annihilated in 1509, and here that Nicuesa avenged the defeat of his
late rival by putting to the sword the people.

After a brief rest the Spaniards marched inland and came ere long to
a town where they met with stout resistance. The natives made good use
of their poisoned arrows and clubs of hard wood, man, matron, and maid
fighting side by side, and though all destitute of clothing or any
defensive armor, confronted the fire-arms and swords of the Europeans
without flinching. A few prisoners were taken during the skirmish,
one of whom, on the return of the party to Cartagena, offered to act
as guide to some of the largest towns in that vicinity, thinking that
his captors must surely be there overpowered and exterminated. On the
way they were attacked by a large body of natives who, after a sharp
contest, were driven into a neighboring stronghold, enclosed with
several thickly planted rows of trees. In hot pursuit the Spaniards
followed, and forced their way into the enclosure side by side with the
fugitives. Fresh bands of Indians soon arrived and, turning the scale,
drove out the invaders, and in the plain beyond, where was room for the
use of artillery and cavalry, even here pressed them so hard that they
held their ground with difficulty. During the fight Heredia, becoming
separated from his men, was surrounded, and would surely have been
killed had not one of his soldiers forced his way through the enemy's
ranks, and thrusting his sword through the body of one, and cutting the
bowstring of another, held the foe in check till others could come to
his assistance. Finally the savages were driven back, leaving their town
in the hands of the captors, who found there provisions and a little

Returning to Cartagena, Heredia fell in with a vessel newly arrived from
Española with troops on board that raised his command to one hundred
foot and as many horse. Thus reënforced, he penetrated the province
as far as the town of Cenú, in the valley of a river which still bears
that name. Here was found in two boxes or chests gold to the value of
20,000 pesos, and in a place which went by the name of "El bohío del
diablo,"[II‑5] a pit with three compartments, each about two hundred and
fifty feet in length, was a hammock supported by four human figures, and
containing gold to the value of 15,000 pesos, amid which, according to
Indian tradition, his sable majesty was wont to repose. In a sepulchre
near by, gold-dust was unearthed to the amount of 10,000 pesos.

Well satisfied with the results of his expedition Heredia returned to
head-quarters, and was soon afterward joined by a fresh reënforcement
of three hundred men. The tidings of his success soon attracted numbers
of dissatisfied colonists from Castilla del Oro, and toward the close
of the sixteenth century Cartagena became a place of considerable
note,[II‑6] the fleet that supplied the New World with the merchandise
of Spain touching there on the way to Portobello. The latter was but
a small village, tenanted chiefly by negroes, and possessing, next to
Nombre de Dios, the most sickly climate of all the settlements in Tierra
Firme. So deadly were the exhalations from its rank and steaming soil
that a small garrison maintained there to guard the fleet was changed
four times a year. Notwithstanding its unwholesome atmosphere an annual
fair was held there lasting forty days, during which time its streets
were crowded with merchants from every quarter of the Indies. Not many
years afterward the Peruvian herder, climbing the mountain side in quest
of his stray llama, discovered the silver-mines of Potosí,[II‑7] and
the place became, for a few weeks in the year, the most redundant mart
of commerce in the world. A fleet, freighted with all that was required
to supply the real and artificial wants of an opulent community, called
there once a year, and as soon as it appeared in sight the treasures
of the mines and pearl-fisheries were conveyed by land from Panamá to
Cruces, and thence down the Rio Chagre to Portobello.

  [Illustration: CASTILLA DEL ORO.]

[Sidenote: SAN SEBASTIAN.]

When the conquest and exploration of his territory had been partially
effected, Pedro de Heredia despatched his brother Alonso to the gulf
of Urabá to rebuild there the town of San Sebastian.[II‑8] The site
selected was some leagues south of the ruins of the settlement which
Ojeda had founded, and where his lieutenant Francisco Pizarro and his
band suffered from hunger and pestilence before Vasco Nuñez led them to
the South Sea. On a spot distant about half a league from the eastern
shore of the gulf, among some hillocks near which were groves of tall
cocoa-nut palms,[II‑9] the settlement was founded, sorely against the
will of Julian Gutierrez, who, having married the sister of the cacique
Urabá, had accumulated a fortune by bartering for gold such cheap
baubles as the natives most preferred.[II‑10] Inciting the natives
to harass Heredia's party at every opportunity, Gutierrez proceeded
to build a fort on the banks of the Rio Caiman, at no great distance
from San Sebastian. In this enterprise he was joined by a number
of malecontents from Castilla del Oro, who had been on the point of
embarking for Peru, but were persuaded to take service under Gutierrez.
Chief among them was one Francisco César, who soon afterward figures
prominently in the history of Cartagena.

Heredia at once marched with all his forces against Gutierrez, and bid
him withdraw from the limits of his province. The latter replied that
he was acting under instructions from the governor of Castilla del Oro
and could not neglect his orders. Heredia pretended to be satisfied
with this answer and withdrew his troops, but returning after nightfall
stormed the enemy's camp and put most of the garrison to the sword.
Gutierrez and his Indian wife were carried captives to Cartagena.
César with a few of the survivors escaped to the woods and afterward
took service under Heredia. News of the disaster soon reached Panamá,
whereupon Barrionuevo immediately crossed over to Nombre de Dios,
took ship for Cartagena, procured the release of his lieutenant, and
concluded an arrangement with Pedro de Heredia by which the Atrato was
made the southern boundary of Castilla del Oro.

       *       *       *       *       *


In the vicinity of a temple in the valley of the Cenú River the
colonists of San Sebastian discovered numerous tombs, some of them of
such ancient date that their contents betokened the lapse of centuries.
Here the natives buried their caciques in a sitting posture, side by
side with their favorite wives, best trusted servants, and dearest
friends; and in the vaults which contained the remains were placed all
their gold, gems, and armor. This, perchance, may have been the golden
temple of Dabaiba, the quest of which had already cost the lives of
so many Spaniards, and was yet to cost the lives of hundreds more as
they pursued this glittering phantom far south toward the verge of
the province. South-east of the gulf of Urabá lay the territory of the
cacique Dabaiba, whose name is still applied to the sierra that skirts
the bank of the Atrato, forming a western spur of the cordillera.
Between the gulf and the town of the cacique was a forest ten or twelve
leagues in length, dense with palm-trees, and matted with tropical
undergrowth, through which flowed to the sea mountain streams, dammed
in places with fallen trees, and covering the neighborhood with vast
tracts of lagoon and marsh land. Through this region the natives, with
their light portable canoes, made their way with little difficulty, but
to the Spaniard with his heavy armor and cumbersome accoutrements the
forest was almost impervious. Beyond it lay a rugged and broken country
in which roads were unknown and where the tortuous bed of a mountain
torrent afforded for a brief space during the dry season the only means
of access to the realms of the Indian chief. The sierra of Dabaiba had
for many years barred the progress of Spanish exploration and conquest,
but there, if report were true, lay hidden stores of gold that outshone
even the riches of an Atahualpa or a Montezuma. Closely guarded indeed
must be the treasure that could escape the keen scent of the Spaniard,
and great the obstacles that could stay his path when in search of his
much loved wealth.

The first to attempt the conquest of this territory was Francisco César,
now a captain of infantry, and one whose skill and gallantry had gained
for him the confidence of his men. Starting from San Sebastian in 1536,
in command of eighty foot and twenty horse, he travelled southward
through a pathless wilderness. Ten months the party journeyed, and
arriving at length at the Guaca[II‑11] Valley were suddenly attacked
by an army of twenty thousand natives. While thus surrounded and cut
off from all hope of retreat, there appeared above them in the heavens
the image of Spain's patron saint. Three hours thereafter the enemy
was routed, and the Spaniards proceeded at once to look for gold. After
much tedious search, a crumbling sepulchre was discovered, wherein was
hidden treasure to the value of thirty thousand castellanos. The remnant
of César's band then returned to San Sebastian, accomplishing their
homeward journey in seventeen days.

       *       *       *       *       *


Less fortunate was Pedro de Heredia, who in the same year organized
an expedition to invade the realms of the cacique Dabaiba and to
gain possession of his treasures. At the head of two hundred and ten
mail-clad men, Heredia set out from San Sebastian, and directed his
course along the banks of the Atrato. He soon arrived at the verge
of the forest through which he must cut his way as best he could,
with frequent and vexatious delays for the felling of trees and the
construction of rafts to bridge the marshy ground, impassable else for
man or beast. Rain fell in torrents; poisonous snakes and swarms of
wasps and mosquitoes haunted the gloomy solitudes. No fires could be
kindled, and famine and pestilence soon became familiar guests in the
Spanish camp. Some natives who served as guides were accused of having
purposely led them astray. They answered: "We go from the river to
the mountains in three days, while you and your horses require as many

When the storm cleared away a detachment of Spaniards was sent in
advance to reconnoitre, the rest remaining in camp to await their
report. After a few days' march they arrived at a spot where the
smoke of expiring embers and the skins of animals indicated a recent
encampment of savages. After diligent search huts were discovered
built amidst the boughs of the forest-trees, the natives thus securing
themselves from venomous reptiles. After a slight resistance two of the
natives were captured, and from their information the party brought back
news to their comrades that they were travelling in a wrong direction.
Heredia and his men, too much dispirited to make any further effort,
turned their faces homeward and arrived at San Sebastian empty-handed
and in sorry plight, the return journey occupying forty days, and the
entire expedition about three months.

       *       *       *       *       *


The survivors of the two Spanish companies soon became clamorous
for fresh adventure, and in 1538 Francisco César, with Heredia's
permission, equipped a force about equal in number to his first command,
resolved this time to penetrate at all hazard the fastnesses of the
mysterious sierra. After leaving San Sebastian, César marched along
the coast in the direction of the Rio Verde, thence turning eastward
toward the cordillera. The party suffered severely, and on arriving
at the Guaca Valley mustered but sixty-three men capable of bearing
arms. Nevertheless César advanced boldly on the first town which fell
in his way after ascending the sierra. The inhabitants, assured by
interpreters that the invaders had no hostile intent, brought forth an
abundant supply of roots, corn, fruit, and such other provisions as they
possessed. The horses were treated with special care, and homage was
paid to them as to superior beings.

While the Spaniards were enjoying here a few days of repose the chief
of the district, Nutibara by name, quietly assembled an army of two
thousand men, thinking to crush this presumptuous little band, for no
tidings had yet reached him of the dread prowess of the strangers. A
stubborn conflict ensued, terminated only by the death of Quinunchú,
brother of Nutibara, who fell by the hand of César. Santiago on his
white horse again appeared in behalf of his followers, and to him was
ascribed the glory of the carnage that followed. The conquerors soon
ascertained that the country for many leagues around was rising in arms
against them, and having now secured treasure to the value of forty
thousand ducats they returned by forced marches to San Sebastian.[II‑12]

News of César's expedition was soon carried to Cartagena, whence in
December 1537 the licentiate Juan de Badillo set forth to explore
further the region south of the gulf of Urabá. A force of three hundred
and fifty men was collected, with five hundred and twelve horses, a
number of Indians and negroes, and ample stores of provisions and
munitions of war. Francisco César was second in command, and the
treasurer Saavedra one of the captains. Starting from the port of Santa
María near the mouth of the Atrato they arrived, with no adventure
worthy of note, at the valley of Los Pitos[II‑13] where was a fort
defended by a large force of natives. Saavedra, leading an attack on
this stronghold at the head of sixty men, was beaten back, and César,
coming to his support about nightfall, posted his men in readiness to
renew the assault at daybreak. The defenders, perceiving their design,
determined to anticipate them, and fell on the Spaniards unawares, but
after some sharp fighting were repulsed.

Badillo then continued his march through the Guaca Valley, arriving
at the domains of the chief Quinachi. It was here that César, on his
first expedition, had unearthed treasure to the value of thirty thousand
castellanos, and hence one reason for selecting this route. In June the
expedition arrived at the valley of Norí,[II‑14] with ranks somewhat
thinned by famine and by ceaseless encounters with the natives. Meeting
with a friendly cacique they questioned him as to the whereabouts of
the great treasure of Dabaiba. He replied: "There is no treasure, for
they have no need of any; but when they want gold to purchase food or
redeem a captive, they pick it up in dry weather from under the rocks
in the river-beds." Exploring parties were sent in all directions, but
with little success. They could not scale the steep sierra or cross
the treacherous marshes, and they were constantly harassed by bands
of Indians. Acosta relates that one detachment sent out toward the
mountains in a westerly direction passed underneath a village, built
amidst the overhanging boughs of forest-trees, whence the natives plied
them with arrows, rocks, hot water, and lighted fagots.

The cacique of Norí, anxious to be rid of the Spaniards, presented
Badillo with gold to the value of two thousand pesos, and offered to
conduct him to an auriferous region, then known as the Buritica Valley.
After a six days' march they came to a native stronghold, which was
captured after a sharp struggle, the chieftain, with his young wife,
being taken captive. The latter was released on payment of a large
ransom, accompanied with a promise from her husband to act as guide to
a spot where rich mines were known to exist. With a heavy iron collar
round his neck, and fastened by chains between four stalwart soldiers,
the cacique led the way till he came to the verge of a precipice, whence
he threw himself headlong, dragging with him his guards. Unhappily the
fall did not prove fatal, and the Spaniards, though sorely hurt, had
yet life enough left to drag their bruised victim into the presence of
Badillo, who at once ordered his slaves to burn him alive.

Want, sickness, and the ceaseless hostility of the natives had now
spread havoc in the Spanish ranks. Many who had come in search of wealth
had found a grave; and the survivors, worn with hardship and disgusted
with the meagre results of their long-protracted toil, threatened to
abandon the expedition and set their faces homeward. The discontent was
greatly increased by the death of Francisco César, a much loved and well
trusted officer, and one who, had fortune cast his lot in a wider or
nobler sphere of action, might have become one of the foremost captains
of his age. Nevertheless, the march was continued, and on Christmas-eve,
after a journey lasting one year and three days, the expedition arrived
at the province of Calí, in the valley of the Cauca River. Here the
soldiers well nigh broke out into open mutiny. Badillo confronted them
with drawn sword, exclaiming: "Let him return who chooses; I will go
forward alone till fortune favors me." Nevertheless the men crowded
around him still clamoring to be led back to Urabá, whereupon he ordered
a division to be made of the spoil, hoping thus to put them in better
heart. To complete his discomfiture it was found that the treasure-chest
had disappeared. This last was a heavy stroke, for the worthy licentiate
was of course suspected of the theft. Alone and broken-hearted he stole
away to Popayan, some twenty leagues to the south in the same valley.
Thence he made his way to Panamá, was there arrested, and after being
sent a prisoner to Cartagena, the city from which he had departed in
pursuit of fame and riches, ended his days at Seville, before his trial
was concluded, friendless and a pauper.

The charge of peculation against Badillo proved to be unfounded, for
the chest containing two thousand six hundred castellanos was afterward

The share of each foot-soldier was ascertained to be five castellanos,
from which it would appear that the Spaniards lost about half their
number before arriving at Calí. The remainder of the band followed the
course of the Cauca River northward as far as the Indian province of
Umbrá, where most of them took service under one Jorge Robledo, who made
further explorations on the right bank of the Cauca in the mountainous
region which now bears the name of Antioquia.

       *       *       *       *       *


In 1533[II‑15] the audiencia real y chancillería of the city of Panamá
was established, the _personnel_ of which included a president,
four oidores, a fiscal, a relator, two secretaries, and for local
government two alcaldes and three ministers of justice. The territory
under the jurisdiction of the audiencia originally included Peru with
the exception of the port of Buenaventura, but was afterward bounded
by Costa Rica, Cartagena, and the two oceans, and was divided into
the three provinces of Castilla del Oro, Darien, and Veragua, all of
which were included under the one name of Tierra Firme. During the
administration of Pedrarias, as we have seen, an interdict was passed
forbidding lawyers and magistrates to reside in Castilla del Oro, and
the minions of the governor decided civil cases always in favor of
the party who paid the heaviest bribe. There was no appeal but to the
governor himself except in cases where the amount exceeded five hundred
pesos. A transcript of proceedings might in such cases be sent to the
audiencia of Española, which at that time held jurisdiction over the
inferior courts of Castilla del Oro. Some few years after the demise of
Pedrarias the prohibition was removed, when there fell upon the fated
land an avalanche of lawyers. "A magistrate," writes Oviedo to the
emperor, "is worse than a pestilence, for if the latter took your life
it at least left your estate intact." After the establishment of the
audiencia of Panamá certain changes were made, but they were of little
benefit to the community, for in 1537 we find the alcalde mayor holding
the threefold office of presiding judge and attorney both for plaintiff
and defendant, "passing sentence," as Oviedo says, "on him whom he least
favored."[II‑16] The government of the three provinces was in fact
little else than a legalized despotism. Complaint was sometimes made
to the emperor, but the colonists soon found that the complainant was
only made to suffer the more for his presumption. "Only that an ocean
lay between Charles and his downtrodden subjects," exclaims Vazquez,
"nineteen out of twenty would have thrown themselves at his feet to pray
for justice."

The corruption extended to the municipal officers, and the provinces
became rapidly impoverished. To make matters worse, multitudes of
vagrants, the scum of the Spanish population, had for years been
swarming into the New World settlements. At one time the hospitals
and churches of Panamá were insufficient to shelter the hordes of
poverty-stricken and houseless vagabonds that crowded the city. As they
would not work, many were near starving.

Charles knew little of all this, if indeed he cared. As an instance of
his ignorance as to the true condition of affairs in Tierra Firme, it
may be mentioned that on the appointment of Fray Vicente de Peraza as
the second bishop of Castilla del Oro, he was enjoined by the monarch to
render aid to the faithful Pedrarias Dávila in securing the conversion
and proper treatment of the natives. It is probable that the good bishop
worked a little too conscientiously in the cause of the savage to suit
the taste of Pedrarias, for as it has already been stated, he died of
poison supposed to have been administered by that worthy ruler.


Of Fray Tomás de Berlanga, who filled the episcopal chair a few years
after Peraza's decease,[II‑17] it is stated that during his return
voyage to Spain, in 1537, being overtaken by a heavy storm, he arrayed
himself in his pontifical robes, and kneeling with the rest of the
company chanted a litany to the virgin. In response there appeared on
the waves what seemed at first a small boat, but proved to be a box
containing, as was supposed, merchandise. The gale moderated and the
captain readily assented to the bishop's proposition that if the box
contained a saint's image or other sacred thing, it should become the
property of the prelate, but if it held anything of monetary value
it should be claimed by the former. Soon the sea was calm; the box
was opened, and there, sure enough, was the image of Our Lady of the
Immaculate Conception. On his arrival in Spain Berlanga placed the
image in the convent of Medina de Rioseco, where he afterward founded
a similar institution, chanting his first mass there on the 19th of
January 1543.[II‑18]

       *       *       *       *       *


With the trio of travellers and observers, Benzoni, Acosta, and Thevet,
may be classed Juan de Castellanos, whose _Elegías de Varones Ilustres
de Indias_ recount not only the glories of the military, ecclesiastic,
and civil conquerors who figured in the early annals of the region
extending over the Antilles, the Isthmus, and the northern part of
South America, but give special histories of the New Granada provinces.
Himself one of the horde which came over from Spain for glory and
plunder, he had as cavalry soldier taken active part in a number of
the expeditions so graphically described. With the acquisition of a
fortune came a sense of the injustice exercised in its accumulation,
and remorse perhaps for ill-treatment of the Indians, mingled largely
with discontent at the poor recognition of his services, caused him to
join the church. He received the appointment of _canónigo tesorero_ at
Cartagena, but resigned it after a brief tenure for the curacy of Tunja,
erroneously assumed by some writers to be his birthplace. Here he found
ample time to seek solace by unlocking the gates of a natural eloquence,
and letting forth the remembrances of glorious deeds and events. The
gown is forgotten, and the old soldier dons again in fancy the rusty
armor, though he modestly, too modestly, refrains from intruding
himself. It is in prose that he first relates his story, but finding
this too quiet for his theme of heroes and battles, he transposes the
whole into verse, a work of ten years.

His is not the artificial refinement of the epic writer, whose form he
follows from a love of rhythm, but merely versified narrative, with a
generally honest adherence to fact, though form and metre suffer:

     Iré con pasos algo presurosos,
     Sin orla de poéticos cabellos
     Que hacen versos dulces, sonorosos
     A los ejercitados en leerlos;
     Pues como canto casos dolorosos,
     Cuales los padecieron muchos dellos,
     Parecióme decir la verdad pura
     Sin usar de ficcion ni compostura.

The ease and variety of the lines indicate the natural poet, however,
and even when form departs the sentences retain a certain elegance.
The first part was published as _Primera Parte de las Elegías_, etc.,
Madrid, 1589, 4o, used by De Bry in his eighth part on America, and
given in the fourth volume of _Biblioteca de Autores Españoles_,
1850. The second and third parts, provided with maps and plans, and
dedicated, like the first, to King Philip, remained in manuscript in
the library of the Marqués del Carpio—_Pinelo_, _Epitome_, ii. 590—till
issued by Ariban, together with the first part, in 1857, as a special
volume of the above _Biblioteca_. A fourth part, perhaps the best
and most important, as it must have recorded the latest and freshest
recollections of Castellanos, was used by Bishop Piedrahita for his
history, and has since disappeared. He found the original with Consejero
Prado, and refers to "las otras tres partes impressas." _Hist. Conq.
Granada_, preface.

The three published parts are divided into elegies, eulogies, and
histories, according to the theme, though Castellanos evidently
stretches a point to obtain so many subjects under the first heading,
inscribing them, as a rule, 'to the death' of some noted captain. The
subdivision forms octave stanzas of the Italian form, undecasyllabic
triple measure, in feminine rhyme, of triple alternating lines, with a
finishing couplet. Toward the end a continuous and chiefly blank verse
is used. The facility for versification in Spanish can hardly find
a better illustration than these sustained triplets of double rhyme,
which reflect no small credit on Castellanos' patience and power of
expression. The usual faults of writers of his age are, of course, to
be found; incredulity, pedantry, and contradiction, chiefly due to the
readiness with which he accepted statements from chroniclers and from
participants in the events related. His own versions may, Muñoz' slurs
notwithstanding, be regarded as faithful recitals, so far, at least, as
memory and military ardor permitted, while everywhere are to be found
clear, vivid descriptions of battles, scenes, and people.

An ambition with the monks and missionaries who assisted to develop the
conquest was to become chroniclers of general history, of expeditions,
or of provinces, and as brethren of the hood abounded narratives were
numerous enough to form the most perfect record of events that could
be desired; but the deplorable fact remains that so few have been
preserved, in print or manuscript. New Granada, which includes the
southern part of the Isthmus, was long without a public chronicle.
The conqueror Quesada had prepared one, and Medrano had left a history
just begun, which Aguado completed in two volumes, but neither saw the
light, and Castellanos' poetical record was published only in part. They
existed in manuscript, however, and with them for guide, Pedro Simon
was encouraged to undertake the task anew. Born at La Parilla in 1574
he had early joined the Franciscan order, and came to New Granada 30
years later as teacher and missionary, rising in 1623 to the office of
provincial. The same year he began the history for which he had during
several years been gathering material and experience. Three stout folio
volumes were speedily completed, each divided into seven historiales;
but of these only the _Primera Parte de las Noticias historiales de
las Conquistas de tierra firme_, Cuenca, 1627, relating to Venezuela,
came to be published; the other two, on Santa Marta, and on the region
adjoining Darien, remaining in manuscript at Bogotá, whence Muñoz
obtained a copy for the Madrid Academy. The published volume opens with
a dissertation on geographic knowledge among the ancients, and on the
origin of the Indians, and proceeds with the discovery and naming of
America. The Isthmus receives at first considerable attention, as one
of the earliest explored portions, but soon the narrative concentrates
upon the conquest and settlement of Venezuela, devoting a considerable
space to the custom and condition of the natives, but entering very
little upon religious affairs. The work is decidedly the most important
history of the province for the sixteenth century, and the failure
to publish that of the other provinces is highly to be regretted. The
simple, verbose style is that common to the convent chroniclers of the
period, and the only serious fault is in giving too ready credence to

Simon's non-success with the printer gave the rank of leading historian
of the province to Bishop Lucas Fernandez Piedrahita, who wrote 50
years later. A creole of Bogotá by birth, his whole career as priest
and prelate is bound up with his native country. While yet a student
he gave evidence of a literary taste by writing comedies, of which no
traces remain however. His ability procured rapid advancement in the
church. While governor of the archdiocese, till 1661, he incurred the
enmity of a visitador and was obliged to appear in Spain for trial,
but passed the ordeal, and received in compensation the bishopric of
Santa Marta. It was while waiting the slow progress of the trial that
he found time to write the _Historia General de las Conqvistas del
Nvevo Reyno de Granada_, 1688. In 1676 he was promoted to the see of
Panamá, where he died, 1688, at an age of over 70 years, revered for his
extreme benevolence and sanctity. In the preface to the volume, just
then passing through the press, Piedrahita admits that it is merely
a reproduction of _Quesada's Compendio_, and of the fourth part of
_Castellanos' Elegías_, both now lost, and the text shows indeed but
little of the research, speculation, and variety manifest in Simon,
whom he excels however in beauty and clearness of style. He confines
himself more to the special history of New Granada than Simon, and
instead of learned dissertations on America in general, he devotes the
first two of the 12 books to an account of native customs and ancient
history. He then takes up the conquest and settlement of the provinces
in question and carries the history to 1563. The first title is bordered
with cuts of Indian battle scenes, and the portraits of seven leading
kings and caciques, while that of the first libro has 12 minor chiefs
in medallions. The title-page of the third libro, again, which begins
the conquest, bears the likenesses of 12 Spanish captains. At the close
of the work is promised a continuation, but this never appeared.

A modern publication covering the same field and period as the
preceding is Joaquin Acosta's _Compendio Histórico del Descubrimiento
y Colonizacion de la Nueva Granada en el siglo decimo sexto_. Paris,
1843. Lacking in critique it nevertheless fills the want of a popular
chronologic review, and exhibits considerable labor. Acosta was an
officer of engineers in the Colombian service who had taken an active
part in scientific investigations, and written several archæologic





Thus far in North America we have followed the Spaniards in their
pacification and settlement of Castilla del Oro, Nicaragua, and
Honduras. Between these territories is situated the province of Veragua,
subsequently called Nueva Cartago. Though rich in metals and near to
Darien, such was the indomitable fierceness of the natives, and the
ruggedness and sterility of the country, that this, the spot on Tierra
Firme where the first attempt at settlement was made, was the last
province of Central America that became subject to European domination.
The New World was informed by the council of the Indies, in 1514,
that permission was granted by the crown to Bartolomé Colon to plant a
settlement upon the coast of Veragua, if he were so inclined. But this
recognition of the eminent services of the adelantado in that quarter
came too late, as he was then prostrated by an illness from which he
never recovered.

In 1526 the admiral Diego Colon died in Spain, and was succeeded
by his son Luis in those hereditary rights which had been granted
by Ferdinand and Isabella to the first admiral. In 1538, being then
eighteen years of age, Luis Colon brought suit before the tribunal of
the Indies to establish his right to his father's titles and dignities
unjustly withheld by the emperor. Wearied with the interminable
litigation received as an inheritance from his father and grandsire,
Luis abandoned, in 1540, all claims to the viceroyalty of the Indies,
receiving therefore the title of duke of Veragua and marquis of
Jamaica.[III‑1] Not long after Don Luis died, leaving two daughters and
an illegitimate son. From this time the lineal descendants of the great
admiral were denominated dukes of Veragua, and after passing through
several genealogical stages, the honors and emoluments of Columbus fell
to the Portuguese house of Braganza, a branch of which was established
in Spain. The heirs of this house are entitled De Portugallo, Colon,
duke de Veragua, marqués de la Jamaica, y almirante de las Indias.

María de Toledo, vice-queen of the Indies and mother of the young
admiral Luis Colon, after the death of her husband, Diego Colon,
demanded from the royal audiencia of Española a license to colonize the
province of Veragua.[III‑2] The audiencia referred the application to
the emperor who ordered that the matter be held in abeyance until after
the arbitration of the claim of Luis then pending before the crown. But
the high-spirited vice-queen would not brook the delay. The right of her
son to govern that land was beyond question; it was his by inheritance
from his grandfather, confirmed by royal decree to his father.


But the Lady María lacked funds for the enterprise, and to enlist men
and equip an armada without the royal sanction and without money was
impossible. The mother, however, was equal to the emergency. Among the
ecclesiastics of Santo Domingo who, as they avowed for the glory of God
and the promulgation of the true faith had left the cloisters of Spain
and embarked in a mission to the New World, was one Juan de Sosa. "I
knew him," says Oviedo, "several years ago, when he was a poor man in
Tierra Firme." But being more solicitous for gold than for souls, he
went to Peru and after serving under Pizarro came in for a share at
the distribution of the gold at Caxamalca, receiving as his portion
the then enormous sum of ten thousand castellanos. Thence the worthy
priest returned to Spain, and settled in Seville, where he resolved
to spend the remainder of his life in ease and luxury. But alas for
constancy of purpose in cavalier or clérigo when women and cupidity
unite to undermine his resolve! The vice-queen soon gained for herself
the sympathy of the wealthy ecclesiastic, and for her enterprise his
money and coöperation. He advanced the necessary funds, and though
prevented by the character of his calling from taking control of the
expedition, he sailed with the fleet, which was placed under the command
of a wealthy and honorable young man named Felipe Gutierrez,[III‑3] son
of the treasurer Alonso Gutierrez. The chief captain of the expedition
under Gutierrez was one Pedro de Encinasola who had resided in Tierra
Firme for about two years. "And whom," says Oviedo, "I also knew, for
he had grown rich by keeping a public house half way between Nombre de
Dios and Panamá." With a fine squadron[III‑4] manned by four hundred
well armed men, Gutierrez embarked from Santo Domingo in September
1535.[III‑5] The pilot, whose name was Liaño, held a southerly course,
and on approaching Tierra Firme turned to the westward and passed by
Veragua without recognizing the coast. Continuing their search along
Honduras, the vessels sailed around Cape Gracias á Dios and proceeded
westward as far as Punta de Caxinas.

At length the pilot became aware that he was out of his course. The
ships were put about, but soon encountered a heavy gale, during which
they became separated. The fleet, once more united off the island
of Escudo, cast anchor near the spot where Diego de Nicuesa suffered
shipwreck. Gutierrez sent a boat's crew to reconnoitre. They returned
in eight days, bringing hammocks, earthen pots, and other utensils. The
exploring party affirmed that according to their belief the land was
Veragua, but the pilot Liaño insisted that they had not yet reached that
province. Another party went in boats to the Cerebaro Islands, where
meeting an Indian they inquired by signs the direction toward Veragua.
He pointed toward the west, thus indicating that they had again sailed
past the ill-fated coast. The pilot treated the assertion of the Indian
with contempt. In good Castilian he swore that the savage was a liar,
and insisted on continuing an easterly course. Arriving off Nombre de
Dios he confessed his error, and acknowledged that they had left Veragua
far behind. Turning again toward the west they at length discovered a
large river, which some said was the Belen; others declared it to be
a stream west of the Belen.[III‑6] At the mouth of this river was a
small island where Gutierrez disembarked his men, built some huts, and
landed the greater portion of the cargo. On the mainland adjacent a
favorable site for a town was selected and men were sent to clear away
the dense forest and build houses. A large and comfortable log cabin was
erected for the governor, and this was soon followed by storehouses and
dwellings for the men.

A series of disasters followed this third attempt to plant a settlement
upon the coast of Veragua, similar to those which had attended Columbus
and Nicuesa. The goods of the colonists were damaged by heavy storms;
the sudden swelling of the streams carried away their houses, drowning
some of the men; and the cultivation of the soil was prevented by
frequent inundations. Their supply of provisions grew daily less;
the men, unaccustomed to the climate, sickened and died, and soon the
four hundred were reduced to two hundred and eighty. To add to their
distresses the Spaniards drank copiously from a poisonous spring, before
becoming aware of the deadly nature of its waters; in consequence of
which their lips became swollen, their gums diseased, and the effect
proved fatal in many instances.


The colonists felt greatly the necessity of an interpreter, and the
clérigo Juan de Sosa with one of the vessels coasted as far as Nombre
de Dios in search of one, but returned unsuccessful. Felipe Gutierrez
named the town which he had built Concepcion, "but from the sufferings
of the people," says Oviedo, "better to have called it Aflicion."[III‑7]
It soon became evident that to remain in that locality was death to all
concerned, and Gutierrez determined to remove to some more favorable
spot farther from the marshy lowlands of the coast. Foraging expeditions
were sent out in several directions for the double purpose of securing
food and examining the country.

[Sidenote: PISA'S PARTY.]

In one of these excursions the Spaniards encountered a cacique named
Dururua who received them courteously, and entertained them, after his
rude fashion, with bounteous hospitality. But the followers of Felipe
Gutierrez proved no exception to the rule in their treatment of the
natives. One of two evils was open to the heathen, either to submit and
suffer wrong and robbery, or to resist and be slain or enslaved. Dururua
placed at the disposal of the Spaniards his entire wealth, but even this
was insufficient to satisfy their cupidity. After his resources were
exhausted their demands did not cease, but heaping up the measure of
their iniquity they invaded the homes of the natives, compelled them to
search for gold, and after infamously burning their cornfields returned
to the settlement. Open hostilities having broken out, the governor
sent against Dururua a force of one hundred and fifty men under Alonso
de Pisa,[III‑8] who captured the chief with many of his followers. The
Spaniards demanded gold. Dururua answered that if they would give him
liberty he would bring them four baskets of gold each containing 2,000
pesos. The cacique however was held a prisoner, while an Indian was sent
under his direction to bring in the treasure. At the expiration of four
days the messenger returned empty-handed. Others were despatched on the
same errand, but all returned unsuccessful. The wily Dururua affected
great indignation against his followers. He called them traitors, and
requested that he might be allowed to go himself upon the mission, bound
and attended, when he would not only make good his word respecting the
gold, but secure to the Spaniards the friendship and service of all his

In chains and guarded by a band of thirty men Dururua set forth to
reveal the hiding-place of the treasure, and after a five days' march
arrived at an abandoned village, where he directed the Spaniards to
dig in a certain spot. The directions of the chief were followed, but
only about half an ounce of gold was found. Encinasola, who had the
matter in charge, then struck the cacique in the face, calling him dog,
impostor, and other vile epithets. Dururua solemnly affirmed that he
had left there a large store and that his people must have removed it
on their departure from the village. He begged for one more trial, and
Encinasola, blinded by cupidity, gave his assent.

All this while the shrewd cacique had not been idle. Each messenger had
been despatched upon a mission to a certain quarter of his dominion to
rally forces for his rescue, and an attack, which had been planned for
the very night when the last attempt to find the gold was to be made,
was carried into execution. The Spaniards were surrounded by a force of
six hundred hostile Indians, their camp burned, eight of their number
killed, and in the confusion which followed the chief was rescued. The
natives then disappeared from the vicinity, removing all provisions and
leaving behind a wasted country.

On their march homeward many of the survivors died of starvation. Some
dropped by the way-side and were left to perish; others, notwithstanding
the horror with which the act was regarded by their countrymen, fed
upon the bodies of the Indians. One Diego Lopez Dávalos in a fit of
choler drew his sword and slew a native servant. Two Spaniards who
were following at some distance behind, on coming up to the body, cut
off some portions which they cooked for their supper, their companions
also partaking of the loathsome repast. On the day following another
native was killed for food, and it is related that even one of their
own countrymen was slaughtered and devoured.[III‑9]

When the survivors arrived at Concepcion and presented themselves
before the governor, but nine emaciated and haggard wretches could be
counted, and these must ever be regarded as infamous from having so
preserved their lives. The governor on being informed of their conduct
placed every man of them except the informer under arrest, and tried and
condemned them all. Two who were considered most culpable were burned.
The others were branded with a hot iron in the face with the letter C,
this being the initial of his Cæsarean majesty's name, and the mark used
in branding criminals doomed to perpetual slavery in his service.

Thus we see in every attempt made by the Spaniards upon the coast
of Veragua only a series of horrors, each fresh trial proving more
calamitous if possible than the one preceding. Yet further the company
of Felipe Gutierrez diminished. Oppressed by famine, forty at length
revolted and set out for Nombre de Dios, the greater part of them
perishing by the way. The governor finding it necessary to give
employment to those who remained or else to abandon the settlement,
sent Pedro de Encinasola with a few men eastward in search of food.
Fortunately they found several fields of maize which had not yet been
destroyed, and hearing of a great quantity of gold in that vicinity,
started in quest of it. As soon as their hunger was appeased they sent
a messenger to notify the governor of the proposed excursion. As life
was more endurable while pillaging the natives, the governor and the
remainder of the men also sallied in quest of adventure. They passed
through several villages, but the inhabitants fled at their approach.
Following an Indian guide, they arrived on the fourth day at a certain
high hill where they had been told were situated mines of surpassing
richness. On reaching the spot they were informed that by digging in
a certain place an abundance of gold could be gathered. The Spaniards
did as directed, but found only a few nuggets, and turning fiercely
upon the guide, accused him of trifling with them or of treachery. The
poor savage totally at a loss whither to turn for relief, at length
sprang upon a rock which overhung the brow of a precipice, threw himself
headlong into the chasm, and thus terminated his miserable existence.


Meanwhile the famishing soldiers under Encinasola, despairing of life if
they remained longer in that country, broke their ranks, many of them
straggling off to Nombre de Dios. The governor determined to make one
more attempt to relieve his people. He accordingly despatched Father
Juan de Sosa and the alcalde Sanabria with six soldiers, four negroes,
and two natives for Nombre de Dios, to obtain recruits and supplies.
In three days this party reached the river Belen, and then, unable to
cross, followed its course southward, cutting their way through thickets
and struggling through morasses until after eleven days they succeeded
in reaching the opposite bank. Continuing their journey they encountered
along their pathway the dead bodies of their former companions who had
perished while attempting to reach Nombre de Dios. A little stale food
which had been washed ashore from some wreck or distressed ship saved
them from starvation. At length they came upon the remnant of those who
had deserted from Concepcion, now reduced to twenty-five men, and these
gaunt, haggard, and naked as the natives. Their progress was barred
by hostile bands, and themselves reduced to the last extremity. Unable
to proceed farther, they fortified themselves from the attacks of the
natives as best they were able, and awaited the development of events.

Meanwhile the sufferings of the Spaniards at Veragua, if possible,
increased. "I was informed by Marcos de Sanabria, one of the survivors,"
says Oviedo, "that the mortality at Veragua was at one time so great
that dead bodies lay unburied within and around the huts, and that the
stench arising from putrefaction was intolerable." He relates of one
Diego de Campo, a native of Toledo, who seized with illness became
convinced that death was near and that soon his own corpse would be
added to those which lay strewn before him rotting in the sun, that
he determined, if possible, to escape that horror. Wrapping himself
in a cloak, he resorted to a spot where a grave had been prepared for
another of those who were to die, and stretching himself within it soon
breathed his last. Not long afterward the owner of the grave, being
obliged himself to seek his last resting-place, found there another; but
leaving the occupant undisturbed, he directed that his own body should
be placed in the same grave, and thus the two found burial.

[Sidenote: SOSA GOES TO PERU.]

Failing of relief from any quarter, and receiving no tidings from Father
de Sosa and his companions, Gutierrez was at last obliged to abandon
the coast of Veragua. This of all others appeared the most difficult act
for a Spaniard of those days to perform; he could die with less regret
than he could give up a favorite enterprise. Taking ship for Nombre de
Dios, he there obtained some intimation of the whereabouts and condition
of Father de Sosa and the remnant of the Veragua colonists. A vessel
was immediately sent to their relief with a supply of food and other
necessaries which were contributed by the people of Nombre de Dios. The
survivors, twenty-seven in number, were thus rescued, and the government
of Felipe Gutierrez in the province of Veragua was at an end.[III‑10] He
crossed over to Panamá, and shortly afterward embarked for Peru, where
he was made governor by Gonzalo Pizarro, but subsequently quarrelling
with that ferocious adventurer, he was beheaded. The worthy Father Juan
de Sosa in deep disgust also turned his face towards Peru, vowing that
if ever he again fell heir to the spoils of an inca, his wealth should
not be squandered in ambitious schemes of colonization.






It will be remembered that of all the native tribes of Guatemala the
Cakchiquels offered the stoutest resistance to the forces of Pedro
de Alvarado. When the Spaniards took possession of Patinamit they
preferred to abandon their capital rather than submit to the domination
of the conqueror.[IV‑1] Sinacam, their chief, was still uncaptured,
having taken refuge in the mountain fastnesses of Comalapa, and it may
safely be concluded that he never ceased from his efforts to harass the
Spaniards. The unsettled condition of affairs at this period may be
inferred from the fact that there is no record of any session of the
cabildo from May 6, 1525, to October 4th of the same year.[IV‑2] The
numbers of the colonists were, however, being continually reënforced.
The trouble which occurred in Mexico during the absence of Cortés,
caused many of the settlers in Anáhuac to turn their faces toward
Guatemala, while those newly arrived from Spain or the West Indies also
joined the followers of Alvarado, who now considering that his hold upon
the country was secure, informed the municipality of Santiago that he
intended to depart at once for Mexico.

Reports had reached Guatemala of the death of Cortés in Honduras, and if
this were true he had lost a powerful patron and friend, and must needs
hasten back to protect his own interests. His purpose was to proceed
afterward to Spain and report his services to his sovereign from whom
he hoped to obtain recognition and reward.[IV‑3]

Moreover, his brother Jorge and many other Spaniards of the Cortés party
had secretly informed him of the usurpation by the factor Salazar of
the governorship of Mexico, urging him not to absent himself longer,
and promising to establish him as governor in place of the former,
until positive information should be received whether Cortés were
alive or dead. The chance that the mantle of his great master might
perhaps fall upon his own shoulders, made him anxious not to miss this
opportunity, and he lost no time in beginning the journey. But it was
already reported in Mexico that he would arrive there before long, and
he had proceeded but a short distance when he received an intimation
from the factor that he had better approach no further. If, however, he
preferred to revisit the capital, Salazar informed him that he would
gladly meet him on the way, and have the satisfaction of putting him
to death. He soon afterward learned that this was no idle threat, for
a force of fifty horse and seventy foot had already been despatched
against him, and he could not for a moment expect that the small band
of soldiers which the colonists had been able to spare him as an escort
should be able to compete with these troops. Venturesome as he was,
Alvarado was not the one to encounter almost certain death, and though
sorely mortified he was compelled to retrace his steps.

About the close of 1525 he was informed of the safety of Cortés, and
received from him despatches with instructions to join him in Honduras
with all his available forces. At that time, it will be remembered,
the latter proposed to return to Mexico by way of Guatemala, but
afterward resolved to make the journey by sea, landing at Vera Cruz
in May 1526.[IV‑4] Alvarado at once prepared to obey his orders, but
his purpose was resolutely opposed by the colonists. Municipal and
military officers, citizens and common soldiers all alike objected to
his entering upon a campaign which would strip the province of most of
its defenders. Even his own brothers endeavored to dissuade him. But
remonstrance was of no avail. The alcaldes and regidores he addressed
in intemperate and abusive language,[IV‑5] while to his brothers he
hotly exclaimed: "Offer me no advice; all I possess was given me by
Hernan Cortés, and with him will I die."[IV‑6] Discontent was, however,
widely spread, and Alvarado's personal safety appears to have been in
danger, for the cabildo requested him to enroll a body-guard for his own
protection, as the stability of the colonies would be endangered should
any harm happen to him.[IV‑7]

With great difficulty the adelantado levied troops for his expedition.
His men were discontented, and utterly averse to engage in an enterprise
which offered no prospect of gain, but was certain to be attended
with hardship and risk of life. When he was on the point of setting
forth, fifty or sixty of them mutinied, and setting fire to the city by
night[IV‑8] made their escape while the remainder of the soldiers were
engaged in preventing the conflagration from spreading. It was a godless
and ruffian band, that which issued forth from Patinamit under the veil
of night and shrouded by the smoke of the burning city. Before their
departure they stripped the chapel of all its ornaments and jewelry,
and forcibly compelled the priest to accompany them. Taking the road
to Soconusco they sacked the villages which lay on their route, and
on their arrival in that province, considering themselves safe from
pursuit, displayed their hatred of Alvarado by holding a mock trial and
hanging in effigy their commander and those who had remained faithful
to him. Then they passed on to Mexico plundering and destroying on their


Notwithstanding this defection, the adelantado soon afterward set forth
to join Cortés,[IV‑9] leaving his brother Gonzalo to take command during
his absence. Of his journey, which was probably an uneventful one, few
incidents are narrated. He passed through the provinces of Cuzcatlan
and Chaparristic, and entered Choluteca in Honduras, where, at a place
called Choluteca Malalaca, as narrated by Bernal Diaz,[IV‑10] he heard
for the first time of the return of Cortés to Mexico.

It has already been mentioned that in 1525 the settlement of Natividad
de Nuestra Señora was abandoned on account of the unhealthiness of its
site and the refusal of the natives to furnish provisions, and that
Cortés granted permission to the Spaniards to remove to Naco.[IV‑11]
Captain Luis Marin, left in charge of the latter colony, after remaining
for some time in doubt as to the fate of his commander, despatched
thence a small band of horsemen to Trujillo to ascertain whether he
yet survived, and, if that were so, to gather information as to his
intended movements.[IV‑12] Bernal Diaz, who was one of the troop,
relates that on reaching the Olancho Valley they learned that Cortés had
already embarked from Trujillo, leaving Saavedra in command. Marin's
brief sojourn in Honduras had already made him impatient to return to
Mexico,[IV‑13] and he at once decided to return to that province by way
of Guatemala. Thus it chanced that at Choluteca Malalaca, his party met
with Alvarado, who expressed unbounded delight on hearing of the safety
of his old comrade in arms, and felt much inward satisfaction that now
his superior could not interfere with his own schemes of conquest and

The lieutenant-general then commenced his homeward march, accompanied by
Marin and about eighty of the colonists of Naco. Returning through the
territory at present known as the province of San Miguel, they arrived
at the Rio Lempa at a season of the year when the current was so greatly
swollen by the rains that to ford it was impossible. In this emergency
they felled a huge ceiba-tree, out of which, with infinite labor, they
fashioned an immense canoe,[IV‑14] and after toiling for five days,
drenched with rain and ravenous with hunger, thus made good their
crossing. They had now entered the province of Cuzcatlan,[IV‑15] where
Alvarado found that during his delay in Choluteca the whole country
had risen in rebellion. Several battles were fought, all resulting
favorably to the Spaniards, and on the 6th of August 1526, after a final
and desperate conflict, the Indians were routed with terrible carnage
and soon afterward tendered their submission.[IV‑16] The Spaniards then
continued their journey by forced marches and reached Guatemala without
further adventure. As they drew near to Jalpatagua[IV‑17] they were met
with the unwelcome tidings of the revolt of the Cakchiquels and other
native nations.[IV‑18]

       *       *       *       *       *


During the absence of Pedro de Alvarado in Honduras, his brother
Gonzalo, left in charge as his lieutenant, had made good use of the
opportunity to enrich himself, imposing excessive tribute and regarding
neither age nor condition in his inordinate craving for wealth. To him
must be attributed the great and general uprising of the natives which
occurred at this time.[IV‑19] His crowning act of oppression was to
compel a large number of Indian boys to work in certain gold-washings
near Patinamit,[IV‑20] requiring of them to procure daily a certain
quantity of the precious metal.[IV‑21] For a few weeks the amount was
punctually furnished, but on account of the tender age of the children,
who were but from nine to twelve years old, the measure fell short,
whereupon Gonzalo insisted that the deficiency should be made up by
contribution, and threatened the natives with death, exclaiming with
angry gesticulations: "Think not that I have come to this coast to dwell
among a pack of hounds for any other purpose than to gather gold to take
with me to Spain." This outrageous demand was also complied with, but
the bitter hate of their oppressors, which had long smouldered in the
hearts of the natives, was now about to break forth into a flame.

       *       *       *       *       *


Among the nations of Central America the name of the supreme being was
represented by a word that signifies 'deceiver,' or in the Cakchiquel
language 'demon.'[IV‑22] In time of need or peril this personage
appeared to them, as Oviedo and Vazquez would have us believe, and until
the Christian Spaniard made firm his footing in the land was consulted
and obeyed in all important matters. "Why wait you?" he exclaimed, as
he now bid his votaries strike once more for freedom. "Tonatiuh has
gone to Castile, and the strangers are few. What fear you? I am the
thunderbolt and will make them dust and ashes. Both them and you will I
destroy if you prove cowards. Live not as slaves, nor abandon the laws
of your forefathers; convoke the nation and terminate your woes." The
appeal was not in vain. From Chaparristic to Olintepec, a distance of
one hundred and thirty-nine leagues, the Indians rose in revolt.[IV‑23]
An army of thirty thousand warriors was quickly and secretly raised,
and the Spaniards now scattered among the different settlements were
taken completely by surprise. The confederated tribes divided their
forces into two divisions, one of which occupied the mountain passes
near Petapa for the purpose of holding Alvarado's band in check, while
the other fell on the unsuspecting colonists, slaughtering the greater
portion of them together with a number of their Indian allies. Those
who escaped fled to Quezaltenango and Olintepec.[IV‑24]

  [Illustration: Alvarado's March.]

The Indians were now in possession of the country from its southern
boundary to the district of Quezaltenango, but a swift and terrible
vengeance was about to overtake them. Alvarado was already within their
borders. Having crushed the rebellion in Cuzcatlan he swept northward
with the fury of a tempest. Scattering like sheep the bands that first
offered him resistance, he met with no serious opposition till he
arrived at the peñol of Xalpatlahua, situated about three leagues from
the present village of Jalpatagua.


At this point a huge rock, surrounded by a dry moat, formed an almost
impregnable fortress, commanding not only the high-road, but also the
pass through the mountain defiles, and here the natives had collected
in force. For three days the Spaniards were detained in forcing the
approaches and reducing the stronghold. Two furious assaults directed
against it before daylight in hope of carrying it by surprise were
repulsed, and it was only by stratagem that on the third day Alvarado
succeeded in his attempt. Dividing his men into two parties, he assailed
the peñol at two different points at the same moment. In the heat of
the contest the adelantado, feigning retreat, suddenly withdrew the
corps under his command; the others were ordered meanwhile to press
the assault more closely. The ruse was successful. The defenders all
collected at the point assailed, and Alvarado, rapidly wheeling round
his column, crossed the ditch and gained the height.[IV‑25] The Indians,
attacked in rear, were thrown into disorder, driven down the heights,
and closely pursued by the Spaniards. Only when night closed upon their
flying columns did pursuit and carnage cease.[IV‑26]

The army now continued its march unmolested, until it arrived at the
plains of Canales. Here another obstinate and bloody battle was fought
with a large body of natives collected from the surrounding districts.
The contest was long maintained with doubtful result, but was at last
decided by the arrival of the friendly cacique Cazhualan, who, although
a portion of his tribe had forsaken their allegiance,[IV‑27] fell on
his countrymen with such forces as he could collect and caused their

Alvarado now advanced rapidly toward Patinamit. Fighting his way
through numerous bodies of the enemy who sought to oppose his passage,
he arrived in a few days at the plain in front of the city. Here the
combined forces of the confederated kings and chiefs, mustering in all
about thirty thousand warriors, were drawn up to give him battle and
strike one more blow in defence of their native soil. In vain their
effort. These Spanish veterans were invincible, and the Indian hosts
were almost annihilated in sight of their capital.[IV‑28] The Spaniards
following up their victory at once forced their way along the narrow
causeway that formed the only means of approach to Patinamit, and
putting to the sword the few defenders left, took up their quarters
there for the night.[IV‑29]


On the following morning, however, they evacuated the city and occupied
a position on the plain, where building for themselves a number of
huts,[IV‑30] they remained for several days, during which Alvarado
vainly endeavored to induce the revolted caciques to return to their
allegiance.[IV‑31] Twice he sent proposals of peace; but no reply being
vouchsafed, he hastened onward to Olintepec, where he arrived toward
the end of August 1526. He was now at liberty to return to Mexico.
Although he had not succeeded in either killing or capturing Sinacam
and Sequechul, he considered that the late terrible punishments ensured

Official business was promptly despatched. New alcaldes and regidores
were elected, two of the former, named Hernan Carrillo and Pedro
Puertocarrero, being nominated as Alvarado's lieutenants during his
absence. A procurador, one Diego Becerra, was appointed by the cabildo
to represent the interests of the city in Mexico; and, his arrangements
being completed, he set forth on his journey accompanied by Marin, his
brother Gonzalo,[IV‑32] and more than eighty soldiers. He passed through
Soconusco and Tehuantepec, travelling with such breathless speed that
two of his men, enfeebled by the hardships of the recent campaign, died
on the march. As he drew near to the capital he was met by Cortés, whose
friendship was soon to be cast aside, and whose lofty pride was ere long
to be humbled by the very man whom that great conqueror now welcomed
with open arms and entertained with princely hospitality at his palace
in Mexico.[IV‑33]

And here, for a time, we must leave him to tell of his great
achievements; to gamble with old comrades, to cheat them and lie to
them, just as he had done three years before. Then he will bid farewell
to Cortés forever, as it will prove, and go on his voyage to Spain,
where we shall hear of his reaping honor and distinction. We shall hear
of him also, under the consciousness of broken faith and dishonorable
conduct, shrinking from and glad to avoid a meeting with his old comrade
to whom he owed all that he possessed on earth.[IV‑34]





Of the two lieutenant-governors appointed by Alvarado on his departure
from Olintepec, Puertocarrero was the one in whom he had most reliance.
The ability which he had displayed as a soldier and a magistrate fully
justified this confidence. A near relative to Alvarado, he was second
only to that great captain in valor and military skill; and the most
important posts in the field were usually assigned to him, while the
fact that he was elected a regidor of the first cabildo, and filled
that office by re-appointment till his promotion to the rank of alcalde
and lieutenant-governor, is evidence of his capacity for government.
In character he was in one respect too like his commander, being severe
and ruthless in his treatment of the natives.[V‑1] His high breeding was
displayed by a fine deportment and courteous mien, while as a companion
he could be either most charming or exceeding disagreeable; his flashes
of wit and humor were as much enjoyed as the lash of his sarcasm was

With the assistance of his colleague Hernan Carrillo, he began
vigorously to establish order throughout the province. His first
care was to carry out the instructions of Alvarado relative to the
suppression of a revolt in the town of Zacatepec, news of which had
arrived before the captain general's departure. Though a portion
of the natives of the Zacatepec province had joined in the general
insurrection, the garrison stationed in the town itself had hitherto
been able to overawe the inhabitants; but toward the end of August
1526, incited by their high priest, named Panaguali, one inspired by the
presiding genius of the nation, they suddenly rose upon the Spaniards.
Threats of the displeasure of their god Camanelon outweighed with
them even the dread of their conquerors; and the chief priest, taking
advantage of a violent earthquake which occurred a short time before,
so wrought upon the fears of his countrymen that he prevailed on them to
attempt the extermination of the foreigners. The garrison barely escaped
a general massacre, being compelled to make their escape from the town
by cutting their way through a dense crowd of assailants, who attacked
them one evening about sunset. In the struggle one of their number,
together with three of the Tlascaltecs, were captured and sacrificed.
Next day the fugitives were joined by one hundred friendly Zacatepecs,
and by rapid marches reached Olintepec the 31st of August.[V‑2]


At daybreak on the following morning Puertocarrero marched against the
insurgents. His force consisted of sixty horse, eighty arquebusiers,
five hundred and fifty Tlascaltecs and Mexicans, and one hundred
Zacatepecs. He had also two pieces of artillery. On arriving within
sight of the town the army encamped in a small valley two leagues
from the village of Ucubil,[V‑3] to rest and reconnoitre. Hernando
de Chaves being sent forward with the cavalry captured two natives,
who gave information that Ucubil was peaceably deposed and that in
Zacatepec a portion of the inhabitants had declared for the Spaniards,
and having made their escape, were scattered among the neighboring corn
lands. Puertocarrero now moved to Ucubil, and thence sent messages of
encouragement to the friendly natives, eight hundred of whom shortly
afterward joined him. The Spanish army now mustered fifteen hundred and
ninety men, and with this force the commander was quite ready to meet
the opposing eight thousand. He advanced, therefore, toward the town,
and when about half a league distant sent messengers to offer peace on
condition of surrender. They were received with disdain, and when others
were despatched on a similar errand, they were on the point of being
seized and sacrificed, and only made their escape by trusting to the
speed of their horses.

The Spaniards now took up their position on rising ground a quarter of
a league from Zacatepec. There they were almost immediately assailed
by a body of two thousand natives who, issuing from a neighboring
wood, attacked them briskly, but after a brief struggle were forced
to retire. Early next morning three thousand warriors, advancing from
the direction of the town, came down upon them, taking good aim with
poisoned arrows, while the fire of the arquebusiers was for some time
rendered almost harmless by a strong breeze, which drove the smoke into
their eyes. Later their weapons were used with more effect, and the
Indians began to retire with loss, whereupon the Spaniards incautiously
advanced, thereby suffering defeat; for when the Spanish forces were in
the center of the plain, the detachment from the town, suddenly wheeling
round, attacked them in front, while those who remained under cover of
the woods assailed their rear. Puertocarrero was compelled to withdraw
from the field with all possible haste; but this could only be done
by traversing the greater portion of the plain, and was attended with
great loss, the troops becoming entangled during the hottest part of the
engagement, in canebrakes and creepers. At length the retreating army
reached a secure position between two converging eminences, and here
the conflict ceased for the night.

On the following day the Spanish commander, drawing up his infantry
in a hollow square with the artillery in front and the cavalry on the
wings, gave the enemy battle on the plain. His lines were too strong
to be broken by the Zacatepec warriors who rushed in a dense mass to
the attack, but were driven back by a well directed fire of artillery
and small arms. Forming into two columns, they next assailed both wings
simultaneously, but with no better success. Again massing themselves in
a single phalanx, they made a furious attack on the right of the Spanish
army. The struggle was long but not doubtful. Volley after volley mowed
down their ranks in front, while the horsemen charged repeatedly on
either flank. At length they took to flight and were pursued to the
entrance of the town, where Panaguali and two other priests with eight
of the principal caciques were made prisoners.

  [Illustration: GUATEMALA.]


The campaign was now at an end. Puertocarrero, aware that the loss of
their priests and their chieftains would assure the submission of the
rebels, retired to Ucubil, whence one of the captives was sent to the
town with a final summons to allegiance, and with strict injunctions
to return as soon as possible. A submissive reply was returned, and on
the fourth day after the battle the Spaniards entered the town with all
necessary precautions against attack. Having occupied the guard-house
and public square, Puertocarrero ordered the caciques and other leading
men to appear before him, to witness the closing scene of the revolt.
The Spaniards were marshalled in the plaza, and Panaguali was placed on
trial in the presence of his deluded people, as being the promoter of
the insurrection. All that the poor wretch could urge in his defence was
that he had acted in obedience to the orders of his god; but Camanelon
had now no power to save. As a matter of course the high priest was
condemned to death, and immediately executed in full view of the
awe-stricken natives who but now had confidently hoped to capture the
Spaniards for sacrifice.[V‑4]

The suppression of the Zacatepec rebellion being completed, Alvarado's
lieutenant[V‑5] next turned his attention to the stronghold of Sinacam.
This fortress, built of stone and lime, was situated in an almost
inaccessible position in the Comalapa mountains.[V‑6] In the fastnesses
of this range, seamed with gloomy cañons, numbers of the Cakchiquels
had taken refuge. Far down in the sierra is a precipitous ravine through
which flows the Rio Nimaya.[V‑7] The stream when it reaches the valley
below is of great depth, abounds in fish, and is fringed in places with
beautiful glades and stretches of fertile land, which can be approached
only by difficult and dangerous paths.[V‑8] Here Sinacam's followers
planted and gathered their maize in safety, while river and forest
supplied them with additional food. No better place for a stronghold
could have been selected than that to which the chief of the Cakchiquels
had withdrawn the remnant of his once powerful nation.[V‑9]


At the head of a numerous and well appointed force[V‑10] Puertocarrero
took up a suitable position before it,[V‑11] and for two months
prosecuted the siege in vain. During this time he made frequent
overtures of peace, which were answered only with contempt,[V‑12] while
his men, smarting under the taunts of the foe, who felt secure in his
position and had no fear of hunger, were repulsed at every attack, rocks
and trunks of trees being hurled down on them from the overhanging
heights. Meanwhile they were harassed by repeated sorties from the
natives, who, whenever they perceived any want of vigilance in the camp
of the Spaniards, swept down from the mountains with inconceivable
rapidity, fell upon the weakest point of their lines, and as quickly
regained the shelter of their stronghold.[V‑13]

But failure only roused the Spaniards to more determined effort. There
were among them many who had taken part in the storming of Mexico, and
had fought under Alvarado at Patinamit. The mettle of the adelantado's
veterans had been tested on many a doubtful field, and they were now
about to give fresh evidence of their valor. It may be that a traitor
revealed to the besiegers some secret path,[V‑14] or even served as
guide; but the storming of the fortress was none the less a desperate
undertaking. Its fate was sealed however. Puertocarrero divided his
forces into four bodies and stationed them at the most favorable points;
but before ordering the assault sent in his last summons to surrender.
The messengers who bore the letter to Sinacam narrowly escaped death.
On receiving it the chieftain tore the paper to shreds, and throwing
the pieces on the ground with many expressions of scorn and contempt
ordered the envoys to be put to death. At this moment, however, the
attack was made. Puertocarrero who had observed all that was transpiring
suddenly advanced his men. The ramparts were scaled, and a foothold won
within the fortifications. No hope now for the garrison; the struggle
which followed was severe but brief. The discolored ground was soon
heaped with the dead and dying, on whose prostrate forms the triumphant
Spaniards trampled as they pressed on in pursuit of the panic-stricken
natives. Sinacam and Sequechul, together with a larger number of their
followers, were captured, and few of those who survived the massacre
made good their escape to the mountains.[V‑15]

The storming of the Cakchiquel stronghold occurred on Saint Cecilia's
day, the 22d of November 1526, and long afterward the event was yearly
celebrated by an imposing procession. On the anniversary of the saint
and on the eve preceding, the standard-bearer displayed the royal colors
in the presence of the president, the royal audiencia, the municipality,
and nobles, while the Mexicans and Tlascaltecs, who had contributed
to the victory in no small degree, joined in the procession, decked in
bright colors and armed with the weapons of their ancestors.

       *       *       *       *       *


In the month of March 1527, a new governor arrived in Guatemala in
the person of Jorge de Alvarado,[V‑16] brother of the great conqueror,
and a man gifted with abilities of no common order. He had already won
repute in the conquest of Mexico, and had taken a prominent part in the
political dissensions which occurred in the capital during the absence
of Cortés in Honduras. During the military operations in Guatemala, more
especially in the first campaign in Salvador, he had proved himself
possessed of true soldierly qualities. The preferment was bestowed on
him by the governor of Mexico, and that he should have been permitted
to supersede Puertocarrero was probably due to his brother's favor and
to the friendship of Cortés. Nevertheless he was a man eminently fitted
to rule. His appointment was at once recognized by the cabildo, and he
was requested immediately to take the oath of office.


Soon after his arrival the cabildo met to discuss a matter of general
interest, which had long engaged the attention of the colonists. This
was the selection of a permanent site for their hitherto unstable city.
The choice lay between the valleys of Almolonga and Tianguecillo,[V‑17]
and after a long and wordy discussion the question was decided in favor
of the former locality. A spot was chosen which had the advantages of
a cool and healthful climate, a plentiful supply of wood, water, and
pasture, and where the slope of the ground would allow the streets
to be cleansed by the periodical rains. The governor then presented
to the municipality a document, signed by his own hand, conveying his
instructions as to the laying-out of the future city. The streets were
to intersect at right angles, their direction corresponding with the
cardinal points of the compass; space was to be reserved for a plaza;
and ground adjoining the public square was set apart for the erection
of a church to be dedicated to Santiago, who was chosen as the patron
saint of the city which was henceforth to bear his name, and whose heart
was to be gladdened in after years, when the day of his anniversary
recurred, by religious ceremonies and festivities, by tilting, and
by bull-fights whenever a supply of bulls could be procured.[V‑18]
Locations were to be assigned for a hospital, a chapel and shrine,[V‑19]
and a fortress; appropriations adjoining the plaza were to be marked
out for the municipal and civic buildings and for a prison; and the
remainder of the site was then to be divided among present or future
citizens according to the customs prevailing in New Spain.

After this document had been publicly read and entered by the notary in
the books of the cabildo, all formalities were completed except that
of taking possession of the future city as though it already existed.
According to the usual formality a post was erected, and the governor,
placing his hand upon it, proclaimed with great solemnity, "I take and
hold possession, in the name of his Majesty, of the city and province,
and of all other adjacent territory."[V‑20]

Four days after the completion of this ceremony twenty-four persons
enrolled themselves as citizens; and so prosperous, at first, were the
affairs of the new settlement that within six months one hundred and
fifty additional householders joined the community.[V‑21] During the
remainder of the year 1527 and for many months afterward the Spaniards
were occupied with municipal affairs, or busied themselves with the
erection of dwellings and with dividing and putting under cultivation
the rich lands of the adjoining valley.

In March 1528 Jorge de Alvarado, in virtue of the authority granted
to him by the governor of Mexico, claimed the right to appoint new
members of the municipality. As no valid objection could be offered by
the cabildo, the nominations were immediately made, and eight regidores
were elected in place of four. The most important measure adopted by
the new corporation during the year was the redivision of lands and the
adjustment of questions that would necessarily arise from such a change.
The grants were so unfairly distributed that, while many citizens had
far more than their share, others had none at all. The discontent of the
latter made it imperative for the municipality to take action. On the
18th of April all previous regulations were revoked and all divisions
of land cancelled. An order was then issued for the redivision of the
valley into caballerías and peonías,[V‑22] and a committee appointed to
redistribute the grants.


A measure of this kind could not fail to meet with much opposition,
and as will be seen later the division of lands and the system of
repartimientos caused much dissension among the colonists; yet in the
present instance the cabildo acted with all possible discretion and
fairness in the matter. Those grants of land which were less fertile,
were of greater extent than the more barren portions; men distinguished
for their services received larger shares to correspond with the
degree of their merit; growing crops were the property of those in
possession at the time of the redistribution; and if any occupant had
made improvements and was removed to another grant, his successor was
required to make others of equal value on the new land assigned to him.
Complete title-deeds were promised by the cabildo in the name of his
Majesty;[V‑23] the citizens were ordered to enclose and keep in good
condition the portion of the street corresponding with their allotments;
the exorbitant charges of artisans were regulated; and such was the
thrift of the inhabitants that within little more than a year after its
foundation the town was surrounded with cornfields and orchards, and
the valley of Almolonga soon became one of the most flourishing colonies
throughout the breadth of Central America.






Soon after his meeting with Cortés in Mexico Pedro de Alvarado returned
to Spain. Arriving early in 1527, he soon learned, as we may well
imagine, that charges of a serious nature were being preferred against
him. Gonzalo Mejía, the colonial procurator, had accused him before
the India Council of obtaining wealth by embezzling the royal dues, and
by unfair appropriation of the spoils of war. The amount thus secured
was estimated at one hundred thousand pesos. Many acts of injustice
were also laid to his charge, all of which Mejía affirmed could be
substantiated by documents which he laid before the council. The result
was that an order was issued directing a formal investigation to be made
both in Madrid and New Spain, and directing that his gold which amounted
to fifteen thousand ducats be seized as security for any fine in which
he might be mulcted. He was required moreover to appear at court, in
person, without delay.

Alvarado had now no easy task before him, but there was much in his
favor. His great renown, his handsome presence,[VI‑1] and remarkable
conversational powers won for him many friends, among others the king's
secretary, Francisco de los Cobos, who personally interested himself in
his defence, and with such success that the conqueror of Guatemala was
acquitted, his gold restored, and he soon had an opportunity to plead
his own case before the emperor.

Once in the royal presence the cavalier does not hesitate to inform his
Majesty of his many doughty deeds during the conquest of Mexico, and
to mention that the subjugation of Guatemala was achieved at his own
expense.[VI‑2] The king listens with marked attention, particularly when
he advances schemes for ship-building on the southern shore of Guatemala
for the discovery of the coveted Spice Islands, and for the development
of South Sea commerce.[VI‑3] The royal favor is won, and honors and
appointments follow. The cross of Santiago is bestowed upon him, and he
is appointed a comendador.[VI‑4] He is also made governor and captain
general, as Arévalo tells us, of Guatemala, of Chiapas, Cinacantan,
Tequepampo, Omatan, Acalan, and all other territories adjoining and
belonging to that province. In return he enters into an engagement with
his royal master to send forth expeditions of discovery and thoroughly
to explore the waters of the South Sea.[VI‑5]

The favors which he thus received from the emperor were due in part to
his marriage with a ward of the secretary Cobos. It is true that he was
already betrothed to Cecilia Vazquez, a cousin of Cortés, but a mere vow
could not be allowed to stand between him and high connection. Cortés
had been a true friend; but Alvarado could now win stronger support
than ever the conqueror of Mexico could bestow on him, and what mattered
friendship when help[VI‑6] was no longer needed? A few months after his
arrival in Spain, he had offered himself as a suitor for the hand of
the accomplished Doña Francisca de la Cueva, daughter of the conde de
Bedmar, and niece of the duke of Albuquerque. Secretary Cobos received
his offer approvingly, arranged the marriage, and at the ceremony gave
the bride away.[VI‑7]

Alvarado was now prepared to return to the western world, and on the
26th of May 1528,[VI‑8] entered his appointments and despatches at the
India House in Seville according to form. While he was there waiting
to embark Cortés arrived at Palos. But the new adelantado was no longer
so anxious to meet his former commander as he had been when he marched
to his aid through the wilds of Honduras. He knew how deeply he had
wounded his pride in the two most sensitive points, and he received with
a feeling of relief the news that Cortés had gone direct to Madrid.

In October 1528, the governor of Guatemala, accompanied by a number of
noble gentlemen, friends, and relatives, again arrived at Vera Cruz,
and hastening on to Mexico hoped soon to reach the capital of his own
province. But the officers of the royal treasury informed him that he
need be in no haste to leave; for now the investigations were not to
be lightly treated. It was a serious matter, that of accounts, very
serious the question how much he owed his Majesty. And near at hand
were those immaculate men, the oidores of Mexico's first audiencia,
who were jealous for the rights of the king, and more jealous that any
other subjects should be permitted to outsteal them. Upon the heels of
Alvarado they entered Mexico, bearing a document in which was a clause
which read thus: "You will also inform yourselves whether it is true
that, when Pedro de Alvarado was in Guatemala, there was not proper care
in the collection of the fifths, and that he did not present himself to
the treasurer with the portion pertaining thereto."[VI‑9] The Guatemalan
governor was at once informed that he might answer to the charges on
record against him.


The celebrated trial which followed was protracted as long as
party faction, envy, and personal enmity could make it last. The
more important accusations were three—embezzlement of royal fifths
and soldiers' booty, cruelty, and illegal warfare; but any act of
Alvarado's previous life that could be used against him was pertinent.
The total number of charges preferred was thirty-four, and there were
ten witnesses for the prosecution. On April 6, 1529, the examination
commenced; on the 4th of June Alvarado presented his reply; and on the
10th began the examination of his witnesses who numbered thirty-two,
the chaplain Juan Diaz being one. Eighty-four questions were submitted,
and in addition to verbal evidence twelve documents were filed for the
defence.[VI‑10] On the 5th of July the defence was closed and the case
submitted, but all efforts to obtain a speedy decision were unavailing.
The oidores would have the governor of Guatemala feel their power yet
a little longer.

       *       *       *       *       *


Soon after Alvarado's arrival in Mexico, his brother Jorge, who had been
left in charge of the province of Guatemala, received from him a copy
of the former's appointment as governor and captain general.[VI‑11] At
the same time the adelantado, being so empowered, constituted Jorge
his lieutenant. The documents, being read before the cabildo, were
duly recognized by that body; whereupon Jorge declared that he ceased
to exercise the powers he had hitherto held from the governor of
Mexico,[VI‑12] took the oath in the usual manner, and assumed the duties
laid upon him by his new appointment.

The audiencia of Mexico was quickly notified of these proceedings, and
in July 1529 it was known in Santiago that a judge and captain general
had been appointed to take the lieutenant-governor's residencia. A
bold though unsuccessful attempt was made to avoid the threatened
investigation. Jorge compelled the procurator, syndic, and notary
public to draw up a formal representation, urging, in the name of the
cabildo, that Pedro de Alvarado and no other person should be obeyed
as captain general and governor. This action had, however, no effect in
averting his speedy fall from power. On the 14th of August Francisco de
Orduña, the official appointed by the oidores, arrived at Santiago, and
presenting his credentials took the customary oath the same day.[VI‑13]

The audiencia could not have selected a man more unfitted for this
important office, or one less likely to promote the interests of the
colony. He came at a time when of all others prudence and dispassionate
action were needed. The redistribution of lands and the assignment
of encomiendas in spite of all efforts to the contrary had caused
discontent; the new-comers were jealously regarded by the conquerors
and the settlers were already divided into factions. To reconcile
differences was not Orduña's object. His policy was to be guided
by self-interest, and by enmity to Alvarado and his party. A man of
coarse nature, irascible and unscrupulous, he was often guilty of gross
indecency in speech and of unseemly personal violence; after acts of
gross injustice he insulted all who claimed redress.

One of his first measures was to call in question the legality of
Jorge's administration. The alcalde Gonzalo Dovalle, a creature of
Orduña's, brought the matter before the cabildo, claiming that all
repartimientos which he had assigned, and all suits which he had
decided, from the time that he had received from his brother the
appointment of lieutenant-governor, were annulled. The question was
a delicate one, inasmuch as the cabildo had recognized the authority
of Jorge, and their own powers and rights were thus endangered.
Nevertheless they did not venture to oppose the jurisdiction of the
audiencia, and within three months after Orduña's arrival he found
himself in control of the ayuntamiento.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: THE XUMAY WAR.]

The natives were not slow to take advantage of the discord among
the Spaniards, and during the latter portion of 1529 it became
necessary to send out numerous expeditions to suppress revolt or
repel encroachments.[VI‑14] Several of the confederated nations which
had sustained defeat at the hands of Alvarado on his return from
Honduras[VI‑15] began to make inroads on portions of the province which
hitherto had always been held in subjection. The valley and town of
Xumay was the principal seat of the outbreak, and against this point a
force of eighty foot, thirty horse, and one thousand native auxiliaries
was despatched under command of Juan Perez Dardon.[VI‑16]

The march of the troops was uninterrupted until they reached the river
Coaxiniquilapan.[VI‑17] Here they found their passage disputed by a
large force posted on the opposite bank. Not deeming it prudent to
attempt the crossing in the face of the enemy, Dardon withdrew his
troops, and making a rapid detour under cover of a range of hills,
arrived unperceived at a point above on the stream. By the aid of a
wooden bridge which he hastily threw across it he passed his army over,
and marched into the valley of Xumay. Here he encountered a strong body
of the enemy, who, after a spirited opposition, suddenly retreated to a
steep eminence,[VI‑18] hotly pursued by the Spaniards. The latter failed
more than once in their attempts to carry this position, but the natives
falling short of provisions and becoming enfeebled through hunger were
at length dislodged with great slaughter.

The town of Xumay now lay at the mercy of the Spaniards; and the chief
of the confederated tribes,[VI‑19] finding himself unable to cope with
the enemy, determined on stratagem; but his astuteness could suggest
nothing better than the oft-tried ruse of making treacherous overtures
of peace. Dardon was not to be imposed upon by so trite an artifice,
and apprised him that he was thoroughly aware of his design, whereupon
the cacique threw off the mask, and resolving to make one last effort,
attacked the Spaniards with all the forces he could collect, but was
routed with heavy loss. On entering the town Dardon found the place
abandoned, and in vain sent a number of his prisoners with promises of
pardon to their countrymen on condition of their return. They had even
less confidence in the word of the Spanish commander than he himself had
shown in the good faith of their chieftain. It was therefore ordered
that the place should be burned, and parties were sent to hunt down
the scattered fugitives, many of whom were captured, and among them
a number of caciques. All were indiscriminately branded as slaves,
and hence a village afterward built near the spot, as well as the Rio
Coaxiniquilapan received the name of Los Esclavos.[VI‑20]

       *       *       *       *       *


While the confederated tribes were thus again being brought under
subjection, an expedition directed against the stronghold of
Uspantan[VI‑21] met with signal failure. Shortly after Orduña's arrival
the reduction of this place was decided on by the cabildo; and a force
of sixty foot and three hundred experienced Indian auxiliaries[VI‑22]
was despatched for that purpose under command of the alcalde Gaspar
Arias.[VI‑23] The mountainous district in which this fortress was
situated lay on the borders of the present departments of Vera Paz
and Totonicapan, and was inhabited by fierce roaming tribes that were
continually urging the conquered Quichés to revolt. Surrounded with deep
ravines, and occupying one of those naturally fortified positions that
were ever selected by the natives as a refuge against the Spaniards,
Uspantan was deemed almost as impregnable as Patinamit and the mountain
stronghold of Sinacam. No sooner had Arias taken up his position in
front of this fortress, after capturing several towns that lay on
the line of his march, than he received news that Orduña had deposed
him from office and appointed another alcalde in his place.[VI‑24]
Indignant at this proceeding, he resolved to return at once to
Santiago,[VI‑25] delegating his command to Pedro de Olmos, a man in
whom he had confidence, but who, as the result proved, was unfitted for
the post. Heeding not the instructions left him, or the advice of his
fellow-soldiers, he determined to carry the place by storm, hoping thus
to win for himself a reputation. The result was most disastrous. While
the assault was being made at the single point where an entrance could
be effected, his rear was assailed by two thousand of the enemy placed
in ambush in anticipation of the attack. The surprise was complete.
In the brief conflict which ensued a large portion of the Spaniards
were wounded, Olmos himself among the number, while the slaughter of
the auxiliaries was fearful. To complete their discomfiture a number
of prisoners captured by the enemy were immediately stretched upon the
altar in sacrifice.[VI‑26] Then the allies fled and made their way back
to Santiago.

Nothing now remained but retreat; and sullenly the small remnant of
Olmos' command, ill-provided with food and overladen with baggage,
turned their backs upon the stronghold of Uspantan to fight their way
homeward. Day by day they pressed onward, constantly assailed by the
enemy posted in ambuscade along the route. The final struggle occurred
on approaching the district of Chichicastenango. Here three thousand of
the enemy had collected to dispute with them a mountain pass through
which lay their only line of retreat. No hope for the Spaniards now,
unless they could cut their way through this dense throng of warriors.
Provisions and baggage were cast aside and each soldier, grasping his
weapons, prepared for the conflict which was to determine his destiny.
The fight was obstinate and bloody, but sword and arquebuse prevailed as
usual against the rude arms of the natives, and at length the Spaniards
rested unopposed on the opposite side of the range, the survivors
finally reaching Utatlan, haggard and gaunt with famine.


Orduña, recognizing that his indiscretion had been the cause of this
disaster, hastened to repair his mistake. He met with much difficulty
in raising a sufficient force, as he had already made himself unpopular
with most of the colonists, but at the beginning of December he left
the city accompanied by forty foot-soldiers, thirty-two horse, and four
hundred Mexican and Tlascaltec allies,[VI‑27] the latter commanded
by Spanish officers. As Orduña had little faith in his own abilities
as a leader, and his soldiers had none, the command of this force was
intrusted to the treasurer Francisco de Castellanos, a man of spirit and
ability. On arriving in Chichicastenango Orduña sent envoys to Uspantan
with a summons to surrender.[VI‑28] The reply was of a practical nature:
the emissaries were immediately put to death.

The natives must now be brought under subjection by force of arms,
and Orduña sent forward Castellanos with the greater portion of the
troops to undertake the fighting, while he himself remained in safe
quarters at Chichicastenango.[VI‑29] The latter first directed his march
against the important stronghold of Nebah. On arriving at the river
Sacapulas he found for some time an impassable obstacle, on account of
the precipitous nature of the ravine down which it flowed. By moving
up stream, he discovered at last a spot where he could descend, and
throwing a bridge over the river made good his crossing. Ascending the
opposite slope, he encountered on the summit a body of five thousand
warriors gathered there from Nebah and neighboring towns. They retired
on his approach, and took up a position at a narrow mountain pass,
whence they were driven only after a sharp and protracted struggle.

Castellanos then advanced without further opposition to Nebah, which
like many other Indian towns he found to be a natural stronghold. Such
reliance did the natives place on the protection of the precipices
which surrounded it, that they did not think it necessary to post
sentinels, and all collected to defend its only entrance. This
over-confidence wrought their destruction. While the assault was being
made, a few Tlascaltecs and Mexicans succeeded, by clinging to tendrils
and creepers, in scaling the height in the rear of the town. Then
approaching unobserved they set fire to some houses. The conflagration
spread; the defence was soon abandoned; and the Spaniards rushing
through the narrow entrance were soon masters of the town. On the
following day all the inhabitants were branded; and such was the effect
of the fall of this fortress, that the neighboring villages as well as
the large town of Chahúl surrendered without opposition.


The Spaniards then marched on Uspantan, where ten thousand warriors
belonging to that district, aided by an equal number of allies,
disdained submission. This place was also practically impregnable, and
again but for excess of confidence the garrison might have remained in
security. But when they saw the little army under Castellanos impudently
sitting down before their door, the men of Uspantan resolved to go forth
and sweep them from the earth. The Spaniards took up their position,
the infantry being divided into two equal bodies, and stationed on the
wings, while the horsemen occupied the centre somewhat in advance. As
soon as the onset was made and the assailants were engaged with the
cavalry, the foot, rapidly deploying to right and left, fell upon the
enemy's flanks simultaneously and overthrew them with great slaughter.
So many prisoners of high position were taken that the submission of
Uspantan and the allied towns was secured, and Castellanos, having
branded and reduced to slavery a large number of his captives, returned
to Santiago about the beginning of 1530.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the same year the confusion caused by Orduña's maleadministration
held out a hope to the stubborn Cuzcatecans of even yet winning back
their independence, and once more they rose in revolt. Diego de Rojas
was sent by the captain general with a small force to aid the Spanish
settlers in that part of the province in suppressing the insurrection.
His efforts were successful; but when about to accept the surrender
of a fortress that lay beyond the river Lempa he heard the unwelcome
news that a party of Spaniards were approaching from the south.
Rojas determined to reconnoitre in person, and his curiosity was soon
gratified, for while doing so he was made prisoner with a number of
his followers. The intruders proved to be a party of two hundred men
despatched by Pedrarias Dávila, under Martin Estete, for the purpose of
making possession of Salvador and making that province an appendage to
Nicaragua. If a man of ability had been in charge of this expedition
it is not improbable that its purpose might have been accomplished;
but Estete, though by name a soldier, had neither courage nor military
skill. In the hour of trial he deserted his men; and it has already been
related that about half of his force joined the colonists of Guatemala.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the foot of a precipitous mountain range near Gracias á Dios is the
circus of Copan, where lie the ruins of an ancient town which are yet
an object of interest to travellers. Fuentes, writing about the close of
the seventeenth century, describes it as a space surrounded by pyramids
of stone, eighteen feet in height, at the base of which were sculptured
figures attired in Castilian costume. The place was garrisoned by
thirty thousand troops well supplied with provisions, and was guarded,
at the only point where approach was possible, by a deep fosse and a
barricade of earth, pierced with loop-holes. To this stronghold Hernando
de Chaves, who had been ordered to quell an uprising in the adjoining
province of Chiquimula, now resolved to lay siege. Drawing up his forces
in front of it he approached within bow-shot of the town at the head of
a small band of horse and demanded its surrender. He was answered with
flights of arrows directed with such good aim that he was glad to make
his escape.

On the following morning an assault was made upon the intrenchment,
but without success; and though the attack was renewed again and again
during the day, and the arquebuses and cross-bows of the Spaniards
spread havoc among the defenders, at nightfall no impression had
been made, and Chaves was compelled to draw off his forces sorely
discomfited. He had exceeded his orders and was acting on his own
responsibility in attempting the subjugation of Copan. He was compelled
to admit his rashness; but the question was now which way should he
turn in his present dilemma? To capture the stronghold with his slender
force was all but impossible, while failure and retreat would bring
disgrace upon the Spanish arms and dishonor on himself. When brooding
over the difficulties of his position the welcome news was brought
that a spot had been discovered where the depth and width of the fosse
were comparatively small, and on the following day he again led his
men to the attack. The struggle was long and doubtful. The Spaniards
obstinately refused to withdraw, though time after time, as they
attempted to scale the rampart, they were repelled by lance-thrusts, or
crushed under falling rocks.


The day was at last decided by the desperate courage of a cavalry
soldier, one Juan Vazquez de Osuña, who, enraged at the repulse of his
comrades, plunged the spurs into his horse and rode him straight at the
ditch. The steed cleared the fosse, striking the barricade with his
barbed chest. The works could not withstand the shock: palisades and
earth gave way; the frightened horse, urged on by his impetuous rider,
struggled through the debris and plunged amidst the mass of warriors,
scattering them in every direction. Other horsemen came to Osuña's
support. The whole Spanish force followed, swarming through the breach,
and formed in line inside the defences. The contest which ensued was no
exception to the usual issue of Spanish warfare in America. The horsemen
spread terror and death through the ranks of the natives, while the
foot-soldiers followed up the work of carnage. The cacique rallied his
scattered troops upon a strong body of reserves posted in a favorable
position, and attempted to retrieve the day, but the resistance was
brief; their ranks were soon broken, and Copan was in the hands of the
victors. Not even yet, however, did the chieftain abandon hope. Leaving
his capital to the foe, he retreated to Sitalá, on the confines of his
domain. Here he rallied all the men he could muster, and soon at the
head of a formidable army he made a desperate effort to win back Copan.
Twice he assailed the Spaniards with desperate courage, and twice was
driven back, his best warriors being left dead on the field. At length,
convinced of the uselessness of further resistance, he tendered his
submission, and from his mountain retreat sent the tributary offering
of gold and plumage. His surrender was graciously accepted by Chaves,
who received him with the condescension and courtesy becoming a


About the middle of 1530, Pedro de Alvarado returned to Guatemala,
having at length extricated himself from the net spread by his
adversaries. Complaints that the audiencia was misinterpreting the
king's instructions remained unheeded; representations that he was being
unjustly deprived of opportunities to prosecute new conquests, and to
reap some benefit from the great outlay he had incurred, had brought
to his enemies a secret satisfaction. But later the political aspect
of affairs had favored him. The audiencia and a strong party of their
supporters were hostile to Cortés and spared no effort to prevent his
return to Mexico.


None of the enemies were more active than the king's factor, Gonzalo de
Salazar, who seized and imprisoned a number of the leading men of the
opposite faction, and among them the brothers of Alvarado. Indignant at
this proceeding the latter challenged Salazar to mortal combat,[VI‑31]
and insurrectionary movements in the city excited the alarm of the
oidores and their partisans. At this juncture information was received
that Cortés was already on his way to Mexico. A compromise was agreed
upon, and Alvarado was at last permitted to continue his long-delayed
journey to Santiago.[VI‑32]

Such is the version given by Remesal of Alvarado's escape from the
investigation, but it is probable that he was compelled to disgorge
much of his ill-gotten gains in making so-called presents to oidores
and influential personages, and that he angrily shook the dust from his
feet when he left Mexico, stripped of his wealth. Alas Tonatiuh! He was
indeed a much injured highwayman who had fallen among thieves.[VI‑33]

On the 11th of April 1530 the adelantado arrived at the capital and
was heartily welcomed; for to his absence were attributed all the
evils wrought by Orduña. On the same day he presented to the cabildo
his original appointment under the royal signature. The document was
acknowledged with becoming gravity. It was passed round, kissed and
otherwise honored, and finally enthroned in turn on the head of each
member, all promising to obey it as a royal command. Then placing his
right hand on the cross of the order granted to him by the emperor,
Alvarado spoke the customary oath and took his seat as president of the

Orduña's administration was now at an end, and on his return to
Santiago no time was lost in instituting proceedings against him. He
was ordered to give bonds in the sum of thirty thousand pesos de oro,
and thereafter his name appears no more in the chronicles of his age.
But we may conclude that one who had shown such animosity toward the
Alvarado party, and had been so successful in winning the hatred of a
community, would not escape unharmed from the fire which he had built
around him. Either this, or he had been doing that which best pleased
those in power, in which case his punishment can scarcely be severe.

To wring redress from Orduña was, however, an easier matter than to
correct the disorder which he had produced. The colonists were divided
into numerous cliques, entertaining bitter animosities toward each
other. The unfair distribution of repartimientos had developed feuds
which threatened bloodshed at any moment; and those who had taken part
in the conquest of the country saw with anger new-comers preferred
before them in election to public office.

The independent spirit of the artisan and operative placed them in
direct antagonism to the more aristocratic orders, who hated them for
the extortions they practised and the disrespectful indifference they
displayed. Numbers of mechanics, having acquired repartimientos and
wealth, charged what they pleased, in defiance of law, and worked only
when they felt inclined.[VI‑34] But even this class was divided against
itself, and year by year the religious processions were attended with
disgraceful tumults caused by those engaged in rival trades being thus
brought together. The community was even threatened with dissolution.
Many had left the province in disgust to settle in Mexico or Nicaragua,
or to engage in mining ventures, and others were preparing to depart.
The sites allotted for residences were unoccupied by their owners; the
streets were almost impassable, and horses and hogs roamed at large,
causing destruction of crops, while blood-hounds were let loose and
permitted to hunt down the unfortunate natives almost within sight of


Such was the condition of affairs when Alvarado returned, and
there is no doubt that his timely arrival saved the colony from
destruction.[VI‑35] He recognized at once that the occasion required
prompt and vigorous action, and struck at the root of the evil by
prohibiting, under pain of death and confiscation, all serious
quarrelling, whether by word or writing. Other measures for the
correction of abuses and the reorganization of the affairs of the
province quickly followed. A new distribution of repartimientos was
ordered, and the conditions of military service were regulated. Whoever
had two thousand Indians assigned to him must always be provided with
a double set of weapons and two horses, and be ready to take the field
at an hour's notice. He who had one thousand must possess a single set
of arms and one horse. The encomendero of five hundred natives must be
provided with a cross-bow or arquebuse, and with sword and dagger, and
must furnish a horse if he could.

       *       *       *       *       *

The laws existing in Guatemala as to the acquisition, tenure, and
conveyance of land would, under a proper administration, and in a
territory rich as was that province in natural resources, have assured
prosperity to all but the unthrifty and improvident. Gold-mining met
with fair return, and notwithstanding the ravages of wild beasts,
the industries of stock-raising and agriculture were successfully

Though the settlers were few in number,[VI‑37] they were sufficient,
when acting in concert, to hold the natives in subjection. The citizens
were for the most part required to do duty as soldiers in time of need.
None but citizens could obtain a title to land; nor was that title
confirmed until after a long term of service; nor could any acquire,
even by purchase, more than his due share of the public domain.[VI‑38]
But such was the mischief wrought by the maleadministration of Orduña
that most of the Spaniards were on the verge of destitution.

On the 25th of September 1529 we find that the payment of debts was
suspended for four months by order of the cabildo, on the ground that
the horses and arms of the colonists would else be sold to others and
the services of their owners lost to the province. Moreover the high
price of all imported commodities added greatly to the distress of the
more impoverished settlers. A dozen horseshoes sold for fifteen pesos, a
common saddle for fifty, and a cloth coat could not be had for less than
seventy pesos. The distance from the confines of Guatemala to Mexico,
whence all such articles were obtained, was two hundred and seventy
leagues. Two portions of the road, one of forty-five and the other of
sixty leagues, led through a wilderness impassable during the rainy
season, except to Indians, on account of the swollen rivers and marshes.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the remainder of the year 1530 few incidents worthy of note
occurred in the province. The natives were frequently in revolt; but
to describe each petty insurrection would be but tiresome repetition.
One Luis Moscoso was despatched with a hundred and twenty men to the
district beyond the Lempa, and after pacifying the natives founded
there a settlement which Juarros declares to have been the town of San
Miguel.[VI‑39] Diego de Alvarado, at the head of a hundred and seventy
men, conducted an expedition to Honduras and founded in the northern
part of that territory the town of San Jorge de Olancho,[VI‑40] but
owing to famine and misfortune in April of the following year he was
obliged to return with the shattered remnant of his command in such
sorry plight that he was forced to ask the cabildo to receive and
provide for them.





One of the first matters which engaged Alvarado's attention on his
return to Santiago was the discovery of a site adapted to ship-building,
for he was now resolved to carry out his intended voyage in search of
the Spice Islands. In accordance with the emperor's instructions, he
sent parties to explore the seaboard for that purpose. At a distance
of fifteen leagues from the city, near the modern port of Istapa, a
suitable spot was found, in the vicinity of which was an abundant supply
of excellent timber, and the work was at once begun.

[Sidenote: THE ARMAMENT.]

According to the terms of his commission from the crown, his discoveries
and conquests were limited to the islands and mainland of that portion
of the south sea bordering on New Spain, and thence in a westerly
direction, and he was forbidden to form any settlement on a territory
already assigned to others.[VII‑1] He was appointed governor and
alguacil mayor for life, and until otherwise ordered was to be intrusted
with full civil, military, and judicial powers over all new lands
which he might find. During the royal pleasure he was also to receive
a twelfth of all profits which might in the future result from his
explorations. Whether the expedition was to be fitted out entirely
or only in part at the adelantado's expense is a matter not easily
determined;[VII‑2] but in a letter to Charles V. sent in 1532, wherein
he states his intention to build and equip a fleet of twelve vessels
and raise a force of four hundred men, he declares that the cost of his
armament will exceed forty thousand castellanos, and that this outlay
will exhaust his private means. He claims of course that he is thus
expending all his resources solely with his usual desire of serving
the emperor, and avers that he has information of rich islands near the
coast from the discovery of which his Majesty must derive great benefit.


While the construction of his fleet was yet in progress, rumors
of Pizarro's conquest and of the fabulous wealth which had fallen
to his lot were noised throughout the province. Alvarado was not
over-scrupulous as to ways and means, as we well know. Already he had
proved false to him through whose friendship and favor he had been
raised to his high station; could he not now replenish his depleted
purse, and also win glory in the land of the incas? Was it not better
thus to employ his armament than go on a wild-goose chase for islands
no one had ever yet seen? And surely with a few ship-loads of Peruvian
gold, which it would not take him long to gather, he could serve his
sovereign as well as with never a maravedí in his treasury. It was
fortunate, it was indeed providential, that now, when the fleet was
almost ready, and the men equipped and prepared to embark, this princely
quarry should have been started to the south of him.

On the return of a vessel despatched for supplies to Panamá the reports
of the immense treasures discovered in Peru were confirmed, and the
enthusiasm knew no bounds. "Come," said Alvarado to the colonists, "come
with me and I will make you so rich that you may walk on bars of gold."

       *       *       *       *       *

Among Alvarado's numerous enemies the most powerful and active were the
treasury officials of Guatemala, who, though frequently divided among
themselves, were constant in their opposition to the governor. Already
they had reported him to the home government, charging him with neglect
of duty, with levying forced contributions, and with disobedience
to the royal ordinances. They now addressed a letter to the emperor,
informing him of Alvarado's designs, representing the evil consequences
that must ensue from an invasion of Pizarro's territory, the danger of
withdrawing from Guatemala so large a force of Spaniards, and requesting
that there be sent out to the province some trustworthy person with
power to prevent the departure of all who held repartimientos and to
act as governor during the adelantado's absence. They also informed the
audiencia of Mexico of his purpose, and of the strength of his armament.
Though fully aware of these proceedings, Alvarado gave no heed to them.
He calmly continued his preparations, informing the royal officials that
Guatemala was too limited an area for his ambition, and that he must now
seek elsewhere a wider field of action. Meanwhile he would insure the
safety of the province by putting on board his fleet all the principal
caciques, whom he had already secured for that purpose.

At this juncture came a mandate which even Alvarado did not dare to
disregard. It was an order from the audiencia of Mexico forbidding
him to sail until he had received his final instructions from the
emperor.[VII‑3] Though sorely vexed at this interference, which he
attributed to the machinations of Cortés, he must nevertheless submit to
further delay. He again addressed a letter to Charles, asking permission
to go to the assistance of Pizarro, assuring him that, from what he
had learned of the difficulties encountered by that conqueror, he was
convinced of his inability to complete unaided the conquest of Peru. In
a previous despatch, wherein he had asked for his final instructions,
he prayed that they be granted as speedily as possible. "For," he says,
"after exhausting my private means, I have contracted heavy debts in
order to save your Majesty all expense." The fleet, he informs him,
is well provided with stores and provisions, the force of men almost
complete, and, the better to insure the success of the expedition, he
declares that he will take command of it in person, leaving a sufficient
number of Spaniards in the province to guard against any possible
uprising of the natives. He considers, however, that there is little
danger of an outbreak, "for," as he remarks with refreshing assurance,
"I have ever obeyed your Majesty's orders regarding the kind treatment
of the Indians."[VII‑4]

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile Alvarado had found it necessary to remove his fleet for
shelter to the bay of Fonseca, whence he despatched García Holguin
with two ships to Peru for the purpose of ascertaining the actual
state of affairs and the nature of the country.[VII‑5] The adelantado
soon learned to his cost that the bay of Fonseca was no secure haven,
and after losing two of his vessels there during a heavy gale, sailed
with the remainder for Puerto de la Posesion in Nicaragua, the modern
Realejo.[VII‑6] While here awaiting the return of Holguin, he fell in
with the pilot Juan Fernandez, one who had long been engaged in fitting
out vessels for the trade between Nicaragua and Castilla del Oro. While
transacting business in Panamá, Fernandez had listened to the marvellous
stories of Pizarro's conquest, and journeying thence to Peru had there
conversed with men who had been present at the capture and ransom
of Atahualpa. No wonder that the tidings which the pilot now brought
from the land of the incas fired the imagination of these gold-loving
adventurers. More than 1,300,000 castellanos! Not even the treasures of
Montezuma had yielded such a harvest. If Pizarro, with his diminutive
force, had secured such booty, what might not Alvarado now hope for with
his powerful fleet and veteran army?

Neither king nor audiencia should now thwart his purpose; nevertheless
he must have ready some pretext for entering Pizarro's territory,
if indeed he could not obtain permission. This was soon furnished by
Fernandez, who informed him that the province of Quito, believed to be
the principal depository of the treasures of the incas, had never yet
been visited by Spaniards. It was no difficult matter for Alvarado to
persuade himself that this region lay without the domain granted to
Pizarro, and the self-interest of Fernandez, now appointed pilot of the
expedition, prompted him to encourage such a delusion.

Soon after the arrival of the fleet in Nicaragua, Holguin rejoined
the adelantado at Puerto de la Posesion and confirmed the statements
of the pilot. A year had almost elapsed since Alvarado despatched a
letter to the emperor requesting his final orders, but still no answer
came, and his patience was well-nigh exhausted. He had long since been
compelled to mortgage his private estate in order to meet the expense
of maintaining his large force, and the cost of his armament had been
vastly increased during all these weary months of waiting, the total
outlay reaching the sum of 130,000 pesos de oro.[VII‑7] Provisions were
becoming scarce; the vessels were threatened with destruction from the
teredo; and his followers, beginning to lose faith in the enterprise,
were on the point of desertion. At last a messenger arrived bringing
the long looked for despatches. The instructions made no change in the
original capitulation except in regard to route. He was now authorized
to explore the land lying to the south of Pizarro's territory, between
the thirteenth and twentieth degrees of latitude.[VII‑8]


The fleet now numbered twelve sail, eight being vessels of one hundred
tons or more.[VII‑9] Three had been built on the shore of Guatemala;
several had been purchased from the estate of Pedrarias Dávila; and the
remainder were procured from the colonists of Nicaragua.[VII‑10] His
troops consisted chiefly of well tried soldiers. Many of them, weary
of an inactive life, or of the now tame and bootless warfare of the
conquered provinces, were enthusiastic over the prospect of renewing
their deeds of conquest in a new land of promise.

Among the many distinguished persons who took part in the expedition
were Gomez and Diego de Alvarado, brothers of the adelantado, and
Captain Garcilaso de la Vega, father of the future historian of Peru.
The total number was little short of three thousand. Of these two
hundred and seventy were infantry, and two hundred and thirty cavalry,
all well equipped. The ships were manned by one hundred and forty
sailors, and on board the fleet were two hundred negro slaves,[VII‑11]
and two thousand natives, male and female. Experienced pilots were
engaged, the services of a bachiller were secured, and several friars
were added to the expedition, "in order," says Alvarado, "that through
the influence of these holy men our consciences may be cleared of
guilt." Final preparations were then made for departure.

During the absence of Alvarado his brother Jorge was again to be
placed in charge of the province of Guatemala, and the cabildo of
Santiago was enjoined to preserve harmony, and to render due respect
and obedience to the lieutenant-governor. In a final letter to the
emperor the adelantado, while repeating his assurances of devotion to
the crown, dwells on the enormous expense of the expedition; but assures
his Majesty that it has been willingly incurred in view of the vast
importance of the undertaking, the success of which he promises shall
eclipse all previous achievements. "God willing," he writes, "I set sail
this very day, and my course shall be in accordance with your Majesty's

[Sidenote: EMBARKATION.]

On the 23d of January 1534 the largest and most powerful armament that
had hitherto been equipped on the shores of the South Sea set sail
from Puerto de la Posesion, and the following month entered the bay
of Caraques, proceeding thence ten leagues farther south to Puerto
Viejo. The adelantado afterward excused himself to the emperor for
thus trespassing on Pizarro's territory by stating that contrary winds
and currents prevented his sailing further toward the south, that the
safety of his fleet was endangered, that his supply of water was almost
exhausted, and that ninety of his horses had perished at sea.[VII‑12]
His march across the sierra, during which he lost a large portion of
his men, the transfer of a part of his ships and his entire force to
Almagro and Benalcázar, the associates of Pizarro, have already been
mentioned in these pages.[VII‑13] He had boasted that he would lead his
army through the province of Peru and drive Pizarro from the city of
Cuzco.[VII‑14] He was now glad to return to Guatemala after disposing of
his armament for a sum that barely covered the cost of the fleet. To add
to his mortification he found on arriving at Santiago, at the beginning
of March 1535, that the silver bars given him in payment were one half

       *       *       *       *       *

No sooner had Alvarado sailed for Peru than the natives in many
portions of the province rose once more in revolt. Bands of Cakchiquels,
thirsting for the blood of their oppressors, roamed over the central
sierra; in the districts of Sacapulas and Uspantan seven Spaniards
and numbers of their slaves and servants were murdered; the Indians
on the southern seaboard both of Guatemala and Salvador were in open
rebellion; and war and war's turmoil again prevailed throughout the
land. The struggle was brief but desperate. Crushed though they had
often been, the dreadful sufferings of these unfortunate people drove
them to madness, and they fought with sullen indifference to life, but
with the usual result. In January 1535 Gonzalo Ronquillo was sent with
a sufficient force to quell the uprising in Salvador; in Guatemala the
insurgents in district after district were again compelled to taste
the bitterness of hopeless bondage; and by the time of the adelantado's
return resistance was well-nigh ended.

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding the ignominious failure of his expedition to Peru, the
adelantado at once began preparations for further schemes of conquest
and discovery. In a despatch to the India Council, dated November
1535,[VII‑15] he states that he has three vessels ready for sea and
four others on the stocks, and that he has sufficient men both for his
ships and for land service. "So many Spaniards," he says, "have returned
from Peru in reduced circumstances that, if the expedition were only
intended to furnish them with employment, it would be doing his Majesty
a service."

Meanwhile the representations made to the emperor by the treasury
officials had not been without effect. On the 20th of February 1534 a
royal cédula was issued ordering that a visitador be at once despatched
to Guatemala to examine into the condition of the royal treasury and the
affairs of the government and church, and to hear complaints and rectify
them when necessary. His authority fell short of that of a judge of
residencia. He could not interfere with the ordinary jurisdiction of the
governor or his lieutenant, nor was even the audiencia of Mexico allowed
to decide in matters of graver import, but must apply for instructions
to the India Council.


Thus it was that about the middle of the year 1535 the oidor, Alonso
de Maldonado, arrived at Santiago, and publicly proclaiming in due
form the object of his visit, assigned fifty days as the limit of the
investigation. No complaints, however, either of a civil or criminal
nature, were preferred against the adelantado; and the visitador having
reported to the royal council to that effect, returned to Mexico,
the former remarking with much inward satisfaction, not unseasoned
with a little venom, that the oidor had accomplished nothing by his
visit.[VII‑16] But the emperor's ministers were not satisfied that
justice had been done; and Maldonado, being ordered in the following
October to take Alvarado's residencia in strict form, returned to
Santiago, and on the 10th of May 1536 presented his credentials to the
cabildo and took charge of the government.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the time of the oidor's arrival the adelantado was absent on an
expedition to Honduras. The condition of affairs in this province
had now become so distressful that, as will hereafter be related, the
settlers were compelled to apply to him for aid. Nor was the appeal
disregarded. He had for some time been in correspondence, as to an
exchange of territory, with Francisco de Montejo, who, though already
appointed governor of Honduras, was still residing in Mexico. Could he
but gain a foothold there, his schemes for transcontinental commerce
with the Spice Islands might yet be realized. Nothing definite had
yet been determined; but now that he had an opportunity of rendering
a service which would give him almost a claim to the king's consent
to such an arrangement, he did not hesitate to go to the relief of
the troubled province. There we shall hear of him again, founding new
settlements and infusing fresh life into a community that was on the
very verge of dissolution.





When Pedro de Alvarado was laying waste the fair province of Guatemala
with fire and sword during the early years of the conquest, he paid
little heed to the presence of the priestly order. One of the friars,
named Pontaz, of whom mention has before been made, took up his abode
at Quezaltenango, and there lived in security, instilling faith and
hope into the native heart,[VIII‑1] while another, Juan de Torres, for
a time at least, labored in the vineyard under less easy circumstances
at Patinamit. The spiritual wants of the Spaniards themselves were
ministered to by the army chaplains and parish priest. But the clerical
staff was not large enough to attend to the religious welfare even of
the colonists. On the 5th of November 1529, the cabildo of Guatemala
represented to the royal officers that half the colonists, being
usually engaged in war, required the services of the clergy during
their campaigns, while the population of the city at that time was
such that two friars at least ought to reside there. They requested,
therefore, that a suitable number of ecclesiastics and a sacristan be
appointed with fixed salaries, and that the necessary church furniture
and ornaments be supplied. This demand was made with some urgency, and
the treasurer and auditor were given to understand that, if it were not
complied with, the tithes would be retained and devoted to that purpose;
whereupon his Majesty's officers declared that they were willing to
grant the tithes for the year then current, but that future necessities
must be provided for in accordance with the orders of the king.

[Sidenote: MARROQUIN.]

The spiritual needs of the community were partially relieved by the
arrival, in 1530, of the licentiate Francisco Marroquin, who accompanied
Alvarado on his return to Guatemala during that year. A few months later
he was appointed to the benefice of Santiago, and after he had taken
the customary oaths the cabildo assigned to him an annual salary of one
hundred and fifty pesos de oro per annum.

Of patrician birth, and possessing talents of no common order, the
licentiate gave promise during his early manhood of a useful and
honorable career, and not until in after years he had dwelt long among
communities where lust of power and greed for wealth permeated all
classes of society, did the darker phase of his character appear. After
receiving an education befitting his rank and ability, he graduated
as professor of theology in the university of Osma, and was ordained a
priest. Meeting with Alvarado at the court of Spain, he was so impressed
with his glowing descriptions of the marvels of the New World that
he requested permission to accompany him on his return to Guatemala.
On arriving at Santiago he at once assiduously applied himself to the
study of the native languages, and soon became especially proficient
in the Quiché tongue.[VIII‑2] Marroquin's appointment was confirmed
by the bishop of Mexico, by whom he was also made provisor and vicar
general of the province, and such was the zeal and capacity with which
he tended the spiritual and material needs of his flock that in 1533 he
was appointed by the emperor to the see of Guatemala. In December of
the following year his appointment was confirmed by his holiness Paul

The chief anxiety of the newly appointed prelate was to provide a
sufficient number of ecclesiastics for the requirements of his extensive
diocese. The secular priests residing in Guatemala at this period as
we have seen were inadequate to the great work of conversion which
he contemplated, and he felt the necessity of aid from those of the
established orders. Besides those who first came, a few friars had,
indeed, visited the province, but found there no abiding-place.[VIII‑4]
In 1529, or possibly at an earlier date, a convent was founded near
Santiago by the Dominican friar, Domingo de Betanzos,[VIII‑5] who
travelled on foot from Mexico with a single companion. At the beginning
of the following year however he was recalled, and as there was no
one of his order qualified by rank to take his place he locked up the
building and intrusting the keys to the padre Juan Godinez retraced his

Thus Marroquin was left to contend almost alone with the idolatry of
the natives and the godlessness of the colonists. The work was difficult
and progress slow. The settlers were too absorbed in other matters, in
house-building, gambling, and drinking, to give much heed to religion.
The church was unattended, the church rates were unpaid, and the
neglect became so general that eventually laws were passed to enforce
due observance of religious rites. In May 1530 it was publicly cried in
the streets of Santiago that, by order of the governor and the cabildo,
all the artisans of the city must, on the day of Corpus Christi, walk
in procession before the holy sacrament, as was customary in Spain.
The penalty for non-compliance was fixed at thirty pesos, one half of
the amount being assigned to the church and the remainder to the city.
In February 1533 a law was passed making attendance at divine service
compulsory, every citizen being required to attend mass on Sunday, under
penalty of three days' imprisonment or the payment of three pesos de
oro. This measure of course served but to widen the breach between the
bishop and his flock, and in June of the same year we learn that the
regidor Antonio de Salazar stated to the cabildo, that there were no
means of paying Marroquin the stipend allotted to him. Notwithstanding
all discouragements, however, he resolved that the settlers should not
lack for spiritual guidance.

[Sidenote: LAS CASAS.]

At the beginning of the year 1536 Bartolomé de Las Casas was residing
at Leon, there engaged in a controversy with Rodrigo de Contreras, the
governor of Nicaragua, the story of which will hereafter be related.
In 1531 he had passed through Santiago on his way to the South Sea,
and Marroquin had then an opportunity of making the acquaintance of
the great apostle of the Indies. In common with the more enlightened
of the colonists he would fain have had him take up his abode in their
midst. But Las Casas was bound on one of his many missions of mercy,
though his efforts were destined to prove futile. He was journeying
toward Peru, armed with a royal cédula forbidding the conquerors in that
land, and all their followers, to deprive the natives of their liberty
under any pretext whatever. No entreaties could induce him to abandon
his undertaking, and embarking at Realejo he reached his destination
at the end of the year. There, what man could do, he did; but such were
the political disturbances then prevailing that his efforts were lost.
Urged by members of his own order, he reluctantly abandoned the field
and returned to Nicaragua.

To him the prelate now applied for aid, representing the sore need of
a larger force of ecclesiastics, and begging him to come to Santiago
and reopen the deserted convent. The invitation was accepted, and Las
Casas with his fellow Dominicans established their order permanently in

But Marroquin was not yet satisfied. At this early period in his career
he was an enthusiast in the missionary cause, and he now resolved to go
to Spain and beg assistance of the emperor. But first he must proceed
to consecration, and on the 12th of January 1537 he set forth for
Mexico, where, about two months later, the ceremony, the first of the
kind that occurred in the Indies, was conducted with due solemnity and


The bishop's labors were now directed to the elevation of the parish
church of Santiago to cathedral rank. He therefore proceeded to frame
the constitution and complete the establishment of his diocese in
accordance with the commission granted to him by Paul III. He prescribed
that the dignitaries of the church should include a dean, an archdeacon,
a precentor, a chancellor, and a treasurer. He established ten canonries
and six prebendaries. He defined the church revenues; ordained that
preferment to minor benefices should be open to those born in the
country, whether of Spanish or native race, and that the appointments to
them should pertain to the bishop. Divine services were to be celebrated
in the manner observed in the cathedral of Seville. Prebendaries were
to have a vote in the chapters, and these were to be held on Tuesdays
and Fridays. On Tuesdays general church matters were to be discussed,
and on Fridays internal discipline was to be considered.[VIII‑7]

When on the point of departing for Spain, the bishop was advised by his
friends that the journey would be attended with great risk; for already
the North Sea was infested with pirates, and a large number of Spanish
vessels had been captured by French corsairs. Moreover the expenses he
had incurred in Mexico had drawn heavily on his slender purse, and he
did not wish to return to his native country wholly destitute of means.
Resolving therefore to abandon his voyage, he forwarded his power of
attorney to Juan Galvarro, the procurador of Santiago at the court of
Spain, instructing him to send to Guatemala a number of ecclesiastics
and to pay their passage and outfit. He also addressed a letter to the
emperor,[VIII‑8] informing him of the great need of missionaries, and
stating that he had asked aid both from Mexico and Santo Domingo, but
had received none, although it had been promised.

During the early part of the year Charles had already appointed the
cathedral prebendaries. Marroquin remarks that his Majesty was somewhat
hasty in the matter, and not sufficiently considerate toward those who
had so long shared with himself the labor of supporting the church
at Santiago. These, he declares, it would be unreasonable for him
to dismiss, though he is at a loss to conjecture whence the means to
support his diocese would be derived. He well knew the perverse temper
of the colonists and their antagonism to the cause of the church.
Nevertheless he forwarded to the cabildo a provision handed to him by
the viceroy Mendoza ordering the church tithes which were usually paid
in kind to be delivered by the natives direct to the bishop at places
where their value would be real and available.[VIII‑9] His mind was full
of doubt as to the manner in which this regulation would be received
by the encomenderos. The tone of his letter indicates misgiving, united
with a rare spirit of self-negation, and he appears rather as a pleader
than as a claimant for his rights.[VIII‑10] "You will pay," he says,
"what is due in a proper manner; if not, I command that no scandal be
raised about it."

Nor were his apprehensions unfounded. The settlers in Guatemala were
a stiff-necked people. They would not go to church, and they did not
intend that the delivery of the tithes should cost them anything if
they could avoid it. They could not spare their Indians to carry the
tithes a distance of many leagues to the places appointed. The bishop
must send for them. They and not the ecclesiastics had conquered the
province, and they did not see that either God or the emperor had any
claim upon it. The cabildo immediately appealed to the viceroy, and
meeting with no sympathy in that quarter addressed themselves directly
to the emperor.[VIII‑11] Their representations gained for them some
concessions, whereupon they pressed the matter further and protested
against paying tithes at all. Though the bishop was now at a loss
whither to turn to obtain the means for carrying out his various plans,
he none the less labored with unceasing perseverance,[VIII‑12] and on
his return to Guatemala, at the end of 1537, brought with him two friars
of the order of Merced, Juan Zambrano and Marcos Perez Dardon.[VIII‑13]


After the conquest of Mexico, certain members of this order obtained
the royal permission to proceed to the newly discovered countries for
certain charitable purposes. When the subjugation was completed many of
them settled in towns built by the Spaniards, but no convent of their
order existed in New Spain at a very early date. To Bishop Marroquin
they are indebted for the establishment of their first monastery in
North America. This was founded in 1537[VIII‑14] at Ciudad Real in
Chiapas, and in the following year frailes Zambrano and Dardon organized
a similar institution in Santiago.

When, as will be hereafter told, the city of Santiago was almost
destroyed by inundation in 1541, the friars of La Merced, then six
in number, were compelled for a time to remain amid the ruins of the
deserted city, for such was the indifference of the settlers that no
land was assigned to them in the site afterward chosen. Finally, through
the efforts of the bishop, an allotment was granted, and in the erection
of their new convent they were greatly assisted by the Dominicans, who
subsequently transferred to them several of the Indian towns under their
charge. From this time they increased in number, gradually extended the
field of their labors in Guatemala, and having districts assigned them
by the bishop were enabled in after years to found convents in various
parts of the country.[VIII‑15]

       *       *       *       *       *

In the church of their order at Santiago was an image of Our Lady of
La Merced, for which miraculous properties were claimed. The story as
related in documents in the archives of the convent is as follows: As
a westward-bound vessel was about to sail from the port of Santa María
in Spain, a person dressed in the garb of a traveller approached the
captain, and placing in his hands a closed box charged him to deliver
it unopened to the superior of the convent in Guatemala. The aspect and
bearing of the man impressed the seaman, and he faithfully discharged
the commission. On receiving the casket, the superior carried it to
the church, accompanied by the friars, and having opened it in their
presence, the sacred effigy was disclosed. Great was their rejoicing
at this unexpected boon; but their happiness was complete when they
marked the divine serenity of the countenance, and perceived that an
exquisite fragrance was exhaled from the holy image. Ere long one of
their number noticed that from a wound in the right side a strange fluid
oozed. Divine manifestation was recognized, and many of the afflicted
were cured of their diseases by the application of the ichor.[VIII‑16]

       *       *       *       *       *

Domingo Juarros may be considered the leading Guatemalan historian of
modern times. He was born in the old city of Guatemala in 1752, and
died in 1820. He wrote very fully on the subjugation of his country by
the conquerors. Although his work is called the history of Guatemala
city, it gives in reality the history of all Central America, and
provides lists of all prominent officials, civil and ecclesiastical,
and biographical notices of leading men, whether soldiers, priests,
or rulers. The first volume treats of geography, settlements, church
matters, and the history of Guatemala city. The second is devoted to the
ancient records of the country, its conquest and settlement. The author
was a secular presbyter and synodal examiner, and quite an able and
intelligent man. His connection with the clergy and his rank gave him
access to both ecclesiastical documents and government records. His work
is full and clear, and displays considerable research, but unfortunately
he follows Fuentes too closely, and this latter author's partiality to
the conquerors renders him too biassed to be faithful as an historian.
Yet Juarros frequently displays compassion for the Indians, is always
ready to retract an error when he detects himself making one, and is
ever cautious against dogmatic assertion. He draws largely from Remesal
and Vazquez, and quotes several other of the earlier authorities;
but strangely enough, while mentioning the manuscripts of Gonzalo de
Alvarado and Bernal Diaz, and of writers in the Quiché, Cakchiquel,
and Pipil tongues, he does not allude to Alvarado's letters to Cortés.
This omission, and his numerous direct disagreements with Alvarado's
own statements, lead to the inference that neither Juarros nor Fuentes
consulted these despatches. Juarros' work is remarkably free from
church bias. Though a priest he censures undue zeal or carelessness
on the part of friars. Miracles receive attention, however, and so do
stories of giants and other marvels. His arrangement with regard to
the order of events is bad, and the want of logical sequence gives the
work an appearance of incompleteness. The first edition was published
in Guatemala by Don Ignacio Betela, and the two volumes appeared
respectively in 1808 and 1818. A later issue was published in the same
city in 1857. J. Baily translated the first publication into English,
in a slightly abridged form, which was issued in London by John Hearne
in 1823. In this edition omissions and inaccuracies may be noticed.


Francisco Vazquez, the author of the _Chronica de la Provincia del
Santissimo Nõbre de Jesvs de Gvatemala_, was a friar of the Franciscan
order, retired lecturer, calificador del Santo Oficio, and synodal
examiner in the diocese of Guatemala. His work was published in the city
of Guatemala in 1714, and according to the title-page and preface there
was, or was to have been, a second volume, consisting of two books,
the existing one containing three. This work, which is rare, although
mainly devoted to chronicling petty details of the labors of obscure
friars, throws much light upon the early history of Guatemala during
the conquest and subsequently down to the end of the sixteenth century.
The author, having had access to the city archives at the early date
at which he wrote, was able to avail himself of documents which have
since disappeared. Fortunately he quotes such evidence frequently, thus
enabling the historian to establish historical facts which otherwise,
in the face of conflicting assertions of chroniclers unsupported by
evidence, he would be unable to do. Vazquez has undoubtedly borrowed
much material from Remesal, giving him little or no credit, while he
mercilessly exposes his real or supposed errors. The jealousy which
existed between the Franciscan and Dominican orders was the cause of
this unfairness. In his opening declaration the author protests that,
when he applies terms of praise to any who figure in his history, he is
but giving the common and general estimation. This will hardly apply to
his adulation of Alvarado and other conquerors, and his eager defence of
their actions. It is not easy to find in the old chroniclers, clerical
or secular, an uncompromising champion of their conduct, in face of
the reliable and varied evidence of the cruelties practised by them.
In defence of the conquerors he asserts that the vices and cruelties
of a few were attributed to all; and without one symptom of feeling for
the natives, maintains that their refusal to receive the faith was the
cause of the incessant warfare. On this subject he writes: "It causes
me much pain, disgust, and affliction to read some books which attempt,
with artificial piety, to persuade us that the Indians were innocent
and inoffensive lambs, and that the Christians were cruel furies, it
being certain that these races while in a condition of paganism were
greater butchers than blood-thirsty wolves, more cruel than lamiæ,
harpies, and infernal furies, and, were it not for subjection and fear,
they would neither have become Christians nor now remain so." 29-32.
The matter contained in his work is badly arranged; the sentences
drawn out to a puzzling length, a fault which, in addition to a lack of
proper punctuation, renders the recital of facts frequently confusing.
Information of the neighboring provinces can, in a less degree, be
obtained from this volume.






When Salcedo set out for the Freshwater Sea, hoping to gain possession
of the province of Nicaragua—an expedition which, it will be remembered,
resulted only in his humiliation and imprisonment[IX‑1]—his lieutenant,
Francisco de Cisneros, left in charge of the government with a force
entirely insufficient to uphold his authority, was overpowered by his
enemies, and for a time anarchy prevailed throughout Honduras. Captain
Diego Mendez de Hinostrosa, despatched by Salcedo from Leon to quell the
rebellion, succeeded in restoring order, but only for a time. Before
many months had elapsed Diego Mendez was placed under arrest and the
regidor Vasco de Herrera appointed in his stead. The new ruler, of whom
it is related that, being guilty of sedition, he had fled from Spain
to avoid punishment, soon gave the settlers cause to repent of their
choice. His first undertaking was to organize a raid to the Olancho
Valley, where without cause or pretext he made war on the caciques,
kidnapped and branded their subjects, and returned with three shiploads
of slaves.

In February 1529 Salcedo returned to Trujillo. Before his departure
from Nicaragua he had sent his nephew to Spain, to justify before the
emperor his conduct in the dispute with Pedrarias, but was answered
only by a severe reprimand for his cruel treatment of the natives.[IX‑2]
Shattered in health and broken in spirit, he did not venture to depose
the usurper from office, and contented himself with merely ordering
the release of Diego Mendez, who at once lodged a criminal complaint
against Herrera and his accomplices. Salcedo endeavoring to please both
parties pronounced the arrest of the former illegal, but inflicted
no punishment on the wrong-doers. Herrera thereupon appealed to the
audiencia of Panamá, and Diego Mendez awaited an opportunity for
revenge, declaring himself meanwhile to be hugely disgusted with the
governor's pusillanimity.

To appease the popular discontent the governor promised to conduct
the settlers to the Naco Valley, where rich gold-mines were believed
to exist. The expedition was delayed as long as possible, for he had
nothing to gain by such an undertaking; but at length moved by the
clamor of the colonists and the warning of his spies, who informed him
that the people were again ripe for revolt, he ordered preparations
to be made. One hundred and twenty foot and sixty horse with a number
of natives sufficient for working the mines were soon in readiness to
embark, with instructions to sail for Puerto de Caballos, and thence
proceed inland a distance of twenty leagues to their destination. The
journey was to be accomplished as far as possible by sea in order that
the natives might be spared the fatigue of a long overland march, and,
to create the impression that they were no longer to be maltreated,
orders were given that the branding-irons be destroyed. But before
Salcedo had time to give further proof of his humane intentions, his
death occurred at Trujillo on the 3d of January 1530,[IX‑3] and the
proposed expedition was deferred.

There were now three rival claimants for the governorship—the treasurer
Andrés de Cereceda, who a few months before the governor's decease
had been nominated as his successor, and also appointed guardian to
his infant son; Herrera, who, though he held no valid claim to the
office,[IX‑4] had the support of the regidores; and finally Diego
Mendez, who urged that the authority conferred on him by Salcedo at
Leon had never yet been legally revoked. Cereceda, knowing that he
had the good wishes of all peaceably disposed colonists, demanded his
recognition from the cabildo, but was strenuously opposed by Herrera
and his faction. After much wrangling it was finally agreed to submit
the matter to arbitration; and it was decided that the two should rule
conjointly, with the condition that the latter should hold the keys of
the royal treasury. Arrangements were also made for a partition of the
late governor's property; and each bound himself by oath not to lay
his cause before the authorities in Spain. Meanwhile Diego Mendez was
silenced with threats of death and confiscation of property.[IX‑5]

Thus for a time a truce was declared between the rival factions;
but Cereceda had neither the firmness nor the capacity to oppose
his colleague, and soon submitted in all things to his will. Even in
the distribution of the slaves which belonged of right to Salcedo's
son,[IX‑6] Herrera demanded for himself the lion's share, and compelled
the child's guardian not only to consent, but to take oath that he
would not report the matter to the emperor.[IX‑7] Each, however, feared
that the other might secretly despatch letters to Spain. A ship then
happened to be lying at Trujillo ready for sea, and Cereceda, suspecting
that his rival would send despatches, ordered all her canvas to be
withdrawn. He was outwitted, however, by his more astute colleague,
for a caravel which arrived in port during the same night was seized by
unknown persons, and her sails transferred to the other vessel, which
immediately set sail for Spain. Cereceda, openly charged the trick
upon Herrera, who of course indignantly denied it. The event proved
that the ship carried letters from the cabildo, recommending Herrera's
appointment as sole ruler, together with a missive from Herrera himself,
in which he claimed that he had rendered good service to the crown and
had only admitted a colleague in order to prevent discord and riot.
Moreover he represented the affairs of the province in a most favorable
light, stating that the mines were exceedingly rich and asking for ships
and supplies with which to complete the exploration of the territory
and more fully develop its resources.

       *       *       *       *       *


The proposed expedition had meanwhile been despatched to the Naco
Valley, and a settlement founded there named Nuestra Señora de la
Encarnacion. A party of sixty men, under the command of Captain Alonso
Ortiz, had also taken possession of the valley of Jutigalpa, some
twelve leagues distant from Trujillo, a region of which the governor
remarks in his letter that "there is no river or ravine where gold does
not abound."[IX‑8] The natives of the latter district gathered their
crops, and removing all their provisions fled to the mountains, there to
await the effect of starvation on the Spaniards. Ortiz, however, sent
messengers assuring them that he came not to make war but to settle
peaceably in their midst, and by kind treatment induced them to return
to their habitations, thus affording one of those rare instances where
the commander of a military expedition forbore to enslave or plunder
the natives who fell into his power.

  [Illustration: HONDURAS.]


Although Herrera and his partisans now held almost undisputed control at
Trujillo, they were far from being satisfied with the situation. They
well knew that their old enemy, Diego Mendez, was awaiting revenge;
while Cereceda, though quietly watching the course of events, was
ready for action when the proper moment should arrive. Their greed for
wealth and lust of power had brought them into disrepute among all the
colonists, except those of their own faction, and even certain members
of the cabildo were numbered among their enemies. Fearing that the
settlers would break out into open revolt, Herrera proposed to abandon
Trujillo and establish elsewhere in the province a new and independent
colony. Cereceda, knowing that such a measure would be fatal to the
prosperity of the settlement, strove to prevent it by encouraging
intermarriage between the families of the rival cliques and dividing
among them a portion of the slaves which had fallen to his share at the
division of Salcedo's property.[IX‑9]

A revolt which occurred about a year afterward, among the tribe of
the cacique Peyzacura, afforded Herrera an opportunity to carry out
his intention. The Indians of this district were employed in working
certain mines not far distant from Trujillo, and had long endured their
bondage without murmur, but the rigor of their taskmasters, who, "with
one foot in the stirrup," as Oviedo tells us, "ready to abandon the
province," cared only to enrich themselves as speedily as possible, at
length drove them to rebellion. Several Spaniards were murdered, and
as the insurrection soon spread through the adjoining territory, it
became necessary to despatch a strong armed force to restore order. An
expedition was prepared of which Herrera insisted on taking charge,
inviting his associates, and all others who were inclined to join
him, to enroll themselves under his command. A feeling of discontent
and unrest pervaded the community, and many of the leading colonists
gathering together their effects cast in their lot with the governor.
But instead of marching against the hostile natives he led his followers
to the territory of a friendly chieftain, and there for several months
they wasted their time and substance in revelry and ostentatious
display, leaving Trujillo unprotected and the rebels unpunished.

Meanwhile Diego Mendez had not been idle. Soon after Herrera's departure
it chanced that Cereceda was called away from Trujillo, and taking
advantage of the absence of both governors he presented himself before
the cabildo, and demanded that some means be devised for protecting
the province against the evil effect of their divided authority. Both
rulers were notified of this measure on their return to the settlement.
Cereceda gave no heed to the matter, knowing that it was not intended
to affect himself, but Herrera at once accused his old adversary of
plotting against him, and induced the cabildo to forbid him, under
pain of death, to make a second appeal. But Diego Mendez had already
won over many of the most powerful adherents of his opponent, and
resolved on yet more decisive action. Having regained the certificate as
lieutenant-governor, which had been given to him by Salcedo, and taken
from him upon his arrest at Trujillo,[IX‑10] he boldly appeared a second
time before the cabildo, and claimed recognition of his office. Herrera
now caused sentence of death to be pronounced against his rival, who
thereupon took refuge in the church. After some attempt at negotiation,
which terminated only in mutual abuse, the governor threatened to
disregard the right of sanctuary, and eject him by force.

[Sidenote: HERRERA'S DEATH.]

But the administration of Vasco de Herrera was drawing to a close. By
promise of reward to those who should join his cause, Diego Mendez had
secured the alliance of at least forty of the citizens of Trujillo,
while the former could muster but twenty or thirty men, most of his
followers being engaged in quelling an Indian revolt in the Olancho
Valley. None felt secure so long as the governor was alive, and they
resolved to assassinate him. Within the walls of the church the
conspirators met by night to arrange their plans, and on a Sunday
evening, the 8th of October 1531, about two hours after sunset, rushed
into the public square, and began shouting their vivas. Cereceda,
who as yet had no information of the plot, was at his own dwelling
in consultation with certain of the friars, as to the best means of
restoring harmony in the province and reuniting the several factions. On
hearing the noise they seized their arms and, hastening to the plaza,
were met with cries of "Long live the king and his chief-justice who
comes this way." Forcing a passage through the crowd they beheld Herrera
lying wounded from a dagger-thrust in his side, while round his neck the
rabble had fastened a rope, for the purpose of dragging him through the
streets. The governor and his companions bore him to a place of safety;
but he was beyond human aid, and in a few hours he breathed his last
within the walls of the sanctuary from which he had threatened to drag
forth his rival to execution. The mob was then ordered to disperse, but
refused to obey, shouting "Long live the king and the community."

Finding himself unable to control the rioters, who now began to show
signs of hostility toward himself, Cereceda made his escape, though
with much difficulty, and attempted to regain his house; but was
intercepted by Diego Mendez, who, armed with lance and dagger, demanded
his own recognition as lieutenant-governor. He refused to listen to
him, whereupon the latter, who was on horseback, barred his passage and
insisted on explaining that he had conspired not against his lawful
ruler, but against a tyrant, who had usurped his office and defied
the law. As he still refused to give any satisfactory answer, Mendez,
being surrounded by a throng of rioters, began to assume a threatening
attitude. Now, for the first time during his administration, Cereceda
displayed a little firmness, and still refused to grant to the assassin
the office which he claimed at the point of the dagger. Many of the
by-standers then urged that Cereceda be at once put to death in order to
avoid all future danger. Seeing that his life was in peril, he replied
to Diego Mendez, "What I request of you, sir, and I ask it as a favor,
is that you let the matter rest until to-morrow, that it may be decided
what is best to be done for the interests of his Majesty." He was then
allowed to retire to his dwelling.

The leader of the revolt construed this vague answer into a full
concession of his authority, and arraying himself in the habiliments of
the man whose corpse lay yet warm in the church of Trujillo, he paraded
the streets at the head of his ruffian gang, and on the following day,
over the grave of his murdered victim, bid defiance to the governor,
telling him to discharge the members of the cabildo and appoint reliable
men in their place. Fearing to provoke an attack by gathering an armed
force around him, Cereceda returned to his house, accompanied by a
single friend. During the night he sent a letter to Diego Diaz, a
brother of Vasco de Herrera, then engaged in quelling the insurrection
in the Olancho Valley, informing him of what had transpired, but in
language so carefully worded that, if his letter were intercepted by
his enemies, they would find nothing on which to base a charge against
him. The usurper meanwhile threatened to hang all who refused to obey
him, and summoning into his presence the caciques of the tribes which
had been enslaved by Herrera, demanded their submission.

On the following day Cereceda ordered the cabildo to assemble in secret
at his own residence, in order to devise, if possible, some means of
bridging over the present crisis. None could offer any practicable
suggestion; but it was remarked by one of the regidores that, since
Diego Mendez refused to obey the governor, it would be advisable that
Cereceda should accept the office of lieutenant-governor.[IX‑11] While
yet in session, the chief of the conspirators, informed by his spies
that the cabildo had been convened, presented himself at the head of
an armed band and demanded admittance. The governor had not courage to
refuse, and the meeting soon afterward broke up, having accomplished


Diego Mendez now unfolded the royal standard in the public square,
and compelled the people to swear allegiance to him as their lawful
ruler. He declared all the edicts issued by Herrera and Cereceda since
the death of Salcedo illegal, and enjoined the latter from exercising
authority. He dissolved the cabildo, appointed new members from the
ranks of his own partisans, obtained possession of all the books and
papers belonging to the municipality, and took the oath of office.
He then seized the register in which the appointment of Salcedo and
the nomination of his successor had been recorded, imprisoned the
royal notary, and bid him, under threat of torture, declare the latter
appointment invalid; but to the credit of that official it is recorded
that he persistently refused compliance. Finally he ordered the arrest
of the governor; but through the intervention of friends allowed him to
remain a prisoner at his own house, in which, relieved of his shackles,
the notary was also confined. Such was the dread and anxiety of Cereceda
that, during his captivity, which lasted thirty-seven days, it is
related that his hair and beard turned from a glossy black to silvery

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the arrival of Cereceda's messenger, an emissary despatched by
Diego Mendez arrived at the Olancho Valley and with little difficulty
persuaded the followers of Diego Diaz, who were already disaffected
toward their commander, to join the standard of the usurper. Finding
himself thus deserted by his men, the latter at once returned to
Trujillo, intending to claim the right of sanctuary; but was arrested
while dismounting at the church door, by six armed men stationed there
for that purpose.

At length Cereceda and his officials, finding that their pusillanimity
was bringing them into general disfavor, resolved to strike a decisive
blow against their common enemy. Their partisans were secretly
assembled, and among them were found eighteen loyal and resolute
citizens, who swore to arrest the pretender or die in the attempt.
It was resolved that the effort be made at once, before those of the
opposite faction could be apprised of it, and on the same night, after a
sharp struggle, in which half of the governor's men were wounded[IX‑12]
and one of their opponents killed, Diego Mendez was captured, and on
the following day sentenced to be beheaded and quartered. Most of the
conspirators were then induced by offer of pardon to return to their
allegiance, but though their lives were spared, they were punished
by loss of office, imprisonment, or confiscation of property. Two of
the leading accomplices, who had been present at the assassination of
Herrera,[IX‑13] fled from the city, and with the assistance of some
of the natives made their escape to a small island near the coast; but
returning to Trujillo some two months later, on hearing of Cereceda's
clemency, took refuge in the church, whence they were dragged forth to
execution by order of the governor.

       *       *       *       *       *


On receiving news of the seditious tumults which had so long vexed the
settlers of Honduras, the emperor appointed as ruler of the province
Captain Diego de Albitez, a veteran officer who had done good service
in many a hard-fought battle with Indians. The new governor arrived off
the coast with two vessels on the 29th of October 1532, but his ships
were driven on shore by a storm, when six leagues from port, and thirty
of those on board were drowned. Albitez escaped by swimming, but with
the loss of all his effects. Assistance soon arrived from Trujillo;
and on the following day he was received and duly recognized by the
authorities amid the rejoicings of the citizens who now hoped that
tranquillity would be restored. But the province was yet destined to
undergo a period of misrule; for nine days after his arrival, the new
governor, advanced in years, died at Trujillo, leaving Cereceda still
at the head of affairs.

The feeling of dissatisfaction which had long prevailed was intensified
by this new disaster. Exaggerated reports of the great wealth of the
neighboring provinces had been noised abroad, and many of the colonists
now threatened to abandon the territory, hoping to better their fortunes
elsewhere. For several years they had been living in extreme discomfort,
often bordering on destitution. They had neither flour, oil, wine, nor
any other of the commodities usually imported from Spain. For three
years no Spanish vessel had arrived at Trujillo. The men were almost
without clothing and the horses without shoes. Many of the settlers had
neither shirts nor beds; and so great was the scarcity of all articles
required for the common needs of life, that a sheet of paper sold for a
peso, and a needle was worth as much.[IX‑14] To add to the distress of
the Spaniards epidemic diseases broke out among the Indians, spreading
from house to house and from town to town, and swept away at least one
half of the native population.[IX‑15] There was neither physician nor
medicine; and though the settlers escaped the visitation, so great was
their loss in slaves that many were compelled to abandon their usual

In order to distract the attention of the colonists from their forlorn
condition, Cereceda set about establishing a settlement on the road
to Nicaragua, with a view of opening communication between the two
seas. He despatched into the interior a company of sixty men, with
orders to halt, at a certain point, until joined by himself with an
additional force. His departure was however delayed by the arrival of
two messengers from Alonso de Ávila,[IX‑16] contador of Yucatan, who was
on his way to Trujillo, having been obliged to flee with the remnant of
his band from a settlement which he had formed in the interior of that
province. On the arrival of the party at Trujillo, Cereceda afforded
them all the assistance in his power. He then set forth to join the
expedition awaiting him on the road to Nicaragua. After proceeding but
a short distance he was overtaken by a messenger bringing news of the
arrival of two vessels from Cuba, and of the intention of Diego Diaz de
Herrera to take this opportunity of making his escape in company with
others at Trujillo.[IX‑17]


Cereceda returned in time to prevent the depopulation of the city,
but such was the general discontent that the question of removal was
universally discussed and the governor was at length compelled to give
up his settlement. After much deliberation it was resolved to depart
for the Naco Valley, leaving at Trujillo a garrison of fifty men.
The remainder of the citizens, mustering in all about one hundred and
thirty,[IX‑18] leaving with them a good supply of horses and live-stock,
set forth on their march through the wilderness. On reaching a spot
where a river flows through a narrow defile, they found their passage
obstructed by a barricade erected by the cacique Cizimba, who thought
thus to prevent the invasion of his territory. The natives were
routed at the first onset, and those who were taken captive suffered
mutilation, their hands being cut off, and were suspended with cords
from their necks. The Spaniards then pressed forward, suffering many
privations, though always buoyed up with the hope of finding abundant
stores of provisions on reaching their destination. But in this they
were doomed to disappointment. Arriving at Naco, wayworn and famished,
they found the place abandoned by all except a few infirm natives unable
to escape by reason of illness. Cereceda then put on the mask, and
changing his policy toward the natives, who throughout all that country
had fled at his approach, he strove to win them back by kindness, and
at length succeeded in causing the return of a number sufficient to
plant a considerable tract of land.[IX‑19] The harvest however failed,
and, being reduced to the last extremity, the Spaniards were compelled
to move to the foot of the mountains, where they hoped to obtain food
among the natives who had fled there for refuge. Taking their departure
from Naco, therefore, they proceeded to the province of Zula, where they
founded a settlement which they named Buena Esperanza.[IX‑20]

Such was the position of affairs when, in the year 1535, Christóbal
de la Cueva was sent by Jorge de Alvarado, to discover a route to the
northern coast by means of which communication might be opened between
the province of Guatemala and Spain. While passing through the province
of Zula, Cueva's men were observed by a party of natives, who informed
Cereceda of the presence of Spaniards in that vicinity. The latter
thereupon despatched Juan Ruano, with a small band, to demand of the
intruders whence they came, and by what authority they ventured within
his territory. The messenger was first met by the advanced guard of
twenty men under Juan de Arévalo, who informed him that his commander,
with the main force, was but two leagues behind, and that their object
was to search for the best route for a government road from Guatemala
to Puerto de Caballos.

When Cueva was informed of the condition of the colonists at Buena
Esperanza, he requested an interview with Cereceda, and proposed that
the men of Honduras should coöperate with him in his explorations,
promising in return to assist them in their mining enterprises, and to
protect them from the natives. The governor gladly accepted this offer,
and took command of a force composed of a portion of Cueva's troops
together with all his own available men.[IX‑21] It was proposed first
to march against a powerful cacique, who had for ten years held captive
a Spanish woman,[IX‑22] and after subduing him and demolishing his
stockade, to explore the country in the neighborhood of Golfo Dulce, and
examine the harbors of San Gil de Buenavista and Puerto de Caballos, in
conformity with his instructions.

But the time had not yet come when harmony was to prevail in Honduras.
Wars with the savages and contentions among themselves had been the fate
of settlers in that territory from the beginning; and the quarrelsome
followers of Cereceda were little disposed to join hands in peaceful
fellowship with the members of a rival colony. Cueva was not satisfied
to settle at Buena Esperanza, nor on the Golfo Dulce, nor at Puerto de
Caballos; but he wished to plant a colony in the interior of Honduras,
midway between the two oceans. To this proposition Cereceda of course
raised objections. The other persisted, and being the stronger, withdrew
from the alliance and moved inland. Thereupon Cereceda complained to
the India Council, and begged the arrest and execution of Cueva for
trespass and violation of contract. He also petitioned the emperor
for men, arms, ships, and flour, and wine for sacramental purposes.
He affirmed that some of his men had not tasted salt for three months,
and lay ill in consequence. He requested that the king's fifth of the
product of the mines should be reduced to one tenth. He also asked that
a boundary line between Guatemala and Honduras be established, and that
a road be opened between the two seas, from Puerto de Caballos to the
bay of Fonseca, stating that it would serve as well for the trade of
San Salvador and Nicaragua, the distance being only fifty leagues, and
the ground favorable, requiring only that the trees be cut away and the
earth levelled in places. To this petition of Cereceda the emperor and
his council listened with favor, and granted the greater part of his


Meanwhile the remnant of the Honduras colonists who remained at Trujillo
also clamored for an increase of population, and for a governor. They
claimed that the city possessed a good harbor, and a dry and wholesome
situation; that rich mines lay undeveloped in its vicinity, and
that the soil was fruitful and well watered.[IX‑23] They attributed
their past misfortunes to bad government, and charged Cereceda with
abandoning the settlement without sufficient cause. They were now so
few in number, being reduced to thirty capable of bearing arms, that
they were in constant fear of attack from the natives. Their stock of
weapons consisted of but twenty swords and fifteen pikes, the governor
having taken with him all the cross-bows and arquebuses. As they were
not in communication with Mexico they requested to be placed under the
jurisdiction of the audiencia of Española. They asked moreover for two
brigantines for the purpose of trading with the Islands and also for one
hundred negroes to work their mines, for all of which they promised to
pay liberally. They promised that if a capable governor were sent out to
them in command of two hundred men, they would establish a settlement
near the Desaguadero and open the rich gold-mines which lay in that
vicinity. Finally the municipal council declared that unless relieved
within a year they would disorganize the government and give the people
liberty to go whithersoever they might desire.

If the colonists of Honduras could barely sustain themselves when united
and living at Trujillo, it was not to be expected that their condition
would be improved when divided and scattered throughout the country.
One good man, who could have held in check the spirit of lawlessness,
and have ruled the factious populace with a determined hand; a man with
the principles and temper even of a Pedrarias, would have given peace
and prosperity to Honduras; but internal dissensions, and finally open
disruption, had brought disaster upon all concerned, and had reduced
the people, both of Trujillo and Buena Esperanza, to the verge of ruin
and starvation.


Humiliating as it must have been, Andrés de Cereceda was at last
compelled to appeal for aid to Pedro de Alvarado. In the petition which
he drew up, he craved protection from the natives, failing which, he
feared the depopulation of the whole province. Dire indeed were the
necessities of the people,[IX‑24] and the adelantado was besought "for
the love of God and their Majesties," to come to their succor.[IX‑25]
The royal treasurer, Diego García de Célis, was sent in company
with Juan Ruano[IX‑26] to Santiago, where Alvarado then resided, and
representing to him the deplorable condition of the people of Honduras,
received assurance of relief. As soon as possible an armed force was
assembled, consisting of Spaniards and friendly Indians, and with the
adelantado at their head set forth to the relief of Cereceda.[IX‑27]

During the delay which occurred before the arrival of Alvarado in
Honduras, the settlers who remained at Buena Esperanza, being unable
or unwilling to bear their sufferings any longer, were on the point of
abandoning the colony, and on the 5th of May 1536 a formal meeting was
held before the notary Bernardino de Cabrenas,[IX‑28] to take the matter
under consideration. Cereceda, addressing the alcalde and regidores,
stated that they were aware of the condition of affairs in the province,
and of the impracticability of holding it much longer, on account of
the small number of the Spanish colonists and the want of supplies.
He had therefore, he said, despatched Diego García de Célis, the royal
treasurer, to solicit aid from the governor of Guatemala, and had also
asked the assistance of the emperor and of the audiencia of Mexico.
Seven months had elapsed since the departure of Célis, and nothing had
been heard from him. He demanded therefore, in the name of the crown,
their opinion as to what should be done. All present recommended that
the country be abandoned, and the Spaniards allowed by the governor
to proceed whithersoever they pleased. To this Cereceda assented, and
orders were issued accordingly; the alcalde and regidores ratifying and
confirming the governor's acts and their own, in the presence of the


The resolution was at once carried into effect; but within four days
after leaving Buena Esperanza the colonists were met by Célis with a
letter from Alvarado promising speedy relief. Had the envoy returned
but a single day later it is not improbable that Cereceda would have
lost his life, for he had become extremely unpopular among the men of
Honduras. They had indeed gone so far as to drive him from his home,
though through fear of the consequences they afterward recalled him.

His answer to the adelantado's despatch shows the detestation in which
he was held by those whose duty it was to obey him. "They expelled me,"
he says, "from my house and from the settlement, although I was not
in a condition to rise from my bed, to which I had been confined for
days on account of a boil that prevented my sitting down, except in
a chair which had been made specially for my use, and then only for a
short time. In spite of all this, they hustled me out of my abode with
the greatest coolness, ordering me to go, unattended as I was, in the
direction of the coast, where they would provide me with an escort to
Trujillo. This was, however, only a pretext in order to get rid of me,
their object being to carry off as slaves all the Indians who had served
in the district, which they had attempted to do before proceeding to
expel me from the village. Fearing they might kill me, I made a virtue
of necessity, and abandoning what few effects I had, proceeded to Naco.
From this place they soon recalled me, and I returned on horseback,
but with great difficulty, suffering so much from my enforced ride
that it will, I fear, be at least three months before my health is

Cereceda and Célis were far from being on good terms. The treasurer was
suspected by the former of a desire to supplant him, and perhaps not
without reason, as he had been appointed by the emperor, and was next
in rank to the governor. In his letter to Alvarado, Cereceda takes the
opportunity of venting his spleen against the treasurer. He accuses him
of endeavoring to produce the impression that he, and he alone, had it
in his power to procure for the adelantado the governorship of Honduras,
and of taking to himself the credit of being the only one having at
heart the welfare of the country, and of being a faithful servitor of
his Majesty. "But," he continues, "in order that you may see that there
are others who desire the welfare of the province, I resign in your
favor the governorship with which I have been intrusted, believing that,
in so doing, I am performing a service to his Majesty."


Alvarado, on his arrival, was well received by the settlers, who were
fain to believe that there were better days in store for them. The
astute Cereceda, seeing himself virtually without authority, again
pressed him to accept the governorship, so that the province might not
go to ruin. By this artifice he hoped not only to escape punishment, but
to confirm the impression in the adelantado's mind that it was to him
and not to Célis that he was indebted for the offer. Alvarado accepted
the governor's resignation, and assumed the reins of power, to the
great joy of the colonists. He at once set about pacifying the country,
sending out a strong force, stationing guards at the mines, and bringing
the province into a condition of safety and prosperity. In the name of
the crown, he assumed the title of captain-general and chief-justice,
and without loss of time proceeded to establish new colonies.

He built at Puerto de Caballos the town of San Juan, and on the site
of the village of Thaloma, seven leagues from this settlement, founded
the city of San Pedro del Puerto de Caballos. He determined the limits
of its jurisdiction and distributed among the Spaniards the natives
and native villages in its vicinity.[IX‑30] Captain Juan de Chaves was
ordered to explore the province toward the south and west and to select
a favorable site on the proposed line of intercommunication between
Honduras and Guatemala. After a toilsome journey he arrived at a fertile
and well watered valley, where he established a settlement, naming it
in token of his thankfulness "Gracias á Dios."[IX‑31]

But while the adelantado was winning fresh laurels and gaining new
adherents in Honduras, he was informed that his residencia had been
taken by the oidor Maldonado, and soon afterward received an order
from the viceroy instructing him to proceed to Spain and appear before
the throne, as his Majesty's interests would be thereby advanced. This
was unlooked for. He had already petitioned the king for permission to
return for the purpose of fitting out an expedition on a large scale for
South Sea explorations;[IX‑32] a summons to appear at court, while his
residencia was to be taken during his absence, made an intricate matter
of it. There was no alternative, however, but to obey; and once more
Alvarado set out for Spain, first addressing to the cabildo of Santiago
a letter wherein he states the reasons for his departure, and remarks
that although he does not return to his native land rich in gold, having
spent all that he had gained during his career in Mexico and Guatemala,
he has no doubt that his services will recommend him to the favor of
the court.






The sense of relief which was felt by all the colonists of Nicaragua,
when death at last put an end to the administration of Pedrarias Dávila,
was of brief duration. A new taskmaster soon held them in bondage
almost as grievous as that of the great despot who now lay buried in the
church-vaults at Leon. Francisco de Castañeda, who then held office as
contador, and some months previous had been alcalde mayor,[X‑1] claimed
that he was legally entitled to the vacant governorship.[X‑2] The
cabildo knew of no valid objection, and upon Castañeda's promise to rule
with moderation and fairness he was appointed and duly recognized.[X‑3]

Before a month had elapsed the colonists found themselves still doomed
to oppression and misrule. Without regard to the rights of the settlers,
and with an effrontery equalled only by that of his predecessor, the
new tyrant refused to convene the cabildo except at long intervals, and
then only to discuss matters agreeable to his own wishes. The decision
of pending lawsuits was neglected; loans were demanded, and those who
refused to contribute were harassed so unmercifully that they abandoned
their property and fled the country, leaving their encomiendas to
be confiscated.[X‑4] Slave-hunting, with its attendant horrors, was
common throughout the province. None were forbidden to kidnap, nor was
any limit placed on their capture; the only restriction was that the
governor should receive a share. The king's tithes were fraudulently
rented.[X‑5] Castañeda was even suspected of making fraudulent entries
in the books of the treasurer Tobilla, whose death had recently
occurred; nor had he even given himself the trouble of taking an
inventory of the contents of the treasure-chest.

At length certain of the regidores met in secret council and petitioned
the king to send them a judge of residencia, stating that unless relief
were afforded the province would soon be depopulated. Castañeda was
presently informed of his danger, but gave no heed to the warning.
He had but one aim in life, to gather riches by whatever means,[X‑6]
and this object he pursued with unshaken purpose. The natives did not
regard the Spaniards with greater dread than did the Spaniards their
chief magistrate. Many of them departed for the newly conquered regions
of Peru, and even the friars, who had faced the hardships of the
wilderness, and the peril of torture and death at the hands of savages,
were compelled to abandon their labors.[X‑7]

       *       *       *       *       *

Until 1531 the vicars of the church of Panamá held ecclesiastical
jurisdiction over the province of Nicaragua.[X‑8] In that year Diego
Álvarez Osorio, a precentor of the cathedral of Panamá, holding the
title of Protector of the Indians, was appointed the first bishop of
Nicaragua. His elevation was due to his eminent services in the church
and probably also to the fact of his being, as Remesal remarks, "a noble
cavalier of the house of Astorga, learned, virtuous, and prudent, with
much experience in wholesome government measures."[X‑9] The prelate
was ordered to found a Dominican convent at Leon, and the treasurer
was commanded to furnish the necessary funds. The royal tithes which
were formerly appropriated by the diocese of Panamá, were now to
be increased,[X‑10] and applied to the support of the churches and
hospitals of Nicaragua.


Under the rule of Castañeda it was indeed difficult to collect the
tithes, the greater portion of them being stolen by his officials.
But a true friend to humanity and religion was now on his way to
the province. Bartolomé de las Casas,[X‑11] after his earnest though
ineffectual labors in Mexico, returned to Nicaragua in the year 1532,
and was received with open arms by Osorio, who invited him to remain,
and to aid him in establishing the Dominican convent, and also in his
labors on behalf of the natives; but above all to use his authority in
putting an end to the malefeasance of Castañeda. Las Casas cheerfully
consented. A convent was founded; residences were built for the friars;
preparations were made for the erection of a cathedral, and converts
by the thousands were gathered into the fold. But neither threat nor
persuasion had the least influence on Castañeda, who had been trained
in the school of Pedrarias, and now bid fair to better his instruction.
Relief came at last. News arrived at Leon that Rodrigo de Contreras
had been appointed governor of Nicaragua, and was now on his way to the
province. Castañeda thereupon gathered up his stolen gains and fled to
Peru; passed thence to Española; was there arrested and sent to Spain;
but death closed his career before any earthly tribunal awarded to him
the meed of his iniquity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Contreras was a noble cavalier of Segovia, and the son-in-law of
Pedrarias, whose daughter, María de Peñalosa, formerly betrothed to
Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, now accompanied him to the province, together
with her infant children, Hernando and Pedro. His administration meets
the hearty approval of Oviedo; a refreshing circumstance, as it is the
first instance in which that historian speaks in praise of a governor in
a Spanish province.[X‑12] His conduct is at least in strong relief with
that of his two predecessors, and apart from certain accusations brought
against him by the ecclesiastics, with whom he was ever at variance,
the annals of his time portray him as a just and humane ruler. He at
once began the task of establishing law and order in his territory, thus
gaining the confidence of the settlers, and all traces of evil wrought
by the absconder Castañeda were speedily effaced.

       *       *       *       *       *


The project for opening up communication with the North Sea by way
of El Desaguadero, as the Rio San Juan was then termed, and of taking
possession of the native towns on its banks, had long been discussed by
the colonists. The new governor though averse to such an enterprise was
anxious to retain the good-will of the people, and despatched to the
court of Spain Juan de Perea to obtain the emperor's consent.[X‑13]

But the subjugation of the natives was too often followed by their
enslavement, and Las Casas was still in the province[X‑14] laboring in
his favorite cause. In the pulpit, in the confessional, and in places
of public resort the padre denounced the expedition. He even threatened
to refuse absolution to the vecinos and soldiers should they dare to
take part in it.[X‑15] The colonists were sorely perplexed. Las Casas
undoubtedly held direct instructions from the emperor which justified
his interference, while the governor had not yet received the sanction
of the crown. Which side should they take? On the one hand was prospect
of gain, on the other the threatened ban of the church.

Contreras was resolved that the project should not be thwarted by the
intermeddling of a priest; but, on setting out at the head of a band of
fifty men, he found that his own officers would not obey him, for they
were forbidden to plunder or maltreat the natives. He was compelled
therefore to return to Leon and acknowledge himself defeated. Las Casas
now used all the weight of his influence to undermine the governor's
authority,[X‑16] while Contreras caused depositions to be taken before
Bishop Osorio with regard to the conduct of the padre. At this juncture
the death of the prelate solved the difficulty. After losing his
support Las Casas found himself unable to oppose, single-handed, the
authority of the governor, who still had the tacit sympathy of most of
the colonists. He therefore determined to abandon a field where his
exertions were of little avail, and accepting an invitation which it
has already been stated was extended to him by Francisco de Marroquin,
bishop of Guatemala, to take charge of the convent of Santiago, departed
from Leon taking with him all the Dominicans.[X‑17]


In 1537 certain of the ecclesiastics are again connected with the
history of the province, but in a manner not altogether consistent with
the dignity of their profession. While travelling through Nicaragua
three years previously, Fray Blas del Castillo heard strange rumors
concerning a volcano situated near Lake Nicaragua, and known as El
Infierno de Masaya. In the crater at a depth of a hundred fathoms
was a molten lake incrusted with cinders, through which fountains
of fire sometimes rose far above the surface,[X‑18] lighting up the
South Sea by night, and plainly visible to mariners twenty leagues
from shore. Concerning this spot a legend was related to Oviedo during
his residence in the province by the aged cacique Lenderi, who had
several times visited the place in company with other chieftains of his
tribe. From the depths of the crater came forth to commune with them
in secret council a hag,[X‑19] nude, wrinkled, and hideous, with long
sharp teeth, and deep-sunken, flame-colored eyes. She was consulted
on all important matters, determined the question of war or peace, and
predicted the success or failure of every enterprise. Before and after
these consultations, were hurled into the crater human victims who
submitted to their fate without a murmur.[X‑20] When the Christians made
their appearance the genius of the burning pit denounced the intruders,
threatening not to show herself again till they were driven from the
land, and as the natives were not strong enough to expel them, she soon
abandoned her votaries.

The worthy friar concluded that the molten mass in the depths of the
crater must be gold, or at least silver, in a state of fusion. He was
then travelling toward Peru by order of his superiors, but kept his
own counsel until two years later, when we hear of his journeying on
foot from Mexico, a distance of more than four hundred leagues, intent
on exploring the mysterious crater. He now took into his confidence a
Franciscan friar, Juan de Gandabo, and the two agreed to impart the
great secret to a few of the wealthier Spanish settlers, in order
to obtain means for carrying out their project. Rumor was soon rife
throughout the province. At Granada and Leon men assembled in the
streets and plazas to discuss the matter. Some few conceded that Fray
Blas was probably in the right. Others asserted with a credulous shrug
that the molten mass consisted of iron or of sulphur, the latter theory
being most in favor, from the fact that specimens of native sulphur
were common in the vicinity. But while expounding, in the realms of
the Atahualpas and the Montezumas, the doctrines of him who sent forth
his disciples without purse or scrip, the ecclesiastic could never
banish from his mind the conviction that providence had reserved this
treasure for him and his fellow-laborers,[X‑21] and now after his long
and toilsome journey, he was not to be turned aside from his purpose.
The necessary implements were secretly prepared. Chains, pulleys,
iron kettles, and other apparatus were made ready in a native village
four leagues distant from the volcano. A huge derrick and a cage were
manufactured by the friar's own hands at a safe distance from the
Spanish settlements,[X‑22] and dragged up by natives to the mouth of
the volcano. Guides were procured, and it was agreed that Fray Blas
himself should first descend into the pit in order to avoid all dispute
as to right of discovery. Should he return to the surface in safety, his
comrades were to follow. Stipulations were made as to the division of
the treasure, the friar claiming for himself the largest share, though
contributing nothing to the expense.

On the 13th of April 1538,[X‑23] the ecclesiastic and his comrades rise
betimes, and after confessing their sins, attending mass, and partaking
of a substantial breakfast they climb the steep mountain side and stand
on the verge of the crater. Grasping in his left hand a flask of wine,
in his right a crucifix, and gathering up the skirts of his priestly
robe, his head protected by an iron cask, the daring friar takes his
seat in the cage, is suspended in mid-air, and slowly lowered into the
burning pit. The natives who are present flee in terror, having no faith
in his assertion that the evil genius of the fiery lake will vanish
at the sight of the cross. As he lands on the floor of the crater a
fragment of falling rock strikes his helmet, causing him to drop on his
knees and plant his cross with trembling fingers in the haunted ground.
Turning his eyes upward, after much groping and stumbling among shelves
of rock, he beholds the cage in which he had descended swinging far
overhead. Nevertheless his heart fails not. Catching the guide-rope
he drags up his portly person to a spot from which he can give the
appointed signal, and at length is brought unharmed to the surface.

  [Illustration: NICARAGUA.]

A few days later another attempt is made, and after much difficulty
a small quantity of the molten treasure is brought to the surface in
an iron mortar. Reports of the great discovery spread through the
neighboring settlements. Hundreds of eager spectators gather round
the crater, but the adventurers keep their counsel. They take formal
possession of the ground, move their machinery that none may share the
imaginary prize, and for a time imagine themselves possessed of wealth
which a thousand ships cannot carry.

       *       *       *       *       *


Soon after the departure of the Dominicans, Contreras resolved to carry
out the exploration of the Desaguadero. Captain Diego Machuca,[X‑24]
a veteran officer and one whose humane disposition gave assurance
that the inhabitants of the native towns would not be maltreated, was
placed in charge of the expedition. Two ships were fitted out on Lake
Nicaragua and a force of two hundred men followed by land. The dangers
encountered[X‑25] during the voyage are not recorded by the chroniclers
of the age; but we learn that the vessels were borne in safety down the
stream, passed thence to the North Sea, and sailed for Nombre de Dios.

News of their arrival was soon brought to Doctor Robles, then governor
of Tierra Firme, and with his usual policy this covetous ruler attempted
to gather for himself all the benefits of the enterprise. The men of
Nicaragua were cast into prison, and an expedition despatched under
Francisco Gonzales de Badajoz to take possession of the territory
on the banks of the Desaguadero. After remaining in the province for
six months, during which time a fort was built and treasure obtained
to the value of 200,000 castellanos, the invaders were driven out by
Contreras, and their leader sent back a prisoner to Panamá.[X‑26] A
second expedition, despatched by Doctor Robles under command of Andrés
Garavito, also failed of success.[X‑27]

       *       *       *       *       *

A brief period of comparative quiet now occurs in the history of
Nicaragua, and for the first time the inhabitants of one province at
least are satisfied with their ruler. Nevertheless there exists among a
clique of factious adventurers an undercurrent of ill-feeling, fostered
by the ecclesiastics, who soon begin once more to interfere in the
affairs of the settlements. After the passage in 1542 of the new code of
laws, of which mention is elsewhere made, Nicaragua is placed under the
jurisdiction of the audiencia of the Confines, and all who hold office
under the crown are ordered to surrender their encomiendas. The governor
thereupon transfers his slaves to his wife and children, and before the
code goes into operation, sets forth for Spain, to prevent, if possible,
disastrous results to his interests; for in common with most of his
fellow-rulers his wealth consists mainly of human chattels. Arriving
at the Isthmus he finds that secret advices from Pedro de Mendavia, the
dean of Leon, have been sent to Panamá recommending his arrest, and he
is compelled to continue his journey as a prisoner. The charges against
him cannot be of a serious nature; for although his old opponent, Las
Casas, is still in Spain, ready to testify against him, we learn that he
is soon released, and retaining both office and property he returns in
company with Vasco Nuñez Vela, landing in Tierra Firme in January 1544.

[Sidenote: PEDRO DE LOS RIOS.]

Meanwhile Pedro de los Rios, the royal treasurer,[X‑28] and son-in-law
of Contreras, has usurped the reins of government, and commenced to
persecute all whom he knows to be hostile to his own party. Mendavia,
knowing that he may be the one to suffer most at the hands of Rios,
determines to anticipate his measures, and proceeding to Granada,
where he obtains the support of the cabildo, imprisons Rios in the
convent.[X‑29] But the following morning the cabildo intimidated
by the threats of Doña María, the governor's wife, repent of their
conduct and are prevailed upon to issue an edict calling upon all the
settlers, under penalty of death and confiscation, to rise in arms and
demand the liberation of Rios, or, in case of refusal, to tear down the
convent. The warlike dean is not prepared for this sudden change, but
nevertheless determines to resist, assuring his adherents that all who
may suffer death in this most Christian cause will surely be admitted
into heaven. The people throng the convent, and the friars are soon
engaged in deadly strife, during which two of them, together with four
laymen, are mortally wounded. Unable to withstand the attack, Mendavia
at last relents and sues for peace. A compromise is effected, by which
Rios binds himself not to injure the dean or any of his party, either
then or at any future time, whereupon the treasurer is released. No
sooner is he outside the convent walls, however, than he forgets his
promise, and arrests, hangs, quarters, and exiles indiscriminately. The
dean himself is put in irons and sent to Spain, where for several years
he is kept a prisoner without trial.[X‑30]

When the news of these proceedings reached the audiencia of Panamá,
Diego de Pineda was despatched to Nicaragua as juez de comision, and
with such tact did he reconcile the disputes between the two parties
that order was quickly restored, and the quarrel between Rios and
Mendavia was soon forgotten. A few months later Contreras arrived in the
province,[X‑31] but his secret enemies were still at work, and one of
the first acts of the newly established audiencia de los Confines was
to commission the oidor Herrera to take his residencia, and also that
of the treasurer Rios. Although the licentiate was ever an implacable
foe to the governor and a stanch supporter of the clerical faction,
he appears to have discovered nothing on which to base any serious
charges against either of those officials, and soon abandoned his

       *       *       *       *       *


A feud more bitter than that which was terminated by the death of Bishop
Osorio and the departure of Las Casas now arose between the lay and
ecclesiastical authorities. In 1544 Father Antonio de Valdivieso was
appointed to the vacant see of Nicaragua.[X‑33] His appointment was duly
confirmed by papal bull, and in November of the following year he was
consecrated at Gracias á Dios by bishops Las Casas of Chiapas, Marroquin
of Guatemala, and Pedraza of Honduras. The prelate, who professed to
be an enthusiastic admirer of the great apostle of the Indies, insisted
that the new code should be enforced, and spared no effort to rescue the
natives from bondage, incurring by his policy such determined opposition
from the governor and his officials that he deemed it best for his own
personal safety to take up his residence at Granada rather than at Leon.

From the day of Valdivieso's arrival to the downfall of the governor
some three years later, the history of the province contains little else
than a series of mutual recriminations and intrigues. The colonists with
a few exceptions favored the cause of the governor, declaring that "they
wanted no prelate except to say mass, and preach to suit their fancy;"
and when the bishop threatened to establish an inquisition in Nicaragua
he was menaced with assassination.[X‑34]


The complaints against Contreras appear to have been due mainly to the
jealousy and self-interested motives of the ecclesiastical faction.
His conduct had borne the scrutiny of the inquisition and of the
audiencia. Notwithstanding the provisions of the new code he had been
allowed to retain his encomiendas. Even his enemies could not accuse
him of maltreating his slaves. It was not to be expected that he should
surrender to the bishop the power and property which higher authority
had permitted him to retain; and yet this seems to have been his chief
cause of offence. Though Valdivieso and the Dominican friars were loud
in their denunciations of those who held the natives in bondage, they
were themselves by no means averse to holding property in slaves. They
were the proprietors of at least one Indian village in Nicaragua, and
when the right of ownership was taken from them by the audiencia of
the Confines, they threatened to leave the province, and ceased not
from their clamor until their property was restored to them.[X‑35] Even
the members of the audiencia, whose special duty it was to enforce the
observance of these new laws, had caused the cacique of Atitlan, and
others who had rendered assistance to the Spaniards in their expeditions
against Lacandon and Tuzulutlan, to be restored to their encomenderos,
thus violating the very spirit of the code. The president and oidores
even went so far as to express their opinion that to place the
Indians under control of the priests in trust for the crown was a most
objectionable measure. Slaves constituted the principal source of wealth
throughout the province, and without slave labor the colonists would
soon be reduced to beggary. Even now they suffered extreme privation and
were sometimes threatened with actual famine. The tribute collected from
the natives, which belonged by right to the governor and his officials,
was distributed among the destitute settlers, but was found utterly
inadequate for their maintenance.

The most serious accusation brought against Contreras, but one that
rests on no sufficient evidence, is that he appropriated the estates
of deceased encomenderos, leaving their wives and children destitute.
It was alleged that he and his family owned more than one third of the
province, and that the slaves and territory of the entire district of
Nicoya, which were formerly divided among eleven different individuals,
had passed into the hands of his wife. It was afterward even laid to his
charge that he had compelled the settlers to take part in enterprises
which he himself had in fact only been led to sanction by the clamor of
the colonists or the urgency of the occasion, as was the case in the
exploration of the Desaguadero and the expeditions against the forces
of Doctor Robles.[X‑36]

Meanwhile the oidor, Herrera, was sparing no effort to insure the
governor's downfall, and with that purpose sent private reports to
the emperor and the council of the Indies. In one of these[X‑37] he
recommended that no one should be allowed to rule who possessed Indians,
either in his own name or that of his wife, children, or servants,
and that the government be vested in the hands of a person whose duty
it should be to visit, at frequent intervals, every settlement in the
province. He also recommended that the children of the caciques should
be placed in convents, there to be trained in the Christian faith,
and that the adult Indians should remain in their towns for the same
purpose.[X‑38] In short his object, like that of Valdivieso, whose cause
he never ceased to advocate, was to place the entire native population
under the absolute control of the ecclesiastics.

In the beginning of the year 1547 the bishop removed to Leon, and no
sooner had he done so than the cabildo reported to the emperor "the
great trouble they had in defending the royal jurisdiction on account of
the opposition of the bishop, who insulted and maltreated the officers
of justice, and held the laws in contempt."[X‑39] It was even thought
necessary to send to Spain one Antonio Zárate to advocate their cause,
whereupon Valdivieso despatched to the council of the Indies, some three
weeks later, a communication in which he accused him of being a fugitive
criminal, in order to destroy his influence at court. He also sent
secret advices to Bishop Torres of Panamá, informing him of Zárate's
purpose and recommending his arrest. The emissary was forewarned of his
danger, and managed to make good his escape, but it is not recorded that
he was successful in accomplishing the object of his mission.


The struggle which Contreras had so long maintained against the
machinations of his foes was now drawing to an end. In the beginning
of the year 1548, the licentiate Alonso Lopez de Cerrato, formerly
president of the audiencia in Española, and now appointed to that of
the Confines, arrived at Gracias á Dios. One of his first acts was to
take the residencia of the governor, whereupon finding that the transfer
of his encomiendas had been made after the passage of the new code,
though before its publication in the province,[X‑40] he declared them
confiscated. Contreras at once repaired to Spain to seek redress, and
for some time after his departure his enemies were in constant dread
lest he should regain his authority and return to take vengeance on his
accusers. The alcaldes and regidores of Leon, having now made peace with
the bishop, ordered their secretary to prepare a list of accusations
against the departed governor,[X‑41] but only one of their number had
the courage to sign it, each official fearing that his signature might
afterward cost him his life. It was even requested that the entire
family of the fallen ruler be recalled to Spain, for of his sons
Hernando and Pedro it was stated that they had committed many excesses,
and of his son-in-law, Arias Gonzalo, the alguacil mayor, that he kept a
public gambling-house. Finally the decision of the oidor was confirmed
by the council of the Indies, and Rodrigo de Contreras returned no
more to Nicaragua.[X‑42] His children, however, still remained in the
province, soon to figure as the leaders of a revolt which threatened,
for a time, the very existence of Spain's dominion in the western world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although the ecclesiastics were held in little respect by a majority of
the Spaniards, there is sufficient evidence that they labored faithfully
in their calling. When Fray Toribio de Motolinia came from Guatemala,
in the year 1528, to join certain Flemish friars then resident in
Nicaragua, he founded at Granada the convent of Concepcion,[X‑43]
and having a knowledge of the native language, was successful in
his efforts, giving special care to the baptism and conversion of
children. His stay was of short duration; but by others the work of
christianizing the natives was continued with vigor. Gil Gonzalez is
said to have baptized thirty-two thousand.[X‑44] Hernandez and Salcedo
also baptized large numbers. Pedrarias, inasmuch as this great work had
been accomplished without his intervention, affected contempt for such
summary methods of conversion, and ordered an investigation to be made
by Francisco de Bobadilla, a friar provincial of the order of Mercy, and
by the public notary Bartolomé Perez. Diligent search was made by these
officials, but it was found that the barbarians had either forgotten or
never understood the truths of Christianity, and Bobadilla was obliged
to perform this holy work anew. This friar baptized twenty-nine thousand
and sixty-three persons in the province of Nicaragua, during a space
of nine days,[X‑45] and later, between the 1st of September 1538 and
the 5th of March 1539, fifty-two thousand five hundred and fifty-eight
were baptized, though, as Oviedo says, "by no means could they be called

On the 29th of August 1540, Hernando de Alvarado and Fray Juan de
Padilla started from Granada toward the South Sea by way of Coiba,[X‑46]
and were everywhere well received. When crosses were erected the natives
adorned them with roses, and brought offerings of whatever they valued
most. Some years later Fray Lorenzo de Bienvenida and thirty others
left Yucatan for the province of Costa Rica[X‑47] to continue the work
of conversion in those parts, and many may have fallen victims to their
pious zeal. I may mention the sad fate of the martyr Fray Juan Pizarro.
While laboring in one of the most remote districts of Nicaragua, he was
seized by drunken savages during the celebration of one of their feasts,
dragged over the rocks, beaten till he was almost lifeless, and then
hanged; his murderers completing their work by burning down a church
which he had erected at his own expense.

       *       *       *       *       *


During the internal dissensions which have just been related, bands of
hostile Indians taking advantage of the opportunity were continually
committing depredations on the borders, robbing and slaughtering
those of the natives who were at peace with the Spaniards, the cacique
Lacandon being especially troublesome and refusing all overtures of
peace. No progress could be made in forming new settlements or improving
the condition of those already established. After the explorations
conducted by Captain Machuca, we read of no important enterprise until
the year of the governor's departure. In 1548 the contador Diego de
Castañeda organized an expedition for the conquest of the district of
Tegucigalpa.[X‑48] Through the treachery of the guides, his men were
led into marshy and difficult ground, where they soon found themselves
surrounded by hordes of savages. Repelling their attacks with much
difficulty they made their way to the Desaguadero, and passing down that
channel in barges landed on the shores of Costa Rica, where they founded
the settlement of Nueva Jaen.[X‑49]




     DE PISA.

Between the Rio San Juan and the province of Veragua lay a territory
whose rugged and densely wooded surface had hitherto proved a barrier
to Spanish conquest and colonization. Costa Rica, or Nueva Cartago, by
both of which names this region was known,[XI‑1] yet remained almost
a terra incognita to Europeans. During his last voyage, in the year
1502, Columbus had touched at several points on its northern shore. At
the Golfo Dulce, on its southern coast, it will be remembered that Gil
Gonzalez and his band were glad to find shelter in the trees from storm
and flood.[XI‑2] Vague reports of a settlement named Cartago, founded
early in the sixteenth century by some band of roaming adventurers, are
mentioned in several of the early chroniclers; but when and by whom it
was established, is a question[XI‑3] on which there is no conclusive

  [Illustration: COSTA RICA, 1545.]


The exploration of the Rio San Juan, which had opened up a passage from
the North Sea into the very heart of Nicaragua, awakened a more eager
desire to possess this unknown region; and to the pride of conquest
and discovery was added the all-pervading passion of the Spaniard, for
it was believed that the armies of the great Montezuma had invaded the
territory from a distance of more than six hundred leagues, and had
brought thence many a rich specimen of gold. In 1540 Diego Gutierrez,
a citizen of Madrid and brother to Felipe Gutierrez, who five years
before had conducted the ill-fated expedition to Veragua, was appointed
governor of this province, and soon afterward set forth on an enterprise
which was destined to prove even more calamitous than the one conducted
by his kinsman.


Gutierrez proceeded first to Española, where he raised a company
of about two hundred men and sailed thence for Jamaica, the base of
supplies for the colonies of Tierra Firme. Here a mutiny broke out among
his men, causing the loss of all his military stores. Arriving at Nombre
de Dios he fell sick, and while lying at the point of death his men
deserted, and crossing over to Panamá took ship for Peru. Recovering
from his illness he found himself with but five men and almost without
means. He gathered courage, however, and fitting out a small barge
sailed for the Rio San Juan, and so made his way to the city of Granada.
Falling in with one Baena, a successful adventurer from Peru, he
succeeded in borrowing from him three thousand castellanos with which
he hoped to retrieve his fortunes.

Gutierrez now endeavored to enlist men in Nicaragua, but disputes
between himself and Rodrigo de Contreras, the governor of that
province, caused a further delay of two years. Contreras declared
that his province extended to the border of Veragua and that there was
no intervening territory for Gutierrez to colonize. Gutierrez on the
other hand affirmed that the boundaries of Veragua and Castilla del
Oro had been placed far south of those originally appointed, and that
in consequence there existed a large domain of which he was appointed
governor by a charter granted to him from the crown. Though the
limits[XI‑4] of Costa Rica as set forth in this document were somewhat
indefinite, Contreras at length admitted that his opponent was duly
authorized to take possession of the newly created province. He then
endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, representing the country as
rugged and his scheme as foolhardy and dangerous. "But if you persist in
the occupation of that territory, take my advice," he said, "and keep
one hundred well armed men upon the sea-shore, always ready to forage,
sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another, for the people are
rich in gold, and in this way only can you obtain food."[XI‑5]

The advice of Contreras was cruel, unjust, and contrary to law, but it
was such alone as would lead to success, and the event proved that it
was sound and politic. In a lofty strain that ill consisted with his
future conduct Gutierrez replied: "The government of this province was
conferred upon me by the emperor that I might people and not pillage it;
and if fortune has been adverse to others, I trust in God that to me it
may be more propitious."[XI‑6] It was fine doctrine, but doctrine that
here would not win. Collecting a force of sixty men, he soon set sail
with two vessels for the mouth of the Rio Surre.[XI‑7]

After ascending the river for about three leagues the party came in
sight of some deserted huts, and there encamping, were visited by
several caciques, who brought gold to the value of seven hundred ducats,
and received in return some rosaries of beads, a few bells and trinkets,
and an earnest exhortation to join the true faith. The native chieftains
were well pleased with their visit, and on returning to their homes sent
presents of fruit, fish, and the dried flesh of wild boars. A gleam of
success thus at first attended Gutierrez' effort at colonization, but he
was not destined to escape the disasters which seemed almost inseparable
from the attempts of the Spaniards to establish settlements in the
New World. He was a man of great tenacity of purpose, but irascible,
and singularly deficient in power of control. At Jamaica his soldiers
mutinied; at Nombre de Dios they deserted; at Costa Rica, suffering
from hunger and the privations of pioneer life, they abandoned the
enterprise, and stole away to the sea-shore, where they fell in with
two vessels from Nombre de Dios and so made their way back to Nicaragua.

Left with only six followers,[XI‑8] his nephew Alonso de Pisa, one
sailor, and four servants, Gutierrez had no alternative but to follow
his recreant band. Digging a hole in the earth, he buried there several
jars of salt, honey, and other stores not needed for his voyage, and
embarking in a small river-boat descended to the sea. Soon he descried
approaching the mouth of the river a brigantine, which proved to be
in command of one Captain Bariento, with men, arms, ammunition, and
provisions from Nicaragua. Thereupon he turned back, conducted the
vessel to his settlement, and handing to his nephew all the gold that
had been collected, amounting to eight hundred castellanos, bade him
return with the ship to Nombre de Dios and there purchase arms and
procure recruits. Girolomo Benzoni, the Italian chronicler of the New
World, was at Nombre de Dios when Captain Pisa arrived early in 1545,
and being, as he says, young and strong, filled with high aspirations,
and desirous of enriching himself, he determined to return with the
vessel to Nueva Cartago.[XI‑9] Other adventurers, lured by the promise
of wealth, determined to join the expedition, and soon twenty-seven men
were pledged for the new colony.

On the return voyage the brigantine encountered a gale near the entrance
of the river and was driven to the islands of Zorobaro, a short distance
from the coast. There they remained for seventy-two days, exposed to
incessant rains, three of their number being killed by lightning. Such
was the blackness of the storm that during all this time they did not
see four hours of sunshine. The captain of the vessel went ashore on
the mainland to obtain provisions, but after eight days' search midst
forest, swamp, and mountain, during which time he subsisted on snails
and berries, he returned empty-handed. Finally the men made their way
to the encampment of Gutierrez, who, being determined at all hazard to
people his territory, immediately sent the ship back to Nombre de Dios
for more recruits, supplying funds to the amount of fifteen hundred
castellanos. The number of the colonists was thereby increased to eighty
men. Thus reënforced he began the exploration of his province. With
four canoes he ascended the Rio Surre, and after making a distance of
about ten leagues, landed at an Indian village to which he gave the
name of San Francisco in honor of the saint on whose natal day the spot
was reached. Here the party was met by certain caciques, who brought
presents of fruit but no gold. The governor received them kindly,
informing them through an interpreter that the strangers had in their
possession a secret which was of the utmost value; that they had come
a great distance, and some of them for no other purpose than to reveal
it. In return for this the Christians must have gold.


The chiefs were then invited to a feast, the viands consisting of fowl
and salt pork; but they had little relish for such food, and merely
tasting it handed it to their attendants to be cast to the dogs. After
the meal came an exhortation in which, as Benzoni relates, Gutierrez
thus harangued his guests: "My very dear friends and brothers, I am
come hither to free you from the chains of idolatry, by which through
the influences of your evil spirits you have until now been bound.
I am come to teach you the way to heaven, whence Jesus Christ, the
son of God, descended to save you. With me I have brought holy men
to teach you this faith, which to accept, and implicitly to obey our
sovereign emperor Charles V., king of Spain and monarch of the world,
and us his representatives, comprises your whole duty." To these words
the chieftains bowed their heads, but without making answer, neither
assenting to nor rejecting the munificent and disinterested offer of
the Christians, who for a little yellow earthly metal gave in return
the ineffable joys of heaven.


Nevertheless, the savages were slow to bring in their gold, and the
governor, forgetting the lofty sentiments with which he had regaled
Contreras prior to his departure from Nicaragua, looked about him for
some means by which to enforce his injunctions. Being informed that
two of the caciques, named Camachire and Cocori,[XI‑10] who had before
presented him with treasure to the value of seven hundred ducats,
were now encamped on the opposite side of the river, he summoned
them into his presence, at the same time pledging his word for their
safety. Reluctantly the chieftains came, and no sooner had they placed
themselves in the power of the Spaniards than Gutierrez ordered a strong
iron collar to be fastened round their necks, and chaining them to a
beam in his dwelling, taxed them with stealing the buried jars of salt
and honey, and demanded restitution, or, as an equivalent, a large
amount of gold. They answered that they knew nothing of the matter,
and had no need to pilfer articles of which they possessed an abundant
store. Camachire procured gold to the value of two thousand ducats,
which was greedily appropriated by the governor, but served only to
whet his appetite. In place of thanks, baptism, and restoration to
liberty, the cacique was dragged before a burning fire; a large basket
was placed beside him, and he was told that unless, within four days,
he obtained gold enough to fill it six times he should be burned to
death.[XI‑11] The trembling native promised to comply, and sent out his
slaves to collect the treasure. Perceiving the Indian to be tractable,
and believing him anxious to comply in good faith with the demand,
Gutierrez permitted him to be led every day to the stream to bathe,
as was his daily habit. Returning on one occasion from the bath, the
soldier having the captive in charge neglected to secure him properly,
and the following night he made his escape.

Cocori, who yet remained a prisoner, had now to bear the brunt of the
governor's wrath. After being frequently importuned for gold, which he
always declared himself unable to obtain, he was led daily to a spot
where blood-hounds were chained; bid to observe well their huge teeth
and gleaming eyes; and threatened that unless gold were soon forthcoming
he should be torn and devoured by these ferocious brutes. At length
the indignation of the chieftain overcame his fear. "You lie, bad
Christians," he exclaimed, "for often have you made the same threat and
yet I live; besides I would rather die than live in bondage among such
vipers which I greatly wonder how the earth can bear." The noble native
was then reserved for use as a pack animal. Thus did Diego Gutierrez
fulfil his promise to people the province and not to pillage it.

It was soon noised abroad that the strangers who had brought to the
shores of Costa Rica the glad tidings of the gospel were more to be
dreaded than the evil spirits which they had come to exorcise; and the
neighboring caciques, fearing to attack the Spaniards, laid waste their
own lands, destroyed their crops, burned their dwellings and withdrew to
the mountains, until starvation should compel the intruders to abandon
the territory. The governor soon found himself in evil plight; moreover
he possessed a temperament singularly adapted to inspire distrust,
discontent, and melancholy among his followers. Again they threatened
to desert him and return to Nombre de Dios or Nicaragua, leaving him
in sole possession of the boundless forests, sole ruler over naked and
hostile natives. He had but one alternative—to push on boldly into the
heart of the province in the hope of finding gold or at least a store
of provisions. After some persuasion the men agreed to accompany him.
The sick and disabled were sent back to the sea-shore, where Alonso de
Pisa was stationed with twenty-four men, bearing orders that he should
march through the forest along a track which would be designated by
placing crosses along the route. Dividing a scanty stock of grain among
his soldiers, now mustering but forty capable of bearing arms, Gutierrez
plunged blindly into the wilderness.


On setting out upon this hazardous raid, Benzoni, who affirms that
he realized fully the situation, remarked to a comrade, "We are
going to the shambles." Whereupon the other, a man of more sanguine
temperament, made answer: "Thou art one of those who, we intend, shalt
have a principality in spite of thyself."[XI‑12] For six days no human
habitation was seen. Through dense woods they journeyed, climbing
the mountain sides by clinging to the roots of trees, and making the
descent by sliding down their steep declivities. Leaves were their chief
food, and some half-picked bones, which the wild beasts had abandoned,
furnished them a rich repast.

The temper of the governor was no more happy than his situation.
Arriving at a spot where the path divided, Gutierrez demanded of an
Indian belonging to the train which route to pursue in order to arrive
at some native villages of which they were in search. He replied that
he did not know; whereupon the governor taking it for granted that the
answer was false ordered his head to be stricken off by a negro slave.
The same question was then put to Cocori, who now served the Spaniards
as a beast of burden;[XI‑13] and the same reply was made. Again the
cruel governor gave the order to kill. As the executioner approached
him the brave cacique instantly laid down his burden, bowed his head,
and calmly awaited the expected blow. Struck by the noble bearing of the
cacique and his own infamous conduct, Gutierrez countermanded the order,
and the chieftain's life was spared to further misery. On the spot where
these incidents occurred three soldiers were obliged from exhaustion to
rest, while the company advanced. They were soon afterward massacred by
the Indians. The dogs were now killed and their carcasses divided among
the men, the governor refusing to share with them the more wholesome
viands which he had reserved for his own use.[XI‑14]

But the career of Diego Gutierrez was well-nigh closed. The party was
now upon the southern slope of the cordillera, on the banks of a large
stream which flows into the South Sea[XI‑15] and the time was July
1545. A small band of disaffected men miserably clad, and destitute of
food, had thus wandered far into the interior of a wilderness. Whither
were they bound, and what the insane hope that urged them forward?
Gutierrez who had been twice abandoned by his soldiers, was now resolved
that these men whom he had brought with so much labor and expense
from Nicaragua and Nombre de Dios should not escape him. Alarmed by
their loud murmuring at the place called San Francisco, he had hastily
departed, cutting off, as many other Spanish leaders had done before
him, all hope of ever returning except as a successful man. Could he
have pilfered from the natives and thereby obtained food and gold,
thus keeping his men in heart until the arrival of Alonso de Pisa, all
would have been well. But until reaching the southern declivity of the
mountains the country was everywhere deserted. So rugged had been their
path, and so toilsome their march, that they were now exhausted, and
the natives whom before they had so much longed to meet and make their
prey were now congregating to prey upon them.

A day or two later the Spaniards were approaching the verge of a
forest. An Indian hidden behind the trees to watch their movements
was observed running off at full speed to give the alarm. Next morning
at daybreak they were attacked by a horde of natives who "advanced,"
as Benzoni relates, "with horrid howls and screams and noises with
the buccinus—shells and drums—all painted red and black, adorned
with feathers, and golden trinkets round their necks." "In one half
of a quarter of an hour," continues the chronicler, "during which
we killed and wounded a great many Indians, we made them turn their
shoulders."[XI‑16] They soon returned, however, and renewed the
conflict. The Spaniards, worn with toil and fasting, were quickly
overpowered and all but six were slain. Gutierrez fell[XI‑17] mortally
wounded, and his head, hands, and feet were afterward severed from his
body and borne as trophies through the region which he had proposed to


Benzoni stumbled upon the helmet of a dead comrade, but for which
circumstance no history of the New World would ever have been produced
by him. "For," says he, "the stones from the savages hailed upon it
with such force that it looked as if it had been hammered by a smith."
After some hair-breadth escapes on which the historian fondly lingers,
he was rescued together with his five comrades by the timely arrival of
Alonso de Pisa's detachment, and marching night and day the survivors
made their way back to the Rio San Juan, and thence embarked for Nombre
de Dios.[XI‑18]





Of the events in Guatemala during the three years succeeding the arrival
of Maldonado the chroniclers are somewhat silent. In a letter to the
emperor, dated December 10, 1537, the viceroy Mendoza states that he had
received from the oidor a report wherein the province is represented to
be at peace and in a prosperous condition, and that other accounts had
reached him representing the country to be well governed. If this were
so Maldonado's character soon changed for the worse, for later we shall
find in him much to his discredit.


Early in 1538 a royal decree was received in the city of Santiago,
ordering that all who held encomiendas were to marry within three
years from the date of their notification, or to forfeit their Indians
in favor of married persons.[XII‑1] This order met with general
disapproval, and the cabildo petitioned the king to reconsider the
matter. Eligible women, they said, could be found only in the city of
Mexico, so remote from the province of Guatemala that the expense of
the journey was beyond the means of most colonists. Many declined to
marry because they would not link themselves with persons socially their
inferiors,[XII‑2] while the small number of Indians assigned to some
would prevent their supporting a family.

On his return from Spain in the following year Alvarado reports to
the cabildo that, in company with his wife, come twenty maidens, well
bred, the daughters of gentlemen of good lineage, and he expresses
confidence that none of this merchandise will remain on his hands. But
the venture does not meet with the success the adelantado anticipated.
At one of the entertainments given in honor of his arrival, and at
which, relates Vega,[XII‑3] many of the conquistadores were present,
these damsels, who, concealed behind a screen in an adjoining apartment,
were witnessing the festivities, commented on the appearance of their
prospective husbands in the most disparaging terms. "They say," remarked
one to her companions, "that these are to be our husbands." "What! marry
those old fellows?" was the reply. "Let those wed them who choose; I
will not; the devil take them! One would think by the way they are cut
up that they just escaped from the infernal regions; for some are lame,
some with but one hand, others without ears, others with only one eye,
others with half their face gone, and the best of them have one or two
cuts across the forehead." "We are not to marry them for their good
looks," said a third, "but for the purpose of inheriting their Indians;
for they are so old and worn out that they will soon die, and then we
can choose in place of these old men young fellows to our tastes, in
the same manner that an old broken kettle is exchanged for one that is
new and sound."

Now it chanced that one of the 'old fellows' overheard what was said
and told his companions. "Marry with them by all means," was his advice,
and then he went and took to himself the daughter of a cacique.

       *       *       *       *       *

During his residence in Spain Alvarado obtained under a commission from
the crown, dated April 17, 1538, the grant of the twenty-fifth part
of all islands and lands which he might discover, with the title of
count, and the seignory and jurisdiction over them; he was appointed
governor and captain general for life over all such territories, and
was authorized to erect on them three forts; he was, moreover, made
alguacil mayor in perpetuity, and exempted from all interference by
judges or other officers in everything pertaining to the fitting-out of
his fleets. The expedition was to be made at his own expense, and he was
to take a westerly direction toward China and the Spice Islands.[XII‑4]
From a letter of the viceroy of Mexico we also learn that he was
authorized to extend his explorations northward,[XII‑5] and that the
emperor directed all the principal officials of the New World to aid
in the arrest and punishment of any of Alvarado's subordinates who,
when discoveries had been made, should revolt, fail to fulfil missions
intrusted to them, or disobey him under any pretext. No clemency would
be extended by the crown to such offenders. These privileges were
granted in consideration of his services in the conquests of Mexico and

Early in 1539 the adelantado set sail from Spain, accompanied by his
wife Doña Beatriz de la Cueva,[XII‑7] and on the 4th of April landed in
state at Puerto de Caballos, with three large vessels well filled with
provisions, materials of war, and all things needed to equip a second
fleet on the shores of the South Sea. He was attended by a large retinue
of cavaliers. Among his troops were three hundred arquebusiers all well
armed and accoutred.[XII‑8]


Collecting a large number of natives he at once began the task of
transporting his ponderous freight toward the coast of Guatemala.
Anchors each weighing three or four hundred pounds, artillery
and munitions, iron, chain cables, heavy ship tackle, and cases
of merchandise were dragged along by Indians yoked together like
draught-animals or carried on their naked shoulders, to be conveyed
a distance of a hundred and thirty leagues across a mountainous and
difficult country. Forty-three days were consumed in making the journey
to Gracias á Dios.[XII‑9] Numbers of the unfortunates succumbed and
dropped senseless, only to receive the curses of the commander as he
ordered their burdens to be placed on the backs of others, who were
constantly arriving in fresh relays from Guatemala. In this manner he
pushed on toward the port of Iztapa, where the frames of a number of
ships had already been constructed.[XII‑10] On his arrival Alvarado
spared no expense in completing his armament, not only using all his
own available means, but borrowing largely and purchasing vessels on

About August 1539, Friar Marcos de Niza, who had for some time past
been travelling in the unexplored regions far to the north of Mexico,
returned, with the marvellous tale of the seven cities of Cíbola and
their wonderful wealth.[XII‑12] The news spread and the excitement
became great. Half a dozen rivals claimed the exclusive right to the
exploration of that country, and among them Alvarado,[XII‑13] who
accordingly hurried forward the preparations for his enterprise.

Before the middle of 1540 his command had been reënforced by numerous
recruits, and a fleet of at least twelve[XII‑14] vessels had been
constructed, and equipped with everything that foresight could suggest.
Leaving Don Francisco de la Cueva as his lieutenant-governor, the
adelantado sailed from Iztapa,[XII‑15] and landing at Navidad in
Jalisco proceeded to Mexico, where he entered into arrangements with
Mendoza relative to the expedition, and their individual interests
in it.[XII‑16] The agreement was not concluded without considerable
wrangling as to terms, and Alvarado probably considered himself somewhat
overreached by the viceroy.


Having remained five or six months in Mexico he was now prepared to set
forth on his expedition,[XII‑17] when an insurrection having broken
out in Jalisco his assistance in suppressing it was requested by the
acting governor Oñate. Contrary to advice he entered the revolted
province with his own troops, not waiting for other forces to join
him, and attacking the peñol of Nochistlan met with the defeat which
has already been described.[XII‑18] While covering the retreat at the
head of the rear-guard, his secretary Montoya, in panic flight, so
urged his exhausted steed up a steep ascent that the animal lost his
foothold and rolling over struck Alvarado, who was toiling upward on
foot leading his horse, and crushed his chest. His followers, hastening
to his assistance, found him insensible, and as soon as he had somewhat
revived carried him on a litter to Guadalajara. He suffered greatly, but
his chief anxiety was to procure a priest to whom he could relieve his
burdened soul. Borne along on this his last journey, his sins weighed
even more heavily upon him than bodily torture, and it was with relief
that he greeted the arrival of a friar who had been summoned from a
neighboring town. To him, under some pine-trees on the roadside, the
conqueror of Guatemala confessed, and lingering for yet a few days,
received such consolation as the rites of religion could give.[XII‑19]
It was the 4th of July 1541 that he breathed his last, having made a
will by which he appointed Juan de Alvarado of the city of Mexico and
Bishop Marroquin of Santiago his executors. His exhaustion did not
permit full details, but he gave instructions that the will should
be sent to the prelate with whom he had communicated concerning the
performance of certain matters for the benefit of his soul. He ordered
his body to be deposited in the church of Guadalajara, thence removed
to the convent at Tiripitío, and finally interred in that of Santo
Domingo, in the city of Mexico.[XII‑20] To meet the expenses of his
funeral enough of his property in Guadalajara or Mexico was to be sold
by auction; and he left strict injunctions that all his debts should
be paid, subject to the discretion of Bishop Marroquin.[XII‑21] All
his remaining property was bequeathed to his wife, and summoning before
him the captains and officers of his vessels he ordered them to return
to Guatemala and deliver them into her possession; but this injunction
was never executed. After the adelantado's decease, his men dispersed
in different directions, some remaining in Mexico, others returning
to Guatemala or making their way to Peru, while the fleet which had
been constructed at so great an expense and at the cost of hundreds of
lives, was appropriated by Mendoza. His estate was so encumbered that
the viceroy did not suppose that any one would accept as a gift the
inheritance with its liabilities,[XII‑22] and in another letter stated
that no one cared to do so.[XII‑23]

Duly authorized by Juan de Alvarado, his co-executor, to settle
Alvarado's estate, Bishop Marroquin framed a will, bearing date of
June 30, 1542, in accordance with what he represents were the wishes
of Alvarado. It is quite voluminous and is, with the exception of the
preamble, given in full by Remesal. Much is done for the relief of
Alvarado's soul, which we grant was needful, and to be expected under
the circumstances. The document further chiefly concerns the liberation
of Indian slaves, the founding of chaplaincies and altars, the payment
of his numerous debts, and the bequest of insignificant sums to his
illegitimate sons.[XII‑24]


In a vault beneath the high altar of the cathedral of Guatemala the
remains of Pedro de Alvarado were finally laid at rest. Comparing him
with other conquerors of his age he was second as a commander only to
Cortés, though in character and system of action he was his opposite.
Cortés possessed a certain greatness and nobility of soul: Alvarado
was mendacious, treacherous, and dishonest; his frank demeanor cloaked
deceit, and favors heaped upon him were repaid with ingratitude. In the
breast of Cortés beat an affectionate heart, stern though it was, and
he seldom failed to win the true regard of his followers. The conqueror
of Guatemala was void of affection even for women, and his choice of
wife or mistress was inspired by ambition or lust. To govern by fear was
his delight. Cortés was cautious and far-sighted; Alvarado impetuous,
never anticipating other than favorable results. In versatility, as
well as in mental and moral qualities, Cortés was far superior to
the adelantado—instance the mutiny at Patinamit. Cortés would have
suppressed it, had such a thing ever occurred under his command.
Alvarado's career hardly affords the means of fairly estimating his
qualities as a commander, for he never met his countrymen in the field.
Nevertheless, though his victories were chiefly owing to superiority in
arms and discipline, he displayed on several occasions genuine military
skill, and his quick perception, coolness, and presence of mind, which
no extremity of danger disturbed, ever enabled him to act promptly
and rightly in the most critical positions. That he never sustained a
reverse in arms, from the time he left Mexico in 1523 until the disaster
which caused his death, indicates generalship of no mean order. As a
governor he was tyrannical,[XII‑25] and his capacity for ruling was
inferior to his ability in the field.[XII‑26]

Judged even by the standard of his age it must be said of him
that, while ever proclaiming disinterestedness and loyalty to the
crown,[XII‑27] none of his contemporaries were inspired by a more
restless ambition, and few actuated by more thoroughly selfish motives.
Success appears to have rendered him callous to any sense of shame, and
in the last effort of his life he was prompted by boyish egotism and
foolish pride, being spurred by jealous opposition to the man through
whose favor he had been raised to his high station.[XII‑28] A perusal
of the despatches written during his later years would without other
evidence lead to the conclusion that he was the victim of a general
attack directed against him by his countrymen, who denied his services
to the emperor, misrepresented his motives, and decried his conduct.
But his earlier letters addressed to Cortés during the days of their
friendship, reveal more correctly the true character of the man. There
we see portrayed his audacity, his presence of mind in danger, his
capacity as a leader, his diabolic delight in bloodshed, blended with
the superstition then strangely prevalent among his countrymen, that,
while thus serving the devil to the uttermost, he was glorifying God,
and winning for himself celestial favors.[XII‑29]


Alvarado left no legitimate offspring, for though he had two children
by his second wife they both died in early childhood.[XII‑30] Numerous
illegitimate children, however, survived him, among whom may be
mentioned Doña Leonor, Pedro, and Diego de Alvarado, his offspring by
a daughter of Xicotencatl, the lord of Tlascala.[XII‑31]





For many centuries before the beginning of the Christian era, and
probably for two or three hundred years later, the site where now stand
the ruins of Palenque in Chiapas[XIII‑1] was the centre of one of the
most powerful monarchies in the western world, the great Maya empire
of the Chanes. To Votan, the culture hero, who, according to Maya
tradition, claiming his descent from Chan, the serpent, first introduced
civilization into America, and after his disappearance was worshipped
as a god, is ascribed the foundation of this ancient dynasty about three
thousand years ago.[XIII‑2]

It is related in the oldest records obtained from the archives
of Mexican history, that the Tzendales, a tribe dwelling in the
neighborhood of Palenque, shared with the Zoques the northern part of
Chiapas, while the southern and central portions were occupied by the
Zotziles and Quelenes and also by the Chiapanecs, who, though at first
confined to a narrow strip of territory, finally overran the entire
region.[XIII‑3] Whether the Chiapanecs came originally from Nicaragua,
or were a detachment from the great Toltec swarm that swept southward
into Guatemala, or were descended from the mythic Chan, is a question
that is yet involved in some mystery. We know, however, that after
their arrival they built a stronghold which proved impregnable until
the advent of the Spaniard with his superior skill and weapons, and
that here, for centuries before the conquest, they maintained their
independence and extended their possessions.[XIII‑4]

It is probable that, as early as 1520, Spaniards penetrated into this
region under the auspices of Montezuma, while friendly relations were
still maintained between that monarch and Cortés. After the fall of the
Mexican capital, dismay at the achievements of the great conqueror was
so widely spread that many independent tribes sent in their allegiance,
and among them the Chiapanecs.[XIII‑5] These different territories were
soon portioned out in repartimientos, and Chiapas was assigned with
other districts to the Spanish settlers in Espíritu Santo. No sooner,
however, was the attempt made to render these repartimientos profitable
by the exaction of tribute, than the natives rose in arms. Many settlers
were killed, some offered in sacrifice, and all the efforts of the
colonists to pacify the revolted districts were unavailing.[XIII‑6]


In 1523 the settlement at Espíritu Santo was in charge of Captain Luis
Marin, an officer who had fought under Cortés, and whom Bernal Diaz
describes as a man about thirty years of age, bowlegged, but robust
and of good stature, with russet beard and features marked with the
small-pox, one excelling in horsemanship and conversational powers,
of gentle disposition, and without a trace of ill-nature. Deeming it
imprudent to march against the Chiapanecs with the slender force at his
command, Marin repaired to Mexico to ask aid from Cortés, and was at
once supplied with an auxiliary band of thirty men, and instructed to
proceed to Chiapas with all the troops he could muster, and establish
there a Spanish town.

Returning to Espíritu Santo, Marin lost no time in carrying out
his orders. After some delay, caused by opening a road through the
intervening forests and morasses, he arrived at the bank of the river
Mazapan[XIII‑7] and slowly marched up the stream toward the stronghold
of the Chiapanecs, then known to the Spaniards by the name of Chiapas.
Before nearing this fortress the commander held a muster of his
forces. According to Bernal Diaz, who accompanied the expedition, they
consisted of 15 cross-bowmen, 8 arquebusiers, 60 foot-soldiers armed
with swords and shields, 27 horse, about 80 Mexicans, and the caciques
and other principal men of Cachula with their followers. Marin had
also a field-piece in charge of one whom he supposed to be a competent
artilleryman.[XIII‑8] The escribano Diego de Godoy was his second in

[Sidenote: THE ATTACK.]

The Spaniards now continued their march with much caution. As they
approached the populated district, four soldiers, one of whom was Bernal
Diaz, were sent to reconnoitre about half a league in advance of the
main body, but were soon discovered by native hunters, who immediately
spread the alarm by smoke signals. The army soon afterward reached
cultivated lands with wide and well constructed roads. When within four
leagues of Chiapas they entered the town of Iztapa, whence the natives
had fled, leaving an abundant supply of provisions. While resting here
the videttes reported the approach of a large body of warriors,[XIII‑9]
but the invaders being on the alert placed themselves in position
before the enemy came up. The battle which ensued was indecisive. The
Chiapanecs, deploying with much skill, almost surrounded the small
Spanish force, and at their first discharge killed two soldiers and
four horses, and wounded Luis Marin and sixteen other Spaniards,
besides many of the allies. The contest was maintained with great fury
till nightfall, when the natives retired, leaving numbers of their
men on the field so severely injured as to be unable to follow their
comrades.[XIII‑10] Two of the captives, who appeared to be chieftains,
gave information that the confederated bands of all the surrounding
districts were prepared to renew the attack on the following day.

All night vigilant watch was kept. The soldiers slept under arms; and
the horses, ready saddled and bridled, were tethered within reach of
their riders. There was not one of the Spaniards who did not expect a
night attack and dread it. Numbers of them were sorely wounded; their
leader was faint from loss of blood; and the unflinching firmness of the
Chiapanecs had dulled their self-confidence; but no call to arms aroused
them from their fitful slumbers, and at sunrise they wearily buckled on
their armor and prepared to renew the fight.

During the engagement of the previous day, the horsemen, disregarding
the instructions of Marin and the advice of his veterans, had suffered
severely from using their lances too early in the fray, their weapons
being wrested from their grasp and turned against themselves. Orders
were now given for them to charge in squads of five, to carry their
lances poised out of reach, and not to use them until the enemy were
fairly ridden down and their formation broken. The field-piece was
loaded, and their preparations being now completed, the Spaniards
advanced toward Chiapas.[XIII‑11]

Long before the invaders arrived in sight of the stronghold, the enemy
appeared, formed in compact order, and advancing to the attack with
deafening war-cries. They were armed with javelins, which they hurled
from implements fashioned for the purpose; with bows and arrows, and
weapons similar to toothed swords; with slings, also, and lances longer
than those of the Spaniards; and wore as a protection aprons of twisted
cotton reaching from head to foot, which, when in retreat, they could
roll up and carry under the arm.[XIII‑12] Marin quickly put his men
in array, and ordered the artilleryman to open fire. But the gunner,
who had entertained his comrades during a long march with stories of
his brave deeds in Italy, blanched before the coming onset. His legs
trembled, and grasping his piece to support himself, he was unable
either to train or fire it. At length the loud execrations and angry
shouts of his comrades, heard above the clamor of the foe, roused him
from his helplessness, and with shaking hand he discharged his cannon.
But his clumsy work was worse than his inaction, for the only result
was the wounding of three of his companions.[XIII‑13]

At this mishap Martin at once ordered his cavalry to charge, while
the infantry were rapidly formed in column. After a long and obstinate
contest the Chiapanecs were finally routed; but on account of the nature
of the ground pursuit was impossible. Advancing toward the town the
Spaniards unexpectedly discovered after ascending some hills on their
line of march, a still larger host of the enemy awaiting them. The
Indians had provided themselves with long ropes and deer-nets with which
to entrammel and capture the horses. In the ensuing battle the invaders
sustained unusual casualties. Several of the horsemen lost their lances;
five horses and two cavaliers were slain; and so continuous and well
directed were the discharges of javelins, arrows, and stones that ere
long nearly all of Marin's command were wounded. At this juncture a
hideous object appeared in the centre of the Chiapanec ranks. An Indian
woman, nude, wrinkled, and obese, her body painted all over with ghastly
designs rendered more effective by tufts of cotton, had arrived upon
the battle-field. No Empusa could be more frightful. The creature—so
ran the report—was regarded by the Chiapanecs as their divinity, and
her presence she had predicted would insure them victory.[XIII‑14] But
the native auxiliaries recognized the significance of her arrival, and
drawn up by their leaders in a compact body, dauntlessly fought their
way up to her, "and hacked to pieces the accursed goddess," as Bernal
Diaz affirms.


Though disconcerted the natives do not yield, relying on their numbers
and their courage; and the hard-pressed Spaniards, supported by the
prayers and benediction of their priest,[XIII‑15] fight with renewed
vigor. The cavalry again and again ride through the foe, crushing them
down and trampling them under foot until their ranks are broken and
scattered. At length the Chiapanecs seek safety, some on the neighboring
rocks, and others by swimming the deep and rapid Mazapan.

After devoutly thanking God for the victory, and singing the salve
regina, the Spaniards advance to a small village not far from the city
itself, and pitch their camp for the night, great precaution being
taken to prevent surprise. Assistance now comes from an unexpected
quarter. About midnight ten Indians cross the river in canoes, and allow
themselves to be quietly captured. Brought before Marin they state that
they are natives of Xaltepec, and have been conquered and enslaved by
the Chiapanecs, twelve years before. They offer to aid the Spaniards
by supplying them with canoes to cross the river, and by pointing out
a ford, and, moreover, inform Marin that many of the forces of the
Chiapanecs, having been pressed into the ranks, are anxious to throw
off the yoke, and that they will go over to him in the next engagement.

Marin at once accepts the offer, and it is agreed that twenty canoes
shall be brought early in the morning. The remainder of the night
is passed without further interruption, though the enemy is heard
mustering on the other side of the river with noise of drums and conchs.
At daylight the canoes arrive, and the army proceed to the ford. The
crossing is effected with great difficulty, the water being breast-high
and the stream rapid. As they approach the opposite bank, the enemy
rains down upon them such showers of missiles that again hardly a
man escapes unhurt.[XIII‑16] For some time they are unable to effect
a landing, and Marin's position is critical, when fortunately their
new allies cause a diversion by assailing the Chiapanecs in the rear.
The cavalry are thus enabled to gain a footing on the bank, and the
infantry soon follow; the natives are put to flight in all directions.
This is their final struggle. The summons to surrender is immediately
complied with, and the Spaniards enter the city without further

All the neighboring towns were now ordered to send in their allegiance,
and such an effect had the subjection of the hitherto invincible
Chiapanecs upon the different tribes that resistance was not even
thought of, Cinacantlan, Gopanaustla, Pinula, Huehueiztlan,[XIII‑18]
Chamula, and other towns tendering their submission. The conquest of the
country was now considered complete, and Marin had already apportioned
out certain repartimientos when harmony was interrupted by the conduct
of one of the soldiers.

While at Cinacantlan, whither the army had proceeded, Francisco de
Medina left camp without permission, and taking with him eight Mexicans
went to Chamula, where he demanded gold of the natives in the name of
Marin. A few trinkets were given him, but not satisfied with these
he seized the cacique in the expectation of extorting a ransom. The
Chamulans, however, rose to a man, and Medina was glad to get back to
Cinacantlan, where he was arrested.[XIII‑19]

No overtures or explanations on the part of Marin availed to pacify
the indignant people of Chamula, who had, moreover, induced those
of Huehueiztlan to join them in the revolt. His messages of peace
were received with defiance. On the 29th of March Godoy was sent
into the disaffected district with a small force, but found the
attitude of the natives so threatening that he deemed it best to avoid
hostilities and returned to report. Marin was at this time encamped in
a beautiful vale surrounded by pine groves, at no great distance from
Cinacantlan.[XIII‑20] He now considered it necessary to reduce Chamula
by force of arms, and demanded of the Chiapanecs a contingent of two
hundred warriors, which was at once supplied. Messages were also sent to
the friendly cacique of Cinacantlan[XIII‑21] soliciting an equal number.


On the 30th of March, about ten o'clock in the morning, the troops
arrived at the foot of the eminence on which Chamula[XIII‑22] was
situated. The ascent, at the only point where attack was possible,
was impracticable for horsemen. Marin therefore ordered the cavalry to
take up a position on the level ground below, and to protect his rear
while the assault was being made.[XIII‑23] The infantry and allies
then scaled the height and were soon in front of the fortifications,
which they found to be of a formidable character. A palisade of strong
cross-timbers let deep into the ground and firmly bound together was
the first obstacle to their entrance, and behind it was a bulwark of
stone and mud nearly twelve feet high and four feet in thickness, into
which were inserted strong beams. This again was surmounted, along its
whole length, by a wall of heavy boards six feet high, supported by
strong crossbars on both sides, all firmly lashed together, while at
intervals loop-holed turrets had been erected commanding the approach.
At the strongest part of this bulwark was the single entrance, which
was approached by a narrow flight of steps leading to the top.

[Sidenote: HARD FIGHTING.]

Though astonished at the strength of these ramparts, the Spaniards
did not hesitate to assault them; but during the whole of the day all
they could effect was the destruction of the outer stockade. Repeated
attempts were made to mount the steps, but at each effort the assailants
were driven back by the long heavy spears of the defenders. Incessant
volleys of missiles were directed against them; their ranks suffered
severely; and it soon became evident that some other plan of attack must
be adopted.[XIII‑24] The only practicable one which suggested itself was
to break open the wall with picks and crow-bars under cover of wooden
sheds. Natives were therefore despatched for implements to the valley
where the baggage and wounded had been sent under the protection of
ten of the cavalry; and the besiegers now constructed several strong
frames, each capable of holding twenty men.[XIII‑25] These were pushed
up to the wall, and under cover of them the Spaniards began to break
through it. The Indians poured on them burning pitch, scalding water,
firebrands, and hot embers,[XIII‑26] and finally crushed them with heavy
rocks, making it necessary to withdraw them for repairs. Then in mockery
and contempt they threw golden ornaments[XIII‑27] at the retreating
Spaniards, and with taunting words derided them. "Is it gold you want?
We have abundance of it; why come ye not in and take it?"

But their success was of short duration. The sheds were soon
strengthened, and again the pick and crow-bar were plied against
the wall, now almost pierced. About the hour of vespers[XIII‑28] two
openings had been made, and the assailants, rushing through, engaged in
a hand to hand encounter with the Chamulans, who bore themselves with
such unyielding firmness that the cross-bowmen placed their weapons
close to the breast of the foe and discharged them without taking aim.
The contest was terminated by a furious storm of rain, and so murky
became the sky that the combatants could barely distinguish one another.
Marin withdrew his men under shelter, and, the storm abating in an hour,
again advanced on the stronghold. No missiles were aimed at them as
they approached the barricade, but a serried line of spears confronted
them, and no orders were given to storm the position. At length Bernal
Diaz with a single comrade crept up to one of the openings, and peering
in found the place unprotected. Then mounting the ramparts he beheld
the Indians in full retreat by a precipitous path leading to the valley
below. The Chamulans had fled, but not all. The two Spaniards were
soon attacked by a body of two hundred warriors still left within the
enclosure, and but for the timely arrival of the Cinacantlan allies,
Bernal Diaz had never lived to write the 'True History of the Conquest
of Mexico.'[XIII‑29] The retreating host was at once pursued, and a
number of captives were made, principally women and children. No gold
or other valuables fell to the lot of the Spaniards, but they found in
the town what was of more benefit to them—a store of provisions—for, as
Godoy relates, the men had not tasted food for two days.[XIII‑30]

On the following day, the 1st of April, Marin returned to his camp,
whence he sent six of his prisoners to the Chamulans summoning them to
allegiance, bidding them to return to their stronghold, and promising
that all the captives should be released if they submitted. These
inducements had their effect, and the deserted town was soon again

The Spaniards now advanced against Huehueiztlan, where the inhabitants,
discouraged by the fall of Chamula, made but a feeble resistance, and
then took to flight. Several of the towns in the sierra were then
summoned to surrender, but no answer was returned, and Marin, not
venturing to march against them with his slender force, returned to
his camp near Cinacantlan. Here a warm discussion was held respecting
the carrying-out of Cortés' instructions to found a town. Opinion was
divided; but the final decision, supported by Marin, was that it would
be dangerous to do so owing to the smallness of their numbers and the
want of necessaries.[XIII‑32]

Marin now set his face homeward. Marching along the bank of the Mazapan
he passed through a number of towns, in all of which he met with a
friendly reception, and was greeted with offers of submission. While
traversing a portion of Tabasco he encountered bands of refractory
natives, but reached Espíritu Santo in safety at the beginning of April

       *       *       *       *       *


Between this date and the close of 1526 little is known of the events
which occurred in Chiapas, and much confusion exists in the statements
of the leading chroniclers. During the interval there is little
reason to doubt that the natives again rose in revolt, but we have no
particulars as to this outbreak, except that Diego de Mazariegos was
sent against them from Mexico with a well appointed force, and quickly
reduced them to submission.[XIII‑33]


For a time the Chiapanecs yielded to their fate, but the exactions
and cruelties of Juan Enriquez de Guzman, who had been appointed
captain of the province by Marcos de Aguilar,[XIII‑34] drove them to
desperation, and during the latter part of 1526 they once more broke
out in rebellion. Again Mazariegos marched against them from Mexico,
at the head of a powerful corps,[XIII‑35] supplied with five pieces
of artillery. Retiring to the stronghold of Chiapas the Indians made
good their defence for several days; but at last the Spaniards battered
down their fortifications and advanced to the assault. Still the
Chiapanecs flinched not, and fought until they could no longer wield
their weapons.[XIII‑36] Then followed a tragedy as strange and appalling
as any recorded on the page of history. The self-destruction of the
Taochi was indeed akin to it; but this act of the Chiapanecs blanched
the cheek even of these Spaniards, whose business was butchery, and
whose pretensions were something more chivalrous than lay within the
conception of any other people; here was something done by aboriginal
Americans which in the way of chivalry, of lofty self-sacrifice, of
determined deliverance from abasement, has few parallels. And what is
most significant about it, had they known all, it was the best they
could have done for themselves, to escape from Christian bondage at any
cost. This is what they did:

Scorning to yield themselves as slaves, the entire population of the
town rushed to the verge of a cliff, which overhung the Mazapan, and
thence husbands and wives, parents and children, locked in close
embrace, hurled themselves headlong, thousands of them, upon the
rocks below or into the swift-running river. The Spaniards attempted
to interfere, but of all the multitude only two thousand could be
saved.[XIII‑37] These were removed to a plain a league down the river,
and from this settlement sprung the town of Chiapas de los Indios, which
became in time a populous city.[XIII‑38]

       *       *       *       *       *

While Mazariegos was thus occupied at the stronghold of the
Chiapanecs, he learned that a competitor had appeared on the field.
Pedro Puertocarrero had invaded the province from the Guatemalan
frontier,[XIII‑39] and Mazariegos regarding him as an encroacher, now
marched against him. He found the interloper stationed at Comitlan,
and his lamb-like followers would probably, by way of variety, have
indulged in a conflict with their countrymen, had Puertocarrero been
strong enough to meet them. But his forces were too few to hold out
any prospect that it would terminate pleasantly to himself. Besides,
Mazariegos was humane and prudent. He spoke the intruders smoothly
and in a Christian spirit, represented to them how glad he would be to
receive them as brothers, and generously offered them repartimientos in
Chiapas. So no blood was shed. But many of Puertocarrero's men deserted
him, and he retraced his steps in angry mood, having engaged in an
expedition worse than profitless.

       *       *       *       *       *


The control over the province was a matter of dispute on more than
one occasion. That it was included in the governorship of Guatemala is
evident from the provision extended by the king to Alvarado in 1527, but
the fact that he took no part in its conquest would seem to invalidate
his claim. That nevertheless he acquired a certain amount of control
appears from a cédula issued April 14, 1531, and quoted by Remesal,
in which he grants permission to the settlers to deal with escaped
slaves as if they were branded. Again in 1532 we find that the cabildo
furnished him with two cannon for his South Sea expedition, though the
members confessed that they did so only through fear of his causing them
fresh trouble.[XIII‑40] The country, being now subjugated and free from
outside interference, lay ready to be portioned out to the conquerors
in repartimientos. This process occupied some time, and the rest of
the year was passed in reorganizing the province and arranging for its
colonization. It was expedient to found a Spanish settlement, and on
the 1st of March 1528 Mazariegos, with the aid of Indians, constructed
a number of huts on a spot distant about a league to the east of the
depopulated town of Chiapas. A meeting was then held at which the
lieutenant-governor explained that the site he had selected was not
necessarily intended to be permanent, and that if a more advantageous
spot were found, the colony should be removed to it. In the mean time,
in the name of his Majesty, he appointed municipal officers, and a few
days afterward an enrolment of citizens took place, more than fifty
names being recorded. The town was named Villa Real after Mazariegos'
native city, Ciudad Real of La Mancha. The newly appointed cabildo then
went into session and the appointments of Luis de Luna, as visitador
general, and Gerónimo de Cárceres, as escribano, were recognized and

But it was soon discovered that the locality was unfavorable. It was
hot, unhealthy on account of the neighboring swamps, and infested with
mosquitoes and bats. The site was therefore removed to the plain of
Huey Zacatlan,[XIII‑42] twelve leagues distant. Here were rich, arable,
and pasture lands, while a winding river and numerous streams afforded
an abundant supply of water. A town was formally laid out, lots were
assigned to citizens, buildings begun, repartimientos granted, and
the territory portioned in caballerias and peonias. It was afterward
ordered at a session of the cabildo held on the 17th of August 1528,
that all who desired to obtain land from the natives should do so by
purchase. Protection was also extended to them by regulations framed
to prevent the appropriation of their produce or its destruction by
animals. Any Spaniard who sent his servant to gather maize from their
fields was to forfeit ten pesos de oro for the first offence, and
for the second to lose his servant, who was to be publicly flogged.
Regulations passed during the early part of the following year required
that all encomenderos should assemble the sons of the caciques at
their residences to be instructed in the doctrines of the church.
Christianized natives were to receive Christian burial, and others were
to be decently interred outside the city.

[Sidenote: RULE OF GUZMAN.]

The administration of Mazariegos appears to have been based on humane
principles and to have had in view the welfare of the settlers.
But this condition of affairs was of brief duration. In 1529 Juan
Enriquez de Guzman was ordered by the audiencia of Mexico to take his
residencia, and appointed captain general and alcalde mayor of Chiapas.
His investigation was conducted in a spirit of vindictiveness which
can be accounted for only by the fact that the latter had previously
been his juez de residencia. He stripped him and his friends of their
repartimientos, and gave them to his own creatures; he appropriated his
dwelling and town allotments, and when the man whom he thus despoiled
soon afterward set forth for Mexico, gave further proof of his enmity
by changing the name of the town to Villa Viciosa. By a royal cédula of
July 7, 1536, its name was again changed to Ciudad Real.[XIII‑43]

Guzman now exercised his power without restraint, and laid the
foundation of permanent evils. All official positions were filled by
favorites of his own to the exclusion of those entitled to them; the
encomiendas were taken from those to whom they had been assigned,
and distributed among undeserving followers; and in a few months
the whole colony was embroiled in dissensions. At a later date all
offices except those of the two alcaldes, the procurador syndic, and
the city majordomo became salable.[XIII‑44] The province was divided
into numerous repartimientos, and in every principal town a lieutenant
of the alcalde mayor was stationed. "Not," says Mazariegos, "for the
administration of justice, but rather to superintend his large and
scandalous repartimientos and to collect tribute dues." This system
of government by encomenderos was oppressive and exhausting to the
country, and to it the ruin of the towns of Chiapas is to be attributed.
The province was subject to the captain general and the audiencia of
Mexico; but their control was exercised with little attention to the
improvement of the system. This state of affairs lasted until 1544, when
the audiencia of the Confines was established, and Chiapas was included
in its jurisdiction.[XIII‑45]






The old Milanese chronicler, Girolamo Benzoni, mentions that during
a journey from Acla[XIV‑1] to Nombre de Dios about the year 1541, his
party entered some Indian huts to obtain a supply of provisions. The
inmates thinking they were about to be enslaved attacked them savagely
with hands and teeth, tearing their clothes, spitting in their faces,
uttering doleful cries, and exclaiming guacci! guacci! which Benzoni
translates as "the name of a quadruped that prowls by night in search
of prey."[XIV‑2] Being at length pacified by signs they brought forth
food, and one of them consenting to act as guide informed the travellers
that there were no other Indian habitations on their line of route, for
the Spaniards had either killed or made slaves of the entire population.

       *       *       *       *       *


In Honduras slaves were still kidnapped, and sold by ship-loads among
the islands or in Nicaragua, so that in the vicinity of Trujillo, where
formerly were native towns with from six hundred to three thousand
houses, there were in 1547 not more than a hundred and eighty Indians
left, the remainder having fled to the mountains to avoid capture. At
Naco, which a few years before contained a population of ten thousand
souls, there were, in 1536, only forty-five remaining. At a coast town
named La Haga, nine leagues from Trujillo, and containing nine hundred
houses, there was but one inhabitant left, all having been sold into
bondage save the young daughter of the cacique, who had contrived to
elude the slave-hunters.[XIV‑3]

Cruel as was the treatment of the natives in every part of the Spanish
provinces, nowhere was oppression carried to such an extreme as in
Guatemala. Here little distinction was made between the allies and
the conquered races; even the faithful Tlascaltecs, who, after the
conquest, had settled with the Mexican and Cholultec auxiliaries at
Almolonga, being enslaved, overworked, and otherwise maltreated, until
in 1547 there were barely a hundred survivors.[XIV‑4] The natives of
Atitlan, who had never swerved in their allegiance to the Spaniards,
were treated with equal severity. After sharing the hardships of their
military campaigns, they were compelled to supply every year four or
five hundred male and female slaves and every fifteen days a number
of tributary laborers, many of whom perished from excessive toil and
privation. They were required to furnish, besides, a large quantity
of cloth, cacao,[XIV‑5] honey, and poultry; and so grievous were the
burdens laid upon them that even the caciques were impoverished, and
their wives compelled to serve as beasts of burden and tillers of the

If such was the treatment to which the most faithful allies of the
Spaniards were subjected, what fell cruelties may we not expect to
find inflicted on those who, undeterred by defeat, rose again and
again upon their oppressors? No words can depict the miseries of these
hapless races. Wholesale slaughter, hanging, and burning, torturing,
mutilating, and branding, followed the suppression of a revolt.
Starvation, exhaustion, blows, fainting under intolerable burdens,
groans of despair, and untimely death, were their lot in time of peace.
During Alvarado's time the waste of life was wanton and most sickening.
In the field starving auxiliaries were fed on human flesh, captives
being butchered for food; children were killed and roasted; nay, even
where there was no want of provisions, men were slain merely for the
feet and hands, which were esteemed delicacies by the anthropophagous
races. Nor were the marital relations of the natives any more considered
than if they had been by nature the brutes which the Spaniards made
of them in practice. Households were rendered desolate, wives being
torn from husbands and daughters from parents, to be distributed
among the soldiers and seamen, while the children were sent to work at
the gold-washings, and there perished by thousands. Thus the work of
depopulation progressed, and it is asserted by Las Casas that during
the first fifteen or sixteen years of the conquest the destruction
of Indians in Guatemala alone amounted to four or five million

None of the conquerors of the New World, not even Pedrarias Dávila,
were held in such dread as Pedro de Alvarado. When the news of his
landing at Puerto de Caballos was noised abroad the natives abandoned
their dwellings and fled to the forests. In a few days towns, villages,
and farms were deserted, and it seemed as if the whole province of
Guatemala had been depopulated by enchantment.[XIV‑7] The plantations
were destroyed by cattle; the cattle were torn by wild beasts; and the
sheep and lambs served as food for the blood-hounds, which had been
trained to regard the Indians as their natural prey, but now found none
to devour.


As early as 1525 intelligence of the terrible rapidity with which
depopulation was progressing reached the emperor, and on the 17th of
November he issued a cédula for the protection of the fast decreasing
races.[XIV‑8] In 1519 he ordered the council of the Indies to draw
up regulations for the government of the provinces, and that body
issued a decree regarding the treatment of natives, which, although
the protection of the interests of the throne may be a somewhat
prominent consideration, exhibits sympathy and enjoins moderation
toward the oppressed races.[XIV‑9] Other cédulas were issued at brief
intervals,[XIV‑10] but that all were inoperative is shown from many
incidents which have already been related.

Distant legislation was of no avail. The branding-iron still seared
the captive's flesh, the pine-torch was still applied to the rich
victim's feet, and the lash still fell on the toiler's uncovered back.
The encomenderos, bent only on amassing wealth, worked their Indians
until they were on the verge of death, and then cast them forth from
their houses or left them where they fell dead in the streets, as
food for prowling dogs and carrion birds, until the odor of corruption
infected the settlements.[XIV‑11] Nor did the homes of the living escape
destruction or their property violent seizure. Their dwellings were
pulled down to supply building materials, and the produce and wares
which they brought each day to exchange in their market at Santiago were
taken from them by the servants of the Spaniards, or by soldiers, who
repaid them only with blows or stabs.[XIV‑12]

Thus notwithstanding the ordinances enacted by the emperor for the
protection of the natives, and in the face of a papal bull issued in
1531 by his holiness Paul III.,[XIV‑13] restoring to the Indians their
liberty throughout the provinces, their numbers rapidly decreased and
the condition of the survivors grew worse as fresh taskmasters arrived
in the New World. Few even of the poorer and none of the wealthier class
of Spaniards expected to find there an abiding-place. Spain's boldest
and most reckless left her shores and voyaged westward with the placid
satisfaction of ruffians released from law's control, and now free from
the check of an effectual executive power regarded themselves as masters
of the position.

       *       *       *       *       *


In 1542 Bartolomé de Las Casas placed in the hands of the emperor the
manuscript of his well known work on the destruction of the Indies, and
through the exertions mainly of that never-tiring missionary a royal
junta composed of ecclesiastics and jurists was held during the previous
year at Valladolid for the purpose of drawing up regulations for the
better government of the provinces. The great apostle of the Indies
pleaded his favorite cause with all the fire of his eloquence, urging
that the natives of the New World were by the law of nature free, and
giving utterance to the now somewhat trite maxim "God does not allow
evil that good may come."

It is somewhat singular, to say the least, to hear such doctrine from
the lips of a Dominican,[XIV‑14] while yet the dark looming cloud of the
inquisition cast, as from the wings of a fallen angel, the dun spectre
of its huge eclipse athwart the hemispheres.

[Sidenote: THE NEW LAWS.]

The ordinances framed by the junta received the emperor's approval,
and after being somewhat amplified were published in Madrid in 1543,
and thenceforth known as the New Laws.[XIV‑15] The code contains a
large number of articles, many of them relating almost exclusively to
the enslavement and treatment of the natives. It was provided that all
Indian slaves should be set free, unless their owners could establish
a legal title to their possession.[XIV‑16] None were thenceforth to be
enslaved under any pretext.

Proprietors to whom the repartimientos had given an excessive number
must surrender a portion of them to the crown. On the death of
encomenderos[XIV‑17] the slaves were to revert to the crown. All
ecclesiastics and religious societies and all officers under the crown
must deliver up their bondsmen or bondswomen, not being allowed to
retain them even though resigning office. Inspectors were appointed
to watch over the interests of the natives, and were paid out of the
fines levied on transgressors. Slaves were not to be employed in the
pearl-fisheries against their will under penalty of death to the party
so employing them, nor when used as pack-animals was such a load to be
laid on their backs as might endanger their lives. Finally they were to
be converted to the Catholic faith, and it was ordered that two priests
should accompany all exploring parties, to instruct the Americans that
his Majesty the emperor regarded them as his free subjects, and that his
holiness the pope desired to bring them to a true knowledge of him the
spread of whose doctrines had in less than half a century been attended
with the depopulation of the fairest portions of the New World.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the provisions of the new code were others almost as distasteful
to many of the Spaniards as were those relating to the enfranchisement
of the natives. The audiencia of Panamá was abolished and two new
tribunals were to be established, one at Los Reyes, which now first
began to bear the name of Lima, and was thenceforth the metropolis
of the South American continent; the other termed the audiencia de
los Confines, at Comayagua, with jurisdiction over Chiapas, Yucatan,
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the province of Tierra Firme, known
as Castilla del Oro. From the decision of these tribunals and from
those of the audiencias of Mexico and Santo Domingo, there was to be in
criminal cases no appeal. In civil suits the losing party might demand a
second trial, the benefit of which is not apparent, as no new evidence
was admitted, and the case was conducted by the oidores who rendered
the first judgment. If the amount exceeded ten thousand pesos de oro,
there lay right of appeal to the council of the Indies. Moreover, the
oidores[XIV‑18] were empowered to inquire into the administration of the
governor and other civil functionaries, and to suspend them from office,
their report being sent to the council of the Indies for final action.

Such were the main features of the new code which sought to strike
the fetters from a nation which was fast disappearing from the family
of man. Tidings of this remarkable piece of legislation soon spread
throughout the New World, and from Mexico to Los Reyes the entire
population was in a state of ferment bordering revolution. To deprive
the settlers of their slaves was to reduce them to beggary. Slaves
constituted the chief source of wealth throughout the provinces. Without
them the mines could not be worked, towns could not be built, lands
could not be tilled. The soldier urged his right of conquest, and many
a scarred veteran, worn with toil and hardship, threatened to defend
by the sword which had helped to win an empire for his sovereign the
estates now threatened by these vexatious regulations.


The colonists were soon to learn that the new laws were not to remain a
dead letter as had been the case with the royal ordinances. In January
1544 Vasco Nuñez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru, arrived at Nombre
de Dios, and finding there some Spaniards returning to their native
country with stores of wealth acquired by the sale of their Peruvian
slaves, ordered them to deliver up their treasure,[XIV‑19] and but for
some doubt as to the legality of such a proceeding would certainly have
confiscated it.

After crossing the Isthmus the viceroy liberated and sent back from
Panamá at the expense of their proprietors, several hundred Indians who
had been brought from Peru or were unjustly held in bondage. Bitter were
the remonstrances against these high-handed measures, but Vela merely
answered, "I come not to discuss the laws but to execute them." The
condition of the natives was not improved, however, by their liberation,
for we learn that numbers died on board ship from starvation and
ill-usage, while others, cast ashore unarmed on a desolate coast, fell
a prey to wild beasts or otherwise perished miserably.

A committee of the most noble and influential of the Spaniards waited
on the new viceroy to gain from him, if possible, some concessions. They
urged that, inasmuch as the Indians had been converted to Christianity,
it would be a great loss to the church to enfranchise them, and that
if enfranchised they would always be in danger of perishing from
starvation. They dared not return to their own tribes, for the caciques
inflicted the penalty of death on all who had become Christians. These
arguments served but to rouse the wrath of the viceroy, who dismissed
the deputation saying, "Were you under my jurisdiction I would hang you
every one." Thenceforth none dared oppose him further. Even the oidores
of the newly established audiencia of Los Reyes who had accompanied him
from Spain made no protest, and on his departure for Peru remained for
some time at Panamá before they could muster courage to follow.

In Tierra Firme and in the islands of the Spanish West Indies the new
laws were partially obeyed, although complaints were still frequent
of the ill-treatment of natives, of their being punished with stripes
if they dared to complain, and of the arrival in Panamá of cargoes of
slaves from Nicaragua. The priests were earnest in their protestations,
and their reports to the emperor abounded in lofty expressions of
concern for the cause of Christ and of humanity. The ecclesiastical and
secular interests were ever at variance. Should the alcaldes render any
decision that threatened to work adversely against the authority of the
church, they were excommunicated, and thus rendered incapable, in the
eyes of the people, of discharging the functions of their office. The
governor and the bishop were continually at war, the latter cloaking
under his pretended zeal for the conversion of the Indians, and the
former under the pretext of upholding the dignity of the crown, the real
purpose for which each was too often striving—that of gathering into
his coffers the gold of his Majesty's vassals.[XIV‑20]





Of Pedro Vazquez, who succeeded Barrionuevo as governor of Castilla del
Oro, little is known; but of Doctor Robles, the successor of Vazquez,
under whose administration the government was continued till 1546, it
is alleged, and probably with truth, that he wrought more harm to his
fellow-man in a twelvemonth than the malign genius of a Pedrarias even
could accomplish in a decade. In his greed for wealth he was rivalled
only by the all-grasping Pedro de Los Rios, and in the astute cunning
with which he cloaked his evil deeds he was without peer even in a
community where the prevailing code of morals taught neither fear of God
nor regard for man. Appointed oidor of the audiencia of Panamá, in 1538,
he held office for several years, and the abolition of that tribunal was
probably due in a measure to his malefeasance. There are no explicit
details as to the precise charges which were brought against Robles,
but we learn that in every instance he contrived to baffle the scrutiny
of his judges. The licentiate Vaca de Castro was first ordered to bring
the offender to justice, but called in vain on his fellow-oidores of
the audiencia of Panamá to aid him in so doing. On the establishment
of the audiencia of the Confines, the trial was yet unfinished,
and as the aggrieved parties still clamored that it be brought to a
conclusion, Ramirez, one of the oidores, and the first alcalde mayor
of Panamá, was ordered to take his residencia. Robles appears to have
escaped punishment, for he soon afterward figures as senior oidor of
the audiencia of Lima. He returned before long to Panamá, and we learn
that on the capture of that city in 1550, by Hernando and Pedro de
Contreras, some of Gasca's treasure was captured at the house of Robles,
who thenceforth disappears from the page of history.[XV‑1]

       *       *       *       *       *


When Pedro de los Rios set out for Nicaragua he left orders with Captain
Hernando de la Serna and the pilot Corzo to make a survey of the Rio
de los Lagartos, now known as the river Chagre, for the purpose of
facilitating communication between the two seas. They were directed
also to examine the river Panamá, flowing in the opposite direction, and
to explore the country between the highest navigable points on the two
streams. This was done with a view of discovering the best route for a
grand thoroughfare across the Isthmus, over which the tide of commerce
might flow between Spain and the Spice Islands; and although this
object was never realized, the discovery which reduced land carriage
to a distance of nine leagues proved most useful in the subsequent
intercourse of Spain and Peru.

The project for interoceanic communication by way of the isthmus of
Panamá was first mooted more than three hundred and fifty years ago,
and to Charles V. probably belongs the merit of its suggestion. The
plan first proposed was to unite the Rio Grande with the Chagre, which
except in seasons of drought was navigable for vessels of light draught
as far as the present town of Cruces, and so make the connection on the
Pacific side near the modern city of Panamá. Andagoya, who has already
been mentioned as the one who in 1522 conducted an expedition to Birú,
was directed to make a survey and to furnish estimates of the probable
cost. His report was unfavorable; for in a despatch addressed to the
emperor, about 1534, he expresses his belief that there was no monarch
in all Europe rich enough to furnish the means to carry out such an

In the same despatch Andagoya also reports adversely on a question which
had been for several years under discussion—that of moving to another
site the population of Panamá. In a letter addressed to Francisco
Pizarro in 1531, Antonio de la Gama declares his intention of making
such a change; for ever since the city had been founded by Pedrarias,
complaints had been made of its unhealthy climate.[XV‑3] A royal cédula
was afterward issued ordering that the citizens should meet and discuss
the question, and Andagoya states that the matter was decided in the
negative; for, he tells us: "There is no other port in all the South Sea
where vessels could anchor alongside the streets." Moreover he affirms
that "God himself had selected the site."

The chronicler Benzoni, who travelled in Darien between 1541 and 1556,
mentions that the road from Panamá[XV‑4] to Nombre de Dios was about
fifty miles in length, and that during the first day's journey it was
tolerably smooth, but the remainder of the route lay over rugged and
difficult ground, through forest and through streams sometimes almost
impassable during the rainy season.[XV‑5] Merchants doing business
at Nombre de Dios usually resided at Panamá. At the time of Benzoni's
visit to the former town, about the year 1541, it contained but fifteen
or twenty wholesale merchants, the remainder of the population being
principally small tradesmen, innkeepers, and sailors.

The trade of Nombre de Dios was extremely fluctuating. Fourteen or
fifteen Spanish vessels of various sizes, the largest being about
three hundred and sixty tons burden, arrived there annually, with
miscellaneous cargoes, but laden principally with wine, flour, biscuit,
oil, cloth, silk, and household merchandise. The prices obtained
for goods depended altogether upon the supply. When the market was
overstocked, prices frequently ruled lower than first cost in Spain,
and cargoes were sometimes forfeited by the consignee as not worth the
freight. On the other hand, when an article was scarce, an enormous
price could be obtained for it, sometimes its weight in gold.

When a ship arrived at Nombre de Dios the cargo was discharged into
flat-bottomed boats, and carried by way of the Chagre as far as Cruces,
about six leagues from the South Sea. Here the merchandise was delivered
to muleteers, who conveyed it to Panamá, whence it was shipped in
various directions, though the greater part of the trade was with

       *       *       *       *       *


About the middle of the sixteenth century the isthmus of Darien had
become the gate-way between the two seas, and Panamá the most important
city of America. Situated upon the world's highway and in the very
centre of the Spanish colonial possessions, through its portals must
flow the treasures of Peru from the south, the products of Mexico,
Nicaragua, and Guatemala from the north, and the trans-oceanic traffic
of the Spice Islands from the west. Thus Panamá became not only the
metropolis of the two Americas, but the half-way house and toll-gate
between western Europe and eastern Asia. There the raw adventurer who
at the opening of his career pressed forward with eager expectation
into a dark uncertain future met the returned fortune-seeker elated
with success or broken-spirited through failure. Into the lap of this
great central city poured untold wealth. Her merchants were princes; her
warerooms were filled with rich merchandise of every kind and from every
quarter of the globe. There were to be seen stacks of yellow and white
ingots from the mines of Peru, the cochineal and dye-woods of Mexico,
the richest wines of Spain and Portugal, the silks, velvets, and laces
of France and Italy.

The establishment of this commercial metropolis on the shores of the
southern sea was the means of winning for Spain many of those provinces
whose wealth was thus exchanged for the luxuries of the Old World.
Without Panamá Francisco Pizarro could never have conquered Peru,[XV‑7]
and after his conquest it is more than probable that but for prompt
assistance from Panamá the brave Manco Capac would have succeeded
in exterminating the Spaniards within his territory. While a central
position and a command of both the oceans gave to the city her wealth
and importance, the same causes exposed her not infrequently to social
and political convulsions, and to attack from foreign powers. An
insurrection in Guatemala, a rebellion in Peru, a system of restrictions
on Asiatic trade were immediately felt in Panamá, and upon that city
fell the heaviest blows aimed by the English, French, or Dutch against
the Spanish possessions in the New World. Between 1545 and 1671, at
which later date the old city of Panamá was burned, it was sacked and
partially destroyed no less than four times. In other chapters I shall
bring together such facts as I have been able to find relating to the
lives and fortunes of the Spaniards of Darien and Central America during
the three centuries which elapsed between the conquest of that country
by the Spaniards and their renunciation of allegiance to parental
authority. This epoch opened and ended in attempted revolution. The
first was futile, the last successful. The first was attempted by brave,
strong, and daring men, but Spain and Charles were stronger. The last
was attempted by weak, degenerate Spaniards, but Spain and Fernando were

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon the death of Francisco Pizarro, the Almagrist faction maintained
the ascendency in Peru,[XV‑8] until dispersed by Vaca de Castro on
the plains of Chupas. Young Almagro then fled to Cuzco, where he was
arrested and beheaded as a traitor.[XV‑9] Vaca de Castro had but just
arrived in Peru. He brought with him a commission from the crown to
arbitrate upon and settle the discords between the rival factions; and
in the event of the decease of Francisco Pizarro, he was instructed
to assume the government. Gonzalo Pizarro, who had been appointed
governor of Quito, was at the time of his brother's murder absent on an
expedition of discovery to the river Amazon. On his return, learning of
Francisco's tragic fate, he offered his services to Vaca de Castro, but
they were declined by that official, who was fearful lest the turbulent
and overbearing disposition of the last of the Pizarros should interfere
with his administration of the government. Gonzalo, angered at the
rebuff, retired to La Plata and engaged in working the rich silver-mines
in that locality.


Up to this time Charles, occupied by the affairs of his vast empire
at home, had paid but little attention to the welfare of the colonies.
In general terms the Spanish government had set limits to the cruelty
and oppression of the natives by the conquerors. The intentions of
the sovereigns and their councils were from the beginning humane and
praiseworthy as I have often observed. But as new issues were constantly
growing out of these new conditions, and as very many of the royal
decrees concerning the affairs of the Indies were impracticable and
therefore inoperative, the conquerors were left in a measure to lay down
their own rules of conduct according to their immediate necessities; or
rather to act independent of all rule, being governed by the dictates of
their judgment or interest. If success attended these lawless efforts,
the misdeeds of these adventurers were obliterated by their gold. If
unsuccessful, they usually fell victims to their cruelty or cupidity,
and their bones were left to moulder in the wilderness; so that in the
early history of the Spanish colonies it was only at rare intervals and
in aggravated cases that any notice was taken of disobedience of the
laws. To one crime, however—that of disloyalty—the Spanish monarchs were
never insensible. So long as the prerogatives of the crown were strictly
regarded, excesses were overlooked. The next most heinous offence was
civil strife. Native Americans, a race midway between Castilians and
brutes, might be slaughtered by the thousand upon slight cause;[XV‑10]
but the lives of Spanish marauders were far too valuable to be given up
to internecine strife.

In Peru, however, it was different. The passions of the populace had
been roused by contending factions, and the license hitherto granted
to the conquerors rendered them all the more impatient of restraint.
Although the people were worse prepared for stringent measures than
the more orderly colonists of Mexico, the person upon whom devolved
the execution of the obnoxious laws lacked the wise and politic
discrimination which governed the actions of Sandoval and Mendoza.

       *       *       *       *       *


On the 4th of March 1544, Vasco Nuñez Vela landed at Tumbez on the
Peruvian coast, and as the fame of his high-handed measures at Panamá
had not preceded him, was accorded a loyal reception. His popularity was
short-lived, for the viceroy immediately liberated a number of slaves
and on his journey to Los Reyes would not even allow his baggage to be
carried by Indians, or, if compelled to do so, he paid them liberally.
Such conduct caused huge disgust throughout the province, but Nuñez
was deaf to all remonstrance and even caused the arrest of some of the

Many now bidding defiance to the vicegerent took up arms and urged
Gonzalo Pizarro, the sole surviving brother of the conqueror, to place
himself at their head. Nothing loath, Gonzalo proceeded at once to
Cuzco, and having good store of wealth accumulated by mining and pillage
soon mustered a numerous band.[XV‑11] The royal banner of Castile
was planted before his quarters, and he loudly affirmed that he was a
true and lawful subject of the king, that the viceroy had exceeded his
instructions, and that he only aimed to hold in check his iniquitous
purposes until the will of the emperor could be ascertained. Vasco Nuñez
at length drew upon himself the indignation of his own partisans, who
at the instigation of the bachiller Cepeda, a member of the audiencia,
mutinied and decided to place the viceroy upon a vessel to be conveyed
back to Spain.

Meanwhile the colonists flocked to the standard of Gonzalo from every
direction, until he soon found himself at the head of twelve hundred
brave and disciplined troops. On the 28th of October 1544, amidst the
acclamations of the populace, he entered Lima[XV‑12] at the head of his
army, and the royal audiencia was dissolved. Scarcely had the ship which
was to carry Vasco Nuñez to Panamá set sail from Lima, when Álvarez,
the official in charge, not daring to appear in Spain with a viceroy as
a prisoner, threw himself at his feet, begged forgiveness, and placed
the ship and all on board under his command. Being thus unexpectedly
released, he disembarked at Tumbez, raised a small force, and marching
northward as far as Quito, called upon all loyal subjects to rally for
the protection of the king's authority. He then marched at the head of
about five hundred men to San Miguel.[XV‑13]

Gonzalo Pizarro, who had been narrowly watching the movements of the
viceroy, now determined to bring matters to an issue. On the 4th of
March 1545, he departed from Lima and marched against his opponent.
Vasco Nuñez, fearful of the result, abandoned the town and fled to
Añaquito, whither he was followed by the revolutionists, and on the 18th
of January 1536 a hotly contested battle was fought, resulting in the
defeat and death of the viceroy.[XV‑14]

Even before this event Gonzalo Pizarro had assumed the dictatorship
of Peru and resolved to make himself master of Panamá, his dreams of
conquest extending even to the provinces north of Tierra Firme.[XV‑15]
Enlisting in his service one Hernando Bachicao,[XV‑16] he placed him in
command of six hundred men and a fleet of twenty-seven ships.[XV‑17]
Arriving at Tumbez, Bachicao landed a hundred troops, whereupon Vasco
Nuñez, though in command of two hundred well trained veterans, fled to
Añaquito, a portion of his forces deserting him and joining the standard
of the revolutionists. Proceeding thence to Puerto Viejo and elsewhere,
he seized several vessels and enlisted a hundred and fifty recruits.
Calling at the Pearl Islands he was met by two messengers from Panamá,
sent to request that he would forbear to land an armed force in Tierra
Firme. Bachicao replied that he intended but to land his passengers and
revictual his fleet.


The people of Panamá had been repeatedly warned by Vaca de Castro
and others that their city was in danger of falling into the hands of
Gonzalo Pizarro and had levied a force of seven hundred men, though
ill-equipped and without experience or discipline. Thrown off their
guard however by Bachicao's answer they allowed him to enter the
harbor without opposition. He landed a portion of his forces and almost
without resistance seized all the arms and ammunition in the arsenal and
delivered up the city to pillage. The ship-masters in port were ordered
to join his fleet, and those who refused were hanged at the yard-arm. A
captain named Pedro Gallego was also executed for disobeying his order
to shorten sail and cry Viva Pizarro![XV‑18]

All law and order were for the time at an end. Men were put to death
without the formality of a trial, and it is even said that Bachicao
beheaded some of his own officers on the merest suspicion of their
disaffection or even for pastime.[XV‑19]

On receiving news of his lieutenant's misconduct accompanied with
letters of remonstrance from the citizens of Panamá, Gonzalo at once
deposed him from the command.[XV‑20] He was resolved, however, to
gain control of the Isthmus, and despatched for this purpose Pedro de
Hinojosa, at the head of two hundred and fifty men, with instructions
to seize and hold both Panamá and Nombre de Dios. Hinojosa, who had
first landed in Peru in 1534, and had done good service under Francisco
and Hernando Pizarro, was a man of no mean abilities. Endowed by nature
with a clear intelligence, honest of purpose and faithful to his trusts,
with a judgment sharpened by long intercourse with the stirring scenes
of the New World, he was eminently fitted for command, and enjoyed in
no small degree the confidence of his soldiers.

The expedition sailed northward as far as Puerto Viejo, whence a vessel
was sent in charge of Rodrigo de Carbajal with letters from Gonzalo to
the principal residents of Panamá begging their favor and coöperation,
disclaiming all connection with Bachicao's outrages, and stating that
Hinojosa was now on his way with means sufficient to indemnify all who
had suffered loss. If the force by which he was accompanied appeared
to them somewhat large for the purpose, it should be remembered that
Gonzalo's enemies were on the alert, and that it would be unsafe to
navigate the ocean with a smaller fleet.

Accompanied by fifteen men, Carbajal landed at Ancon, a small cove two
leagues from Panamá. There he was informed by some planters residing
in the vicinity that two captains of the viceroy, Juan de Guzman and
Juan de Illanes, were in the city enlisting troops under a commission
from their chief, who awaited their coming at Quito. They had thus far
succeeded in raising a company of one hundred men and in collecting a
considerable quantity of arms, including six pieces of field artillery.
"But," continued his informers, "although they have been ready to
sail for many days, they appear to be in no haste to depart, and it is
now believed that it is their intention to remain and defend the city
against the insurgents." Under the circumstances, Carbajal did not think
it prudent to land. He therefore despatched an emissary secretly by
night with the letters from Pizarro.

The citizens to whom they were addressed were not to be duped however,
and at once placed them before the authorities. The messenger was
arrested, and forced to disclose all he knew respecting Hinojosa and
his visit. The guard of the city was increased, and two well armed
brigantines were sent to capture the vessel then at Ancon. But Carbajal
was too quick for them; suspecting from the delay of his messenger the
true state of affairs, he slipped away, and hiding his vessel among the
Pearl Islands, there awaited the approach of his commander.[XV‑21]


In the mean time Hinojosa continuing his course northward touched at
Buenaventura. There he learned that Vasco Nuñez Vela was then engaged,
with the assistance of Benalcázar, in recruiting his army in that
neighborhood. Landing a party of soldiers, he captured eight or ten of
the inhabitants, who gave information that the viceroy was at Popayan,
and that owing to the delay of his captains, Juan de Illanes and Juan
de Guzman, he had determined to send his brother, Captain Vela Nuñez,
accompanied by efficient officers, to hasten the arrival of troops
from Panamá. Moreover he had ascertained that the viceroy was building
a brigantine, now almost completed, on board of which he intended to
place his brother, in charge of all his treasure,[XV‑22] and to send to
Panamá, in the hope of obtaining a heavy ransom from some of Hinojosa's
partisans, an illegitimate son of Gonzalo Pizarro, then a captive in
his hands. Vela Nuñez, together with his officers and a detachment of
men in charge of young Pizarro, were then marching to the coast by
different routes, to embark on board the vessel. By a clever stroke
of strategy Hinojosa captured both parties, seized the treasure, and
placed Vela Nuñez and his command as prisoners on board the fleet.
Then taking with him young Pizarro, whom he liberated and treated with
marked consideration, he set sail for Panamá, and after being joined by
Carbajal, cast anchor in the bay with eleven ships[XV‑23] and the two
hundred and fifty men already mentioned. This was in October 1545.

The city was divided as to the policy of admitting the insurgents.
The merchants and all who derived profit from the Peruvian trade saw
everything to gain by the arrival of a large and richly laden fleet.
Many of them furthermore held property in Peru, and transacted business
through their factors, upon whom Gonzalo Pizarro would not fail to
inflict summary punishment if he heard of opposition at Panamá. On the
other hand Doctor Robles, the governor, with his political adherents
and all who derived place and profit from the crown, loudly disclaimed
against the rebels, and called on the people to assist him in the
defence of the city, under penalty of the royal displeasure.[XV‑24] In
the end the governor's party prevailed, the opposite faction yielding
in appearance at least, and the corregidor Pedro de Casaos receiving
the appointment of captain general[XV‑25] marched forth to oppose
the landing of Hinojosa. The entire forces of the royalist party now
mustered, apart from some small reënforcements from Nombre de Dios,
nearly eight hundred men, only ninety of whom were disciplined troops,
the remainder being an ill-armed crew of citizen-soldiers. The army was
well supplied with field artillery.[XV‑26]

Dropping down with his fleet to the cove of Ancon, Hinojosa disembarked
two hundred men under cover of his cannon, landing them on a rocky
projection of the shore, inaccessible to the enemy's cavalry. He then
began his march on Panamá, ordering the fleet to keep him company at a
short distance from the shore with guns trimmed ready for action.[XV‑27]

At this juncture the ecclesiastics of the city issuing forth in a body,
with mournful chants and sad countenances, their garments covered with
crosses and the insignia of mourning, began to expostulate with both
armies. "Is it necessary," they cried, "for Christians to imbue their
hands in each other's blood!" At length an armistice of one day was
agreed on. Hostages were given on either side, and the efforts of the
priests to bring about an agreement between the parties were redoubled.

Hinojosa declared that he could not see why he was denied entrance
into the city.[XV‑28] He came not to make war but restitution. Gonzalo
Pizarro harbored no evil design; but he was master of Peru, and he
intended to be master of the only thoroughfare to Peru—that which
traversed the continent from Nombre de Dios to Panamá. If the people
of the Isthmus would resign themselves to the sway of Pizarro while
he wielded supreme power in Peru, or until matters were settled by the
crown, all would be well; otherwise war must inevitably follow.


Pedro de Casaos and the men of Panamá were not satisfied.[XV‑29] They
had just experienced a foretaste of what they might expect should
another of Gonzalo's captains obtain possession of the city, but their
only alternative was compromise, or the arbitration of the sword. It was
finally agreed that the loyal colonists who had come over from Nombre
de Dios to render assistance should return, and that Hinojosa should be
allowed to enter the city with a guard of thirty men, there to remain
for forty-five days.[XV‑30] His ships meanwhile were to retire to Taboga
or to the Pearl Islands, to be revictualled and repaired. The articles
of agreement were drawn up by a notary and signed by the respective
parties who bound themselves by oath to adhere faithfully to the terms

Although Hinojosa was thus restricted by the terms of his compact and
for the moment could strike no blow for the conquest of Panamá, he
was by no means idle during the interval. Maintaining a strict watch
against surprise and assassination,[XV‑31] he took up his quarters
in a comfortable well furnished house, loaded his table with choice
viands, and throwing open his doors entertained all comers with lavish
hospitality. His apartments soon became the resort of soldiers and
adventurers of every clique. Gonzalo Pizarro and the affairs of Peru
were discussed over brimming goblets. Brilliant stories concerning the
discovery and opening of mines of fabulous richness[XV‑32] fired the
cupidity of the listeners, while a free passage was offered to all, and
liberal pay promised from the first day of enlistment.


By these shrewd measures Hinojosa had the satisfaction of seeing his
forces daily increase, while those of Pedro de Casaos proportionately
diminished. The soldiers of Juan de Illanes and Juan de Guzman did
not prove insensible to the wiles and genial hospitality of Hinojosa,
and those captains, seeing themselves abandoned by the greater part
of their recruits, secretly stole from the city and seizing a vessel
attempted to make their escape to Peru. They were, however, captured
by one of the watchful captains stationed in the harbor, and not
long after voluntarily joined themselves to Hinojosa and became his
faithful adherents. Such was the influence which Hinojosa acquired by
his careless and apparently unintentional display of wealth, and by his
skill in throwing tempting baits to men who never flinched from danger
when they saw prospect of gain, that in a few weeks and by a silent and
bloodless revolution he became master of the city. At the expiration
of the forty-five days he seized the batteries and made a formal entry
into Panamá at the head of his entire force, amidst the acclamations of
the greater part of the inhabitants.

Hinojosa took no advantage of his easily won victory. He strove to
maintain the strictest discipline among his followers, treated the
citizens with the utmost liberality, and ordered that the soldiers
should respect their rights and in no wise interfere with their
affairs.[XV‑33] He then despatched his son-in-law, Hernando Mejía de
Guzman, in company with Pedro de Cabrera, to take possession of Nombre
de Dios and guard the interests of Gonzalo Pizarro in that quarter.


While the province of Panamá thus quietly passed into the hands
of Hinojosa the partisans of the viceroy were not idle. Melchor
Verdugo,[XV‑34] to whom as one of the conquerors of Peru had been
assigned the province of Caxamalca, proffered his services to Vasco
Nuñez Vela, on his first landing in Peru. Becoming afterward implicated
in a plot devised by the royalist party to gain possession of Lima,
he was arrested in that city by order of Gonzalo Pizarro. Escaping
thence he proceeded to Trujillo, where he was fortunate enough to seize
one of Bachicao's vessels, laden with the spoils of Panamá. With the
proceeds of this capture, and with funds realized from his own estate,
he enlisted a company in the service of the viceroy. He then sailed for
Nicaragua and requested from the governor, as a loyal servant of the
king, men and means to assist him in quelling the insurrection on the
Isthmus. Failing to draw from him a hearty response he next applied to
the audiencia of the Confines. With the magistrates of that tribunal he
was more successful. Licentiate Ramirez de Alarcon, one of the members,
took an active part in recruiting men and collecting arms and horses.

In the mean time tidings of Verdugo's doings in Peru and Nicaragua and
his intended expedition to the northern coast of Darien reached Panamá.
Hinojosa, fearing that Verdugo might raise a force sufficient to cause
him trouble, sent Juan Alonso Palomino with two vessels and one hundred
and twenty arquebusiers in pursuit. Arriving at Nicaragua Palomino
captured Verdugo's vessel without difficulty, but on attempting to
land found himself confronted by all the available men in the province
arrayed under the royalist banner, under the command of Verdugo and the
licentiate. After hovering about the coast for several days, watching
in vain for a chance to disembark, he seized all the ships on the coast,
and burning those which were unserviceable, returned with the remainder
to Panamá, not knowing that his design was suspected. Verdugo made ready
on Lake Nicaragua three or four frigates, and with two hundred choice
and well armed troops[XV‑35] sailed through the river San Juan to the
North Sea, and creeping stealthily along the coast, hoped to surprise
the rebels before his presence in that quarter became known. At the Rio
Chagre he captured a vessel manned by negroes, from whom he obtained
valuable information as to the condition of affairs at Nombre de Dios,
the number of men stationed there, the names of their commanders, and a
minute description of the building in which the officers were quartered.

Hinojosa was on the alert, but not so his captains. Though warned of
the approach of the loyal party, they were taken by surprise. Landing
at midnight, Verdugo stole quietly to the house where Hernando Mejía,
Pedro Cabrera, and other officers were peacefully slumbering, surrounded
the premises, and fired the dwelling. The dilatory captains, maddened
at thus being entrapped in their own beds, sprang up, and seizing their
weapons rushed out of the blazing edifice, and cutting their way through
the enemy made their escape to the woods and finally to Panamá.[XV‑36]

Had Verdugo thenceforth conducted his affairs with the skill and
discretion which characterized Hinojosa's movements at Panamá he would
have caused that commander no little trouble, but he had none of the
tact or generalship of Gonzalo's officer. He imprisoned the alcaldes,
levied arbitrary assessments upon the merchants, demanded heavy ransom
for his prisoners, and soon made himself so obnoxious to the people
that with one accord they petitioned Doctor Ribera, the mayor, to ask
protection from Hinojosa. The appeal was not in vain. Ribera at once
entered into negotiations with Hinojosa,[XV‑37] and it was agreed that
while the former levied troops at Nombre de Dios, the latter should at
once march from Panamá with a strong force. Verdugo impressed into his
service every available man, and withdrawing from the town, took up a
position on the shore, where he was to some extent covered by the guns
of his vessels. There he awaited Hinojosa, who with a small but picked
company of veterans[XV‑38] was now crossing the Isthmus to join battle
with the royalist forces.

As soon as the rebel troops debouched from the woods surrounding Nombre
de Dios, Ribera sallied from the town and opened a lively fire on the
forces of Verdugo, the citizens taking fright at the first noise of
the fray and scampering to a hill near by. Hinojosa's brigade advanced
meanwhile with the steady measured tramp of trained soldiers, whereupon
the men of Nicaragua, led by Verdugo, took to their heels also, leaving
but one of their number wounded on the field,[XV‑39] and regained their
ships, whence a brisk cannonade was opened on the town, but without
visible result save loss of ammunition. The royalist captain then set
sail for Cartagena, there to await a more favorable opportunity to serve
his king. Hinojosa severely reprimanded Mejía and the other fugitive
officers, and leaving them at Nombre de Dios in charge of a stronger
garrison returned with Ribera to Panamá.

Nothing could have happened that would draw the attention of the
court of Spain to the affairs of the New World more effectually than
rebellion, as I have before intimated. The discovery and conquest of
America cannot be classed as an achievement of the nation. It was a
magnificent accident, in the busy reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella, and
Charles. Those sovereigns, absorbed in wars and involved in ambitious
intrigues at home, with a vast continent thrust upon them by a Genoese
navigator, could scarcely find time to do more than grant permits to
adventurers to subjugate, at their own cost, new territories in the
western world, and to receive when remitted to them the royal fifth of
the returns. But rebellion, of whatsoever magnitude or shape, is always
distasteful to a sovereign. Therefore when tidings reached Spain that
the emperor's representative in Peru had been maltreated, and that
a powerful body of insurgents held possession of that province, the
monarch and his ministers were aroused. The affairs of Peru occupied for
a time their careful consideration. Lengthy debates and close councils
followed. At first, the king's counsellors in their deliberations
consulted only the honor of the nation and strongly advocated sending an
armed force against Pizarro; but insurrection at home and insurrection
in Peru were two very different things. The Spanish government could
more easily make war against a hundred thousand men in Spain or Germany
than against one thousand in the wilds of that distant province.[XV‑40]

[Sidenote: PEDRO DE LA GASCA.]

Pedro de la Gasca,[XV‑41] a counsellor of the inquisition, but a man
holding no public office, was the one selected as the fit instrument
for the occasion. He united a mild and insinuating disposition with
remarkable firmness and tenacity, and a cool and bland exterior with a
strength and sagacity but little suspected by most of his countrymen.
None knew better how to combine a subtle humility and bold caution with
unpretending manners and a pleasant address, and no man could have been
found better qualified to undertake the task. He obeyed the summons of
the court with reluctance, but once having engaged in the undertaking,
his whole soul was absorbed in its execution. Before setting out he
declined an offered bishopric; he would accept no salary, nor any
title except that of president of the royal audiencia of Lima.[XV‑42]
He was empowered with the authority of a sovereign, being allowed to
levy troops, declare war, appoint and remove officers at will, make
repartimientos, condemn to death, condone offences, grant amnesties, and
might send back to Spain if necessary even the viceroy himself.[XV‑43]

[Sidenote: A CLEVER PRIEST.]

On the 26th of May 1546, Gasca set sail from San Lúcar with a small
retinue, consisting of two oidores, and among other cavaliers the
mariscal Alonso de Alvarado and the adelantado Pascual de Andagoya. Had
the emissaries of Charles appeared off the Isthmus in warlike guise,
the captains of Gonzalo Pizarro would have opposed them to the last,
but what had they to fear from a humble priest with but a score or
two of attendants? Nevertheless, Hernando Mejía was not without his
suspicions of Alvarado.[XV‑44] He had but recently committed one blunder
in allowing himself to be outwitted by Melchor Verdugo; but after
some hesitation he decided that if the priest came armed with such a
commission from the king as Alvarado affirmed, it were better to treat
him with the respect due to a royal envoy. On the 17th of July Gasca
intimated his intention to land, and Mejía gave him a loyal reception.
Drawing up his men on the beach, he put out for the president's vessel
with a guard of twenty arquebusiers, brought him ashore, and amid the
roar of cannon and musketry conducted him to his own quarters within
the town.

Mejía was not long in the company of the unpretending ecclesiastic
before he became convinced that beneath his calm demeanor slumbered
a power that would soon make itself felt in the land. Gasca explained
the object of his errand and the scope of his authority. His purpose
was peace, and his commission, which was dated after the battle of
Añaquito and the death of the viceroy, authorized him to grant pardon
for all offences, no matter how heinous.[XV‑45] It now therefore
became all loyal subjects to oppose no longer the emperor's messenger.
Mejía hesitated. At heart he was loyal, though in common with others
he had espoused the cause of the chivalrous conquerors in opposition
to the austere and unpopular rule of Vaca de Castro and Vasco Nuñez
Vela. Not even Gonzalo Pizarro, much less his subordinates, admitted
themselves to be rebels. Gasca did not press the matter. He soon read
the honest soldier completely and knew his man. His policy was rather to
throw around those over whom he desired to gain ascendency the subtle
influence which a man of his keen, incisive penetration, invested with
the garb of authority, and versed in all the wily craft and casuistry
of his order, knew well how to exercise, than to force an unwilling
assent to measures which were distasteful and might afterward be lightly

Mejía being left to draw his own conclusions and to act for himself, at
length thus declared his resolution to Gasca: "I am a loyal subject of
the emperor. If Gonzalo Pizarro is such he cannot question my course;
if not, I choose not to follow the fortunes of traitors." He then
placed himself and his men at the priest's disposal, gave him a correct
statement of the military and naval strength under Hinojosa's command,
and even offered to march on Panamá and seize the fleet.[XV‑46] The
envoy congratulated him upon his decision, and assured him that the king
would reward him for his loyalty, but declined any service from him,
other than keeping his resolve for the present a secret.

On receiving news of the president's landing and of his courteous
reception, Hinojosa was sorely displeased. His lieutenant had been
placed in command at Nombre de Dios for the express purpose of guarding
the northern coast against the approach of any expedition hostile to
the interests of Gonzalo Pizarro; and now, after being surprised by a
band of men from Nicaragua, and compelled to flee to Panamá, he welcomed
with royal honors, and without even consulting his commander, a man
commissioned to assume authority over all the affairs of Peru. Gasca
shrewdly surmised that Mejía while clearing himself from the imputation
of treachery would plead the cause of the king more effectually than
he himself could do. He therefore ordered him to accompany Alvarado to
Panamá and lay the whole matter before Hinojosa. The latter was pacified
with no great difficulty. It was pointed out to him that, if it was the
correct policy to allow the envoy to land, all would have the benefit
of it; whereas, if an error had been committed it was a simple matter to
order the priest and his comrades on board their vessels. Thus reassured
he gave permission to his officer to return and escort the president
across the Isthmus.

Melchor Verdugo, in the mean time, having tired of inglorious ease at
Cartagena, had landed at Nombre de Dios, and there laid his humble
duty at the feet of his Majesty's envoy. Gasca informed him that
the best service he could render his sovereign would be to return to
Nicaragua and there disband his forces. The meddlesome captain protested
vehemently, but he was not of the metal with which the priest proposed
to crush the rebellion. A band of blatant, dull-witted adventurers,
whipped into fury by the superior generalship and soldierly qualities
of Hinojosa and his veterans, could be of no assistance to him. Finding
at length that the president was determined to ignore him, Verdugo
withdrew his troops, and soon afterward returned to Spain, there to lay
his grievances before the emperor.


On the 13th of August 1546 Gasca makes his entrance into Panamá, and is
received with much ceremony by the commander-in-chief, the governor,
and magistrates of the city. Hinojosa with all his keen penetrating
common-sense, his practical experience, and his thorough knowledge of
the world, is no more proof against the seeming candor and mild winning
deportment of the unpretending priest than was Mejía. A downright
foe is his delight. He will match his wit or skill in military or
political affairs against those of any man in the Indies. But when the
sovereign power of Spain appears in robes of sacred humility, and giving
utterance in bland accents to doctrines worthy of the prince of peace,
the sagacity of the soldier is at fault. The foe has become a phantom,
powerful, nay invincible, but intangible. Opposition to the subtle
influence of the priest is like waging conflict with the powers of air.

At length Hinojosa calls on the president, and begs him to specify the
nature of the authority with which he is vested. Gasca replies that he
is the bearer of glad tidings to the Spanish settlers; for his Majesty
has been pleased to revoke the more obnoxious measures contained in the
new laws, and to empower him to grant a full pardon for all that has
occurred in Peru. Hinojosa then asks if Gonzalo Pizarro is included
in this amnesty, and whether he will be confirmed in his position
as governor. Gasca evades the question; whereupon the commander's
suspicions being roused he at once orders a ship to be made ready, and
sends a despatch to Gonzalo, giving an account of the priest's arrival,
of his reception by Mejía at Nombre de Dios, and of the nature of the
envoy's mission; assuring his former chieftain that he may rely on him
to execute faithfully any instructions.

By the same vessel Gasca despatches a Dominican monk, Francisco de
San Miguel, to proclaim throughout Peru the arrival of the royal
commissioner, and his promise to condone the offences of all who return
to their allegiance. He also addresses letters to many influential
persons in whom he had confidence. Finally he forwards to Gonzalo a
despatch from the emperor, accompanied by an epistle from himself, a
perfect masterpiece of diplomacy, in which he touches but lightly on
the overthrow of the viceroy, avows that if he be not loyal there is
not a soul whom he can venture to trust, and begs him as a Christian
and a true Spaniard to persist no longer in rebellion. Meanwhile, the
crafty envoy sends a messenger to the viceroy of New Spain, urging him
not to allow arms or horses to be sent to Peru, and to hold his navy in
readiness for war.[XV‑47]

The arrival of this unwelcome news from Panamá caused no slight
annoyance. A council of officers was summoned; the principal inhabitants
of Lima were invited to attend; the letters were read in public; and all
were invited to express their opinion. Gasca's despatch provoked much
merriment[XV‑48] and many a threat, but they knew not the man they had
to deal with. Some declared for killing him outright; others for sending
him back to Spain; and only a voice here and there was heard in favor of
admitting him to Peru. After long discussion it was finally determined
to send an embassy to Spain and lay the matter before the emperor, and
that a resolution, signed by seventy of the leading cavaliers in the
city, should be forwarded to the envoy, stating that, civil dissensions
having now terminated, the nation was enjoying the blessings of
peace under the rule of Gonzalo Pizarro, and that the presence of his
Majesty's representative would not only tend to distract the province
but might cost him his life.

Aldana, one of Gonzalo's lieutenants, though secretly a traitor to
the revolutionary cause, was despatched to Panamá with the missive.
Arriving in that city on the 13th of November, he repaired to Hinojosa's
house before calling on the president. There being allowed to read the
governor's private despatches he threw them into the flames. Proceeding
thence to the president's quarters he offered him his services, and it
was agreed that Hinojosa should be openly invited to join the royalist
party. Fernando Mejía also tried his powers of persuasion, arguing
that as the emperor's will had been made known it was their duty to
obey the president without awaiting the result of the appeal to the
throne, that matters were now in a fair way for settlement, and that if
this opportunity should pass unheeded they might wait long for another
chance of escaping the consequences of their treason. Hinojosa was
unwilling to accept this view of the case. He believed that the action
of the revolutionary party was so far justifiable. He therefore replied
that he had already informed the envoy of his intentions, that if his
Majesty should not be pleased to grant the petition of Gonzalo Pizarro
he would at once render his obedience to the crown. But Hinojosa was
at length entangled in the net of the wily priest and in company with
his lieutenant called at the president's house, meekly swore allegiance
to his cause, placed his fleet at his disposal, and hoisted the royal
banner of Spain from the mainmast of his flag-ship.

[Sidenote: GASCA'S SUCCESS.]

Gasca now answered the resolution signed by the seventy cavaliers,
inditing his letter to Gonzalo, and expressing his wonder that such an
insignificant clérigo as he should be refused admittance into Peru. He
begged them to rid their minds of all apprehension as to any hostile
intent on his part. Then binding his officers by oath[XV‑49] not to
reveal his purpose, he impressed into his service every available man
on the Isthmus, obtained loans of money, wrote to the governors of all
the Spanish provinces for assistance, despatched powerful squadrons to
secure the port of Lima and capture Gonzalo's vessels on the coast of
Peru, and on the 13th of June 1547 landed at Tumbez in command of more
than one thousand troops.[XV‑50]

"Surely the devil must be in their midst!" exclaimed old
Carbajal,[XV‑51] as Valdivia receiving this compliment to his
generalship put his army in array at Xaquixaguana, and Gasca withdrew
to the rear with his train of ecclesiastics. The rout of the rebel
forces could hardly have been more complete had his satanic majesty
been present in person, and almost within sight of the capital of the
incas the last of the Pizarros was handed over to the executioner,
upbraiding with his last breath those who, grown rich by his brother's
bounty and his own, had deserted to his enemies, and were now gathered
around his scaffold,[XV‑52] while he himself was left without the means
of purchasing a mass for the welfare of his abandoned soul.[XV‑53]






After the downfall of Rodrigo de Contreras, his sons, Hernando and
Pedro, the former a licentiate, and both held in high esteem among
the colonists of Nicaragua, resolved to regain by force of arms the
wealth and station of which they deemed themselves unjustly deprived.
Of noble birth and reared in luxury, they found themselves in early
manhood reduced to comparative poverty and their ancient name sullied
by their sire's disgrace. They knew well that they had the sympathy
of the greater portion of the settlers, and in the province were many
exiles from Peru, veterans who having fought under Carbajal and Gonzalo
Pizarro, were always ready for fresh enterprise, no matter how dangerous
or treasonable, provided only that wealth were in prospect. Chief among
them were Juan Bermejo and Rodrigo Salguero, whom Gasca had banished
for attempting to raise an insurrection after the execution of Gonzalo.
Bermejo was an old friend of the Contreras family, being a native of the
same city in Spain, and it was at his instigation that the two brothers,
who at first were bent only on recovering their father's rights and
property in Nicaragua, now determined to attempt a feat the audacity
of which has no parallel in the history of Spanish colonization. This
was nothing less than the conquest of Tierra Firme and Peru. In the
event of success Hernando was to be proclaimed monarch of the latter
province, which was believed to contain more wealth than all the world
besides. Preparations were made at Granada; men were secretly enlisted;
arms and ammunition were procured; and when the news arrived that the
sentence of the deposed governor was confirmed by the council of the
Indies the conspirators removed to Leon, the younger brother remaining
at his mother's residence in Granada to convey the impression that they
had departed on some peaceful errand.

Hernando with his companions took a house in Leon, and thence messengers
were despatched to invite those who were thought most likely to join
them to a pretended merry-making. When all were assembled the youthful
rebel pointed out how hard was their present condition in life, and
how hopeless their chance of bettering it. He denounced the conduct of
the audiencia, by whose ordinances those who had conquered and peopled
the province were now well nigh reduced to beggary. He represented to
them that he was entitled to the government of Peru, which province,
he claimed, belonged to his family by certain rights inherited from his
grandfather Pedrarias Dávila;[XVI‑1] and he concluded by inviting them
to join him in an expedition by which wealth in abundance might fall to
their lot if they had but the courage to grasp it. No further persuasion
was needed, and all at once gave their assent, electing Hernando as
their captain.

Bishop Valdivieso was the only man who was likely to offer serious
opposition; and as a measure of prudence as well as to avenge the
disgrace of Rodrigo de Contreras it was resolved that he should be put
to death. The conspirators marched in a body to the episcopal residence.
Some who held religious scruples tried to excuse themselves under
pretence that they were without arms, but were compelled by their leader
to accompany the rest.[XVI‑2] Hernando in company with an apostate
friar, named Castañeda, entered the house, while one stood guard at
the door, and the remainder of the band surrounded the building. The
bishop's companion, Fray Alonso, who had noticed their approach, at once
notified the prelate, but his fate was sealed. He endeavored to conceal
himself, suspecting the intention of the intruders, but was discovered
and instantly stabbed to death in the presence of his aged mother, the
point of Hernando's dagger breaking off in the victim's breast.[XVI‑3]
The dwelling was then plundered; several boxes containing gold and
jewels were stolen, and the party marched to the plaza, where Hernando
was proclaimed "captain general of liberty." A messenger was despatched
to Pedro de Contreras to inform him of his brother's success, and the
rebels proceeded to the treasury building at Leon, and breaking open
the royal chest divided among themselves its contents.

The leaders of the revolt separated their forces into three companies;
and it was decided that Salguero should be despatched with a small band
to Nicoya to seize the ships and enlist all the men he could find there,
while Hernando marched with the main body to Realejo for a similar
purpose, and Bermejo with about thirty men returned to Granada to gather
recruits and destroy all the vessels on Lake Nicaragua, thus preventing
any tidings of the rebellion from reaching Tierra Firme by way of Nombre
de Dios.

[Sidenote: GRANADA TAKEN.]

As soon as news of the conspiracy was known in Granada, a corps of
one hundred and twenty men was hastily organized under Captain Luis
Carrillo, and when Bermejo approached the city he found himself opposed
by a greatly superior force; but so skilfully had young Pedro won over
most of the settlers to his brother's cause, that many of the loyal
party deserted their ranks and joined the revolutionists. After a brief
contest, in which Carrillo and several of his men were killed and others
wounded, Bermejo took possession of the city. All the shipping on the
lake was destroyed, and the rebels marched to Realejo accompanied by
Pedro, who, notwithstanding the entreaties of his mother, had resolved
to join the expedition. Hernando, meanwhile, had captured there two
vessels laden with merchandise for Peru, and impressed their crews
into his service. Salguero had been equally fortunate at Nicoya, having
entered the town without opposition and enlisted some sixty recruits.
The forces of the revolutionists now mustered more than three hundred

Knowing that success depended on promptness of action, the rebel leaders
determined to embark immediately for Tierra Firme, and at once arranged
their plan of operations. From certain exiles recently arrived from
Peru it was ascertained that the licentiate Gasca was then on his way to
Spain with a large amount of treasure. To seize it was to be their first
endeavor. If this were successful Gasca and the governor of Panamá were
to be put to death. An army of at least six hundred men was to be levied
at the Isthmus. Ships were to be fitted out and a squadron despatched
to cruise off the coasts of Nicaragua and Guatemala and destroy all the
vessels they could capture. The settlers who were unfit for military
service were to be plundered of their goods and sent, together with all
the women and children, to Cartagena. Panamá, Nombre de Dios, and Natá
were then to be burned to the ground. The cattle were to be killed and
the crops destroyed, so that if an army should be sent against them from
Spain there should be found neither means of subsistence nor ships for
transport. The expedition was then to sail for Peru, where Hernando was
to be proclaimed king; and Spain was thus to lose the richest portion
of her dominions in the New World.[XVI‑4]

Soon after the conspirators had taken their departure from Granada,
the alcaldes ordered a bark to be built with the intention of sending
news of the threatened invasion to Nombre de Dios; but alarmed by the
threats of Doña María, who declared that her sons had information of
their purpose, and were even now returning to destroy the city, they
requested her to assure them that no tidings of the revolt should be
sent to Castilla del Oro. Meanwhile the revolutionists, having completed
their preparations, set sail from Nicoya for Punta de Higuera, in the
district of Natá.

       *       *       *       *       *


On the 12th of March 1550 Gasca arrived at Panamá, and at once
proceeded to land the royal treasure, which was valued at eleven million
castellanos. He was bid to use all expedition in shipping it to Spain,
for as he learned from his despatches it was sorely needed to defray
the expenses of the emperor's European wars. His instructions were
that he himself should remain at the Isthmus to await the arrival of
the newly appointed viceroy, Mendoza. Though somewhat uneasy under his
responsibility, vague rumors of the coming raid having already reached
him, he had no great fear of being attacked, as he had with him a force
of one hundred and fifty veterans, and the seamen on board the ships
mustered about four hundred and fifty men. No fleet from Spain had yet
arrived at Nombre de Dios, but nineteen trading-vessels, found at anchor
off the town, were seized and provisioned, and armed with the artillery
brought from Peru.[XVI‑5] Twelve hundred mule-loads of gold and silver
were soon conveyed to the town of Cruces on the Chagre, there to be
shipped in barges, under Gasca's charge, for transportation to the North
Sea, and still a large amount of treasure awaited means of conveyance
at Panamá.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rebel expedition had now arrived at Punta de Higuera, where
a caravel was captured, laden with corn—a welcome prize, as the
revolutionists were already in want of provisions. Continuing their
voyage toward Panamá they captured another vessel returning thence to
Nicaragua, and were informed by her crew of the licentiate's arrival
and of the strength of his forces. It was now determined to attack the
city at dead of night, surprise the garrison, put the governor to death,
and thus create a panic among the settlers. As to Gasca, "they swore,"
says Vega, "to make powder of him, an article of which they were much
in need."

Some hours after nightfall on the 20th of April 1550 Hernando de
Contreras and Bermejo with the main body of the revolutionists landed
at a small inlet about one league from the city, and under cover of the
darkness made their entrance without opposition, shouting "Death to the
traitor!" and "Long live Prince Contreras, captain general of liberty."
The governor's home was surrounded, but as he had departed for Nombre
de Dios the rebels contented themselves with plundering his residence. A
party was now ordered to secure the treasurer Amaya and seize the royal
treasury,[XVI‑6] while the remainder dispersing themselves through the
streets, seized all the arms and ammunition they could discover, being
instructed by Bermejo to tell the people that they had come not to sack
the town but to seize the king's treasure and to inaugurate a reign of
liberty. Some of them nevertheless broke open the stores and houses,
and helped themselves to whatever they most coveted. A large stock of
rich apparel was found among other merchandise, and many of the lawless
gang now, for the first time since they had arrived from Spain, attired
themselves in a suit of new garments.[XVI‑7]

A force was stationed in the plaza in front of the cathedral, where the
bishop had taken refuge. As he refused to show himself, being in fear
of assassination, Bermejo entered the sanctuary and dragged him into
the square. Meanwhile Ruiz de Marchena, the assistant treasurer, had
been arrested, and by threats and maltreatment forced to deliver up
additional treasure to the amount of four hundred and fifty thousand

Bermejo urged that the bishop, the treasurer, the regidores, and other
principal officials be put to death; but Hernando, not wishing to shed
blood unnecessarily, accepted their promise under oath to join the
cause of the revolutionists, whereupon the former remarked to the rebel
leader, "If you are in favor of your enemies and against yourself you
will find that these very same men whose lives you now spare will upon
the first opportunity turn about and hang you and all your followers."
Hardly had the words been uttered when Marchena, disregarding his vow,
despatched messengers to apprise Gasca of the invasion.


While the city thus fell into the hands of the conspirators, Pedro
de Contreras with fifty men had seized all the ships in the harbor
of Panamá, and Salguero with twenty mounted arquebusiers had been
despatched to Cruces with instructions to slay the licentiate and
the governor and to bring back all the treasure they could secure.
The latter arrived too late to execute his intent; but five hundred
bars of silver were found stored in the village, and there Salguero's
men remained till noon of the following day, amusing themselves by
plundering the custom-house and making merry over brimming goblets
of choice wine, paying the merchants for their goods from the stolen

Thus far all had gone well; and had the rebels had a skillful leader
they might have accomplished their purpose almost as effectually as
did Hinojosa when by his superior strategy he made the conquest of the
province, a few years previously, without the loss of a single life.
But success had made them overconfident. Already they had roused the
ill-will of the people by plundering them of their goods, and now they
were about to commit the serious blunder of dividing their forces into
small detachments, thus rendering themselves liable to be attacked and
overpowered in detail. Hernando with only forty men set forth from
Panamá for Nombre de Dios, thinking this slender band sufficient to
cope with Gasca's command.[XVI‑8] Arriving at a place called La Venta
de Chagre he captured one Gomez de Tapia, who had in his possession
a letter informing the licentiate of what had transpired. He at once
caused him to be hanged, attaching to his feet a paper on which was
written, "This man was hanged for carrying advices to Gasca." By some
fortunate chance, however, he was rescued. A mulatto boy who when asked
where his master lay concealed directed his captors to a spot where they
found only his sword, was put to death in the same manner by order of
a captain named Landa.

At Capira, within a distance of three and a half leagues from the town,
the men were ordered to encamp until Gasca with the king's treasure
should arrive at Nombre de Dios. Bermejo in the mean while determined to
leave Panamá unguarded and marched to the support of Hernando, hoping
to crush the foe in a single encounter and thus end all opposition.
Believing that Pedro's slender force was more than sufficient to
prevent any uprising in the city, he even withdrew some of the men, and
enlisting a few volunteers among the citizens began his journey across
the Isthmus.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: GASCA IN ARMS.]

On the day after Bermejo's departure Gasca and the governor arrived
at the mouth of the Chagre, and here were met by a party of armed
men from Nombre de Dios, with news that Panamá was in possession of
a ruffian horde, though who they were or whence they came none could
yet determine. Thus after crushing the rebellion in Peru, and bringing
these vast stores of wealth in safety to the shore of the North Sea,
the licentiate found himself in danger, at the last moment, of losing
not only the king's treasure but his own reputation as an able and
trustworthy servant of the emperor. He resolved to proceed at once to
Nombre de Dios, and after placing his gold and silver beyond reach of
the invaders, to collect all the men he could muster and march to the
rescue of the capital. Encountering a heavy gale after putting out
to sea he was compelled to land at a small inlet some leagues distant
from the town, and thence despatched one of his officers to inform the
settlers of his approach and encourage them to make preparations for
defence. Two days later he arrived in person, and was received with open
arms by the terror-stricken citizens, most of whom had closed their
stores and dwellings and placed their effects on board the ships in
readiness for flight. It was now ascertained that Hernando de Contreras
was in command of the rebels, and that their intention was to declare
him king of Peru. Gasca ordered his treasure-fleet to be brought round
from a neighboring island, where it had been left at anchor, and by thus
showing that he had no fear of the invaders soon restored confidence.
Many of the inhabitants had fled to the mountains, but now returned,
and others brought their valuables on shore from the vessels, saying
that if the licentiate ventured to store the king's treasure at Nombre
de Dios they need have no fear for their own property. Finding that no
attack was made on the town Gasca supposed that Hernando had returned
to Panamá, and collecting his forces, amounting in all to five hundred
and sixty men, prepared to recross the Isthmus; but when on the point of
departure news arrived from the capital that the rebellion was already

       *       *       *       *       *

After Bermejo had evacuated the city, certain of the inhabitants,
knowing that Gasca was in command of a strong force and would probably
overpower the invaders, determined to take up arms and attempt to bar
their retreat. A messenger was despatched to inform the licentiate of
their purpose. The church bells were tolled to call the citizens to
arms, and the royal standard was hoisted amid shouts of "Long live the
king!" and "Death to tyrants!" Pedro de Contreras, who still remained
with the fleet, hereupon sent a boat on shore to ascertain the cause
of the uproar. The crew were instantly made prisoners, and the men of
Panamá now resolved to attempt the capture of the vessels, and thus cut
off the rebels from all chance of escape. One of the captive seamen was
placed in the boat securely bound, and it was then rowed back toward
the fleet followed by three others filled with armed men, the sailor
being ordered on pain of death to answer the challenge of the rebels
with the words "Hernando de Contreras, the prince of liberty." After a
sharp struggle the assailants were repulsed, six of their number being
killed and several wounded. During the conflict the prisoner managed
to shake off his fetters, and plunging into the sea saved himself by
swimming back to his ship. Preparations were now made for the defence of
the city; intrenchments were thrown up; the main street was barricaded;
and the women and children lodged in the cathedral where the last stand
would be made in case of defeat.


On hearing of this emeute in the city, Bermejo, who had now arrived at
the village of Cruces, determined at once to retrace his steps, vowing
that he would hang and quarter every one of those who had broken their
promise not to take arms against him. Messages were sent to Hernando and
Salguero informing them of what had transpired, and urging their instant
return; but without waiting for his assistance the rebel leader marched
at once on Panamá, making the journey of fourteen leagues in a single
day. Again he committed an unpardonable error, and one that soon caused
the destruction of his forces. In his foolish haste to join Hernando
he had left the strongest city on the Isthmus without a garrison, and
now while his men were worn out by their forced march he resolved to
make the attack that very night. Had he but waited for the arrival of
reënforcements, or even allowed his soldiers time for rest, all might
yet have been well; but anger overcame his judgment, and in his thirst
for vengeance he would hear of no delay. Entering the main street he
found the people fully prepared for defense, and on arriving at the
barricade rocks were hurled down from the house-tops, while bowmen and
arquebusiers opened a sharp fire, causing him to retreat and devise
other plans of operation.

After consulting with his officers it was resolved to set fire to the
city at several points during the following night, and to fall on the
inhabitants while they were engaged in extinguishing the flames. No
quarter was to be shown, and orders were given that every inhabitant
over twelve years of age should be slaughtered without regard to sex
or condition. While the rebels were in council one of the captives,
overhearing their conversation, secretly despatched his negro servant
to give information of their design. Notwithstanding the advice of the
bishop, who deemed it best to await the arrival of Gasca from Nombre de
Dios, the men of Panamá determined to attack the enemy before they had
time to execute their plans. Their forces mustered in all 550 men, of
whom 100 were veterans who had fought in Peru, 200 were raw recruits,
and the remainder negroes, armed with lances or cross-bows, under
command of Spanish officers. About noon they sallied forth to encounter
the foe. All knew that they were about to engage in a doubtful and
desperate struggle, but the veriest coward among them felt that it was
better thus to risk his life than be tamely butchered by the rebels; and
as the battle was to be fought in open daylight, none could shirk duty.

Bermejo was greatly astonished at the audacity of the citizens, but his
discomfiture of the previous night had made him a little more cautious
and he withdrew his forces to a neighboring hill, where being joined
by Salguero's band,[XVI‑9] which at that moment arrived from Cruces,
he awaited the onslaught. After a desperate struggle the rebels were
overpowered. Ninety of them were stretched dead upon the field,[XVI‑10]
among them Bermejo and Salguero, the latter by a lance-thrust from the
treasurer Amaya, who during the fight managed to escape from his guards.
The remainder were captured to a man and conducted in shackles to the
jail, where the alguacil mayor, Rodrigo de Villalba, caused them all
to be stabbed to the heart, plunging his own dagger into many, and not
even allowing them the consolations of religion.

On the very day that Bermejo's command was defeated, Hernando receiving
news of his proposed attempt to recapture Panamá, sent a message
approving of his intention, and for the purpose of causing a panic in
the city, ordered him to spread the report that Nombre de Dios had been
taken and Gasca and the governor slain. Leaving twenty-five men under
the command of Landa to guard the passes at Capira, he set forth with
the remainder to support his lieutenant. Arriving the first night at
Venta de Chagre, he found that one Lozano, a settler in that district,
had gone to warn the citizens of his approach, and ordered all his
property to be destroyed. On the following day he was informed of the
disastrous result of the battle before Panamá, and at once disbanded
his men, bidding them make their way to the coast, where they might,
perchance, be rescued by his brother's fleet, himself with three
companions going in the direction of Natá. Meanwhile the men left at
Capira, fearing an attack from Gasca's troops, abandoned their post and
marched across the Isthmus. On approaching Panamá they were attacked by
a strong force, but made their escape during the night and also directed
their course toward the sea-shore.

       *       *       *       *       *


When Pedro de Contreras heard of the defeat of Bermejo, he at once put
to sea with his two best ships, and, abandoning the remainder, sailed
for Natá, but no sooner was his departure known than four vessels
started in pursuit; and Gasca, who arrived from Panamá a day or two
later, despatched a strong force by land to prevent the embarkation
of the survivors. At Punta de Higuera the rebels' ships were overtaken
and captured, most of their crews escaping in the boats, a portion of
them being captured later, and the remainder dying as was supposed by
starvation or being killed by the natives. Nothing was afterward heard
of their fate. Landa's men were slain or taken prisoners, and he himself
was hanged and quartered at the same tree from which he had suspended
the mulatto boy. The man who had attempted to strangle Tapia met with
a similar fate, and the bodies of these two rebels were displayed
piecemeal along the road between Capira and Venta de Chagre. Twelve
only among all the captives were spared, and these were sent to Spain
to end their days at the galleys. Hernando and his comrades reached the
coast, and being hotly pursued, put to sea in a canoe hoping to fall
in with Pedro's ships, but were driven back by stress of weather. After
wandering along the shore for two days, the rebel chief, now enfeebled
by hunger and exposure, was drowned while attempting to ford a river,
and thus probably escaped the hangman. When his body was afterward
discovered it was recognized only by the clothes and by a golden
ornament suspended from the neck. The head which was so soon to wear a
crown, was severed from the body and placed in an iron cage in the plaza
at Panamá. Thus ended a rebellion which under more able leadership might
have subverted Spain's empire in the western world several centuries
before the term of her dominion was accomplished.[XVI‑11]





In answer to the petition of the settlers at Trujillo, the emperor
appointed as ruler of Honduras and Higueras Francisco de Montejo,
the governor of Yucatan. It is not recorded that he brought with him
either reënforcements or supplies in aid of the fast decaying colony.
On his arrival he found a small band of starving men, destitute of
all resources. The Spaniards who were able to make their way out of
the province had already taken their departure. Even Juan de Chavez,
appointed by Alvarado as his successor, not finding in Honduras any
profitable field for his enterprise, had abandoned the territory and
returned to Guatemala.[XVII‑1] The governor first proceeded to San Pedro
del Puerto de Caballos, where he at once annulled the repartimientos
granted by Alvarado, bestowing them on his friends or appropriating them
to his own use,[XVII‑2] and despatched an expedition to the neighboring
sierra for the purpose of pacifying the Indians. As no attempt was
made to enslave or maltreat them, many returned voluntarily to the
settlement. Montejo then visited Gracias á Dios, where he ascertained
that certain Spaniards, journeying from Comayagua toward Guatemala, had
been murdered by the natives in the province of Cerquin. He repaired to
the spot, and arresting the ringleaders caused them to be punished in
the presence of their caciques, who were then dismissed to their homes,
professing to be satisfied that their penalty was deserved.


But their satisfaction was only feigned, and the colonists, who
now imagined that they had established friendly relations with the
Indians, were quickly undeceived. The most warlike and implacable of
their enemies was the chief Lempira, a name signifying the Lord of the
Mountains. He had long been a terror to the settlers, and a warrior of
note among his own countrymen. With his own hand he was reputed to have
slain in a single conflict with a hostile tribe one hundred and twenty
of his foes. Such was the terror which his presence inspired that his
enemies fled before him as from one bearing a charmed life, for in all
the innumerable battles which he had fought he had never received a
wound. Occupying a stronghold, known as the rock of Cerquin, in close
proximity to Gracias á Dios,[XVII‑3] he had bid defiance to Alvarado
when on his way to the relief of Cereceda at the head of a strong party
of Spaniards and two thousand friendly natives. Juan de Chavez before
his return to Guatemala had attacked Lempira's fortress with all the
forces he could muster, but was foiled in his attempt, and the natives
now believed their position to be impregnable.

Fired with the ambition to deliver his country, the cacique assembled
the neighboring chieftains—their followers mustering in all some
thirty thousand warriors—and invited them to join him in an effort
to exterminate the invaders. He pointed out the disgrace of allowing
themselves to be held in subjection by a handful of strangers, urged
them to take arms against the Spaniards, and offering to place himself
at their head promised to lead them to victory or lay down his life in
the attempt. It was resolved to open hostilities at once, and a number
of settlers were killed before any tidings of the revolt reached Gracias
á Dios. Captain Cáceres with a well equipped force was despatched
by Montejo to quell the insurrection, whereupon Lempira retired to
his stronghold and put to death the messengers sent to require his
surrender, stating that he acknowledged no master and obeyed no laws
other than those of his own people.

Cáceres then laid siege to the place, but although assistance was
summoned from Comayagua and San Pedro del Puerto de Caballos the Indians
made good their defence. For six months the Spaniards beleaguered the
fortress, their numbers rapidly diminishing from want, exposure, and
ceaseless encounters with the natives. So untiring were the latter in
their efforts that the besiegers, who were divided into eight parties,
found little time to rest, being harassed day and night by sorties
from the garrison. At length Cáceres, seeing no prospect of taking the
stronghold, resolved to gain by a base stratagem the success which he
had failed to win by force of arms. A horseman was ordered to approach
within arquebuse-shot of the rock and summon Lempira to a colloquy
under pretence of opening negotiations for peace, while a foot soldier
who accompanied him, screened from view by the mounted man, was bid
to take deliberate aim at the cacique and fire upon him when sure
of his mark. The artifice succeeded only too well. The unsuspecting
chieftain came forth to meet the messenger and while held in parley
was brought to the ground by a shot from the arquebusier. His lifeless
body rolled over the rock, and his followers, panic-stricken, made no
further resistance, most of them taking to flight, and the rest giving
themselves up to the Spaniards.[XVII‑4] It is but just to add that the
captives were well treated and that the governor, who does not appear to
have been responsible for this outrage, succeeded by his humane policy
in pacifying many of the fugitives and inducing them to return to their
abodes and till the soil.

During the administration of Montejo the settlers of Honduras
again enjoyed an interval of repose,[XVII‑5] though his conduct was
distasteful to many of the colonists, who still remembered with regret
the time when slave-hunting was permitted throughout the territory.
The arrival at Gracias á Dios, in 1538, of the licentiate Cristóbal de
Pedraza, bearing the title of protector of the Indians, was of material
service to the governor in settling the many difficulties that arose
with the encomenderos. He was cordially welcomed and received every
assistance in the discharge of his duties.

       *       *       *       *       *


Montejo now turned his attention to the construction of roads and the
development of the resources of his province which had already given
promise of a prosperous future. Wheat had been successfully cultivated
and the prospects of a largely increased production were encouraging,
while the same favorable results had attended the planting of the
vine. In 1539 the governor addressed a letter to the emperor, urging
the expediency of constructing a road for pack-animals between the
bay of Fonseca and Puerto de Caballos, by way of Comayagua. The whole
distance was but fifty-two leagues, and it was pointed out that the
road might afterward be improved, so as to be available for wheeled
vehicles. It was claimed that this would prove a more favorable route
for the transport of merchandise between Spain and Peru than that by
way of Nombre de Dios and Panamá, the harbors on either side being
safe and easily accessible. The country through which it was to pass,
moreover, possessed an excellent climate, rich mines, a fruitful soil,
good pasturage, and many fine streams of water. His Majesty was asked
to furnish negroes for the prosecution of the work, as the natives were
not to be relied on for such labor. A few of the colonists were soon
afterward induced to form a settlement near the spot abandoned by Gil
Gonzales Dávila and Sandoval's party.[XVII‑6] To this was given the
name of San Juan del Puerto de Caballos. The site was in many respects
favorable for a commercial emporium, but its sickly climate was already
too well known to the Spaniards.

Soon after the Indian revolt, which terminated with the death of
Lempira, the governor determined to establish a settlement in the
district of Comayagua, and with that view despatched Cáceres to find a
suitable location midway between the two oceans. A spot was selected in
the centre of a fertile valley, distant about twenty-six leagues from
either sea, and connected by a good road with an Indian village, whence
a navigable river flowed northward toward Puerto de Caballos. Here was
founded, in 1539, the town of Comayagua,[XVII‑7] and so prosperous were
the affairs of the new colony that a few years later[XVII‑8] it was
raised to the rank of a city.

The settlements founded by the early colonists of Honduras were slow
of growth. In a letter addressed by Pedraza to the audiencia of the
Confines, dated May 1, 1547, he states that the seven Spanish towns
which the province then contained[XVII‑9] "were always increasing as
were the villages;" and yet we find that Trujillo, which had then become
the largest of them, contained but fifty settlers, while none of the
others numbered more than thirty. The absence of communication with the
South Sea, and the distance from the highways of commerce between Spain
and the new world, no doubt retarded greatly the increase of population;
for the agricultural and mineral resources of the territory were not
inferior to those of other provinces which contained more than ten times
the number of inhabitants. The want of good roads and of facilities for
travel was also a serious drawback; and it is probable that to make a
tour of the different settlements in Honduras, all lying within a radius
of less than forty leagues, occupied, in the middle of the sixteenth
century, almost as much time as would now be required to accomplish the
circuit of the globe.[XVII‑10]

[Sidenote: GOLD-MINING.]

The mines of Honduras had already begun to yield a moderate amount of
treasure, and but for the wholesale destruction of the natives and the
want of negro labor could have been made to produce far greater returns.
As far back as the days of Pedrarias Dávila it was known that those in
the Olancho valley were extremely rich, but for want of the necessary
tools they could not be worked. With only their stirrup irons the
Spaniards in two months scraped up gold to the value of sixteen thousand
pesos de oro, and "with proper implements," Herrera states, "they might
have taken out two hundred thousand pesos." The early prosperity of
Gracias á Dios was due to the discovery of rich mines in its vicinity,
and it soon became one of the most prosperous settlements in the
province. The richest one was that of San Andrés de Nueva Zaragoza, in a
mountain west of the town and east of the Copan valley. Gold could here
be scratched out of the earth with a stick. In another mine, belonging
to one Bartolomé Martin de Sanabria, more than a pound of gold was daily
collected by himself and a single slave. Later the yield became so large
that alcaldes mayores were appointed to collect the royal fifth, with
power to compel one fourth of the Indians within a circuit of twelve
miles to labor in them. "Near Comayagua," says Oviedo, "they took out
and smelted ore which yielded sixty thousand pesos de oro, and forty
thousand more were supposed to have been stolen."[XVII‑11]

While Montejo was engaged in various projects for promoting the welfare
of the province, Pedro de Alvarado arrived at Puerto de Caballos
in command of his powerful and well appointed force,[XVII‑12] and
proceeding thence to San Pedro del Puerto de Caballos, soon afterward
despatched a messenger to Gracias á Dios to notify the governor of
his arrival. Montejo was at a loss how to conduct himself under this
changed aspect of affairs. As ruler of Yucatan his career had been
unsuccessful, and in Honduras he found himself unpopular. With his few
and scattered followers ill-fed, ill-clad, and obliged to maintain a
constant struggle with the natives, he was in no position to cope with
a powerful rival. Although holding his authority by appointment from the
crown, he was ignorant as to what extent the visit of Alvarado to Spain
affected his government. He knew not what representations had been made
to the emperor by his rival and had every reason to fear that the worst
construction had been placed on his conduct. He had indeed never felt
quite secure in his position. More than a year before it had been the
intention of the crown, in answer to the petition sent from Trujillo, to
place Honduras under the jurisdiction of the audiencia of Española. This
measure had been abandoned only on account of the great distance and
infrequency of communication; and now after some previous negotiation
for an exchange of territory[XVII‑13] Alvarado had landed in person to
demand the annexation of his province to Guatemala. He had long before
expressed his opinion that Honduras could not stand alone, but that if
joined to the adjacent province it would contribute to the emperor's
treasury a hundred thousand castellaños yearly, whereas at that time it
yielded almost nothing.[XVII‑14] Montejo on the other hand had ridiculed
the other's views. "In the hour of trial," he said, "when the whole
country was overrun by hostile natives, he sent many urgent requests
to Guatemala for help, but aid was refused him, although he asked only
for the assistance of two hundred friendly Indians, and he had to fight
his battles as best he might." He declared his belief that if Honduras
were annexed to Guatemala, not an Indian would be found in the province
in a few months, and that in less than two years the territory would be


After more than a month had elapsed since the despatch of his message
without any reply being received, Alvarado determined to set forth
toward Gracias á Dios; and, collecting his forces, marched in the
direction of the capital. Montejo meanwhile was ill at ease. He
knew well that any attempt at intimidation would but work his own
destruction, and yet was unwilling to throw himself on the generosity
of his rival. Acting on the advice of his friends, however, he resolved
to receive him courteously, and on his approach to the settlement went
forth to meet him. At a spot distant about fifteen leagues from the city
the rival governors met, and Montejo found that his worst fears were
more than realized. "His Majesty had been informed," said the conqueror
of Guatemala, "of the manner in which he had entered Honduras and of his
subsequent career, and was further advised that Alvarado had at great
cost and labor saved the province from destruction. It was therefore
ordered that Montejo should immediately deliver up all the property
which he had wrested from the people of the province and all revenues
received by him since his assumption of office."

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the ecclesiastics then resident in Honduras was one already
mentioned whom Montejo styles "The padre Cristóbal de Pedraza, the
protector of the Indians, and calling himself bishop." His official
appointment to the see of Honduras Alvarado brought with him on
his return from Spain. When Pedraza first arrived in the province,
the governor received him cordially, placing at his disposal his
own residence and a large number of slaves. To him he now appealed
for aid in this his dire distress, and through the prelate's
intercession[XVII‑15] with Doña Beatriz matters were adjusted without
further dispute. The revenues derived from lands and mines during
the governor's term of office were estimated at twenty-eight thousand
ducats,[XVII‑16] and "of this sum," says Herrera, "Alvarado without
solicitation immediately remitted a moiety, and two months later was
easily persuaded to forgive the other half." It was agreed that Montejo
should surrender to him all claim to the government of Honduras and
Higueras, and that Alvarado should cede in return the Ciudad Real
de Chiapas and the town of Suchimilco in Mexico, giving also a money
compensation of two thousand castellanos.


In a despatch to the emperor, written soon afterward, the ex-governor
complains bitterly of the wrongs which he had suffered through the
machinations of his enemies; but, as he himself remarks in his letter,
"a little favor at court is of more avail than the most faithful
service." The agreement was ratified by the crown, and about the close
of 1539 Montejo departed from the province after a brief and somewhat
inglorious career, while about the same time Alvarado returned to
Guatemala, leaving Alonso de Cáceres as his representative in Honduras,
and Pedraza a year or two later took ship for Spain where, after
some delay, he received the papal bull of confirmation and was duly
consecrated, occupying his time meanwhile by making contracts for negro
slaves in the name of the crown, with a view of utilizing their labor
in the development of the mines.[XVII‑17]

On his return to the province in 1545, the bishop[XVII‑18] undertook
a pastoral tour through the province, lasting eighteen months. He
complains bitterly of the hardships which he endured and of the
demoralized and poverty-stricken condition of the colonists. "The
natives," he says, "have nearly all fled to the mountains, being in
terror of the Spaniards, who have continued to enslave them for so many
years. Many Portuguese, Italians, and other foreigners have propagated
disease and vice among them so that even Indian maidens of tender age
are corrupted to a sad extent, while bigamy and polygamy are of frequent
occurrence." Valdivieso, who was residing at the time at Gracias á Dios,
awaiting consecration as bishop of Nicaragua, also relates that the
church was held in contempt, that the Spaniards were as a rule extremely
lax in their observance of all religious duties, and that they led a
more vicious life than had ever been known among Christians.

Though Pedraza brought with him from Spain a number of friars, they do
not seem to have been very zealous in the work of reforming the settlers
or converting the natives. At times many days passed during which no
divine service was held, and the cabildo attributed the omission to
the neglect of the bishop, "who," they said, "was too busy with his
worldly affairs to attend to his duties properly." The ecclesiastics
appear, however, to have been very successful in selling papal bulls
among the Indian villages, a practice which was continued till 1547,
when a royal cédula put an end to this shameful traffic. Their charges
for saying mass or for funeral services were exorbitant. To confess a
person residing at a distance of one league cost thirty castellanos,
and to watch for a single night by the bedside of a deceased cacique,
one hundred and thirty xiquipilli of cacao. Desirous of making at least
some show of missionary zeal the prelate recommended that a cathedral
be erected and schools established in all Indian towns which were in
the neighborhood of Spanish settlements. The former recommendation was
adopted, and notwithstanding the protestations of the audiencia of the
Confines, the site selected was at Trujillo,[XVII‑19] the bishop's
salary being fixed at five hundred thousand maravedís, though soon
afterward he petitioned that his stipend be increased to two thousand

       *       *       *       *       *


When the new code of laws abolished the audiencia of Panamá and
appointed the audiencia of the Confines,[XVII‑20] Alonso de Maldonado
was elected its first president[XVII‑21] through the recommendation
of Las Casas, the remaining oidores being the licentiates Diego de
Herrera, of whom mention has been made in connection with the province
of Nicaragua, Pedro Ramirez de Quiñones, and Juan Rogel. Maldonado was
directed to establish the seat of government at Comayagua, which was
thenceforth to be known as Nueva Villa de Valladolid, but finding that
location unsuitable he selected as a more favorable site Gracias á
Dios, where in 1545 the first session of the tribunal was held.[XVII‑22]
The arrival of Maldonado was celebrated with much rejoicing among the
settlers; but their joy was short-lived, for one of the first measures
of the audiencia was the publication of the new code of laws which,
they declared, was to be strictly and immediately enforced so far as it
related to the manumission of the Indians.

In Honduras the new code was regarded with no less disfavor than in the
other provinces, and it was probably due only to the sparse population
of this territory that we read of no such outbreak among the colonists
as that of Gonzalo Pizarro in Peru, and of the Contreras brothers in
Nicaragua. The settlers were fain to content themselves with making
ineffectual protests, and with sending procurators to advocate their
cause at the court of Spain. It does not appear that the natives were
at all benefited by the regulations enacted in their favor; for a
year or two later, on the arrival at Gracias á Dios of Las Casas and
Valdivieso, the former declares that despite all the royal ordinances to
the contrary, the Indians placed under the protection of the crown were
so grossly maltreated that they preferred to return to the service of
their former masters rather than enjoy their new and doubtful liberty.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the first of June 1549 a royal cédula was issued ordering that the
natives should not be used as pack-carriers, except in cases of extreme
necessity, and that all employed in whatever capacity should receive
payment for their services. These regulations appear, however, to have
made their lot still more grievous, for the Spaniards, no longer owning
them as human chattels and caring not for their lives, treated them
even more harshly than before. At Gracias á Dios we learn that they were
offered for hire at public auction, and after being disposed of to the
highest bidder were sent to the mines or to the sea-shore forty miles
distant. They were driven together, Las Casas tells us, within a circuit
of ten or fifteen leagues, and a guard being placed over them, were
enclosed in a corral like cattle. They were then divided by an alguacil
among the settlers, and after working hard for a month received two
reales, sometimes being required to serve an entire year for a single
peso. When used as beasts of burden they were compelled to carry a load
of seventy-five or one hundred pounds through a country abounding in
swamp and forest. Their food consisted of a few hard cakes of maize, and
at night, their blankets being taken from them to prevent their running
away, they were often left to sleep in the open air almost naked and
without shelter.

       *       *       *       *       *


In addition to Las Casas and Valdivieso, the latter of whom was
sojourning at the capital awaiting consecration as bishop of Nicaragua,
there were now present at Gracias á Dios the prelates Marroquin of
Guatemala, and Pedraza of Honduras.[XVII‑23] It was not of course to be
expected that all these dignitaries of the church should work in harmony
with each other, and much less with the members of the audiencia. While
Las Casas and Valdivieso strove to enforce the unconditional liberation
of all Indians, Marroquin and Pedraza, who themselves possessed several
encomiendas, were exceeding loath to part with them; and when Las
Casas threatened with excommunication all who should refuse to give up
their bondsmen, Marroquin assured the settlers that he would grant them
quick absolution. The removal of the latter was then demanded by his
opponents, who wrote to the emperor denouncing him as "one undeserving
of royal favor, having made his fortune at the expense of his honor
and that of the people, in violation of the law and the emperor's
orders." Pedraza, on the other hand, while discussing the question of
establishing schools in the native villages, exclaims: "Would to God
that to this purpose the efforts of Las Casas were applied, instead of
to the general perdition of the province, his discourse being like that
of one demented with rage, himself blindly covetous and ambitious of
honor profane. For thirty years was he striving for a bishopric until
at length he obtained one by the force of a hundred thousand lies."

The colonists of course had no sympathy with Las Casas, leaving
him to complain and sometimes almost to starve unheeded. Those who
were secretly his friends, through fear of exposing themselves to
persecution, were unwilling to minister to his necessities. The oidores
refused to listen to him or to afford him redress, and on one occasion
when a certain colonist threatened to assassinate the prelate he was
allowed to go unpunished.[XVII‑24] In a letter to the emperor Maldonado
states that "Las Casas has become so proud since his return from Spain
that it is impossible to deal with him, and the best place for him would
be in some convent in Castile." It was proposed by Marroquin to settle
the long-vexed Indian question by referring the matter to a commission
composed of the viceroy of Mexico, the audiencias, the bishops, and
other competent persons both lay and clerical, or to a committee to be
chosen by them, and that their decision be submitted to the crown for
approval; but Las Casas would admit of no such compromise and insisted
that the new laws be immediately enforced. It was finally agreed that
the bishops should present to the audiencia a memorial embodying their
grievances, asking for redress, and stating explicitly their demands
in reference to the treatment and disposition of the natives. Soon
afterward Las Casas read this document before the oidores, who, as
he now had the support of all his fellow-bishops, did not venture to
refuse him an audience. They were requested to render assistance to
the ecclesiastical authorities in the exercise of their jurisdiction,
and to aid them in punishing all who sinned against God and the church,
by committing sacrilege or holding in contempt the episcopal dignity.
It was demanded that the natives should not be forced to pay excessive
tribute, should not be used as beasts of burden, or required to render
any but voluntary service, and that all who were illegally enslaved
should be liberated and placed under the protection of the bishops;
for it was claimed that Las Casas and his colleagues were their
protectors and held the right of adjudication in all cases of alleged
maltreatment. It was urged that officials in charge of Indian villages
should be held strictly responsible for their trust and punished in
case of malfeasance as the new laws prescribed.[XVII‑25] The memorial
concluded by threatening the president, oidores, and other officials
with excommunication, should they neglect to obey these orders within
the space of three months.


Great was the indignation of the members of the audiencia toward the
prelate who thus dared place himself above the highest tribunal in the
land. They were accustomed to regard the ecclesiastics as men whose
presence must indeed be tolerated for appearance' sake, but whose
duty it was only to conduct religious services in which the wives and
children of the colonists might perhaps wish to participate, and to
make such progress as they could in the conversion of the natives.
That they should presume to interfere with their own schemes for
self-aggrandizement was not to be tolerated. Maldonado and the oidores
gave vent to their ire in such abusive language that three days later
Las Casas and Valdivieso addressed a letter to the emperor, stating
that neither in the days of Alvarado or Nuño de Guzman, nor during the
rule of any of the former tyrants, were the ministers of the church so
insulted and oppressed, nor were ever such enormous crimes committed
as under the present audiencia of the Confines. The bishops, moreover,
expressed their belief "that the devil had filled the oidores with
ambition and covetousness when they came to the country," and declared
that unless the enforcement of the new laws were intrusted to their
own hands the province must go to ruin.[XVII‑26] Meanwhile Marroquin,
who was in secret a bitter foe to Las Casas, also sent a despatch to
the court of Spain, wherein he speaks of him as one filled with pride,
envy, and hypocrisy, and denounces his assumption in daring to present
so offensive a memorial to the audiencia.[XVII‑27]

Las Casas waited in vain for an answer to his demands. Not discouraged,
however, by the studied inactivity of the oidores he pressed his claims
with untiring zeal, exasperating them by his pertinacity, and frequently
exposing himself to gross insult and contumely. On one occasion, while
entering the hall of the audiencia, he was greeted with shouts of
"Throw out that lunatic!" At another time he was coarsely affronted by
the president himself;[XVII‑28] and when, notwithstanding all rebuffs,
he made a final appeal, demanding compliance with the new laws, and
administering to Maldonado a public rebuke, the latter replied: "You
are a knave, a bad man, a bad priest, a bad bishop, one lost to all
shame and worthy of punishment!" Though stunned, for a moment, by this
answer from one whose appointment was due to his own recommendation, the
prelate meekly bowed his head, and with the words, "I very well deserve
all that your worship says, Señor Licenciado Alonso Maldonado," quietly
withdrew from his presence.


All now expected that the president would be excommunicated. As the
consecration of Valdivieso was to take place two days later and none
could be present who were under the ban of the church, Maldonado
resolved to make some effort at reconciliation. To repair to the house
of the bishop and there tender an apology was a humiliation which his
pride would not tolerate, while it could not be expected that Las Casas,
after all the indignities he had suffered, would consent to visit the
other's residence. Through the intervention of friends it was finally
arranged that the two should meet, as though by accident, at the
president's dwelling. Uncovering, and speaking in a respectful tone,
Maldonado began to express his sorrow for what had occurred, but the
prelate at once burst forth: "Hence! Away! You are excommunicated!" and
took his departure without uttering another word.

While yet engaged in his controversy with the audiencia, Las Casas
received news from Ciudad Real that disorder was rife in his own
diocese, and, wishing to return to Chiapas as soon as possible, once
more urged the oidores to render a decision. In order to rid themselves
of his ceaseless importunity they at length compromised the matter
by conceding a portion of his demands, but refused to recognize him
or his colleagues as protectors of the Indians. As this was the main
point in his memorial, and without this concession the new laws must
be inoperative, or at least difficult of execution, the prelate found
that like other premature reformers, he had gained little, and had added
greatly to his unpopularity.[XVII‑29]

       *       *       *       *       *

Toward the close of the year 1545 the bishops departed for their
several provinces. Of the oidores, Rogel accompanied Las Casas to Ciudad
Real;[XVII‑30] Quiñones was soon afterward engaged in levying a force
in aid of Gasca's expedition to Peru; and the president, who, together
with Herrera, still remained at Gracias á Dios, busied himself in
accumulating wealth, fearing that the day was not far distant when he
would be required to render an account. He met with little opposition,
for the remonstrances of the cabildo were entirely unheeded, and
Pedraza the bishop was a man too much after his own heart to throw any
serious obstacles in his path. Maldonado with his friends and relatives
already owned about one third of all the encomiendas in the province,
and received besides his share of the tribute obtained by the oidores
from the Indian villages, the ownership of which was for appearance'
sake placed in the name of certain alcaldes and alguaciles. The latter
received one third of the gross income, and those employed to collect
the tribute also received a portion and were permitted to wring what
else they could from their hapless victims, whom they hunted like
blood-hounds, day and night, enslaving all who were unable to contribute
their share.

       *       *       *       *       *


The condition of affairs in the province of Honduras soon became known
to the council of the Indies, and by the recommendation of Las Casas the
licentiate Alonso Lopez de Cerrato was appointed judge of residencia
and president of the audiencia of the Confines. For several years he
had presided over the audiencia of Santo Domingo, and had there made
the acquaintance of the bishop, who well knew his worth and the zeal
with which he labored in behalf of the Indians. It was one of his
principles always to suppose them to be in the right until the contrary
were proven, and little cared he for the good or bad opinion of the
Spaniards. Neither threat nor promise nor supplication could divert
him from the execution of his purpose. Being himself a priest he was
of course a good friend to the ecclesiastics, and assisted them in
their endeavors to alleviate the sufferings of the natives; so that the
settlers exclaimed, after he had been a short time in the province: "Our
day has passed and that of the friars has begun."[XVII‑31]

In 1548 the licentiate arrived at Gracias á Dios, and at once proceeded
to take the residencias of the president and of the oidores Rogel and
Herrera. After concluding his investigation he reports to the emperor
that since the establishment of the audiencia no royal decree nor any
of the new laws have been executed or enforced. On the contrary, the
president and oidores have been the first to disregard them in order
to ingratiate themselves with the settlers; they have never thought of
liberating any slaves or of abolishing the use of the natives as beasts
of burden.[XVII‑32]

Cerrato had undoubtedly expected to find matters in a better
condition, for he brought with him none to supersede the oidores who
might be displaced. Maldonado, however, appears to have escaped all
punishment other than loss of office.[XVII‑33] Herrera, although Las
Casas and Valdivieso had previously declared that he alone among the
oidores was worthy of his position, was the only one that was fined,
and with the exception of the president, the only one that was not

Although Cerrato was accused by the settlers of partiality in the
administration of justice, he enjoyed the full confidence of the
emperor,[XVII‑35] who gave orders that all matters of grave import
pertaining to the government of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala
should be referred to his decision. Moreover, the bishops of Nicaragua,
Guatemala, and Chiapas showed their appreciation of his worth by begging
him to visit their dioceses and aid them in their labors on behalf
of the natives, as the oidores sent to those provinces were unable to
enforce the new laws. During the brief term of Cerrato's residence in
Honduras nothing occurred that is worthy of note, with the exception of
a revolt among the negro slaves at San Pedro del Puerto de Caballos,
which was promptly quelled by a force despatched against them by the

In 1549 the seat of the audiencia of the Confines was removed from
Gracias á Dios to Santiago de Guatemala. The former town, now containing
but eighteen settlers, was situated in a neighborhood where food for
man and beast was difficult to obtain, and was far remote from the more
important colonies. In other settlements the condition of affairs was
little more prosperous. In Honduras, as elsewhere in Spain's western
dominions, the apathy of the Spanish monarch and the disorders caused
by the ceaseless struggle for wealth, or the craving for insignificant
authority, added greatly to the misery and privation which the early
history of colonization throughout the world seldom fails to present.





When the news of Alvarado's death arrived in Santiago[XVIII‑1] during
the last days of August 1541, demonstrations of sorrow were on every
side; the cathedral was draped in black,[XVIII‑2] and the city put on
habiliments of woe; for however bad the man there are few who do not
take pleasure in conventional mourning.

But the effect of the intelligence upon the adelantado's wife, Doña
Beatriz, was so severe as apparently to affect her reason. She beat
her face and tore her hair, weeping, screaming, and groaning in a very
ecstasy of grief. For days she neither ate nor slept, refusing all
consolation. She caused her house to be stained black, both inside
and out, and draped it in deepest mourning. All efforts to appease
her met with passionate outbursts expressed in language accounted
impious,[XVIII‑3] and she repulsed alike the appeals of friends and
the religious consolation offered by the priests—all of which was quite
pathetic on the part of the bereaved woman. Meantime funeral obsequies
were celebrated by Bishop Marroquin with all possible solemnity, prayers
being offered each day for the repose of the late conqueror's soul.

But while due observance of mourning was shown for the loss which
the colonists had sustained in Alvarado's death, it was necessary to
decide upon the important matter of the government of the province.
Francisco de la Cueva had been left lieutenant-governor, but although
this appointment was approved by the viceroy[XVIII‑4] and the cabildo
was ordered by him to recognize Cueva until his Majesty's wishes should
be known, the members took the matter into their own hands and elected
Doña Beatriz governor. This anomalous proceeding was discussed at a
special session, and the reasons assigned for taking such a step were
that it was deemed necessary for the peace, security, and interest of
the country. As soon as the decision was reached the cabildo went in
a body to the house of Doña Beatriz and tendered her the appointment.
Her violent grief for the loss of her lord did not prevent her from
assuming rulership according to the wish of the authorities. Thanking
the municipality for the honor, she accepted the position and promised
to serve his Majesty with zeal and devote herself to the welfare of the
province in the prescribed form of words. The ceremony of installation
immediately followed in the presence of the bishop and Francisco de la
Cueva, after which the widow of Alvarado took the oath in due form,
and thereupon appointed her brother, Francisco de la Cueva,[XVIII‑5]
lieutenant-governor, giving him full power to act for her in all matters
pertaining to the government, except the disposal of repartimientos
of Indians which might become vacant; this prerogative she reserved to
herself. Her brother's appointment was recognized by the cabildo on the
following day, Saturday the 10th of September.[XVIII‑6]

       *       *       *       *       *


But it was not fated that this unfortunate lady should long enjoy her
high position. Her doom with that of many others was sealed. The rains
during this year had been excessive, and from Thursday the 8th of
September until noon of the following Sunday it rained continuously,
while an unusually violent wind prevailed.[XVIII‑7] The reader is aware
that the city of Santiago was situated on the slope of the lofty volcan
de Agua.[XVIII‑8] This mountain is a beautifully symmetrical cone nearly
fifteen thousand feet above the sea, and in its enormous crater was a
small lake, which, owing to the heavy rainfall, had risen to the top
of the enclosing sides. On the 10th of September,[XVIII‑9] about two
hours after nightfall, a volcanic eruption dislodged an immense volume
of water, or the imprisoned lake burst its barrier. However that may
have been, at this fearful moment down came the impetuous flood upon
the doomed city, ten thousand feet below, and not more than a league
distant from the top, bringing great trees and masses of rock[XVIII‑10]
and hurling them upon the inhabitants. The wind and rain and darkness
rendered the disaster all the more appalling. Many were killed, not
knowing what had come upon them. There was no selection of victims;
Spanish colonist and Indian servant were stricken down, the gambler
at his dice and the worshipper kneeling at the shrine. In that night
of horror each, as he struggled solitary from the seething torrent,
might fancy himself the only survivor. Numbers perished, and many were
cast from its embrace upon firm ground, with mangled limbs and bodies


Doña Beatriz—truly La Sin Ventura, the hapless one, as she had
signed herself the day before—at the first alarm, gathering her maids
around her, hastened to the oratory. But of what avail was prayer?
The waters were upon them, and at the second outburst swept down
the chapel and buried beneath its ruins the lady-governor and her
handmaidens.[XVIII‑12] Before striking Alvarado's house the flood had
washed away two others with their occupants. There were in the dwelling
other members of the household, and among them Doña Leonor, the eldest
natural daughter of Alvarado. These Doña Beatriz sent for, but most
of them were carried away by the torrent, though Doña Leonor and some
others escaped. A large number of Indians of both sexes belonging to
the household were also drowned. Two chaplains who were in the house
were swept through a window and carried for some distance to the plaza
where they were rescued. Several attempts were made during the night to
reach Alvarado's house, but only one person, Francisco Cava, succeeded.
Doña Beatriz' apartment which she had left was the only portion of the
building left standing. Had she remained there, instead of rushing
to the church, she and those with her would have been saved. Many
supernatural horrors were reported to have occurred during the night,
the particulars of which are related by Bernal Diaz.

While this blow was falling upon Alvarado's house and household, his
kinsman Francisco de la Cueva was in extreme peril. At the first roar of
the descending flood, heard above the raging tempest, he imagined that
some violent disturbance had occurred in the town and rushed out lance
in hand, only to be driven back, however, by the avalanche of water.
Retiring with the Spaniards of his house to his study, he escaped the
danger, though that apartment was the only portion of the building left

When day dawned the scene of desolation was heartrending. The water
had passed away, and on all sides the ruins of the city were exposed
to view. Most of the houses had been overthrown or swept away, and the
few which remained were so filled with mud that they were untenantable.
Whole families had perished.[XVIII‑14] The streets were choked up with
accumulated debris, trunks of mutilated trees, and huge rocks. Scattered
in all this wreck lay disfigured corpses and carcasses of drowned


And now began the sad, sad search for the dead, followed by mournful
burial. Many of the lost were never found. The bodies of Doña Beatriz
and those who perished with her were recovered with one exception.
Her remains were interred with due solemnity near the high altar of
the cathedral,[XVIII‑16] and those of her companions in death were
reverently laid side by side in one common grave.[XVIII‑17] While the
last rites of the church were duly performed for the behoof of this
hapless lady, the stricken community regarded the catastrophe which
had befallen them as a manifestation of divine wrath; and though most
of the survivors looked upon it as a merited punishment for their own
sins, there were not wanting those who attributed the cause of God's
anger to the intemperate language made use of by Doña Beatriz in her
frenzied grief.[XVIII‑18] So much insane foolishness can be wrapped in
words of wisdom! The bishop endeavored to encourage his flock though in
such deep dejection. A penitential procession was held and the litany
chanted before the high altar. He enjoined them, moreover, to fast and
pray on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Further to cheer them he
recommended all mourning to be put aside.

Nevertheless the gloom which had fallen upon the community was not soon
dispelled, and at every threatening change of the sky the panic-stricken
settlers sought safety on the hills. A unanimous desire to abandon the
spot prevailed; many of the inhabitants left it and went to reside on
their farms,[XVIII‑19] while those who remained[XVIII‑20] expressed
their determination to go elsewhere. To arrest total abandonment
and dispersion the cabildo, on the 22d of October, issued a decree
prohibiting any citizen from leaving under a penalty of one hundred
pesos de oro.[XVIII‑21] And long after the capital had been removed
to another site, a penitential procession, attended by the civil
and ecclesiastical orders, left the new city at daybreak on each
anniversary and visited the former capital in mournful commemoration
of this calamity. Bearing crosses in their hands, chanting the litany,
and praying for the safety of their city, the people marched in all
humility to the former cathedral.[XVIII‑22] There mass was celebrated
and the graves of the dead were decorated, after which the procession


The death of Doña Beatriz had left the province without a ruler. Cueva's
position at the head of the government was no longer recognized, and in
the crisis of affairs the cabildo met on the 16th and 17th of September,
and after some discussion elected Cueva and Bishop Marroquin joint
governors provisionally.[XVIII‑24]

The bishop in a letter addressed to the king, dated February 20, 1542,
informs his Majesty that in accepting the appointment he had not been
influenced by any desire of wealth, honor, or power but by the actual
state of affairs, and at the same time urgently brings before his
notice the necessity of his appointing a governor of great influence
and ability. He had previously suggested certain individuals,[XVIII‑25]
whom he deemed fully capable and worthy of filling the office. These
recommendations he now reiterates, holding himself responsible should
the king be pleased to act in accordance with his views. The bishop,
moreover, intimates that the municipal government had fallen into
unworthy hands, owing to the resignation or death of honorable regidores
who had been members of previous cabildos. The necessity of selecting
men of good judgment and zealous in the royal service, is pointed out,
and of such vital importance is the election of such men to the welfare
of the province, that Marroquin implores his Majesty to order that those
who had resigned should resume office.[XVIII‑26]


While describing the country as tranquil he pictures the colony as
almost in a state of dissolution. The late calamity had involved the
settlers in great poverty,[XVIII‑27] and the contrast between their
present condition and the state of prosperity to which they had arrived
under Alvarado's rule induced them to meditate leaving the province
altogether. To obviate this evil Marroquin distributed a portion of the
Indians which had belonged to the adelantado among a few of the most
deserving who were thus induced to remain.[XVIII‑28]


After the election of the joint governors the important question
of removal was discussed by the authorities and citizens. That the
interests of the country demanded such a step was the almost unanimous
opinion,[XVIII‑29] and the selection of a new site at once occupied
general attention. On this matter opinions were more varied and several
localities were proposed. The argument in favor of the valley of
Tianguez in the plains of Chimaltenango was again revived and found
supporters, while by others the valley of Petapa or that of Mixco were
preferred. There were, however, objections to the removal of the city
to any great distance from its existing site. It was borne in mind
that the valley of Almolonga was already cultivated, and that in its
vicinity were cattle farms which owing to the prevailing poverty and
the necessities of the inhabitants should not be abandoned;[XVIII‑30]
and after a careful investigation of the advantages offered by different
localities,[XVIII‑31] those of the valley of Panchoy were considered to
be so superior that in cabildo held on the 22d of October it was ordered
that the future city should be there erected.[XVIII‑32]

At no greater distance therefore than half a league from the ruins of
Santiago, on the site occupied by the present Antigua Guatemala, the
Spaniards once more laid out a city. The customary assignment of lots
was made, town commons set apart, and the natives again made to toil in
the erection of buildings for their oppressors.[XVIII‑33] Nevertheless
the work did not progress with the rapidity which the authorities
seem at first to have expected,[XVIII‑34] and though during 1542 some
progress was made, even the house of the cabildo had not been completed
in April 1543. The exact date of the formal removal of the municipality
to the new city is not known,[XVIII‑35] but on the 10th of March 1543 a
session was held there.[XVIII‑36] On the 12th of June following the host
was transferred from the church of the ruined town in solemn procession,
attended by the civil authorities, and all the people present in the

At a session held on the 21st of May 1543 a decree was passed
by the cabildo that the city should retain the title of the one
destroyed,[XVIII‑37] and the notaries were ordered to use in all
documents the heading Ciudad de Santiago and no other, under penalty of
a fine of ten pesos de oro. This decree was publicly proclaimed on the
13th of June following.[XVIII‑38]

       *       *       *       *       *


Meantime another change had taken place in the government. On the 2d
of March 1542 the viceroy of New Spain appointed the oidor Alonso de
Maldonado provisional ruler of Guatemala, pending instructions from
the crown, and on the 17th of May following the new governor presented
his commission to the cabildo and was placed in office the same

During the following year excitement prevailed in Guatemala owing to
information having been received in October of the new code of laws
and the establishment of the audiencia of the Confines. It was at once
resolved to make an appeal to the throne, and on the 12th of the same
month the cabildo met to appoint procurators to Spain. The opinion
of the inhabitants having been taken,[XVIII‑40] a committee invested
with power of electing representatives was appointed,[XVIII‑41] but
it was unable to agree, and on the 29th of February 1544 Hernan
Mendez presented a petition to the cabildo proposing that a mass
meeting be held in the principal church in order that the general vote
of the people might be taken.[XVIII‑42] Nevertheless considerable
delay occurred, and it was not until the following August that the
appointments were decided upon, when an examination of the votes
showed that Hernan Mendez and Juan de Chavez were elected. The latter,
however, declined to accept, and a still further delay was caused by
Mendez insisting upon proceeding to Spain by way of Vera Cruz instead
of through Puerto de Caballos. At length, on March 16, 1545, Mendez
received his papers and instructions, and departed for Spain.[XVIII‑43]

[Sidenote: INDIAN POLICY.]

The bitter controversy which took place during the sessions of the
audiencia in 1545 has been described in the preceding chapter, but
it remains to be added that Maldonado and the oidores, although they
had avowed their intention of enforcing the new laws, practically
discountenanced their enforcement so far as they related to
repartimientos. In a letter addressed to the king dated the 30th of
December 1545 they state that if all Indians were liberated whose owners
had no legitimate title none would be left to serve, and many Spaniards
would be reduced to poverty. The same result would occur to those who
were married and had families, if encomiendas as they became vacant were
transferred to the crown.[XVIII‑44]

In 1545 the new laws were repealed, and at a somewhat later date the
concession of perpetual repartimientos was granted to the colonists of

Meanwhile the controversy relating to the treatment of the Indians was
being vigorously carried on. The tribute which had been imposed upon
them by Marroquin and Maldonado was a ground of complaint against those
functionaries,[XVIII‑46] and I find that Marroquin considered himself
obliged to explain that it had been levied without sufficient knowledge
of facts, and that some changes were necessary.[XVIII‑47]

Among other suggestions made by Marroquin for the amelioration of the
condition of the natives was that the authority of the bishop over
them should include the right to inflict corporal punishment and to
settle their difficulties. He moreover strongly recommended that for
the purposes of better instruction and government Indian towns should
be consolidated and subjected to a system of police.[XVIII‑48]

Meanwhile Alonso Lopez Cerrato had been appointed president of the
audiencia of the Confines. It was already admitted that Gracias á Dios
was not a suitable place for the seat of that body, and both Cerrato
and bishop Marroquin made representations to the king advising its
removal.[XVIII‑49] Accordingly his Majesty by royal cédula authorized
the president and oidores to move to the city of Santiago,[XVIII‑50]
where they arrived in 1549, and according to Remesal accepted Bishop
Marroquin's offer of his palace for their use.[XVIII‑51]


Cerrato's administration as president of the audiencia caused grievous
offence to the settlers of Guatemala, and in a representation to the
king they charge him with being ungenerous, undignified, wanting in
zeal for the honor of God, and unconscientious.[XVIII‑52] The grounds
of their objection to him naturally originated in his action regarding
the protection of Indians, and they bitterly complain of his nepotism in
assigning encomiendas to relatives of various degrees. Justice at his
hands they could not obtain; consequently many of the best colonists
had left the province and others were preparing to do so. Bishop
Marroquin's remonstrances with Cerrato only developed hostile feelings
in the latter, which were publicly evinced by his absenting himself for
a long time from the services of the church,[XVIII‑53] conducted by the

But the settlers in Guatemala were obstinately opposed to any measures
which clashed with their own views, and consequently represented
matters from their own point of view. Under the first audiencia of the
Confines, divided as it was against itself, they had to a great extent
maintained their previous position relative to the natives;[XVIII‑54]
but in Cerrato they perceived one who recognized them as merciless
taskmasters,[XVIII‑55] and possessed both the determination to arrest
the existing destructive system, and the courage to inflict punishment
upon them for any gross infringement of the law.[XVIII‑56]





[Sidenote: CIUDAD REAL.]

The province of Chiapas was at first included in the see of Tlascala,
and paid tithes to that bishopric till it was transferred to the diocese
of Guatemala in 1536. When Ciudad Real was laid out, under the direction
of Mazariegos, an allotment was assigned for a church building, and its
erection was begun almost immediately.[XIX‑1] The first parish priest
of Ciudad Real was Pedro Gonzalez, who was appointed by the cabildo in
1528, with a salary of three hundred pesos de oro. On his death Pedro
Castellanos succeeded to the benefice in 1532.[XIX‑2] In 1537, through
the exertions of Bishop Marroquin, a convent of the order of La Merced
was founded by frailes Pedro de Barrientos and Pedro Benitez de Lugo.
On the 18th of May these friars petitioned the cabildo for an allotment
of land on which to found a monastery, but though their request was
granted they remained but a short time.[XIX‑3] In 1539 Fray Marcos Perez
Dardon, as superior, in company with Fray Juan Zambano took possession
of the deserted building. Finding that it was situated too far from the
settlement, the former petitioned for a new site and for contributions
and assistance in erecting a new convent. His request met with a liberal
response, and the friars who arrived in after years were well supplied
with the means of support.[XIX‑4]

By a papal bull issued on the 19th of March 1538,[XIX‑5] Ciudad
Real was appointed a cathedral city, the diocese to be subject to
the archbishopric of Seville, and the pope reserving to himself the
appointment of the first prelate. The salary of the bishop was fixed at
two hundred ducats a year, payable from the revenues of the province,
while the privileges and revenues of the bishopric were to be based on
the system prevailing in Spain. The church patronage and the choice of
dignitaries were conceded to the crown of Spain. The limits of the see
were also left to the decision of the emperor.[XIX‑6]

On the 14th of April 1538, Juan de Arteaga y Avendaño, a friar of the
order of Santiago, was appointed to the charge of the newly created
bishopric, but it was not until nearly three years later that he
was consecrated at Seville, whence he issued a document framing the
constitution of his diocese.[XIX‑7] The prelate did not like to take
possession, for on his arrival at Vera Cruz in 1541 he was attacked
with a severe fever, and though he succeeded in reaching Puebla de los
Angeles he died there shortly afterward,[XIX‑8] his diocese remaining
in charge of the bishop of Guatemala until the arrival, in 1545, of
Bartolomé de las Casas.

  [Illustration: ARMS OF THE CITY OF CHIAPAS.]

  [Illustration: CHIAPAS.]


Lying between the territory under the jurisdiction of the audiencias of
New Spain and the Confines were the provinces of Chiapas, Soconusco,
Yucatan, and Tezulutlan, so remote, even from the latter court, that
a strong hand was needed to enforce therein the new laws. In 1543 the
apostle of the Indies after refusing the bishopric of Cuzco, lest his
avowed disinterestedness should be doubted, accepted the prelacy of this
extensive diocese,[XIX‑9] one fourth of the tithes of his bishopric
and an additional sum of 500,000 maravedís payable by the crown being
assigned him as salary. He was consecrated at Seville, on passion Sunday
of 1544, and having by virtue of a royal decree caused the liberation of
all the Indian slaves brought to Spain from the New World he embarked
at San Lúcar on the 11th of July.[XIX‑10] He was accompanied by his
constant companion, Father Rodrigo de Ladrada, and forty-five Dominican
friars, including Father Tomás Casillas, their vicar, and his successor
to the bishopric of Chiapas. After touching at Santo Domingo where
he was detained over three months awaiting a vessel, he sailed for
Campeche, where he arrived on the 6th of January 1545. Las Casas soon
aroused the opposition of the colonists by insisting on the enforcement
of the new laws, so exasperating them that they refused to acknowledge
him as their bishop, on the ground that his papers were defective. They
could not, indeed, prevent him from taking possession of the bishopric,
but they could and did withhold the tithes, thus compelling him to send
to Ciudad Real for money to defray his expenses. His messenger reached
Ciudad Real early in February and the cabildo's answer is dated the
12th of the same month. They sent him a few hundred pesos which had
been advanced by the public administrators on the security of one of
the citizens.[XIX‑11]

From Campeche, Las Casas despatched by sea to Tabasco ten of the friars,
but the vessel being overtaken by a storm foundered off the island
of Términos, and nine of the ecclesiastics together with twenty-three
Spaniards were drowned. Las Casas and the remainder of the Dominicans
soon afterward departed for Ciudad Real, where his reception was cordial
and enthusiastic. He was escorted into the city under the pallium;
a house had been prepared for his reception, and thither all classes
flocked to pay him homage.[XIX‑12]

The cathedral chapter consisted, on Las Casas' arrival, of the dean,
Gil Quintana, and the canon, Juan de Perera, besides which dignitaries
there were three priests in the diocese. The Dominicans, who were also
kindly received, having reported their arrival to the provincial in New
Spain, established a temporary convent and began their labors.


In the enslavement of the natives, the settlers of Chiapas, if we are
to believe Las Casas, committed many excesses,[XIX‑13] and there is
abundant evidence that in their subsequent treatment of them there was
much harshness and cruelty.[XIX‑14] Daily appeals were made to him by
the Indians for protection, but the futility of any exhortations to the
settlers, where the natives were concerned, he well knew, and therefore
resolved on vigorous measures, firmly believing that his efforts would
be seconded by the audiencia in their enforcement of the new laws. Las
Casas, however, had misjudged the character of the oidores, as we shall
see hereafter.

Upon the approach of holy week he took the bold but injudicious step
of refusing absolution to all who should not forthwith liberate their
slaves,[XIX‑15] and made this the chief of certain sins for which he
reserved to himself the right of granting absolution. The publication
of this measure caused great excitement among the settlers, which
was further increased by his refusal to listen to any compromise. In
their despair they applied to the dean, who, failing to influence the
bishop, took upon himself the responsibility of granting absolution in
certain cases. Las Casas sent for the dean purposing to place him under
arrest, but the latter suspecting his design refused to obey; whereupon
the former, determined not to be thus thwarted, sent his bailiff and
a few attendants with orders to bring the contumacious dignitary, if
necessary, by force. The dean resisted, and with this object drew a
sword, with which he wounded himself in the hand and the bailiff in the

At this juncture an alcalde, who among others had been attracted by
the disturbance, added to the excitement by loudly shouting: "Help
in the name of the king!" Thereupon the citizens hurriedly gathered
from all sides with arms in hand and prevented the arrest of the dean.
Las Casas was beside himself with rage, and the settlers were equally
exasperated. That throughout holy week they should be deprived of the
sacraments for no other reason than that they held slaves was a measure
without precedent in the New World, and their indignation was increased
by the numerous letters of sympathy and condolence received from all
parts of New Spain. The dean in the mean time had escaped to Guatemala
where he was absolved by Bishop Marroquin and permitted to say mass.
Las Casas made a requisition for him, but it was ignored,[XIX‑17] and
he was obliged to content himself with declaring him anathematized and

Las Casas was baffled but not defeated. He received an invitation to
assist in the consecration of Bishop Valdivieso at Gracias á Dios,
which it will be remembered was then the seat of the audiencia of the
Confines, and thither he repaired. The news of the occurrences at Ciudad
Real had, however, preceded him, and with the exception of Herrera all
the oidores were prejudiced against him.[XIX‑19]

Las Casas found little sympathy from his brother prelates, Bishop
Marroquin, as has already been shown, entertaining a bitter dislike
toward him. Indeed, the apostle of the Indies was in some respects
ill-fitted for the noble work to which he had devoted his life, his
impetuous fearless character and ardent zeal blinding his judgment and
making him impatient of opposition and heedless of the rights of others.
Thus he made enemies where the interests of his cause demanded friends
and active supporters. Few if any of the prominent ecclesiastics in the
New World viewed the question of slavery as he regarded it, and they
resented his unqualified condemnation of it as a reflection on their
learning and piety.

Under these circumstances it is not strange that, as before stated,
his appeals to the audiencia were disregarded and that, meeting only
with rebuffs, he departed in disgust for his diocese. In the mean
time the settlers of Ciudad Real had by their importunities driven the
vicar general of Las Casas from the city. The bishop was not disposed,
however, to renew the struggle. His faith in the efficacy of the new
laws had received a severe shock, for by this time he had heard of the
determined resistance to them throughout the provinces. He had expected
that they would be opposed, but not to this extent, and now there was
no mistaking the hostile attitude of the settlers.

Over the turbulent inhabitants of Ciudad Real he had no further desire
to rule, and had already for the third time asked the emperor to allow
him to be transferred to Vera Paz, and that bishops be appointed
for the provinces of Soconusco, Chiapas, and Yucatan.[XIX‑20] No
further troubles appear to have occurred between the bishop and the


In 1547 Las Casas embarked for Spain. The revocation of the new laws of
which he must have heard before his departure, was a death-blow to his
hopes in the new world. During the first two years after his arrival
his efforts in behalf of the natives appear to have produced nothing
more than a few decrees, comparatively unimportant. Later he resigned
his bishopric, and retired to the college of San Gregorio de Valladolid,
still continuing, however, to take an active interest in Indian affairs,
although he had already passed his seventy-fifth year. From this retreat
he soon issued to defend the principles which it had been his life-long
labor to maintain.

The conquerors had found a champion in Doctor Juan Ginés Sepúlveda,
who contended that it was lawful to make war on the natives and enslave
them in order to promote their conversion and prevent human sacrifices.
Las Casas presented thirty propositions in refutation of this view in
which he maintained that over a nation whose only sin was idolatry no
authority could be justly exercised save by peaceful conversion. Though
this was clearly a condemnation of the policy of Spain in the New World,
the sincerity of Las Casas and the justice of his cause prevented the
king from taking offence at his boldness, and induced him to permit the
unrestricted publication of his works while those of his opponent were
forbidden to be printed. Henceforth he continued to be consulted on all
questions of importance concerning the Indians, his time being devoted
mainly to the writing of his history.

In 1555 Philip, who had lately ascended the throne, and was then in
England, proposed to sell the right of the crown to the reversion of
the encomiendas. Las Casas, ever on the alert, saw that this meant
perpetual slavery, and determined to exert all his powers to prevent
the measure. Through the king's confessor, who had written to him on
the subject,[XIX‑22] he made a bold and earnest appeal to the royal
conscience. The appeal was not in vain, and he thus paved the way for
the final emancipation of the natives.


His last service to the New World was his representation to the council
of the Indies of the great inconvenience and prejudice caused to the
settlers and natives of Guatemala by the removal to Panamá of the
audiencia of the Confines. In 1569, partly owing to his influence, the
audiencia was reëstablished in Guatemala. He did not live to see this
accomplished, however, for falling ill at Madrid, he died in July 1566,
in his ninety-second year. He was buried with becoming honors in the
convent chapel of Our Lady of Atocha.

Judged by his works Las Casas was the greatest philanthropist of his
age. Like all vigorous reformers, he was treated as a visionary by most
of his contemporaries, a conclusion which they deemed warranted by the
unflinching courage and tenacity with which he maintained his opinions.
His compassion for the natives, and his abhorrence for their oppressors,
were increased from year to year by his failure to alleviate their
sufferings, until it had become the all-absorbing idea which colored
his every act and word. In pursuit of this ambition no obstacle could
intimidate him. To resolve was to act. He hesitated not in the advocacy
of his cause to brave the anger of an emperor, or that of an excited
populace, and for this cause he endured persecution, insult, loss of
friends, the enmity of countrymen. It must be admitted that he was
resentful, and even bitter against his opponents, and to this reason may
also be attributed his frequent exaggeration, his misrepresentation,
the readiness with which his judgment was biassed, his unfitness for
dealing practically with the condition of affairs then existing in the
New World. By his contemporaries he is accused of harshness, arrogance,
uncharitableness, but it must not be forgotten that this was probably
due to the intolerant religious and scholastic spirit of his times. The
purity of his motives none can doubt, and while no defence can vindicate
the name of his adversaries from the charge of injustice and cruelty,
the errors of Bartolomé de Las Casas are forgotten, and his spirit of
noble self-devotion and high-souled philanthropy will make him known to
all posterity as one of the greatest benefactors of his race.

       *       *       *       *       *

The establishment of the audiencia of the Confines and the attempted
enforcement of the new laws produced the same excitement in Chiapas
as in other territories, but the transfer of this province to the
jurisdiction of the new audiencia caused no change in its local
government. The alcalde mayor, however, still the chief authority, ruled
with greater rigor, and by the appointment of deputies in all of the
native towns greatly increased the burden of their inhabitants.[XIX‑23]

Through the solicitation of Las Casas, Diego Ramirez, of whom mention
has been made in connection with the history of Mexico,[XIX‑24] was
sent to investigate the alleged oppression of the natives and their
opposition to their Dominican teachers. He appears to have been an
upright judge, and favorable to the Indians, but even his efforts,
supported as they were by various decrees in their favor, did not
accomplish the desired object.[XIX‑25]

After the departure of Ramirez, matters relapsed into their former
condition. Within less than a year, however, Cerrato having taken charge
of the audiencia determined to remedy these abuses, declaring that the
natives continued to be destroyed without pity, the previous official
visits having accomplished nothing.[XIX‑26]


Before the arrival of the Dominicans, little seems to have been done
to improve the religious and social condition of the natives, except to
baptize such as were encountered by the ecclesiastics in the principal
towns, or during their journeyings from point to point. Indeed, if we
are to believe Remesal, and in this instance we may certainly do so,
the Indians were morally and religiously more degraded under Christian
than under pagan domination. Idolatry was openly practised, and to their
former vices were added those of the Spaniards, which their chiefs, now
deprived in great part of their authority, were powerless to restrain.
Little cared the encomendero for the souls or bodies of the Indians
if the required tribute were but promptly paid. The labors of the
Dominicans were of course interrupted by the persecution to which they
were subjected because of their bold support of Las Casas. Alms were
refused them, and their supplies soon becoming exhausted they abandoned
their temporary convent and proceeded to the native town of Chiapas
whence, having fixed upon this point as their base of operations,
they gradually extended their labors over the province. The settlers
placed in their way every obstacle that self-interest and ingenuity
could devise, but the energy and devotion of the friars overcame all
opposition, and when in 1549 Cerrato came to their support they had
already established several convents including that of Ciudad Real,
and had visited and carried their teaching to the remotest parts of the





After the destruction of Santiago and the removal of the city to a
new site the erection of another cathedral and episcopal residence
was necessary.[XX‑1] The means, however, for the construction of these
edifices could not be immediately procured. The bishop therefore caused
to be built a hermitage, called Santa Lucía, which served temporarily as
the parish church in the new city.[XX‑2] The removal of the episcopal
seat was, moreover, a matter which did not depend upon either the
decision of the cabildo or the prelate, and both his Majesty and the
pope had to be consulted on so momentous a question. The necessity of
permission to make such a change was pointed out to the cabildo by the
bishop, who during a visit to Acajutla was informed by that body that
the roof of the old church had been removed.[XX‑3] With regard to the
building of the new cathedral few particulars are known, other than that
the bishop was compelled for a number of years to appeal to the king
for aid in its completion.[XX‑4]

Marroquin's bishopric, indeed, was not a rich one. In 1542 he represents
to the king the objection of the settlers to pay tithes, which they
regarded as an unheard of demand, and implores his Majesty to enforce
the payment to the church of one tenth of all tributes.[XX‑5] He,
moreover, assures him that his salary of five hundred thousand maravedís
was not sufficient to meet the demands of hospitality and charity, and
requests that a portion of the revenues of Honduras and Soconusco be
granted to him.[XX‑6]

But the colonists were not easily compelled to pay their tithes of
cacao,[XX‑7] maize, and feathers, and in 1545 the bishop again brought
the matter before the notice of the throne, declaring that the frequency
of disputes between the clergy and the colonists on this account was
prejudicial in the extreme. He represented the poverty of his church and
his own indebtedness, and asked that some compensation might be made
him for his services, and the expenses which he had incurred in his
visits to Honduras and Chiapas. Nevertheless the colonists maintained
a stubborn opposition, and in 1548 matters had so little improved that
Marroquin once more asks for aid from the crown.[XX‑8]


The effort of Marroquin to obtain Soconusco as a district of his
diocese widened the breach between him and Las Casas, the particulars
of which have already been given, and was one of the causes of the
abuse which these prelates heaped upon each other. The prince regent
had issued a cédula assigning Soconusco to the bishop of Chiapas on
the ground of its proximity to that province. This decision Las Casas
communicated to Marroquin in 1545, and hence arose mutual vituperation,
charges of grasping after territory, and misrepresentations, if not
untruthfulness, on either side. The bishop of Guatemala writes to the
people of Soconusco urging them to appeal against the royal cédula, and
in a letter to the king dated June 4, 1545, describes the diocese of Las
Casas as extending from sea to sea, and broad enough to contain half a
dozen bishoprics, while Las Casas reports that the bishop of Guatemala
had appropriated districts extending almost to Nicaragua, and states
that his see is the asylum of vagabond clergymen.[XX‑9]

       *       *       *       *       *


But though Marroquin was thus involved in difficulties with his flock
and disputes with his brother bishop, he labored hard for the welfare
of the former by founding various charitable institutions. Under his
auspices was established between 1546 and 1548,[XX‑10] the convent of
La Concepcion, the first lady superior being Doña Beatriz de Silva, a
nun of the Dominican convent of Madre de Dios in Toledo.[XX‑11] This
institution was liberally aided by the crown.[XX‑12]

About the same time the hospital of San Alejo was founded by the
Dominicans,[XX‑13] and in 1849 Bishop Marroquin founded that of
Santiago. This latter establishment was designed for Spanish and native
patients of both sexes. It was a spacious building containing four
wards, so that the races and sexes could be kept apart. Marroquin,
retaining the office of administrator, ceded the patronage of this
institution to the crown; hence it was known as the royal hospital of
Santiago.[XX‑14] While the bishop thus studied the temporal welfare
of his flock, its spiritual good was ever in appearance, at least his
anxious care, and I find his requests for more ecclesiastics almost as
frequent as his petitions for more money. From both Franciscans and
Dominicans he received great assistance. This last named order had
with the rest of the settlers removed to the new city,[XX‑15] having
received from the municipality an assignment of four lots of ground
whereon to rebuild their convent.[XX‑16] In 1547 the provincial chapter
of the order in Mexico recognized and accepted the convent of Guatemala
as regularly organized, and appointed Friar Tomás Casillas as a prior.
At this date there were thirteen members of the community besides the
prior. In 1550 Fray Tomás de la Torre succeeded Casillas, by which time
the number had increased to only fifteen.[XX‑17]


Meantime the rival order of the Franciscans had appeared upon the
field of labor. When the first members arrived it is not possible to
decide. According to Torquemada, Fray Toribio Motolinia was sent in
1533, by the custodia of the order in Mexico, to found monasteries in
Guatemala,[XX‑18] but the first permanent establishment of Franciscans
in Santiago was due to the efforts of Marroquin. At the entreaty of that
prelate six friars were sent from Spain in 1539,[XX‑19] and arrived
at Mexico in 1540, their expenses having been paid by him.[XX‑20]
After remaining six months at that city they proceeded by land to
Guatemala, but at Tepeaca, six leagues from Puebla, their prelate
Casaseca fell sick and died.[XX‑21] The rest continued their journey
and were received at Santiago with every demonstration of welcome. By
private contributions and with the assistance of the bishop they were
enabled to erect a humble dwelling,[XX‑22] in which they discharged the
duties of their calling with as punctual and strict observance as if
it had been a convent of the highest order. After the destruction of
Santiago appropriate ground was allotted to them for the erection of
their convent, church, and other buildings,[XX‑23] and by June 1542 an
unpretending monastery had been built. When the Franciscans had acquired
some knowledge of the native tongues, they engaged in missionary labors
throughout the country.[XX‑24]

The need of more friars was, however, urgent, and ere long Fray
Valderas, with the approval of the bishop, went to Spain in order to
procure more members of his order. He soon accomplished his mission and
returned with twelve brothers to Mexico. Unhappily in their haste to
engage in their labors most of them broke down on the long and toilsome
journey to Santiago, and died.[XX‑25] At a later date, however, the want
was somewhat relieved by the arrival of Motolinia with a considerable
number of his order.[XX‑26]

The Franciscan order was now firmly established in Guatemala. Motolinia
erected the convents which had been founded[XX‑27] into a custodia,
despatched friars to Yucatan,[XX‑28] and visited different parts of the
country. He then returned to Mexico and was succeeded in his office of
custodio by Fray Gonzalo de Mendez.[XX‑29]

The jealousy which existed between the Dominicans and Franciscans was
exhibited in Guatemala as strongly as elsewhere, and the bickerings
which occurred, and opposition offered by the earlier established order
to the new-comers, were so discouraging that many of the Franciscans
left the province.[XX‑30] But for the efforts of Bishop Marroquin they
would have abandoned the field.[XX‑31]

In 1547 the comisario general states that there were only twelve
Franciscans in Guatemala, and requests that young members of the order,
capable of acquiring the native language, be sent out.[XX‑32] He also
impresses upon the emperor the necessity of assigning separate fields
of labor to the two orders, and it is to be noted that the Franciscans
were inimical to the Mercenarios, who are described as being detrimental
rather than beneficial to the cause of the church.[XX‑33]


The disagreement between the two highest regular orders was not based
entirely upon a struggle for supremacy. Each had its distinct views
with regard to the method of implanting Christianity in America. The
Dominicans, led by their unyielding chief Las Casas, would not recognize
wholesale baptism as practised by the Franciscans, and they would not
admit that the interests of the conquerors were compatible with the
welfare of the conquered races. The Franciscans, with Motolinia as their
leader, imagined that a system of ecclesiastical and civil policy could
be adopted which would conduce to the interests of both the dominant and
conquered races. This order did not object to the sword being called
into operation; the Dominicans denied it as a means of advancing the
gospel. The Dominicans were uncompromisingly opposed to slavery; the
rival order not so, and I am inclined to think that the Franciscans
honestly believed that under the pressure of the encomenderos and the
impossibility of rapid manumission, more benefit could be obtained
for the natives by a tolerant system of servitude, supervised by the
religious orders, than by a sudden change. It is unnecessary to relate
the bitter denunciations that each leader uttered against the other.
While it is to be regretted that Motolinia in his fierce attack on Las
Casas appears to have been guided by a spirit not altogether free from
jealousy,[XX‑34] it cannot be disputed that the indiscreet zeal of Las
Casas gave dissatisfaction to eminent men even in his own order.[XX‑35]

It was through the exertions of Bartolomé de Las Casas that the
pacification of Vera Paz was achieved without the aid of an armed force.
The native name of this territory was Tuzulutlan. The Spaniards after
their entrance into Guatemala made several unsuccessful attempts to
subdue it, and from this cause and the fierce character of the natives
they called it Tierra de Guerra.[XX‑36] Its dimensions at the time the
Dominicans entered it nearly corresponded with its present limits.
In 1574 friars of the convent at Coban reported that Vera Paz, as
already bounded by royal decree, extended sixty leagues from east to
west, measured from the river Nito[XX‑37] to the river Zacapulas, and
fifty leagues from south to north, commencing from the northern slope
of the Canal and Rabinal mountains.[XX‑38] The surface was rugged and
mountainous; roads were almost unknown, and the inhabitants active
and warlike.[XX‑39] Nevertheless Las Casas proposed to penetrate it in
defiance of danger, exposure, and hardship.


Previous to 1536 he had published a treatise,[XX‑40] in which he
condemned conquest by force of arms, and urged that to civilize
and convert the Indians was the true system of subjugation. These
precepts he incessantly upheld in Santiago both from the pulpit and
in conversation, and his teachings only drew upon him general ridicule
and enmity, and eventually the people of Santiago dared him to put his
principles in practice by accomplishing the conquest of Tuzulutlan. The
undaunted padre accepted the challenge, and in conjunction with Fray
Rodrigo de Ladrada and Fray Pedro de Angulo, agreed to undertake the
perilous enterprise on the condition that the natives should never be
assigned in encomiendas, and that for a period of five years, dating
from the entrance of the friars into the province, no Spaniards should
be permitted to enter the country.[XX‑41]

Las Casas at once proceeded to put his designs in execution, and by the
employment of converted Indians and the establishment of frontier posts,
opened friendly relations with the hitherto exclusive inhabitants of
Vera Paz,[XX‑42] and laid the basis of the future acknowledgment of the
sovereignty of Spain.[XX‑43]

Nevertheless the work of conversion could not be straightway
accomplished. Though Las Casas was convinced of the practicability
of his scheme, the small number of friars in the country rendered its
immediate execution impossible. Moreover much opposition was offered
to his broad and uncompromising views, and although the work was begun
under the best auspices, so far as the action of the native chiefs was
concerned, he felt himself compelled to suspend operations until he had
had a personal interview with the emperor.[XX‑44] Accordingly he left
Guatemala and proceeded by way of Mexico to Spain.[XX‑45]

On his arrival at court he advocated his system of peaceful conquest
with his usual vigor, but his action gave great offence to the
cabildo of Guatemala. Two indignant letters were addressed to the
emperor attributing to him the existing troubles and turmoils.[XX‑46]
The direct cause of these despatches was the receipt of two decrees
obtained by the representations of Las Casas, the first of which was
addressed to the bishop and governor of Guatemala and intended to
remedy the prevailing neglect in the religious instruction of the
Indians and negroes. It ordered that at a stated hour each day, all
such as were not already instructed should be taught their religious
duties.[XX‑47] The second guaranteed to Las Casas and his companions,
in their labors in Tuzulutlan, freedom from interference on the part
of the Spaniards.[XX‑48] At the same time he obtained other documents
authorizing him or his companions to take such Spaniards as they
themselves might select into the converted regions. Letters of thanks,
also, were sent to such caciques as had aided in the work begun, and
lastly as a precaution against the interference of Alvarado, the
assistance of certain caciques was secured to the Dominicans, and
the adelantado and his lieutenant commanded not to interfere with

But Las Casas was aware that the promulgation and execution of a decree
in the western world were two different matters. He had learned by
experience that subterfuge was commonly resorted to in order to prevent
the enforcement of a cédula or delay its operation until there was no
longer necessity for it, and this without the charge of disloyalty being
incurred. The ceremony of kissing the royal order and placing it upon
the head was duly and submissively performed, but if it could be alleged
that his Majesty had been misinformed, ground for appeal was at once
established, and its execution postponed until a truthful statement of
the question could be submitted to the king. This delayed the arrival
of the final decision until it became inoperative, and the evasion of
royal orders was at this time severely felt by the ecclesiastics. Las
Casas consequently represented these abuses to the council and procured
a final cédula which entrusted the enforcement of the preceding ones to
the audiencia of Mexico, authorizing that court to punish disobedience
to previous decrees.


In 1541 Fray Luis Cancer returned to Guatemala, and continued in Vera
Paz the work of conversion inaugurated by Las Casas. From this time the
pacification proper may be considered to have begun.[XX‑50]

The exertions of Las Casas during the time he remained in Spain were,
as the reader is already aware, mainly directed to the promulgation
of the new code of laws. In 1545 he again arrived in New Spain to
take charge of his diocese as will be hereafter related, and in July,
being anxious to witness the progress that had been made in Vera Paz,
he visited that province. He found the condition of affairs to be so
satisfactory that he caused the depositions of six Spaniards to be
taken for the purpose of reporting to the emperor the true nature of the
conquest of this formerly warlike region. From the statements of these
deponents it appears that previous to the entrance of the Dominicans
the inhabitants of these districts opposed all attempts to subdue
them,[XX‑51] but that by infinite labor and care the friars had overcome
their ferocity and exasperation. In his progress through the country
the bishop everywhere met with a kind welcome. Escorted by Don Juan, a
son of the lord of Coban, with many of his subjects, he proceeded from
town to town,[XX‑52] receiving offerings and presents at each place.
At Coban he was gratified to find that a substantial wooden church had
been erected, and that every day many natives eagerly received religious
instruction. Proceeding thence to the town of Tuzulutlan he there met
Bishop Marroquin, who was making a similar visit[XX‑53] and I apprehend
that the two prelates did not entertain such friendly feelings to each
other as had been displayed to both of them by the natives.

But Las Casas had still to learn that however successful his own efforts
had been he could not ward off the oppression of his countrymen. The
Spaniards now began to enter the region, impose tributes, and make
slaves as was their wont, and in October following Fray Luis Cancer
wrote to him—the prelate being then at Gracias á Dios—stating that more
than seven hundred slaves of both sexes had been taken from the town
of Tuzulutlan alone, and that the tribute which the natives of Vera
Paz were called upon to pay was intolerable.[XX‑54] Moreover he was
soon to find, greatly to his mortification, that his peaceful system of
conversion was not necessarily unattended by bloodshed, as was shown a
few years later by the martyrdom of Luis Cancer and two brothers of the
Dominican order.


In 1547 Fray Cancer and Las Casas returned to Spain, and by their
representations induced the emperor to consent to an expedition to
Florida to be conducted by the former on the system by which the
pacification of Vera Paz was accomplished. His Majesty extended every
facility to the friar, supplying him with funds and issuing an order
which would enable him to obtain every encouragement and aid from
the authorities in Mexico.[XX‑55] The friar made his preparations
with great enthusiasm; yet he met with considerable delay, caused by
the unfavorable light in which his dangerous enterprise was regarded
in Spain. He had great difficulty in obtaining a pilot, and indeed,
although he had hoped to procure the assistance of four or six
colleagues, two only were found ready to risk their lives in the cause.
"All Seville," he wrote, "is surprised at this undertaking; those who
most fear God approve of it; others think that we are going to the

[Sidenote: MARTYRDOM.]

Writing these prophetic and ill-omened words on the very day of
his departure Fray Luis sailed on his last voyage from Spain. Few
particulars of his expedition are known, except the manner of his
death. On his arrival in Mexico he obtained the assistance which the
king ordered to be extended to him, and about the middle of 1549 set
sail from Vera Cruz, accompanied by Frailes Gregorio de Beteta, Juan
García, Diego de Tolosa, and a lay brother named Fuentes. Contrary
to his express desire the captain of the vessel landed him at a
part of the Florida coast where Spaniards had previously committed
depredations and thus exasperated the natives. Unconscious of this act
of carelessness,[XX‑57] Fray Cancer, accompanied by Tolosa and the lay
brother, proceeded on his mission, but the ill-fated ecclesiastics had
not advanced far from the shore when they were assailed by Indians, and
immediately beaten to death with clubs.[XX‑58]

This disastrous termination of an enterprise from which Las Casas and
his advocates had expected so much was a bitter cup which his opponents
did not fail to hold out to him. Yet this stout combatant for the
system of bloodless pacification yielded not an iota in his principles,
and ably defended himself against Sepúlveda by maintaining that the
previous cruel conduct of the Spaniards on the coast was the cause of
the tragedy in Florida.[XX‑59] The career of Las Casas in Chiapas and
the appointment of Cerrato as governor of Guatemala have already been






Cerrato's successor was Doctor Antonio Rodriguez de Quesada, an oidor
of the audiencia of Mexico, and a man of learning and ability. Though
appointed November 17, 1553, he did not assume office until the
beginning of 1555.[XXI‑1] The residencia of the former president and
oidores was soon begun, and completed some time in May.[XXI‑2] Quesada
was active in establishing reforms, and it was to the Indian question
that his principal efforts were directed. The president determined to
complete the organization of Indian towns, hoping thus to compel the
natives to adopt a civilized mode of life and establishing in them a
municipal government similar to that of Spanish settlements, the offices
being confided to their hereditary chiefs according to rank.[XXI‑3]

At the request of the bishop and the Dominican provincial, the audiencia
ordered Oidor Zorita to call a meeting of friars; and although we
have no direct information as to its object, we may conclude that
it related to the president's policy, for it was condemned by the
settlers,[XXI‑4] and, as we shall see hereafter, the carrying into
effect of Quesada's plans was in great part due to the efforts of Zorita
who was commissioned for this purpose.

The work of organizing the native towns had already been begun in
Nicaragua as early as February 1555, by the licentiate Cavallon,
appointed alcalde mayor of that province by the audiencia.[XXI‑5]

In the beginning of March, Zorita set forth on his official tour through
the province. From the letters of the Dominicans we learn that during
six months he visited on foot the most rugged portions of the province,
moderated tributes, and corrected abuses. In gathering the natives into
towns he found much difficulty, force being necessary in some instances
to accomplish their removal. This, however, was not the only opposition
encountered, for as might be expected he incurred the bitter hostility
of the settlers. Finding him incorruptible they had recourse as usual
to false reports. Witnesses for any purpose could be cheaply bought;
and since he would not yield the Spaniards determined to drive him from
the province.[XXI‑6] There is no evidence as to the result of this
hostility, nor have we any further records of events which occurred
during Quesada's administration, save the mention of a fearful epidemic
which swept over the country in 1558,[XXI‑7] and the seizure and pillage
of Puerto de Caballos by four French ships during the same year.[XXI‑8]

In the letters of the Dominicans already cited, no special mention is
made of Quesada, but in February 1558, the cabildo, in a despatch to the
king, urge the appointment as governor of some person who should be a
gentleman by birth, and have the sole management of affairs.[XXI‑9] This
would seem to indicate that, whatever the president's subsequent policy,
it was satisfactory neither to the ecclesiastics nor to the settlers.

Quesada died in November 1558, and the oidor and licentiate Pedro
Ramirez de Quiñones took temporary charge of the presidency. Ramirez'
rule was brief, and the only event of importance of which we have any
record was the expedition in 1559 against the hostile provinces of
Lacandon and Acala. Of the vast extent of unconquered territory lying
beyond Vera Paz, nothing definite was known at this time except from the
accounts of the march of Cortés to Honduras, nor had its conquest been

As early as 1550 attempts at the pacification of the adjacent province
of Acala were begun by the Dominicans of Vera Paz. For a time their
efforts were successful, but finally, incited by their neighbors and
allies, the majority of the natives refused to receive the friars,
and in 1555 the combined tribes destroyed the only mission thus far
established and murdered Father Vico, the originator of the attempt,
together with his companion Father Lopez, and a number of converted
Indians from Vera Paz. There is no evidence that their pacification was
again attempted.


Chief among the wild tribes of this region were the Lacandones, who
though few in number were brave, hardy, daring, and implacable in their
hatred of the white race. Their territory extended from the northern
frontier of Vera Paz along the eastern border of Chiapas as far as the
province of Tabasco. Their chief town and stronghold was on a rocky
island, in Lake Lacandon, distant a few days' journey from the provinces
of Chiapas and Vera Paz. From this point they issued in organized bands,
and sweeping along the border of these two provinces fell suddenly on
the defenceless settlements, leaving a track of desolation and blood.
These depredations continued for many years, nor is there any record of
a single instance of pursuit or punishment previous to 1559. Emboldened
by continued success, they extended their incursions to the interior.
In 1552 they destroyed two towns in Chiapas, one of them within fifteen
leagues of Ciudad Real. The attack was made at night, and but few of
the terrified inhabitants escaped. While sacrificing their captives the
natives shouted derisively: "Christians, call upon your God to defend

The bishop of Chiapas made overtures of peace to the Lacandones,
but they were treated with contempt and his messengers killed. He
then appealed to the audiencia; but the oidores, foreseeing in these
disasters the failure of the much-vaunted peace policy which had in a
measure excluded the civil authority from the territory ceded to the
Dominicans, coldly replied that the crown had strictly forbidden the
making of war on this province. Reports of the critical condition of
affairs were accordingly made to the crown both by bishop and friars.
In consequence a cédula dated January 22, 1556, ordered the audiencia
de los Confines to investigate the matter, punish the Lacandones as far
as practicable, and report the result to the crown. The instructions,
however, were unheeded, for the audiencia well knew that nothing short
of an armed force would suffice, and this decree did not expressly
authorize a disregard of the existing interdict.

In the mean time the depredations of the Lacandones continued unchecked,
and threatened to cause the abandonment of Vera Paz. Aroused at last
to a full sense of their danger the Dominicans were fain to acknowledge
that the coöperation of the sword was necessary to the planting of the
cross, and so far diverged from the principles laid down by Las Casas
as to declare in the provincial chapter held at Coban, in 1558, that
because of the sacrileges and murders they had committed, it was not
only lawful for the king to make war on the Lacandones, but if need be,
in order to protect his subjects, to exterminate them.[XXI‑10]

In pursuance of this declaration they wrote to the king and suggested
as the only efficient remedy the removal of the hostile natives to
certain unsettled districts beyond Ciudad Real, thus placing this city
between them and the settlements of Chiapas and Vera Paz. In order to
reduce the expense of their removal it was further suggested that an
expedition be authorized and the Spaniards induced to join it at their
own expense under promise that the Lacandones should be granted to them
in repartimiento. In accordance with these suggestions a royal cédula
dated March 16, 1558, directed the audiencia de los Confines to take
steps for the immediate removal of the Indians. If practicable it was
to be done peaceably, but if force were necessary all harshness was to
be avoided, though the prisoners taken were to become the lawful slaves
of their captors.

  [Illustration: LACANDON WAR.]


This decree was published in Santiago in the beginning of 1559; and
attracted by the prospect of gain thus held out, and the charm of
adventure and mystery which attaches to the invasion of an unknown and
hostile province, large numbers of settlers in Guatemala and Chiapas
offered to accompany the expedition. President Ramirez was appointed
commander-in-chief, as he had already certain military renown not
altogether merited. Early in the same year the respective forces arrived
at Comitlan, the appointed rendezvous. The total Spanish force is
not stated but is said to have included many persons of quality. The
troops from Chiapas were commanded by Gonzalo Dovalle, and besides the
colonists, comprised a native contingent of eight hundred warriors.
A thousand Indians are said to have accompanied the Spanish from
Guatemala. Supplies of all kinds were collected, and two brigantines
were built in sections, each vessel being capable of holding a hundred
men. A small army of carriers and attendants was required to transport
the baggage and wait on the Spaniards, and preparations were on a scale
better befitting a conflict with Europeans than with Americans. At
Comitlan a review was held which, according to Remesal, presented one of
the most brilliant spectacles ever seen in those parts, for no expense
had been spared by the Spaniards in their dress, equipments, and arms.
At last, the flags having been blessed and mass said, the army set out.

Fifteen days of toilsome march, during which a path had to be cut
through the dense vegetation, brought them to the shores of Lake
Lacandon. At their approach the natives retreated to the island, after
catching and sacrificing a negro boy who was out after some corn which
grew in the gardens on the borders of the lake.

From their retreat the Lacandones closely watched the movements of the
Spaniards, who in turn eagerly scanned the high bare rock with its white
houses and dusky inhabitants, lest any signs of hostile preparation
should escape them.

While the work of putting together one of the brigantines was
progressing, a few of the natives approached the shore in canoes and
demanded of the Spaniards their object in thus invading their country.
Returning they made offers of peace, but as they denied having more than
eleven canoes, the Spaniards suspected their design. It was believed
that they wished to induce the Spaniards to accompany them to the
island, a few at a time, where they could easily be despatched. The
brigantine was soon afterward launched and as the Lacandones saw it
bearing down upon them they took to flight.[XXI‑11] Many were captured,
including the principal chief and the high priest. The houses and
other defences of the island having been destroyed, a force was then
despatched to pursue the savages, and to reduce the stronghold of the
Puchutlas, which was also an island fortress, though its exact position
cannot now be ascertained.[XXI‑12]


Near the town of Topiltitepeq this force fell into an ambuscade, and
a few of the Spaniards were wounded, but the savages were finally put
to rout, and a large supply of provisions was found in the deserted
town. Arriving at Puchutla they found the natives in readiness for
defence. Preparations were immediately made for the attack, and a raft
was built as the second brigantine had been abandoned in the woods,
and the one used against the Lacandones had sunk in the lake. No sooner
had the Spaniards started from shore than the Indians advanced in their
canoes to meet them, and midway between the island and the bank there
was a sharp encounter which resulted in the defeat and flight of the
Puchutlas. The fortress was found to be deserted, the savages having
taken the precaution of removing their families and property to a
place of safety.[XXI‑13] No attempt was made to punish the natives or
to occupy any portion of their territory, and the expedition returned
to Guatemala about Christmas, bringing with them one hundred and fifty

In conjunction with the Spaniards, a large force of christianized
Indians under the native governor of Vera Paz invaded the province of
Ácala, administering a severe punishment, taking many captives, and
hanging the principal accomplices in the murder of fathers Vico and

Thus ended an expedition which had cost the crown nearly four thousand
pesos de oro de minas, but seems to have been without any fixed plan,
and was productive of no practical result other than to keep the savages
in check for a time.[XXI‑14] Its failure proved most disastrous to
the colonists; for, though some are said to have received a reward for
their services, the majority were left hopelessly involved in debt for
the cost of their outfit, a few miserable slaves being the only spoils
obtained in return for the expense, hardships, and peril incurred. It
was not long, however, before all the slaves, including their chief,
effected their escape and returned to their country. Re-occupying
their stronghold, it was not many years before they resumed their
depredations, and, as we shall see, successfully resisted all subsequent
attempts to subdue them.

In 1564 the Puchutlas were induced, through the efforts of the Dominican
Father Laurencio, to submit to the friars, and settled in Vera Paz.
This success gained for Father Laurencio the title of the Apostle of

       *       *       *       *       *

In August 1559 the licentiate Juan Martinez de Landecho, Quesada's
successor, arrived in Guatemala,[XXI‑16] and entered upon office early
in September, Ramirez being appointed an oidor of the audiencia of Lima,
and after undergoing the investigation of his residencia embarking
at the port of Acajutla, whither he was accompanied by the principal
authorities and citizens, who thus showed their recognition of his

The petition of the cabildo of Santiago that a gentleman by birth and
education should be sent to govern them, had at last been answered, and
the members were profuse in their thanks to the crown for this favor.
Experience had taught, however, that in order to protect and further
the interests of the colonists, they must control a majority of the
oidores, and as this was extremely difficult, they had determined to
make an effort to have the political administration and distribution
of the Indians vested exclusively in the president. As we have seen,
the crown had already been petitioned to make this change, and it was
expected that the new president would come with the additional title of

This petition was repeated in the latter part of 1560, and was
successful; for in May of the following year we find the cabildo
attributing the increasing prosperity of the country to the granting of
their request.[XXI‑17]


The colonists were jubilant that the humane measures of Cerrato and of
Zorita, which their constant efforts had hitherto failed to accomplish,
were now certain of defeat. Doctor Mejía, one of the oidores, was
ordered to make an official tour of the provinces, as Zorita had been
under the former administration. His measures counteracted the benefits
of Zorita's labors. The regulation of tribute was entrusted to the
encomenderos and caciques, and as these latter were often but the
creatures of the former, the result may be readily inferred.[XXI‑18]

The Dominicans were the object of Mejía's special dislike, and he
subjected them to such annoyance and persecution that they were on
the point of abandoning the province of Guatemala. The alcaldes and
other officers interfered with them in their control of the Indians,
secretly charged them with usurping the royal authority and receiving
money from the natives, and, though the audiencia, in answer to the
complaints of the friars, promised to protect them, little appears to
have been done. Even the cabildo sought to make it appear to the crown
that the religious exercised an arbitrary and prejudicial authority in
the municipal council and elections held by the Indians. The deplorable
condition of the natives and the persecution of the friars were made
the subject of numerous letters to Las Casas, who represented these
abuses to the crown in strong colors, urging the removal of Mejía and
the adoption of relief measures for the natives.[XXI‑19]

Some relief was afforded by a royal decree which declared the natives
no longer subject to the Spanish alcaldes, and which, according to
Remesal,[XXI‑20] was issued about 1563 at the petition of the friars.

Landecho is represented as haughty, capricious, wedded to his own
opinions, and unscrupulous in money matters.[XXI‑21] Certain it
is that though favoring the interests of the colonists he did not
neglect his own, and they soon found that he was neither pliant nor
considerate. They never ceased to extol his tact and vigilance, and
declared him fit to govern Peru; yet within a year of this declaration,
and while assuring the king that they had no cause to change their
mind, they observed that it would be well for the crown to instruct
the president-governor to have a special care for the welfare of the

The continued complaints against Landecho at last induced the crown to
decide on his removal, and Licentiate Francisco Brizeño,[XXI‑23] oidor
of the audiencia of Santa Fé,[XXI‑24] was commissioned to take his
residencia. He arrived in Santiago on the 2d of August 1564.[XXI‑25]
The residencia of the president was terminated in December of the same
year, and resulted in the suspension of the president and the oidor

       *       *       *       *       *


During Landecho's rule, a drought, which occurred in 1563, was followed
by such great scarcity of corn as to cause much suffering among the
natives,[XXI‑27] and in the early part of 1565 the country was visited
by pestilence and earthquake. The epidemic appears to have been
confined to the Indian town of Cinacantlan, in Chiapas, which it nearly
depopulated, but the effects of the earthquake were more extended. In
Santiago and the adjacent country it was destructive both to life and
property.[XXI‑28] To mitigate the wrath of God the terrified inhabitants
of the city chose the martyr Saint Stephen as their advocate, and
erected in his honor a hermitage, to which a yearly procession was

A matter of greater moment than the change of governors now occupied the
attention of the colonists of Guatemala. The transfer of the audiencia
de los Confines to Panamá had been decided on by the crown, but for
what cause is not recorded by the chroniclers.[XXI‑30] A decree to this
effect was issued early in 1563, and confirmed by a second one dated
the 8th of September in the same year in which its jurisdiction was

A line extending from the gulf of Fonseca to the mouth of the river
Ulúa formed the northern limit of the territory made subject to the
new audiencia of Panamá. This did not include, however, the cities of
Gracias á Dios and San Gil de Buenavista with their districts, which
together with the provinces of Guatemala, Chiapas, Soconusco, and Vera
Paz were made subject to the audiencia of New Spain.[XXI‑32]


Doctor Barros de San Millan, oidor of the audiencia of Panamá, was
commissioned by the crown to remove the audiencia de los Confines, and
before the end of December 1564 was on his way to Panamá with the seal,
the visitador Brizeño having brought the order and published it soon
after his arrival.[XXI‑33]

This change, which seriously affected the interests of Guatemala, was
vigorously opposed by its inhabitants. Though informed early in 1564,
as we have seen, that this measure had been resolved on, the cabildo
refrained from decisive action till the arrival of Brizeño, when the
publication of his orders would perhaps reveal its origin. In this,
however, they were disappointed, for in their letter of December 20,
1564, they write: "Your Majesty, for certain causes which have moved
you, has been pleased to order that the audiencia de los Confines be
removed to the city of Panamá."

By making the audiencia of New Spain the court of appeals for Guatemala
and the other provinces, under the former jurisdiction of the audiencia
of the Confines great inconvenience and injustice resulted owing to
distance. These facts were dwelt upon in the petitions to the crown,
and were supplemented by the reports of the Dominicans, who represented
the ill-treatment to which the natives would be exposed without the
restraining presence of the audiencia. Las Casas, as we have seen,
also employed his voice and influence at court to bring about its
restoration, and the result was to induce the crown, by decree of 1568,
to order its reëstablishment in Santiago, Doctor Antonio Gonzalez, oidor
of the audiencia of Granada, being appointed president and arriving in
Santiago with the oidores early in 1570.[XXI‑34]

During the absence of the audiencia the country was governed by the
visitador Brizeño, whose administration appears to have been just,
and with the exception of church affairs, uneventful. There is no
evidence that Gonzalez was given the extraordinary powers granted to
Landecho, perhaps because the experiment had not proven satisfactory,
but according to Pelaez, a fiscal had been added to the officers of the
audiencia during its absence.[XXI‑35] Brizeño's residencia was taken
sometime in March, and the only charge brought against him was the
granting of certain repartimientos at the suggestion of the cabildo of
Santiago. The findings in the case were transmitted to the crown, and
the cabildo immediately wrote defending the measure as necessary, and
asking for his acquittal.[XXI‑36]

Gonzalez ruled until February 1572, when he was relieved by Doctor Pedro
de Villalobos, who came as president and governor. We have no record of
any event of importance during Gonzalez' administration; but that it
was a just one is proven by his honorable acquittal in the residencia
taken by his successor.

       *       *       *       *       *

About the middle of the sixteenth century the affairs of the church
underwent several important changes. Soconusco, which as we have seen
was assigned to the bishopric of Chiapas, was subsequently included in
the see of Bishop Marroquin, though again affiliated with the bishopric
of Chiapas in 1596. Soon after their arrival the Dominicans sent to
Soconusco a mission of several friars; but unable to withstand the
excessive heat most of them fell sick, and the death of one of their
number so dispirited the remainder as to cause the abandonment of the

The see of Chiapas remained vacant until 1550, when Father Tomás
Casillas, at the suggestion, no doubt, of Las Casas, was appointed to
fill it. He visited the greater part of his diocese, including Tabasco;
built an episcopal palace, and attended the provincial councils in
Mexico in 1555 and 1565. After his decease in 1567, the see again
remained vacant until 1574, when Fray Domingo de Lara was designated
as his successor. The intelligence of the honor fell strangely upon
the recipient; he prayed that he might die before it was confirmed; and
curiously enough before the pope's bull came to hand, and while in the
midst of preparations for consecration, he expired.[XXI‑37]


The next occupant of the see, Pedro de Fería, was called from the
convent of Salamanca, and early in February 1575 was actively engaged
in diocesan work. At his invitation the Franciscans sent some friars
into the province, and a convent and church were soon erected. Chiapas
had the rare fortune to possess in Fería a bishop who was an honest
man, and one not greedy for gold or power. Finding himself too feeble
for the work he begged the king to name another. In consequence of
an order of the king that secular priests must not be displaced by
Dominicans, or others who held a temporary dispensation from the pope,
Fería appointed seculars to several vacancies to the no small chagrin
of some of the friars. In 1592[XXI‑38] Don Fray Andrés de Ubilla was
appointed successor to Fería, and continued in office until 1601, when
he was promoted to the see of Michoacan.

At a Dominican provincial chapter held in 1576, at Ciudad Real,
the convent of Santo Domingo de Chiapas was accepted as that of the
province, and Pedro de Barrientos chosen as first vicar. At chapters
held in Chiapas and Guatemala prior to 1600, it was forbidden the friars
to sign their family name; to write to the president of the audiencia
or to the oidores without showing the letters first to the superiors,
and so in regard to writing to Spain under penalty of fifteen days'
imprisonment. No moneys were to be sent to Spain through the hands of
the religious.

Ciudad Real, where the last provincial chapter was held, had in 1580
two hundred Spanish vecinos. There were about ninety Indian towns in the
province, within a radius of sixty leagues, containing some twenty-six
thousand tributaries. The largest one, Chiapas de los Indios, had twelve
hundred Indian vecinos.

In 1559, through the influence of Las Casas, the bishopric of Vera
Paz was established, and Father Angulo appointed its first bishop.
He accepted the charge and repaired to his see a year or two later,
but died early in 1562 before proceeding to consecration.[XXI‑39]
The establishment of this see was unwise in the extreme, and must be
attributed solely to the representations of Las Casas. As already shown
the country was barely capable of sustaining its inhabitants, and in
1564 the cabildo declared to the crown that it would be well to suppress
the bishopric as it could not support a prelate; an opinion borne out
by subsequent experience.[XXI‑40]

Angulo was succeeded by Father Tomás de Cárdenas, a Dominican. The date
of his appointment according to Gonzalez Dávila was April 1, 1565, and
according to Remesal he continued in possession until his death, in

       *       *       *       *       *


In 1555 Bishop Marroquin, now old and wearied with over twenty-five
years of constant service as priest and bishop, sought to retire, but
though President Quesada recommended to the crown that his petition
be granted it was refused, and he died at Santiago on holy Friday of
1563,[XXI‑42] and was buried with the highest honors in the cathedral
of Santiago.[XXI‑43] His successor was Bernardino de Villalpando, bishop
of Cuba, who arrived in Santiago in 1564.[XXI‑44]

The Franciscans and Dominicans in the mean time had made but little
progress owing to petty rivalries and dissensions between them, and the
interference of the secular clergy. Though the Dominicans had always
been the principal confessors and preachers in Santiago, they were less
popular than the Franciscans, who were also favored by Bishop Marroquin.
As early as 1550 a strong rivalry sprung up between the two orders in
regard to the right of possession of sites for churches and convents.
These being then determined by the simple act of taking possession,
many towns and districts were seized upon by the ecclesiastics which
they could not attend to themselves, and would not permit their rivals
to control. Dissensions and mutual detractions followed, which the
prelates of the respective orders were powerless to suppress in their

This scandalous example estranged both the civil authorities and the
citizens, and Marroquin, finding his efforts to settle these quarrels
fruitless, began to appoint persons to the vacant and neglected towns,
in some cases depriving the ecclesiastics of those in their charge.
This condition of affairs was duly reported by the authorities, and as
a result the religious were reproved, and the selection of sites for
convents and the appointment of clergy made subject to the approval of
the audiencia, and the bishop was instructed to respect the privileges
of the friars and treat them with due consideration.[XXI‑45]

In 1551 the Dominicans of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and
Chiapas were organized into an independent provincia with the title
of San Vicente de Chiapas. Father Tomás de la Torre was appointed
provincial, and the first provincial chapter was held at Santiago in
January.[XXI‑46] Several convents were founded, mostly in Guatemala,
churches built among the Zoques and Quelenes, and with the arrival from
time to time of additional friars the organization of new districts
was begun. In Chiapas the Dominicans in their labors continued to
suffer occasional molestation from the colonists. The provinces of San
Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica were visited, a convent was founded
in the city of San Salvador, and two attempts were made to establish
the order in Nicaragua.[XXI‑47]

In 1559 a custodia was formed of the Franciscans in Guatemala and
Yucatan, by which provinces the vicar was alternately chosen. This
lasted until 1565, when the religious of Guatemala were authorized
to establish a separate provincia with the title of The Holy Name of
Jesus. Their first provincial was Father Gonzalo Mendez, and the first
provincial chapter was opened in Santiago on the 12th of October,

Owing to the dissensions with the Dominicans and among themselves,
many friars left the province, so that in 1566 there were but thirty
ecclesiastics and seven convents. In 1574 the audiencia issued a
decree permitting the Franciscans to found convents in the provinces
of Izalcos, Cuscatlan, and Honduras. About the same time convents were
established in the villas of San Salvador and San Miguel.[XXI‑49]


One of the first acts of Bishop Villalpando was the publication of
the decrees of the late council of Trent. Among other measures these
restricted the privileges of mendicant friars, and believing or
affecting to believe that this extended to a total deprivation of their
right to administer the sacraments, the prelate began to secularize the
towns in their charge. In vain were the protests of the Franciscan and
Dominican provincials and the audiencia, and the representations of all
that the secular priests, ignorant of the Indian languages, regardless
of their interest, and in many cases of disreputable character, were
unfit to succeed the regular orders in the charge of a numerous people,
the majority of whom were yet new in the faith. The bishop absolutely
insisted on obedience. In consequence recourse was had to the crown,
but in the interim the prelate persistently carried out his measures
notwithstanding the opposition of the friars, the colonists, and the
natives, the religious being prevented from abandoning the province only
at the entreaties of the colonists, and the Indians in some instances
refusing to receive them in their towns.

At the solicitation of the king the pope restored the privileges of
the friars, the extreme measures of the bishop were condemned, and
the archbishop of New Spain ordered to send a visitador to examine
into certain serious charges made against Villalpando.[XXI‑50] When
notified of these decrees, Villalpando is said to have replied: "I
have received my church not from the king but from God, to whom I am
prepared to render an account." According to Juarros he left Santiago
soon after and died suddenly at Chalchuapa, four days' journey from the
capital.[XXI‑51] Francisco Cambranes, dean of the cathedral of Santiago
and after him Father Alonso de Lamilla, a Dominican, appear to have been
appointed to succeed Villalpando. The former died before his appointment
reached him and the latter declined the mitre. The see remained vacant
until the appointment in 1574 of Bishop Gomez Fernandez de Córdoba who
was transferred from the bishopric of Nicaragua.[XXI‑52]

Córdoba was a man simple in habit, humble in spirit, and pure in life.
Foppery troubled some of the clergy, and the prelate, who could be stern
when needful, took occasion to call up one of the would-be clerical
gallants, and severely admonished him upon the extravagance of his
dress. The mortifying lesson was not without effect, and he, with not
a few others, carefully avoided such display ever after.


In 1575 Córdoba set out on his official visits, and everywhere met with
complaints from the natives concerning their priests, especially among
the Ochitepiques, who asked to have the Franciscans put in charge.
But those in possession were not always willing to gracefully yield
as was shown by an incident which occurred in the same year. Father
Pedro Diaz, visiting Guatemala for the purpose of founding Franciscan
convents, arrived in the little town of Zamayaque, and called to pay
his respects to the priest. His advances were coolly received, and the
padre, seeking to conciliate him, asked his permission to say mass in
the town and confess some of the Indians. From indifference the latter
became fiercely indignant, and expressed himself in very unclerical
language. His words were violent and his speech so loud that a number of
the Indians were attracted to the spot. Thereupon Diaz assumed a humble
attitude and deferentially withdrew, after making his apologies, and
repaired to the cabildo, where the people flocked to him. Improvising an
altar beneath a cotton-tree close by, he then insisted upon performing
service, taking care that the priest should be informed and begging him
not to interfere. At the consecration, the latter, accompanied by a few
armed favorites, rushed in and gave unbridled license to his tongue,
calling the people dogs and the Franciscan a madman. It was a strange
spectacle—an angry priest wildly gesticulating in his black robe,
surrounded by armed men, who momentarily threatened assault, and a padre
calmly reciting his orisons, holding the host in uplifted hands in the
midst of the people. The priest, exasperated beyond control, ordered his
men to charge, which they did, wounding not a few and causing a general

At this point the encomendero Leon Cardena interposed between the
contestants, and the Franciscan tried to assuage the tumult with words
of peace. The priest would not be pacified until the Indians tried
their skill at stone-throwing, when he ignominiously turned and fled
to his house, where he had to undergo a siege until he promised to
depart for Guatemala taking all his paraphernalia with him.[XXI‑53] The
Franciscan remained master of the field, and was eventually appointed
guardian of Zamayaque, but the consequences of the unseemly quarrel
were far-reaching, and the discussions to which it gave rise went far
to reform the character of priests put in charge of the natives.

Bishop Córdoba labored in Guatemala for twenty-three years, Fray Antonio
de Hinojosa being appointed his colleague two years before the decease
of the former, which occurred in 1598. During his administration the
king gave orders that no expense should be spared in supporting all
the religious who might be needed for the conversion of the natives,
and that money should be placed at the disposal of the friars for
the purpose of administering the sacrament to the Indians in places
remote from the settlements. The Franciscans especially multiplied in
Guatemala, sixty-six arriving in that province between 1571 and 1573.
In 1576 the audiencia was directed by the crown to make an annual grant
of fifty thousand maravedís for each mission established by them. In
1578 García de Valverde, who during that year was appointed president
of the audiencia, undertook the rebuilding or enlargement of several
Franciscan convents[XXI‑54] and the erection of several churches. Such
was his enthusiasm that he was often seen carrying stone and mortar for
the workmen, and his example spread among the inhabitants of Santiago,
men of noble birth imitating the prelate's example.

In the year 1600 when Juan Ramirez was appointed bishop there were in
Guatemala twenty-two convents of the Franciscans and fourteen of the
Dominican order.[XXI‑55] In 1578 a nunnery was completed and occupied,
the funds having been provided by a bequest from the first bishop of
Guatemala. In 1592 a college was opened in Santiago, and we learn that
the cabildo, encouraged by its success, desired to have a university
established there in order that students might complete their education
without proceeding to Mexico as was then the custom among the wealthier
class of Spaniards.

       *       *       *       *       *


During Valverde's administration the news of Drake's expedition to the
South Sea, of which mention will be made in connection with the raids of
that famous adventurer, spread consternation throughout the provinces.
On this occasion the president of Guatemala showed himself worthy of
the trust imposed in him. Ships and cannon were procured; small arms
and ammunition were obtained from Mexico, and an expedition was quickly
despatched in search of the enemy. No encounter took place, however, and
the commander of the fleet was placed under arrest for non-fulfilment
of his orders, which were to proceed in quest of the intruders to the
gulf of California where they were supposed to be stationed. In 1586
when news arrived of Drake's capture of Santo Domingo a review was held
in the plaza of Santiago, and it was found that the city could put into
the field five hundred foot and one hundred horse.[XXI‑56]

Valverde's decease occurred in September 1589, and when on his death-bed
he received intelligence of his promotion to the presidency of the
audiencia of Nueva Galicia. His successor was Pedro Mayen de Rueda, a
man of strong but narrow views, and one who by his injudicious measures
soon made enemies both of the oidores and the ecclesiastics, the members
of the municipality, however, remaining firm in their allegiance to
him. "Rueda," writes the cabildo to the king in 1592, "has given vacant
encomiendas to the deserving, and strictly carried out royal cédulas. He
has embellished the capital with many a fine building so that it is far
other than it was." Nevertheless his enemies were too strong for him,
and in the following year he was superseded by Doctor Francisco Sandé,
who came to the province vested with the authority of a visitador,
but appears to have found nothing specially worthy of censure in the
former's administration.[XXI‑57]

The new president incurred the enmity of the cabildo by abolishing one
of its most cherished privileges,[XXI‑58] and by causing the office of
alférez, the holder of which became ex officio the senior member of the
cabildo, to be disposed of for five thousand ducados to one Francisco
de Mesa, whose chief recommendation seems to have been that he was a
kinsman of the president's wife. In November 1596 Sandé departed for
New Granada, of which province he had been appointed governor.[XXI‑59]
His successor was Doctor Alonso Criado de Castilla, who assumed office
in September 1598, the reins of power being during the interval in the
hands of the senior oidor, Alvaro Gomez de Abaunza.

       *       *       *       *       *


During the closing years of the sixteenth century it was the policy of
the cabildo in their reports to the king to represent the industrial
condition of Guatemala in as unfavorable a light as possible.
Nevertheless there is sufficient evidence that trade was restricted,
mining almost neglected, and that agriculture received little attention.
Rich mines were discovered in various places, but Indians could not
be procured to work them, and mine-owners becoming every day poorer,
threatened altogether to abandon the field, thus causing the cabildo to
petition for the importation of slaves for the purpose of developing
them. So great was the falling-off in receipts at the smelting-works
that the royal officials resolved to exact only one tenth instead of
the fifth of the proceeds which had before been collected as the king's

The possibility of extending the commerce of the province by the
opening of the port of Iztapa, ten or twelve leagues from Santiago, and
the point where it will be remembered Alvarado's vessels were built
and equipped for his promised expedition to the Spice Islands, was
the subject of many petitions to the king. It seemed to present many
facilities for an extensive traffic on the South Sea, and its contiguity
to Guatemala would afford merchants and speculators an opportunity of
dealing in the products of the country. Ship-building especially might
become an important industry. Woods of finest quality and in limitless
quantity could be had in the district. Large cedars were abundant;
while cordage could be had in inexhaustible quantity. The pita, which
furnished excellent material for ropes and cables, grew profusely all
over the coast. Pitch and tar could also be procured in the valley
of Inmais, only a short distance from the port. So far, however,
little success had attended the various attempts made to utilize these
advantages, but in after years further efforts were made. In 1591,
measures were also taken for opening another port named Estero del
Salto, seven leagues from Iztapa and capable of accommodating vessels
of a hundred tons.[XXI‑60]

While thus struggling for new avenues of trade, the members of the
cabildo were tenacious of those already in their possession. Neither the
importation of slaves nor a reduction of the royal dues would satisfy
them, while cacao, the only product which really did pay and thus
preserved the balance of trade, was improperly taxed. Writing in 1575,
they alleged that for two years past this once highly profitable trade
had been nearly destroyed by excessive taxation and that in consequence
the prosperity of Santiago had been greatly diminished.[XXI‑61]

       *       *       *       *       *


But commercial decadence was not the only misfortune from which the
province suffered. In 1575 and the two subsequent years earthquakes
occurred in Guatemala,[XXI‑62] attended with great destruction of
property. In December 1581 a violent eruption occurred in the volcano
west of Santiago. The land for miles around was covered with scoriæ;
the sun was darkened, and the lurid flames darting from the cone
spread terror throughout the neighborhood. The inhabitants, believing
that the day of judgment had come, marched in penitential procession
loudly bewailing their sins. Presently a sharp north wind dispersed
the gloom and scattered the ashes. On this occasion no lives were lost.
In 1585 and 1586 there were numerous earthquakes, the most violent one
occurring just before Christmas of the latter year. Hill-tops were rent,
wide chasms appeared in the earth, and the greater part of the city
was destroyed, many of the inhabitants being buried in the ruins. In
1587 we hear of another severe earthquake by which fifteen lives were
lost and fifty buildings shaken down, among them the old Franciscan






It has already been stated that Las Casas was the first to urge the
substitution of African for Indian slavery, and as early as 1517 such
a measure was authorized by the crown. The natives lacked the physical
strength needed to meet the demands of their taskmasters, and negroes
from the Portuguese settlements on the coast of Guinea were largely
imported into the Spanish West Indies. Numbers of them were driven by
ill-usage to take refuge in the forests and mountain fastnesses, where
they led a nomadic life or made common cause with the natives, and when
attacked by the Spaniards neither gave nor accepted quarter. About the
middle of the sixteenth century the woods in the vicinity of Nombre de
Dios swarmed with these runaways, who attacked the treasure-trains on
their way across the Isthmus, defeated the parties sent against them
by the governor of the province, and lurked in wait for passengers,
assailing them with poisoned arrows, and cutting into pieces those who
fell alive into their hands. Organized as marauding companies they
became widely known as _cimarrones_[XXII‑1] or Maroons as they were
called in Jamaica and Dutch Guiana. At times they would unite their
forces and ravage a wide extent of country, leaving ruin on every side.
Houses were burned, plantations destroyed, women seized, merchandise
stolen, and settlers slain. Such was the attendant terror that masters
dared not chastise their slaves, nor did merchants venture to travel
the highways except in companies of twenty or more.[XXII‑2] In the year
1554 many hundreds of them were thus banded in Tierra Firme alone.

About this time the new viceroy of Peru, Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza,
marqués de Cañete, opportunely arriving at Nombre de Dios from Spain,
en route for his capital, resolved on the subjugation of these outlaws.
Not long before his arrival, Pedro de Ursua, a brave and distinguished
soldier, had taken refuge from his enemies in the province of Cartagena,
where he had founded the city of Pamplona and made discoveries. The
viceroy, believing Ursua to be unjustly persecuted and recognizing
his eminent fitness, authorized him to raise troops and march against
the offenders. Accordingly Ursua equipped upward of two hundred men,
and set out from Nombre de Dios. The cimarrones had mustered under
Bayano,[XXII‑3] a man of their own race, of singular courage, who had
been elected king by those occupying the mountains between Plagon and
Pacora, and whose number now exceeded six hundred.

Bayano retreated slowly and warily, posting ambuscades at every
favorable point, and engaging the foe in frequent encounters, the
negroes fighting with desperation and the Spaniards advancing with
the coolness of well disciplined soldiers. For two years Ursua[XXII‑4]
carried on the campaign with unwearied patience, and at last surrounded
the remnant of the cimarrones and compelled them to sue for peace.
Bayano was sent a prisoner to Spain. In 1570 his followers founded the
town of Santiago del Príncipe. A cédula of June 21, 1574, declared that
on full submission and on condition of their leading a peaceful life
the negroes should be free men. One of the articles of a treaty which
was concluded at Panamá binds the emancipated slaves to capture runaways
and return them to their masters.

After a short-lived peace the cimarrones again took the field,
reënforced by maltreated or discontented negro fugitives from the mines,
and committed such depredations that the king resolved on a war of
extermination against them and their allies. In a cédula dated 23d of
May 1578 he appointed his factor and veedor Pedro de Ortega Valencia,
captain general of the forces levied for that purpose, with instructions
not to desist until the rebels were vanquished. Funds were to be drawn
freely from the royal treasury. Panamá and the adjoining provinces
of Quito and Cartago were enjoined to provide all necessary supplies,
and the Casa de la Contratacion de Seville was to furnish four hundred
arquebuses and a supply of ammunition. The Spaniards were only partially
successful, and in the following year the king found it necessary to
address the president and oidores of the audiencia, urging them to
renewed efforts, but in vain. In 1596 the cimarrones, in concert with
buccaneers, opened a road from their own town to the Chagre River only a
league below the highway to Venta de las Cruces, their object being to
steal and secrete treasure and merchandise. On the 25th of August the
king peremptorily orders the destruction of the road and the execution
of the ringleaders, but nevertheless the cimarrones in collusion with
English corsairs for years set the Spaniards at defiance.

[Sidenote: SLAVE-DEALING.]

The regulations framed during the sixteenth century concerning negroes,
whether bond or free, prescribed with the utmost minuteness their
deportment, their social relations, and the restrictions under which
they were to live.[XXII‑5] It was provided in the case of runaways
that pardon should only be extended once, and never to the leaders of a
revolt. One fifth of the cost incurred in their capture was to be met by
the royal treasury and the remainder by the owners; and all expeditions
were to be conducted by experienced officers, the property value of
the negro being so great that his recovery could not be intrusted to
inferior hands.

To engage in the importation of slaves it was necessary first to
obtain a royal license, a privilege jealously guarded, and seldom if
ever granted to Spain's ancient rivals, the Portuguese, but freely
bestowed on the English, who gradually monopolized the trade. So
great were the profits that Portuguese and English alike were found
continually violating the law and setting the king at defiance.[XXII‑6]
The regulations embraced also their intercourse with Indians, so as to
discourage as much as possible their association with lawless bands,
dangerous to Spanish security, and prejudicial to peaceable natives;
for, with the presumption so common among lower races and classes, the
negro failed not to take advantage of any privilege he might obtain
over his red-skinned neighbor.[XXII‑7] Such checks proved of little
use, however, since they also applied in part at least to Spanish
task-masters. Indeed, in a royal cédula issued in 1593, attention
is called to the fact that no one had been brought to justice for
any of the extortions or cruelties to which the Indians had been
subjected.[XXII‑8] Other stringent laws were issued, but they came
too late, or were neglected like the rest. Under the yoke of their
various oppressors the native population of the Isthmus gradually
disappeared, and toward the close of the century their numbers had
become insignificant.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the affairs of Panamá, we enter now an era of decline. Progress
hitherto on the Isthmus has been on no permanent basis. For a time
the gold and pearls of seaboard and islands kept alive the spirit of
speculation, which was swollen to greater dimensions by the inflowing
treasures from Peru and Chile, and from scores of other places in South
and North America. When these began to diminish, commerce fell off, and
as it had little else to depend upon there was necessarily a reaction.

Panamá had comparatively but little indigenous wealth and was largely
dependent for prosperity on Spain's colonial policy. Unfortunately
this was characterized by a short-sightedness which eventually proved
disastrous both to the province and the empire. The great fleets which
arrived from Spain came in reduced numbers, at longer intervals, and
with depleted stores. In 1589, ninety-four vessels reached the Isthmus
laden with merchandise; sixteen years later the fleet mustered only
seventeen ships.[XXII‑9] To the depredations of buccaneers which will be
hereafter described this state of affairs may in part be attributed, but
other causes were at work. The king of Spain had already appeared before
his subjects at Panamá in the character of a royal mendicant;[XXII‑10]
and now he laid restrictions on their trade which could not fail to
prove disastrous to the commercial interests of the city.

[Sidenote: ASIATIC TRADE.]

Hitherto there had been a large and lucrative traffic with the
Philippine Islands, yielding often six-fold increase to the fortunate
trader.[XXII‑11] But the cupidity of the monarch prompted more and more
restrictive measures, until it was altogether forbidden to Panamá, and
indeed to all the West Indies save New Spain, the king being determined
to have what was known as the Asiatic trade monopolized by Castilian
merchants.[XXII‑12] No Chinese goods were to be brought to Panamá and
the other provinces, even from New Spain. None were to be used there,
except such as were in actual use at date of the royal commands, and
any surplus was to be carried to Spain within four years.

Of course the American provinces were gradually developing home
industries, and bringing into the market home productions that
displaced to a certain extent goods from which Spain had hitherto
made large profits. Thus Peru supplied wine, leather, and oil; soap
was manufactured in Guayaquil and Nicaragua; Campeche yielded wax,
Guayaquil, Riobamba, and Puerto Viejo, cordage for ships, and Nicaragua
a good quality of pitch. Quito and other places manufactured cloths,
and New Spain silken and woolen goods. Had Philip adopted a generous
colonial policy he would have fostered and profited by these new
industries, but all fiscal regulations looked to the advancement of
Spanish commerce without regard for the development of trade within the


Two commodities were watched and guarded with peculiar jealousy—wine and
tobacco. Peru produced a wine that found favor with many and obtained a
ready sale. In an ordinance of Philip II. dated the 16th of September
1586, no wine but that imported from Spain was allowed to be sold on
the Isthmus; nor was it to be mixed with wine obtained elsewhere. The
penalties attached to infringements of this law were heavy fines and
even perpetual banishment. The reason assigned for these measures was
the injurious effect of Peruvian wine upon the public health, but the
real motive was the prejudicial effect of its sale upon the Spanish wine
trade.[XXII‑13] Tobacco was a monopoly of the crown, and one rigidly
protected, its sale, importation, or cultivation being forbidden under
severe penalties.[XXII‑14]

Panamá imported most of her provisions, and the difficulties in
obtaining a regular and cheap supply were augmented by the monopolies
acquired by wealthy merchants who were enabled to control the market.
New measures to correct this abuse were continually adopted, and as
often evaded or violated.[XXII‑15] The scarcity of provisions sometimes
caused distress approaching to famine, and at certain seasons was liable
to be aggravated by the crowds of travellers and adventurers who crossed
the Isthmus.[XXII‑16] Peru was the great source of supply and the trade
with that country was the subject of frequent cédulas addressed to the

[Sidenote: PEARLS AND GOLD.]

Pearls and gold were still among the leading productions of the Isthmus,
and the most valuable fisheries were at the old Pearl Islands of Vasco
Nuñez de Balboa.[XXII‑18] Diving for pearls was performed by negroes
chosen by their masters on account of their dexterity as swimmers,
and their ability to hold their breath under water. From twelve to
twenty under charge of an overseer usually formed a gang. Anchoring
in twelve to fifteen fathoms of water, they would dive in succession,
bringing up as many shells as they could gather or carry. It was a
laborious calling, and attended with great danger because of the sharks
that swarmed around the islands and with which they had many a fierce
struggle, often losing limb or life in the encounter. The divers were
required to collect a certain quantity of pearls, and any surplus they
were at liberty to sell, but only to their own masters and at a price
fixed by them.[XXII‑19]

Ever since their first discovery these fisheries had maintained their
fame, and there was obtained the largest pearl then known in the world;
one that became the property of Philip II., and was described by Sir
Richard Hawkins[XXII‑20] as being "the size of a pommel of a ponyard;"
its weight being two hundred and fifty carats, and its value one hundred
and fifty thousand pesos. It was presented by the king to his daughter
Elizabeth, wife of Albertus, duke of Austria.

The number and variety of pearls were such that this trade became one of
the most prolific sources of wealth to Panamá, Seville alone importing
in 1587 some six hundred pounds weight, many of them rivalling the
choicest specimens found in Ceylon and the East Indies. From this time
there occurred a marked falling-off both in quantity and quality, and
in consequence a series of restrictions was put upon the industry.
Notwithstanding these precautionary measures the pearl-beds became
rapidly exhausted; diving proved a profitless labor,[XXII‑21] and not
until several decades later was this industry revived.

Gold had been found and mined in different parts of the Isthmus, notably
in Darien, the scene of so many of Balboa's brilliant achievements,
where, according to the report of a later governor, the metal had been
so abundant as to be "weighed by the hundredweight."[XXII‑22] More
definite is the information for this period concerning the mines of
Veragua, a province of irregular shape, lying between the two oceans,
and consisting largely of rugged and inaccessible sierras, down the
sides of which fall mountain torrents that brought quantities of the
precious metal within easy reach. The Spaniards were not slow to learn
of this wealth, partly from the trinkets displayed by Indians, and soon
the mines were flooded with laborers. When the strength of the native
proved unequal to the task the Spaniards enlisted in their service,
as we have seen, the more hardy negro, until in the prosperous days of
mining, which culminated about the year 1570, there were two thousand of
them at work at one time. Rumor magnified the yield to the ever ready
ears of navigators, and according to Dampier "they were the richest
gold mines ever yet found." "Because of their inexhaustible riches
in gold," says Ogilby, "the Spaniards there knew not the end of their

The yield, if rich, did not prove lasting, however, and the number of
mine-owners dwindled, though several causes united to this end, such as
the attack of hostile natives or negroes who frequently swooped down on
the Spaniards from their mountain fastnesses and despoiled their camp.
The roads were difficult; the mining towns were sickly and for the
most part abandoned during the rainy season, their occupants betaking
themselves to Panamá. In 1580 there were but four of them in the
entire province. These were Ciudad de la Concepcion, the capital, forty
leagues west of Nombre de Dios; Villa de Trinidad, six leagues east of
Concepcion by sea, but inaccessible by land; Ciudad de Santa Fé, where
the smelting-works were established; and Ciudad de San Cárlos built
on the South Sea, some forty or more leagues west of Santa Fé. These
communities contained altogether about a hundred and seventy vecinos;
all employed in mining or in matters connected therewith.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mining towns were not, however, the only ones to retrograde. The
town of Acla, which it will be remembered was founded by Pedrarias in
1515, and rebuilt by Vasco Nuñez two years later,[XXII‑24] had in 1580
dropped out of existence. And so it was with several settlements that
at different times had risen with hopeful prospects. Either the climate
killed or drove off the inhabitants, or rival towns sprang up under the
patronage of some governor, and with real or fancied advantages lured
away the citizens. Nombre de Dios had maintained its position as the
leading town and port on the Atlantic side, in the face of objections
which ere this would have doomed many another place. The climate was
pestilential, so much so that the place was generally deserted at the
close of the business season, and it contained only sixty wooden houses.
It was subject to floods, and yet destitute during the greater part
of the year of fresh water. Its harbor was exceedingly bad, exposed to
severe northerly and easterly gales, by which, despite every precaution,
vessels of large size were frequently driven ashore, and pirates could
readily assail it. These and other disadvantages led many merchants to
advocate the removal of the port of entry to one of the harbors on the
coast of Honduras. Although the distance from Nombre de Dios to Panamá
was only eighteen leagues, while that from Puerto de Caballos to the
gulf of Fonseca was fully fifty, yet the cost of a single trip by mule
over the former route was thirty pesos, and over the latter but nine.


Juan García de Hermosillo was commissioned by the king in 1554 to
inquire into the merits of the respective routes, and two years
later made a voluminous but partial report,[XXII‑25] showing the
practicability of changing the course of vessels going to Tierra Firme
so as to proceed direct to the port of Trujillo, and recommending that
ships from New Spain, Vera Cruz, Pánuco, and the Golfo Dulce should
touch at the same port, and thus allow goods to be carried overland to
Realejo or the bay of Fonseca, and thence shipped to Peru and elsewhere.
A cédula was thereupon addressed, in October 1556, to the audiencias
of Española and the Confines, the governor of Tierra Firme, and the
officers of the India House at Seville, directing that the opinions of
experts should be taken, and information obtained from all familiar with
the coast and its harbors. Testimony concerning the facts and views
advanced in Hermosillo's report was taken in 1558, and among those
who pronounced in favor of the transfer as recommended were Oviedo
the chronicler, Luis Gutierrez the cosmographer, and Juan de Barbosa,
then governor of Tierra Firme. The cabildo of Santiago also bestirred
themselves in behalf of the change, as one apt to improve communication
with Peru, and, as they temptingly added, likely to increase largely
the royal revenue.[XXII‑26]

Communications between the home government and its transatlantic
subjects involved vexatious delays; such negotiations were always slow,
and at this time there was some temporary disorganization of the council
of the Indies to complicate matters. The subject would seem to have been
ignored until quickened anew by an address of Felipe de Aniñon, who had
lived many years in the Indies, "on the utility and advantages which
would result from changing the route of transit between the seas from
Nombre de Dios and Panamá to Puerto de Caballos and Fonseca."[XXII‑27]
The memorial, without presenting any new arguments, recapitulates with
considerable force those which had been previously advanced, urging that
immunity would thus be secured from the raids of corsairs, and that
even though Panamá and Nombre de Dios were abandoned, a dozen cities
would spring up to take their place in a region whose mines were so
rich and whose soil was so fertile. At Nombre de Dios even Indian women,
elsewhere so prolific, became barren; fruits refused to grow, children
could not be reared, and men lived not out the usual span of life. Their
gold and silver were as nothing to the treasures that could be extracted
from the mines of Honduras, for when these latter should be worked by
imported negroes with the aid of quicksilver, his Majesty would have
there a kingdom thrice as rich as Spain. The memorialist concludes by
stating that even though eight hundred thousand pesos were expended
in opening roads the outlay was justifiable, for it would be offset by
the yield of an additional million to the annual revenue of the king.
The question of establishing elsewhere the port of entry was finally
decided by the report of Jean Baptiste Antonelli, the royal surveyor,
which showed that while a removal was necessary a desirable site existed
close by.

[Sidenote: PORTOBELLO.]

Five leagues to the west of Nombre de Dios was the village of
Portobello, containing, in 1585, not more than ten houses but possessing
a commodious harbor, with good anchorage, easy of access, and one where
laborers could unload vessels without the necessity of wading up to the
arm-pits, as was the case at Nombre de Dios. Timber and pasture were
abundant, the soil was fertile, and fresh water could be had throughout
the year. Moreover it could easily be fortified against attack from
corsairs and privateersmen, who, under Drake and others, had already
committed depredations on the Isthmus as will be hereafter related. "If
it might please your Majesty," reports the surveyor, "it were good that
the city of Nombre de Dios be brought and builded in this harbor." On
the 20th of March 1597 the change was made under charge of the factor
Francisco de Valverde y Mercado and a settlement was founded which soon
became one of the most important cities in Central America.[XXII‑28]

In 1529 Panamá is described by Herrera as "a town of six hundred
householders." In 1581 it was styled by Philip "muy noble y muy leal."
Nevertheless its progress was greatly retarded by sickness, caused by
the heat of the atmosphere, the humidity of the soil, and the spread of
infectious diseases. Small-pox, quinsy, dysentery, intermittent fevers,
and other ailments were prevalent among the community, and at times the
city was almost depopulated.[XXII‑29]

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1564 the seat of the audiencia of the Confines was removed, as we
have seen, to Panamá[XXII‑30] under the presidency of Doctor Barros de
Millan. Great though short-lived were the rejoicings throughout Tierra
Firme at this victory. The people of Guatemala would not consent to
become a mere dependency of the audiencia of Mexico; and as already
stated a decree was issued in 1568 ordering that the audiencia should
again be removed to Guatemala, the change being made two years later,
though, as we shall find, an audiencia was before long once more
established in Panamá.


By a cédula dated February 26, 1571, Tierra Firme was made subject to
the viceroy of Peru in all matters relating to government, war, and
exchequer, but not in civil matters.[XXII‑31] Little direct information
of the working of the new regime in the latter part of the sixteenth
century can now be obtained. The cédulas issued in later years, however,
show it to have been a source of chronic discontent to the royal council
in all its departments. Among them was one dated January 7, 1588,
forbidding the president and oidores residing at Panamá to visit any
private citizen or resident for any purpose whatever, and another dated
December 31, 1590, forbidding officials in the treasury department to
assume the duties of alcaldes ordinarios at any time. Some of the latter
were fined and suspended for illegal speculation with government funds,
which became so common that in 1594 the defalcations in the treasury
from this cause alone amounted to about one hundred and fifty thousand
pesos.[XXII‑32] In 1579 the corregidor of Panamá, when at the point of
death, confessed that he alone had embezzled the sum of six thousand
two hundred and thirty-six pesos, which he had collected and unlawfully
withheld from the treasury.[XXII‑33] The granting of passports was a
means by which members of the audiencia contrived to cheat the king of
his revenues, his Majesty declaring that in a single year two thousand
persons passed through Tierra Firme without procuring the royal license
at the prescribed cost.[XXII‑34] Gambling was also prevalent, dice being
the favorite game, and many merchants, bringing their goods from Spain,
were fleeced by professional gamesters.[XXII‑35]

While the condition of affairs at the Isthmus was thus in an
unsatisfactory condition, the authorities were constantly in dread
of invasion from foreign powers. Early in the year 1561 two caravels
arrived with intelligence that a large fleet had sailed from England for
America, and with orders that preparations be made for a stout defence.
The treasure on board the ships lying in harbor was quickly removed
and secreted on shore, and no vessels were allowed to leave port until
the arrival of the convoy fleet from Spain under the adelantado Pedro
Menendez. It is not recorded that on this occasion the English made any
attempt to land on the shores of Tierra Firme, but four years later, the
monarchs of England and Spain being then on friendly terms, one Captain
Parker touched at the coast of Darien ostensibly for the purpose of
trading with the natives. An armed flotilla was despatched against him,
but the captain refused to depart, and when attacked not only repulsed
his assailants, but captured one of the enemy's squadron.[XXII‑36]

[Sidenote: FEAR OF PIRATES.]

Although, as will be told in the next chapter, the Isthmus was several
times invaded by English adventurers between 1572 and 1596, it was not
until near the end of the century that any really effectual measures
were completed for its protection. On the 2d of May 1574 the king wrote
to the audiencia of Panamá, that he had information of many privateering
expeditions then being fitted out with the intention of proceeding to
the Indies. In 1580 three ships of war were stationed on the coast to
guard against corsairs and it was ordered that criminals be delivered
over to serve as oarsmen on board these vessels. In 1591 a more powerful
fleet was sent to the West Indies and fortifications ordered to be
erected at the town of Cruces and other points on the Isthmus. At
this date Panamá alone could put into the field eight hundred Spanish
infantry and fifty horse. Four years later a site was selected for a
fort at the mouth of the Chagre river. Finally in 1597, when the news
of Drake's last expedition had thoroughly roused the king to a sense of
the danger, mechanics were sent out from Spain to hasten the completion
of the defences, and it was ordered that the cost be defrayed from the
royal treasury.[XXII‑37]

Panamá was assailable from three different points: from Nombre de Dios,
whence it could only be reached through the mountain passes of Capira,
where a small band of resolute men could hold an army in check; from
Acla, fourteen leagues east of Nombre de Dios, where men of war had
formerly anchored; and by way of the Rio Chagre, which was navigable
for large boats as far as Cruces, the road thence to Panamá presenting
no serious obstacle to an invading force.[XXII‑38]





[Sidenote: AT NOMBRE DE DIOS.]

In the town of Offenburg, in the Grand Duchy of Baden, is a statue of
a man standing on the deck of a vessel and leaning on an anchor, his
right hand grasping a map of America, his left a cluster of bulbous
roots, the meaning of which might puzzle the observer until he reads
on the pedestal the inscription: "Sir Francis Drake, the introducer of
potatoes into Europe, in the year of our Lord 1586." Thus, in Offenburg,
is known to fame the great Armada captain and circumnavigator of
the globe. The eldest of the twelve sons of a Protestant minister in
straitened circumstances, he shipped as an apprentice on board a small
merchant craft, and on the decease of the captain succeeded to the
command of the ship. Tiring of his trading ventures he sold his vessel,
and soon afterward served under Sir John Hawkins, in an expedition to
Mexico, where he lost all his property and some of his dearest friends.
Vowing vengeance on the Spaniards, he returned to England, and in 1570
received letters of marque from Queen Elizabeth authorizing him to
cruise in the Spanish West Indies. After two short voyages, made rather
for exploration than profit, he fitted up two privateers and several
pinnaces for an expedition to Nombre de Dios, and on Whitsunday eve, the
24th of May 1572, set sail from Plymouth with a force of seventy-three

Drake first shaped his course for the Isla de Pinos, where he left his
ships in charge of one Captain Rawse, and placing most of his men in
the pinnaces, arrived off the Isthmus at the season of year when the
treasures of the mines were stored there in readiness for shipment
to Spain. Entering the port of Nombre de Dios by night he roused
the slumbering townsfolk by marching through the main street to the
sound of drum and trumpet. A party was despatched to seize the king's
treasure-house, and each man was ordered to fasten to his pike a lighted
brand. The affrighted inhabitants imagined that the town was invaded by
a force at least twice its real strength. Nevertheless they were soon
under arms, and mustering near the governor's house, poured in a sharp
volley on the English, pointing their weapons so low that the bullets
often grazed the ground. The privateersmen discharged their pieces but
once, and then came to close quarters, attacking the Spaniards with pike
and sword and but-end of musket, and driving them with heavy loss to the
market-place. Two or three prisoners were captured, who gave information
that the silver awaiting convoy to Spain was stored at the governor's
residence, and that in the treasure-house nearer the water was a large
quantity of gold, jewels, and pearls.[XXIII‑1]

Drake ordered his men to stand to their arms, for companies of Spaniards
were observed mustering for an attack. A report then spread through
the ranks that the pinnaces were in danger of being captured. A violent
storm of rain came on, and before the British could gain shelter their
powder was wet and their bowstrings rendered unserviceable. The men
lost heart and began to think of saving themselves before their retreat
was cut off, many of them being wounded, and Drake himself shot in the
leg. Their captain rebuked them, exclaiming: "I have brought you to
the very mouth of the treasure of the world, and if you go away without
it you can blame nobody but yourselves." He then directed a portion of
his command to break open the treasure-house, while the remainder stood
ready to repel attack; but, as he stepped forward, he dropped down in
a swoon from loss of blood and was carried back to his pinnace.[XXIII‑2]

At daybreak the entire company embarked, and after making prize of a
vessel of sixty tons laden principally with wines, landed at the port of
Bastimentos.[XXIII‑3] After resting there for two days Drake rejoined
his ships at the Isla de Pinos, whence he despatched his brother to
explore the river Chagre as far as the town of Cruces, where it will
be remembered the treasure trains passed on their way from Panamá to
the North Sea. He then proceeded to Cartagena where he captured several
Spanish vessels, but finding the town too strongly defended to venture
an attack, set sail for the gulf of Urabá. The adventurers landed at
a spot remote from the line of travel, and hiding their vessels in a
neighboring creek, remained there fifteen days, hoping thus to create
among the Spaniards the impression that they had departed from the
coast. An expedition was then undertaken to the river Atrato for the
purpose of intercepting the canoes, which, after the arrival of the
fleet at Cartagena, were sent up the stream, laden with the merchandise
of Spain, to return with the gold, silver, and other valuable
commodities collected during the year.


On the second day of the voyage it was ascertained that the fleet had
not yet reached Cartagena; whereupon the English again visited the Isla
de Pinos, capturing there vast quantities of provisions, including
cassava bread, meal, wine, dried beef, fish, and a plentiful supply
of live stock, all intended for the use of the Spanish settlements and
for revictualling the fleet.[XXIII‑4] These were secured for future use
in storehouses, built many leagues apart. Then under the guidance of
cimarrones, who regarded the English as allies against a mutual foe,
Drake moved his vessels to a secluded bay amid the Cabezas, a group of
thickly wooded islands, near the gulf of San Blas, where the channel
was so narrow and difficult that none could enter by night.[XXIII‑5]
Here he was free from all danger of surprise. The rainy season had
now begun, and during that time the Spaniards did not convey treasure
by land. A delay became necessary before any extensive raid could be
undertaken, and the men were therefore ordered to erect a fort and
buildings suitable for their accommodation and to land their ordnance
and provisions.

The restless spirit of the leader carried him on, and within fourteen
days of his arrival at the islands he started on a new expedition to
Cartagena, casting anchor in that harbor on the 18th of October 1572.
A party of horsemen came down to the shore displaying a flag of truce,
and met him with fair promises of friendship and assistance. Suspecting
treachery, the English put off to sea next morning, but remained for
some days in the neighborhood to the great annoyance of the Spaniards,
who constantly endeavored, though without success, to induce them to
land and thus draw them into an ambuscade. At length falling short of
provisions, and seeing no prospect of capturing any valuable prize, they
set sail for the gulf of San Blas. On the return voyage, which occupied
twenty-five days, they suffered severely. Baffled by contrary gales,
their small, leaky craft, in imminent peril from the heavy chopping
sea, their provisions exhausted, many almost perishing from want and
exposure, they had never lived to rejoin their comrades, but that,
in the last extremity they were fortunate enough to capture a Spanish
vessel, "which," as the chronicler tells us, "being laden with victuals
well powdered and dried, they received as sent them by the mercy of


Drake remained for several weeks in his lurking place among the islands.
At length the welcome news arrived that the Spanish fleet had reached
Nombre de Dios, and the adventurers at once began their march overland
toward Panamá. Sickness and the bullets of the Spaniards had sorely
thinned their ranks. No treasure had been captured, and twenty-eight
of their number had already found a grave in this land of promise,
among them two brothers of Drake; one through disease, the other while
leading a rash attack on a Spanish vessel. Several of the party also
lay ill of the 'calenture' fever,[XXIII‑6] caused by the unhealthy
climate and unwholesome water. After a slender guard had been left over
the ships, but eighteen men could be mustered fit for active service.
Thirty cimarrones who accompanied the expedition carried the provisions,
leaving the English unencumbered except by their arms.[XXIII‑7]

Many days the party journeyed, forcing their way through dense
underbrush and cane-brake, crossing swollen streams and toiling up
mountain steeps. Yet they suffered little hardship. High overhead a
canopy of leaves screened them from the rays of an almost vertical
sun. The country abounded in wild fruits, and as night approached the
cimarrones erected rain-proof sheds thatched with palmetto and wild
plantain leaves, under which they cooked their meal of wild boar's flesh
or other forest game, slain during the day's march.[XXIII‑8]

On the third day of their march they arrived at a negro town, distant
forty-live leagues from Panamá and thirty-five from Nombre de Dios,
containing about sixty families, and well supplied with maize, fruit,
and live stock. The town was surrounded with a mud wall and a ditch
for defence against the Spaniards, with whom the cimarrones were still
constantly at war. Only one year before the place had been attacked
by a force of one hundred and fifty men, whose commander had promised
to exterminate the entire population. The assault was made just before
daybreak, whereupon the males fled to the forest, leaving their wives
and children to be massacred, but afterward mustering courage fell on
their invaders and drove them in turn to the woods, where, their guide
being slain, all but thirty perished of want. Here the English were
urged to remain and rest for a few days. Not far distant, they were
told, dwelt the king of the cimarrones, who could bring into the field
seventeen hundred warriors, and would aid them with reënforcements on
learning their errand. The commander thanked them, but declared that "he
would use no further strength if he might have twenty times as much,"
and after a brief halt continued his journey.

Four days later the expedition arrived at the summit of a mountain, from
which they had been promised a view of the "North Sea whence they came
and of the South Sea whither they were going."[XXIII‑9] Aided by one
of the cimarrones Drake climbed a tall tree, in whose trunk steps had
been cut almost to the top, and where, supported by the upper limbs,
a bower had been built large enough to contain a dozen men. From this
eyrie he gazed for the first time on the great southern ocean over whose
waters the English flag had never yet been unfurled. It is said that
he here conceived the project which a few years later was carried to
completion—the circumnavigation of the globe; and as dreams of fame and
vast achievement were mingled with visions of gold-bearing lands, and
of Spanish galleons deep laden with weight of treasure, he besought God
"to give him life and leave to sail an English ship in those seas." The
aid of the Almighty was never invoked or given for the furtherance of
more iniquitious measures.

For forty-eight hours more the route lay through forest land, and beyond
this the country was covered with a species of grass, so tall that at
its full growth the cattle could not reach the upper blade. Thrice a
year it was burnt, and so rich was the soil that a few days afterward it
sprouted like green corn. The English were now nearing the end of their
march, and as they journeyed frequently came in sight of Panamá and of
the Spanish vessels riding at anchor in the roadstead.


Extreme caution became necessary,[XXIII‑10] and on approaching Panamá,
Drake, withdrawing his men from the road, led them to a grove within a
league of the city, and near the highway to Nombre de Dios. His arrival
was well timed. A cimarron, sent forward to Panamá disguised as a
slave to ascertain the exact night and time of night[XXIII‑11] when the
precious train was to pass by, returned with news that sent a thrill
through every breast. That very evening the treasurer of Lima was to
start from Panamá en route to Spain, and with him eight mules laden
with gold, five with silver, and one with pearls and jewels. Two other
trains each of fifty mules, freighted mainly with provisions, were to
form part of the expedition.

Drake at once put his men in motion toward the Chagre River, and when
within two leagues of the town of Cruces[XXIII‑12] posted them in two
parties, one on either side of the road, and in such a position that
they might fall simultaneously on the van and rear of the train. The
men were ordered to wear white shirts outside their uniforms in order
to distinguish one another. After the arrival of the fleet at Nombre de
Dios, trains passed frequently along the road from Cruces to Panamá,
and the strictest injunctions were given that none should stir except
at the appointed signal.

An hour they lay in ambush; the treasurer was within half a league of
the ambuscade, and the bells of the approaching train were distinctly
heard in the silence of the night. The great prize was close at hand,
and each man as he clutched his firelock and felt the keen edge of his
broadsword held his breath while he crouched in the grass and listened
to the sounds borne ever clearer on the still air. A train laden with
merchandise was now passing directly in front of them, but such spoil
offered no temptation when gold and silver by the ton was within reach.
At this moment an untoward incident occurred. "One Robert Pike," as
Burton tells us, "having drunk too much _Aqua-Vitæ_ without Uater,
forgetting himself, perswaded a _Symeron_ to go into the road, and seize
on the foremost Mules, and a _Spanish_ Horse-man riding by with his
_Page_ running on his side, _Pike_ unadvisedly started up to see who he
was, though the _Symeron_ discreetly endeavored to pull him down, and
lay upon him to prevent further discovery, yet by this Gentleman taking
notice of one all in white, they having put their Shirts over their
Cloths to prevent mistakes in the night, he put Spurs to his Horse both
to secure himself, and give notice to others of the danger."

[Sidenote: RARE RICHES.]

Drake still remained in ambush, not knowing what had happened. The
cavalier meanwhile made all haste to report the circumstance to the
treasurer, and it was thought best that the mules conveying the treasure
be led aside while the remainder be allowed to pass on, so that in case
of attack the enemy's attention might be engaged until troops could be
summoned from Panamá. The provision trains were quickly captured and a
few hundred pounds of base bullion[XXIII‑13] were discovered among the

No time was to be lost, for one of the muleteers, being friendly-minded
toward his captors, warned them that by daybreak they would have the
captain general upon them, at the head of the entire posse of Panamá.
The leader of the cimarrones promised that if they would at once
march boldly on Cruces, he would conduct them to their ships by a
much shorter route than that by which they had come. To some this plan
seemed hazardous, but the commander, with his clear judgment, saw that
to encounter the Spaniards at once, while his men were yet in good
condition, was less perilous than to be attacked later when jaded with
travel and dispirited by failure.

After giving them time to make a hearty meal Drake gave the order
to advance. The road was but twelve feet wide, being cut through
the forest and inclosed by a dense wall of undergrowth. A company of
soldiers, stationed in the town as a defence against marauding bands of
cimarrones,[XXIII‑14] together with a party of friars, came forth to
oppose his passage. The Spanish captain hailed them, and on learning
that they were English summoned them to surrender, promising kind
treatment. Drake answered: "For the honor of the queen of England, my
mistress, I must have passage this way." He then discharged his pistol,
and was answered by a volley which killed one and wounded several of
his band. The English then attacked briskly, and aided by the cimarrones
drove the Spaniards into the woods and took possession of Cruces.

Much consternation was at first caused among the townsfolk, especially
among some Spanish women of Nombre de Dios still suffering from
child-birth;[XXIII‑15] but Drake manifested little of that fiendish
cruelty displayed by the buccaneers of later years. Giving orders that
none should lay hands on women or do violence to unarmed men,[XXIII‑16]
he called on the sick women and assured them that they had nothing to
fear. Little booty of value was found at Cruces, and at daybreak on the
morning after making their entry into the town the party began their
march toward the coast, reaching their ships in safety, though hungry,
shoeless, and empty-handed.

After an unsuccessful cruise on the coast of Veragua, Drake returned
once more to the Cabezas, and there fell in with a French vessel, the
captain of which proposed to join him in another attempt, now being
planned, to capture some of the treasure trains still passing across the
Isthmus. After consultation it was agreed that twenty of the French crew
should go in company with fifteen of the English, and that the former
should receive half the proceeds of the raid. The expedition sailed
for the Rio Francisco, and after ascending the river a short distance
in pinnaces marched overland, without mishap, to a spot near Nombre de
Dios, within a short distance of the high road. The fleet from Cartagena
still lay off that town awaiting the last shipments of treasure, and
Drake had reason to believe that several richly laden trains were then
on the way from Panamá. Nor was he disappointed. On the morning after
his arrival the bells of the approaching train were distinctly heard,
and soon there appeared in sight three companies, two with seventy and
one with fifty mules, laden with nearly thirty tons of gold and silver.
The escort of Spanish soldiers, numbering forty-five men, was beaten
off after the exchange of a few shots, one of which wounded the French
captain severely, and the adventurers were left in possession of the
prize. In two hours they had secured all the gold they could carry
away, and buried the remainder, with about fifteen tons of silver, under
fallen trees. Meanwhile the alarm had been given at Nombre de Dios, and
a strong party of horse and foot approached them from that direction.
All except the wounded officer and two of his command retired to the
woods and made their way back to the river.


But what had become of the pinnaces? They had been ordered to return
within four days and were not even in sight. Looking seaward, Drake
descried seven Spanish vessels cruising off the coast. Surely the boats
had been captured and their crews forced to disclose the hiding-place of
the ships that were to have carried them back home, weighed down with
plunder. Of little use was now their gold, with such dismal prospects
before them. The cimarrones advised them to march overland to the spot
where their vessels lay, a difficult journey of sixteen days at least,
through forest and across streams swollen by winter rains and with many
a tall mountain lying between them and the seashore. Drake was satisfied
that long before they reached the coast their ships would be taken or
burnt by the Spaniards. Nevertheless he told his men to banish fear,
and bid them construct a raft from the trees brought down by the stream
during a recent storm. A large biscuit-sack served for a sail, and for
rudder an oar rudely shaped with axe and knife.

With three companions, all expert swimmers, the commander put to sea,
assuring his followers "that if by Gods help he once more put aboard his
Foot in his Frigot, he would certainly get them all into her in spite
of all the Spaniards in the Indies." The raft was so low in the water
that each wave broke over them,[XXIII‑17] fretting and chafing their
lower limbs, while their bodies from the waist upward were scorched
by the stinging heat of a tropical sun. Six hours passed by slowly and
wearily, and night was now approaching, while under a freshening gale
the waves dashed higher and higher, threatening each moment forever to
engulf the four cowering figures. Little hope or life was left in them,
for none could endure such hardship through all the long days that must
elapse before they could expect to reach their ships. At length when
all seemed lost a sail appeared, and then another. Did they belong to
their own missing boats or to the war vessels of the enemy? Better to
brave any danger than fall alive into the hands of the Spaniards. Drake
at once affirmed them to be the pinnaces expected at the rio Francisco,
and so it proved. Within an hour he was on board; before daybreak next
morning he had rejoined his command, and by sunrise all had embarked
for the Cabezas, where they found their vessels lying safely at


The gold and silver were now divided by weight in equal shares between
the French and English, and a final expedition despatched to Nombre
de Dios for the buried silver, and to rescue or bring back word of
the wounded officer and his two companions. Hardly had they set foot
on the shore of the rio Francisco when one of the missing Frenchmen
came forth to meet them. He declared that within half an hour after
Drake had begun his retreat, the captain and his remaining comrade, the
latter half stupefied with wine, had been taken by the Spaniards; that
he himself had escaped only by throwing down his plunder, and that the
hidden treasure had probably been recovered, for the ground had been
thoroughly searched. Nevertheless the men were ordered to push forward,
and succeeded in unearthing some thirteen bars of silver and a few
wedges of gold, wherewith they returned without adventure to the coast.

The Spanish fleet was now ready to sail, having taken on board the last
load of its rich freight, and nothing was to be gained by remaining
longer on the coast. Drake parted on good terms with his French allies,
and after capturing a vessel[XXIII‑19] laden with provisions, fitted
out his ships for their homeward voyage. The cimarrones were dismissed
with suitable presents for themselves, and a profusion of silk and linen
for their wives. Sail was then set; and on a Sabbath forenoon, the 9th
of August 1573, the squadron cast anchor in Plymouth Sound. It was the
hour of divine service, as the chroniclers tell us, when news of the
arrival spread through the town; and in all the churches men and women
abandoned their devotions and flocked to the shore to welcome their
brave countrymen, who thus returned to their native land with so much
gold and glory.

       *       *       *       *       *


Among those who accompanied Drake in his expedition to Tierra Firme in
1572 was one John Oxenham, who, three years later, planned a daring but,
as the event proved, a disastrous raid on the Spanish mainland and went
in search of the treasure-ships which frequented its southern coast.
Landing on the Isthmus with only seventy men, he beached his vessel,
covered her with boughs, buried his cannon in the ground, and guided
by friendly cimarrones marched twelve leagues inland to the banks of a
river flowing toward the south. Here a pinnace was built, large enough
to contain the entire party, and dropping down unnoticed to the mouth of
the stream Oxenham sailed for the Pearl Islands, which lay in the track
of vessels conveying treasure from Lima to Panamá. Prizes were made of
two vessels containing gold and silver to the value of nearly three
hundred thousand pesos, and the adventurers now began their homeward
journey. But on the very night of their departure information of the
capture was sent to Panamá, and within two days a strong force started
in pursuit. The treasure was recovered, the English were defeated, and
their ship being taken, the survivors, some fifty in number, fled to the
mountains, where they lived for a time among the cimarrones. Finally
they were betrayed to the Spaniards and all put to death, with the
exception of five boys who were sold into slavery. Thus ended the first
piratical cruise attempted by Englishmen in the South Sea.[XXIII‑20]

       *       *       *       *       *

The prayer which Drake uttered when first he gazed on the Pacific did
not remain long unanswered; for the great captain was one of those
self-helpful men which the Almighty seldom fails to assist. On the 15th
of November 1577 he set out upon the famous expedition which was to
place him in the foremost rank of navigators. On September 6th, in the
following year, he cleared the strait of Magellan, and was the first to
carry the English flag into the ocean beyond. After capturing a large
amount of treasure between the coast of Peru and the bay of Panamá, he
sailed as far north as the forty-third parallel, expecting to find a
passage eastward to the Atlantic.[XXIII‑21] Thence returning he arrived
at Plymouth by way of the Cape of Good Hope, after a voyage of nearly
three years, on the 26th of September 1580.[XXIII‑22] His flag-ship the
_Pelican_ was taken to Deptford, and on board the bark in which he had
compassed the world[XXIII‑23] this stout-hearted mariner, who had begun
life as a prentice boy on a small trading vessel, feasted his royal
mistress, and bowed the knee while one of the greatest of England's
sovereigns bestowed on him the title of Sir Francis Drake.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the breaking-out of hostilities between England and Spain in 1585
Elizabeth determined to strike a blow at the Spanish possessions in the
New World, while yet Philip was but contemplating the great enterprise
which three years later terminated in a disaster that has no parallel
in the annals of naval warfare. On September 12, 1585, a fleet of
twenty-five ships with a number of pinnaces set sail from Plymouth,
having on board two thousand three hundred men, among them Frobisher
and other captains of armada fame, and as commander Sir Francis Drake.

The expedition first shaped its course toward Spain, and after hovering
for a while on that coast, capturing many prizes, but none of value,
landed on the first of January 1586 in Española, within a few miles
of Santo Domingo. The city was taken after a feeble resistance, but
little treasure was found there, for the mines were now abandoned,
the native population well nigh exterminated, and copper money was
in common use among the Spaniards. A ransom of twenty-five thousand
ducats was at length paid, and loading their fleet with a good store
of wheat, oil, wine, cloth, and silk, the English sailed for Cartagena,
captured that city almost without loss, and retired on payment of a sum
equivalent to about one hundred and forty-five thousand pesos. By this
time sickness had so far reduced their ranks that they were compelled
to abandon the main object of their enterprise, namely, the occupation
of Nombre de Dios and Panamá, and the seizure of the treasure stored
on either side of the Isthmus. It was resolved, therefore, to return
to England.[XXIII‑24] After touching at Saint Augustine, and securing
in that neighborhood treasure to the amount of ten thousand pesos,
and coasting thence northward to the Roanoke, where the members of the
colony recently established[XXIII‑25] by Raleigh were taken on board the
fleet, Drake landed at Portsmouth on the 28th of July 1586. The spoil
amounted to three hundred thousand pesos, purchased at the cost of seven
hundred and fifty lives. One third of this amount only was divided among
the survivors, giving as the lowest share of an individual the sum of
thirty dollars.

       *       *       *       *       *


The motto "Non sufficit orbis," ascribed by some chroniclers to the
crown of Spain, was one worthy of the pretensions of Philip. What
mattered the conquest of a hemisphere while the ocean was ruled by
another; while the royal banner of Castile could be degraded by licensed
bands of freebooters, and the commercial marts of the New World be held
for ransom? Such was the sentiment which lured the Spanish monarchs
to attempt ambitious schemes of conquest like that which ended in the
destruction of the great armada, in which the pirate Drake played his
allotted part.

After sharing with Sir John Morris the command of an expedition directed
against Spain in 1589, Drake was ordered by his sovereign five years
later to prepare another armament against the Spanish West Indies. In
this enterprise he associated with himself Sir John Hawkins,[XXIII‑26]
an old friend and once his patron, and among other officers Sir Thomas
Baskerville,[XXIII‑27] as commander of the land forces. On the 28th of
August 1595 a squadron of six men-of-war equipped at the expense of the
queen[XXIII‑28] sailed from Plymouth, accompanied by twenty-one vessels
fitted out by private subscription. The entire force of the expedition
mustered twenty-five hundred men.

Although every precaution was used to mask the purpose of the armament,
it was known to Philip, long before the departure of the fleet, that
Drake intended to capture Nombre de Dios and to march thence to Panamá,
touching first at Puerto Rico to plunder a dismasted treasure-ship which
lay in that harbor. The English soon found to their cost that every
preparation had been made for a resolute defence. Anchoring near the
town of San Juan de Puerto Rico, their vessels were exposed to a well
directed fire from a battery of thirty guns. Drake's chair was struck
from under him by a round-shot as he sat at supper in his cabin, and
after a loss of at least fifty killed[XXIII‑29] and as many wounded
the expedition sailed for the mainland. The towns of Ranchería, Rio de
la Hacha, and Santa Márta were burnt in default of ransom. Nombre de
Dios was captured almost without resistance and levelled to the ground;
but Baskerville, despatched with seven hundred and fifty men to attack
Panamá, was defeated by the Spaniards when half way across the Isthmus,
and his command returned hungry, sore-footed,[XXIII‑30] and in sorry

[Sidenote: DEATH OF DRAKE.]

"It matters not, man," said Drake to one of his favorite officers.
"God hath many things in store for us; and I knowe many means to do
Her Majestie good service and to make us riche, for we must have gould
before wee see Englande." The words were hardly uttered when the speaker
grew sick, and on the 28th of January 1596, less than a week afterward,
the great captain breathed his last as the English fleet entered the
harbor of Portobello. A league from land he found a sailor's sepulchre;
and as the leaden casket that contained his remains was lowered into the
waves near the spot where first he had won repute, salvos of artillery
proclaimed to the exulting Spaniards on shore that one more name was
added to the list of those whose memory Spain has never ceased to hate
and England to honor.[XXIII‑31]





The revolt of the Contreras brothers served at least one good purpose.
It rid Nicaragua of swarms of vagabonds and dissatisfied adventurers,
most of whom found a grave, as we have seen, during their raid on the
Isthmus. Still there remained in the province a residuum of floating
ruffianism, the very sweepings of all the provinces, and four years
after the events described in a preceding chapter a fresh disturbance
broke out. A band of disaffected soldiers and runaways from Nicaragua
and Honduras, joining with themselves a number of negroes, rose in
rebellion under the leadership of Juan Gaitan, a criminal banished from
Nicaragua by order of the licentiate Juan de Caballon, then in charge
at Leon.

The rebels began by sacking the village of San Miguel,[XXIV‑1] and
thence proceeding to the mines of Chuluteca captured them after a stout
resistance[XXIV‑2] and despoiled the adjacent village. They then entered
Nicaragua and marched directly on the capital, but when within five
leagues of it, Gaitan, who was a firm believer in astrology, was drawn
into a controversy with his maestre de campo, Tarragona, a dabbler in
the occult art. The latter predicted that they would certainly be hanged
should they then continue their march on Leon, and advised that they
repair first to Realejo and seize the vessels lying there. But revenge
got the better of Gaitan's superstition, and he proceeded on his way to
the capital, resolved to take the life of the licentiate.

Meanwhile news of the outbreak had reached Caballon. Assistance had
been summoned from Realejo and Granada; the ships at the former port
were ordered to put out to sea to avoid capture;[XXIV‑3] and entering
Leon on the last day of pentecost 1554, Gaitan found the licentiate's
forces drawn up in the public square well posted for defence. A stubborn
conflict ensued; but, the powder of the rebels having become damp from
the rains, they fought at a disadvantage and were finally routed. Gaitan
took refuge in a convent belonging to the order of Merced, where his
brother was one of the friars, but this asylum availed him nothing. The
licentiate Sotomayor, an exile from New Spain, who was also an inmate,
seized him and delivered him to the authorities. Next day the insurgent
leader was beheaded, and that the prophecy of the maestro de campo might
be fulfilled, Tarragona and others were hanged, the rest being sent into

       *       *       *       *       *


While fiscal of Guatemala, Caballon had been requested by the audiencia
to undertake the pacification of Costa Rica, conjointly with a wealthy
ecclesiastic, named Juan de Estrada Rábago, and it was for this purpose
that he had originally proceeded to Nicaragua. In 1560 an expedition was
organized, Rábago furnishing the necessary funds, for Caballon had none.
Each one was to found his own settlements, but to render aid and advice
to the other. The former with four vessels sailed up the Desaguadero,
while Caballon journeyed by land and explored the southern coast.
Whether they ever met according to their original plan is doubtful,
and their lack of coöperation may partly explain the failure of the

Rábago with a party of sixty Spaniards founded the "Villa del Castillo
de Austria" on the bay of San Gerónimo.[XXIV‑4] He also speaks of
three other towns which he founded, and of churches which he built
and furnished, but fails to name or locate them. Caballon established
the Villa de Landecho, on the coast near the southern border of the
province, and three days' journey thence the settlement of Castillo de
García Muñoz. The reasons that induced him to select the former site
were known only to himself, and are not recorded by the chroniclers.
There were no Indians in its neighborhood to be enslaved; most of the
land was marshy, and the high ground sterile and consisting mainly of
bare rock. Caballon was soon afterward appointed fiscal of the audiencia
of Mexico, and Rábago, being now left in sole charge, was ordered by
the emperor not to abandon the undertaking, though the Spaniards were
in sore distress. "It is now two years and more," write the members
of the cabildo from Cartago, in December 1562, "since we entered this
province in company with the licentiate Juan de Caballon, and it is with
great difficulty that we have held out against the rebellious natives,
who could not be converted and brought to obedience by peaceable

After the departure of Caballon for Mexico the audiencia of the Confines
perceived that a man of means and capacity was needed for the occasion,
and their choice fell on Juan Vazquez Coronado, who was appointed
alcalde mayor of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. On him the emperor afterward
conferred the title of adelantado and captain general. Coronado at once
despatched a ship with reënforcements and provisions for the relief
of the needy colonists, and sent by land a train of cattle laden with
material for clothing, and with blankets, boots, saddles, harness,
hardware, and other stores. At the head of a powerful and well equipped
force he soon afterward proceeded to Nicoya, an Indian town then claimed
both by Nicaragua and Costa Rica.[XXIV‑6] Here he awaited the arrival
of a vessel. The rainy season had now set in, and it was impossible to
reach by land the Villa de Landecho, whither he was bound; but a vessel
soon afterward arriving, the alcalde mayor reached that settlement with
his command, and relieving the need of the colonists, sent the ship back
to Panamá, for fresh supplies and proceeded to Cartago where the royal
standard was delivered to him. Rábago meanwhile had set forth for Spain
and appears no more in connection with the history of the New World.


Coronado distributed his supplies bountifully, and when his own means
were exhausted[XXIV‑7] contracted heavy debts in order to relieve the
necessities of his countrymen. He then sent expeditions in various
directions to explore and subdue the territory. The principal cacique,
one named Garabito, was believed to have large forces at his command,
and a company of forty soldiers under Francisco de Marmolejo was sent
against him to the province of Los Botos,[XXIV‑8] reputed to be a
rich and populous district, and whither it was supposed that Garabito
had retired. The country was found almost deserted, there being but
two houses, and those inhabited by some ninety half-starved Indians.
To Garabito's own province Captain Juan de Illanes de Castro was
despatched, but the natives had fled; and after a fruitless search he
returned with only a few women and boys, from whom it was learned that
the number of the cacique's followers had been greatly exaggerated.
It was ascertained, however, that four of Garabito's chiefs were at
the foot of a mountain many leagues distant, and Dávila, who became
the narrator of many of these expeditions, was ordered to go in search
of them and bring them peaceably to head-quarters. They were found
in company with about twenty men, thirty women, and a few children,
all living in two houses, and declared that Garabito had gone to Los
Botos,[XXIV‑9] and that it would be difficult to find him, for he never
spent two nights in the same place. His subjects, they said, might
number from five hundred to six hundred.

Coronado sent these chiefs to inform the natives of his arrival,
promising them kind treatment; and in a few days ten or twelve others
came to his head-quarters. One of them, the cacique of the province of
Anzarri,[XXIV‑10] promised to guide an expedition to the most thickly
populated part of the country; but when asked for four hundred carriers,
he answered that even Garabito could not furnish so many. The alcalde
mayor then started with seventy soldiers and about a hundred Indians
for Anzarri, taking with him the cacique. Arrived there, the chieftain
collected a few natives, and said they were all that he had, and
that together with himself they were at the service of the Spaniards.
Coronado, much incensed, placed him under arrest, telling him he must
make up the required number or forfeit his life. To this the cacique
only replied: "Do your pleasure; other people I have not." A day or two
afterward thirty more carriers were procured. Coronado now resolved to
continue his march, shaping his course for the province of Quepo, where,
as he was assured, was the cacique with an abundance of Indians.

On entering the territory he obtained the services of one hundred and
thirty additional carriers, and was informed that if he was in search
of gold he would find all he wanted at the stronghold of Cotu, a few
days' journey thence. The fort was reached after a toilsome march,
and Marmolejo with thirty men was ordered to surprise it by night and
capture all the caciques there stationed. The Spaniards, expecting
no resistance, incautiously handed their weapons to the attendant
natives, and on entering the place were themselves surprised, twenty
of them being wounded before they could seize their arms. Assistance
soon arrived from Coronado, whereupon the Indians abandoned the fort
and fled, first setting fire to all the houses, some sixty-five in
number. Messengers were then sent to the caciques, asking them to tender
their allegiance, and promising kind treatment. One of them returned,
bringing a golden patena as a token of peace, and was followed next day
by the chieftains, who also brought with them some small offerings of


Coronado then set his face toward Garci Muñoz, where he soon afterward
organized a second expedition, during which, journeying far inland,
he discovered a large river which he named the Rio de la Estrella. In
that neighborhood he found a large amount of gold. Returning thence
to the coast he took ship for Spain,[XXIV‑12] and shortly after his
arrival a royal cédula was issued, ordering that testimony be taken
at Santiago as to whether he had actually effected the pacification of
Costa Rica and was entitled to the governorship of that province. The
evidence was extremely favorable, and in April 1565 he was appointed
governor of Costa Rica for life, with an annual salary of two thousand
pesos,[XXIV‑13] and also governor of Nicaragua for a term of three

Of the subsequent career of Coronado little is known, but he does not
appear to have continued long in office, for in 1573 Diego de Artieda
Cherino[XXIV‑14] entered into a contract with the crown to pacify and
further colonize the provinces of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Nicoya,
and was appointed governor and captain general of those territories.
According to the terms of his contract the natives were to be taught
the arts of peace, and those who should be christianized were to be
exempt from tribute for ten years; commerce with the Indians was to
be encouraged; agriculture, mining, and other industries were to be
developed; no hostilities with the natives were to be permitted until
overtures of peace had been thrice rejected; settlements were not to
be founded in districts reserved for the use of Indians; the principal
towns were to revert to the emperor; four ecclesiastics must accompany
the expedition, two of them at least to be Jesuits. Finally, full
reports of all important proceedings were to be forwarded from time to
time to the crown.[XXIV‑15]

[Sidenote: BUCCANEERS.]

Cherino soon levied a force of two hundred men, but on account of
the difficulty in procuring vessels, his Majesty having secured every
available ship for a naval expedition to Flanders, it was not until the
15th of April 1575 that he took his departure, setting sail from the
port of San Lúcar.[XXIV‑16] He was directed first to cruise off the
coast in search of English buccaneers, who were then infesting those
parts; but finding no sign of their presence he landed on the shore of
Costa Rica near the mouth of a river to which he gave the name of Rio
de Nuestra Señora del Valle del Guaini. Sailing up the stream for two
or three leagues, he founded on its banks two settlements, to one of
which he gave the name of Ciudad de Artieda del Nuevo Reyno de Navarra.
In the presence of most of his men he took formal possession of the
site; on a tree standing on the spot selected for the plaza he marked
with a cutlass the sign of the cross "in the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost;" he then addressed his followers,[XXIV‑17]
telling them that all who desired might select town lots and secure all
the privileges granted to settlers by the emperor. Captain Francisco
Paron was then ordered by the governor to make further explorations,
and ascending the river for a distance of nine leagues he discovered a
fertile valley, and finding the natives tractable and well disposed,
took possession with the usual formalities, naming it Valle de los
Pufibais y del Valderroncal. Cherino does not appear to have been
successful in founding any permanent settlements in Costa Rica; for
we learn that in 1586 Cartago and Esparza were the only towns in the
province inhabited by Spaniards,[XXIV‑18] and that they were constantly
at war with the Indians.

Thus the efforts of the Spaniards to subjugate the natives of Costa
Rica were but partially successful; but meanwhile great progress
had been made in the pacification of the province by the efforts
of the Franciscan friars. About the year 1555 Fray Pedro Alonso de
Betanzos laid there the foundation of the province of San Jorge de
Nicaragua.[XXIV‑19] Betanzos came to New Spain in 1542, being one of
the two hundred friars who formed the mission of Jacobo de Testera,
and was assigned to Guatemala. He had labored there with great zeal
and success, translating the catechism into the Indian vernacular,
converting many, and inducing others to quit their nomadic life and
form regular settlements. Four friars, among whom were Juan Pizarro
from Guatemala and Lorenzo de Bienvenida from Guatemala, the latter
having previously labored in company with Testera in Yucatan,[XXIV‑20]
accompanied Betanzos to Costa Rica.[XXIV‑21] Bienvenida soon afterward
departed for Spain, and bringing thence thirty ecclesiastics returned
to Costa Rica. The bishop of Nicaragua furnished a like number, and
when all were assembled the province was founded in 1575, and four
years later its establishment was confirmed by a general chapter of
the order held in Paris in 1579, the number of convents assigned being

Betanzos was a man of ability and tireless industry. In a short time
he had made himself master of twelve Indian dialects, speaking them as
fluently as did the natives themselves.[XXIV‑23] "When first he went
to Costa Rica," says Vazquez, "he would not allow soldiers to enter
the territory. He travelled barefoot and accompanied only by a little
boy. In two or three months he returned with many natives, all baptized
and converted, bringing great store of provisions for the Spaniards.
This he did many times, until by the word of God alone he pacified
great multitudes. During the sixteen years which he thus labored,
there remained not a palm of territory in the province which he did
not traverse in search of souls." After laboring for thirty years he
was attacked by fever and died near the town of Chomez in 1570, his
remains being interred in a convent which he himself had founded at

       *       *       *       *       *


The year 1586 was made memorable by the martyrdom of Juan Pizarro, an
aged and venerable friar of the Merced order, friend and associate of
Betanzos, and one who first established the Mercenarios in Costa Rica.
On the day of the immaculate conception he was preaching in one of the
Indian towns, when a band of natives rushed upon him, disrobed him,
bound him naked to a post, and flogged him unmercifully. Not satisfied
with this, they fastened a rope round his neck, beat him senseless,
hanged the bruised and bleeding body to a tree, and when life had fled
flung the corpse down a neighboring chasm.

       *       *       *       *       *

The dissensions which the new code of laws had occasioned in Nicaragua
were not yet at an end. Cerrato, who was still president of the
audiencia, of the Confines,[XXIV‑25] was harassed on all sides. The
ecclesiastics contended that the natives should be taken from the
encomenderos and placed under the crown, which virtually meant the
church, and that their owners be recompensed directly from the royal
treasury. The conquerors, however, would listen to no such proposition,
but tenaciously held to their possessions.

The number of Indian towns subject to the crown in Nicaragua about the
year 1555 was twenty-seven.[XXIV‑26] Nicoya, the largest, contained five
hundred families; there was no other with more than one hundred, and
most of them had but ten or twenty families. The extreme poverty of the
natives had rendered necessary a reduction of their tribute,[XXIV‑27]
and hence the salaries of civil officers and of the clergy were on
a reduced scale. The aggregate tithes of the church in the province
amounted in 1555 but to sixteen hundred pesos, and were decreasing from
year to year. The bishop's portion was three hundred and eighty pesos, a
sum insufficient for his maintenance, and he was compelled to petition
the king to increase his income. Priests laboring in native villages
received two hundred pesos, and in one instance the stipend was only
eighty pesos.


After the death of Valdivieso, the friar Alonso de la Vera Cruz, who
had for many years filled the chair of theology in the university of
Mexico, and during a quarter of a century had preached to the natives
in their own tongue, was nominated as his successor, but declined
the preferment.[XXIV‑28] The see was then offered to the licentiate
Carrasco, who took charge of the diocese, but never proceeded to
consecration.[XXIV‑29] As bishop-elect he made himself familiar with
the affairs of the province, instituted numerous inquiries, and as the
result made various suggestions to the civil authorities. He declared
that the decrease in population and revenue was caused by the conduct of
the alcaldes mayores, most of whom were either fools or knaves. Within
three years five or six had been sent to Nicaragua by appointment of the
audiencia, and the natives had been compelled each time to erect gala
arches to welcome them, and to fatten fowl and prepare delicacies for
their entertainment. The officers of the crown gave Carrasco but little
satisfaction, and even went so far as to deny his right to demand an
account of tithes received for ecclesiastical purposes, although through
their peculations the amount had fallen so low as to be inadequate for
the support of the bishopric. Little wonder that he soon had enough of
so uninviting a field of labor.

To Carrasco succeeded Fray Gomez Fernandez de Córdoba. This princely
ecclesiastic was a native of the city whose name he bore, and
belonged to the highest nobility of Spain, being grandson of the great
captain.[XXIV‑30] He was consecrated in Spain and took charge of the
bishopric in 1553.[XXIV‑31] During his tenure of office the cathedral
was completed, and a migration of Dominicans took place.

The building of the cathedral had been long retarded by misappropriation
of the funds set apart for the purpose, the treasurer having invested
large sums at different times in speculations and in the purchase
of lands in Peru. The audiencia at length took action and ordered
its completion; the means to be raised in equal proportion from the
treasury, the colonists, and the natives. When it was finished there
remained a surplus of more than two thousand pesos, which was returned
to the treasury.

Among the Dominicans discipline was somewhat lax about this period, and
their mode of life such as to cause scandal throughout the province.
In 1554 Fray Juan de Torres, a resident of Guatemala, was appointed
the Dominican vicar provincial of Nicaragua, with orders to visit the
convents in Leon and Granada and restore the ecclesiastics to becoming
austerity. Failing in this, he was to give them permission to leave
for Spain or elsewhere as they pleased, and bring back with him all
the jewels and ornaments belonging to the order.[XXIV‑32] Arriving in
Nicaragua, the vicar provincial at once imposed such severe ordinances
that the friars became disgusted and resolved to return to Spain.
Nothing could be more agreeable to Fray Juan, who thereupon stealthily
collected all the jewels and ornaments according to his instructions
and returned to Guatemala.[XXIV‑33]

This proceeding was censured even by the vicar's superiors. The general
of the order, Estéfano Ususmaris, disapproved of it, and instead of
lauding him for his zeal, blamed him for his indiscretion.[XXIV‑34] From
Peru came a protest; and the president and oidores of the audiencia
of the Confines felt aggrieved that such an important measure should
be taken without consulting them. A few years later Padre Torres was
ordered to Spain, that the king, council, and the general of his order
might be informed on matters pertaining to the election of Father Angulo
to the see of Vera Cruz. His ship was captured by French corsairs when
in sight of Cádiz, and all on board were made prisoners; but so elated
was the ecclesiastic by the glory of thus falling into the hands of
heretics, that his captors, regarding his high and holy zeal as a kind
of insanity, set him ashore without ransom.

After his arrival at court, the subject of his having dismembered the
convents of Nicaragua was revived, and it was decided that he should
reëstablish them in person. In consideration, however, of the fact
that in this matter he had merely acted according to the orders of his
superiors, he was exonerated from all blame and appointed vicar general
of the province of Nicaragua, which was at the same time segregated from
that of San Vicente de Chiapas. He was then ordered to collect a number
of friars and return to Leon, the king bearing the expenses of the
expedition and providing everything necessary to refit the convents. He
was heartily welcomed by the bishop, settlers, and natives, and together
with his colleagues renewed his labors throughout the province; but
toil and advancing years had sapped his strength, and about the year
1562 Fray Juan de Torres sickened and died at an Indian village on the

After his decease the Dominicans became disconsolate and all left the
province, some for Santo Domingo, others for Peru, and the rest for
Spain. The ornaments and properties donated by the king to the convents
were left in charge of lay brothers, but subsequently the Dominicans
of San Vicente de Chiapas appropriated them as belonging to the order.
They were obliged, however, by a judicial decision to return them, after
which they were distributed by royal order among other churches.

       *       *       *       *       *


At the close of the sixteenth century the chief towns in Nicaragua
were Leon the capital, Realejo, and Granada. In 1586 the former was in
a dilapidated condition, the houses that fell into decay being never
rebuilt. Realejo had but thirty settlers and its chief industry was the
building and repairing of ships. Granada had two hundred vecinos and
at a short distance from it were many tributary Indians. The walls of
the buildings were of mud, buttressed with a few bricks and stones, the
roofs being of tiles. The population included encomenderos, merchants,
traders, and a few mechanics and stock-raisers. Vessels traded thence
with Nombre de Dios, passing down the Desaguadero to the North Sea,
though with some difficulty during the dry season.[XXIV‑35]

Notwithstanding the commercial relations thus opened with the province
of Panamá, no trade of importance had yet been developed in Nicaragua.
There was little money in circulation,[XXIV‑36] and the prices of all
imported articles were extremely high. An arroba of wine was worth
twelve pesos; cloth could not be bought for less than ten pesos, nor
linen for less than fifteen reales a yard. Other commodities sold in the
same proportion, and were beyond the means of all but the wealthiest
settlers. This condition of affairs may be attributed in part to a
clique of merchants in Seville, who had already monopolized the commerce
of the New World, who shipped their goods in such small quantities as
always to keep the market bare of supplies and insure extravagant prices
for their merchandise, and who by their grasping policy gave rise, as
we shall see later, to contraband trading.






The city of Leon was founded, as will be remembered, by Córdoba, in
1523,[XXV‑1] a few leagues from the shore of the South Sea. The murder
of Bishop Valdivieso, which has already been mentioned,[XXV‑2] was
believed to have entailed a curse upon the place, and after suffering a
series of disasters the inhabitants abandoned its site in 1610. First
keeping a solemn fast they marched forth under the flags of Spain and
the municipality, and about midway between the ocean and Lake Managua
in the centre of a populous Indian district named Subtiaba, established
a new city which soon became noted as one of the best built in Central
America. "Leon," says the English traveller Thomas Gage, an apostate
monk who passed through the city in 1637, "is very curiously built, for
the chief delight of the Inhabitants consisteth in their houses, and
in the pleasure of the Country adjoyning, and in the abundance of all
things for the life of man, more than in any extraordinary riches, which
there are not so much enjoyed as in other parts of America. They are
contented with fine gardens, with variety of singing birds, and parrets,
with plenty of fish and flesh, which is cheap, and with gay houses, and
so lead a delicious, lasie and idle life; not aspiring much to trade
and traffique, though they have neer unto them the Lake, which commonly
every year sendeth forth some Frigats to the Havana by the North Sea,
and Realejo on the South Sea, which to them might be very commodious for
any dealing and rich trading in Peru or to Mixco, if their spirits would
carry them so far. The Gentlemen of this City are almost as vain and
phantastical as are those of Chiapa. And especially from the pleasure of
this City, is all that province of Nicaragua, called by the Spaniards
Mahomets Paradise. From hence the way is plain and level to Granada,
whither I got safely and joyfully."[XXV‑3]

"What in Granada we observed," continues Gage, "was, two Cloisters of
Mercenarian and Franciscan Frayers, and one of the Nuns, very rich; and
one Parish Church, which was as a Cathedral, for the Bishop of Leon did
more constantly reside there than in the City. The houses are fairer
than those of Leon, and the Town of more Inhabitants, amongst whom are
some few Merchants of very great wealth, and many of inferiour degree
very well to pass, who trade with Carthagena, Guatemala, San Salvador,
and Comayagua and some by the South Sea to Peru and Panamá.... In one
day there entered six Requas (which were at least three hundred Mules)
from St Salvador and Comayagua only, laden with nothing else but Indigo,
Cochinil, and Hides; and two days after from Guatemala came in three
more, the one laden with silver, which was the Kings tribute from that
Countrey; the other with Sugar, and the other with Indigo."[XXV‑4]

In 1665 Fort San Cárlos on the Desaguadero was captured by freebooters
under Gallardillo, and thus Granada lay at the mercy of corsairs. The
city was captured, and the invaders, disappointed in their hopes of
plunder, set it on fire, putting to rout during their retreat a force
of three thousand Spaniards gathered to intercept them, and thence
extended their depredations to Realejo. San Cárlos was recaptured by
Martin Cárlos de Mencos, the president of Guatemala, and, in October
1671, the erection of new and stronger works was ordered by the king,
the site selected being near the outlet of the lake.[XXV‑5]

       *       *       *       *       *


The ecclesiastical records of the province during the seventeenth
century contain few incidents worthy of record. In 1616 the Jesuits of
Guatemala attempted to establish themselves in Nicaragua, and at the
instance of the Conde de la Gomera, president of the audiencia, Pedro
de Contreras was despatched to Granada in charge of the work.[XXV‑6] He
was welcomed to the diocese of Nicaragua by the Bishop Don Pedro Villa
Real,[XXV‑7] and every assistance was afforded him, the cathedral being
placed at his disposal during the whole of lent. But when he made known
the main purpose of his mission—the establishment of a Jesuit college
in Nicaragua—the people of Granada, though they listened to him with
delight, refused to respond to his appeals for aid. Means were supplied,
however, by an ex-captain-general of the province, Vicente Saldívar
y Mendoza, whose deceased wife had left one fifth of her property for
the endowment of a college. The sum thus bequeathed was increased by
Saldívar to twenty-seven thousand pesos and presented to Contreras.
Until 1621 the Jesuits remained in Nicaragua, Contreras and Padre Blas
Hernandez being the only names recorded in connection with the mission.
It was then announced that the superiors of the order had recalled
them, and immediately the widespread interest in the labors of the
fathers was manifested by large public meetings, at which petitions were
adopted against such a measure.[XXV‑8] But the orders of the Provincial
Nicolás de Armoya were peremptory, for the location, he alleged, was
deemed too remote to be governed in keeping with the strict rules of
the Jesuits.[XXV‑9]

Meanwhile the people of Realejo had sent frequent petitions to
Guatemala, and as a last resort addressed themselves directly to
the king, asking for the establishment of a Jesuit college in their
midst,[XXV‑10] especially as the cura of the town had made donations
which would yield a revenue of six thousand pesos. The royal license for
the foundation of the college was issued, accompanied by a grant from
the royal treasury of three thousand ducats, whereupon the provincial
relented, and notwithstanding the opposition of his fellow padres,
authorized its institution. About the close of 1621 the Jesuits returned
for a while to Granada, but the consent of the provincial to the
establishment of the order in this province had in truth been given only
with the expectation of multiplying dependencies until Guatemala could
claim the dignity of a vice-provincia. When this failed the padres were
not allowed to remain in Nicaragua, and henceforth the Jesuits disappear
for a time from the history of the province.

The see of Nicaragua was subject to the archbishop of Lima, and
the remoteness of the archiepiscopal court was a frequent source of
complaint among the Spaniards, for the expense of the voyage often
exceeded the monetary value of the interests involved. In 1621 Benito
Valtonado was prelate at Granada.[XXV‑11] He was a man noted for his
kindness of heart, and mainly from his own resources, which were ample,
he founded the hospital of Santa Catalina at Leon. After his decease in
1627 little worthy of special note is mentioned in connection with the
prelates of Nicaragua until after the appointment in 1667 of Andrés de
las Navas y Quevada,[XXV‑12] who built an episcopal palace, a church
college, and received by royal order a grant of religious books.

About the middle of the seventeenth century the income of the diocese
amounted to 3,000 pesos, of which sum the dean received 600 pesos, the
archdeacon 400, and two canons each 300 pesos a year. At this period
the convent of La Merced in Leon contained twenty ecclesiastics.

If Fray Blas del Castillo could have deferred until 1670 the journey
which he made through Nicaragua in 1537, discovering, as we have seen,
that providence had reserved for the ecclesiastics the molten treasures
of El Infierno de Masaya,[XXV‑13] he would have had a better opportunity
to test his belief. "Some assert," relates Oviedo, who it will be
remembered was in that neighborhood in 1529, when a violent outburst
occurred, and resided for three years in Nicaragua,[XXV‑14] "that the
light caused by the eruption is sufficient to read by at the distance of
three leagues." From the northern slope of the mountain poured in 1670
a volume of lava so vast as to extend almost to the lake of Managua, or
as many conjecture, to reach far into the lake.[XXV‑15]

Toward the close of the century the raids of buccaneers, of which a
description will be given in its place, coupled with the restrictions
on trade imposed by the home government, were sore afflictions to
Nicaragua and Costa Rica, both of which territories were rich in natural
resources. The governor of the latter province, writing to the king at
the opening of the eighteenth century, reports that Costa Rica does not
yield enough for the support of the priests and the secular officials.


There are no reliable records of the condition of affairs in Esparza
until, as we shall see later, the settlement was several times sacked
by buccaneers toward the close of the century, its site being changed in
1688. Of the capital of Costa Rica, Gage, who sojourned there four days
during his journey to England, writes: "We came at last through thousand
dangers to the City of Carthago, which we found not to be so poor, as
in richer places, as Guatemala and Nicaragua it was reported to be.
For there we had occasion to inquire after some Merchants for exchange
of gold and silver, and we found that some were very rich, who traded
by land and sea with Panamá and by sea with Portobello, Cartagena, and
Havana, and from thence with Spain. The City may consist of four hundred
Families, and is governed by a Spanish Governour. It is a Bishops See,
and hath in it three Cloisters, two of Fryers, and one of Nuns."

Calle, whose work was published in 1646, states that Cartago had sixty
vecinos, and that in the entire province there were but a hundred and
twenty vecinos and fifteen thousand peaceable Indians. The capital, he
says, had two judges, and among other officials a high constable, with
a salary of a thousand pesos a year.[XXV‑16]

       *       *       *       *       *


The district of Talamanca, which lay on the coast of the North Sea and
within the province of Costa Rica, was not fully explored until 1601, in
which year the city of Concepcion was founded on the Rio de la Estrella.
The establishment of this colony was quickly followed by an insurrection
of the natives who, incited by the rapacity and cruelty of the
Spaniards, rose en masse on the 10th of August 1610, and massacred the
inhabitants of that settlement and of Santiago de Talamanca, which had
been built on the left bank of the river, slaughtering indiscriminately
men, women, children, and priests.

Nothing else worthy of record occurred in this district until the year
1660, when Rodrigo Arias Maldonado, being governor and captain-general
of Costa Rica,[XXV‑17] resolved upon the subjugation of the natives of
Talamanca, then consisting of some twenty-six tribes. Maldonado proposed
to carry the gospel in one hand and the sword in the other; but his
ambition was rather to represent the church militant than to follow the
example of previous conquerors.

With a corps of one hundred and ten men he started forth upon his
self-imposed mission, expending his own private fortune upon the
enterprise,[XXV‑18] enduring great fatigue and hardship, exploring all
the coast as far as Boca del Drago and Boca del Flor, and visiting the
adjacent islands. His success was remarkable. He gathered the Indians
into villages, had them instructed in the faith, and erected churches;
but with his retirement from the scene the natives returned to their
nomadic life, the villages were deserted, and the churches fell into
decay. The intelligence of his labors, when communicated to the king,
won for him the title of marqués de Talamanca, but before the royal
decree reached him he had turned his back upon the honors of this
world, and enrolled himself as a humble brother of Bethlehem, to be
thenceforward known as Fray Rodrigo de la Cruz.[XXV‑19]

In 1684 the two Franciscans, Melchor Lopez, and Antonio Margil, resumed
the work of christianization, and found the paths that had led to the
interior overgrown and hidden as if they had never been opened, and the
people as fierce and untractable as though no efforts had been made
to civilize them. Yet these two priests, without arms or protection,
advanced into the interior of the country and reported within five
years the baptism of forty thousand Indians and the establishment of
fourteen villages. The work was continued with varying success by a
number of ecclesiastics, several of whom suffered martyrdom in their
cause,[XXV‑20] but the final result of all efforts was failure so
complete that, to use the words of Pelaez, "it was as if these mountains
were the gates of hell, from within which there was no redemption."

       *       *       *       *       *

In connection with the attempted pacification of Talamanca may be
mentioned certain missionary expeditions to Tologalpa, the name given
to a mountainous country lying between the Desaguadero and the Nueva
Segovia river, and peopled by sambos, by the Xicaques, the Lencas,
and other tribes[XXV‑21] or admixtures of tribes, differing widely in
language, government, and manners. The Spanish government had repeatedly
directed inquiries to be made concerning them and the best means of
effecting their reconciliation;[XXV‑22] and in letters addressed to the
president of the audiencia early in the seventeenth century the king
urges that efforts be made for the peaceful conquest of this province.

Among others who were imbued with a passion for this particular work
was a Franciscan named Estévan Verdelete, who was appointed local
superior in Comayagua and to whom the provincial granted a license
authorizing the adoption of any measures that would be likely to prove
successful. Under the guidance of some Indians, who avowed sympathy
with his projects, he and his friend Juan de Monteagudo, penetrated
this territory, only to be abandoned, however, by the natives when in
the midst of a vast wilderness, without food, and apparently cut off
from all human aid. Guided by the stars they succeeded in making their
way through the wilds, and after suffering excessive hardship arrived
in safety at Comayagua, whence they immediately afterward set forth for
Santiago to assist at the provincial synod held there in 1606.

Not disheartened by this failure, Verdelete asked permission from
the synod to proceed to Spain, for the purpose of asking the king's
assistance in the conversion and pacification of the natives. His
request was granted and eight assistants were appointed, whose expenses
were to be paid out of the royal treasury.[XXV‑23]

In October 1609 Verdelete left Santiago in company with his party of
ecclesiastics, and in passing through Comayagua obtained the services
of Captain Daza and three other Spaniards, who were familiar with
the country. After several days' travel they came in sight of Indian
dwellings and were received with every manifestation of joy. Verdelete
in the enthusiasm of the hour declared that he was prepared to live
and die among them. Converts were numerous,[XXV‑24] and the mission
so promising that Verdelete wrote to the provincial asking for more


But soon a change came over the scene, caused mainly by the deep feeling
of hostility that sprang up among the unconverted natives against their
christianized brethren. A frenzy of hatred against the very semblance of
religion seized upon them, and they resolved to burn down the settlement
of the missionaries and to massacre the inmates. On the evening set
for the execution of their purpose the ecclesiastics received warning
through some children, and while yet Verdelete was exhorting them to
stand steadfast in the hour of trial, hideous yells roused them to an
immediate sense of peril. Issuing forth they found the village enveloped
in flames, and encompassed by war-painted Indians brandishing lances and
torches. Verdelete at once rushed into their midst, crucifix in hand,
and with words of indignation upbraided them for their baseness and
treachery, and threatened the vengeance of offended heaven. His courage
inspired his associates, and at the spectacle of such boldness the
natives shrank abashed, and one by one slunk away. At daybreak not an
Indian was to be seen, and the missionaries then returned to Guatemala,
where their story only incited a more determined effort at the reduction
of the offending tribes, and another and larger expedition was organized
again under the leadership of Verdelete.

The missionaries were accompanied by an escort of twenty-three soldiers
under Captain Daza, and reached the confines of Tologalpa in April 1611.
They found some of their old converts, and by their agency others were
brought into the fold. Thus encouraged, they wished to penetrate farther
into the interior, but were dissuaded by Daza, who volunteered to go
in advance with some of his men and test the feeling of the natives.
After waiting some time for their return,[XXV‑25] the ecclesiastics
were beguiled into the mountain fastnesses, and found upon turning the
brow of a hill a large hostile band, brandishing lances and hideous
in war-paint. Their first glance showed them the head of Daza and some
of his soldiers carried on the points of lances, and at once they saw
that their fate was sealed. Nothing daunted, Verdelete advanced toward
them and began to expostulate. He was answered by a flight of javelins,
and fell pinned to the earth by a lance. Of the entire party but two
escaped,[XXV‑26] and for many years the inhabitants of Tologalpa saw no
more of the Christians.

Toward the close of the century, however, the rule of the Spaniards had
become somewhat milder throughout the provinces of Central America, and
in 1674 two of the Tologalpan tribes sent representatives to Guatemala
and besought Fernando de Espino, the provincial of the Franciscan
order, to send instructors to their countrymen. Soon afterward the
governor, after consultation with the provincial, resolved to send
another missionary, and out of many candidates Pedro de Lagares, a
young man of culture and an enthusiast in the cause, was chosen for the
task. At Nueva Segovia Lagares opened a missionary school, to which all
were admitted who were willing to work. He made numerous journeys into
the interior, and converts multiplied until in 1678 they were counted
by hundreds. His decease occurred during the following year, and his
successors, though meeting with some encouragement, finally abandoned
the field, though without any obvious cause.





About the year 1518 an English trading ship touching at Santo Domingo
was fired upon by order of the governor, and thence setting sail for
Porto Rico bartered wrought iron for provisions.[XXVI‑1] A few years
later the passage to the Indies became known among the nations of
western Europe, and foreign vessels were often seen in the waters of
the North Sea. In 1529 _guarda costas_ were procured by the governor of
Santo Domingo, and their captains commissioned to seize all craft which
sailed under any flag but that of Spain, and to enslave their crews. But
in that island are many excellent harbors, and the Spaniards seemed not
averse to obtain at smaller cost from foreigners goods such as those on
which the merchants of Seville made enormous profits; and vessels from
several countries, more especially from England, France, and Holland,
continued to make voyages to the New World, their captains combining
for mutual protection, and not unfrequently making raids on the Spanish

In 1531 French corsairs were seen off the coast of Tierra Firme;
and in 1537 Bishop Marroquin, when about to depart for Spain, was
dissuaded as we have observed from making the journey by his friends
in Mexico,[XXVI‑2] for even at that date the North Sea was infested
by pirates. Santo Domingo was the favorite calling-place of foreign
marauders; for wild cattle abounded in every part of the island, and
there the pirates could revictual their ships without expense.

At the close of the sixteenth century the island on which the great
discoverer founded his first settlement had been thinned of its
inhabitants. Moreover the mines had become exhausted and the vast wealth
of Mexico and Peru had drawn away all the most enterprising of the
Spaniards, and the few that remained dwelt for the most part in small
villages, where they cured at their _boucans_, or drying establishments,
the flesh of cattle and hogs, giving to the cured meat the same name
as to the place where it was prepared.[XXVI‑3] Hence also the origin
of the word _bucaniers_, or buccaneers, the latter term being used by
Dampier,[XXVI‑4] whose raids will be described later.


English, French, and Dutch adventurers found in Santo Domingo places
where they could lead an idle roving life, the monotony of which was
relieved by an occasional fight with the Spaniards, the French being
termed _flibustiers_,[XXVI‑5] or as we shall call them filibusters,
though this word was not used till the seventeenth century, and the
Dutch styling themselves _zee roovers_.

In 1623 James I. of England granted to one Thomas Warner the island
of San Cristóbal, though by what authority is not recorded by the
chroniclers of the period. Warner associated with him fourteen others,
who were to share the profits of the expedition, and sailed in charge
of a band of adventurers for the Indies. His vessel arrived off San
Cristóbal in 1625, and during that year a party of Frenchmen landed
on the island, which was then inhabited by Caribs. The Spaniards had
never formed a settlement there, and the English and French divided
the territory between them. Fearing that the Caribs might be incited
to rise against them by the crews of Spanish vessels, which frequently
called there to obtain provisions, these licensed marauders attacked
the savages by night, massacred the chiefs, and drove the rest from the
island. Warner soon afterward returned to England, and for this gallant
exploit was knighted by his learned Majesty, thus justifying the title
which James I. has gained in the page of history as the greatest fool
in christendom. A powerful armament was despatched to San Cristóbal by
order of the court of Spain, and the intruders were dispersed; those
who escaped the swords of the Spaniards taking refuge in the adjacent
islands, and returning a year or two later.

Trading companies were now organized, and licenses granted to establish
colonies. The islet of Tortuga, lying to the north-west of Santo
Domingo, was captured almost without resistance. There storehouses were
built, and there for a time were the head-quarters of the pirates.
Tortuga was recaptured by the Spaniards in 1638, and the freebooters
received no quarter; a few of them escaped to the woods; others were
away on piratical or other expeditions; and though some of them fell
into the hands of the Spaniards and were massacred, the latter soon
abandoned the island, and in the following year the freebooters at
Tortuga mustered three hundred men. For the first time the pirates
now elected a leader, and their numbers were soon recruited by French,
English, and Dutch volunteers.

Though they were regarded by the Spaniards as foes, they were esteemed
by other European nations as allies and champions, and so rapid was the
growth of their settlements that in 1641 we find governors appointed,
and at San Cristóbal a governor-general named De Poincy, in charge of
the French filibusters, in the Indies. During that year Tortuga was
garrisoned by French troops, and the English were driven out, both from
that islet and from Santo Domingo, securing harborage elsewhere in the
islands. Nevertheless, corsairs of both nations often made common cause;
and in 1654 a large party of buccaneers and filibusters, ascending
a river a little to the south of Cape Gracias á Dios, plundered
the settlement of Nueva Segovia. In the same year Tortuga was again
recaptured by the Spaniards, but in 1660 fell once more into the hands
of the French; and in their conquest of Jamaica in 1655 the British
troops were reënforced by a large party of buccaneers.


The monarchs, both of England and France, but especially the former,
connived at, and even encouraged the freebooters, whose services could
be obtained in time of war, and whose actions could be disavowed in time
of peace. Thus buccaneer, filibuster, and sea-rover were for the most
part at leisure to hunt wild cattle, and to pillage and massacre the
Spaniards wherever they found an opportunity. When not on some marauding
expedition they followed the chase, and one day's employment was like
that of another. Setting forth at daybreak, accompanied by their dogs
and servants, they continued their search until as many head of bullocks
were slain as there were members in the party. Hides were thus provided
sufficient to fill contracts with the captain of a trading vessel which
usually lay stationed in some neighboring bay, and were carried down to
the sea-shore by bondsmen, who under the name of apprentices had been
inveigled into a contract to serve for a term of years. For them there
was no seventh or other day of rest. One of these unfortunates ventured
on a certain occasion to expostulate with his master, quoting the divine
injunction with the preamble: "I say unto thee, etc." And "I say unto
thee," returned the buccaneer, "six days shalt thou kill bullocks, and
strip them of their skins, and on the seventh day thou shalt carry their
hides to the sea-shore."

The dress of the buccaneers consisted of a shirt dipped in the blood of
a slaughtered animal, pantaloons of leather, if possible filthier than
the shirt, shoes of rawhide, and a hat without rim. All goods, other
than articles of virtu, were held in common; and as life was precarious,
half of them at least being sure to die in the Indies, each chose a
comrade with whom property of every description was shared. Though
without laws or religion they had few disputes, and those were readily
adjusted. They were governed by a rough code, established by themselves,
and there were not wanting among them those who displayed, though
usually in a brutal fashion, the possibilities of a better nature. Of
Ravenau de Lussan, who figures in the history of the buccaneers, and
whose operations will be mentioned in their place, it is related that
he joined them only because he was in debt, and in order to obtain the
means of satisfying his creditors. Of Montbar, a Frenchman of Languedoc,
the chroniclers relate that on reading the story of the atrocities
committed by the Spaniards on the hapless natives, he conceived such a
hatred against them that he also joined the corsairs, and by his deeds
of vengeance won the sobriquet of the Exterminator. Of a French captain
of filibusters named Daniel, it is recorded that he shot one of his own
crew in church for some indecorous act committed during the performance
of mass. Until 1665 there were few women among these rapscallions. In
that year a governor sent out to take charge of the French settlements
in Santo Domingo, brought with him a few females of lax morality, whom
the buccaneers took to wife in this fashion: "Your past is nothing to
me, for then I did not know, and you did not then belong to me. I acquit
you of all evil; but you must pledge me your word for the future." The
foul troth was thus plighted, when striking his hand on the barrel of
his gun the husband exclaimed: "This will avenge me should you prove

The deeds of Pierre Le Grande and Bartolomé Portuguez, who figure in the
stories of buccaneering raids about the time of Montbar's exploits—the
middle of the seventeenth century—require no record in these pages.
The name that stands preëminent among all the cut-throats, who at
this period infested the North Sea and the shores of the main, is
that of a personage called François L'Olonnois, a native of France,
but one whose natural ferocity almost forbids us to class him with
the human race. Montbar, though his hate amounted to frenzy, was
impelled only by indignation against the oppressors and sympathy for
the sufferings of the oppressed, and would accept no share in the
proceeds of his raids.[XXVI‑7] But no such half-human feeling, no
shadow of honest intent, ever prompted the monster L'Olonnois. Montbar
was an undiscerning fiend; L'Olonnois an arch-fiend, with no faculty
impaired. Transported in youth to the West Indies, ere long he exchanged
convict life for the more genial pursuits of a filibuster, and his
first position among those rovers on sea and land was that of a common
mariner. In that capacity he made several voyages, and so distinguished
himself by his brute strength and fearlessness that the governor of
Tortuga[XXVI‑8] supplied him with a ship and armament wherewith to reap
a harvest of gold.

The success which he achieved was great, and his operations attracted
the attention of congenial cut-throats, who eagerly manned his decks,
and at the same time stamped his name in crimson letters on the hearts
of the race which he regarded as his prey. Even the elements attempted
to arrest his destroying hand, and in one of his cruises cast his vessel
on the shore of Campeche, where nearly all his comrades were killed by
the Spaniards.

But the devil did not abandon his high-priest. L'Olonnois, though
severely wounded, and regarding himself and his party as lost, smeared
himself with blood without being perceived, and fell apparently lifeless
among the slain.[XXVI‑9] Stripping off the dress of a dead Spaniard when
the enemy had departed, he crawled over the ghastly forms of his late
comrades and hid in the woods; then he boldly entered a neighboring
town, and by promise of freedom induced some slaves to go with him.
Stealing a large canoe, in due time they reached the isle of Tortuga.


Terrible as he was before this disaster, the future deeds of L'Olonnois
were still more atrocious. "I shall never henceforward give quarter
to any Spaniard whatsoever," he writes to the governor of Cuba, after
having beheaded, with his own hand, all save one of the survivors on
board a captured ship which had been sent against him. And he was as
good as his word. He hacked to pieces captive after captive, quenching
his thirst with the blood that dripped from his heated cutlass. He tore
out men's hearts and chewed them, and watched prisoners slowly die of
hunger and thirst. If under the most agonizing torture the information
wrung from a Spaniard was not satisfactory, the hapless wretch's tongue
was wrenched out by the roots. Verily the cruelties of the conquerors
were visited upon their descendants.

The reputation of L'Olonnois as a successful leader became so great
that the most reckless and determined were ever ready to join in
any enterprise projected by him. Between 1660 and 1665 he planned an
expedition against the north coast of Central America and soon was in
command of six ships and seven hundred men. Directing his course to
Cape Gracias á Dios, he was driven by stress of weather into the bay of
Honduras, where, distressed for want of provisions, his party ascended
the Jagua River[XXVI‑10] in their canoes, sacking and destroying the
Indian villages on the banks, and murdering the inhabitants. The pirates
then cruised along the coast committing similar depredations. At Puerto
de Caballos, after taking a Spanish ship of twenty-four guns and sixteen
swivels, they landed and sacked two large store-houses. These with
the town they burned, and having captured a number of the inhabitants
inflicted upon them the most inhuman cruelties. L'Olonnois at the head
of three hundred men next proceeded to San Pedro, about twelve leagues
distant, and on his march thither fell in with three strong bodies of
Spaniards who lay in ambush for him. These he successively routed, but
not without the loss of many of his men. His treatment of prisoners and
wounded captives was marked by his customary atrocities.


On arriving at San Pedro he found the town strongly fortified at
the main entrance, the other parts being surrounded by impenetrable
thickets of thorny shrub and cactus, and his only plan was to assault
the barricades. The Spaniards, however, defended themselves with
desperation, and the pirates were compelled to withdraw from their first
attack. Their second attempt caused such mortality among the defenders
that they hoisted a flag of truce and agreed to surrender the town on
condition that quarter be given the inhabitants for two hours. These
terms were agreed to, and, strange though it may appear, were faithfully
kept by the pirates. The inhabitants gathered up their effects and fled,
but no sooner had the two hours expired than L'Olonnois gave orders for
pursuit. The freebooters were disappointed, for the men of San Pedro
had secreted the greater part of their valuables and merchandise, and
the pirates found only some indigo to recompense them for their toil
and danger.[XXVI‑11]

The star of the great Frenchman was now on the wane, and with the
exception of capturing a Spanish ship of forty-two[XXVI‑12] guns
after a desperate engagement his operations off the Central American
coast were unimportant. But even this prize, for which the freebooters
had long waited in hope of great booty, they found discharged of her
valuable cargo, and a few unimportant articles of merchandise was all
they obtained. The companions of L'Olonnois were becoming discontented
with his want of success, and though he recklessly proposed to make
a raid on the city of Guatemala, to many this seemed too desperate an
enterprise, and the greater portion of his followers deserted him and
turned their vessels homeward.[XXVI‑13] Misfortune now followed him
relentlessly. While working his poorly manned ship along the coast,
she struck a sand-bank near the isle of Pearls off Cape Gracias á
Dios. The crew were already half famished and there was no hope of
saving the vessel. So they broke the craft in pieces and built a
long-boat, occupying five or six months in this work. But when finished
it would only hold half their number. Then it was decided that the
half to go should be selected by casting lots. They would embark for
the Desaguadero in Nicaragua,[XXVI‑14] in the expectation of seizing
vessels and returning for their comrades. L'Olonnois took command of
the expedition, but was unsuccessful in his attempt on the Desaguadero.
Spaniards and Indians assailed him in such overwhelming numbers that he
was compelled to retreat with heavy loss. But determined not to return
for his companions on the isle of Pearls without a vessel in which to
take them back to Tortuga, he sailed for Costa Rica, and being obliged
to land for provisions near the gulf of Darien he and all his men,
save one who escaped by flight, were cut to pieces by the Indians and
roasted.[XXVI‑15] Thus with a fitting retribution ended the career of
François L'Olonnois, who might give lessons in greatness to the leaders
of armies and in savagism to the Indians who slew him.

       *       *       *       *       *


About the year 1664 a noted buccaneer named Mansvelt formed the design
of attacking the town of Natá, by making a descent upon it overland
from the North Sea. For this purpose he sailed from Jamaica with a
fleet of fifteen vessels and five hundred men.[XXVI‑16] To obtain
guides he assaulted and captured the island of Santa Catarina, or
Old Providence.[XXVI‑17] There he established a buccaneer settlement,
leaving one hundred men under command of a Frenchman named St Simon.
Then he proceeded against Natá, but found such preparations had
been made by the president of Panamá that he was forced to abandon
the attempt. A Spanish prisoner, however, offered to lead him to
Cartago, the capital of Costa Rica, which he represented as a rich and
unfortified city. This proposal met with general approval, and the fleet
sailed back along the coast as far as Port Matina,[XXVI‑18] where they

At first their way was not difficult, and from the settlements on the
road they obtained abundance of provisions; but in a few days they
reached the cordillera, where provisions could no longer be procured
in sufficient quantity. Mansvelt's crew was composed of Englishmen and
Frenchmen, and whatever amity might exist under favorable circumstances
between them was now destroyed by hardship and hunger. No fair
distribution was made of such food as could be obtained. Fierce brawls
ensued. Mansvelt and the afterward famous Morgan, the second in command,
in vain attempted to allay the discord, which was so violent that the
two factions were almost as ready to fall upon each other as on the
Spaniards. Meantime the governor of Cartago had raised all the forces
he could muster,[XXVI‑19] and had taken up a strong position on a hill
commanding the town of Turialba,[XXVI‑20] which the pirates had entered.
At daybreak, before the invaders were yet under arms, the Spaniards
unexpectedly opened fire upon them from the eminence. In the absence
of mutual confidence the pirates were thrown into confusion, and their
leaders deemed it best to return to the fleet. The Spaniards followed
for a short distance, and having seized a few stragglers returned
triumphant to Cartago.

But to the victors was not all the glory. The precipitate flight of so
large a band of desperadoes could only have been accomplished by divine
power; and, indeed, the Spaniards learned from their captives[XXVI‑21]
that when the invaders' quarters were broken up they saw on the height a
host of warriors commanded by a radiant female form,[XXVI‑22] who were
none others than the holy virgin and an army of saints who had come to
the succor of the chosen of God; so the grateful people of Cartago chose
her as their patron, and instituted an annual procession to her shrine
at Ujarraz,[XXVI‑23] which ceremony continued to the time of Juarros.


When Mansvelt arrived at the bay of Matina he reëmbarked and set sail
for Santa Catarina. There he found his pirate colony thriving. The
fortifications had been put in the best repair, portions of the island
cultivated, and other measures taken for a permanent residence thereon.
He therefore decided to request aid for carrying out his project from
the governor of Jamaica; but that official, though inclined to connive
at the doings of the buccaneers, did not dare place his position in
jeopardy by such an open act of hostility against Spain, with which
nation England was then at peace. Mansvelt made an equally unsuccessful
appeal to the governor of Tortuga, and dying ere long, the robbers at
Santa Catarina were left to their own resources. Not long afterward the
president of Panamá, sent a force to recover the island, and St Simon,
finding that the promised reënforcements did not arrive, and considering
it impossible to defend the place with the company under his command,
surrendered after a slight show of resistance.[XXVI‑24]





During the first half of the seventeenth century the province of Panamá
was under the control of a governor or president, and an audiencia real,
which was reëstablished toward the close of the previous century. The
archives are meagre of information regarding the governors, some of them
being barely mentioned, and their succession not always agreed upon by
the authorities. In 1601 Alonso de Sotomayor was governor; on the 9th of
June 1604 the licentiate Alonso de Coronado, an oidor of the audiencia
of Guatemala, was appointed president; and on the 18th of September in
the same year that office was filled by Valverde de Mercado, each of the
officials receiving as salary six thousand ducats per annum.[XXVII‑1]

We have also the personnel of the ayuntamiento of Panamá,[XXVII‑2] and
certain ordinances passed by that body, one of which relates to the sale
of a noxious liquor known as vino de Aljarafe,[XXVII‑3] and the other
forbids trafficking in negro slaves.[XXVII‑4]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: PARKER'S ATTACK.]

It was during the administration of Mercado that Captain William Parker
attacked and captured Portobello. He sailed from Plymouth in November
1601 with two ships, a pinnace, and two shallops, and at least two
hundred men.[XXVII‑5] After a tempestuous voyage in which he lost
his pinnace and all her crew save three, he captured the town of San
Vicente, on the Cape Verde Islands, and after despoiling it and giving
it up to the flames sailed for the coast of Tierra Firme. Arriving at
the island of Cubagua, where was a pearl-fishery, he was confronted by a
company of soldiers, who resisted manfully, but were finally overcome;
several barks and boats were captured, and several prisoners taken,
for whose ransom he received pearls to the value of twenty-five hundred
pesos. Thence he shaped his course for Cape de la Vela, off which he met
with a fine Portuguese ship of two hundred and fifty tons, bound for
Cartagena, and laden with negroes for the mines. An easy capture was
made, and another twenty-five hundred pesos secured as ransom for the
slaves. Calling at the islands of Cabezas and Bastimentos, at the latter
of which he procured several negro guides, he embarked one hundred and
fifty of his men in the shallops and in two small pinnaces which he
had built during the voyage. He entered the mouth of the river on which
Portobello is situated about two o'clock in the morning of the 7th of
February 1602.[XXVII‑6]

The moonlight quickly revealed the boats to the watch on duty at
the fort of San Felipe, commanding the entrance of the harbor. Being
challenged as to whence they came, they answered from Cartagena, the
reply being given in Spanish by men taken on board at that town for
the purpose. They were then commanded to anchor, and did so at once,
six leagues from Portobello, "the Place where my Shippes roade," says
Parker, "beinge the rock where Sir Francis Drake his Coffin was throwne

The captain was well aware that at San Felipe were always thirty-five
great pieces of brass ordnance, ready mounted, to bid an enemy welcome,
and fifty soldiers to manage them. Nevertheless, as soon as all was
quiet, he proceeded up the river with thirty men and two cannon in his
shallops, ordering the remainder of his forces to follow him. Directly
opposite the castle was a smaller fort named Santiago, mounting five
pieces of ordnance and manned by thirty soldiers, some of whom, seeing
the boats, cried out to them to stop, and ran along the shore in
pursuit. Heedless of their noise Parker proceeded to the suburban town
of Triana, landed there with his company, and in a trice, though the
alarm was promptly given, set it on fire. Then, leaving it burning, he
marched on Portobello, capturing on his way a piece of ordnance with
the loss of only one man. The English made directly for the king's
treasure-house, a large and conspicuous building where the governor
of the town, Pedro Melendez, was stationed, with a strong force. The
flames and smoke of Triana had given warning of the invaders' approach,
and Parker found before the treasury a squadron of soldiers drawn up
ready to receive him, and also a company of trained civilians with two
field-pieces. The conflict that followed was sharp and bloody. Soon
all of the English except eight or nine were killed or wounded, and the
governor at the head of sixty soldiers was now advancing to crush the
remnant of their little band. "But," says the pious pirate, "God did
prosper our Proceedings mightelie, for the first two Shott which went
from us shot Malendus through his Targett, and went throughe both his
Armes, and the other Shott hurted the Corporall of the Fielde, whereupon
they all retired to their House which they made good untill it was
almost daie."


Meanwhile the remainder of the captain's forces had come up, and after
a fight of four or five hours the contest was decided in favor of
the English. Among the prisoners taken were the governor, the king's
escribano, and many of the leading citizens, all of whom were afterward
released, Melendez[XXVII‑7] being carried on board the fleet and
liberated without ransom after his wounds had been dressed.

The booty captured in the treasure-house amounted to but ten thousand
ducats,[XXVII‑8] though had the English arrived but seven days earlier
they would have made prize of a hundred and twenty thousand ducats which
had just before been carried away by two frigates bound for Cartagena.
Elsewhere in the town a considerable amount of plunder was found in
the shape of plate, merchandise, and money, all of which was divided
among the men, the commander reserving for himself the sum found in the

No further injury was done to the town, except that a few negro huts
were burned in order to intimidate the inhabitants. Seizing two vessels
that he found in the port, and in one of which were three mounted pieces
of cannon, the English, as they dropped down the river, opened fire
on the forts, and were warmly answered by the Spaniards, who expected
to sink their vessels. "But God so wrought for us," says the captain,
"that we safely gott forthe againe contrarie to the Expectation of
our Enemyes." Most of the shots fired from shore passed high overhead,
though a few of the English were wounded, among them the commander, who
was hit in the elbow with a musket ball which passed out at his wrist.
Reaching a neighboring island, Parker was soon rejoined by his ships,
and next day, the 9th of February, put out to sea.[XXVII‑9]

       *       *       *       *       *

It has already been said that in 1585 Portobello contained not more than
ten dwellings, and that in March 1597 the port of entry was removed
there from Nombre de Dios. During the five years that elapsed between
this change and Parker's raid the town had developed into a thriving
settlement, and now contained two churches, a treasury, an exchange,
a hospital rich and large, a convent and several streets, where for
six weeks in the year, when the galleons were in port, merchants and
artificers congregated.

Upon the arrival of the galleons, the treasurer, contador, or factor,
was ordered by the governor to proceed there, taking with him the
deputies of the other two officials.[XXVII‑10] When the gold and silver
had been put on board the galleons, and other commodities on board the
merchant ships, all were visited by the royal officers to see that the
king was not cheated—except for valuable consideration. The coming and
going of the annual fleets was a matter of the utmost solicitude to
the crown, to shippers, and to consignees. Many a treasure-laden craft
either foundered at sea or fell a prey to buccaneers, and the safe
arrival of a convoy was heralded with every manifestation of joy, even
royalty itself not deeming it out of place to announce such an event.
Thus on October 15, 1605, the king in a despatch to the president and
audiencia informs them of the arrival of General Don Luis de Córdoba in
January of that year.

After the departure of the galleons, Portobello was almost abandoned
by the Spaniards, and left mainly to negroes and mulattoes, the
inhabitants living chiefly by renting their dwellings and stores
at exorbitant rates.[XXVII‑11] The town was built in the shape of a
crescent; its harbor was one of the most secure in the Indies,[XXVII‑12]
and ship-building and the preparation of cedar lumber were its leading
industries. The climate of Portobello, like that of other towns on the
Isthmus, was unhealthy, as I have elsewhere stated, though less so than
that of Nombre de Dios or even Panamá. The hospital was crowded with
invalid soldiers, laborers, and slaves, and in 1608 an annual grant of
two thousand ducats was assigned by the crown for its support.

In 1610 the city of Panamá had not more than one third of the population
which it possessed in 1585,[XXVII‑13] although from the time of its
establishment to the latter date it had grown steadily in wealth and
population. The best indication of its decline as a commercial centre
is the fact that the revenues of the casa de Cruces,[XXVII‑14] which
at one time were farmed out for ten thousand pesos a year, were rented
in 1610 for only two thousand pesos. There were mines, but they were
not worked;[XXVII‑15] pearl-fisheries, but they lay idle; a measure of
trade, but it was in the hands of monopolists, who shared their profits
with the king.[XXVII‑16]

       *       *       *       *       *

The expenses of the general government of Panamá were met by annual
appropriations allowed by the council of the Indies, and if we take
into consideration the sparseness of the population and the comparative
cheapness of the necessaries of life, the officials were exceedingly
well paid for their services.[XXVII‑17] But good pay does not seem to
have secured faithful service, for on the 28th of March 1605 his Majesty
informs the president that he has learned that married officials,
while going their official rounds, were accustomed to take with them
their wives, who were always provided for at the towns they visited;
he enjoins him to forbid them thus to take advantage of their position
and to insist that the retinue of bailiffs and servants be reduced to
the smallest possible number. Governor Valverde in his report of June
6th following, says that many of the interior towns of Tierra Firme
had not been visited by an oidor for many years, and that the province
of Veragua had never been visited at all. To remedy such neglect the
governor orders the oidores to visit all properly designated places in

       *       *       *       *       *


The question of interoceanic communication, to which allusion has
already been made, was discussed at intervals during the latter half
of the sixteenth century, and further surveys were made early in the
seventeenth. "It is true," writes Gomara in 1554, "that mountains
obstruct these passages, but if there be mountains there be also
hands; let but the resolve be formed to make the passage and it can be
made." On the 31st of December 1616 the king informed Diego Fernandez
de Velasco, who at that date was appointed governor of Castilla del
Oro, that the court of Spain endorsed the opinion of the commercial
world on this project. They believed that communication might be easily
established between the oceans by constructing a canal connecting the
rivers Dacil and Damaquiel, about thirty leagues from Cartagena, and
that such a work would enable the king to provide better for the defence
of the provinces.[XXVII‑18]

The governor was directed to report on the feasibility of the project,
and to despatch a few small vessels for the purpose of making a
similar investigation at the gulf of San Miguel and the Rio Darien. The
conclusions arrived at by the officers employed on these surveys is not
recorded in the chronicles of the age, but we learn that his Majesty was
very explicit in his directions that all such explorations and surveys
should be made at the expense of those who were interested, and not
charged to the royal treasury.[XXVII‑19]

       *       *       *       *       *

When Felipe IV. ascended the throne of Spain he assured his subjects
in the New World that no forced loans should be required during his
reign. He even reimbursed, with interest, the money seized by his
predecessor, who a year before his death appropriated to his own use an
eighth of the treasure on board the fleet from the Isthmus.[XXVII‑20]
Nevertheless the fourth Philip was often in sore need of funds. About
this time Rodrigo de Vivero was governor of Castilla del Oro, having
been appointed the successor of Velasco,[XXVII‑21] and those in charge
of the bullion fleet had made a practice of tarrying long at the port of
Perico under pretence of taking in merchandise from Spain. Claiming to
be under the jurisdiction of the viceroy of Peru they refused obedience
to the audiencia of Panamá. In order to prevent delay in the arrival
of the treasure-ships it was ordered that all the officers and men of
the fleets calling at Tierra Firme should be placed under the immediate
jurisdiction of the audiencia.

[Sidenote: SMUGGLING.]

The king was constantly defrauded of his revenues by contraband trading
which prevailed throughout the provinces, but nowhere to such an extent
as in Panamá. In the year 1624 the amount of merchandise registered as
passing through the casa de Cruces was 1,446,346 pesos, while goods to
the amount of 7,597,559 pesos were reported by the factor Cristóbal
de Balba to have been smuggled through. No punishment was inflicted
for these frauds, though his Majesty thus suffered a loss of 1,370,656
pesos, and the matter was compounded by the payment of 200,000 pesos
into the treasury, the factor having received a bribe of 6,000 pesos.
Smuggling was practised to such an extent that it threatened the
very existence of legitimate commerce. For this condition of affairs
Spain had but herself to blame. The merchants of Seville, who still
enjoyed a monopoly of the trade with the provinces, despatched only
a small squadron twice a year to supply the wants of the colonists.
They regulated no less the supply of European goods in America than of
American goods in Europe, and took care that both should be shipped
in quantities so small as to ensure enormous profits. All kinds of
devices were resorted to by contraband traders, both Spaniards and
foreigners,[XXVII‑22] to secure a portion of the rich traffic of the
Isthmus, and the government finding its revenues constantly decreasing,
finally declared smuggling to be a mortal sin, and made those who
engaged in it liable to be tried by the inquisition.

       *       *       *       *       *


It is now in place to allude briefly to the progress of ecclesiastical
affairs in Panamá, for here, as elsewhere, they figure largely in the
history of the province. With regard to moral and spiritual matters, the
people of Panamá, as we have seen, were low enough. Reforms were needed,
but reformers were few. On the 26th of November 1572 Pedro Castro
de Vedeales, provoked by the flagrant abuses of the time, addressed
the licenciado Juan de Ovando, his Majesty's counsellor of the holy
inquisition and visitador of the council of the Indies, upon reforms
needed in church matters. The communication is elaborate and reviews the
errors and misdoings of the Spaniards, particularly in their intercourse
with the natives.[XXVII‑23]

When Francisco de Toledo, the new viceroy, arrived at Panamá on his way
to Peru in 1569, he restored the royal prerogative of church patronage,
which in this diocese, and throughout his viceroyalty, had fallen by
disuse into the hands of the archbishop and bishops. In the same year,
probably, Francisco Ábrego, a secular priest, had been elevated to the
bishopric of Panamá, and continued to hold that office till his decease
in 1574.[XXVII‑24] During his administration the chapter considered and
formally ratified the decrees of the council of Trent, and in keeping
with its behests appointed _adjutos_, or inferior ecclesiastical judges.

After an interval of four years Fray Manuel de Mercado was placed in
charge; and at this time Panamá contained a cathedral, a Franciscan
and a Dominican convent, and one belonging to the Merced order. Mercado
was succeeded, probably in 1583, by Bartolomé Martinez,[XXVII‑25] who
had formerly been archdeacon of the Santa Iglesia of Lima, and after
presiding over the see of Panamá for about ten years was promoted to
the new prelacy of Granada, but died en route at Cartagena.[XXVII‑26]

The successor of Martinez was Pedro, duque de Ribera, a prominent
Jesuit, elected in 1594, who died like his predecessor on reaching
Cartagena. The next in succession was Antonio Calderon who was
transferred from the bishopric of Porto Rico, and in 1603 was promoted
to the see of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.[XXVII‑27]

In 1592 the chapter resolved on the establishment of a nunnery at
Panamá, and an appeal in behalf of the project met with prompt and
generous response, one citizen alone providing the necessary buildings
and a considerable endowment. Six years later the convent was dedicated
to Our Lady of the Conception, with an assured revenue of four thousand
pesos a year.[XXVII‑28] Four nuns and twenty-four assistants were sent
by the archbishop of Lima, whose coöperation had been heartily given.

Thus the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants of Panamá was fully
provided for; but the ecclesiastics were by no means single-minded
in their labors on behalf of the church. Not content with receiving
maintenance, service, and tithes, as provided by law, they extorted,
with the connivance of their bishops, salaries of three hundred pesos
each from the Indians under their charge,[XXVII‑29] and justly aroused
against them the indignation of the king, who instructed the audiencia
forthwith to banish from the province many irregular friars of whose
disgraceful conduct he had heard.


After the promotion of Bishop Calderon the see of Panamá remained
vacant until 1605, when Fray Agustin de Carabajal was appointed prior,
and assistant-general of the provinces of Spain and America.[XXVII‑30]
Meanwhile the long struggle for supremacy between the authorities of the
state and the church, which had now subsided into an unseemly question
of precedence in the various religious ceremonials, was disposed of by
a royal decree assigning the place of lay and clerical dignitaries in
all such pageants. In all processions the bishop led, followed by the
officiating presbyter and the clergy. Behind them came the president
and audiencia. At the sprinkling with holy water before high mass, the
ecclesiastics were to be first sprinkled, and then the president and
the audiencia. With regard to handing their bible to the president, the
king declared it should not be done, it being an honor to be extended
only to viceroys. The bishop's train was to be raised in ecclesiastical
ceremony, even though the president and audiencia were present, but
only one servant should be allowed to carry it. When the bishop went
to the royal house, his train was to be carried as far as the door of
the president's room and then dropped. But the main points in dispute
were the momentous questions where the bishop was to place his chair
on the side of the high altar in the cathedral when the oidores were
present, and whether the prebendaries were to be seated beside him.
The king decided these matters in favor of the church, and on the 4th
of June 1614, after a consultation with the bishop, issued a decree
ordering that the regulations in force in the cathedral of Quito should
be observed.[XXVII‑31]

In 1611 Carabajal was appointed to the see of Guamango, having founded
during his administration at Panamá the college of San Agustin and
endowed it with six scholarships, according to the directions of the
council of Trent.[XXVII‑32] His successor was Francisco de la Cámara
y Raya, who entered upon his office in 1614. During his prelacy was
convened the first synod ever held in the diocese of Panamá. During his
administration four monks of the order of San Juan de Dios[XXVII‑33]
arrived in that city, proposing to serve in the hospitals established
there or elsewhere on the Isthmus. Their admission was bitterly
opposed by the audiencia, and by the prelate, who was a Dominican,
and it was not until June 26, 1620, and in obedience to a provision
received, that Captain Ordonó de Salazar, the alguacil mayor, enabled
them to take possession of the hospital of Panamá.[XXVII‑34] The order
was permanently established in Panamá by Fray Fabian Diaz, who came
from Spain with Fray Francisco Lopez in 1604, became celebrated as a
physician,[XXVII‑35] and grew rapidly in importance.[XXVII‑36]

In 1625 Fray Cristóbal Martinez, formerly abbot of Segovia, was
appointed to the see of Panamá.[XXVII‑37] During his administration
serious disturbances occurred among the Augustinian Recollets of the
convent of San José, the prime mover, Fray Francisco de la Resurreccion,
and his disorderly followers being arrested and sent to Spain by Enrique
de Sotomayor, then governor of the province.[XXVII‑38]

The reputation of the ecclesiastics in Panamá about this period appears
to have been somewhat unsavory. In 1634 Felipe IV. issued a decree
ordering the members of the audiencia to see that the reputation of
cloistered nuns be protected. On the 14th of July 1636 the monarch
writes to the bishop ordering that he enforce the provisions of a decree
addressed to the hierarchy of the Indies in the previous February, by
which no mestee, illegitimate son, or person of moral or physical defect
was to be ordained. Immoral or scandalous priests were to be expelled
from the diocese.[XXVII‑39] During the same year it was ordered that the
religious processions, which had hitherto been held at night, should, in
the interest of order and decency, be thenceforth conducted by daylight.
Nevertheless the work of conversion went bravely on, and during four
years the number of baptisms reported in the district of the audiencia
exceeded thirteen thousand souls.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: FIRES AND FAIRS.]

In 1644, during the prelacy of Fray Hernando Ramirez, the successor of
Martinez, a fire broke out in Panamá which consumed ninety-seven houses,
including the episcopal residence, and almost destroyed the cathedral.
The latter edifice was restored by the prelate and dedicated in 1655 by
his successor, Bernardo de Izaguirre, a fiscal of the inquisition of
Cartagena. Its ruins exist at the present day. Great was the distress
caused to the citizens by this calamity. "Panamá," writes Juan de Vega
Bazan, then governor of the province,[XXVII‑40] in a letter addressed to
Felipe IV., "has now but a small population, and this decreasing more
and more every day, the fields and roads being filled with vagrants."
The king, entertaining an unjust suspicion that the Portuguese had fired
the city,[XXVII‑41] ordered their removal from Panamá and Portobello
to a distance of twenty leagues into the interior, and instructed Bazan
to extort from them as much money as possible before sending them into
banishment; but to the credit of that official it is related that he
gave no heed to the mandate. For this neglect, and for the nepotism
which he displayed during his administration, he was severely censured
by his sovereign.[XXVII‑42]

In 1647 Bazan was again censured by the crown for a proceeding which,
after due investigation by the fiscal of the audiencia, caused his
downfall. Acting under the advice of the licentiate Pedro Chacon,
he had caused to be driven from their homes eighteen friars of the
order of San José, appointing in their places others of bad repute.
The ecclesiastics took refuge in the San Cristóbal hills, but were
soon afterward reinstated, and at the close of the following year the
governor was superseded by Juan Bitrian de Biamonte y Navarra.[XXVII‑43]
The latter died in 1651 while superintending the despatch of a fleet
from Portobello, and in the parish church of that city a marble monument
was erected to his memory.

Panamá appears to have recovered quickly from the prostration caused
by the fire of 1644. An annual fair was held there until the year
1671, at which date the city was destroyed during the raid of Morgan
and his buccaneers, as will be presently related. In 1655 the value of
merchandise that changed hands during the fair is officially reported
at five millions of pesos, and this sum probably represents but a
small portion of the business actually done, for, as we have seen,
the quantity of goods that found their way into the provinces through
contraband trading was often three or four fold greater than that on
which duty was paid.

       *       *       *       *       *


A rare and valuable manuscript and one indispensable to the history
of the district of Darien is the report of its governor, Don Andrés de
Ariza, of April 5, 1774, addressed to the viceroy, Don Manuel Guirior,
entitled _Comentas de la Rica y Fertilísima Provincia de el Darien_. The
original report, accompanied by a map, exists in the National Library
of Bogotá, whence the present copy was made for the author. Three
separate documents compose the report; a letter describing the generally
ruined condition of the province, causes, and proposed remedies; a
detailed description of the towns, military posts, and inhabitants,
and a condensed account of the actual condition of the province, its
inhabitants, resources, and history. These documents review in brief the
history of the province for the previous sixty-two years, describing
more fully the latest Indian revolts. The manuscript forms one volume
in folio of forty closely written pages.





None of the "brethren of the coast," as English buccaneer, French
filibuster, and Dutch sea-rover were pleased to style each other,
are better known to fame than Henry Morgan, the Welshman, whose deeds
have been heralded in all the principal languages of Europe. Born of
respectable parents in easy circumstances, he left home still a lad,
and shipped for Barbadoes in the service of a master who, on reaching
port, sold him as a slave. On regaining his liberty he proceeded to
Jamaica, and finding no other employment joined a piratical expedition
which was then on the point of starting for a cruise in the Spanish West
Indies. After storing up his share in the proceeds of three or four
profitable raids, he was enabled to purchase a vessel in partnership
with a few of his more thrifty comrades, and being elected captain made
a successful cruise off the coast of Campeche. On his return he was
appointed vice-admiral of a fleet, which, under the command of Mansvelt,
was preparing for an attack on the island of Santa Catarina.

On the death of Mansvelt in 1664, Morgan, whose gallantry had won the
respect of the buccaneers, was appointed his successor, and soon found
himself in command of a dozen vessels and seven hundred men. A council
was summoned, and it was first proposed to attempt the capture of the
city of Habana; but not daring to undertake such an enterprise with so
slender a force, the freebooters determined to plunder Puerto Principe,
an island town of Cuba grown rich by traffic in hides, and one never yet
sacked by the sea-robbers. Warned by a Spanish prisoner who escaped from
the fleet as it neared the shore, the inhabitants had time to conceal
most of their valuables, and the spoils of this expedition amounted
to but fifty thousand pesos, a sum insufficient to pay the debts of
the marauders on their return to Jamaica. It was at once determined
to undertake some new adventure, and though a difference of opinion
between the French and English members of his command caused the former
to withdraw from Morgan's service, he soon afterward set sail for the
mainland with a fleet of nine ships, and a force of four hundred and
sixty fighting men, revealing his design to no one, but promising his
followers booty in abundance.


On the last day of June 1668 the buccaneers arrived off the shore of
Castilla del Oro. On sighting land their chief disclosed his intention
of attacking by night Portobello, a town often visited by the wealthiest
merchants of Panamá, whose ingots of gold were there exchanged for
slaves or for the merchandise of Spain, and the point to which it
will be remembered were forwarded, at certain periods of the year, the
gold and silver of the Peruvian and Mexican mines. The place was then
accounted one of the strongest of the Spanish fortresses in the western
world; it was garrisoned by three hundred troops, contained four hundred
citizens capable of bearing arms, and was guarded by strongly fortified
castles, commanding the approaches by land and sea. Many hesitated to
attack such a stronghold with a mere handful of men, but their commander
spoke words of cheer,[XXVIII‑1] and stimulated by the promise of vast
spoils all at last gave their consent.

In the dusk of a summer evening the fleet anchored at Porto Ponto,
thirty miles west of the town. Leaving a few men to guard their
ships the buccaneers ascended a small river in boats or canoes, and
landing about midnight marched at once to the attack. All the avenues
of approach were well known to Morgan, and among his band was an
Englishman, once a prisoner among the Spaniards, who now acted as guide.
A castle named Triana, situated in the eastern suburb, was selected as
the first point of assault. A sentinel posted at some distance from the
fortress was seized and bound by a small party sent in advance, before
he had time to fire his musket. Brought into Morgan's presence he was
closely questioned, and frequently menaced with death if his answers
should prove untrue.

Creeping along under the shroud of night and the cover of a dense
thicket, the silence broken now and then by the watchword of a drowsy
sentinel, the freebooters surrounded the castle unperceived, and Morgan,
coming close under the walls, bid his captive summon the garrison
to capitulate, threatening sure death in case of resistance. They
replied with a random volley of musketry and cannon shot. Applying
scaling-ladders to the walls, the buccaneers swarmed over the parapets,
and after a stout resistance the Spaniards surrendered. Morgan fulfilled
his threat. Securing all his prisoners in a large chamber, near the
powder-magazine, he fired it by means of match and train when at a
safe distance, and the citizens of Portobello, now roused by the sound
of the firing, beheld the castle and all its inmates blown high into
the air. The invaders fell at once on the panic-stricken inhabitants,
rushing through the streets with hideous outcries, and cutting down
whomever they met. Many had already fled to the neighboring forests,
first casting their money and jewelry into wells and cisterns, or hiding
them underground. The governor of the town rallied a small party and
retired with them into the strongest of the remaining forts, whence a
brisk fire was opened on the assailants. Approaching within two hundred
yards the buccaneers aimed at the mouths of the cannon, picking off the
Spanish gunners as they reloaded their pieces; but their ranks were
repeatedly ploughed by well-directed discharges of artillery. After
suffering heavy loss to little purpose, they came close up to the castle
and attempted to burn down the gates. The Spaniards received them with
sharp volleys of musketry, and dropping hand-grenades and missiles of
every description on the heads of the besiegers, they drove them back
beyond the range of the guns.

Morgan now began to despair, but rallied after remaining for a while in
hesitation as to his next movement. To quote the words of Exquemelin,
"many faint and calm meditations came into his mind; neither could he
determine which way to turn himself in that strait." A part of his
forces had been detailed to attack one of the minor fortresses, and
looking in that direction he saw that his men had already planted the
English colors on the battlements, and were hastening to his support.
Taking heart from this success the commander at once resolved to
renew the attack, and being a man ready of resource soon hit on a new
expedient. He caused a number of priests and nuns to be seized and
dragged from their cloisters, and ordering scaling-ladders to be made,
wide enough for several to mount abreast, bid his prisoners fix them
against the castle walls, thinking thus to shield his men from the
weapons of the Spaniards.


Driven forward at the point of sword and pike the captives came close
up to the guns of the fort, and falling on their knees besought the
governor by all the saints to surrender, and save his own life and
their own; but orders were given to spare none who came near the walls.
Priest and nun were crushed beneath falling rocks or shot down without
mercy, and numbers were killed before the ladders could be adjusted.
When at length the task was accomplished, the buccaneers swarmed up to
the assault; and though many were hurled down by the defenders, others
held their footing on the parapet, and after plying the garrison with
hand-grenades and pots of powder containing lighted fuses, leaped down
with sword and pistol in their midst. The Spaniards then threw down
their arms and craved for mercy; that is, all but the governor, who,
single-handed, maintained for a while a hopeless struggle, killing
several of his assailants, and running through the body some of his
own recreant soldiers. In vain the buccaneers offered him quarter,
unwilling to put to the sword so gallant an officer; in vain his wife
and daughter knelt and entreated him with tears to yield. His reply was:
"By no means; I had rather die as a valiant soldier than be hanged as a
coward."[XXVIII‑2] After several attempts to overpower or capture him,
he was at length despatched.

There still remained several castles in the hands of the Spaniards,
one of which was strongly fortified and commanded the entrance to the
harbor. It was deemed necessary to capture it without delay in order
to allow the fleet to be brought round to Portobello, for the losses
of the freebooters had been so severe that time must be allowed for the
recovery of the wounded. Turning against it the cannon of the captured
fort, Morgan compelled his captives to work the guns, and advancing
under cover of the fire took it by escalade after a sharp struggle, in
which all the Spanish officers were slain.


Soon after nightfall the invaders held entire possession of the city.
They placed their own wounded in comfortable quarters under care of
female slaves, and the wounded Spaniards in a separate apartment,
without food, water, or attendance; and after posting their guards fell
at once, as was their custom after victory, to feasting, drunkenness,
and foul debauch. Matron and virgin, threatened at the point of the
sword, were forced to yield to the embrace of these cut-throats, whose
hands were yet stained with the blood of their husbands and brothers.
Neither age nor condition was spared. The religious recluse torn from
the shelter of the convent, and girls of tender age dragged from their
mothers' arms, fell victims alike to the conquerors' lust. At length,
stupefied with wine, and worn out with twenty-four hours of continuous
toil, the marauders sank to rest. Fifty resolute men could then have
delivered the town; but all night long no sound was heard save the moans
of the wounded and the cries of heart-broken women.

At daylight the buccaneers plundered the place of all the valuables
they could find, sacking the houses of the citizens, and stripping
the churches of their gold and silver ornaments and their services of
massive plate. Those who were believed to be the wealthiest of the
prisoners were questioned as to the whereabouts of their concealed
treasures; and failing to disclose them, were stretched on the rack,
until many died under the torture.

For fifteen days Morgan remained at Portobello, though aware that
the president of Panamá was preparing an expedition against him. His
retreat was open to the ships, and the threatened attack gave him no
uneasiness; but many of his men had died of wounds, of the effects of
drunken excess, and of an atmosphere poisoned by half-buried corpses.
Moreover provisions began to run short. They were compelled to live
almost entirely on the flesh of horses and mules. Many of the captive
and most of the wounded Spaniards had perished from privation, having
been allowed no sustenance but a morsel of mule meat and a little
muddy unfiltered water. Preparations were therefore made for departure.
Placing the booty on board the fleet, Morgan demanded of his prisoners a
ransom of 100,000 pesos, threatening otherwise to burn the town and blow
up the castles. Two of the citizens, despatched to Panamá by his orders
to raise the amount, gave information of the true condition of affairs.
The president had a force of fifteen hundred men at his disposal, and
at once marched to relieve his countrymen, and, as he hoped, cut off
the retreat of the adventurers.

Forewarned of his approach Morgan posted a hundred picked men in a
narrow defile through which lay the route of the Spaniards. At the first
encounter the main body of the Spanish forces was routed; many fled
at once to Panamá, bearing with them the news of their defeat; and for
a time the expedition was crippled. While awaiting reënforcements the
president resolved to try the effect of threats, though aware that he
was in no position to enforce them. Sending a messenger to Morgan, he
bid him depart at once from Portobello or expect no quarter for himself
or his companions. The commander of the buccaneers answered by doubling
the amount of the required contribution[XXVIII‑3] and stating that he
would hold the place until the ransom was paid, or if it were not paid,
would burn down the houses, demolish the forts, and put every captive
to death.

As further effort appeared to be useless, the president left the
inhabitants of the town to work out their own salvation; but surprised
that a place defended by strongly fortified castles should fall a prey
to so slender a force, he despatched a messenger to request of the
conquerors a specimen of their weapons. Morgan received him courteously,
and with grim humor handed him a musket and a few bullets, bidding him
tell his master "that he was much pleased to show him a slender pattern
of the arms wherewith he had taken Portobello, and begged him to keep
them a twelvemonth, after which he promised to come to Panamá and take
them away." The president soon returned the weapon, together with a
present of an emerald ring and a message "that he did not want for arms
of that sort, but regretted that men of such courage were not employed
on some just war under a great prince."


Meanwhile the freebooters had agreed to deliver up the town on receiving
a ransom of a hundred thousand pesos. The amount was collected and
paid over. The best guns of the stronghold were then put on board the
vessels; the rest were spiked, and the buccaneers sailed for Cuba, where
they portioned out the spoils, which consisted of coin, bullion, and
jewels, to the value of two hundred and sixty thousand pesos, counting
the jewels at less than half their real value, besides large stores of
silk, linen, cloth, and other merchandise. Proceeding thence to Jamaica,
they squandered in riot and gross dissipation the wealth that others
had accumulated by years of patient toil and self-denial. A few days
of swinish debauchery among the wine-shops and brothels of Port Royal
left the majority of the gang without means or credit, and clamorous for
some new expedition. It was nothing unusual for some of them to spend
or gamble away in a single night their entire share in the proceeds
of a successful raid, and to render themselves liable to be sold next
morning as slaves to satisfy an unpaid tavern score. Some would drag
out into the streets a cask of wine, others a barrel of strong ale, and
presenting their pistols at the passers-by, compel them, whether men or
women, to drink in their company, running up and down the streets, when
crazed with liquor, and beating or bespattering whomsoever they met.

       *       *       *       *       *

The standard of humanity among the buccaneers was such as might be
expected among men who have been cut off from honorable intercourse
with their kind. Many of them had been kidnapped in early youth, and
shipped from England to the British West Indies, and there sold as
slaves, and subjected to such treatment as often reduced those of weakly
constitution to idiocy. They had been starved and racked and mutilated.
They had been beaten till the blood ran in streams from their backs,
and then rubbed with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. It is not strange
that the temper of men who had passed through such ordeals should be
permanently warped; that their hand should be against every man, and
that they should afterward inflict on the prisoners who fell into their
power tortures as cruel as they themselves had suffered at the hands of
their masters.

The fame of Morgan's exploits induced numbers of both French and English
to join the standard of the freebooter. To the veterans who had served
under him during former raids was added a swarm of recruits, eager to
share in the plunder if not in the glory of his expeditions. He was
soon in command of his squadron of fifteen vessels and a force of nine
hundred and sixty combatants, and appointing as a rendezvous the islet
of Saona gave orders to sail along the southern coast of Española. Heavy
gales were encountered during the voyage, and a portion of his ships
being driven from their course he found his diminished forces inadequate
for any great enterprise. Under the advice of a French captain, who had
served under L'Olonnois and Michel Le Basque at the capture of Maracaibo
and Gibraltar in 1666, he determined to plunder those towns and their
surrounding neighborhood. The proceeds of this foray amounted, according
to some authorities, to two hundred and fifty thousand pesos.[XXVIII‑4]
After defeating a strong Spanish squadron stationed at the entrance
of Lake Maracaibo to bar the escape of his fleet, Morgan returned to
Jamaica, where he found most of his missing vessels.

Learning that a treaty was being negotiated between Spain and Great
Britain, which would soon put an end to further raids, the buccaneers
were eager that some new expedition should be at once organized on a
larger scale, and with more ambitious intent than any before undertaken.
Morgan readily agreed to take command, and sending despatches to the
veteran freebooters quartered in Santo Domingo and Tortuga to acquaint
them with his purpose, appointed as a rendezvous Port Corillon in the
island of Vache, where by the end of October 1670 his followers had
assembled in force.

The first care was to obtain a supply of provisions, and for this
purpose hunting parties were sent forth daily to scour the woods, while
a squadron of four vessels with four hundred men under the command of
Captain Bradley[XXVIII‑5] was despatched to the mainland, to obtain
supplies of wheat or maize. Entering the mouth of the Rio Hacha, about
fifty leagues to the north-west of the lake of Maracaibo, Bradley
captured a vessel laden principally with cereals, received four thousand
bushels of maize as ransom from a village on the bank of the river, and
with other booty and a number of prisoners returned after an absence of
five weeks.[XXVIII‑6]

Morgan next sailed for Cape Tiburon, where reënforcements from Jamaica
joined the expedition, and he now found at his disposal a fleet of
thirty-seven ships and a force of two thousand fighting men.[XXVIII‑7]

[Sidenote: PIRACY PAPERS.]

His largest vessel carried twenty-four heavy guns and six small brass
cannon;[XXVIII‑8] many of the others were armed with sixteen to twenty,
and none with less than four pieces of ordnance. Morgan assumed the
title of admiral; the royal banner of England was hoisted from the
main-mast of his flag-ship; and commissions[XXVIII‑9] were given to the
officers, authorizing the capture of Spanish vessels either at sea or
in harbor, and all manner of hostilities against the Spanish nation, as
against the declared enemies of the king of Great Britain.

Articles of agreement were signed stipulating that those who were maimed
or had distinguished themselves in action should receive compensation
or reward from the first proceeds of the raid, and that the remainder
should be distributed according to the rank or office of the members of
the expedition.[XXVIII‑10]

The three most tempting prizes on the Spanish mainland were Panamá, Vera
Cruz, and Cartagena. A council was summoned on board the admiral's ship,
and it was decided that Morgan, fulfilling the promise he had made at
Portobello, should show Don Juan Perez de Guzman, president of Panamá,
the use the buccaneers made of their weapons.

It happened that the isthmus of Darien was little known to any of these
sea-rovers, and before venturing on the mainland it was determined to
capture the isle of Santa Catarina, which was then used as the penal
settlement of the Spanish West Indies, and contained among its garrison
men serving out their sentence under ban from Panamá. Among these
outlaws some would no doubt be found who were well acquainted with the
approaches to that city.

Setting sail from Cape Tiburon on the 16th of December, the fleet
anchored off Santa Catarina the fifth day, and on the same afternoon
the freebooters landed without opposition. The garrison and inhabitants
had retired to a small adjacent islet defended by ten castles which,
with a resolute defence, would have been impregnable; but the governor,
when summoned to capitulate, consented on condition that he should be
allowed to depart unmolested after making a show of resistance. A sham
fight was maintained by night for several hours, and no powder was
spared.[XXVIII‑11] The buccaneers fired with blank cartridge, and the
Spaniards were ordered to train their guns so that the shot whistled
harmless overhead. The place was then surrendered, the prisoners
were mustered and disarmed, and the freebooters, having fasted for
twenty-four hours, waged war in earnest on the cattle, poultry, and
game which they found in the neighborhood. Three outlaws from Panamá,
two of them Indians and one a mulatto, all well acquainted with the
most favorable routes, were delivered up as guides. The Indians, aware
that their own countrymen would suffer from the raid in common with
the Spaniards, feigned ignorance, but were betrayed by the mulatto and
put to the torture. One of them died on the rack, and the survivor then
confessed that he knew the roads, and consented to serve his captors.


Before landing the main body of the buccaneers on the Isthmus, Morgan
determined to capture the castle of San Lorenzo, which guarded the
mouth of the Chagre River. For this purpose he despatched a squadron of
five vessels with four hundred men[XXVIII‑12] under Captain Bradley,
remaining himself at Santa Catarina with the rest of his forces, in
order to mask his main design. The castle was built on a high rock,
steep enough to render it inaccessible on the southern side, and was
protected on the north by the river, which widens at that point. Four
bastions mounted with artillery guarded the approaches by land, and
two faced seaward. At the foot of the rock were three batteries which
commanded the mouth of the Chagre. At the outlet of the river is a
sunken reef and a sand-bar, over which the breakers roll for almost
the entire width. Only in the calmest weather can one detect a narrow
passage close under the precipice, whose height is still crowned by
the ruins of the castle of San Lorenzo. The fortress was surrounded
with palisades, filled in with earth, and its single entrance could
be approached only by a drawbridge which spanned a crevasse in the
rock thirty feet in depth. The garrison consisted of three hundred and
fourteen well armed and veteran troops, and a party of expert Indian
bowmen under as gallant an officer as ever drew sword.


Bradley saw that the stronghold could be assailed only from the land
side, and anchored his vessels in a small bay at a short distance
from the outlet of the river. The freebooters went ashore soon after
midnight, and after cutting their way through woods tangled with
undergrowth, and scaling precipitous rocks, debouched about two in the
afternoon on an open space within gunshot of the fort and advanced to
the attack. The garrison at once opened on them a hot fire, crying
out: "Come on, ye cursed English dogs, and let your companions that
are behind you come on; you shall not get to Panamá this bout." The
assailants suffered severely and were driven back to the shelter of
the woods; but returning at nightfall came close up to the edge of the
crevasse and attempted to burn down the palisades which bordered the
opposite verge. Guided by the light of the fireballs the Spaniards plied
them incessantly with musketry and artillery and the Indians discharged
their arrows with hardly less effect. Men fell fast, and Bradley had
both his legs taken off by a round shot. The buccaneers were sorely
distressed and well nigh despaired of success, when a lucky stroke
turned the scale in their favor. One of their party, being pierced
with an arrow, plucked it forth and winding it round with cotton,
shot it back from his musket toward the fortress, where it lighted
on a house[XXVIII‑13] thatched with palm leaves. The cotton, ignited
by the flash of the powder, set fire to the roof. The flames were
unnoticed until beyond control, and spreading rapidly soon exploded
a package of gunpowder. The besieged now bent all their efforts to
stay the conflagration and the freebooters crowded into the crevasse,
and mounting on each other's shoulders burnt down the stakes of the

By daybreak the castle was almost a ruin, and the earth which supported
the palisades had fallen into the crevasse, filling it in places to a
level with the surface. A murderous fire was poured on the defenders
till noon, when the assailants advanced to storm the breach. Many of the
Spaniards hurled themselves down the steep side of the rock, preferring
death to surrender. The governor, at the head of a handful of men,
still maintained a hopeless struggle, but a musket-ball through the
head soon laid him low, and all resistance was at an end. Only thirty
of the garrison were found alive; among them not a single officer,
and scarcely a dozen unwounded men. The prisoners gave information
that news of the intended raid had reached Panamá by way of Cartagena
several weeks previously; that a deserter from the expedition, when at
the Rio Hacha, had also revealed Morgan's design; that messengers had
been despatched by the governor of the fortress to the president, with
news of the invaders' approach; that ambuscades were already posted
at several points on the banks of the Chagre, and that the president
with the main body of his forces awaited their approach on the plains
surrounding Panamá.

The Spaniards were ordered to throw down their dead to the foot of the
castle rock, and there to bury them. A neighboring church served as a
hospital for the wounded, and a prison-house for the captured women,
who were subjected as usual to foul outrage and defilement, daughters
being violated in presence of their mothers, and wives before their
husbands—pantomimes of hell performed within the walls of a sanctuary.

[Sidenote: UP THE CHAGRE.]

On receiving news of the capture of San Lorenzo, the commander of the
buccaneers gave orders that all the houses on the isle of Santa Catarina
should be burned to the ground, and that the fortifications on the
adjacent islet should be destroyed, with the exception of one of the
strongest castles, which he reserved for future occupation. Casting the
guns of the fortress into the sea, and placing his prisoners on board
the fleet, he set sail for the mainland, and arrived off the mouth
of the Chagre in January 1671. Overjoyed at seeing the English colors
flying from the fort, the freebooters, through careless navigation, lost
four of their ships on the sunken rock at the entrance of the river,
but prizes were made of several large flat-bottomed boats, and of a
number of canoes built specially for the navigation of the stream. Five
hundred men were left as a garrison for the castle, and one hundred and
fifty as a guard for the fleet; the captives were ordered to repair the
breaches in the fortress; and the main body of the adventurers, at least
twelve hundred strong,[XXVIII‑14] started on their expedition against
Panamá. Morgan gave orders that no provisions should be taken but a
slender stock of maize, barely sufficient for a single day's rations. He
told his men that, their means of conveyance being limited, they must
not encumber themselves with unnecessary baggage, for they would soon
replenish their supplies from the magazines of the Spaniards, who lay
in ambush along the route. Moreover, the detachment left behind at San
Lorenzo numbered with the prisoners over 1,000 persons, and the entire
supply was hardly enough for their subsistence until his return.

The journey was begun in boats and canoes, and notwithstanding a rapid
current and a want of skill in managing the overloaded vessels, about
six leagues were made the first day. So little did the freebooters know
of the impediments they were soon to encounter in their ascent of the
stream, that they took with them five large scows laden with artillery
and ammunition. A few of the party went ashore at night to search for
food, as their scanty allowance of maize was soon devoured, but nothing
eatable was discovered and most of the buccaneers lay down to rest
supperless with nothing but a pipe of tobacco to appease their hunger.

On the second evening they arrived at a spot where the river-bed was
shoal from drought, and choked with fallen trees. The guides assured
them that a few miles beyond they would find no difficulty in continuing
their route, either by land or water, and next morning, leaving a strong
guard over their vessels, they attempted to make their way through the
forests that skirt the banks of the Chagre. The trees were matted with
vines, and the spaces between them filled with a dense wall of tropical
undergrowth, in places impenetrable to sight. Most of the men were
ordered to return to the river, and leaving there the scows with the
artillery they managed to drag their canoes over the shallow places, a
portion of them embarking wherever the water was of sufficient depth.
The remainder cut a passage through the woods with extreme difficulty,
and on the following afternoon all assembled on the bank of the stream,
where they passed the night without food, benumbed with cold, and unable
to sleep.


Worn out with toil and gaunt with hunger, their clothing torn to rags,
the buccaneers resumed their journey on the morning of the fourth day,
some of them already staggering from weakness and halting now and then
to gnaw the roots and leaves, or to soak in water and chew strips cut
from the empty leathern sacks which had contained their dole of maize.
About noon one of the guides called out that he had discovered signs
of an ambuscade—a cry welcome to the freebooters, who advanced at
once to the attack, hoping at length to obtain a supply of provisions.
Forewarned by their scouts, who had given timely notice of the enemy's
approach, the Spaniards had retired to a safe distance, and none were
found to offer resistance, nor any scrap of food save a few crumbs
scattered round the spot where the fugitives had made a recent meal.
All their bright visions of wealth now faded before the grim spectre of
famine, and their one thought was to obtain the means of relieving the
gnawing at their vitals. Ill had it fared with any captive who might
then have fallen into the hands of these famished desperadoes, for he
would surely have been carved and eaten. In some neighboring huts were
found a few bundles of dry hides, such as were used by the natives for
making bags for the storage of corn. These were beaten between rocks,
soaked in the river, cut into small pieces, rubbed by hand, and after
the hair had been scraped off, were cooked and gulped down morsel by
morsel with draughts of water. About sundown a spot was reached where
were traces of another ambuscade, but no fragments of victuals, for
orders had been given to destroy or remove everything edible beyond
reach of the invaders, in the hope that they would be forced by
starvation to retrace their steps. Fortunate was he that night who had
reserved some scraps of hide on which to make his evening repast.

At noon on the fifth day of the journey they arrived at the village
of Barbacoas, near which, after a long search, they discovered in a
grotto recently hewn out of the rock, two sacks of meal, a quantity of
plantains, and two jars of wine. This scanty supply was portioned out
among those who were in the last extremity, many of them so weak that
they had to be carried on board the canoes. Most of the buccaneers again
lay down supperless to rest, some jesting at their sorry plight, but
the majority threatening to desert, and uttering curses loud and deep
against the man who with promise of rich spoils had lured them into a
wilderness where they seemed fated soon to leave their carcasses a prey
to the vultures.

Nevertheless all continued their course next morning, and about midday
came in sight of a plantation which they approached with slow step
and staggering gait, halting every few paces to rest through extreme
weakness. At first no relief was found, and many of the freebooters were
about to carry out their threat of returning to Chagre, when one of them
discovered a barn filled with maize which the Spaniards had neglected
to remove, thinking that the invaders could not make their way so far
across the Isthmus. The stronger of the party at once beat in the doors
with the but-end of their muskets, and after devouring their fill of
the raw grain made way for their comrades, and carried a portion down
to those who lay in the canoes so enfeebled with their long fast that
they were unable to crawl further. When all had satisfied their hunger,
enough remained to give each man a good allowance. Toward nightfall
they came in sight of a body of Indians posted on the opposite side
of the river. Morgan at once ordered a party to give chase, hoping to
capture some; but being more fleet of foot and in better condition, they
easily made their escape, after discharging a flight of arrows, which
laid low two or three of their pursuers, the natives crying out as they
brandished their weapons: "Ha, perros, á la savana, á la savana."

[Sidenote: AT CRUCES.]

At sunrise on the seventh day the freebooters crossed the river and
continued their route on the other side, arriving in a few hours in
sight of the village of Cruces, about eight leagues from Panamá, and
the head of navigation on the Chagre. Smoke was soon observed rising
from the chimneys, and the buccaneers ran forward, exclaiming: "They
are making good fires to roast and boil what we are to eat." One more
disappointment was in store for them: the place was found to be deserted
and the houses in flames. The only provisions discovered were a single
leathern sack of bread and some jars of wine. A number of dogs and
cats left straying around the neighborhood were instantly killed and
devoured. The wine, acting on stomachs weak with fasting and disordered
by unwholesome diet, caused a violent sickness, and for a while they
believed themselves poisoned.

At daybreak next morning two hundred of the best armed and strongest
were sent forward to search for ambuscades and to reconnoitre the road,
Morgan himself following a few hours later with the rest of his forces.
After a few hours' march the advanced guard arrived at a spot then
called Quebrada Obscura, a ravine enclosed between walls of rock, and
so narrow that three men could with difficulty walk abreast. A flight of
arrows, discharged by an unseen foe, fell upon them as from the clouds.
For a moment the most stout-hearted hesitated. They were not the men
to shrink from peril, but they saw that a handful of resolute troops
could hold the pass against an army. Before them lay a forest from
which artillery and musketry could sweep the pass. Overhead were sheer
precipices from which rocks hurled on their heads might easily have
destroyed the entire force. The buccaneers observed some Indians gliding
among the trees in their front, and pushing forward after a brief delay
to a point where the pass widened, fired a volley into the woods at
random. The Indian chieftain, recognized by his parti-colored plumes,
fell wounded, and, when the freebooters offered him quarter, raised
himself on his elbow and made a pass at one of them with his javelin. He
was instantly shot through the head, and his followers took to flight.
In this skirmish no prisoners were taken, and the loss of Morgan's
advanced guard was about ten killed and as many wounded.[XXVIII‑15]

The main body of the buccaneers soon arrived, and after a brief halt the
march was resumed, for toward dusk a heavy storm of wind and rain set
in, and continued far into the night. It was the custom of the Spaniards
to burn the houses that lay on the line of route, and the men passed the
night without shelter, sitting huddled on the ground. A few shepherds'
huts afforded scant protection for the wounded, and storage room for
the arms and ammunition. The robbers were on foot at the first gleam
of dawn, and after discharging their fire-locks at once fell into the
ranks. Toward noon on this, the ninth day of the journey, they ascended
a lofty hill which yet bears the name of El Cerro de los Buccaneros,
and from its summit looked down for the first time on the Pacific. The
storm had broken, and a few white sailing boats were seen gliding among
a group of islands that lay a few leagues to the south of Panamá; but
a far more interesting sight to these toil-worn and famished marauders
was a neighboring valley, where droves of oxen and bands of horses
were quietly grazing. No enemy appeared, and some of the cattle were at
once shot down. Hacking them piecemeal they cast the flesh into hastily
kindled fires, and snatching it from the flames while still half raw,
tore it with their fingers and devoured it with the greed of starving
wolves, the blood streaming down their beards and dripping from their
garments. Before the meal was over, Morgan ordered a false alarm to
be sounded, fearing that the Spaniards might take them by surprise. It
soon became evident that this was no needless precaution, for an hour or
two later a strong detachment of Spanish cavalry appeared almost within
musket shot. Finding the enemy prepared to receive them they quickly
withdrew, and the sound of drum and trumpet soon gave notice to the
retreating squadrons that the buccaneers were in sight of Panamá.

[Sidenote: BEFORE PANAMÁ.]

Two or three piers of a shattered bridge, a fragment of wall, a single
tower, and a few remnants of public buildings, half buried under a
dense growth of creepers, still mark the spot where, in 1671, stood
a city with fine streets and beautiful edifices, among which were
stately churches richly adorned with altar-pieces and rare paintings,
with golden censers and goblets, and tall candelabra of native silver.
There were the abodes of the merchant princes of the New World, some
of them the descendants of men who had fought under Cortés when he
added the empire of the Montezumas to the realms of the Spanish crown.
There were vast warehouses stored with flour, wine, oil, spices, and
the merchandise of Spain; there were villas of cedar surrounded with
beautiful gardens, where fair women enjoyed the cool evening breeze as
they gazed seaward on the untroubled waters of the Pacific.

But what was Don Juan Perez de Guzman doing while Morgan was on his way
up the Chagre, after capturing the high-mounted castle of San Lorenzo?
Masses were being said daily for the success of the Spanish arms. The
images of our lady of pure and immaculate conception were being carried
in general procession, attended by all the religious fraternity of the
cathedral. Always the most holy sacrament was left uncovered and exposed
to public view. Oaths were being taken with much pious fervor in the
presence of the sacred effigies, and all the president's relics and
jewelry, including a diamond ring worth forty thousand pesos, were laid
on the altars of the holy virgin and of the saints who held in their
special keeping the welfare of Panamá. Surely if the favor of celestial
powers can be bought with prayers and money they have here received
their price, and should deliver this city, especially when the pirates
neglect to glorify God with their spoils.[XXVIII‑16] Sleek friars, with
downcast look, gathering up these votive offerings, and taking in charge
the gold and silver ornaments of the churches, invoked the blessing
of God on the royal banners of Spain, and hurried off beyond reach of
the coming fray with the treasures thus lavished upon them through the
instrumentality of Satan. The forces of the Spaniards, consisting of
400 horse and 2,400 foot, with a few pieces of cannon, were then drawn
up in the plain without the city. Yet another mode of warfare, unique
in New World adventure, presents itself, as 2,000 wild oxen, under the
guidance of Indians, were placed on the flanks of the army ready to
break through the enemy's ranks.

The buccaneers pitched their camp near the brow of a hill in full view
of the plain. There were yet two hours of daylight, and the Spanish
artillery at once opened on them with round shot, but at too long range
to take effect. Morgan posted his sentries without the least misgiving,
and his men, after making their supper on the remnants of the noonday
meal, threw themselves upon the ground to obtain what rest they could.

As soon as the first gleam of dawn heralded the approach of the last
day the doomed city was destined to witness after an existence of one
hundred and fifty years,[XXVIII‑17] the morning gun from the president's
camp gave the signal for both armies to fall into the ranks, and a few
minutes later the freebooters were on the march toward the city. Warned
by their scouts that ambuscades were posted along the line of the main
road, they cut their way with some difficulty through a neighboring
wood, and debouched on the summit of a small eminence that still bears
the name of El Cerro de Avance. The Spanish battalions, ill armed with
carbines, fowling-pieces, and arquebuses, but dressed in parti-colored
silk uniforms, the horsemen prancing on mettlesome steeds as though
attending a bull-fight, lay before them almost within musket shot.
Morgan drew up the main body of his forces in three columns, and sending
in front a strong detachment of his best marksmen, descended into the
plain to give battle. The enemy's artillery, posted in a part of the
field where it commanded the main avenues of approach to the city, was
far out of range, but the horse, under Francisco de Haro, at once moved
forward with loud shouts of Viva el rey! to hold the enemy in check. The
ground was swampy, yielding to the foot, and unfavorable for the action
of cavalry; moreover Morgan's veterans were not of the stuff to be
daunted by a battle-cry and the onslaught of a few squads of troopers.
Forming in close order with front rank kneeling, and reserving their
fire until the Spaniards came up almost to the points of their muskets,
they poured in a volley which told with murderous effect. Don Francisco
led his men repeatedly to the charge, but no impression could be made,
and the shattered lines at length wheeled off to a safe distance,
leaving their gallant chieftain dead on the field.

Meanwhile the captain-general, after being confessed by the priest
and repeating his Ave Marías and prayers to the saints, had come forth
from his tent to see how the battle was progressing. The Spanish foot
were then ordered to assail the enemy in front, while bands of oxen
were driven in on their flank to break through their battalions. The
buccaneers had the wind and sun in their favor, and could concentrate on
a given point as many men as their opponents could bring against them;
for in rear of the latter lay a large morass which prevented them from
wheeling their main body. The infantry were received with a hot fire and
handled so roughly that they began to retreat. Morgan's left wing then
attacked them in flank and their retreat was soon turned into a rout.
The wild cattle, maddened by the uproar, the smell of blood, and by the
red flag shaken in their faces—many of their drivers being shot down by
a party of musketeers detailed for the purpose—were driven back on the
flying columns. The president made a feeble effort to rally his men,
until the staff which he carried in his hand, the only weapon apparently
which he bore that day, was grazed with a shot, when, yielding to the
entreaties of his chaplain, he retired from the fight, giving thanks to
the blessed virgin, "who had brought him off safe from amidst so many
thousand bullets."[XXVIII‑18]

[Sidenote: PANAMÁ TAKEN.]

In two hours the battle was won. Six hundred of the Spaniards lay dead
on the plains; the cavalry were almost annihilated, and the infantry
threw away their arms and scattered into small parties, many of them
hiding among the bushes by the sea-shore where they were afterward
discovered and butchered. A party of Franciscan friars, who had remained
with the army to offer the last consolations of religion to the dying,
were captured and shot without mercy. Orders were at first given that
no quarter should be granted, as the buccaneers were too much crippled
to encumber themselves with prisoners. An exception was made, however,
in the case of a wounded Spanish officer, who was brought into the
commander's presence and gave information that the city contained only
a garrison of one hundred men, but that the streets were protected by
barricades and by twenty-eight pieces of cannon, and that the president
would probably reoccupy the place if he could reorganize his forces.
Morgan at once assembled his troops, and telling them they must lose
no time in seizing the prize, put his columns in motion by way of the
Portobello road, which lay beyond reach of the enemy's fire, and within
an hour made his entrance into Panamá without opposition.[XXVIII‑19]
Warning was given to the men to keep out of range of the cannon
that were posted in the plaza mayor, but most of them ran to and fro
without heed, in search of plunder or in pursuit of fugitives, and the
Spaniards, pointing their pieces at several thickly clustered groups of
the enemy, poured in a volley from guns loaded to the muzzle with musket
balls and scraps of iron. This was the last shot fired in defence of
Panamá; for the cannoniers were cut in pieces before they had time to
reload, and the freebooters rushed through the streets hewing down all
who offered resistance.

Except large stores of silk and cloth little booty was discovered in
the fallen city, for the greater part of the inhabitants had fled to
the neighboring islands, taking with them their wives and children and
all their portable property. Morgan's first precaution was to forbid his
men to taste wine, under the pretence that it had all been poisoned. He
feared that after their long fast they would as usual celebrate their
victory with feasting and drunkenness, and thus afford the Spaniards a
chance to rally and overpower them when stupefied with liquor.


The buccaneers had barely time to post their guards, and take up their
quarters in the deserted dwellings when flames were seen breaking
forth from some of the largest houses. The president having received
information that Morgan had among his party a young Englishman whom
he intended to crown king of Tierra Firme, had given orders for the
metropolitan city to be burned if it should fall into the hands of the
pirates.[XXVIII‑20] The fire spread rapidly, although the freebooters
did their utmost to check its progress. Several houses were torn down,
and others blown up with gunpowder, but all efforts were in vain. A
fresh breeze had set in from the Pacific, and the buildings, almost
entirely of wood, many of them well stored with costly furniture and
adorned with pictures and tapestry, fell an easy prey to the flames.
Within an hour an entire street was consumed, and by midnight a single
convent, one or two public buildings, and the cabins of a distant
quarter, wretchedly built, and occupied only by muleteers, were all
that remained of the seven thousand houses of cedar, the two hundred
warehouses, the monasteries and churches of a city which but a few days
before was peopled by thirty thousand inhabitants, and famed as the
abode of one of the wealthiest communities in the western world.

Morgan sent a detachment of one hundred and fifty men to Chagre to
carry news of his victory and bring back word as to the welfare of
the garrison, and ordered the remainder of his command to camp in
the plains, thus keeping them in hand and ready for action in case
the president should rally his forces and renew the fight. Troops of
Spaniards and Indians were seen flitting to and fro along the edge
of the forest which skirted the savanna, but it was evident that they
had no confidence in their captain-general, for as he himself naively
remarked in his intercepted despatch: "Although he afterward attempted
several times to form an army, yet he could not do any good of it,
because no man would be persuaded to follow him." The buccaneers soon
returned, therefore, to take up their quarters in the few buildings that
had escaped the conflagration. As no spoils of value had yet been found
except a few gold and silver utensils hidden in wells and cisterns, or
buried beneath the ruins, parties were sent to scour the neighboring
woods and hills in quest of fugitives who might be subjected to torture.


A bark laden with goods for the use of the refugees who had fled
to a neighboring group of islands had been captured on the evening
that Morgan took possession of Panamá. Orders had been given that
all sea-going vessels should take their departure, but the captain
had lingered for the turn of the tide, not deeming it possible that
so sudden a disaster could befall the city. The vessel was at once
despatched with a company of twenty-five men to search for the treasures
which, as the buccaneers learned from their captives, had been conveyed
beyond their grasp. The men landed the next day at one of the smallest
islands, and having managed to smuggle on board a few jars of wine, were
soon half stupefied with liquor. Toward evening a Spanish ship, which
lay off the opposite side of the islet, put ashore to obtain water, and
the crew were captured by some of the party who had yet sense enough
left to point a musket. A prize was now within their reach of greater
value than all the booty that the adventurers were destined to obtain
from their raid. A galleon of four hundred tons, ill manned, poorly
armed, and carrying no canvas but the upper sails of the mainmast,
so deeply laden with ingots of gold and silver, with the plate and
treasures of the wealthiest merchants of Panamá, and with the golden
vessels and decorations of church and monastery that no other ballast
was needed,[XXVIII‑21] lay almost within cannon-shot. The captain
of the bark did not venture to make the attack at nightfall with his
feeble and drunken band, feeling satisfied, moreover, that he would
have an opportunity of capturing the vessel at daybreak; but alarmed at
the non-arrival of the boat, the commander of the galleon ordered the
anchor slipped long before midnight, and the ship, favored with a strong
breeze, was out of sight when the sun appeared above the horizon.

The detachment returned from Chagre with news that all was going well;
so Morgan determined to prolong his stay at Panamá, and wrest from the
Spaniards a portion at least of their concealed riches. Parties were
sent forth to scour the country and bring in prisoners. The captives
were placed in the convent of Mercedes, San José, and there subjected to
such ingenuity of torture as might satisfy even Great Britain that her
people were not behind the age in brutal barbarities. One instance only
need be related. A servant, dressed in his master's garments, from one
of which depended a small silver key, was captured by the buccaneers.
Ordered to reveal the hiding-place of the cabinet to which the key
belonged, he replied that he knew it not, and merely had the key in his
possession because he had ventured to don his master's attire. No other
answer coming, he was stretched on the rack and his arms disjointed.
A cord was then twisted round his forehead until, to use the words of
Exquemelin, "his eyes protruding from their sockets appeared as big as
eggs."[XXVIII‑22] His ears and nose were then cut off, and the wounds
seared with burning straw. When beyond power of speech, and insensible
to further suffering, a negro was ordered to end his life by running
him through the body.[XXVIII‑23]


Women who had the ill-fortune to fall into the hands of the freebooters
could only escape torture and starvation at the cost of their chastity
or by payment of a heavy ransom. Among the prisoners taken at the
islands of Taboguilla and Taboga was a young and beautiful gentlewoman,
the wife of a wealthy merchant of Panamá. Like many of her countrywomen
she had learned to regard the buccaneers not as rational beings, but as
monsters in human shape. The lady was brought into Morgan's presence and
at first treated with respect, lodged in a separate apartment, waited on
by female slaves, and supplied with food from his own table. Surprised
at this usage, and mistaking the frequent and blasphemous oaths of her
captors for pious ejaculations, she blessed her fate that the pirates
of England were such fine specimens of Christian gentlemen. But Morgan
had his little game to play. His amorous proposals were met by a firm
refusal, but in such mild language as to avoid rousing his anger. For a
while he sought to gain her consent by persuasion, and was lavish with
his gifts of rare jewels. All failing she was threatened with torture.
"My life is in your hands," she said, "but sooner shall my soul be
separated from my body than I submit to your embrace." Exasperated,
Morgan ordered his attendants removed, and then attempted violence. She
tore herself from his arms, and warning him not to approach her again,
cried out: "Imagine not that, after robbing me of my liberty, you can
as easily deprive me of my honor." As he still persisted in following
her, she drew a dagger and said: "See that I know how to die if I cannot
kill thee." She then sprang at him and attempted to drive the blade into
his heart. The commander recoiled several paces, but finally succeeded
in gaining possession of the weapon. He then retired from her presence,
and ordered her to be stripped of most of her apparel, cast half naked
into a dark and fetid cell, and fed only with the coarsest food, in
quantities so small as barely to sustain life.

Morgan had made several prizes of sea-going vessels, one of which was
well adapted to a piratical cruise. A plot was concocted by some of the
men to embark on an expedition to the islands of the Pacific, thence
after obtaining sufficient booty to sail for Europe by way of the East
Indies. Cannon, muskets, ammunition, and provisions had been secretly
obtained in sufficient quantity not only to equip the vessel but to
fortify and garrison one of the islands as a base of operations. Warned
of the design by a repentant conspirator, Morgan ordered all the ships
in the harbor to be burned, and at once made preparations to return to
Chagre. Beasts of burden were collected to convey the plunder to the
point where the canoes had been left on the river; some of the wealthier
Spaniards were despatched under guard to obtain the amount of their
ransom; and a strong detachment was sent to reconnoitre the line of
march by which the buccaneers were to return.

On the 24th of February, after holding possession for four weeks of
Panamá, or rather of the site where Panamá had stood, the marauders took
their departure with six hundred prisoners, men, women, and children,
and a hundred and seventy-five pack-animals laden with plunder. When
fairly out on the plain the forces were put in order of march, and the
captives placed between the van and rear guard. Many of them, fresh
from the rack, well nigh perishing of hunger, and scarcely able to drag
themselves along, were goaded and beaten, and with foul oaths made to
quicken their pace until they dropped fainting or dead. The women, among
whom were mothers with infants at the breast, cast themselves on their
knees and pleaded in vain for leave to return and build for themselves
huts of straw amidst the pile of ashes which had once been their native
city. Dragged along between two of the buccaneers was the gentlewoman
who had been subjected to Morgan's suit, and whose ransom was fixed
at thirty thousand pesos. Learning that it was his intention to carry
her to Jamaica, she begged for a brief respite, affirming "that she
had given orders to two of the priests, on whom she had relied, to go
to a certain place and obtain the sum required; that they had promised
faithfully to do so, but having procured the money had employed it
to release some of their friends." Morgan was conquered at last. He
inquired into the truth of her assertion, and found it confirmed by a
letter delivered to the lady by a slave, and afterward by the confession
of the priests; whereupon he ordered her and her parents, who were among
the prisoners, to be set at liberty.

Midway on their march across the Isthmus the freebooters were mustered
and all made to swear that they had concealed none of the spoils,
but had delivered all into the common stock. After this ceremony the
commander ordered each one searched, himself first submitting. Clothes
and baggage were carefully examined, and even the muskets were taken
to pieces, to see that no precious stones were concealed between the
barrel and stock. This proceeding excited much indignation, and threats
were made against Morgan's life, but the search-officers were told to
conclude their work as quietly as possible without divulging the names
of the offenders, and an outbreak was avoided. A day or two afterward
the expedition arrived at the castle at San Lorenzo, where it was found
that most of those who had been wounded in the assault on that fortress
had perished of their injuries, and that the garrison was almost
destitute of provisions, being reduced to a small allowance of maize. A
vessel having on board the prisoners taken at the isle of Santa Catarina
was then despatched to Portobello to demand a ransom for the castle at
Chagre, but returned with the answer that none would be paid.


A division of the spoils was next in order; and there were none
who expected to receive for their share less than two or three
thousand pesos, for the entire value of the booty was set down,
according to the highest estimate, at little short of four and a half
millions.[XXVIII‑24] Loud were the complaints and fierce the threats,
therefore, when Morgan declared that, after paying the extra allowances
to the captains and officers of the fleet, the compensation to the
wounded, and the rewards to those who had distinguished themselves
in action, each man's share amounted but to two hundred pesos. He
was accused, and no doubt with justice, of setting apart the most
valuable of the jewelry and precious stones for his own portion, and of
estimating the rest at far less than their real worth, for the purpose
of buying them in as cheaply as possible. He knew that most of his men
cared for money only to squander it among the taverns of Port Royal,
and turning his opportunity to good use he managed to store away for
himself and a few of his accomplices the lion's share.

Morgan now began to fear for his personal safety and for the security
of his stolen treasures, and determined to make no longer stay at
Chagre. Assuredly he was the best prize his fellow-pirates could find
at this juncture. He silenced the remonstrances of his followers,
however, as best he could, and set them at work demolishing the castle
of San Lorenzo. The neighboring edifices were burned; the surrounding
country was laid waste; the guns of the dismantled fortress were
placed on board the fleet, and all were ordered to hold themselves
in readiness to embark. The commander then stole on board his ship by
night and put to sea, accompanied by only three or four of the English
vessels, the captains of which were in his confidence. The remainder
of the band awoke next morning in time to see the topmost sails of the
vanishing squadron disappear below the horizon, and at once determined
to give chase; but they soon found that nearly all the ammunition and
provisions had been secretly carried off by the fugitives. Seven or
eight hundred of the buccaneers, including all the Frenchmen who had
joined the expedition, now found themselves in a strait. They were
compelled to separate into small parties, and after obtaining the means
of subsistence by pillaging the shores of Castilla del Oro, returned
almost empty-handed to Port Royal.


Morgan landed in Jamaica without mishap, and soon began to levy forces
for an expedition to the isle of Santa Catarina, intending to make
it a common rendezvous for the brethren of the seas; but the hideous
atrocities committed during these piratical raids had at length roused
the English ministers to a sense of shame, and awakened compunction even
in the breast of the English monarch. A new governor was despatched
to Jamaica, with orders that the treaty lately ratified between Spain
and Great Britain should be strictly enforced. A general pardon and
indemnity was proclaimed for past offences, and the ex-admiral of the
buccaneers soon afterward repaired to England, where, by a judicious use
of his wealth, he obtained from Charles II. the honor of knighthood, as
before mentioned. The gibbet would have been a more fitting distinction.

Sir Henry Morgan, appointed commissioner of the court of admiralty and
afterward deputy governor of Jamaica, held office until the accession
of James II. when the court of Spain procured his arrest. He was sent
a prisoner to his native country, and was cast into prison, where we
will leave him. He was a ruffian, whose hell-born depravity of heart was
relieved by no gleam of a better nature, and for whom one may search in
vain for a parallel, even among those so-called heroes who dragged the
banner of the cross through the blood of myriads of innocent victims,
as they bore westward the glad tidings of Christ's redemption.





[Sidenote: THE NEW PANAMÁ.]

When tidings of the destruction of Panamá reached Spain, the court
ordered that a new city be forthwith built on a site that could be so
strongly fortified as to render it impregnable. The one finally chosen
was a small peninsula a little more than two leagues from the old city,
at the base of the hill of Ancon. The foundations were laid in 1671.
The town was surrounded by a wall, from twenty to forty feet high and
ten feet wide, crowned with forts and watch-towers two or three hundred
feet apart. So costly were the works that the council in Spain when
auditing the accounts wrote to inquire whether the fortifications of
Panamá, were of silver or gold. A deep moat divided the city from the
mainland, the entrances being through three massive gates. Seaward the
city was protected by coral reefs, extending for more than half a mile
into the bay. Even at high tide vessels of heavy draught could barely
approach within cannon shot and an invading force would be compelled to
land from boats which would be exposed to the fire of the garrison. Thus
the site, when fortified, though ill chosen in view of the commercial
interests of the city, afforded the inhabitants, as they supposed, sure
protection against the raids of buccaneers.

The new city of Panamá was laid out almost in the form of a square;
having streets regular, but narrow, and so overhung with projecting
balconies that one might pass through it during a heavy shower
without being drenched. It was especially distinguished for its church
architecture,[XXIX‑1] a large portion of its area being occupied by
the buildings of the ecclesiastics. The church and convent of Santo
Domingo was one of the finest and most important establishments, not
only in Panamá, the city of churches, but in the New World. The main
building, a hundred feet in length by fifty in breadth, with massive
walls perforated by numerous arched windows, was separated from the
porch by a strong brick arch about twenty feet high and with a span of
forty feet; the radius at the key-stone being not more than two feet.
The edifice remains to day apparently as firm as ever, a monument of
the architectural skill of the Spaniards in the seventeenth century.

The cupola and bells for the new cathedral were fashioned at Madrid.
When the bells were ready for casting, the queen invited the public
to be present, and at the hour appointed the cupola was surrounded
by an assemblage more brilliant than any that had ever met for such a
purpose in Spain. Her Majesty, with maids bejewelled and all attired in
rich silks, and dignitaries of court and state, with a vast concourse
of the populace, gathered for the ceremony of blessing the bells. As
it progressed, and one after another advanced with a piece of coin or
of plate, enthusiasm increased. Women tore off their ornaments and
flung them into the heated mass; decorations of office and mementos
of affection were eagerly sacrificed, and the dedication was concluded
amidst an outburst of religious zeal.

       *       *       *       *       *


But the deity would not at the price sell deliverance from the
corsairs, who could be as Christian as any of them upon occasion.
In 1679 Portobello was plundered by pirates, the spoils amounting
to a hundred and sixty pesos per capita; and during the same year a
buccaneer fleet assembled at the Boca del Toro, where lay two English
privateers.[XXIX‑2] From them intelligence was received that the Darien
Indians had rendered aid to the French captain, Bournano, in an attack
on the town of Chepo. Repulsed before that place, they had offered
to guide him to a large and rich city named Tocamora, but as this
enterprise called for a stronger armament than he had at his disposal,
he went in search of reënforcements, promising to return in three

The pirates who had sacked Portobello agreed to take part in the
contemplated foray, and at once set about careening and refitting their
vessels. As soon as the necessary preparations were completed the fleet
sailed eastward along the coast to the Samballas, or isles of San Blas,
where they were visited by the natives.[XXIX‑3] The Indians dissuaded
the leaders of the party from making a raid on Tocamora, suggesting
instead a descent on Panamá, to within a few leagues of which city
they could guide them undiscovered. This proposition, backed by the
argument that the march to Tocamora was difficult and provisions almost
unattainable, while at Panamá they could not fail of immense booty,
inclined the majority to follow the Indians' counsel.[XXIX‑4]

The French contingent considered so long a land journey too hazardous,
and parted company, while the remainder of the fleet, numbering
seven vessels, with thirty-six guns and three hundred and sixty-six
men, sailed under the guidance of the Cacique Andrés to the Golden
Island, the most easterly of the Samballas, where this chief had his
head-quarters,[XXIX‑5] arriving there the 3d of April 1680. The Indians
now proposed an attack upon the town of Santa María, situated on a
large river of that name, which flows into the gulf of San Miguel. Here
was maintained a garrison of four hundred men, for it was the entrepôt
through which passed the gold on its way from the neighboring mines to
the vaults of Panamá. If Santa María failed in booty, they could sail to
Panamá, where success was certain. This plan was generally approved, and
on April 5th they landed a strong force, divided into seven companies,
each marching under its distinctive banner and led by its own captain,
the supreme command being intrusted to Captain Bartholomew Sharp. The
native allies accompanied the column under Andrés who acted as guide.


However perilous this expedition may appear, there were those among
the rovers whose hopes soared higher than a mere swoop on Panamá, and
who meditated a triumphant return through the straits of Magellan in a
fleet of prizes freighted not with the gold of Panamá alone, but with
the wealth of the South American coast. Burdened only with their weapons
and a slender stock of provisions the buccaneers began their march on
Panamá. After passing through the outskirts of a wood, they crossed a
marsh[XXIX‑6] about a league in length, and struck into a well wooded
valley which they ascended by a good path for two leagues more, reaching
the bank of a river for the most part dry at this time of year. Here
they constructed huts and encamped. They were now visited by a cacique
who recommended them to carry out their proposed raid on Santa María,
and volunteered to lead them in person, informing them naively that "he
would have joined them at once, but his child was very ill; however, he
was assured it would die by next day," when he would overtake them. The
chieftain then departed, cautioning them against lying in the grass, on
account of the snakes, which were poisonous and of great size. Stones
found in the bed of the river when broken showed traces of gold, a
harbinger of the yellow harvest toward which their steps were bent; but
this was not enough to prevent four of the company from returning to
the ships, thus early discouraged at the prospect of a long and tedious

The following morning they climbed a steep hill, on the other side
of which appeared a river, said by Andrés to be that on which Santa
María was situated. The line of march then led over another hill, more
precipitous than the former, where at times the path would admit of but
one man in file, until with evening they reached the foot and encamped
upon the same river, having marched that day six leagues. Next day they
followed the course of the stream; the current was extremely strong, and
the depth varied from knee to waist deep, A short though fatiguing day's
march brought the column to a halt at an Indian village. This was the
abode of Andrés' son, Antonio, styled Bonete de Oro, or King Golden-cap,
by the same whimsical buccaneer nomenclature which dignified his father
with the title of emperor. Messengers had been sent forward to announce
their approach and the presence of Andrés with the column. Preparations
were made for the reception of the corsairs. Golden-cap visited them
in state, accompanied by his queen, his children, and his retinue. The
monarch wore a golden circlet round his head, gold rings in his ears,
and a gold crescent depending from his nose. He was modestly clad in a
long cotton robe, which reached his ankles, and he carried a long lance.
His three sons, each armed with a lance and wearing a cotton garment,
stood uncovered in his presence, as did his retinue.

The queen was tastefully attired in a pair of red blankets, one girt
about her waist, the other draped over her shoulders. She carried a
young child, and was accompanied by two daughters, both of marriageable
age, their faces streaked with red paint and their arms and necks loaded
with variously colored beads. His Majesty did not disdain to barter
his stock of plantains for knives, pins, and needles. He was generous
enough, however, to present three plantains and some sugar-cane to each
man, gratis.[XXIX‑7] The band halted at this village all the following
day, when a council of war was held to determine how they might best
reach Santa María undiscovered. It was resolved to embark in canoes,
but to provide a sufficient quantity taxed the resources of the chief,
as the number was now increased by a hundred and fifty Indians, all
armed with bow, arrows, and lance, and under the immediate command of
their caciques. At this council Captain Sawkins was appointed to lead
the forlorn hope, consisting of eighty picked men. Resuming the march
next day, April 9th, they continued to follow the course of the river,
occasionally passing a solitary house, at which times the owner would
generally come to his door to watch them pass by, and give each either
a ripe plantain or some cassava-root. That night they halted at three
large Indian huts, where a quantity of provisions and some canoes
had been collected by Golden-cap's orders. Early next morning, before
breaking camp, a quarrel arose between Coxon and Harris, when the former
levelled his fusil and fired, but without effect. Harris was about to
return the fire, but was restrained by Captain Sharp, who succeeded in
adjusting the difficulty, and the fifth day's travel began.

Captains Sharp, Coxon, and Cook, with about seventy men, were detached
from the main body and embarked in fourteen canoes. Andrés and Antonio
accompanied them, and with two Indians to navigate each canoe put off
down the Santa María River.

Canoeing, however, was found no more comfortable than trudging afoot, as
the crews were continually obliged to leap out and haul the boats over
shoals, rocks, or fallen trees, and sometimes to make portages over the
land itself. These vexations attended the voyage for three days, and
were varied only by the visit of a wild animal to one of their camps, at
which they dared not fire lest the report should betray their presence
to the Spaniards.[XXIX‑8] As they did not fall in with their comrades
of the main body on April 12th, Sharp and Coxon's detachment began to
suspect treachery on the part of the Indians, who might have designed
to divide their forces and betray them into the hands of the Spaniards.
Happily these fears proved groundless, for the next day they reached
a point of land at the confluence of another branch of the river, a
rendezvous of the Indians in their warfare with the Spaniards, and
halting there in the afternoon were joined by their brethren in arms,
who had been provided with canoes the day before, and were also in a
state of anxiety as to the fate of their comrades.[XXIX‑9] The entire
company, thus reunited, pitched their camp on this spot to get their
arms in order and prepare for action, which was now believed imminent.
Meanwhile the commissariat department was not neglected, for several
canoes arrived with a supply of plantains and peccary pork.[XXIX‑10]

Very early the next morning they all embarked, the flotilla numbering
sixty-eight canoes. The "emperor" and the "king," says Captain Sharp,
continued their voyage, the former "Cloathed with a loose Robe or Mantle
of pure Gold, which was extraordinary Splendid and Rich. The King was
in a White Cotton Coat fringed round the bottom, about his Neck a Belt
of Tygers Teeth, and a Hat of pure Gold, with a Ring and a Plate like
a Cockle Shell hanging at it of Gold in his Nose, which is the Fashion
in this Country for the people of Quality."

Hitherto the canoes had either drifted with the stream, or been
propelled with poles; but new oars and paddles were constructed, and
every nerve strained to reach the goal as soon as possible. It was after
midnight when a landing was effected on a piece of swampy ground in the
neighborhood of Santa María, and the weary adventurers stealthily sought
shelter in the woods, where they proposed to lie until daybreak.


At dawn on April 15th the corsairs were aroused by a discharge of small
arms in the town and the sounding of the reveille. Quickly seizing their
weapons they formed in line and began their advance. On emerging from
the shelter of the woods they were in full view of the enemy, who had
been apprized of their landing and were fully prepared to receive them,
having already removed the whole treasure to Panamá. Instantly betaking
themselves to the shelter of the fort, a kind of tambour-work composed
of stockades twelve feet high, the Spaniards opened a random and
ill-judged fire upon their assailants before the latter had approached
near enough for the fusillade to be effective.

Undismayed at the warmth of their reception, the advance guard, led
by Sawkins and Sharp, charged with a force impossible to withstand,
and tearing down a few stockades carried the work by storm, with no
further casualty than two men wounded. The rapidity of the operation
may be convinced from the fact that the freebooters were masters of
the situation before fifty of their men were brought into action. The
Spanish loss was twenty-six killed and sixteen wounded, out of two
hundred and sixty engaged. The garrison was ordinarily much stronger,
numerically, but at this time two hundred were absent serving as escort
of the treasure on the way to Panamá. The governor, the priest, and most
of the principal inhabitants had also sought safety in flight.

The causes of this cheaply bought success are not far to seek. The fort
was doubtless an excellent defence in an Indian fight, but was in no
way adapted for protection against the corsairs, the stockades being
neither strengthened by brickwork or masonry nor protected by a ditch.
In all probability there was no banquette, so that when once the stakes
were forced the defenders would have no advantage over their assailants,
both being on level ground.

The Spaniards emptied their pieces at random, instead of reserving
their fire till the enemy came to close quarters, when it could have
been employed with deadly precision. Their foemen, on the other hand,
wasted no time on a useless fusillade. Relying implicitly upon their
acknowledged superiority in a hand-to-hand fight, added to the well
founded terror of their name, they may be said, practically speaking, to
have burnt no powder at all, their brilliant coup-de-main being effected
with the cutlass alone. Panic-stricken at the ease with which their
defences were forced, the Spaniards opposed but a feeble resistance
to the ruthless assailants of Portobello. Hemmed within their own
stronghold, from which there was no retreat, they flung down their arms
and sued for quarter, and the town of Santa María was in the hands of
the dreaded buccaneers.

As regards booty, it was a barren victory. The gold which came in
from the mines was shipped to Panamá two or three times a year, the
river at Santa María being nearly six hundred yards wide, and at
high tide fifteen feet deep. The last shipment—three hundred pounds'
weight—was despatched just three days before the attack. This was a
cruel disappointment to the pirates. Worse almost than that, they found
provisions enough to feed them for only three or four days, instead of
the abundance they anticipated.

In the town was recovered the eldest daughter of Antonio Golden-cap,
who had been abducted by one of the garrison, by whom she was at that
time pregnant.[XXIX‑11] This had greatly embittered the chief's hatred
of the Spaniards,[XXIX‑12] and now the Indians, who during the action
had avoided stray bullets by taking advantage of a depression in the
ground, seized many of the prisoners, led them into the neighboring
woods, and butchered in cold blood as many as had previously fallen
in fight.[XXIX‑13] Such deeds by Indians the Europeans deemed brutal,
though falling far short of some of their own in this quarter; at all
events the pirates put a stop to it as soon as it was discovered, and
confined the Spaniards in the fort, guarding them closely.[XXIX‑14]


As soon as possible after the capture of the town Captain Sawkins with a
party of ten embarked in a canoe and started down the river to overtake
and capture the governor and others who had escaped, in order to prevent
their carrying news of the capture to Panamá. Failing to secure their
prey, the pirates determined not to retrace their steps empty-handed,
but to push on to Panamá, where they felt certain of a prize worth the
risk. It is true that some at least of the company murmured at this
project, and wished to return to the ships, more especially Captain
Coxon. In order therefore to secure unanimity in the adventure Coxon
was elected commander-in-chief.[XXIX‑15] As a matter of precaution, a
few of the prisoners, together with the small amount of plunder taken,
were sent back to the ships under a guard of twelve men.

The Indians were averse to proceeding farther, and most of them
receiving presents of knives, scissors, and axes, returned home.
Nevertheless, Emperor Andrés and King Antonio Golden-cap determined to
go on to Panamá and see the end of this display of European savagism
and be present at the sack of the city. Andrés indeed promised, if
necessary, to raise an army fifty thousand strong to assist in the work.
Additional encouragement was afforded by the Spaniard who had abducted
the chief's daughter, and who volunteered, in consideration of being
protected from the just revenge of the Indians, to conduct them not only
to Panamá, but to the very chamber-door of the governor, when they might
seize him and make themselves masters of the city before they could be

After holding Santa María for two days, the victors took their departure
on April 17th, first burning the fort, church, and town to gratify the
rancor of the Indian chief. They then embarked on board thirty-five
canoes and a piragua,[XXIX‑16] which last was captured while lying at
anchor in the river, and dropped down toward the gulf of San Miguel,
whence they could gain Panamá Bay. The Spaniards begged hard to be
allowed to go with them, rather than be left to the mercy of the

It was with the greatest difficulty that the freebooters had secured
canoes enough for themselves, as their Indian allies had taken so many
in their retreat; yet the terrified Spaniards managed to find a few old
boats and construct a few rafts, and so ventured to accompany them.

In the Santa María River the ebb and flow of the tide is remarkable, and
at night the navigation is extremely hazardous, many shoals and channels
being encountered at low water. Still, having good native pilots on
board, the flotilla paddled down on the ebb until midnight, when a
native embarcadero was reached, and it was decided to land and fill
the water-vessels, the river water being salt, and none suitable for
drinking likely to be met with for several days. At the landing-place
Captain Sawkins was found awaiting them. He had failed to overtake the
governor, who had by that time made good his escape to the open bay.
The canoes were then hauled ashore for the night, as there was too
much risk in continuing the voyage down the estuary at that hour. Next
morning they again got under way and proceeded down the river, finding
two mouths by which they could reach the sea, one of them being deep
and flowing out with a swift current.

About noon the sea was sighted, and shortly afterward the pirates
landed on a small island, where the governor in his flight had left
two women, in order to lighten his canoe. On this island the party
remained waiting for the next ebb, when they crossed to another isle two
leagues away, making land just before nightfall. Here were found two
canoes, with some bows and arrows, which were destroyed; their owners
were also seen, but managed to elude capture. Camp was then pitched,
and Captain Sawkins once more despatched in chase of the governor, with
orders to await their arrival at Plantain Island, whether successful
or not. The following day, while continuing the voyage, a severe squall
struck them, the wind freshening from the seaward and meeting the ebb.
One canoe, manned by seven Frenchmen, capsized; the crew was rescued
with difficulty, and after the loss of all their arms.[XXIX‑17] A heavy
rain-storm followed, and compelled them to run for shelter into a sandy
bay, where the canoes were beached, and the tired rovers took up their
quarters for the night.

Meanwhile, on the evacuation of Santa María, one canoe was left a long
way astern, being heavy and manned by five men only. It was under the
command of Basil Ringrose, the buccaneer historian, who afterward gave
the world so faithful a narrative of the exploits in which he took part.


Ringrose had no Indian in his canoe to pilot him; so as the tide ran
out and many shoals were exposed, he entered the wrong channel, and ran
two miles inside a shoal before discovering the mistake. There he was
obliged to lie until high tide, when he proceeded in hopes of overtaking
the other boats. That night at low water he moored the canoe to an oar
stuck in the sand, and the men took turns at sleeping; at dawn they
rowed two leagues farther and came up with the main body as they were
just putting off from the watering-place. As it was absolutely necessary
to water there they went ashore with their calabashes, and on regaining
the river-side found the flotilla was once more out of sight. They
rowed in chase as hard as they could, but became bewildered among the
numerous islands near the mouth of the river, and so again lost their
way. At length they hit upon the Boca Chica, but by that time the tide
was running in with great force, and finding that they could make no
way against it, beached the canoe and made it fast to a tree, awaiting
the turn of the tide which rose there upward of twenty feet.

As soon as practicable they pulled away to an island outside the
mouth of the river, in the gulf of San Miguel, narrowly escaping being
swamped, and passed the night in the utmost misery, drenched with rain,
and not daring to light a fire. Next morning at daybreak, April 19th,
they once more launched the canoe and shaped their course for Point San
Lorenzo, but as the boat neared one of the many islands of the gulf a
heavy sea overturned it and they had to swim for their lives. Happily
all made the shore in safety, and immediately afterward the canoe was
cast up high and dry. Their cartouch-boxes and powder-horns being made
water-tight, and lashed with their arms to the canoe, were preserved,
but all their provisions and water were spoiled. It soon appeared that
they were not alone in misfortune. A party of six Spaniards, lately
their prisoners, had been washed ashore from their broken boat, in worse
plight than Ringrose's party. Their common fate united the castaways,
and Spaniard and Englishman ate their meal in peace over the same


While debating whether to go forward or return to their ships at the
Golden Island, an Indian was seen, and it became manifest that yet
another party shared their isle of refuge. A piragua, manned by eight
of their Darien allies, had for some reason put in there, and Ringrose
learned by signs that if the whole company embarked in the Indian
piragua they could overtake the Panamá expedition by the following
morning. The natives wished to kill the Spaniards, and were with great
difficulty prevented from doing so, but Ringrose succeeded in saving
their lives by allowing one to be taken as a slave, and placing his own
canoe at the disposal of the remaining five. He and his men, together
with the Spanish slave, joined the Indians, and making sail on the
piragua soon doubled Point San Lorenzo. During that night two camp-fires
were sighted on the starboard bow, whereupon the Indians exhibited great
delight, and shouting the names of their chiefs, Antonio and Andrés,
headed direct for the land. No sooner were they in the breakers than
out rushed some sixty Spaniards from the thickets adjacent, seized the
vessel, and dragged her up on the strand. The Indians leaped overboard
and made good their escape to the woods, but the others were seized and
made prisoners.

None of these Spaniards could speak French or English, but Ringrose
entered into conversation in Latin with their leader, and found that
they also were from Santa María, and had been landed at that place by
the buccaneers to preclude any possibility of their carrying tidings to
Panamá. While the Spanish leader was interrogating Ringrose preparatory
to the slaughter of the party, up stepped the Spaniard whom Ringrose
had given the natives as a slave. He related the whole circumstances
of the wreck of his canoe upon the island, and the preservation of the
lives of his party by Ringrose. This put a new aspect upon affairs. The
Spanish captain embraced the Englishman, and after giving them supper
permitted both pirates and Indians to depart. After this Ringrose and
his party held their course all night, in drenching rain, and next
morning observed a canoe rowing rapidly toward them. Closer inspection
revealed one of the buccaneer craft, which was about to attack the
piragua, under the impression that it was a Spanish vessel. They were
mutually delighted to meet again, Ringrose and his crew having been
given up for lost. Then all joined the flotilla, which soon continued
its way.

After clearing the bay the buccaneers steered for what appeared a lofty
point about seven leagues distant, and there made Plantain Island.
Landing in the afternoon, they climbed a steep ascent and surprised the
sentinel, an old man who had not seen them or suspected their approach
until they swarmed around his hut. From him it was ascertained that
their approach was unsuspected at Panamá; so they thought they would
surprise the city. Captain Sawkins, who joined them here in accordance
with his instructions, reported that the governor of Santa María had
sailed thence for Panamá the previous day. Sawkins was once more sent
in chase, but returned unsuccessful.


Shortly before nightfall a thirty-ton bark anchored off the island,
whereupon two canoes were hastily manned, and the vessel captured.
The crew stated they were eight days out from Panamá,[XXIX‑18] and had
landed a detachment of troops at a point on the mainland not far distant
for the purpose of inflicting chastisement on certain Indians and
negroes. Into this craft were immediately placed a hundred and thirty
men, under command of "that Sea-Artist, and Valiant Commander, Captain
Bartholomew Sharp."[XXIX‑19]

Anchoring off the island that night the pirates continued their voyage
on the following morning, making for the isle of Chepillo, near the
mouth of the river Chepo.[XXIX‑20] Sharp, however, parted company with
the fleet, and bore up to King, or Pearl islands, in search of water,
and while there captured a new brigantine, to which he transferred
his crew after scuttling his own vessel. Having obtained water and
provisions he set sail for the rendezvous about four o'clock in the
afternoon, but owing to contrary winds failed to make it, and anchored
at an isle five leagues distant. On the following day at noon he
proceeded, but did not reach Chepillo before nightfall. Sending a canoe
ashore he ascertained that his men had left the island a few hours
before, as their fires were still burning, and that a fight had taken
place, as was indicated by a number of dead bodies. Sharp now stood in
toward Panamá.[XXIX‑21]

After the canoes had separated from the bark, Captain Harris succeeded
in capturing another vessel, which was forthwith manned with thirty
buccaneers. In the pursuit, however, the fleet became so scattered
that it was not until the following day that they rejoined company at
the island of Chepillo. Before their arrival a bark had been chased by
Coxon, but escaped capture, after inflicting on her pursuers a loss of
one man killed and two wounded.[XXIX‑22] This failure caused the pirates
much annoyance, as the vessel which had eluded their grasp would carry
to Panamá the news of their raid.

At Chepillo they took fourteen prisoners and found a piragua which they
manned, and having procured some plantains and hogs again got under
way about four o'clock the same afternoon, expecting to reach Panamá
before daybreak, the distance being only seven leagues. But before they
left the island they perpetrated one of those ruthless acts so common
in their career of crime. As it was not convenient to take along the
prisoners, and to leave them alive would be unsafe, it was determined
to kill them. The captives were then handed over to the Indians, who
were instructed, after they should have amused themselves with a little
gladiatorial performance, to slay them. The sea-shore supplied a fitting
arena, and under the eyes of the whole fleet the murderers opened their
attack. But the victims, though unarmed, made a rush, and despite spear
and arrow some of them escaped to the neighboring woods.[XXIX‑23]

The pirates now departed. They no longer hoped to surprise Panamá,
but in the bay were richly freighted ships which they would like
to seize. On the 23d of April they came in sight of the city before
sunrise,[XXIX‑24] and presently discovered five large men-of-war and
three good-sized barks at anchor near the island of Perico. Their
approach was no sooner perceived than three of the men-of-war got under
way and bore down upon them. The flag-ship was manned by eighty-six
Biscayans under command of Jacinto de Barahona, the high admiral of
the South Sea. The second ship with a crew of seventy-seven negroes
was commanded by Francisco de Peralta, an Andalusian. In the third were
sixty-five mulattoes under the command of Diego de Carabajal.

[Sidenote: A NAVAL COMBAT.]

The pirate flotilla was much scattered, the two piraguas being unable
to keep up with the canoes, on which were only thirty-six men. These,
however, as the squadron bore down upon them, succeeded in getting to
windward of it and were presently joined by the smaller piragua, which
raised the force of the buccaneers to sixty-eight. Sawkins and Ringrose
placed themselves in front and soon were engaged with Carabajal's ship,
which at the first broadside wounded four of Sawkins' crew and one of
Ringrose's. The deck of the Spanish vessel, as she tacked, was swept
by a deadly volley. The flag-ship then came up, and was encountered
by the five canoes. As soon as she was within range the steersman
was struck, and the vessel, luffing, was taken aback. This mishap the
pirates immediately took advantage of, and ranging astern raked her
deck fore and aft, killing every one who attempted to take the helm,
and committing havoc with the ship's tackling. By this time Peralta was
coming to the support of the flag-ship, whereupon Sawkins, whose canoe
was sinking, went on board the piragua, and leaving the flag-ship to the
attentions of the four canoes engaged Peralta single-handed. Meantime
the first ship, delayed by the lightness of the wind, had slowly come
about, and was again bearing down to take part in the action. She was,
however, met by two of the canoes under Springers and Ringrose before
she could render any assistance to the admiral, and so deadly was the
fire of the pirates that Carabajal was glad to sheer off and escape
with the few efficient men he had left. Springers and Ringrose now
hastened to the support of their comrades, who still maintained the
conflict with the flag-ship. Their return was greeted with a wild cheer
of exultation, which was answered by the crew of the piragua. Drawing so
closely under the stern that they "wedged up the rudder," the pirates,
now confident of victory, again beset the doomed vessel. The admiral
and pilot were shot dead; two-thirds of the crew being killed, and
most of the survivors wounded, the flag was struck, and the triumphant
ruffians boarded their prize. A shocking spectacle met their eyes. Out
of eighty-six men twenty-five only were alive, and but eight capable
of bearing arms. "Their Blood ran down the Decks in whole streams, and
scarce one place in the Ship was found that was free from blood."

As soon as they had taken possession of the vessel the victors
despatched two canoes to the assistance of Sawkins, who meantime had
maintained a desperate fight with Peralta. Three times the buccaneer
had boarded his antagonist, and three times had he been repulsed by the
valiant Andalusian, whose indomitable bravery had gained for him the
outspoken admiration of his foes. As soon as the canoes came up they
saluted Peralta with a volley, which was followed by a heavy explosion
in the stern of the Spanish vessel. All the men in that part of the
ship were blown into the air; yet Peralta had no thought of yielding,
and with voice and hand encouraged his men. But fate was against him.
Soon there was another explosion in the forecastle, and in the smoke
and confusion Sawkins once more boarded, and the ship was taken. As the
light wind slowly carried away the smoke a scene was revealed on board
which defies description. "There was not a Man, but was either killed,
desperately wounded, or horribly burnt with Powder. Insomuch, that their
Black Skins were turned White in several places, the Powder having torn
it from their Flesh and Bones."[XXIX‑25]

The obstinacy of this battle, and the unflinching courage with which
it was fought, are indicated by the heavy losses on both sides and the
length of time the engagement lasted. From shortly after sunrise until
noon the fight was carried on, and of the sixty-eight pirates engaged,
only about a score came out unwounded.[XXIX‑26] The reputation of
the Spanish captains for bravery was of the highest, and elicited the
admiration of their foes. The success of the latter was undoubtedly
owing to the lightness of the wind, which enabled them to take a
position against which the Spaniards could not direct their cannon; nor
does it appear that, with the exception of the single broadside fired
by Carabajal, the Spanish guns were used during the engagement.

Having attended to the wounded the pirates steered for the island of
Perico, where they found the five vessels anchored there abandoned, the
largest, the _Santísima Trinidad_, of four hundred tons, having been set
on fire. The marauders, however, succeeded in suppressing the flames and
converted the vessel into a hospital. Of the others, two were burned;
one of a hundred and eighty tons was assigned to Captain Cook, and the
third of fifty tons to Captain Coxon.[XXIX‑27]

[Sidenote: BEFORE PANAMÁ.]

Two days after this action Captain Sharp joined company, and a little
later the bark captured by Captain Harris.[XXIX‑28] The pirates remained
for about ten days before Panamá, during which Captain Coxon withdrew
from the gang. He had been charged with displaying more caution
than courage during the engagement, and resenting the imputation he
determined to go back to the North Sea. With his adherents, to the
number of fifty,[XXIX‑29] he accordingly weighed anchor one night,
leaving about twenty of his own wounded, but taking with him the best
surgeon and nearly all the medicines. With him the Darien chief also
went back and the chiefs Antonio and Andrés.

This defection did not discourage the remaining buccaneers, and
weighing anchor on the 2d of May,[XXIX‑30] they stood off to the island
of Taboga two leagues from Perico. This formed an excellent point of
observation, every vessel passing in or out of the port of Panamá being
plainly visible. Several small craft were captured which supplied the
adventurers with provisions, and on the eighth day they seized a vessel
containing wine, gunpowder, and fifty thousand pesos, intended for the
pay of the Panamá garrison.[XXIX‑31] To the merchants of Panamá, who
had now opened a trade with them, they sold the wines,[XXIX‑32] and
these same traders on two occasions conveyed a message from the governor
asking them to explain their presence before the city, and to state from
whom they held their commissions.[XXIX‑33] Captain Sawkins replied to
the first message that they had come "to assist the King of Darien, who
was the true Lord of Panamá," and demanded five hundred pesos for each
man and one thousand for each commander as the terms under which they
would peaceably depart. His answer to the second communication was "that
as yet all his company were not come together; but that when they were
come up" they would visit him at Panamá and bring their "Commissions on
the Muzzles of their Guns, at which time he should read them as plain
as the Flame of Gunpowder could make them."


On the 15th of May, contrary to the wish of Sawkins, the fleet sailed
to the isle of Otoque,[XXIX‑34] and thence to that of Quibo, off the
coast of Veragua,[XXIX‑35] famous for its pearl fisheries. While at
this island Sawkins, who had been appointed chief in command, and
Sharp, conceived the project of making a descent on Pueblo Nuevo, a town
situated on the mainland eight leagues off. Taking with them about sixty
men,[XXIX‑36] they ascended the river on which the place was situated,
but soon found that defensive measures had already been taken against
them, trees having been felled across the river, and the town protected
by three strong breastworks.[XXIX‑37] Undeterred by obstacles, the
pirates attempted to take the place with a rush, as in the case of Santa
María; but they suffered a serious repulse, and Sawkins was killed while
leading on his men, the remainder of the marauders retreating to their

Sawkins was held in high esteem among his comrades,[XXIX‑39] and his
death was much regretted. It caused, moreover, a serious dissension.
His men mutinied, and were determined to retrace their steps across the
Isthmus. No inducements held out to the malecontents by Sharp could
prevail upon them to remain, and on the 31st of May more than sixty
of them[XXIX‑40] separated company, taking with them all the Indians
who had remained. After the departure of the mutineers trouble arose
between Cook and his men, which resulted in his resigning the command
and going on board Sharp's vessel, the _Trinidad_. His own ship[XXIX‑41]
was placed under the orders of John Cox, who thus became second in

It was now decided to cruise southward, and on the 6th of June the
freebooters set sail. After careening their vessels at the island of
Gorgona in latitude 1° N. they engaged in a series of operations on
the South American coast, plundering towns and capturing many Spanish
vessels. The booty they amassed was immense. During this cruise another
mutiny occurred,[XXIX‑43] which resulted in the deposition of Sharp
and the elevation of one John Watling to the post of commander. Their
project had been to sail homeward through the straits of Magellan,
but they now changed their intention and again directed their prows
northward. At an unsuccessful descent on Arica Watling lost his life,
and the command was again conferred on Sharp,[XXIX‑44] but not without
much dispute. Nor was the question easily settled, and it was at
last arranged that the matter should be put to the vote, and that the
minority should take the long-boat and canoes and go where they wished.
Their votes were cast on April the 17th near the island of La Plata,
and resulted in the defection of forty-seven of the malecontents, among
whom was William Dampier, who sailed for the Isthmus with the intention
of returning overland.[XXIX‑45]


Sharp, passing by the bay of Panamá, now paid a visit to the shore of
Costa Rica, and entering the gulf of Nicoya anchored in the bay of
Caldera. Here he was occupied some time in careening and refitting
his ship, to aid him in which work he pressed into his service some
carpenters employed in ship-building on the bank of a neighboring
river. Then, after sacking and burning the town of Esparza,[XXIX‑46]
he again sailed southward, and took, near the line, the treasure-ship
_San Pedro_ with thirty-seven thousand pesos. Still pursuing a southerly
course, these human scourges made themselves the terror of the coast,
plundering, burning, and destroying on land and sea.[XXIX‑47]

In the latter part of the year 1681 Sharp bore away for the straits of
Magellan, but being unsuccessful in his endeavor to find the passage
rounded Cape Horn and steering northward, well out of sight of land,
reached the Barbadoes on the 28th of January 1682, but dared not enter
port, as a British frigate lay at anchor at Bridgetown. He therefore
steered for Antigua, where he arrived on the 1st of February. There this
godless crew dispersed, the ship being given to those who had gambled
away their money, while the more fortunate took passage for England.

At the instance of the Spanish ambassador in London Sharp and some of
his companions were tried for piracy. They pleaded in defence that
they had acted under the authority of a commission granted by the
caciques of Darien, who were absolutely independent princes and in no
sense subjects of Spain.[XXIX‑48] The validity of this plea was fully
established,[XXIX‑49] and a verdict of acquittal obtained.





Dampier and his comrades,[XXX‑1] after they had parted company with
Sharp, shaped their course for the Santa María River flowing into
the gulf of San Miguel, and on the following day captured a small
bark anchored to leeward of Cape Pasado. This was a piece of great
good fortune as their boats were too small for them. On the 24th of
April they touched at the island of Gorgona where, having taken some
prisoners, they learned that a piragua crossed over from the mainland
every two or three days to reconnoitre, and that three ships were
kept in readiness to intercept them on their return. With a favorable
breeze they sailed from Gorgona the same evening, and on the morning
of the 28th, on emerging from a rain squall, espied two large ships
to windward about a league and a half distant. Dampier's men were in a
hazardous position, between the Spanish cruisers and the shore, which
was only two leagues off. Happily the rain again came on and enabled
them to pass the enemy unseen. The next morning they anchored off Point
Garachina, about seven leagues from the gulf of San Miguel, where they
remained all day drying their ammunition and preparing their weapons
in anticipation of their landing being opposed. Soon after daybreak
on the 30th they entered the gulf and came to anchor outside a large
island four miles distant from the mouth of the Santa María. Though the
tide was favorable for ascending the river they took the precaution to
send a canoe ashore to reconnoitre, and a ship was discovered lying
at the mouth and a large tent pitched on the land adjacent. Though
disheartened at this news the freebooters were, nevertheless, bent upon
making their return overland. So the canoe was again sent to the island
and succeeded in capturing one which had put off from the enemy's ship
for the island. From the captives they learned that for six months
the vessel, which had twelve guns, had been guarding the mouth of the
river, and that the force amounted to one hundred and fifty soldiers and
sailors, the former being quartered on shore. Three hundred more were
expected to arrive from the mines on the next day.[XXX‑2] The pirates
now determined to land elsewhere at any risk that night, or early the
following morning.[XXX‑3] With wind and tide against them they reached
Cape San Lorenzo at daybreak and sailing about a league farther ran into
a creek sheltered by two small islands. Here they landed and, putting
their effects ashore, sunk their vessel and made all preparations for
a march into the interior.[XXX‑4]


As some of the company did not appear in condition to undertake so
long a journey, the desperate resolution to shoot all stragglers had
been previously adopted to prevent them falling into the hands of
the Spaniards alive and betraying their companions. Yet this terrible
alternative did not deter a single man, and in the afternoon the band
of freebooters began their march and advanced a league north-easterly.
On the following morning, striking an Indian trail, they reached some
native houses, where being well received they purchased provisions,
and for a hatchet obtained a guide to other Indian settlements.[XXX‑5]
Next day they struck the Congo at a point three leagues from their last
night's halting-place,[XXX‑6] and arriving at the house of an old Indian
with great difficulty induced him to urge their guide to accompany them
two days longer for another hatchet.[XXX‑7]

On the 4th of May they continued their course, continually wading
through rivers and streams, drenched with the heavy rain which when they
halted prevented them from obtaining fire enough to warm themselves
or cook their food. Weary and hungry their miseries were such as to
banish all thought of the Spaniards, their only anxiety being to obtain
food and guides. For several days they journeyed on under incredible
hardships, feeding on monkeys and such vegetables as they could obtain
from the native settlements through which they passed.

By this time they had obtained a fresh guide, and crossing the Congo had
arrived at another river, the depth of which caused them great trouble,
as they were compelled to ford it several times,[XXX‑8] leaving behind
on the last occasion two of the party who were unable to keep up with
the main body. Night fell on them unprovided with shelter, and to add
to their miseries a thunder-storm with heavy rain broke over them.

Next morning, the 8th of May, the guide informed them that the river
would have to be crossed again, but it was now so swollen that fording
was impossible. It was decided, therefore, to send a man over with
a line. One of the band, George Gayny, accordingly made the attempt,
but the line which he had fastened about his neck became entangled,
and the man on shore who was paying it out suddenly stopped it. This
threw Gayny, who was half way across, on his back. The man in charge
of the rope then threw it into the river, hoping that Gayny might
recover himself, but being weighted with three hundred pesos, which he
carried on his back, the impetuous current carried him away and he was

After this failure they felled a lofty tree across the river, and over
it all passed in safety. Their guide now left them, having obtained a
substitute. Crossing another river their way led through a beautiful
valley adorned with trees. Five miles beyond they came to a settlement
and were somewhat alarmed at the sight of some wooden crosses on
the road-side, thinking that Spaniards were there. They prepared for
action, but found none but Indians in the town, where they were kindly

For the next ten days they struggled on with several changes of guides,
incessantly crossing rivers[XXX‑11] and forcing their way through the
trackless forest, some days not advancing more than two or three miles.
Exhausted and famished,[XXX‑12] with blistered feet, and limbs chafed
and raw with wading, they were indeed in evil plight.

[Sidenote: AT THE RIO CHEPO.]

On the 20th of May the way-worn corsairs reached the Chepo River, which
they crossed, and on the 22d to their great joy sighted the North Sea
from a high mountain-ridge. The weather was fine, and glad at heart they
descended the heights and encamped on the bank of the river Concepcion,
the first which they found flowing north. The following day they moved
down the stream, and ere long procured canoes to carry them to its
mouth. During their absence many English and French ships had been
there, but all had departed with the exception of a French privateer
which lay at La Sound Key.[XXX‑13] After lying a night at the mouth of
the river, they crossed over to the island, and went aboard the vessel
which was commanded by Captain Tristian. Purchasing from the crew beads,
knives, scissors, and looking-glasses with which to reward their guides
they dismissed them with the additional gift of half a peso to each.
With this the Indians were well satisfied, and the good feeling for the
English was manifested by their kind treatment of Doctor Wafer and the
others who had remained behind in their settlements.

The journey across the Isthmus had occupied twenty-three days, during
which they travelled for about thirty-seven leagues over mountains,
through valleys, and among "deep and dangerous Rivers." They had arrived
on the south coast just as the rainy season began, and the rivers
were soon swollen, and yet only one man perished. They had chosen a
circuitous route, going seventeen leagues farther than if they had
ascended the Chepo or the Santa María, by either of which courses the
journey could have been made from sea to sea in three days, the Indians
frequently accomplishing it in a day and a half.

The hardships which Dampier underwent during this trip did not deter
him from another adventure on the South Sea. In the latter part of
1683, having joined a ship commanded by a Captain Cook, he was again
cruising in company with another vessel under Captain Eaton off the
western coast of South America. Although they had sailed round Cape
Horn, their operations were unimportant during the whole of their voyage
up that coast. Their intention, indeed, was to try new ground and make
a raid upon Realejo and Leon in Nicaragua. When they arrived about the
beginning of July at Cape Blanco, on the Costa Rica seaboard, Captain
Cook died, and John Davis was appointed to his place.[XXX‑14]

While engaged in burying their late captain on the shore of Calderas
Bay they captured three half-breeds from whom they learned that
the Spaniards had been warned by the people of Panamá to beware of
buccaneers. This news did not prevent them, however, from proceeding on
the 20th of July toward Realejo where they arrived three days later.
Their operations here were unprofitable, as they found the Spaniards
thoroughly prepared for them. They therefore sailed to the bay of
Fonseca for the purpose of careening their vessels. Here an attempt to
establish friendly relations with the Indians of one of the islands
was interrupted by the rough action of one of the buccaneers, which
caused a panic among the natives, who fled to the woods. Davis, however,
succeeded in inducing the chief and half a dozen of his tribe to visit
the ships, and having won their good-will by presents, obtained, during
the time they remained in the bay, fresh beef from an island to which
they directed them. After careening and repairing their vessels, they
abandoned their intentions against Realejo for the time, and on the 3d
of September Davis again sailed southward, having parted from Eaton with
whom he had had trouble.[XXX‑15]

[Sidenote: SWAN AND HARRIS.]

On the 20th he reached the isle of Plata,[XXX‑16] and while lying there
was joined, October 2d, by Captain Swan of the _Cygnet_ and Captain
Peter Harris, nephew of the buccaneer of that name who was killed in
the engagement before Panamá in 1680. Swan had been supplied by London
merchants with a cargo of goods for trade in these seas, but having
fallen in with Harris and his comrades who had come overland, his men
compelled him to join the freebooters.[XXX‑17] The meeting of the rovers
was marked by wicked joy. Independently or collectively they engaged in
a series of cruises off the coast of South America, the isle of Plata
being the rendezvous. After a failure to surprise the town of Guayaquil,
they took a packet-boat carrying letters from Panamá to Lima. Though
the Spaniards threw the letters overboard with a line attached, the
ruse was detected, and from the package which the buccaneers recovered,
they learned the joyful news that the armada from Spain had arrived
at Portobello and that the president of Panamá had sent this boat
with instructions to hasten the departure of the treasure-fleet from
Peru. This occurred on the 1st of January 1685. The wildest excitement
followed as the prows of the vessels were turned toward the Pearl
Islands, the best place from which to seize the treasure-ships. They
arrived there the 25th, having captured on the way a ninety-ton vessel
laden with flour. Then they careened and cleaned their vessels, and
by February 14th all was in readiness. The marauders then proceeded to
Perico and engaged in correspondence with the president of Panamá for
the release of two of their men who had fallen into the hands of the
Spaniards.[XXX‑18] The result was an exchange of prisoners, the crew of
the vessel last taken, to the number of about forty, being surrendered
as ransom for the two freebooters.

Meanwhile the Spaniards continued in their puerile efforts to rid
themselves of the vipers. On one occasion a pretended merchant, under
pretext of wishing to traffic, steered a vessel laden with combustibles
close up to them while at anchor. Having ignited his fire-ship, he and
his crew escaped in canoes, while the buccaneers were forced to cut
their cables in all haste to avoid destruction.[XXX‑19]

Soon afterward they were joined by no less than two hundred and eighty
French and English buccaneers who had crossed the Isthmus, and who
reported that one hundred and eighty more English were following under
Captain Townley.[XXX‑20] This accession was gratifying; the ninety-ton
prize was at once surrendered to the French, who numbered two hundred
under Captain Grogniet, while the English were received on board the
ships of Swan and Davis.[XXX‑21]

On the 3d of March they were joined by Townley, who had captured two
barks at the mouth of the Santa María, and a few days later an Indian
brought word that another band, three hundred strong, were on their way
overland from the North Sea.[XXX‑22]

For the next two months they cruised about the bay of Panamá, vigilantly
watching for the treasure-fleet. Meanwhile they took the town of Chepo,
made some captures, and intercepted letters from which they ascertained
that the pilots of Lima had been in consultation as to the best course
which could be adopted in order to elude the pirates, and had given
directions accordingly. They also learned that the fleet was to be
manned with all the available strength of Peru, but had orders not to
engage with the buccaneers if a battle could possibly be avoided.

On the 28th of May the pirate fleet lay between Pacheca Island and
the mainland, Captain Grogniet being a mile to the northward. It
consisted of ten sail carrying fifty-two guns and nine hundred and
sixty men.[XXX‑23] About eleven o'clock the weather, which had been
rainy, cleared, and the Spanish fleet numbering fourteen ships[XXX‑24]
beside piraguas, carrying one hundred and seventy-four guns and manned
by more than three thousand sailors and marines, was seen approaching.
Disparity of numbers did not, however, intimidate the buccaneers, and
for the great prize that now lay in sight they would have engaged with
even half their force.[XXX‑25] Being to windward of the Spaniards they
weighed anchor about three o'clock in the afternoon, but night fell upon
them before they could effect more than the exchange of a few shots.


Although Spanish arms had greatly deteriorated since the days of the
conquerors, there was still something of the Spanish stratagem left
which in this instance proved a match even for pirate cunning. When
the darkness had set in the admiral of the treasure-fleet hung out a
light as a signal for his vessels to come to anchor. In half an hour
the light was extinguished, but some time afterward the buccaneers saw
it again, stealing away from Panamá. Being well to the windward they
kept under sail all night in sight of the signal, but when morning
dawned they discovered that they had been decoyed to the leeward by a
solitary vessel sent in that direction and that the enemy had now the
weather-gage, and was bearing down upon them with all sail set. Thus
were the tables turned, and their only safety lay in flight. During
the whole day they maintained a running fight, and having sailed almost
round the bay of Panamá anchored their now battered vessels again off
the isle of Pacheca.[XXX‑26] In the morning three leagues to leeward
the Spanish fleet was observed at anchor, and a light south breeze
presently springing up it sailed away to Panamá, without attempting to
press further the advantage gained.[XXX‑27]

[Sidenote: IN NICARAGUA.]

Thus after nearly six months of planning and patient expectation their
great prize eluded their grasp, and the disappointed and exasperated
pirates bore away for the isles of Quibo. There a consultation was
held, which resulted in a determination to attack the city of Leon in
Nicaragua. They at once began preparations and built a number of canoes
in which to effect their landing.[XXX‑28] These being completed they
sailed for the port of Realejo on the 20th of July,[XXX‑29] and arrived
on the coast about eight leagues distant from the harbor on the 9th of
August. They now manned their canoes, to the number of thirty-one, with
five hundred and twenty men, and made for the harbor, the others taking
charge of the ships. On the way there were two heavy squalls which
placed them in extreme peril, but by dint of hard rowing the marauders
entered the port that night. At daylight on the following morning they
rowed up the creek leading to Leon, at the head of which, on the river
bank, they found a breastwork. Their approach was discovered by the
watchmen who fled to Leon and reported it.[XXX‑30]

The pirates now quickly effected a landing and four hundred and seventy
men were detailed in four detachments under the command of Townley,
Swan, Davis, and Knight,[XXX‑31] while Dampier with the remainder was
left in charge of the canoes.[XXX‑32]

Townley with his company entered the town about two miles in advance
of the others, and overthrew a body of nearly two hundred horsemen who
charged him in the main street. The infantry, to the number of five
hundred, were drawn up in the plaza, but perceiving the discomfiture
of the cavalry fled without offering resistance, and Leon, captured by
eighty men, lay at the mercy of the freebooters.[XXX‑33]

At noon on the following day the governor sent in a flag of truce with
offers to ransom the town,[XXX‑34] but the demands of the marauders were
so exorbitant[XXX‑35] that all he could do was to endeavor to prolong
capitulations until he could assemble a force strong enough to dislodge
the invaders. In a few days, however, they became aware of his design,
and on the 14th of the month, having collected all available booty, they
set the city on fire and marched back to their canoes.


The pirates next directed their attention to Realejo, which they entered
without opposition. But here again they were balked, finding nothing
but empty houses. So, for a week, they ravaged the surrounding country,
killing cattle and sacking sugar-mills. Then they burned the town,
and returning to their canoes rejoined their ship. The following day,
which was the 25th, Davis and Swan agreed to separate, the former being
anxious to return to the South American coast, while Swan was desirous
of trying his fortune off the shores of Mexico. Their separation was,
however, amicable, and the two freebooters, when they parted company
on the 27th, fired salutes as they turned their prows in opposite

But the unfortunate cities of Nicaragua were not fated to be left in
peace after the departure of this band. Grogniet, with three hundred
and twenty men in his ship and five canoes, after separating from Swan
cruised slowly northward. His first operations, however, were of little
importance. During their voyage along the coast the party landed at
Realejo, which they found abandoned, and thence marched to Leon, but did
not attack the town, finding it too strongly garrisoned.[XXX‑37] They
then proceeded against Pueblo Viejo, and having foraged the surrounding
country again directed their course southward and entered the bay of
Calderas with the intention of taking Esparza, to execute which design
fifty men were sent ashore. They were deterred, however, from making
the attempt by learning that the Spaniards had gathered in considerable
force to oppose them. Their sufferings from hunger became excessive,
and they were compelled to kill and eat some horses which they captured,
after four days' starvation.[XXX‑38]

Their ship had been despatched to the island of San Juan de Pueblo
as their general place of rendezvous,[XXX‑39] and thither the canoes
now turned their course. Their next operations were directed against
Chiriquita, which they succeeded in surprising on the 9th of January
1686 with a force of two hundred and thirty men. Having secured a number
of prisoners, for whom they afterward obtained a ransom, they burned
the town and retired.[XXX‑40]

On their return to Pueblo a Spanish fleet of seven ships, twelve
piraguas, and three long barks made its appearance, and was recognized
as a squadron sent against them from Peru. Their ship being no longer
serviceable through want of sails, they ran her aground, and took up a
favorable position on the banks of a river, where they had already begun
building large-sized piraguas. Here the enemy dared not attack them,
and having burned the stranded vessel bore away.


On the 14th of March, having completed the construction of the piraguas,
they left Pueblo in two barks, a forty-oared galley, ten piraguas, and
ten canoes, and having held a muster of their men, found that their
number had been reduced by thirty since their separation from the
English freebooters.[XXX‑41] Their design was to carry out a previously
formed intention to attack Granada in Nicaragua, but being half dead
with hunger they attempted a descent upon Pueblo Nuevo, and were
somewhat roughly handled by a detachment of the Spanish fleet left at
the mouth of the river.[XXX‑42] Hereupon the pirates again visited the
bay of Calderas and the town of Esparza, which they found abandoned.
They obtained, however, some provisions from a plantation on the bay.
They now consulted as to their method of attack on Granada, and made
certain regulations among themselves which they thought would ensure
the success of their enterprise.[XXX‑43]

On the 22d Grogniet fell in with Townley and one hundred and fifty
men in five canoes, and by way of retaliation for the treatment which
his men had received at the hands of the English buccaneers, made
them prisoners. After keeping them in durance for several hours the
Frenchmen gave them to understand that no harm would be done them, and
restored their canoes to them. This led to friendship, and Townley and
his men eagerly requested to be admitted as associates in the meditated
operations against Granada, a proposition which was listened to with

The combined forces on the 7th of April 1686[XXX‑44] landed three
hundred and forty-five men,[XXX‑45] who by forced marches advanced into
the interior; but notwithstanding all possible precautions they were
discovered, and the alarm conveyed to Granada while they were still at
a considerable distance.[XXX‑46] Perceiving that a surprise could not
be effected, on the 9th they halted to rest and refresh themselves,
enfeebled as they were with hunger and fatigue. On the following day
they advanced upon the city which they found to be well fortified and
protected by fourteen pieces of cannon and six swivels, the inhabitants
having intrenched themselves in the great square.[XXX‑47] Nevertheless
they at once charged up the leading street with a recklessness that
astonished their foes;[XXX‑48] and having put to flight a strong force
which they encountered in the suburbs, were soon actively engaged with
the fort.

The fire of the artillery was heavy and rapid, but rendered in a great
measure ineffective by the pirates adroitly bending to the ground at
every discharge, so that the balls passed over them; seeing which the
Spaniards ignited false primings, and postponed the discharge of their
guns till the freebooters had assumed an upright position. Then the
latter ranged themselves beside the houses, and having gained a small
eminence at a convenient distance, so plied the defenders with bullets
and hand-grenades that after a brave resistance for an hour and a
half they abandoned the inclosure and sought refuge in the principal
church. They were quickly dislodged, however, and the city of Granada
was in possession of the pirates, who had only four killed and eight
wounded,[XXX‑49] while the loss of the Spaniards was severe.

[Sidenote: GRANADA TAKEN.]

Now French filibusters were no less devoted servants of God
and followers of the gentle Christ than were the English
freebooters.[XXX‑50] Though they were reckless of their lives and
bodies, it was far otherwise with regard to their souls. They might, it
is true, burn towns and cut off the heads of captives whose ransom was
not promptly forthcoming, but they did not neglect their devotions. So
they reverently chanted the te deum in the great church of Granada; then
hunted for plunder and women, and getting neither, opened negotiations
by means of a prisoner for the ransom of the city from fire.[XXX‑51] The
Spaniards, however, were indifferent, fully relying upon the assertion
of a straggler whom they had captured, that his companions would not set
fire to Granada, as it was their intention to return some months later,
and pass through the country by the lake to the North Sea,[XXX‑52] and
that the destruction of the city would be inconvenient. But the others
thought differently, and exasperated at their bootless and toilsome
journey, burned the cathedral and principal buildings.[XXX‑53]

The pirates now deemed it prudent to retire, and on the 15th began their
march to the sea, directing their course to the town of Masaya, situated
on the lake of that name. Their sufferings were great on their return
march. Parched with thirst, scorched by the vertical sun, and choked
with the stifling dust, they toiled along discontented and miserable,
incessantly exposed to ambushed foes.[XXX‑54] For a day they rested in
Masaya, where the Indians received them kindly and implored them not to
burn their town. On the 17th, as the freebooters were emerging from the
forest upon an open plain, they were opposed by a body of five hundred
Spaniards, who had hoisted a red flag in token that no quarter would be
given. But the pirates, never fearing, attacked and overthrew the enemy,
capturing fifty of their horses.

After this, feeling more secure, they slowly wended their way to the
ocean, halting at convenient places and resting from the fatigues of
their exhausting march. By the 26th they reached the sea-shore, where
they again embarked. They now once more made a raid on Realejo, captured
a number of the inhabitants,[XXX‑55] and then proceeded to Chinandega
and burned the town. During these forays they suffered greatly from
hunger, since the Spaniards systematically destroyed all provisions
wherever the freebooters made their appearance, and had also driven
their cattle from the coast.

It was a profitless enterprise that these rovers had been engaged in,
from first to last. Their booty was insignificant,[XXX‑56] many of
their wounded had died from privation and the effect of the climate, and
difference of opinion as to future movements finally displayed itself.
At a consultation held on the 9th of May a separation was decided upon,
and a few days later a division of barks, canoes, and provisions was
made. One hundred and forty-eight of the French with the English under
Townley sailed for Panamá, while Grogniet with the remainder of his
countrymen steered westward up the coast.

Townley's project was to attack Villa de los Santos[XXX‑57] on the Rio
Cubita. He succeeded in surprising the town and captured merchandise
estimated to be worth a million and a half of pesos, besides fifteen
thousand pesos in money and three hundred prisoners of both sexes. But
disaster was in store for the marauders on their return, and parties
of them were surprised by ambuscades; many were killed and the booty
retaken by the Spaniards. Then followed mutual retaliation. The bodies
of the slain pirates were mutilated and their heads fixed on poles,
while their comrades, out of revenge, decapitated a number of their
captives and treated the heads in like manner. Yet these pastimes
did not interrupt negotiations; the remainder of the prisoners were
ransomed, and the Spaniards purchased a bark of which their amiable
visitors had deprived them.

Townley, having thus arranged matters with the inhabitants of Los
Santos, bore away for Pearl Islands, and for the next two months cruised
about the bay of Panamá making descents on the land and capturing
prizes. The slaughter of the Spaniards in some of these engagements was
great. On the 21st of August the buccaneers attacked a frigate and a
bark, the former of which vessels had eighty killed and wounded out of
a crew of one hundred and twenty, and of the crew of the latter only
eighteen out of seventy remained unhurt. But Townley's career now came
to a close. During the next two days they captured three more vessels,
and in one of the engagements the captain of the pirates was mortally
wounded, and died on the 8th of September.

During the remainder of the year the buccaneers cruised among the
islands and in the bays on the coast of Veragua, frequently landing on
the main in order to procure food, and so dire was their necessity that
on occasions they imperatively demanded provisions as a ransom for their
captives instead of money.[XXX‑58]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: COSTA RICA.]

At the beginning of 1687 freebooters were again off the Costa Rica
coast and infesting the gulf of Nicoya, keeping the Spaniards in a
state of constant alarm, wringing from them ransom for captives, and
torturing prisoners to obtain information.[XXX‑59] On the 26th of
January they were rejoined by Captain Grogniet, whose movements had been
principally confined to the bay of Fonseca and the coast of Nicaragua,
but dissension occurring, eighty-five of his men separated from him,
and with the remaining sixty he turned once more toward Panamá.[XXX‑60]

Again this brood of ocean-banditti directed their course to the rich
coast of South America, where they and their fraternity had acquired
so infamous a reputation that the women they captured were in dread of
being eaten by them.[XXX‑61] After amassing immense wealth they sailed
northward and coasted along the Central American and Mexican shores as
far as Acapulco, burning, destroying, and murdering as was their wont.
But in spite of their sufferings from toil, hunger, and thirst, the
pirates had amassed much wealth, and they now wished to return to the
North Sea, where their hardships would end, and they could squander and
enjoy their ill-gotten riches. Having consulted as to the best course to
pursue, they decided to march overland through the province of Segovia
to Cape Gracias á Dios. So on the 2d of January 1688, after they "had
said their Prayers," they started on their perilous journey, two hundred
and eighty in number.[XXX‑62]

Their overland march through the wildest part of Central America was
somewhat extraordinary. The journeys of the pirates across the Isthmus,
like those of the discoverers and conquerors, were full of danger and
sufferings; but the difficulties overcome by these dauntless villains
in some respects surpassed anything on record.

[Sidenote: NUEVA SEGOVIA.]

Their route lay from the bay of Fonseca to Wank River, down which they
proposed to descend on rafts. Marching first to Nueva Segovia, they
found the inhabitants ready to oppose them. In the woods their road was
impeded by felled trees; in the open country the grass was set on fire,
so that to avoid suffocation they were often compelled to halt until
the fire should spend itself. The cattle were driven away and provisions
removed or destroyed, while ambushed Spaniards assailed them everywhere.

There was nothing for them, however, but to trudge along, which they
continued to do until they reached Nueva Segovia on the 11th. The town
was deserted. Everything that could maintain life had been carefully
removed. As they continued famished and footsore toward the river, now
twenty leagues distant, they were harassed by a force of three hundred
Spanish horse, constantly threatening their annihilation.

The road, which led over a steep mountain, was found on the second day
from Segovia to be intrenched. Thus beset in front and rear, between
two bodies each largely outnumbering their own, what were the pirates
to do? Blood-besmeared and determined, they were now to the effeminate
Spaniards what the early Spaniards had been to the Indians. It was
on a bright moonlit night that the filibusters encamped before the
intrenchment. Nevertheless two hundred of them managed to steal into
the forest unperceived by their enemies.[XXX‑63] With incredible labor
they worked their way round rocks and through quagmires, till, guided
by the voices of the Spaniards at morning prayer, by daylight they
found themselves in the road above, and in the rear of the intrenched
Spaniards. A dense mist which had arisen just before dawn concealed
them from sight, but while it in some measure aided them, it rendered
their operations more dangerous from the nature of the ground. It
appeared that there were three intrenchments, one behind the other,
and with the reversed position the defenders of the rear one were not
protected. Upon this exposed detachment, numbering five hundred men, the
freebooters fell so suddenly that the Spaniards fled panic-stricken, and
the successful assailants were in possession of the barricade. It was
equivalent to victory. There was no hope for the Spaniards now. Guided
in their aim by the flashes of the enemy's fire, the pirates, well
protected, poured volley after volley upon the Spaniards, who did not
know where to shoot or what to do. For an hour they held out; but when,
still enveloped in the mist, the pirates charged upon them, unperceived
till almost within reach of sword-blow, they turned and fled. What
followed was mere butchery. The Spaniards, impeded in their flight by
their own defences, were slaughtered till the ferocious victors, "weary
of running after them and killing," desisted.[XXX‑64]


The cutthroats are now master of all before them, but nature still
interposed her forces to the best of her ability. On the following
day, it is true, they arrived at another intrenchment, but the terror
they had inspired was so great that they passed it unmolested, and on
the 17th reached the banks of the longed-for river which was to carry
them to the sea.[XXX‑65] The current was swift, and for leagues the
waters rushed down rapids or plunged in cataracts over opposing rocks,
eddying and seething in their course. Yet the freebooters hailed it
with delight, and with wild enthusiasm constructed for themselves small
rafts each capable of carrying two men.[XXX‑66] Trusting to these they
launched themselves, many of them to their death. Besides paddles they
were provided with long poles to aid them in avoiding the rocks. It
was a fearful passage; the boldest trembled, and his brain grew giddy
as he was swept past an overhanging precipice or whirled about in the
surging flood. Most of the rafts were so overweighted that the men stood
up to the waist in water. Among those who had escaped with their lives
were many who had lost all their gains acquired by years of hardship
and of crime.[XXX‑67] Numerous portages and the building of new rafts
long delayed them, and it was not until the 20th of February that they
arrived at the broader and less impetuous part of the river. In the mean
time, in spite of peril and suffering, the evil passions of human nature
were not dormant. As there were no Spaniards present to kill they killed
each other as occasion offered.[XXX‑68]

When the river became navigable for boats the freebooters built canoes,
and on the 1st of March one hundred and twenty of them,[XXX‑69] in
four boats, started down the river, and arrived at the mouth the 9th
of March. On the 14th an English vessel arrived from the isles of
Pearls,[XXX‑70] on board of which about fifty of them, among whom was
Lussan, embarked. This band of the survivors eventually reached French
settlements in the West Indies. Of the subsequent fate of those left
behind little is known;[XXX‑71] but the gratitude of the devout ruffians
whom Lussan accompanied for their deliverance is thus chronicled: "When
we were got all ashoar to a People that spoke French, we could not
forbear shedding Tears of Joy, that after we had run so many Hazards,
Dangers, and Perils, it had pleased the Almighty Maker of the Earth
and Seas, to grant a Deliverance, and bring us back to those of our own

       *       *       *       *       *


A peculiar feature in the history, particularly of Spanish America, is
presented by the buccaneers, a New World revival of the vikings, whose
adventures were the absorbing theme of the old Norsemen, as preserved
in the sagas, and a counterpart of their successors, the corsairs, who
maintained equal sway in sunnier climes, spreading terror over entire
kingdoms and exacting tribute to support a regal state of their own.
The European hordes who under the name of conquerors were ever alert
for plunder under the pretence of extending the domain of their divine
and royal masters scattered freely the seeds from which sprang the
freebooters, to whom the rivalry between Saxon and Latin races gave
a desired opportunity to prey upon cities and commerce. Next to the
early-discovery voyages none are so absorbing as the expeditions of
these wild fellows, culled from all nationalities, and their narratives
include not only daring raids, bloody feuds, and hair-breadth escapes by
sea and land, but cover the usual topics of exploring voyages. Indeed,
their transgressions against society, while covered in most cases by
the mask of patriotism and of just war, or retaliation, were frequently
condoned by discoveries for the benefit of trade and science, by the
extension of geographic knowledge, of natural history, ethnology, and
other branches.

The first special account of the buccaneers appears to be the _Zee
Roover_, by Klaes Compaen; Amsterdam, 1663; but the great original
for the many subsequent works on them is the book written by A. O.
Exquemelin, corrupted by the English into Esquemeling, and by the French
into Oexmelin. An employé of the French West India Company, he had in
1666 gone out to the Tortuga Island, but trade failing here, the company
sold its effects and transferred its servants. Exquemelin fell into the
hands of the lieutenant-governor, under whom he suffered great hardship
till a new and kinder master left him at liberty. Finding nothing
better to do, he joined the filibusters and sailed with them till 1672,
sharing in many notable exploits. He then returned home to Holland,
and employed his leisure in writing a history of buccaneer expeditions
in the Antilles and adjoining regions, including his own adventures.
This was issued as _De Americaensche Zee-Roovers_. _Behelsende een
Partinent Verhael van alle de Roverye en Onmenselÿcke Vreetheeden die de
Engelsche en France Roovers Tegens de Spanÿaerden in America Gepleeght
Hebben_; t'Amsterdam bÿ Jan Ten Hoorn, 1678, sm. 4o, 186 pp. Few books
have been so extensively used, wholly or in part, or as a foundation
for romances and dramas; but the ones used have generally been of the
numerous foreign editions, particularly the Spanish, published with more
or less variation, and often without credit to the author. The original
is exceedingly rare, one copy only besides my own being known to Müller.
It is a black-letter specimen, on coarse paper, illustrated with curious
maps and plates, depicting battle scenes, burning towns, and portraits
of leading captains, as Morgan and L'Olonnois. The title-page is
bordered by eight scenes of freebooters' warfare and cruelty. Beginning
with his voyage to the West Indies, Exquemelin proceeds to depict the
geography and political and social condition of the islands, including
the rovers' retreat, and then relates their doings in general. In
a second and third part he gives special sketches of the different
leaders and their expeditions; and in an appendix are found some
valuable statistics for the Spanish possessions on wealth, revenue,
and officials. The information is not only varied, but has been found
most reliable. The English edition was first published in London by Th.
Newborough in 1699, under the title of _The History of the Buccaneers
of America_. The second and third editions of this translation appeared
in 1704.

Several of the buccaneers have become known to readers in special
treatises by their own hand, or by biographers, as _Raveneau de Lussan_,
_Journal d'un Voyage_, Paris, 1689; _Dampier's New Voyage_, London,
1697, and others, which have also proved rich sources for compilers. To
the edition of Exquemelin, issued in 1700, Ten Hoorn added two parts,
one being an account of English buccaneer voyages under Sharp, Sawkins,
and others, written by Basil Ringrose, who had also been a member of
the fraternity, and had kept a journal from which the first edition was
prepared and issued in 1684. The second part gives Lussan's Journal,
followed by the _Relation de Montauban_, captain of freebooters, on the
coast of Guinea in 1695.

Ringrose's account furnishes some particulars not found in other
buccaneer narrators of the same expeditions. Though he disapproved of
Sharp as a leader, his statements may be considered truthful as well
as fuller than those of the other writers, all of whom corroborate
Ringrose in the main points. His narrative is also published in the
above mentioned work, _The History of the Buccaneers of America_,
under the title of _The Dangerous Voyage and Bold Attempts of Capt.
Bartholomew Sharp and others in the South Sea_. It contains numerous
rude cuts of islands, points, capes, etc., on the western coast of
America. Ringrose was killed with all his company near a small town 21
leagues from Compostela, in Jalisco, owing to the insubordination of
his men. Dampier, _Voy._, i. 271-2, says: 'We had about 50 Men killed,
and among the rest my Ingenious Friend Mr _Ringrose_ was one.... He
was at this time Cape-Merchant, or Super-Cargo of Capt. Swan's Ship.
He had no mind to this Voyage, but was necessitated to engage in it
or starve.' The most important other authorities for the history of
this enterprise are _Capt. Sharp's Journal of his Expedition, Written
by Himself_, published by William Hacke in _A Collection of Original
Voyages_ (London, 1699). Sharp omits all mention of the defection of
the men whom Dampier accompanied across the Isthmus.

_The Voyages and Adventures of Capt. Barth. Sharp._ London, 1684.
The author is anonymous, and was a strong partisan of Sharp, omitting
much told against him in other accounts and frequently bestowing upon
him fulsome praise. Many pages of the narrative are taken up by mere
log-book entries of the ship's sailing and contain no other information.
_Dampier_, _A New Voyage round the World._ London, 1697-1709, 3 vols.
This writer touches in his introduction very briefly upon Sharp's
expedition 'because the World has accounts of it already in the
relations that Mr _Ringrose_ and others have given' of it; but his
account of his return across the Isthmus is interesting and minutely
described. Wafer, _A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of
America, Giving an Account of the Author's Abode there_. London, 1699,
also only cursorily alludes to Sharp's voyage, but supplies a valuable
description of the Isthmus at that time. Wafer, who accompanied Dampier
on his return, had been compelled to stay behind on account of a severe
wound caused by an explosion of gunpowder, and remained several months
with the Indians on the Isthmus. His treatise is principally confined
to a description of the physical features of the country, its flora and
fauna, and the occupations and customs of the inhabitants. It contains
several copper-plates in illustration of these latter, as well as a map
of the Isthmus and charts of coast-lines.

A _Collection of Original Voyages_, by Captain Wm. Hacke, London,
1699, 12o, with some rude cuts and map, contains among other narratives
Cowley's Voyage round the Globe, touching Central America, written by
himself. As a sequel to these publications may be named _Johnson's
General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most Notorious
Pyrates_; London, 1724, which was added as a fourth volume to the French
Exquemelin collection of 1744 and later editions. Similar combinations,
more or less complete and changed, exist in different languages, from
the early _Bucaniers of America_, London, 1684, to the _History of the
Buccaniers of America_, Boston, 1853, and later editions. The first
thorough book on the subject, however, and one which enters into the
causes of the filibuster movement, carrying on the narrative till its
suppression in the beginning of the eighteenth century, is Admiral
Burney's _History of the Buccaneers_, London, 1816, a special issue of
a part of his _Chronological History of Discovery_.





Yet another phase of life and restless human endeavor on the Panamá
Isthmus here presents itself. Great Britain is seized by an idea, born
of greed and nurtured by injustice; and this conception expands until
it covers the earth, and until the good people of England and Scotland
are in imagination masters of the whole world, which possession is
acquired not through any honest means, but after the too frequent vile
indirections of the day and the nation; in all which the people of those
isles give themselves and their money over to Satan.


In June 1695 a number of wealthy Scotchmen under the leadership of
William Paterson[XXXI‑1] obtained from the Scottish parliament a
statute, and later letters patent from William III.,[XXXI‑2] authorizing
them to plant colonies in Asia, Africa, or America, in places
uninhabited, or elsewhere by permission of the natives, provided the
territory were not occupied by any European prince or state. Paterson
had spent several years in the Indies and had explored the province
of Darien. Near the old settlement of Acla he had found a port safe
for shipping. Three days' journey thence, on the other side of the
Isthmus, were other suitable harbors. By establishing settlements on
either shore, he purposed to grasp the trade whereby Europe was supplied
with the products of North and South America, China, Japan, and the
Philippine Islands, with European goods. From the Isthmus to Japan and
parts of China was but a few weeks' sail, and the products of Asia could
thus be landed in Europe in far less time than that occupied by the
vessels of the India companies. Moreover on the rich soil of Darien,
sugar, indigo, tobacco, and other articles of value could be raised.
"Trade," said the projector of the bank of England, "will beget trade;
money will beget money; the commercial world shall no longer want work
for their hands, but will rather want hands for their work. This door to
the seas and key to the universe will enable its possessors to become
the legislators of both worlds, and the arbitrators of commerce. The
settlers of Darien will acquire a nobler empire than Alexander or Cæsar,
without fatigue, expense, or danger, as well as without incurring the
guilt and bloodshed of conquerors."

Paterson was either knave or fool; having been both preacher and pirate
he may have been both fool and knave. It was impossible for him to have
explored the Isthmus as he claimed and not know that the climate was
deadly, and that to the wild highlander, fresh from the cold north, the
harbors of Darien could prove nothing but pest-holes, breeding swift
destruction. As for the people who blindly threw themselves into the
adventure, they were as sheep, and differed little from the human sheep
of the present day.

Spain had at least the right of discovery and conquest to her
possessions in the New World, even though such conquest had been
attended with cruelty almost as great as that of the English in
Hindostan. The natives of Darien were never indeed entirely subdued.
Yet even according to the European code of robbery it does not appear
that Great Britain had any more right to plant colonies in Tierra Firme
than she now has to establish them in portions of the United States
that may be infested by hostile Indians. Nevertheless in the year 1699
when, as we shall see, the scheme was on the verge of failure, the
English monarch, in answer to a petition from "The Company of Scotland
trading to Africa and the Indies and their Colony of Darien," as the
association was styled, asking that "His Royal Wisdom be pleased to
take such Measures as might effectually vindicate the undoubted Rights
and Privileges of the said Company, and support the Credit and Interest
thereof," replied, "Right Trusty and Well-beloved, We greet you well:
Your Petition has been presented to us by our Secretaries, and we do
very much regret the Loss which that our antient Kingdom and the Company
has lately sustained."[XXXI‑3]


"To prove," says a writer of the period,[XXXI‑4] "the Falsehood of
the Allegation, That the Province of Darien is part of the King of
Spain's Domains: It is positively denied by the Scots, who challenge
the Spaniards to prove their Right to the said Province, either by
Inheritance, Marriage, Donation, Purchase, Reversion, Surrender,
Possession or Conquest." "And as to their Claim by the Pope's Donation,"
writes another author of the period,[XXXI‑5] "the very mentioning, and
much more the pleading of it, is a ridiculing, as well as bantring of
Mankind; seeing even on the supposal that the Roman Pontiffs should be
acknowledged the successors of St Peter, which as no Protestants are
forward to believe or confess, so they have never hitherto found, nor
do they think the Pontificans able to prove it: Yet this would invest
them with no right of disposing the Kingdoms of the World as they
please and unto whom they will. For Peter being cloathed with no such
Power himself, nor having ever pretended to exert such a Jurisdictive
Authority as some Popes have had the Vanity and Pride to do, how could
he convey it unto, and entail it upon others, under the quality and
character of being his Successors"? These and similar excuses, however
sorry, were all that the apologists for the Scots' colony had to offer
for thus grasping at this territory. It may be remarked that the claim
of Great Britain to her colonies is in few instances based on discovery,
and that nearly all her most valuable possessions have been gained at
the point of the sword. Might is right.

Six hundred thousand pounds were required for the enterprise and
the amount was quickly subscribed, in Scotland, England, Hamburg,
and Amsterdam. The scheme was a bold one, but the promise of returns
was vast, and as will be remembered this was the era of gigantic and
insane speculations. In Scotland alone the subscriptions summed up
three hundred thousand pounds, an amount which absorbed almost the
entire circulating capital of the country. All who possessed ready
money ventured at least a part of it in the enterprise. Some threw
in all they had; others all they could borrow. Maidens invested their
portions; widows pledged their dower, expecting to be repaid fifty or
a hundred fold. In England half the capital stock was subscribed for
in nine days, one fourth being paid in specie or bank notes, and the
rest in bills payable on demand. The total of the subscriptions from
all sources was nine hundred thousand pounds, a sum which at the close
of the seventeenth century was enormous even in the money capital of
Great Britain. Soon the success of the scheme aroused the jealousy of
English merchants, who feared that the commerce of the world might pass
into the hands of the Scotch. William III. was at heart opposed to the
scheme, although he had granted letters patent to the association; and
partly through his influence the contributions in England, Hamburg,
and Amsterdam were withdrawn. Nevertheless, another hundred thousand
pounds was raised in Scotland, thus making up a capital of four hundred
thousand pounds sterling.

Permission was given by the crown to Paterson and his associates to
fit out men-of-war, to plant colonies, build cities and forts, make
reprisals for damage done by land or sea, and to conclude treaties of
peace or commerce with princes and governors. They were also allowed
to claim the minerals, the valuable timber, and the fisheries in sea
or river, and "in the name of God and in Honour and for the Memory of
that most Antient and Renowned name of our Mother Kingdom" the country
was to be named New Caledonia. The enterprise was under the control
of a council of seven,[XXXI‑6] to whom was intrusted all power, civil
and military. Paterson was of course one of the members, but from
all deliberations he was excluded, and in the final arrangements for
the fleet he was not even consulted, his reasonable request that an
inventory of supplies be taken before setting sail being refused.


The expedition had been planned and ordered in keeping with the first
subscriptions[XXXI‑7] and was the largest and most costly of any that
had yet been fitted out for schemes of colonization in the New World.
On the 26th of July 1698 twelve hundred men, among them three hundred
youths belonging to the best families of Scotland, and many veterans
who had been discharged from the British army after the peace of
Ryswick, assembled at the port of Leith. A wild insanity seized the
entire population of Edinburgh as they now came forth to witness the
embarkation. Guards were kept busy holding back the eager aspirants
who, hungry for death, pressed forward in throngs, stretching out their
arms to their departing countrymen and clamoring to be taken on board.
Stowaways when ordered on shore clung madly to rope and mast, pleading
in vain to be allowed to serve without pay on board the fleet. Women
sobbed and gasped for breath; men stood uncovered, and with choked
utterance and downcast head invoked the blessing of the Almighty. The
banner of St Andrew was hoisted at the admiral's mast; and as a light
wind caught the sails, the roar of the vast multitude was heard far
down the waters of the frith. The breeze freshened, and as the vessels
were carried seaward, cheer after cheer followed the highlanders, who
now bade farewell, most of them, as it proved, forever, to their native


On the 4th of November, having lost fifteen of their number during the
voyage, they landed at Acla; founded there a settlement to which they
gave the name New St Andrew; cut a canal through the neck of land which
divided one side of the harbor from the ocean, and on this spot erected
a fort whereon they mounted fifty guns. On a mountain at the opposite
side of the harbor they built a watch-house, from which the view was so
extensive that there was no danger of surprise. Lands were purchased
from the Indians, and messages of friendship sent to the governors of
several Spanish provinces.

On the week following the departure of the expedition, the Scottish
parliament met and unanimously adopted an address to the king asking his
support and countenance for the Darien colony, but no time was lost by
the India companies in bringing every means to bear to ensure its ruin;
and notwithstanding the memorial of the parliament, the British monarch
ordered the governors of Jamaica, Barbadoes, and New York not to furnish
the settlers with supplies.[XXXI‑8] To such length did rancor go, that
the Scotch commanders who should presume to enter English ports, even
for repairs after a storm, were threatened with arrest.[XXXI‑9]

A stock of provision had been placed on board the fleet sufficient
as was supposed to last for eight months, but the supply gave out
in as many weeks, since those who had been placed in charge of the
commissariat department had embezzled the funds. Fishing and the chase
were the only resources, and as these were precarious the colonists were
soon on the verge of famine. As summer drew near the atmosphere became
stifling, and the exhalations from the steaming soil, united with other
causes, wrought deadly destruction on the settlers. Men were continually
passing to the hospital and thence to the grave, and the survivors were
only kept alive through the friendly services of the Indians.[XXXI‑10]

Matters daily grew worse with the colonists. A ship despatched from
Scotland laden with provisions had foundered off Cartagena. The
Spaniards on the Isthmus looked on their distress with complacency. No
relief came nor any tidings from Scotland; and on the 22d of June 1699,
less than eight months after their arrival, the survivors resolved
to abandon the settlement. Paterson, the first to enter the ship at
Leith, was the last to go on board at Darien. Ill with fever and broken
in spirit, his misfortune weighed so heavily on him that he became
temporarily deranged.[XXXI‑11] Of the rest, four hundred perished at

Eight weeks after Paterson's departure two ships arrived from Scotland
with ample stores of provisions and three hundred recruits. Finding
the colony at New Saint Andrew abandoned they set sail for Jamaica,
leaving six of their number, who preferring to remain on the Isthmus,
were kindly treated by the natives, and after they had lived there long
enough to satisfy themselves were safely brought away.

Not until several months after the departure of the first expedition did
the court of Spain protest against the invasion of her territory. And
no better policy could have been devised than to have thus let death do
the work; but on the 3d of May 1699 a memorial was presented[XXXI‑12] to
William III. by the Spanish ambassador stating that his Catholic Majesty
looked on the proceeding as a rupture of the alliance between the two
countries and as a hostile invasion, and would take such measures as he
thought best against the intruders.

Provoked by this interference, and as yet ignorant of the fate of their
colony, the Scotch soon afterward[XXXI‑13] despatched another expedition
of thirteen hundred men in four vessels. The ships were hastily fitted
out, and during the voyage one was lost and the others scattered. Many
died on the passage, and the rest arrived at different times broken in
health and spirit. The dwellings of the first settlers had been burned,
the fort dismantled, the tools and agricultural implements abandoned,
and the site of the settlement was overgrown with weeds. Meanwhile two
sloops had arrived in the harbor with a small stock of provisions; but
the supply was inadequate, and five hundred of the party were at once
ordered to embark for Scotland.

In February 1700 Captain Campbell arrived at New Saint Andrew with
a company of three hundred men who had served under him during the
campaign in Flanders. Intelligence had now reached the colony that
sixteen hundred Spaniards lay encamped on the Rio Santa María expecting
soon to be joined by a squadron of nine vessels, when it was proposed
to make a concerted attack on the settlement. Campbell resolved to
anticipate the enemy, and marching against them at the head of two
hundred veterans, surprised their camp by night, and dispersed them
with great slaughter. Returning, he found that the Spanish ships were
off the harbor, and that troops had been landed from them, cutting off
all chance of relief. Nevertheless for six weeks the Scotch sustained
a siege, and when their ammunition gave out they melted their pewter
dishes and fashioned them into cannon balls. At length provisions
ran short and the Spaniards cut off their water supply. A surrender
became inevitable. Campbell with a few comrades escaped on board his
vessel and made his way to New York and thence to Scotland. The rest
capitulated on condition that they be allowed to depart with their
effects,[XXXI‑14] but so weak were the survivors and so few in number
that they were not able to weigh the anchor of their largest ship until
the Spaniards generously came to their assistance. All but two of the
vessels were lost; only thirty of the men succeeded in reaching home,
and after the loss of more than two thousand lives and several millions
of money, the Scotch abandoned further attempts at colonization in
Tierra Firme.[XXXI‑15]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: CARTAGENA.]

While the Spaniards were thus annoyed by foreign encroachments in
Darien, the capital of the neighboring province was captured by
filibusters. This was in 1697. To Pedro de Heredia had been assigned in
1532, as will be remembered, a province in Nueva Andalucía; and there
had been founded the colony of Cartagena, which toward the close of
the sixteenth century had become a flourishing settlement. A hundred
years later Cartagena ranked next to Mexico among the cities of the
western world. Situated on a capacious harbor, esteemed as one of the
best in the Indies, it possessed several large streets, each nearly
one sixth of a league in length, with well built houses of stone, a
cathedral, several churches, and numerous convents and nunneries. Its
population was probably little short of twenty thousand, of whom about
three thousand were Spaniards and the remainder negroes and mulattoes.
It was strongly fortified by nature and art, and had to some extent
superseded the cities of the Isthmus as an entrepôt of commerce between
the hemispheres. Here the pearl fleet called once a year, an entire
street being occupied with the shops of the pearl-dressers, and here
was brought, by way of the Desaguadero, the sugar, cochineal, and indigo
sent from Guatemala for shipment to Spain.

Cartagena was therefore a tempting prize for the banditti who infested
the waters of the North Sea. Drake's operations off that city have
already been related. A few years after the decease of that famous
adventurer it was laid in ashes by French privateers; and now, in 1697,
it was captured by a French fleet having on board twelve hundred men,
of whom seven hundred were filibusters under command of Le Baron de
Pointis. The spoils of this raid were variously estimated at from eight
to forty millions of livres; and yet it is said that before the capture
of the city a hundred and ten mule-loads of silver were despatched to
a place of safety.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: LUIS GARCÍA.]

In 1726 the governor of Panamá gave authority to the mestizo, Luis
García, a man whose exploits had brought him into prominence, to lead
the Indians in a war of extermination against the French filibusters,
who still continued to devastate the Isthmus.

A brief but sharp campaign resulted in the death of the French leader,
the notorious Petitpied, and García, on his return to Panamá, was amply
rewarded. The Cana mines proved too great a temptation to García after
his return to his home in Darien, and finding that some of the caciques
whose territory extended to the Balsas River were in a state of mutiny
on account of grievances inflicted by the curates in the name of the
church and the king, he made a compact with them to throw off Spanish
allegiance, withdraw their forces to the mountain fastnesses, and form a
government of their own. A rendezvous was established in the Cordillera,
and García, growing more resolute, resolved on an aggressive war upon
the Spaniards and their Indian allies. The campaign opened in a frontier
town on the river Yavisa, where they killed the cura, the teniente de
justicia, a few Spaniards, and all the Indians who would not join them;
then they plundered the place. Elated by this victory, García continued
his march until he reached Santa María, where he attempted the same
system of spoliation and slaughter. He was less successful, for the
inhabitants had fled with most of their valuables. García's men entered
the town, burned it, and killed every Spaniard they could capture in
the neighborhood.

Meanwhile news of the revolt had reached the president, and seventy
picked men well officered had been sent to suppress it. This and other
attempts threw the people of Darien, now numbering twenty thousand, into
consternation, and concerted action was planned with Panamá. A large
reward was offered for the body of García, dead or alive; he perished
at last by the hands of a negro.[XXXI‑16]

Although the Isthmus was the seat of the first Spanish settlement
in America, as I have said before, the natives of Darien were never
completely subdued. The Spaniards built strongholds, gathered the
Indians into settlements, introduced missionaries, guarded the coast
with men-of-war, but all in vain. In 1745 Fort San Rafael de Terable
was built by Governor Dionisio de Alcedo on a small peninsula bordered
by the river and bay. In 1751 the natives carrying out an oft repeated
threat attacked this stronghold, and of the garrison but two or three
wounded men escaped. In 1756 the population of Yavisa, composed chiefly
of friendly Indians, was massacred by the Chucunaques. A fort was
erected in 1760 at this point, and a few years later it became the
capital of the province and the seat of the residence of the governor.
In 1768 the Chucunaques slaughtered the garrison at Port Ypelisa,
plundered the place of arms and tools, and in the same year laid waste
the banks of the Congo.

Ten years later another extensive raid occurred; but in 1774 Andrés de
Ariza, being appointed governor, dealt vigorously and skilfully with the
hostile tribes. He discovered numerous secret passes and well cut roads
from their quarters to various portions of the province; he deciphered
a system of alarm signals, and found a number of caves where the light
boats of the natives were constructed. By his efforts the Indians were
kept at bay or brought under control.

But outbreaks among the natives and the raids of corsairs were not the
only misfortunes to which the Isthmus was exposed. During the eighteenth
century the city of Panamá was thrice devastated by fire. On the 1st
and 2d of February 1737 a conflagration occurred which destroyed two
thirds of the buildings; March 30, 1756, a second fire destroyed one
half of the city; and on the 26th of April 1771 fifty-five houses were


While the people of Tierra Firme thus suffered many disasters at this
period of their history, and as we shall see later were frequently
subject to attack from the armaments of hostile powers, they appear
to have been remarkably free from the internal dissensions which
prevailed at an earlier date. The unseemly strife between the church
and the audiencia had now entirely ceased, and little worthy of note
is mentioned by the chroniclers. During the latter portion of the
seventeenth century, and for the first few years of the eighteenth,
records as to the succession of governors in Panamá are meagre. In 1708
the marqués de Villa Rocha was in power; but incurring the displeasure
of the audiencia, he was deposed in June of that year, and confined in
the castle of Portobello. His successor, Fernando de Haro Monterroso,
the senior oidor, who had been mainly instrumental in effecting the
downfall of the marquis, held the reins of government for about six
months when he was prosecuted for alleged outrages of so grave a
character that he was sent in custody to Spain for trial.[XXXI‑18]
From Alcedo we learn that Juan Bautista de Orueta y Irusta, alcalde del
crímen of the audiencia of Lima, succeeded to the gubernatorial office,
and ruled until 1710, when a governor of the king's appointment arrived,
and Orueta returned to Lima.

In June 1711 Villa Rocha, having been released and seeing an opportunity
of seizing the reins of power, hastened to the capital and proclaimed
himself governor. His career was short, for within twenty-four hours
José Hurtado de Amedzaga, mariscal del campo of the royal forces,
compelled him to abdicate, and he himself took possession of the
governor's chair, occupying it until 1716, by which time he had rendered
himself so obnoxious to the people that he was removed by the king's
order. The government was then placed in the hands of the bishop of the
diocese, and the authority of the audiencia was suspended. Following
Haya we find that Doctor Fray José de Llamas y Rivas, bishop of Panamá,
administered the government from the deposition of Villa Rocha to
January 1719. Authorities differ as to the order of succession of the
different governors. I have selected Haya as probably the most accurate.
This writer informs us that Governor Alderete began his administration
of Panamá on the 25th of April 1725, and that he was deposed and sent
to Spain in 1730.

The successor of Alderete was Juan José de Andia, marqués de Villa
Hermosa, who was promoted from the governorship of Cartagena to the
presidency of Panamá. In 1735, after five years' service, he was given a
generalship in the royal army of Spain, and returned there with honors.

Dionisio de Alcedo y Herrera was appointed a few years later with
authority over all the fortified cities which had been the objective
point of the English in the war which they had declared in 1739.

On the day before Christmas 1749 the governorship of Panamá was
conferred on Jaime Muñoz de Guzman; but on the same day one appointed
by the crown arrived in the person of Manuel de Montiano, who held the
office until the 11th of November 1755. Montiano was promoted to this
position from the governorship of Florida, and was a mariscal de campo.

While engaged in geodetic surveys at the Isthmus about this time, Ulloa
had an opportunity of witnessing the manner in which justice was bought
and sold. Matters had come to such a pass that the members of the
audiencia chose the most dexterous of their number and empowered him
to negotiate with rival parties as to what amount of bonus they were
respectively disposed to pay in consideration of a favorable verdict.

Panamá, in 1758 had for its governor Antonio Guill, an officer of
unusual merit, and one whose executive ability was highly prized by the
crown. He was promoted to the captain-generalship of Chile in 1761.
In the following year José Raon succeeded, and was promoted to the
presidency of Manila two years later. In 1764 José Vasco y Orosco became
governor. He died in 1767, and was succeeded in January 1769 by Vicente
Olaziregui, others acting provisionally during the interval. Temporary
appointments were made till 1779, when Ramon de Carbajal took charge,
returning to Spain in 1786.

       *       *       *       *       *

Until 1718 the three provinces of the Isthmus were subject to the
viceroy of Peru, but after that they were incorporated with New Granada,
the viceroy of which resided at Santa Fé de Bogotá. The latter was
endowed with the prerogatives of royalty, the only checks upon his
authority being the residencia and the right of appeal to the audiencia
of Panamá. The audiencia enjoyed the privilege of direct communication
with the sovereign, and with the council of the Indies. Any beneficial
effect which that institution might have had was counteracted largely by
the vast powers of the viceroy and their consequent means of influencing
any and every subordinate.

In 1774 there was instituted at Panamá a new audiencia real y
chancillería, having for its limits the province of Castilla del Oro
as far as Portobello, the province of Veragua, and toward Peru as far
as the ports of Buenavista and the river Darien, the territory under
its control being bounded on the east and south by that under the
jurisdiction of the audiencias of Granada and Quito; on the west by that
of Guatemala; and on the north and south by the two oceans.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: PEARLS AND GOLD.]

It has already been stated that about the close of the sixteenth century
the fisheries of the Pearl Islands became exhausted, and that they were
abandoned for several decades thereafter. In 1697 the Italian traveller
Gemelli Careri visited Panamá, and according to his report the fisheries
then yielded pearls equal to those found near Ceylon. He mentions one
belonging to a Jesuit priest that weighed sixty grains, and for which
the owner refused seventy thousand pesos.[XXXI‑19]

About the same time the industry of gold-mining was revived on the
Isthmus. In Darien and Veragua, but especially in the former province,
mines which had been abandoned were again worked, and new ones
discovered. The operatives were slaves, free negroes, sambos, and
mulattoes, who received for their wages a certain amount of pay-dirt,
and often pilfered gold dust enough to make them as rich as their
masters. It was the delight of the negroes to give fancy balls to their
inamoratas, at which they would appear with their hair glistening with
golden trinkets, sometimes sprinkling the ball-room floor with gold

A slave of Antonio de Sosa discovered a pocket of gold which is said
to have yielded sixty thousand castellanos; and making this known to
his master, was rewarded with his freedom and that of his wife, and
presented with a house and lot in Panamá and a moderate income wherewith
to enjoy his liberty. Of a vagabond mulatto it is related that he
suddenly reappeared in the church of Santo Domingo, and attracted the
gaze of all by a remarkably brilliant rosary formed of large nuggets
of purest gold. The place of discovery was subsequently known as the
Rosario mining district. Among other nuggets unearthed was one found
at the mines of Santa María, weighing, according to Dampier, a hundred
and twenty pounds. Instances like these might be multiplied, but enough
has been said to show the value of the mines from which at this time
more gold was sent to Panamá than from all the others in the Spanish
provinces. As late as 1720 they yielded a handsome revenue to the
Spanish crown.


The mines of Cana in the mountains of Espíritu Santo were especially
rich, and in the early part of the eighteenth century were so frequently
exposed to the raids of robbers that for a season they were abandoned.
In 1702 and 1712, at the former of which dates the town of Cana
contained nine hundred houses, the place was sacked by the English;
in 1724 by the French; and in 1727 by the Indians. During these and
later years other parts of the Isthmus were several times invaded by
corsairs, or by the armaments of England ostensibly by way of reprisal
for injuries inflicted on British commerce.

In 1713 Great Britain obtained an _asiento_ for supplying the Spanish
colonies with negro slaves,[XXXI‑20] and also the privilege of sending
annually to Portobello a five-hundred-ton vessel laden with European
merchandise. British factories were soon established at Cartagena
and Panamá. And British merchants, prompt to take advantage of this
license, poured in goods without limitation or restraint. Instead of a
vessel of five hundred tons they usually sent one of nearly double that
capacity, accompanied by two or three smaller ships, which, mooring in
some neighboring creek, supplied fresh bales of goods when the stock
on board the larger vessel became exhausted. The inspectors of the fair
and the officers of the revenue were bribed, and gradually the immense
commerce of the merchants of Seville was diverted, and the squadrons
that were wont to be the pride of Spain and the envy of the nations
sank to insignificant proportions, the galleons having little other
freight than that furnished by the mines and the royal tribute. In 1719
an effort was made to regain this lost ground, foreign commerce being
interdicted and increased facilities being given for domestic trade by
a cédula of December 1st.[XXXI‑21]

After the treaty of Seville was concluded between Spain and England,
complaints were frequently made of the depredations committed by Spanish
guarda costas on British commerce in the West Indies. The English
of course retaliated. Whereupon the Spaniards, not satisfied with
plundering British merchant-ships, maltreated their crews. A squadron
of four twenty-gun ships and two sloops was despatched to the Indies,
and accounts of the atrocities inflicted or permitted by the captains
of Spanish vessels were continually brought by vessels arriving from
the New World. In 1738 the house of commons determined to investigate
the matter, and to ascertain the number of ships that had been seized
by the Spaniards, the value of their cargoes, and the nature of the
alleged cruelties. An instance which was related before a committee
of inquiry appointed by the commons aroused a feeling of resentment
throughout Great Britain. One Captain Jenkins, master of a brig trading
from Glasgow, stated that his craft had been boarded by a guarda costa,
that his crew had been ill used, and one of his own ears cut off, the
captain of the vessel placing it in his hand and bidding him carry it
home to the king, whom he declared he would treat in the same manner
if he had him in his power. Discredit was afterward thrown on this
story; but whether it were true or false it was at the time believed by
the commons and the people of England. On the 14th of January 1739 a
convention was signed between the two countries, wherein Spain agreed
to indemnify British merchants for their losses, but the Spaniards
afterward refused to pay the stipulated sum. In consequence of which,
and of the maltreatment of British subjects, letters of marque and
reprisal were issued by the admiralty in July of that year, but not
until October following was war formally declared.


It was now resolved to despatch a strong squadron to the West
Indies[XXXI‑22] for the protection of British commerce, and, in
retaliation for the injuries inflicted by the Spaniards, to attack
Portobello. So strongly was this city fortified that during a debate
of the house of commons one of the members stated that it could not be
captured with less than fifty or sixty men-of-war; whereupon Captain
Edward Vernon, himself a member, happening to be present, rose and
said: "I will forfeit my life if I cannot take it with six ships."
The offer was promptly accepted; the captain was given the command
of an expedition, and being promoted to the rank of vice-admiral set
sail on the 20th of July 1739. Touching at Port Royal he obtained
a reënforcement of 240 troops, and after waiting in vain for more
land forces from England, put to sea with seven vessels, six of them
having on board 2,735 men and 370 guns; one was ordered to cruise off
Cartagena, that the commander might make good his promise to capture the
city with six ships only. On nearing the coast three Spanish war-vessels
were sighted and chased, but made good their escape, and found safe
shelter, as their captains supposed, under the cannon of the forts.

At daybreak on the 21st of November the British squadron entered the
harbor in line of battle. A brisk fire was at once opened from the
strongest fort of the Spaniards, known as the Iron Castle, and against
this point Vernon directed his attack. The _Hampton Court_, a vessel
with 70 guns and 500 men, led the way, and, anchoring almost within
a cable's length of the fort, bore for some minutes the whole brunt
of the fight. Within half an hour two other vessels came into action,
and soon the upper portion of the castle wall was battered down, when
many of the Spaniards abandoned their guns and fled. Observing this the
admiral ordered a lieutenant with forty sailors and a party of marines
to land and carry the fort by assault. He then anchored his own ship,
the _Burford_, within half a cable's length of the enemy's cannon, in
order to cover the storming party. He met with a warm reception, for
the Spaniards opened a point-blank fire on the _Burford_, and every gun
took effect. One shot passed through the fore-top-mast, another struck
within two inches of the main-mast, a third broke through the bulwarks
of the quarter-deck, close to the spot where Vernon stood, killing
two men and wounding five others. The stern of the admiral's barge
was shot away, and a large carronade on the main-deck was disabled.
But soon the flag-ship brought her starboard broadside to bear on
the castle, and at the first discharge drove the Spaniards from their
lower batteries; then swinging round on her cable she poured in another
volley from her larboard guns. The fire of her small arms commanded the
lower embrasures; the men meanwhile had made good their landing from
the boats; and soon the white flag was hoisted from the Iron Castle.
Firing was continued until dark from two other forts, which then guarded
the harbor of Portobello, but on the following morning the city, the
fortifications, and all the vessels in port were finally surrendered to
the English.[XXXI‑23]

Vernon would not allow his men to pillage the town[XXXI‑24] or molest
the inhabitants; but ten thousand pesos intended for the pay of the
garrison were found concealed, and distributed among the English
forces.[XXXI‑25] The most serviceable pieces of ordnance were placed
on board the fleet; the rest were spiked; the ammunition was secured,
and after blowing up all the fortifications of the city, Vernon, being
now reënforced by several vessels, returned to Port Royal, whence after
refitting his fleet he sailed on the 25th of February 1740 for the mouth
of the Chagre with six men-of-war, and several fire-ships, bombketches,
and tenders.

The castle of San Lorenzo which, it will be remembered, was demolished
by Morgan in 1671, had been rebuilt and strongly fortified. Vernon
now resolved to destroy it and thus strike another blow at Spain's
dominions in Tierra Firme; but first to punish the inhabitants of
Cartagena from which city the Spanish admiral, Don Blas, had sent him
while at Portobello a message which savored of insolence. The don had
accused him of fear, and remarked that "to take Cities and destroy Royal
Fortifications was an unusual and unexpected Way of making Reprisals."
This remark the British commander deemed sufficient excuse for shelling
the city, during which process the customhouse, the Jesuit college, a
church, and other buildings were laid in ruins though he did not succeed
in capturing Cartagena. The castle of San Lorenzo was surrendered with
but slight resistance; and after committing further depredations on the
coast Vernon set sail from the shores of Tierra Firme.

About three weeks after the declaration of war between England and
Spain, Captain George Anson arrived at Spithead from his cruise off
the coast of Africa and in the West Indies. He was placed in charge of
an armament consisting of six vessels with 1,510 men and 236 guns, and
was promised a force of infantry composed of several hundred choice
troops, the purpose of the expedition being to operate on the coast of
Peru, and thence to proceed northward, attack Panamá, and capture the


In 1741 Vernon, who was now at Jamaica, was placed in charge of the
largest fleet and army that had ever been despatched to the West
Indies. Twenty-nine ships of the line, with a large number of frigates,
bombketches, and fire-ships, manned by 15,000 seamen and having on board
about 12,000 troops, were here collected for a descent on the mainland.
Anson was directed to coöperate with Vernon by way of the Isthmus; and
had not these expeditions suffered a series of reverses, caused in part
by the vacillating policy of the British ministry, Spain's dominion in
the western world might now have come to an end.


But in place of choice troops a number of raw recruits were placed on
board Anson's ships, the only veterans being invalids; and the departure
of his squadron was delayed until the 18th of September 1740. After
clearing the straits of Magellan they encountered a furious storm which
lasted for fifty-eight days. The vessels were parted, and on the 9th
of June in the following year the admiral's ship, the _Centurion_,
arrived at the island of Juan Fernandez with her crew prostrated by
scurvy. Here he was soon rejoined by two others of the squadron, and
after remaining a hundred and four days at the island set sail for the
coast of South America, sacking and burning the town of Paita and taking
several vessels, by the men on board one of which he was told that
Vernon had been defeated at Cartagena. It was resolved not to make any
attempt on Panamá; and after some further adventures Anson sailed toward
Manila, and captured in that vicinity a prize which rewarded him and his
followers for all their toil and suffering. This was a Spanish galleon
having on board nearly a million and a half of pesos. Anson then set his
face homeward and arrived in England by way of the Cape of Good Hope on
the 15th of June 1744, having occupied three years and nine months in
his circumnavigation.[XXXI‑26]

After his repulse at Cartagena Vernon returned to Jamaica, where he was
soon reënforced by four men-of-war and three thousand troops despatched
from England. On the 9th of March 1742 he sailed for Portobello,
intending to proceed thence to Panamá and capture that city. On arriving
at the Isthmus he found that the rainy season had already set in; his
men sickened, and a council of war being held it was resolved to return
once more to Jamaica. Hence he was soon afterward ordered home, the
remnant of his forces now mustering but a tenth part of the number that
had been intrusted to his command. Thus in disaster ended an expedition
sent to the conquest of an empire.

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding the defeat of Vernon's expedition the settlements on
the North Sea had been so frequently laid waste that after 1748 there
was little intercourse between Spain and her colonies in Tierra Firme
and South America except by way of Cape Horn. The despatch of fleets
to the Isthmus was discontinued. Licenses were granted, however, to
vessels called register ships, and in 1764 a monthly line of packets was
established for intercommunication with Portobello and Cartagena. A few
years later restrictions on trade were removed by international treaty;
but long before the close of the eighteenth century the commerce of the
Isthmus declined, and the road from Panamá to Portobello could no longer
be called one of the chief commercial highways of the world. Agriculture
and manufactures were neglected; the mines were exhausted; and the trade
which had for more than two hundred years been the life-blood of Panamá
existed no more.






On the eastern coast of Nicaragua and Honduras there lived in the
seventeenth century a people known among themselves as Misskitos,
and called by the Spaniard Mosquitos, or more frequently sambos, the
offspring probably of cimarrones and native women. They were ruled by
an hereditary king, whose territory, when buccaneers first visited his
domain, was of very limited extent, though the Mosquito language, which
was identical with the one spoken by those of similar origin in the West
Indies, spread in after years from Cape Honduras to the Desaguadero,
and as far inland as Black River. They were a warlike race, and, as
we shall see, could hold their own against the Spaniards. Their chief
weapons were the bow and arrow, in the use of which it is said that
the women were as expert as the men. The bow was of ironwood, often six
feet in length, and strung with twisted bark. The arrow was of wood or
reed, hardened in the fire, and tipped with fish-bone, flint, or teeth,
poisoned in the juice of the manzanilla tree. They fought also with
lances of cane, nine feet in length, and with javelins, clubs, and heavy
sharp-pointed swords made of a poisonous wood. Their defensive armor was
of plated reeds covered with tiger-skins and bedecked with feathers.
Toward the close of the century the Mosquitos could put more than
forty thousand warriors into the field; they selected as leader on each
expedition the bravest and most experienced of their number.[XXXII‑1]

"The inner parts of the Mosqueto country are very barren," states an
Englishman who was in those parts near the close of the seventeenth
century and wrote his description about 1699, "but in the woods near the
river sides, and by the great lagunes, are many sorts of fruits, wild
beasts, and fowls, in plenty.... Plantains, and bananas, ... they have
plentifully, in small plantations, in obscure parts of the woods, near
the river sides.... Pine apples too ... they have enough of, and mammo,
which last is a very sweet fruit ... and grows on middling low trees
like apples. Saffadilla trees, which bear berries as big as sloes, of a
yellowish colour, which are very pleasant to the taste and wholesome,
of extraordinary virtue, ... are very frequent in their woods; as are
likewise a sort of a pleasing plum tree, which grows very large, and
is of a most delicious odour.... Great Indian wheat, or mais, they
plant a little of to make drink with; and likewise some cocoa trees,
... but their laziness will not permit them to plant much of the last,
because they can steal it ready gathered from the Spaniards, who have
large plantations thereof at Carpenters river, not many leagues from
them. Sugar-canes I have seen growing in old king Jeremy's plantation,
much larger than I ever saw in Jamaica, but the Indians not knowing
how to make sugar or rum, neglect them.... Pappaw trees which bear a
sweet fruit, almost like a musk-melon in shape and taste ... are very
plentiful. Cocoa-nut trees, cocoa-plums, and large grapes, growing on
great trees, with large stones in them ... grow up and down near the
water-sides. Monelo trees, whose fruit hangs down like french-beans,
and are a very rich perfume when dried, and the best for chocolate,
grow very plentiful on the banks of Black River, in this country. All
the flesh that these people eat ... they get by hunting.... They have
a small sort of fallow deer, like our English, with shorter horns,
which haunt the inner sides of the woods, close to the Savanna.... The
mountain cow, which the natives call Tilbu, is of the bigness of an
English calf of a year old, having a snout like an elephant and not
horned; they hide all day in muddy plashes, to escape the tigers, and
in the night swim across the river to get food.... Warree and pickaree
abound in great herds, and are two sorts of Indian wild hogs, having
both their navels on their backs.[XXXII‑2] ... Some parts of this
country are pretty well stocked with fowls.... A pretty large sort of
fowl haunt their plantain walks, which the natives call quawmoes and
the English corasaoes; they are a small sort of Indian turkey.... Wood
pigeons ... and a sort of fat doves creeping commonly on the ground,
are plentiful enough.... The woods are stocked with a variety of other
fowls, most curiously painted, which are good for food.... In the
fresh water rivers they have a sort of tortoise, called cushwaw, ...
and on the coast abundance of large sea-tortoises.... They have great
shoals of mullets, silver-fish, cat-fish, cavallies, sharks, nurses,
snappers, growpers, some seal, stingrays, whiprays, and sea-devils....
Their best fish is the manatee, or sea-cow ... they are sometimes
found straggling in the lagunes ... but are not suffered to increase,
thro' the greediness of the Indian, who spares no pains when he hath a
prospect of getting any."[XXXII‑3] Here, then, was a territory rich in
natural resources, which, though discovered by Columbus in 1502, was
left undisturbed by the Spaniards for some two centuries, the reason
being chiefly that no gold was discovered there. The western or North
American division of the coast of Central America, from Cape Gracias
á Dios to the gulf of Urabá, was granted as we have seen to Diego
de Nicuesa, whose disastrous expedition to Veragua has already been
presented.[XXXII‑4] In 1576 the coast of Mosquitia was conveyed by royal
cédula to the licentiate Diego García de Palacios, Captain Diego Lopez
being appointed by the licentiate governor and captain-general of the
province, and undertaking to attempt the conquest of the territory at
his own risk.[XXXII‑5] But it does not appear that the captain took
any action in the matter, and the natives, cimarrones and Mosquitos,
were left undisturbed until the arrival of the buccaneers, who found in
the intricate bays and winding rivers of Mosquitia, many places well
adapted for the concealment of their light swift-sailing craft. The
head-quarters of the freebooters were at Cape Gracias á Dios. Here they
met to divide their booty and decide upon new expeditions; and, whenever
opportunity offered, they darted thence like hawks upon the galleons
that were freighted with the riches of Peru.

[Sidenote: GREAT BRITAIN.]

English settlements with which it was pretended that the buccaneers had
no connection were established in this territory before 1670, and by the
treaty of Madrid, signed at that date, the rights of Great Britain were
recognized. The seventh article of this treaty stipulated that "the King
of Great Britain his heirs and successors shall hold, and possess for
ever, with full right of sovereign dominion, property and possession all
lands, countries, islands, colonies and dominions whatever, situated in
the West Indies, or in any part of America which the said King of Great
Britain and his subjects do at this present hold and possess." In the
same year an alliance, offensive and defensive, was made between Great
Britain and Mosquitia.[XXXII‑6]

In 1687 one of the Mosquito chieftains was sent to Jamaica in order to
place his native land under British protection. "But," says Sir Hans
Sloane, "he escaped from his keepers, pulled off the clothes his friends
had put on him, and climbed to the top of a tree." He was presently
induced by promise of kind treatment to descend, whereupon he received a
cocked hat and a piece of writing under the seal of the governor dubbing
him king of Mosquitia.

In truth the action of the British government at this time admits
of little excuse so far as it concerns the Spanish possessions in
the Indies. The governors of Jamaica connived at the raids of the
buccaneers, and as we have seen, Sir Henry Morgan, the titled buccaneer,
held high office in that island; although when he became rich by
swindling his fellow-cut-throats, he punished those who did not bribe
him with a share of their spoils. The governors were frequently changed
in order that Great Britain might remain on friendly terms with Spain,
but this measure did not prevent the outrages which have been described
in previous chapters.

After the conclusion of the peace of Ryswick in 1697 we hear no more
of piratical raids, and in that year the island of San Cristóbal was
restored to Spain. Treaties were signed between Great Britain and Spain
in 1713, 1715, and 1721, in the last of which it was stipulated that
commerce and navigation should be left free to the Spaniards in the West
Indies, and that the limits of New World possessions should remain as
they were in the days of Cárlos II. of Spain.

In 1720 a treaty was concluded between Sir Nicholas Lawes, then governor
of Jamaica, and Jeremy, then king of the sambos, whereby the latter
agreed to assist the English planters in capturing runaway slaves, the
Mosquitos being provided with boats, arms, and ammunition, and receiving
pay for their services.[XXXII‑7] But the natives thus armed and equipped
took advantage of their opportunity to make raids on the neighboring
Spanish settlements.


The archives of Guatemala contain the report of an alcalde mayor of
Tegucigalpa, then resident in that province, and made by order of
the president in obedience to a royal cédula previously issued. "The
sambos," says the alcalde, "have plenty of vessels, provisions, arms,
and ammunition, for they are supplied by the English of Jamaica,
who egg them on to hostilities against the Spaniards. Their country
is also a place of refuge for the mulattoes, negroes, and other
evil-doers who flee from justice in the Spanish settlements, and
who give them information of the Spanish plans, as well as join them
in the execution of their own. They have had the effrontery to call
their chief 'Jeremías, Rey del Mosquito.' This man gives letters of
marque to his so-called vassals, who ravage the coast from Belize to
Portobello, keeping the subjects of Spain, who traffic in those seas,
in constant alarm—some of whom have lost their lives, others their
liberty, and others their property. These people inhabit the region
from the jurisdiction of Comayagua to that of Costa Rica, always near
the coast. Between them and the Spanish settlements is a cordillera,
for which reasons they make their incursions by ascending the rivers.
Their country has a width of some six leagues between the mountains
and the sea, the half nearest the sea being where they have their
cultivated lands and their cattle, the other portion being useless. They
live in rancherías, or in scattered houses—even in the rancherías the
houses never being one near the other—so that if one house be attacked,
the people of the others may have time for defence or flight. Their
principal settlement is about the centre of this coast line. It is in a
lagoon, and here dwell their so-called king and his principal men. The
settlement is surrounded by a wall, a moat, broad and deep, and covered
in such a way that the apparently solid earth gives way under the tread
of the unwary stranger seeking to enter the town. There are but two
entrances into the town, and these are known only to these people, to
Spaniards who have been prisoners, and to the refugees."[XXXII‑8]

In this report further depredations of the natives are mentioned;
and it is recommended that expeditions be sent against them by land
and sea to exterminate the guilty persons. In 1740, England and Spain
being then at war, the governor of Jamaica, in a letter to the duke of
Newcastle, states that there were then about a hundred English in the
territory and suggests that they might be used to incite the sambos
to a general uprising against the Spaniards. Colonel Robert Hodgson
was sent to that coast during the same year on a special mission, and
winning over the sambo king and the leading men obtained from them a
cession of their territory and hoisted the English flag on the shore
of Mosquitia; but the failure of Anson's and Vernon's expeditions,
which have already been described, and the refractory spirit of most
of the natives prevented any invasion of the Spanish provinces. In 1744
Hodgson was appointed superintendent of the Mosquito shore, subject to
the governor of Jamaica, and troops were forwarded, forts were erected
and mounted with ordnance, the British thus taking possession of the
country. The Spaniards never ceased their remonstrances against these
encroachments, and in 1750 threatened to expel the intruders by force.
Hodgson was then instructed to represent that his presence was merely
for the purpose of restraining the natives from committing depredations
on Spanish settlements. This explanation was accepted at the time,
through motives of policy, but still the depredations continued, and
the disputes arising in connection with England's policy in this matter
helped to bring about the rupture ended by the treaty of Paris in 1763,
wherein it was stipulated that Great Britain should destroy all forts
that she had caused to be erected in the Spanish provinces, including
the Mosquito Coast.

When England withdrew from the military occupation of Mosquitia most
of the settlers still remained; and believing that Great Britain
would ere long establish a provisional government on the coast, some
of them purchased lands from the natives suitable for the cultivation
of sugar-cane, cotton, and cacao. In 1771 eight persons joined in the
purchase of a large tract on the Polloy River, said to contain gold,
and extending thirty miles on either bank. Two years later a number of
miners were set to work, but through their misconduct, as it is alleged,
the venture met with poor success.

  [Illustration: MOSQUITO COAST.]

A new system of administration for the British settlements in Mosquitia
was framed by Lord Dartmouth in 1775, and put in execution by Sir Basil
Keith, then governor of Jamaica.[XXXII‑9] Hodgson was ordered home,
and in 1776 Colonel Lawrie took his place. The new superintendent found
the natives and settlers greatly agitated on account of the seizure by
Spaniards of an English vessel on the Black River,[XXXII‑10] and the
attitude of the latter toward the sambos and their allies. The colonists
were in a dilemma, for the Spaniards hated them, and the English
government gave them little encouragement.[XXXII‑11]

In March 1782 Matías de Galvez, the captain-general of Guatemala, left
Trinidad with a flotilla well manned and equipped, for the avowed
purpose of chastising the men of Mosquitia, and driving the English
from the shore. Galvez had chosen his time well. After the disaster of
1780, which will be described later, the English had left Black River
in a defenceless condition, and in the April following a detachment
from Trujillo had scattered the few remaining colonists, pillaging
and destroying their settlements. Soon afterward Superintendent Lawrie
returned to Black River, with the remnant of the settlers, much reduced
and in precarious health. There were stationed at that point twenty-one
regular soldiers, according to the English official report, besides
settlers, negroes, and several hundred natives. They were ill prepared
for defence, being short of arms and provisions.

The Spanish forces advanced from the southward, with 1,350 foot and 100
horse, and from the westward, with 1,000 men. A line-of-battle ship and
a frigate came to anchor in the river and under a heavy fire landed 500
men. The day after these vessels arrived Captain Douglas, who commanded
the English militia, spiked his guns and while in retreat was captured
by the Spaniards. A council of war was held and it was resolved to
retire to Cape Gracias á Dios, which point the British and their allies
reached in safety, though suffering severely from sickness caused by
want of food and clothing.

Galvez soon afterward returned to Guatemala by way of Trujillo, leaving
garrisons at several points on the river. These soon found themselves
in a critical position on account of the numerous hostile parties
who roamed the neighboring woods to intercept provisions and cut off
foraging parties. By sea the winds and currents rendered supplies
difficult to obtain. Moreover, heavy rains had made the roads almost
impassable. At a council held July 10th it was resolved on abandonment
unless relief came by the last of the month. Before that time arrived,
however, a number of veterans, under one Terry, succeeded in reaching
the Black River. The garrison was further encouraged by the news that
an armed merchant vessel was lying at Trujillo awaiting orders from the
president to operate in their behalf.

       *       *       *       *       *


The decisive naval victory of the English over the French in April
enabled the governor and admiral at Jamaica to turn their attention
to the Mosquito shore. A small squadron, with a detachment of troops,
furnished with arms, stores, ammunition, provisions, and presents for
the natives, sailed from Port Royal, and the 17th of August arrived at
Cape Gracias á Dios, the purpose of the expedition being to assist the
settlers and natives in expelling the Spaniards from the neighborhood
of the Black River.[XXXII‑12] Here they found the superintendent at
the head of eight hundred settlers, Mosquitos and negroes, intending to
start in a few days for an attack on the Spaniards.

The armament sailed from the cape on the 26th of August, Colonel Despard
in command, and on the 28th landed at Plantain River, where it was
joined by a number of free men and negroes in that neighborhood, and
by Captain John Campbell, who, with about 150 volunteer negroes, had
attacked and carried Fort Dalling, which was defended by a like number
of Spaniards.

On the 29th the entire body, mustering about a thousand men, advanced
to the bluff at the mouth of the Black River, and the next day encamped
on the banks of the lagoon opposite the enemy. The Spanish commander
then opened conference with Colonel Despard, which resulted in a
capitulation, and his men, though numbering more than seven hundred
regular troops, surrendered as prisoners of war.

In 1783 a treaty was concluded between England and Spain, in which the
former agreed to abandon all settlements on the Spanish continent; but
England would not concede that the Mosquito Coast was included in this
definition.[XXXII‑13] Hence disputes arose; and three years later a
supplementary treaty was negotiated, on the first article of which it
was distinctly stipulated that "His Britannic Majesty's Subjects, and
the other Colonists who have hitherto enjoyed the Protection of England,
shall evacuate the Country of the Mosquitos, as well as the Continent
in general, and the Islands adjacent, without exception, situated beyond
the line hereinafter described, as what ought to be the Frontier of the
extent of territory granted by his Catholic Majesty to the English."

In article II. certain territory in Yucatan is ceded to the British,
of which mention will be made in its place.[XXXII‑14] Positive orders
were soon afterward sent to the settlers to depart from the coast.
Most of them obeyed,[XXXII‑15] though slowly and reluctantly, a few
only remaining at their own risk, and carrying on a trade with Jamaica,
principally in slaves.

After the treaty of 1786 the British government held no further
relations with the natives of the Mosquito Coast until Spain had lost
her possessions in Central America.[XXXII‑16] Meanwhile there were
several attempts by governors of the Spanish provinces to make permanent
establishments in Mosquitia, but without success. In 1796 the sambos
captured their last settlement on Black River, and drove the Spaniards
from their shore.

       *       *       *       *       *


Of affairs in Nicaragua during the eighteenth century little need be
said. The administrations of Pablo de Loyala, the first governor of
whom we have any record[XXXII‑17] during this period, and of Miguel
de Camargo, were uneventful. To Camargo succeeded José Calvo de Lara,
and in 1721 appears the name of Sebastian de Aransivia y Sasi, who was
superseded in the following year by Antonio Poveda, the latter losing
his life during an insurrection of the Indians. In 1728 Tomás Duque de
Estrada was appointed to office, and in 1730 Bartolomé Gonzalez Fitoria.
In 1744 José A. Lacayo de Briones[XXXII‑18] was in power, and in 1757
Melchor Vidal de Lorca y Villena Vivas was acting governor.[XXXII‑19]
In an official report, dated 1759, appears the name of Colonel Pantaleon
Ibañez as ruler.

Among the governors of Nicaragua in this period was Alonso Fernandez de
Heredia, mariscal de campo of the royal army. As to the precise year
authorities differ. Juarros mentions 1760 as the date, while Pelaez
states that a report of the guardian of missionaries alludes to him
as acting in 1747.[XXXII‑20] Domingo Cabello was governor in 1766,
as appears from the audiencia's book of sentences of December in the
following year, and Manuel de Quiroga in 1780.

About this time was an eruption of the volcano Nindiri at no great
distance from El Infierno de Masaya. In 1775, when the outburst
occurred, a torrent of lava rolled into the lake of Masaya, destroying
the fish and heating the lands adjacent so that the cattle perished. A
brigadier of the royal army, named José Estacheria, was made governor
of Nicaragua in 1783, and ruled until 1789, when he departed for
Spain. He was afterward appointed governor of Pamplona, and eventually
president of Guatemala. The last governor to whom reference is made in
the eighteenth century was Juan de Ayza, probably he who defended San
Juan[XXXII‑21] during the attack of the British under Polson and Nelson,
which will be mentioned later.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Desaguadero had in 1727 twelve military stations along its winding
course of nearly one hundred and twenty leagues. Among these was the
castle of San Juan and Fort San Cárlos, which had been captured and
restored. Fort San Juan was built at a bend of the river, and could
command it from above and below. The hill upon which it stood was steep
and rocky, and it could be approached only on one side by a narrow
tortuous path. Through this port flowed the commerce of Nicaragua with
Europe and the West Indies. It was made a port of entry by royal order
of the king in February 1796, and by a cédula of the month following
regulations were issued for furthering the settlement of the adjacent
country. In 1769 the English, with an armament of two thousand men
and fifty vessels, attempted the capture of Fort San Cárlos, which
they desired as a basis for future operations. Pedro de Herrera, the
governor of the post, lay in the throes of death, and surrender seemed
inevitable. But his daughter, a maiden of sixteen, at once issued orders
from her father's death-chamber for the defence, and then placed herself
at the head of the Spanish troops. Inspired by her fearless mien, the
garrison fought with a courage rarely seen among Spaniards of that day,
and repulsed the assailants with loss, the governor's daughter firing
with her own hand the two last cannon shot at the discomfited British.

A few years later the English government decided on an expedition
against Nicaragua, intending to strike a blow at the power of Spain in
the heart of her possessions, and control the communication between the
two oceans. The plan of operations was finally arranged at Jamaica in
January 1780. It was purposed to capture Fort San Juan, take possession
of the Desaguadero and Lake Nicaragua, occupy the cities of Granada
and Leon, and thus sunder the Spanish provinces of Central America.
Another object in view was the capture and retention of the route for
an interoceanic canal, a project then dear to the heart of the English



The British force consisted of at least eighteen hundred men,[XXXII‑22]
including three regiments of the line and a party of marines, the latter
being under command of Horatio Nelson, then a post captain of about
twenty-three years, but one who had already given proof of the qualities
which afterward raised him to the foremost rank among naval commanders.
The English proceeded up the Desaguadero in boats, encountering many
difficulties. On a small island named San Bartolomé,[XXXII‑23] in a
portion of the stream where the current was swift and shoal, a small
garrison had been stationed and earthworks erected, mounted with a
few swivel-guns. On approaching this spot Nelson leaped from his boat,
followed by a few of his men, and though sinking ankle-deep in the mud
and exposed to a hot fire, captured, or, as he expresses it, 'boarded'
the island. Here the English remained for a brief rest, and the future
hero of Trafalgar narrowly escaped being bitten by a poisonous snake,
and afterward suffered severely from drinking the water of a spring into
which poisonous leaves had been thrown. The English were now joined by
'George King,' a Mosquito chieftain, and a large number of his subjects,
together with several English smugglers.[XXXII‑24] The Mosquitos proved
invaluable allies indeed, and but for their bravery and fidelity it is
probable the British would have perished to a man.


Two days after the capture of San Bartolomé the expedition arrived
before Fort San Juan. Nelson advised an immediate assault, believing
it could be carried, but his senior officer, Major John Polson,
decided otherwise. Next day the English secured a hill in rear of the
fort, threw up batteries, and began the siege. Nelson was now seized
with a violent attack of dysentery, and was compelled to return to
Jamaica,[XXXII‑25] where he arrived in such weak condition that he was
carried on shore, life being saved only through skilful nursing.

After a siege of ten days the fort was surrendered, the garrison being
allowed their liberty and permitted to march out with the honors of
war, and vessels being furnished to convey them to any port of Spanish
America that might be agreed upon. The situation of the English was
now very critical, and they found it impossible to proceed farther. The
rainy season had begun and brought with it malaria and deadly fevers.
Their force was soon decimated and their condition was distressing and
helpless in the extreme. There were not strong men enough left to build
a hospital. It became impossible even to bury the dead with decency,
and many were dropped in the river and devoured by carrion birds. Longer
stay became impossible, and a retreat was ordered of all the men engaged
in this expedition. Exclusive of the Mosquito contingent, only three
hundred and eighty survived; and of Nelson's crew of two hundred, only
ten lived to return.[XXXII‑26] Thus ended the first attempt of the
British to gain a foothold in Nicaragua, and to obtain possession of
the route for an interoceanic canal.[XXXII‑27]

       *       *       *       *       *

During the eighteenth century fifteen prelates are recorded as having
occupied the bishopric of Nicaragua. Diego Morcillo was the first; he
took possession in 1704, and in 1709 was promoted to La Paz.[XXXII‑28]
Bishop Benito Garret took charge of the diocese in 1711. He became
involved in a turbulent controversy with the audiencia of Guatemala,
and was dismissed from office on the 4th of July 1716. On his way to
Spain he was ill at Pedro Ursula, and died the 7th of October. In 1718
Andrés Quiles Galindo, a graduate and afterward a professor in the
university of Mexico, was on the eve of departure for Europe, as _pro
ministro provincial_, when he received his nomination to the bishopric
of Nicaragua. He did not live to reach the diocese.[XXXII‑29] A native
of Leon de Nicaragua, José Giron de Alvarado, was consecrated bishop of
this see and assumed the administration of its duties in 1721, but died
within the same year, his successor being Dionisio de Villavicencio,
whose decease occurred in 1735. In the following year Domingo Antonio
de Zataram, precentor of Pueblo de los Angeles, was chosen bishop of
Nicaragua, and was consecrated in Guatemala the 5th of October 1738.
Isidro Marin Ballon y Figueroa, an honorary chaplain of the king and
rector of the college of the order of Alcántara at Salamanca, was
elected bishop in 1743 and died in 1749. In the year of his election was
finished the great cathedral of Leon, which had occupied thirty-seven
years in its construction, and cost five millions of pesos. On the
decease of Ballon, Pedro Agustin Morel de Santa Cruz, dean of Cuba,
was appointed. In 1751 and 1752, he made an inspection of his diocese,
giving seven months to an examination of every part of its wide domain,
preaching, confessing, and confirming wherever he went. He was soon
after promoted to the bishopric of Cuba.

José Antonio Flores de Rivera, a native of Durango, New Spain, venerable
in years and distinguished in scholarship, was elected to the episcopacy
of Nicaragua in 1753. He was consecrated with great pomp May 1, 1754,
in the city of Mexico, and entered on his duties in February 1755,
amidst the rejoicings of the people, for his reputation for kindliness
and charity had preceded him. But their joy was short-lived; he died
in July of the following year,[XXXII‑30] being succeeded by Mateo de
Navia y Bolanos, a native of Lima, and the latter by Juan de Vilches y
Cabrera, dean of the cathedral of Nicaragua, who was in charge of the
diocese until his death in 1774.

In 1775 Estéban Lorenzo de Tristan was appointed to the see, and
remained in that position until 1783. He labored zealously in his cause.
During his administration and a few years previously several attempts
were made to pacify the Guatusos, but without success.

       *       *       *       *       *


In 1750 Father Zepeda left Guatemala for the purpose of exploring this
region. He followed the entire chain of the mountains of Tilaran,
"the country of many watercourses," to say nothing of the many
volcanoes,[XXXII‑31] and braved all manner of hardships until he came
to the great plains beyond, where he spent several months, and reported
the existence of more than five hundred houses and gardens occupied by
the natives. In 1751 the guardian of the Franciscan convent at Esparza
communicated the information received from the padre to the government
of Costa Rica, and being instructed to follow up the discoveries,
accordingly set forth with several comrades, but the party lost its
way and came near being starved to death. In 1761 were captured in
the mountains several natives, whom the chroniclers describe as of a
mixed breed, and who, when taken to Esparza, revealed some knowledge of
Christian doctrines. The many conjectures to which the circumstances
gave rise were soon to be explained by the fact that a native of
Tenorio, who had qualified for orders, came under the displeasure of
the bishop and fled to the country of the Guatusos. There he lived and
died, not being permitted to return.

The cura of Esparza and the friar Zamacois then volunteered for the work
and took the captured natives as their guides, who led them into the
forests and there deserted them. Father Tomás Lopez in 1778 made another
attempt to penetrate the country. Setting out by water from the island
of Ometepec in Nicaragua, he proceeded to the Rio Frio, entered it, and
ascended the stream until he reached cultivated gardens and plantations.
But the moment his attendants caught a glimpse of a raft, evidently
manned by the Guatusos, they turned the boat and fled. In vain did Lopez
threaten and implore; he could not even prevail on them to allow him to
land alone.

In 1782 Lopez, accompanied by Friar Alvarado of Cartago, entered the
country by way of Tenorio; but after seventy-five days of wandering
found himself on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, a long way above the
mouth of the Frio. President Galvez, considering it necessary to make
a survey of this river and the adjacent country, sent Captain Brizzio
for that purpose in the same year. He ascended its banks until he saw a
number of fishing canoes and many large cultivated fields; but it does
not appear that he had any communication with the Guatusos themselves.

[Sidenote: ON THE RIO FRIO.]

Bishop Tristan, when informed of Brizzio's discovery, applied for
and was granted two vessels with which to follow up the latter's
exploration. On the 20th of February 1783 the prelate and his suite
entered the Frio. On the fourteenth day they discovered in a secluded
and shaded bower on the banks of the river, three fishermen "of good
size and white," who at the sight of them at once threw away nets,
provisions, and everything except their bows and arrows, and took to
flight. They were followed by Lopez with cries of peace and good-will
in the language of the island of Solentanami, but he was not heard, or
if so was disregarded.

The bishop, concluding that a town could not be far distant, and that a
few would be less likely to cause alarm than if the whole party came in
sight of it, sent a small boat forward containing fathers Lopez, Mejía,
Alvarado, and Corral. They soon beheld evidences of populous life, and
saw descending the river a raft on which was a solitary voyager with
plantains and provisions, a fire being lit on the raft. The Indian
landed in a grove of cacao trees, which seemed to extend as far as the
eye could reach. Lopez followed him, attended by a servant and three
natives of Solentanami to act as interpreters. No sooner had these
gone ashore than the voyager reappeared upon the bank of the river, and
raised loud and peculiar outcries, which soon brought to his aid numbers
of the natives, who, without parley, began to discharge arrows at the
padre and his companions. One of the interpreters was wounded, and,
overcome with fear, plunged into the river and swam down the stream. The
missionary lay down in the boat and made signals of peace, which were
unheeded. The padre then advised his attendants to leap overboard and
escape, which advice, nothing loath, they followed. Lopez then rose,
crucifix in hand, and presented himself defenceless and alone before
the crowd of assailants. The attack ceased, and in compliance with his
signs of entreaty a number entered his boat and escorted him to their
village. The companions of Lopez, who had fled for safety, observed
these proceedings from a distance, but as they were soon after pursued
by a party of the natives, they continued their flight.

The wounded interpreter had in the mean time reached the boats left
by Lopez a little lower on the river, and reported that the latter and
his companions had been attacked and killed by a multitude of natives;
whereupon the party hastened down the Frio to inform the bishop of the
catastrophe. They accomplished in three hours a distance which had taken
a day and a half when rowing against the stream, and the bishop and his
associates decided to return immediately to Granada. The morning after
their retreat, the attendants who had left Father Lopez and witnessed
his movements toward the village, having seized an abandoned canoe,
overtook the bishop, and somewhat calmed the excited party by their
disclosures. It was decided to continue the retreat, however, and Fort
San Cárlos was soon reached. The commandant immediately applied to the
governor of the province for aid to attempt the rescue of Lopez; but
it is not known whether the request was granted, or what became of the
padre. No further expeditions were attempted and the matter remained a
mystery. Who the Guatusos were, and how they lived; what their religion,
language, customs, and whence derived, none knew, and it seemed as
though none were destined to know. They appear to have sworn that no
one, not born of them and among them, should set foot within their
domain. Armed soldiers succeeded no better than peaceful missionaries,
and the see of Rome saw fit in after years to bar this inscrutable
region from the benefits of clergy.[XXXII‑32]

In 1784 Juan Felix de Villegas, inquisitor of Cartagena, was appointed
bishop of Nicaragua, but was promoted to the archbishopric of Guatemala
in 1794, when Juan Cruz Ruiz de Cabañas y Crespo was appointed his
successor, but while preparing to set forth was elected to the see of
Guadalajara. The last bishop of the century in this diocese was José
Antonio de la Huerta Caso, who was consecrated by the archbishop in
Guatemala May 29, 1798.[XXXII‑33]

       *       *       *       *       *


Resuming the narrative of the pacification of the Talamancans in
connection with the expeditions which resulted in the subjugation of
their territory, we find the Franciscans the leading spirits in all that
was undertaken, although to the college of Jesus in Guatemala it had
been first assigned. If the Talamancans had in 1502 a civilization of
their own, and in 1602 a civilization imported by the Spaniards, they
had by 1702 reverted to a barbarism which lacked the vitality of the
first and the grace of the second, without any compensating element.
The close of the seventeenth century witnessed the establishment of the
Franciscan missionary college at Guatemala, and thence in 1694, under
the direction of Lopez, had proceeded Francisco de San José and Pablo
de Rebullida to the territory of the Changuenes. Andrade and Benavides
returned to Guatemala from a brief visit of inspection in 1605, and
through the guardian of the college made the oft-repeated demand for
a military escort. On the 31st of March a council of war adopted the
system put in force half a century before in Vera Paz when dealing with
the Chols and Manches. Fifty soldiers, with Captain Noguera as governor,
accompanied the fathers to Talamanca.

Francisco Bruno Serrano de Reina, who was governor of Costa Rica in
1704, does not appear to have acted with much alacrity in the matter,
and the guardian Arrivillaga reported complainingly to the audiencia on
the 4th of April 1707.[XXXII‑34]

Many of the Talamancans were gathered into settlements;[XXXII‑35] but
none the less insecure was the position of the missionaries; their
danger so increased that Andrade started for Guatemala to beg more
adequate protection than the remnant of an escort left with them. It
was too late. While the question was being discussed in Guatemala the
Talamancans rose in revolt, burned their churches, tore down their
dwellings, and killed the friars and the soldiers, the latter but ten
in number. Rebullida's head they cut off on the 28th of September 1709.

On the 20th of May preceding this catastrophe a royal cédula ordered the
conquest of Talamanca, with a view to improve the communication between
Guatemala and Costa Rica with Veragua.[XXXII‑36] Lorenzo Antonio de
Granda y Balbin, the governor of Costa Rica, reported to the audiencia
the massacre in Talamanca, and in accordance with their orders took
summary vengeance on the natives. Balbin collected a large force, and
sent one detachment by the pueblo Tuiz, heading himself a force of two
hundred who made a detour by the province of Boruca. Both detachments
met at San José de Cabecar, in the heart of the enemy's country, where
they intrenched themselves. They killed many of the Talamancans and
captured others, bringing with them over five hundred prisoners of all
ages and both sexes.[XXXII‑37] The rebels were utterly routed, and their
cacique was tried, sentenced, and executed as an instigator of revolt.

In 1719, in a report on the condition of the country to the king of
Spain, Governor de la Haya[XXXII‑38] of Costa Rica says: "In reference
to the establishment and maintenance of missions which had been the
primary object in the conquest of Talamanca, nothing had been done since
the massacre of September 1709; no precautionary measures had been taken
in behalf of missionaries."

The Recollets did not believe this policy of indifference and neglect
to be according to the royal pleasure, and petitioned the king for
the establishment of a suitable garrison and the founding of a Spanish
settlement. By whatever motives impelled, several parties came from the
mountains of Talamanca at sundry times between 1713 and 1716, to request
the presence of missionaries from Cartago.

In response to the petition of the Recollets, the king, by cédula dated
September 1, 1713, directed the president to convene a junta of state
officials and persons familiar with Talamanca, to devise and adopt by
majority vote plans for the occupation of that territory. The junta,
which was not held until the 9th of September, 1716, consisted of the
president of Guatemala, the oidores, royal officials, two Recollets,
and a representative of the revenue of Cartago. The Recollets advocated
the planting of mission stations protected by a garrison. The rest
of the council favored the establishment of a military guard of fifty
soldiers, and the removal of fifty families from Cartago to Boruca; it
was a compromise measure, but it carried the votes.

The fathers were discouraged. The town chosen was without the missionary
field, and the force named inadequate to effect subjugation, and
needlessly strong for a simple escort. But the arrival of a new
president, Rivas, and the disastrous earthquake of 1717 in Guatemala,
crowded such matters from view.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: EARTHQUAKES.]

In a report dated the 14th of March 1723 Haya tells us how, from the
16th of February till the 14th March, there had been rumblings beneath
the city of Cartago, as if from the rushing of subterranean rivers,
while the volcano of Irazu kept open jaws, and belched forth billows
of smoke. The sulphurous exhalations well nigh stifled the people alike
on the slopes and in the valleys. Sheets of flame illumined the sky by
night, until miles of the horizon were brighter than in the glare of
day. Red-hot cinders and scoriæ multiplied in volume until the waters of
the neighboring stream, river, and lake were turned into seething mud;
the city was strewn with burning dust; and buildings were loosened from
the trembling earth.

Costa Rica, if we can believe Haya, was the poorest province in all
America. The only currency was cacao; silver was never seen, and the
name for aught its people knew might have been adopted in derision.
Officers were incapable and stupid; the people quarrelsome, chimerical,
and unruly. There was not in all the province a physician or apothecary;
nor even a barber. Of foreign trade there was practically none.

In Cartago the ayuntamiento had come to an end; at Esparza, the
only other city of the province, there had been none for thirty-nine
years past, for no one had money enough to send to Spain to have an
appointment confirmed.[XXXII‑39]


The decay of the settlements in Costa Rica might have been irremediable
but for the sharp pruning judiciously applied by Haya.[XXXII‑40] His
successor, Francisco de Valderrama, made a report to the captain-general
of Guatemala in 1732 containing a curious revelation of the condition of
affairs. The governor describes himself as fulfilling the functions of a
clerk rather than those of a governor, as there was not a single person
in the province capable of writing. Offices remained vacant, because
the poverty of the country did not allow of even its chief residents
appearing in the plaza in a coat. If the erection of Fort Matina, then
in progress, was to proceed, an artificer would have to be sent out,
as the only one familiar with such work was an old Indian whose proper
business it was to repair roofs, and he unfortunately had just died of
the small-pox.[XXXII‑41] Twice during the year 1740 the province was
harassed by pirates, who carried off, as was their custom, the crop of
cacao, and such slaves as they could lay hands upon.

The military force stationed in Costa Rica about the middle of the
eighteenth century was little short of one thousand men, and yet
the magistrates throughout the province were unable to enforce their
authority. The administration of justice had ceased. Judges did not dare
to impose, nor governors execute sentence upon criminals.[XXXII‑42]
Even the forms of restraint disappeared. Yet officials were numerous
enough. The governor appointed on the first day of the year 1740 five
lieutenant-generals, one each for Cartago, Esparza, and Matina, and two
for the valley country, invested with civil and criminal jurisdiction,
besides four alcaldes, an attorney-general, and an administrator.

After 1746 we have no reliable records as to the succession of governors
in Costa Rica until 1773. In the former year Francisco Fernandez de
la Pastora was in power;[XXXII‑43] in the latter Joaquin de Nava. To
him succeeded in 1779 José Perie, and then occur in the order of their
succession the names of Juan Fernandez Bobadilla in 1780, Juan Flores
in 1782, and José Terci in 1785.





Not the least valuable among the spoils obtained by the buccaneers
during their depredations on the Spanish main were the quantities of
dye-wood which they found deposited at certain points on the coast
of Yucatan and Honduras awaiting shipment. With the decline of their
lawless pursuits, the more industrious, especially the English, turned
their attention to the cutting and shipment of dye-woods and mahogany,
and with this object established settlements on the coasts of these two
provinces. The most extensive of their settlements were those in the bay
of Términos. Here they remained for many years, varying their industrial
pursuits with occasional incursions into the surrounding country, or
attacks on the Spanish vessels which plied between Campeche and Vera

Neighbors so dangerous could not long be tolerated, and, as soon as
circumstances permitted, the authorities of New Spain took measures to
expel them. The wood-cutters successfully resisted the many expeditions
sent against them, not unfrequently retaliating by laying waste the
Spanish settlements, until about 1717, when they were finally driven
from that part of the coast and their establishments destroyed.

In the latter half of the seventeenth century that portion of Yucatan
bordering on the bay of Honduras was abandoned by Spaniards, owing to
the destruction by pirates and Indians of the town of Bacalar.[XXXIII‑1]
Its henceforth isolated position, together with the ruggedness of
the surrounding country and the numberless reefs and shoals on its
sea-coast, made it peculiarly fitted for the haunts of the buccaneers.
One of these, Peter Wallace, a Scotchman, landed with some eighty
companions at the mouth of the Belize river, and erected on its banks a
few houses, which he enclosed with a rude palisade. His name was given
both to the river and settlement, and subsequently to the whole region
occupied by the English. By the Spaniards this territory was variously
termed Walis, Balis, and Walix, and the word became finally corrupted
into the present name of Belice or Belize.[XXXIII‑2]

The district was rich in dye-woods and mahogany, and wood-cutting
soon became the chief occupation of the freebooters, whose numbers had
gradually increased. With the same object, many Mosquito Indians had
also settled in the country. The buccaneers who were driven from the
bay of Términos also harbored in Belize, and after attempting in vain
to retake their settlements finally settled there.

The existence of the piratical establishment of Wallace and his
companions was not discovered by the Spaniards until the beginning of
the eighteenth century. In 1725 Antonio de Figueroa y Silva was ordered
to expel the English from Yucatan, and for this purpose was appointed
governor of that province.[XXXIII‑3] Soon afterward, in obedience to
instructions from the crown, he visited the ruined town of Bacalar, or
Salamanca, as it was also called, and erected a fort which he garrisoned
with forty-five men. This fortress, situated on a lake of the same name
and connected with the